It's Not a Choice!

One of the most frequent questions I used to get when I met a stranger was, when did I know I was transgender.

After many years of fumbling around with the answer, the most correct one finally came to me...I have always been this way.

Now, having said that, certainly there were milestones in my life I could look back on which confirmed my gender dysphoria. 

As a youth, for some reason I never gave much thought to why I wanted dolls for Christmas instead of BB guns. I also didn't really know why my attraction to girls in school seemed to be different than most of the other boys.

I don't remember acting on any of my cross dressing or girlish desires until I was ten or twelve. In fact, I had a paper route which I used the money from to primarily buy feminine clothes and makeup. When I did, I could stay out of my Mom's wardrobe and makeup. All I had to do was find a good way to hide my stash.

As I grew more accomplished during my high school years, I was also able to keep the bullies away by playing sports, working on cars and dating the occasional girl. All of which just seemed to widen my internal gender gap.

Very soon out of high school (in college) it looked as if the Vietnam War would make a major influence in my life. As it turned out I was drafted out of college and had to face the problem of not being able to do anything about my gender issues for three years. For you purists, I enlisted for three years to be able to better choose my Army job.  As it turned out a good choice when I landed a job in the American Forces Radio and Television Service.

Why was that important you ask? Because my job landed me in one of the least military areas in the Army. Thanks to that and a Halloween party in Germany, I was able to dress as a woman and eventually come out as a transvestite for the first time to my friends and future wife.

For awhile I thought I had won the lottery as some of my gender pressure was dialed back. As it turned out though, the true struggles were just beginning.

I will get into those in the next post as well as explaining how fighting my gender dysphoria nearly killed me.

It took me years to learn it was never a choice.

Comments

  1. For those of us trans women of a certain age, there was no way to know anything, other than some confused notion that being a boy for us seemed to be different than it was for the other boys. Whatever might have been drawing us toward being the other gender (there were only two back then, you know), did not seem to be enough for us to be like the girls, either. Not only was the knowledge and language yet to be formulated by the professionals, let alone society in general, our young minds had no means with which to express ourselves, either.

    I must have been about three when I felt the need to express my feminine side. While my mother was busy doing something in the living room, I went into her bedroom and climbed onto the bench in front of her Art Deco vanity. The low counter top and mirror were easily accessible for even a child of my size, and, after clipping on a pair of shiny earrings and applying a not-inside-the-lines coat of lipstick, I remember admiring myself in the mirror. I was so happy with myself that I just had to share it with my mom. I can still taste the soap and feel the harshness of the washcloth on my face as she admonished me for doing something boys just are not to do.

    Knowing there is something different about oneself certainly is not a choice. Being ashamed of being different could be a choice, but, like with many things in childhood, the choice is often made by adults who place it upon the child. For decades thereafter, any conscious effort I made to express my feminine-self was a choice to do the wrong thing - or so I was made to think of it. It was also a choice I made to suppress my feminine-self for many years, and another choice to finally"give in" to it again. It wasn't until I had the revelation that my choices were all about what I was doing, and not who I was, that I found a peace within myself. I then made one more choice, that being to transition, because I really had no choice at that point.

    I now turn around that question of when I knew, when asked by a cis person. Their answer is always that they always did, or that they never even had to think about it. Then I tell them that I was always who I was, as well, but I was so painfully aware and have had to think about it almost every day of my life. I'm still waiting for that day when I don't think about my gender identity, but it's so much easier to think about it, even dismiss it most times when I do, because I made that choice to accept myself as the woman I was born to be (and to live it, as well).

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