Last week, one facet of my field’s big academic conference that tested me and my embodiment was the sheer fact that I was no longer isolated in my own department or my car or small places of my choosing, but that I was attending a conference composed mostly of women attendees. Even though I’ve been Joyce for almost a year, I can’t say that I’ve had to wait in line for the bathroom before. I’ve never been in a large gathering of women for days on end where I had no choice but to dive in and use the facilities.

It sounds small, I know, but you can imagine the paranoia someone with less confidence with me might have (and I’m speaking ironically, I hope you realize), jumping in line with 20 other women to use the bathroom, milling around in the bathroom chatting, and tidying up hair and face before going back out. The tiny, paranoid voice in my head occasionally said to me, “You need to lay low — they all know you’re a man in a dress, but they’re humoring you. If you blow it, they’ll call the tranny police on you.”

But this fear, as with so many other fears I’ve felt in this transition, was groundless. The more you do it, the less gargantuan it all seems until by the end of the conference, I had really banished the little negative voice from my head.

I still assume everyone knows who and what I am, but I care less and less whether that’s true or not. I have slowly replaced the tentativeness I felt in becoming Joyce with increasing confidence, and maybe this is what girls experience during adolescence as they venture out and learn how to engage the wider world.