Frequently, I’m asked all kinds of questions about my transition, which run the gamut from, the thoughtful and sincere, to the absurdly rude and horrifically personal, but, those who know me well, can attest that I handle all the questions in stride (usually) and typically answer, or use them as teachable moments. But every once in awhile, I’m asked something that gives me pause and I have to really reflect and think before blurting out an answer. Those are the questions I like because I learn something too!
Recently, someone asked me, “Is there anything you miss about being or identifying as a woman?” Now, I’ve been asked variations of this kind of question before, but its typically asked in a much less personal framework, or has the feel of a much deeper question of whether or not I have ever had any regrets of transitioning, which usually leads me to say something like, I miss using the women’s bathroom, because they are cleaner and smell nicer, or I miss getting into clubs for free, since a lot of places in Vegas used to allow ladies in with a Nevada ID. But neither the bathroom nor the clubs are things that I actually miss; those answers are mere segues to interject humor and deflect the conversation. But this time, probably because it was a close friend who asked the question, I really thought about it and oddly enough, I did in fact miss something from my earlier years identifying as a woman...
Painting my toenails!
How many of you saw that coming? I have to tell ya, I was a bit surprised myself. To put this into context, I wasn’t overly feminine before transition, but I did have the long hair that was always styled and colored, I wore my fair share of makeup, and I always had my toenails painted. For some reason, I liked that splash of color that wasn’t blatantly obvious, as it would have been, having my fingernails done up. To me, brightly colored fingernails seemed a bit too bold, so I opted for something a little less visible. I could decide whether I wanted to display my colored toes, or hide them in my shoes, depending on my comfort level each day. Believe it or not, I was actually a very shy person before transitioning and I avoided bringing attention to myself at all costs. But, when my friend asked that question, I almost immediately thought about my toes and how I had missed having them painted. I have thought about painting them over the past few years, but always felt embarrassed or silly, because I have bought into this gender binary notion that nail polish is not for men, because it’s too feminine.
Now, of course I know that that is absolutely untrue, but emotionally, I have been stuck in that mindset. Feeling like I have had to act or think a certain way, all because I now identify as male. And I have cared too much about what others may think of me, or have feared that I will be perceived as not being “man enough”. And in the midst of trying to explain to my friend why I missed having painted toenails, that’s when it hit me. What the Hell does “man-enough” even mean? And why am I allowing what other people think, or their definition of a man or woman, even shape who I am?
Hmmm. It’s amazing how one little question can change the direction of your life!
So, for the past few weeks, I have really taken this to heart, and you know what, I am way too old and have worked way too hard to find my true self, to allow the perceived thoughts and opinions of others, get in the way of doing what makes me happy. And, I decided to change the original question around. Why do I have to miss anything from my pre-transition days? I’m still the same person, just packaged differently, and I never have to be held to anyone else’s standard of gender roles. I don’t want to fit neatly into a box that says I have to act or live a certain way, just because now, my ID has a male gender marker. It’s not a matter of being “man-enough” or “woman-enough”, because I am already “Jeremy-enough”!
And I realized that I only had one choice to make...and I chose blue.