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Day 22: FAQ II

2014 October 14
by Jen DiGiacomo

Thought I’d change the pace today.

Since I’m usually focused on the daily view of my transgendered journey, I haven’t really explained many of the details surrounding my path prior to September 2014.

So let me use this second F.A.Q. installment to help fill in a few of those gaps…

You talk a lot about shame and fear. What’s up with that?

I grew up in a different era. I was born in 1965 and my childhood sat squarely in the ’70s. Gays weren’t openly tolerated. Just look at Paul Lynde, dubbed “America’s most eligible bachelor.” Transgendered folk? That was even worse.

When I was in grade school we used to play a game during recess called “Smear the Queer” where all the boys would chase and tackle whoever happened to be holding the football… the queer. That sort of matter-of-fact attitude towards anything different took its toll on someone who secretly liked to wear dresses. My keen adolescent survival instinct kicked in and I quickly learned to hide that part of myself from the world.

Fast forward to my late teens and early twenties when I began to explore the outside world in girl mode. For the most part I could be myself, smile even. But there were too many encounters resulting in being pointed at, laughed at, cursed at, even threatened with bodily harm. Of being made a spectacle of over the loud speaker at a K-Mart whilst trying to buy a skirt. Or chased down Ben Franklin Boulevard when I wandered too far away from the safety of my car rather late one night.

All these experiences fueled the fear that I was, in fact, a freak. I “purged” my entire wardrobe on countless occasions, vowing to never dress again. I started to believe there was something wrong with me.

So, yeah, after 40 years, it’s still a challenge to expunge all of the shame and overcome all the fear. Because a part of me still fears I’m a freak. Still fears my friends won’t be accepting of who I am and path I’ve decided to take.

The good news? Everyone, every single person I’ve told, has been more supportive and accepting than I ever thought possible.

Are you “passable”?

This used to be so important to me. Passing as a woman.

I won’t deny that there was a thrill when I did. When my hair and makeup were just right. When I walked past people and the only looks I got were for a cute girl, not a freak. I used to tell myself that if I could pass full time, then I could do this. That I could somehow transition from being male to female with no muss, no fuss.

So on a good day, yeah, I can pass. I’ve been called “ma’am” whilst standing in line at the grocery store or the pharmacy when my ponytail is a little disheveled, when I’m wearing my black and yellow hoodie with jeans and boots.

And on a not-so good day, I’m a bloke in a dress, as Eddie Izzard is fond of saying.

But I guess the difference now is that this journey is less about “passing” and more about being who I am. I mean it’s flattering when I pass as female. It’s actually pretty awesome. But at the end of the day, I am transgendered. And if I can’t accept that, how can I expect others to do so?

Note: When I began transitioning in 2014, I was known by my nickname DiG, which sufficed until I learned my mom had chosen Jennifer had my birth gone differently. So for historical sake, I leave my posts and podcasts as originally conceived, but know that my name is and apparently always was Jen.
Day 21: A New Normal
Day 23: Not a Good Day
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