Thursday, August 31, 2023

Working with the Public

 

Image from Brooke Cagle
on UnSsplash


This week I have had several occasions to do a bit of out reach in the community.

One was a meeting I went to for the Greater Cincinnati Alzheimer's Association. I serve on the diversity council and yesterday was my second meeting. During the meeting I told them I was able to write an article for the support group (transgender and cross dresser) concerning my activities on the diversity council. Plus, I also invited any other interested members in the group a chance to participate. And, to increase the reach of my blog, I am sharing one post a month to the group's membership publication.  

During the meeting yesterday I was surprised with the question of just exactly what was the function of the support group I am representing. Since I was caught off guard, I needed to explain to civilians the group provided a connection for transgender women and men as well as cross dressers who are mostly in the closet. I tried to condense my reply so that everyone could understand. In the process, I also used an example from my own family about a recent encounter I had with an VA insurance sales person.

It all started during a virtual meeting with the representative who never questioned my gender. By not outing myself as transgender, I unknowingly set her up for failure when she overstepped her boundaries and called my daughter because she is named as a beneficiary. In my defense, I saw no reason for her to call her at all but she did. The problem arose when the insurance person referred to me as "he" twice. For insurance purposes, since I have had no surgeries, I still am a "he" but not to my daughter. My daughter is especially sensitive to gender pronouns because she has a transgender child of her own and is a fierce ally. What eventually happened was I called the woman and asked her what exactly was she doing calling my daughter anyhow and I was transgender. Naturally, since she is trying to sell me something, she profusely apologized and maybe learned a gender lesson. 

For the group, I tried to keep my explanation brief and impactful so they could understand a little of the family dynamics which can extend into elderly care. Especially when it comes to Alzheimer's. I have been reassured the larger group has guidelines for treatment of the LGBT community but as we all know, the "T" can get lost in the overall shuffle. So maybe I can be a voice in the darkness for change.

The other outreach meeting I have this week is meeting six of my Veterans Administration group virtual LGBTQ get together. Once you join, participation is mandatory and is for the entire LGBT community so we have the full range of individuals from transgender to gay men to lesbian women. It makes for an interesting discussion at times when we all discover we share many of the same problems when it comes to dealing with the public and the VA. 

My overall goal of participating in both groups is to improve my outreach skills and do a very small part to help us all.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

It's all In the Preparation

 

Anniversary Selfie from the
Jessie Hart Archives


Anyway you slice it, crossing the gender border to your authentic self is a huge task which takes a ton of work.

First of all you have to attempt to solve the problem of securing and applying makeup and clothes.  When I started I couldn't even paint my model cars well let alone my face. More times than not I ended up looking like a clown. It took me so long to be able to take my own meager funds and then sneak out to a store to buy my own cosmetics. The whole process was one of the scariest moments of my young life. To this day, I don't know how I pulled it off with my Dad working just  a block down the street. But I did and managed to learn the preparation needed to much later on leave my closet and join the world as a transgender woman. Of course with my wardrobe, again the same was true. I needed to mix and match whatever clothing items I could to do the best I could until I could afford to do better.

Perhaps two of the most beneficial things I did to further my transition was to take care of my skin and lose weight. Little did I realize, when I completed my daily hated shaving, I was actually helping my outward appearance, including when I applied a moisturizer when I did it. I am a believer it all helped when I began my hormone replacement therapy and my skin started to naturally soften anyhow. It was similar to going through puberty again. Just reversed from when I did I as a male growing up. The harsh, hated angles I acquired started to soften which made it so much easier for me to present to the world as a transgender woman.

The other main thing I did to further my male to female gender transition was to lose weight. In fact, I was able to lose nearly fifty pounds when I began to seriously attempt to the public's eye and begin to seriously go out. Of course it made finding and wearing fashionable clothes easer to find. It turned out, it was all in the preparation as I shopped for just the right accessory to go with just the right outfit. Fairly quickly, I faced the problem of over dressing the other women around me and needed to be careful if I wanted to blend in and not cause too much attention to me. Because, even with losing the weight, I still was a fairly large bodied woman and needed to do my best to present around the fact I had been subjected to testosterone poisoning in my past. 

Through it all, I learned again what I already knew. Being a woman meant joining the high maintenance gender and everything I thought I knew about being feminine had to be re-learned. A fact my second wife tried to tell me when what was left of my stubborn male ego wouldn't listen to her. When she told me I made a terrible woman, she wasn't talking about my appearance. Which turned out to be very difficult in one sense yet was the easiest  part of my transition in another. 

Often I wonder what it would have been like if I had had the opportunity to grow up as my chosen gender. To have had the peer pressure to look and act a certain way. More than likely, the grass would not have been as green as I think it would have been. Mainly because I think my Mom would have put increased pressure on me to conform to her world. Whatever the case, I think preparation would have been the key. Having more of it at an early age would have certainly helped.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Final Payment Became Due

Image from Blake Wisz 
On UnSplash

For fifty plus years I put off the inevitable, I was born to be a woman. 

I put it off for years by making partial payments to allow my male self to exist. Slowly but surely my gender currency ran out and I needed to make a change before the process killed me. As I made payments, I needed to decide (or try to) just exactly what it was I paying for. Similar to so many, I spent years believing I was engaged in a harmless past-time of just wanting to look like a girl. All along, deep down, I knew the process wasn't working because the problem was never solved. I would dress in front of the mirror and for a couple of days following, I would be satisfied with myself but then the satisfaction began to fade and life became hell for me again and again. My natural response was to keep making payments to put off the truth of my gender aspirations.

After awhile, even I learned how to better my appearance so I could escape my dark lonely gender closet and explore the world. In many ways, during this time, I considered myself a very serious cross dresser or transvestite. There was no way possible I was just innocently pursuing being a feminine person. I was going all out to get my money's worth by starting to interact with the public. In fact, I was beginning to feel as if I would be more comfortable labeling myself as transgender since I was making all the payments. 

It was about this time when I started to scrape together all of inner collateral I could find to take bigger and bigger chances in the world. I began to go to straight and lesbian bars and left the so called safe gay venues behind. By doing so, I met a whole new set of surprisingly accepting people I could associate with. In other words, I was getting my money's worth and I wanted more and more. To do so, I needed to become increasingly creative on how I spent my time. So, I began to do activities  such as Christmas shopping as well as doing a portion of the grocery shopping for the house. Any thing to experience more of the world as my authentic self. 

Through it all, I could finally see the end to all my gender payments. Several friends who I mention often helped me build confidence in myself. And sadly when my wife passed away, the main obstacle to transitioning into a full time transgender woman was put behind me. Even still, seeing the possibility of making the final payment was not an easy one to consider. I had worked too long to succeed in a male world for it to be cast aside easily. 

Finally, the powers to be said no more payments and with considerable help, I made the final gender leap of faith. Out went the old unwanted male clothes and I set out to take what I learned and make the most of the process. It was at once exciting as well as terrifying but I made it. All in all, the final payment was a relief when it was due.  

