Showing posts with label queer life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label queer life. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

It's a Marathon

 Perhaps you have heard the saying "It's a marathon, not a race." The saying really applies to transgender women and trans men. Recently on social media I have seen several posts from novice cross dressers or transgender women or more or less put on a dress and began to proclaim they were a woman. I was a little more than slightly amused until they started to threaten self harm. To which I replied be patient, your gender journey is a marathon not a race to see if you can be prettier than the next person with the heavily doctored and filtered pictures on social media. 

Photo from
the Jessie Hart
Archives


Having gone through a long life time living with my own brand of gender dysphoria, I realize by some I am criticized for waiting so long to transition myself. But on the other hand, I took myself through very specific steps which happened to sometimes take a little longer than I thought the journey would or should take. As a matter of fact, there were a number of years when I didn't think I could reach my goal of living a feminine life at all. Along the way also destiny played a part in my hanging on to cross dressing as a man while my feminine soul was screaming to be released into the world. Had I not went into the military against my will, I would never had met the woman who birthed my only child. A very supportive daughter with a transgender child of her own. In addition, the military sent me around the world to two other continents to expand my social horizons. All in all my three years in the Army turned out to be time well spent.

When in reality, I have never been a long distance runner, something deep down within me was telling me to keep moving ahead with my transgender goals. Suddenly I realized I was going to have to transition more than once. There was the time I finally decided I needed to move away from being a cross dresser. I had had enough of trying to look like a woman and wanted to see if I could live as one also. This move led to all sorts of terrifying yet satisfying adventures in the real world as I sought to blend in and even play as an equal in the girl's sandbox. Following what I thought was a semi successful transition to being a transgender woman, the need to begin hormone replacement therapy set in. About that time during my marathon, the only real roadblock to transitioning came from my second wife. When she unexpectedly and tragically passed away at the age of fifty from a massive heart attack, my path to transitioning was suddenly wide open. I started HRT which began to feminize my male exterior and forced my hand in telling what family and friends I had left my deep dark gender secret. Another serious transgender transition had started. 

I even had it easier in my marathon because I didn't have to attempt to change my sexuality around when I found women friends to socialize with almost immediately. Men never seemed to trust me so I took advantage of the fact women seemed to. I ended up having a great time hanging out with and learning from my small group of cis women friends. 

Perhaps the biggest mountain I didn't have to climb in my marathon was I never desired any major surgeries desired by other transgender women. In other words I didn't need facial feminization surgery or even genital realignment surgery to allow me to feel more feminine. My gender was definitely between my ears. At this point it is important to me to say this is just my marathon and I feel each others transition is as different as they are. Plus I am quite envious of the younger transgender population who have understanding parents and wonderful medical care to begin their own marathons. Even with those advantages there will still be many challenges ahead as they face their lives.

It is indeed a gender marathon we run and no matter how you live it, you have to be strong to survive. 

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. 




Sunday, December 4, 2022

It's Not All About You

During my often one sided obsessive goal to be a better transgender woman, my second wife often told me it all wasn't about me. The truth be known, it was all about me. At the time my one sided gender obsession only included her when I wanted to go out with her to dinner dressed as a woman. It was normally all good when she caved in and decided to go out with my feminine self. The problem was,

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

she didn't like my woman self. I believe now it all started with my propensity to dress as what I considered in a sexy nature. To no avail, even when I attempted to dress down for her, it was never enough. It was probably because she felt I hadn't learned enough about what being a woman was all about for me to be considered worthy to be one in her eyes. Along the way she had always accepted the fact I was a cross dresser but never entertained any thoughts of me going on hormone replacement therapy and transition my exterior self to a woman. 

All along I learned and accepted it was all about me. The end result was it was my life and I was attempting to live it the best I could. It just so happened my internal problems with life centered on my gender dysphoria which could be a very visible problem to conquer in public. As I tried my best to present as a woman, I would do things such as wearing sunglasses to see if others were staring at me all the way to trying to look in a mirror at peoples reflections to see if they were looking at me. Eventually I learned it indeed wasn't all about me. The great majority of people had their lives to lead and didn't really want to include me in their lives. 

In other words, my wife was right for perhaps not all the right reasons. She of course was considering the future of a possibly fast disappearing relationship to consider. While I was considering if I could salvage the marriage at all with my gender issues weighing me down. She had to decide what the future would hold.  Since I dearly loved her the entire process was torture for me. 

