It’s rare, but I have worn high heels. Like when I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. I was both excited and reluctant — honoured to be there for my friend, but nervous about the gendered social customs that came with it.
The week of the wedding was full of activities, including a day trip to a spa for manis and pedis. I woke up each morning with angst, dreading the pressure to participate in a version of femininity that was completely foreign to me. And I resented the assumption that I would happily partake, simply because of the body I was in.
I didn’t want to wear press-on nails or the satin strapless dress that the bride had chosen for us. I was forced to smother my gender identity, while the other bridesmaids got to embrace theirs. They got to be the most beautiful versions of themselves, while I felt like a guy dressed as a woman. I’m not a man, but doing femme feels like drag to me. And not in the fun, lip-syncing, entertaining way. I was awkwardly performing a gender that was forced and unnatural.
I flew home from the wedding hating myself and my body.