I’m not sure what age I was when I realised that I was destined to turn heads. Not in a full of myself way or anything. But you can’t deny that I’m quite a noticeable person. I’ve turned heads for as long as I can remember. And here’s why I enjoy doing so.
I’m walking through town with my friend Catherine. We are chatting and walking towards our bus stop. We are taking up a small path and we separate when we see a man approaching. Instead of quickly moving past us, this man slows down to stare at me. I meet eyes with him, smirk and keep walking.
When Catherine catches up she laughs. “What?” I ask. “It’s just funny,” she responds, “I don’t know how you deal with that.”
I’m 13. I’m in school. I blend somewhat. People can see that I’m different and they occasionally say stuff to me. But I’m not a freak. I don’t stick out like a sore thumb. I’m just there.
I sit in my room. I look in the mirror. I decide I’m going to become the person I want to. It’s a simple decision. One second I was me, and the next second, I was really me.
From now on, when I walk through the corridors I do something different. Instead of looking downwards, I tilt my head slightly up. I look above people’s heads, rather than at their feet. When I enter a room I look all around it before walking to my seat. I develop an expression that’s a mixture of indifference and sexiness.
When I meet someone new I look right into their eyes and smile. When younger people speak to me I gaze at them warmly and try to appear welcoming. When people sneer, laugh or harass me I just look through them, as though they are nothing. They are nothing to me.
My walk becomes slightly bouncy. One foot directly in front of the other. Shoulders straight. Hands by my sides. Head facing forwards. I can do anything. I can be anything.
This marked my transformation to a new person. This marked my change of character. This marked me owning the fact that I turn heads. This meant that I was turning heads for the reasons that I wanted to.
This was also the time that I started getting bullied quite badly. But I was smart about that. I’d keep a list detailing what had happened. The name of my tormentor, the date the incident had occurred, the location. I’d build up quite an incriminating list before strutting through the corridors. Walking into the office and handing it to the principal. I would not allow myself to be a victim. I would not let them get away with this shit.
Once when confronted as to why he was bullying me, one of my tormentors told my principal that it was because of the way I walked around. I chose to be the person that they resented for having confidence. And hearing this admission of how much it bothered him let me know that I had done the right thing.
You may accuse me of seeking attention but I was just becoming a person that I could sleep with at night. Someone that I liked and someone that I could be proud of.
Nowadays I’m aware of the effect that I have. I don’t turn heads very often in Dublin but I actually like it when I do.
Because I have no idea why someone’s staring at me, and it’s not my job to try and figure it out. I could walk into a room where twenty people stare at me. Five of them because I’m trans, three because they like my outfit, four because they like my hair and the others might be marvelling at how tall I am.
It could be so easy for me to view myself as a target of these stares and wish to hide from them. But this is all a part of my refusal to be a victim.
I will not let ignorant or curious people stop me from going out in public. I will not let their stares control my life. Instead, I will keep being the person that I want to be. And if that means that I’ll continue to turn heads, then bring it on.
Watch how I deal with street harassment below:
Read about my experiences of being aggressively gendered here.