Showing posts with label drag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drag. Show all posts

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Trans Girl Playing with Butches and Bears

 

Wishing you a Happy Pride Month!

One of the mistakes I made when I first came out of my dark, isolated gender closet was thinking the gay and lesbian community had very few layers. 

Quickly I learned how wrong I was. In the male gay community, there were tops and bottoms, drags and bears just to name a few. Not to be undone, women in the lesbian community have butches, femmes, lipstick lesbians, gold star lesbians and baby dykes. Again just to name a few. Initially, I was confused by wondering how I fit in as a transgender woman, if at all.

Just as quickly I learned the male gay world was not for me. I tried going to male gay bars when I first came out and was roundly rejected. For the most part, the majority of the people thought I was a drag queen. Which of course I wasn't. It didn't take long for me to leave the gay scene for the most part and try new venues. About this time, two small lesbian venues opened as luck would have it, I was not accepted in one but had no problems in the other.  The first one was a hard core biker dyke bar and they had no use for a trans woman on her own in their bar. Just to be a pain to them, I kept going back before I found other places to spend my money. 

As I mentioned, the other bar was a direct opposite. I went often and ended up meeting several butch lesbians which were interesting. Ironically, it was not my first interaction with butches since my first dinner date as a trans woman was with a super-butch who later transitioned into a transgender man. Through it all, I thought I could handle myself and deep down I was flattered by any attention I received such as the night I was gifted a beer by a lesbian who said she should take me home with her, Since I was still married at the time, I didn't think it would be a good idea to follow up on her idea, Just like the night a super-butch in a cowboy hat would not take no for an answer when it came to singing karaoke with her. After our ill-fated attempt ended, she commented I had a lower voice than hers as I rapidly paid my bar tab and left. I never saw her again or was asked to sing. Yes, I was that bad.

On the other end of the spectrum were the interactions I experienced with the big burly male gay bears I happened to run into. I have no idea what the attraction was but I could count on at least a couple of these macho looking men with Pride or Bear flags stopping me to say hello. Including the time, Liz and I just happened to go into a gay bar in New Orleans which was frequented by several bears and the same thing happened. Instead of being shunned, I was welcomed. 

I finally figured out there was something in the aura I was exuding as a trans person and it was resonating with a few of the extremes of the gay and lesbian community. For example, I was never approached by a gay man or lipstick (femme) lesbian at all. At the time, none of it mattered because life was so new and exciting to me when I first explored my new world. 

Playing with butches and bears just added to the intrigue and fun as I discovered the many layers of the LGBTQ society. Maybe they realized I had so many added layers to me too and wanted to research more. Even though, I was a new transgender woman in the world, life was so much more exciting and simple at the same time. Maybe I was similar to a child and when the newness wore off, I became more jaded. 

I still feel though, if the world understood all the varied layers of the LGBTQ world they may try to treat us better.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Trans Girls in Women Only Spaces

Archive Image, Girls Night Out.
I am on the Bottom Left.

First, we have to describe as women's only spaces as primarily rest rooms but there is so much more to consider. For example, girl's nights out, trips to beauty salons or any other spaces dominated by cis-women. 

To consider being  in women's only spaces, we also need to look at the impact of impostor syndrome. Or, when you think you have arrived at your destination, only to think you are an impostor and don't belong there at all. Often the syndrome stops you from enjoying your dream of being out with and being accepted by a group of women.  

Now, lets start with the most problematic space at all, the women's rest room. Depending on where you live, just using the women's room for it's intended use is becoming against the law. Even if it is not, just becoming adjusted to the new etiquette of using a completely new rest room can be a problem. Even though many of us have used the women's room for years, there are still basics to remember. First and foremost don't forget to look any other women you may encounter in the eye, smile and speak. It's OK to do this, although it is completely opposite to do in the men's room. Other "musts" include always remembering to never put your purse on the floor, and always be careful to look before you sit down for stray moisture left behind by a previous occupant.

Perhaps one of the biggest actions to always remember is to stop and wash your hands even though you might think you have been "discovered" by another woman and are doing your best to vacate the room.  Back in the day when I was much younger, I even went to the point of carrying an extra feminine hygiene product in my purse if I was approached by a suspecting woman who was testing me. Even though, this list may seem excessive, I am sure there are those of you who could add to it. Such as the obvious. Such as always sitting down to pee and diverting your flow the best you can to match the woman in the next stall over. I think a larger portion of cis-women have used a restroom with a transgender woman in their life and not known it or even cared. IF the trans woman followed all the rules. 

One women's only space I was challenged in was when my daughter gifted me with my first trip to her upscale beauty spa. Since my hair had grown to a point when I could have it styled, she thought it was time to have it styled and colored. Of course I immediately agreed even though I was scared to death of the unknown. Plus, I was extra embarrassed when she met me there and it was the first time she had seen me in all my glory as a feminine transgender woman. Looking back, there were a line of chairs with stylists which went on forever in a long straight room and the only other man in sight was one of the owners who I already knew as one of the local famous drag queens. So the estrogen level of the place was at an all time high. Before I knew it, I was shown samples of hair color and styles which I had to try to decide on. Somehow I managed to decide on a streaked, layered reddish blonde look and I was amazed at the result. I knew right then why so many women make a hair maintenance stop as a regular appointment in their beauty routine. When I relaxed and started to enjoy the pampering I was receiving, I had never felt so feminine in my life and could not wait to make my next appointment in my new unique woman only space.

Along the way, I was able to join in with various invitations to girls' night out get-togethers. They ranged from women in my approximate age range to those who were much younger. Although I never reached the pinnacle of feminine acceptance such as bridal parties or baby showers, I still immensely enjoyed my experiences...once I overcame my bouts of imposter syndrome. 

All of my experiences in women only spaces helped me to improve my confidence as a transgender woman and deepened my belief I was much more than a part time cross dresser. I had reached a point in my life I had always dreamed of and never thought I could make it. Plus, because of the length of this post, I won't mention again the lesbian impact on my life once I was included in their spaces. I will save it for a later time.

