I am now in gleeful possession of two (2) fabulous bras. I owe this chiefly to my friends A (for amazingly awesome, because she is) and S (for Slytherin because when she wants to, she makes Voldemort look like a pussy).
Two weeks ago, A took me to Ross, where I learned the basics of bras and got acclimated to standing near them without fleeing in shame and terror. The bra we purchased that day ended up being insufficient–it was far too small, and caused pain if worn for more than fifteen minutes– but the experience was invaluable, and taught me what to look for my second time, and helped me gain confidence in the notion that this was a task I could master.
Today, S took me first to a local specialty shop called The Pencil Test where the proprietor said that she doesn’t do measuring (in a specialty shop?) and only carries D cups and above. For S’s sake, I let it drop at the time, but let us say I find it highly suspicious that a small, locally owned store would limit itself in such a manner. But S was nothing if not game, and we trekked onward to Victoria’s Secret, where she introduced me to the saleslady and explained my situation while I was busy unpeeling my tongue from the roof of my mouth.
I have to say that for a large corporation that built its empire on the body insecurities of women who are not paid lavishly to hold to a strict diet and exercise seven hours a day, the staff at VC are quite friendly and helpful, even to the lost and scared transchick who is having difficulty speaking.
I cannot overstate how important it is to me that I have people who are willing to do this for me. Even if they only walk in the store with me and break the ice, it is a huge boost. That is more than I could do for myself. Transitioning is difficult and scary and painful. The tallest wall is my own fear that I’m doing something wrong, that I shouldn’t be allowed to do this, that I’m not worthy of doing this. It is vital that I have people willing to stand on the other side of that wall, and over to help me climb. I feel so grateful that I have such wonderful women welcoming me into the club and offering me help.
One of the dirty little secrets of the trans femme experience is that even though we make a lot of noise about how our genders are as valid as any cis persons–and they are!–a lot of us crave cis acceptance that we’re Doing It Right, even if there is no one right way to do it. We want to know that we’re not making ourselves into absurd monstrosities (by which I mean that terrifying stereotype of the hypermasculine tranny under a thin veneer of mascara, not genderqueer or bigender folks). We help each other, swap tips, provide support, certainly. But we also look for outside cues, indications from our cis sisters that we’re not off the trail, making fools of ourselves in the bushes. I am profoundly lucky to have plenty of cis women who wish to welcome me, take me by the elbow, and help me find my way.
Without my friends, I wouldn’t have the guts to stand in a bra store and admit I’m not shopping for a girlfriend. Because I have women who will help me out, I finally feel like I have a complete wardrobe. I wear a bra and finally feel like my body might be acceptable someday. Someday soon.
So, A: thank you.
S: Thank you.
To all the other cis girls who have helped me, and to any cis girls in the future who may yet lend a hand: thank you.
(PS: oh my Goddess, these things are amazing! It’s like bam! Boob in yo face!)