By now you probably have considered the fact it all was all about me. Call it selfish or not I ended up doing what ever I could to survive. My premise all along was gender was one of the most powerful decisions we ever have to consider in our lives was proven to be correct so many times. The fact the vast majority of people don't have to worry about it at all was a benefit to them. They never had to wake up in the morning wondering what gender I would have to be that day. I would not wish the experience on anyone. 

Perhaps, most importantly I learned the hard way I finally made the right decision as far as my gender transition was concerned. When I became a full time transgender woman I became a better person. Partly because such a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. I was so tired of living a life cross dressed as a man. I say that because it turned out my dominate personality was female. A fact I knew all along but didn't have the personal courage to face. 

It was all about me. 

Friday, December 2, 2022

Living our Transgender Passion

 Most certainly living out a dream to change a gender requires a lot of passion. As a matter of fact, a life time of passion. 

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

Early in life I was guilty of living in the mirror and pretending I was a pretty girl but at the same time I knew I had deeper issues. Such as when someone asked me exactly what I wanted to be later in life, I dutifully answered a lawyer, or architect or something similar. My inner truth was telling me all I really wanted to do was grow into the woman I always wanted to be. Naturally, I kept the opinion to myself to avoid all sorts of potential problems. Little did I know my ultimate desire to live a feminine life would never leave me. It would just become stronger over the years as I learned my passion could indeed be achieved.

As I am finding out from more and more readers of the blog our pre-internet upbringing had more to do with holding back our gender growth than we could have imagined. In other words, our gender closets remained smaller and darker than they should have because we had very little ways to reach out to others with the same situation. As I remember it took me all the way until I was in my thirties (in the mid 1970's) before I met another transvestite. As we were called back in those days. Once I was able to meet others who lived fairly close to me, they fueled my passion to explore further if I could follow my goal to live more as a woman. Two of my acquaintances became role models of sorts when they went from so called cross dressers to undergoing genital realignment surgery in the several years which I knew them. I was fairly certain "going all the way" surgically wasn't for me but the fact still remained I still was fueled by my age old passion to live as a woman. To me, it wasn't so much about what was between my legs which was driving me as much as what was going on between my ears in my noggin. 

As I took all of this into consideration, it became clear to me the path I had to take would become increasingly difficult. The more I learned about the new term "transgender" at the time, the more I felt it described me. The tough part was figuring out what to do about it. What happened was a series of disjointed often mis-guided steps towards achieving my goal of leading a transgender life. I found in order to do it I had to completely transition again. Somehow I needed to move from being a cross dresser and looking like a woman to being transgender and following my passion to live as a woman.  After a series of successes helped me to accomplish my goal, I finally developed the courage to leave my male life and all the privileges' I had earned behind. Before I did, trying to live a life with one foot in each of the binary genders nearly killed me. I am sure others have been more successful than me trying to do it. I just couldn't. 

Passion is a difficult creature. For some it is an all out driver to take on and achieve a goal while with others passion provides a more even path to success. Plus it helps also when you can savor a few successes along the way. On occasion I look back and think maybe a higher power was guiding my path and passion because of all the dark times I spent wondering if I was doing the right thing. Or all the times I "purged" (threw out) all my feminine possessions only to reacquire them again. I should have known following my first purge, none of the future purges would work either. Passion just proved to be too powerful.    

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Why Do I Write

 

Image Courtesy Aaron Burden
on UnSplash

As I took on the challenges years ago of writing a daily transgender non fiction based blog, many questions came about. During the years, often who my audience was began to change. Initially I thought my readers would be primarily transitioning gender women and men who may be able to benefit from the lessons I learned. I mentioned transgender men because I know of several who read the blog including one who was my first date with a guy. It was quite the experience. I added non fiction because I see so many fantasy based blogs with their filtered pictures, I felt along the way somehow without being over bearing I had to explain all of these experiences really happened to me and they were not stories. I couldn't make all this up if I wanted to. 

Because I had so many errors in my trial and error periods of my life, I  decided to write about them. When I did I  began to receive so many good comments. I kept it up again hoping I could help someone else. The old don't do what I did sermon which I never listened to anyhow. Like going out to public spaces dressed as a teenaged slutty girl in my oversized male body. It's no wonder my second wife didn't approve of the way I cross dressed most of the time. Luckily, it didn't take me very long to grow out of this phase of my transgender life.

 During this time I considered (and still do) my main reader audience to be transitioning transgender women. I had a real pleasant shock when I received comments from wives trying to understand their spouses gender issues. Then I considered adding more information which may be important to a wife. Until  I thought I wasn't or shouldn't be in a position to offer any advice because I did such a poor job communicating my gender challenges during my marriages. Finally, I thought if anyone learns from my past mistakes again it is a good thing. 

