Ten months later…

For those of us girls who have become used to getting out and about, being locked down brings challenges. There are no opportunities for social interactions in the UK at present. The best I seem to manage when I do get out is a visit to the supermarket, or a walk in a park.

I’m shocked that it is 10 months since I last posted! Friends will know that I have had some additional responsibilities at work for the last three years. These come to an end soon, and consequently, I hope that my life will become more normal again – at least as normal as is possible in the middle of a global pandemic. But perhaps the unreasonable workload I have shouldered over the last year has been a blessing in some respects. Immersed in my work, I have not been aware of weeks passing without my alter ego taking physical form.

To dress or not to dress? That is the question…supposing one has the space in which to ask it. Getting all dressed up to sit around at home feels strange – it’s not something I would normally do. I get dressed to go out and do something, but there is nothing to do; being dressed to stay in feels a bit like the closeted experience that defined what “trans” meant for me before I made the transition to being out and about in the wide world. It’s strange to find myself dressing with not much more to do than to take a walk.

It is easy to feel negative about this, and from what friends say, I’m not the only one struggling with the dilemma. And yet, for all that it feels like a step backwards to an earlier stage in my trans journey to dress at home, I have discovered that it is nevertheless important to me; because the other, unhealthy dimensions to my earlier closeted life – the repression and self-loathing – seem associated not with dressing at home, but with not dressing at all.

Having learned to accept myself as trans, and lost completely any remnant of the desire to “cure” myself, the enforced purge of lockdown and isolation at home is awakening the buried, internalised transphobia that all those years of struggling created. The cure, as ever, is to be who I am; to put aside the peculiarity of dressing just to stay at home, and to enjoy expressing my femininity, knowing that it is a part of me, something that I need to do, and not something that needs to follow any pre-defined model.

As it happens, on the day this photo was taken, my walk today took me to the Botanical Gardens, and on to the supermarket, with a taxi journey home at the end of the excursion – so not as closeted as all that! Besides affirming my femininity, it was wonderful to feel the sun on my face and to be reminded of the lesson I’ve learned over the last decade: it’s OK to be me!

Published by

Karen Smith

Just a girl next door...I was born male, but from my earliest years a part of me deep down always wanted desperately to be a girl. She has grown up with me, and needs to escape, breathe the air and walk the green hills of Yorkshire from time to time. Although she's concealed by clouds for most of the time, the girl within is tied up with all that people think is best in me. These pages give her a little space to articulate how she feels.

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