Monday, May 27, 2024

The Power of Hope as a Trans Girl

Image from Dayne Tompkin
on UnSplash.


Of all the emotions, perhaps hope is one of the most powerful.

Especially, these days when the world seems to be coming after the entire transgender community, hope seems to be a precious commodity. In my case, I learned slivers of hope came in the form of brief gender euphoria, when I glimpsed the girl looking back at me from the mirror. She gave me hope I could keep trying to live my dream. 

Then I was forced back into my mundane drab male life I never really wanted and my hope disappeared. Often for long periods of time before I could cross dress again. I was in despair until I could glimpse my feminine image again in the mirror. Perhaps the worst part was I did not know exactly what I was looking for. More preciously, I did not understand the predictability of my urge to be a girl my age. If I was able to document it at all, it seemed every week at least once I wanted to cross dress and be feminine. Why did the euphoria of dressing not last? It wasn't until much later I would realize my answer was I was more of a transgender woman than anything else. 

In the meantime, I was busy watching the teen aged girls I so wanted to be like. Without being creepy, I noticed how they moved and what they wore. When I did, it gave me hope I could someday live my dream of being a woman. Even though I was a student of the female gender, life kept me stuck where I didn't want to be. Later I began to understand no one gets out of life without trauma and mine was an extension of being transgender. Learning to live with my trauma and still hope for better kept me going along with small periods of gender euphoria.

Initially, I took the easy way out by taking trips to mall clothing stores where everyone could present as anybody as long as their money was green and by going to gay venues where it was easy to get in. Later I learned in the gay bars, anyone was admitted but very few transgender women were ever accepted. Which made sense, the men in the gay venue were there for other men, not one who was cross dressed as a woman. I found the best I could hope for was to be accepted as a drag queen which I wasn't. 

The whole process forced me further into the world and gave me new hope for the future. I expanded my horizons past the mirror and into the life I write about so often. Surprisingly, I felt a new life as a transgender woman was possible so I started gender affirming hormones to allow the process to be easier. New friends who never knew my old male self helped me along more than they ever knew and the nights when I went out to be alone suddenly became to socialize with the world. My hope to achieve my dream was alive and well. 

However I felt about my dream coming together, the more I knew I needed to work harder to make sure it happened. For example, I needed to change as many of my legal gender markers as possible back in those days in backwards Ohio. With the help of letters from my supportive therapist, most of the process was surprisingly easy. 

Overall, the power of hope in my transgender life has been a wonderful influence but not a super power which was easy to find or nourish. The whole process took me too many years to accomplish what I set out to do because I did not have the wherewithal or even the courage to do it. Eventually, I did learn it would take more than just hope to fulfill my life dreams, it took action. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

Steps Forward and Back on Our Transgender Day of Visibility

 

Transgender Flag image from 
Alexander Grey on UnSplash.

During this week, we celebrated the "Transgender Day of Visibility." A time to be see and be seen during a time of great duress depending upon where you happen to live. It is also a time to remember and celebrate how those of us who are fortunate enough to have escaped our gender closets. Then were able to carve out a new life. 

In order to do the carving, you must have a sharp knife and be prepared to expect steps forward and steps backwards. In my early days in the public's eye, it seemed I couldn't get my feminine presentation together. It seemed on nights when I had my makeup and fashion together I then tried to ruin it all by slipping and almost falling in my heels or worse yet, just walking like a linebacker in drag. 

Of course I took a couple steps back when I left the comfort of my mirror and encountered the harsh reality of the real world. In many ways you could describe the process as the second act of my life. Of course the first involved working very hard to make it in a male world I never really wanted. Then I needed to work even harder to take the steps to leave it all behind. Even when I was struggling with the world at large by getting stared at, all the way to being the subject of out and out laughter, somehow I found the will to keep trying.

The problem I had was I sure I was trying to achieve the right goal. Could my dream of living a fulltime life as a transgender woman ever be a reality anyhow? Many dark days told me I was spending too much time, energy and even money on an unapproachable goal. The next step forward as I was in the darkness searching kept happening because everytime I saw the light in my closet, it felt it so natural. Deep down something was telling me to keep pursuing my journey.

The problem was, life kept getting in my way. First of all, my male self and my second wife had the idea any femininization I was thinking of would be totally wrong and cost me all chances at the life as I knew it. Even though I was at a disadvantage, I still knew deep down I had the courage to pursue more steps towards the point where I couldn't return. For me it meant beginning gender affirming hormones if I could be medically cleared to do so. I still could not take the big step until my wife passed away and I was cleared to begin. 

As with everything else in my life, hormones did shorten and lighten up the steps I was taking to living a transgender life. For any number of reasons, destiny opened my closet doors wide open. Tragically, when I lost so many friends and family who were dear to me, people I needed to come out to were few and far between. Other factors came into play also such as my age (sixty) which enabled hormones to take effect faster. At the same time, I wasn't too far away from being able to retire early and not have to worry about my finances when I was forced to come out on a job. Another plus came when the Veterans Administration health care system which I took advantage of started to accept transgender veterans like me and help with hormonal care.

As you can tell, destiny was urging me on to take the final step and live my life as a trans woman. Finally, I could take it no longer and took the final step and never look back. Taking the steps makes me proud to be a part of this year's Transgender Day of Visibility.   

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Who Do You Love?

Image from Freestocks 
on UnSplash



Along my lengthy transgender journey I learned the hard way I had several love affairs. 

The main one I want to refer to is the love affair with my wife and  the one with myself. Or should I say my feminine self, since I had never really liked my old male side I never asked for. I think the worst part of having two love affairs was the guilt which came with it. I think my major problem came from how much I threw myself into the process of being feminine. If I wasn't cross dressing in front of the mirror, I was spending my time studying all the girls or women around me. I am sure along the way, my wife caught me daydreaming too much and wondered why I was not paying more attention to her and our marriage.

