Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trainspotting: A Transgender Girl's Thoughts

Trainspotting is one of my absolute all-time favorite movies. For some unknown reason my Republican, Evangelical dad took me to see this movie in the theater. Maybe it was because he was a bit of an Anglophile and I guess Scotland is part of the UK so he took young teenage me to go see a film with insane amounts of drug use, nudity, swearing and dead babies. Well, this movie blew my mind. It redefined for me what a movie could be. 

In its initial US theatrical release it played in one theater on the other side of town for exactly one week. I ended up going back and seeing Trainspotting five times that week. By this time I was deep into my film connoisseur stage and was an unabashed fan of Tarantino, Kubrick and Scorsese. But Trainspotting blew me away. The music, the shots, the relentless energy, all of it compounded by the rapid dialogue delivered in heavy accents. The film, the story, the characters - all of it. I remember leaving the theater and thinking "I didn't know a movie could do that!" 

So when I saw that the new Alamo Drafthouse here in Brooklyn was showing Trainspotting for one night only I bought tickets as soon as I could. Yeah, I've seen this movie on DVD a hundred times, with commentary and without, but it's been twenty years (Wow. Twenty years) since I'd seen it on the big screen. And with the trailer for the sequel looking really good I was super excited to see this movie again. 

But, this isn't a movie blog. If you want info on Trainspotting you can find it all over the internet. As a transgender woman though, I think I can bring a unique perspective, especially having just seen it again on the big screen. Though the movie doesn't have any LGBT themes, Trainspotting does have a brief scene involving either a transgender woman or a crossdresser (it's not made explicitly clear how this person identifies - more on that later). For brevity I'm going to simply refer to her as a transgender woman. Because of this scene I think transgender people will come away from a viewing with a slightly different perspective than would a cis person. 

The scene takes place after our hero Mark Renton has moved to London to try and get away from his self-destructive lifestyle and the friends that encourage it. Unfortunately for Mark, his violent, quick-tempered, drunken asshole of a friend Francis Begbie shows up on the run from the law. After Begbie ends up winning big on a horse race, he and Renton go out to celebrate and visit a busy club in London. There Begbie meets the transwoman on the dance floor, then goes back to her car to hook up. As they're making out and petting heavily, Begbie discovers that she's not a cis woman and freaks out. Later, back at home, Mark kids him about the encounter and this causes Begbie to threaten him with a knife.

This scene actually has some really positive, forward thinking things to say about gender. During these scenes, Mark's voice over explains his thoughts:

Diane was right. The world is changing, music is changing, drugs are changing, even men and women are changing. One thousand years from now there'll be no guys and no girls, just wankers. Sounds great to me.

You see if you ask me we're heterosexual by default, not by decision. It's just a question of who you fancy. It's all about aesthetics and it's fuck all to do with morality. But you try telling Begbie that.

I love this because it's so prescient. I feel like society in 2017 is ever so slightly edging towards the point where this type of conception of gender is becoming the norm. In the twenty years since Trainspotting came out our ideas of gender and sexuality have evolved to the point where it's fairly normal to accept that both exist on a continuum and that there is a heck of a lot of grey area. We're not all just wankers quite yet, but the idea of a rigid binary between men and women, straight and gay, is in the process of breaking down. And it does seem great, at least to me.

I distinctly remember watching this back in 1996, before I really knew what it was to be transgender, and I remember loving the line about how in the future there'd be no guys and no girls. It was a great thing to hear in a movie for someone who knew they weren't comfortable in their gender role but didn't yet have the tools to really be able to articulate that yet.

Yeah, so while there are some positives, I have to say that there are quite a lot of negatives when it comes to this scene. Firstly, it plays off the tired old stereotype of the transgender woman who's out to "trick" straight men into acting gay. The underlying idea to this trope is that it's shameful to want to hook up with a transgender girl because it makes you gay. Yes, and of course it's shameful to be gay, obviously.

Now, there does remain the question of whether or not Begbie is in fact gay. Actor Robert Carlyle has gone on record as saying that he played the character as a closeted gay man who was desperately trying to bury his feelings and lashing out at anyone who threatened that. Author Irvine Welsh has stated that Begbie's sexuality was written to be a bit more ambiguous. But even the character is secretly portrayed as gay doesn't mean the audience (who's likely not in on the actor's motivation) fully understands this. This is especially true when the "gay" character is party to the all-too-common transgirl tricks the straight guy moment.