Currently I think transgender women and men of age are my primary audience as well as a small group of people who allowed me to join their circle of friends when I so desperately needed it. I could name a few names but I am afraid I would leave someone out. Also recently I have discovered a growing group of transgender veterans on both platforms I write for, Google and Medium who share similar experiences to me when they served in the military. It always has been amazing to me how the dark days before the internet and social media affected us all as we had little to no help when we battled our gender struggles. A battle we may have to have never fought if we had access to the transgender information which is available today.

Probably, the group I leave out for no particular reason are the crossdressers. Even though I can certainly write, I spent a half century as a crossdresser, I think I don't spend enough time including them in my writings. Or, worse yet end up sounding as if I am better than someone else because I started hormone replacement therapy and made the move to living full time as a transgender woman. Without the lessons I learned from my crossdressing days both as a man and woman I would have never made it to the life I live today. 

 

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.     

Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Levels of Transition

 

Photo Courtesy Parris
Freeman on UnSplash

Over the years I slowly came to the realization there were many levels of a gender transition. As I climbed walls during my journey, I was seemingly stuck forever in a gender maze. Often my frustration reached crisis levels as I tried to live as my authentic self. Every time I thought I had conquered a wall or turned a corner, another wall appeared. On the days when I was out exploring the world as my feminine self for the first time I thought I was looking my best only to have my walk or talk give me away. I even went as far as practicing my walk when I was cross dressed as a man late nights in big box stores. I am sure more than a couple store detectives were amused when and if they caught me on store cameras. It took me years to try to put my male past behind me and move forward. 

Finally it occurred to me I was doing something all wrong. Through my gender haze I was neglecting to realize I was escaping one closet into another I would have to transition out of. This realization led me to the evening at a well known casual dining/bar venue when I decided I was going to try to blend in with the mall worker women who came in after their shifts. For the evening I chose my favorite outfit. A black pants suit which was dressy to a point without becoming overwhelming. I decided to wear my favorite matching black flats and shoulder length blond wig. Climbing this wall in flats was terrifying and I ended up sitting outside the venue for a half an hour before I gathered my courage to go in.

Once I was situated at the bar and was able to breathe again, I knew my life had changed and I could never go back to being a closeted cross dresser. I felt so natural! Plus more importantly I had the chance to climb my latest wall and see a portion of what could lie ahead in my life. In the dim distance I actually could see myself actually transitioning again into a transgender woman. The more I considered it, the more complex the idea became. At the time I was still married to my second wife who never approved of any idea of taking hormone replacement therapy and living more and more as a transgender woman. She said she never signed up to live with another woman. Of course there were many other problems to consider such as having a job and losing friends and family. All of these walls to climb became unbearable at times and I resorted to trying to bottle up all my emotions along with hitting the bottle (alcohol) way too much.

What happened was all of the sudden my life was to change drastically as I went into a very dark period. I was knocked for a loop when I lost three very close friends to cancer and my second wife to a heart attack. The only good thing that happened was all of a sudden the dark clouds parted and my path to transitioning to a transgender woman appeared. During this time was even when the Veterans Administration approved using HRT for gender dysphoric veterans. Since I was already in the VA health care system, taking advantage of the program wasn't too difficult and helped me to afford the treatment. 

Years later after I transitioned into living a full time life as a transgender woman, I considered I would never  encounter many more walls to climb. But now I face the greatest transition of all. The final crossing from this life to whatever may or may not lie ahead. Plus what will happen to me during my final days if I end up in an assisted living facility or nursing home. These days I have steeled myself to jumping off that bridge when I come to it. 

So all in all, transgender women and trans men don't have it so different than anyone else who lives a long life. There are built in transitions to consider. We trans and LGBTQ folk just have more to consider.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

All I Ever Wanted

 If you would have asked me when I was young what I really wanted to be when I grew up, the honest answer would have been to be a woman. That's right. When all the other boys my age wanted to be sports stars, corporate presidents or whatever, my goal was so simple yet so difficult. Somehow I needed to lead a feminine lifestyle. 

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

How to arrive there was the problem. The first hassle I ran into was my impending date with the Vietnam war military draft. I tried to outrun the draft as long as I could by attending and graduating college but was finally caught when my draft lottery number came up to 23. Which meant my fate was sealed. I immediately began looking for the military branch which offered a job classification as close as possible to the job I was doing when I went to college. I worked at a local small radio station which was owned by a fairly powerful congressman. Through his influence, I was able to secure a spot in the Army's Defense Information School which in turn enabled me to be eligible to work in the American Forces Radio and Television system. This was very fortunate of course but none of it served to help me to achieve my goal of being a transgender woman. 

