I’m still fairly young, being in my 30s. There are days when my body doesn’t feel terribly young, mind you, but that’s neither here nor there. No, the important thing is that it’s not too late for me to explore my gender identity and get comfortable expressing the way I want.

But I think about something along the lines of being hospitalized or having to rough it or something like that. Because I do have to do a fair bit of maintenance on myself to appear the level of femme I want to.

First off is shaving, of course. I have a schedule on that, where my face, legs, and armpits are done daily, my chest every other day, and other areas about every three days as needed. I’m not a terribly hairy person, mind you, but I want to be smooth. I want to be the way I feel. So I do my best to keep up with all of this.

What if I couldn’t? How would that make me feel about myself? I don’t really know to be honest, and I’m not all that keen to find out.

Second is hair and cosmetics. I do get quite cranky when my hair won’t cooperate, but I’m still learning how to do that, so that’s not a big deal. It will be in the future, though. What if I can’t style my hair the way I want? What if I can’t wear makeup the way I want? That may become a reality once I have a family, as I’m not sure society will be terribly welcome to a child with a mixed-gender parent. I don’t want to make their lives difficult. Growing up is hard enough.

Third is clothing. I’ve accepted that I will almost definitely never wear dresses publicly. That’s fine. Right now, if I ever get comfortable enough, the tights-with-denim-shorts look is about as far as I want to push it. But what if I couldn’t? How would I feel?

And that really gets to the fourth and final bit: how I feel and identify and express. Because when you get right down to it, that’s the part that matters the most. It’s the pride in being myself that makes me want to be able to express it, but that doesn’t change who I fundamentally am. Yet, that expression really is so important. No one should have to hide who they are, even if it is something that is passing or minor. On the one hand, I can adopt the cloak of privilege, appearing as a tall, relatively thin white male, but on the other, I don’t really want to express as the last of those. I don’t want to co-opt what it means to be feminine either, as I cannot (and will not) ever experience that, either.

So, yeah. There will be a lot to sift through should I ever wake up, dazed and unaware, in a hospital bed, but one of the things I will indeed do is feel my legs and my chin, trying to picture how I am expressing in that blurry moment.