I have a few friends that are transitioning. I don’t see them as often as I would like but when I do it’s usually been a few months since our last visit. Over time their transitions have progressed and estrogen, t-blockers, and lasering have done their job and there’s a noticeable difference in their appearance. Although my friends look very different from when I last saw them, to them, these changes are gradual and subtle.
I am transgender, but more specifically I am bi-gender. I am comfortable and happy and secure having two gender identities and choosing one to live as or present as for the rest of my life is not something that I feel that is right for me. On a physical level, I present as either boy or girl to the rest of the world. My wardrobe, my face, my body are completely different depending on my gender presentation for the day. For me, changing my presentation is either very quick (girl to boy) or very, very slow (boy to girl). It’s not unlike watching a home being built over several months. One day the foundation is laid, another day the wall frames are up (and a million other things happen, I don’t know, I am not an architect) and then… ta-da, the house is ready. Boy to girl is similar. I apply my foundation, false eyelashes are applied (and again, a million other things), and ta-da! I am ready to strut my stuff.
Going from boy to girl is a daunting task. It feels like cleaning a house that was trashed after a New Year’s Eve party. When I am spending the day en femme, I usually get ready first thing in the morning. I have a coffee and then get to work. I don’t know about you, but when I wake up I feel tired, I LOOK tired, and my reflection stares back telling me that I have a LOT of work to do. Coffee kicks in, I start to carefully and closely shave my face (having removed my body hair the night before), put on my gaff after carefully tucking, thigh pads, my stockings, my heels, my corset, my breast forms, and then finally my dress. My primer and color correcting and foundation is next. I rarely do my own makeup as I like to have it professionally done by one of the two makeup artists I regularly see, but I always do my own foundation and color correcting. At this point I am looking more femme. Or at the very least, less like a boy. True, sometimes I feel like a man in a dress, but I’m getting there. My attitude has shifted from “I am beyond hope” to seeing a little potential. Coffee has done its job and I start to flirt and smile in the mirror. I put on my jewelry, carefully apply my wig, and I am ready for my makeup appointment.
All of that takes about an hour. Until I have my makeup done I still look very male (in a traditional sense) but you can see what look I am trying for. As this hour passes I can see the progression from boy to girl very gradually and very slowly. It’s very methodical. The last step of my look happens at the salon. The makeup appointment is also a very slow and gradual process. I can look at my reflection in the mirror and see my face transformed even further as contouring and highlighting are done. Concealer is applied. Eyeliner (a LOT of eyeliner) is applied. False eyelashes are glued on. Eyeshadow. Lipliner. Blush. Lipstick. And then, ta-da! I look about as fabulous as I am going to look that day.
As much fun as it is to see my boy features replaced by femme features, I prefer not to watch this step-by-step process. I much prefer to take one final look in the mirror before my appointment and then ignore my reflection until my artist is finished. I love being WOWED by the makeover and the seemingly “instant” transformation of a middle aged man to (hopefully a cute) girl. Seeing my reflection once the artist is finished is like opening a present. A sparkly, pink glittered present.
Between my dressing and “prep work” at home and my makeover, this transformation takes about two hours. It’s a lot of time to invest on a look, especially if you are just meeting friends for coffee. But… well, to be honest, it’s what I need. As I age my body and my face ages as well. And as someone who is genetically male, I am aging as a male. My makeup artist, my foundation, my corset, my… everything has to work harder than it did ten years ago. Although time has blessed me with becoming more comfortable and confident in how I look, it takes me longer for me to look femme (in my own opinion) and sometimes I need a bigger pep talk than other times. I still feel like a boy in a dress sometimes (especially before my makeover), but I make it work. I have to.
It’s pretty amazing how different I feel after these two hours have passed. Before I started getting ready for the day my reflection was telling me that there’s no makeup or dress in the world that can make that man into girl. I shouldn’t even bother or try and just go back to bed. I want to listen to that voice sometimes, but I always press on. My makeup artist, my forms, my corset, my dress have all done wonders in terms of how I LOOK but also how I FEEL.
The opposite of this transformation is also amazing but in a different way. Well, perhaps amazing isn’t the right word. The act of creation is always slower and more work than the act of destruction. Destroying something is quick, crude, and uncaring. Going from girl to boy is not much different. After I return home the undoing begins. I slip off my heels, take off my clip-on earrings, and remove my wig. I peel off my false eyelashes, I remove the rest of my jewelry, unzip my dress, unfasten my garters from my stockings, undo my corset, take off my gaff and untuck. My thigh pads and breast forms are put back in their boxes, and I unhook my bra. The man from the morning, the one who wanted to give up and go back to bed has returned to the mirror, but this time he is wearing a lot (like a LOT) of makeup. His face is femme, but the body is boy. I take a makeup removing cloth and start to undo all the hard work my makeup artist did earlier that day. The eyeliner and eyeshadow she spent fifteen minutes on is instantly smudged away. The contouring, the blush, the careful cupid’s bow on my lips all vanish. It takes about five minutes to remove my makeup which is nothing compared to the hour that was spent on it.
Again, destruction is quick and crude. It almost feels disrespectful to the artist who put so much work into my look, but I suppose makeup must come off at the end of the day, much like a chef expects the food they spent so much time preparing to be eaten. Perhaps that’s not the best comparison, but there you have it. The point is that it is startling to see the almost abrupt change from girl to boy especially in contrast to the two hours it took to transform the boy into girl. Seeing Hannah disappear in a couple of quick swipes of a makeup removing cloth and then ta-da, the boy reappears. Going from a reflection of a girl to a middle-aged man in a matter of seconds is a little jarring.
I put away my femme clothes and forms and wig and put on boy clothes for the rest of the day. He has returned and he starts to resume his obligations and responsibilities. I’ll catch up on a few work emails that popped into my inbox while Hannah enjoyed her day, my wife and I will likely order some food and catch up with each other. It’s not unlike returning from a work trip. My boy world and girl world are so different from each other and it usually takes a little time to adjust to being “back”. To that point, going back into Hannah’s life also takes a little adjusting, but the two hours it takes for her to get (physically) ready and presentable helps with that (mental) transition.
It’s a weird life isn’t it? We have thoughts and feelings and experiences and perspectives few others have. Having two lives, one of which is usually a secret and well protected. In my boy life I protect Hannah fiercely, and she does the same when it comes to his world.
Two sides, same coin.
Two worlds, one planet.
One mirror, two reflections.