Showing posts with label gender dysphoria. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gender dysphoria. Show all posts

Monday, July 1, 2024

A Transgender Marathon

Archive Image

 I'm sure you have heard the saying it's a marathon, not a sprint. This is especially true for transgender women and trans men.

Yesterday, I read a social media post from a first time transgender woman going out in public for the first time. In the post, she was bemoaning the fact after applying her makeup and seeing pictures, she did not look as good as she thought she did. My heart went out to her and I mentioned I went down the same path. Learning the art of makeup is just the first part of a transgender marathon into understanding yourself. 

Others who read the post chimed in with similar thoughts and even expanded it into impostor syndrome as a future possible reaction the person might have to face. 

Looking back, I could remember vividly how badly I felt when I first started my visits out of the house and into the public's eye. Back then, pictures were difficult to come by and were mainly only accessible by the old "photo kiosks" and drug stores. Only one time get I get brave enough to take a roll of film to one of the kiosks to see how I looked on film. I was shocked, and not in a good way, I obviously looked like a cross dresser and a bad one at that. The worst part was, the person who developed and gave me my pictures knew me and even worse yet, his Dad worked with my Dad. My marathon was almost over before it started. If I liked it or not. 

As it turned out, I moved back into the mirror and did my best to remove the negative self image I still had from the ill advised pictures. It actually took me years to try to attempt more pictures as my marathon moved on. As with anything else, the more you work on something, the better you become. Also technology was on my side with better cameras, which offered more than the very expensive Polaroids giving instant pictorial feedback. I was fascinated with my first cell phone which took pictures and better yet I had my first computer that I used to upload cross dressed pictures of myself. By doing so, I attracted attention, flattering to begin with in chatrooms until my wife caught on. She learned the computer skills faster than I did, so I needed to try to catch up as fast as possible. 

My marathon marched on, I gained more and more confidence until I reached increasing problems with my gender dysphoria. It seemed, no matter how much effort I put into my feminine appearance and deportment, the more I felt like a guy in a dress. To survive, I finally had to come to a basic conclusion. I was not as good looking as a woman I thought I was, or as bad. There was always the middle point I needed to shoot for. Finally, I knew who I was and I had the confidence to move on from new problems such as impostor syndrome. 

Again, I needed to come to a middle point where I could survive as a person. While I could never reclaim a girl's childhood experiences, or the problems associated with having periods or pregnancies, I had to go through my own set of experiences which presented their own problems. For example, I needed to try to escape my own gender demons which everyone in life seems to have, male or female, trans or not. I finally had to end the part of my marathon I agonized over for so long and claim my own brand of womanhood. Somehow I always found a way to survive and found a path. I was able to chase it and find success...in my own way. Which turned out was all I could do.

Going all the way back to the person who was just starting their public journey as a transgender person, try to make your marathon as easy as you can, Roll with the punches and move along as quickly as you can but always remembering the entire process is a marathon, not a sprint and sometimes, you are your own worst enemy. 

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Good Together

 

Image from Columbus, Ohio
from the Archives.

As I grew into expressing my authentic self, I felt the pressure of attempting to placate what was left of my male self while I was increasingly living as a transgender woman. 

Increasingly, I felt as if I was living with a stranger when I tried to express my male self. He was fading quickly into my past, much quicker than I thought possible. Who was this man who controlled my life for so long? It took me so long to have the courage to figure it out. As I always point out, the answer was an easy one. I never was a man cross dressing as a woman, I was a woman cross dressing as a man. Once I figured it out, my life became so much easier. 

Sadly, my male and female sides never were good together. My second wife was fond of teaming up with my male self against my femininized insecure self. When she needed help the most, it was extremely difficult to find. Fortunately, I was stubborn enough to mentally tell them to go to hell. Mainly, because I felt so natural when I was following my transgender instincts. 

Instincts led me to improving my natural presentation as a woman including fashion and make-up arts. Maybe as I improved, my wife and male self became more and more scared. Somehow they saw me glimpse my reality and they did not like the future they saw. Specifically, the very few nights, my wife actually went out to eat with my femininized self, she made it painfully obvious she did not like me. More than anything else, her attitude hurt my feelings since I had attempted to dress down to meet her standards of wearing jeans, boots and sweaters. My next step down for me was to wear no makeup at all which would have defeated the purpose of going at all. Essentially, I gave up on any idea of us co-existing as women of any type. We were never good together. 

All I really wanted was an even break, or so I thought. The more I ended up exploring the world as a novice transgender woman, the more I wanted to do. Eventually, I could take it no longer and took the only way out I had. I went the gender affirming hormone route and decided to pursue a life as a trans woman and the rest of the story is relatively easy. The more life I lived, the more I felt more relaxed and good together with myself. 

Life was good again as I had come full circle from the dark days of death and gender dysphoria. 

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.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

On the Transgender Precipice

 

Image from Wira Dyatmika on
UnSplash.


As I followed a winding, difficult path to my dream of living as a fulltime transgender woman, I took years to climb the gender mountain.