Monday, August 28, 2023

Day Dreamer

 

Recent PicNic. Liz on Right.

Throughout all the years of my life, I wish I could reclaim just a small portion of the time I lost day dreaming of my gender issues.

Of course I am referring to are the times when I zoned out of my reality into a world where I left my unwanted male world behind and live as a female. I vividly remember having a complete crush on the girls who sat around me during study halls in junior high as well as high school. I never had a sexual crush, I really wanted to be them. During the years which followed, my feelings towards women never really changed until I married and began to have a differing view of women after observing them close up. I found in many ways, women and men face similar challenges. Just on different stages. 

Through it all, I wanted to still be feminine and spent plenty of time thinking and worrying about the process. During the Vietnam War era, I was jealous of women since they couldn't be drafted into the military which was probably my peak of wanting to be a female. For awhile, during the rigors of going through Army Basic Training, I was able to briefly escape the even stronger stresses of living with gender problems. I say briefly,  because it wasn't very long until my old gender issues returned. In fact, one of my best day dreams was to reappear in front of my fiancĂ© who ditched me just before I was to leave to join the military. In the worst way, I wanted to come back in a new car looking better than she did. Revenge would be sweet but it never came. You might say, as I grew into my authentic self, I moved past her altogether. 

It ended up requiring nearly a total male to female gender transition for me to mostly completely lose being a day dreamer. The more issues and even problems I encountered as a transgender woman taught me I didn't have to day dream about the transition process any longer. As I said, it is important to note not all the day dreams I felt turned out to be good. I ended up living through too many negative life experiences which for the most part revolved around my new appearance and where I tried to do in my new life. Perhaps one of the main lessons I learned was women were always on stage. Men admired them from one angle while other women did also for totally different reasons. It was quite the learning process and robbed me of any extra time I had to day dream.

Sadly, we only have one life to live and I can't go back and reclaim any of the time and energy I lost when I was a novice transgender woman. On the other hand, the experiences I gained from my life could not be traded for anything I could have ever expected. Now my day dream problem has been reversed so I don't live too much in the past.  

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Normalcy is for the Weak

 

Image from Joshua Rawson
Harris on UnSplash

Growing up, my expectations from "Greatest Generation" era parents were to fit into the square peg to square hole example. 

To me, it meant being a "normal" boy. Loving sports and playing in the woods next door. The only problem of course was I didn't want anything to do with much of anything associated with being a male. For years and years, I just thought I was not normal as I was sure there couldn't be anyone else who felt the same way I did. 

Ironically, for the shortest period of time, I did encounter a friend in my tweener years who very much leaned towards to being a serious cross dresser or transvestite as it was known back then. Before our experimentations into his Mom's wardrobe and makeup progressed too far, he moved far away. I was left once again thinking I was the only one into being feminine. 

As I went through life, I felt I was never "normal" primarily because of my gender dysphoria which I knew I had long before the term transgender was ever used. The farther I progressed however, I learned I was attracted to others who were not "normal" by society's standards. I think deep down I was attracted to them because I thought they would be the friends who would accept my authentic transgender self. Sadly, once I was starting to embrace my non-normal self, I was forced into the ultimate square peg into a square hole experience, known as Army basic training. BCT was the ultimate team building experience. 

Ironically, the exact opposite happened to me. Surviving basic gave me the tools I needed to further embrace who I was. I knew if I put my mind to something, I could be a success, even if it was in a so-called normal profession. Much to my parent's chagrin I ended up for years as a radio disc jockey. A profession long on enjoyment but extremely short on money. As I struggled financially, I added a daughter who directly caused me to seek a more settled environment. From there I found myself in a thirty year (plus) career in the commercial restaurant business. Little did I know, the food business back in those days was in an incredible expansion phase. Allowing me to jump jobs as I tried to out run my gender issues. From the outside looking in, I am sure I appeared a little more than a little crazy. During that period, I was fond of telling anyone who appeared interested I was not normal.

It turned out, through it all, I was normal. Once I did transition into the life of my authentic transgender self, I calmed down and began to realize all of the sudden once I was living as my true self, I was normal. 

The path I took to get there was not at all easy and not for the weak of heart. I just needed to be the round peg being pushed into the round hole.  

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Mammogram Done?

Image from the National
Cancer Institute

This morning I went to a prementioned appointment for my yearly mammogram.

I knew going in it is never the most pleasant procedure in the world but very much better than the alternative of having breast cancer. The part of having a mammogram I had forgotten was how much of a contortionist I would have to become. To complete the procedure, the specialist giving the exam must take four pictures of each side or breast of your body. Since I do have mobility issues even to the point of standing sometimes, I needed extra nurses to get through the mammogram last year. 

This year, I managed to complete the process (I think) with the help of just one person. I say "I think" because I have not heard back yet from the hospital yet on the overall findings of the X-rays. So I can't do any celebrations yet until I do.

I think it is vaguely humorous the women in the radiology (X-Ray) department automatically assume since I am a transgender woman I don't know what is going on. The truth is this is actually my sixth mammogram prescribed by the Veteran's Administration because my maternal grandmother passed away years ago from breast cancer. So I am more experienced than they think. 

Other than that I didn't have any problems with not being respected. I wasn't mis-gendered or anything close to it. 

In a later post, If anything negative or hopefully positive happens with the mammogram I will let you know as I consider the entire process a rite of passage as being a transgender woman.

This just in...everything came back with no problems! So I am clear again for another year!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Living in Her World

 

Photo Compliments of Raquel who said I 
passed out of sheer will power,


Naturally, when I decided to go down the path of undertaking a Male to Female gender transition, I encountered many unexpected obstacles. 

You regulars to my writing know I often mention quite a few walls I had to climb such as perfecting some sort of an appearance which I could present as well as possible in the public's eye. Often the best compliment I could go on was when a transgender woman friend of mine told me I passed out of sheer will power. In other words, to me, she meant I just went all in the public's eye doing the best I could with what I had to work with. To this day, I remember the comment. 

Once I conquered the appearance aspect of presenting in public as a woman the hard work started. Living in her world just began to become serious and more difficult. It was about this time I began to compare the process to being able to play in the girl's sandbox. I knew again I would have to do it out of sheer will power. At the time, I couldn't afford or have the willpower to undergo any facial feminization surgeries, so what the other inhabitants of the sandbox saw with me would be what they got. Many days and nights I would just have to rely on my inner feminine self to get by.

The problem was, my inner self, even though she was feminine, was still learning too. We both had to learn the power of passive aggression which even extended to severe backstabbing from more than a few of the women I encountered. I can't tell you how many times I came home wounded by claw marks on my back. In a relatively short time I began to understand more and more on how different living in her world was going to be. My prime example was when I was told I was a good looking woman, the person (woman) who was saying it was really thinking, for a man. Slowly but surely I overcame all of that and developed a very uneasy confidence of my ability to build a life as a transgender woman. 

