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

Friday, January 20, 2023

You Wanna be my Girl

 During my errands this morning, I heard the "Jet" song "Do you Wanna be my Girl." If you aren't familiar, the lead singer mentions his lust interest in the song as having long blond hair and long legs. Back in the day, I tried my best to look the same way as I wore my skirts too short and matched them with a long blond wig. Through it all, I certainly wasn't having any music written about me. Ironically I was doing all the wrong things fashion wise as I supposedly didn't want to attract any attention and blend in with the world. My problem was I was presenting to attract men and not blend in with the other women around me. 

Girls Night Out from the Jessie Hart Collection
I'm seated in Stripes on Left

As I look back at my life, I see how often and desperately I wanted to be my own girl. Way back in high school after I was turned down yet again asking a girl on a date, I would run home and if possible shave my legs, put on a pair of pantyhose , apply makeup and finish dressing as my favorite girl...me. I always knew she wouldn't turn me down. This continued through out my life until the Army briefly forced my male self  to stand up and be counted. That didn't continue long because my dominant feminine self was always waiting patiently and often not so patiently to live her life in the public's eye. Not only I found did she want to be my girl, she wanted to be "the girl". 

Being "the girl" turned out to be the best move I could make. The big differences came as I was coming out of my gender closet and into the world. Instead of feeling terrified, I felt excited and so natural I couldn't wait to do more to achieve my inner woman's goals of coming out. As I quickly learned, when I got out of her way, she knew who she was and developed quickly. So much so, she was slowly but surely pushing my wife of twenty five years out of the marriage.  

Sadly the only thing which saved the marriage as long as it did was her untimely, sudden death from a heart attack at the age of fifty. Often before she passed, we had a dog who was certainly a one person dog and the person was me. My wife always said if something happened to her, the dog would never miss her. Which is very close to what happened. What also occurred was when she passed, the door was suddenly opened for my feminine self to come out. In many ways it seemed she had waited long enough for her turn and here it was. Even though the entire experience was and is a total shock to my being and I loved my wife dearly, I knew the path was clear to my gender freedom. At my age of sixty I was in a position to take the gender leap to freedom and not look back. All of a sudden, I didn't know how much time I had left as I lost more and more of my closest friends to cancer. 

The answer was clear, I wanted to be my girl. Even though I knew there were going to be many more bridges to cross and some even to burn. I was given a second chance in life I just couldn't turn down. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Engaging the Public

 Engaging the public as a transgender woman has always been difficult for me.  First of all, I am an inherently shy person  and secondly when I first reached a level of coming out as my feminine self, I had to begin to communicate with the general public. All of this added to me being increasingly shy. 

Photo from the Jessie Hart
Archives

For some unknown reason, this morning was different. Since my retirement, I especially don't like to get up early in the morning. But as a favor to my wife Liz, I got up at 5:30 AM to go with her to a doctors appointment which was a half an hour away. As bribery, I made sure Liz knew we would have to stop for breakfast at a certain fast food place we enjoy. Plus we had to hurry because she had to be back as soon as possible to sign in to work which she does from home. 

In addition to getting up so early, we arrived fifteen minutes early and we had to wait in the outer hallway for the office to open. As we were standing there, a man came by with a crock pot full of some sort of food. I waited for Liz to say something and when she didn't I quickly said "Is it time for breakfast?" He laughed and said brunch and we were invited. Looking back I was amazed I took the opportunity to start a conversation with a complete stranger. I think this morning for some reason I thought the light makeup I was wearing matched how my hair looked and my gender dysphoria was not an issue and did not bother me. So I had as much right as Liz did to initiate a conversation.

Amazingly, I felt empowered to do it again when and if the opportunity arises. It felt good to shed my shyness around the public. Maybe if I was more into setting more new resolutions for the year 2023, I could have considered adding speaking up more to my non existent list. As I felt this morning, possibly engaging the public more will help me to continue to build my personality as my authentic feminine self. My excuse is the Covid years of relative isolation hiding behind a mask stunted any personal growth I had with the public. Plus, back in the day when I was first coming out, I enjoyed my time communicating with the public, for the most part. It could have been too I was caught up in the newness of it all. After all, the communication skills women required to survive in their world were so vastly different to me. Even with all the years I spent working with women, I found they shielded me from what they really meant on certain subjects. 

I have considered also that over the years, writing had become my preferred form of communication. To the point of hurting my verbal communication. Since I was afraid of using what I called my feminine voice, I softened my vocal delivery to a point of not being heard by some people. 

Now I hope to try to get out into the public more and practice my vocal skills more in depth. Adding yet another dimension to my overall public presentation. Years ago I did take a few lessons on developing a more feminine voice and think I still have the practice notes and homework I was given. I will have to find the paperwork and try again. Engaging the public was so enjoyable.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

No Mo Therapy?

Photo from the
Jessie Hart
Collection

Over many many years, my Veterans Administration therapist  has remarkably stayed the same. I am talking about going back to approximately 2009. Over the years she has helped me begin my hormone replacement therapy and provided me the documents needed to secure my feminine gender markers. Including the important paperwork to change all my VA gender markers also.

It is important to note I was initially given a VA therapist because of my bi-polar/anxiety issues which I needed to prove were not part of my gender dysphoria. Out of all the available therapists, I was lucky to be assigned to one (way back then) who had a basic knowledge of LGBTQ issues. I did not have to work very hard, or at all, to explain to her my bi-polar depression had nothing to do with my gender issues. Both were totally different topics for discussion. Early on I was very nervous talking to her. Once I became comfortable, my words flowed as well as my ideas and I was prescribed certain medications to deal with my depression and anxiety. As far as my gender dysphoria went, we all know so far there was/is no magic potion to deal with my gender closet problems.

Fortunately too I didn't have to educate my therapist on the basics of being a transgender person. She already knew some of the basics. On the other hand, she changed my expectations of what therapy should offer. Along the way I didn't see any major miracles but rather a smooth transition into my life and how I could make it better. She always stood by me in offering suggestions of how I could make my VA experience better when new and improved services came along for the transgender community such as free wigs or breast forms. 

