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Finding Euphoria in a Goodwill Dressing Room




This is a blog topic that was actually requested from me. So, thank you dear reader, this one if for you.


Now, something you may not know about me is that when I was younger, I was afraid of mirrors.


This wasn’t a paralyzing terror or anything. There was just felt a general creep factor to them.


It started when I was thirteen years old, and I saw someone in a door window, a girl I didn’t recognize. I walked up to her, and she in turn walked closer to me, closer and closer. When I got up to the door’s glass, I raised my hand, and to my surprise, she raised her hand as well. We then touched each other’s hands. I gasped as I realized the girl was my reflection.


Now, I write this all dramatically, as if I was really under the impression this reflection of mine was someone else. I knew all along it was me...mentally I did. But emotionally, this is how I remember it.


Since then, mirrors had always creeped me out. I always got the sense that there was someone else looking at me from behind the glass. That at any moment the girl - and then the woman - on the other side would suddenly share a sinister smirk, and then pull me into her other-worldly dimension. It got to the point where I would cover mirrors, or I would double check to make sure the bathroom door was closed before going to bed.


I am beginning to think my phobia of mirrors was a little more extreme than I had realized. But at the time, it was just my normal. I had an irrational fear of mirrors. Big whoop.


Now, something else you may not know about me is that I am non-binary. This week, I would like to tell the story of how I discovered that about myself.


However, before I do, I feel that a primer is necessary for those who are new to the concept of what it means to be “non-binary,” and what it means for me specifically.


First, you should know that “non-binary” is an umbrella term for folx who do not have a binary gender experience; who do not experience gender as a binary “man” or “woman.” For example, I am transmasculine and bi-gender. What does that mean exactly? It means that while I was assigned female at birth, and therefore assigned feminine at birth, I am actually both a man and a woman. I mostly align with my male self, but my female self is present within me. If I were forced to assign a percentage to my man self and woman self, I would say it’s somewhere around 70% man, and 30% woman.


However, I do not necessarily like to put it in those terms, because I don’t sense a split in my man self and woman self. I see them as one gender together.

Anyway, I use the term “transmasculine,” because I feel it best reflects the way I perform my gender. While I am both a man and a woman at the same time, I feel most comfortable and joyful performing masculinity. That is to say, I prefer to dress in a masculine manner, to use they/he pronouns, and I take testosterone so I appear more masculine. But I use the term “transmasculine” as opposed to a “trans man,” because I am not 100% a man.


Now, my non-binary experience is just one example of many different types of non-binary experiences. For example, there are genderfluid people who are men at one point in time, women at another point in time, or somewhere in between at other points in time. There are demiboys (or demimen, demidudes, etc.) who are partially a man, and mostly a woman, or any other gender. Same goes for demigirls. And those are just a few examples.


All of this is to say that gender is a spectrum and no two non-binary gender experiences are the same.


If this is something that interests you, there is a great video on this subject by Luxander. They go more into the dysphoria and medical side of things than I would like, but I find their video on this subject be a good starting place for anyone new to this subject, and also quite thorough in the explanation of “what is non-binary?”



Anyway, now that we have a better understanding of what it means to be nonbinary, one more topic we need to cover is gender dysphoria and euphoria. Something you may hear a lot in Trans rhetoric is this idea of “Gender Dysphoria.” Basically this is the experience of feeling a serious discomfort with the gender assigned to you at birth. The source of this discomfort can be physical, social, or both. This discomfort leads many trans people to transition.


On the other hand, something that you may not have heard of is “Gender Euphoria,” which is the opposite of Dysphoria. It is extreme satisfaction or joy when you are able to express and are recognized for the gender you truly are.


Well, this story is my first instance of gender euphoria and the first time I began to realize I may be trans.


In early 2019, I had started wearing men's’ cargo shorts because I was sick of the lack of pockets in women's’ pants. That’s it. No other reason, just wanted better and more pockets.


Also, shortly after that I had cut my own hair very short. I wish I could tell you why I cut my hair, but I don’t have a reason. I just wanted it short.


I had also purchased a pair of TEVA shoes that my sister-in-law called, “sandals a dad would wear to mow the lawn.” I liked the look of them alright, but I got them primarily because they were comfortable (and still are).


Now, I had never - and do mean NEVER - cared about my appearance. If my clothes smelled alright, and I looked okay in them, then I wore them. In fact I had a very pessimistic view of my appearance. Thoughts like, “might as well put lipstick on a pig,” were pretty common in my head. Not that I couldn’t look good if I tried. I just mostly didn’t care to try.


However, for a time I was sporting men's cargo shorts, dad shoes, and a short-ass haircut - and blouses. I’m talking flowy blouses, pink blouses, blouses that would show cleavage, blouses for GIRLS. Again, with cargo shorts and dad sandals!


Eventually, I had a day where I thought to myself, “yaknow what, fuck it. My outfit is 75% Dude, may as well go the full 100%. Why not?”

So, I went to Goodwill, grabbed a bunch of men's’ shirts I thought were okay, went to the dressing room to try them on, and looked at myself in the mirror, and-


I saw myself for the first time.


Looking back on this it is still surreal. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a boy.


Well mostly a boy, since I’m still pretty short, and you could still tell I had boobs, but mostly a boy. Mostly a boy, but still somewhat feminine. Somewhat feminine, mostly masculine, but all myself.


All my life, I was scared of mirrors, creeped out by them. All my life, I stared into the looking glass and saw someone else looking back at me, someone I didn’t know, had never known.


But that day was different. That day, in the Goodwill dressing room mirror, I saw myself for the first time.


And that feeling of recognition, shock, joy, and unbridled - well - euphoria took my breath away.

...


So that’s it right? I went home knowing I was non-binary, and began my transition!


Well…. Not exactly.


I went home thinking I had figured out why people like shopping so much.



No, seriously that is what I went home thinking. I was so ignorant as to what being trans, or being nonbinary was that I thought I had discovered the euphoria of FASHION.


Literally I thought to myself, “Oh, so this is why my sisters like shopping so much!”


Still, that feeling was so strong that I went home and recorded myself talking about how important - ugh - fashion was. However, I also recorded how much I felt like myself in my new clothes, and how that was something I had never felt before. In spite of my woeful ignorance about gender I still felt in my soul that something was different.


Thankfully I did figure it out eventually, after a lot of soul-searching and research through queer online spaces. And I cannot express to you how much happier I am now than I ever was. I look back at Past Andi, and my heart breaks a little for them, because they went through so much pain and self-hatred.


Because you can’t love yourself, until you know yourself. And I spent a long time not knowing myself.




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