Looking through the mottled glass window of the front door into the night falling on the street that appeared black oil as the rain glossed the tarmac and the sharp street lamps added shine. My mood fell in an instant and only for a moment. Black and Dire. There is something about late night when everyone is locked away and the rain is all that is moving. Washing away the surface. It should be rejuvenating like a flowing river gushing over hard rocks but it’s gloomy, solitary and abandoned.
A week later I found myself on a cold quiet bleak bus stop alone in the countryside not far from my home. Not even eight a.m. on a Saturday, a little snow floating around, air barely above freezing creeping around my calfs below my running trousers and regret that fingerless gloves were the wrong decision.
It was a contrast between the gloomy and the bleak and, while both should have given me the same feeling inside, the bleak didn’t make me feel abandoned. I was going to the early morning running event in the city and it was me that was going. A kind of day where I wear what I want and I am who I am but without making some kind of effort to ensure that the right gender is perceived. It’s a take me as I am day and let’s see what happens. Nothing is official, at least not yet, and only a handful of people know about me – or at least a handful of people I know know about me plus a few people who I suspect do but I don’t know for sure; you get the idea.
I stood there in my hooded sweatshirt and mixed colour three quarter running tights pleased that I brought an extra hoodie which I soon pulled from my plastic bag of things not worth nicking that I’ll leave at the start. Ankle running socks and a plaited leather anklet tied with a bow that probably made me feel me more than the all my other clothes. It was the full stop at the end of a sentence.
It was hard to believe that ten years ago I would be crossing the road and avoiding a bus coming up the road. Now I was wishing it to hurry up so I could get out of the cold, buy my expensive return ticket and enjoy the hello and thank you. Getting on with my own business and enjoying life. Even the bus trip seems quicker. Before I knew it I was pressing the stop button and walking along a busy road of traffic towards the event.
There is nothing worse than the whistle going, starting the run and within twenty seconds realising that the glass of water after waking was all stored up sloshing about in an impatient bladder. Being the city it was easy to nip in to the supermarket nearby with all the other runners. I don’t know what seems so unnatural about lycra tops and trouser crowds walking through the fruit and veg isle en-route to the toilet. It feels like a black tie outfit in a rough pub.
It was the Men’s. It had to be. It wasn’t an effort day. I wouldn’t be kidding anyone, pink hat or no pink hat. But that all said, while standing at the hand dryer chasing water around my hands, I counted two men who walked in, looked around, walked back out to the door, walked back in again, looked at the urinary in a confirmatory fashion and finally made a decision to stay; one of which decided to wait for a cubical. May be I was kidding people more than I thought – at least a little.
In fact the week before at another event I was speaking to another runner. An older-than-me lady that I’d spoken to a few times. “It’s warmer than I thought it would be today. I’m going to get a coffee after this.” she said.
“I’m cold this morning.” I said holding onto what heat I could. “I’m going to need a coffee too.”
“Are you showing – ” she looked down at my running trousers, “Yes you’re showing some… legs… today.”
The answer to her query then silently seemed to answer a different question. Nothing was said but it’s one of those moments where I wondered did she just like my trousers or kinda questioned them in her own mind. It was the pause that did it.
But as the weeks go on these moments become less noticeable and when I do I just let them run. I no longer constantly worry about what I’m wearing – I just wear and forget. I wear and enjoy. I wear and be. I might look at another female runner at the start and still wish, just for a moment, and then realise the wish has sort of been granted and the worry or disappointment just floats away.
Whenever I had spoken about the change of identity with my psychologist a few years ago he would talk about subtle changes and he was so right. While I have always been who I am inside there is a kind of change because as I become more comfortable with bringing my identity to the outside my identity changes when it comes to confidence, comfort and happiness. It still amazes me, even now, there are still subtle changes I hadn’t noticed say a few weeks or months before. Little bits of warmth inside when I suddenly recognise comfort in myself when I’m doing the things I love.
When it comes to making a decision about my future, isn’t this comfort a really important decision-making evidence. Worthy of supported documentation. In fact, when I think about it, it’s pretty much one of the most important, real, genuine and authentic gender things. I can’t think of much else that gives such an on-the-nose, qualified reasoning, other than what makes someone happy and function well. Running makes me physically healthy, my gender identity makes me mentally healthy – that’s when I get to be that gender.
Until next time.