Stereotypes and Developing Identity

Lately, I've noticed that I have been feeling some reactions to things that seem to me to reflect internalized negative aspects and stereotypes of womanhood. I'm not sure if this is something that is common among trans women, or if this is just me reading into things and overthinking. Some of the things I've felt are:

  • Anxious being in elevators with strange men
  • Uncomfortable walking outside or in the parking garage at work after dark
  • Feeling unable / uncomfortable to ask for a raise
  • Uncomfortable going for walks outside where people can watch me (although strangely this does not extend to going out shopping)
  • Very self-conscious about my weight and appearance

I think that this is probably offensive to someone, but honestly I do feel these things. I'm just writing this to try to work through the implications that these feelings have for my well-being and identity. I do wish I had more of an understanding of how more trans people relate to their gender identity and stereotypes. I get the impression that for some trans people it's important to them to conform to at least some stereotypes of their gender, but I also believe that that's not universal. I also think that these feelings however are real, and stem from a very real place of fear and discomfort born of accounts of men being aggressive and harmful towards women. This is not coming from some desire for attention or affirmation.

I have to get more comfortable with things like this that I feel. It's valid for me to feel uncomfortable and unsafe sometimes, and it's valid for me to be concerned with looking good. Looking good is not something that I was concerned with pre-transition, but both from a passability and a self-esteem perspective it's something that I'm trying to work on. Yes, I know that basing my self-esteem on my appearance is problematic. It's not healthy to obsess over it, granted, but wanting to look good and present one's self well is not necessarily a bad thing. I don't think I'm ever going to be conventionally beautiful, but I can try to do the best I can.

I suppose part of where this is going is that I wish I had more knowledge of and exposure to feminism (but not the sort that excludes trans women) and other equality movements. I need to do some research, there's got to be books and such for this as far as the philosophical backgrounds and things like spirituality. I need some sort of thing to base a positive identity in and know that I'm not being disingenuous or offensive. Like, I wish I had something to look up to as an ideal to strive for, but not something that's unhealthy or otherwise negative in some way. Like, a role model, an ideal to emulate. I just want to also make sure that I'm letting myself be true to myself, not trying to be someone I'm not, or get rid of things that make me me. Of course, aren't we all just trying to figure out who we are?