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

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Not a Choice

 This morning I was watching the news and came across a story about the average everyday person and choice. What the reporter didn't really ever say was for most things in life, we don't really have a choice. If we like it or not, choices are increasingly being made for us. By now you are probably thinking here comes another rant concerning politicians coming after transgender and even women's rights as a whole. But you are wrong. You all know my positions on the anti LGBT legislation sweeping the country. I would have to be Caitlyn Jenner not to. 

Jessie Hart Collection

What I am referring to is our lack of choice we feel as we transition our gender. Male to female or female to male, it doesn't matter. Normally we go through stages of despair and denial which has led the best of us to "purge" and throw away all the items we have acquired from what would become our authentic selves. My example came from when a close acquaintance of mine decided to purge his "collection" of feminine items. I was gifted a whole box of makeup, wigs and breast forms. Ironically, it wasn't so far before that when I did the same thing. 

During my purges I was sure I still had a choice and could quit the pesky idea I wanted to  be a girl. The feeling was so enlightening, for a week or so. Not being the sharpest tack in the box, I finally learned  my feminine desires were not going to magically disappear simply by throwing away my "collection" of feminine articles. Through it all I was slowly learning my true gender was not a choice and it was not the gender I was trying so hard to live as.

Maybe I shouldn't be so hard on those who don't understand why are living our choice to be our authentic selves. Female or Male. After all they were fortunate to grow up not having to question which gender they were. I will forever remember the lonely mornings when I woke up questioning why I was still a boy following dreaming I was a girl. Resentment  ran deep during those days. Why couldn't I have a choice on the gender I wanted to be?

Of course, gender choices during the 1950's and 60's were even more rare in those days than they are now. In other words, they didn't exist for me. I needed to learn any other method I could to depress my gender dysphoria. I resorted to sports and cars to basically just get by and hide my true gender from family and friends. 

Somehow, I bided my time until I could finally fully transition to a full time transgender woman. During the decades I experienced the highs and lows while living my life in a perpetual gender flux. Through it all, I wish I could impart on all of those considering a gender transition it is not a choice. Although I know the biggest problem can be convincing family and friends why you need to make such a radical move. 

It was never a choice. We just didn't know it.   

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Now What? A Transgender Odyssey.

My life as a transgender woman has certainly produced it's share of peaks and valleys. As I look back on it, I remember so many times I seemingly hit a wall with my male to female gender transition. Along the way I became very good at either climbing the wall or finding a way to go around it. 

I have plenty of examples. Perhaps one of the bigger ones occurred when I was very young. Even though I didn't really understand at the time my gender problems really had very little to do with the clothes I was collecting to at least outwardly present myself as a girl. Very quickly the thrill of looking at myself in the mirror faded and I was left with the same old feelings of gender dysphoria. Of course then, I had no idea of what gender dysphoria even was. I simply went around the wall and kept dressing in my feminine clothes hoping to relieve the pressure I was living under.

Incredibly I lived with this pressure for years until I began to take my first tentative steps out of the closet in the late 1970's through the early 1980's. During this period of my life I felt as if I was in some sort of a gender maze. I would be successful during a few of my trips out as a feminine person. One day I would experience little or no problems in the world only to be confronted with laughs and giggles other times. It took me awhile to get to the point when I finally figured out I was building my own walls. Primarily from attempting to dress too trashy. Once I finally learned my lesson, my transgender odyssey began to calm down and be more productive. By productive I mean I was experiencing fewer stares and laughing and was beginning the very first stages of establishing a whole new life in a new gender. Gone were the days of just obsessing on my looks and mannerisms and all of a sudden needing to really consider what the new person i was becoming would be. 

Photo by Mitchell Luo on Unsplash

By this time, the walls were coming fast and furious. Just when I thought I had a handle on my new feminine self, new challenges came along. As I developed a whole new set of friends, they expected me to come along when they did fun things. I found myself going to lesbian mixers all the way to a NFL football game. Even with all this new excitement going on in my life, I still had to keep one foot in the male world. Which led me to continually be in the gender maze. 

It wasn't until later on I finally was able to climb all the walls and escape with my life. Perhaps my biggest miscalculation was not understanding how much more complex feminine lives are over what a man experiences. When I transitioned I had to unlearn all the male privilege power structures and relearn what a women has to do to survive and even flourish. 

Ironically, even though I have negotiated the gender maze fairly well, larger challenges still await me. Yes I am afraid of the increasingly malevolent attacks on women of all types and I wonder what it will mean to me in the future. Primarily if I need to go to a nursing home. 

It looks as if my transgender odyssey is far from over,   

Monday, May 2, 2022

In the Passing Lane

 Today I went through more old posts from last year and came up with this one from early 2021. It seems this topic never gets old in the  transgender and or cross dressing communities. After all, the importance of  syncing up our internal and external selves can never be understated.  At the least, it gives us the confidence to leave our dark gender closets and go forth in the world as our authentic selves.  This post includes a comment from Connie:

I do agree that, for me, "blending in" is not really my desired goal. I had always been pretty quiet and rather shy as a man, while my feminine side wants to be much more social and involved. I have often joked that all I really want is to be the most beautiful girl in the room - which is only a joke if I really think that I ever am. Still, I'd much rather shine than blend. I can't make my feminine appearance be as good as Phaylen's (highly filtered and possibly photo shopped) pic portrays, but I have learned that there is so much more to "passing" than the way I look. It's much more about the self-confidence and living in truth. Although it took much longer than it should have, I finally realized that I belong and have every right to be anywhere I choose to be, as does anyone else. I want to pass as a person (the person I really am) more than an illusion I may have created."

