The Fitting Room Experience
I walk into the fitting room, in my hands are several shirts, a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans. After trying on several items and long looks in the mirror I decide on one shirt and pair of shorts. How did I decide what articles of clothing I wanted? I simply tried on everything that looked like it was "me" until I found the best ones that matched my body and style. I simply try on whatever I like and pick what works for me.
I am currently am a man of transgender experience. How did I arrive at this choice? I like to call it the "fitting room experience." My life, just like my clothing choices have been a try-on of what works and what doesn't.
I started off in my early teens identifying as a straight person. I had crushed on many boys in my youth. When I realized that I was attracted to women, I tried that on as well. Later on in life, I would realize the biology of puberty and how nurture affected my sense of self. I was groomed to be a straight female. When that no longer served me, I took a long look in the mirror and asked "What do you like?" I knew that women were for me. I became a fem lesbian.
A few years later after many arguments with my parents and plenty years of self-discovery, I realized that I was not in fact a fem lesbian. I was a soft stud . I chose to identify as 'soft' because it was easier for others to digest. That was my first mistake. I didn't want to be some in your face ‘dyke’ that people judged and were scared of. I didn't want to upset my parents and I sure as hell, didn't want to be different.
The thing is, I was different. I just didn't realize it was okay to be openly different. In fact, I was drowning and losing my self-esteem, dignity and respect by trying to prove how similar I was. I did everything I possibly could to prove how okay I was. I even went back into the closet. It was like walking backwards, blindfolded with your whole body set on fire. I do not recommend this strategy unless it is vital for safety.
What did I do in this closet? I went back to my tried and true "fitting room experience." I already knew what I didn't like. So I didn't waste time trying on things that did not fit me. If you know you wear a size 12 jeans, would you waste time trying on an 8? No! It does not make sense. The fitting room requires that you are brutally honest with yourself. It does not matter how your grandma, auntie, uncle, mother, or best friends think things fit on you. You will only end up resenting them later. Eventually I emerged from my "fitting room experience" as the man I am today.
The experience to become Tyler has taught me much about trying on identities. It has taught me that it takes courage to be my truest self. It has taught me that it is fine and normal to continuously reinvent oneself. I have learned not to judge others for experimenting with individuality. If anything you learn who you true friends are, because they stick by you as you are under construction. So go ahead and reinvent yourself until it feels authentically you. I dare you.