Showing posts with label family dynamics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family dynamics. Show all posts

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Strong Women Role Models

Hand Beaded Transgender Hair
Barret from Liz T Designs on
Etsy 

 I am speculating most transgender women or even trans men have experienced at least one or more strong women in their lives.

For any number of reasons, women have been forced to be strong and carry the load for weak men. For many, their first entrance into true womanhood comes with having children. With current economic conditions the way they are, the days of the old fifties version of Mom staying home to raise the kids and take care of the house is long gone. To barely make it financially, both partners have to work.

Problems then arise when the man still wants to follow the old outdated male standards of doing very little around the house to help out. 

By now, you may be asking what does this have anything to do with being a transgender woman. With me, at least, it means a lot. My Mom worked out a deal with my Dad in the sixties. If she went back to work as a school teacher and used her college degree, my Dad would help her out with hiring a part-time housekeeper. Even with the help, Mom had a lot to do with two sons in a very male orientated family. Even though I admired my Dad for being a self made man coming out of the Great Depression and WWII, I had more on hands experience with my Mom who was very headstrong. Who knows, maybe that influence with her had more to do with me being transgender than anything else. Later I was to learn my gender issues ran deeper than one person outside of myself.

Even so, I still searched for the perfect woman to model myself after. I wanted to appear as the confident women in the world I saw moving around in their lives. The older I became, the more I learned the perfect woman did not exist and many women were hurting themselves attempting the be a successful person in the world as well as on the home front. Not to mention, the overwhelming problem of appearance. Until recent times, aging has not been kind to most women who among other things suffer from extended menopause. 

All of these factors contribute to why I have such a high opinion of strong women and how I think the world is changing quickly as many more young women seize the new opportunities in the world around them while young men play video games. 

With all the changes, it is important to figure out how a transgender woman can fit in at all. Certainly, we have to be a better woman to do it at all. Which means understanding all the layers of a woman's life. That is once of the reasons some women resist letting trans women play in the girls sandbox at all. As my second wife always told me in no uncertain terms, I needed to earn my way in. Maybe that is why I never considered her a strong woman role model for me at all. My Mom on the other hand, was a strong role model for me. From how she applied her makeup to how she battled me for my future, I appreciated all she did for me. Including of course, birthing me. She remained my role model even though she rejected me when I came out as a transvestite to her. She immediately said she would pay for a psychiatrist which I rejected. Since I didn't have a mental health problem because of my gender issues. 

We never mentioned my desire to change my gender the rest of her life but even so I decided to adopt her first name as my legal middle name when I transitioned and legally changed my name. It was the biggest honor I could think of for all the things she did for me. The most relevant thing she did for me was to show me what a strong woman was and how to be one. A trait I would really need as I followed all the ups and downs of following a new gender path.

It is ironic to me, the strongest women I know like Liz or Kim have very little idea of how much they have helped me along and the most frustrating part is I don't think I can ever repay what they have done for me. 

Who knows? You might be an offspring of the very few strong women like my daughter. She had to became an ally for her trans child and was then able to take advantage of helping her child at an early age. Maybe your Mom realized your authentic gender self and became an ally rather than the cruel opposite.  If you didn't, you were forced to do what the rest of us did. Study strong women close up and do your best to join their ranks. I was fortunate enough to be able to work professionally along side several strong women who I learned from. The women seemed to combine strength and humility seamlessly to forge a successful business career. 

There are so many variations on how to become a successful strong trans woman it is difficult to mention them all. We all need to the do the best we can to force our way into a world where sometimes we are not wanted.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

A Zig-Zag Trans Life

Party night at Club Diversity
Columbus, Ohio.

 Maybe I should have called this post I should have zigged when I should have zagged. Or vice-versa.

In many ways, I see all sorts of transgender women or trans men in the same situation. I started at a very young age when I would zig away from my younger brother when we were home alone and I was able to get away from him when I cross dressed by locking myself in the bathroom. Fortunately, I never needed to zag because somehow, he never caught me and told my unapproving parents.

Somehow I thought when I got older, my life would improve. The first thing I learned was my urge to be or at least cross dress as a girl my age would not magically disappear. In fact, it became stronger when I learned it was not just a phase and I began to understand my gender dysphoria better. At that point, I really had to start zigging and zagging just to maintain my fragile mental health. When I was old enough, I even began taking myself to therapists to seek out help. My only main success which came out of it was when I was diagnosed with a bi-polar depressive disorder. It had nothing to do with my gender issues at all. As far as zigging or zagging, I was able temporarily save my marriage and received my money's worth when my gender therapist told me the truth. She could do nothing about me wanting to be a woman. Overall, my desires should not be a problem and I should face my truth. Of course, I wasn't smart enough to follow her advice and resumed all the zigging and zagging. 

It took me years and years to grow up and away from my male self and settle into a life as my authentic feminine or transgender self. By this time, I was growing so tired of all the zigging and zagging I was going through. Even though the whole process was an exciting time of my gender life, I was still becoming fatigued by my life the way it was. Ironically, when I was, I settled into a long term set of appointments with a very understanding therapist. She talked me off the ledge several times and along the way helped me secure gender affirming hormones and the paper work I needed to change all the legal gender markers I could. All of a sudden, I was able to visualize myself living my dream as a full fledged transgender woman. With my daughter's help, we were even able to come up with a new legal name which would reflect my family history and would be easy for my grandkids to use.