(The "Phaylen" Connie is responding to is an LGBTQ activist and actress and does have passing privileges' probably due in part to advanced makeup and photography techniques many of us don't have access to. See below:)



More Connie: "I suppose that I have some "passing privilege" - at least, I have been told this many times. My dysphoria keeps me from recognizing this allegation, however. Beyond the primary, my secondary (male) sex characteristics add up to be a real challenge for me. Sure, there are cis women who are taller, or with broader shoulders, or with large hands, or with big heads and necks, etc. - but very few of them possess all of them together. Nevertheless, these are things that I do possess, and that I can never change. I have managed to change my attitude, though, and that has gone more toward achieving any passing privilege I have than has anything else."

Connie. Making Seattle beautiful. 

Perhaps my emphasis on blending in has to do with my intense interaction with other women over the years. Even though I had to act as if I were a man, I interacted as if I were a woman. My gender dysphoria has told me over the years I couldn't be the best looking woman in the room and just being perceived as a woman in the room was good enough. 

Anything else will have to wait until my next life. In the meantime, I just have tried my best to exist in the passing lane.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Life AS A Transgender Foodie

 One of my favorite things to do is to go out to eat with my partner Liz. In addition to the food, I am very much a critic of the entire operation due to my long history working as an owner and manager in the food service industry. If you are curious, I always support the restaurant for the most part when something goes wrong. 

Thursday night, when  Liz and I attended the transgender-cross dresser social dinner noting really went wrong.  The venue has always been very accepting and I am happy to say outside of one boisterous newcomer, no one acted out of line. In other words, did nothing to embarrass the rest of us. I only mention it because over the years I can't say the same thing.


I have vivid memories of misled cross dressers abusing their restroom privileges for the women's restroom. Their thoughtless antics led to messages on the door warning non birth females to stay out. Perhaps the worst case of a person acting badly was when a transgender person on an escalator in a museum we were visiting grabbed both sides of the "moving steps" swung out and flashed the people in front of her. Really? That fortunately was the last time I ever saw her. I do know she went on to go through a genital realignment surgery. Hopefully she learned not to show it off.

I know the moral to the story is if you had any morals as a male person, you will have the same morals as your feminine self. 

Forgetting my rant, I am almost to the point of remembering to take a picture or two when Liz and I go out. This photo was actually taken a couple weeks ago when her son treated us to dinner. In my mind (which is the only one I have), no matter how much I dislike pictures, they help bring life to whatever experience I am writing about. 

Unfortunately, I have to look far ahead to our next night out. Financial circumstances will limit any potential "adventures" for at least another couple weeks until the "eagle lands " and my Social Security payment comes again. On the good side, Cincinnati continues to be a  wonderful place to explore if you are a "foodie" at all. 

Especially a transgender foodie. It's wonderful when gender ceases to be a problem where we go. How good the food is becomes the issue.

  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Younger Generation

 Connie responded to the "Better Late than Never" post. Here is her well thought out comment:

"The younger generation invalidating their predecessors is as old as humanity, itself. One of the joys of my parenthood has been hearing my grown children spout out with words of wisdom that I had said to them when they were younger (which, of course, they had pooh-poohed at the time). I don't expect it to be any different, as it pertains to gender identity.


Photo Courtesy Connie Malone

As difficult as it was for those of us trans people growing up over 50 years ago, I have mixed emotions when I (not often) consider the "what ifs" of myself growing up now. As wonderful as it would seem to have been to have access to puberty blockers and other hormone therapy at a young age, those things come with a whole different set of problems for a growing (emotionally, even more than physically) child. The social and political climate today must make it so much harder for trans kids, especially those kids who had started a transition, only to have resources taken away - even the threat of it.


Although I came to realize that I could have come out much earlier than I did, I can't allow myself to waste the time I have left by dwelling on that. In fact, I have precious little time left, considering the control I would have to give up, should being confined to a care facility become a reality.

If I had to miss out on the puberty blockers, maybe someone will come up with a geriatric blocker soon - but I don't have time to dwell on that possibility, either. Call me an old lady, just so you call me a lady! :-)"

Thank you for the comment. I also cannot help but wonder how life would have been like if I would have been afforded the luxury of being myself.  I am nearly certain nothing comes without it's consequences, good or bad. 

Recently I had the opportunity to meet a pre teen transgender girl during the Transgender Day of Visibility get together. She was obviously pleased. Here she was with the opportunity to be with an incredible group of accepting people. I felt so good for her. On the other hand though, how intimidating would it be to be looking ahead at a gender journey most certainly to be full of unexpected challenges. Plus, how would I feel if my child faced the same path. I am certainly biased but I would try every thing I knew how to help and protect my child. 

As far as the younger generation goes, I agree all we can do is try to plant a seed and hope it grows. I am a believer too that when you try to brainwash a child into believing only certain ideas, once they are free from your bonds, they will go an opposite  way anyhow. Hopefully all these kids you see with anti LGBTQ signs in far right rallies will follow their own heart  and know it is wrong. 

