I don’t normally do two posts in a weekend, but you know, I’m in a sharing mood, and there’s a lot to be said for talking about things whilst they’re still fresh.

I have been told on a number of occasions that I am “brave”. It’s a word that’s often misused, and I don’t feel it applies to what I am doing – either the transitioning part, or the sharing part. I can’t accept the word “brave” for pushing forward with changes that I have to make to be happy, confident and whole in this short life of mine. Or talking about those changes.

All of that said, sometimes life as a transgender person does throw up situations that require me, to put none too fine a point on it, to grow some balls. Back in my blog post Trading Toilets, I described the difficulties of using gym changing rooms. Now that I have had my chest surgery, I decided that I was sick of skulking around, getting changed in the toilets at work, trying to find somewhere for my bag, and so on. So I grew some.

Today I went into the men’s changing rooms at the gym for the first time. I go to a gym where despite the lockers in the women’s changing room all having keys, the men are apparently not to be trusted, and have to ask for a key at reception. Most of the reception staff are new (and clearly not that dilligent when it comes to looking at the name on my membership card), and when I asked for a key, there was a very long silence before one was handed over. That started me sweating, and even though there was hardly anyone in the changing room, I was still shaking doing up my laces. Nobody challenged me, and the only real negative moment was after my workout, when I was crouched down to take off my trainers, and came face-to-ummmmm with a naked guy. I have no idea if he was bothered by my being there, because I thought that was a pretty good moment to make my exit, Roadrunner like…

Is going into the men’s changing room brave? No, of course not. But it does go to show that when someone is transitioning, it’s not just the ‘big’ things that need to be overcome, but all those multitudes of stupid little hurdles that you just don’t think about until you’re faced with them. And whatever metaphorical balls we may be able to grow, the feeling of raw fear takes some getting over. Having to deal with that fear on what can sometimes be a daily basis is, I believe, where the bravery lies.

Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.
Franklin P Jones