The Beauty Myth

Thing about beauty is that it isn’t a meritocracy. I don’t believe that we get to be gorgeous because of selfless deeds extended in previous lives (sorry reincarnationists!). Our appearances are nothing more than accidental collisions of DNA and genetics (and this is before we even attempt to define beauty itself).

Trans itself is likewise proven to be randomly chaotic. A formulation of personal chemistry that can feature in any life. Almost all of us who grew to understand that we are trans would I believe, frankly rather not be in such a position at all – but of course, we didn’t get a say.

The success of any gender transition does tend to be measured by appearance – and that’s just not fair. Trans or otherwise, the way we look – or more specifically how traditionally acceptable we look – will always open or close doors to us. I think about this a lot, especially on the still rare occasions I encounter another trans person. That person may be more or less fortunate than myself with their looks, but one thing is for sure: their ability to ‘pass’ has absolutely nothing to do with how deserving they might be.

We cannot know each other’s level of sacrifice or difficulty in negotiating life’s daily challenges. Our respective routes to any particular moment will be unique, but certainly harder for some than others. Lots of personal hurdles are placed in front of us by complex societal models. Among these are the much debated issues of race, traditional gender biases and class. And yet sheer beauty can cut through most of these with a simple smile. We do seem to be programmed to take the handsome more seriously and the pretty more desirably.

Trans takes this to another level where one’s very validity can be based upon whether or not we are perceived to be as we present. From riding public transport, to buying a pint of milk at the corner shop, to trying to navigate the perils of dating, we will get just about as far as our faces will carry us.

The extra twist in this particular scorpion tale is that in the 21st century, beauty can also be bought. Thus, some can use sheer wealth to buy themselves an entirely new face and in turn, a life. Personally, my budget didn’t stretch to any of this and so I’ve had to work with the face I had. I have been more fortunate than some – and less lucky than others. Either way, the degree to which I appear to be the woman I feel myself to be has absolutely nothing to do with my aesthetic legitimacy.