Just one of the problems was  I was afraid of heights. The higher I climbed the rarer the air became because I had never been in all the situations I encountered. As I entered the world as a trans woman, there were so many situations I never expected to happen. I knew women led multi layered lives but not to the extent I encountered. Initially I thought if I had conquered all the fashion, hair and makeup basics, I had it made in the world. Needless to say, I was wrong. 

Even though my male self contributed to me feeling petrified as I climbed, I kept going. As I decided to leave the male gay venues I was going to and try lesbian and straight bars, I really needed to climb to a new level to survive. When I reached a new level, I paused to look around and see what I had accomplished if anything. What I did accomplish was a degree of acceptance from the venues I went to. Except for one evening when three guys kept playing "Dude Looks Like a Lady" on the jukebox over and over again, I begrudgingly held my spot and became an accepted regular in several places. As I did, my view of the world as a transgender woman became clearer and clearer. My gender dysphoric fog was clearing and increasingly all I could see was a future life living as a woman. 

At the same time, I was still a regular at the diverse mixers in Columbus, Ohio where I met a total range of people from cross dressers to transsexual women who were headed for gender realignment surgery or a sex change as it was known back then. By meeting and learning from all these people, I was able to chart my own path to my transgender precipice. 

The two main things I remember are how desperate I was for information on my gender issues and how scared I was of receiving an answer. Was my therapist right and I could do nothing about my feminine desires? If so, I had reached a precipice in my life and I needed to make a decision which would change my life forever. Of course my spoiler alert is, from my gender view, I could see a wonderful if not difficult future ahead as a trans woman. What happened was, as I built a new circle of women friends who never knew me as my past male self, I kept pushing and pushing myself to the edge of my transgender precipice until I fell down the cliff. 

Unknowingly, for the most part, I had set myself up for a soft gender landing. I gave away the remainder of my male clothes and set out to quit climbing and live a new life. What a relief it was to stop expending all the energy I was using to live two gender lives. The process exhausted me and ruined my fragile mental health. My friends helped me through this difficult time of my life more than I can ever say.

With my fears of gender heights behind me, I met my wife Liz and she helped me seal the deal and live my life as a transgender woman. That was fourteen years ago and we have been happy ever since. I don't think I could have ever envisioned I would meet up and marry another woman in my long life but I did. I guess the fog on my mountain was hiding my future.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Trans Girl Secrets

Image from Ben White 
on Unsplash.


Secrets became a very important part of my life at a very young age.

It all started when I viewed myself in women's clothes  in front of the mirror for the first time. I realized my life would never be the same again. Plus I also knew my desire to be a girl would not be well received by my family at all. It was in the late 1950's and early 1960's when cross dressing was still considered to be a crime where I lived near Dayton, Ohio. In those days any sort of gender dysphoria was thought to be a mental illness. Even then, I couldn't see the act of cross dressing in women's clothes to be an act of mental illness. 

What happened then was I needed to go into a dark secretive closet, I would not come out of completely for a half a century. Along the way, I included very few outsiders in my secret. Four or five to be exact. I did not even include myself in my secret. What I am referring to is the fact I wanted to do much more in my life than just cross dress as a girl, when in reality, the reverse was true. I was a woman cross dressing as a man the entire time and I was indeed transgender after all.

Predictably, one secret leads to another and another and in my case led to lies being told later on. My dishonesty came when I refused to admit to myself who I really was and took out my frustration on those closest to me. I became a very unpleasant person to be around when my gender dysphoria was at its worst. Even to the point of me losing a job because of what I was going through. It was like I was setting myself up for failure at every turn in my life as I waited for more and more people to discover my secret. 

The longer my secret was hidden away and on the other hand, I was desperately trying to discover a new feminine world as a transgender woman, the heavier my secret became. I attempted to hide all my transgender activities from my second wife and was reasonably successful. I say reasonably because I would do more and more as a trans woman until she caught me and the gender battle between us would continue. She was wiser than I was when at one point she told me to just leave her and live a life as a woman. That made her the second woman in my life who I should have listened to when they told me the same thing. The first was my gender therapist years before. 

Sadly, my male self was not ready to give up the strangle hold he had on my life and encouraged me to do the male thing and try to ignore and internalize all my struggles. Of course in the end run, the only thing which happened was the pressure just kept on building as I managed to keep my secret. However, no matter how hard my male self tried to protect his domain, he was slowly sliding down a cliff of no return. Finally, with the help of several close friends I made the gender leap of faith. I gave away all of my male clothes, started gender affirming hormones (HRT) and never looked back. 

Perhaps the best part of not having to protect my secret and not live a lie was my new friends never knew my old male self at all. My inner feminine soul was finally free to live her life. When she did, she became the third woman in my life to tell me the same thing.

The only secret I really ever had was I was never really a man at all. 


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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

One Gender Size does Not fit All

Image from Grae Phillips 
on Geraldo television show.

 If the truth be known, all the way back when I was a kid struggling to understand what gender I was on any given day, I would have been known as gender fluid. 

