Thursday, February 5, 2015

2-5-2015 Entry: Buying a House and the Process of Unbecoming Handsome in Order to Become "Pretty"


This post will be two fold in nature. First, I’m happy to announce that my wife and I have bought a house! Well, sort of. We have an executed contract with the current owners to buy their house given that the inspections we have scheduled for this weekend go through without any deal-breaking issues. Needless to say both Sarah and I are very excited about this new chapter in our lives because the era of apartment living is finally at an end. We know there will be new trials and tribulations in the realm of house ownership but both of us are still eager to have a home of our own. For those who might be interested in the finer details it’s a two story house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a nice large kitchen, a fenced yard, a nice nook for me to have an office, a sunroom for Sarah to read in, and a large garage for us to store our car and extraneous crap in! 
 It’s no mansion, but compared to the 800 square foot one bedroom apartment we’ve been living in for the last two and a half years, it feels like a palace to me!

Now, some of you might be wondering where this leaves my wife and I with regards to our relationship. I’m happy to say that things between us are as strong and loving as ever. Last week she joined me at my weekly therapy appointment where I was given extra insight into how she was feeling about everything and how she was handling the transition, and as my therapist put it during our session yesterday, it was evident how truly committed she was to me and our marriage. It is in no small part due to our mutual therapy session and the conversations that followed later that night that I now feel very little anxiety about our marriage or her ability to still love me as Emma the transwoman instead of Robert the man. It is because of this recent development in perceived stability between us that I hold no reservations about buying a house with her and fully expect that our lives will continue on in more or less the same fashion it always has. I hold no illusions that the future won’t still hold trials and stumbling blocks for the two of us as my transition continues, but I feel fairly confident that our love can weather those storms.

On to the second part of this post. I’ve made an observation that I feel compelled to discuss and share here about the nature of masculinity and femininity, with particular regard to sex appeal. Mainly I’ve begun to notice that in order to become “pretty” in the female sense of the word a person must become un-handsome. That probably doesn’t make a whole lot of obvious sense but bear with me a moment as I try to flesh this thought out a bit.

I have never held my physical appearance in high esteem for about as long as I can remember. Before the age of… let’s say 11, my physical appearance wasn’t really something I cared about. Sure, there were moments of dysphoria even back then where I had to wonder why I was a boy instead of the girl I believed myself to be, but there was neither any degree of fondness nor discomfort with my appearance. It just wasn’t something that was thought about or worried about. After that age, when the sex hormones began to do their work and I found myself more and more attracted to women, things started to change. Suddenly my appearance became more of a concern, especially when the pimples started happening. Let’s just say Robert the adolescent had a considerable issue with pimples; enough so that he took a drug that now is no longer offered (I believe) and has a class action law suit against (Acutane). You can probably imagine that under such pimpled conditions my self-esteem with my physical image was pretty low. Not only was I a boy who was tragically becoming more and more “manly,” but I was also pimple faced, abnormally tall, and kind of lanky (I was almost 6 foot at the age of 12).

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand that even after all these years with the pimples finally gone, I still don’t really think of myself as handsome or attractive as a male. I know that others are prone to disagree with me (my wife gets pretty mad at me if I call myself ugly) but my lack of physical self-esteem is still present. I suspect a good deal of that has to do with the fact that my body displays the opposite sex to the gender I feel inside, but I digress.

So, with reluctance to use the term handsome, I’ve noticed that as I’ve moved my appearance more and more to the feminine side of things, I have become decreasingly handsome. In order to (hopefully) become pretty at the end of my transition it’s almost like I must completely do away with any degree of the male attractiveness I’ve developed over the years. Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “well, duh!” but this has really been a revelation to me because of the profound consequences it has on my normal routine.

In times past it was easy enough to get up, shower, shave, trim the goatee, and style my very short hair in less than perhaps 20 minutes. Now when I get up in the morning the ordeal has become quite a bit more involved. I haven’t started wearing makeup to work yet, so it’s not as bad as it will eventually be, but the time it takes for me to get ready is increasing. Because my hair is longer it takes more time to wash and condition. It takes more time to dry, and it takes more time, effort, and product to style it in a fashion that doesn’t make me look terribly tragic. This is where the un-handsoming becomes quite pronounced to me. When a person thinks of a handsome man they probably think about a man who is well kempt and clean-cut. They are probably unlikely to think of a handsome man as a guy whose hair is abnormally long, strangely styled, and kind of frizzy. When I look in the mirror I don’t see the “handsome” man I used to see anymore. Instead I see this unkempt-looking man who has hints of pretty trying to come to the surface.

I suspect that I’ve rambled quite a bit in this post and that I haven’t adequately captured the point I was trying to make but hopefully you at least partially understand what I mean. In order for a male to become a female in appearance, almost every vestige of maleness or handsomeness needs to be slowly undone before any degree of femininity or pretty can be achieved. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is this place between pretty and handsome that a person has to progress through when they make the decision to transition and that this “no gender land” can be a bit difficult to navigate. It’s really not as simple as putting on some makeup and talking in a higher voice. You really almost have to completely deconstruct your “look” before you can build a new one that better matches your identified gender.

Anyway, sorry if that didn’t make any sense or was just a long winded way to say: my longer hair makes me look less handsome, yet not pretty. If nothing else, I hope I’ve given some insight into how difficult it can be to articulate the way a transgender person feels as their physical appearance changes during transition.

 

-Emma

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