Finally all my exhaustion came to an end and I was able to live how I pleased. All the zigging and zagging had worked. All the times I hurried to hide myself away from friends and family, were put behind me. Through it all I learned one difficult lesson. If you can somehow believe in yourself, you can live your best life. Even though you may (like me) take years and years to evolve into your authentic self, the trip is usually never boring as you lead a zig-zag trans life. Overall, it takes a ton of effort to weave your gender issues into a life of family, spouses, jobs and friends. You learn to be forever vigilant in protecting yourself and end up internalizing way too much of your life. It seems the entire process is just ingrained as part of a transgender life as breath itself. We just have to finally zig to get around it. Then zag to adopt your new life as a trans woman.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Earning Motherhood

 

Liz on left with me preparing to celebrate
Mother's Day with her son over a Margarita.
Photo by AJ Trumble.

To be clear, I never have asked for the honor of being called "Mother" from either one of my off springs. 

I have a daughter of my own who means the world to me and a step son who I love very much. I met him when I met my wife Liz and was accepted into his world immediately with no questions asked. 

My daughter started the Mother's Day ball rolling last year when I received a small gift and a Happy Mother's Day for the first time from her. Truthfully, I was brought to tears by the thought. I was forever finished with Father's Day. 

I consider the title of Mother to be the ultimate compliment and as I said, not one I take lightly. I also think being referred to as Mother represents a total erasure of all the years of testosterone poisoning and an unwanted male life I went through. It means to me, my immediate family sees me as a full fledged trans woman. I even respected my own Mom enough to use her first name as my middle name when I legally changed it. Even though she never approved of my gender transition. Even to the point of being a relatively harmless cross dresser or transvestite. Back in those days, neither one of us knew the depth of gender issues. I considered Mom to be a product of her generation (WWII/Depression) and moved on after her death. 

Needless to say, most of my gender journey was never easy and represented many roadblocks along the way. I can only say, I never expected to arrive where I am today. Maybe I should come up with another book and call it "From the Mirror to the World...A Transgender Journey." 

We shall see.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Transgender Closure?

Image from Nick Bolton
on UnSplash.




 Sometimes it seems as if closure to a transgender woman never comes.

In the very early days in the mirror as I cross dressed, I thought I had reached closure when gender euphoria kicked in when I admired myself. It did until the pressure built to cross dress again and again. Predictably what happened was, I became so frustrated with the process of moving back and forth between the male and female binary genders, I decided to purge (throw away) all of my feminine belongings and go back to a male life. The problem was, deep down I knew purging was not going to solve my transgender issues. Plus very certainly, I was getting no closure and I would always go back to the mirror.

Through it all, I was very naïve and thought closure was around every corner as I continued along my gender path. It turned out, all the small victories I celebrated had nothing to do with winning the war and having any closure at all. The prime example I can recall came when I decided to transition from a cross dresser to a transgender woman. When I was beginning to be successful, I thought I finally had it made when something came along and changed my mind. Foremost among life changing closure experiences occurred when I learned what my second wife warned me about. I really had no idea of what a woman went through in life and I had to learn before I could be accepted. 

I needed to lose my impostor feminine syndrome on several levels. Even though, I couldn't have things such as periods and pregnancies, I had other problems to deal with as a transgender woman to pay my dues. Primarily, losing all my male privileges was what I gave up first to join the world of women. I didn't expect any special privileges to be let in, I just wanted to be given the chance to let my feminine inner soul flourish in the world. She waited nearly a half a century to live and had learned a lot. Even still, I was viewed with a certain amount of mis-trust by several women who I think thought I could run home and go back to my old male life. There was no easy way to prove to them I had given all my male clothes away and there was no turning back for me. 

Once I broke down gender doors thanks to the help of certain close friends, I was able to enjoy more and more activities such girls nights out without impostor syndrome setting in. Finally, I was feeling more and more closure from my old male life. In many ways, I had insulated him from myself altogether. Even more so when I started gender affirming hormones and started to feel the full effects. I started to understand aspects of a woman's life such as emotions all the way to simple things such as the influences such as temperature changes on the body. Suddenly, I discovered women were not just being sissies when they said they were cold all the time except when they were having hot flashes which I went through also. 

As I was going through all the changes in life hormones sent me through, closure set in and I knew there was never going to be any going back. It took me awhile to realize the closure I was attempting represented the most intelligent decision I ever made with my life. I didn't have to worry about any more impostor syndrome because I knew I had paid my dues. 

Now the closure I need to look forward to is doing whatever I can to insure my final years are as smooth as possible. Much of it will be out of my control so I will just have to do the best I can try to pay it forward with organizations such as the "Alzheimer's Organization." My Dad passed from a very ugly case of Dementia years ago, so I hope I won't have to put my loved ones through the same thing. The rest, however is mainly out of my control with no chance at closure. 

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Transgender Expectations

 

Picnic Image. My wife Liz on the right.





When I began the long and very difficult transgender journey I decided to take, I had many expectations.

At the time, I was still entranced with wearing all the pretty clothes a woman had access to. I could not wait to have my own wardrobe which would match any occasion from casual to formal. I was very naïve back in those days and thought a woman's life was all about how she looked. I was so wrong as I discovered as I explored more and more of a transgender woman's life. In addition to the layers cis-women went through in their lives, trans women face all of those and more. To begin with, we don't have the benefit of growing up around other girls and learning from them. Making our own way was difficult when the only input was coming from the mirror. 

