How The Adventure Zone just Nailed Trans Woman Representation

It’s so rare that I’m able to write about trans characters in media, written and performed by non trans people, without having any criticisms or complaints at all about their representation. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever before been able to write so overwhelmingly positively about a trans character created by a non trans creative team.

So, for those not in the know, The Adventure Zone is a long running DnD 5th Edition podcast where three brothers and their dad play a long running campaign comprised of smaller narrative arcs. The show, which is currently still ongoing at 60 episodes, features a prominent gay character as one of the primary protagonists, multiple lesbian characters, and has gone to great lengths to improve on representation across the series run.

While the series first pair of gay characters introduced fell prey to the Kill your Gays trope, the show creators took on board fan feedback, introduced further gay characters to avoid the earlier death robbing the show of its entiere LGBT cast, and the creators often have on air discussions out of character regarding accidental decisions that could have lead to stereotypical portrayals and how they went about avoiding them.

Put simply, this show has done a good job of learning from its mistakes and representing gay characters tastefully.

In the most recent episode of the show to air, Episode 60, the cast introduce Lup, the show’s first trans character. I honestly can’t say enough about how tastefully her introduction is handled.

Lup is the twin sister of Taako, one of the trio of player crafted protagonists. While her and her twin brother were both orphans, traditionally the realm of tragic backstory for trans characters, the fact that she and her brother share this backstory saves this from feeling like a dark backstory being given because of the character’s gender status. The DM also goes to great lengths to state that the intention is that it be a motivation for the twins scrappy nature, not a tragedy that defines either of them.

When her trans status is revealed, it’s revealed as an offhanded piece of character introduction information. The show cast correctly use the term Assigned Male at Birth (AMAB) to refer to her trans status rather than cliches like “born male”, “born a man”or “A man who became a woman”. The show cast discuss out of character Lup’s pronouns, which pronouns to use when her childhood is brought up (she and her), and then move on to allow her to be a character.

Lup is incredibly similar to her brother in terms of their over the top bombastic and fabulous nature, with one key difference between them that really impressed me. Considering the pair are twins, it was a really nice touch to see Taako, the cis male twin, portrayed as more traditionally feminine than his trans woman sister. Considering how often trans woman characters are expected to stick closely to traditional femininity to be societally accepted or to be taken seriously as women, it’s really nice that Lup’s character is allowed to portray more traditionally masculine traits than her brother, yet that doesn’t invalidates either of their experiences of gender.

Taako is a cis man who wears skirts and uses he and him pronouns. Lup is a trans woman who angrily hurls fireballs at a magical abyss while her brother runs off screaming. Both of them are comfortable in their gender expression. That’s really impressive to see in terms of trans character portrayals.

Also of note, at no point is Lup portrayed as facing any adversity for being trans. She was aware she was trans, she started using she and her pronouns. Everyone on the team thinks Lup’s a lovely awesome badass.

While I would usually be critical of a trans woman character being portrayed by a cis man, I’m not going to be critical of that aspect in The Adventure Zone. Griffin, the DM, voices every NPC character in the show. That includes cis men, cis women, and now a trans woman too. The consistency of NPC’s being voiced by the DM in all cases for me nullifies any issues with Lup being portrayed by a cis man.

I do have one concern regarding Lup’s character, but I already have suspicions regarding how it’ll likely be sidestepped, and have evidence to cite as to why I suspect the issue won’t arise.

Let’s talk about the potential issue and solutions to The Adventure Zone killing off its only Trans character.

Lup as a character is heavily implied to be dead in The Adventure Zone. We meet her in a series of flashback memories that take place 100 years before the main campaign and of the cast of these flashbacks she is the only character not to directly turn up in 59 episodes of the primary campaign. Lup is heavily implied to be dead, a skeleton whose body was found during the first arc of the show.

