Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Jealousy Issues

Image from the Jessie Hart 
Archives.

Many times during my life, my relationship with women or even girls went from being envious all the way to being out and out jealous. Christmas was a prime example when I had to sit back and watch my girl cousins in their pretty new dresses and outfits while I was stuck in my boring shirt and tie feeling something like a stuffed sausage. Not to mention the gifts they received versus my unwanted boy toys. The best I could hope for was to receive a small amount of cash for a gift which I could use to sneak out and buy me makeup or other feminine items.

When I was younger, I always held out the hope my life would change for the better but it never did around women until much later. 

In middle school when the puberty hormones began to kick in for both genders, my feelings of jealousy began to increase also. Here I was developing unwanted angles to my body as well as extra facial hair while the girls around me were gaining curves was sometimes unbearable. Testosterone poisoning was ruining my life and every night I would go to sleep wishing I could wake up with all the attributes the girls around me had. Of course that never happened and life went on the best as possible.

On top of all my other gender envy, the Vietnam War began to be a very real risk for me. Spending time in the military away from my all too brief cross dressing time in front of the mirror was a reality I never wanted to face, until I did. In addition, how fair was it, the women around me never had to face such a bump in the road? I kept thinking why me until I was drafted and went ahead and served my time in the military the same as my Dad before me and as my friends around me. Tragically, I knew a few friends who only returned in boxes. Proving death was a very real threat.

Even though I was still very jealous of the women around me, I attempted to channel my envy in a positive manner. I say try because I know now looking back how I failed. There were so many times, I didn't bother to notice or take the effort to mention how attractive my wife looked. All the time I knew how insecure she was and I should have stepped up to help her, more than I ever did. Looking back, I was too jealous of her because she was living the life I wanted to live. Then she was gone (passed away) and I never had the chance to recoup my losses. 

In place of my jealousy issues, I tried my best to learn more and more about a woman's real life and why I never should have been as envious or jealous as I became. I never took a moment to stop and realize the other gender grass wasn't always as green as I thought it was. As I pursued a life as a transgender woman on gender affirming hormones, I discovered a new world beyond one with all the white male privileges I took for granted. Such as just having a portion of my daily respect automatically given to me because of my gender. The main privileges were job advancement and personal security. 

Cis-women on the other hand have to go through the intense hormonal changes their body goes through to prepare them for possible motherhood. Periods and later on, menopause are just a few of the problems women have to face more dramatically than men. I always thought too, it would have been better to have been the gender which was the prettier one as well as the pursued one as men always needed to be the one to ask someone out. I so badly wanted to be the one who was invited which was partially because I was always so shy around women or girls. 

Fortunately I don't think my jealousy issues ever reached a toxic level. More or less I just retreated into my gender shell and hoped for a better day to come. Which it did when at the age of sixty I finally came out full time as a transgender woman. After a lifetime of studying women, I think I took the shorter path to my gender freedom, while at the same time putting all of my gender envy behind me. In many ways each of the binary genders has their own weights to bear as they go through life. 

The best we can hope for is, the process makes us stronger. 

  

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Loose Ends

 

Image from the Jessie Hart
Archives

With this post, I have several loose ends to tie up and move on from...for awhile.

Perhaps the most important is my health. I finally received the information from my Veteran's Administration doctors from my recent colonoscopy. Fortunately, everything they removed turned out to be non-cancerous and I was cleared to not return for three years. A real improvement over the last time I went through the procedure only a year ago. I was paranoid I would have to do it again so soon, or worse they would find signs of cancer. As I always like to say, without my health I am nothing. 

Another loose end was a recent meet and greet I went to with a group of diverse friends I am part of. The morning started out with the knowledge my wife Liz, who wasn't feeling good would not be going with me to the brunch which was going to be held at a close by upscale brew pub. Liz and I are normally inseparable, so I knew I would miss her. For the occasion, I wore my new boots, favorite cream colored sweater and dark leggings, Light makeup and what passed for a quick brushing of my hair and I actually felt pretty good about myself. What could go wrong? A heavy cold rain which ruined my hair on the way in because I forgot an umbrella was the first thing which went wrong. Of course I survived a little rain, didn't melt and headed in to the crowded venue  As it turned out my group was clear across the room and I received little or no extra attention as I made my way back to them. So again, I was feeling good about myself. 

All was good until the server came back to take our orders. Out of the clear blue sky (which was cloudy) when it was my turn to order she turned to me and said, can I help you "Sir". The one little word, completely ruined my mood as I told her I wasn't a "Sir." She apologized twice but the damage was already done and it took me awhile to restore my confidence as a transgender woman. The damage went so far to me that I felt sorry for my friend who was sitting next to me and heard what the server said and I think felt my shock. Other than the shaky beginnings, the rest of the meet and greet went well and I headed off to do other errands and be home so I could watch the football playoffs. 

Another loose end I have been waiting to hear about is the outreach idea I had from the Alzheimer's Association diversity group I am a part of. They were/are trying to set me up to do an interview for a statewide Ohio publication called the "Buckeye Flame." Recently I talked virtually to one of the women who was responsible for setting up the interview and she told me she would talk to the person who would be doing it for a time. Since it has been a very difficult time in Ohio for all transgender women and trans men, due to all the anti transgender laws being passed in the legislature, I am sure the publication has bigger fish to fry than talking to me. One way or another, I am sure I will find out more at a upcoming diversity council meeting I will be attending virtually soon. 

For now, that is all the loose ends of my life which need to be tied up. Hopefully, there will be more outreach coming up soon to write about. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Macho Remembered

Image from the Jessie Hart Archives
 I don't think I ever considered myself as a macho guy but then again, there were times I needed to be. 

Those were the times on the football field, in the Army
or when I was at work when my macho image worked to my advantage. Mainly because I needed it to. In fact, on occasion, I came to rely upon it to do better in life. On other occasions, my main macho props were cigars and beer. 

Interestingly, when I transitioned, I discovered a new side of macho. Very early on when I was coming out as a novice transgender woman, I shied away from any contact with a man I felt was macho. I thought he would recoil at any interaction with me. Slowly but surely, I learned none of it  rarely ever happened. For the most part the majority of all men tended to ignore me  anyhow and the pressure to succeed went away. 

The biggest example I can recall is the time I developed a friendship with a big bear of a guy at one of the venue's where I was a regular. He was part of a small group of diverse people I met on a weekly basis. While I was part of the group, the guy also fell victim to an ill-fated marriage to another member of the group, a long dark haired beauty who also was a hair dresser as well as part time exotic dancer. As you most likely can imagine the marriage just wouldn't work. What happened was, the remainder of the group basically shunned him. All except me. I gave him a shoulder to lean on. What I neglected to mention was the guy owned a classic motorcycle. Even though I was never really a fan of motorcycles, I could appreciate the inherent beauty of the machine and I could pass along my ideas to him.

It wasn't long before he came into the venue and ended up setting next to me to talk. He was the first macho guy I became comfortable with but sadly he moved on too soon when he transferred to another lumber yard in a neighboring town. I never had the chance to hitch a ride on the back of his classic bike. From him I learned confidence in my dealings with all men. Including the first time I was asked out to dinner from a transgender man. 

Which leads me to yet another different attraction I always felt when I was with a group of lesbians. If you don't know, lesbians range all the way from lipstick women to super butch lesbians. For whatever reason, I never had any problem attracting to and relating to the super butch spectrums of lesbian women. I have never been shy writing about the time the super butch cornered me and strongly suggested I sing karaoke with her. I very poorly did it and took off before she had any other chances to talk to me. 