Loneliness ruled my feminine side all the time my male side was trying his best to survive in the world he never really felt comfortable in. As I observed all the girls around me, my expectations of what their life was all about just increased. The problem was I had a distorted view of everything feminine. One example was I was shy and never liked having to ask a girl out on a date. I thought the whole process was so unfair just like worrying about serving in the military and getting shipped off to Vietnam. 

What I did not realize was the gender grass was not always greener on the feminine side. Was it easier to be the one asking someone out, or waiting for someone to ask you out. As far as the military went, there was nothing I could do about it, so I tried to hide my resentment and move on. 

As I did move on, I discovered many other expectations I never planned on. Communication was one of the major hurdles I needed to overcome before I could learn to live a quality life as a transgender woman. I was blindsided quickly when the public wanted to talk to me faster than I was ready to respond. Initially, before I went through vocal lessons, I tried to just talk in a soft background voice and hope for the best. Trying to match the voice to my appearance was not an expectation I planned on but it happened. It was just all a part of moving out of the mirror and into the world. 

As I matured as a trans woman and started to communicate with other women, I learned the grass was certainly not greener on the feminine side of gender. As I thought back to the Christmas envy I had because of my two girl cousins who were dressed in their new dresses and white tights. Liz ruined my illusions of pleasure when she told me stories of getting in trouble for getting her tights ruined by playing with the boys. 

Even though I found the grass was not greener on the other gender side, the more I learned of the gender differences I faced, the more I wanted to continue my journey. It seemed the more I experienced, I more I felt I had paid my dues as a transgender woman. More or less, as a rite of passage such as a mammogram. 

Since females are not born women but rather socialized into womanhood, transgender women have to go through the same process. By following all those expectations all those years, I finally arrived. The path I followed was difficult but in many ways the same as other women, transgender or not. 

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Are You Really Someone Else as a Trans Person?

 

Image from Kevin Laminto 
on UnSplash

For the longest time, I considered the idea I was two separate people.

On one hand, I was living the male life I was entrenched in and on the other, I was attempting to carve out the precious time I needed to explore my cross dressing self in front of the mirror. Trying to live a life on the gender border between male and female as very difficult to say the least. When I was in male mode, I spent every spare moment wanting to cross dress again at the least and trying to imagine what living as a girl would be like the rest of the time. To make matters worse, I even dreamed of being a pretty girl when I was asleep. Then I had to wake up confused and bitter when I found out life really hadn't changed and I was still a male after all. I needed to go again and challenge an unwanted world. 

Through it all, I often wondered why me? It took years for me to embrace who I really was and know the answer. I was just me and it would have to be good enough. However, the family upbringing I went through made it so difficult. During my youth, I was taught nothing was good enough. When I brought home any "B's: in my studies, they were not good enough. Where were the expected "A's." The never good enough attitude carried with me into my cross dressing life, all the way to when I became a novice transgender woman. In other words, when I acquired a new dress, when its newness wore off, I always felt I could look better in another dress, It led me to being a thrift store shop-a -holic. I couldn't wait until I could take what I had set aside money wise from my wife and use what time I could set aside to locate the next great outfit. 

My problem became especially bad when I was able to afford shopping for new wigs. I went through what I called my clown era of wigs before I settled into one or two wigs I wore all the time. By doing so, I was able to finally begin to build myself as a stable transgender woman in the world. I was beginning to learn I was someone else and that person was not a guy. 

As I was doing all of this  and as I lived a new and exciting world as a trans woman, I found I was taking all the stress off my mental health. The new authentic me enabled me to feel more confident on the gender path I was taking. I was fortunate also to have had a good therapist at the time to help me talk my way through it with her. Since I had previously been diagnosed as being Bi-Polar, both of us were careful to keep my gender issues separate. Plus, no mention was ever made of me being two people. I set the idea aside as being yet another mistaken idea from my youth. It could have been my male self attempting yet another move to survive the onslaught of life changing ideas which threatened his very existence. 

My life today proves I was always only one person and that was my feminine side. It is so sad I needed to fight so long to feminize my entire life as a transgender woman. The only true person I needed to be.  

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Opening Transgender Doors

Image from Nathan Wright 
on UnSplash


What is the old saying, "When one door closes, another one opens." I think the saying is especially appropriate for transgender women or trans men.

Along the way, I have documented several substantial times when I slammed doors during my past and opened new doors. 

Probably the first time I closed a door was when I was going out with a certain set of party friends who ranged from cross dressers to transsexuals who were planning their genital realignment surgeries. I wasn't very interested so much in the cross dressers but on the other hand, I was very interested in the women who were going "all the way." I wondered if I could ever slam the door on the male life I had fought to live and open a new door into a feminine world. 

Luckily I was able to see different sides of the gender coin so to speak. One friend in particular was a firefighter in Columbus, Ohio who was gorgeous and near retirement. So she had the financial risk of a gender transition covered as did the other main transsexual woman I knew at the time. She also was gorgeous and had a very secure job as an electrical engineer. She was so good at living a woman's life, she regularly went on snow skiing trips, spending whole weeks as her authentic self. So, as you can tell, I had lofty role models to try to live up to. I knew they would be difficult to match up to as far as appearance and income plus neither one had a spouse to deal with. I loved my spouse very much and wasn't sure I was able to close the door on my relationship with her. 