Through a series of unexpected happenings, the doors seemingly opened wide and my dream of living as a trans woman finally happened after a half a century of working towards a goal. At that time. it became evident it was time to turn what was left of my old male life over to my inner feminine self who had waited so long to see the light of day. My gender roles flipped flopped increasingly when  I had to cross dress as a man, I felt completely out of place, I was ready, willing and able to give up all the male privileges I had built up over the years to live in her world.

The final push turned out to be the hardest of all. When I needed to discard or donate all my male clothes and begin to acquire a feminine wardrobe to live daily, it was a big step. All of a sudden, the whole process of cross dressing became a game I needed to quit. I could no longer run for cover in my sometimes comfortable old male life. I was able to do it though and have never looked back. I found I never missed anything at all. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Re-Connections

 

Image from Priscilla Du Preez on
UnSplash 

Often in life we are capable of living out full circles during our time on earth, if we live that long. 

My lifelong journey to find and live with my authentic feminine gender gave me the opportunity to go full circle several times and then reconnect with myself. My biggest issue was to finally establish myself as a transgender woman. To do accomplish my reconnection,  it seemed I had to live my way through being a cross dresser (on two stages) or a transvestite if you prefer that term. I say cross dressing on two stages because for the longest time I considered myself cross dressing as a woman while I was primarily living as a man. When in truth, I was just doing the opposite, cross dressing as a man when I was primarily a woman inside. 

Along the way, I experienced several confidence building experiences to help me along. Sadly, most all of the character building changes occurred to my male self and it took many years for my inner female to catch up. Examples included my successes in career fields as well as being able to influence how my daughter was being raised. Both came back to aid me later in my gender reconnection but at the time didn't seem so positive. The salary I earned at my jobs helped me to earn enough and accept an early retirement which helped me clear a path to transition. And, as far as my daughter went, later on in life she has gone on to be one of my staunchest gender allies. I don't know how my life would have been without her. 

The problems with re-connections if you have ever done any plumbing work, you have to make sure the connection is secure before you move on. I experienced many problems with my gender transition as I tried to move on. I stubbornly refused to dress my age and to blend in with other women around me when I first tried to leave my closet. The entire process caused me deep grief until I began to learn the basics of getting by when it came to my presentation.  When I finally developed the confidence to try harder to secure my initial connection, it seemed something else would appear and get in the way. It turned out, moving and communicating as a woman presented a much more difficult problem for me than the appearance part.

After a while, when I was extremely self destructive to the point of suicide,  it turned out I was going to live long enough to go full circle with my gender in my life. I was fortunate to find and keep a small group of women friends who helped me secure and adjust to the societal demands I  was going to have to face in my new life as a transgender woman. 

By this time I had gone full circle and put my male past behind me. My re-connections were secure and I had a lot of life to look forward to. 

   

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Life Comes Fast

Image from Suraj Kardile 
on UnSplash

It seems like one moment you are a kid in a rural Ohio neighborhood and the next you are a senior citizen transgender woman. 

Life comes at you very fast. Sometimes extra fast if you are attempting to learn to live as your authentic self. Sometimes it seems the more you do to further your gender goals. A prime example would be when you have achieved a spot where you can present as a trans woman who can blend in, then you have to rapidly learn to put your appearance successes into motion. After all, if the public expected you to be feminine, you needed to do your best to do something about it. The whole process came on me fast when other women unexpectedly wanted to talk to me. I think most of them were just curious as they started conversations revolving simple things such as what I was wearing.

Through it all, I needed to quickly learn basic communication skills when I was intensely shy concerning my female voice. I just didn't foresee anyone wanting to talk to me. It turned out this was only the first of many ways life was coming at me fast.

Of course, there was my stint in the military which ended up coming up very fast after I went through years of trying to outlast the trauma of the Vietnam War. The war followed me through high school and then through college. At that point I was smacked down by Army basic training which I thought at the time would derail any dreams I had of ever becoming a woman. Amazingly, the opposite happened. Basic taught me to be more resilient and I was able to make some sort of future plans after I was honorably discharged three years later. Very directly, the Army sped up my life when I met my first wife in Germany where we both served. A couple of years after that, life came even faster when I learned I was going to be a parent of who turned out to be my only child. I secretly didn't desire any children because of the self doubts I carried with me because of my gender dysphoria. I was so wrong.

From my discharge forward, I relied on nothing much more than a series of Halloween parties to keep my life on some sort of a status quo. For the most part, life would come at me quickly again when I was successful in presenting as a woman at several parties. Years later I would wonder why more people didn't foresee my future coming out as transgender because of all the work I did to look good for the parties. But my macho male disguise was so convincing they never did and many were surprised when I let them in to my authentic self. 

More than likely, the fastest my life was ever sped up was when I started hormone replacement therapy or HRT. I just didn't expect the changes to my body to occur so fast and I needed to move up my time table of when I was planning to jump into a fulltime life as a transgender woman. It all worked out for the best because I was tired of my old male life anyhow and was ready for a change. Once I did make the change, my life slowed down and I was able to enjoy it again. 

  

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The Gender Buck Stops Here

 

Image from the Jessie
Hart Collection

It took me over fifty years of cross dressing as a woman to decide I had enough and I finally decided to come out full time as a transgender woman.

At that point, I either threw out my old male clothes or donated most of them to a local thrift store which was the demarcation point of when I flipped the script and stopped cross dressing as a man. For awhile it was difficult deciding what I would wear everyday as a trans woman. I knew I desperately wanted to blend in with the other women around me but knew I had to put in considerably more effort than they did to do it. Plus the effects of the hormone replacement therapy I was on was beginning to drastically change my old male appearance. So a change was needed. My skin was softening, along with the lines of my face, so I was beginning to appear quite androgynous. 

With all these changes taking place, I finally had a one on one talking with myself and decided enough was enough. The gender buck stopped there and then. It was time to take advantage of a lifetime of preparation and cross the gender border and live as a transgender woman. All those years of admiring my self in the mirror and attending transvestite mixers in Columbus, Ohio would be put to the test. During the mixers I was able to see and meet many different types of cross dressers all the way to transsexuals to determine just where I fit in. It was about that time when the term "transgender" was being publicized and I immediately thought the term fit me. It turned out it actually did and my life would never be the same again.

When the buck stopped with me and I began to take complete responsibility for my gender questions, my life suddenly became easier. Even though I was still facing questions in the harsh light of the public's eye. I needed to learn being a successful transgender woman took so much more than just taking care of my appearance. Surely appearances were the path to opening doors but what happened after the door was opened became very stressful. How could I handle actually communicating with a man or another woman when I was so new at doing it. Possibly the most frustrating part of the whole communication process was how much it changed with each person I encountered. The process was not unlike playing tennis and waiting for the other person to serve. Finally I began to relax and make the best of a situation I never knew where it was going.

