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

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Owning Who you Are

Image from the Jessie Hart
Archives.

During Pride Month, it is extra important to to own who you are. Just as much as it is anytime but Pride may give you the little extra confidence to get by. 

To a large part, confidence in yourself, plays a huge role in you being able to own who you are as a novice transgender woman or trans man in the world. For me, it took many setbacks before I gained the confidence in myself to enter the public's not so accepting world. Just learning the basics of fashion and makeup was a major undertaking for me since like so many of you, I was starting from scratch. Slowly but very unsurely I was able to learn the basics enough to get by. In order to do so, I needed to learn to blend in with other women and not try to be sexier, which was a dismal failure. Stuffing a male, testosterone poisoned body into an ultra short mini skirt or dress just didn't work anywhere except for shock value at Halloween parties. 

Once I began to develop a slight amount of confidence in myself, I still learned the hard way that the sky was not the limit when I came to exploring a new life as a transgender woman. In one venue ( a  TGIF Friday's) I found myself becoming a part of a small diverse group of strangers who knew nothing of my old male life. The group was a mixture of a lesbian and her friends which included a beautiful exotic  dancer who drew the interest of a big bearded guy who owned a motorcycle and managed a lumber yard just down the street. Against the wishes of the group, he shocked everyone by proposing to the wild dancer and found himself in a short lived ill fated marriage. Ironically, I was the only one who showed him any sympathy in the group and we became close, before he moved on with his motorcycle to another job. The whole episode gave me confidence in the fact that men were not as off limits as I thought they were. Even though they were not knocking my door down to date me.

I found out quickly my sexuality did not change as I transitioned from male to female and even was enhanced when I learned all the attention I could get from other women. Most importantly, I did not need the validation from a man to give me the confidence to be myself. Even though I was prepared to see if there was any sort of a sexual spark between the authentic trans me and men, there just wasn't. I was busy owning who I was and she was doing a quality job during the process. As it was, the process led me down many different paths. Many turned out to be good and others were dead ends but my new found confidence helped me to continue to search.

Owning who I was also meant forcing my old, unwanted male self into the closet where my authentic gender self lived for years just existing by cross dressing in front of the mirror. Of course, he put up quite the battle before losing and nearly wrecked my mental health on the way. With the help of a key group of women friends and a loyal, dedicated therapist, I survived on my gender path and eventually thrived. I just had to muster up more courage than I thought I had to do it. To those of you who would ask why I would risk so much to transition, I can only say the process along the way felt so natural and saved my life. 

Some would argue I am less trans than the next person because I waited so long to come out in my life. That is ridiculous because I always knew I had gender issues but did not grow up in an easy time to express them Plus, I would not give anything to have missed out on certain moments of my male life, such as my daughter. Who has led me to having three grandchildren I love very much. So you can see why I don't consider my entire male life to be a waste of time because I learned so much from it. 

On the other hand, switching gears after being deeply embedded in a male world wasn't easy. The process took me many years before I could come up to speed in a new world which was and is constantly changing for women, transgender or not. In fact, it could be argued, catching up is more difficult for a trans woman because we have to start from scratch and often be better in the world than other women just to survive. Having the confidence to own who you are is the only way to do it. 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

A Point of No Return

 

Image from the Jessie Hart
Archives.

For nearly a half a century I considered myself a more or less serious cross dresser or transvestite. In addition, I considered the transvestite label little more than just that, a label which was appropriate just to  use around others. Even though I rarely told anyone else about my gender issues.

The only people I can remember telling would number under ten before I finally came out into the world as a novice transgender woman. The first people I ever trusted enough to share my biggest secret oddly enough were friends I had in the Army. My disclosure came after I risked what was left of my time in the Army by dressing totally as a woman for a Halloween party.  Following the party, several weeks later under the influence of great German beer, the subject of the party came up. Of course then, the conversation went to what our costumes were. 

When the subject turned to me and how good I looked, I gathered the courage and told the three others the night was not the first time I had cross dressed as a woman and in fact I was a transvestite. I ended up taking a major leap of faith telling them because I still had approximately six or seven months to go on my enlistment and conceivably I could have encountered problems if the gender information I disclosed got into the wrong hands. After making it so far towards an honorable discharge, I certainly did not want to destroy the time I had put in. Plus, what would I tell my friends and family at home when I arrived back there early. 