Along with the daydreams came the frustration I felt when my wife was able to do all the things a woman does in her life. Plus, she wouldn't let me in to her world very much and she infuriated me when she wouldn't. The entire process led me to try even harder to improve my makeup and fashion ideas since at that time I was far away from realizing looking like a woman was only the very beginning of my long gender journey. At the time also, since I was putting so much time into myself, I am sure my wife felt unloved and I am surprised we made it through twenty five years of marriage. 

Much later, after she passed away, did I learn to love myself. I learned then the fact you needed to love yourself before you can love someone else was so true. Once I started to complete my transgender transition, I did start to love myself. Or, at the least, I started to have more respect for everything I had achieved in my new world I had chosen to live in.   

It was about that time I was feeling deep frustration because of the way my life was headed. Although I did enjoy the small social group of women I was apart of, I still felt I was doomed at the age of sixty to live my life alone. I found I was still a social creature and did the best I could to change the situation. Fortunately for me, my attempts at dating when I was still a guy were miserable short term failures which led me to believe I was on the right path to living as a trans woman...even if that meant living alone. As a stop gap measure, I still had my friends to hang out with.

For the most part, my experiences in the on-line dating world were failures too. I tried every combination on the sites I could afford to list on. One month I would try "man seeking man" as a transgender woman, then the next time try "woman seeking woman". Again always being up front I was transgender. The only men who responded for the most part wanted me to dress them up as a woman or let them wear my panties, so they were out. 

There was a happy ending to my on line dating woes after sifting through tons of rejections and trash, my wife Liz responded to one of my ads. She lived fairly close to me in a city I had always loved (Cincinnati) so I was interested in knowing her more. After corresponding by text initially, I finally became brave enough to talk to her on the phone. I was so insecure of my voice. From there, our first date was a local drag show at a gay venue midway between our homes. From then on we became a couple for ten plus years until we decided to get married. 

I guess the moral to my story is, the darkest moments of your life can turn around if you continue to put yourself out there. Sure it hurts and is painful to be rejected but often there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. The sad part is, you went through a transition to find your authentic self and you discovered self love and now there is no one to share it with. 

On the positive side, I am seeing an increase in wives staying with their transgender spouses when they transition. I have the utmost respect for the love expressed by these women and wish we could all experience the same. 

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, December 9, 2023

Supporting Cast

I'm on left with Nikki and Kim
on right.


There was no way I could have pursued my male to female gender transition as quickly and as thoroughly as I did without help from my women friends. 

Having said that, it is important to note I had already made it to the point in my transition when I could present rather well as a woman in public. In other words, I had paid my dues learning to dress to blend with other women in the venues I frequented. When I went to upscale malls, I went with my nicest professional business woman attire and then I would wear my jeans, boots and sweaters going to my sports bars or lesbian bars. To me at the time, the entire process was great fun and presented me with yet another facet of being feminine. 

After I had learned from all of my mistakes (or most of them), I was able to learn so much more about going even further towards my dream goal of living as a full time transgender woman. By pure chance I ran into two other women in the sports bars I was frequenting and we became fast friends. One of the main things I learned was I didn't need a man to validate my existence as a transgender woman because my two friends just happened to be lesbians.  Along the way, we drank a lot of beer, cheered on our favorite sports teams and had a great time. I think the evening I remember the most was when I was asked to be Nikki's wing person when she was trying to get a conversation started with another woman she admired. I agreed to try If you are wondering, I failed at my attempt to set Nikki up for success. It turned out to be my only attempt ever to act as a wing person at a lesbian mixer. All of that happened back in 2015.

Of course too, there was Liz who I met on a on-line dating site under "woman seeking woman" categories. She too identified as a lesbian, so I had quite a bit of experience on some of her thought patterns involving men. With her, my supporting cast just became stronger. At the time, I was in the last stages of still attempting to maintain some sense of having a male life. Very quickly, we formed a bond which included a first date to a drag show and a New Years Eve date when I first started my hormone replacement therapy medication. At the time, she very much sealed the deal on me transitioning further. I knew I was on the right path. 

I kept on putting off going full-time as a transgender woman long enough until Liz finally told me she didn't see any male in me at all and why didn't I leave him behind. I did and started a ten year relationship which culminated just over a year ago with us getting married. Throughout the years, she has been my supporting cast.

Plus I can't forget my daughter's input on my life. She has accepted me from day one. Even to the point of giving me my first hair styling appointment to her salon for my birthday. Which is a post for another time. 

To all of my supporting cast, I love you all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Transgender Day of Remembrance


TDOR, or Transgender Day of Remembrance was observed Monday here in Cincinnati as well as many other places. 

According to the  "Human Rights Campaign" at least thirty three transgender women and men have been tragically murdered since the last TDOR. This total only includes the United States and not the world. I say at least because sadly no one knows for sure how many other deaths could be attributed to gender violence. 

How tragic is it we trans individuals and allies have to observe this somber day every year along with the increasing amount of violence we feel daily. An example to increasing pressure on the transgender community comes from here in Ohio where currently there are five bills pending in the legislature. The bills range from anti restroom bills all the way to restrictions on trans athletes all the way to drag shows. Of  course these bills all are being pushed by a major political party which is not the Democratic one. 

Of course each of these bills do nothing to battle the anti-transgender sentiment in the public's eye which in turn can result in increased violence. It's no secret either, the vast majority of the trans deaths came from the minority community and are younger. 

Much of these statistics are aided by the fact the trans community still suffers from societies' inequities when it comes to jobs, education and health care. And, lets not forget the number of transgender youth who are rejected by their families and end up trying to live on the streets. 

I am fortunate to live in a metropolitan area which has several LGBTQ+ resources but it is never enough. On the other hand, if one life is saved, the effort is worth while. Hopefully you live in an area where similar resources are available. If not, perhaps you have a suicide help line to help if you are having mental health issues because of your gender problems.