Oddly, my interactions with macho guys also extended into the male gay community. When Liz and I went to Mardi Gras several years ago we ended up in a gay bar heavily frequented by "bears" or macho bearded large men. There, as well as several Prides we went to, I had "Bears" smile and speak to me. 

Perhaps it all has to do with the aura I project. I lived such a long portion of my life attempting to survive in a male world, I still have an in-depth knowledge of the culture. Which doesn't explain the paranoia I always felt when dealing with men. Perhaps I will never lose my fear. 

Finally, what I also learned was many men who project as macho really aren't in the toxic sense and they are more secure in their masculinity. Which makes them safer for all women... Cis-gender and transgender. We need more non toxic men.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Running as Hard as I Can

Image from UnSplash

Throughout my life, I frenetically ran from one thing to another.

In theory I was never much of a runner and only ran  when I was forced to during times I was in the Army and/or played football. So running never came naturally to me. for some reason though, when I was discharged from the military was when I free to face the world again would I settle down or run again. My answer started to emerge. It didn't take long as  I remembered when I was discharged and was heading home to Ohio from Ft. Dix in New Jersey. Before I arrived home, I had the entire Pennsylvania Turnpike to drive. Before I did so,  I paused for a second to ponder what I was going to do with my life. Surprisingly, at that time gender played just a small part of my future. Perhaps I was saving my gender issues for the future. 

Possibly also, at the time, I was still basking in the glow of coming out as a transvestite or cross dresser to three of my closest friends in the Army. Included in the group was a woman who was also in the Army. We had worked out she would meet me following her discharge and we would decide what would come next in our relationship. After we decided to visit her parents in California from Ohio, we decided to get married and as I said, she was fully versed in my gender issues. At least to the point which I considered them to be. At the time, I considered myself a serious cross dresser and I had a long way to go to being transgender.

As time went by, I switched professions from being a commercial radio disc jockey to the restaurant industry which at the time was expanding rapidly. To support my new family (daughter), I needed to be able to make more money. During the same time, I wedged in buying a small bar with a friend which eventually became a fairly successful pizza and beer restaurant. To make matters worse, I was beginning to feel the gender pressures I would need somehow to learn to live with. Even though I managed to dress in drag on various Halloween parties I went to, the rest of the time, I lived in my dark lonely gender closet knowing the next day I would be back in my male drag. 

To make up for my issues, I tried to offset my thoughts by moving our home as well as switching jobs. In addition, when I could, I tried to participate in civic groups which gave back to the community. Anything it seemed to take my mind off my desire to be feminine. Along the way my second wife and I moved from our native Ohio to the New York City metro area and then back to a new very rural area of Ohio which bordered on West Virginia. In the space of a couple years we went from living in very upscale Westchester County, New York to living in a farmhouse near the Muskingum River in Ohio where we heated with wood and needed water trucked in during times of the year which were drier than others. I was running from my problems as fast as I could.

The end result was I finally had enough and I needed to face my problems head on. One lonely night, I realized I had experienced enough of living a transgender life, I wanted to live it full time. My old male self had lost the battle and my new life felt so natural. 

It turned out I was never very good at running to start with. 


   

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Gender Patterns

 

Witches Ball Image, I am on the 
Left from the Jessie Hart 
Archive

It is very easy if you take the time to listen to certain transphobic people who want to simplify the whole concept of human gender to know they are all wrong. It's the old men are men and women are women argument. As with any gender argument, there are grey areas which come up to cloud any discussion.

Take birth certificates for example. Sometimes it is not so cut and dry when the birthing doctor has to decide which gender a baby is when they are born. Intersex babies are left completely out of the decision process and are often left on their own to struggle later in life. The problem becomes when the child is forced to live a life they don't ever feel natural in. Or being the round peg forced into a square gender hole. The process begins early in life with pink or blue clothing all the way to ill-advised gender reveal parties. A child is doomed from the start to accept the gender pattern which is forced on them.

The pattern I described very much was how my early life turned out. I was born into a very male dominated family where my only other sibling was a slightly younger brother. So we did all the boy things like sports and playing in the woods. Plus I was raised in the 1950's to "greatest generation" parents who survived the great depression as well as World War II. They very much wanted boys and even though I resisted receiving gifts such as trucks and BB Guns, I received them anyhow instead of the dolls and toy kitchens I always wanted. 

Again and again, I desperately needed to hide my feminine self.  In order to just survive, I needed to develop methods of survival in a male world. I did the best I could to compete in sports and work on model cars. It seemed, the harder I tried, the worse I did. Even so, I was successful enough to keep the bullies away as I worked on the gender patterns I never really wanted. 

Until I really started to transition, I never completely realized how deeply entrenched I was in my fake male gender pattern. In the beginning, it was a simple as mastering makeup or trying my best to move like a woman. Then when I realized I was transgender my world needed to undergo a major change. Was I still going to keep fighting my trans urges or give in and lose all contact with the male patterns  I worked so long and hard to establish. 

In the end, I think no matter how hard I tried, I ended up being some sort of a gender hybrid. I was feminine enough to be accepted to play in the girl's sandbox, while at the same time just retaining just enough of my old male self to make me intriguing enough to the world to again just get by. Also, what the women around me never realized was how much I was watching and learning from all of them. It all went back to the days years ago when my second wife challenged me by saying how much I didn't know about women. She was right and it took me years to realize what she meant. To simplify her thought pattern (I think), she meant I would have to give up all of my male privileges' and start all over again as a transgender woman. Years later I made it.

Somehow, I think all the years I had spent carefully watching women came back to really help me when I set out to establish a new feminine gender pattern. I needed to factor in the reality of being out in the world which made my life so much more fulfilling. 

Friday, January 26, 2024

A Toxic Relationship

 

Image from Jurien Huggins
on UnSplash

One of the problems I faced when I went down the gender transition route I chose was facing a huge toxic relationship. 

 More than likely, many of you regulars assume I am writing about my second wife, who I was married to for twenty five years until she unexpectedly passed away at the age of fifty from a massive heart attack. In reality, the toxicity I am referring to was within myself. I wouldn't wish the ripping and tearing I went through from my battling binary genders on anyone. In other words, my old male self was fighting the best he could against me learning and living a feminine life. Deep down I feel he knew he was fighting a losing battle, which made everything so much worse. 

What happened was, following the brief moments of gender euphoria I experienced along my journey, I really resented having to go back to my male world. When I did, I took my frustration out on whomever was closest to me. In doing so, I was trying to lose relationships and jobs I had in the meantime. Somehow, through all my gender toxic tendencies, my wife and I managed to stay together. Jobs, were a different story as I lost several due to my foul temperament. I was lucky in that I was in a rapidly expanding industry at the time and had acquired a strong network of acquaintances who helped me obtain new employment. Finding all those jobs however just enabled me to be even more spoiled and toxic.

Speaking of being spoiled, along the way, I was perfecting my knowledge of women's fashion and makeup so I was able to cross dress myself better than ever before. Then, I started to go public more often in what would turn out to be the earliest stages of realizing I was a transgender woman and not a very serious cross dresser. A huge difference when it came to understanding why I was so toxic. The more time I spent trying to maintain my old unwanted male lifestyle, seemed to be a waste of time when all I did was daydream about being a woman. Mainly because all of a sudden, it seemed possible I could. If I went on my appearance only. Which of course I leaned later was just a small part of crossing the gender border to arrive at where I wanted to be.  

