All my life, it has been all about adapting. It was not easy in primary school, being the girlish kid that was always picked on for bullying every recess. Those days it was innocent, just paper sticks flicked to me with a rubber band, tennis balls thrown at me, and all the minor stuff. But it got worse in high school, where it became punching and beatings with chairs hurled at me, all in the name of trying to man me up (as what one of my aggressors told me in later years). Moving to another high school coincided with my embracement of the Christian faith, and the journey that now people call, the ex-gay lifestyle.
Then, it was still about trying to fit in. My grades dropped in my new high school, as I tried so hard to be one of the boys, learning foul words in a new language and joining gangs, at the same time hiding myself in the corner of the school crying when one of my school friends died. People still suspected I am gay, even though I have always been attracted to girls even then, because I am still soft by people’s standards. I made a determination to try bulk up, but I fail to do away with my skinny frame and remain a softie.
I was never happy, until my first girlfriend that is, when people stopped tagging me a gay boy, but many never knew that behind the “gentleman” at college, lies a woman. So having a girlfriend became a great mask, one after another. When I landed my first professional job as a lecturer, I finally gained a lot of weight and look big enough to pass as a young man. Until I met my ex-fiance, who have long suspected something about me, ended up dumping me, mentioning that she felt she was sleeping with a woman. That woke me up.
I came out, and it became harder to find my place in the world. At least I was happy, because for the first time, I am who I am. However, what I am was a problem. The years of pretending to be a boy, rubbed permanently some man characteristics in me. A trans-soft-butch, if you could call it. I maintained sharpness and critical thinking that is generally typical of a man, but not hard enough to be called one, yet have the experiences and feelings of a woman, and because of that as a transsexual person, it is difficult to espouse feminine qualities and be as soft as I was back in my primary school days.
In the beginning of my social life as a woman, I gained both acceptance and rejection because in a country like Malaysia, I am expected to be 100% a woman or 100% a man. Still, as the feminist in me does not like make ups and dressing sexy while maintaining a strong woman demeanour, I have been accepted in friends’ circles of the straight population as “real”, as they find trans women who pretends to be overly soft, disgusting. As a friend once said, the trans women they have met are obviuosly faking it, trying to be a woman.
And the pressure to be a woman there still remain, with men commenting about my teeth, why I am not wearing make-up, when is the last time I went for a facial, that it is time for me to slim down, then I should keep my comments to myself while letting the men do the talking, and so forth. Adding to that, the soft-butch side let me down, as women commented that I should be should be a boy since I am quite tall and look good as one, that I am too intelligent to be a woman, that I should learn how to cook to please a man if I am a woman, and so on. At this point, I have stopped trying to please anyone.
I realize I can no longer go through any more social changes of me. I am the result of having gone through life differently, so that makes me different. I acquired the belief that it does not matter if people treat me differently. I do not wish to please people anymore. I am tired of seeking attention and acceptance. This is who I am. If anyone is going to have me into their lives, it has to be on my terms. Trying to be who people want me to be is stupid. It took so many years out of my youth, which I could have lived with a better quality of life. I rather accept me, now, and build my future from there.
And if I ever get to put braces for my teeth, it is because I want to. Not for anyone.