I was just complimented by a very nice young man on the street today.
That can be a validating, life-affirming moment for any woman my age, let alone a trans one. A reassurance that a man still finds us desirable. It was just the thing I needed, in light of my recent struggles.
I turned and said, "Thank you...." and then my heart sank.
He looked at me oddly, and my first thought was, He knows! Dammit, he knows! I realized, for one thing, that I hadn't shaved that morning, and cursed myself for stopping electrolysis. (I can only afford to do it once in a while). My voice, which I'd managed to maintain in an acceptable female register all that morning, dropped just slightly. Nerves tend to do that to me.
He continued on down the street, looking back at me as he went. He waved, but it seemed nervous, tentative.
Therefore, the compliment he gave me was entirely negated in my mind. He wouldn't have done it if he saw my face first, I couldn't help thinking. I was looking away from him. He'd never have given me that compliment otherwise....
One of my online trans friends, ever the cynical New Yorker, told me once, "if you didn't start living as female at a very young age, you don't pass. None of us do....the people around us are just being polite. They know what we are."
So come the questions, questions I'll probably never be able to answer:
Did he know immediately, and was just being polite?
Did he not know, only to find out when I turned and thanked him? Was he repulsed by me? Was he confused? Both?
So instead of being in such ecstasy that they'd have to put guy wires on my wheelchair to pull me down, I'm instead on the verge of tears. And wondering if my friend is indeed right.