It turned out relaxation was another key to my new ability to exist in the world as a trans woman. I learned for the most part men left me alone and women were just curious as to why I wanted into their world at all. I valued my communication with other women because I was learning so much about playing in the girl's sandbox.  My confidence was high and I thought I had as much business as other women did in the sandbox. From there, I made the most of it. 

It is also important to note, when I determined the gender buck did end with me, there would be no turning back. I became so involved in learning my new feminine life and it felt so natural, I would actually take the gender buck and spend it. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Into a Gender Corner

 

Image from the 
Jessie Hart
Collection

Through no fault of my own, or maybe then again it was all my fault, I painted myself into a gender corner over the years.

Similar to most of you with non-approving family structures, I did all I could to hide the fact all I really wanted in life was to live a feminine life. To get by in my secret world I initially "borrowed" my Mom's clothes until I quickly outgrew them. I then supplemented my meager allowance for work I did around the house by delivering newspapers. With the money, I again snuck out and was able to buy a few clothes and make up. 

Little did I know every success I had, helped me move a little closer to painting myself into a gender corner later in life. As I painted my way through life I was finally becoming semi successful in presenting successfully as a novice transgender woman after going through the developmental stage of being a cross dresser or transvestite. It is important to note during this time, the only other person I was receiving regular feedback from was myself. Because I was the girl in the mirror. The feedback was usually always positive no matter how bad I looked. My excuse was usually, I was only a nice wig and outfit away from being prettier. Which was true to an extent.

As I grew older and more independent, the faster I began to paint my new gender picture. Experiences became more intense as I attacked the world as a trans woman. I was meeting more and more people who only knew my feminine side at the same time I was attempting to still live part time as my old male self. He was doing his best to slow down the gender transition process as he fought giving up all of his hard earned male privileges. The problem for him became when the painting became so successful and pleasurable. For the first time in my life, I was able to experience living my gender dream and I was not scared to paint myself into a corner and see what happened.

In fact, I think I threw caution to the wind too many times when I tried to go too many places where I was well known as a man. Looking back, I think I wanted to be discovered for the true person I was. At any rate, I never stopped the route I was heading and kept painting. And, just when I had almost completed painting myself into a gender corner, along came destiny to bail me out. 

What happened was a triad of happenings which made it possible for my previous painting to dry and for me to walkout nearly unscathed. First of all was when my disapproving wife of twenty five years passed away, leaving me very lonely but with an unopposed path to a Male to Female Gender Transition. The second part of the triad was I was nearly old enough to retire and not have to continue working as I crossed the gender border. Plus, the third part of the triad was the circle of friends I had built up as a transgender woman. They all helped me to understand what I would need t to finish my paint job and not get into a corner as a woman.

I was able to find my way out of the gender corner I had built my way into before it was too late. Many times the process was difficult and I almost didn't make it. Which included several self destructive episodes in my life including suicide. But I finished my painting and I love it.   

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Transgender Recipe

Image from Callum Hill
on UnSplash
Every now and then I am asked how I negotiated a difficult and often impossible gender journey. 

As I have been able to sit back and look at my path, I know my recipe for success is in some cases very different from other transgender women  but at the same time eerily similar. An example would be those of you of an age close to mine (73) needed to endure years in a very dark and isolated closet in the pre-internet and social media era. For years, I was convinced no one else shared my own gender issues. My own recipe for success as a novice cross dresser or transvestite (or whatever you happened to call it) turned into a recipe for survival.


Through all the down days of questioning what gender I was, life went on as I built into my recipe different ways to survive in a male world I wanted no part of. I mainly resorted to existing in a very lonely life as the girl in the mirror. The major problem was the girl in the mirror always provided positive feedback no matter how poor I really looked. The learning curve proved to be a challenge since I had no real peer influence to help me. 

My recipe didn't really change for years as I basically just bided my time until I graduated high school and college. Then waited for the military to draft me into their world which shattered any of my possible future cross dressing ventures. They would have to be on hold for my three year enlistment. Surprisingly my recipe did not include my first adventure in letting others in (or coming out) to a select few others. I write often about the Halloween party I went to in Germany when I had approximately a year left to serve, as a prostitute. Weeks later, when my "costume" came up among friends. over many quality German beers I admitted I was not wearing a "costume", I was a transvestite. Even though I felt as if the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders, I then had to begin to worry about being outed to my superiors and being ushered out of the military with a dis-honorable discharge. Fortunately, I wasn't. I served out my final year and was honorably discharged. With my gender issues safely hidden away.

Following my return to the civilian world, my interaction with others as a transvestite revolved basically around the various Halloween parties I went to as a woman. During the parties I was able to mix in interacting with the world as a novice transgender woman into my recipe. The lessons learned are basically too many to share in this blog post but the most important ingredient I added to my gender recipe was the fact I just may be able to exist in the feminine world as a full time transgender woman and most importantly how much I enjoyed it. 

From there my life became much more complex as I enforced my ever-evolving gender recipe. I was at once elated but  at the same time terrified to be giving up what was left of my male life. I suspect those of you followed a somewhat similar path as you wrote and followed your own recipe for gender success. It remains amazing to me how far I have come since the deep dark days in the closet I survived years ago. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Great Pivot

Image from the Jessie Hart
Collection


Very few human beings ever attempt such a major change such as crossing the gender border. 

For me, pivoting into the feminine world as a transgender woman took me years to complete. In fact some would argue I am still working on the process. A complete pivot doesn't end until you are safely in the grave with your chosen gender intact. In my case I am very fortunate in that I have two strong trans allies who I hope will survive me. Plus I plan on simplifying the funeral procedure to the maximum since I am requesting cremation and no services to speak of, unless close friends and family want to gather for some sort of a celebration of life service. 

Before you begin to think this whole post is going to pertain to death and dying, it is not as there is plenty more to discuss in a gender pivot. First of all, you have to figure out how you are going to appear as the gender you perceive to be your authentic self. Since many of us begin our journey in the pre-testosterone time in our life, the transformation into a girl is often much easier. Until the pesky masculine hormone began to make it's presence known and the process known as testosterone poisoning began to set in. All of a sudden, the great pivot became harder to pull off for most of us.  Unless you are one of the few males who are feminine in nature. I was not and the struggle became real.

As we grow up, society becomes a problem also. Peer and adult pressures combine to attempt to force us into pre-conceived gender norms which are difficult to escape. Again, I grew up in a very patriarch influenced world and being the oldest son, I was expected to conform to the expectations of the "Greatest Generation" made up of survivors of the Great Depression and  WWII. My Dad served in the war and one of my uncles was a drill sergeant. So you get the idea of what I was facing. I was so intimidated by the idea of letting anyone into my desire to pivot my gender, I waited until after my Dad and uncle passed away before I did it. As far as the rest of society was concerned, I finally arrived at the point where I didn't care.