One way or another, take the time to remember all of those who tragically died during the previous year and if you are so inclined, offer up a small prayer for those who are still being threatened. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Gender Pilgrimage

 

Gender Pilgrim Troye Sivan

At the age of seventy four I often look back at my life and wonder how I was able to navigate the ups and downs of a gender pilgrimage. 

The way I have been able to separate my path is to roughly divide it into three segments which over simplifies the process but at the same time, makes it easier for my noggin to grasp. 

The first and most foggy time of my gender life was my early childhood. I don't remember exactly when I had a concrete idea of wanting to be a girl. I finally came to the conclusion it was around the age of ten. It was about this time when I started to explore the delights of feminine clothing from my Mom's wardrobe. From then on I started to save my allowance money as well the meager funds I earned from delivering newspapers to the rural customers we lived around. I had a powerful motivation to earn my own money and purchase makeup or clothes depending on what I could afford. 

The whole process set me firmly up for a nearly half century of cross dressing. As you can guess I had plenty of time to try different things while I experimented more and more deeply with being a woman and leaving my male life and privileges behind. I write often how I went about meeting other transvestites for the first time all the way to being approached by men. I was on cloud nine for weeks following an adventure I had after being made over by a professional at a cross dresser mixer I went to. Afterwards when I tagged along with the group I called the "A" listers, in a bar we ended up at, I was the only one approached by a guy who wanted me to stay and have a drink with him. The entire evening validated my desire to be a woman more often and at the same time made me hell to live with.

Sadly, I was destined to live this way for years, twenty five to be exact as I punished my wife for how I felt. I drank too much and tried to outrun my gender problems by changing jobs and moving to different states such as New York from our native Ohio. Instead of making my pilgrimage easier, I was attempting to make it ever harder. It almost killed me in the process as my mental health declined. The ripping and tearing of living between the two primary binary genders was just too much. I had to decide which way to go and made the choice to live in the future as a transgender woman. The problem was I was in my early sixties when I decided to leave my cross dresser phase and begin HRT or hormone replacement therapy. 

Of course now I am in the third phase of my gender pilgrimage and feel so relieved to having left all the turmoil of my male life behind. I know I did not make the wrong choice because I feel so natural with my life now. Out of an extreme level of caution, I certainly did well but on the other hand, I don't regret the male life I was able to live. Among other things, he gave me a wonderful accepting daughter and helped open the door to a relationship which led to a marriage to my wife Liz. 

I look at it this way, I was fortunate to have earned a dual gender citizenship by living on both sides of the border. An often long and difficult pilgrimage made it all possible.    

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Ode to Halloween

 

Halloween image from
the Jessie Hart Archive (Tom on
Left)

I have lived long enough to experience Halloween coming full circle.

Early in life I experienced the urge to wear a feminine costume but never had the courage to break out of my gender closet and do it. Plus I lived in such a small rural area, there weren't too many kids to go around and once you were pigeon holed into a certain category with your peer group you couldn't get out.  Examples included friends who were good or bad students as well as those who were always the outstanding athletes in the class. There was never any space for a stray boy who wanted to be a girl.

So I had a deeper reason never, ever express my feminine longings at all on Halloween. On top of all of that, I never saw any other boys who were dressed as girls. No cheerleaders, princesses or any of the stereotypes from the female world. The only time I can remember ever seeing a fellow male in drag or cross dressed was for selected festivals in high school. I was amazed at their male to female transformation. Plus I did hear the gossip concerning another guy in school I didn't really know who was dressed in his sister's clothes for his "costume" as the rumor went. I was so envious!

Once the years progressed and I naturally achieved more freedom to be my own person, I was able to pursue more courageous goals as far as Halloween went. I tentatively used the holiday to sneak out of my closet and explore. Could I dare make it in public as my feminine self. Very early I learned lessons I could take with me for years as I transitioned. I found if I dressed more conservatively at Halloween I indeed could have a chance to present well in the public's eye as a woman. As it turned out, all of this would be just the beginning of what I could learn on my ever rocky gender journey. 

Halloween made it possible for me to understand I could indeed live a life as my authentic feminine self. The only real problem came when I could only experience my terrifying yet exciting new life once a year. I was increasingly forced into the real world to learn my new gender lessons. All of which were made possible by Halloween.

Ironically, the more I learned from my initial experiences, the more I found the lessons would serve me well when I transitioned into a world ran primarily by women. If I could get other women to accept me, the better and easier I would have it. I also learned the hard way the process I would need to go through with men to attempt acceptance. Along the way, when I learned the better I presented at Halloween parties as a woman, the more of my male privileges were lost. Almost instantly, my old male friends began to leave me alone with the rest of the women. 

These days I have gone full circle with Halloween. It has served it's purpose of launching my journey down a path to be a full time transgender woman. So I don't have any need to go to any parties with elaborate costumes. I have done all of that and it is time to sit back and recognize Halloween for all the amazing experiences I was provided.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Letting the World In

Image from Adrianna Geo
On UnSplash...

Recently, in one of my Veteran's Administration LGBT support sessions I have been attending, the moderator mentioned we weren't coming out as much as we were letting people in.

The idea resonated with me and I have used it extensively recently. Even more so when I considered adding it to my post from yesterday when my daughter included me in a group of her women friends who were attending a drag show. Even though I was extremely new in my explorations in the world as a transgender woman, I decided to go along. No matter how scared the whole idea made me feel. The problem was I had always thought I had carefully planned my progression within the gender labels I was dealing with at the time. In other words, for the longest time I had considered myself a cross dresser or transvestite even though (deep down) I didn't feel as if the labels fit me. 

When I was procrastinating with my gender development, people such as my daughter, my wife Liz and friend Kim were prepared to propel me quickly forward. I guess they saw more potential in my feminine self than I did on occasion. Plus, there was always my old male self to deal with. He was holding me back as he didn't want to lose what was left of his existence. Understandably he still controlled a few very important facets of my life which I could not let the world into. Those facets included my employment and interaction with friends or family to name a few. He was stubborn and very difficult to overcome so I had a tendency to try to go slow. 