However…

What is suspected to be Lup’s skeleton was also found holding a magical umbrella called the Umbra Staff, a magical tool Lup’s twin brother Taako uses as his primary weapon in the campaign. The Umbra Staff at multiple points in the series seems to have a mind of its own, and at one point even burns Lup’s name into a wall. The implication is that Lup’s spirit lives on in the staff, potentially available to restore to a body.

The Adventure Zone canon includes a device which, using DNA from an individual, can create them a new body. I suspect this will be used to create Lup a new body.

Lup is AMAB. I suspect Taako is her identical twin. Using Taako’s DNA to create a new body for Lup would allow her to return to living in a replica of her own body.

While I don’t know for certain this is where the show is going, considering the cast of The Adventure Zone has talked at length out of character about their regret at accidental employing the Kill your Gays trope in the past, I highly suspect they’re aware of the implications of permanently killing off their only trans character and have a plan similar to the one above in place.

Regardless, right now I am incredibly happy with Lup as a character. she’s a really interesting and engaging character who avoids all the pitfalls of trans portrayals, is discussed tastefully, and honestly really impressed me.

I want to thank the McElroys for reaching out prior to this episode seeking trans consultancy on the introduction of a trans character. By asking those of us in the trans community for advice you’ve created perhaps the first trans woman character by a non trans creative team I have zero complaints about that. Well done on that.

Seriously, I hope Lup maintains this level of rock solid representation. I’ve been waiting so long for a piece of media to present a trans woman this well.

Transition, Vagina Ownership, and Post Lower Surgery Life

I am a trans woman, meaning that while I was assigned male at birth, I am now living happily as a woman. I’ve been on hormones for a few years, I’ve had surgery to reduce the size of my Adam’s apple, and I also had surgery on my genitals to go from having a penis and testicles to a vagina.

There is however a real lack of information out there about life following lower surgery, both for trans women wanting an idea of what to expect, and for non trans people looking to understand more about what lower surgery entails.

So, I thought I’d do a bit of a Q&A post. This post looks to talk about surgery, daily life, sex, dysphoria and a whole bunch more.

But Laura, you do know right that you have a mutilated penis and not a vagina, right?

Yes, there’s a bunch of you out there who are going to stumble across this and inform me that my vagina is a mutilated penis and not a vagina blah, blah, blah. Yep, heard those thoughts already, you’re not going to be telling me anything new by firing that ol’ chestnut at me. We got that out the way now? Good.

To try and address this a bit more seriously, my genitals as they currently exist are recognised as being a vagina by the wider medical community in most areas of the world. Here in the UK the term Neo Vagina will sometimes be used, which makes me sound like some kind of crazy cyber hacker woman, but it’s still considered a vagina and not a penis.

I’m happy with my genitals, and I really do not care if you consider my vagina a penis.

So, like, would people having penetrative, vaginal sex with you be able to tell?

Cis women’s crotches generally have some variation in appearance from person to person, but most of them follow the same sort of physical appearance structure. You’ve got the vulva as the term for the parts of the vagina externally visible on the body, the labia (lips) which when separated reveal a clitoris and clitoral hood up the top, a second smaller set of labia minora, the urethral opening and the vaginal opening.

Let’s talk a little bit about my vagina. From the exterior, you’d be very hard pressed to tell my vagina was that of a trans woman and not a cis woman. My vulva’s appearance falls well within the curve of cis woman vagina appearances, when my labia are separated you see a clitoris and clitoral hood up the top, with the urethra and vaginal opening where you could expect them.

There is however, one key difference between my vagina and that of a cis woman. The depth of my vaginal canal is determined by the length of the penis I had prior to surgery. There is a very set depth at which something inserted into my vagina will stop dead in its tracks. For me this is pretty close to six inches, but it is a limit that exists. For some trans women this will be considerably shorter. Someone with a longer penis than my vagina may be able to tell there is a point beyond which they cannot go. Someone with a shorter penis will not be able to tell this fact.

A doctor performing a pelvic example may be able to tell this.

Can you enjoy penetrative vaginal sex?

