Your inner woman must be allowed to grow into a whole human being. Seriously. And there is only one way to do that. And it is scary. And it is necessary. You need to grow up. Again. You must go out into the world and live as a woman.
Want to hear something else blunt? The fantasy or dream you have of what life as a woman is like is not accurate. Until you begin spending time as a woman in the world – acquiring real life experience – all you have is theory.
The learning only begins when you step out the door and start doing. You already know this. As with everything, reality and consequence are far more inventive than imagination.
Further, there is no immediate switch from one gender to the other. (Other than the lucky few who can present plausibly femme or masc just by how they dress and carry themseLves). Instead of flipping from one to the other, you must grow from one way of being in the world to another way.
Your true gender identity gradually accumulates around the life experience you gather once you start living in a way that honours it. It is likely that your character won’t even change that much. You’ll be different, but you’ll stay you.
It starts awkward. It stays awkward
Now, as you’ll remember, growing up is a messy business. Just like your masc persona went through stages of growth, so too must your feminine persona. And I really mean MUST.
Your feminine persona must progress through childhood, girlhood, adolescence and teenagerhood to become a young woman. And you’re going to have to do it in the body of an adult man. Then, depending on how many birthdays you’ve had, you will have to keep growing until you become an adult woman with tastes and behaviours that match your current level of maturity.
For ciswomen, the stages don’t stop at adulthood though. They have to deal with menopause. We do not. Lucky us! Anyway…
So, if you are 45 years old when you transition, you ARE NOT transitioning into an 18-year-old. You will, however, pass through a stage when you will think, feel and act like an 18-year-old. That is okay and natural, so long as you keep growing up to 19, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, etc. You might desperately want to be a fun and carefree 18-year-old chick, but it’s not going to happen unless you ARE actually 18.
For damn sure you don’t want to be a 45-year-old stuck with the mindset of an 18-year-old. To be an ageing human who refuses the gifts of wisdom and maturity and who seeks to stay stunted in a youthful mode, that is always sad whoever it happens to. It is a recipe for ever-increasing anguish. Denying reality always makes that reality worse.
Denial doesn’t work
I don’t talk about it much, but this is an appropriate time. I had a friend called Nicci Tristran – aka Rubber Nicci. You may know of her. You can still find her stuff online. She was gorgeous, a trans supermodel in latex.
We worked on projects, did photoshoots together and I was a regular behind the scenes at her nightclub. She died at 49. While it was not the cause of her death, in her final years she was increasingly unhappy and frustrated with her efforts to make the mature face in the mirror match the ideal she had of a perfect plastic dolly. For decades, she had been very VERY good at presenting herself as that dolly for so long.
Further out of touch
The mental anguish of ageing out of her aesthetic was like a creeping morose panic. It drained her life of joy. Being the perfect plastic dolly was her escape hatch, yet squeezing through it was getting harder and harder. The inability to find the woman in the mirror acceptable was not the cause of her death, but her last years were miserable because of it. Poor Nicci.
The reason you see early-journey transwomen dressing wildly outside their biological age group is that their feminine identity has not caught up to their level of maturity.
The middle-aged girl
Think of a 60-year-old who has spent their entire life in extreme repression of their feminine side. Isn’t it fair enough that they dress (and feel) like a young girl – a Bo Peep, with curls and bows – right at the start of their journey to womanhood? When they begin to accept that their feminine side is the more valid side of their selfhood, doesn’t that self deserve some breathing room?
This person may be 60 years old in terms of their male side, but that female side has zero life experience and has the “character” of a toddler. For this 60-year-old to be at peace though, that feminine side must grow up. The 60-year-old man must become a 60-year-old woman.
A woman among women
And as she grows, her aesthetic matures too. She acquires confidence, taste and elegance. And, most crucially, dignity. She’ll look back on her earlier phases with the same amused cringing that ciswomen have of their younger days. The outward aesthetic is important to pay attention to. It is the clearest outward sign of where you are up to in growing into your womanhood.
When you transition, you are joining the society of women and learning to get by among this group which is now “your people”. They are very likely to welcome you with open arms, but they are still mature adults. And just like the society of adult men has no respect for the manboy, the society of adult women has no time for an adult who acts like a little girl.
Silly slutty phase – goodbye to all that
Me, I am over 40. I admit, I too dress too young for my age. But the gap has come down considerably from what I used to be. You should have seen me 10 years ago, wearing outfits made of transparent hot pink plastic or my fixation with plaid mini skirts. I was approaching 30 and dressing like I was approaching high school.
Now I largely dress like my gal pals and coworkers. Most of them are 4 or 6 years younger than I am, but they are my “set” and I respect what they have to teach me.
I could cringe about my silly slutty phases, but I have realized that these were necessary stages of immaturity. I had to do all that to get where I am.
I don’t know where you are in your progression, but look at your age and then look at ciswomen who today are the same age as you: do you resemble them in taste, elegance, confidence and dignity? You’re going to have to if you want to lead a life among “your people”.
Martini Martaine is an Australian transwoman. As a writer (and occasional model) she spends a lot of time talking to other transwomen, cross-dressers and gender-curious people about the philosophy and values of gender, identity and self-acceptance.