Saturday, July 20, 2024

Sink or Swim

Image from Trans Wellness Event. 
Jessie Hart Archives. 

Many times when I first entered the world as a new cross dresser or femininized male, I wondered if I was going to sink or swim.  

Leaving the mirror (who never lied to me) was difficult because the public didn't lie either and let me know if I blended in with other women or looked like a clown. Of course when I was stared at or laughed at I sank to depths of depression as I thought I was in too deep and would never make it to my transgender dreams. 

I discovered sometimes the hard way when I was out in the world, I could not turn back and needed to stick it out, even when the going got tough. It included the times that got so bad when I was laughed at. Then, something deep inside of me kept saying move on because times would get better. Similar to when I learned to swim at an early age, I gained confidence in the water and I began to swim onwards and learned women's fashion, hair and makeup which came closer to flattering me. 

Often my biggest problem was myself. My old male ego was telling me I needed to try to look a certain way when the opposite was true. I needed to blend in with other women in the venues I was going to which was especially important when I made it out of the gay venues I was going to and into the world I was used to as a man. Perhaps I was mistaken for a drag queen in the gay bars because I was dressing as one. Slowly but surely I started to be accepted as a transgender woman in the preferred venues I went out to and I began to swim with the big girls. By doing so I accepted the extra challenge of communicating with them. Far beyond just appearing as one of them.

As I always say, women lead a much more layered lives than men and here I was right in the middle of them trying to swim with the current. Which at times was difficult to do. I had so much to learn in a very short period of time. In order to not sink in the situation I was in  It took me tons of lonely soul searching to figure out if I was moving my life in the right direction and was losing all my white male privileges worth it. Of course you know I knew it was and I kept swimming towards my dream of living as a transgender woman. 

I was lucky when women along the way threw me life jackets to keep me afloat in my time of need. Their efforts just helped me to decide somehow I wanted to be more like them. If I survived my male to female gender transition, maybe then I could pay it forward and help other novice transgender women. Which is the primary reason I write. Most certainly I am biased but I think crossing the gender frontier is one of the most difficult tasks a human can undertake, so any assistance is good assistance Especially when we are swimming against the tide of society. 

Hopefully, if you are becoming tired or confused during your gender swim, I can throw you my version of a life jacket or boat. You can beat society's system and succeed if you are careful and keep trying. I sank so low once I tried severe self harm (suicide) to myself and was lucky I made it to the surface and survived. I bring it up simply as an example for those who think being transgender is some sort of a choice. It's what happens when trans women or men are round pegs being forced into square holes and never given the chance to sink or swim.

There are many ways to find your way to womanhood as a transgender woman, you just need to be patient until you find your path.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Finding your Happy Place

From the Jessie Hart Archives 

 As a transgender woman or trans man, it is often very difficult to find your happy place.

A happy place can often be called gender euphoria for all of us who suffer from gender dysphoria. If you don't know, dysphoria is the often evil process of hating the gender you were born in. After all these  years, I still dread the first look in the mirror every morning. Who will I see looking back? My same old masculine self, or a femininized version of him. Some mornings I land in my happy place and others I don't. I usually settle on a middle point until I am done with the mirror.  On occasion too, I suffer from having an impostor syndrome. When I think do I even belong here at all. Happily, the syndrome goes now away quickly because I know I have earned my place as a transgender woman.

Earning my place was never easy as I never inherited any feminine characteristics to start with. What I did have was a testosterone damaged body to work with. The only positives I had to work with were the compliments I received  on my freshly shaven legs at Halloween parties.  Then I had the tendency to overdue it when I explored feminine fashion. I thought I should emphasize my positives such as my legs and at the same time play down my body negatives such as a thick torso. All of it led to massive fashion mistakes before I learned to dress to blend in with the other women I encountered in public. I lived through all of those and found a happy place I could live with.

Around this time was when my happy place location started to change and move around. It shifted from appearance only into a personality based place. Mainly because, suddenly I was closely interacting with the public as a trans woman. It all meant so much more to me than my days as a casual cross dresser. All I know was I was up to the challenge and enjoyed my new happy place everytime it presented itself to me. Outside of a few instances of impostor syndrome, I was learning more and more I could indeed live my dream of being a transgender woman in the world. It turned out my happy place did exist in the feminine world and more and more I wanted out of my old boring male existence. 

