Speaking of, there's a new social phenomenon going on at school that I recognize, but I'm not adjusted to. I'm calling it "bro-bonding". It's not a bad thing, just ... different.
I'm also noticing some interesting gender binary dynamics on campus. For instance, in many of my classes the students who choose to sit next to me are (presumably) cisgender men. And I'm included in their conversations, which consist of a lot of "dude" and "man" and "bro. This didn't happen when I was visibly queer.
And then I'm receiving negative feedback when I lean in to hug a man.
For instance, the other day my dad and I visited my grandparents for my grandpa's 80th birthday (side story: when we arrived my grandma was outside, alone. Then my grandpa opened the door, letting us all in. Turns out they had been locked out and, for his 80th birthday, he got to play cat burglar and break in to their home through a window. Go grandpa!). When I hugged my grandpa goodbye he was surprised, and asked if we could still hug, even though I'm now "a guy".
Basically, this is such a bizarre social experience for me, entirely. And it doesn't feel better than being visibly queer - just, different. I now feel safe and comfortable using a public restroom (for the most part). But I am also having a difficult time coping with a huge component of my identity that was visible for 26 years. I suspect that going through adolescence with a highly visible stigmatized identity made it very salient to me. And while it was difficult in many ways (e.g. restrooms, locker rooms, police, homophobic strangers, etc.), I also never experienced "coming out" and was always visible to my community. But now, this very salient part of my identity has become concealable. And I feel invisible.
As Ivan E. Coyote put it in her tribute to femmes,
"I would never say that the world is harder on me than it is you. Sometimes you are invisible. I have no idea what this must feel like, to pass right by your people and not be recognized. To not be seen. I cannot hide, unless I am seen as something I am not. This is not more difficult, it is just different."I am also beginning to experience social pressure to conform to masculine stereotypes. I recognize it's there and do my best to just be my genuine self, but the social pressure is definitely there.
Oh, and this was my lunch today:
Again, taken with my shoddy camera phone that doesn't give it's glorious adorableness credit. Grapes, crackers, banana, a sandwich, and orange juice. Mmm! Thanks, mom!
I'm calling my gym-scared hiatus off and going back with my mom starting tomorrow. I haven't been going due to having no idea what locker room to use or how to navigate that space safely. I'm going to try just wearing my Cotton Concealer Compression Shirt, Style 974 from Underworks with a loose shirt and see how it goes.
Fortunately, we'll be going to a different gym than we were going to prior. Which means that I won't have to worry about anyone recognizing me and getting upset when I walk into the men's locker room. I'm very excited to go again.