Saturday, December 15, 2007

recognition

I went out tonight and saw some people that I went to high school with, one of whom I haven't seen since high school itself, practically. He didn't really bat an eye, just chatted with me like everyone else. One of the other guys, who I've seen frequently, complimented my mustache, and asked me, with genuine curiosity, if I get hit on by guys.

Now I'm home and, reflecting on those interactions, I have two thoughts.

First, I have a pang of guilt about how fiercely angry I can get briefly when people say ignorant or stupid things, because I forget that often they really don't know. They don't know that they're being offensive. They're just curious, and (strangest of all to me, living in my trans community) they don't have any context or frame of reference. I'm like an alien- certainly an alien concept. It's such a normal, no-brainer idea to me that gender identity is self-decided, and sometimes in conflict with bodily evidence. I forget that most people who have never experienced any gender dysphoria or gender identity conflict have no idea what it's like to feel this way, and consider it totally weird/alien/crazy that anyone ever would. So I ought to cut a little bit of slack to people whose minds have not yet been expanded.

Second, it made me wonder about what exactly goes on when I run into people socially whom I haven't seen in many years. Do they recognize me? Do they recognize that oh, that's that dyke I knew in high school with a beard, so she must be he know, what's that called, transgendering? Is there a grapevine- does everyone know by now that I'm a dude these days? Are all the bearded pictures on my Facebook profile sufficient to clue everyone in?

Or do they not recognize me? Does someone have to pull them aside and clue them in? Do they recognize my sister, and then put pieces together? Are they confused? Do they understand that I'm a transsexual? Do they doubt the veracity of their own memory and wonder if maybe those twins they went to high school with were always a boy-girl pair?

I'm so curious!

I have no sense of how recognizable or unrecognizable I am now, 2 years into transition. I think I still look like me, if a more attractive me than has ever existed. I know that I can't have changed that much. But I have a beard now. So, who knows what people are seeing. I guess they'll see what they want to see?
--
Here are two snapshots that I took in front of my wall of ties. The first is from early 2006, a few months before I started T. The second is from last week.


A lot can change in 18 months. But it's hard for me to tell how recognizable the person in these pictures is from the first to the second. Clearly, they're both me...just as I think it's clear how much more settled and, well, real I look in the second picture. But how different do I look?

2 comments:

Liza said...

I don't know you, but from the pix you look basically the same except for the beard. The other markers - nose, lips, eyes, ears etc. are all the same. I'm not saying I'd recognize you right away if I hadn't seen you for a few years, but I'm sure that if were up to speed on your evolution I wouldn't find myself looking at a totally different face.

Don't forget, we all change as we age, even if our gender is consistent.

anonymous said...

how u grew the beard?