Still I had a lot of climbing to do to rid myself of the old baggage I needed to lose to transition. I wondered at the time what I would do about everything I loved in life such as my daughter, (hobbies such as sports) and what was left of my business. It turned out destiny took it's own course with my baggage. My daughter supported me completely while my brother rejected me, so I was the recipient of the best part of the deal. As far as my business went, it mercifully closed due to a weakened economy and other factors, leaving me close to having an early retirement. As far as hobbies went, ironically I found a group of women who were as passionate as I was about sports, so I had friends to watch our favorite games with. So as you can tell, outside of the obvious gender issues, I was able to restart my happy place without a whole lot of extra effort. 

When I found my new happy place, it felt so natural I wondered why I did not pursue it earlier. I know early on I was into my appearance as a woman completely and often missed the basics of movement and communication to further my femininity. It turned out I did not have to worry because the deeper I delved into my new life, the more fluid and natural I became. Practice made perfect in so many ways along with the fact I became secure into who I was. When I did, I didn't care what others thought of me and my confidence as a trans woman increased.

It turned out, destiny took it's time but ultimately led me the right direction.    

Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Gender Waltz

Image from Clarisse Meyer
on UnSplash

Since the beginning of time, the two binary genders have done a special dance with each other. 

Being transgender, I have been fortunate to have seen and experienced dancing from both sides of the spectrum. Before I go any farther, I do need to say I am a terrible dancer. In fact, the only time I have tried to dance was when I was so intoxicated I could barely stand up. Sadly, there were recordings made of my dancing struggles.

Certainly, my struggles with dancing were with women . I still tried but since I was so shy, I had very few interactions with girls or women at all. No dancing for me outside of the lessons my Mom made me take. It made it worse as I was at the embarrassing age when many girls were taller than the boys. We learned such trendy dances way back then such as the Cha-Cha as I remember. The grand experiment failed and immediately, I tried to put the entire experience behind me.

Of course gender waltz's go way past just real live dances. Just one of the main ones is inter-gender communication. When the book came out called Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and appeared on the book stands, I wondered where was I from? It took me years to figure it out. I was from neither. Regardless, it did not take a genius to figure out there are very big differences in the genders other than biological. It is the reason, men and women have such a difficult time understanding each other.

Interestingly, the differences between  the genders extend to what friends we choose. In my case, since I grew up with only other males in my neighborhood, early on all my friends were boys. However, as I grew older, the vast majority of my friends were with women and I had very few close male friends at all. I guess deep down, I was getting ready for my future. 

Recently, I read a post from another transgender woman how she vastly approved having men friends over women. Why? Because she didn't  really like the interaction with other women including the body language on how they crossed their legs  all the way down to how they were sitting. In addition, she didn't enjoy the feminine give and take very much. She much more preferred to talk to men. In my case, I waltzed in the opposite direction. I didn't like the reaction I was receiving from men when I talked to them as a transgender woman. So I resorted back to when I was a guy and was able to communicate the best I could with the women around me. It was all I could do to survive in a new gender world. 

None of my new dance was easy to do. Even though it felt more natural to me. With women, especially, I needed to try to judge what they were really trying to say to me, often in a round about way. Was a compliment really a compliment or merely an opening to try to find out something else about me. I learned the hard way how to dance in a new world not as a cross dresser but as a novice transgender woman. Who knows, maybe other women sensed my innocent approach and it helped me to be accepted. Until the newness of meeting a transgender woman wore off and life resumed. 

Outside of a few exceptions, I rarely had many interactions with men I sought out and was accepted into a world of women. I enjoyed my new dance so much and wanted it to go on forever and so far, without a few exceptions, it has. Maybe I was just trying too hard to dance the wrong way after all. 

  

 

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Exploring my Passions

Alzheimer's Pride Shirt.




Recently, I received a message from a statewide Ohio LGBTQ publication concerning my passion to help any way I can with the Alzheimer's Association. As I write about often, I serve on the Greater Cincinnati Alzheimer's diversity council and look at it as a way I can pay back to the time when my Dad passed away from dementia. 

If I am chosen for an interview this coming Friday, I will be able to express my paranoia concerning what may happen to me if I contract the same disease my Dad did. Not only do I want to not lose all the work I put into living as my authentic feminine self, I certainly don't want to bring any extra pressure needlessly to my family care givers over my gender issues.  

Of course I hope the publication follows through on writing an article  about the impact of Alzheimer's on the aging transgender population which is largely invisible, I look at it as the least I can do.

On another outreach topic, I heard back from several readers on my post concerning doing LGBTQ or transgender support groups at the Dayton, Ohio Veterans Administration hospital. Most of which pointed out their lack of real feedback from the group. I agree but point out having a LGBTQ group is often having a too wide of a base. For example, the average lesbian or gay person does not have the same lifestyle as a transgender person may have. In my opinion, it is why the groups I was a part of never maintained any critical mass of participants. 