After the Army I was able to resume my journey in earnest. This was my time to explore living a feminine lifestyle out of the mirror by sneaking out of the house when I could all the way to the exciting Halloween parties I went to. Over this period of time I learned many lessons the hard way but on the other hand I was learning leading a feminine life in a women's world was indeed possible. 

Ironically,  the more I learned, the more I needed to learn. The life I so desperately wanted to pursue still was far away. An example is when I learned how walking in heels was fine, looking other women in the eye when I communicated with them wasn't as easy. Plus, surely wearing a frilly nightgown or lingerie was wonderful but it ultimately didn't help me in the regular world where other woman were wearing jeans and sweaters. Somehow I needed to temper what I thought would happen when I jumped out of my gender closet to what was really happening. 

Another problem is I have a mind which I really have to push to stay on a topic or goal. It's the primary reason most of my posts don't go over three minutes in length. I have this problem which ended up serving me well when I was making all my early cross dressing mistakes. After the countless times I was laughed at and came home crying, I was able to fairly quickly go back to my feminine drawing board and try again. The major problem I discovered was when I learned to stop my expectations of how men viewed me and begin to focus how the women viewed me. Once I began to focus on women, I began to present easier and I could concentrate on letting my long suffering feminine inner person out and into the world. 

From that point forward when my wife Liz said it best to me, when she asked what type of woman would I want to become. Would I bounce out of bed every morning and do my makeup and hair with heels and hose or would I rely on casual jeans, T-shirts and tennis shoes for everyday non public wear. Since I always have a difficult time waking up in the morning, I chose to settle in to the casual feminine lifestyle. Hormone replacement therapy has helped me also with adopting a casual lifestyle since I have my own long hair, soft skin, breasts and developing hips to reassure my femininity. I know who I am now the world needs to accept me also. 

All I ever wanted was to lead a feminine life and I finally made it but it was a long struggle. My life was certainly a marathon not a race. 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Forces of Nature

No matter how you cut it, women are the stronger gender excepting purely physical attributes. Other than the physical part, women have to do it all. From raising a family to earning a living women  have to do it all. Plus it seems these days there are more and more single mothers taking the family on single handily.


All of this begs the question why would a man give up all of their male privileges to transition to living as a transgender woman. The answers are obvious to those of us who have accomplished the gender transition, primarily we had no choice. It was transition or die. Many of us, including me lived a very self destructive life dealing with our gender dysphoria.   

It amuses me (negatively of course) when other people think we are going through a phase or think we are engaged in some sort of an evil game. Perhaps our potential gender power scares them or they are still living in the years when the media portrayed us as evil people dressing up as the opposite gender for purely criminal reasons. 

As we all found out on our own gender journeys we discovered the path often had more twists and turns than we bargained for. In my case, my first discovery came when I discovered I had to go much farther than just appearing as a woman to live as one. I wish I could easily go back over the ten years and six thousand plus blog posts to write a time capsule on my journey. Simplified  early on my writings involved primarily my appearance. Then after I progressed past the appearance aspect of cross dressing, I progressed into attempting to  see if I could actually progress and thrive in a feminine world. As I moved forward it became increasingly evident I had a long way to go. I knew I wanted to experience the multi layered life cis women go through but I had no idea where my journey would take me. Here is another example,

When I was partying and being accepted by my women friends, I established  a base to work from as I strived to establish my new life. After I did was when I moved in with my wife Liz and began to further increase my circle of acquaintances who had never met my former self. They viewed me as just another person in their circle and made me feel welcome. Even in these groups I felt more comfortable with the other women. I never felt really comfortable with many of the men. Which in many cases was no more different than when I was growing up and later in life when I had very few male friends. 

The final result to my gender search was I had made the correct decision. The more I progressed in life I found out what my wife told me was true. Back in those days I didn't have any real conception what a woman was all about. Women's lives certainly ranged much further than just pretty clothes and well applied makeup. How women communicated with other women is always my go to example as to how different the genders can be. 

Women are the true forces of nature and it the real reason deep down men fear them so much. A prime example is a former president I don't have to mention.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Burning Transgender Bridges

 I am relatively certain  there are not many transgender women or trans men who haven't burned a few personal bridges on their journey to finding their authentic selves. I thought of this topic yesterday when I was watching a television show on the PBS network. The episode partially revolved around the main character and bridges. I am far from a structural engineer but I vaguely understood the  concept of bridges needing tension on both sides to succeed in their duties of carrying traffic to the other side. 

