Take, for instance, some of the clothing and accessories I’ve been particularly excited about lately: Unicorn tie. Shiny dark grey nail polish. Huge curly pinstriped glass earrings. I think part of the amusement here is that I never would have worn something with a pink unicorn silkscreened on it when I identified as a woman. I am drawn to anything that’s a mix of hyper-masculine and bright or flamboyant elements – imagine a lumberjack in sparkly suspenders and a rainbow flannel shirt and you probably have the right idea.
I mostly keep my beard around because I think it is incredibly fucking funny that I can even grow one (extra humor points for the fact that I can grow a fuller beard than my dad can). I do think it looks good on me, so that doesn’t hurt, but even now after I’ve had it for over two years, it still surprises me to look in the mirror and see a beard on my face.
As a potentially-interesting side note: my mental self-image isn’t very accurate. Sometimes I think of myself as I am now, and other times when I call up a mental picture of myself, I look like I did around 2001-2002, with long hair, breasts, and much more delicate facial features. I don’t think of myself as a woman when that mental image presents itself; I think it’s just that I looked like that for so long that my brain isn’t always completely caught up with current events yet. It feels pretty silly to walk around with a beard at the same moment that I’m visualizing myself as I was at my senior prom: in a lavender, butterfly-adorned satin dress and a painful stick-on bra. And yes, the image is even funnier if I imagine walking up to Me-At-Prom and introducing myself to her.
Maybe this sense of hilarity is just the giddy relief of not feeling bound by any particular set of gendered rules. I’m no more interested in following guidelines on how to be a Real Man than I was in trying to figure out how to be a Real Woman – not that I think those categories have any real meaning to begin with. I certainly have my moments of gender angst, and I doubt there will be a time when I’m completely free of that. But I’m at a point in my life where I’ve realized that this can be fun, and it is. I can be silly or playful in my gender identity or presentation if I want to. After several years where I wondered if I could ever even feel happy, let alone lighthearted, about my gender, not taking myself too seriously is a welcome change.