The first person we come out to is ourselves. Although it's impossible to predict how someone else will react and respond when we come out as transgender (or gender-fluid or bi-gender or as a crossdresser or basically anything but cis-gender), at least we know how we ourselves will react. This revelation, this admittance, will likely be met with a mix of happiness, relief, and nervousness.
The nervousness could come from not knowing how other people will respond to our new (well, new to them) gender identity. We can't control their response and this is frustrating in it's own way, but there's also a sense of weightlessness. We have come out to ourselves and that takes the most courage. Although we would prefer it if our coming out didn't cause any sort of friction between us and our family and friends, it's not really something we have any influence over. All we can do is be honest with ourselves and with our relatives and friends and let things happen as they may.
And of course, this is all waaaaaay easier said than done. I remind myself that what someone thinks of me is none of my business. I admit it can be heartbreaking to learn that the people we love the most have a problem with our gender identity or our wardrobe choices. It's sad to realize that this could cause someone to never want to speak with us ever again. God, it's painful to even just type that, let alone live it.
On a most upbeat note, there's a lot of joy and happiness when we come out. You may want to come out to the WHOLE WORLD after you embrace this side of yourself. Of course, we need to be careful of the Pink Fog and not let our new out and loud and proud gender identity cloud our judgement lest we come out to someone that we need to think twice (or more than that) about. When we come out to ourselves, there's often a sense of "well, what happens next?" It's not uncommon to realize that we are tired of strutting around our own homes, that we want to show off our new dress to someone other than our cat. We are tired of being indoors. We are ready to experience the world en femme.
Soooooo... where do we go? Why, we go to the mall. Obviously.
We want to go to the mall because we want to shop. We want a new dress, we want to look at new high heels while we wear our favorite pair. We have been shopping online for too long, we have been looking at lingerie in boy mode for ages, and it's time to for her to look at new skirts and accessories. But the mall is, in a way, more than where we can shop or get a coffee. It's where the people are. It's one of the most public places we can be. We are going to come out to a LOT of people. And what I mean is we are not sitting down with complete strangers and telling them about our gender identity.
No, it's more subtle than that. It's strutting through the mall, our stilettos clicking against the floor, announcing to the world that one more fabulous, beautiful t-girl exists. When I am out in the real world I make no illusions about passing. I don't believe in passing, I am not trying to convince anyone I am cis. I am trans, and I am proud. I know I'm trans, and other people know this as well. Although I can spend $75 on a makeover and wear a cute dress and almost dance in my stilettos, it's obvious if you look at me that I wasn't assigned 'female' at birth.
And I am 100000% okay with other people knowing I am transgender.
So! What is going to happen at the mall? Besides shopping, of course? You will see other people, and other people will see you. And I know! It's TERRIFYING. We wonder what they will think of you. But here's the thing. You won't know. Unless you walk up to someone and ask them (which is weird and you shouldn't do it) they are likely not going to tell you. But also keep in mind that what someone thinks of you is none of your business.
That being said, there are five reactions you will (likely) experience when you open the door to the mall for the first (or the hundredth) time. Let's talk about The FIve People You Will Meet At The Mall.
Let's get this one out of the way. People are going to STARE AT YOU. The sooner you realize this the sooner you'll be able to shake it off. I get stared at but these days I barely notice it. In some ways I hope I turn some heads because dammit, I look cute. But I know that I myself stand out. Please know that I don't think I stand out because I am pretty. No, I am standing out because I am wearing a dress and heels at the mall, where the dress code is usually flip-flops and sweatpants. Also! I am not disparaging anyone for what someone else wears, especially if it's comfortable. A t-girl or crossdresser is the LAST person on the planet who should be judging someone else for what they are wearing.
I also get stared at because I am over six feet tall, without heels. Oh! And I get stared at because I am transgender. Although there are more of us than most people could comprehend, it's still not an everyday occurrence to see us in the real world. I tell myself that just because someone is staring at me it's not because they hate me. They are likely simply trying to "process" me. Or they might be staring at my long, sexy legs.
