Shaming myself into the closet

Shaming myself into the closet
Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, UK. 20th July 2012. As part of the Cultural Olympiad, Artichoke collaborated with Fiona Shaw to produce 8 peace camps around the UK. Glowing beacons of peace speaking poetry from dusk till dawn.

The other day, a young woman was murdered. The police are saying there’s no evidence, yet, that it’s a hate crime. I appreciate their attempt at sticking strictly to the facts, but the young woman was trans with a history of being bullied at school. There’s a good chance this is a hate crime against a trans woman.

The day before the story broke, my wife and I were walking through Liverpool city centre after a lovely tea and cake event with friends. I was wearing a red mini skirt (ASOS label it as a kilt) with blue tights and red fishnets over, creating a cool pink effect. As we walked home, I saw a woman go past in a car, and she was strongly saying “What the fuck?” at me. What the fuck at you? I didn’t let it get to me and instead got my wife to do a quick empowering portrait of me.

When we got home, I felt mostly OK but a little anxious. I told my wife, maybe I need to tone down my fashion? Perhaps I need to sometimes present as a man to feel safe? It’s not the first time I’ve had these thoughts. Most times I walk through a city centre, I have to fight my anxiety and tell myself there’s nothing to fear.

There is something to fear. A young woman was murdered for being herself. For being visibly who she wanted to be. That’s all I want to be. I’m certain that’s all anyone in the trans community would like to be. They wish to be themselves, happy and unafraid to go outside.

I’m writing this from an Apple Store, where I’ve nipped into town to get my AirPods Pro repaired. I’m anxious. A 10-minute walk from my car was very stressful. Not everyone stares at me. Some do and it makes me anxious. I try to tell myself that they’re seeing someone amazing and confident. It’s hard. Each stare lowers my shields, and then I’m out of energy and open to attack.

This leads me to being at home and unconsciously shaming myself. “If I want to go out, maybe just wear jeans. Don’t be non-binary me. Just be the me that needs to shop.” There’s an element of doing what needs to be done to get through the day, but I shouldn’t be telling myself this. I’m not the problem here. It’s the people staring, hating and attacking trans and non-binary folk that’s the issue. I shouldn’t have to dress in a way others desire me to dress under threat of attack. How is that good for my mental health?

It is remarkable how your brain can turn this way. How I can feel like the solution to people staring is to remove the thing they’re staring at. Intellectually I know different, but when anxiety is filling your body, all I want to do is hide. The only way I can think of going on is to face my fears and tell my brain there’s nothing to worry about. It’s all in my mind.

Tonight I’m attending a vigil to remember Brianna Ghey, who was brutally murdered for being herself. Absolutely nothing to fear in the world. All in my mind.

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