Muscle Memory

Image from the Jessie Hart
archive. Ohio River background. 

If you are into sports at all, perhaps you have heard the term "muscle memory". Athletes use it to describe how they approach certain aspects of their sport. A prime example is how a batter in baseball prepares the same way everytime when he comes to the plate. 

As transgender women and trans men often we face the same dilemma of how to cross the gender frontier and establish ourselves successfully as new women or men. Naturally along the way we have a tendency to carry characteristics of our previous gender we need to erase. One of the first aspects of my old gender I attempted to change was how I walked. What I encountered was, I finally achieved a certain level of presentation in my mirror and then I had to put the entire feminine image into motion. I needed to break so many bad habits when I was trying to cross dress as a man, I felt I needed to practice as much as I could. I even went to extreme measures such as going to big box stores later at night and practice walking as a woman. Even though I was still dressed as a man. I always wondered what the store detectives watching on camera thought of me. 

Over time my ability to move more as a transgender woman improved to a point I felt more secure in public. At that point I discovered another serious problem I was facing was how I held my facial expression. It took a small child loudly telling her Mother "Look at the big mean woman!" The obvious compliment was the kid called me a woman but the bad side was she thought I was mean. From that point forward I tried to take the old male scowl off my face and replace it with a more welcoming look. With my new look, along the way, I attracted more positive communication as a woman in the public's eye. 

Muscle memory for me was difficult to maintain. I really needed to concentrate to make my gender image complete. My old male ways were so ingrained. It seemed on occasion the harder I tried, the more mistakes I would make. An example was the time my high heel became wedged in a small crack in a mall sidewalk I was in or the time I was leaving a venue where I was a regular in. One night I was wearing my high heeled boots, got up to leave and promptly fell in a wet spot. Fortunately I was not injured in either case except for my pride. I went back to the drawing board and I challenged myself to walking better in high heels. All part of the new muscle memory I was attempting to assimilate in order to be a more accomplished transgender woman.

These days I am trying once again to improve my movement muscle memory. Since I went through a period of time when I was having mobility issues. I finally found myself at a point where moving as a woman wasn't as important as just moving at all. Happily I am beginning to do better with my mobility now so I can again concentrate on moving as a woman. 

All in all, muscle memory is a very important phase for all transgender women and trans men to go through. Why should we spend so much time and effort in looking good for the world and destroy the image completely when we put it into motion.