Through it all, my wife managed to stick it out with me, even though she was completely against me beginning gender affirming hormones and transitioning any further. In many ways I was completely torn. On one side, I loved her completely but on the other resented her for being the woman I always wanted to be. It would have been interesting if she would have lived if we could ever worked out the biggest puzzle I had. Which of course was my transgender inner woman who increasingly was struggling to live her own life. The end result was one night I could take the stress no longer and I tried suicide as an end to my torment. Happily now, I was a failure and can share my feelings with others who assume my path to get here was so smooth. Destiny and good genetics were on myside as I was able to work my way through the lonely days of my life and live long enough to come out of the other side. 

So, ironically, the biggest toxic relationship I had in my life was with myself. When I was able to understand the reason behind all of my torment, the fog went away and I was able to understand where I needed to go to live a better life.     

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Upping your Game

 

Image from Brian Kyed on
UnSplash

As I followed my winding gender path towards living a life as a fulltime transgender woman, there were many times when I needed to up my game if I wanted to keep going.

Along the way, there were simply too many blind curves and dead ends to count. For some reason, I hitched up my new big girl panties and proceeded forward. Sometimes it was just a touch of gender euphoria I experienced which kept me going. For some reason, one of the euphoric experiences I felt was one of the nights I went to a diverse private gender party in nearby Columbus, Ohio. For the evening I decided to match up my black tights with my black shorts, loose black net sweater and red wig, I was aiming for an upscale casual look and was confident I achieved it. What escapes me now is what my wife was doing that evening because I am sure she would have disapproved. No matter what outfit I put together to wear. I just know for whatever reason, she was not there. Leaving me free to explore and explore I did.  

At the party, I was always used to upping my game because often there were the prettiest of the pretty people attending. I knew I couldn't out do them but just did not want to embarrass myself either. It turned out I didn't at the party which turned out to be a look into the future for me when it came to my sexuality. During the evening I met and got along with a lesbian who was attending for the first time. In fact, we got along so well, we decided to leave the party and go downtown to a well known lesbian venue I had been to many times. Nothing really happened between us and we returned to the party. The importance of the meeting was I proved to myself I could conceivably live a life as a transgender lesbian if I upped my game enough. If I did, I wouldn't have to ever worry about attracting a standoffish man again. Who, for the most part ignored me or treated me as some sort of a fetish object.  

As it turned out, just when I thought I had reached a successful stopping point to rest in my gender journey, something else came along and again and again I needed to up my game. I didn't realize until much later I was building a whole new person and needed all the help I could get. I found I was doing so much more than just doing my best to appear as a woman, I needed to communicate with the entire world as one also. On occasion, the only clarity I had was I knew I needed to keep going and some day I might be able to live my lifelong dream of living a feminine life. 

Ironically, I was able to find my way thanks to a close group of lesbian friends I found and was accepted by. In addition to my other life lessons I learned the basics of being a woman who did not need the validation of a man to thrive in the world. Thanks to them, I was able to keep upping my game and progressing along my gender path as I was losing all of my male privilege. 

Perhaps, most importantly, I didn't have to worry about my sexuality anymore and was able to eventually marry my wife Liz who identified as a lesbian also. She really helped me to up my game and succeed in life as a trans woman. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Pockets of Insecurity

Girls Night Out, I am Bottom Left
Image from the Jessie Hart Archives.
 Where I live in suburban Cincinnati, it has been rare in the past decade when I have ever been harassed for being transgender. In fact, I think the only time it happened was when I first moved down here approximately ten years ago.

However, if I travel a few more miles east into a neighboring county, I always find myself in a decidedly redneck or MAGA areas. One of the most memorable occasions took place two times when the Wiccan group I was part of had garage sales in a small village in the middle of the area I am referring to. Here we were on a Sunday morning and afternoon set up just outside of a big box store selling crafts and baked goods to interested people. Yes I was scared!

I thought, how the heck did a transgender Wiccan trans woman end up in an heavily redneck area on a Sunday? One in a million I thought. Then I was wrong, there was another trans woman trying her best to come out in a hostile world who owned a house not far from where I was. We have kept track of each other over the years through social media and recently has said she has had more than her share of problems from her world. She has been subjected to everything from old ladies shaking their fingers at her at the grocery store, all the way to men yelling derogatory things from their cars. Gender bigots everywhere it seems for my poor friend. 

The frustrating part is she presents well except for the usual problems with her height and voice. Naturally, she has expressed her frustration with living in the entire Cincinnati area. Several others, including me, mentioned it wasn't the entire metro area, just where she lived. 

Sadly, in many ways, my friend is stuck in a small way in the same problems all transgender women and trans men have living in Ohio. Even though, the metropolitan areas of the state are inviting, diverse and liberal. the redneck Republican politicians are now trying their best to erase all of the gains and rights trans Ohioan's have gained over the years. Now including even the rights to gaining healthcare for gender affirming hormones and beyond. In doing so, the state is threatening to come after the very clinics which work with the trans population. If it happens, it will be scary to see if the states' intrusion into my life will reach all the way to my Veteran's Administration health care. Which, for me has been overwhelming positive when it came to my gender affirming care.

The moral to the story is, no matter where you are or how far along you are in your transition, you better be aware of what your future could hold. Even though you are deep in your closet, you need to vote accordingly for your future. 

As far as my friend goes, I hope she finds away around all the gender bigots and discovers a way to live an authentic life. 



Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Passing Privilege?

 

"Cheap Sun Glasses"
from the Jessie Hart
Archives



As we make it through the various stages of our gender journeys, often we are overly concerned with our appearance.

Very early on I learned my looks, or lack of them, were referred to how I presented as a feminine person. If I was a success, I "passed" and if I failed the term I most often heard from within the cross dressing community was I was "clocked" as a man in a dress. So I began to become more and more obsessed with "passing" as a woman in public. The problem was, I thought I was achieving success when I was admiring myself in the mirror and then failed miserably when I tried my best to pass in public. The process all led to my well documented years of thinking (or confusing) sexy with trashiness when I cross dressed. What maybe looked good on a teenaged girl, most certainly didn't look good on me. Undeterred, still I persisted. Finally I made it through my so called teen aged girl years and into womanhood and started to work on blending in with the other women around me. 


All of a sudden, I found I could discover just a small amount of passing privilege. In my case, it meant not being stared at to the point of even being laughed at. I could concentrate on the brief gender euphoria I was feeling by just being in the world as my feminine self.  One of the tricks I used to judge the world's reaction to me was to wear sunglasses. When I did so, I could see how others were looking at me without being obvious. My "cheap sunglasses" worked well from a fashion standpoint as well as a tool to see if I had gained any passing privilege. 

It took me years longer to discover what any sort of a woman's gender privilege was going to mean to me anyhow. When I first began to become successful as a novice transgender woman, the only privilege I could notice was when a man would stop and hold a door open for me. The more I experimented in the world, the more I learned how wrong I was about the passing privilege and/or feminine privilege's I was gaining. Nothing really happened until I was able to hold my head up in the world and quit being so shy about myself. After all, I was doing nothing wrong and if someone else had a problem with me, it was their problem. Not mine to solve or run from. 

When I first was able to be prescribed gender affirming hormones for the first time, I suddenly learned more of what feminine privilege was all about. As my initial dosage increased, I found I had a different view of the world. As my senses became more in tune of what was going on around me, my world just grew softer. I could not believe the changes. 

