I will be looked at.

This is about a concern and a goal of mine I have for my transitioning. I plan on a full transition to living as a woman, including my legal name and gender change. It is only natural, or so it seems to me, that over the course of time I will be looked at and probably scrutinized by many people, not all of them with kind intentions. So here I will explore what it means for me to be looked at in woman’s attire, makeup, and even a wig.

The people I encounter and that look at me come on a spectrum. At one end (the bad one) are those that will despise me, hate me, and might do me harm. I will discuss safety in regards to this set of people later on. On the other end (the good end) are people who are open-minded, accepting, and on a whole kind. The vast majority of people like with people in general within any continuum fall somewhere in between. Someone might despise me but not be inclined to do me harm. Someone might be open-minded in some areas but not with gender differences away from the binary.†

How do I feel being looked at when I am presenting as a woman, either partially or fully. Obviously, it depends how I perceive the person(s) that I feel are looking at me. On the bad side, I will feel the need to be in protect mode. I will immediately dull the appearance of my mannerism and walk, try not to look at them directly, and look for the safest exit to the situation. As an example of the last I will attempt to go where there are the most people around and seek the brightest spot in my environment.

Deeper feelings are about wonder. Yes, odd, but questions pops up in my mind: why are they looking and what do they perceive? can they tell I am a transgender woman? will they notice anything different in me? Then the more worrisome questions: are they scrutinizing me? am I being judged? do they have any bad intentions?

There are also feelings of fear and sometimes anger. The feeling of wanting to belong, to fit in, to be accepted. Sometimes sadness when I think that they are seeing me in a not complete transition. Then, there are also happier feelings like excitement. A thrill of being exposed. Joy that I am out being myself. Okay not completely. Then, a curious question. Could they be my friend?

Being looked at comes in different contexts. There are my medical providers. Will they scrutinize me, judge me, and think is she really trans? And neighbors. As of this writing I have only come out verbally to one of them, and they are non-binary, which I knew ahead of time. But I have certainly been notice in some ways. The precious five year old girl who loves to talk to me said, when I was wearing woman’s jean shorts this summer, “those are girl shorts.” Her mom was right there, but I could not judge her reaction to what her daughter said. Another neighbor seeing me in a shorter pair of jean shorts at the store, said, “showing some leg today.” My legs are always shaved. What did she think she knew. Other neighbors have seen me in woman’s clothes, like my shorts and leggings. Do they notice at all? If they do what do they think? I have passed a few neighbors while wearing my makeup, but it was hard to see a reaction. If they noticed at all, they did not show it.

I have recently come out socially at the program I attend for my mental health. Some staff there knew already, but now it is open knowledge that I am a transgender woman there. So I am being looked at now there as I openly dress in a more femme style. I had been wearing just woman’s clothes that could pass as unisex before. Now, I go there most days wearing makeup and more femme head wear. It is hard to say if any there are viewing me negatively, but I’m sure that some can’t figure it out. Staff is certainly accepting, and my preferred name there is Stephie, which most people are actually using. But, being looked at there has a very positive side too. I have received several compliments on my outfits and makeup presentation both from staff and clients.

But then there is the wider world. Here I am already dressing in woman’s clothing, but some outfits aren’t obvious enough to draw attention. But, if I have my leggings on or am showing my shaved legs wearing shorts, I notch up the attention getting prospects. This increases further when I am wearing makeup. As of yet I have not gone out either in my wig or in a dress. These, of course, would notch the prospects up again, and maybe not in just a linear sense. I have been gradually adding things to my feminine appearance noticing intently who looks and how long or how many times. I believe it is essential for me to get used to being looked at and I think this is a good way to try.

It is a guarantee that I will be looked at, so I might as well get used to it. But get used to it in a safe a manner as I can manage. Safety is not a done deal. Even if I was not a transwoman there are bad people out there, so that safety in today’s world should not be taken for granted. As a transgender person I need to be as careful as I can. At the same time I do not intend to live my life under a rock. So being looked at and seeing whom is doing the looking is good practice for practicing safety. It makes up part of the component of being aware of my surroundings.

I will get looked at. So, Stephie get use to it.

A bit of an update here: I wrote this post some time ago (almost 2 months ago), except for the coming out at program. Since this time I regular go out in makeup, unless guy mode is a necessity, although still in woman’s clothing, I have also finally gotten two femme looking head pieces. Still have not gone out in a wig though or dress. Anyway, I am accomplishing the goal, but the concern I have, especially about safety continues, and it will probably never quite go away, nor should it.


† Binary in connection with gender is someone is either a male or a female in how they identify their gender. Obviously, I don’t accept this binary assignment of gender. I do plan on addressing this in a later blog post.

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