Even still, I continued to observe and learn as well as set out to open my own transgender doors. It just took me longer than others to find a path of my own. I know all too many of our gender journey's are similar yet so far apart. It is difficult to leave the first door in our closet and find the other doors in the darkness. Once I was able to find the light and it wasn't the train at the end of the tunnel, I was able to progress quite nicely but not without trepidations. Of course I still had to deal with the usual problems transgender women and men have to deal with when they transition and close the big door. Sometimes closing the door is the easy part compared to opening the doors to different living situations with family, friends and finances. 

I think too many potential transgender folk believe the transition itself will cause the life problems to go away and they haven't thought enough about the all the situations they would have to face now when spouses and/or families want to leave them behind. Not to mention the prospect of losing long term employment and friends. All of the process led to opening very heavy doors and not having much of an idea what the future held. 

I was fortunate when I finally had the courage to open my final transgender doors and face the world. As I did, I could look back at all the times I was petrified to try a new life as a transgender woman. Every time I was so scared it seemed I made it OK which felt so natural and gave me confidence to move forward and look for new challenges. I don't think I ever forgot the two early gender role models I had in Columbus, Ohio so many years before but similar to my male life, I was able to carve out my new life as a fulltime transgender woman so different from theirs.

Even still, I have my doors to open as I face a challenging future with end of life issues. I am still paranoid concerning facing the problems associated with nursing care or assisted living. It will be quite the journey as I face the final door we all have to open and see what is on the other side.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Prom Time

 

Image from Amy Kate
on UnSplash


I graduated from high school way back in 1967 and where I went to school in Ohio, going to prom was a big deal.

I was very shy and as it turned out my junior year in high school prom was my first date with a girl ever. I didn't even really ask my date out, it was pre-arranged by her friends who knew she did not have a date nor did I. So I was set up for success. 

Of course success for me was scary. I had no idea how I could ever spend an entire evening with a girl. What would I say? How would I even communicate? The only real interactions with girls were with my Mom. All others just seemed to be up on a far away pedestal I had invented. Then my gender issues came crashing in to make my problems even larger. All I really knew was deep down inside, I wanted to be the one wearing the pretty fancy gown rather than the restrictive monkey suit called a tuxedo. Worse yet, I had to spend my own hard earned money to rent a tux. 

It turned out renting the tuxedo was only the beginning of my expenditures. I was fortunate at the time to have had a very well high school paying job so my parents did not have to contribute much to my initial adventure with a girl. In order to go all out for the evening, tradition was the guy paid for nearly everything from flowers, to dinner at a supper club, to tickets to the after prom which was a way to spend the entire night out. What I didn't factor in was how much my date had to spend on finding a dress, having her makeup and hair done and of course locating matching shoes. All of the processes the girl went through for prom to me felt like a labor of love to me I couldn't have waited to try. 

My date's parents were doctors so Dad even went the extra mile and let me borrow his car for the evening. Needless to say, I was scared to death in my tux when prom time approached. Somehow I managed not to blurt out anything stupid when I was introduced to my date and let her Mom put the corsage on for me on my date's spaghetti strapped gown which I loved and told her so. Just didn't happen to mention just why I loved her dress so much as I wondered how it would look on me. Fortunately, we were meeting another couple for dinner, so I didn't have to feel so stressed about carrying any sort of a conversation myself. So far so good, my first date was coming off without a hitch and ironically I was able to experience some sort of transgender revenge when I went to the old supper club when it became a gay venue. I was there one night and was able to use the women's room completing some sort of gender circle in my mind.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I was a seasoned prom pro and ended up going to two proms in one night. Since I was dating a girl who went to a competing high school, we decided to go to both proms. I even drove my own car since she was familiar with it and I didn't have worry about asking my Dad for his car. Overall, I managed to have a good time since I wasn't so frightened of the whole experience. For the rest of my life, my prom experience was over. For better or for worse. 

Probably, my parents were relieved I was finally dating girls. I on the other hand wasn't doing anything to relieve my gender dysphoria. I still wanted to be my girlfriends and live their lives. My cross dressing tendencies continued all the way until I was drafted into the military and had to stop for obvious reasons. By this time, I had more to worry about than how I looked as a girl. I was looking at surviving college so I could stay out of Vietnam as long as I could.     

Today I see the young high schoolers seem to view proms as less structured affairs than we did so long ago. It's all for the best.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Being Prepared for a Transgender Future

Image from Chad Walton
on UnSplash.





For nearly a half a century, I hid behind the idea I was nothing more than a cross dresser who liked to wear women's makeup and fashion. What harm was I really doing? The answer is, the only harm I was doing was to myself.  

Had I known all I was doing was to prepare myself to transition into a transgender woman later in life, I may had approached the process in a different light. The problem was, everything seemed to be so life and death serious. Primarily since I was locked into a very lonely, dark gender closet. I had no role models around me to prepare for a highly uncertain future. No one to tell me my make up looked clownish and my skirt was way too short. I only had my old male ego and a mirror who were teaming up to make my life miserable. 

I really learned how miserable I could be when I began to leave my closet and explore the world.  Being stared at and laughed at to my face taught me the mirror could lie to me and the way my old male self was telling me to dress was all wrong. I was going back to my cross dressing drawing board too many times before I learned what I had suspected all along, becoming a part of the feminine gender was going to take a lot of work. I needed to go so far to finally understand all along I was a woman cross dressing as a man and not the opposite. 

