The Dress I Would Have Worn On My Graduation Day Set The Standard For A Woman Of Words

Hey everyone I can’t believe it but it really is 16 years ago today that i made my graduation and after four years of both pleasure and pain i left the University of Strathclyde with a BA Honours  Degree in Geography and Politics.  As for what grade  I got well just lets say it was what we Strathclyders call a Desmond in other words a 2/2

Of course i know i didn’t study anywhere near as hard as  could especially from the end of the first year to the middle of my third when I knew I had to focus to get in to honours year and lets say I had my reasons  well I was trying to fit in and keep wearing an ill fitting mask which meant pretending to be something or perhaps i should say someone i really had no desire to be. Yes university life can be tough at the best of times with what seems like endless rounds of lectures, essay’s, and tutorials . So when you are trying to keep up a pretence of something in the name of bonding and socialising then living a secret life becomes an extra burden as you are always having to deal with the fear of being found out. Whether we want this to happen or not, it almost always does. Fortunately admitting i was trans became easier both to others and more importantly to myself.

From then on I operated on a don’t ask tell kind of policy but i was always up front with those who did have questions. As i look back on my graduation, my only regret was that it was in my pre transition days, and though I enjoyed the day immensely I know it would have been so much greater had i walked up those steps as the confident self assured woman i am today.

So now i’ve yapped on for a while I can’t help but wonder what I would have worn to my graduation had I had the chance to show the world the real me?  This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about this recently, it after all it is that time of year when undergrads become graduates with all the celebrations that brings. Though gradution balls are fantastic events there is I think   nothing quite like the graduation ceremony, representing as it does the formal closure of an important chapter in your life.

This is why the graduation dress is apart from your wedding dress the most important dress you will ever wear. It is for this reason I know that had I had the chance to graduate as the woman am now I know myself to be there is no doubt I would have gone for a formal look suitable for such an occasion.      

As for what style I my dress would have been, I think I would have chosen a mid length dress and teamed it up with sand coloured tights and black shoes with a wee diamante pattern, Well I saw  Joanne Black wearing a wine midi dress a week later as I walked through the Buchanan Galleries and she looked amazing in it. This however is Joanne and she is one those lucky women who actually could look good wearing a bin liner.  I however would have needed a classy outfit for such an important day, A day when I and my coursemates with whom I shared an amazing four year rollercoaster of a journey gained a fitting reward for all our hard work and in some cases even harder partying. Of course as a woman of discretion i would never say this too loudly but of our year’s best partygoers was also one of brightest stars in the class of 99 and today is a BBC sports reporter. The man concerned is also one of the most genuine guys you could ever hope to meet. I know from first hand experience how true this is, as in the winter of 96 he overheard someone who wasn’t even at the University make a transphobic comment which was quite clearly aimed at me. though at that stage I hadn’t come out to anyone and with an attitude like that it is I have to say hardly surprising.

On hearing this comment, the gentleman concerned and make no mistake about it he is one, squared up to this rather average looking man child and believe me
I’m being charitable rather than than bitchy in my all too accurate discription of this character and two minutes later with issue in his words sorted and resolved we were free to get on with our night.
Would he have given me a dance at our graduation ball a few days before the ceremony? I think he probably would in the same way you would dance with your best friend’s big sister at a wedding.

As for the others who shared my graduation day I know one guy has went on become a Labour councillor and others who have made their marks in professions from politics to law and in some cases academia. Indeed I’m still in touch with af few of the girls from those carefree days and I also maintain a level of contact with one or two of the boys though it has to be said this is not nearly as frequent nor indeed did I expect it to be. Well I always was and ever shall be more at home in the company of women. To me it is as natural as the dawning of the morning.

You know as I end my annual journey down memory lane, I will no doubt prepare myself for the next adventures along life’s often bumpy road. I will do this filled with that same optimism I had in September 1995 when I started my freshers week and the sense of achievement I had on graduation day four years later.  As I pause to reflect on that day all those years ago, I think about the dress I would have worn to graduation and believe that the moral of the story isn’t really about the dress itself but rather the standards it set me. It was if you like a benchmark for the woman I am because it let me see perhaps for first time the kind of woman I always actually was and that is a woman of words. Well as a poet, blogger, poltical activist, and all round gabby wee madam there are few if any of my coursemates who would argue with that description.

Love And Best Wishes.

Gayle X 


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