About a month ago, I saw and retweeted this thread (ThreadReader link to the full thread) about femininity in the workplace.
Interesting thread.— Lucy Davinhart (@LucyDavinhart) 19 February 2018
Manages to express in words something I’ve been struggling to understand about myself recently, w.r.t. (my lack of) femininity in the workplace.
(And it’s made even more complicated when you’re enby) https://t.co/ttDScd3zgf
Why yes the largest section in the tech business article I'm writing right now is Fashion Tips— Stephanie Hurlburt 🔜 GDC (@sehurlburt) 19 February 2018
And it got me thinking about how, for the most part, I still present to the world about the same as I did before I transitioned. i.e. jeans, nerdy tshirt, usually a hoodie, and no make-up at all. My hair is much longer than it used to be, and I have rather obvious boobs now, but for the most part… yeah. Not much has changed.
I tell myself that this is just my aesthetic, and not to worry about it. And because I also consider myself to be non-binary1, I kinda just lumped it in with that.
But then, a couple of weeks ago, I was in London with a friend of mine, and we happened across a Belgian shop which, among many other things, had a large selection of nail polish. It reminded me that I’ve wanted to paint my nails basically forever, but never really got around to doing it. So I bought some. Specifically, I bought some in what was the closest approximation I could find to LucyPurple
But then… they just sat in the bag, unopened.
I told myself that I just hadn’t got around to it yet, or that I didn’t have time, or that I needed extra tools 2. But these were just excuses I told myself.
This was looking like it was going to be a repeat of an idea I came up with after FOSDEM. In that case, every day of the long-weekend, I was almost exclusively in the company of awesome queer folk. So I let myself wear ever so slightly more feminine clothing (including an awesome trans-gopher shirt on the Saturday).
After I got back home3, I came up with the idea of a “Femme Friday”, whereby I’d let myself wear some of my more feminine clothes to work. The furthest that ever went was wearing a long plaid shirt on top of what I normally wore to work.
And then, a few days ago I saw and retweeted this:
Cis women, if you ever see a trans woman in her 30s, 40s etc. wearing something that looks too juvenile for her, leave her alone about it. She literally never got to be the age you were when you wore it. Let her have this, please.— Faith Naff 🏳️🌈🌹🦋 (@FaithNaff) 12 March 2018
And I think that’s when it clicked in my head what was actually going on here, and it’s something which should not have been a surprise to me:
As much as I like to tell myself that I don’t care what other people think of me, it occurred to me that I’m still scared to do much in public that’s actively feminine.
On the far extreme of this, I have several skirts, which I desperately want to wear outside, or to work, but I’m too scared to actually leave the house in.
But that’s silly!
I’ve been self-conscious about a great many things before, and I’ve got over it!
I used to be terrified of using female toilets in public, but now it’s no big deal.
I used to be terrified of talking to my team’s client at my previous job, but that became no big deal fairly quick.
I used to be terrified of public speaking (I still am, to an extent), and then I did a talk in front of about 200 people at FOSDEM, and it went okay, so now I’m considering doing more of that kind of thing.
My point is… I do a thing which scares me, and then it’s fine.
So perhaps I should do more things that scare me?
So, long story short, I painted my nails last night.
It wasn’t perfect (I wasn’t expecting it to be), but it looks okay. And importantly, I’ve come in to work and it’s no big deal.
I found myself hiding my nails on the tram in to work this morning (initially), and hiding them at work (initially). But now… it’s no big deal.
So I should just do more stuff like this which scares me.
It’ll be fine, and I’ll feel much better for doing it4.
I’ve not figured out what my gender actually more specifically than “not-male” ↩
e.g. an emery board, Q-Tips, and nail varnish remover, which I went out and bought to remove this excuse ↩
Technically, I came up with the idea as a kind of new-year’s resolution thing at the start of January, but I don’t think I actually did it until I got back from FOSDEM. ↩
And I’ve done a blog post about it now, so I have to do it, right? 😉 ↩