Today’s dance panic was interesting. Well, not terribly interesting at the time, because at the time it was mainly panicky and worry that i was going to put a foot wrong socially, as opposed to terpsichorally (look it up!).
On the other hand, it also occasioned quite an insight for me. Which was first, how much consciousness of my old body had been influencing stuff – mostly, but not just, on the clothes front. And second how, post-op, i have a whole new rash of insecutiries and neuroses.
Dressing to be not male
Before, it was straightforward. I didn’t like my body all that much: and even though i was increasingly female outwardly, i was paranoid about – well, let’s not mince words – i was paranoid about my cock. Something in there about authenticity: the sense that if it was in any way obvious, it would lead some people to see me as not genuine.
A whole load of stuff about trans being associated, at some level, with sexual deviance: now there’s scope for a whole other post.
Mostly though, on the clothes front, i coped either by going for the tunic and leggings look – or long flouncy skirts. I gained a swimming cozzy, with built-in short skirt. I joked about having a post-op box: skirts that were just that bit elasticated in the critical zone…but it wasn’t just joke.
Nor was the suggestion that the op was a lot to do with creating an appropriate silhouette. Oh: that sounds trivial. But wrap in all of the above, about authenticity, genuineness, cis obsession with what the average tranny has under her skirt…no: its not “just” a joke.
Dressing to be female
So back to today. Over the last few weeks i have been experimenting clothes wise. Fewer tunics. Some of the post-op skirts have now seen the light of day. But not all. I’m making a load more discoveries about my body, and clothes…and pressure to conform.
Body-wise, i felt it too. A freedom to move and gyrate in ways i had never felt before. Yay! Its just: well, there are female dance moves and male ones (as well as gender-neutral) and for the first time i found myself able fully to appreciate the first.
Second, though, i realise that i have swapped one set of pressures for another. No longer worried about suddenly looking male…i am increasingly “worrying” about “getting it right” in female terms.
Oh. Let me qualify: i don’t believe that there is a “right” way to dress. But there are fashions and trends and it is always worth knowing what is in fashion so as to be able to decide whether one’s wear is going to place one in the background – or outrage public decency.
Early days, transition-wise, i got an easy ride from other women: after all, i was just learning. The fact that i wouldn’t now be seen dead in half the clothes i wore at the outset doesn’t matter. It was OK then.
That’s changed. I am aware of the playground dress instinct – that mystical ability that mum’s seem to have, like flocks of birds whirling on an instant, with no signal given – to just “know” what is OK for the day.
At its most granular, its the point, in spring, when trousers and jeans give way to skirts. When boots, when heels, when flip flops. The point at which one exposes one’s toenails. And so on.
I exaggerate. A bit. But its there. Not exactly a pressure to conform (though by implication that is what it creates) so much as tacit shared knowledge – and nuance.
I’m learning. I’m learning what is “expected”: and no, i’m not always conforming. Though from off-stage i get a barrage of conflicting advice. My daughter, who warns in dire tones that i should not experiment with irony in clothes until i’ve got everything nailed down.
Also advising is andrea, with views on what it is proper for a woman “of a certain age” to wear…and latterly, equally dire warnings about the dangers of camel toe…
I’m learning. I won’t always get it right. But the learning is fun, and the insights are good.