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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Unsure where I feel safe dressed femme

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Author Topic: Unsure where I feel safe dressed femme
Djuna
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Hi, it's been my New Year's resolution this year to be more proactive with gender transition stuff, as and how I want to be, but I mean making my feelings about that a priority for what money/therapy time/social time I have.

So I've been fashioning breast forms out of socks, and buying sports bras, and more female-assigned clothing than I'd had before, like dresses and miniskirts and tights, and getting makeup that's mine. And buying underwear that's coded for a different gender than you were assigned at birth is a super liberating experience, even if you have to stare down sales assistants to let you into the changing rooms. [Smile] It was really awesome to be like, "hey, I can just do this and it's okay."

What I'm trying to figure out is where I can be femme - I'm safe in Manchester when I go to visit my friends there, but it's 6 hours away. I went to see them at NYE and I'm going again this weekend for my birthday, but I can only go maybe once a month and probably not every month. I'm not sure about university - that might be okay for the open mic nights I play at there, for example, but I don't know about going to lectures (although I want to). I don't feel like I'm safe being out to my parents, although I want to go to graduation this summer dressed somewhat femme. I'm not really out to my housemates as trans (although I am out as queer), and it's an all-male environment that I don't feel would be particularly supportive (although I don't think it would be actively negative).

I've been talking to my best friend A about maybe writing a letter to my parents, but I have no idea how that might go. I feel like if I was going to dress femme at uni I might want to shoot my lecturers a message, too, because I've known them make off jokes in the past probably unintentionally.

I just feel like no one would be attracted to me when I'm dressed like this, although that comes and goes because I do like how I look femme, and when I dress up like that it can make me super turned on, which is really rare for me. But I don't really know how to find people who would be attracted to me looking like that.

This is all a bit assorted and mixed up, I'm sorry.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Djuna
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I've also been thinking about my name. Lately I've been using Jay on Facebook, as my first initial, but it's not as feminine or even gender neutral as I would like. I briefly met an awesome woman named Jay Cee and I really liked the name, but going by initials seems to be coded masculine (or I guess it depends what the initials are).

I feel like I want something other than Joseph, but I don't know what and I feel a lot of pressure to get it right so as not to keep changing. I think I like Tegan (although the possible problem of me slipping up and introducing myself as Tegan and Sara, who are my absolute ohmygod favorite band ever), Sara (better [Wink] ) and also Djuna. Has anyone else been through this process of choosing a new name? I've been reading articles about it but I can't come up with a good system.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I'm so happy to hear the positives in this! Yay!

So, with the more challenging stuff, I'm hearing two different primary issues here: feelings about safety and feelings about attractiveness. We can certainly talk about both, but since it doesn't seem like you're separating them, I wanted to first ask you if they felt separate or related to you.

With naming, I think this is one of those things where it's going to have a lot to do with how much you want your name to be about your gender identity; how much having a name that connotes a clear gender matters. I don't think there are rights or wrongs there, just what you really want, which certainly includes what you want a name to do. Perhaps obviously, if you want a name which makes a femme ID very, very clear to other people, then yeah, picking a name that is most likely to get read that way makes sense.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I'm glad to hear the positives in this too.

With regards to the spaces like you University and specifically your classes where you're not sure how safe (and I assume therefore comfortable with how safe or unsafe you feel) you feel about dressing more femme there, how about starting small? Wearing one or two items that are more femme, or even less masculine and then seeing how you feel in those situations dressed like that.

As per names, that is as Heather said totally up to you. What name feels like it's you? What name would feel natural to be called? What name would you turn your head when you heard it called? (Although, of course with any of that, given that it isn't a name you go by now it'd take time to get used to it, but none the less...)

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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bump on a log
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Shoot your lecturers an email, yes, if you feel like that's doable. I should think you'd be fine dressed femme in a lecture in one of the London colleges in broad daylight, but maybe I don't know. What do you mean safe? Physically safe, or safe from name-calling, or safe from cold-shouldering, or what? Also important, are these lecture-lectures or seminars or both? In my experience people pay not a whole lot of attention to you in a big, full lecture theatre.

Nothing wrong with trying out names for a while. A name is in part something you answer to. Maybe get a friend to call you Sara for a week, then get a friend to call you Djuna for a week, see which one you like better. Something like that.

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Djuna
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Hmmm, sorry I took so long to get back on this. Thanks everyone for your replies!

I definitely think that feeling attractive and feeling safe are linked for me, although mostly that has more to do with being attractive to myself than to others. I feel like if I feel I'm attractive, on the days that happens, I have a lot of confidence and it's harder for (hypothetical) people to hurt me. I can get to a place of not caring what people may or may not think, that way, if that makes sense. But it's a problem on days like today when I don't feel attractive at all.

I feel like gender is what happens when I wake up and get dressed, but the last few days I haven't felt like waking up or getting dressed.

On Friday I went to university in a dress and I felt really good about it. I liked the confirmation in my mind to see that nobody yelled at me or physically attacked me. Although my lecturer - the head of my department - came up to me late in the day, I'd walked into the cafe on campus and quickly said hello to him as I walked by, but about half an hour later while I was reading he got up from where he was sitting and came over to sit at my table. He sort of looked me over and asked if I was living my life as a woman now. I said that I wasn't especially and tried to start a conversation about the book I was reading (Nightwood by Djuna Barnes). After a couple of sentences he went back to asking me about why I was wearing what I was - I forget what it was he said - and I steered it back to my book again very pointedly. I've been feeling uncomfortable about that, I think I need to go and speak to him but I feel he won't be sympathetic. I do have one (senior) lecturer, my thesis advisor, who I think might be sympathetic. I had a meeting with him on Friday about my thesis and he seemed very professional and I know he's up on queer identity.

