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LGBTQ+

Cake day

There’s a thing some trans people do on social media to mark “Cake Day”, the anniversary of them starting transition: it’s usually (but not always) the anniversary of them starting HRT. It’s my first Cake Day today.

Cake Day is often celebrated by posting before and after photos, usually showing a really miserable person in the before and a really cute and happy person in the after. Unfortunately for me I can’t do that because (a) I’m much older than most of the people who post pics and (b) I look exactly the same except fatter. So here’s my version.

Messing around aside, Cake Day photos can be really valuable when you’re still in the closet. I wrote about them a while back:

I’d spent endless hours looking at trans women’s HRT transition timelines, the photographic evidence of the cumulative effects of hormone treatment and improving make-up skills. I actively searched for timelines of middle-aged MTF trans women, trying to see what was the result of HRT and what was just better lighting, good makeup and a cute smile.

Looking at such images wasn’t new, nor was the strong yearning I felt to be one of the people in the pictures. I’ve had those things since I’ve had internet access. But something was different now. I no longer saw the photos as pictures of transformations that, for me, would be impossible and unattainable.

I started to see them as maps of the possible.

What struck me wasn’t the physical transformation; it was the difference in the way they looked at the camera, the smiles reaching their eyes. Even relatively minor physical transformations looked spectacular because of the difference in the way people held themselves and looked at the camera.

Each timeline was the same story: unhappy people finally becoming happy in their own skin. I wanted that too.

I might not look like Shirley Manson, and I never will. But a year on, I’m becoming happy in my own skin.