It is very unusual for me to pop into the chat room and NOT see a reference or discussion about “passing”. Whether or not it is healthy, we, as a community, seem to have a fixation on passing. You all know the questions: “Will I pass? Am I passable? Will they clock me? Do I pass?” and so on.
Let me say, right here, with conviction…….”I PASS!!!!”
In order to say that, I’ve had to go into some deep reflection and thinking. First, I asked myself why I never worried about being a genuine male as I grew up. Instead, I just took it for granted… unquestioned. While I wished to be a girl my whole life, I knew the biological fact. And I tried to be that girl, tentative, anxious, and most times ashamed. I was soundly conditioned according to the social programming of the 50s and 60s. That was until five years ago; my life partner got cancer and fought it for two years. She finally lost… I shared her last breath… the greatest privilege of my life. Three days later, I chose to be Carly.
Yes! I made the decision!!!!! So, I started from scratch. Built a wardrobe, learned makeup routines, exfoliating and moisturizing, hair styling, the whole SHE-bang! It was a dream fulfilled, accompanied by fear of being ostracized and rejected. As time went on, I became more adventurous, spent a week in Vegas, and took a Caribbean cruise, another Vegas trip. I performed twice at LGBT gatherings in Oklahoma City. And I worked diligently to reorganize my thinking and way of approaching life to reflect it.
I always took the greatest effort to be feminine… it was a full-time job… and often stressful. In the first few months, I discarded a full male wardrobe. So, it compelled me to make sure I was “put together” fashionably, even to go to McDonald’s. Maybe I overdid it in that first year. Just to be clear, I do not have a face or body that is very disguisable as a female. Not even close! Maybe my case is unusual… I never once met social rejection. And I live in an ultra-conservative Ozark Mountain town of fewer than 10,000 people. I tell people, “I go by Carly, now,” and everyone seems cool with it. And that is exactly what I hoped for.
Well, this wasn’t intended to be about me… it really has to do with passing. Somewhere in the last two years, I knew I passed. I just KNEW it! I wasn’t hiding. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed, or shy… It was just me. I passed! Then, now, and tomorrow. I am a woman. I don’t really care if biology disagrees!
Finding a reasonable way to enhance comfort is a part of being human. When my thoughts generate discomfort, perhaps it’s time to change my thinking. In the absence of real danger, which is a truism. And it really isn’t that difficult. Imagine a video camera that monitors a room. It is available for close review when desired. Instead of a room, let the video capture your thoughts. Pay attention to the chatter in your head. Do you like the messages running through your head? If not, take the time to change it. Consciously substitute for a more desirable thought. Keep monitoring and changing as needed. It may seem awkward at first, but the process becomes more automatic as you practice. Soon, it will become almost automatic.
Before transitioning, I felt constantly on guard, vigilant, and self-conscious. I was always worried that someone, somewhere, would ferret out my deep, dark secret. Keep alert; stay quiet and behind the scenes; keep my opinions and preferences to myself; blend into the background. Nobody can ever even suspect anything about me. Life’s circumstances sent it all into a jumble. And when the dust settled… here I was. I feel extremely comfortable and confident, more so than at any time in the past. In the final analysis, I changed the way I think about myself. I feel good; I like myself as I am, and I’m not afraid or timid about being me. I think I am fine just the way I am. It is amazingly liberating.
Now, I feel whole. No internal conflicts. No doubt about my womanhood. And a profound sense of gratitude to the one who came before me… the ones who paved the way for me, protected and nurtured me until I was ready to blossom. I have transitioned! Past tense: It is done. I smile more, laugh more, enjoy life more. When some neanderthal gives me the evil eye, I smile and blow him a kiss. When Ms. Crabby scowls, it’s easy to shuffle a little closer and ask what she thinks about the eye shadow palette I’m holding. The discomfort is theirs, not mine.
I think I am okay… more than okay! I’m stylish, pretty, and at peace with the world. I am a woman.
More Articles by Carly Holloway
- Lessons Learned
- Strength — integrate and differentiate (Pt. 2)
- What happened in Vegas
- A new Direction, a new Life
- Integrate and Differentiate