Image Credit Romeo Varga
on Unsplash

Immediately I equated the concept of bridge tension with the gender tension transgender people feel as they attempt to straddle the two main binary genders. What more tension could a human face and conquer? For many, including me, relieving myself of the gender pressure led me to burning bridges in my life. In fact I was notorious for being self destructive and burning my bridges so I couldn't return. Often the flames were so high I lost tract of where I was. Especially when I began to go into my own restaurant venue dressed as my feminine self. Thinking I wouldn't be recognized. Of course I was and it didn't take long for the gossip to spread about me. Not the smartest idea I ever had. 

Deep down I am sure now, I wanted the world to know my secret of wanting to live a feminine lifestyle full time. Regardless of the risks involved of discovery I forged ahead with trips outside of my house which had the potential to ruin the male life I struggled so hard to build. On the other hand, everytime I took a chance to leave my closet and live a new exciting life, I felt so natural. Which in turn led me forward to more intensive trips out of my closet. I guess through it all, I was experimenting how I would build my new life when and if the time came to live it. In many ways it was when the true challenges began.

As I rebuilt my transgender bridge, I had to guess at and then build my bridge to fit the process. How would I ever learn how to blend in and then communicate with both genders once my bridge was built. Again and again I conquered my fears and set out to live. I learned the hard way the inner communication rules of women and for the most part the fact men didn't want much to do with me except to treat me as some sort of a fantasy object. Which was the furthest thing on my mind.  I only wanted to be validated as a woman in my own mind.

Over time, I began to become very good on how I built my new bridge. After more errors than successes my life suddenly became so much easier and again so natural The entire process slowly but surely reinforced in my mind how much I never wanted to cross back to my old life of cross dressing and doing my best to act like a male. 

Years later I have been able to stop burning my bridges. I  was able, thanks to many others,  who helped build in supports to my life as I learned and went along. Another way of saying my own personal infra structure was sound and I could move forward as a secure transgender woman.  

Friday, November 11, 2022

Thanks to all Veterans

 It's Veteran's Day which means it is time again for my annual Veteran's Day post. Since I am a transgender veteran I understand the day may be a little more special to me but it shouldn't. Our country may not be in the best of condition, just imagine where would we be without the selfless sacrifices of veterans over the years. 


My special consideration on Veteran's Day goes out to all the veterans who paid the ultimate price with their lives. How many vets went to their graves not being able to live as their authentic selves as their preferred genders. In addition, how many vets joined the military seeking to prove their worth as a man? We will never know how many servicemen and women lay silent in their graves still withholding their gender secrets.

During my service time, I was in the military way before the so called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era when supposedly you were protected from harassment and/or penalties if you were part of the LGBTQ community. Of course, similar to so many other factors which are decided when you compare discrimination between lesbian and/or gay people and transgender individuals. I have heard it referred to as it is much easier to hide gay than trans. 

When I was in the Army in the mid 1970's I actually came out of my gender closet to a very few of my closest friends. During one extended evening drinking wonderful and powerful German beer, I blurted out the reason for my Halloween "costume" was it wasn't a costume at all. I was what I was referred to back then was called  a transvestite and I sometime preferred wearing women's clothes. I was fortunate in that none of them said anything about me to our superiors and nothing happened. When I/we sobered up, I kept my mouth shut and nothing ever happened. But it certainly could have. Being a transvestite or transgender or cross dresser would not have mattered to my superiors and I could have possibly been dishonorably discharged from the Army because of any of them. As I said, I was able to scurry back into my gender closet and survived the final year of my military service unscathed. In fact I was even offered a promotion if I re-upped for one more year of service. I declined and moved forward and even ended up marrying one of the people I came out to who was also in the Army. Eventually she gave birth to my only beloved daughter.

Here on the blog, I occasionally hear from other transgender veterans who took a similar path in the military during the Vietnam War era. Rather than be drafted many of us took the three year enlistment option to be able to be trained in specialized fields which served us well in life. In my case too, I continue to rely on the Veterans' Administration for my health care and medications. So I guess you could say I was repaid many times over  for my three years of service.

Regardless, if you served or not, be sure to take the time out of your busy day to thank a veteran for their service. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Gender Trigger Warning

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 7, 2022

At Least it wasn't Boring

 Looking back at a long transgender life, rather than being a whiney person concerning the experience and feeling sorry for myself, I decided to change directions. Slowly but surely I came to the conclusion my life was actually was fairly entertaining. After all, what would I be doing with all my free time if I wasn't obsessing about being a woman. Even sneaking out of my house cross dressed was a thrill unless I was laughed at. 