Either way, I'm(mostly) fine with it. Again, what someone thinks of you is none of your business.
Okay, there are going to be haters. Some of them are simply starers with more... ah, enthusiasm. They might be glaring at us from across a store with a lot of anger or hate in their eyes. Although we love ourselves and want others to do so, it's not going to happen. Some people just simply despise everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+. And really, it's not your problem. You are not here to change their mind, it's not your responsibility. You are just there to get a new dress, not change the world. If you can feel the hate, the hostility from someone, just leave. It sucks, but you have to protect yourself. It's sad (and scary) but you have no idea what someone might do to you.
You need to be prepared for the haters because you will likely meet one. I know I have. I've had other mall goers go out of their way to call me "sir" which is just mean, of course. But you need to be able to shake it off, as hard as that may be. Don't let them win, they WANT to make you feel this way. Don't let anyone, especially a hater, dull your sparkle.
The Indifferent Ones
Of all the different types of people you meet at the mall, those who are indifferent to a girl like us is the most common. Those who are indifferent to us will be other shoppers, cashiers, salesclerks, baristas, and the people with clipboards who just want us to take a survey by answering just a few questions. Indifferent people simply don't care about us. And that sounds harsh but I mean it with the greatest amount of kindness. The next time you go to the mall (in boy mode) pay attention to how many people look at you. Most people don't. They are staring at their phone, they are looking for a specific store, or simply lost in their own thoughts. I mean, unless you're creepy you're probably not staring at other people at the mall, either. Simply put, most people don't notice or care about the other people at the mall or anywhere else.
Of course, being a regular guy at the mall is not the same thing as a girl like us. When I am at the mall I am in heels and a cute dress. I am waaaay overdressed for the mall. And I am trans. And I am tall. I will likely draw the attention of a starer, but most starers are the Indifferent Ones.
Cashiers see hundreds of people a day. You are not the first, the only, or the last transgirl they will ever ring up. For most cashiers they just want you to buy your new heels and leave so they can go home. And that's wonderful! That's what we want too.
Of course, supporters are THE BEST. This could be someone who is sincerely complimenting our dress, or how expertly we walk in heels, or how fire our makeup looks. These compliments can come from the barista, the cashier, the salesclerk, and other shoppers. People who go out of their way to pay us a kind word. It's likely that they are supporters of the LGBTQ+ community and are doing their part to help a girl like us feel welcome and loved in a world (or a store) that is confused by us or hates us. I am fully aware that a supporter is someone who knows I am trans. I mean, I expect EVERYONE to know I am trans. It's, well, obvious I am. Foundation can only minimize a masculine jaw by so much. A cute dress can't always hide my manly shoulders. I know I don't blend in, but I don't want to. I love supporters. We need them. Supporters are people who help us remember the world is kinder, more wonderful that we think it could be.
Finally, you will meet yourself. As I said before, the first person you come out to is yourself. We've known for a while, our entire lifetime, knowing that there was... something about us. Something that made us different. As we live our lives we are also going on a journey (even if we don't realize it) of gender identity and self-discovery. But at some point we get to understanding ourselves (as much as we can), accepting ourselves, and finally embracing who we are. ALL of who we are. But our journey doesn't end at embracing ourselves, it's just a new part. We will get to know ourselves better and deeper with each day, with each new experience, with each new interaction. We are getting to know ourselves all the time.
We will meet and interact with other people at the mall (and everywhere else) and we will respond to them. It is in our responses that we learn more about who we are. For example, Hannah is waaaaay more chatty and social than who I am in boy mode. When I have to go to the mall in boy mode I just want to get in and out as soon as possible. But Hannah? Hannah wanders. Hannah enjoys her time at the mall. I've learned how Hannah deals with the haters, the starers. She smiles and walks away. I can't change how someone feels about me and I don't want to spend any energy doing something that is 100000% on them.
Going out to the mall or really anywhere en femme is a rite of passage. It's a new experience each time we walk through the real world. Every experience, every interaction, is a learning moment. We learn about ourselves and other people. The mall is not only where we can get a cute dress, it's a fascinating microcosm of the world.