Trans Joy: Heels and Slacks
Ahead of Smutathon 2021, we’re publishing a series of Trans Joy posts. As we’re fundraising for Gendered Intelligence and Trans Lifeline this year, we want to flip the script on trans people being asked to perform their pain over and over again to prove that they deserve human rights.
Instead, we want to celebrate trans joy and gender euphoria. We’ve teamed up with Quenby Creatives, whose Trans Joy series highlights the positive side of trans experiences to bring some balance to trans discourses.
Today’s Trans Joy is from I-can’t-believe-they-said-yes-to-this Matthew Bischoff. Matthew Bischoff is a software designer and developer in New York City. They’re proudly bisexual, trans, and nonbinary. They also write about tech and culture on their own website.
Heels and Slacks
I had been out as nonbinary for 6 months before I felt comfortable wearing high heels in public. My ever-supportive partner Kate had offered to shop for them with me and help me through the process of requesting sizes larger than I thought the mall shoe store would carry. Luckily, we found some—a pair of elegant dark gray suede heeled boots, perfect for fancy evenings in New York winters.
New shoes in hand, now I just needed a place to debut them. My friend had invited me to a fancy tech launch party after work, so I decided to slip on the heels and wear them all day at the office, building up the physical and emotional muscles to look more feminine in public than I ever had before. Paired with a sparkly blue sweater, tight black jeans, my gold they/them pronoun pin, and a bold red lipstick, I knew I’d stick out, and I was ready to own it.
By the time we arrived at the party, I had gotten used to the ache in my calves and felt more confident strutting around the event and mingling with folks with a drink in hand. I spotted a famous transfeminine cartoonist with pink hair from across the room and instantly felt even more comfortable. My people were here. I was safe here.
Another person I’d never met, who I read as nonbinary, kept glancing over at me all night, but neither of us had the guts to introduce ourselves to one another before the speeches began. I left without meeting them, and I wished I’d be brave enough to say hello. Instead, I went to dinner by myself at a local Italian place where I’m a regular. I snapped a selfie because I was feeling cute and posted it in the #selfies channel of a community Slack for trans people I frequent.
The next morning I awoke to a DM from a nonbinary person in that Slack that read “hey! I saw your selfie. i don’t wanna be creepy, but um were you at that party last night? i loved your heels!” We’ve gone on to become close friends and frequently text about the latest trans drama and shop for gender-affirming clothing together. For me, the joy of being trans, especially visibly, is that it can be a signal to other people on that same journey. It can be a way of building community. Pink hair, selfies, heels— each of these can become a beacon of safety, connection, and permission to be ourselves, to feel and express the joy that is our transness.
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At time of publishing, we’ve raised: