I walked by the copying machine at work today, and spotted Christie wearing a gorgeous green knit sweater. I complimented her and we struck up a wonderful conversation.
She mentioned how she was a bit stressed out from moving, and how glad she was that it was over. We began swapping stories of how stressed out we both were from moving, and how we both relied on one chair in the entire house, and how we needed to move it from each room if we decided to sit somewhere else in our home. That was funny.
Then Christie said she wanted to just relax now that she was settled in, and I asked her how she usually relaxed when she was stressed out. I wanted to know what her practice was, and her methodology to relax when she felt down, stressed, and not herself.
“I go for a walk around my neighborhood, that usually helps a lot. Or I put on one of my favorite DVDs and watch it by myself. Oh, and ice cream helps too!”
“I do that too!” I said.
Then the meat and potatoes of this conversation. She said something that totally caught me off guard, but was so familiar to me as I only recently began understanding this aspect of what women go through more often than men: “But, sometimes I don’t feel like going around the block because there are days I just don’t feel pretty or up to letting people see me.”
I was surprised, as she’s an attractive woman who is very well liked by our co-workers. But I felt relief, inclusion, and a sense of belonging the moment she said that.
Of all the times I’ve felt self conscious, I often forgot to remind myself that other women would feel that way too, for the same reasons. I often feel self conscious not because I am a transgender woman, but because I am a woman, and that’s how women feel from time to time.
Christie reassured me on this facet of living as a woman, and it was such a relief.
Just then, a nice cherry on top of the cake was presented by my Mother in the Sky.
PJ, a recent father of his newborn daughter, came by to make copies and heard the last part of our conversation.
“I will never understand why women make such a big deal out of being seen,” he said.
Christie and I tried to tell him just how much pressure society puts on women to look good, and sometimes, when we fall out of balance with ourselves, we can buy into the bullshit and erroneous notion that we aren’t good enough just because we may look a certain way or be dressed casually.
I also emphasized how our emotions sometimes get the better of us, and there are simply days where we don’t have the strength to face the outside world.
Then it hit me. It hit me that I truly know what it feels like to be on both sides. I did have a hard time understanding women back when I was still presenting as male. I never fully understood, to the extent that I do now, until I transitioned, in my head, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and allowed myself to truly present and flourish and thrive.
But from an empathetic viewpoint, I totally understood what PJ meant too. When I was living as a spy, an undercover agent presenting a male, I bought into my role. And I was so out of touch with my feelings that I truly didn’t care what other women around me felt or thought, I just went about with my male privilege, and took advantage of sweeping my emotions under the rug.
Although those days caught up with me eventually, I did have the luxury (if you want to call it that; I now see it more like a loan, or a shortcut that we pay for in the future) of experiencing the seemingly carefree attitude that many males conduct their lives with when it came to emotional processing.
What a blessing some moments are as transgender individuals. We get to experience so many sides of the fence and go to territory where others will never venture. We get 2 movies for the price of 1 admission.
And in this scenario, it truly allowed me to see things from an elevated, diverse and rich perspective.