The more I began to understand where I was in life, the more the future came into focus and preparations for major upcoming decisions became important. As I was exploring and building a new life as a novice transgender woman, it became clear to me I could indeed live my dream of living as a woman. Before I could arrive there, I still had heavy preparation work to do. There were major issues of coming out and telling what was left of family and friends I was a trans woman. Once I did, there would be no more running home and hiding in the mirror wearing a dress, The first person I told was my only child (my daughter)  went very well and I was emboldened to tell more people such as my only sibling ( a brother). He accepted my transness terribly so I ended up with an even split in salvaging any of the family life I had left since my parents had long since passed away.

The next crossroad I needed to navigate was what was I going to do about supporting myself in my new world. Following quite a bit of planning and preparation, I decided I was close enough to being able to take an early Social Security retirement which back in those days was sixty two. To get there, all I had to do was work another two years. Ironically, during the two years, I was able to prepare even further for my future when the Veteran's Administration Health Care System I was part of suddenly began to accept HRT or gender affirming hormones for veterans. So, the extra two years gave me the time to further prepare for a future which included changing all the legal gender markers I could including a new legal name. 

Since I was newly single again following my second wife's sudden passing, I really could use the time to prepare for the final transgender transition into a new life I had been preparing for since I was born.  

Monday, April 15, 2024

You got it...Now Live with It!

 

From the Archives, Club Diversity. Columbus 
Ohio.

For some unknown reason, I have been remembering more and more what my gender therapist told me so long ago, she couldn't do anything concerning me wanting to be a woman. Now I don't remember if she told me I could not do anything about it either. 

If she did and had I listened, I would have saved myself so much inner torment over the years from my gender dysphoria. At the time my male self was not even close to being ready to give up any claims to his life which at the time was becoming relatively successful. After all, he had worked long and hard to arrive at the point where he was. 

If I wanted to blame anyone but myself for not accepting my true authentic self, I would blame my home environment. I grew up in a very male dominated family. My Dad had two competitive brothers and his competitive personality filtered through to my brother and I. It seemed no one had girls in the family and if they did, they were second class citizens. How I existed was by keeping my true feminine desires a deep dark secret. I learned early the very male trait of internalizing any negative thoughts or ideas. The whole concept turned out to be very self destructive over the span of my life which included the years of being a very serious cross dresser or transvestite. The whole process nearly took my life before I finally figured out I had it, now I needed to live with it. 

All I wanted was the impossible. Give me back just a fraction of the time and effort I had wasted by trying against all odds to maintain any sort of a male life. The cruel and unusual punishment came in when the more I achieved as a guy, made it more difficult to give it all up. I had a spouse, family, friends and good job to suddenly consider. What would my daughter think? Not to mention my wife and brother. All of a sudden I needed to draw a line in my gender sand and decide which route in life I was going to take. 

Everything changed for me the night I finally decided I had put enough exploration as my feminine self to make the ultimate leap over the gender border. Needless to say, it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I had a chance to go back in life to a point where I was not so jaded by either gender and experience for myself what the future held for me. It was at this point friends jumped in and showed me the way I never thought possible. I found I had it all along. I was a transgender woman and now I had the rare opportunity to live with it. I discovered there was so much more I needed to learn when I entered the world as a trans woman. 

Plus it took a while for the overall excitement of transitioning into my dream life to wear off. Everything I did was new and different and even when I was not accepted, I learned from my mistakes and for a change, my inner stubborn streak served me well. I had it and now I was living with it. I guess if you are able to live long enough as I have, you have the opportunity to see life go full circle. I paid my dues as a guy and what he learned turned out to be beneficial in my new life as a woman.

Quoting the singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell song "Both Sides Now",  only when I was able to see the world from both sides of the binary genders, was I able to relax and enjoy my life. All along I had it and just missed out on the real possibilities of what I was missing. Living with being transgender was all that mattered.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Life's Little Nudges

Image from James Lee
on UnSplash



In an extension of yesterday's post, there were many times when I needed a little push to keep going towards my dream of living a life as a transgender woman. 

Perhaps the first push I needed was I had to know if I could exist in the public's eye as a novice cross dresser (or whatever label you want to put on me) at all. It seemed everytime I left my closet, I was being laughed at or at the minimum stared at. It was during those dark days I waited on any rationalization to come along to justify what I was doing to myself was right. The light I saw at the end of the tunnel certainly seemed to be the train back then. 

Somehow, I kept dodging the train and relied on the least bit of gender euphoria I felt on occasion to propel me forward. One example was the short, flirty tennis style outfit I came up with to wear to the mall. I managed enough pizazz to generate admiring looks from many of the old men who were in the mall walking at the time. Back in those days, I didn't really understand what a true validation as a woman meant to me. I was still obsessed with appearance only.

Slowly I was nudged off my appearance pedestal by comments from my second wife such as I did not have any idea of what being a woman was all about. Since I had spent nearly all of my life to that point studying the women around me, I resented the fact she said it at all but even still, I set out to find out what she meant. Sadly, most of what I learned from her comments did not come until after she passed away. At that point, gender doors began to open for me and I was nudged through them. Finally, I paid enough dues to be allowed to play in the girls' sandbox. Where the real learning started. Slowly I survived having my sandcastles destroyed and sand kicked in my face by the mean girls and I moved on.