Sadly or not for all of the right reasons, all of our sessions had become relatively routine. For years now my moods have been stable due to meds and my own coping mechanisms. Plus my gender dysphoria now is also fairly stable. What triggers it now is usually lifelong issues with the public all the way to my morning meeting with the mirror. Over the years, I have come to the conclusion the process is one I will have to deal with for the rest of my life.

During our last session, we decided to shut down my VA therapy and give up my slot to a person who needed it more fully. I have her to thanks for much of the progress I have seen over the years and if I regress at all, my therapist is still just a phone call away. I am fortunate also in that my wife Liz is also in tune with my moods and can usually pull the problem out of me. It is sadly one of the negatives I have continued to fall back on from my male past is a tendency to hold my problems in and not talk about them. I am trying to do better daily.

Overall, I view my therapy as a rite of passage I needed to undergo. I know I was lucky to be placed with a VA therapist who helped me so completely. It was with her help I made it to a point of "No-Mo" therapy. February the fourth will be our final outtake session and it will be bittersweet at it's best.   

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Selling Transgender Lemonade

Image from Earnest Porzi on
Unslpash

You have probably have heard of the saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Many times it seems we transgender women and trans men have had more than our fair share of lemons. A frequent example I use is when during my earliest days of life I woke up in the morning wondering if I was still a boy and why did I have to be. Similar to so many of you , I wasn't given any other choice but to try to carve out an existence in a gender I didn't feel comfortable in. Be-grudgingly I took the gender lemons I was dealt and learned the hard way how to make lemonade. 

The hard way, I learned to exist. I learned to play sports to keep the bullies away and add to my masculine act. I acquired and tried to work on a few muscle cars such as the now classic Pontiac GTO. I did my best also to date a few girls who I had more of a secret interest in being them rather than having any sexual interest, Even with that, I managed to perform well enough as a man to father my daughter later in life. As was to be proven later, she was the ultimate in making a tasty drink from the lemons I was given.

All in all, I can not stress enough how difficult we trans folk lives can be. Crossing the gender frontier can be brutal as we chance losing our lives as we knew them. Family and friends can and do reject us as our new authentic selves and we can even lose our jobs and livelihoods. It is all a very difficult journey which can lead to a very sour drink or lemonade. 

It is also very easy to feel so sorry for ourselves to even give up on life or even de-transition our gender. Lemons can be brutal to deal with, especially for those who weren't so called 'naturals" in the transition process. Testosterone poisoning is very difficult to overcome. Both externally and internally. It is tough to finally align our internal gender to match our external selves which the world sees. In my case it took doses of feminine hormone replacement therapy to finally help me to present more authentically as a woman in the world. As my skin softened, my hair and breasts grew, it became easier to have the confidence to go forth in the world. My number of lemons grew as I entered the never-never land of gender androgyny. My second puberty as I entered my version of womanhood even involved the uneasy introduction of sore breasts, hot flashes and even hips. 

In many ways, we transgender women and trans men even are able to sell the lemonade they have created. Unless you have transitioned very well and were blessed with a small body, at some point in time you most likely will be in the position to be the first trans person another person has ever encountered. It's a difficult position when you are seemingly clearing the way for another person similar to you gender wise who will come after you. You could say if your lemonade was good, the public will have a tendency to have a favorable response to the transgender community as a whole.

The fact remains that fair or not we all have been given our fair share of lemons in life. It's up to all of us to sell a good and refreshing transgender lemonade. 

Saturday, January 7, 2023

A Brave New Transgender World

 One positive which came from yesterday's partial debacle during my Veterans Administration colonoscopy experience was finding out to take nothing for granted in my dealings with the world as a whole. As you may recall, for the first time in a very long time, I was mis-gendered at the VA. What made it especially frustrating is that I have gone through the trouble to change all my gender markers at the VA to female. One of my disclaimers is remarkably most all of my dealings recently as a transgender veteran have resulted in me being treated with respect including being being gendered correctly. 

My point is unfortunately around  every corner is a person in the world we as transgender women or trans men have to educate. Since in many ways we live outside the gender norms in society it is no surprise there are people who make no effort to understand or accept us. Sadly it seems there will always be. Plus with the advent of all the proposed new anti transgender laws, it will take us all to fight back and keep our rights. I would say anti LGBT laws but too many are directed to specific transgender people, I left the rest of the initials out.

On the other hand, once you have shaken your gender bonds, there is nothing better than experiencing your life as your authentic self. For me at least the whole process felt so natural. Even though the process of testosterone poisoning  hit me hard, I was still lucky enough to barely fit into a few feminine parameters such as size. Even though it was not easy to find women's shoes and clothes in my size it was far from impossible. Plus about that time was when stores began to stock larger sizes for women which unknowingly (maybe) included cross dressers and novice transgender women. As they say, timing is everything and the world seemed to be changing ever so slowly and slightly in it's understanding of gender dysphoric individuals. Even coming up with the new term to describe it called transgender. 

Just when we thought we were making advances, along came the transphobic person who would not accept us for who we are. At that point sometimes it was possible to educate the person to understand we trans folk aren't really much different than the rest of society. We had to overcome the years of talk shows and movies which depicted men who dressed as women as somehow being up to no good. Showing the public we were just ordinary people just trying to live their lives in their accepted gender. It's my opinion to this day, men don't trust us since we left the so called "brotherhood" and women were more likely to give us the benefit of the doubt since we were seeking to join their sisterhood. All of that entered my thinking when I was recently mis-gendered. Since I was, when I go back, I will be ready for them to the point of explaining who I am. Hopefully to prepare them for the next trans person which comes along. 

Photo courtesy of Mandy

Before I conclude this post, I would like to welcome "Mandy" of the "Me to Mandy" blog back to Google Blogger. You can find her also on my Blogroll. 

In the meantime, no matter where you are in your progression to a brave new transgender world be patient. Together we can make it. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

A Transgender Set Back?