The point I did arrive at was the point where I was able to pivot more or less gracefully in the public's eye. I say more or less because of the many blunders I made with my attempts at taking my mirror image public. I needed to conquer all the challenges of wardrobe, movement and communication before I could even conceive of moving forward. Slowly but surely I did learn and was successful enough to build the authentic self from scratch. 

Looking back now, I think learning all the basics of communication with the world as a woman was the most difficult part of my great pivot. Most likely, because I had all the time I needed to practice the art of dressing and making up as a feminine person. Interaction with the world in all situations was many times a shock and took me time to become used to.

In many ways, my pivot was a lifetime labor of love. One I had no choice in but then again wouldn't force it on my worst enemy. Then again, the whole process may do them some good. 


 

Friday, August 18, 2023

Transgender Vacation Blues

 

Image 
from UnSplash 

Back when my second wife was still alive, in the early fall or late summer we used to vacation close to the same area every year. 

We used to just take off and travel from our home in Southern Ohio and make the trip up through Toledo and Detroit up into northern Michigan. Often trying to escape the late summer heat, we went as far North as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was a great time to go because many upscale venues in places such as Traverse City discounted their prices for off season tourists and we didn't have crowds to deal with. 

During that portion of my life, things should have been going good. My restoration efforts on our 1860's brick home, were coming together and both my wife and I enjoyed jobs which provided us with a little spendable income. What could possibly go wrong? In reality, just one major one. My battle with gender dysphoria. I was just beginning to experience more success as a novice public cross dresser and or transvestite and I wanted to do more. I was also riding the waves of gender euphoria when I went out and gender repression when I couldn't. Part time exploration of my transgender needs just wasn't working. 

It figured then, if I wasn't able to try to experience my gender euphoria just before we went on vacation, most certainly I would mentally crash and burn during our vacation. Of course when I did I would grow grumpy to the point where my wife would ask me what was wrong. She would ask what else I needed in life to be happy. At that point I just couldn't tell her the truth. The only thing which would have made me happier at that moment was if I was making the vacation trip as a transgender woman. From then on I did the usual male response and internalized my feelings and acted as if I was feeling better.

Sadly my gender dysphoria managed to ruin several vacations for me as time after time I fell into bouts of gender depression. I was even affected when we made our annual stop in the village of Frankenmuth, Michigan to look for rare Christmas tree ornaments my wife didn't already have since she was a Christmas fanatic. I over compensated by encouraging her to over buy every year. As we walked through the stores, no matter what I was outwardly feeling, inwardly I wanted to be doing it with her as two girlfriends. Naturally, the entire process ruined the vacation time I should have been enjoying.  I had the vacation blues which at times frustrated me even more because I should have been enjoying my hard earned time away from my pressure packed job.

Since I never had the courage to face my transgender truths until much later in life, my vacation blues never changed until I retired and met Liz, my current wife. The vacations we have taken changed the vacation narrative for me. The blues have disappeared and for once I have been able to enjoy myself. . 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Deep Gender Frustration

My attempt at formality.
From the Jessie Hart Archives.
One of the first deep seated internal  frustrations I felt with my gender dysphoria was when I first encountered the challenge of attending my junior-senior prom in high school. 

I was very shy and nervous when it came to being around girls of any type. I didn't have any sisters or any girls in the neighborhood I grew up in, so I had no experience. When I made it to the time when my first prom came up in my junior year, I was stuck in a new high school with very few friends period. Especially no female ones. So I had no one to even summon up the courage to invite to the prom. It turned out, the problem was going to take care of itself without much effort on my part. 

What happened was a group or clique of popular girls noticed one of their group did not have a date to the prom. At that point, they reached out to me to find out if I was interested in attending the event. I nervously said yes and the planning began. Little did I know what I was getting into. As the male part of the date (back in those days) I was expected to provide everything from transportation, to dinner to flowers for my date.  My deep problem was I was the one who wanted to wear the fancy gown and be given a corsage then dined and danced with. I was deeply frustrated. The only good parts of the entire night were my parents were proud and probably a little relieved I was finally going out with a girl. On my part I was interested to see how I would finally find out how I would react to a real live date.

As predicted, my first prom did absolutely nothing to relieve any of my deep seated gender frustrations. In many ways, the whole process just made it worse. At  the least at that point I had began the process of learning what dating a girl was all about. In my senior year I actually met and stayed with another girl until I went away to college. The time included another prom in my senior year which I needed to suffer through since once again I wanted to be the girl, not the guy. I hated the tuxedo I had to wear all the way (again) to not being the one in the glitzy dress. The only revenge I ever received came years later, the supper club we went to eat at prom became a large gay venue and I was able to use the same women's room my date used. A small amount of retribution but meaningful none the less.  

When I went way to college, the initial months on campus provided one of the few gender respites I ever experienced from my transgender life. But to make a long story short (as you know) my desires to love everything feminine never went away. In fact, years later my jealousy re-surfaced in a major way. During my years working for a major restaurant chain franchisee, the company threw lavish Christmas parties for the store managers and upper level assistants.  The parties were semi formal  so once again I was thrown in to being downright jealous of the women who would be attending. Several were very attractive and needed to try to negotiate getting in and out of the limousine the company provided  for transportation in the fancy gowns. As the other men admired the women and their attempts to stay modest when they entered and exited the limo, I on the other hand, wanted to be one of the women in the beautiful dresses. 

It wasn't until fairly recently when I came even remotely close to achieving close to the same feeling cis-women feel when they are able to dress up. During recent Christmas's and other banquets I have managed to come up with a semi formal dress up look. It provided me a respite from a little of the gender frustration  I experienced over the years.  I also discovered women all along were aware of their own insecurities of semi formal events. Often the grass is not always greener on the other side of the gender fence. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Code Red Moment

Image from Alexander Grey
on UnSplash

I remember like is was yesterday the night years ago when my life changed forever.

It was the evening when I decided to journey out in the world as a transgender woman for the first time instead of just trying to get by as a cross dresser or transvestite. I knew I was playing with labels but the whole process was important to me. 

First, I was so terrified I would fail and be subjected to more of the public ridicule I had experienced in my recent past. Even though I was relatively a novice in trying to present responsibly as a woman in front of the world, I still knew I had to make a concerted effort to do my best to blend in with the other women I would be facing when I went out. 

I chose where I wanted to go carefully. I knew that every night around eight or nine o'clock many single women would gather at a TGIF Fridays after work at a nearby upscale mall where they worked. If you are not familiar with a Friday's, it was one of the first venue's to welcome and provide a safe environment for single women in the country. 

Up to that time, my gender life was similar to riding a "teeter totter" on a kids playground. One day I was up with gender euphoria but the next day I was in the depths of my gender dysphoria. Desperately trying to find a way out until the "teeter totter" reversed and moved up again. The process dominated my life and made it very difficult to lead a so called normal life. 