As my world widened and I actually learned I could make it in a transgender world, it seemed each night was a bigger and bigger push in the right direction. Destiny showed me a path and I took it. My small group of lesbian friends showed me how to validate myself without a man and secured once and for all my sexuality. I was living my dream and decided to take it a step forward by beginning gender affirming hormones. After all, at the age of sixty, if I was healthy enough, what was holding me back. It turned out nothing was except for a surprising reaction to the new femininizing hormones in my body. It was much more than a nudge when my breasts developed to a point where they were easily visible under all my old male shirts. All along, I thought the process would take longer but it didn't and it was time to come out to what was left of my family. 

The coming out process showed me both sides of coming out as a transgender woman in a male dominated family where I was supposed to be the patriarch. Because I was the oldest surviving man. My brother rejected me and my daughter accepted me is the short and sweet version I relate to so much here in the blog. 

Even though it was at times a very difficult and rough gender journey I went down, life's little nudges made my life anything but boring. In fact, it tended to be on the terrifying/exciting side.   

Monday, March 18, 2024

Somewhere between Heaven and Hell

 

Image from Sara Kurfess
on UnSplash


Very recently I received a comment from "J" asking me about my experiences coming out to my immediate family. After giving the comment some brief thought and I came up with this explanation, my coming out to family was somewhere between heaven and hell. 

To begin with, I had it relatively easy coming out since most of the important members of my family who needed to know anything about my transgender issues were not around. My parents, as well as many of my uncles and aunts had all passed away, leaving me only my daughter and my slightly younger brother to tell my truth to. 

The heaven and hell came in with both of these two close family members, it seemed as if destiny was showing me both sides of coming out. To begin with, I chose telling my daughter first at one of our breakfast meetings we often scheduled to catch up with our lives. One very nervous, scary morning, I chose to tell her I was indeed transgender. I will never forget her reaction which initially was a resounding why was she the last to know. Keep in mind by this time in her life, her Mom was long divorced from me and her Step Mom (my second wife) had recently passed away. So I guess she resented neither one of them telling her the depth of my gender issues. It certainly wasn't their fault because even though they knew I was a cross dresser or transvestite, even I resisted the idea of me possibly being transgender. In the meantime I was trying my best to hide any feminine desires I had from the rest of the world. Evidently, I did a good job and I was also amazed the cross dressing subject never came up with her. When she asked me why was she the last to know, I had no answer.

From then on, she gave me more support than I could have ever asked for. My daughter initially offered to take me on a shopping trip which I politely declined and then since my hair had magically grown to the point of being able to be professionally styled, she offered me a styling at her upscale spa and salon for my birthday. A gift I just couldn't turn down and after conquering my fears of going to the salon, I learned why women were so in love with their salon visits. I loved mine and I was in heaven. To the day, "J", my daughter has provided me with the heavenly acceptance I needed to make my male to female gender transition so much easier.

Now, the hell part comes in with my brother and his extended family. As luck would have it, I told my brother just before Thanksgiving over ten years ago. I wanted to know if it was OK if I attended as my authentic self or not. Before I asked out of respect, I knew the answer I would be given. My brother's in laws were all right wing leaning Southern Baptists, many of whom I always argued with during family get togethers. 

After some brief discussion with his wife, my brother sold me up the creek and said essentially it would be better if I did not attend the only family get together we planned for the whole year. The dinner was always the most important get together for my second wife and she did all the cooking a preparation for it for years after my parents passed away. So the rejection hurt a lot. I moved on quickly and haven't talked to my brother since. Which describes the end of my hellish experience of coming out to family.

Plus, I was lucky, I had my wife Liz and my daughter's extended family step in to fill the holiday void. And, I turned out better in the long term. 

I don't know, maybe destiny just wanted to show me the heaven and hell of coming out to family. While I didn't have the quantity of people to come out to as being transgender, I certainly was able to experience the quality of seeing both sides of the rejection/acceptance spectrum.

Thanks for the comment! I hope my experiences help. I value all your comments and questions! 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

How Did I Know

 

Image from Shane 
on UnSplash

Every now and then I get asked how or when I knew I was transgender or at the least had issues with my gender.

In fact the last time I remember anyone asking was when my daughter and I were discussing her own child's gender issues and the extreme possibility the child was preparing to come out as trans to the world. To start with, my daughter has always been one of my strongest allies, supporting my gender journeys in everyway she could. So she knew more than a little about the process of joining the world as your authentic self. 

Regardless of all of that, I answered her question the only way I knew how. Even though I may not been able to vocalize my gender feelings in a way anyone would understand (including myself), I knew deep down something was wrong in my world. Perhaps my strongest indication was when I woke up in the morning saddened because I had just dreamed I was a girl. Somehow I thought most if not all the other boys I knew did not have their basic gender to worry about on a daily basis. 

The honest answer to the question became, I had always known I was born with a feminine soul and wanted to express her as much as I could. And I also learned the hard way to try to purge all vestiges of her existence was a waste of time and money. All it really did was depress me and destroyed my mental health even further than it already was. Since I had already been diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder, I had a couple of therapists try to connect the dots between my gender issues and me being bi-polar. I knew, one was separate from another and resisted their theories until I found a therapist who took the time and effort to understand where I was coming from. 

In many ways, the real question became not how did I know, to how did I cope with the change. Even though my grandchild was blessed with an understanding set of parents, they still faced the normal who, what and why questions any transgender person has to live with. When you pile on the normal challenge of life, the entire process we live with seems so unfair. But then again,(you undoubtedly have heard this before), who said life had to be fair? 