Over the past several posts I have written about how going slow went with my daughter. When I summoned the courage to let her in to my true world, she went all in to help me. First with an invitation to go shopping, to a visit to her beauty parlor/salon for my first hair styling experience and last but not least, an exciting but scary night out with her girl friends. If I was going to be a woman around her, I learned quickly it was time to put my male self on hold.

The pattern continued with my friend Kim who invited me to an pro-football game with her and her family. Again, I hadn't been living as my authentic self very long and ended up wearing my old ill-fitting wig and out I went to the game. Sure, it was scary but I will forever remember Kim for the kindness she shared with me when I needed it the most on my gender journey. In addition, she really propelled me out of the closet and let the world in. She saw me as the true person I was.

Perhaps the person who propelled me the farthest ahead was my wife Liz. When we first met over twelve years ago, I still had a few basic ties intact with my old male self. At that point she told me one day why didn't I transition the rest of the way as she didn't see any male in me. I had finally reached the end of my transgender journey. There was no excuse to even consider continuing to live at all as my old male self.

With the wonderful help of the people I mentioned, plus others I didn't, my gender journey was put on hyper speed after years of going so slow. Once I let the world in, they came and conquered. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Original Girls Night Out

The Rubi Girls

Over a space in time, I have written about the girl's nights out I was fortunate to be invited to. During each one, I learned tons of information about how cis-women interact by themselves when there are no men in the group.

Last night it occurred to me I had forgotten perhaps the most important night out with women which I had ever experienced. My excuse is, it happened such a long time ago. Just after I came out to my daughter who immediately began to explore ways to get me more situated as a transgender woman. This time, she came up with the idea I should go along with her and her girl friends to a glitzy drag show in Dayton, Ohio.

The drag show was actually put on by a very entertaining group of female impersonators called the "Rubi Girls". They are still together to this day and have raised well over a million dollars over the years for AID'S research. They have been performing since the 1980's and I had heard about their legendary shows but had not ever made it to one...until my daughter stepped in.

It turned out the drag troupe had closer ties to my daughter's family than I had ever imagined. So close, my oldest grandson had one of the Rubi's as a fourth grade teacher where he went to school. Thanks to a remarkable amount of diversity back in those days, the teacher was a fully out gay man being allowed to teach. Further more, after I let my three grandchildren into my world, my fourth grader came home from school one day and announced how proud he was that the teacher and his new transgender grandparent were the same. Then my daughter need to explain the differences between the two of us. Which she gladly did. Diversity at it's finest.

At the point of going though, I wasn't thinking about the warm feelings involved with my new found family diversity as I was thinking about how scared I was to go at all. The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass my daughter or myself in front of her friends. As we prepared for the evening, my daughter even prepped me on the other women in the group to try my best to steer clear of. After what seemed like forever, the night rolled around as I obsessed on what to wear. I only remember now I just wanted to fit in with the suburban chic fashion my daughter and her friends were wearing. I also remember being very quiet and speaking only when I was spoken to. Again, because I was so scared. 

The whole evening really served to kick me out of my gender closet. I had it coming because I opened up to my daughter about my reality and she followed through in a big way. I survived by putting on my big girl panties and doing the best I could to enjoy the drag show. Looking back, after I was able to breathe, I think I could even be a little proud of myself for my accomplishment. In my mind at least, I felt I had made another giant step from being a cross dresser, all the way to achieving my dream of living as a transgender woman. In other words, I reached down and just pulled the band aid off as quickly as I could to preclude any pain.

Since my daughter owned a big van, she drove that night and for some reason I have never asked her if she had any negative feedback from any of her friends. If I remember, someday I will have to ask because I was just trying to act as if it was the most normal thing to do. When in fact, the whole evening was my first girls night out.


Friday, June 2, 2023

It's LGBTQ Pride Month

Caitlyn Jenner...NOT the face of Pride

Once a year we pause to join the world with our Pride month. This year is ever more important that the transgender (or "T") of the LGBTQ alphabet is visible.

Why do we have to be more visible? Because of all the recent anti legislative bills which typically involve the perceived weakest link of all the LGBTQ facets in the public eye. The fact remains, most of the public does not know a trans person. Plus the trans umbrella still seems to be plagued by negative supposed role models like Caitlyn Jenner. Because of all of that and more it essential as much as possible we stand up for ourselves in a positive manner.

Now let's get down to Pride Celebrations themselves. In todays' ultra restrictive societies some react to the hypocrisy of certain big companies/corporations which sponsor Prides then do nothing the rest of the year to further the rights of individual transgender women or men. This year, the entire matter just seems to be overshadowed  by situations such as the beer "Bud Light" went through. 

Personally, the problem I had with major Pride celebrations was the influence of drag queens. It always seemed to me the transgender community was overshadowed by overly made up men in dresses. Again, this year is different because even the right to dress in drag has come under attack in some states. Of course I support the right of drag queens to do their thing and that means continuing their representation at Pride events. Just don't confuse it with me.

In fact, in the past, when I have attended larger Pride celebrations in Ohio, I felt I needed to separate myself from the drag queens. One year after we first met, my wife Liz even made me a shirt to wear which said "Transgender Veteran, I fought for your right to deny me mine,"   I wanted to show the world I was not a drag queen. 

Regardless of all of that, the biggest issue with LGBTQ Prides this year is everyone's personal safety. Even with the possible threat of violence hanging over everyone's head this year, more and more smaller communities around me at least are starting or continuing their own Pride celebrations. It is good to see. Since transgender people have been around since the beginning of time, we most certainly aren't going anywhere now.   

