Embarrassing admissions that don’t really embarrass me anymore: part the first

Before we go any further, I don’t actually know that there will ever be a part 2, but who knows, I’ve had lots of embarrassing moments in my life so maybe someday we’ll have a part 3,246. Might as well start out the naming convention with room for growth, then, eh?

This admission is about how complicated the process is to come out as trans. When I was coming out there was a relative dearth of information about FtM experience, but the relatively larger amount of information about MtF experience was no advantage as the information was thoroughly buried under the crappiest of misinformation. As a result, when I was 20 years old and struggling to talk to the people close to me about my relationship with my body and my gender, I knew I wanted sex reassignment surgery, but I wasn’t at all sure if I was transsexual. I was desperately worried that it might be difficult to communicate with doctors about wanting SRS without actually being transsexual. (And I was right to be worried!) But the fact remained:

I could not be transsexual because I did not like sequins. And I wasn’t going to start wearing makeup just because I was giving myself a different name and intending on having SRS. And high heels? No. They might be fun dress-up toys, but having bone problems from a young age took all the fun right out of them. Obviously I wasn’t transsexual for all of those reasons, but let’s be clear: the thing I kept coming back to was the sequins. My mom had a couple sequin blouses and I hated them. They looked fine from a distance. They looked fancy and even cool, in the right light. Particularly the one that was all black sequins. But not only were they not my style to wear, the touch of them was just awful. How could anyone give or receive hugs in that thing? Ew. The very idea made my skin crawl.

So there it was: not transsexual because sequins.

I throw this out there because some people get nervous talking about trans-related topics, thinking that their ignorance might shock me or cause me problems. Look, folks, l’m a trans woman and I was planning on having sex reassignment surgery while simultaneously being convinced I wasn’t actually trans because I didn’t (and still don’t) like sequins. Society feeds the misinformation to all of us. Trans folk are not immune. If I can think I wasn’t trans because sequins, whatever your misconceptions are could not possibly shock me.


  1. Jazzlet says

    You were clearly entirely correct about sequins, especially ” How could anyone give or receive hugs in that thing? Ew.” And urgh and ick and yuck and all other similar expressions of disgust. Sorry if that is not relevant, but don’t do sequins anywhere near me.

  2. billseymour says

    This 74 year old cis straight white male probably shouldn’t be commenting for all the reasons you gave in your previous post; but I’d like to say that I hope you continue with these posts so that I can learn something that I never had the need to understand.

    In the mean time, I guess that all I can do is to try to get through the day without being a jerk.

  3. Aoife_b says

    I remember reading some of the trans accounts on this very network a decade ago, thinking to myself “I wish I was trans, I think I’d be happier”. But if you’d asked me, I wasn’t trans because I thought I’d know I had dysphoria, the fact that I hated everything about my body and was completely miserable seemed to not count at the time.
    I managed to figure it out finally. I was right, I am happier

  4. Allison says

    It never occurred to me that I might be trans because I didn’t feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body. I still don’t. I don’t even feel like my essence is female. And I have no idea what it feels like to “identify as a woman.” I don’t feel like a woman or a man; when I’m alone, gender is irrelevant — I’m just me.

    Plus, I had no interest in trying to look like a “sexy” woman or flirting (and having sex!) with men — and isn’t that what being a “transsexual” is all about?

  5. says

    I had to be a girl because, well… I have the innie parts, and that’s what makes me a girl, right? Right? (Hint: No.)

    I think I knew on some level early on, but I never had a way to really express not being a girl or a boy, but sort of… both-and-neither? Growing up in the 1980s was kind of a weird experience.

    I didn’t know non-binary genders were even a thing until I was in my 30’s!

    And now, looking back, it should have been obvious from the start, because I never had that innate feeling of “I’m a girl”, it was always a category imposed on me by others.

  6. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    I hear you also about the weird mix of info available when we were coming out in the 80s. It took me a while to sort out that I was NOT trans even though I liked girls and rejected a lot of the prescribed feminine behaviors I was brought up with. My nephew has had much better info to guide his transition, and I’m so glad to see how the field has progressed.

    Also, you are so right about the sequins. I am a belly dancer, meaning I am drawn to sequins and crystals and shiny things like a magpie, but even I can’t WEAR them on a layer next to the skin. I did once try on a dance dress that was all navy blue sequined stretch fabric (long sleeves, high collar, figure hugging because that’s what dance dresses are like). It looked amazing, heads literally turned when I walked around in it, and I know drag queens who would have rocked it unapologetically, but it was UNWEARABLY scratchy inside it. The designer is a personal friend, and we talked about it some: apparently my reaction is the only one she’s seen like that, and she has outfitted entire belly dance troupes with this particular fabric. I blame my touch sensitivity (and maybe the synesthesia too).

    If I ever meet you in person I promise to leave the sequined stuff at home.

  7. StevoR says

    No expert at all but I’d estimate the percentage of feminity made by liking sequins is about the same as the percentage that a single dust grain makes up the mass of our Milky Way galaxy – if even that much.


  8. garnetstar says

    I think the experiences here are *exactly* why what transphobes currently scream about the loudest is the *best* thing that can happen! Which is, people having more thought frameworks, or societal frameworks, to sort out things that are causing them discomfort or worse.

    Now, young people (or whomever) can actually think “Am I gay? Am I trans? Am I simply someone who doesn’t conform to sex and gender stereotypes that society pushes?” Because the frameworks are there.

    And, contrary to what the bigots claim, people will sort out who they truly are a lot more quickly than when no frameworks existed. If you aren’t cis, trans, gay, or straight, you’ll find out mighty fast when you consider those possibilities and they don’t fit, and then you consider another possibility and find that it does fit, than if you flounder without any sort of framework to think about yourself.

    As to sequins….well, I must agree, except that once I saw an all-sequin shirt that was just to die for, it was beautiful. Not that I could or would wear it, but it looked great!

    Also, sometimes a small amount of them (restrained) look good on figure skating costumes.

  9. Numenaster, whose eyes are up here says

    “a small amount of them (restrained)”

    What is this restraint you speak of? I buy sequins by weight.

  10. Marja Erwin says

    I have sensitive skin, but either way we’re not going to achieve feminism through restraint or bdsm or whatever. /s

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