Of course, gender fluid was a term which hadn't been invented yet. Anyone who was interested in cross dressing was branded as being a transvestite and even worse labeled as being mentally ill. In the middle of my gender vacuum, even I knew well enough I was not mentally ill just because I wanted to wear makeup and dresses. I hid my desires and hoped for the best, which mostly came when I was left alone to cross dress and admire myself in the full length hallway mirror at home. Most of all, I was trapped and could do nothing about it. Keep in mind, all of this was happening in the information "dark ages" before the internet and social media. The gender underground I was interested in came mainly from the pages of Transvestia Magazine and Virginia Prince. Even I knew the pages of the "National Enquirer" and other predecessors of Faux News who sensationalized cross dressers were not to be trusted.

Then came the barrage of so called reality television talk shows including, Donahue, Springer and Raphael. All of whom seemed to be pushing the theme of cross dressing husbands Except for the impossibly beautiful and talented "Grae Phillips" who put everyone else to shame. All of these shows probably did little or no good for my gender dysphoria except for publicizing the fact there were cross dressers of transvestites of all kinds at all. All I knew was I desperately tried to watch or tape every show I knew was coming up from my "TV Guide". My wife was trying to tape her soaps and I was trying to tape my talk shows and both kept us busy. Even though I still had to watch my shows in private attempting to learn anything I could about the outside world.

I did learn once again. my gender size was unique and did not fit all. In fact, I still felt out of place when I started to attend my first cross dresser - transvestite mixers here in my native Ohio. I discovered there were so many different levels of participation from transsexuals headed for gender surgeries down to the weekend cross dressing hobbyists.  For some reason, I was not part of either group and once again my gender size was not fitting in. The problem was, all of this happened before the transgender terminology was introduced. When it was and I started to have access to my first computer, I was able to research the term which was unknown to me. Suddenly I knew what had been missing my whole life, a gender size which fit me and I set out to discover more about being transgender. For me, it meant being part of a gender description which was somewhere in-between the spaces I had been in previously.

Even though my gender size did not fit all, finally I was able to locate my own niche to thrive in. Life became fulfilling, scary and exciting at the same time. I found out I was fine being who I was all along and it felt so natural. I was home. 

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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Transgender Plan B?

A Bright Idea from Diego PH
on UnSplash


In life, did you ever have to come up with a new plan if the one you were working on didn't work?

In my life, I had many "Plan B's" because I didn't think things out before I did them. A prime example was when I was engaging in all the cross dressing I was doing in front of the mirror when I was very young. If the truth be known, I didn't know what I would do if I was caught. Except to lie and promise to never do it again. Plus, what if I was caught shopping for makeup in a downtown department store close to where my Dad worked. In the vacuum I lived in, I just plowed blindly ahead, hoping for the best and expecting the worst never happened. Which it never did.

I suppose I always thought there was a "Plan B" somewhere if I was discovered. Somehow I would magically give up on my dream and keep marching ahead in a male world. In reality or not, I always thought there had to be some sort of back up if I failed at anything. There was always going to be another chance to put on a dress and apply makeup if I was careful. 

The first time I encountered a situation where the only back up plan was applying myself in the system was when I enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War to evade the draft. When I went through the human machine called basic training, the threat of failure was real. The drill sergeants made it clear if you failed at something you could be recycled back to the beginning and have to start all over again. No one wanted to face that "Plan B." The result of going through basic built my confidence in that if I was forced into a situation I certainly did not want to be, I could still survive. The main problem I had was I couldn't (of course) cross dress at all and had to put my gender issues aside. During the several years which occurred before I could indulge in cross dressing again, my back up plan was to do quite a lot of daydreaming about when I finished my military service and could resume my life as I had lived it before. 

When I did finish, I found myself needing a whole new set of "Plan B''s." What happened was, I started to go all out at Halloween parties dressed as a woman. Where I learned the basics of surviving in a new exciting world as I was slowly growing up as a novice transgender woman, which was my dream. Of course the problem was Halloween only came around once a year and what was I going to do the rest of the time about my gender dysphoria. What I decided to do was sneak out of the house and into the world as my new transgender self. When I did it, I needed plenty of "Plan B's" if I was caught. My rule of thumb was to be as careful as I could and deny anything which happened if I was caught by my second wife. Not the best plan. 

As my femininization presentation improved, I found I needed a whole new plan to survive in the world as my authentic self. Primarily I needed a way to communicate with women I was meeting who were curious why I was in their world. Initially, I tried to mimic who I was talking to as far as using their vocal pitch and then even moved on to taking voice lessons to sound more like a woman. Finally, I moved to a point where I was half way comfortable with the way I sounded and I did the best I could.

I am biased of course but I feel the back up plans we transgender women or trans men face are far more impactful than those of the average person. We trans folk often face the possibility of losing almost everything as the "Plan B" we have when we enter the world. All too often, I read the sad, tragic stories of trans women losing their entire families, jobs and even friends when they made their way out of the closet. 

Hopefully, in the future, society will come around and we won't have to rely on severe "Plan B's" to survive.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Walking the Transgender Tightrope

 

Image from Johannes Plenio on 
UnSplash




I have never been accused of being coordinated at all which completely held me back when it came to me being able to participate in any sort of athletics except for football which often meant dealing with brute strength. 

