20 February 2007

Being a girl

Oxford Street, Saturday night about 12.30. A tall woman with a dramatic look got on the bus, standing while I was sitting up the back trying to slip into a stasis. My stop is nearly the very last, and approximately one million people have to get on and off before mine and they all talk non-stop about their night out and its mind-numbingly boring.

Anyway, she had a high blonde pony tail, the end scraping the middle of her back, high cheekbones, cool blue eyes, wide shoulders and was dressed in a chic black shirt and jeans with a spunky wide hip-accentuating belt. The nails, hair and make-up looked to me like quite an investment of time and money. I was wondering to myself at first whether she was late 30s/early 40s, if she had kids a while in the past, whether she put a lot of pride in her looks, and whether she was happy. Then I realised she might have formerly been a man. On closer inspection the pony tail was definitely a hair-piece (or switch, as called by Kath n Kim) - I can tell now from the world of belly dance, and she had definitely had some facial surgery going on, at least a nose job. It was really good surgery mind you, she looked classy and not painfully pulled and stretched. I couldn't really be sure, gender-wise, mostly because I'm crap at that, and don't really know what makes an Adam's apple and what doesn't. And like, I've got big hands too.

To make any big dramatic change in your life is ballsy (to pardon the pun) and to switch gender is definitely a big one so I feel sort of weirdly flattered on behalf on my gender for anyone who wants to go through all that to be a girl, and can't help but have a bit of sympathy for how the public world they walk through must change. So then I wondered about how she might have sculpted a whole new person using surgery, drugs, cosmetics and a hair piece. And what she thought about having worn both the pants and the panties so to speak. And how relieved that as a lady I'm not compelled to put on all that war paint and dressings to be an accepted member of society.

I tell you all something though, apart from her or me pretty much every other woman on that bus was with some friends or part of a couple. There were older couples who had been the Opera House, groups of 20-something with very big pupils going home after a summer festival, and plenty of ubiquitous backpackers, of course, plenty of lone guys, talking in their mobiles or just minding their own business. Generally that bus ride feels pretty safe and friendly, its just dull and crowded. Maybe it had just been a long night and I was just imaging it, but this mystery woman wasn't standing tall and proud, at least 5'10" - she was kind or shrinking into herself a little bit while hanging on the rail. Maybe she had the shits with me staring (sorry world at large, its not because I think you're hideous, its because I think you're beautiful and interesting to look at). But it seemed a shame that after all that effort you could find yourself trying to hide a bit in full view, become a bit smaller, and a bit less obvious.

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