Denver would be my third time being about in the world en femme. The process came together easier, if not quicker. It still took me two hours for my unpracticed hands.
I first met up with Marisa by the registration booths at the Denver Convention Center. (I met her at The Reformation Project and had kept in touch over Twitter.) It was a happy reunion. I was so grateful that unlike at TRP, I was not a stranger alone in the world. Ceri Anne was there, too. I was happy to see her. She had led us all strangers at TRP to lunch and dinner for her Pizza Quests, where we got to sample all the great pizza places in Chicago, which is how and where I made friends in the Fall of 2017.
Adrienne and her two girls joined us later due to a flight delay. As the first worship session was closing they found us at our table.
Afterwards we found ourselves at Yardhouse, a restaurant and brewery. A sweet little reunion. I was happy to be there. Happy to be reunited with my friends. The only friends in the world (as of this writing) who know me for who I am.
Adrienne had said that one of her daughters is an expert at painting nails and would be happy to do mine. Goodie! I thought. How fun that would be. Adrienne’s daughter (I won’t name them here, being they’re both minors) had brought with her two color choices. A pastel blue and classic red. Which one would I like? “You choose for me,” I said. She chose red. I smiled. I had never tried on such a bold color. But, I was glad for it. I was proud to be wearing it throughout my time in Denver.
I rode the elevator up to my room, aware of my freshly painted nails.
Once inside my room, I was blindsided by a feeling of self-loathing—with my fake boobs and my fake hair that feels like a damn baseball cap every time I put on the wig. Wearing these articles bring on a sense of relief from dysphoria. It makes me feel more congruent in myself. But that night, I was experiencing intense dysphoria.
I slumped over on my bed, crying and afraid. What is this—this impostor syndrome ambushing me, out of nowhere? The next morning, with that feeling still sitting uneasy in the pit of my stomach I made myself up, switching my eyeshadow colors to something less intense.
At the Trans Retreat I met Emily and Sydney. There at our table I was able to open up about my recent experiences. About how the exhilaration that I felt when I was in Chicago was absent here in Denver. And how that seemed to lead to my feeling the impostor syndrome, which seemed to be taunting me, mocking the past five painful years of struggling with gender dysphoria and my journey of coming to terms with being trans.
Sydney was the one who unlocked the first door of understanding for me. Having had a similar experience, she explained that for her, too, the exhilaration of dressing in public for the first time wasn’t present afterwards and that it’ll never be like that, because now it’s just normal. You’re just being who you are. It made sense. Still, I was saddened to think that I would never again feel the magic of the first time where the world was new.