It was like… I don’t know, Christmas? I am in Montreal, which would be my “hometown” if one can call it the city where they grew up, but I grew up in the suburbs. A few years ago, from the far suburban home of my sister’s TV, I had learned about an organization whose founder had died. My ears perked up when they said it was “Aide aux Personnes Trans” (roughly “Trans People Help”), so I looked for it on the web. At that time, I had found from its resource list a store that carried shoes in larger sizes, and made a point to visit some day. Several years later, here I am at that very store, a full aisle of shoes in my size and preferred styles! So it felt like Christmas. I even said something like that to the young person helping me, that I was overwhelmed by the sight of it.
The photo doesn’t come up right, but it gives you an idea. One is in a pink tone, the other is really red, while the photo suggest it’s a tan color. It took me a long time to decide, because my old feet are a bit peculiar, they’re different sizes, and the right foot has expanded a couple of times, so it’s better if I wear my custom orthotics. That just means I’m always wearing running shoes #2, the older version of running shoes #1 which I use exclusively for running (see my other articles about running, which is one of the things that keep me alive and well). But when I want to wear a skirt, they don’t quite look right. And right now, in Summer, my feet yearn for something with a lot more ventilation than running shoes. Yes, I have old Teva’s men’s sandals, but no, they just don’t look right…
It’s the end of a nice summer Friday, and I just walked to the store in the red sandals, a black skirt, a daring hat (so rare these days that I wonder if everyone is waiting to be told they’ve got melanoma). I was in heaven. So after the Christmas experience, I just couldn’t believe that I had arrived in my “hometown” in the gender expression that makes me so relaxed and happy. I’m quite sure if anyone looked closely at my face they would see many markers of my birth assigned gender, but now I’m going to ignore the possibility that in this crowd someone is going to raise hell about it.
But the shoes… Is it possible that they would transform my self-image in such a significant way? Why do I look envious when I see my friend at the running shoe store with shoes in the color I want, while I get men’s shoes that are optimal for my feet and my aspirations at winning the next 5K in my sex and age category, which is not the same as my gender? One reason is that for now I run faster than most men of my age, and definitely faster than women my age. It’s a matter of body shape and composition (and I think, quite frankly, the ideal categorization would be a matter of your most recent running history, not just what sex you are – this way we might encourage people to show up in new categories unheard of before).
So this is an incredible moment. The moment in which I am myself where I thought I wouldn’t ever be.
The shoe store is here: https://www.chaussezengrand.com on Rue St Hubert, which I discovered also features lots of fabric stores!