Gay or straight, this scene is told specifically from a male point of view. And it's the male character in this scene whose feelings are what the camera focuses on. Whatever his sexuality may be, this is Begbie's experience and the movie only follows him as he reacts to the transgender woman. This is again, all-too-common a trope when trans women are portrayed in media. They are presented as objects whose existence is there to be remarked up or reacted to by the cis male character.

Now, another question arises. Does this scene work to establish Begbie's character? I think it does, but not really in any new way. We know full well that Begbie is a psychopath. As viewers we've had lots of scenes thus far that illustrate this. He's starting fights with random unsuspecting people for no reason, he's robbing people, he's threatening his friends. We know he's a violent pyschopath with a hair trigger temper. All this scene adds is that, for whatever reason, he's also transphobic and homophobic. Now, t's certainly within character for Begbie to be a transphobic and homophobic asshole. It can add some complexity to  his character, but this attribute of his personality is never brought up or addressed again throughout the film.

It is interesting though that we've seen Begbie violently assault people for non-existent offenses like eating crisps too loudly in a large pool hall. Yet, when he realizes that he's making out with a transgender girl, we don't actually see him assault her. There's a shot where he seems to realize what's going on, a shot of her confused and slightly worried reaction. Then the next shot is Begbie outside the car freaking out. This is an absolutely psycho character and it's telling that we don't see him actually harming this woman. That's curious. Perhaps he's angry with himself? But again, if this is a situation where this scene is supposed to establish that he's a self-hating closeted gay man, this never resurfaces again in  the movie.

Ultimately I think the issue can be summed up by asking what is the point of this scene?Unfortunately I don't think this scene was written in to provide insight into Begbie's character or as a means to allow Renton to get philosophical on the nature of society and gender. Ultimately, I think this scene is there for a laugh. We as the audience get to see the asshole Begbie end up in a situation that embarrasses him and we as an audience get to laugh at him. Mark Renton, our protagonist and the character we are led to identify most with even makes the jokes for us.

But to set up this joke the movie has to express the ideas that it is shameful and embarrassing for a straight identified cis man to fancy or hook up with a transgender woman, that doing so makes that cis man gay, and that being gay is a undesirable state. These aren't great ideas to espouse. Ideas like these normalize homophobia and transphobia and that normalization can negatively affect the lives of LGBT people either through marginalization or even through legislation.

Even with the negatives, I still love this movie. Yes, I think this one scene could have been cut without really changing the narrative of the movie. I think now, two decades later, this type of joke really wouldn't fly in a movie, at least not without people calling it out for what it is. Yes, Trainspotting is a classic but even classic films carry the baggage of the culture that produced them. Another of my absolute favorite movies, Casablanca, makes me cringe when Isla, a young white woman, refers to Sam, a middle aged African-American man, as a "boy." Movies are a product of their time and this sort of joke was okay in 1996. Thankfully we seem to be moving away from that now.

When I was sixteen and watching this for the first time, my internal transieness perked up during this scene. Like any media that presented a transgender element, this interested me. At that age I was still insanely confused about what it meant to be cis or trans or gay or straight, but I knew I identified with and enjoyed male-to-female elements in media, even if they were rarely positive. This scene made me think "hey, crossdressing in this film! That's so cool." Plus I thought the transgirl's stockings were cool. I'd like to write about how this scene reinforced my own internalized shame at feeling transgender, but I don't remember it doing that. Mostly, I think, at sixteen I just thought it was cool that there was a transgender element in the movie at all.

At age thirty-six this scene affected me rather differently. I had braved a nor'easter with pouring rain and 70mph wind gusts (not exaggerating) to get to the theater after work. I was soaked, my wig was blown around and I felt and looked like crap. I was sure I didn't pass. But, I took a quick trip to the bathroom to clean up and I felt a little better. Still didn't feel super passable but at least I no longer looked like something the cat dragged in. 

