As a trans woman, most days I find myself forced to choose between wearing a dress and risking my safety or wearing pants and battling with my dysphoria.
This usually looks like changing in and out of outfits, cutting up shirts, shaving my face, rolling up pants, beating my face for the gods, adding a pair of underwear, switching my shoes, deciding instead to wear a dress, restyling my hair, changing lipstick shades to something more subtle, adding another layer of underwear. The list is abbreviated, and this is only my morning routine.
Once I leave the house, I am hyper-aware of my body and the way I exist in public places. When I walk down the street because I can’t afford the ‘safety’ of taking a shared ride, I catch myself glancing over my shoulder regularly to check who is behind me. Sometimes it is just a pair of staring eyes or someone hiding their child from me, but other days, it is a slur yelled in my direction or a stranger following me home.
I take caution when responding to “hellos” from strangers so I am not “clocked” by my voice. However, most people simply watch with no intent on greeting me anyway, examining my body for signs as to what exactly I am.
Even as a trans woman who is ‘passing,’ binary, and femme, I am misgendered daily. When I choose to correct it, I’m often left with an exhausting conversation, an uncomfortable comment, or a stiffed bill, leaving me wishing I didn’t address the issue at all, because I could have really used that money for hormones.
I say all of this because my experiences will not change during Pride Month or Pride Week or even on the way to a Pride party. Pride is not always easy for trans and gender-nonconforming people because of the violence we face, even 50 years since the Stonewall Riots. While we celebrate how far we have come, we must always be acknowledging how far we must go. May we remember those who have come before us, and may we continue the fight for those who are still searching for a space they can call safe.
Photo by Jillian Bryan