The Big Little Joys of Being Trans

Victoria Strake
3 min readNov 7, 2020

It’s the small things in life that often bring the most happiness moment-to-moment.

I might never wear a fancy hat, but it’s nice to know I have the option. [Image: “The Millinery Shop” — Edgar Degas (1879/86) : Public Domain.]

In some ways I feel like one of those research monkeys that spent a lifetime in a sterile cage doing nothing but whatever experiment was demanded of me. My life pretending to be a man was sparse and focused on work without much else. Now that I’m stepping into myself and my trans-ness I have a whole collection of new worlds open to me, and it is delightful even as it is challenging. What is most joyous is little day-to-day things that I never got to enjoy before I made peace with my nature. Let me count some of these little blessings.

  1. Window shopping for clothes. I never cared much for clothing since I didn’t care about myself or my body. I wore whatever let me blend in. Now, though, I get to decorate myself and wear what feels good. Just to approach clothing with the aim of enjoying myself is novel. I never understood how shopping for clothes could be fun, but now that I see myself as good and worth dressing up I find the entire process affirming even if I’m still too broke to buy much of anything.
  2. Bath bombs. They smell amazing and feel good and they exist for only one reason and that is to make me happy. That’s it. They aren’t productive and they don’t boost my career or make me a better tool because I’m not longer stuck thinking that I only matter as a tool. Coming out as trans as meant putting my own happiness way out front of anything society wants for me, and every time I indulge in a sparkly glittery bath bomb it’s not just a nice time for Vicky but a protest against a world that wants me to be just a machine.
  3. Looking in the mirror. This is something I know a lot of trans people struggle with, but for me it feels good just to look at myself as myself. It’s probably impossible to describe what it feels like to see yourself honestly for the first time after a lifetime of refusing to even engage with your own image. How strange and wondrous to be anything at all, to be the universe observing itself, and when you let go and accept yourself as yourself it is a singular experience to witness your own self. I can’t put it any other way.
  4. Every conversation with literally anyone. Being myself has introduced a level of openness and honesty to all my interactions intimate and otherwise that wasn’t present before. My old self was all about maintaining good enough pretense — I didn’t know any other way to be. That tension and fear is gone. You can’t worry about failing to maintain an image when you drop the performance and let it all hang out. I’m having some hard conversations, and speaking with fewer people now, but the communication I enjoy now is real in ways it wasn’t before. Simple, but priceless. It’s impossible to communicate how good it feels to be open and honest and free. It’s worth it.

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Victoria Strake

Essayist, former scientist, trans woman. Striving for actionable methods of peaceful revolution — relationships, community, mutual aid, subsistence, science.