December 5, 2008
It’s not a four letter word.
I thought that it wouldn’t be a big deal. It actually kind of is.
Fitting in turns out to be even more important, and probably the most critical element to passing. What do I mean by fitting in?
The next time you are in a public place – look around. Look for the person – man, woman, doesn’t matter – who is the outlier. In Miami Beach, look for the dude w/the rad chest hair, and the shirt unbuttoned down to his navel. At Microsoft on campus, being overdressed is the exception. Jeans is the official uniform of your average ‘Softie. Even wearing shorts in January won’t get you noticed. In Washington, DC, not being dressed in business clothes (professional suit) will get you noticed.
Over the past year, I’ve learned (slowly) how to dress to not get noticed, no matter the circumstance. I try hard to not stand out with my clothes. Hey, being 6-2 gets me noticed anyway, so the last thing I need is a big frigging beacon over my head.
Now, just a few words on being remembered. One thing that Anh and I have noticed is that the “Mean-time-to-being-remembered” is now 1.5 visits to a given place. (It used to be much higher than that.) At least half the time on our second visit to a restaurant, the staff remembers me and greets us warmly. It’s a good thing we tip well.
Anyway, trying to dress appropriately, and even a little modestly has helped make my transition a smoother one. People have even commented on that. Basically: “If you showed up with tons of makeup, a dress, stockings and high heels this would have been harder.”
What’s the line between being true to yourself and fitting in? Can you do both?
I think you can, and I think that we all do it, all the time.
Every circumstance has its own dress code. Sure, you can go outside the lines, or even push them. I know and have met perfectly well adjusted people who dress well outside of those lines. I’m not suggesting it’s not ok.
What I’m suggesting is that if you are going through a gender transition, attemping to do that, and also not carefully considering the social norms of appearance for your newly presenting gender may just create more challenges that could otherwise be avoided.