Yes, very much so. My vagina was made using tissue from my old penis, with the nerves kept intact wherever possible, meaning that I still have practically full sexual sensation in my genitals.

It is important to note that nerve damage is a potential risk of lower surgery. While I didn’t lose any sensation in my crotch, I did for over six months lose sensation in a large patch of my left leg. While this did eventually return, it did act as a reminder that when doing such complex surgery, damage to nerves is a possibility.

My clitoris was made using the most sensitive tissue from the head of my penis, and as such is the most sensitive part of my genitals. This is the same for a vast number of cis women. While I get sexual pleasure from the interior of the vagina too, it is the clitoris that is most sensitive to sensations.

Also of note, due to the clitoris being hidden behind the Labia and clitoral hood, that area of tissue has become much more sensitive to sensations for me post surgery than when it was penile tissue.

My vagina is very much capable of enjoying penetrative sex, as well as other types of sexual contact.

Are orgasms different now?

Yes, very much so.

When I had a penis, orgasms were very much a build up to the orgasm, a brief but intense moment of sexual pleasure, and a sudden crash. It was built up to, happened very suddenly and was very definitively over.

Since lower surgery, my orgasms are now much more of a wave I ride. Where I previously would have had a sudden intense moment of sexual please I now experience waves of pleasurable sexual sensation that last considerably longer and are much easier to chain together. I can orgasm, continue to enjoy sexual activity mid orgasm, and then proceed to orgasm again while the first orgasm is still ending.

Even setting aside the element dysphoria used to play in sexual activity, I can’t deny that my orgasms are far more enjoyable now. I don’t know any explanation for why my orgasms are so different now, I only know that they are.

How quickly did getting lower surgery clear you of genital dysphoria?

Instantly… Kind Of…..

So, waking up from lower surgery I straight away felt a lack of dysphoria regarding my genitals. An uncomfortable weight on my mind that had previously been a near constant part of my life was gone in an instant.

However…

I did at a couple of points during my week in hospital experience dysphoria regarding the loss of my penis. My new genitals were painful, bloodied, rearranged and my brain at a couple of points didn’t know how to process that sensations were not coming from new places in my body. When paired with exhaustion and paranoia from what was easily the most difficult hospital stay of my life, I did experience a couple of weird moments of passing dysphoria. These did not return once I was out of hospital and back to my life.

Do you ever forget you don’t have a penis any more?

There have been a couple of occasions I’ve sat down to pee, and instinctively gone to point down a penis that’s no longer there. This has happened maybe 2-3 times in six months. It makes me chuckle more than anything. Old habits die hard.

Is it true you have to insert a solid rod into your vagina three times daily FOREVER or your vagina closes up or falls out or something?

There’s some truth and some myth out there about dilation, so I’ll try and clear that up if I can.

When you are first recovering from lower surgery, yes, you do have to perform dilation, the insertion of a solid perspex rod into the vagina, three times per day with the aim of preventing the vagina closing up. The body suddenly has a new opening deep inside it, it assumes this is an injury or a wound, and at first tries to close it up. Dilation is a vitally important part of post surgery recovery.

The myth comes in when we talk about it being something you have to do three times daily forever.

Over time, the number of dilations can be reduced dramatically, which helps considerably with returning to a normal life that doesn’t revolve around needing to lie down and stick a thing in your vagina.

A few months post surgery I went down to twice daily, cutting out my middle of the day dilation. A few months later I went down to once daily. Now, nearly ten months on, I’ve moved down to dilating once every two days. I know people who’ve moved down to dilating once a week or even more infrequently than that.

Also, over time, you can begin to replace perspex rod dilations with sexual activity, be it sex toys or penatrative sex with a penis. If you’re engaging in penetrative sexual activity at least once a week you may not have to worry about dilation at all.

Basically, I’m going to need to make sure I pull out a dildo and have some me time once per week for the rest of my life, which I am super okay with committing to.