Little did I know, I would have to develop my own sense of gender coordination to deal with my gender dysphoria. It turns out the better I became navigating the world as a novice transgender woman, the more balance I would need to survive in life. What happened was, the better I became with makeup and fashion, the more confidence I felt and in addition I was gaining the all important confidence to try more and more exciting yet terrifying experiences as my feminine self. 

Doing the more I could possibly hope for led me to trying to walk part of my life in my old male gender and part in my newer female one. My second wife even approved of a plan where I could have three days a week to leave the house dressed as a guy, go to a motel, cross dress as a woman and basically do whatever I wanted. Then dress back into my boring drab male clothes and come home. It didn't take long for me to become bored with this arrangement and I began slipping out of the house behind her back when she was working. Out of sheer willpower I needed to begin being more coordinated in how I was trying to run my gender conflicted life. There was really only one thing I knew for sure, I loved my feminine side and wanted to do more and more to let her out. 

Sadly, the whole process of trying to balance the two genders fighting for dominance within me was destroying my already bi-polar fragile mental health. I tried therapy and for years had only one therapist tell me the truth...there was essentially nothing I could do about wanting to transition into a transgender woman. I was what I was and I should accept it. Of course I wasn't smart enough to take her advice. I still wanted to save what was left of my long term marriage to my second wife while at the same time exploring what could be possible if I actually had the courage to transition into a fulltime world as a transgender woman. 

Finally, after falling off the tightrope more times than I can say, I could take the mounting gender pressure no longer and tried suicide as a solution. Just before my wife passed away from a massive heart attack, I thought I "purged" for the final time and got down from my tightrope. I grew a beard, gained a bunch of weight and overall was miserable but I gave it my best effort. 

I proved to myself I wasn't coordinated enough to navigate something complex enough as a gender tightrope and moved on to living a life as my authentic self. I am not one for regrets but if I allowed myself one, it would be I would have had the courage to transition earlier in life (before the age of sixty.) I would have saved myself so much time, effort and frustration as I attempted to balance my gender tightrope.      

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

A HUGE Relief

 

Image from the Jessie Hart
Archives 


What a huge relief it was when I finally decided I was living a lie barely surviving  as a male person. I remember the evening vividly when I made the decision years ago.

Even still, It took awhile for my male self to gave up and concede all along my feminine self was cross dressing as a man and not the opposite. His ploy was he was cross dressing as a woman to relieve stress or whatever the current excuse was,  because there were many. Such as was I just pursuing a fetish or some sort of a hobby such as golfing. Needless to say, in a short amount of time I discovered I had mush deeper issues when it came to dealing with my gender dysphoria. My desire to seek out the truth kept me searching for nearly fifty years.

The search also wrecked my fragile mental health along the path I was pursuing and I regularly sought out therapy for answers. On occasion, I felt better after visits with my therapist but overall my feelings never really improved. Mostly because I was not facing the truth I had always known but was afraid to face. I never was the man I pretended to be. 

Life became especially difficult for me when I grew older and friends, family and spouses began to pass away. When each death happened, it was like my feminine self was asking when was it going to be her turn to live before it was too late. Still I kept on searching, unwilling to totally give up on the male life I had built. Finally, when I was living my life torn between the two prime binary genders, it all became too much for me to bear. Either I needed to end it all and indulge in self harm or in a sense give up and do the right thing. Which was begin to live a full-time life as a transgender woman. What a HUGE relief it was. As I gave complete control to my inner woman, it was as if she had been watching and learning from the world the entire time I tried to hide her.

It turned out, all the days and nights I was so paranoid about facing the world turned out to be unfounded because I relaxed and let her take charge. The more my old male self stayed out of her way, the better she did. The prime example was appearance. She followed the basics of establishing a fashion sense which blended with other women around her and made life so much easier. The more she did, the more I wondered why I waited so long to give her control. 

Perhaps the biggest change was in my mental health. It improved so much, for the first time in years, I was able to leave my therapy behind. 

All in all I was fortunate in how I was able to transition into a new gender life as a trans woman. I already had a circle of supporting cis-woman friends who never knew much of the old male me, plus an accepting daughter and future wife who were pushing me forward into an authentic life.   I read of so many other transgender individuals who were not so lucky. I can never not give all my friends and family I often mention, enough credit for helping me to restart my life. The entire process of sliding down the male hill into a soft female landing was such a huge relief. 

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Gender Chaos

 

Image from the 
Jessie Hart Archives 

Over time, I began to consider the chaos being transgender caused in my life. 

Looking back, I wish I had just a portion of the time back I wasted as I worried about how I was going to deal with all my gender issues. Every time I was able to set aside precious time to cross dress as my feminine self, I was only able to feel better for a short time before reality set back in and I started to resist my same old unwanted male self again. When it happened, I would become a terrible person to be around. Even to the point of losing jobs because of my actions.  Needless to say, this portion of my life was very self destructive. 