I think my final bout of passing privilege also came with the external femininizing results from the hormones. Since I had never been a "natural" when it came to trying a male to female gender transition, I needed all the help I could get. Most certainly hormones aren't for everyone, but they sure were for me.

These days, I mostly just present as old. I have a natural passing privilege.  


Monday, January 22, 2024

The Biggest Sacrifice?

 

Image compliments of Racquel.

When transgender women cross the gender border into a feminine world, we face losing many things. 

Naturally, we have to consider the three "F's" or Family, Friends and Finances. All major losses in our lives. In fact, they are so important I get a chuckle when someone says being trans is some sort of a choice. If indeed it was a choice to undertake such a radical life change, I would have certainly chosen an easier path. With easier sacrifices. 

In the early years of my life I was predictably naïve when I thought cross dressing in girls clothes was sacrificing just my male existence. It took me years of living, as well as accumulating white male privileges, to learn how much more I could lose. As far as the first two "F's" would go, I was fortunate in my results. I lost all contact with my only sibling, a brother but gained so much more through adding a bigger more accepting family through contacts such as my daughter and wife Liz. Thanks to women such as Kim, I was able to expand my friends into an accepting world of cis women who taught me so much about the life I wanted to pursue. I even had a close transgender woman friend (Racquel) who I would socialize with on a regular basis. Surprisingly, I found I had an easier time making friends as a trans woman than I ever did as a man.  In addition, Racquel and I had more than one interesting adventure at venues when rednecks played "Dude Looks Like a Lady" on the juke box eventually leading to the manager kicking us out that evening and not our bigoted tormenters. She is also the one who said I passed out of sheer willpower. 

As I progressed down my gender path to living more and more as a trans woman, I discovered more and more sacrifices I would have to make. One evening comes to mind when I was first coming out, somehow I found myself in a group of men. I found out quite early not to try to interact at all when I was ignored when I tried to talk and express my opinion. So much for maintaining my intelligence or any workable knowledge as a woman. One male privilege down to be sure but I found the biggest one was yet to come. 

The biggest privilege to lose was my access to personal security. I was always a fairly good sized man and could handle myself well enough to get by. The first time I encountered problems was when I was a cross dresser at a party of my friends in Columbus, Ohio. The attendees were normally very diverse and included anyone from transsexuals to lesbians to men who were cross dresser "admirers." One night I was cornered in my too short mini dress by a huge admirer and needed to be rescued by my highly disapproving wife. In an instant, the damage was done and I learned how easily it was for a woman to be overpowered and compromised by a much larger man. 

The other lesson I learned was the one I mentioned in yesterday's post. It happened when I left a gay venue cross dressed in my heels and hose and ran right into two men on a dark deserted city street. As I said, I was fortunate when I was panhandled for a five dollar bill and allowed to go on my way. These two happenings taught me valuable lessons on keeping myself safe in my new feminine world. All I was really doing was learning what cis-gender women grew up knowing their entire lives. 

So all in all, with a lot of help from the world and friends, my sacrifices turned out to be less severe than the process should have been. And, so worth it! 

 


Sunday, January 21, 2024

Is it Sustainable?

 

Image from the Jessie Hart
Archives

When I was cross dressing for myself in the mirror, it was easy to imagine me sustaining how I felt when I put on my small stash of feminine clothes. It seemed as if the feelings could go on forever. Then all too quickly I found I couldn't sustain my feelings of gender euphoria any more than a couple of days at the most.

At that point, I began to wonder about the feelings the clothes brought on to start with. I recognized at a very early age more was going on than just appearing pretty to myself in the mirror. I wanted to be the girl I had become, rather than just look like her. If I knew then what I know now, I would know my feelings would later lead me to discovering a transgender life. Perhaps if I thought it would be sustainable, I may have transitioned earlier.

One of the main problems with sustaining myself as a trans woman was maintaining a presentable feminine appearance. I worked hard to do it and when the mirror in the women's restroom I went to one night in a gay venue where I was meeting two lesbian friends told me I looked good, my confidence soared. It was summer and I was dressed all in black that night with  a sleeveless silky top with black flowing pants. I finished the outfit off with my favorite black sparkly sandals and long straight black wig. Fortunately by this time in my life, I learned the hard way my male privilege of personal security was gone so when I left, I asked my friends to walk me to my car which was parked in a dark urban parking lot. I had been there before and had been stopped by two men seeking money. Luckily a mere five dollars got me out of the bind I was in.

Keeping the appearance issue in mind, my biggest sustainability issue came from worrying how I would support myself if I transitioned. The industry I worked in, I knew would be very difficult  to succeed in if I suddenly changed my gender from male to female. So I knew I would have to find another way of financial support. What I came up with was getting old and just taking the early retirement option of Social Security. It wasn't a lot of money but it was enough to get me by and save me the extreme potential problems of trying to come out at a new job. 

So with all the help I discovered from my Veterans Administration health, doors opened for me which I never thought possible. The prime one was all the help I received when I finally decided to begin gender affirming hormones or HRT. A therapist was provided as well as my medication co-pay for all the meds I needed to really change my life. With those meds, at a price I could afford, my long term sustainability was secure. 

Perhaps the tragic aspect of all of this is almost all of my friends and close family had passed on. Leaving me with fewer and fewer people to come out to. However, times of potential gender trauma were greatly reduced and new doors were opened to me I never dreamed of as a transgender woman. The sustainability was there and so was I.  

Saturday, January 20, 2024

My Eyes are Up Here

 

Image from UnSplash

As I increased my knowledge of male to female cross dressing, I immediately learned the power of how my breasts appeared to the world. If I could attract the eyes away from my big shoulders to my breasts, I was successful. 

At that point I began to seriously experiment with how I could make my breast forms be as attractive as I could while on the very limited budget I was on. As I remember, stuffing my Mom's bra with socks was the only way I could go. Since my only feminine interaction was with the mirror in the hallway, having realistic breasts was mostly just in my imagination. It was about this time too, when I discovered and was very jealous of the teen aged girls around me who were suddenly sprouting their own breasts and wearing brand new training bras under tight sweaters. It was so unfair to me. So I set out to do much better with my own breast forms.

If my memory serves me correct, the next object I tried to use for breasts were foam nerf balls which were cheap and easy to come by. I still was far from satisfied with the results but it still was an improvement over rolled up socks. I needed to figure out what should be the next step in figuring out what to do about developing a better set of fake breasts. Along the way, I tried many ideas I read about mainly in the "Transvestia" magazine I received every couple of months. I know some of the cross dressers in the publication somehow were fans of using birdseed. Which I never ended up trying. Instead I went the water balloon route which went well until the predictable disaster happened to me when one broke. I really liked the balloon idea because they were cheap and I could use lukewarm water in them and approximate as close as I could to what I thought a real breast would feel like. Plus, I loved the way the balloons moved and bounced when I wore just the right bra. 

All was good with my new breasts until one night when I was headed to the women's room in one the venue's I was a regular in and unexpectedly one of my water balloons broke in the hallway leading to the restroom. The only good thing which came from it was no one else was in the hallway so I didn't have to explain to them I was pregnant and my water broke. I was able to pay my bill and quickly head for home. Finished with water balloon breasts forever.

My next step forward in the breast form department came when a cross dressing friend of mine in nearby Columbus, Ohio decided to purge all of his feminine belongings which included a nice set of silicone breast forms. I eagerly accepted the gifts and immediately stepped up my breast game. I ended up using the forms until I finally had the opportunity to join the women around me and have my own breasts thanks to gender affirming hormones. 

