Time suddenly seems to have moved very fast. It has been almost two years since I came out as a woman for the first time. On the one hand, I have this desire to take my gender journey slowly, to experience each new step consciously, and to try to enjoy it. On the other hand, I see that I have come a long way, and have learned a lot.
Many of the things I have learned have to do with expression, with my appearance. I have learned to wear feminine clothes, and what colors and shapes suit me. I have grown my hair out, and when I go to the hairdresser, I come out with a lot of curls and volume. I have learned to take care of my nails and to lacquer them, to treat my body well with body lotion, to take care of my face with serums and moisturizers. I read how women stand, sit and walk, I looked around at how women stand, sit and walk, and then I started standing, sitting and walking like women do. I go regularly to a speech therapist to learn how to speak with a female voice, and I practice every day. All these things give me great satisfaction.
The risk is that it will never be good enough. Because I don’t look that good in that dress compared to a ‘real’ woman. Because my hairstyle is too messy and chaotic. And my nails break too quickly, my skin remains too rough and too speckled (strawberry skin anyone?), there are more and more wrinkles in my face. My face is asymmetrical, my mouth is crooked. I don’t always dare to use my female voice.
And without make-up I see a man in the mirror.
I realize that I also have to work on my inner self, on the way I look at myself. Of course I see a man in the mirror. I was brought up as a boy, and everyone expected me to be a man. I can’t suddenly tell my brain that I am something else. There are still many neural connections to be broken and reconnected in order to see myself differently.
Fortunately, this can be trained. Recently I made a cartoon of myself, based on a photo of myself without make-up. In that photo I see a man, but not in this cartoon. And yes, it is true, that cartoon does not reflect the full truth. I look better and younger and more feminine in it, without wrinkles and without beard shadow. But at the same time, I still see myself. I see the good parts of myself, and they are there too. They are also real. Maybe other people see me more like this than how I see myself. There is no absolute truth of how I look. It is perception.
And now I have resolved to be nicer to myself. I lie in the bathtub, extend one leg above the water and think “look, a feminine leg.” I think of the words of my speech therapist who said “I cannot imagine you as a non-woman.” I wear a beautiful dress, look in the mirror, and think “that’s not bad.” I think of what the stylist said when she did my figure analysis, and recognized an X-figure. “Something must have gone wrong somehow in the womb,” she said with good intentions. When I stand naked in front of the mirror, or see my shadow, I pay attention to the feminine shapes of my body. I used to see myself as a man in women’s clothes. Now, when I am out in boy mode, can I see myself as a woman in men’s clothes?
Actually, I come to the following conclusion. With a little effort, others can easily see a woman in me. That is the easy step. To see the woman in me myself is more important, but also more difficult.