What I ended up doing was trying to outrun my gender issues which in my case I describe as gender dysphoria. I tried by changing jobs (which often involved moving) often and drank entirely too much alcohol as I attempted to out macho all my male friends while at the same time dulling my pain. Fortunately, I was able to stop my alcohol abuse in time to lessen any further chance of lasting damage to my body.

Backtracking a bit to all the moves I subjected my second wife to, we picked up and moved from our native Southwestern Ohio to the metro New York City area to run a fast food franchise. Perhaps an ulterior motive was to move to a much more liberal community which would provide more potential possibilities for my cross dressing gender expressions. After surviving almost two years, it was time to move again, as we returned to our native Ohio. As it turned out, yet another move awaited both my wife and I as I accepted a job to open fast food venues in Southern Ohio which turned out to be the exact opposite living situation than we faced in New York. We ended up renting a very rustic house in a rural area where we heated with a wood stove and utilized a cistern for our drinking water. Even still, I found ways to learn more about my gender challenges as I traveled into the nearest town.

Ironically, during this point of my life, I fueled my gender chaos by being successful with my feminine presentation. It was around this time when I started to begin doing the grocery shopping for the family as well as sneaking in quite a bit of shopping for myself. In essence, I leaned I could be on the right track thinking I could follow my secret dream of living as a fulltime transgender woman.  Little did I know how much chaos would lie ahead as my future played out. 

Recently I heard a comment which describes a large portion of the chaos I was to face. As I write about often, my deceased second wife knew and didn't object to my transvestite or cross dressing desires but never approved of me beginning hormones and starting to live more and more as a woman. As I headed down a path to no return with my gender desires. The comment involved the concept of emotional cheating and I immediately applied it to me. During my twenty five year marriage to my wife, I never physically cheated on her with anyone. However, as I became increasing involved with learning to exist in a feminine world, I started to sneak around behind my wife's back to live my new life. I wasn't proud of what I did but my only excuse was my chaos was so severe I could only do what I needed to do to survive. As I emotional cheated. 

All I know for sure, living through gender chaos is no joke and proves once again being a transgender woman or trans man is not a choice. Any transphobe who says it is needs to walk in our shoes for just a short time to see our truth.   

Friday, August 18, 2023

Transgender Vacation Blues

 

Image 
from UnSplash 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Finding New Friends

 

Image from Dave Goudreau
on UnSplash

In an extension of yesterday's post, I promised to write another post explaining how I found a complete new circle of close friends as a transgender woman.

As it turned out, going out to be alone resulted in me being embraced by several other cis women I met in person in the venues I became a regular in. The first came when I was approached by a bar tender who was always very kind to me and treated me with respect. One night she asked me if I would consider meeting her lesbian mother for a drink. Without hesitation I said yes  and a friendship was formed which continues to this day. Her name is Kim and she is the person who included me in a small group of family and friends who went one night to a NFL Monday Night Football game. Of course during that time, I was still fairly new to going out in the world as a transgender woman and this would be a major undertaking.  Attempting to blend in and enjoy an entire pro-football game with my ill fitting wig was going to be a challenge and I was terrified I would be spotted and harassed by another drunk fan. But I wasn't and the game went off without any big problems. In fact, the only big one was my team was defeated and I had to accept it as the new woman I was. The whole experience will go down as one of the major coming out points of my gender journey. Proving once again to me I was much more than a casual cross dresser or transvestite and quite possibly learn to live full time as a transgender woman. Kim's kindness will forever be appreciated.

The second of three lesbian cis women I met was Nikki. In the years that have gone by, she has been off social media and I have lost contact with her. We met (similar to Kim) in a venue I was a regular in. One night when I was doing my usual being alone, Nikki came in to pick up a to-go food order. While she was there she glanced down the bar at me and sent a message down to me. Sadly, I don't remember now what the message said but we ended up meeting and drinking together for several years afterward. Usually, Kim, Nikki and I would meet somewhere and watch sports or just talk. Plus, Nikki is the person who got me involved in going to Lesbian mixers with her and Kim. Since I had support, usually the mixers were a good time and as always I learned a lot.  One night I was even asked to be a "wing person" and was asked to summon my courage and ask another woman to respond to Nikki's desire to know her. I thought, I only live once, so why not.

The third woman I met came from an on-line dating site. Of course I needed to work my way through tons of rejections and trashy people before I stumbled upon a big winner. To expand my experience and the possibility of finding someone I always told the truth about being transgender, To change it all up, I would sometimes go on the women seeking women page and on occasion reverse it to men. One day I received a response from a nearby person who lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. This all happened nearly twelve years ago and the woman who contacted me was my current wife Liz. To this day, she is very open to anyone who is interested that she picked me up because I had "sad eyes." From there we started to write each other after work daily until I had enough courage for her to hear my voice over the phone. Finally we decided to meet in person when I asked her out to a drag show which was happening at a venue nearly halfway between where we both lived. To make a long story short, we enjoyed ourselves and have been together ever since. Plus we were just married last October. 