How long was it before you were recovered through that you could have had sex?

For me, it was around six months before I felt confident that my vagina was healed up enough that I would have been comfortable engaging in gentle penetrative sex. Ten months on I’m not worried about it in the slightest.

How hard was recovery?

It was easily the most difficult time in my life.

I spent months in constant pain, leaking fluids, exhausted all the time, unable to move properly, unable to sit properly, and having to spend 90 mins, three times per day, putting my day on hold to dilate.

I spent months unable to focus enough to work, falling asleep early and waking early. I couldn’t lie on my side for several weeks.

The week I spent in hospital I felt incredibly scared, alone, and paranoid that I might have done the wrong thing by having surgery. I got so constipated that for almost two weeks I couldn’t eat food without vomiting. I was incredibly dependant on others looking after me for a while. It was very difficult.

I’ve heard of people’s sexuality changing after hormones and surgery, did this happen to you?

Sort of. Prior to surgery I very much identified as lesbian. I was a woman purely interested in women romantically and sexually. This has been a fair amount more fluid since surgery.

I still lean heavily towards attraction to women, but I now have a romantic and sexual interest in some men. I am definitely heavily female leaning, but there’s now a few guys I find interesting in that regard too. I’ve not yet settled on how to label my sexuality. I still often use gay or lesbian based on my heavily female leaning bias, but it’s probably not accurate any more.

The best explanation I’ve seen for this is post lower surgery and the removal of the testicles, there’s no longer anything standing in the way of my body and oestrogen, which may play a part in the subtle shift in my sexuality.

What was the biggest practical positive about having lower surgery?

I can now wear leotard style swimming costumes and leggings without being concerned about my genitalia. It may seem silly, but it really did make a huge difference to my confidence. I now wear leggings without wearing a skirt over them, I can go swimming again, and just knowing my genitals are what they should be makes me feel far more confident re-engaging with life.

I recently joined a female roller derby league. While I would have been more than welcome pre surgery, I personally would never have had the confidence to join until now.

What things did you not properly expect about lower surgery?

I braced myself for the worst pain of my life. I still underestimated how painful I would find surgery recovery.

I didn’t prepare mentally for the fact I would worry and panic at first about if I did the right thing.

When the surgeon told me to bring sanitary pads to the hospital for post surgical bleeding, I later learned that standard pads were woefully insubstantial for the bleeding I would experience. Big thick incontinence pads were much more appropriate to the amount of bleeding I was dealing with for the first few weeks.

I didn’t prepare for the fact that shortening the urethra in order to reposition it would lead to needing to relearn a degree of bladder control. At first I found myself needing to pee more suddenly and with less warning. While this improved over time it was an unexpected initial shock.

I didn’t prepare for what now seems obvious in hindsight, peeing with a vagina needs much more care and attention to proper hygene. Where a penis leaves the urethra completely uncovered to pee, with maybe a drop or two needing dabbing at the end, with a vagina the urethra is buried under a trench of flesh that the pee must pass. Pee will get in your vagina. You can’t rush cleaning that up. Moist toilet wipes are a godsend.

And there you have it, a bunch of stuff people have been asking about lower surgery for trans women that’s not super well documented online. Hope you all feel educated about a set of genitals that the internet helped fund.

The Transgender Slippery Slope Fallacy in an Internet Age

Back in June 2015, Rachel Anne Dolezal resigned as president of the NAACP after it became public knowledge that she was a white woman who had presented herself as being a black woman, in spite of nothing in 400 years of her ancestry to suggest any such descriptor was appropriate. She argued that while she was born white, she identified as black, and as such should have her racial identity respected as such.

It’s important to note that this is very much different to mixed race individuals selecting their own racial identity. Selecting from multiple applicable racial descriptors compared to ignoring one clear cut racial category for one that doesn’t seem to fit at all are very different situations.

Much of the language she used to describe her life mirrored the established language of the transgender community, a community she actively compared her situation to on multiple occasions.

