Dressing as Joanna in public has become a very normal thing for me and I couldn’t be happier. Gone are the nerves and jitters that haunted me during the years when I was concerned about being read or perceived as a male. Regardless of how people view me now, I am perfectly at ease as Joanna; which has only helped me to blend in even more.
My comfort has increased yet again over the last 6 months since I have finally settled any doubts I had about whether I would ever transition. The accompanying peace of mind has raised my level of freedom and enjoyment to an all time high.
So my advice to anyone who is thinking of dressing in public for the first time is that you do so in little steps and that you try and focus on little victories. Dress to blend in and work on all aspects of your presentation. This means makeup, comportment, movement and most importantly: your voice.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a passable female voice.
I practiced for months using my cell phone as a recording device and then listening back. I would do this during my morning walk to my train. Once I began to hear a female voice talking back to me, I knew I was ready to use it comfortably in public and be able to entertain more than a brief business transaction with a cashier.
But even more important than voice is the notion of being comfortable in your own skin. This is probably the hardest thing to achieve since your nerves will often conspire to undo your composure.
What surprised me most is that during instances where I thought I was not passing, I actually was until I let my lack of self confidence betrayed me. But I did not realize this since I was so busy fretting and worrying that I had been found out.
However, for me it’s no longer about passing and more about being comfortable with who I am.
People can smell lack of confidence and you will be treated only as well as you view yourself. If you show dignity and friendliness towards others, they will perceive you as a person of grace who, regardless of their actual gender, deserves to be addressed with kindness and respect.
This is a lesson I have learnt over and over again as I have become more and more comfortable as an almost totally “out” transgender person.
Learn to know who you are and respect and love yourself first. After all, if you don’t who else will? This was a lesson I had to learn in order to move forward.
Remember that you are one of God’s creations and perhaps part of the plan was this gift you previously thought of as a curse.