After all, the future belongs to them.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Finding Yourself Through Gender

Ironically my post on having writer's block produced several very wonderful responses. The responses followed up on what should be a re-occurring theme. No matter how hard you try to assimilate yourself as the authentic gender of your choice of more importance is being yourself. Many times I have written how important it was to me to be accepted by other cis women during my transgender transition. 

All this time I have concentrated on confidence being your number one asset when you enter the world but being yourself could be more important. This first comment comes from Jamie Aileen through The Medium writers platform: 

" Learning to be a woman is so much more difficult when you are 70. But first, I want me to be just me!"

The second comes from Medium also from Logan Silkwood who is a transman and naturally approaches the subject from a different angle:

"

Yesterday, I looked in the mirror and saw myself briefly: an effeminate gay man. It’s a rare but lovely thing to get that validation from myself. In those moments, I realize I don’t need men to see me as a man. I simply am one. I’m me. 🏳️‍⚧️"


Specifically you novices are probably thinking this is all well said and good as you look forward to what seems like an endless road to a gender transition. But if you can, try to keep in mind you are finally receiving a very rare but difficult opportunity to shape a new human being who just happens to be you.  Second chances are so rare in life. 


From the Jessie Hart Collection

Yesterday, my partner Liz's son took us out to eat in our favorite Mexican restaurant which happens to be right around the corner. This is one of the few pictures we have taken recently before the margaritas arrived. Even though I think I show every bit of my 72 years in the picture, once again we had no problems being served. My gender wasn't questioned and no I wasn't I.D' d to prove I was old enough to drink. :) So in essence we were left again to just be ourselves. What's helping me now is with our diet and the effects of HRT, I can wear more form fitting clothes and not look like a clown.


In many ways I am the direct reversal of Logan.  When I look at a picture or a mirror I no longer see a very masculine man but on the other hand, I see a rather masculine woman who as you can tell wears very little makeup. 


The tragedy is I went through so many years of testosterone poisoning to get to where I am today. I can't say I can quote Helen Reddy and her song I am Woman but I can quote me and say "I am me."  

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Gender Sponge

 I am fairly sure many of you, similar to me, have spent days, weeks, months or even years attempting to figure out all the ins and outs (no pun intended)  of being the opposite binary gender. The one we always  desired to become a part of.

How did this all begin? With me it all began with a fascination with my Mom's clothes and makeup. For some reason in a male dominated household, I was able to watch Mom transform herself with makeup. It all translated into trying on her clothes and using her makeup when I was by myself. While other boys my age were out terrorizing each other, or the world, I was at home doing my best to look like a girl.

After a Mary Kay makeover
Jessie Hart Collection

All of this carried over to school. When I couldn't help but focus on the girls in my age group, I had to really focus hard to bring home reasonably good grades. After all I was desperately trying to assume a gender life I increasingly didn't want.  In the meantime I kept the bullies away by focusing on traditional male activities such as sports and cars.

Through it all I put all girls up on a pedestal. I was so envious of their lives. All of it. Their clothes were a start but one which wouldn't last forever. I became a gender sponge, from afar I did my best to immerse myself in everything feminine. Everything from how girls huddled to how they seemed to all talk at once. The frustrating part of it all was the fact I couldn't climb the gender pedestal myself. Little did I know I was just paying my dues. Eventually I would have a chance to live as a transgender woman full time.

Ironically, everytime I thought I had learned enough or paid enough dues to play in the girls sandbox I learned I was only just beginning. I had to be even a better gender sponge. A prime example came about when my wife called me a terrible woman. For the longest time, I didn't know exactly what she meant. What about all those years I invested on observing everything feminine, how girls dressed, how they moved. The truth was, my wife was right, my woman gender training was far from complete.   It turned out her comment about me was concluded with a comment saying she wasn't talking about my appearance. From that point forward I dedicated myself to learning what she meant.

Unfortunately I didn't learn until after she passed away when I was able to attempt to exist fulltime in a feminine world and finally leave my false male self behind. 

The first of many powerful lessons I learned came from when I began to learn to communicate with other women as my new authentic self. It was one of the things I wasn't allowed to be part of when I was attempting to live as both genders. I quickly learned cis women mean what they say. It's also true they say it differently which is lost on most men. One of the most flattering encounters I happened upon was when other cis women would ask me questions about their spouses and/or boyfriends. One of the powerful benefits of being transgender became using the knowledge I learned from being forced to live as a guy to help others. It's a shame more of the public isn't motivated to take advantage of trans women and men instead of fearing us. 

Possibly the second of the major lessons I learned involved the loss of white male privilege I encountered. Quickly I found how difficult it was for women to be recognized in many circles and how all of the sudden I had to be very cognizant of my surroundings. 

Finally, for this post, was the lessons I learned from other women regarding passive versus direct aggression. Many times I felt I was accepted as s transgender woman only to be stabbed in the back by another woman. With a smile on her face.

The more I learned, the more I tried to be a better, more complete gender sponge. It's been a long journey from my days of watching Mom and her makeup. 

 

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Scared to Death

 One idea I do my best to dis-spell is the idea my Mtf gender transition has been anything but easy. I believe some people are led to believe it was from many of my posts. Most certainly I experienced more than my deserved share of quality experiences but on the other hand many of the experiences required me to be extremely courageous to even attempt. Plus, if the truth be known, some should not have been attempted at all. 

