My sister-in-law sent me a picture of various questions for the Transgender Day of Visibility. Rather than rehashing what I wrote a few years ago, about why this day is so important to me, I thought I’d take the time to answer her questions, and share them here.
So, let us begin!
- How should I refer to you?
This is complicated, because it largely depends on who you are in relation to me, how you know me, and what you’re referring to me about. The simplest answer is to use she/her pronouns, and to call me Mattie. That’s the answer for 90% of the people in my life. However, that isn’t true for some of my closest friends. I’ve been “Frozen” on the internet for two decades, and my closest friends have all met me through various corners of the internet. People who know me online more recently call me “Peach” instead. One of these days I’m going to write part 3 of my “Death of a Name” series to go into more detail on my name, 5 years into my transition. Maybe I’ll do that soon.
- How does being trans impact the way you think about the future?
I don’t think there’s any real effect on how I think about the future. Prior to coming out, I would have said any number of answers, such as how I could come out, when I could come out, who would support me if I came out, and so forth. Five years into my transition, however, the biggest impact on my future is the places I decide to live. Some states are just not great places to live as a transgender person, though that’s more true for younger transgender people than for older people such as myself.
- How is your daily life different by being trans?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I have to think about what I wear based on where I’m going, what I’m doing, and who I think I’m going to see. It’s not just a matter of choosing what I feel like wearing, but also how safe and supported I feel.
Beyond that? Never knowing how people are going to perceive me is a major drain on my psyche. Constantly having to make the decision about whether to correct someone using the wrong pronouns or my deadname is exhausting. Especially on the phone when someone calls me asking for deadname. Do I just go into boy-mode and answer? Do I respond with a simple “this is she” and hope they don’t question too much? It’s exhausting.
- What does being trans mean to you?
More than anything it means being comfortable with who I am, and in my own skin, and with my own body. It also means people perceive me the way I perceive myself, and how I want to be perceived.
- What advice would you give to people who are in the closet right now?
It’s never too early or too late to come out. It’s not worth worrying about the what ifs and the whens and the whys and wheres of it all. The perfect time to come out is the moment that you’re ready to do so, and you have the strength and energy to take that first step. Taking the first step is the hardest part, and despite all of the bad that comes along with coming out, at least for me, the good has made up for it. To me, there’s nothing more important than being comfortable with yourself and who you are. Find that person, and be that person. If people truly love and support you, they’ll understand. You quickly find out who are your real friends and loved ones.
- What are you proudest of in your transition?
This blog and my ability to be open, honest, and visible in a way that helps those around me as well as strangers that might come across this blog looking for their own answers.
- What parts of your transition brought you the most joy?
My hair, despite all of its frustrations and hassles. I never could have worn my hair the way I do while presenting male. It was a part of my disguise, my cloak to protect myself, my fear of being different and judged. I grew up in a catholic private school, and hair longer than your collar was extremely frowned upon for boys. That was drilled into my brain, and definitely did some damage to my self esteem and how I viewed myself.
Pronouns. Hearing she/her being used to refer to me just feels right in a way that’s impossible to explain. I don’t wish gender dysphoria on anyone, but if you want to experience what it is like as a cisgendered individual, have your family and friends refer to you by the opposite pronouns for a day. It just feels wrong, like being called the wrong name.
My name. It’s a small thing, but I’ve talked about it on this blog in the past. Just like with pronouns, being called my proper name, being called Mathilda, being called Peach or Frozen, those are me. My deadname never felt like me. It felt like a character I was forced to play, that didn’t fit right. As if I were an actor cast in a role I was most certainly not suited for.
- How would you like people to refer to pre-transition you?
See question 1. I don’t see how this makes any difference, though I get that others, especially those who are cisgendered, might not be able to understand it. I’m the same person, just with a name that matches how I feel about myself and that I can connect with in a way that I could never connect with my deadname.
- How do you feel about old photos of you?
Before transitioning I never liked having my photo taken. The closest I’ve come to enjoying having photos taken of me were my engagement and wedding photos, but even that felt wrong and dysphoric to me. There are a few photos of pre-transition me that I don’t hate, but most of them just cause me distress. The older the photo is the less it bothers me, but anything from my adult life until fairly recently I really dislike. I don’t like how I look, and they don’t feel like “me” and it’s really hard to explain why.
- Where do you like to get gender affirming clothing?
Maurices, Eshakti, and Blackmilk are the majority of my wardrobe right now, in regards to the clothing I like to wear the most when I really want to present as my real self.
- Who has been your closest support in your transition? How did they support you?
I have a small, close-knit group of friends, all of which have been the most supportive people in regards to my transition. There was never any question of my identity being transgender. They were surprised, but immediately started using the pronouns and name I asked. They almost never deadname or misgender me. I love that they can look back on my past, and see glimpses of me for who I am now. They’ve been there for me through thick and thin. My transition was easy, with them, it was never a question. It was as if they could just see me for who I was for the first time and accepted it.
- What do you wish people would ask you?
Anything at all. It’s less the what, and more the how. I might not have the words to answer immediately, or succinctly, especially if it’s in person, but someone giving me the time to respond at my leisure and comfort level? That means the world to me. I love that my sister-in-law sent me these questions. I want to be visible. I want to be open and honest about myself. I don’t want to hide anything. Ask me questions, and allow me to answer without judgment. Just accepting me as a person, with all my flaws and vices, and listening to what I have to say.