Watching this scene on film in a crowded theater really made me feel like I stood out to everyone in the audience. As though I might have blended in before the movie but that scene put the idea of transwomen in the audience's heads. Now when they saw me they would be in transgirl-spotting mode.I felt like that scene put the idea that transwomen are bad into people's heads and it might have made them view me as a joke, like I was some ridiculous person. It was like a spotlight shone on me and it made me uncomfortable. Thankfully it's not a long scene.

Like I said, I still enjoyed the movie a great deal. It's still one of my absolute favorite movies and I'll watch it again and again. I'll see the sequel on opening day. Trainspotting is a good enough movie that I'll forgive it this scene. Unlike say, Breakfast at Tiffany's which is not a good enough movie for me to forgive its racism. Movies are products of their time and for great movies like Trainspotting, I'm still willing to enjoy it and enjoy the heck out of it, even if it does have a small bit of 1996-era transphobia in it. 

Oh, and there was one other reaction that I had as a transgender girl watching Trainspotting. Diane's dress in the Volcano Club scene. Damn! That look redefined the very concept of sexy for me. Damn, When I was sixteen I wished I had that dress and could look that good in it. And now at age 36 I still wish I had that dress and looked that good in it.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Rock it, Kelly MacDonald!

What girl doesn't want to look good in silver. Well, even as I was getting some screen-grabs for this blog (two days after watching this movie in the theater again), my first thought was, dang, I totally want to watch Trainspotting again. So I think I will. And let's hope T2 is good too. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women's March on Washington

Yesterday, we got back from the Women's March on Washington and really all I can say is "wow!" It was amazing. There were so many of us there; people of all faiths, genders, identities, religions. We met people from all over the United States, some from as far away as South Carolina. They were all there to speak up and be heard. There were a multitude of voices and perhaps each of us came to the march with our own priorities, but ultimately we all came to say that we are visible, that we are not going to be quiet, that we are human beings, that we are real Americans and that we are going to resist administration efforts to take away our rights, harm the planet, and destroy our lives. As someone said, we outnumber them. We will resist. Yes, it was amazing to be there. 

It was especially amazing to be there representing all the transgender women who weren't able to be there in person. My partner and I both proudly flew our transgender flags and we were not the only ones flying that blue, white and pink banner. We saw many signs too that mentioned transgender rights. Though transgender people are a minority, our voices will be heard and we will not be silent. And we have allies. We have lots and lots of allies. 

So beyond amazing, what was it like to be there? I thought I'd share my experiences and my pictures too. 

Freshly arrived in Maryland - ready to march. 
We headed down to DC via the Bolt Bus. It's one of those cheap but nice, comfy buses that run between major cities in the North East (Boston, NYC, Philly, DC). We have lots of friends in the DC area, but this time arranged to stay with some of our people in Maryland. They'd just moved down to the Old Line state from Brooklyn a few weeks earlier so they wanted a chance to show off their new suburban digs. And being used to Brooklyn, they were probably eager for some company too. Thursday we traveled and Friday we mostly stayed around Maryland so as to avoid any of the security or traffic from the inauguration.

Unfortunately, no one told me about the color coordination. Not only did I not have a pink hat with kitty ears, I didn't have any white clothes to honor the Suffragettes either! What would Elizabeth Cady Stanton even say to such a person? Luckily, my friends are pretty creative people and had lots of arts and crafts supplies on hand. So I took a couple pipe cleaners and whipped up my own pussy hat.

Early in the morning on Saturday, we got up, got ready and left the house by 9am. There was probably a forty-five minute ride into the heart of DC and the march started at 1pm so we figured we had lots of time. We were meeting friends at a McDonald's nearby the march starting location, so I skipped breakfast, figuring I'd grab a coffee and a hash brown there. I will say this...I don't care for McDonald's burgers because they're so low quality, but dang that place knows how to fry a potato! Our plan was to hit the march, then maybe find a pub nearby to grab a burger and a beer and chill out.

Well, that wasn't to be the case.

Above is the entrance to the Shady Grove stop, the last stop on the DC Metro's Red Line. Yup. There must have been two or three thousand people waiting to get on the train. You can't see it from the picture, but this crowd goes back for at least another two hundred yards. It was insane.