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart 

I used to think this time I was in training to be a novice transgender woman could have been better spent obsessing about my work or other hobbies which I was already doing. During this time I was able to secure a really good job in the food industry which helped me to understand more fully what women go through in the work place and the difficulties they faced attempting to balance family and work. 

Also looking back, I would have missed the thrill of learning the first time I could possibly exist in a feminine world and live a life long dream. Then there were the other parties I went to in Columbus, Ohio when I learned I fit in with the transgender women more than the cross dressers. Then, after I figured all of that out, there was the problem of what to do next. I had a good job, family and loving wife to consider. 

If I hadn't decided to go through with my gender transition where would I have been then? Most likely very miserable and lonely after my second wife passed away. I had lost most everything which was dear to me and was experiencing very dark times. As it was, at the first opportunity I chose to seriously consider my feminine inner self as a source of strength. I followed her into another gender world and never looked back. One of the main lessons she taught me was to embrace who I was and try to remember the good times I experienced over the years of learning to be a transgender woman. Not the bad. 

Then there was the catching up time I had to go through to be able to play in the girls sandbox or the time and effort it took to learn to dress like and fully communicate with other women. I equate the process with what genetic females go through when they are socialized as women. It took awhile to shake off old male tendencies so I could grow into the woman I wanted to become. Once I did, I found I could face the world with more confidence than ever before. Plus, the process was sometimes terrifying and far from being boring.

The end result for me being able to live a transgender life was the benefit of being able to experience both sides of the binary genders (male and female.) The knowledge I gained was sometimes painful but so worth it in the end. I know intimately now how testosterone affects a man and how estrogen affects a woman. Priceless knowledge when it comes to never being bored. 

Sunday, November 6, 2022

A Layered Life

One of the many things I admired about women were they are multi faceted human beings. While men were fixated on power such as sports, money and of course other women, the women they were fixated on had so many other facets of their lives to be fixated on. After all, none of us would be here if it wasn't for women birthing us. 

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

The first major thing I fixated on with women was their clothes. They were the pretty gender. Women were able to buy and wear the colorful clothes and obsess on their hair and makeup.  Here I was jealousy and all working hard delivering newspapers and saving my pittance to sneak out and buy my own clothes and makeup. I was fixated and driven to be a girl. 

Why was the good question. As a man all I had to do was compete with other men for my share of the power which came with male privilege especially since I was white. One of the problems I continued to have was I wanted to be chased as a woman, not be the chaser. Little did I know my future would not be with a man but with other women. 

As far as women's attachment to families, I didn't birth my daughter but in many ways we are so close I could have. So I feel comfortable talking about and comparing family stories with other women. The only thing I couldn't share in of course were all the experiences of actual child birth. 

In many ways, I believe hormone replacement therapy has helped me to learn more of what a woman goes through in her daily life. After years of thought I finally came up with a description of my biggest change...my world just softened with the effects of HRT. Slowly I began to notice I could smell and taste better. Plus the most dramatic change other than the emotional ones was when I noticed I was becoming colder faster. I found out the hard way women were not just making up being cold. 

Perhaps you noticed up to this point I had glossed over the extreme emotional differences I felt when the hormones began to kick in their effects. All of a sudden I could cry for the first time in my life. I didn't have to be the stoic male with no emotions. Even when those extremely close to me passed away. I learned also I could cry tears of joy as well as sadness. 

Recently I have experienced life's layers from a feminine viewpoint by going to a wedding (my own) and a very sad funeral. Of course, choosing the right outfit took me right back to my earliest days of wondering what a girls' life would be like. 

Sometimes I feel a portion of the resentment shown to the transgender or LGBTQ community comes from a portion of the population who are afraid of their own feelings about gender. Or, they are too lazy to try to understand the differences in human beings. Cis men choose not to try to understand cis women and vice versa. I found it interesting when I was going through my gender transition, women would come to me for advice about their spouse or boy friend. Perhaps the desire to learn from transgender women or men goes back to the ancient worlds when trans people were worshipped. Or, at the least not discriminated against. 

It all comes back to being able to lead the lives we need to survive as our authentic transgender selves. Layering your life can make the entire difficult journey worth it.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

A Transgender Friend

 Do you have any transgender friends? I myself have many transgender acquaintances but not many I would consider to be friends. Perhaps the entire process is a holdover from my previous male life when I could count the friends I had on one hand. Along the way, right or wrong, I learned to shield myself from other persons. I was good at flirting with women and acting as if I was macho with other men. As I wrote, most of this carried over when I began my gender transition. 