On the night in question, I was determined to make a statement and help my gender euphoria. I began by picking out a fashionable black pants suit I had found in my size at a local thrift store and paired it with a sensible pair of women's flats they might wear following a long day in heels on the job. I applied my best makeup and longish blond wig and I thought I was ready to attack the world...or at least a small portion of it. To top it all off, my anxiety level was at an all time high as I traveled the twenty five minute trip to arrive at the venue. Once I did arrive I think I must have spent twenty minutes in my car trying to calm my nerves before I gathered enough courage to go in. I think my male self was becoming frightened the beginning of the end was coming for him.

As I went in, I had a small amount of knowledge on the venue I was going to. In addition to my wife and I going there, I had worked for a chain of competing venues for several years. So, I knew, if I could get past the hostess stand in good shape and secure a seat at the bar (if one was available) I had a chance of succeeding. When I did all of that and was able to breathe again, I was actually able to relax and enjoy myself and then start thinking I was in a "Code Red" lifetime moment. Deep down I knew, my life could never be the same again as I had arrived on the successful threshold of being a full time transgender woman. My male self was aware to he was in deep trouble.

From that moment forward I was able to go back to the Fridays and establish myself as some sort of a regular. Even though I never thought I presented completely as a cis-woman, I knew I was easy to remember. Back in those days, transgender women and men were just becoming slightly better known in the world. In addition I never caused any trouble and tipped well. In a couple places where I became a regular I even think the venue valued my business as a sign of their diversity.    

Whatever the case, the code red had occurred and the teeter totter began to stay in the upward position which meant my old male self was never coming back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Gender Rebuild

 


Once you make the determination you are going to cross the gender frontier as live as a transgender woman or trans man, the clock begins to move forward on a total reconstruction process.

Of course the first things you have to do is to rebuild your appearance to come as close as you can to present correctly in the world. I write often how the process was often a painful one for me as a tried to work my way out of my so-called teen aged cross dressing or transvestite years. I was dressing to what I thought my male self wanted me to look like. Instead of a more realistic version from my feminine side. As I exited the difficult appearance years, it was time to take my rebuild further and begin to interact more completely in the world as a transgender woman.

It all meant, the public was crushing in on me and I was forced into moving my old male self into the background and beginning to learn the basics of communicating in the world as a woman. The differences were at once shocking but soon became easy to understand.  My rebuild had started in earnest as men steered clear of me for the most part while women mostly were curious why I wanted to play in their sandbox. The gender testing program was often intense but I just needed to succeed.

As I tested out, my rebuild continued as I needed to put the image I so admired in the mirror all those years into actual motion. How I walked, talked and even ate became my focus as a novice transgender woman. It took awhile before it all became a habit and it was difficult to reverse my gains when I had to go back to living as a man. Slowly but surely he faded into my past and I was able to rebuild even further towards my gender future. 

As I moved closer and closer to going full time as a trans woman, the most amazing thing happened. I was seemingly making less and less effort to live. Now I believe my inner feminine self saw her chance to finally live in the daylight and took over. When she did, it was like I always was meant to live the new way and to let her handle it. What I didn't know was, there was going to be a bit of pressure or thought which had to go into it. The main question was, what kind of new person did I want to be? Quoting my wife Liz, very few humans have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and start over. I took that seriously and decided I should take the second chance and try to be a good person, Of course being a good person is often tough to live up to but at the least I try.

I also try to keep any remaining pieces of my lifetime of rebuilding to an end. Ironically now as I enter the twi-light years of my life, I have to again attempt to safeguard what I have built. Or, how will I be received as a pre-opt transgender woman in an assisted care  facility.  It is a final process I try not to dwell on often. 

Monday, August 14, 2023

Total Disclosure

 

Liz to my right at the Picnic
from the Jessie Hart Collection

Total disclosure of our deepest gender secrets often comes at a huge cost to many transgender women or trans men when we choose to let others into our authentic life. 

Losses are well documented, such as losing everything from spouses and family to employment and friends. Sadly it all happens when we simply decide to tell others. Plus, not many realize we trans folk never really had a choice of whom we just had to be to live. Then we have to go through severe nervousness  we decide who to tell and when. 

In my case, I decided who I needed to tell and ranked them in order of importance to me. I chose telling my only child, a daughter to tell first. Total disclosure to her was rough. I couldn't believe it was my words telling her I was transgender and then waiting for a totally negative reaction. It turned out she was shocked and then a little upset. She asked why she was the last to know. Truth be known, she wasn't the last to know. Her Mother knew I was a cross dresser or transvestite back in those days but thought it was a fairly harmless side "hobby" of her husband. She (or I) didn't know how deep my gender urges ran and how much I put in to denying who I really was. 

The only other person my daughter could be referring to as far as people knowing about me was my second wife, her step mother. Since she is deceased I will never know how many people (if any) she ever told. As with most cis-women, I feel as if she may have confided in her closest friend because of how the friend started to treat me. So all in all my daughter, who made my coming out process so incredibly easy essentially spoiled me. Next on my list to tell was my only brother because my parents had long since passed on. 

As it turned out, as well as my experience with my daughter went, my brother's was just as bad. Mostly I think because of his fear of dealing with right wing Baptist in laws, he wouldn't/couldn't accept me. To cut the only real tie we had as family, he pulled my invitation to the annual family Thanksgiving dinner back. That was close to a decade ago and we have sadly not spoken since. So much for brotherly love when total gender disclosure was involved. It seemed with the total disparity between my daughter and my brother was involved, destiny had taken a moment to show me both sides of disclosing my authentic self. My daughter just wanted me to be happy, while my brother just wanted to ignore the entire matter. 

I waited so long to let others in to my world, most had passed on. Also with the help of my remaining and new supporting friends and family, I was able to build new support systems without the worry of total disclosure. Since the new people already knew me. Which was quite the weight off my shoulders as you can imagine. 

Sadly, as transgender women and trans men face total disclosure, we still face too many obstacles to live as our authentic selves. Many end up living lonely lives although I believe social media is beginning to provide connections within the trans community. Until the problem is totally resolved for the benefit of all, we have a long way to go. 

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Shadow Man

 

Image from Stormseeker 
on UnSplash

For years I have struggled to describe most of my gender journey from being a semi successful man to living as a fulltime transgender woman. 

Finally I came up with one idea. During the male moments of my life I was merely a shadow man. Even though I acted as if I was in the moment, I wasn't really all there. I was just looking for a way to survive the lie I was living. In order to do it, many times I needed to overdue my put-on macho image to hide my true self. I don't believe I was a toxic man but I certainly hung out with the macho guys even though I was still in the shadows. 

Perhaps it's the reason I had so few male friends. I was so afraid I would slip up and friends would see my true feminine self. It's also possible it is also the reason keeping so few people close to me meant I would have fewer people to tell if and when I came out of the shadows. With me, tragically the plan worked when most all of my close male friends passed away within several years of each other. So I don't recommend the path I took at all. 