Photo Courtesy 
Jessie Hart

Yesterday I needed to go the Cincinnati Veterans Hospital for a colonoscopy. If you are not familiar it is a procedure when they run a small camera up and through your colon looking for what they call polyps.  Polyps if left unattended can sometimes lead to colon cancer. If you have ever been through a colonoscopy, you know the prep work before is no fun as you have to essentially fast for two days while drinking copious amounts of a liquid laxative which tastes like salt water. 

Recently I have not had to undergo any challenges to my gender. Sadly all of my gains were going to be erased yesterday. First of all, the intake nurse who was taking care of me came out into the waiting room and screamed "Mr. Hart." I cringed and said Mr. Hart wasn't here but would I do. She never replied anything and back to an intake room we went. By this time, I thought to hell with her Mr. Hart, let's just get this procedure over with. I also thought I was done with her so I wouldn't have to go through being mis gendered again. Plus there was always the chance she said it before she ever saw me and they don't see many women in the VA. 

Then came the worst part of all, I had to take all of my clothes off and put on one of those infamous hospital gowns, opened up the back. Even though hormone replacement therapy has taken care of most of my body hair, it was impossible for me to shave my backside, the one they were going to see. Again, by this time I just wanted the procedure to be all over so Liz and I could go out and get something to eat. I am sure with my highly androgynous appearance (since I have had no surgeries) at the least I may have given the nursing staff something to talk about. 

There was only one nurse who asked what I wanted to be called. I mistakenly thought there was going to be a light at the end of the gender tunnel when I told her my legal first name. Everything went well in our conversation until out of the clear blue sky she called me "Sir". I just said I wasn't a sir and everything was over...for now. The head doctors assistant told me I had four polyps, two of which they had to remove so I will probably be asked to come back in for a repeat procedure in six months to a year. I know the VA is trying to make a serious effort in their treatment of transgender patients, so maybe by then I will see a difference. I try my best to keep into consideration the people I meet who mis-gender me aren't being mean. They are just being ignorant because they have never met a transgender woman. Since I know what I will be facing when I go back too soon for my liking, maybe I can turn a transgender set back into a positive by educating people. Perhaps the next transgender person won't have to go through what I did. 

No pun intended but in the end result. all I want is to be kept free of colon cancer.     

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Building on Success

Image from Our Life in Pixels on
Unsplash

I have written often on the times I was a dismal failure when I first came out of my gender closet. The times I went home crying following encounters with the public. To make a long story short, I was stared at all the way to being out right laughed at. Similar to many of my novice crossdressing or transgender sisters, teen aged girls were my worst enemy. During this time I kept asking myself why would I leave my fairly comfortable male world I worked so hard to build and survive in for a new existence in a feminine world. I had a long way to go because I had put so much effort into hiding any female mannerisms I may have had. In nearly all ways, I was (or tried to be) a man's man. It worked because I was rarely bullied or had my gender questioned at all except the one time my evil nephew thought he was hurting my feelings when he said I threw a football like a girl. I just replied thanks and moved on.

During all of the setbacks I did seem to have just enough positive feedback on my gender journey to keep moving forward. It could have been because my feminine inner self was starved for attention and wanted her chance to enjoy the spotlight of life.  Very early in my transition, success came when I wasn't laughed at and merely blended in with society as a whole as a woman. Very quickly I learned just blending would not be enough. I found others, mainly women, wanted to talk to me so I needed to quickly develop some sort of a feminine persona. An example was when I kept encountering a long dark haired beauty in not one but two of the venues I frequented. At first when she approached me she was very standoff-ish so I wondered why she even bothered. After a while though she started to warm up and we were able to chat awhile. Who knows, maybe she was just intrigued by the fact she was really interacting with someone who wanted to give up all their male privilege's and enter her world. All too soon, for whatever reason I never saw her again. 

Having success with women such as her led me to open my feminine self up to the world even farther. It proved to be easier than I thought the gender frontier process would be once I started. Looking back at the process, my inner previously hidden feminine person was finally getting her  chance to live. She was building upon her success and loving it. From then on it was a struggle with what remained of my old male self. After all. he provided years of success to my life's equation. It was difficult to finally totally let go of him but I had to if I wanted to keep living at all. Both of my genders were in a vicious struggle for survival. 

As I continued to build upon my feminine successes, I found not only could I play in the girls sandbox but I deserved my place as well as the next woman. Of course I was not able to benefit from growing up as a girl but again I put in as much time and effort as I was allowed to seeing how girls interacted with society. Finally, once I was able to go fulltime as a transgender woman, I learned so much more on how women exist in the world and how strong yet layered their existence is.  My path to success was slower than most but worth the wait. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Another Transgender Lesson Learned


Yesterday I wrote a post concerning my limited experiences when I transitioned to a novice transgender woman and tried to date a few men. The process was a failure and then I moved on to the warmer and more responsive experience of getting to know other women as I was completing that phase of my gender transition. With their help, I learned so much on how to survive in a new feminine world. It turns out Fellow Blogger "Paula" from Paula's Place encountered some of the same pressures when she came out of the gender closet:

"  There was a time when I tried dating a few men. It never quite worked out, mostly for the reasons you too found, they were either ashamed to be seen with me, or were not attracted to me a person, but as an object. Maybe that was part of my induction into the the female world, but in the end it was not for me.

Photo from the Jessie Hart
Collection


When meeting new people I'm never sure just how much of myself to reveal, I try not to out myself, but sometimes it's difficult not to, so much of my experience has been male ~ often in what at the the time were exclusively male environments. Women were excluded from some Brass Bands well into the 1980s, and for some it was still an issue into the current century! and as for sport! Do I just sit quietly in the corner, or admit to some knowledge and experience and so out myself?"

Thanks for the comment Paula. I too was afraid to reveal too much information about my previous life  when it came to men An example was when sports came up as a topic, my knowledge was at least equal to the man I was attempting to communicate with so I needed to "dumb it down" so I wouldn't scare him off.

