One thing many trans folk find difficult prior to and in early transition is to be able to be confident when out in public. In those early days, we are often terrified to leave the house when presenting as our identified gender. There are things we see in ourselves that we feel are immediate “tells” that we’re trans, and believe that because they are so vivid to us, that they will be to everyone else we encounter.
When we do finally pluck up the courage to venture out that front door, we carry that impression of our appearance with us. Sometimes we are so scared that we won’t even leave the car. And when we do, we try to spend as little time as possible around other people.
Commonly we have a tendency to skulk when first in public, in an attempt to fly under the radar. The problem is that when we do, we wind up attracting attention rather than avoiding it. This comes from a place of fear, fear of being “found out”, fear of being exposed as a fraud. Public toilets can often invoke abject terror. I remember that shopping in the underwear section was always scary for me, even when I’d reached the point that I really did need a bra!
The reality is that it’s our own insecurity and not believing that we really DO belong in those spaces that causes us to skulk and try to evade other people. And honestly, most people are normally so focused on what they are doing, that unless you do something to attract attention to yourself, it’s very unlikely that they’ll even think twice about you.
It’s easy to say “act confident,” but that is only possible when we can accept that we are who we know we are. We are afraid that someone will call us out, will imply that we are trying to fool everyone. That simply is not true. We are the gender we identify as, even if there are aspects of ourselves that may be more masculine or feminine than we would like.
The trick is to try to accept that everyone has elements of themselves that they don’t like. Other people probably don’t notice them, even though to the individual, it’s like a huge signpost. But because they have come to terms with that part of themselves, it becomes unimportant to those around them.
For trans folk, it comes down understanding that there will always be things that aren’t perfect, and that’s okay. This is the point at which we find our fear dissipates and we cease to draw attention by trying to avert it. We might also just find that we stop skulking!