Over the years in the shadows I also learned well the male privilege's I came to expect as I led the life of a white male. Perhaps the only drawback which turned out to be a positive was my time in the Army. The three years I served led me to very male pursuits such as learning how resilient I really was. Lessons which would serve me well when I became a father as well as other as surviving other male dominated areas such as my job. In many ways, I could go in to a room of my peers and hold my own. I didn't especially want to but at the time it was great to have a back up plan for my shadow man.

Perhaps, once I seriously started to complete my Male to Female gender transition, I began to realize how my gender life was directly backwards. Instead of being a feminine crossdresser or transvestite, I was a female cross dressing as a man. My dominate gender increasingly turned out of be feminine not masculine. Which meant my shadow man left the spotlight and retreated ever deeper into the background of my life. All in all, the deciding factor turned out to be was how natural the process turned out to be. When I subtracted out all of the moments I was totally terrified when I suddenly was losing all of my male privileges. Life was suddenly much fuller and exciting. What a shock it was the first night when I learned I had suddenly lost a significant part of my intelligence when I unknowingly was involved in a male dominated conversation. To add insult to injury they were discussing a topic I knew quite a bit about but it didn't matter. 

As it turned out, my path was illuminated when I finally gave up on being a shadow man. When I embraced completely being a transgender woman, I finally was living my truth . She had waited years and years to let any sort of light come in to her very dark and lonely gender closet. Once she was out in the light, she was determined to make the most of the opportunity and with the help of several close friends, she made the jump into the real world. 

The shadow man was exposed to the light and disappeared. Never to be seen again.      

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Rites of Passage

Image from the
Jessie Hart
Collection

Yesterday I made the appointment for one of the main rites of passage I have decided to go through as a transgender woman.

What I did was schedule my annual summer mammogram. My Veteran's Administration primary provider (family doctor) always pushes me hard to have a yearly mammogram due to my family history with cancer. My maternal grandmother passed away years ago in the 1950's from breast cancer. I strongly feel because of my history I need to follow up.

If you have never had a mammogram, it is a relatively brief procedure when the nurses put you in a big X-ray machine and provide pressure to take pictures of your breasts. Not a pleasurable experience but a necessary one. Since I often think of the irony I would have to respond to if I did develop any sort of breast cancer as a transgender woman. Also I neglected to mention having to strip down to your waist and wear one of those fashionable (not) hospital gowns. I guess it's no worse than having to strip down for your military draft physical.   

The remainder of the appointment process has normally been very routine. Except for the nurse who aggravated me by asking  if I had any work done "down there". Like it was any of her business. The only other humorous thing which happened when I sat up the appointment was when the reception person was having a difficult time matching my voice on the phone with anyone needing a mammogram. She finally asked me what relation I was to the patient. 

For any number of reasons I consider having a yearly mammogram one of the top of the rites of passage I have had to go through on my gender journey. Others would include the night I decided to see if I could throw my cross dresser or transvestite ideas aside and decide if I could try to live as a transgender woman. From there I went on years later to an even bigger decision. Which was to start hormone replacement therapy. The path that started the breast growth I needed to start having mammograms. 

Hopefully this years test results will be clear of any abnormalities in my breasts so I can face my primary physician with the results. Also I hope I don't have to encounter any more rude nurses with off the wall questions. For the most part, everyone has been nice to me and the VA has handled the payment process without a problem. 

The appointment is scheduled for close to the end of the month so I will have sometime to think about it. Plus, this year, my wife Liz is going with me, so she can handle most of the driving as well as the directions to get there. Always good to have company.  

Friday, August 11, 2023

Confidence is your Greatest Accessory

Image from Alysha Rosly 
on UnSplash

In my post from yesterday about Ohio's vote, I didn't mention how much I appreciate being able to vote with my driver's license state ID which is gender marked with a "F". For female of course which I worked very long and hard to secure.

I am always proud to be able to vote and also proud to vote as my authentic self.  Yesterday when I voted. I proudly walked up to the first available poll worker and handed him my drivers license. I was surprised when I saw he was a younger person. Normally the workers seem to be my age or above. I was even more pleased when the man was very nice to me. It's been a long time since I have ran into a man who seemed at the least bit happy to see me. 

The reasons could be many. I automatically assume the men have read me as transgender and in some way think I am less attractive. Or some men just treat women as lesser citizens anyhow and they aren't treating me any different than they would any other woman. One way or another I try to approach situations with the public with as much confidence as I can muster. 

Confidence of course for a transgender woman comes as we progress from a novice cross dresser-transvestite all the way to living full time as your authentic self. If you are lucky (as I wasn't )  you will be spared the public humiliation of being stared at all the way to outright laughter. It is nearly impossible to build any confidence at all when you have to suffer through that. However, if you stick with the process you can slowly learn to apply artful makeup and dress yourself to begin to blend in with society. When any or all of the process begins to happen, confidence does also. 

Perhaps most importantly, confidence allows you to face the world eye to eye. Human's are like sharks and they can sense when something is wrong.  It took me years of trying before I gathered enough confidence to look at others with the idea something was wrong with them, not me. I also needed to learn the difference in dealing with other women or men. Women proved to be much more of a challenge to me as they were/are more discerning than men. Going back to the poll worker who was so nice to me, I wondered if he was somehow attracted to my appearance or was he in his own closet and his trans-dar was going off. Whatever the case, I am sure I relieved the boredom for him as he checked in people to vote.

Confidence is also a chicken or the egg type story. Did the perfect outfit (along with makeup) come before the confidence or was it vice versa when you achieved your goal of existing in society as a transgender woman...or what ever label you want to attach to yourself. One thing is for certain, you never know until you try to make your exit from the mirror and head into the world. 

You go girl!    





















 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Mama Didn't Raise no Fool

Liz on Left. New Years Eve
from the Jessie Hart
Collection

 Before I get into this post, I need to mention how happy I was when the State of Ohio overwhelmingly rejected a power grab move by the political party not called Democrat. The move now clears the way for a November vote on the amendment to insure women in Ohio are protected against restrictive abortion bills. It's a huge start in the right direction for women's rights in Ohio.

The whole failed ballot initiative proved for once many parents didn't raise fools here in Ohio. 

When I was growing up, politics were basically a private topic in our house. My Dad (a banker) never talked about his politics although I always suspected he was always leaning to the right. On the other hand, I thought my Mom (who was a teacher) would have been a Democrat, She almost went as far as mentioning I dodge the Vietnam War draft by heading to Canada. Which of course I never did.

By now you are most likely thinking what does any of this have to do with being a transgender woman. One of the main things is my Mom and I never really had the chance to discuss how I really felt about my gender. I only brought up to her that I was a transvestite or cross dresser one time and it was after I was discharged from the Army. As suspected, she soundly rejected the possibility of me being feminine at all. In fact she offered to pay for a therapist because back in those days, we were still in the dark ages when any gender dysphoria was considered a mental illness. Plus, she was firmly rooted in the "greatest generation" mentality. The WWII/Great Depression group who were long on providing and short on emotion. Looking back now, I wish I would have brought it up to my Mom again before she passed to see if she would have at the least changed part of her thinking.