Another hurdle I faced when I was deciding to finally give up my male life and come out to the world was understanding myself. For nearly a half a century I fought my male self for dominance and when I finally decided to give it up, it was such a relief. The whole process felt as if I was taking a huge load of bricks off of my shoulders. At the time, I was very much out in the world as as serious cross dresser anyhow, so the jump I needed to make was not as far as it would have been earlier in life. So why not come out before I became any older. Since I was in my early sixties by then. I knew it was past time to live my truth.

One thing which makes me recoil in anger is when someone makes the statement I am less trans because I waited so long to come out. When in fact we all deserve the respect to come out as we please because every life is different.  The end result is all that matters. 

If you think you know you are transgender or are slowly coming along in your exploration process, all power to you. The bottom line is it your life, live it the best you can.    

Friday, February 23, 2024

Mom Approved

Image from Kelly Sikkema
on UnSplash
 
Very few transgender women or trans men have the benefit of an approving Mother. I can't imagine my Mom ever providing me the fashion or the help to become the girl I strongly wanted to become. 

My parents were members of the "greatest generation" who went through the great depression and WWII. Both of those major events certainly shaped them into individuals who were strong on providing for a family and weak on emotional support. Which was exactly what I needed. My Dad's family was very male dominated and my brother and I were expected to follow in his footsteps. Wanting to be feminine at all did not fit in to the advance family plans my parents had for their eldest son. I was expected to grow up, go to college and marry into my social class or higher. Quickly I was discovering, I had different ideas.

Even though I was busy playing sports and working on other male activities. I can't say I excelled at any of them but I tried my best. One thing is for sure, I was on my own because there was no way I could ever bring up my true gender feelings to my parents. Especially my Mom, who often took the lead in raising my brother and I. So, I was solidly hidden away in my dark lonely closet until I could break out much later in life. 

Through it all, I still sought out my parents approval. My Dad was very difficult to out due because he was very much the stereotypical self made man. He built his own house and rose to a bank VP position with a high school diploma. He served in the Army Air Corps in WWII, so at least my military duty in many ways corresponded to his. My brother on the other hand thanks to a high draft number, never had to serve at all. It took until I was out of the Army for me to try to come out to my Mom. One night after drinking with my friends, she was waiting up for me (before I could move out into my own place) and I blurted out I was a transvestite. I don't know what kind of a reaction I thought I would get but it was anything but the negative one I received. She recoiled and immediately volunteered to pay for therapy which in those days was the approved method for dealing with gender dysphoria. I basically said go to hell and that was the last time it was it ever brought up to her. And I never came out to my Dad either before his death at the age of 86. 

It took my daughter to break the chain of family disapproval of transgender issues and help with our over all family mental health. Growing up, my oldest grandchild (a girl) kept showing signs to my daughter she was having issues with her gender. When she was mad at Mom, she would say things such as what if I liked girls instead of boys. Since all three of my grandkids knew I was transgender, threatening my daughter with gender issues was pointless. Now my eldest grandchild goes by the "they" pronouns, has a partner and goes to The Ohio State University. Needless to say, I am so proud of my daughter and her family. It shows how much can change in a generation or two in a family. 

Even though my Mom never approved of my feminine soul and I never had her input on my cross dressing desires, I understand now she was just a product of her generation. During her later years, she was a little difficult to deal with, so as I said, we never discussed my gender issues again. I wish now I would have given her the opportunity. 

To make up for it, I adopted her first name as my new legal middle name when I changed my gender markers years ago. It was the best I could do to bury any lingering resentment I may feel. Maybe somewhere now, I am Mom approved as the daughter she never had.   

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. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Secure Beginnings

 

1966 Transvestia Cartoon

This morning I read a post by a transgender man I follow on another writing format. 

The number one fact I took away from his post was how accepting his grandparent was when he was growing up. In fact, the grandparent took him to get his hair cut and purchased him clothes to match his authentic gender. After I read the post I responded by saying how good it must have been to have a supporting person in their life. 

Sadly, I was never able to take advantage of having anyone even knowing about or having any inkling about my gender issues. I knew without any shadow of a doubt, I was expected to be a boy in all aspects of my life. My parents were of the "Greatest Generation" which was the WWII and Great Depression generation. As a child growing up in the 50's, I was expected to fit neatly into a square male hole and survive the best I could. in a world I did not embrace.

The entire experience of being totally alone in the world as a boy who wanted to be a girl led me quickly to extreme cases of gender dysphoria. It wasn't until many years later when I learned of Virginia Prince and her "Transvestia" publication did I discover there actually other transvestites as they called themselves back then. Thinking back, I am fairly sure the publication was mailed out every two months and I couldn't wait until the next one arrived. Thanks to "Transvestia", I was able to learn about actual mixers which were close enough for me to go meet  other cross dressers or transvestites. As I began to see others in those mixers up close and personal, I learned how many levels of difference there were in a community which I imagined to be so similar. For example, the idea of the mixer being for only heterosexual transvestites only was quickly dispelled when too many of the participants disappeared behind  their hotel room doors too quickly.

Ironically, through it all, I still didn't feel as if I had found any sort of a home with others who supposedly were supposed to feel similar to me. Looking back, I think it was because the concept of being transgender had not been widely publicized at the time. I knew I did not belong with the cross dressers trying to deny their male selves or the transsexuals in the group considering radical gender realignment surgery. In those days, anyone who went down the surgical path was recommended to move away and begin a totally new life. As severe as my gender dysphoria was at the time. I couldn't imagine myself doing all of that.

