I am a magician. I’ve mastered the art of concealment, and everything you see is an illusion. What you see is not what you get. Some see a handsome gayboy, others see a pretty faced lez. What I am, is carefully constructed, to emphasise parts of me I feel that fit me, and hide other parts that I feel do not belong.
I know dark colours assist the illusion of depth to make my chest look flatter. And busy patterns, on shirts in particular. They’re probably so dazzling, your main concern is getting away instead of searching for boobies. It’s a good thing Hawaiian shirts are so cheap where I’m from.
I know what style of tops I need to wear to break up my torso, to direct attention away from my chest, to create less depth. Baseball tops and using colours that break up the torso, like chunky stripes. I know that when I wear scoop neck tees, I look like a lesbian. (But I wear them anyway because they’re nice and baggy. And I have killer collar bones.) I always wear a vest on top of my binder and underneath my clothes, no matter what temperature it is, because it bulks out my middle and makes everything a little more straight-up-and-down.
I know exactly how to dress to create the illusion of smaller hips and a smaller ass. Well not so much the ass, thanks to my mum side, it will always be a booty. I know that wearing my jeans that low is the only way to hide those hips I despise so much. Unfortunately, that happens to be the current fashion, so I’m still looking trendy. I know that putting a belt on breaks up the hipline and hides them even more. I wear a belt all the time, even though I haven’t needed one in years. My jeans will fall down when they want to, a consequence of the current pull-up-your-trousers trend.
I know the style of jeans that fit me, the waist size I need to fit where I want the jeans to sit, and the leg length to make me look as tall as I can be. I know what size I am in men’s jeans in almost every store on the high street.
What I don’t know is fitted trousers and suits.
When my cousin announced her wedding, I was thrilled and excited. It had been so long since I had been to a wedding, and even longer since I had been to one in the UK. A smaller, less sparkly, and quieter celebration was just what I wanted, instead of all those never-ending, energetic Pakistani weddings I was used to. My cousin isn’t one to take her Pakistani culture seriously, so she’s having what my mum calls, “a modern white wedding.” She’s marrying an Englishman.
I was suddenly gripped by dread: What do I wear?! I haven’t had to make a decision on formal attire for years. And this year I have to do it three times. My cousin’s wedding, my sister’s graduation, and my own. Time to buy me an ‘Everything Suit’.
Feeling positive and sexy, I pictured myself in a sharp dark grey suit, maybe a waistcoat, a deep purple tie, and a pair of black leather shoes… Overconfident and naive, I hit the town. I was devastated when I realised I know nothing about how to look good in suits. My hips, my goddamn hips, they ruined the way trousers fitted me. No size or style looked right. My self-esteem plummeted as I was forced to confront my true figure. The illusion of zero hips was stripped away, and I looked back at an unattractive pear-shaped figure, stuck in trousers that would never fit. My torso looked chubby, as a waistcoat hugged my hips and hung off my shoulders. The picture was ruined, and the illusion was shattered.
I returned home, empty handed, full of self-doubt. I felt hideous, like nothing was going to make me look the way I wanted to look. My real concern was a pair of trousers. My proportions just don’t make sense in men’s clothing. And I can’t afford a tailor. Well I don’t even know any tailors in my town. Let alone those FTM-friendly. I think that no matter what I do end up in, I won’t feel confident at all, it’s just a reminder that my body, the way I look, is not me. It makes me feel repulsive, having this figure, and being confronted by it, revealing the illusion, really upsets me.
I would love nothing more than to internet shop for a suit. But it’s something you’ve really gotta try on. There’s nothing awkward than being in the men’s store surrounded by smart skinny guys shopping for graduation suits with such ease, and having to search through rail after rail of trousers and shirts for a size that will fit over these cruel curves. If you’re lucky, the fitting room attendant will let you use the men’s side.
I haven’t even begun to think about what family are going to say when I do turn up in a suit.