My closet is full. My closet is the clothes-falling-off-hanger-onto-suitcases kind of full. Sometimes I can empty and organize it — but when guests come over, things all go back in.
The first time I brought my partner to my place, I asked them to wait outside my bedroom — I wanted to make sure that there was nothing inside that I didn’t want them to see.
“Sorry,” I said, after I finished putting my things away. “I just didn’t want you to see all the shit I had on my floor.”
“Ooo hiding in the closet? You know you can tell me anything Britt.” They quipped with a smirk.
I couldn’t help but smile and roll my eyes.
My closet is the secrets-stuffed-in-socks drawers kind of full. Pieces of me that require explanation and backstory so I choose to keep them hidden instead.
When I was 7 years old, I wanted to be a boy. I knew I already was a boy, but for some reason no one else seemed to know.
I asked my parents if I could be one, because I thought it was simple. Gender at this age felt like choosing what side of the classroom to play on: the boy side or the girl side. The boys were my brothers — who I had grown up wanting to be like — and the girls were the dresses that my mom made me wear to church and the tights that wouldn’t fit me properly.
Being a boy meant that people would tell me I was strong. That I’d grow up to be an athlete. Being a girl meant that I wouldn’t be. My perspective of gender was based off of how I was treated and how I wanted to be treated.
So when I talked to my parents, they didn’t think too much about it.
“You’re a tomboy Britt,” my Dad had said, “Being a boy is more than just playing sports and going into the boy’s washroom.”
“You can still play sports and be a girl,” my mom added. I thought about playing on the girls’ team and I knew that it didn’t feel right.
“I just don’t want to be a girl.”
After pushing and pushing, I learned that I “couldn’t” be a boy because I didn’t have a penis. Growing up in a catholic family, I was raised thinking that “God” does everything for a reason. I thought that God made me a girl and that I had to accept that and embrace it to be considered “good”.
I tell this story to my partner one day while we’re lying on my bed. I’m in a pink slip that I bring out of my closet when I want to be more feminine with them during sex. I want them to know that I can be feminine and masculine and somewhere in between, and I worry about what they’d think of me being anything other than feminine.
“You’d be a hot guy,” they say automatically, running their fingers through my hair.
“I know I would,” I smile.
I show them the fuckboy selfies that I keep on my phone, and the binder in my closet that has never fit over my chest. I show them the packer that is three shades too light for my skin. They put it on and we make jokes about how neither of us really knows what a flaccid dick is supposed to look like.
“I love you,” they tell me.
After that day, I stop hiding the binder and packer in my closet.
My closet is the dresses-over-button down shirts-over-hoodies kind of full. Versions of me that I cycle through every few days because I don’t want to commit to one look.
“Can I wear a collared shirt under overalls?” I asked my partner one morning.
“Yeah it makes you look like a hot Super Mario character,” they tell me, kissing me on the cheek.
My partner says that I have big dick energy when I wear my overalls. Both of us live our lives somewhere in between the spectrum of gender identity — that sometimes means subverting the gender binary and other times ironically subscribing to it.
Every day, I think of gender and how I want to be seen by others and by myself. And even though my expression is sometimes performative, it is also undefined and unfiltered.
My floor is an absolute fucking mess at the moment. My partner thinks I’ve become too comfortable with them.
“Maybe put some shit away,” they joke.
“I thought you wanted me to show you everything,” I wink back at them.
“You can’t come out of the closet if you’re tripping over all the dicks on your floor,” they say.
I look at my closet, and all of the things that I used to shove away in there, and how good it felt to take it all out.
But they do have a point. Maybe I’ll get some shelves instead.