On Saturday I had a 1920s party to go to but it snowed a lot in London this weekend, and I got lost on the way from the bus stop to the house, so I was outside for close to an hour when it was like 24 degrees. I got to the party in my cute dress almost freezing to death and soaked in snow, and that was a bit of a bust.

I'm out to my housemates by now but I feel like they're talking to me less and I wonder if they resent maybe that they have less of an all-male house now or if they're offended by how I dress. I feel like I should talk to them about that, I'd been trying not to give them opportunities to say hurtful things. I don't suppose they would but I don't know. One of my housemates is pressuring me to go to the Student Union bar with them on Wednesday night for a big event and although I don't feel safe going in there (which I've said, and he hasn't dropped it) I don't want to push them away.

Now I'm wondering if I should try to go "back" to identifying as male but I don't want to. I've spent a lot of today trying to find some positive representations of trans people and there seem to be none in mainstream media. I found some good youtube videos and tumblrs which helped a little, only then because I've been feeling self-conscious about my voice I started looking up vocal therapy, and I found a guide on tsroadmap.com which is usually good but the tone it took felt a lot like bullying to me.

Bumponalog, this isn't a central London college, it's a tiny Catholic university in the suburbs that I for some reason decided to study at. It's good for my course and I figured how Catholic could it be? I guess what I'm worried about is being safe from name-calling and cold-shouldering, although if I go to the bar I'm definitely also scared of being assaulted.

Moonlight, I tried just a couple items a few times, like just breast forms under androgynous clothing, or wearing makeup dressed butch, and then I felt really confident so I went ahead and wore a dress and everything. [Smile] Which was nice but I feel like my lecturer destroyed my confidence at the end of the day.

I'm writing this in just my dressing gown because I don't want to put on any clothes. I've been changing my clothes over and over today and nothing works. I feel that I hate my genitals and I hate that I can't get easy access to any medical intervention. I've been dodging calls from my parents because I don't want to talk to them when I'm feeling like this and I can't explain any of it to them. I've been having suicidal thoughts today and the last few days although I don't feel close to acting on them. I feel like if what I want is to transition to be a woman, that I will fail at that.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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September
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So, I should probably let you know that I think you have been incredibly, awesomely brave and strong. Exploring this kind of stuff is never easy, and it's especially tough when you are doing it with little or no support. The fact that you're going ahead with this and doing your thing, anyway, is actually pretty inspiring.

I'm on my way to work now, so I can't write more, but I just wanted to say that.

I hope you are feeling better today, and that you get your confidence back. If you ever want to talk, I'm happy to listen. Sending lots of hugs and good vibes your way!

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Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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eryn_smiles
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Wow, I think you've been so strong too, patrickvienna. Do hang in there and take care of yourself, ok? I'm really sorry to hear about the suicidal thoughts you're having. And about how your lecturer unnecessarily questioned you about your clothing. That's really rough! I hope it goes well, speaking with your thesis advisor and that they turn out to be a good support person for you.

You may have addressed this in another thread, but I was wondering who else you have supporting you around your gender? For example, friends, counsellor/therapist, GLBT groups, GP? Have you been in touch with those people lately? Do you have any equity committee or similar forum for staff and students at your campus to bring up issues of discrimination and harassment?

PS- You live in London, so I assumed you know about these organisations but just in case you don't...
Galop (can help with transphobia, hate crimes, harassment against GLBT people):
http://www.galop.org.uk/
Lists of local helplines:
http://www.londonfriend.org.uk/helplines/
http://www.londonfriend.org.uk/links/#Other%20LGBT%20Helplines%20in%20the%20UK

[ 02-07-2012, 06:15 AM: Message edited by: eryn_smiles ]

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"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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moonlight bouncing off water
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I'm just heading out the door too, but I wanted to send my support to you and let you know that you are being awesomely brave. It's so easy to hide something about us that's different (and sometimes, of course it is safer) but it is so incredibly hard sometimes to be very upfront about it. Go you!

And take care of yourself. If you're contemplating suicide, call someone, talk to someone. Call a helpline, do something.

Best of luck, you are awesome!

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~moonlight

I am ME and that is the only label I need.

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WesLuck
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I think you're incredibly brave, and sensible too, and I wish you all the best! Please take care of yourself, talk with a helpline if you don't have someone locally who is good to talk to, but also sound people out and thus find someone who proves they can be trusted, and talk to them about your worries when you need to! Gender is just so loaded, and it would be incredibly difficult to live in a society where your normal state of being is not accepted implicitly (ie. practically all societies at the moment). But your individuality and uniqueness is precious - you are indeed one of a kind, but that doesn't mean that you have to be lonely and that there aren't other people out there in a similar situation. There are those people and also people in the general population who are able to accept you for who you are!

Sending some big hugs your way! [Smile] YOU ARE AWESOME! (I think in this case the capitals are justified for this sentence. [Smile] )

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