It took awhile but I eventually stopped blaming my parents for ignoring my gender issues. Part of it was my fault for never attempting to tell them what was really bothering me, so I took the traditional male approach and just bottled it all up. I hid it all so well until the night after I returned home from the Army. I came home late from drinking my share of beer and found my Mom waiting up for me. We started to talk and along the way, I tried to come out to her. She followed her instincts and offered to pay for mental health counselling and I followed mine and never brought it up to her again. She has long since passed away so the best I could do to honor her anyhow was to change my new legal middle name to hers nearly five years ago. 

I needed to realize the "Greatest Generation" was good at providing and not so good at emotional support,  at least in my family. Once I accepted the facts of my upbringing, I really needed to work hard to not repeat the cycle of my upbringing. Once I began to feel secure in my transgender life, I was able to  do it.    


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Into the Fire

Actual Image from Bar-Mitzvah 
Liz on left, daughter on right.

 Shortly after I let the world into my gender closet, I had to hitch up my new big girl panties and get in the game. Under big time fire. 

What happened was, just after I came out to my daughter just happened to closely coincide with my oldest grandson's Jewish Bar-Mitzvah. Little did I know at the time how closely I would be involved.

What happened was, since I was one of the grandparents, I actually had a small part to read at the formal ceremony at their temple.

Fortunately, I had plenty of experience in public speaking from my old radio days so I wasn't afraid of getting back up in front of a crowd of people. Plus, I thought, how many people would show up anyhow and this would be my first chance to interact with many strangers for the first time as a transgender woman. No pressure, right????

When the time quickly rolled around, I was surprised how many people showed up for the ceremony. The rows of pews quickly were filling up along with my anxiety. What would all the strangers think of me and especially, what would my grandson. Finally, it was my turn to speak my part of the ceremony and there was no turning back. Naturally I was petrified and tried to hold back my panic. To make a long story short, the presentation I gave went by in a split second and nobody in the audience seemed to pay any attention to me anyhow as far as my gender presentation went.

After I was tossed into the fire, I was warmly greeted by the Rabbi who welcomed me into the ceremony plus, later I had the opportunity to meet her again at the party which was held afterwards. Of course the party was my chance to wind down and relax following my brief but intense place in the spotlight. 

On the way home, when I could finally breathe again, I marveled on how completely I was accepted by my daughter's new religion. I'm far from an expert on the difference in Jewish faith's but I think her temple is part of the Reformed Jewish religion. Since that time, I have been easily accepted by all of her in-laws, so that must be the case.

When I thought of the entire occasion later, I came to the conclusion of when you are going to jump into the fire, do it all the way. 

And finally, the best part was my grandson seemed to be really proud of me for participating as my authentic self.  Lesson learned from being a good role model.

I don't write it nearly enough, but thanks to all of you who stop by to read my writings. Your input makes it all worthwhile!

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Insistence

 

Image from the Jessie
Hart Archives

I found out long ago, living my desired lifestyle as my authentic feminine self would involve tons of insistence. 

First of all, I needed to insist I needed all the practice I could come by in front of the mirror as I attempted to perfect any sort of a new gender appearance. It meant sneaking around the prying eyes of an inquisitive younger brother as well as hiding from my parents who I knew would never understand. Slowly but surely my insistence paid off and I improved my appearance. Little did I know, it was only the beginning of an extremely long life time journey.

Through it all, I needed to insist on continuing my journey no matter how difficult the process was. If I was ever discovered, the push back would have the potential to be tremendous. I could lose my friends, family and job, almost immediately. As the pressure mounted, I still needed to move forward down my path to move from a part time transvestite or cross dresser all the way to living fulltime as a fulltime transgender woman. 

Insistence was also the key during my early days of exploring the world as my true self. I needed to face all the stares (and even laughs) I was getting from the public. I ended up learning the hard way how the mirror could and was lying to me. I needed to repeatedly go back to my wardrobe and makeup drawing board until I achieved more of a success. 

Then, I learned the hard way, how my successes would lead to needing more insistence for success on my part. I was petrified the first several times I was forced into one on one conversations with other women. How was my voice going to sound and what would I say were my primary worries. At the beginning, I resorted to trying to attempting to mimic the pitch of the woman I was talking to and as far as what I would say, I would simply just respond to whatever questions were asked of me. I don't know how well it worked but it was all I had. Finally I was forced to improve and began to develop who I would be as a transgender woman as I began to interact with the world.

Even still, whatever was going on, I needed to insist with some people I was feminine, not masculine. To this day, I have to correct the pronoun usage used with me by strangers. I am fortunate because I have two powerful gender allies with my wife Liz and my daughter Andrea (who also has a transgender child). Often either of them will lead the conversation for me calling me "she".  That way strangers who may question my gender have an idea of who I am. 

What makes everything so difficult these days are the continuing attacks on the LGBTQ and primarily transgender community by a certain political party not called Democratic. In fact, the party has outlined a platform for 2025 which would be the beginning of the end for trans women and men everywhere in this country. A prime reason all of us have to unite against the gender bigots now and in the future.

One of the positives is our tribe has been trained to be insistent and will survive in the future.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Working with the Public

 

Image from Brooke Cagle
on UnSsplash


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

It's all In the Preparation

 

Anniversary Selfie from the
Jessie Hart Archives


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gender Waltz

Image from Clarisse Meyer on UnSplash Since the beginning of time, the two binary genders have done a special dance with each other.  Being ...