(Locker Room) Herding Behavior

Gender Dysphoria Canyon Park | There are canyons. Untraversed and therefore unknown. These canyons only emerge, however, as one experiences it. And in its knowing one looks up to find oneself suddenly walled in, the sky a mocking blue. Such is the landscape of living with untreated gender incongruence. Such is the scourge of gender dysphoria. And today was one of those discoveries, about myself.

Into the Maw of the Men’s Locker Room | The last time I had to enter a locker room was in high school. When my gender identity was long-buried since childhood, its every evidence erased (or so it would seem). And decades before gender incongruence would emerge and submerge me at the age of 30.

So earlier today, on this second day of job training, I find my feet tearing me away from the women’s locker room and into the men’s.

I did not know this job would require a twice daily trip into these changing rooms. Mercy, Jesus… Mercy.

As I change into the uniform trousers I’m fearful to show my legs, by now weeks into laser hair removal treatments I’ve been doing from home. As I remove my own button down shirt and put on the uniform shirt, I realize the undershirt I decided to wear today is my shield.

I’m a canary in a coal mine pretending she’s okay in here with the males, teetering on a knife-edge between fear of exposure and shame of nakedness.

Yet  I cannot bring myself to carry this body—as it is now—into the protected space of the women’s locker room, since I would feel like a monster, absolutely foul to myself (and perhaps offensive to the others).

Herding Behavior | This herding into different locker rooms today was only the last manifestation of a social herding that plagued me the past two days and will again on the third and last day of training.

When a group of strangers are put together, we have a natural tendency to herd together by common factors of perceived gender. When everyone’s a stranger, women tend to strike up conversations with other women. And vice versa for the men. (On a bell curve spectrum, of course. There were people striking up conversations across genders.)

So they say no man is an island, but when you’re a woman lugging around a body that has been poisoned by testosterone, you are islands fractured, each jagged piece  floating alone on separate oceans yearning to be made one.

(At this point I want to ask every trans woman who is living as their true self, “How the hell did you do it? How the hell were you able to come out, transition, keep a job, and make friends? Help?”)

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