These days, even though I think my bigger body shape could support bigger breasts than I have been able to grow with the hormones, I think at this point in my life, I will stick with what I have in the breast department. 

It's interesting to me how much breast surgeries are being done these days for transgender and cis-gender women. In fact, I see big billboards around Cincinnati for plastic surgeons who will do the procedure completely for less than seven thousand dollars. I have the money saved but I think I could use it in better ways.

As it stands now, when someone looks me in the eye, they really do it.


Friday, January 19, 2024

Trip Number One

 

Hair after salon image 
Jessie Hart
Archives...

Way back when, one of the first priorities I had was coming out to my only child, a daughter. Of course I was properly scared to death the morning I told her at breakfast. 

It turned out all the paranoia I felt was unfounded when she wholeheartedly supported me. Which she does to this day. Outside of my wife Liz, she is one of my biggest transgender allies. Especially since her oldest child came out to her as trans, so she had some experience with the entire situation. 

When I came out to my daughter, I had a chance to let my hair grow out to the point where it could be styled professionally at a beauty salon. Which at the time seemed to be the impossible dream. It also was close to my birthday so as it turned out my birthday gift was a trip to her (daughter's) very upscale salon for a color and trim. 

Even though the entire idea of going to a women's beauty salon  really scared me, how could I refuse such a wonderful gift. Before I knew it, the time to meet her and go through with the visit was upon me. For my first visit my daughter came with me to essentially hold my hand, because I was almost ready to panic and run out the front door. But I didn't. As I nervously sat and waited with a cup of coffee, I wondered what was going to lie ahead and what color was I going to choose for my new hair. Since I had retired, I didn't have to worry about any negative responses from employers or fellow employees. Freed up from all that worry, I was able to worry about my choices.

Finally, it was my turn to be called back to my new stylist. Predictably, the salon itself was long and narrow with a single line of women in chairs being styled. Walking in front of all of them and feeling their eyes on me did not do me any favors when it came to my nervousness. After greetings were exchanged, the first priority was picking a color to change what was left of my dark hair which was my natural color. By mutual agreement between the stylist, my daughter and myself, we decided to go with a streaked light red and blond look. Plus, since my hair is naturally wavy, the stylist straightened it out. Which later on I found I didn't like.  

By the time all of this was happening, I thought I was getting a contact buzz from all the estrogen in the room. Through it all, I quickly discovered what I was missing by never being able to go to a woman's only space such as an upscale beauty salon. Before I moved, I ended up going back several times before I moved away to Cincinnati. Plus, the more I went, the more I relaxed and enjoyed the experience. 

It took awhile but I found and set up many appointments with a new stylist here in Cincinnati who happened to have a transgender son. Again she was very good at her craft and I enjoyed going to her for hair advice and stylings before she retired due to problems with her hands. With her though, the experience was singular because there were no gauntlet of women to walk past everytime I went. She had her own little cubical. 

I will forever be in debt to my daughter for her birthday gift so many years ago which brought me into the  world of beauty salons. From that point forward, I began to understand why women spend so much time and money on their hair.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Making Lists

Image from UnSplash

 Every once in a while I receive a question about how I transitioned into a different transgender world. 

For a time I made mental lists, outlining where I would go and what would I do. Before I became involved with lists, I needed to decide once and for all I was indeed a transgender woman and had transitioned from being a very serious cross dresser or not. Once I did, my existence became so much more complex. In essence I had to decide a new path for the rest of my life. What would I do about my family, friends and finances. It was all so easy and fun and games when my only worry was how I looked in the mirror. After I decided to do so much more, I really needed to make my mental lists for the gender challenges I was suddenly facing.

The first lists I made involved where I was going in the world. I needed to challenge myself and do extra trips away from the usual women's clothing stores and seemingly safe gay venues I was going to. My expanding life was all too predictable and provided me no chances to expand my new feminine perspectives. Clerks in stores were just interested for the most part in my money and the gay venues just mistakenly thought I was a drag queen. One big exception were the lesbian bars I discovered. I went primarily to two of them. I was hated in one and accepted in another. The lesbians in the second bar were intrigued by me and I was even asked one night to sing karaoke by a large butch who wouldn't take no for an answer. Since I am a terrible singer, I sang in a low background voice and somehow made it through my musical challenge. I crossed the evening off of my lists and made a mental note to attempt to never see her again. Which I did not. 

On occasion, my activities collided head on with me hiding all of this from my wife. When my wife needed to work her retail job at night, many times I would use the time to head out the door and explore knowing I would need the time to be home, take my makeup off and appear as if nothing happened when she returned. Many times I was not successful and a huge fight would ensue when she saw vestiges of eye makeup left behind. Somehow we were able to make it through the skirmishes and most of the time I made it home before her.

Many nights it was difficult to pull myself away from my list to keep from getting in trouble. I remember vividly the night another butch said to me she should take me home. I had no idea if she knew the truth about me and what she was bringing home but I was out of time and couldn't wait around to find out. I couldn't imagine what excuse I would have had to come with for my wife if I had explored the evening farther. I had to rip up my list and forget it, for a time. 

From the confidence I had built up in the lesbian venues I went to, I then listed sports bars as my next challenge. I had always enjoyed going to sports bars to drink beer and watch the big screens when I was a guy and wanted to see if I could do the same as a transgender woman. Fairly quickly I found I could and I needed a new list of goals to conquer. 

By this time, I was ready to try gender affirming hormones and plan ahead to the strong possibility of being able to discover a fulltime life as a trans woman. During this time, I was checking skills such as public communication off of my check lists and set out to try to conquer a brave new feminine world. Finally, my new life became second nature and I didn't need any more lists at all. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Supporting Casts

 

Girls Night Out. I am on the Left.
From the Jessie Hart Archives

One aspect of my gender journey, I don't mention enough is the importance of the supporting cast I had around me to help me along.

They clearly helped me during the times of my life when I was down and almost out when it came to me going any farther as a transgender woman. A prime example was when I started gender affirming hormones and was wondering if it was the right move to make. By just being a part of my life and understanding what I was going through brought about a significant need for moral support. Another example was when I began having hot flashes and my women friends (cis-gender) just smiled and said welcome to their world. Which is exactly where I wanted to be. 

Over the years, there was only one woman who held my gender issues against me. She was my first fiancé who in the past, one time cross dressed me head to toe as a woman. The whole process turned out to be a bittersweet experience. For the first time in my life I had tried to share my deepest secret with another person and turned out to be less than impressed with the entire outcome. When she had finished with my makeup, I saw no real improvement over my efforts which ended any ideas I had that women had an edge over cross dressers when it came to makeup applications. So, the sweet part was limited and doomed to fail to begin with. The bitter part came later on when my fiancé broke up with me after I refused to say I was gay in order to not be drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. Lesson learned and I went back into my deep dark gender closet for years until I met my first wife. Even though she always knew I was a cross dresser or transvestite, she never made a big deal about it. 

Around that time of my life the biggest support I received ironically came from a man. A stranger who was doing makeovers at a cross dresser mixer I attended. I put on my big girl panties, removed all my makeup and let this stranger work his makeup magic on my face. When he was finished, I couldn't believe the transformation. Plus, I was actually able to understand and redo the makeup steps and repeat them. The entire process takes me to my experiences with my second wife. Similar to my first wife, she knew I was a transvestite from day one in our marriage and even supported me...to an extent. Keep in mind, we were married for twenty five years and during this time, I was slowly transitioning more and more into the transgender woman I am today. Before my wife's untimely death, we had numerous fights over my desire to be a woman and begin gender affirming hormones. Her stance until the end was she didn't sign up to be with another woman. To make matters worse, I don't think she ever liked my inner feminine self and the two women battled continually.

