I was on the bus a block from my apartment when I decided on a whim to just get off the bus and go get my nails done at the salon by the bus stop.
I had to wait a little while, but I’d brought my kindle, so it wasn’t a big deal. When they finally called me, I went to the little special chair, and relaxed as the girl there started working on my nails.
As she worked, I started thinking of… I don’t know, it must have been about two years ago. I’d been going to different salons and getting a clear coat for a few months. It’s not uncommon for guys to do that here, though it’s more common in those with money.
Anyways, socially acceptable or not, it helped get my gender dysphoria down slightly.
This one time though, I’d decided I’d get my toenails done as well. Something discreet, in case my parents ever saw me barefoot by accident, but still feminine so I could feel good knowing how they looked underneath my socks.
I walked into a random place and asked for the usual clear coat on my hands, and also a pedicure. No big deal. The lady there was a little cold-mannered but no matter. A lot of women her age aren’t particularly friendly with men.
She finished with my hands and was working on my toenails, when I mentioned that um, actually… and this felt about as scary as coming out to my closest friends had been. But I managed to force myself to let the words out: um, could she maybe uh, do french nails on my toes?
She gave me a vague yes, but said she had to work on another client first. So she moved over to another place, and worked there for a while. I sat there with my toes in a bucket of warm water, and just browsed on my phone for a while.
Soon, the lady was done with the other client, but then went to work on someone else. I put my phone down, and decided to just stare at this woman the whole time. She must have known I was staring at her, but she didn’t give even a brief look my way.
This was around 8pm, and soon the water in the bucket had grown cold, and I was freezing, since my wet cold feet were close to the door. Still, I waited. It had been about 40 minutes since this woman had started ignoring me. And then there were no more clients, and she was talking with a co-worker, and… could it be? Yes. Without daring even to look at me, she gathered her stuff and left.
I waited for a bit longer, feeling more and more frustrated by the moment. After an hour had passed from the moment she’d stopped working on me, I put my socks and shoes back on, and got up.
I was so, so angry. Oh, dear. I’m a very angry person by nature, and I was more angry in general before starting transition. Even so, I was particularly furious then. I started to walk towards the manager, but I realised there was no chance I could say a word without breaking into tears and shouting incoherently at this woman. So I just got my stuff and left without paying for shit, my body language daring anyone to so much as look at me.
I walked to a nearby park and cried for a quarter of an hour. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. I felt so terrible. I’ve been in lots of awkward and embarrassing situations, but I’m struggling to think of when I’ve felt worse than I did then.
This whole horrible experience is what was going through my mind as I sat at the salon today, while the girl worked on my nails. Soon she was done washing and tidying them up, and applied a clear coat. Then without me having to say anything, she pulled out her little box of nail polish and asked me what colour I wanted. Maybe a red, or a pink, or did I maybe want french nails?
If there’s one thing being transgender can do, is help you appreciate things others take for granted, and find great joy in the silliest of things.
It’s been an hour since I left, and I’m still smiling.