Even still, I decided to join this new group which starts in August to see what happens. And to see if there are any new participants I don't know. Plus, I may get updates on those transgender women who had just started gender affirming hormones when I had saw them last. It would be interesting to see the changes which occurred. Often in these groups I don't say much and hope I can just serve as an example of transgender survival in the world. 

As with anything else, I will follow up with all of these upcoming happenings and keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

There is Always a Transition

 

Archive
image
Jessie Hart

In an expansion of yesterday's post, today, I am beginning a post on the extra transitions we go through in life. Many are relatable to everyday life, some are not. Everyone goes through changes or transitions. For example when and if they ever become parents.

My biggest transition came when I crossed the gender frontier from viewing myself as a cross dresser I could possibly live without to a fulltime life as a transgender woman. My transition also came along when I was negotiating raising a daughter, building my career and attempting to outrun myself. Life became very busy as I struggled to find myself. I resorted to therapy to try to balance my mental health. Along the therapy path, I was diagnosed with a Bipolar depression disorder to add on to my gender dysphoria which was dominating my life. Through medication I take to this day, I am able to control my depression and my gender dysphoria became much better when I finally decided to fully leave my gender closet. 

As I lived on, maybe I should have taken up the motto, "Later is Greater" as I took my time exploring the possibilities of living a totally femininized life. My excuse is I wanted to make sure I had it all right before I risked it all and left my male self behind. Eventually, I learned from all the trips I was making out the door of our house, doing the best I could to blend into the world as a woman, transgender or not. Then, another transition was facing me head on. It was the great leap from being an experimenter to being a doer or practitioner of being feminine. I took years of watching and learning to understand what my second wife was telling me when she said I didn't know anything about being a woman. Not only was she right, she did did her best to hold me back from learning what she was talking about. There was no way she wanted to show me much about what truly being a woman was all about. Instead, she persisted in calling me the "Pretty, pretty princess."

Her failure to help me just pushed me farther and farther towards my next transition which was a huge one. The more I settled on a feminine look and style I liked, people I previously didn't know began to recognize me and I was forced to begin to build a whole new life as a trans woman. Primarily it meant I needed to communicate with the world with tools which were totally foreign to me. Trying my best to develop a softer feminine sounding tone was a real challenge along with adjusting to a society of women where passive aggressive behavior was the rule. There were too many times I suffered when I didn't perceive exactly where the attack on me was coming from. Instead of usual male frontal attack I was used to, I needed to start watching my back. Communication with the world was a huge part of my next gender transition. 

After I thought I had the communication and appearance transitions down, seemingly there was another challenge awaiting me at every turn. Who knew it could be so difficult to cross the gender divide? I was often frustrated when the smallest details would trip me up, not to mention the big ones such as the ill advised use of water balloons as breast forms. The balloons worked well enough until one exploded on me one night in a venue I often went to. Fortunately, I was on my way to the woman's rest room when it happened and it was empty. I was able to clean up,  quietly finish my drink and leave with no one noticing me, I was wearing a loose fitting top so no one saw or mentioned the one breasted wet woman on her way out of the venue. Needless to say, my next investment was silicone breast forms. 

As I near my seventy fifth birthday. transitions are harder to come by yet more meaningful These days, I mostly just present as old. Plus, my ultimate paranoia of having to go to assisted living and having my gender attacked looms large. As I always say, I need to do my best not to dwell on the future and live in the present. 

None of us control the final transition, no matter how much money or power we have. It is up to any higher power you believe in to make it happen..   

Monday, July 15, 2024

Going Through the Motions

Image from Dibakatur Roy 
on UnSplash.

Looking back at my fifty plus years of life as a cross dresser, I wonder when and how I crossed the gender barrier into being a transgender woman.

Also, how many years did I spend just going through the motion to arrive at my destination. I started with going through what I call now my mirror worship period. During this time, I couldn't wait for any opportunity I had to slip away from my boring, unwanted male life to slip into what feminine fashion and makeup I could find which fit me. Invariably, the mirror would give me positive feedback until I could come back for more. 

I am guessing now but I think approximately twenty years or so went by before I was brave enough to leave the mirror behind and see what if anything the world had to offer a novice cross dresser. On the other hand,  I know it took me longer than the two decades to figure out my truth. I was just going through the motions as a cross dresser and my gender issues ran much more deeper than just wanting to put on a dress and walk in front of the mirror. After years and years of doing the same thing, for some reason something clicked in me which made sense but at the same time was very scary.