I believe the  most scared I have ever been happened the first night I had determined I was not going out as a cross dresser. I was going to try as closely as I could to see if I could be accepted as a feminine person. If not a woman, the closest I could come. Over the years I have not been shy writing a description of the evening. To make a long story short for those of you who may remember, I ended up sitting in my car in the venue's parking lot a half hour before I could summon the courage to go in. Once I finally decided to go forth with my plan, I knew all I had to do was get past the hostess stand and grab a seat at the bar. 

Furthermore, my grand idea was to dress as a professional woman to blend in with the other women who frequented the place when they were done with work at a nearby upscale mall. For the evening I chose my black pantsuit, black flats and long over the shoulder straight blond wig. To finish my look I did my best to add a tasteful reasonable makeup application. 

Photo:
Jessie Hart
Collection

As I wrote, my plan was just to find a seat at the bar which had seating on three sides with two big ornamental wooden posts at the front of the bar. I was lucky, I managed to secure one of the only seats remaining by chance next to one of the posts. I remember sliding into the bar stool and all the while wishing I was invisible. Of course I wasn't and very soon I was waited on by what turned out to be a very friendly bartender who turned out to be one of my regular servers as I returned many times over the years. 

Surviving the first experience only emboldened me to try more. The problem was, the more I tried different venues to see if I presented well enough to get by, the more I found just weren't accepting. In a couple I was asked to leave and even had the police called me in one place. None of it was easy as I explored the world. 

The world though was different back in those days. The public was more likely to be more vocal to their resistance of having  a transgender woman in a non gay venue. In fact, it was difficult to be accepted as anything more than another drag queen in many male gay bars. To make matters worse, the term "transgender" was new too.

As I look back on my explorations I wonder what drove me forward. My best idea is I was driven internally by the strong desire to explore living a feminine life. The more I lived, the more natural I felt so I knew it had to be right.

I can't stress enough how good it feels to have managed to survive all my life experiences and come out the other side, alive, well and living full time as a transgender woman. I also can't stress enough how frightened I was on so many occasions when I was exploring my journey. My message is to try to relax and enjoy your own gender journey. It can be so worth it to be yourself. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Monumental Women

 Of course I am biased but I feel the journey we transgender women go through to live as our authentic selves is epic. Just take a moment and consider the struggles we go through. Such as discrimination in employment, medical care and education just to name a few. 

On this Transgender Day of Visibility I have chosen a wonderful friend I had the pleasure of meeting when she first stepped out of the closet into the world. 

After I share a couple of her life's peaks and valleys since then , I hope you understand why I have given her the title of "Monumental Woman.: It wasn't so long ago I wrote about her and her wife visiting a less than liberal restaurant and essentially getting stared at and gossiped about. 


Her name is "Venessa" who you can see to the left and it is important to note the title really has nothing to do with size. 

Similar to so many of us, Venessa struggles with being a large person which she has had to overcome when it comes to going out with her wife and/or kids, What makes the situation worse is she lives in a less than liberal county just east of Cincinnati.

I also need to mention she transitioned on the job in a very male dominated profession of truck driving. So as you can tell Venessa has gone through a lot to claim her very honorary title of "Monumental Woman." 

As with most of us too, I am sure Venessa would say she still has a way to go with her transition. Or better yet, the world does. Until her wife and her can go out and enjoy a fun, peaceful brunch without being stared at.

I hope all of you can follow her lead and become "Monumental Women" in your own right. And thanks to Connie for initially giving me the term.

As far as I am concerned, I am helping to publicize the transgender - cross dresser support group at the TDOV event in downtown Cincinnati. Maybe some day in my own way I can earn a "Monumental Woman" award.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Toxic Masculinity and the Trans Girl

Over the years when I was trying my best to exist in an ultra masculine world, I encountered too many men who would have been described as being toxic masculine. In essence they were the ones who tended to dismiss women as basically only emotional people who were only good for sex and/or having kids. 

I can truthfully say I wasn't an active part of their mentality but on the other hand was ashamed when I went along with their childish actions. I had two excuses. The first was in the business I was in I had to manage to the best of my ability a group of macho redneck cooks in a kitchen. I had to appear tough. The second was on the other hand I had to manage a group of mainly female servers, hostesses and bar tenders. Even then I was studying women intensely to learn how they really maintained in society so in many ways it was a labor of love. I learned my guys in the kitchen worked better when I could manage them as a team and the women worked better when I understood they were going to form their cliques anyhow, so adapt to them and hope for the best.

Further more I had to watch for frontal confrontations from the men and passive attacks from the women. Lessons which would serve me well later as I transitioned genders.  

Lessons I wish I had paid attention to didn't take long to happen. One night very early in my transition I found myself with a group of men discussing a topic I considered myself to be well versed in. Very early they shut me totally out as if I was never there at all. I thought it was one of my first opportunities to learn first hand what my life was going to be like as a transgender woman. I was right and on the other hand, my lessons learned from my work world worked well too. 

I also learned quickly the amount of  non verbal communication women use. It is no wonder most men say they can't understand women when they can't pick up non verbal cues. 

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Ironically I had to change my stereotype of what a toxic man even looked like. When I began to explore the world, I attempted to stay clear of any man who looked like the macho type. not unlike my former self. It got so bad I couldn't even try to buy tickets for a sports event from a street "scalper" because they thought I was a cop. Slowly but surely I learned many of the "macho" men didn't seem to care much about me at all and weren't going to verbally attack me. My theory was they were more secure in their sexuality than the normal man. 

