At home I couldn’t generally present the way I wanted; not most of the time, at least. I’m nonbinary, as some of my early readers already know, but I wasn’t comfortable coming out at my 9-to-5-finance-firm job, so at work I was known as a woman and dressed in a relatively feminine way. This made the weekends my haven: I would always dress as masculinely as I could, more or less just to make up for the rest of the week. No matter what was or wasn’t going on that day, I’d grab a chest binder, a t-shirt or button-down, sometimes a dad sweater. I could have been spending the whole day migrating between the dining room table and my bed and I’d still do it. There was never a question about it. There was no other option.
It’s obviously different now. I don’t have that kind of work culture, so I can dress however I want whenever I want. I also don’t have a job, so I guess I could just hang out in my PJs all day if I was really dedicated to it. It’s a freedom I haven’t had since before I knew how much I needed it. It’s led to some dressing shifts that I might not have fully expected, if I’m honest. (I can’t imagine this rundown is about to get very exciting, but I did warn you all it’d be a journal blog, so you don’t resent me for talking about my fashion health, and I won’t resent you for skipping out on the rest of this post.)
First off, I can wear a binder every day now. I do tend to. I have an intense and negative relationship with my chest; you take your relief where you can get it. It turns out, though, and this may come as something of a shock, that wearing something designed to squish your upper body into as small a space as possible is more or less crap for your back if you do it with any regularity. Who knew.
Of course the mental health benefits vastly outweigh the physical detriments, but that doesn’t mean I’m out here trying to prove a spite point to my body, which leads into another big change: the introduction of some semblance of balance. Before, I had to wear a binder every day that I could, the whole day, because there were so many more days when I couldn’t. It was the only way to reassert myself to myself. Now, with nothing to push back against, I’m feeling pretty secure in my identity and presentation all the time. The new rule is that if I’m not going out, I don’t wear the binder. (If you’re wondering, this is still kind of murder on my back, but I can only imagine I’ve saved myself a lot of damage compared to how much I might be doing. It’s murder on the back, but maybe only like, second-degree, or voluntary manslaughter.)
And it turns out that when your free time doesn’t need to be spent chafing against the rest of your time, the rest of dressing can also chill out a little bit. I mean, my overall look is still aimed towards a fun balance of androgyny and giving very few fucks, but now it’s in a way that doesn’t assume “androgyny” to mean “masculinity.” It’s less about t-shirts and more about layering. I have fun getting dressed now. I used to go out on weekends looking, at best, like a very tired twelve-year-old boy; now I go out looking like a pokemon NPC. I get dressed and I look great. It’s not masculine but it’s certainly not feminine. It’s just clothing.
That may sound like a “yea, doi,” moment, but honestly, it’s helped a lot. I’ve been experiencing dysphoria since before I knew what it was. I’ve never, ever liked my body. The feeling of looking in a mirror and genuinely thinking, “Hey, I’m adorable!” is new and incredible to me. It informs my approach to the day. More importantly, it informs how I feel about myself.
Of course, suddenly having the option to feel good about myself means it’s not an option anymore. I still don’t really know what’s going to happen with regard employment when I get home, but I know it can’t involve any pretense. There’s way too much good in being a healthy, happy human being for me to give it up.
I’m gonna close off this post with a couple of the selfies I’ve taken since I moved to Scotland. I’ve been taking a lot more now that I’m actually happy with how I look. I like to celebrate that.