Sometimes, I want to hide in “Mac”. I want to curl up in the old boy character I created and lived as for the outside world for so many years. Put on a suit, a tie and a pair of two-toned Stacy Adams. Slip out of the house and head to somewhere no one knows my name. Some bar maybe in the parts of town I avoid, where nobody has heard of the fabulous Lorelei Erisis. I would bind my breasts like a drag king or a transman and neglect to shave.
Of course, I have no idea what I would talk about. I was never much into sports even when I was still pretending masculinity. In point of fact, I’m a good deal butcher as a woman than I ever was as a man. But it might be nice to play the part again, just for a few minutes. To escape from the burden of being myself all the time
This may seem an odd thing to express, especially coming from such an outspoken advocate of visibility. And make no mistake, it’s not a desire to de-transition either. The choice to be me, to stop hiding was a decision I spend very little time or energy regretting.
But I did spend some thirty-odd years playing this character called “Mac”. And despite hiding who I was, it was not a character I disliked. I was even proud of the man I tried to be. And I was not so very different. I tried to be kind, gentle, loving, forthright and intelligent. I tried to be the best version of what I thought a man could be. And I often enjoyed the role.
Blasphemy, I know.
I was lucky enough to know the pleasures of falling in love on more than one occasion. And fortunate enough to survive the torments of falling out of love, at least for the most part. At least visibly.
And I certainly never tried, even as a man, to be like anyone else. Blending in to the crowd mattered as little to me then as it does now. I was afraid to let the world know I was truly a woman. But other than that, I could give fuck-all if I stood out as being different from the herd. In fact I went to rather great lengths at times to do just that!
My parents were hippies, as I’ve mentioned before, and I was therefore minus a lot of the stereotypical “male role” conditioning. Sports were not forced on me. I was encouraged to cry as well as to turn the other cheek when violence threatened. The men in my life were unashamedly sensitive and the women were proudly strong.
And there was almost never an occasion I can remember where I was required to wear a tie. Possibly as a result of this, when I found men’s formal wear. Fitted shirts, tailored suits, nice shoes and silk ties. It struck me as a sort of “Guy Drag” I could be most comfortable hiding in. It allowed me some avenue of elegance that I was yearning to express.
I discovered very quickly that people treated me rather differently when I was wearing a tie than when I was not. Also, given that my closest friends were punks, freaks and weirdos of the most wonderful sort, it allowed me to stand out even from them. Ironically, my conformity to a dying standard of masculinity made me a non-conformist among non-conformists. I also still have not a single tattoo or piercing, for much the same reasons.
After a while and several different lives lived, this became my uniform of sorts. It was comforting to me to slip on my two-tone shoes, soles worn thin by miles and miles of city pavements. Easy to put on a suit. It took less thought than it did for me to dress “casually”, which was always a nightmare I could not understand.
In my late teens/early twenties when I was experimenting with all sorts of things and most especially, doing a good bit of acid, I would almost always wear a tie when I was tripping. I found that the physical act of straightening my tie had the effect of mentally pulling myself together when I started to feel sketched out. Also, it made authority figures much less likely to question what I was doing.
I remember for a bit when I was living in Evanston, Illinois, I took to smoking a pipe. A real, old school, “Fifties Man”, “Bob” Dobbs style pipe. I would fill it with mostly marijuana and a little bit of strongly scented pipe tobacco. The smell of the pipe tobacco covered up the smell of the pot and dressed like a good, upstanding, straight white guy, I would walk through downtown in broad daylight, getting pleasantly high. Nodding to policemen and greeting passers-by.
I remember that sense of privilege. And I remember even then thinking it was kinda fucked-up that I was treated so differently, so reverently, just because I looked a certain way.
Of course, this is not precisely about that either. I am not bemoaning the loss of that privilege. What was it but the social equivalent of a sleight of hand anyway? A fantasy perpetuated by mutual agreement. I knowingly and gladly traded all that away when I began my transition. And I would do it again.
I do miss that character. When times are hard, as they are now. I want to so badly to be able to hide in it for just a few minutes. Forget who I am. Pretend my troubles belong to someone else.
Pull on my Stacys, straighten my tie, light a cigarette from a silver case and see where the sidewalk takes me.
How ironic that now that I’m finally not hiding alone in my room, or some anonymous crowd, all dressed up like a girl, that I find myself wanting to do the same thing again. Except now it’s to be the character I was trying to escape.