Des ScÃ¨nes dans le Chemin Moyen
So, I’ve been thinking about this middle way stuff oh these last three or four…years. When I was married, it was to find an accomodation with my wife that would make us both happy; and now, it’s because of the very realistic possibility that it will be the only way for me to be happy, since I’m pretty sure just being a weekend princess won’t be enough but it remains very much to be seen if transition will ever make sense for me.So I wonder: how middle way am I? I know, no definitions, but…most days a week I wear a suit to work (even though it’s not necessary: but I like them to think they’re getting the high-priced consultant they paid for.) Sure, may nails are a little long, and if you look closely you’ll see I’ve “groomed” my brows (though I do wear my glasses a lot…)
And in my less princessy moments on the weekend I’m pretty metrosexual. I like floral shirts, I’ve been known to wear shirts to show off my chest and pants to show off my ass.
So right now I’m somewhere between Chelsea salaryman and victim of the “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” guys, right?
But: I’m out to every important person in my life, though not all of them have seen me cross-dressed (I find “as Michelle” to be a somewhat creepy construction for me.) I’m out as CD and other stuff to my current flame. I’ve told every lover I’ve ever had before we became lovers; hell, my ex-gf and I went to Edelweiss for our first “date” (though it only retroactively earned that appellation.)
I don’t scream to the rooftops that I’m trans, though I care less and less if anyone knows. One of my neighbors in the building saw me coming home one night, so I know at least some folks in the apartment building know. (She always smiles when she sees me now. Hmm.)
The guys in folkmusicienne E.’s band have met me both ways without flapping an eye.
I go where I go crossdressed. OK, I haven’t quite gotten to the point of doing my grocery shopping while crossdressed, but movies and dinner and just being out in New York I do without thinking too much about it. I’m not even sure when the last time E. saw me not crossdressed was; I think it was back in the middle of May. (She said, “I haven’t seen you in a while.” I told her that was because she was hanging out with that crazy Michelle chick.)
I’ve taken dance lessons crossdressed, and had the odd experience of having “Michelle York” called out for attendance…this really bizarre understanding that this, persona, mask, whatever you want to call it, was beginning to become an actual person. I go walking in daylight now, usually from my therapy sessions to wherever I’m meeting E. I did that today, without anybody saying anything or even staring (well, staring more than they would at anybody wearing a white skirt.) I don’t think I was passing, either; my predilection for tank tops may get my “ordinariness” points fashion-wise but does little to hide the fact that my shoulders have benefitted from years of testosterone in much the same way that a fraternity mixer benefits from a truckload of kegs–to excess, and frequently embarrassingly.
So where does that leave me? Over 75% of my waking life I spend in male presentation (financially I want to do nothing to fuck up my contract until my new corporate masters get taken over by their corporate overlords in about two years.) I try to take care of my male appearance and actually like shopping for my casual clothes.
On the other hand, right now, if I can conceivably go out cross-dressed I usually do so. (Caveats, and yet another wonderful “isn’t it great to bond with women” moment: I was thinking a couple of weeks ago about catching a movie I wanted to see down at the Film Forum one Saturday night (for those playing at home, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows) and then heading out to get a few drinks. But I didn’t have anyone to go with, and I didn’t think it would necessarily be such a bright idea to go out alone to a movie dressed to go to a bar later. Especially seeing as I’m, you know, a man. Maybe I was being paranoid; but maybe not…) The idea that I will dress up when I can is becoming so commonplace to my mind that I plan almost unconciously around it. (Even so, I’m still only dressing in public 2 or 3 times a week.)
So, middle way? Weekend Princess? I don’t know. I feel better, mostly, about myself and glad that I have these chances, though to tell you the truth it’s also really stirred the pot of my gender fuckedupedness (sorry, dysphoria.) And while I don’t have the full-blown body dysphoria of the cut- it- off- cause- it- disgusts- me, I- can’t- look- in- the- mirror- cause- a- man- looks- back variety, I’m less happy with my body nowadays, disenchanted with my broad frame and my peasant shoulders and my cowcatcher jaw.
And the sense of oscillation, of vibrating between different extremes of emotion, is hard to take. It’s not like crossdressing necessarily helps, either, though in general it quiets some of my dysphoric feelings; or, as I told my therapist a while ago, crossdressing lets me stop having to fight my impulses to be feminine. But at the same time, I’m acutely aware of what I look like and how little I pass, and that makes me feel sad as well. As sad as wearing a suit instead of skirt can make me feel? I don’t know, yet. Nor am I completely sure that the good feeling I get from wearing nice men’s clothing–and I do have that, I enjoy my peacock moments–will be enough to compensate for never living as a woman.
So, some scenes from a little down the Middle Way. I’m not sure I can help going further into the woods; but I’m not sure I’m blazing a trail either.