By Amanda J.
As soon as he enters the room and sees her, he is smitten. He’s seen her many times before but this time, she looks different. Her normal outfit of jeans, a simple top and flat shoes has been replaced by a beautiful black dress and stilettos. And she’s wearing makeup! How had he never noticed her before?
She smiles as she spots him as if to invite him to take a seat beside her which he does. They talk for perhaps half an hour by which time, he’s convinced that she’s ‘The One’. He takes a deep breath and asks her whether she’d like to go out to dinner with him but her reply devastates him. She just looks at him with pity in her eyes and then gently says ‘I’m sorry but no thank you’.
This photo shows the third and final look from my makeover at Boys Will Be Girls and, once again, I’m completely mesmerised by what Cindy managed to achieve. And looking at that photo made me think – if male me (who, from now on, I’ll refer to as ‘MM’) and female me (‘Amanda’) had met in our younger days, would it have been the start of a wonderful relationship or just the passing of two ships in the night?
The little story I’ve written above gives a good hint as to where this particular question is leading but before I dive in, let’s take a moment to look at the question and my reasons for asking it. To be clear, I’m not trying to turn Kandi’s Land into ‘Hot or Not’, Tinder or, heaven forbid, OnlyFans (although the money would come in handy!) and I’m not an inhabitant of Planet Weird (OK, not a regular inhabitant but I do visit my holiday home there from time to time)! But that simple question – would my male side and female side be compatible in a relationship – throws up some interesting issues. Inevitably with any ‘boy meets girl’ scenario, the first (and sometimes only) thing we think about is physical attraction but I want to dive much deeper. The clothes we wear, our hairstyle, the amount of time we take in front of the mirror or even our posture not only contribute to how others see us but also give a great insight into our personal priorities and interests. So what follows is (hopefully) not a self-indulgent treatise on physical appearance but more what we can read into the differing sides of my personality.
Anyway, enough boring sociology, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
As Amanda, I like to look nice – I want to be the best woman I can be – and that means heels, hairdos, dresses and makeup. To me, those define the women that I want to emulate but, of course, it’s no coincidence that they’re exactly the same things that I find attractive on a woman. That’s not to say that I get dressed up solely to see myself as the woman I’d want to date but that particular ‘tribe’ of womanhood is one I happily aspire to and the one that, more than anything, makes me feel cheated from by virtue of my chromosomes. So I unashamedly say that if MM saw Amanda, he would definitely be interested.
But even though we share a mind, body & soul, we’re different. Amanda can exploit the side of my personality that MM has to suppress. She’s a lot calmer, more caring, more compassionate, worries less, is more open with her emotions and, so far, seems to have inherited none of the less refined traits MM has (forgive me for not going into details – I do have the shreds of a reputation to uphold here!). I look at a photo of her and see the nicer side of myself – the bits of my personality that I like with none of the more negative aspects that frustrate me in my day to day life.
So, as you’ve probably guessed by now, Amanda is definitely the sort of woman MM would like to be in a relationship with.
That’s the easy part but what would the response have been? I can only speculate what Amanda would look for in a relationship because I have no attraction to either male looks or male personalities on which to base judgement. But I do have experiences from my younger days which provide clues although, sadly, not in a good way!
I always had a lot of difficulty getting dates. Girls, and later women, were happy to befriend me & I enjoyed being close to them and yet as soon as there was any hint that I was hoping that things would go a little further, it all started to go wrong. I’ve heard it all – ‘oh, you’ll be a great catch for someone’ (with ‘but not me’ heard loud and clear even if not spoken), ‘I already have a boyfriend, sorry’ (again with the unspoken addendum ‘but even if I didn’t, I’d still turn you down’) and ‘sorry but I’m very busy at the moment’ (yeah, very busy turning me down!) being just some of the more memorable refusals I’ve had.
But what is strange is that several of those girls who turned me down in my teens became good friends and, over four decades on, I’m still in touch with a couple of them. Something tells me that Amanda would fit well into their world. And seeing the guys that they’ve gone on to marry does highlight big differences between them and MM.
These guys obviously care about their appearance, whether formally or casually dressed. They see a trip to the hairdressers as an opportunity to hone their image rather than because their hair is starting to impede their eyesight (at this point, I should celebrate the fact that I still have hair that can impede my eyesight!). They choose a particular outfit to convey a certain persona, not just to keep them warm or cool depending on the season. They have confidence in themselves rather than introverted reticence. And so on.
But I must stress at this point that I say the foregoing without a shred of sadness. Apart from the obvious yearning to cross the gender divide, I’m happy as I am. I’ve been married to the same woman for over three decades (a woman who is very different to Amanda but special for many more reasons), I have two wonderful children and not an ounce of regret about any of the ones that got away in my youth. And MM is quite introverted and shy in unfamiliar situations, regularly turning down invitations that would require mixing with strangers. All of that is quite a contrast to a woman who quite clearly cares how she looks and seems to be the sort of person that people would gravitate to in social situations – any shyness she has would be irrelevant to people approaching her and could even be seen as an endearing trait.
But that’s where all of this starts getting very interesting. I know from my interactions with other trans girls that I’m by no means alone in thinking that there’s no way that the female side would give the male side a second look. But why should that be? Why, in one gender, do I not really care about how I look and yet, in the other, want to be as beautifully dressed as possible? And why have I passively rebelled against creating an image of myself as a guy which the type of woman I’m attracted to may have responded to? Perhaps I’m being a little superficial here by concentrating on appearance & desirability but how we look gives a huge amount of insight into our personality and interests.
And the answer to these questions is that I genuinely don’t know the answer. I could speculate about rebellion against my biological gender or subconsciously not wanting to jeopardise cherished friendships by trying to take them further or maybe feeling that any attempt to polish up my guy image would take me further away from the feminine identity I love. Or perhaps my subconscious (realising that I am no George Clooney, Hugh Grant or any of the other good-looking guys of my age that have women falling at their feet) has just advised me to give up rather than waste any more effort trying to be someone I’m not! But whatever the answer is, the truth is that, despite us sharing mind, body and soul, Amanda and MM are as different as chalk and cheese and, sad though it is to say it, I genuinely believe that she would be looking elsewhere for her life partner!
And so, coming back to where we started, we have a tale of unrequited love. A sad end to what could have been a fairytale romance. Or maybe not. I feel proud that I can look at ‘her’ with admiring eyes and say ‘that’s me!’. Because, in the end, we are one person and, as I’ve brought her to life, she’s taught me that I can feel good about myself, however I happen to be dressed. And perhaps all of the rejections & consequential self-doubt in bygone times tell me nothing more than I had just not yet found my groove!