I have noticed that when I write I tend to be contemplative, as in always wondering why. It could be any topic that has my interest, and it’s no different with my dressing. I’m wondering the why exactly for not feeling fulfilled when presenting in my birth gender only. What causes the desire, or should I say compulsion, to dress?
Because it is a compulsion. Make no mistake. And so I revisit and analyze and try to understand this part of me.
Why as a young child did I find my mom’s makeup so fascinating? Why did I sometimes imagine myself as a girl? I didn’t often dress, and on the rare occasions when I did, I made sure I was absolutely alone. My fear of being caught was so great that I was actually able to go very long stretches without dressing at all.
As an adult, I went years without dressing, to my ultimate detriment. Let’s just say I was tired of life. Oh, I had my reasons—a wife, kids, parents who probably wouldn’t be very supportive (I loved you dad – but I’m talking about you.) But still, along with other factors it ultimately brought me to a point where I no longer wanted to go on. So why do we dress? Or go even further?
I think a lot of it has to do with the stereotypes men are supposed to live up to. We are not supposed to show our feelings, express emotion – be human. When I was younger, I was tormented by the feeling that I just wasn’t living up to the masculine ideal. I was an emotional, introverted, shy boy, who wanted to express my feelings, but felt as if I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be “manly” to do so. I was not macho. I liked reading and learning. I liked school. I went out for cross country just to say that I participated in a sport. I loved girls (women), but I wasn’t even on their radar. Nerdy guys don’t really cut it in high school.
But I never lost my love of things feminine—makeup especially. I loved the thought of being someone else; someone who could be who they were. Show emotion. Show feelings. Be the empathetic soul I felt I was. In other words, be more feminine.
And…I knew that wasn’t allowed. If I wanted to express my emotions it defined not only my gender but my sexuality. And that, I think, is a real problem. I love women, but I would love to be one, too. Society defines us as girls or boys, women or men, gay or straight; with or without emotion. There is no gray area.
So I come back to the why. Why do I (we) dress? I have my thoughts. Ultimately, I may never know the whole answer. And yet, that is not what is really important. I just know that it is a part of me, and what is important is that I embrace who I am every day! To know that I can express my feelings, that I can be emotional, and that I can let the feminine (woman in me) out. Let her be expressed in the loving way I look at my children, or in my interactions with others on a daily basis – to show appreciation for the effort they put into their appearance or the care they show their spouse or children. Show my admiration in how they interact with others.
That is a true benefit of femininity; the ability to interact and empathize with other people. How much better would society be if men were allowed the same privilege?
But we aren’t. And yet – that is the essence of April.