From the brief description of Sasha Masha by Anges Borninsky:
“Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he’s adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing. Is the missing piece a part of Alex himself? As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom.”
Spend enough time poking around the internet looking for anything related to gender identity and trans issues, and you’ll inevitably stumble across something meaningful: a short quote, interview, even a song lyric, that helps make sense of the world and your place in it. For me, the excerpt above helped me fill in a blank in my identity that I had yet to reconcile within myself. Specifically, the part where “Tracy…makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing.” As I’ve wrestled with my gender identity, a major source of confusion has been those times when being with a woman has made me feel 100% “man.” Why does this happen? If my gender is truly female, shouldn’t I feel that way all the time? Apparently, Alex struggles with these same questions.
For many of us who began wearing female attire in our pre-teens (or earlier), marveling at the female image presented in the mirror, there was also the deeply ingrained belief that this was only temporary. Tell me if this sounds familiar:
“Once I get a girlfriend, I’ll stop dressing.”
“Well, after we get married, I’m going to have to stop.”
“There’s simply no way I’m still going to be dressing up in women’s clothes once we have kids.”
If this is you, I bet I can guess how successful you were at stopping! Back in the dark times before we had the world at our virtual fingertips, this seemed like a perfectly reasonable belief. Chances are you didn’t know anyone “like you” when you were a kid, and the drag queens you saw on daytime TV seemed like aliens from the planet Fabulous – certainly, nothing that seemed realistically within reach for a dorky suburban kid. I didn’t know why I literally could not stop myself from trying on dresses and heels when the opportunity arose, but I certainly never believed I would keep doing it after I started dating. Having a girlfriend would “cure” me, right?
I didn’t really “do” dating well as a teen. The few dates I had were awkward and nerve-wracking in the extreme for me. I was eighteen by the time I got my first girlfriend, and the relationship only lasted a few months. The handful that followed over the next four years followed a similar pattern. So I never really got the opportunity to give up dressing for very long. But then I met “the one.” For the first time, I met a girl that I fell for instantly – that I wasn’t “settling” for just because she seemed interested in me. Several months before we met, I discovered this thing called America Online. It didn’t take long to realize that the screen name I used to get online could be whatever I wanted. In fact, I could even have more than one! Hence, my first female persona, MelissaLynnTV, made her debut. I used this account to access the few chat rooms AOL had for “transvestites” (hey, it was 1995!) and met a few others that shared our common passion. That was really about as far as it went – it took about 20 minutes to download the occasional photo someone might have shared – but once my newfound love and I became “official,” the first thing I did was delete that account. To this day, I’ll never forget the briefest of hesitations before I confirmed the deletion as if something deep in my psyche was trying to tell me this was a mistake – my first virtual “purge.” I didn’t give it a second thought, and only years later, after much therapy and soul-searching, did I realize how much this act may have been responsible for what came next, which amounted to a nervous breakdown. I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong. I finally found myself with an amazing girlfriend and here I was on the verge of mental collapse. In retrospect, on the verge of using the burgeoning internet to explore a side of myself I had struggled to keep at bay, I forcibly removed that limb, assuming that now that I had a girlfriend, it was no longer needed. In reality, a part of me was bleeding profusely. Like Alex, my skin had always felt strange against my bones, but being with an attractive woman at times made me feel more manly (i.e. “normal”) than at any other point in my life. But not all the time, and that was the problem.
Through therapy (and the occasional indulgence) I was able to pull myself together and eventually decide I would ask her to marry me. I will never forget the day I realized she was the one because my heart was practically bursting with love, and I used that feeling to explain away my crossdressing past. We spent the day shopping together. She needed a new pair of strappy heels and showed up at my house that morning looking absolutely stunning in the cutest black miniskirt. We had so much fun together, and the trip was a success (she actually bought two pairs of heels that day). “Maybe,” I reasoned,” this was what I’ve been missing all along. The only reason I used to like to dress like a girl was because I didn’t have someone in my life to do it.” Essentially, I figured that since I had a cute girlfriend (that very obviously wanted to be my wife), I could live vicariously through her. I’m sure you know as well as I do how well that worked out. No matter how often she liked to get dressed up, it was never enough to make me not want to do the same. I found myself obsessing over what she planned to wear, or wanted to buy. Buying presents for her was a chore, given how I had to constantly remind myself I wasn’t shopping for myself!
As Alex asks himself, is he missing something? And the answer is yes. Like me, he misconstrues that being with a girl does not stop you from wanting to “be” a girl. The attraction you feel for the person you love can mask the symptoms of gender dysphoria, but is by no means a cure. Now that I’ve come to understand the concept of gender euphoria, the puzzle pieces are falling into place. It’s often been said that in a marriage, you can’t expect the other person to change for you. But similarly, you can’t expect that other person to change you.
More Articles by Alexis "Lexi" Moon
- Alexis Takes Her Turn At The Mic
- Reframing “DADT”
- Why Passing Matters!
- Lexi’s Extraordinary Playlist
- The Last Temptation of Lexi