When you pass through the fire
You pass through humble
You pass through a maze of self doubt
When you pass through humble
The lights can blind you
Some people never figure that out
You pass through arrogance, you pass through hurt
You pass through an ever-present past
And it’s best not to wait for luck to save you
Pass through the fire to the light
As you pass through the fire
Your right hand waving
There are things you have to throw out
That caustic dread inside your head
Will never help you out
You have to be very strong
‘Cause you’ll start from zero
Over and over again
And as the smoke clears
There’s an all-consuming fire
Lying straight ahead
They say no one person can do it all
But you want to in your head
But you can’t be Joyce
So what is left instead?
You’re stuck with yourself
And a rage that can hurt you
You have to start at the beginning again
And just this moment
This wonderful fire started up again
When you pass through humble
When you pass through sickly
When you pass through
I’m better than you all
When you pass through
Anger and self deprecation
And have the strength to acknowledge it all
When the past makes you laugh
And you can savor the magic
That let you survive your own war
You find that that fire is passion
And there’s a door up ahead; not a wall
As you pass through fire, as you pass through fire
Trying to remember its name
When you pass through fire, licking at your lips
You cannot remain the same
And if the building’s burning
Move towards that door
But don’t put the flames out
There’s a bit of magic in everything
And then some loss to even things out
Many of us agonize (to say the least) about accepting, understanding, and embracing who we are. We go through decades of denial and therapy sessions and internal (and external) conflict about our gender identity. It’s not easy, to say the least. Accepting who we are can often come with a great loss. Many of us have lost friends and family members once our gender identity has been (intentionally or not) revealed. Sometimes this acceptance comes with the realization of all the time and opportunities we have lost over the years we have been in denial over who we are and what we want.
However, as Lou Reed said, magic and loss come with everything. We know what the loss is. We fear what the loss could be so we stay in the closet, we stay hidden, we stay a secret. But there is magic, too. Sometimes the magic is feeling the weight taken from our shoulders when we come out, even if it is just to ourselves. The magic can be from wearing that beautiful dress we have seen at the mall. Waking up in a nightgown. Shaving our legs. Getting a makeover. Being called “ma’am” for the first time.
For myself, the magic was going out en femme. One of the first times I went out en femme during the day would have been unremarkable in boy mode. Coffee, shopping, lunch. But en femme? It was, well, it was magic. The click of my heels on the sidewalk was the drumbeat of victory. The wind blowing through my long black hair was the air of a new life. Hannah’s world and the real world were merging to create a beautiful new reality of potential. Now that I have done THIS, anything was possible.
I am reminded of this magic every time I am out. True, sometimes I forget I am en femme when I am in the real world as this has become normal to me, but every first experience is a testament to how far I’ve come, and how much our community did before me. Yes, there isn’t much magic in going to Target in it of itself, but it’s still so much more fun en femme.
As warmer weather gives up the ghost until next spring our clothes change. Goodbye summer dresses, hello sweater dresses. The strappy stilettos aren’t the best for slippery ice, so out come the boots. Magic and loss, you know. In Minnesota it’s not smart to not have a winter coat, and Hannah has a couple of them. And I hate them. I hate covering up my cute dress, I hate how bulky I look. I spend too much time at the gym to hide my legs, but what can you do? It’s not as much fun going out en femme during the winter compared to the rest of the year.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that I know this is going to sound shallow and selfish. I know this is extremely short-sighted. I know that.
We all must do our part when it comes to stopping COVID-19. I don’t go out as much as I used (in either gender), the events I plan for the MN T-Girls have changed, and I wear a mask whenever I go out. Of course in boy mode a mask is nothing. I can breathe just fine and I rarely am inside someplace for very long. Hannah wearing a mask is different. Just as I hate my coat covering up a cute outfit, I hate my mask covering my makeup. I hate my makeup coming off in the mask. I hate trying to loop my mask around my earrings and long hair. I hate the dysphoria that comes with it. I hate it. Going out to my favorite thrift store and getting coffee isn’t fun anymore.
Again, I know this is shallow. Wearing a mask and smudging my lipstick is nothing compared to people losing family members and their businesses and their jobs. I don’t pretend or think that my experience is anything compared to the tragedies that countless others have endured and suffered through.
To me, going out en femme is the magic that comes with the loss of what we have experienced as we came into who we are. And yes, I know that no matter how much fun a day at the mall en femme is it doesn’t replace a family member that no longer wants to speak to us because of our gender identity.
The world is hard enough as it is. It is the small pleasures that keep us going, whether wearing a new skirt, looking forward to a new movie, meeting a friend for dinner, a planned vacation.
There isn’t much of a point to these thoughts, just a hope and a prayer that our lives can move into a world without masks, without this pandemic, without the loss that comes with it.