It was a birthday party. Sporadic people I sort of know but the birthday girl was someone I’ve known for a very long time but hadn’t had a proper conversation with her in more years than I should be old. She was a girl I grew up with. If anything is to blame for the gender thing it was our friendship. She showed me how to plait hair when I was about seven.
I was tucked away in the far corner while the DJ set up his rig ready to blast out some typical birthday DJ tunes though thankfully YMCA was not to be heard. My parents were on their way but for now it was great to have a conversation with one of my in-laws. Not an in-law through my own means but through my greater sibling who decided to leave our conversation when his other half started a love-life chat with me.
“So come on, tell me. Are you and Maddie back together?” she said getting straight to the point. No dashing in and out of different roads of conversation over ten minutes to soften the blow of her question. As she normally does she got straight to the point. “Hope you don’t mind me coming straight out with it.” she said with an inquisitive smile suggesting that I must answer.
“Well you’re the only person to ask me that.” I said throwing back the exact reason why I’ve not spoken to anyone about it and that it never crossed my mind that we would ever get back together – so I said so, “No. We’re not.”
“So if say there was a chance and there was nothing stopping you –” she asked trying to dig further “– would you get back together.” At that moment the DJs test music suddenly stopped like a game of musical chairs and loudly she said, “– do you think you’d get back together then?”
“No.” I said. “I’m not in that place and it’s not going to happen.”
This was the exact point when I felt conflicted. She doesn’t know about the gender thing – well, she might do but I don’t know. It was so difficult trying to have the conversation about it without giving the main reason why it wouldn’t be happening. At the same time I didn’t want to give some exact reason that was basically made-up because I’m just fed up of the lies and hiding. At the same time this wasn’t the time or the place to be having that conversation. Shame.
“It’s just you seem to have remained friends.”
“Yes. Well I did live with her for years.”
She finally dropped the interrogation but continued on similar lines like whether there was anyone else or what I wanted. The conversation fizzled but I felt stagnant not being able to say what the reason reason was. I think she sees my loneliness and the stresses I go through.
With everything in the news this week on Caitlyn Jenner and Kellie Maloney I’ve felt the need the question myself and the difficulties coming with every that is gender. Reading the comments in Facebook news clippings, that have been going around, most people appearing to be supportive and some sounding ill-educated spurting out sound-bites like ‘she’ll never be a woman I don’t care what anyone says.’ It got to me a bit, not because of what that person said or any meaning behind it, because I just wondered if I could cope with that sort of a reaction. In the end I came to a conclusion of sorts that firstly I wouldn’t have to go through half of the crap either of those will get from time to time because they’re high up the celebrity list, but secondly it didn’t really matter. For each day I may find that I just won’t get bothered at all.
What struck me last week though walking through the city one work day lunch time was the change in the air. A certain something about the news on these two transgendered people that made it feel like there was a change in attitude. It was no longer humour at our expense as these things usually turn out. There was a tide of change amongst the public’s understanding. It felt like people were finally seeing something new that meant our civilisation as a national community was coming to some kind of acceptance. It was like the word was on the street. People were finally talking about it and being positive. It felt like people weren’t finding gender identity a strange thing to fear. People were coming to an understanding. It’s only a start but it was something and it was noticeable.
It gave me a glimmer of hope and a resetting of my mental state. I have felt like my heels have been dragging. By Saturday I was in town and browsing some clothes. I still want that dress for the summer but nothing had quite fore-filled the template in my head that the dress had to match until I came across a skirt in the back of a shop of beach-style wear. Vintage cream with a dusting of floral print throughout and tailored lines down the front and back with a soft cotton feel. I grabbed the first one I could find in my size and bought it on a whim. I needed something to make me feel just a little whole again even if it would be short lived.
The sunshine of the weekend and the grass now finally dry in the garden meant I could be laying out in the sun and wear my new treat but even on my own lawn I suddenly felt a feeling I hadn’t for quite some time. I knew this skirt was obvious. It was a skirt after all but not just that it is ultra feminine and there would be no doubt, if anyone saw me, who I was. That small hesitation made me feel like I’d gone back a few steps, even a few years.
This is easily over come though. All I have to do is think about my counselling sessions with the phycologist and some of the feelings of progress come back. Those feelings of knowing who I am and caring more about how I feel about it that others. What others think is for them to deal with. With any luck I’ll find my way back to where I was knowing my way forward.
Until next time.