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Transmissions: A change of the season

by Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Illustration: Christine Smith
Illustration: Christine Smith  

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Unlike the other seasons, it feels like an unhurried transformation, as we move through the hanging days of summer, slowly feeling the air grow chillier. The leaves go from verdant great to a collection of reds, oranges, and yellows to rival springtime, before fully withering and falling. It is a liminal space, sitting between summer and winter.

In the midst of it, too, lay Halloween, itself a perfect example of this transformation.

Oh, sure, we can take Halloween at face value. It's the last day of October, where us adults may partake in drunken, costumed revelry at house parties or neighborhood gatherings, while children participate in the long-held tradition of going door-to-door for any manner of sweet treats.

Yet the event is much deeper than this. So many traditions treat Halloween as a sacred night, a time when the veil between the living and the dead is a thing, and magic may be around us. A time when there is more to life than the mundane existence we explore every day of the year.

It is a time where wearing costumes is considered an expectation, and where putting together just the right look will find you rewarded by onlookers and social media likes. The costumes themselves can run the gamut, from witty puns and political commentary to superhero onesies and sexy cheerleaders.

For those of us who are trans — or even those few who may not have realized they were trans, but still wear attire that may not necessarily be the conceptions and expectations of their gender assigned at birth — this combination of transformation and magic conspires, giving them a rare moment to show the world desires buried deep in their souls. It is, perhaps, the one day outside of our local Pride event where we might be able to share our truest forms and find ourselves applauded for it.

That is, in a word, powerful.

I'm not writing this in advance of Halloween, however. This isn't about the excitement leading up to our spookiest day of the year outside of tax season, but about the inevitable days afterward, when the costume is back in the closet and the makeup is but a memory. Yet, for some, their experiences on October 31 might have opened up more questions than they may realize they had on the 30th.

In the last few years, predominately in online circles, a term has gained popularity. People who may not yet have come to realize that they may be trans are now often referred to as an "egg," with the inevitable personal revelations they may soon be going through about their trans nature being labeled as "cracking the egg."

It's an apt metaphor not only for its obvious allusions to changing into a new form, but also for the potential trauma of having to crack and destroy that egg you once were to become your authentic self.

For many of us, Halloween is that moment when we get to explore our trans feelings in a more or less safe environment, when we can easily claim that the outfit we put together for the night was just a lark. It's a chance to try things out for size, as it were.

For some of us, of course, this is old hat. Indeed, for myself, it's on its head a bit. I'm more likely to be viewed as someone who is just trying on an identity on Halloween nowadays, rather than it being so clear as to who or what I may be on the other 364 days — but I digress.

It's those who may have had a moment to explore that night who I want to speak to most today, who are now sitting in the days after Halloween trying to answer one key question: What next?

Maybe this Halloween you let a girlfriend or other friend dress you up. Maybe you thought it might be fun to dress up as a guy just this once — you know, as a clever joke. Maybe you just thought it would be cool to dress up like a character who is of a different gender than the one you present in your daily life.

Now, perhaps you find yourself wanting to have that experience again, and are coming to a realization that maybe, just maybe, you are drawn to it more than only a costume: maybe there is something in that outfit that speaks to you on a much deeper level.

I'm here to tell you, first and foremost, that that is OK. You are allowed to feel that way. It doesn't necessarily mean anything. Yes, it may be part of your trans journey — but it also might not be. For now, I'd suggest you don't read too much into things. This is a time for you to explore and consider. Use this moment as a catalyst, and keep your mind open to possibilities.

Maybe now is a time to learn more. Seek out resources, either from your local bookshop or from the comfort and safety of your internet-connected device. You may even want to look for online or local support groups and the like, if you feel the need to talk to others.

More than this, I want you to understand that you are not alone. Your experiences, no matter where they may lead, are valid, and there are a great many people who will cheer you on no matter what.

The veil is thin, and we are in a time of great magic. Consider what you may have felt on Halloween and explore what may be your possible future. Feel the magic of autumnal transformations.

Gwen Smith went with a "Spider-Gwen" hoodie this year. You'll find her at www.gwensmith.com

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