Still, we were in good spirits. I hadn't brought a sign (though after reading all the clever ones people had brought, I started to wish I had made one). Instead my partner and I carried transgender pride flags. Recently I bought a dozen of them online because you apparently can't buy them in amounts smaller than twelve.

It was so crowded that we abandoned our plans to try and meet up with our friends and decided to just head to the March. Kath and I sent out a quick tweet to tell people we were going to have to come back in April to hang out with people because logistically it just wasn't going to happen with these crowds. 

Eventually, after about an hour or so, we managed to get onto the train. Mostly this was because a Fire Marshall showed up and started organizing the lines by who had money on their card and who needed to use the machine to get a card. Luckily, we had enough funds on our cards so off we went!

Once we got into DC, we walked out of the metro and immediately found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of other marchers. Though we had a map and some locals (my partner having spent her grad school career at Georgetown), we generally followed the crowds toward the Mall. Slowly, but surely the crowds got thicker and thicker until there were thousands of marchers on the street. Pink hats and signs were everywhere. People were chanting slogans. The march had begun! 

Okay, it turns out that what we at first thought was the march was actually just several thousand people walking toward the march. We were actually several blocks and a whole National Mall away from the starting point of the march. Soon though, we found a good spot right near the march's starting point and waited for it to begin. 

There was a lot of waiting. A lot. But we expected that. We were about a hundred and fifty yards from the main stage but were actually behind it so we couldn't actually hear anything. There were a few jumbo-trons around too, but they were also too far away. Mostly, we stood there. A few people chanted, some talked, we just chilled out and chatted and waited.

The march technically started at 1pm, but what happened was that they started the music and speeches at 1pm and they easily went on for an hour and a half. It was probably cool to listen to Gloria Steinem, Alicia Keys, Janet Mock, Ashley Judd, Madonna and others talk or perform, but slightly frustrating when you can't actually see or hear anything.

A lot of people were getting impatient and shouts of "Start the march!" were echoing through the crowd. Mostly we didn't mind the wait. As far as we saw it, simply having numbers like this present in DC was what mattered. Whether we walked down the street or not, it was clear that we had managed to bring quite a crowd who wanted to be heard. Even if we never marched, simply being there counted for a lot.

We did see some transgender representation at the march and in fact we weren't the only people with transgender flags on display. Plus we saw some people with transgender buttons and we saw lots of people with signs that were trans-inclusive. That was really cool. And we flew our transgender pride flags with, well, pride.

There were so many cool signs. I didn't even bother to record them because there were far too many clever ones. But, of course my favorite signs were all the ones with the Rebel Alliance symbol from Star Wars. There were a ton of those and I seriously hope that during this dark time for our country those of us who are standing up for what's right will use the Rebel symbol as our own. Actually, I have a Rebel Alliance gay pride flat T-shirt and didn't even bring it to DC because I thought it was going to be too cold for anyone to see it. Ah well, it was like 55F (12.7C). 

Also, I just love, love, loved all the Princess Leia/General Organa posters that I saw. Perhaps it wasn't smart of Trump to piss off a whole generation that grew up believing in Rebellion and standing up for what's right against evil and tyranny. Seriously, we're like one X-Wing away from fucking some serious shit up in this country. 

Here is are some links to the best posters from the March. There were quite a few good ones and some that were thoughtful, seriously artistic and really meaningful. But I didn't get photos of them, so check these links and around the internet if you didn't already see them on your Facebook wall. 

More important than the signs, however clever they may have been, were the people. Oh my gosh, we saw such a diverse group of people. To start with I'd say that the gender divide was around 60% women and 30% men (and we'll leave 10% for those who'd like to define themselves). We saw Muslim women in hijabs who had multiple generations together in their group, we saw whole Christian congregations. We saw people from all over the United States. There were quite a few older people, there were young kids, there were lots of teens and young adults too. We saw American flags, LGBT pride flags and a few state flags as well. It was a melting pot, it was a big mixed salad and everyone was super nice and got along like Americans should.

Heck, we even saw some counter protester pro-life people and I gave them a smile and a wave. My friend saw some seriously lost Trump supporters and stopped to ask if they were okay and if they needed directions. We saw a small group of counter-protesters who wanted to point out that they felt the march organizers should have been more inclusive. I saw that one had a transgender pin so I gave her one of my extra transgender flags and we had a nice moment.

