“I had a recent conversation with one of the guys here,” the woman began “and he brought to my attention that they would be more comfortable if you walked more like a woman. I’ve noticed that you walk like a man.”

“Oh, I see, ” I turned my eyes toward the door, everything in me was beginning to scorch with anger, instead I set my eyes on the woman across from me and lifted my chin slightly above parallel “well, there is a reason I don’t switch my hips when I walk,”

“Well, ” she interrupted impatiently “it would be easier for everyone if they could recognize you as more feminine, your walk would help, I’m just trying to help.”

That was a real conversation…in a real prison, with a real transgendered woman (ME!!). Really infuriating too.

Several months ago I let go of what others might think about me and wore tighter fitting pants, did my makeup, got my hair done super cute. In short, I looked good. I have curves and I know it, I just don’t typically flaunt them. But that “turning up” really ignited some jealousy in some of the other trans folx around here, not to mention drew a significant amount of attention (to include some men telling me it wasn’t “fair” to have to see me so pretty and them not be able to get with me). So I said “screw it” and went up a pant size, threw my makeup away and butched it up, so I didn’t create any more waves. After all, I just want to get out of prison and in 8 months I’m doing just that, with or without makeup.

But then that conversation happened. It occurred to me that I am being judged no matter what I do. It further occurred to me that this is the cross transgendered woman bear (and I’d have to say all women). We’re judged when we are too feminine and judged when we’re not feminine enough. When our makeup is on point then our clothes get judged. When our appearance is flawless then it’s our speech or walk or past or whatever other insecurities they may have.

I am not going to spend my life pandering to the whims of others trying to get the approval of people who have nothing to do with my future or success.

What I am going to do is do me. If I sashay and switch my hips so hard it looks like I’m bending my back that’s my business. If my clothes fit me the way I like and I look in the mirror and finally feel beautiful and worth it, that’s my business too. Because I just figured out that no matter what I do, some people’s gonna hate.

The sad part is it took my 38 years to finally understand it wasn’t even me they didn’t like, it was themselves. They were never looking at me or talking to me, they were looking into a mirror only seeing their own reflection and passing judgments.

Next time my response is going to be flawless, like me, it’ll be a simple “Thank you” with a tight smile and a walk away that would set fire to a runway. Fierce.

So ladies, be you, be fierce, finally be happy because the burden of womanhood shouldn’t be a burden at all. Let it be a joy.

With Love (and JOY)