- the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Empathy is something that comes naturally to me for the most part. But even in my natural bent toward it, I find there is always room for improvement. As I continue down my journey of finding the true “me” and embracing where ever that leads me, I have found myself continually making my image more and more feminine. I shaved my arms, legs, chest, face, and armpits; I was instantly in love with it. Also, I had the thought of, “Every man should have to shave their legs for 2 weeks”. Imagine how much more empathetic men would be of ladies if they had to undertake such a task. When I’m being me, I will be cleaned shaved and likely wearing women’s leggings with an over-sized t-shirt of some kind. At minimum.
- partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex
I now put myself out there as being “Androgynous”. While I very much do have male features, I wear makeup regularly and dress pretty femininely as much as possible. So as an Androgynous gay man, it had a surprising affect on me as I went to the bathroom dressed almost entirely like a woman. It put me in a place I had never been. Having feelings, which up to this point, I thought I empathized with pretty well. Mostly from reading stories about them. Golly was I wrong.As I walked into that bathroom, inside of a very very straight bar, I felt anxious. It can best be described as the feeling some get when they’re somewhere they’re not supposed to be. Like when people went in that one room Grandma told no one to go into when they were a kids. But in a closed off and much more private room. I had received looks from other patrons of the bars and over heard a few snickers here and there, so I’m positive that didn’t help my feeling of anxiety as I go in the men’s bathroom. Not to mention the general climate that surrounds such issues now directly related to me.
I immediately knew that while I felt I understood the “Transgender Bathroom” issue, I did not have true and deep felt empathy for them like I did in that moment. Even then I still may not have a full grasp on it, which just means more room to grow. I have not attempted yet, but I’m also pretty confident had I walked into the women’s restroom on that night or any night since, there would have been a very similar issue. Having the body parts/features of a man, but dressing and acting more like a woman, leaves me in a middle ground. Since that first night, this feeling hasn’t really waned. Outside of when inside a gay bar, I’m not sure I’m gonna feel comfortable reapplying my lipstick or lip gloss in a men’s bathroom. Where most guys don’t even wash their hands. Let alone stare into a mirror.
We all have room to grow in our understandings of the struggles that the people around us face every day. You don’t have to literally get into my size 13 wide black heeled booties to empathize. Though it very well may help. But just do all you can to listen to stories like these and imagine how you may feel in that situation.