Well, it was so packed that a rumor started that we weren't going to actually march because the entire march route was full from start to finish. We weren't quite sure but it was so crowded we definitely believed it. Though the permits didn't cover it, our area started moving toward the National Mall en masse and we headed along with the group. Soon the entire National Mall was swarming with marchers.

It was a good opportunity to grab some quick selfies with the US Capitol in the background. Plus after almost two hours jammed on a city street it was nice to actually have a little bit of room. I of course took the opportunity to grab a few selfies with some of our nation's landmarks.

Smithsonian Castle

US Capitol

Washington Monument

Pictured: Love trumping the absolute heck out of hate.

It was around 3pm by the time we all took over the Mall and I was beginning to regret having skipped breakfast and lunch. Standing for five hours thus far was also slowly transforming my comfortable ankle boots into uncomfortable ankle boots. But we persevered. C'mon Trump is actually President. We have to be strong and bear the unbearable. Even if that means uncomfortable booties and no McDonald's hash browns.

Slowly we made our way over toward where the proper March was going on. It was headed down Constitution towards the While House. Once we got there we found a spot and slowly inched along in the march. And I mean we literally inched along. There were so many people that you couldn't actually march. Each step we took was about four inches. And it was easily a minute or two between those four inch steps. 

In fact, Constitution Avenue was so crowded that if you jumped up (and you had to jump up to see over the crowds) all you saw were people from horizon to horizon. Behind you there was nothing but people until the crowd faded into gray ants. And in front it was literally the same. Just a sea of pissed off humanity demanding to be heard. 

We were in it for the long haul. Well, partly because we believed in the reasons for the march, but also because there was no way to get out of the crowd. Seriously. The mass of people was so dense and we were so deep in the middle that there was no real way for us to edge our way to the sides even if we wanted to get out. 

By 4pm and 4:30pm my hunger and tiredness were starting to get the best of me and I remarked about how I couldn't wait to get out of the march and find a gastropub where we could grab a pint and a ginormous burger. Then the girl behind me overheard and remarked "Oh my god, I was just thinking the same thing - I could totally go for a burger and a beer right now!" But, we were still in the thick of things and still making noise. 

By around five, when the March made a turn onto 14th Street to head north towards the White House, we were able to slowly, very slowly, and with extreme awkwardness and many "I'm sorrys," make our way out of the main mass of marchers.

As we headed away from the march we spotted the nearest metro station and it had an inanely huge crowded lined up to get on. The line stretched well around the block. We figured we would find a restaurant to assuage our hunger and where we could sit and chill for a while while we waited for the trains to clear up. At the first spot we tried a brew pub nearby Metro Center, we were told they had a four hour wait. Four friggin hours! The next place we tried wasn't even seating new people. Egads! Looks like our plan was kaput. 

On our way further out into DC, we passed the Old Post Office. Now it's the hotel owned by some jerk with tiny, tiny hands. Everyone from the march was stopping to pile their protest signs there on the security fence outside the hotel. I don't know if tiny hands himself was staying there but there was an insane amount of security. It didn't stop us though. I walked right and up and pinned my transgender flag up there with the other signs. 

And as I was pinning my flag, another person saw me, came up and decided to pin their own transgender flag to the fence next to mine. It was a great moment. Now thanks to us there was a whole transgender pride section of that fence. As I walked away, I looked up at the hotel and shouted "Tweet this, motherfucker!" I don't know if anyone heard me or not. 

Eventually we did get food. It was around 8pm that night. First we waited in line for the metro and luckily the line moved pretty quickly. We were on a Shady Grove bound red line train in only ten minutes or so. The ride back was crowded but it was also a wonderful moment. All of us there on the train knew we had, in a way, made history. We had all spoken up against hatred, injustice and intolerance. It was a remarkable moment. But it was, alas, only a moment. This is going to be a much more protracted fight.

Now, I'm definitely not one for protests. Honestly, I think there's a big issue on the left where too many people think a protest alone is somehow going to solve their problems. It's not. A march, a protest, is a way to get people organized, energized and ready for action. But the march is not the action. Still, it got me geared up for action in a way I totally didn't expect. 