Along the way, I felt my success in being able to locate and keep the relationships I did came from me going full circle in life. My good times made up for the extreme low points I felt when I was so lonely and confused due to my gender dysphoria. To this day, I am never shy of giving the new friends I found the credit they deserve for helping me with my intense MtF gender transition.



 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Keeping Secrets

 

Image from the
Jessie Hart Collection

These days as my memory tries to fade in situations I want to remember, I struggle to understand how I ever was able to pursue a life as a novice cross dresser. 

The only thing I do know is somehow I became a very skilled person in hiding my small wardrobe of clothes and when I could wear them. Very early I was able to combine my meager allowance I earned from working around the house with money I earned from delivering newspapers. I was fortunate in that my Grandma lived in town within walking distance of several of the old five and dime stores which sold makeup as well as a small selection of women's clothes. It was scary and exciting when I could visit her, sneak away, go downtown, and try to shop for my own feminine accessories. My memory has not failed me when I remember how terrified and confused I was when I made my own tentative steps to purchase items. First I needed to figure out what I was going to try to buy and then buy it. I was certain the clerk who checked me out would stop and ask me what I was doing with all my selections but of course she never did. 

Another problem I had when I went downtown was my Dad worked nearby the stores I was going to. I certainly did not want to meet up with him with purchases such as lipstick or panty hose. Happily, I never did. Then, once I returned to Grandma's, I needed to hide my treasures from her and begin to figure out how I was going to sneak them into the house past the two most inquisitive members of my family. My slightly younger brother and my Mom. I can't imagine now how I did it but somehow I managed. Slowly but surely I was able to end my reliance with trying to wear my Mom's clothes and use her makeup. Except for using her electric razor to shave my legs. How did I ever get away with that? You would think someone in my family would notice my hairless legs but no one ever did as I was hooked on the electric sensation when I put on panty hose with freshly shaved legs. 

I know one of the ways I found a semblance of privacy to cross dress as a girl came when I had acquired enough clothes in my wardrobe to hide a second small "stash" in an old hallowed out tree in the woods next door to our house. After school, I was able to slip away from my brother before my parents came home from work and visit my "wardrobe" in the woods. The entire process was far from ideal but I was able to feel the sensations of the clothes and it was enough to get me by.

I suppose the whole process of growing up with gender dysphoria taught me how to be a better sneak. Which I was never proud of. I was so sad I needed to keep such an important part of my life so hidden from the rest of the world. It turned out to be the beginning of a gender process which continued as I finally went through the process of transitioning into a transgender woman. Several of my least favorite memories which are still vivid (sadly) are when I tried and failed to sneak around on my second wife. Even though she had bent over backwards to help me as well as she could with my cross dressing, I still had to try to sneak around and do more as a novice transgender woman learning the world. Of course she would find out on occasion and all hell would break out. 

Keeping secrets was certainly no fun and with my straight forward personality, I don't know how I was able to keep up my all male  appearances but I did. Perhaps not remembering all that I went through is just a case of selective gender memory.    

Friday, March 24, 2023

Transgender versus Bi-Polar

Image Courtesy Fa Barboza on
UnSplash 

Years ago, when I was diagnosed having a Bi-Polar disorder, suddenly a portion of my life I had struggled through so long made sense. At the time I was going through terrible long lasting mood swings that often lasted for days on end. On some days I found it very difficult to even get out of bed and go to work. Plus, to make matters worse I tried to self medicate with immense amounts of alcohol.  At the time I was seeing one of the only gender psychologists in Ohio at the time. Ironically, she almost said immediately she couldn't "cure" my gender desires to be a girl but started to question me in depth concerning the immense mood swings I was suffering through. After a very short time she explained to me my moods were not all attributed to my gender dysphoria but in reality I was suffering Bi-Polar issues. 

At the time, I was relieved. She started me on medications which I remain on to this day. In addition I was able to separate the problems which were hurting my everyday life. At times it seemed unfair I needed to live with being transgender as well as Bi-Polar at the same time. But who ever said life would be fair (said my parents). 

Once I found my way into the Veteran's Administration health care system, I needed to separate my two main issues. I certainly did not want one issue to interfere with the other and somehow the "experts" would say my Bi-Polar condition was due to me being transgender. Then my quest to be approved for hormone replacement therapy would be rejected. At this time I was assigned to a therapist I would never forget. Destiny was smiling on me and way back then there were few therapists who knew little to nothing about transgender issues. Defying all the odds, I was assigned to one of the few VA therapists who did. She never questioned  my two issues and immediately began to fill out and approve the paperwork to allow me to begin HRT.  At the same time she cleared the way for me to continue my Bi-Polar treatment so my moods and excess anxiety was kept under control.  I was with my therapist non stop until last month when both of us decided it was time to conclude our sessions since so many others needed it too and VA staffing levels weren't getting any better. I am extra fortunate also to have an understanding wife  who can help with any of my mental health issues. 

In my past I have encountered several other transgender individuals who said as soon as they completed their gender transition all their anxiety and/or depression faded away.  I was just not as fortunate.  For better or for worse it seems my Bi-Polar issues are irrevocably intertwined with me being a transgender woman. It is something I just had to learn to live with. With a lot of help!