To make a long story short, nothing negative happened with telling my friends I was in reality a transvestite and the experience was very liberating. On the other hand, I was not going to tell the rest of the world my secret. Of importance is the fact one of the people I told that night turned out to be the mother of my child and future wife. So I did not have to worry about telling her once we became married. I see her to this day and we still get along. Sadly, the other two friends I told are now deceased and I lost track of them almost completely before they passed. 

All of this brings me to the next person I told which was my Mom. It happened one night shortly after I was discharged and I was living at home for a very short while. One night when I came home from partying with my friends she was waiting up for me just like back in my college days. Somehow the conversation turned to my life and what I was up to. Out of the clear blue sky I decided to tell her my deepest secret about being a transvestite. I was still feeling liberated from telling my friends in the Army and felt secure in telling her, betting she would never tell my Dad. Just about the time I was feeling good about including Mom in my world, she turned around and roundly rejected me. All she really did was offer to pay for psychiatric care to solve the problem. Very quickly I rejected her offer and said no one was going to, in essence, plug me into a socket for electro-shock therapy.  From then on until she died, the subject of my growing gender dysphoria was never brought up again. 

The last person I came out to when I was still in my gender closet was my second wife. I write extensively concerning our gender battles but the fact remains she supported me as a cross dresser until I began my transition into a transgender woman. In essence, over the span of our twenty five year marriage, we just grew apart until her untimely death. 

Once I reached the point of no return in my male to female gender transition. there was no point in worrying about telling anyone I was transgender. It was obvious to the public who interacted with me what I was and they were left to draw their own conclusion. All of a sudden, all the pressure was off of me. All I needed to do was to do my best to present to the public who I really was. Plus, I would be remiss if I did not mention the roles gender affirming hormones played in my experiences. I was so happy with the results I was experiencing, I never wanted to go back to a testosterone filled life. For once, a plan came together for me and the point of no return never had to be challenged. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2022

It Takes a Real Man

 It takes a "real man" to be a woman. Because first we have to decide what a "real man" is, or should be. Unfortunately both genders do not begin life as a full fledged woman or man. We are socialized into our preferred gender. The problem being how stereotypes enter into the process. Presumably nearly all of us grow up with unfair media images of what our gender should be like.

The problem is compounded when one is growing up transgender. In my generation we had the influx of cowboys to watch on television who were basically the strong silent types. Women on the other hand were either long suffering but tough bar girl types or the all knowing suburban Moms who always stayed home to raise a family. Between the two feminine stereotypes, I wonder now why I even wanted so badly to be a girl. Through it all I suppose I wanted to be the feminine person being pursued by a guy, rather than the guy doing the pursuing. Over the years I often thought most of my gender thought process came from the fact I grew up in such a patriarchal dominated family. Maybe I was too shy and intimidated to be a quote "normal aggressive boy". It wasn't until much later I understood my gender dysphoria went completely deeper than what was being portrayed on television and film as the strong male stereotype. 

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

What I also didn't realize being born a genetic male came with it's positives and negatives. Sure you had to be the aggressor on a number of occasions including sports but once you did you were rewarded with a certain amount of male privilege. Plus, since I was white, society was set up for me to succeed much easier than others. Of course the journey was not all sweetness and light. Being perceived as a male meant I had to face the uncertainty of a three year military career exactly when I didn't need it. During those days and years I really resented the fact that only males were drafted. It didn't matter, I left home and served like so many others served my time. At that point in time I didn't know if any of it entitled me to the "real man" status. But at the least it all kept most of the people I knew fooled concerning my true gender desires. 

Life went on and as I tried to fight my gender dysphoria, the further I slid towards wanting to live as my authentic feminine self. It was during those days my second wife and I began to have massive fights when she caught me out and about as a transgender woman. She knew ahead of our marriage I was a cross dresser but never once accepted me as being transgender. She was also a very strong person which is why we were together twenty five years until her untimely death at the age of fifty. So when we fought, we fought. 

It was during one of these fights she actually told me to try to be man enough to be a woman.  Initially I was stunned. Sadly, it took me many years to understand exactly what she meant. If I wanted to end our relationship and live as a transgender woman, I was going to have to summon the courage to do it.  I was going to have to step out of what was left of my gender comfort zone and give up my male privilege.  Sadder yet I didn't do it until she passed on. 

I will never have a way to know if she would have ultimately approved of the person I became.  I can only hope to show her it did take a real man to give up nearly everything and become a woman.  

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 ...