Hopefully attending the Cincinnati celebration Liz and I have attended in the past will be a possibility this year also. (It's coming up later in the month,) Since I have mobility problems and Liz has an upcoming medical procedure, we will just have to wait and see. In the meantime, enjoy your LGBTQ Pride Month. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

You Are Not the Boss of Me

Image from Valentina Conde
on Unsplash

 If you are similar to me, you faced near total resistance to you pursuing any sort of a feminine lifestyle. You were born a boy and a boy you would be. In addition, very little information was available to you involving any other individuals who felt the same as you. In my case, I was restricted to seeing the occasional "shock" newspaper/journals such as the "National Enquirer" who on every now and then featured a sensational story about a man who had changed their gender. I couldn't wait for a chance to go with a friend of mine who recently turned sixteen and could drive to his aunt's small corner variety store so I could secretly look through her latest collection of publications. The only other local activities I ever found was a touring troop of softball players who performed in drag as women. 

Through the pre internet dark days, I found away to sneak around my parents' backs and compile a small but complete collection of girl's clothes and makeup. During that time I remember acquiring a pair of girls shoes which fit me. They turned out to be my most prized possessions.  Somehow, during this portion of my life no matter how much pressure I was under to conform, I knew my parents were not entirely the boss of me. In many ways, a radical was born. 

My Mom and I were the same in many ways including temperament and looks and we clashed many times as she tried to impose her will upon me. I often wonder though if she had discovered or at least sensed my excursions through her clothes and makeup but decided to never say anything. Perhaps she thought it was just a phase. It turned out, my love of everything feminine was a phase...a lifetime one.  In a moment I relate to often, after I was honorably discharged from the Army when I was in my early to mid twenties I came out to her as a transvestite. Without discussion she said she would pay for psychiatric intervention. The subject was never brought up again.

In addition, my parents made it known to me my college education was wasted on the career in the broadcasting industry I was working at back then. In essence,  I was striking out with my parents in my gender choices and my work choices. In many ways I had the military to thank for my attitude of it was my life and I needed the courage to live my own life. The way I wanted to live it. My parents were not the boss of me. I am certain they saw it coming as parents do when their off spring becomes a certain age. One thing they never saw coming was my gender choice. Mom never brought the subject up again after I tried to bring it up with her and to my knowledge Dad never knew at all. So, in many ways, I took the easy way out. My parents passed away as well as did many others in my life before I had to come out to them.

Being transgender in the short and long term taught me to be fiercely independent. In order to survive, I needed to develop a very thick skin to adverse life conditions when I first decided to take small tentative steps into the feminine world. Once I did, I was able to learn to be more confident in how I wanted to live. Finally I made it to the point where I could reach out and touch my lifetime dream of living as a transgender woman full time. When I did so, I could sit back and say I was glad all the naysayers were wrong and they were not the boss of me.   


Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Power is Fleeting

 

Image Courtesy Markus Winkler
on UnSplash

Transitioning from male to female in the world is an very specific way to understand the basics of gender power. By power I mean gender privilege. I know it didn't take long for me to experience the loss of my male privilege's.  

First of all, learning to present as well as possible as a woman was sort of a double edged sword. Of course being able to get out of my closet and live feminine was a new, exciting yet scary experience. And, being able to be accepted as a woman in a group of men taught me several immediate lessons. One night, somehow, I don't remember why or how I became part of a conversation between myself and three other men. Immediately and predictably I was ignored and my opinions discounted simply because I was there to start with and feminine in looks. I thought at the time, so this was how my life was going to change more dramatically than I thought when I began to feel comfortable as a transgender woman in public. Then, there were the times I was approached because I was transgender and appealed to a certain kind of man. Sadly, many times I faced only fitting into a sexual adventure with them and nothing else which never appealed to me. 

I think overall these days many men are panicked about being men in the classic sense.  Perhaps it is part of the reason an overwhelmingly amount of old white men are attempting to erase any or all of the very few transgender rights. Down deep these men are threatened by strong women and trans women by nature are the strongest of all. Because we had to be to survive. All along as we transitioned, educational and employment opportunities became very rare. Plus these were a few new of the gender lessons we had to learn made us a tribe full of survivors.  As I said, I learned my lesson early when I gave up my hard earned male privileges to live as a second class gender citizen in the mind of many men. I was fortunate in that I experienced being "taken in" by understanding women who told me welcome to their world when I was "mansplained" by a man. 

Also, it is no secret cis men are by nature more insecure sexually than women.  Their insecurities could be why the death toll among transgender women tragically continues to rise year after year. Too many men are attracted to trans women then their insecurities step in and they become violent. Of course far too many cis-women have to deal with violent men who think their only real power over women comes from their physical ability to over power them. The men know deep down the women are intellectually and emotionally stronger. In other words, they can survive on so many levels without a man.

I also think the gender political bigots are scared to death of the younger generation who, for the most part is more liberal and gender blind than their parents. The same parents who are quibbling over drag shows instead of the real issues which threaten our society. As the bigots strive to hold on to their power which is slipping away, they don't realize transgender people have always existed and always will. No matter the obstacles which are thrown in our way. 

Even though my overall dealings with men as a transgender woman have been few and far between, I still remember the early days of losing my male privilege's. Some were down right shocking (safely) while others were more mellow (communication) but all of them proved to me how gender power can be fleeting.   

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Looking for Love

 

My "Sad Eyes" Photo
from the Jessie
Hart Archives

Perhaps I should say looking for love in all the wrong places. Maybe you remember the country song from the "Urban Cowboy" movie. Sadly due to extreme loneliness many transgender women and trans men experience, we sometimes look for love in all the wrong places. Back a decade or so ago, on line dating was just becoming a thing and due to my extreme loneliness I thought I would give it a try. Due to a lack of finances and overall knowledge I attempted to find dates on three of the free dating sights.  My biggest success turned out to be a real bonanza. 

On one of the sights I had a response when I was on a "woman seeking woman" page. To be clear, I was always up front about being a trans woman which wiped out much if not all of my responses.  Ironically, I had a response from my current wife Liz eleven years ago when she said I had sad eyes in my profile picture. Since she only lived a manageable distance from where I did, we decided to correspond in writing. The "writing" phase of our relationship started eleven years ago and we are still going strong. It took awhile though for me to feel secure enough with my voice to talk to her on the phone but when I survived the test I decided to gather the courage to ask her out on a date. She was a Wiccan lesbian and sad eyes or not I was fascinated,  The first date was a drag show and all went well, even when I followed her into the women's room on our way to the gay bar which was putting on the show. She didn't flinch much and our first date was fun and successful. 

