By Sierra Angel
I recently read a post in an online transgender support group that really hit home. The person posting identifies as MtF, and has posted some pictures of herself with and without makeup. Her words hit home for me.
“Crisis, I don’t think I am beautiful, I am freaked out about my weight. I can’t tell if makeup actually makes me prettier or if I am better looking without it. I don’t know if I am making myself ugly by wearing woman’s clothes… I want to be a girl but today I don’t know if I ever can be.”
When I first started to ponder transition one of my key concerns was eventually blending in completely. I wanted to be a beautiful, passable, sexy woman. When I put on my clothes and makeup I felt better, I felt beautiful, but I knew I didn’t look nearly as good or passable as I wanted to. Feeling beautiful and looking beautiful are two different things entirely.
I began to live full time as a woman before I started hormone replacement therapy, in a small town in a conservative part of the United States. I knew that I was not very passable, and I desperately wanted to be. Could I ever really fit in as a woman? Would I ever look like a girl?
The feelings of worry and anxiety over my coming physical changes began to be a real issue. In an effort to reassure myself, I began digging through mountains of transition videos on YouTube. I stayed up late into the nights, watching video after video of amazing transformations by hormones and surgeries. This helped me believe in my heart that I could do the same.
Recently I began making my own video for the one year HRT mark, and the difference in 12 months is astounding. Not just the effects of hormones, but also makeup technique, clothing choices, and the confidence of living full time and not compromising. All of these things have combined to erase the man who used to stare back at me in the mirror.
There is a huge bit of psychology involved here. When the person posting says “I want to be a girl but today I don’t know if I ever can be” they already are defeated. You don’t want to be a girl, you are a girl. Transition isn’t about becoming something you aren’t, it is about aligning your body with who you are. Only by allowing yourself to believe this whole heartedly and without reservation you can begin to really experience a freedom of thought and gender expression.
This means you might not be a supermodel, but not every cisgender woman is a supermodel either. You may be a bit heavy, or you might have a big chin. You might have larger frame or small breasts. Cisgender women have all these same issues too. When it comes down to it, the insecurities we deal with as trans* women are not much different than the same social pressures to fit a stereotypical image experienced by any woman.
At some point in my transition it dawned on me that I would never look like a stereotypical “perfect” woman. I began to pay close attention to cisgender women’s appearances. I started to notice that many women were built much like me, with a taller body and thicker bone structure.
Some of the most beautiful women I know don’t fit the tiny and frail image that society says is acceptable for a “real girl”. Most women I find attractive don’t have a “thigh gap”, and most of them weigh a lot more than any TV supermodel. But the biggest realization began to happen as I focused on facial structures.
One day while sitting in a restaurant with my family, I noticed a beautiful woman and her husband having dinner at a table close by. They had two young children, and both looked very much like their mother. I began to compare myself physically to her, out of habit. Her frame was wider and taller, and she was physically fit.
Her facial features were more masculine than mine. Her chin especially, which is one of my main insecurities, was bigger and squarer than mine. She initially caught my eye because I found her attractive. Her chin didn’t matter at all really, it was proportionate to her body and face. Only I would notice it. Since then I have noticed this more often, and I have decided that my chin isn’t so bad after all.
As I work on making my one year video the one thing that stands out to me is that I have become very beautiful in my own way. I don’t look like Americas next top Model, but I also don’t look like a man in a dress. I look like the woman I am supposed to be. I never look in the mirror and see a man anymore, just a happy and vibrant woman.
When it comes down to it, transition isn’t about being beautiful or skinny or perfect… it’s about aligning your body with your internal identity. Once you feel physically like a woman you have achieved a degree of success in the transsexual journey. Figuring out how to feel beautiful in the face of society’s expectations, on the other hand, is not unique to being transsexual… it is just part of being a girl.