Stumbling at the Beginning of Transition
By Mila Madison
Once you have you’ve been through the process of seeing a gender therapist and you have begun to deal with the reality of who you are, there comes a time when this person will have to exist. It is one of the strangest times in a transition. It is filled with highs and lows, euphoria and dysphoria. In my journey, I had reached the point where it was time to see “her,” the woman that I would occasionally get a glimpse of in a fogged up mirror or some other distorted reflection. I was beginning my journey, but who was this woman and what did she really look like?
I was nervous about these beginning steps as deep inside I was still feeling doubts about my ability to be who I truly was. I spent a lifetime trying to avoid it. I had years of male enforcement to shed. The fact that I was at this moment was surreal. It almost seemed as if it were a dream, and I had to keep reminding myself this was all really happening. I remember being so awkward at the time, and I was filled with the thought of “can I really do this?” I was about to find out.
“…MY ONLY EXPERIENCE IN EXPRESSING MY FEMALE SELF WAS AS A LITTLE KID WHEN I WOULD BE PLAYING DRESS UP IN MY MOTHER’S CLOSET OR WITH PUTTING ON HER MAKEUP WHEN NO ONE WAS LOOKING.”
Up to this point, my only experience in expressing my female self was as a little kid when I would be playing dress up in my mother’s closet or with putting on her makeup when no one was looking. Other than that there were some times when I was preforming with one of my bands where we would push the boundaries of gender on occasion, but that was really it. For the most part I had guarded her under lock and key out of fear, but now it was time to let her exist.
My gender therapist had recommended a girl she knew who was helping some other girls who were transitioning. She would give them facials and do their hair and makeup. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a test drive, so I made an appointment to see her. That morning my wife and I went and bought a few outfits, a pair of jeans, leggings, and a few tops. I was nervous beyond anything I had ever experienced. I was afraid of the person I was about to see. I was worried that I would be so hideous that I would lose all my courage. I would be stuck with the knowledge of who I truly was but I would be unable to ever let her exist. It could be the end of me; I would be finished before even starting. Looking back I was as dysphoric as I could ever be.
So we arrived for my appointment, and there I met Melanie. She was really sweet and made me feel at ease. She was positive about everything, and she pointed out some of my feminine features as she gave me a facial. Next we would move on to makeup. As she was doing my makeup I remember her trying to teach me how to apply it properly, but it was all a blur, and I was retaining nothing. I was literally trembling. Part of me wanted to get up and run while the other half needed to see it through. There was no mirror in the room, so I really had no idea what was beginning to take shape. She would do what she could with the really short hair I had at the time, and we were ready for the big reveal.
“WORDS CANNOT DESCRIBE HOW RIDICULOUS I LOOKED WHEN I FIRST WALKED IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR.”
Words cannot describe how ridiculous I looked when I first walked in front of the mirror. That male face that had haunted me all my life was still there, only now he was wearing makeup. I had fantasized that this would be the moment when I could finally see her, and with that I would know what I was doing was right path for me without question. It was such an awkward moment, filled with crippling dysphoria. Both Melanie and my wife were giving me pointers on how to hold myself and walk as they tried to improve the situation, but I didn’t hear any of it to be honest.
With the experience came the realization that I was not yet ready for primetime. It was a humbling moment to say the least. It was my vanity getting the best of me mixed with a tough bout of dysphoria. It was in that moment however that I had reached the crossroads of understanding that my journey had nothing to do with vanity. The vanity part is something that all women deal with. Society bombards us with unattainable images of what women should look like and I was a victim to it. What that moment gave me was the understanding that my transition had nothing to do with what I looked like. It was about who I was and my ability to be myself despite the superficial things that society threw at me.
Though it would be some time before I made another attempt, it was the moment I decided that I was going to be me no matter where the road would take me. Shortly afterwards I began hormones. I was determined that one day I would see her, but I realized it wasn’t a visual that I really needed to see. I needed to see her from within myself. I left feeling a bit defeated, but determined to one day find “her.”
If you are at the beginning of your transition, know that you will stumble along the way. In the end, what matters is how you see yourself from within. In time, you will get there. Just keep going and keep believing in yourself.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,