It was the time I decided to find out if I could go co-exist with a group of women as a woman in their own territory. Previously, I had scouted out the venue I wanted to go to and when I wanted to try out my idea. It was the "Friday's" I write about often and yes I was petrified for several reasons. What if I did not make it and was ridiculed or maybe worse yet, what if I did and my life would change forever. If I did make it, I knew I could never go back to just going through the motions of being a part-time cross dresser. I was so much more. 

Finally, I got in so deep with me thinking I was transgender I reversed all of my gender thinking. Primarily I wasn't a man cross dressing as a woman at all I was a woman cross dressing as a man. Or, I was just going through the motions of being a male because I was born into it and was just attempting to get by until I could change my life for the better and live as a transgender woman. It represented a seismic change in my thinking on how I was going to live my life. 

By the time I was sixty, I could not take all the self destructive behavior I was experiencing any longer and decided to cross the gender frontier and live as a transgender woman. I embraced all my new gender thinking and set out to discover all I had missed by living my life as a man. Since my inner feminine soul had been observing my life and struggles the whole time, surprises were kept to a minimum. It turned out she was plotting all along how she would live once she got the chance. 

The last major step my male self gave her was going to the doctor and getting approved for gender affirming hormones. HRT just helped to further sync up what I thought I needed to be with what I actually was. Or, I thought I needed any help I could with femininizing my body to help me blend in with the world.

Of course, now I feel as if I was robbed of my life when I was going through the motions of being a man. On the other hand, I made the best of an unfortunate mistake. I gained a daughter, built a solid career and even survived my tour in the Army, so it all could have been so much worse as I battled my own gender dysphoria. It turned out, being transgender just led me into going through more motions than most people.   


Sunday, July 14, 2024

A Trans Woman's Intuition

Anniversary Image 
from the Jessie Hart Archives

The world makes a big deal about woman's intuition, as they should 

I feel women as a whole have a deeper understanding of the world than men do. I have always believed women live a more layered life than men which leads to a need for more intuition. Not to mention a less secure life than men when it comes to personal security. Simply put, women have to learn at an early age the problems they could face dealing with toxic males. 

Add to all of that and you can imagine (or have experienced) the problems a transgender woman can face. We have to experience the impact of toxic men and toxic women also.  Lately it seems the anti-transgender societal atmosphere has made it a necessity for trans people to develop their internal intuition more effectively just to survive.

Early on, I was just so starved for male attention, I put myself into dangerous situations. I equated a man's attention into a validation of me as a woman. Fortunately, I was able to live through that portion of my life without any serious harm coming to me. Even though I barely escaped on occasion. I can not claim all of the credit for my escapes as I had other cis-women around me who helped. I can remember one night in particular when a man approached me at the bar in one of the regular venues I was a guest. When the server at the bar saw me and the man approach she did not say anything. Instead she just gave me a look which in no uncertain terms said to be careful. I took her advice, paid my bill and took off before he came back around to me. 

Also, toxic men are attracted to transgender women because they somehow think we are desperate for male attention. Which is the reason so many lonely trans women react to scammers on social media sites. Conservatively, I think I receive two or three scam requests a week from generals and doctors who happen to be widowed. I laugh them off and quickly block them. It never takes much intuition to know where they are coming from.

It is a different story in the real world of course. When women as a whole are warned to be so careful just when they are out to socialize. These days, women have to protect their drinks and make sure they go out with friends. Just another example of how a woman's intuition comes in handy. 

I think when I transitioned into a woman's world, gender affirming hormones aided my progression. In fact, I just answered a question from my transgender grandchild about my favorite smells. During my answer, I made sure I brought up the influence of the femininizing hormones on my sense of smell. One of the first big inner changes I experienced on HRT was the better sense of smell I realized. I am interested to see what reaction (if any) I receive. 

Most certainly I learned a transgender woman's intuition was a priority in order to survive. My inner woman, who waited so long to live her life in the world, knew it also. I learned when she took control how easy it was to let her take the reigns of my life. Early on she proved she knew what to do when she had the chance. I also learned I needed to be better than the average cis-woman. I did not have any of the benefits of growing up as a young girl. Catching up on the fly was often very difficult to do. Little did I know I could benefit from my old male life and use the lessons to help me when I jumped into the girls' sandbox.

Knowing where guys were coming from helped me to get by in the dating world on the very few occasions when I decided to enter it. I found I needed any advantage I could hold to help my gender life along. Including a better knowledge of my transgender intuition. 