Thursday, March 2, 2023

The Pain of Gender Transition

Image from UnSplash

When anyone states gender dysphoric individuals or gender fluid folks who seek to live as their authentic selves did it because they  had a choice, I think they are crazy. They obviously don't  know anything  how much pain and suffering goes into our journeys.  Most of us from our earliest days grew up with unapproving parents. It took me until my early twenties to come out to my Mom. Which at that time I was rudely rejected by the offer of psychiatric treatment. At the same time I never came out to my Dad and both of my parents have long since passed on. In fairness to both of them, at that time, there was very little information available on any gender issues. 

Even still, none of that excuses the pain I suffered. I went through days and even weeks wondering currently exactly which gender did I want to be on any given day. Of course the more I researched my mind, the more I knew I wanted to be feminine. I just couldn't find a path to get there. Plus, once I started to find my way, I needed to figure out if it was the correct path and what were the roadblocks going to be in the future. As it turned out, there were plenty.

As I always mention, the thought of losing my male privilege's as well as friends, family and work consumed me. The pain led me to drink too much alcohol as well as developing an active self harm personality. 

As far as my male self went, I fought every feminine encroachment as hard as I could but it seemed the only way I could numb the pain was to give in to my gender desires. No matter how many times I tried to relieve the pressure to be feminine by cross dressing, all was good for approximately three days or so before the urge to present my femininity began to build to a pressure point I could barely maintain. In the meantime my old male self became a disaster to be around. To this day, I don't understand how the significant others in my life stayed around me. On many days I didn't want to be around me. 

As my pain and suffering continued and even increased the tearing of my inner self approached the point of no return. I made it to the point I thought death would be an improvement to the way I was living. A place I found no one should ever be but an overwhelming number of  transgender are. In itself, the threat of suicide should prove to the doubters being transgender is far from being a choice. It is a deep desire and need. 

Sadly the transgender transition path is lined with many obstacles along the way. Once we conquer one roadblock more complex ones crop up. The whole process again proves those following it are in it for the long term and it was never just a choice.   The pain was real.


Friday, February 3, 2023

Sweet Revenge

Photo from the 
Jessie Hart Collection

 I wish to thank everyone who responded to my recent post which dealt (among other things) with my self destructive attempts at self harm. Tragically it is a theme which resonates deeply within the transgender community. 

Now, since I survived a very bumpy road down my gender path. I like to think back and enjoy just a bit of sweet revenge. Too many times it would have been easier to turn around, purge my feminine clothes and wigs and go back to my male lifestyle. I could have reclaimed my male privilege and moved on like nothing happened. Through it all, I faced all the challenges, learned and finally arrived at the other end of a long dark tunnel. It all began in my very dark and very lonely gender closet as I suffered from gender dysphoria. As I continued my journey, there were too many false road marks to guide me and I suffered setbacks. It was during these set backs I resorted to deeply self destructive behaviors.  I took too many risks behind the wheel and drank way too much alcohol as I wrote about previously. In addition to all of those, I even lost a job when my gender dysphoric behavior got the best of me and I took it out on others. 

In desperation I made appointments with one of the only gender knowledgeable therapists at the time in Ohio. She was upfront with me when she said she couldn't help my gender issues but did diagnose my bi-polar ones. Which helped me immensely with a portion of the severe mood swings I was going through. The end result was once again I discovered there would be no magical cure to me wanting to be a girl and I was essentially on my own again. Back in those days, in the early to mid 1980's, there simply wasn't the information available to help any LGBT individuals, especially those with severe gender issues. In addition, I was guilty of expecting too much from my therapy. I was new at the process and just didn't understand the benefits and drawbacks. 

These days, as I come to the end of long series of appointments with my highly motivated and qualified Veterans Administration therapist, I have so many memories of the assistance she has given me over the past ten years. It was her who in many ways helped me in plotting my sweet revenge when she initially provided me the paperwork to begin hormone replacement therapy with the VA. Then she helped me again with paperwork which forwarded my gender marker changes which happened over seven years ago. By gender markers, I mean all the legal identifications I needed to process to change my gender legally through the courts and other places. 

Although, since I have been living for years now as a successful transgender woman , I still don't have all the revenge I so desired when I was younger. Back in those days, I couldn't wait to be prettier and drive a nicer car than my fiancé who dumped me with no warning before I was drafted into the military. Now, with my younger and prettier days behind me, I have mellowed to what is really important in life. My daughter, grandkids and wife who support me.  At the age of seventy three my own personal revenge is staying healthy enough to appreciate my gender journey and what I learned from it. 













 

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Alawys Going Somewhere

Image from Louis Paulin
On UnSplash

 Back in what I call my formative years, I grew used to trying to outrun my problems. Between college and my military service I literally was moved or decided to move on my own an average of every year and a half. It all started when I left home for college for a year and a half. Amazingly, during this time my gender dysphoria disappeared and suddenly I was free to live a somewhat normal gender life. I say normal because during this time I had several dates with girls from the East Coast who were much more sophisticated sexually than anything I had seen in my shy Midwestern upbringing. In fact, my Mom unknowingly set me up with my first sexual experience with one of her older (not a minor) students where she taught high school.  I think she was nineteen and I was eighteen, so I had a lot to learn. 

