After reaching my late-40s, becoming more visibly trans, having a child, and losing most of my employment prospects, I finally became comfortable with myself. A lot of that comfort and acceptance came from a new love affair—with, oddly enough, trapeze.
In grad school, my girlfriend went to the gym. I followed suit, because everything a new girlfriend does seems totally perfect. Of course, change rooms—or any single-sex space—are dangerous places for trans people… Would the gym’s policies protect me? Did I look pretty enough that dayto avoid raising eyebrows? It took me over a decade to truly internalize the fact that change rooms don’t have a dress code.
When you transition, the usual expectation is that you begin to pass as your preferred gender. But most don’t, fully. And I didn’t, fully. I finished grad school with a PhD, a wife, a son, and a bundle of optimism. But being visibly trans in a competitive field meant zero job offers for any positions that would have utilized my credentials. So, I had a future to invent, and no more patience for the conventional.
At first, transitioning made me feel like I should stay in the shadows, keep a low profile. I felt as though transitioning placed a huge demand on others that I should repay by accepting any old kind of gender expression. I compensated for my distinct appearance by dressing down. The simpler and humbler my outfit, the more supplicant my request for acceptance felt…
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