Through it all, the point which was lost on me was all of what I was going through was in many ways the same things cis women go through on a daily basis. I read all the time of the problems women have finding a good or stable man. I used to subscribe to "Cosmopolitan Magazine" and usually their letters to the editors  had to do with how to find and hang onto a quality man. Competition it seemed was fierce as both binary genders struggled to understand each other. In fact I wrote a few blog posts years ago pointing out the virtues of dating a transgender woman. The biggest benefit to dating trans as my biased self noted was we understood both sides of the gender fence. Especially the male ego. Unfortunately dating trans never became a real thing and to this day we transgender women still remain little more than fetish objects to too many men. Not to mention the cis women who resent us entering "their" world for whatever reason.

The end result is we transgender women have to be more skillful in how we approach the world. Paula used sports as an example. Since both Paula and I played sports in our pasts and still show a passion for it, how far do we go before we out ourselves to strangers, Just another of the reasons there is always another transgender lesson to learn. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Love Hate Relationship

 In a bit of extension on yesterdays' post, today I have decided to write about my life long love-hate relationship with mirrors. In my family home growing up we had a fairly long hallway which happened to have a full length mirror at one end. When I began to cross dress at a very early age, I used to walk slowly up and down the hallway admiring myself in the mirror. I did it so much I an surprised I didn't wear a path in the carpet. Probably the only thing which saved me was not having all the time I wanted by myself to work on my feminine presentation. I cherished the all so brief periods of time I could actually be by myself. If the mirror could talk I could only imagine the stories it could tell. 

Mirror Selfie from the
Jessie Hart Collection

As I progressed through life, the urge to have a friendly mirror grew with me. In fact when I was apartment shopping with my first wife, the location and access to a full length mirror was always a deciding factor. Even though I never said anything about it to my wife. The truth of the matter was I was addicted in a way to my beloved mirrors. One of the reasons was the mirror only told me exactly what I wanted to hear. None of it became evident to me until I began to seriously push open my gender closet door and see if I could exist as my feminine self in public. The more I tried to adjust my appearance, the more the mirror would tell me I was already doing a wonderful job. What I didn't understand was I did become fairly proficient in changing my male self to a feminine person but all of that wasn't nearly good enough. In order to survive in the world as a woman, many times I had to do better than just blend into the background. Plus a part of me was telling me loud and clear how much fun would it be anyhow to just blend in with a group of women increasingly falling away from the art of dressing up.

Finally, after my well documented failures as a novice transgender woman or cross dresser, I began to be successful in finding a sweet spot in my search for a dependable presentation. I discovered I could fall back to a fairly intense business woman look or on other occasions fall back into a much more casual jeans, boots and sweaters look. Normally, if I followed my developing feminine instincts and stayed within one of the two looks I mentioned, I found I could magically navigate society as a woman. Ironically at this point, mirrors would begin to help me. I found when I was out in public, the occasional glance in the mirror would calm my gender dysphoria and give me the courage to push forward into the brave new feminine world I was exploring. 

It is important to note also, I had to learn the hard way to establish a truce with my mirrors. I came to the decision I didn't look as good as I thought I did. But on the other hand, I didn't look as bad as I thought either. At this point, all mirrors became a tool I could use to improve myself. In other words, my mirror became more of a reality check and my life really began to improve. Even though I still have the occasional morning battles with my mirror setting off my gender dysphoria, increasingly I am able to cope by thinking I am not as bad as I think. It's just the mirror playing it's tired mind games with me. No more love-hate relationship.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Fantasy World

 

Image from UnSplash

As I look back  on all the time I wasted trying my best to survive in a male world,  I wish I could go back and reclaim just a portion of the time I lost. Just a little of the time I spent thinking about my next feminine adventure while I was still following a fake male life. I have written many times of how the stress nearly killed me.

Even worse than the stress perhaps was the hiding I did behind my feminine desires. All along (from the beginning) I thought girls had it easier than boys. My main playing card was the military service I faced for years before I finally had to serve. I always was of the opinion the military draft should have been an universal option for both genders.

Of course what I didn't realize girls (and later) women had their own set of challenges and often the gender grass wasn't always greener on the feminine side. I am sure my Mom would have put much more pressure on me to do certain things had I been born female. I am positive, I would have been pressured to go to the same university she went to and even join the same sorority. It was bad enough putting up with the pressure of being her son, I never took it into consideration how it would have been to be her daughter. At the least, I could weekly try to get dates even though I wanted to be pursued not the gender chaser as males were. 

What happened was, every failure in life I encountered as a man, I chalked up to not wanting to be a guy anyhow. I would retreat into my feminine fantasy world and not try harder. After all, wouldn't it be much more enjoyable to be a cheerleader than actually be on an compete for a spot on the football team. Back then I didn't consider all the passive aggressiveness which goes on with groups of women. I am sure the claws came out more than a few times when girls competed for spots on the cheerleading squads. 

Finally, it took basic training in the Army to force me out of my closet in some ways. Ironically it was impossible for me to hide behind my skirts and heels and compete in a total masculine world. It turned out I could compete and survive but the whole experience strengthened my resolve to finally attain a transgender status in the world once I completed my military service. I guess in many ways, the process made me a strong enough man to be a woman. I didn't know it then but I would need all the strength I could muster to pursue my gender transition goals later in life. 

Normally in my posts, I can point to some sort of positive which came out of my experience. However, I just can't on this post. The time I spent in my feminine cross dressing world was just a waste of time. I did learn the basics of putting on makeup and trying on panty hose but that was about it. The time I spent observing women which turned out to me interacting with them was all so much more important. 

The fantasy world was just a waste of time I can never get back. I found the hard way women do not have it easier than men.    

Friday, December 23, 2022

Riding Two Horses While Trans

Jessie and Liz (right) from the
Jessie Hart Collection

 I should say trying to ride two horses at the same time. Since I have barely ridden any horses at all, I certainly couldn't attempt to ride two at the same time. What I have tried to do was live in two genders simultaneously. Or live two days a week in a feminine existence then finish out the week as a part time man. I took as many chances as I could to dress as a woman and attempt to present as well as I could in the public's eye. Being blunt, before I decided to go full time as a transgender woman and quit living as my false self as a man, the process nearly killed me. 

Overall, living in both of the primary genders was too much to take and it nearly tore me apart. As I lived I had to make a conscience effort to remember which gender I was. All in all, it was the complete throwback to my younger days when I woke up every morning wondering how I was going to make it another day trying to fit it and/or compete in a male world. Even though I was very bad at it, I somehow succeeded in convincing the other males around me I could compete to a certain level. Most certainly in those days I was not trying to ride two gender horses. 