The Women's March on Washington was wonderful. It felt wonderful to be there and to be accepted as a transgender woman. This march made me hopeful and I hope we can transfer this energy into action to get out the votes! We have to get congress back in 2018 and in the mean time I hope people keep writing their city, state and national reps, get involved in their local city councils, in their state legislatures, with their congresspeople too! There's a lot more going on the a Presidential election, and the people in your state legislatures have more power over your life than POTUS.

Two marchers ready for their bus back to NYC. 
In the 18-30 year old voter demographics, who lean left, turnout for local, state and off year elections is like 11%. For old people who lean right, the turnout is like 66%. This has to change if our country is going to change. 

The Women's March showed that we can organize. It showed that we have the energy and the will. Now all we have to do is apply that will to a practical purpose. Are you in? 

We are visible. We are not silent. We are real Americans. We resist.

And for those of you who aren't into politics...I promise this blog will not be exclusively political. I remember during the Bush years when politics took over a lot of outlets to their detriment. I have political opinions, I think certain issues are important, I will speak out about them, but don't worry. Adventures of a Gender Rebels will not be just politics for the next four years. C'mon. It's me. You know I'm gonna wanna talk fashion and whatnot too. :)

Also be sure and check out the Gender Rebels podcast episode we made about our experience at the march.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Transgender Girl Comes Out to Her Mom

While I certainly don't mean any disrespect to my mom, the letter I sent her cribbed a lot from the one I'd written my sister. Mostly that's because when I first thought about coming out to family, I sat down with a Google doc and started thinking about what I wanted to say. What I came up with is this outline:

Dear Person,

1. You are important to me. I don’t want to lose our relationship.
2. I’m transgender.
3. This is something I’ve been dealing with for my whole life and I need to have the courage to come out and be myself.
4. I’m still me. (though people tell me I seem much happier)
5. Your support for me is invaluable.
6. Please call me Faith from now on, female pronouns, etc.
7. I’m still me.
8. You’re super important to me.



While I certainly changed a few things up between the letters, it was mostly the same letter. It took me a lot longer to build up the courage to send a letter to my mom. In fact it had been in the back of my mind for a while and it took some gentle reminders from my partner to make sit down, write this and mail it to my mom. And since I'd already come out to one family member, I didn't bother to film it or make a big deal. One morning, on the way to work, I just dropped it into the mailbox on the corner. That was it. 

Unlike my sister who took a good month to respond, I got a response from my mom only three or four days later. It was a text. 

I wrote back that I was thankful for her note and that we could talk soon. The next day she sent me a friend request on Facebook and I accepted. A few days later we finally got around to having an hour long phone conversation. In that time, I answered three questions. Yes, her first and thus far only three questions about her kid coming out transgender were: 
  • 1. How did you pick the name? 
  • 2. Is your partner okay with this?
  • 3. Are you coming out at work? 
A million questions condensed down to three. You'd think she'd have enough questions to provide me with podcasting fodder for ages, but nope. Just three. Ah well. She's still processing.

Well, I told her how I picked my name by selecting from the list of most common girls' names for my age cohort and how my middle name was an homage to a historical woman who'd always inspired, impressed and intrigued me, and I told her how I was keeping my last name because it's so unique and weird. I told her how amazingly supportive my partner has been throughout this whole thing, though I didn't mentioned our podcast. I still don't want my mom to be reading my blog or listening to my podcast. And I told her that I had come out at work, and everything had gone really well.

And I think my biggest surprise was that my mom told me that she had had no idea I was transgender. None at all. I asked her to confirm that growing up she'd never noticed anything. She said no. To me that was so bizarre, because I can think of lots of incidents that should have made it fairly obvious. Ah well. At least I thought it was obvious growing up. Maybe not so much. 

Both her and her husband were super supportive and told me that they'd even gone to a PFLAG meeting in their area. PFLAG for those who don't know, is a great organization (full name Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). It's a support organization and also does outreach, education and activism. I couldn't believe how utterly supportive both my mom and her husband were. It was amazing. 

