One of the funniest comments I heard in reaction to my coming out wasn’t said to me directly. My mother said it to my sister who then relayed it to me. Mom was in the middle of her “anger” phase, and complaining to my sister, “And what was all this stuff about liking football, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers?! I suppose he was making that up the whole time too!”
My sister thought it was funny enough to pass along because she is also a football fan, and tries to catch all the Nebraska games she can (quick aside – our dad’s side of the family is from Omaha, and Nebraska football is one of the fonder family memories we all grew up with). My mom never saw this as invalidating my sister’s femininity. Yet in her mind if I wanted to be a girl that must mean I hate sports (except maybe figure skating which I surely only watch for the outfits), and probably love makeup, clothes and – I know she was thinking it – boys. Somehow she thought I was not just coming out as a transsexual woman, but also as an eleven year old girl.
But I can see where she could get the idea. It’s really more typical of crossdressers than transsexuals, but there is definitely a phase during the transition process when we tend to over-do everything stereotypically feminine, and play down anything even hinting at more masculine interests. My therapist calls this our “second adolescence” and believes it’s totally healthy.
After all, when you see young girls learning how to become women, they start by playing with makeup, high heels, jewelry, and elaborate outfits – and they always WAY overdo it. It’s a form of play and a form of learning and it helps them figure out how much of this “girly” stuff really works for them. Some girls go on to become obsessed with hair, and makeup, and clothes. Others like sports, and comfy jeans. And most of them fall somewhere in between those poles. It’s natural and normal for a girl to take time to figure out who she is and what she likes amidst a lot of external expectations about who she should be, and what she should like, and what’s considered feminine and what’s masculine.
It’s really no different for transsexuals, but there is a much greater expectation that we figure it out quickly. I think a lot of transsexuals themselves share this expectation, and it can become a major point of frustration. What that leads to is a lot of transsexuals acting overly-girly after initially coming out only to back off of it given a bit of time as they become comfortable in their role as an adult woman and embrace the yin and yang of their whole self.
So anyway, yes I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep enjoying football, and I look forward to the day I can take my son to his first Nebraska game. I don’t see this as challenging my underlying femininity at all, and maybe some day my mom will come around to seeing it that way too.