It wasn't until much later in life, I was forced into the process. The better I became at being a woman, the harder it was to go back to my male self I detested so much. Especially when I began to learn all the nuances of how women interact between themselves. I found out the hard way when a passive aggressive compliment isn't a compliment at all. My favorite example comes from women complimenting me on my appearance as a man trying to appear as a woman. Or the occasional woman who would be smiling at me as she hid the knife behind her back waiting to cut me the entire time. The whole process was quite the experience. Exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I am sure there are rodeo acts somewhere with sexy cowboys riding two horses at once but I couldn't do it with my gender dysphoria. In addition to not really wanting to ride both genders, my male side at the time was quickly withering away and dying. Replacing him was an ever so vibrant inner woman waiting for her turn to live. The bad part was the worst male characteristics I had held on. Even if I had anyone to talk to concerning my gender issues, it was always easier to keep them bottled up. Even to the point of resorting to trying to escape through an alcoholic bottle. Deep down I hoped I could find the courage in a bottle to tell my friends what was really bothering me or later on give me the courage to go out and see if I could find a feminine existence as a transgender woman and live in it.   Even the alcohol didn't work and in fact the whole process led me to a deep despair which ultimately led me to self harm...again. As I looked back on my life, I squandered many chances I had given to me by being very self destructive. I am a firm believer I had a strong guardian angel looking over me. 

Riding two horses while trans didn't work for me. In fact it nearly killed me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Trans Girl in an Antique Mall

Image from Christelle Bourgeois
On UnSplash

As I mentioned in my previous post, there was much more going on as I was searching out the perfect Christmas present for my second wife who is now deceased. After haunting a few regional antique malls for "treasures", I decided I could go it alone and surprise her with an ideal garden themed gift. First of all, I would like to explain what an antique mall is to those of you who may not be familiar. In our region of the US, antique malls are large to enormous buildings along or near major interstate highways. They are not to be confused with flea markets as most are full of quality antiques from many diverse dealers. Big and small. 

Before I sat out on my own to look for my gifts, I need to point out also I was the ultimate Christmas shopping procrastinator.  Literally, more times than I would care to admit I was the last hurried shopper on Christmas eve before the mall closed. But since I enjoyed the leisurely pace of wondering through a maze of terrific antiques, I always did my best to try to gain a head start on my shopping. Cross dressing and experiencing the process as my authentic feminine self just added to the pleasure. For the day or days I was planning to shop of course I needed to dress to blend and be comfortable, since I was going to have to do quite a bit of walking. So bulky sweaters, jeans and boots were the perfect outfits to fight off the December Ohio chill. Other than the wonderful selections to choose from, there was the problem of finances since many of the vintage garden items I was in the market for were quite expensive. 

Other than costs, the positives of the venues far outweighed the negatives. First of all, my chances were good for finding her that one of kind garden gift such as a vintage seed box from an old hardware store. They were rare and expensive but every now and then I could find one in my price category.  I was fond of referring to my shopping as garden binging as I slowly savored the feel of my feminine clothes as I made my way through the mall. I liked it to because of the laid back atmosphere. Except for the occasional floor clerk who would ask me if he or she could help me, I was rarely approached. I never had a negative response so I must have been doing fairly well in the presentation department. I know I felt confident as I shopped and the number of wonderful mirrors I happened to encounter told me I was doing fine. Back in those days at the least, I needed as much assurance as I could get when I saw my feminine reflection in an antique mirror. This was during the time when I was stuck between being a cross dresser and strongly considering if I could refer to myself as transgender and look at living my life fulltime as a transgender woman. 

The best part was I was able to spend the biggest part of the day as my feminine self, before my wife made it home and I had to be returned to my rapidly disappearing male self. I think now she could see through my gender charade and was waiting for the next foot to fall. But, in the meantime, I was able to find, hide and wrap more than a few wonderful Christmas gifts for her. Who knows, may be it was just my guilty conscience coming through when I went so far out of my way to seek out the perfect gift. After all, it was me who held the key to destroy our relationship by wanting to be a woman. 

In the meantime, I was able to learn from my antique mall experiences. I was able to step away from my usual regular clothing store/mall life and see if I could make it in the real world, perhaps even owning my own small vintage shop. In a different way later I was able to accomplish selling vintage items on on-line sites. In fact I was able to keep myself above water financially for quite a while. Mainly by selling the best gifts I had purchased for my wife before her death. It was the final chapter in many ways of our life together. I often wonder what it would have been like for her to join me in antique mall shopping.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Transgender Winners

Photo from the 
Jessie Hart Collection 

Is there such a thing as a transgender winner? We go through such trauma to achieve our goals to live as our authentic feminine selves. I know I wouldn't wish portions of my life when I tried ill advised cross dressing exploits on anyone. The amount of times I was laughed at, stared at and overall just rejected as a human being was ridiculous. I learned the hard way and relied on my experiences to propel me further on my journey.

When I first started my journeys into the feminine world, my wins were rare but very appreciated. I remember those rare times when I was treated as a woman. Very early I thought I fooled the public before I realized I was just fooling myself. I was always meant to be that way. My feminine inner soul was just expressing herself when I finally allowed her to. Anytime a man opened a door for me, I viewed the act as one of the rare privileges women have. After all how could  anyone mistake opening a door as a courtesy while at the same time I being viewed as the gender with a lesser overall intelligence. I took a small win as a win and moved on.

Probably the biggest win I was able to achieve was when I learned to exist in the world with other women. To look them straight in the eye and attempt to read their feelings about me. I discovered several layers of acceptance existed. The ones who didn't seem to care at all were the biggest group of all. Followed by those who knew I was new in their gender world and wanted to help. Finally, there were the ones who viewed me with disgust which I learned to project their nasty attitude right back at them. I learned to feel sorry for their miserable lives and move on because I also learned I wasn't put on this earth to change anyone's feelings. If I did, well, that was a win!

