I had a close friend last year who really wanted a big brother. She’d told me several times, and I always thought it was odd. I have a brother and yeah, he is absolutely wonderful, but she had an older sister already. How much difference could there really be?
I have this idea I’ve been wondering about, regarding the way different people speak. The spread of television, film, and books has led to more and more people growing up observing certain forms of speech which might have once been considered overly dramatic and unnatural. However, since those people have grown older and adopted some of that language themselves, thinking it’s normal, those ways of speaking have slowly become more common in actual conversation.
Expectation shapes reality. Or does it?
I don’t know what my friend expected from an older brother. I suppose someone to protect her and take care of her. I do not feel remotely comfortable making any sort of comment about what her relationship with her sister was like, but in the 10 months or so I’ve been living as a girl, I’ve noticed men have become more likely to make me feel safe or protected. It’s a weird thing, but I don’t imagine it’s too uncommon. Maybe that had something to do with it?
Whatever the reason for it, which ultimately isn’t any of my business, my friend wished she could have a big brother. I never really understood it.
Until now, that is.
The last few months have been interesting for me, as I keep noticing remarkable changes which have gone mostly unnoticed due to how gradual they’ve been.
Around January I first noticed just how much HRT had shaped my face, as I compared New Year’s pictures from this year and last. I was showering a couple of months ago when I noticed that in addition to my hips growing out a little, my waist looked noticeably smaller. It’s not like, super attractively so, but it definitely looks more feminine than before. I’ve felt my chest grow more sensitive, then slowly grow larger.
So noticing my hair is now shoulder length isn’t the only thing whose progress I’ve been surprised by lately, but it’s definitely among the ones that have made me feel the most excited. Femininity was essentially a locked room for most of my life, and coming out and going full-time meant the door opening and me finally being free to explore it and see what made me comfortable, and what I didn’t care for.
Since last May, I’ve played around with clothing, makeup, jewellery… whatever. I’ve found a lipstick that makes me feel confident and happy, and a way to do my eyes to make me feel pretty. A few rainy, cold evenings of miserable walking on the street in a dress have taken away the novelty of skirts, and I’ve grown to be really happy of the familiar feel of earrings bouncing against my head when I turn to look at something.
I’ve grown to feel much more confident as a woman, empowered by the particular flavour of femininity I’ve been discovering for myself.
Hair, however, has remained mostly unexplored territory for me in that time. Since I decided extensions and wigs were out of the question, I couldn’t really do anything but wait for my hair to grow longer.
The excitement I felt at noticing my hair length lasted for a whole 15 seconds, at which point I came to the realisation I know absolutely nothing about hair.
I’ve been asking some of my Internet girl friends for help, and they’ve been super helpful and nice, but I still feel mostly lost.
This is normal. It happened when I first started learning about fashion, and spent a few hours reading everything I could online. It was the same when I messaged a bunch of my friends for tips on makeup, and had to bear with the frustration of not knowing even the most basic stuff.
For whatever reason though, being clueless about hair, as natural as it is, is making me feel terrible. I realise knowing how to braid your hair doesn’t make you more of a woman, and that there’s plenty of women who don’t know anything beyond how to brush your hair and set it in a ponytail.
However, I have found a lot of validation in the way other girls regularly compliment me on my fashion sense, and on how I can do my makeup fairly well, especially for how long I’ve been practising it. I hadn’t realised, but I’d grown perhaps a little too used to using it as a crutch against insecurity. So now that I’m back to looking like a complete novice at something… all the insecurity rushes to fit through that opening.
It’s not just insecurity, though. Sure, that’s always going to come when you have to be constantly fighting with society about who you are, with them trying to convince you you’re delusional about the one thing in life that you know.
I just wish I had back-up, sometimes. Someone to show me the ropes.
I wish I had an older sister.
No one is born knowing everything (save of course, wizards, as Usidore is only to happy to explain). This is fine. It’s why we have schools and teachers to help us understand the world, and parents to teach us about life. Why as we grow up we have someone teaching us the basics. How to put a bra on, what a french braid is and how to go about doing one…
I have no one like that. I had to muddle through figuring out makeup. I lucked out with an instinct for fashion. I didn’t have anyone to help me, really. There were people who helped, but they have their own lives to live, and didn’t do much beyond talking for a little while and passing on some tips.
Why couldn’t I get someone to cover all of these things with? I know this isn’t a transgender exclusive problem. There are plenty of people in the world who don’t have anyone like that. I know that.
It doesn’t make it any easier to pick things up as you go along.
It goes beyond just wanting someone to pass on knowledge about makeup and hair. A lot of it comes from the fact I don’t have any woman in my life to look up to. Not having a mother-daughter relationships with my mum due to her non-acceptance of me has left me with this little vacuum, and there’s nothing there to feel it.
When people talk about transition being like puberty they’re not just referring to growing boobs, or to emotional changes; a lot of it also has to do with identity and finding who you are.
As independent as I am, I just wish I had someone to admire, to help me understand womanhood, and to give me a reference point for the kind of woman I hope to be someday. I wish there was someone who could show me how to deal with guys and feelings, to help me understand all the weird emotional shifts I get, to show me how to find the strength to deal with all the things that come with being a woman.
I just don’t have that. I’ve never had that.
I wish I did.
One of the best things about having a sibling is the comfort they bring you. I’ve only experienced it from the end of being the older one, but I’m fairly sure it works both ways.
I’ve felt incredibly alone lately. Since coming out, several people have become a lot more distant inexorable passing of time. This is normal. People move away, they get busy, get a new boyfriend… whatever. C’est la vie. No big deal.
Unless, of course, there are also other people abandoning you, refusing to respect who you are, ending friendships. It’s a bit like having to pay for an expensive operation and then getting your car totalled on the drive home after. Sure, the savings could cover one thing, but both?
Without meaning to throw a pity party, I’ve been living a very lonely life. More than usual. Sure, I’m fairly introverted, but I love having friends and spending time with people. That’s barely happened this last year, particularly in the last couple of months.
Again, I wish I had an older sister. Not just to keep me company, but to listen to me, to offer some comfort.
I feel on most days like I only have one or maybe two real friends. It makes it difficult to open up to them, because when there’s so much stuff bothering you and so few people to talk to, you run the risk of getting needy, or making the relationship only about your problems, all the time.
I would kill to have someone who cared deeply for me, who I knew I could count every day on to listen to every single thing bothering me, who wouldn’t mind me crying on her shoulder, like I feel like doing most days.
People with actual sisters probably feel the same way I did when my friend talked about wanting an older brother. Things aren’t like in the movies. Having a sister likely comes with a bunch of annoyances I have no idea about. Ultimately, I’d likely feel disappointed because no one could live to the weird expectation I’ve built in my head.
That’s okay. Unlike with romantic partners, I’m not going around hurting others by comparing them to the idealisation. I’m never getting an older sister, so it’s not as big a problem if I imagine how wonderful an imaginary sister would be.
I don’t think it’s helping with the loneliness. Or the frustration. Or the confusion.
I don’t know what kind of woman I want to continue to grow into any more than I did before. I’m still very lonely. I continue to be (ironically, I suppose) completely lost when it comes to guys.
I guess the reason I like to imagine a wonderful hypothetical older sister is that it gives me a way to visualise all those problems being solved. Even if it’s just in my imagination, it’s more than I know how to do in actuality.
Like I said second puberty. Hooray.