“What are you going to be for Halloween?”
This is a question I never really knew how to answer. I’ve never particularly liked Halloween. Actually, let me clarify that: I’ve never particularly liked the costume portion of Halloween. From my early teens onward, there was nothing that appealed to me about throwing on a costume, hiding behind a mask, and heading out to a party. Whenever I’ve been forced to, I’d usually put together a half-assed costume that looked as much like my normal wardrobe as possible.
In general, though, I liked to stay in. I always liked getting cozy, sipping a drink, and watching a movie on the couch. As you can see by looking at the picture associated with this essay, the pre-transition days of 2006 weren’t exactly party city for me. When you don’t feel right in your own skin, every day feels like you’re wearing a costume. Given this, I never took much joy in Halloween before I came out as transgender.
I think I might be alone in this, as I know a lot of people, both cis and trans, who absolutely love Halloween. Good for them. In fact, I know a lot of trans people who used Halloween as a chance to test the waters presenting as their target gender prior to coming out. If that helps someone sort out their feelings, more power to them. For me, though, that wouldn’t have been enough. I would have felt like a girl wearing a boy costume wearing a girl costume. Layers within layers, like little Russian dolls.
Don’t get me wrong: Halloween is an awesome holiday. Scary movies on TV? Check. Candy? Check. Haunted houses, corn mazes, pumpkin patches? Check. It’s just the costume aspect of it that’s always brought me down.
In all likelihood, this stems from my feeling that what we wear on Halloween is fake. You can be anything you want, but it’s fake. Vampire for a night? Do it up. A walking pun of a costume? You do you. For me, though, I didn’t want to be fake anymore. I was fake enough. My presentation to the world was fake. If the world was going to see me for who I am, a woman, I wanted it to be genuine, and not as part of a costume.
Actually, I suppose that’s another way of looking at being transgender. Imagine that you had to wear your Halloween costume every day for your entire life. Not only that, but imagine the world addressing you as only your costume, not yourself. “Want to see a movie, Werewolf?” For a day or two, sure, it might be fun, but eventually you’d tire of this, feeling as though you didn’t really exist anymore, only the costume shelled version of you.
Tonight, Halloween, I’ll likely end up doing the same exact thing I did 7 years ago. I’ll find a spot on my couch, pour myself a drink, and I’ll watch Nightmare Before Christmas. Exciting? No, but that’s quite alright by me.