As such, many in the media began to describe Dolezal as Trans-racial, a term which she never distanced herself from. The media began to compare Dolezal’s experience to those of transgender individuals, and argue that if trans people deserve gender recognition then Dolezal deserves racial recognition. They argued that any criticisms of Dolezal should also be criticisms made of the transgender community.

The struggle of the transgender community was linked in to an isolated woman claiming her racial identity differed significantly from her genetic ancestry.

In past battles for marginalised groups to receive wider acceptance, for example the push for gay rights, slippery slope fallacies were common, but easily dismissed. The arguments that allowing gay people to marry would lead to humans marrying or sleeping with animals, children, and inanimate objects certainly existed during that particular civil rights movement.

There is however one key factor that is making the fight for trans rights more difficult in regards to the slippery slope fallacy – The ubiquity of social media and 24/7 news cycles.

In the past, it was easy to argue “gay people getting married and a man marrying a dog are two separate things, one an actual fight for rights going on now and one a hypothetical that we can tackle if it ever comes up, but it’s not the fight we are currently having”. It was easy enough to point out that nobody knows anyone wanting to marry a dog, so it’s easier to put that hypothetical aside and avoid using it to argue a current real rights issue.

Mainstream discussion of trans acceptance really came to the forefront during the internet era. Internet message boards allowed trans people to find information, discover they were not alone, and were a major catalyst in the rise of trans awareness and visibility. The problem that comes with that is the internet opens up the world to the Rachel Dolezal’s of the world as fringe examples able to be used to discredit the trans rights movement.

If one person in the world claims they identify as a cat, or as a black person when they’re white, or as a toaster, whether claimed sincerely or in jest, they can then be cited to more effectively invoke a slippery slope fallacy. It makes it harder to separate out the transgender rights discussion from isolated fringe discussions and is seriously hampering the fight for trans rights.

The problem is, while fighting the slippery slope fallacy is still possible, it’s a lot more time consuming and emotionally draining than it previously was now. I can explain that Gender Dysphoria is a condition evidenced as existing throughout the entirety of human history, documented by the scientific community, with diagnostic criteria, treatment plans and proven effectiveness rates for treatments. I can talk about the fact that there is a huge variation in physical characteristics and chromosomal make-ups that make the gender binary a myth in humans. I can point out that there are potential explanations for the developmental process in the womb that can explain the existence of trans people. I can explain that there is evidence of trans people’s brains post autopsy more closely resembling those of their target gender than their birth gender.

I can point out that Rachel Dolezal’s case of racial identity shifting doesn’t fit any of this, and as such shouldn’t be directly compared.

But it gets tiring. And there’s no guarantee it’ll work, because everyone can just keep pointing to Dolezal.

The Slippery Slope Fallacy is harder to fight in an internet age, and it’s a big factor in the struggle for trans acceptance.

Suicidal Ideation and Career Ambition – Flying Too Close To The Sun

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Suicidal Ideation and Creative Ambition are uncomfortable, conflicting, painful bedfellows. The duelling urges to prove yourself worthy of wide recognition and legacy, while simultaneously feeling crushed by the world and wanting to take the permanent solution to temporary problems can cause an emotional roller-coaster I feel ill equipped to handle.

I am well aware that I will one day die. That much is not up for debate.

I’m well aware if I die today, more people will notice my death than if I die in my 70’s of natural causes. More people will discuss my passing. More people will feel the need to look back over my legacy. More people will mourn my passing. More people will feel an absence in the world.

These are the kinds of insidious thoughts that make suicidal ideations hard to shake. These are the ways suicide makes itself seem like a route to success, to a better life, to a life worth more.

These are the insidious thoughts that make suicide feel tempting when you’re achieving public facing success. The idea you’ve peaked and your death is the only way to turn a life of ever diminishing returns into a life that ended at the top.

