Stop idealizing femininity

Femininity and feelings are such obvious things, in a way, yet they have been so hard for me. They make me feel possible and impossible at the same time. I feel constantly tossed around, a jumble of delight and shame, clarity and nonsense, fear and patience, failure at being adequately feminine, failure at being adequately anything. But I also feel sure that I’m happier than I was, less constantly scared and less shadowy than I was. The emotional baselines have changed even though the everyday moods still flicker. It feels like a gentler kind of consciousness, with less rage at the world’s contradictions and more tenderness towards the people struggling with them.

The radicality of gender transitions is just this: If something as supposedly primordial as gender can change, then what cannot change? Sometimes I feel utopian about that; sometimes I just feel unsafe or freakish. But often, when things start to feel uncertain or alarming, my friends show up and I let myself lean on their optimism a little. I remember the day that I posted on the internet that actually I liked being called she. And I remember the vertigo and potential shame that I felt in that moment. But then my childhood friend Dianna, whom I haven’t even seen in years, wrote the most welcoming comment, inviting me to “stay just as long as you like” in women’s spaces. And it made me feel able to keep existing to hear someone say that. I had drifted for so long through the world, and then, somehow, femininity became a place where I wanted to stop drifting, a place where I wanted to feel anchored.

I had a conversation with Talia a year or two later. “It seems like no matter how much I inhabit femininity, I still never feel like I’m quite there, like I’ll never belong.” I said. “No, you do belong,” she said, “but maybe the next step for you is to stop idealizing femininity, to realize that women’s spaces aren’t utopias. Sometimes you get a sense of belonging from them, but it comes and goes.”

I’ve lost most of the utopias I grew up with, and it still hurts. The hippie dreams of living with the earth, with the trees, with peace, with each other, it somehow fell apart. Families split up, people died, the woods were too lonely. I’ve mostly left that world. Yet I don’t feel that I entirely lost touch with the values that my family believed in. I’ve tried to continue them in another way. With slightly more glitter.

« back forward »