After she passed on, it took me a few years for me to recover from the shock and get on with my life. One positive I carried with me was how affirming the presence of my feminine side turned out to be. As it turned out, destiny led me to other groups of women who essentially adopted me into their tribes and helped me to flourish. 

I can never say enough how much I learned from all our girls nights out together. Without all of them I can never imagine how much longer and which direction my transgender transition would have taken.  

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Empty Houses

Photo from the Jessie Hart
Archives
 As I grew up in a male world, I naturally adopted many male dominated activities and hobbies which I stored away in my house I had to build as a guy. 

Mainly because I was frantically chasing
my desire to be feminine, I sometimes jumped from activity to activity rapidly. Plus none of this was accounting for the traditional male things I was doing such as building a family and trying my best to provide as good of a house I could. As far as actual house goes, I was trying to follow in my Dad's shadow and come as close as I could to either remodel or build my own house. He built his own house while I worked hard to renovate an 1860's era brick tavern in the town I was from. I came close but I don't think he understood why I did it. 

Bu it wasn't easy. I needed to teach myself the basic's of plumbing and electricity among other important things associated with remodeling an old structure. The end result was my second wife and I were able to live comfortably there in the years before her death. Then, I was all alone with a couple dogs and a cat in this huge empty house. At that point, I needed to decide which direction my life would take physically and mentally. What I mean was, was I going to continue to try to live in the house I remodeled with all it's memories or try to move on. With all the animals of course. What I decided to do was make the house even emptier by selling all my wife and I's vintage collections on line and using the money to augment my Social Security money I was making. In doing so, I managed to keep the house going for awhile as I sought out the possibility of taking an early retirement. Eventually, years later, I was able to move us all in with my current wife Liz in nearby Cincinnati, Ohio. 

As it turned out, the physical aspect of having an empty house was much easier than the mental part. Since during my life, even though I started out shy, I became a rather social person with deep ties to my home town. Sadly, those ties had nothing to do with my increasingly dominant feminine self. With no one to stand in my way, I was actually able to pursue if I was indeed transgender or not. Or just a serious crossdresser who wanted to their best to look like a woman. Since I had the options and inspirations to discover my true self further, I finally gave in to my inner female and set out to attempt to build a new life.   

Surprisingly, leaving behind my old male life was easier than I anticipated. Destiny (and effort) led me to meeting a new group of cis-gendered women friends I could be social with and learn about a new house at the same time. Plus, all the years I dreamed about decorating a new empty gender house came to pass as I adopted relatively easy to my new gender affirming hormones and life as a fulltime transgender woman. Then my relationship with Liz, who I met on line flourished, and we were married years later after my daughter suggested we finally do it. She made sense, we married and moved on to a new chapter of building my feminine house and making it much less empty.

I am sure, when one discusses genders, not many humans get the chance to empty one house and start all over again in a new one. It is a scary yet exciting journey. 
 

Monday, January 15, 2024

Scaring the Public

Image from Raphael Renter
on UnSplash 

Often when we transgender folk encounter the public, sometimes we scare them. 

Sadly, we have been demonized by all the politicians in the country with all their ignorant bills in state legislatures. Seeing as how the majority of the public hasn't had the chance to ever meet a trans person up close and personal, they have nothing to work with. I ran into it the other day when I was at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Cincinnati. I was waiting for my wife Liz to park the car, I was leaning against the wall and most of the people just ignored me, except one. I guess these days, I pass easily as being old because she was insisting on finding me a wheelchair. As I talked her out of it, I saw the smallest pause in her demeanor and I thought, here it comes. She noticed I was transgender and there was something wrong with the picture I was presenting. My excuse was I was wearing no makeup at all because after all I was headed for a colonoscopy. Somehow, I didn't care how I would look for the procedure since they would be up close and personal with me anyhow and would know my gender truth. 

It is sad we scare the public so much seeing as how we are just trying to live as normal life as possible as the next so called hetero-gender straight persons. Another reason we scare the public so much I think  is because we have had the opportunities to see and learn what goes on behind the curtains of the opposite genders. The entire process gives us an unique perspective on society as a whole. When I was seriously involved in my gender transition, I had women friends several times ask me what their men were really thinking when they couldn't understand them. Since I had been on both sides of the gender border when I was suddenly shut out of conversations between men and I. So I had an idea of what the women were going through.

Fortunately I didn't have to explain to very many men why I would want to give up all the hard earned male privileges I had worked for. Most of all my close male friends had passed away by then and the remaining close women friends I had who first were surprised by my decision to transition into their world and then supported me. Their support of course meant the world to me and more than made up for the loss of contact with my only sibling, a younger brother and his right wing in laws who refused to support me. Since we transgender folks have been so demonized by the politicians, I hate to think what the relatives would think of me now. So I put them out of my mind. 

Hopefully, the younger generation will be able to erase all the potential damage to future generations of trans youth. What the politicians don't understand is we have been around forever and cannot be erased by laws. We may have to temporarily go slightly underground in some areas of the country but we will always continue to exist. 

As pockets of diversity continue to exist, transgender allies will continue to exist too. Perhaps by then, the average public will not be scared of us. All we want is acceptance and equal rights. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Supporting Casts

 Recently I wrote a post concerning (among other things) the power of having cis-gender women friends to help your transgender transition along at key times. If you are similar to me, you started your gender journey in the mirror and dreamed of the day when I could enlist another more experienced woman's aid with my wardrobe and makeup. 

In response, I received this comment from "Anonymous" : " It’s nice to see the positive side, the genuine sense of joy in transition. I know I have felt euphoria as I have gained the confidence to comfortably present myself authentically to the outside world. It’s interesting that you mention feeling more comfortable in the company of women. That has been my experience. I am not attracted to men physically. Frankly, I prefer women as friends or if given the opportunity, as intimate partners." 

Thanks for the comment! 

For some reason, during my life I have always felt more comfortable around women, even though there were very few girls in the neighborhood I grew up in. In order to survive, I needed to develop strong masculine tendencies to basically keep the bullies away. Even though I was successful, I still for whatever reason, never really had many close male friends Maybe, it was a result of my inner feminine self. Or an overreaction to thinking I maybe gay. My own inner form of homophobia. In later years I wondered if the fear of my own sexuality would carry over into my own inner transphobia. Essentially when I feared what would happen if I went too far into living as a fulltime transgender woman. 

In passing the other day, I mentioned certain early cross dressers or transvestites' who were seemingly using cigars to back up their reliance on so called male stereotypes. to which I received this partial comment from Georgette who happens to still smoke cigars, even though she has transitioned:

" Why do so many people break everything down to a Masculine or Feminine thing, I get a laugh or no response from many part-time CD/TV that will say that they still enjoy all those "Manly" things, I started smoking cigars in my teen years and still do. It is a world of difference from smoking in general."

Thanks to you Georgette  for the comment!  I think too many people over-simplify the masculine and feminine thing. Including me. Sometimes I get lazy when I write and get ahead of myself. On the other hand, describing the differences between the two main binary genders becomes very tedious for me. As far as cigars go, they were part of my life when I needed to out macho another man, or at least connect with him. Before I transitioned and grew away from them, a good cigar was a priority of me so I understand where Georgette is coming from in her comment. 