What keeps me here is creative ambition, hope of creative vindication, and fear that I’ll end my life before I hit my stride. What keeps me going is the thought that E3 this year might turn public attitude toward my work as past leaks and reports are shown accurate. What keeps me going is the hope that tomorrow might be the day that dream job offer appears out of nowhere and validates my work as being of value.

What keeps me going is the belief that maybe I can fly closer to the sun without falling violently down to the earth.

What terrifies me is the thought that I’ve already flown too close, and the desire to crash and burn spectacularly rather than to slowly spiral unnoticed, quietly drifting to my doom out of sight.

I honestly spend my days bouncing between the strength of ambition that first got me where I am today, and suicidal urges that I know on paper are not to be believed, but in reality take time, effort and energy to shake off.

It feels stupid to feel this strongly either way about a career discussing video games and whether they are good or not.

Transition – How I learned Not to Give A Shit and Fucking Love Myself

Growing up as a teen pre transition, I fucking hated myself. I blamed myself for my parents divorce. I blamed myself for letting myself be controlled by abusive relationships. I blamed myself for not preventing abuse done to me by people with more power. I blamed myself for the people in my life whose affection I craved not loving me.

Then, I started gender transition.

When you publicly and visibly transition gender, you have to start dealing with a lot more visible, immediate and inexcusable hatred from strangers who do not know you.

Growing up experiencing insidious small scale abuse from people you’re told you should be able to trust, it’s easy to blame yourself for the abuse you recieve. Those people are supposed to protect, like and love you. If they don’t, you’re the problem.

When the abuse is obvious and external, from people who you know you’ve never harmed, it’s a little more obvious you’re not the issue, they are.

Some people are just nasty, abusive arseholes.

Every time I’ve had to stand up for myself to a stranger during transition, be it fighting for my right to use a public bathroom or a store changing room, getting my ID accepted or getting hassled on the street by a creepy guy, I’ve found a little more strength and personal resolve.

Every time, I’ve gotten better at recognising past abusive behaviour used against me in my life.

Every time, I’ve grown in confidence.

Since transition, I’ve found the confidence to tell my biological father about how much his behaviour while I was growing up effected me.

I’ve found the confidence to track down the pedophile who abused me and take him to task for the impact his actions had on me.

I’ve found the confidence to track down my childhood bully and explain to him how his controlling abusive behaviour ruined several years of my life.

Since starting transition, facing visible abuse from strangers, and finding confidence in my own identity, I’ve learned to recognise abuse, and to address it directly before walking away on my own terms.

I’ve learned to do what makes me happy.

I’ve learned to move on and find closure from the abuse that crafted me.

I’ve Learned Not to Give A Shit and Fucking Love Myself.

Transition, Tattoos and Body Ownership

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Before I transitioned, I had zero interest in ever getting tattoos or body piercings. The thought of altering my body from the way it was at birth seemed very odd indeed. Why would I make a permanent change to a body that itself wasn’t permanent?

I didn’t judge anyone with tattoos or piercings, but I just didn’t understand being that sure in something, sure enough to commit to permanently changing my body. How could anyone ever be that confident in the decision to alter their own body?

Then, I hit puberty. My body began to develop traditionally masculine characteristics. My voice dropped, I suddenly had a huge Adam’s apple, I was hairy all over and my own uncontrollable body made me feel routinely uncomfortable.

I didn’t like my body.

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For me, puberty was a lot like renting accommodation on a short term contract. Suddenly this place I had to live all my life, by no choice of my own, was different. I had to adjust to living in a new skin, one I disliked.

I didn’t want to stay that way. I wanted a situation where I could make the skin I inhabited my own. I wanted ownership of my body, not a rental subject to sudden upheaval.

I decided to begin the long road of transition.

I began to take ownership over my own body as something I could control. I changed my clothing, I altered my voice, I changed my name and my gender marker and my hair.

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I also started to get tattoos.

The road to physical help with transition is a long one in the UK. Years waiting to start hormones, and years beyond that to get surgical options done.