Of course recent political activities have made it possible for toxic masculinity to come out of the shadows and even thrive in some areas. Unfortunately the trans community, women and men, has been potentially the hardest hit. The attacks aren't just coming from cis men, they are coming from cis women as well.    

The future is not a given for anybody. Especially not the trans girl.  As always we are going to have to be better and fight for what we have.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Transgender Freedom

Is there something called transgender freedom?  Some I sure would argue no, which I believe I would have to agree with. You may ask why if you read my recent post on transgender boredom which I actually experienced after going out two nights in a row without experiencing any negative feedback, So, by now you are thinking what is the problem.


The problem is I have never been able to accept success much at all. Especially with my gender issues. Once I arrived at a certain point in my transition, I always thought there had to be more. In my pursuit to find more, often I found myself in over my head. A prime example was the night I was in a sports tavern I thought I was safe in and several men decided to make my life miserable by playing "Dude Looks Like a Lady" over and over again on the juke box until the manager asked me to leave. I got my revenge weeks later when he got fired and several servers found me down the street in another venue I was a regular in and asked me to come back. I look at the experience two ways. First of all, it was a big hot mess of excitement and terror to do what I did at all and secondly I was lucky nothing more than my feelings were ultimately hurt.

Shortly after that I was able to work with my new found transgender freedom in new ways. By doing so I found a new circle of friends including the one I write about all the time. As it turned out, the others were different and interesting to be around too. Those were the friends who came so close to inviting me to a bachelorette party and included the motorcycle guy who took a liking to me. To make long stories short, the bachelorette party never happened and the motorcycle guy moved away shortly after his failed marriage to a wild woman in the group who was a hairdresser and exotic dancer. The one thing you never know about your freedom is when it is going to give you a gift or take it away. 

Little did I know, all of this sudden freedom I had acquired after my wife passed away was going to lead me to new and wonderful feminine transgender experiences. This was when I went through what only can be called a period of advanced trans experiences.  Or, for those of you who prefer abbreviations, ATE. To be sure I eagerly "ate" up all the culture I could as I was learning how it was to communicate and live full time as a woman. Little did I know how right my wife was everytime she told me there was more to being a woman than becoming the "pretty pretty princess" a couple days a week. Once again, it wasn't until after she departed and I started to play in the girls sandbox  did I discover how right she was. I sustained many scratches and set backs before I earned my spot in the sandbox. The photo you see above was from that period in my life.

It was approximately this time of my life when I took my friend Connie's advice and started writing about my experiences. My goral then as it still is all these years later is to provide help and input to anyone I can through my blog. 

Even though I have reached a point of boredom in my public presentation, I still don't consider my transgender freedom to be a done deal. At this point of my life I still have my final years to look forward to. I am fairly sure that once again I will have to fight for my gender freedoms again. On the positive side, I will be used to it. 

And, while I am on the subject, those of you just beginning your journey. Rest assured the trip will be worth it. Just take advantage of all the stops along the way to catch your breath and continue when you can. 

Your freedom as your authentic self awaits. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Photo Shoot

 This is one of those experiences which came from being in the right place at the right time, which never was one of my strong points during my gender transition. Plus, it happened approximately seven years ago so I have a difficult time thinking it ever happened at all. 

It all started innocently enough when Liz and I went to what can only be described as a working artist/crafters mall. It was/is located in a vintage brick shoe factory in downtown Cincinnati. My partner Liz is a quality crafter and was keenly interested in what the many shops had to offer.

As we slowly made our way through the venue, we came across a photographer and her friend who just happened to be putting together an album of the different types of women they could find. Then their effort would be judged in Chicago by another group. Before I knew it, they were strongly suggesting I should become a part of their photo shoot. 

Of course I was flattered they wanted me to be a part of their compilation. And thought it was a great idea to include a transgender woman as one of the different women who can be found in the world. But then the doubts and misgivings began to filter in. What would I wear to the photo shoot? How much makeup should I wear were just two questions I had. My fears were not justified though when they gave me instructions on what to wear, including makeup.

In a short period of time, I found myself being photographed by a real live professional. While I loved the attention, I was scared to death! How would the pictures portray me and how would my gender dysphoria react. Before I knew it, my time as a photography model was over and I headed home.


It took a couple weeks before I saw the results and I was indeed disappointed. Somehow I thought I would look better but what you see is what you get. I used to have the exact pictures they shared with me but try as I might I can't find one. So, the one I shared in this post is close to the same time period of my life.

None ot it mattered as the entry they put together and sent on to the Chicago competition didn't win anyhow. 

My input wasn't over though as I as well the other models were invited to a gallery presentation here in Cincinnati. When I went, I promptly made my presence known by spilling a glass of wine all over the catering table.

Even though we didn't win any prizes, I will always remember my all too brief role as a photo shoot model in 2015.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Boredom?

 Over the years of transitioning across the transgender border, I never considered I would ever arrive at a point where I would be on the verge of boredom. But  my partner Liz and I went out again last night which made it two nights in a row and my idea of boredom began to change. As unamazing as it all was, nothing happened. No stares, no comments...no anything which would allow me to think I was perceived as anything but the woman I always have wanted to become.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash
NOT of me.

 Similar to many milestones in my transgender life, I remember vividly thinking in the middle of dinner I better start paying extra attention to Liz because for once I didn't have any other outside influences to distract me.