Seriously, I used to imagine that one day, I'd be a woman in a pretty dress and I'd go meet my mom for lunch somewhere and she'd treat me like her daughter. I had this entire fantasy pictured in my head (though was blonde in the fantasy). And now it seems like it is going to happen at some point soon. While they do live in a red state, I have traveled to red states before without any issues, so I might visit or they might visit.We'll see. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Hair Minus Four Months and Counting

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I think wigs are awful monstrosities that were knitted by Satan's most horrid demon underlings. They're the worst. Worst than Hitler cancer. Worse than Donald Trump. Okay, not as bad as Trump, but still. I am not happy having to wear a wig every single day.

Here I am almost two months into full time and I've already burned through three wigs. I'm on my fourth. And not only do I have a new one coming to me off the internet soon,  I'm also planning on going wig shopping after work. I'm going out tomorrow and have a dinner party on Saturday and I want to look my best. I really need a new wig because my currently my wig is a rat's nest of frayed tangled terribleness.

I don't why I can't manage to keep a wig looking nice for longer than about two weeks. I switched from curly to straight because straight hair is easier to maintain. I've been religiously following the instructions that came with the wig. I've tried watching YouTube videos, reading tutorials, tips and tricks, internet guides. I've tried at least three different bottled remedies and one homemade one that a YouTuber recommended.

No matter what I try my wigs start out beautiful, they make me look amazing and then slowly they tangle until it looks like I'm wearing a nasty, knotted, frizzy hair helmet. Washing the wigs per the instructions will buy me another week or so, but after that the wig is just gone and I look terrible and horribly unpassable. Yes, I really do think that a good, fresh wig is key to passing.

In my darkest moments, I actually regret starting full time before my hair had grown out sufficiently to avoid wigs. I worry that I jumped the gun and have made things too difficult for myself. Honestly, when it comes to transition, my biggest source of stress (other than dealing with the bureaucracy on my gigantic name change check list) is wigs.

Not only do I feel ugly when my wigs have gotten ratty, my self-esteem spirals down and down and down. I find myself avoiding going out sometimes because I don't want to "waste" a good wig day. I go wigless on weekends, in androgynous-at-best mode, because I don't want to "waste" my wigs on simple errands like the grocery store or something. I have to save them for work. It's tough.

But the craziest thing is that there have literally been days where I went out in a horrible, frizzy, knotted to hell wig and not only got compliments on my hair but also had people ask what type of shampoo and conditioner I used. So I don't know. I really don't. Some might say "oh, you think you look ugly all the time? Welcome to woman-hood." I guess in a sense that's true. But it also really bothers me that there's something so beyond my control. Even if other people don't notice, I do and right now my self-esteem, my mood seems firmly fastened to how passable that is, to how I look. Maybe that's normal for trans women, maybe that's normal for all women.

A part of me has also started to worry that in four months I won't be able to throw away the wigs forever. Either my natural hair still won't have grown out long enough to look decent or worse, it will somehow be insufficient to hide my bad hairline, even with bangs. Then again, I'm a naturally worrisome person. My own head hair can already kind of work, it just needs to be longer.

And in the mean time, yeah, I'm on wigs. Two a month. That's like $120-$150 on average. That's not so far out of range of what some women spend on monthly hair care. And that will only be for the rest of January, then all of February and March and April. Those are the cold, awful months anyway. By the time it's warm in May my hair should be about chin length and I can work with that. I'll happily work with that.

I remember back in the day, talking to a transgender woman who was a friend of mine on Myspace. She told me that unless you're literally suicidal, don't transition. She warned that transition was so expensive and draining and awful that it wasn't worth it unless it was the only way you could stay alive. I don't quite know if I agree with her advice.

Transition has been hard. It really has. You have to jump through a lot of bureaucratic hoops, updates tons of paperwork, build up the courage to come out to people. It can be draining. It can be stressful. It can make you nervous and frightened and worried. But, in the end, I think. The things that are hard and the things that are worth doing. I honestly look at my transition as a bonafide, legitimate accomplishment. The kind you write about in your college essay. You know, about the time you overcame an obstacle and achieved your goals.

I'm proud of what I've done. Yeah it's been hard. Yeah, it's still gonna be hard. But so is everything in life. It's gonna be frustrating and annoying and tough and soul-breaking but so is life. And this is my life and as frustrating as it is right now, I believe, I honestly believe, that it will only get better.

Wigs and all.

Also, here are some pictures.