As far as comments go, I always invite any of you to participate in the blog by commenting and I will try to add in your input when I can, Sometimes it is applicable, sometimes not. The same way I felt I couldn't use the makeup advice I was given very early on when I was a novice crossdresser. If the truth be known, I probably had more experience with makeup than some of the women I was with. Later on was when I discovered how much I could learn from the women around me about really being women. As Georgette said going much farther than simply breaking down life to a masculine versus feminine existence. 

It took me awhile to finally learn my second wife was trying to tell me the same thing when she said I made a terrible woman. Perhaps my problem was I was making a terrible person to begin with. It took the emergence of my inner female to recognize the difference with the help of a strong supporting cast.  

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Positive Out Reach

 


Today I am able to pursue one of my favorite past-times, explaining my main passion in life, which is trying to address problems with LGBTQ or primarily transgender folks facing problems with assisted living conditions. 

I am providing an interview for a publication here in Ohio called "The Buckeye Flame."  My input is a part of an overall effort by the Alzheimer's Association  to provide experiences from people affected by the extremely ugly and tragic disease.  As you may recall, my Dad passed away from Alzheimer's years ago and in his last days deteriorated so far he could only drink water. 

Personally, one of my biggest fears is being de-gendered in an as assisted living facility. Meaning, I will be forced back to my old unwanted male self. In many ways, it would be cruel and unusual punishment  to have come as far as I have come in life, then be forced back into my gender closet. 

Since I have been chosen to be part of several people speaking out about their experiences with the disease, I feel I need to take the opportunity to tell my story and for people to appreciate it. 

My opportunity to network my passion has come because I became part of the Greater Cincinnati Alzheimer's diversity committee. Since my representation as a transgender woman is so rare, opportunities to speak out have become more common. 

Sadly, my chances to interact with others in the LGBTQ Veterans community have lessened with the departure of my longtime therapist who served as group leader or facilitator for group meetings where I could share my passions. 

All in all, it will be interesting to see how far this can go towards meeting my goal of letting as many people know as I can of the bad possibilities we face as we age.  

Friday, January 12, 2024

It's Your Journey

 

Image from the Jessie Hart
Archives...


There are many different paths on our transgender journeys. Some are eerily similar some are very different.

On occasion, our paths align due to age considerations. We were the ones who grew up in the pre-internet days before it was invented as well as the social media which has become all so powerful. We are the ones who grew up in very lonely and dark gender closets which made it feel as if we were the only ones in the world who wanted to be another gender. At that point many of us chose to subscribe to Virginia Prince and then received our cherished and closely guarded issues of Transvestia. The magazine Prince published. 

Perhaps you are younger and experienced another journey through the internet. I remember vividly the days when my wife and I could afford our first computer along with the ultra slow dial-up internet. Almost immediately I found myself in trouble when my wife caught me corresponding with a like minded individual on a message board in a nearby town. She turned to be more computer savvy than me and learned to track my movements on our system. What I learned was, I needed to better hide what I was doing or stay off the message boards all together.   

At that point, I was using my issues of Transvestia to locate transvestite mixers close enough to me in Ohio so I could travel to them. When I did, I was able to see and meet other cross dressers who were following similar journeys as well as many who weren't. There were the ones who seemingly trying to out run their feminine desires by still acting super masculine in a dress and heels. I certainly didn't feel a part of that cigar smoking crowd. (Before cigars became cool for women). Then there were the future transsexuals on the other end of the spectrum. They were impossibly feminine and I felt were far out of my league as I was very insecure about my appearance as a cross dresser. Even though I wanted to be a part of their world, it was difficult to be admitted. I partially solved my problem with blatantly tagging along with the so called upper class when they normally would go out to gay venues and continue to party after the majority of the group had retired to their rooms in the hotel where we were meeting. 

It wasn't until many years later, after many errors and successes in the world as I tried the basics of living as a transgender woman did destiny set in and I was accepted by small groups of cis-gender women who allowed me to really learn the basics of existing in the feminine world. 

Over the years of writing a blog, I have been able to correspond with other trans women who were able to benefit from similar situations. Mainly when they were invited into "women only" spaces. It was during these times I learned the true essence of communication women use when no men are present. My obsession changed from appearing feminine to actually acting feminine. I learned how much I have changed when I go back to the earlies days of blogging to see what I was up to. 

Whatever your journey, I hope it has been a successful one for you. There are so many facets to consider such as family and spouses which lead to staying in some sort of a closet by choice. Which there is certainly nothing wrong with that. I will forever wonder what would have happened with me if my wife would have lived on. Would we have ultimately split up when she said she would never live with another woman or could have a compromise been reached for both of us. Pursuing gender affirming hormones for me was the breaking point which I was free to do after she passed. So as you can understand I am not putting myself up on any sort of a pedestal because destiny led my journey to living as a fulltime trans woman. Pedestals are very fragile and easy to break. 

Hopefully it has been your journey and you have been able to live it with a positive outcome.  

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Labels

 

Coccinelle, early transsexual woman

As a long time transgender woman, I have seen my share of different labels coming and going over the years.

The first one was the declining use of the word transvestite. I remember the days when there were very much only two labels you could use to describe yourself,  If you cross dressed in the clothes of the opposite gender, you were a transvestite and if you desired a sex change (as it was known then) you were a transsexual. Over the years, the sex change terminology went through it's own changes, As I remember, the sex change became known as gender reassignment surgery. Then gender realignment surgery. All these labels lead to the same result. As most labels seem to do in the LGBTQA+ community.

While we are on the subject of the LGBTQA+ letters, the expansion of the letters themselves needs mentioning. As our community expanded and the knowledge of the overall gender spectrum expanded, more letters needed to be added to the initial LGBT letters. To include more people the abbreviation was expanded to include more than the initial, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. At that time the queer or questioning was included plus the "A" which stands for Asexual and/or Ally. I guess the plus just stands for any more possible additions in the future.

Way back when, transgender wasn't even a term at all and even though it is rumored Virginia Prince (transvestite pioneer) was the first to use the term, it's true history is murky.  The best history I could find is transgender (or it's shortened trans term) first appeared in the 1950's and 1960's. I only know I started to be aware of the term in the 1970's. The whole process meant so much to me because all of a sudden I had a term or label which applied to me since I knew I was much more than a cross dresser and not as much as a transsexual. The perfect fit for my gender questioning mind. So I adopted it as my own.

These days, labels seem to change as fast as the world around us. The word transgender sadly has been made infamous by all the political attacks' against it. In the same way, LGBTQ+ has been popularized also when associated with the unfortunate uproar over the trans situations. Yet another change has recently been updated also. Hormone replacement therapy or HRT is now known as gender affirming  hormones.   

Of course the bottom line is all these terms are nothing more than labels which often lead to confusion all the way to altercations. Especially in the transgender community when people start to think they are more trans than someone else. It all comes at a crucial time when we all have to stay together to present an unified front to the world.

Through it all, if you are into the increasingly complex world of labels, I hope you have found one which fits you. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Updates




Well another fun (?) colonoscopy has come and gone and I promised an update.  I have a partial one. 

Since I had to have a driver, my wife Liz came along. I needed to have a driver because I would be put under anesthesia for the procedure. I had the work the same place I had the last colonoscopy at the Cincinnati Veterans Hospital so we knew the way and arrived at the required appointment time. After signing in, I was encouraged the wait was only approximately ten minutes, so I thought I would be moved along quickly. As it turned out I was wrong.

