When I open Facebook in the morning, I’m often shown one of those Facebook Memories.

What used to be an amusing trip down memory lane for me, has now become a bit of a minefield. Most of the time I get cute photos of my kids when they were smaller, or cats doing funny things. But occasionally—like this morning—I get shown a photo of me from what I like to think of as one of my overcompensation phases, and those make me shudder.

Spoiler: This isn’t me.

One of the things that I often feel I have to justify as a transman who came out late in life, and who appeared to live very happily as female for many years, is how it’s possible that I didn’t know sooner.

But you used to be so feminine…

To be fair, I spent 90% of my time in jeans and hoodies, but yes. There were times that I wore dresses and makeup, and that’s what people often remember about me.

I can’t share the photo that popped up this morning, because I deleted it in a kneejerk reaction. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it. You can’t transition at age forty-five and realistically expect to delete your entire female history—and I don’t want to. But that particular picture made me uncomfortable so it’s gone, which is a shame really because it’s a perfect example of how what you see on the outside often bears no relation to what was going on on the inside.

What the world saw was a smiling woman dressed for a party in a short colourful dress, jewellery, makeup and high heeled boots.

But what I remember was that I never really liked that dress because it was too ‘girly’ and felt completely wrong on me.

I remember the jewellery felt weird and tacky and ‘too much.’

I remember those boots were too high, too tight around my toes, and made a clacking sound as I walked that made me feel self conscious.

I remember that whenever I made the effort to dress in something feminine for a party, I always felt like a kid in dressing up clothes, or a man in drag.

And most of all, I remember a deep sense of shame that I was ‘crap at being female’ and wondering why that was.

Well now I know. And next time I wear heels? I really will be a man in drag 😉

TL;DR: Never assume you know what’s going on in someone’s head. There is no such thing as ‘not trans enough,’ and overcompensation is a thing that happens.

Edited to add: I do realise that plenty of cis women don’t enjoy wearing very feminine clothes and that doesn’t mean they’re all transmen in denial. I’m not casting aspersions on anyone’s femininity here, just blogging about my own personal journey.