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Strike a Pose… Then Live to Regret It

regret

One of the striking similarities I’ve seen in both the trans community and in pubescent girls is the love of posing for photographs. If you have a female relative who falls into the latter category, and happen to be friends on Facebook, I have no doubt you are inundated with endless posed pics of them trying to look cute, sexy, fun or even just silly. Not surprisingly, at least to me, I often see many trans Facebook friends doing the exact same thing.

Before everyone thinks I’m getting all preachy and whatnot, I will freely admit that this used to be me as well. I say ‘used to’ because I have noticed that this mostly applies to trans who either identify as Crossdressors, or are in a pre-transition state and identify as TS. It seems that those of us who take those next steps to kick off transition, HRT and full  time living, the desire to do this drops considerably. Many of us who used to do this sort of thing feel a teeny bit about it all and given the opportunity, often scrub our FB, MySpace, Google +, and even PE profiles of these now shame inducing snapshots of  much more confusing time.

The big question is why do we do it. Why do we, now somewhere between 25 and 65, suddenly feel the need to mimic the behavior of 14 year old girls? I can really only answer for myself, and will go ahead and extrapolate this reasoning to the rest and allow those who beg to differ to let us know in the commentary. I think the number one reason, and the one that makes the most sense, is that it is simply a means to validate our identities. Before sidling up to something as big as full time transition, many have few opportunities to look how they think they ought to look. These times are captured moments that can be looked back upon when feeling hopelessly masculine looking and drab. As an aside, this phenomenon seems to apply way, way more to trans women than trans men, which really does make sense.

The secondary reason, and the one that inspires sharing on social media instead of keeping such things in an eyes only location, is the need to be validated by others. With the lack of opportunity or gumption to live and be interacted with as one’s self, sharing pictures presents a proxy avenue to be seen and understood as one would prefer to be. For me this was a way to have others see me as I wanted to be seen, or at least so I thought at the time. More about that in a moment. I’m guessing there is also a tertiary motive (perhaps the primary one in some) that facilitates the feeling of being desirable in pixel form, if not necessarily in person. I assume this is a strong motive for some given the types of pictures I have seen that don’t seem to hint at much else.

Nothing is wrong with this in and of itself, but it really can pose some problems, the least of which is head smacking shame. Let’s start with that first. In spite of being around women our entire lives, very few of us, without having been properly cultured as such, have no idea how to dress. I was very guilty of this myself. Things such as matching, style, and age appropriateness generally come after many, many mistakes. There is a good chance you are still making them by the truckload at the time you are most inclined to have the moment captured for all eternity. On any given day I may have looked like I shop exclusively from the Delia’s catalog with accessories by Clair’s Boutique. The next one might see me as a refugee from the Blair Catalog, except too old lady-ish. At the time I saw no problem with this, but it is now clear in real life that it is super hard for anyone to take you seriously if you show up looking like Punky Brewster one day, and Betty White the next. So many faux pas in such a short time.

The larger problem is the burning shame you may feel once you know better, and everyone with a computer is able to pull up pics of you looking like you work the corner at Genesee and Mosel catering to shady businessmen with subscriptions to ‘Barely Legal’. Not exactly the kind of thing you want your boss and co-workers looking at, much less family members and children. If you still have Twilight posters on your wall, you can barely get away with this. If you are over 30, forget about it. If you think the Rosanne Rosannadanna wig and some hoochie red lipstick are going to fool anyone into thinking it’s not you, think again. The first time someone comes across it and thinks, “say, that really kind of looks like Carl”, you are about to go viral.

The moral of this story is that we all have the desire to be validated in our true identity. The more the better in fact. Try to keep in mind though that whatever is captured on film for public consumption has the inherent possibility of surfacing at catastrophic times. Even if you are secretly hoping to have your secret exposed and end the charade once and for all, there are better ways of going about that such as blogs; trust me on that. No judgment on the behavior (after all, how could I?); just be careful and think a few months or years down the road and make sure you aren’t on a path of hot today, gone tomorrow.

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About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

6 responses »

  1. hmmm… you remind me to go look at those thousands of pics from a few years ago and do a serious edit (not that there’s anything x-rated in there)… and then break out the old nikon, charge up the battery and clear up a new memory card.)

    Indeed, it was the validation thing for me, not so much with others really (‘cos the ‘girlfriends’ will generally compliment you no matter what you look like.), but to refine and define a personal style for myself.

    Have been a voracious reader of the quality style/fashion mags for years and am pretty happy with my (eclectic) tastes. The compliments I do appreciate come from the women friends who ask to borrow some of my stuff (no, not for hallowe’en costumes!) and the boutique owner who asks my opinion occassionally.

    Ol “what’s-his-name” never ever felt himself to be attractive, but Deja, while not in the class of movie stars or runway models, usually feels herself to be a somewhat acceptable cougar… and that’s the important part, really. 😛

    deja
    (parentheses addict)

    Reply
    • Hi Deja! Wow, I really need to get some tips for you. I’m only about 8 months out of ‘Halloween costume’ territory myself, and that is only on most days. For me it was much more personal validation as well. 🙂

      Reply
  2. As someone who used to pose endlessly for the bathroom mirror pics on facebook, I can relate. I remember telling people at the time though that it was also because after 30 years of hating how I looked, I suddenly liked it.

    Reply
    • Debra, that was such a large part of it for me as well! Of course now that I’m full time, I’m rarely so happy with what I see in the mirror, but it’s still a far sight better than ‘old baldy sour’.

      Reply
  3. a friend of mine, very astute lady, who had her surgery at 50 and who had started her process as early as age 40, told me that when she began to feel this was when she began her hormone treatments…lasting up until a few years after the surgery. she thought it was in part responding to something the hormones did, but further thought that people like herself had been denied that silly teenage girl puberty…the acceptance and affirmation within ‘girl culture’ was how she described it. she said it felt as tho she were a teenage girl, despite her middle age years

    i was an atypical girl, so it isn’t easy to relate to this as it was never important to me to be affirmed as a girl, or to be accepted as one…i’m cis-gender, so being a girl was just who i always was, and the make-up and dress-up that my female peers felt necessary never seemed important for me…i thought they were pandering for male attention.

    when i posed this to my transsexual friend, who is attracted to men, she told me that while that might be a part of it, more important for her was to be on the inside of girl culture, something she had never had as a teen, and something that most women her age group were well over and done with.

    my transgender daughter is not heavy into pink, doesn’t want to wear makeup or pretty dresses is also not attracted to boys, but insists she will marry a girl someday. she doesn’t identify as transgender so much as just as a girl. it will be interesting to see if the hormone therapy, when she begins it in a couple of years, will change any of this.

    somehow, she seems more the kind of girl that i was…one who rejects a need to exhibit the behaviours and mannerisms typically assumed as feminine. time will tell the tale.

    Reply
  4. It took a while to accept, but I am quite happily a 15 year old girl at the moment (for the record, I’m in my 30s).

    I think it is just part of the process. I think it’s the same psychology of most teen girls. I think it’s HRT driven as well.

    Reply

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