Once upon a time, in a life far, far away I began wearing a special sort of clothing. I can’t exactly say it was modern, based as it was on outfits that had been around for over ten years, but it was certainly functional. It was made for a purpose and served that purpose well.
Whilst fashionably adorned in delicious combinations of beiges and greens I undertook a course of study. I began learning how to accessorise my attire; what went with what and where it was worn. Some was draped firmly yet still casually over my upper body. One special accessory enhanced my hips and from this wide belt I slung even more accessories.
Most excitingly about my dress of those days was how I could vary it to match the occasion. For those times when I sought to blend in and not be noticed I chose rather drab combinations, often so successfully that I actually disappeared into the background. At other times there was a need to be seen, to demonstrate to all how proud I was to be who I was. For those times I chose immaculate outfits that were crisp and well laundered, coupled with glossy accessories that reflected the sun in an effort to match the beaming smile I also wore.
Appearance isn’t all there is to life though, so at that college of learning I also undertook studies in other areas. One of those was battle tactics. That was when I first learned that winning doesn’t always mean victory. Sometimes a sensible tactical withdrawal is also a win. “A wise man picks his battles” I was told. “Only a fool takes a knife to a gun fight” I was also advised. Although I did receive instruction in how to wield said knife, especially when it was attached to the end of another of my accessories, I understood that the actual meaning of that saying is to be prepared for what one is going into.
As I said, those days are far, far away and it really does feel like another life. From those beginnings as a hesitant and often scared young man I think I developed into a relatively confident adult and maybe even, at times, something like a good woman. Some lessons linger though so I still pick my battles and I rarely take knives to gunfights. Sometimes I will sally forth into the fray only to determine that I’m either outnumbered or I’m fighting the wrong battle. At those times I choose a tactical withdrawal, hopefully with not too many wounds to lick. On other occasions I see how an engagement is proceeding and determine if I am suitably equipped to join battle. Unfortunately, there are also times when I know I’m not suitably outfitted yet I still I take up arms. The outcome isn’t always a good one for me, some lessons in life being hard to learn.
We must learn to plan our campaigns and decide how we will face each challenge. Acceptance that we can’t win every battle will help us to determine which battles we choose. Sometimes that tactical withdrawal is the very best option. As my similarly khaki and green-clad mentors told me way back then, a withdrawal is not a retreat. A retreat is an admission of defeat and flight from the field. A withdrawal is acknowledgement that success lies in doing things differently.
Life as a transgender person is an on-going campaign. Some battles we win, some we lose but hopefully we learn to manage our involvement. Purging is a retreat. The withdrawal option is storing our items away for revival when conditions are right. Returning to the closet and pulling the door to is a retreat. Choose instead the withdrawal option of finding a quiet place to review the recent action or, if a return to the closet is deemed necessary, leave the door ajar so that communication with allies is possible.
Finally, no battle should ever be fought alone. Every campaign needs reinforcements and for those of us who still fight the odd demon, who still suffer the occasional setback, Crossdresser Heaven is the perfect recruiting centre for those reinforcements. Just stick up a poster with your face beaming out from it with the call “I WANT YOU” emblazoned below. Someone is sure to come to your aid.