Even though wins were rare in my transgender universe, I used them as positive fuel to continue to move my feminine dreams forward. For every negative, suddenly I was able to add a number of positives. Proving to myself perhaps I could win and live a successful life as a transgender woman. I can't tell you enough how far away the trans dream was. With a lot of work and a lot of help, I was able to win and be a transgender winner. One award in my life I am quite humble about. 

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Knocked off Another Pedestal

Image from Deva Williamson
on Unsplash

 Recently I participated in a Veterans Administration survey. It primarily revolved my treatment at VA facilities as well as background on my life as a transgender woman. Included within the survey were heavy questions on had I attempted any surgical gender intervention, as well as treatment I had personally received as various VA facilities. As I have said many times, following a very slow and unsure start my treatment has evolved to a positive experience.  

Long ago, I decided at my age, I would decline any and all gender surgeries including facial feminization, breast augmentation all the way to genital realignment surgery. In other words, I decided the numerous and welcome changes I experienced through hormone replacement therapy would be sufficient. My thought pattern was and is my gender is a highly personal matter and was decided by what was between my ears and not my legs. It didn't hurt either the only surgery I had ever undergone was to have my tonsils removed. Who was I to attempt to question success. My rule of thumb was to not undergo any or all unneeded pain. Such as elective gender surgeries.

Overtime I built up a bias towards those who viewed me as less transgender than they were since I have not gone under the surgical knife. While I still think the "transer than thou" ideas of certain post GRS persons is completely unfounded, I understand why some of the younger trans individuals would desire the surgery more than others. An example would be at the age of seventy three, my life is at a point where I am secure where I am currently at as far as my life as a fulltime transgender woman. Again, I don't see surgery giving me any sort of improvement.

The more I thought about the surgical questions in the survey, I put myself in the place of a much younger transgender person. Throughout my younger years, lack of insurance support and financial considerations would very much stop any idea of gender surgical intervention. These days though, there are more and more ways to finance surgery. Even the VA was asking in their survey. Perhaps most importantly there are more and more surgeons who can do a quality GRS and not mutilate their patient. After all, no matter how you cut it (pun intended) genital realignment surgery is a major operation. Major or not, if I was a young transgender person looking ahead at life. If I was in their shoes, I would desire any benefit I could get to live my life as happily as I could. 

Luckily when I fell off my pedestal, I didn't hurt myself. Plus I realize also many older transgender adults go through GRS for any number of reasons. I'm sure many see the surgery as a natural progression in their gender lives. Sadly our trans community puts too many up on their own pedestals as they try to find a way to look down on others. It's a human condition.      

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Should We Stay or Go

Perhaps you have heard of former Navy Seal Kristin Beck deciding to de transition from Kristin (a transgender woman) back to their original male self Chris Beck. 

I have followed Beck for years. In fact I donated a few dollars to their political campaign many years ago.

Image Courtesy 
Chris/Kristin Beck


While I was not so disappointed they de-transitioned, I was disappointed when I thought what anti transgender activists would make of the move. We transgender women and trans men are under too much pressure to begin with. Regardless, it is everyone's personal prerogative to do what they desire with their gender. 

I'm sure in most of our gender journeys at one time or another we have thought about going back to our previous selves. If I go back to my early purges when I threw out most of my feminine belongings, each time I felt this was it. I would never have the desire to look like or be a woman again. It never failed, after a very brief period of gender relief, I would always go back to what turned out to be a return to a strong desire to replenish my wardrobe of feminine necessities. In fact, not only did I add new items to my "collection" I was able on occasion to add accessories from other cross dresser acquaintances who decided to purge at approximately the same time. One in particular had to empty out his secret storage unit before his unapproving spouse caught on. As I remember, I inherited a very realistic set of silicon breast forms I couldn't easily afford.  

As I slowly stair stepped my way up the cross dressing ladder. I became too serious and ended up quickly separating myself from the so called "hobbyists" who claimed they casually put on women's clothes as a hobby. I found I more closely aligned myself with the more serious cross dressers who were headed towards living fulltime as what was known in those days as a transsexual. I had no idea if I was able to give up my successful male life to do it but on occasion I felt so natural when I was in feminine mode, I didn't see how I could ever give it up and return to a fulltime male life. I remember vividly the parties I went to at a friends house in nearby Columbus, Ohio which usually always included an impossibly feminine person or two I could measure myself against as I tried to determine my gender status. 

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to go through the stress and tension it would take to go through a transgender transition in a very public eye. We all were witness to the overall debacle which was the Jenner transition. Now we have the Chris Beck de-transition to deal with. I hate to think both of these ill fated moves has determined what people may think about me. What we, as transgender people, need to prove is we are not going back to our old selves not even thinking how easy it would be. Plus I wonder, no matter what, if one could jump the gender frontier without having lasting memories of how easy or difficult it was to live our truths. 

I just hope de-transitioners finally find their happiness.  

Friday, December 9, 2022

It Feels Like a Dream

Liz on my left
from the Jessie Hart Archives

Today is my therapy day which happens two times a month. I have been fortunate in that I have had the same Veteran's Administration psychologist since the beginning for nearly ten years now. She has been by my side through several difficult times such as providing me documents I needed for my legal name change. as well as HRT.

Looking back at the decade, the whole feminization process seems like a dream mainly because of the hormone replacement therapy my therapist helped me to be approved for. Overall the process has been positive for me. An example was this morning when it was one of the days I change my Estradiol patches for my HRT. It's the time I have a chance to reflect on all the changes I have gone through. Although my breast size and hair growth has evened out, it seems it is time now for my hips to develop. I can really feel the difference when I put my jeans or leggings on. Some days I feel just like a teenaged girl going through puberty. 

Most likely it is because of the time I spent acting as if I was a successful man. All of the time I spent cross dressing as a guy I was dreaming of what it would be like to live as a fulltime transgender woman. Now that I am here, I know I have made the right decision. Not only do I live a feminine life, I have found a loving spouse to share my new life with. How fortunate can a person be? There is no way I thought I would make it this far in life to begin with and be with someone else again for the rest of my life. I thought my quota of people who loved me, such as my ex wives would be over when my second wife passed away. I was prepared to live the rest of my life alone.

