By: Blake Croissant
Stay away from mirrors. This is one of your rules, and for good reason. Mirrors make you incredibly uncomfortable, and they always have. Not just because you are self-conscious about the way you look, although that’s a part of it. Mornings are hard, and sometimes slow. Sometimes it’s damn near impossible to get out of bed. You are sluggish, and you don’t want to move. Why get up when your bed is so comfortable and one of the only places you are really free? Why bother? People will just laugh at you anyway. You know they do. You know they stare. Is that a boy or a girl? You know people question it. Some are rude about it and know you are a boy, but they know about the person you used to be. And even that’s not right, because you were never really her to begin with.
But you share the same body. You see her in photographs lain about your parents’ house, the house you are forced to live in because you can’t afford to be on your own yet. You have the reminder every day you are forced to use a bank card, or your driver’s license, or when you apply for a job. It’s a paper trail that you can’t escape, acknowledging that you don’t quite fit in, and people don’t always know what to make of you.
It’s exhausting. Sometimes tears threaten to escape. But you push it away. Boys don’t cry, right? You can’t get out of bed today. You don’t feel like moving. You don’t feel like dealing with it today or any day. But you know you have to. You head to the bathroom and take a shower.
Showers are awkward and there is no way around it. You shower with temperatures that can only be described as volcanic. It has the bonus of fogging up the mirror so that when you get out, you aren’t reminded that your body screams woman while your mind insists man. Standing in the shower, you have rules here, too. No touching certain parts of your body. Do not look down. Do not look at yourself. Get in and get out.
But on the slow days, you can’t. You lean against the shower wall and feel the heat wash over you. Sometimes you let a few tears escape. But mostly you just hold yourself together and tell yourself what you have heard what seems like a million times from well-meaning people: it gets better. Out of the shower and into a towel as fast as you can manage. That’s how it usually goes. But today you break a rule. You stand in front of the mirror completely naked and feel the anguish rise. You don’t let yourself look at yourself very often, but today you have to.
You can see him there. You can see the traces of man you know you are. He’s reaching out for you and you raise your hand to the glass in the mirror and swear that he’s reaching for you and you are reaching back and you just want him to be on the surface. But you are standing there with your hand held up. You are two people. One is dead, or attempting to be. At least that’s how it feels to you. But others insist on keeping her alive.
And even though you can see the man on the other side of the mirror, you have the painful reminder that he and she share the same body and the same family and many people can’t see what you do. You give up and get dressed in whatever you find laying around, because your body freaks you out, so you don’t really care about looking nice.
These are the slow days. These are the days where you scream at yourself that rules exist for a reason. Each passing minute your frustration grows and you just want the day to be over, but you press on. At night you finally turn out the light and get as comfortable as you can while still awake. You hold yourself together and wait for unconsciousness, telling yourself you’ll try again tomorrow.
There are the good days. You wake up and you don’t look at yourself as you get dressed. You even feel more masculine. You surround yourself with people that see you as the man you are inside. You breathe easier. It’s not such a fight. You feel stupid for being so upset yesterday.
You have the milestones. The first time you bind. It hurts like hell, but your boobs aren’t as noticeable, and people read you as sir a lot more. The first time people call you your preferred name, and the first time they call you a man. The first time your new name is written on something. It hangs proudly on the outside of your door, even though it pisses your father off.
The first time you take T. The first time your voice cracks. The first time you date someone as a man, and they see you as a man. The first time you wear a packer. The first time you look up the process on legally changing your name, even though it’s expensive and you can’t afford it yet. You know it’s a step in the right direction. The first time your new job asks you what your pronouns are, and you tell them you are a man, even though your papers say woman.
The first time you go to gender therapy, and they confirm that it’s not all in your head. This was before the T, but it makes you feel so damn happy, especially when they refer to you as the person you really are. The first time you meet another trans* person and realize you aren’t the only one on the planet (yes, really). The first time you admit that you are a man, with a smile on your face. The first time you use the men’s room in public, even though you are scared shitless that someone is going to hit you (no one does).
The good days don’t necessarily take away the pain of the bad days, and the bad days don’t make the good days worse. The good days just allow you to breathe easier, and to keep pressing forward on the slow days. You turn out the light at night. It might be hard and people might be assholes, but it’s worth it. You don’t feel as trapped anymore, and you feel a little bit lighter in your skin.
Try again tomorrow.