Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Kind Word

“I love your dress.”

“You look really nice tonight.”

“You're wearing the dangly earrings!”

“Hello, gorgeous!”

“You are really beautiful.”

I've had all of the above said to me as Stephanie, some in the past couple of weeks. A genuine compliment is so powerful particularly in an otherwise harsh world. For me, many of the compliments are to my female presentation which makes me feel more feminine, and that is a very special gift. That is part of the beauty of the kind words because my close friends know my struggles in showing the real me with a body that doesn't match.

A few years ago at one of my first formal mainstream outings, I was wearing my favorite strapless floor length dress and had already gotten many compliments. It made me feel very good, and I wanted a way to return a bit of the positive karma... a sort of nice pay it back. I got the crazy idea that I would pick five women who were wearing dresses I thought were nice and tell them how much I liked their outfit. I wasn't sure how it would go particularly coming from a transgender woman. Would they think of me as a guy hitting on them? Each time, I made it very quick in passing, and every time, it brought a smile to their face. They seemed to accept me as a woman giving another woman a compliment. That was as empowering to me as the kind word was to them.

Much of what I've experienced is learning to be accepted as a woman. Even if my appearance is not perfect, I hope my actions and demeanor show my true feminine self. I could go into a long dissertation about how men are competitive when meeting other men or women are more nurturing. While not always true, I have found women more willing to help build each other up. This is especially true with many of my dance girlfriends, but I have had beautiful interactions as well with complete strangers just passing by. It is another confirmation that I fit better in a woman's world.

One of my favorite daily websites the last few months is Operation Beautiful. Caitlin, the owner, started posting positive sticky notes in the women's room and other places. It has become a bit of a phenomena encouraging girls and young women to help bring out the inner beauty in each of us. What often brings me joy is they are not just empty inspirational phrases. The notes simply help us see what is already inside of us. Sometime it's hard to see our uniqueness and yes, even our flaws as gifts. It took me a long time to embrace my gender gift. It is difficult in a world that demands perfection and conformity. Yet how dull life would be if we didn't pursue our special talents and abilities.

A kind word... it's ok to say and write. We need more of them even for the men in our lives! Do it in a genuine way. Lift someone up and help them see how much they have within them. In the meantime, I think I need to buy some sticky notes!

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