I found out too, my successful transgender dream was far from me achieving it alone. I was fortunate to have found such wonderful people to help me along the way. Of course I already mentioned my therapist and my wife Liz but there were so many others who made my dream a realty by accepting  me for who I was. A prime example was when I first moved in with Liz and started to go with her to her Wiccan meetings. I was accepted into the circle with no strings attached. The entire process gave me the confidence to move forward in my life. I thank Debra among others for the help. Plus I cannot forget women such as Kim and Nikki who taught me so much about the feminine world and made it possible to live my dream. 

Lessons learned included realizingly living a feminine life meant so much more than just doing my best to perfect a feminine presentation. All along I knew women lived a much more layered and challenging life than a man but now I had to try to live it by walking and talking many miles in their shoes. 

Dreams are fleeting and often are mixed in with nightmares if you are not careful. Slip ups and set backs are always a part of the process. When the process involves gender dysphoria and changes, the dream becomes that much more challenging. But then again so rewarding when your dreams come true.

Finally thanks to all of you who read my blogging. Your visits and interaction make the effort so worthwhile. 

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Maybe It is About You

Paula from https://paula-paulasplace.blogspot.com sent in this response on my recent post about gender transitions being selfish:

Photo Courtesy
Paula Godwin

" I am reminded of an occasion when my wife said to me "Not everything is about gender" I feel for very similar reasons. My whole world had become centred on my own gender identity ~ for me at that point everything was about gender, and how I could resolve my issues.

I had become very selfish and my need for resolution was all consuming. Although I loved my wife and wanted to preserve our marriage, I needed to sort myself out before I could try to do that, and by the time I had sorted myself out it was too late.

Of course transition is selfish, we do it for ourselves, it is our resolution to an existential problem, and there will be casualties along the way, casualties in the form of relationships, careers, status etc. Sometimes we have to be selfish just to survive."

Thank you Paula for such a thoughtful comment.  Sadly you are correct when you consider what a transgender person has to go through to complete a gender transition. We do normally have to undergo an almost complete interactive experience to follow our path to our authentic selves. We even take it to another level when we expect our spouses to come along in our journeys. Often to the point of wanting them to provide gender secrets they learned the hard way as they were progressing towards their own woman hood. My theory is no one is born a woman or a man, it is a socialization process. In nearly no one's case do they have any experience to start with with another transgender woman or trans man. So it takes extra time for spouses or friends to adjust and accept the new you. Too many don't stay around long enough to realize the improvement you realized with your transition. With the weight of the world lifted off our transgender shoulders we become better humans.

It is also true we have to be selfish to survive. The will to open the gender closet door and explore as our previously hidden true selves just becomes too much to live with. One reason for the extremely high number of suicides in the transgender community. In other words we find ourselves between a lifetime of living between a rock and a hard place. Often a beloved spouse is the rock and our gender dysphoria is the hard place. I found myself living that life for years and it nearly destroyed me. My old male self just didn't want to give up all the privileges I had accumulated and my second wife flat out refused to live with me as another woman. Similar to Paula I had to be selfish just to survive. I am of the opinion also you have to learn to love yourself before you can fully love another. 

Another of the hardest problems to explain to an non understanding person is we had absolutely no choice when we decided to complete our gender transition. Proving we are not going through a phase or some sort of fetish is often a long or even impossible process. This process proves once again we need realistic and/or sympathetic characters in the media or in the public eye to prove once again we transgender folk are not so different from anyone else. The only problem is at one point the gender process had to be all about ourselves for survival. 




Monday, November 28, 2022

The Stairstep Method

 Probably there are as many ways to complete a gender transition as there are transgender women and

Image Courtesy
Darius Cotoi on UnSplash

trans men. We are like snowflakes, no one is alike. Over time I have thought I was everything from a gender rat in a maze to someone climbing a steep set of stairs. As it turned out, many of the steps were steeper than others. 

Very early my first steps were basically quick and painless. I snuck around and acquired a small collection of women's clothes, added some of my Mom's makeup and I thought I looked just like a cute girl. My time on this stairstep didn't last long because fairly quickly the realization came to me I just didn't want to look like a girl, I wanted to be one. A huge difference I didn't realize was the earliest precursor to living a transgender life. From the point forward I decided my time on the step would be limited and I climbed to the next step. 

The next step involved me finding a paper route and doing odd jobs around the house and neighborhood to earn my own money which would go towards buying and expanding my small feminine stash of clothes, makeup and even a pair of shoes. During the process I was scared to death to do my own shopping and couldn't believe the bewildering selections of especially makeup there were. Undeterred though I still shopped and finally achieved a level of success. The success would just encourage me to climb another step. By this time I was frustrated by two main things, the first was the fact I had no way to afford a nice wig and the second was I couldn't do my shopping cross-dressed as a girl. What happened was I needed to spend years on this stairstep before I could advance to the next one. 

The years I waited mainly was because of about this time I was waiting to see what the Vietnam War military draft would mean to me and yes the wait was hell. The wait nearly went on as that god forsaken war did and finally I was drafted out of college and chose the Army due to their offer of the job I was interested in. Little did I know, the lessons I learned in the military would serve me well in my life and encourage me to climb another very steep step. An example was the day we were on a very long and hilly forced march in basic and I learned to never look back and look forward to the future if I just kept pushing forward. Many of you regular readers know also during my time in the Army was when I first came out as a transvestite to a few close friends.

After I had successfully completed my military service, the steps appeared to be less steep and easier to climb. Encouraged by several very successful Halloween parties when I appeared as a feminine person, I found I could possibly climb the ultimate step and transition to a full time transgender woman. The problem was I soon tried to climb too many steps way too quickly and even had to retreat back a time or two and refocus on exactly what I was trying to do. Major decisions on sexuality, friends, spouses were just a few problems I had to face.  Plus, once I had climbed this many steps fairly successfully I had to decide if I wanted to take another giant step and begin hormone replacement therapy. Once I finally took the step I found HRT was one of the best steps I have ever taken in my life. Finally my inner soul had another chance to sync up with my testosterone poisoned exterior. 

