Reality is in the Eye of the Beholder
I am starting to question my grip on reality. Or, perhaps my friends’.
Last week I played golf for the first time openly as a woman. It was also the first one-on-one time I have had with this golf-buddy of mine since I told him I was trans. Of course, old habits die hard, especially when there is no occasion to practice new things, and he couldn’t help saying things like, “You’re up, big g–! Oops! Sorry!” He freely admitted that he still sees me as a guy, notwithstanding my adorable light-mauve golf dress and makeup. He’s known me as a guy for decades, and it is hard for him to see me any other way.
Today I had lunch with a girlfriend of mine. She has known me for many years – even longer than my golfing buddy – and one of the things I love about her is the fact that she is not as guarded as so many people are these days and I can have a real and honest and joyful conversation with her about many things, including our insecurities. This was our first meeting since I told her about Janie, and she – understandably – slipped up a few times on my name or gender. So, I asked her about it, and she echoed the sentiments expressed by my golf buddy last week. My voice isn’t much different, she’s seen the long hair on me as a guy for a while, and I express myself in much the same way as the same person I have always been and she has always known. So, yeah, she still sees me as her male friend, even as I sat before her in a lovely outfit including black and white capris and 3-inch heels, and was wearing lipstick and mascara.
Just to be clear, I have no complaints about my friends’ treatment of me. I couldn’t ask for a fuller and easier acceptance by one and all.
But, I do have a tremendous curiosity and puzzlement about how a person can stand face to face with a female-looking/acting person and innocently and honestly think “he.” What is it that governs their perception of my gender? Do I behave in a mannish way? Do I look like a guy? If not, then why doesn’t what’s in front of their eyes remind them, or even convince them of my gender? And if they do see me as a man, then what do they think of the fact that, as a man, I am wearing makeup or a dress or heels and living with the crazy idea that I am female?
It is an awful feeling realizing that those closest to you do not share your perception of reality. It undermines my confidence and my sense of self. It makes me feel like all the changes I have made in my life, in myself, in my appearance and in allowing a side of me that had been suppressed for so long to take over and, blissfully, steer my life, my thoughts and my feelings have all been to no effect. I feel like I have turned my world on its head, but they have perceived barely a ripple. I feel like I have become for them “that crazy guy who wears a dress and thinks he’s a woman.”
But then, “You definitely look happier. I can see it in your posture, and your eyes sparkle.”
How’s that for reality?