The only thing which did occur to me was it past time for me to go stealth. By stealth I mean, hiding all vestiges of my previous life as a guy. 

Truly I have considered a stealth life for years. Mainly because I am perceived at home as a woman by Liz and her son anyhow. Plus by my daughter and by many friends, so anyone else doesn't matter to me anyway. Also with the advent of Covid restrictions over the past several years, we decided not to go out and face the risks anyhow. Even though we were fully vaccinated. 

The whole process is most likely a natural one which I have addressed here before. First, you suffer from a severe gender dysphoria when you are not sure which gender you feel natural with. Then you embark down a gender road to decide who you really are. Which can be a difficult process. In fact I met a transgender person the other night who was thinking of reversing the process she had already gone through. The problem  I see with any gender de- transition is many times it is done because of another person or persons usually from a family. The transgender person is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Especially if they are younger and are faced with building a life as their authentic self. 

Fortunately, at my age, it's not a problem I face.  I have gone through the questioning phase of my gender dysphoria and finally decided I have become more than a gender. I am now just another person trying my best to look nice. No different than any other woman. 

The boredom I experienced last night is no more than another phase.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Luck of the Irish

 Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of you! May you wear your finest green feminine attire and have a safe good time. 


Without a lot of fanfare, Liz and I are going to join several of our transgender friends we haven't seen  forever for dinner.  For the occasion I have picked out a green sweater I have had for some time. 

To my knowledge I am not Irish but I certainly will take advantage of any of the luck which happens to come my way!

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Were you Bullied?

 So many gender dysphoric individuals sadly have to put up with the effects of bullying when they grow up. The process is capable of scarring them throughout their lives. 

Ironically, effeminate boys and men on occasion transition into the most natural women so it's the age old "give and take" story. 

As we all know, there are as many forms of bullying as there are different forms of human beings. Children can be emotionally abused all the way to being verbally abused. Even resulting in physical trauma. Plus there is religious bullying which I don't even want to discuss. 

Photo by Morgan Basham on Unsplash

I escaped being bullied by escaping into the ultra masculine world of sports. Back then, very few girls attempted to play any sports at all in the Midwestern rural area where I grew up. So by participating in football, baseball and basketball, I could at least for a time escape my desperate desire to be a cheerleader rather than a player. 

Once I hit the high school years, I transferred to a new much bigger school and was faced with making new friends. Again back where I lived in the early 1960's, schools were still years away from having any sort of LGBTQ clubs or organizations. No where to meet like mined individuals, even if I would have been brave enough to do it. What happened was I did meet a few others I as able to form friendships with. Although none I knew of who shared my gender dysphoria. Of course I didn't have a name for it. All I knew was somedays I woke up desperately wanting to be a girl and it was slowing dawning on me I didn't want a girl sexually...I wanted to be her physically.  

Through it all, I was able to escape the bullies and essentially disappear into the overall mass of students. Plus I did over compensate and played on the high school football team until I broke an ankle. Not the fashion accessory I was looking for. 

The problem was I didn't really know what I was looking for. I was too shy to even ask a girl for a date but then would go home and if I was alone dress up like her, But I thought I needed to try to date a girl to once again prove to my family and friends I was a masculine person. I solved the problem by letting some of the girls in high school I barely knew set me up with a date to the schools' junior prom. I thought the whole process would once again solidify my maleness and set me up for success as a male. The whole process once again would keep the bullies away and even help me if one of my two stashes of feminine clothes and makeup was discovered. 

It breaks my heart to read about transgender or gay youth who are not supported by their families. There is so much more information available today to aid in their lives. 

As far as bullies are concerned, I fear they are as human as the species goes. After all, human beings are an Apex predator and like sharks, smell blood in the water. The real parenting challenge comes in not raising a child to be a bully.

However you survived bullies in your life, I hope you were finally able to escape all the negative problems which may still plaque you. I know I still have the resulting fear of being laughed at when I am out and about. It's frustrating because one way or another I was able to escape the problems of being bullied.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Did I Really do That?

 When I look back on my fifty plus years of my life as a gender dysphoric person, I wonder why I did certain things. Many times I manage to come up with these memories in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. Along the way also, I try to come up with ideas for another post. 

One of the most problematic times of my cross dressing life came when I became able to purchase different kinds of wigs. Similar to a kid in a candy store, I became addicted to deciding when and where to look for and buy new wigs. Sadly I was still in my "big" hair faze and ended up trying to buy and then wear the biggest hair pieces in the store. I persisted even though I had several clerks try to tell me I was making the wrong choice. 



I was sure the next wig would help me to become the irresistible feminine person I just knew I was capable of becoming. To add insult to injury, by the time I tried to brush out and style a wig, I ended up ruining it further. Often all I ended up with was a clown wig suitable for Halloween, As in the picture I added. 

Of course what was good enough for Halloween wasn't good enough for everyday life. What made matters even worse was when I first started to go out I would use a different name to match the wig I was wearing. For example (as I have written about before) I was Roxy when I wore my big blond wig and Darcy when I was wearing my dark wigs.

My collection also wasn't limited to big curly styles, I purchased a long dark wig once which actually matched my own hair color at the time. It was very thick and straight and resisted my attempts to ruin it. There were several good endings wearing that wig when I wore it on a girls night out with a group of servers from a regular sports bar venue I


frequented. Which you can see here.

