The power of gender validation is strong. Especially after we take on all the intense work and struggle to cross the binary gender frontier. For most transgender women and trans men validation is difficult to achieve as we attempt to live a new life as our authentic selves. In the past I have attempted to document my struggles with validation.
Looking back, I suppose it all started with my earliest days of cross dressing in front of the hallway mirror growing up. Unlike girls of my age bracket, I didn’t have any feedback. Except from the mirror.
Which I discovered later wasn’t the best choice. The mirror was excellent in telling me exactly what I wanted to hear. Not what was really happening. A tendency which would cause me tons of pain as the years progressed.
Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in the validation process was getting past the idea women primarily don’t dress themselves with men in mind. They dress for other women. As I began to understand the feminine validation process, I started to grow up mentally and began to dress to blend. My “style” shifted from borderline trashy into my beloved “boho” style which was coming back into fashion. I was able to relive a portion of my youth and still have the style to blend into the public’s eye. This included upgrading my ill fitting clownish wigs into more expensive but presentable hair. Once I did all of this, I was able to achieve a feminine presentation which allowed me to explore the world as a woman without getting laughed at.
At this point of my validation process was when I gained the nuances of gender communication. Of course I always knew women and men communicated differently but I didn’t realize how much until I started to communicate one on one with other women on a regular basis. Many stereotypes were true. For example men really don’t listen to women who communicate on a totally different plane than men. With my gender background I carried so many biases with me. For example, I knew many of the men I knew only looked at women on a sexual level and rarely paid any attention on a professional or intellectual level. Even still I wasn’t prepared for the immediate gender rejection I experienced when I attempted to interact with a man.
My very first experience I remember was when my car suffered an untimely breakdown. As I waited for a tow truck of course I was “helped” out by a well meaning policeman. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for the tow truck to arrive and the cop and tow driver got together on the best route to get my car home. Amazingly neither of them wanted to listen to my directions! I guess living there wasn’t good enough. Finally as I rode back in the front of the tow truck, my perceived lack of intelligence presented itself again and again. As the driver painstakingly described his truck I finally dumbed down to asking the most basic questions. It turned out this experience was one of many as I explored being validated as a woman from men.
Women were much easier. As I quickly accepted, learned and ultimately enjoyed my new communication roles my confidence grew as well as my validation . Most of it occurred when I learned non verbal communication skills women use.
Looking back at the transgender validation process, it was a long experience to jump from the mirror to the world. But, it was worth it.