Belonging on my terms -

___Belonging on my terms

Belonging on my terms -

I am a transgender woman.

Back when I transitioned, the advice given to trans women who could "pass" was to hide her transness for her safety and also for her comfort. And so I hid and found myself doing so for many years. I didn't tell anyone that I was trans, not even my friends or partners.

I wouldn't get pedicures or manicures because I didn't want to draw attention to my hands or feet. I only dated men because I was certain that cis women would know that I was trans. I lived in fear that I would be found out, and my life would be destroyed, and slowly I began to fall apart.

One day I got a silent call in the middle of the night, and the next day a terrifying text message which included a photo of me from high school. I was so afraid that someone from school had found me and would destroy my life by telling everyone I knew. Secretly, I knew they would accept me, but I had hidden my identity for so long that I could not imagine it.

I knew I had to tell someone to reclaim my life and feel safe again. I tried to tell a friend who had gone through a divorce when their ex-partner had come out as trans. But he told me he couldn't promise to keep a secret and so I didn't tell him. I went home drunk and crying and flung myself on my bed. My housemate came to find out what was wrong, and in a moment of desperation, I told him, flinging my name change document at him to prove it.

He took it really well, and I eventually came out to all my friends, to colleagues at work, and have spent the years since coming out in various places I always felt too scared to. I am desperate to fit in, but I am learning to fit into spaces as myself, not as someone I am not.

Recently I got my first ever waxing at a salon and went for the full Hollywood; it was an amazing experience. I went for pedicures with my friend, and now here I am in this lingerie shoot. I am feeling both sexy and confident, something I have always struggled to believe that I can as a trans person.

I want to feel like I belong, but I am against fitting in on someone else's terms. I hope that one day every trans person will feel like
they belong.