Through it all I finally settled on a longish straight blond wig which was slightly longer than shoulder length. It wasn't till then I settled down to being the same feminine person as much as I could, without the clown hair. It enabled the public who I was beginning to meet frequently to settle in on seeing the same person. 

One regret I do have is that I didn't save all the money on the wigs I did buy and invest in a a good/quality hairpiece. My excuse is I was still searching for the transgender person I was to become. 

Now of course I am one of the lucky transgender women who does not suffer from any male pattern baldness. I have been able with the assistance of HRT to grow a full head of long wavy hair. Which is the envy of my daughter who has commented why she didn't inherit my hair. 

Unfortunately, my experience with wigs wasn't the only ill advised stunt I tried when I transitioned but often it was the most visible one.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Sunday Inspiration

Last night we moved our clocks forward here in Ohio since for better or for worse we are on Daylight Savings Time. In other words we lose an hour of sleep in the Spring and we get it back in the fall. 

Saturday nights I also stay up to watch Saturday Night Live. The bottom line is I didn't get much sleep last night so I am going to leave you with simple words of inspiration:

 

 Just think, we transgender women and men have the chance to re invent ourselves in the best possible way. Maybe that is possibly part of what makes us so scary to so many Republicans across the country. Who are doing their best to destroy us. 

What they don't understand is we are a strong, resilient tribe and we will survive. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Point of No Return

 Yesterday was one of the days I was scheduled to change my synthetic Estrogen patches. Every now and then I pause to remember all the changes I have gone through over the years. 

I usually hesitate to write about the HRT process because hormone replacement therapy is such a unique topic. In other words, it can vary so much between individuals. Age, dosage and current physical condition all factor in. HRT is certainly not for everyone and should not be undertaken without the help of a medical professional. As I set my usual disclaimer aside, it's time to describe my own personal hormonal gender journey for those of you who may be considering it. 

At the very beginning, I can only describe myself as a very serious cross dresser. I normally tried to sooth my extreme gender dysphoria by dressing as a woman two or even three times a week. Through all of it deep down I knew living with feet in both of the binary genders was never going to be a long term solution to my gender questions .I also knew adding synthetic estrogen to my body was going to be my next logical step towards rebuilding my life as a novice transgender woman.

Before I did I had to be checked out by a family doctor who I heard of through the grapevine. He was   a LGBT friendly physician in the Dayton, Ohio area. By this time, my wife had passed away and I was free to take what gender action I wanted to transition or not. Of course you know that I did and the appointment was made. 

Photo Courtesy: During my CD days
Jessie Hart

The doctor's visit itself was very straight forward and simple. He asked me if I knew my breasts would grow along with my hair and my sex drive would for the most part go away. When I accepted all those possibilities, he wrote me the magical prescription I had long dreamed of. The meds were pills with synthetic estrogen along with a med which would decrease my testosterone. By mutual agreement, we decided to begin my HRT on a very minimum dosage to determine how my body would react. Happily, I had no adverse reactions and was given a slightly higher dosage. All in all, I was still impatient for all the feminizing changes I was expecting. I could feel my breasts starting to change and I never had a problem growing hair, so I wanted more.

More would come. This time compliments of the Veteran's Administration. At this time, I was experiencing severe financial problems and had lost my regular health insurance. I desperately needed the health care the VA offered. For the most part, free to me for my service in the military. To continue my hormone replacement therapy with the VA, I had to go back through the process of seeing a doctor, including a therapist. I was fortunate in that the therapist who was assigned to me had a basis of knowledge of transgender and/or gender dysphoric individuals. She promptly wrote me a letter of acceptance and it was up to me to do the rest. 

I did have a bump in the road when the VA hospital I was a patient of did not have an endocrinologist to monitor my meds. It took awhile but I finally received approval to see an Endo doc outside of the Va which they would pay for. Once I got used to seeing him, I was able to move back into the VA system for monitoring until I was diagnosed with a liver problem and again was taken off my hormones. 

The liver problem was conquered and I was allowed to resume my HRT. The good news was I was able to increase my dosages and change to patches to save extra wear and tear on my liver. 

The increased dosage began the changes I had longed hope for. My face began to soften along with my skin. Body hair started to thin (except for my beard) and my breasts really started to grow. All of those changes couldn't compare with my inner changes. I will never forget my first hot flash when I was sitting in a sports bar sipping on a beer. I was sure I was going to internally combust! Then, there were the tears. During my male life, I rarely, if at all ever cried. Now I can cry over bad and good things. What a change.

As I look back, I still consider hormone replacement therapy was the second of several major gender transitions I went through.  Just when I thought there were only two transitions, I found myself going through another. 

More on that later in another post.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Transgender Validation?

 Over the years and especially in the very beginning, I worked very hard to achieve my validation as a transgender woman. Or, better yet, being validated as a woman at all. To arrive at where I desperately wanted to be, I had to go through many steps...literally.  My example is was when I would practice walking femininely when I perceived I was reasonably alone in larger venues such as big box stores. Even though I was fairly certain I was not being observed, I am sure I probably made a security person's night on occasion. Regardless, I was obsessed with all things feminine. 