All I can hope for at this time of my life for a good as possible health and a chance to pass on with dignity as my chosen authentic self. The final stairstep.     

Sunday, November 27, 2022

More Conversation

Joanna S sent in this very relevant comment on yesterday's post concerning the conversation I had with my son in law on Thanksgiving. It primary revolved around his family's acceptance of me as an out transgender woman. I mentioned also this was somehow the first conversation I had initiated with him in over a decade. To this, Joanna replied:

"It is very difficult sometimes to have open conversations especially with people who knew us in different wrapping. Here we can be our own worst enemies and assume we know what they are thinking so we clam up. It's an ongoing process of being kind to ourselves as well as others."

Thanks for the comment! I know I have two of the issues Joanna S mentioned. The first is early in my days of coming out of my gender closet I automatically and sometimes completely unfairly formed ideas of what others were thinking of me. It wasn't until the confidence in my feminine self grew that I was doing the right thing transitioning that I began to not care as much or little ( if at all) care what others think of me. It worked because I literally learned not everything in the world revolved around me as a transgender woman. Most of the world just didn't care. Plus, being kind to myself was something else I carried with me from my previous male self. I was very self destructive and it took many years and my wife Liz to relearn how I could actually be kind to myself. 

On any level, obviously any conversation is good when it comes to the LGBTQ community and especially the transgender tribe. Can you imagine how beneficial it could be for all these politicians writing all these harmful anti transgender bills  for once  sit down and get to know a transgender person.  It goes too for all of us within the transgender community. Those who want to put themselves up on pedestals for so many reasons, Examples are being more transgender than you are because of the surgeries they have gone through or they are a better trans person because they transitioned earlier in life. It's difficult on occasion to even have a conversation between ourselves, let alone others who have no understanding at all. 

In fact, it was primarily an often terse discussion with people we called "Trans Nazi's" which led to essentially my conversations with Connie which then led to me to begin to write this blog. By "Trans Nazi's" I mean those who did battle with us on claiming we were transgender at all since we had not gone through any gender surgeries. Seemingly the Nazi's had carried over their old male ego's into their new feminine lives. At the time we all were enjoying the benefits of being able to hide behind our keyboards with our comments. Most likely if we were meeting face to face, our comments may have been more affable. Leading all of us to be kind to others. 

My pedestal is non existent for any of this. It took me years and most likely quite a bit of age and estrogen to mellow out. My partial proof is the fact it took me a decade to have any sort of a quality conversation with my son in law. In todays divided country conversation seems a far away possibility. Plus all sorts of issues such as gender privilege and mistrust get in the way. Not long ago I wrote a post

Photo Courtesy Paula

called why "Men Don't Trust Me" to which Paula replied:

Two thoughts come to mind, one is " I have nothing against masculinity, indeed I rather like, just not in me!" the other is a phrase that I find I keep using in all sorts of situations, "Nothing makes you understand privilege like giving up" Well said!

One of the reasons I so hurt myself was tied into Paula's comments. I still on occasion liked the male life I had worked so hard to maintain and didn't want to give up.  Trying to live my everyday life in both binary genders nearly tore me to pieces. I was fortunate in that I was able to establish conversations with cis women to learn from and then reestablish myself as a transgender woman. At that point my inner feminine soul took over and life became so much better.



Friday, November 25, 2022

My First Black Friday

Prior to finally getting out of the closet and beginning to explore the world as my true feminine self, I always considered The Black Friday estrogen filled shopping experience as one I would never be able to explore.

Image Courtesy Marcus Spiske
on UnSplash

As luck would have it, my time to make it out with the largely feminine masses who frequent the Black Friday shopping experience was about  to happen. For those of you who may be across the pond and not know, Black Friday comes on the day after Thanksgiving and normally offers all sorts of sales to entice shoppers to spend their money. My second wife was a big fan (until she found herself in a retail job) and rarely missed a chance to shop very early. Often with a couple of her best women friends. Leaving me to be quite envious.

Finally since my wife was working the day shift at the bookstore she managed,  I saw my opening to be free to explore my first Black Friday shopping experience with many other women. Back in those days it took me longer to get ready and femininize myself so I sat my alarm to go off approximately the time I knew my wife would be leaving. Following making sure she had safely departed I climbed out of bed, knocked down a cup of coffee and proceeded to shave my legs and face. New pamty hose followed  by my bra, false breasts and padded hips. The excitement was building as I carefully applied my makeup and reached for my fuzzy oversized warm sweater which I wore with a knee length skirt, flats for comfortable mall walking and my blond shoulder length wig. Once I was satisfied with the way I looked, off I went to meet the great unknown, as a woman. 

Predictably, parking spaces were at a premium but I was able to park fairly close to the side entrance I always used. Once I was inside the mall, I was used to where I should try to go to pick up an extra gift or two and I was not surprised to see the crowd was at least two thirds women. All of which made it easier for me to blend in. As the morning progressed, I made my way through the mall with no problems what so ever since everyone else was in their own worlds and on a shopping mission. Giving them very little time to notice a stray transgender woman in their midst. 

Back in those days also I had sort of a cross dressing "bucket list" of new feminine experiences I just had to try to see if I could accomplish them. Braving the crowds of Black Friday shopping was on the list to conquer. Once I did make it through the experience I wondered what all the fuss was about. Similar to my women's restroom experiences. So called "sacred spaces" reserved for cis women just weren't that special to me. 

On the plus side, I was able to buy several gifts for my shopping list which were much more fun to shop for as a woman rather than my old male self. Once I accomplished going through a real live Black Friday experience successfully. I was finished with the thrill and actually have never done it again. I replaced it with trips to antique malls to search for vintage gifts for my wife who was really into gardening. 

All in all, discovering the vintage garden gifts made for better gifts anyhow and was more fun to do. So I was able to accomplish two priorities at once  The problem was when I had to return home with my treasures and have to return to my male cross dressed life. I couldn't wait until I could shed my old male clothes and sneak out the door as my feminized self again. When I was able to buy my wife a gift at the same time, it made it all so worthwhile.