My Mom and I were much alike, I favored her in actions and in appearance. I even added her first name as my middle name when I had it legally changed years ago. Mainly because I feel she would have finally came to some sort of a begrudgingly acceptance of my authentic self over time. 

Most importantly, Mom taught me to think for myself  and to be as free as possible. In other words, not to be a fool. Ironically, she raised me so well to do it that it came back to haunt her when I finally had the courage to come out to her, or completely let her into my life. When she rejected me, that was it and we never talked about my gender dysphoria again before she passed away. I feel in many ways I was the fool for not pressing the transgender issue with her when the information began to become available. My excuse is life got in the way and I didn't. 

As far as my Dad goes, he was a wonderful provider and distant father. Coming out or letting him in to myself was never an option. Most likely similar to many of you. 

As I said, perhaps the biggest fool I faced was myself because I took so long to embrace who I really was in my life. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Destruction

Image from Mika Baumeister
on UnSplash

At various stages of my life I survived being so very self destructive to everything around me. 

Of course being gender dysphoric as well as bi-polar didn't help. Before I was diagnosed and received medications it seemed all I did was go from being very depressed to being very mean and nasty. I am surprised my wife was able to stay around as I tried to tear down everything I attempted to build. Often I would change jobs at a frenetic pace just to see if I could. During the process I uprooted and moved my wife and I from our native Ohio, to New York City, then back again to West Virginia. She didn't like the moves but came along anyway.

It took me awhile but finally I came to the conclusion I was trying to out run my gender issues by all the moving we were doing. Since my inner feminine self didn't respect all of the work was male self was doing to be a success, she did her part to resist and tear all the work down. Very self destructive to say the least. 

One of the biggest pillars of my life which was left was my marriage to my second wife which I write about often since it lasted twenty five years. She knew I was a cross dresser or transvestite from the very beginning so in many ways dressing like a woman for me was a non starter with her. She didn't really care and/or put up with it. The deciding factor came when I began to feel the urge to see if I could actually live as a transgender woman. I can still hear her words echoing in my head, I never signed up to live with another woman. After tremendous gender focused battles and me essentially cheating on her by leaving the house behind her back, I finally gave in and tried to purge most all of my feminine belongings before she passed away. I view the whole experience now as a fight between two strong willed women, my wife and my female self.

After I began the MtF gender transition to living life as a transgender woman, I needed to go through a relearning process of sorts to not be so self destructive. Among other things, I needed to dress more conservatively to blend in to where I wanted to go and I needed to be much more wiser when I did it. I almost learned the hard way about being in the wrong place at the wrong time as a trans woman. My male safety privileges were stripped from me when I crossed the gender border and I needed to learn the new rules of being a woman...fast. 

As it turned out, my new feminine self was much less self destructive than my old male self. Once she had finally got her way, she wanted to keep it and build a much more pleasant life.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Planning Ahead

Image from Mohamed Nohassi
on UnSplash 

At some point in my transgender MtF transition I was forced to plan ahead.

The point I am referring to is when I came to the point I knew I was going to attempt to go "all the way". When I did, I needed to seriously consider first of all how I was going to be able to support myself. I worked at a job which was very male dominated and relied on serving the public, so I knew my company would resist my gender changes. Plus I couldn't even imagine how a kitchen crew would react to a transgender manager. 

I ended up taking the easy way out and was able to retire early on my Social Security benefits and augment them by selling the houseful of antiques and collectibles my wife and I had obtained over the years. Between the two, I managed to support myself as a novice transgender woman. Perhaps what I didn't plan so well for was the experience of actually living as a trans woman. Once I threw away or donated all of my male clothes, acquiring an everyday women's wardrobe proved challenging. I learned very quickly I couldn't be the "pretty pretty princess" I was for most of my transvestite or cross dressing years on a daily basis. I needed to fall in line with the women around me and dress for comfort when they went about their normal life's. Blending became my word of the day when I faced the reality of dressing feminine on a daily basis.

Once I conquered dressing the part, I then needed to adjust to going to places I may  have felt uncomfortable in as a transgender woman. Examples included places such as auto parts stores all the way to junk yards when Liz and I searched for a hard to find part for our old car. Through it all, I tried to keep my head up and deal with situations (which for the most part) never came up. What I didn't realize was  dealing with other women on a daily basis would prove to be the most challenging experience for me. All of a sudden, I was forced into deeper communication other than I love your ear-rings. Specifically from women who wanted to pry into who they were communicating with. Some were gentle and calculating while others were more blunt and to the point. Similar to how a man would attack. The most important point was I learned quickly how to  protect myself when I began to be out on a daily basis as a transgender woman.

I learned all the planning in the world all of a sudden didn't do me any good. I was making good on a lifetime gender dream and there was no turning back. I just can't say enough how big the changes were when I finally had the courage to go full time. I will never forget the experience and how fulfilling it was for me. 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Civil War

Image from Valentin Salja
on UnSplash

When I see a gender bigot of any sort  who says we transgender women or men had a choice of our gender lifestyles. I just shake my head in disbelief. Having any sort of a choice in my gender battles has always been the furthest  thing in my mind.

In my case, the best way I can describe the torment of the transgender dysphoria I went through was similar to fighting an individual civil war. My feminine side fought a vicious war to free herself from the male self who was fighting equally as hard to remain in control. Even though deep down he knew the existence was built on a false premise. From a very early age, I knew I deeply admired the girls and dreamed of how it would be to have the chance to be the cheerleader instead of the defensive end on the football team. A prime example among others including not have to wear the same old boring clothes. I so envied the girls with their pretty dresses and shoes.

None of my envy did me any good and my civil war grew more intense the more I did to relieve the problem. Even though I was able to increase my meager wardrobe of feminine clothes, the more I wanted. Especially when I was able to buy my own makeup and began to experiment ever more seriously when I viewed my new image in the mirror. Even though most of my attempts were predictably clownish, I slowly became more skilled and every now and then even was able to catch a glimpse of my true inner female in the mirror. Sadly, when I did, I usually wanted more which did nothing to stop my civil war.    

Through it all, my male self behaved predictably. He held on, refusing to give up any of his battlefield. He made the process much more difficult by internalizing his pain. Looking back, he fought back the only way he knew, to be brave and fight on. He thought I would lose most of my beloved hobbies such as sports , as well as friends, if my female took over after winning the civil war I was going through. Even though most all of that turned out to be false, the fear was real.

All my gender battles created extreme pressure within me. Finally the strain culminated with me attempting a self harm or suicide attempt. Fortunately I wasn't very good and failed. From the attempt I began to think back at all the other self destructive attempts I tried in my life. Not all as dramatic but all equally as sad. If I had not been busy fighting my own destructive civil war, how much more could I have accomplished in my life. 

No matter how you cut it, civil wars are never kind or pleasant and transgender civil wars are no different.  

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 ...