My obsession's of course led me into all sorts of clothes and fashion accessories. Money became the biggest concern before and after my wife's death. Before she passed away, I saved all the change and extra money I could to sneak out and shop for new clothes which I was certain would enable me to become the desirable feminine person of my dreams. I became very good at shopping discount racks at stores and going to thrift stores hunting for bargains. The mirrors in more than a few of these stores became my instant friend, for better or for worse. Another example was a powder blue wool coat I fell madly in love with at a certain  coat warehouse store. I went back so many times to try it on I am surprised I didn't get asked to leave. Sadly, I was never able to afford the coat.

Once I was able to afford a few cherished articles of feminine attire, I had to decide how "cherished" they really were and where I was going to hide them from my wife at home, It took me awhile to gather up the courage to use the women's dressing room, so even though I was getting better at sizes, it was still basically taking chances on which clothing's sizes would actually fit. What I mean is, one company's large would be another companies' medium. Plus, I had to go through my "teen girl" years when I tried to wear everything too short or too tight. It was no way to be validated anywhere but in the mirror which was lying to me. 

Now, lets get back to where I could actually put the items I purchased. Fortunately we lived in a big two story 1860's brick I was restoring, so we had plenty of storage space in out of the way closets. Closets that for some reason my wife never looked in. If she had, I am sure all hell would have broken loose if she had discovered the short, flirty tennis outfit I had put together to wear to the mall. All in all I think I probably ended up with three storage closets for my ever increasing wardrobe. 

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

Looking back, I suppose all my obsession with women's fashion was a natural progression in my search for validation as a novice transgender woman. Today, I am more utilitarian in my approach to fashion. With the condition of my ankles there is no way I can wear heels of any height. So my charcoal boots with the one inch heel is the best I can do. The boots go well with my leggings, jeans and sweaters. Now with spring and summer approaching of course I have to shift wardrobe gears back to my collections of tank tops, t-shirts and blouses. I also have two soft maxi dresses which I adore. I save them for the hot summer months. 

 For me, a large part of my transgender validation now comes from the fact my breasts, hair and hips are all mine, From hormone replacement therapy of course. 

I still believe the tipping point for me in my validation came when I discovered I should be dressing for other women, not men. By doing so, I could blend in much easier with society and be accepted. Once I reached that point, my life as a novice transgender woman became clearer. 

Being human (I think) the fascinating part of all of this comes from the fact we are all different. More and more I am learning about couples staying together as one of them transitions. Yet, there are so many others who are forced to face the task of crossing the gender border to play in the sandbox  by themselves. Thus the points of validating your transgender self can be a highly fluid process. 

It's too bad the path to transgender validation can't be easier and more enjoyable. Not one of the most difficult journeys a human can take. 

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Side Chick?

For years I have thought of the many times I went out into a feminine world to explore the possibility of living full time as a transgender woman. The more I did it, the more natural it became. In essense I learned fairly quickly I could exist in a feminine world. 

After my wife passed away and I started hormone replacement therapy, I became very lonely. To battle being alone, I essentially did what I called going out to be alone. Because I rarely interacted in the beginning with anyone until I began to form a whole new circle of friends. As I look back, I found I needed a better way to express what I was doing. 

Finally I came up with this blinding reality. I was slowing becoming my own "side chick." Unfortunately  for me it all starred when my wife was still alive. During all the nights I was out and about cross dressed as a woman when she was still at work. Those were the days when my self esteem as a man was at an all time low due to all the lying I was doing to her when at the same time my self esteem as a novice transgender woman was growing by leaps and bounds. All in all, it was a process I couldn't maintain. Living life with a foot in each of the binary genders was killing me. 

Becoming my own "side chick" definitely came with it's own set of ups and downs. I started the process by going to so called "safe" places such as predominately male gay venues. I found out quickly I wasn't really accepted there either. Plus I didn't like the music much anyhow. At that point I began to seek out two of the smaller lesbian bars which were relatively close to me. At one of them, they hated me but at the other I was accepted and had several interesting experiences. Which I will save for another post.

From the lesbian venues, I began to pull up my big girl panties by going to two of the big sports bars I used to frequent as a guy. All proceeded well as I slowly began to know several of the bartenders and or servers who looked out for me. The problem was I was a single woman in a venue which normally attracted many men. Many times, the trick I used to act like I was expecting company was to pull out my cell phone as if I was going to have a call. 

Even though being my own "side chick" was working for me, nothing could help when my wife passed away. Naturally I was very lonely and had pretty much been a social person for most of my life. Destiny was about to work in my direction and rescue me. The first big happening occurred when one of the bartenders I knew asked me if I would like to have a casual drink with her single mother. It all worked out very well and we remain friends to this day and I think of her daily. 

The second major meetup happened when another woman came into the sports bar to pick up a carryout order and slid me a note down the bar. The three of us used to get together at least once a week and even attended several lesbian mixers together.  Good times!

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

By now, perhaps you regulars (thank you!) are maybe wondering where my partner Liz entered the picture with me. During this time also, I was still sorting all the trash I was receiving from several so called dating sites. I did have a couple quality dates when men but overall the selections were very slim. What did happen was Liz answered my "ad" saying I had sad eyes. In fact, I think I still have the "sad eyes" picture to share from ten years ago. We started corresponding and talking and I ended up moving in with her in Cincinnati.

As I look back on my "side chick " days the memories are certainly bittersweet. They were times of extremely terrifying yet exciting experiences as I was discovering all my authentic gender self had to offer.

Rest in peace side chick...hello real world.