I had a brush with a dysphoria inducing moment this week on deployment.   Heck it wasn’t a brush it was a full contact moment, I suppose.  It started out with being housed at an army base at the start of the deployment.  Not so much just being at the army base, which is enough for some people I suppose; rather the army’s approach to showering.  I’m sure some of you already know where I’m headed with this, given the standard trans narrative of being the man’s man, service in the army included.  Yes, the dreaded group shower environment.  For those of you not so enlightened, I’m referring to the absolute lack of privacy afforded in the average army barracks shower.

I’ll wait for the collective shudder to pass.

Given it was our first night of deployment, I politely declined the opportunity.  To understand, my rule on deployments is if I can shower at least every other day I’m doing good.  So given that I’d recently showered, by that metric, I was safe – for now.  As I laid in my bunk considering my options, I knew at some point I would have to face my fears and shower.  Personal hygene aside, I knew that no one I deployed with was going to be happy if I didn’t shower the entire time we were on deployment.

Thankfully the next day came and we redeployed into New York, Brooklyn to be exact if you’re interested.  A couple days later the mobile showers arrived.  As an aside, anything on deployment is always expected to happen the next day, such as the arrival of the mobile showers, even if the next day isn’t until several days later as it were.  Also thankfully the mobile showers afforded enough privacy that I could shower without having to expose my body, full of contradictions as it is.  While I can now tell you a mobile shower forces you to focus on the most important dirty parts, it was a short lived (read one time) adventure.

We marched forward and were able to secure better accomodations, entirely because we were again redeployed, at a police academy – including hot (like scalding hot) showers!  Of course the powers that be give with one hand and take with the other, including the loss of privacy once again.  Meanwhile, my very understanding partner was kind enough to observe “Dude if you’re going to take a shower, I’d go now, there’s no one in there.”  I grabbed my gear and off I went.

Irony what it is, by the time I made it to the showers I wasn’t alone.  I may not understand male culture, but I understand enough to know I was committed at that point, you can’t just turn around and walk out once you’ve already stepped in it.  I did what  I could to take my time getting undressed and ready to get in the shower, hoping they would clear out before I had to be naked in front of others.  No such luck.

With some level of fear, I stepped into the shower room (yes it was room sized at least) and again, understanding that much of the “guy code” I knew not to shower too close to anyone else.  The most amazing thing was, no one seemed to notice, they definitely didn’t say anything if they did.  Though I can’t help but seem to think they did exit quickly after I entered.

In the end it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I thought it would be – though it did give me insight to a problem to consider once I do transition fully.  Though, I did feel some sense of relief that another female in my task force, cisgendered as she was, was equally reluctant to shower with seven other females already in the female showers.  I take it as some sense of strength that we both were reserved about exposing our bodies – though for different reasons.

I showered again this morning, much more at ease.  I suppose on the road to transition, it served to be a valuable lesson that could have otherwise gone unlearned.