Drab on Drab

| May 20, 2013
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I was chatting with my friend Linda Lewis a while ago. She sent me a picture of herself as a guy, taken years ago when she was living all but full time as Linda. And it looked like Linda Lewis wearing a wig cap, really. I could tell immediately — by the brows and the eyes. Oh and because I KNEW it was her. It’s not always so easy.

Many of you reading this lead double lives. Like me, currently. You have a life as a Woman and a life as a guy, also known as “Drab.”

Some enjoy this. They only need feminine expression once in a while, and that’s fine. That’s where they are on this wonderful Gender Tapestry. Others have a drab side to protect loved ones from their Truth. Some to protect their jobs. Some hide out of shame.

Come to the Drab Side . . . we have beer.

I went to a Phillies game last week with my wife and daughter. I knew that my friend Jen Bryant was at the same game. Both of us were in drab, and while we were sitting fairly close to each other, we didn’t seek each other. There were reasons.

Those of us who go out with any frequency find friends. Funny how we who have something in common tend to bond with each other. We can spot our friends even if they do their makeup differently or wear a different hair color. We recognize their smiles or their gleaming eyes. Their voices.

Our friends bring us comfort. I say this often — we walk a lonely path. The path of Outcasts. The Different. Our friends help us in our journey, if only to keep our spirits up and remind us that we aren’t alone.

Back in my first year of being Sophie, I used to meet Jen Jensen and Amy for lunch before getting the motel room for Renaissance and Laptop Lounge. All of us in drab. We would eat at Kildare’s Irish Pub and talk about everything BUT our femme lives. I looked at my friends and thought how different they looked as guys. And how it just didn’t seem right.

One day, I was told someone else would be joining us. We were all standing in the parking lot. Over walked a slim guy with blonde hair. I looked at him quizzically. Then he smiled and I recognized her: Jen Johns! Back then, she was very guarded about who saw her in drab. And now she’s full time and transitioning! In fact, the day this is published will be her first day on the job as a woman. Funny how things change.

Many T-girls have seen my drab side. They come into the retail store where I work at one of my jobs, and we talk. I have gone to Laptop Lounge in drab. Sundays at the Keystone Conference I’m drab.

On Sunday at Keystone 2013, I bumped into a couple of Transmen while I was in drab. One of them recognized me. But they looked at me differently. The sullen look that guys give guys. Sizing him up. “Could I kick his ass?” Someone from my support group didn’t recognize me in drab at all “until I saw that Sophie smile.” I rarely smile in drab.

My observation is that when I meet Sisters in drab, most of them seem so sullen and serious — as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders. I understand this. The longer I live as Sophie, the harder it is to return to drab. The more it hurts.

Sophie in red

Drab or Fab?

The person in the community who sees me most in drab is Amanda Richards. Go figure — I show up to her place in drab and leave as Sophie. I’ve seen her in drab about as often. And believe me; if you meet her in drab you’d NEVER guess she’s the beautiful Amanda! She looks SO different. I meet many of my sisters in drab at Amanda’s and usually barely recognize them when I see them en femme. My friend Alexis is a perfect example, as is my friend Melissa. You’d never guess in a zillion years they were trans.

But sometimes, you CAN tell. Out and about in the world, occasionally I’ll see a guy with feminine brows or who just . . . seems feminine. Usually frowning or sad. And I wonder if they are TG. I guess it’s like the infamous “Gaydar” except “Transdar?” It used to be earrings would be a dead giveaway, but so many guys wear them now, it no longer means anything.

Going out in drab and seeing my sisters dressed can be hard. It’s great seeing them, but there’s that little bit of separation . . . knowing that while they are their true selves you are pretending. It feels like I’m lying to them. They are enjoying the night while I am confined — like I’m grounded or in “time out.”

Sometimes it can be a game. A few years back, Amanda Richards invited me to her Christmas party. She told me that TG was a forbidden topic as there would be “civilians” there, like wives of T-girls who didn’t know about their husbands yet. So all of us kept eyeing each other. Hmmm . . .  is he really a She? One was easy to pick out. Others? Not so much.

Sometimes it’s like an in-joke. A t-girl comes in to my retail job every Sunday as her femme self (after going to church and playing organ) and we chat. She is well known at the store as she’s a regular customer. When I first met her, she was en femme, and I quietly asked if she’s heard of Renaissance or Tri-Ess, as I figured she was Trans. She knew Tri-Ess, and I told her I was TG as well. She smiled and hugged me. We’ve been friends since. But she ALSO comes to the store in drab occasionally. I didn’t figure it out for a long time, as she really has a totally different voice and set of mannerisms. But she uses one certain “giveaway” gesture as both — and I spotted it. And I called her on it by referencing something she bought the previous Sunday when I next saw her in drab. She smiled broadly and asked what gave her away. I told her and she rolled her eyes . . . and corrected it. Ever since then, when she comes into the store in drab, it’s like our little secret. It’s fun!

For most people, their Drab life IS their life. There is nothing else. They don’t know that Need . . . the Pain. Perhaps they are the lucky ones. We are definitely the minority, but perhaps WE are the lucky ones as we see more of the Gender Tapestry. We experience things that they do not, for good or for ill. It’s what makes us a community.

It’s a community based on Trust. I trust that my sisters won’t expose my secret as I wouldn’t expose theirs. To be in front of them in Drab is really that ultimate trust. We bare our True Selves and Souls to our sisters, but to show the outer shell? The Mask we wear to hide that true self? That can really take courage as well. Every Trans-person has courage: amazing courage. So much courage that few realize how strong they truly are. For some, that courage and strength is the only thing keeping them Alive in their drab lives. For others, that courage manifests by making that most difficult decision — the one that allows them to Be despite all obstacles. And for still others, it’s the courage to Not transition . . . to sacrifice themselves for those they love.

Courage. Strength. Love. Nothing Drab about any of that.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Opinion

Sophie Lynne

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Comments (2)

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  1. scalesman scalesman says:

    Great article. So many of us must juggle so many things. Just the simple aspects of life in the modern age call for us to be so many places doing so many things with so many different people that it is hard to keep all the tasks and obligations lined up if one were not TG. Adding that other dimension has its issues but I, for one, would not want to lose either side.

  2. fiona41076 fiona41076 says:

    Enjoyed the piece a lot, nice to see your perspective on this topic. Speaking for myself, I love being a girl, but I love being a guy too.
    When I’m playing out with my band, a guy role in my life, I wear black jeans, a snug American Apparel T-Shirt and a black fedora with Converse high tops, an understated classic punk look. I do not feel drab at all, I strut that stage and give it all I got.
    It’s a very different feeling than the thrill of going out dancing in a little black (or red, or green) dress in spike heels and sheer nylons, made up to the nines. But the basic truth for me, in either case I feel like I’m looking great and I feel wonderful!