 

Saturday, July 13, 2024

More LGBTQ Outreach


Image from Brian Wangenheim on UnSplash



Recently I received a call from a therapist at the Dayton, Ohio Veterans Administration hospital. It turns out he is the replacement for my long time therapist who left some time ago. I was fortunate to have had her help for nearly a dozen years.

She was a huge help along the way in me being able to separate my bi-polar issues from my transgender ones. Not to mention all the assistance she provided with the paperwork I needed to change my legal markers from male to female with the government and the VA. Plus she talked me off the ledge more than once when I needed advice pertaining to my transgender lifestyle.

Another one of the legacies my therapist left behind was a series of LGBTQ support groups which invariably leaned towards being transgender dominated. Along the way, over the years, I ran across more than a couple unique transgender personalities.  Some of which I wonder what happened to them and some I didn't. 

It turns out now I may be able to have my chance to see them again in a new LGBTQ support group being put together by a therapist I have never met which will start in August. That means I will now have two outreach groups to participate in per month. The new VA group and the Greater Cincinnati Alzheimer's diversity council. I look forward to spreading the transgender word anyway I can to help anyone I can.

Now, more than ever before, with problem programs looming such as Project 2025, it is time for the trans community to be united before the election. In fact, I had quite the scary discussion with my daughter at last week's birthday party. During the festivities, I learned my transgender grandchild will be leaving The Ohio State University this winter with a degree in nuclear engineering and will be headed to Maine next year for her first job. So any hic-cups with a certain ex-president would not be welcomed. 

In the meantime, I get frustrated when all I can do is reach out to the groups I do and then write about it. Maybe through the other groups, I can finally network out and try to do more.   

Friday, July 12, 2024

Trans Peaks and Valleys

Image from the
Jessie Hart Archives.

Lifetime as a whole presents us with many peaks and valleys to negotiate.

Since I am transgender and always wanted to be a woman, my peaks and valleys often revolved around times when I came out as my authentic self in the world. Very early on, sadly, there were more frequent valleys than peaks as I learned to survive in the public as a novice cross dresser or transgender woman. I vividly remember too many times when I came home sobbing when I was laughed at. I don't remember now how I survived the dark times and continued to move forward. 

As I did move forward, there were other peaks in my life such as when my only child was born. When she arrived, my existence changed forever. Plus, I wondered how having a new person in the world would effect my gender desires. In many ways, I thought it was poetic justice when I had a girl. For some reason, deep down, I thought I could understand a girl better than a boy.  Since my daughter turned out the way she did, maybe I was right.

A big problem I had with my peaks and valleys was staying in one place long enough to actually understand if I was doing anything right. As I constantly changed jobs and moved my small family, I gave my second wife a hard way to go when I tried to chase myself. I am amazed we made it through twenty five years. 

Another problem I had was when I needed to come down off the gender peaks when I encountered them. Gender euphoria was so rare, I wanted to hang on to it as long as I could. When I couldn't I would become frustrated and ultimately mean around my family and co-workers. 

The more I progressed in my gender transition the more extreme the effort to climb out of the valleys became. The major problem was I didn't feel increasingly secure in my old male role and at the same time, I was feeling more and more natural as my femininized self. Which again caused me great frustration when I fell deeper into my valley. At several points I was so deep, I needed therapy to help me restore my mental health. Therapy on occasion did help me climb up to an acceptable level of a peak. When I was smart enough to actually take the therapist's advice. 

It turned out my fear of heights carried over to my transgender issues. The better I became at existing as a woman in public, I was scared. Primarily because for the first time in my life it seemed to be a real possibility I could reach my dream of actually living as a transgender woman. As I looked down on my previous male life, leaving it scared me. What would I do about  losing all of my white male privileges and then having to start all over again. At the time, the only female privilege I could see was a man opening a door for me. Which I later found to be false as there were other feminine benefits I had yet to experience as I climbed my gender peak. 

Finally, at the age of sixty, I could take the pressure of the climb no longer and I decided to stop all aspects of my old male life. I was taking gender affirming hormones to take me to the next step, my mental health was improving and for once I could see my life clearly as a transgender woman. So even though I needed to take a leap of faith off a cliff and transition, I found I had others around me who provided a soft landing. It turned out, I hadn't lost anything at all. 

My up and down life of trying to live as both binary genders was difficult at times to say the least. Near the end I found I made the correct decision on which peak to climb and it was not the male one.

Sink or Swim

Image from Trans Wellness Event.  Jessie Hart Archives.  Many times when I first entered the world as a new cross dresser or femininized mal...