Every once in a while there are big military exercises here in Sweden that I participate in for different reasons. Most of them are so called staff exercises which means that the main focus is on working inside a simulated military HQ. All of the activities are indoor around computers and wyteboards but for some reason all participants are required to wear their battle dress uniform (BDU). Since I am part of the air force it means wearing the standard green camouflage uniform that most of the army uses every day. The last time I wore the BDU for a longer time was during an experiment we had in Enköping in late 2006 and I remembered that I really did not like that because I did not feel comfortable in that. Back then I had started living full time a year before and I soo enjoyed wearing my standard blue air force uniform with a skirt and high heels. My outfit have always been important to me because it is a way to make sure that I pass as the woman I am in different situations but I also realize that if I feel comfortable with my looks I get more secure. When I feel secure I think I really expresses my true self even better which makes the everyday life easier.
So when this exercise started I thought I had most of that behind me. However, even on day one when I was wearing my blue uniform I felt that walking around the exercise area was a bit different from my regular office at the armed forces experimentation center. People were looking at me more and it was not the usual friendly smile. I sat at a briefing and an officer from another country was staring at my for really long times. Made me feel rather uncomfortable actually. I realized that this was probably the true face of the Armed Forces and that I have been very lucky with my postings so far. I realize that a lot of this is just in my head but I have over the years developed a rather good sense of how people react on me. Maybe even some of the people looking at me did it because I am a woman and possibly even a good-looking one. However, I have a sense that the looks would have been a bit different from the ones I got.
So when I wore my green uniform the next day it became even worse since I felt uncomfortable in it. Clunky boots and loose fitting clothes does not exactly feel feminine. I almost felt that it was unfair, like I wanted to tell people that I normally look much better (more feminine). I think it also hampers my work a bit since I will have harder time reaching people and being able to discuss things that is vital for my work. Harder either because people actually are a bit wary of me or because I feel insecure and avoid approaching people some times. At the first day I even avoided going to the mess hall to eat because I feared that would not be able to handle the looks. However, after I got some company from some of my colleagues at the center it went just fine the day after. It bothers me that this happens because I really like working the Armed Forces and I want to be a capable officer. I tried talking with some of my colleagues about this because for me that is usually what it takes to feel better. Just being able to voice my frustration. But I really have to expressively ask for it.
I have tried to be open about my life all the time and at the team-building I told the whole department that there were some occasions where I feel a bit uncomfortable because of other people. So I decided to bring this up at the morning brief we had in our small cell and I told them that I would most likely need a pat in the back once in a while since I thought this environment was a bit tougher than usual. However, nothing happened. No one asked me how I was doing even once. And that is usually all that needs to be done. I had to bring the subject up myself which I did once and it worked.
So I was not feeling my best when I had some trouble with my accommodation. Usually at large exercises like this only the most high ranking officers are allowed to live at a hotel. However, one of my superiors had arranged a room for me but it was some mix up with the bookings and suddenly I was offered a room at a place called the Seahorse. I knew it was a boat but nothing more about it standards. Later in the afternoon I looked it up on the internet and found out that it was a hostel. So, that is no problem for a military officer, right? Better than living in the barracks like all the others. Well, I have so far special needs. I need to do my makeup, fix my hairpiece and that takes an hour or so. Does not work well in a hostel where 20-25 people share two small bathrooms. I am not comfortable running around naked yet either. I think I need my breast augmentation surgery before that, Finally I have to do my daily dilation training which I think requires having a bathroom in my room in order to avoid running around with a dildo in my hand. So, when I realized all of this I fell into tears in my office. I sat there alone crying for some time and realized that I was not crying only for this situation but also because I felt so clearly that I was not cut-out for the harsh environment of international work any longer. This is so sad because I am so passionate for what I do in the Armed Forces right now so it was a bit of chock to feel like this.
Things then went better and I had some nice talks even with old classmates which made me feel good. The exercise turned out rather good in the end and possibly it was even good for me to cry a little bit and let this out. Clearly I have to work on what I feel both in green (male-looking) clothes as well as how I handle things in large crowds of unknown people at work.