For someone like myself who had a very heavy beard and could easily sport a five-o-clock shadow at eleven in the morning, it was a godsend. But it was also to be a somewhat surreal night as well. While lying on the table that night, I spoke to my electrologist while being poked with needles. Sudden jolts of electrical current would occasionally cause me to lose track of my train of thought but I began....
"You know", I started, "It's interesting but it seems like lately I'm not quite sure what gender people are perceiving me as".
"When you are out as Christen you mean?", she asked.
"That's the funny thing", I replied. "It seems that when I used to go out as Christen in the early days, they questioned if I was really a woman or not. There was never a question when I presented as a guy. Nowadays, it seems like there are no questions when I go out as Christen but there seems to be bunch more quizzical looks in my guy mode."
My electrologist thought it was interesting. Although she saw Christen in the pictures I showed to her, she also saw what she thought was a guy in the mode I presented to her when at her office.
"I don't know anymore", I said to her. "I'm not so sure. People who knew me as a guy still seem to see me as a guy. I'm not sure anymore with people I have not met".
After the electrology session, I stopped in on my way home to the Home Depot to pick up some lumber and material for a home renovation project I was doing. I was wearing my blue jeans, a gray sweatshirt and my guy sneakers and I was not sporting any makeup whatsoever.
Walking down the main corridor of the central aisle in the store, I was met visually by a man working one of the aisles. I was a bit stunned and shocked, but not noticeably so, when he suddenly blurted to me, "Excuse me mam, would you like a free bag?"
I kept cool and decided in that instant to see if he would correct himself if I took on an androgynous voice. It was neither distinctly harshly male nor my affirmed female one. I wanted to see what he would do.
"Sure", I said, "I would love one!"
He didn't flinch and he maintained a visual connection with me. He handed me a bag and a notebook which I added to my cart, finishing off with "I appreciate it! It will help make the price of this eight dollar flourescent bulb seem more palatable!". We shared a quick chuckle and I was off to finish my business.
When I got home, I threw the bag and notebook on the couch and left them there. I thought about the incident and thought perhaps that he was sure he had made a mistake or perhaps that I had misheard him and that perhaps he might have said "man" instead of "mam". I shrugged it off and thought about it no more.
Joanne had been away visiting with her mom that week and when she arrived home on Saturday Evening, she happened to see the orange Home Depot Bag and notebook on the couch. She asked me what it was and I told her I had received the bag for free. I told her it must have been a give-away as it said plainly on the bag.... "Do it Yourself"
She picked up the bag and looked at it. Her expression foretold that something was amiss.
"What is it?", I asked Joanne.
"Did you read what the bag says?", she asked.
"Sure!", I quipped back. "It says 'Do it Yourself'"
She turned the bag which she was holding in her hands around for me to see.
I was shocked. It didn't say "Do it Yourself" at all. In fact, it confirmed, in that instant what happened that Thursday night as being completely real.
It said plainly, "Do it Herself"!
Apparently the store was giving out these bags to all the women in the store. This explained why I was seeing women getting these bags and not the men that night. I hadn't even put it together when I was looking at them. It took Joanne to put this in front of my face to really come to terms with just what had happened that evening. It was surreal, but it was real.
I'm being perceived as a woman even when I'm not trying.
I thought this could not happen without hormones or facial feminization or wearing tons of makeup and distinctly feminine clothes. I truly thought that.
I was wrong.
I have entered what I like to call, the "Gender Twilight Zone"
I'm not sure if I am being seen as a guy or as a woman anymore. Those who know me still see the guy and those who have not met me....well... it's up for grabs these days.
I've crossed some invisible boundary that I never saw coming and now find myself straddling just slightly over. I'm taking this all in, slowly, one day at a time, as is my spouse. We both love each other and are committed to see this through. I just don't seem to know anymore where I may be ultimately headed. Small steps may all that are needed to see more clearly.
Life in two genders is probably the most amazing experience ever imaginable. To experience it means to be able to see how both men and women socialize... independently as well as with each other and from a perspective which only can be had when one can be affirmed by men and women as the gender they are presenting as. I'm still in the thought that this is more a gift than a curse. It is, as is everything in life we are dealt, dependent upon how we perceive it and what we do with what we have been given. Acceptance is the first step toward understanding and toward personal growth. I think I am well on my way.
“Trying to see ahead in the fog is much easier a thing after one has first taken steps forward.” -CB