Years and years of waiting for the UK medical system to help me take ownership of my own body.

So I started taking that ownership myself.

I got three pixel hearts on my left wrist to celebrate making games writing my full time job. I got a My Chemical Romance quote on my right wrist to celebrate three years without a suicide attempt. I got a pixel magic bar on my left wrist to celebrate getting my Adam’s apple reduction surgery. I got the Let’s Play Video Games logo on my right wrist to celebrate going independent as a writer and managing to still thrive. I got the Non Compliant tattoo on my left wrist to celebrate lower surgery and taking pride in my own non traditional femininity. I got Faith’s tattoo from Mirror’s Edge on my left arm to celebrate having the strength to move from one period of my life to a brand new stage.

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Every tattoo, whether it fades or blurs with time, will remind me of a time in my life I took control. Each one reminds me of a time where I made my life something new. A time where I committed to something.

Every tattoo is a reminder that this body is mine. This body is owned not rented. I can decorate the walls. I can put in a window. I can turn two rooms into one. I can make drastic changes. I can make this body a home of my own.

No landlord can take this body away from me.

As someone who has made a lot of changes to their body in the name of control and comfort, I will forever be proud of every change I made. Every surgery, every tattoo, every piercing and every modification a reminder that my body belongs to me, and I can make it home in what ever way I like.

The Mysterious Transition Turning Point

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Mid 2014 Laura

I’ve been living full time as a trans woman for around three years now. I changed my legal name and got the gender marker on my passport back in 2014 and since then have lived every day of my life, without exception, as Laura Dale rather than anyone I might have been previously to the world.

For the vast majority of those three years, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to get gendered as female. With my hair down, face shaved, foundation and concealer, traditionally feminine coded clothing like skirts and tops that showed off the impression of breasts, I would still have a hit and miss track record getting correctly gendered in public.

I had to make an effort all day, every day, to still routinely get read as male in spite of my own efforts to present as female.

A few months ago, that seemingly changed out of nowhere. I’m not entirely sure why.

Mid 2016 Laura
Mid 2016 Laura

So, a few things have changed in my life since I started transition. I’ve started taking hormones, then hormones with testosterone blockers, then I had lower surgery and cut out the testosterone blockers. Most of these are things that will not be visible to the world around me.

As of right now, my body does not produce testosterone, and gets a daily dose of oestrogen.

My breasts, previously a bra stuffed with mastectomy breast forms, are now small but existent tissue of my own.

I don’t think I really look any different to when I started transition, but maybe that’s just seeing my own face every day.

The first time I realised something had changed was a night out in London where, trying to get home from a train station, four separate men tried to proposition me for sex.

It wasn’t a positive experience, it was honestly rather terrifying, but it was a night where I was clearly being clocked as female enough to face repeated creepy advances.

A few days later, I found myself getting catcalled more than I had before.

A few days later I ran to the shop in a baggy hoody, jeans, with my hair tied up and a bit of facial hair because I had not shaved yet. No makeup.

I got correctly gendered as female by store staff.

Lazy Laura
Lazy Laura

I found this starting to happen more and more frequently, I could make a “lazy day” trip to the shops making no conscious effort to signal myself as female, and still get clocked as female properly.

I’ve not had someone use male pronouns to refer to me in months. That includes days where I have made no effort on my experience and am bracing myself, expecting the reality of not being clocked as female.

I don’t know what turning point I hit, but from talking to other trans women, it seems like they hit this mystery point to.

2017 Laura
2017 Laura

There’s some point in transition where, even without making an effort, something changes and people start to clock your gender correctly in spite of non traditional aspects that would usually be considered “tells”.

I wish I knew what changed, but knowing this mystery turning point has been reached makes me feel infinately better about myself.

I feel like I can now explore non traditional femininity, the kind of varied experiences of valid femininity often promoted within non trans feminist circles, without worrying about my status as female being quite so scrutinised.

It’s a nice place to be in life.