One of the things that I often find being discussed when I'm talking to other trans people - trans women especially, is passing. That is, passing for cis. Usually, these discussions happened privately, just one-on-one. But 'passing' is something that's a touchy subject for very good reason - it's classist and exclusionary, at the very least. Any number of reasons may mean you can never 'pass' in the eyes of many people, from genetics to luck to age to being physically unable or financially unable to access hormone therapy or even surgery. But it's also a shit 'goal' or 'dream' to feel pressed upon you for another reason which I want to discuss.
When I first began to transition, or even think about transitioning, I had this built-in fear of never looking feminine enough. Of never being attractive (to myself, or potential partners). Of HRT either not being an option for me or not really 'working', and forever feeling like I was some kind of strange outsider, frequently mis-gendered and harassed.
I still get it occasionally - I think that will take a long time to subside. Every time you get heckled for visibly being trans, or some person flatly states that "you will always be an [assigned gender] to me", it's hard not to lose a bit of confidence, no matter how confident you begin.
But something began to happen over the last few months, partly watching my own body change and partly meeting many new and awesome trans people. I began to realise that there was something not just interesting, but fucking beautiful and unique about the trans people I was meeting.
I don't just mean being warm, wonderful people, either, although I'm sure that's a factor. I mean being them fucking hot. (Note: I'm going to use a few comments specific to my own experience as a trans woman in the remainder of this post, but the same can clearly be true for a much wider variety of people than just trans women.)
It's easy (and often cathartic) to moan about the damage years of unwanted testosterone poisoning did to your body, leaving you with a taller frame with wider shoulders than you'd like or any number of other very specific things that your genetics just might bestow on you going through a puberty you didn't want or feel comfortable enduring. And, frankly, and a puberty that changes your body into something you feel deeply uncomfortable with can be a horribly traumatic experience, so it's no wonder we want to reverse as much of that 'damage' as possible.
And yet, I keep finding that the trans people I meet have features unique to the combination of hormones they've had throughout their life, and it can look really damn good for them. I understand, absolutely, why it can be distressing seeing those features on yourself, but I've slowly come to appreciate some of mine, as well as admiring them in others. I don't see so many of my more masculine features as a bad thing any more.
I rather like, despite identifying as female, the kind of amazingly beautiful androgyny I can sometimes see glimmers of with the right combination of subtle makeup and clothes.
It's not just a trans thing, either. There are plenty of actresses whose 'trademark' is something about them that's slightly un-feminine. A husky voice, broad shoulders, a 'handsome' look (now there's a fun semi-loaded term). That's a start, but it's certainly not even close to enough.
It makes me wish the obsession we as a culture have on fitting neatly into perfectly binary gender presentations would just die off. The more people of all gender identities who start playing with this and getting everyone used to the varied spectrum of aesthetics that are possible, the better.
And if it lessens the number of grotty fucks calling out slurs at people who look slightly non-cis on the street, so much the better. Because the idea of that diminishing anyone's ability to enjoy the way they look is just revolting.
It'd be great to reach the point where trans people found that, if anything, the social pressure was to accentuate the features that make them 'look' trans, rather than loathe them.
Revel in your body, no matter what you look like.
(Oh, and also? More men should use eyeliner. Seriously.)