At the same time, I was still frequenting the big sports and social venues where I had become a regular as a single transgender woman. The only problem with all of that was, the usual stigma attached to a single woman drinking by herself in a bar. For the longest time I was unsuccessful in locating any companionship in any way. Outside of a few dates I had with men who actually bothered to show up as they had promised. The brief encounters I had with men were strangely exciting but not to the point I could ever feel comfortable. Especially with the men who seemingly wanted to just wear my panties. As close as I came to really ever getting around to knowing a man I met was the one I ended up meeting briefly at a TGIF Fridays Grille and Bar I was a regular. He was a big sweet heart who drove a classic motorcycle and had just gone through a very messy and brief marriage with a part time exotic dancer he had just met. I was able to lend a sympathetic ear and in a short time we became friendly but not to the point I ever got the chance to ride on his bike before he was transferred out of town for a new job.  As I bid him farewell, little did I know he would be the last man I would be interested in and women were to be my future as I was looking for love or at the least, companionship. 

By pure accident I was able to meet two other women who happened to be lesbians. One was the Mother of a bartender I knew The other indirectly introduced herself one night to me in venue where I was drinking. Together, the three of us formed a bond and we had good times partying.  Topped off by the experience of going to lesbian mixers and being introduced to the culture. It seemed destiny was paying me back for all the recent hard times I had suffered by providing me with a group of friends who provided fun and companionship including one other transgender woman who sometimes joined in and partied with us.

Call it luck or not but somehow I was able to sort through the junk and locate quality friends who helped fill my void of not having any friends. It took awhile and effort but I did find love by looking in all the wrong places. I found good people and to this day I am still married to one of them. 


Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Is Being a Woman an Illusion?

Image from Caroline Veronez 
on Unsplash

 Put in it's simplest terms, being female could be defined as the binary gender who can birth other humans and can have monthly periods. A statement many TERF'S or certain politicians would like us all to believe. As we all know, gender is much more complicated than all of that. Even the poor misunderstood drag queens have been pulled into the battle. They never wanted to be women to start with, just look like one. Politicians don't want to understand any of that.   

Now, for the moment, let's consider the old saying "Girls are sugar and spice and everything nice." I am fairly sure those of you who have ever interacted closely with women as a transgender woman or as a man, know a woman or two (or many more) who do not fit the old stereotype. I have seen many cis women who are so much tougher on so many levels. I have also seen many women who are able to cover up their toughness by trying a passive aggressive approach instead. It took many years for me to develop eyes in the back of my head to look for hidden claw marks from women who didn't like me for whatever reason.

Along the way, I have seen many transgender women (novice or not) who project extreme femininity. I remember distinctly one attendee to the monthly cross dressing/trans parties I went to at an acquaintance's beautiful house in Columbus, Ohio. The only time I saw this person was when she quickly changed into a lovely nightgown, lingerie set. Even though I thought her choice of wardrobe was out of place, I could not believe the amount of femininity she radiated. I was sure she was destined to "go all the way" to genital realignment surgery or sex change as it was known back in those days. Very rarely did I encounter a person like this. Of course I saw many men who transformed themselves into beautiful women but sadly their inner masculinity found a way to shine through. In other words, they almost were able to create the ultimate gender illusion but just fell short. 

Perhaps it was just because they were just like me and were living a part time life as a man also. In my case I had to take my whole study of womanhood to a whole other level. Similar to the other glamorous cross dressers I encountered, I wanted to do my best to look feminine. I wasn't a natural, so I knew I had a way to go. It wasn't until after another bitter battle with my second wife did I begin to understand I still had a long way to go until I could take the next step and totally undertake being a woman. What happened was the night before I had been mistaken for a cis woman at a transvestite mixer and my male ego was at an all time high about reaching a new goal with my feminine appearance. After the fight calmed down, my wife told me she wasn't speaking about how I looked as a woman. She was talking about I had none of the experiences it took to achieve womanhood. From that moment forward, I dedicated my life to understanding what she meant. It was difficult to study woman from afar but I did the best I could. Sadly, she passed away before I could achieve my goals. It would have been interesting to see if we could ever could have been friends as women. 

In conclusion, being a woman is not an illusion. It is an earned right we are all entitled to. No one is born a woman, we are socialized into the title. Transgender or not, learning what that means is the most difficult part. 


Sunday, January 29, 2023

One Trans Girl to go Please

Photo from the Jessie Hart
Archive

Going out to be alone was one of my favorite phrases when I first started to explore a brave new world as a transgender woman. Another look at it would mean I was desperately lonely and just needed a release from being at home all alone. Along the way, I had discovered several venues I could go to without the chance of being harassed.  Outside of one notable exception, I was usually left to my own without any bother. Since I normally consumed quite a bit of beer, having a women's restroom pass was important. In several venues, I did experience push back from the management due primarily to complaints from other customers. I became so good of a regular at one place, after I was asked to leave one night by a manager, the crew found me at a nearby venue and asked me to come back. That was the infamous evening when a group of drunks kept playing "Dude Looks Like a Lady" on the juke box. Even then I was determined I would attempt to ride out the hassles until I was asked to leave. I got my revenge later when I found the manager who asked me to leave was fired for drug abuse. 

As I began to go out in the public's eye more and more, I did realize I was under some sort of threat being a single woman at a bar. As I continued to try to present as an attractive woman I found I had a couple things going for me. First, I discovered I was watched over by several of the bartenders I visited on a regular basis. When I was approached by the occasional drunk guy, the bartenders would warn me with a glance and kept him moving.  Another trick I learned was always using my cell phone as a crutch. I would act like I was texting someone else and expecting another visitor. That way I could explain to unwanted visitors I wasn't going to be alone much longer. 

