My mother and I had a Long Chat yesterday. Since I came out to her as you might imagine we've had one or two Long Chats. I feel very lucky to have a mother with whom I can talk about this stuff.
In particular yesterday she returned to a theme she's touched on before, while she's happy to accept me for what I am she really doesn't like the idea of my dressing, physically presenting female in the real world or otherwise is beyond her comfort zone. Not really surprising, it's a hell of a lot for a mother to have to contemplate.
What I found interesting was her reasoning, it relates to my height. You see, my mother knows what it's like to be the tallest woman in the crowd from the days when the average female height was much shorter than it is today. She's in her eighties now, but back in the 1940s and 1950s as a young woman who stood over six feet tall she found herself the butt of many cruel jokes and insensitive comments. My quest for size 15 girl shoes pales into insignificance compared to her quest for size 9s back in the Austerity years, her feet were so seriously harmed by ill-fitting shoes that she had to have corrective surgery on them. She's been a customer of Magnus and Long Tall Sally for decades. Great. I shop at the same places as my mother.
In short, she speaks from a position of authority when it comes to people's reactions to women of height. And she does not want me to experience what she had to, but with the added twist of being rather obviously transgendered. She's had her fair share of misgendering too, for that matter.
I haven't confronted her directly with Jenny mode. She has to have guessed I dress, but she's never asked me directly and I haven't told her specifically that I do. But I have surprised myself with how well I have managed at it, and I told her yesterday that if going out dressed was what I chose to do then I'm sure I'd be able to do a good job. I know my passing skills are weak - at best I struggle at feminity, at worst I have something of the bloke about me - but the effect for which I have striven is one of having made an effort to look presentable. I tried to put that into words for her because I was worried she was imagining me going forth as a grotesque parody of a pantomime dame, this was when she went into depth on her height concerns.
I think my insecurities about my height and presenting female can be attributed to a mixture of my mother's reaction and my own experiences as an oversized bloke. I've certainly heard her on this theme before, though not until now directed at me. Stupid really, it helped keep me in the closet for years during which I really should have come to terms with everything. It's a wall from which bricks are slowly falling away, but it's not quite gone yet. I wonder whether my mother's version of that wall, for herself or for me, will ever lose any bricks.