Photo Courtesy 
Racquel

Along the way, I did have a transgender woman (left) acquaintance whom I called a friend. Since that time years ago we went on our very separate ways. She is much younger than I and underwent several body changing operations while I forged forward making the best of what I had. She is the one who told me I passed in the public eye out of sheer willpower. 

Maybe I am too demanding when it comes to expecting friendship to develop from just being an acquaintance. After all, just being transgender is a wonderful starting point to knowing another person. But then again, the transgender community is so segmented it's no wonder many of us struggle to gain what we call a true transgender friend. One problem is when certain social media platforms encourage you to gather an immense number of "friends" . Most of them you have no chance of ever meeting. 

Closer to home, I am fortunate to be able to live close to a fairly large metropolitan area with several well developed LGBTQ organizations. At the least the organizations give transgender women, trans men and even allies/spouses a chance to get together to discuss issues. For others in mostly rural areas, social interaction is limited to on line meetings. Sadly, I notice many of these on line relationships to be extremely limited in duration.

In transition, so many of us lose access to our previous access to friends and family, we become desperately lonely. Too many often fall prey to on line scammers, promising much and delivering heartache. Desperation runs rampant with many transgender people who are seriously lonely.

Finding a true transgender friend has been difficult for me. Mainly because I don't socialize much anymore and I was able to find and hang out with cis women friends as I transitioned. Before that time I could safely say I was a part of the seriously lonely portion of the community. Plus, how I made my way to freedom was one I would not necessarily recommend to others. My salvation involved plenty of alcohol and taking too many ill advised chances on social media. Before I happened upon the friends (yes I said friends) who helped me out of my social funk, I went through many times I was out and out gas lit when it came to a potential date. It's one of many reasons, I cherish the friends I made then to this day.

On the other hand, I know more than several transgender women and men I deeply respect. Even still, I hold out a precious few people I count as friends.  

Friday, November 4, 2022

Do Clothes Make the Woman

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart
 
Early in life when my only feminine experience was with the mirror, I learned quickly my quick visits with my new friend did not last long. Within days I found myself right back where I started. Mostly very confused concerning my gender. None of what I was doing helped me with my youthful desires to be like the other girls my age. Years later I finally learned how I was beating my head against the wall. In reality I was just trying to look like a girl not be one. All of this was occurring way before the internet and social media and in fact long before the term transgender was ever invented. So I was very much on my own except for the occasional issue of "Transvestia" I received in the mail. It's founder Virginia Prince was very much into the theory of all transvestites should be heterosexual to be a member of her organization. 

Which in many ways was alright with me since I considered myself hetero at the time and was until my sexuality did come into question until I was transitioning. None of this helped me to understand clothes do not make the woman. 

It took me years longer to why I felt this way. First of all, I had to look at what I felt made a woman. It turned out, nobody makes anything such as a woman or a man, While it is true most of us are born into one or the other of the binary female or male genders, over the years we have the chance to socialize ourselves and grow into women or men. Secondly as we grow into women or men, clothes are just a way to better present ourselves to the world at large. Early on we transgender women or men learn the more proficient we become at presenting as our authentic selves, the easier our path is when we actually find our way out of the mirror and into the world. 

As I went through the often painful process of separating myself from the mirror, I still was having a difficult time understanding why just presenting well as a woman didn't come close to me having any sort of an idea of what a woman was. In other words, clothes for me were not making the woman. Following many more years of hard earned research and learning, I finally came to the conclusion gender was between the ears for me and likely had been my entire life. Clothes were just an extension of my inner feminine soul. 

Similar to any man attempting to hang on to his frail masculinity, I fought the feelings as long as I  could. Finally one night I decided to let my feminine self have her way totally. Now I wish I would  have manned up and did it years ago. 

I found out the hard way clothes do not make the woman. You do. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

The Last Halloween

 Actually I should rephrase the title and write "My last Halloween Post". 


As I had previously promised, I decided to save my best Halloween experience for last. This Halloween occurred when I was a local disc jockey in Springfield, Ohio. The party invitation directed myself and any guests to an old restored Victorian mansion. I found one of my co-workers (a news person) and female was invited also. I love it when a plan comes together and now I just had to talk my first wife out of wanting to go. 

Of course I was beyond excited at the invitation and of course I needed to figure out exactly what my "costume" was going to be. By this time in my Halloween "career" I had progressed from glitzy to desiring to present as a cis woman at the party. Since I had arrived at this spot, it was much easier to rummage through my wardrobe to find something to wear. It was basically what I was wearing at the time when I went out on the rare times I could try out the feminine world. In a very short time, I knew exactly the outfit I was going to wear. 