Once I was taken back to the intake area, the gender fun started to happen. As I said in my last post, I knew the VA was attempting to do better with their treatment of transgender patients. So I was curious how my treatment would have changed over the previous year when grumpy staff called me "Sir" several times.  This time, to my amazement, the intake person asked me if I was born female since it was what it said on my VA paperwork. Because of the requirement to have a pregnancy test if I was born female. At that point I told her I had transitioned my gender to transgender woman in my early sixties. She didn't say anything else and we moved on with no other problems and I answered the million other questions she needed to ask. 

Shortly she left and another nurse came in to start my I.V. and take my blood pressure, which she did and left. Then, within a short period of time, the nurse came back in and asked how I would like be referred to, a woman or a man. I said woman and again we moved on. At that point I was encouraged I was going to complete everything fairly quickly and finally would be able to eat again after two days. Then the wait started. To make a long story shorter, I needed to wait an extra hour until the operation room would be open and ready. For all of you familiar with the military, one of our most memorable sayings was we had to hurry up and wait, suddenly I was back to my Army days as I laid in a hospital bed and waited and waited and waited. 

Finally, I was wheeled back to the operation room and the the operation happened. In fact the main surgical nurse remembered me from my last visit. Something I wasn't so proud of. In a way having frequent flyer miles in a colonoscopy operation room is not my proudest moment. But she was nice, the anesthesia kicked in and I felt nothing and I was wheeled back to my room.

Sadly, they found another polyp  which is defined as a tissue growth in the colon which could be or turn cancerous. Again they cut it out and sent it away for testing. I was told I would have the results in a week or so. 

In the meantime, I needed to get dressed and leave the hospital. Fortunately they let Liz come back and help me because I was feeling a little unsure of myself. So unsteady I needed a wheelchair and an aide to get to our car. It was at that point when the only person who miss-gendered me stepped in to ruin the whole experience. The man who wheeled me quickly down to the car called me "he" when talking to Liz. Of course at the time Liz quickly corrected him and away we went.

So overall, my assessment of my health care visit was one of improvement. My gender was correctly displayed as female on my paperwork and I feel it is always OK for caring individuals to question me. Especially if the process leads to a better experience for me. Which is what happened to me. Maybe I helped make the experience better for the next transgender veteran who takes advantage of the health services. 

So now I need to wait and hope my news comes back as "non-cancerous."   

Monday, January 8, 2024

Facing Medical Care as a Trans Person

Image from Anton on UnSplash

Perhaps I should lead this post off with medical care as referring to myself as a "pre-opt" transgender woman. Since I have never had any of the gender affirming surgeries so appealing to more and more trans women, when I go to the hospital for any sort of a procedure I face the reality of being called a "biological male" as one gruff nurse called me years ago. At this point of my life, not undergoing any major surgeries at all is my final decision and I am sticking to it. For any number of reasons, having a vagina has never been that important to me to define my gender which resides firmly in my brain. 

Regardless I will face another gauntlet of doctors and nurses when Monday I go in for yet another colonoscopy. Which, if you have been through one, you know the prep work and fasting you have to go through is much worse than the actual procedure which is done under anesthesia. 

The last one I had was a year ago and the doctors found enough potential problems to schedule me another fun filled visit in a year. This time (again) I will have the work done at the Cincinnati Veteran's Hospital so I will be interested to see if there is any progress in how they handle transgender patients. The last time, I encountered one in-take nurse who couldn't or wouldn't attempt to use the correct pronouns with me. Even though I am listed as female on on my paperwork at the VA, she called me "Sir". I know in the last year, the VA has made a concerted effort to educate their staff in Cincinnati in the proper pronoun use, all the way to having a question specifically for transgender patients when you are visiting. I have seen improvement in past visits.  

Another problem I have is, because once I have arrived to when the procedure is about to happen, I am so hungry and sleep deprived from the prescribed prep (as well as being a little scared) I just want the whole deal to be over with. Call me anything you want, just get me out of there. By the way, my fear doesn't come from going through the operation itself which I barely feel, it comes from getting the results. Last year, the doctor cut out a polyp growing in my intestine which fortunately turned out to be non-cancerous.  Hopefully, I will receive a clean bill of health for at least another year. Even though I know the prep and procedure isn't the most pleasant thing in the world to go through, the fear of having any sort of colon cancer is much worse. 

Also if you are familiar with the colonoscopy prep, in addition to fasting, the remainder revolves a day and a half of a rapid "clean out" of my intestines'. In other words, the toilet will become my best friend on the next couple of days so I may not feel like posting. 

With any luck, I will be back soon with an update.   

  

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Transition within Transition

Image from the Jessie Hart Archives

Along the way down my gender path, I often considered each change to be the final transition I would ever need to suffer through. I was wrong and it turned out a few of my transitions were pleasant, some not so much.

Perhaps I should refer to my many changes more than just transitions within my gender issues. The prime examples I could use are when I needed to break all my home ties out of high school and enroll at an university one hundred miles away or the time I was forced to go away to Ft. Knox to fulfill my military obligations during the Vietnam War. Two major life changing transitions to be sure for my male self. Then there was the human transition I went through when I became a parent for the first time. I remember it as one of the profoundly life changing experiences ever. 

Before you think the only major transitions I went through were on my old male side of life, you would be wrong. I have always considered crossing the binary gender border, is one of the most difficult journeys a human can undertake. My feminine transitions include when early in life I determined I wanted  to do more than just wanting to admire myself in the mirror as a girl, somehow in my dreams I wanted to be a girl. In order to do so, my path ahead became very difficult. Initially, the mirror was very kind to me and the world much more scary to negotiate. 

Plus, there was always the question of how my strongly entrenched male self would react to all the gender changes I wanted to go through. In many ways, he was allied with my wife against the survival of my inner feminine self. Both of them strongly wanted him to survive not her. Secretly, she won out as she continued to transition herself when she took advantage of the times she had to be in the public's eye. It wasn't so long after she started her public explorations, she decided she wasn't a cross dresser at all but fit into the newly adopted and publicized transgender category. Her long standing dream of living a feminine life as a trans woman was coming closer. At the same time, my true self was exploring the world's reaction to her by meeting new people at parties and mixers and learning how to communicate with them mostly woman to woman because very few men would have anything to do with me. Forcing me to develop myself more completely as a new person at least on the feminine side. I still had plenty of questions to answer. Was I gay? Was I a trans-lesbian? So much to learn.  

In the midst of all this new life skill I was learning, it seemed at times, enough was enough and I had achieved most of my goal. Of course I learned enough was never enough and there were always new discoveries in life to make. It at times was not easy when I was bounced out of restrooms or even entire venues for simply being trans. Ironically, one of the managers who made me leave his venue one night got fired and the crew found me in a neighboring venue and invited me back. I had my revenge. The manager was wrong because all I was doing was minding my own business, spending good money and tipping well.

Looking ahead, which I do quite a bit at my advanced age, I see many more transitions ahead. Some are as big as they come. Transitions such as elderly life care and even my final transition (death) are now real possibilities. 

When it all comes, it will just be another transition within a transition. I have managed to survive to this point and at times had a good time doing it.

   

Workplace Issues

Image from Gabrielle Henderson  on UnSplash. Sadly, many transgender women and trans men still get discriminated against when they seek out ...