The school I went away to was one a group of Midwestern Ivy League schools for students on the East Coast who couldn't make it into the top notch schools or universities in their back yards. What happened was I ended up partying with my friends mainly from Philadelphia and Baltimore and not studying enough to maintain grades to not get drafted into the Vietnam War. After a year and a half I picked up and moved back home to attend a much more academically forgiving nearby university where I could thrive. Which I did by even making the Dean's List several times before I graduated. More importantly to me back then was the fact I was drawn back into my old cross dressing memories of home while I was able still to land a Disk Jockey job at a small local radio station which happened to be owned by a very powerful congressman which turned out to be very important to my future. For awhile I was quite satisfied with satisfying my cross dressing desires by putting on my feminine clothes when my parents weren't around just like the old days while at the same time attending to school while I built my self a career in the commercial radio business. 

Just when I thought I had it all together, Uncle Sam came along with several all expense paid tickets to work and travel in exchange for three years of my life. I was able to salvage my radio career with the help of the congressman I worked for but my cross dressing would certainly have to be on hold for the foreseeable future. My first move was a bus trip to beautiful (?) Ft. Knox in Kentucky for Army basic training. I didn't get to see any gold but I saw many fellow recruits going through tank infantry school. A nice way of saying they were headed to Vietnam to be cannon or grenade fodder for the war. Basic was tough but not tough enough to wash out any or all ideas I had of ever following my feminine dreams. In fact in many ways I think basic just made my dreams stronger because I couldn't wait to get out and live them.

Following Basic at Ft. Knox, little did I know the amount of travel Uncle Sam had planned for me. It all started innocently enough by getting transferred for advanced training at the Defense Information School in relatively close by Indianapolis, Indiana. It was close enough to my home I could drive back and forth for weekends and leave but not close enough for me to cross dress when I was home. It turned out I wasn't going to stay in Indy long before I was sent to Thailand along with my close knit classmates to help run a radio/tv station in Udorn which had recently been destroyed by a battle damaged F-4 fighter jet which crashed at the end of the runway killing all working in the station. Since we were Army working for the Air Force, we received extra pay to live off base. Of course living off base put me face to face with the Thai Ladyboy culture. As advertised, many were indeed beautiful but all I did was admire from afar. I was afraid of any stigma which would have been attached to me if I had tried to know any of the alluring creatures further. 

After my year in Thailand, I was trying hard to get assigned to Europe and work for the AFN Radio Network. I finally did make it but not with more moving around. What happened was I had two sets of orders. One verbal and one paper. I decided to follow the one on paper and report to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland for duty in their information office. What turned out was I wasn't supposed to be there and was sent back home with another weeks worth of leave before I had to leave for Germany, where I wanted to go to start with. After all those convoluted military moves I finally had the chance to live out my dream of seeing Europe because once again I received extra pay to live off base.

I am fairly sure all of this moving affected me in many ways when I was honorably discharged from the military and through with school. More on how it affected my gender dysphoria in another post. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Gender Trigger Warning

 I love watching classic vintage movies. I especially love it when I see my love interest Robert Mitchum  or better yet get a brief view of a cigarette girl in a swanky nite club. As a youth I was always fascinated by Mitchum without even knowing why. Looking back now, I believe I had my first crush on a member of the male gender. I loved his cool yet aloof style. 


What really set off my youthful gender dysphoria were the cigarette girls peddling their toxic goods. I loved their hourglass figures squeezed into slinky black leotard tops. Worn with dark tights or stockings and heels of course. I thought at the time what a great idea for a Halloween costume but soon after that smoking was going out of fashion and I have never been a smoker. 

What never went away was my desire to be a sexy woman. I suppose my ideal was to be able to sell Robert Mitchum a pack of cigarettes as a sexy sales girl. 

I think my next crush on a male person, this time a real one, came in high school. I had a very close friend who I may have been a little too close to. We were literally the best of friends. I should point out nothing of a sexual nature ever happened but I can't say I never fantasized about being his girlfriend. All of this was an extension of my dysphoria working over time. 

Ironically, the older I became the fewer crushes I had with the male gender. I finally came to a point when being with a man was simply a validation of me being a woman. Being on the arm of a tall good looking man was my new fantasy. Then, when I learned I could attract more feminine attention than male attention. I didn't desire men at all. Even though I did have a couple quality male dates over a period of time. Especially the time Bob and I had a wonderful evening over a few drinks and the vintage motorcycle man I met after his ill fated marriage. Neither were fated to last for a number of reasons. Bob lived a distance away and my motorcycle crush ended up moving away shortly after we met. 

Both to me, including the other crushes I had were quick gender triggers. So quick, it took me many years and more wisdom to even realize exactly what they were.

Trans Peaks and Valleys

Image from the Jessie Hart Archives. Lifetime as a whole presents us with many peaks and valleys to negotiate. Since I am transgender and al...