Finally, "One trans girl to go" began to change. In a moment of brilliance, one of my bar tender friends set me up to meet her single mother who identified as a lesbian. Then, not too long after that I happened to be sitting alone one night when another woman slid a message down the bar to me. Not to let a golden opportunity go by, I quickly responded by introducing myself. It turned out she also identified as a lesbian and before long the three of us bonded over several mutual interests such as sports and drinking. For all intents and purposes from then on one transgender girl disappeared into a much needed small group of three. I learned so much from them I can't begin to list them all. All of a sudden I was even being invited to lesbian mixers which even led to one evening I was asked to approach another participant for a date...for my friend. I was a failure, because my friend didn't get her date but I tried. 

Also, as you may recall from a previous post, it was about this time when I met another circle of women who I called my second circle. It was through this circle I met Liz approximately twelve years ago. Our first date was a drag show and after being together for eleven years we decided to get married last October. Even though it's been years since my "One transgender girl", I still and probably always will remember all the intensely lonely days I had to go through. I even tried on line dating. Which predictably went badly in so many ways. I encountered my share of crazies before I ran into Liz who lived relatively close to me in Cincinnati, Ohio. We began to correspond more and more on line before I had the courage build up to let her hear my voice. She wasn't scared off and the rest as they say was history.    

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Transgender Safe Spaces

This afternoon is my oldest grandson's birthday party/dinner. Without hesitation, my wife Liz and I said we would attend. Not so long ago, my response would not have been so quick or so easy. Similar to so many of you transgender women and trans men, I went through significant stress finding a safe place to go to and explore the limits of my new authentic self. 

Photo from the 
Jessie Hart Archives

The first venues I tried were the primarily gay bars where I discovered quickly I really wasn't welcomed. After all the vast majority of the gay men in the space were looking for other men and only viewed me as another drag queen. If there wasn't a drag show scheduled for the night I was there, I was totally out of place. It did not take me long to seek out other so called safe spaces where I could attempt to learn to live my new life. 

A few of the venues I chose did turn out to be safe while others not so much. First I tried a couple of small lesbian bars I discovered in the Dayton, Ohio area. Both were former biker bars. One maintained that image for lesbians While the other was certainly more mellow and welcoming. The first place always made sure I never felt welcome while the other was the opposite. Primarily because it turned out my male self knew one of the bartenders. The only problem I ever ran into in the second venue was when I was forced into singing karaoke by a very masculine lesbian. I don't sing at all, so it was quite the challenge. It wasn't so long after that the place closed for good and I was forced to find other safe spaces to go to.

Since I was already the general manager of a very popular and busy casual dining bar/restaurant, I knew with some certainty what I could do to develop another safe space or two to go to. I found I was successful in locating a couple and decidedly not successful in trying to become a regular at others. So much so, I had the police called on me when I tried to use the restroom. I easily explained my situation to the cops and was sent on my way. I did manage to become a regular at three other sports bar type restaurants and even received rest room privilege's in the process. Plus when I finally established myself with a small group of friends I came with, I became ever more of a regular. I enjoyed my space spaces immeasurably and was able to grow my feminine self. 

Outside of a couple isolated instances, I never went back to the gay venues again. Where I never did really fit in. 

As far as my daughter's in laws were concerned, I write often concerning how accepted I was as a transgender woman. I think I was more concerned about how I would be treated than they were. After all I was carrying a ton of my old macho male baggage with me. Plus, speaking of safe spaces, I would be remis not mentioning all the current concern over a pre opt transgender woman in a woman's locker room without any clothes, I don't believe it's time for  any real input from me  Except from saying personally, I wouldn't want to show off my naked body in either locker room and I can't imagine someone doing it without backlash. Also, as a transgender community, we don't need any potential negative publicity. 

On a brighter note, I hope you all have found and developed your own transgender safe spaces.  

Monday, January 9, 2023

Better Late than Never

Photo Courtesy of
Jessie Hart

I go through many stages of emotions when I see a post saying or alluding to how we older transgender folk may somehow be less "trans" because we waited our life to evolve farther before we came out of our gender closets.  Of course there are many reasons we waited that the younger questioning transgender person doesn't realize. 

First and foremost they have no knowledge of the era or time we grew up in. They have no inkling of what life was like in the pre internet era. Closets were deeper and darker when it was more isolated. We weren't able to imagine a life without the world wide web and computers so small they fit on your cell phone. Plus,  I didn't even mention being without all the social media platforms. The many and varied platforms have
dramatically shortened the distances of the world. All of a sudden, it's easy to read about what Paula is up to on her blog  "Paula's Place" from the UK  or Franziska from Germany on her "Out and About" blog. Both are examples of just how much easier life would have been in my world if I had known there were others like me in the world back in the day. 

All of that aside, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much baggage we build naturally as we go through life. Over the years, we acquire families and children. Not to mention a circle of friends, jobs and property. It is a daunting task when you are stopping your life as you know it to consider a gender transition. On the other hand, I know younger transgender women and men have to consider building a life from scratch as their authentic selves with many having no family support at all.

Overall it is a shame we can't all get along better and learn from each other. Especially these days when anti LGBT (especially transgender) laws are becoming so prevalent. In the closet or not, young or old we need to organize our resistance and stick together before laws are proposed again, similar when I was growing up. stopping all men from even crossdressing as women in public at all. Some state politicians are trying to even ban drag shows. Young LGBTQ folk need to understand my urgency in resisting all of this negative change because I saw it in motion when I was younger.

Sure, it took me until my sixties until I fully came out of my gender closet and many times I regret not doing it sooner. It just took me longer to realize what I had as a man wasn't as promising of what I could have as a transgender woman. Finally I increasingly felt so natural as my feminine self, I decided to undergo hormone replacement therapy and live full time as a woman. Better late than never.

Dealing With Trans Rejection

Image from Jakayla Toney on UnSplash. Similar to so many transgender women or trans men, I have dealt with my share of rejections.  My first...