On the much anticipated evening of the party I had gone through all the necessary prep work I needed such as shaving my legs, applying makeup and combing out my wig. Finally, it was time to meet my temporary date for the evening and we headed out to the old mansion where the party was being held. First it was the reaction of my "date" for the evening which got me started off on the right step. As she saw me, first she was incredulous at my transformation then she settled in with no problems. We were fortunate in that we arrived early and was able to find a close parking spot so my heels would not have a chance to bother me so much. 

The mansion itself looked tremendous. In addition to the natural beauty of the home, the decorations included a coffin with a real skeleton. Since I was was really into restoration in the town, the owners knew me quickly and similar to my companion for the evening were amazed at the feminine transformation. As far as I went, I was enjoying the attention I received. 

As the evening progressed, more and more new guests arrived. Including a couple I vaguely knew from his background as a local politician who was running for an office in Washington, D.C. He was with his wife who later approached me and said they had no idea I wasn't just a well dressed woman who stopped by the Halloween party. Naturally I was on cloud nine when the couple took it all a step further and asked me to go with them to another party. 

It was one of those times I wondered what would have happened if I had made the opposite decision. Because my "date" was doing the driving and I still was worried about abusing my wife's feelings, I said no. Who knows? Maybe a potential career in Washington was defeated with my decision.

Regardless, I achieved what I set out to do. For the briefest of moments be mistaken for a cis woman.

If you celebrate, I hope the Halloween season has been festive and fun for you this year!   

Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Greatest Insult

 Perhaps the biggest Halloween insult any transgender person has to endure is the comment of great costume when you are simply out being yourself. In the middle of all of the glowing posts (including mine) of Halloweens' past, what if you found yourself in the middle of a transphobes world wanting to destroy your world for no apparent reason. I'm writing this post indirectly for one reason and directly for another.

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart
First, the indirect reason. I have a transgender friend who on social media wrote on the torment of never having the freedom of being a cis woman able to exist in a world without transgender haters. The sad part is my friend who I met at the beginning of her journey from male to female, has blossomed into a very attractive woman. Her problem, similar to many of us, is we carry the effects of testosterone poisoning with us. No matter how much money you have, there is next to nothing you can do about your size. Even though I have managed to lose quite a bit of weight over the years of my transition, I am still big and have a thick torso. So I know completely where my friend is coming from. As far as dealing with unfeeling transphobes or people in general who open their mouths without thinking, I just try to stare them down and consider the ignorant source.

As a matter of fact, I had to deal with the very same situation yesterday at the funeral of a friend my wife Liz and I attended. About three quarters of the way through the service I noticed someone giggling behind us which I thought was incredibly wrong due to the circumstances all of the mourners were going through. Finally through the laughing I heard that's a man. Perhaps I was just hearing things but I assumed the comment was directed towards me. After the service I didn't have any other dealings with anyone I assumed to be the source of the problem, so we paid our respects and left. It was time to rest my sore back and watch The Ohio State Buckeyes play football. 

Plus, my days of partying are nearly over and I myself have never been to a venue on Halloween which didn't have a serious Halloween party in progress. So I didn't put myself in a position for any out of the way comments concerning my gender. Very early in the Halloween "costume" process (as well as life in general) I learned the comment about how I presented as a woman was I looked good in a dress, for a man. I always remember the heartbreak, to this day, of how much of life I had missed by not coming out earlier or even never ever having the chance to ever be a cis female. 

Finally I decided to do the best I could with what I had to work with. Surely, hormone replacement therapy helped quite a bit but on occasion I still wonder what it would have been like to grow up as a girl.

As far as the world goes, they can take their unfeeling insults and shove it.  

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Good, the Bad and...

 Actually is there is no ugly in regards to this post.

Last night we finally were able to venture out for my birthday dinner. We decided on a venue I have been wanting to visit for quite awhile now. Liz is a little more reticent to go to new places so I had to throw the birthday card (I won't say rump card) to get her to go. 

The Turf Club Cincinnati

Once we arrived, in our casual clothes and all, we felt right at home with a crowd basically dressed in jeans and sweatshirts. Plus, seeing as how the Turf Club (where we were) had a brief visit from the network halftime network football crew who was doing the Bengals game, quite a few of the patrons were showing off their best football attire. Even though I am still a huge fan, I have not been able to afford any of the current up to date "fashion" so I just went with a simple sweater, jeans and knee high boots. 


I will finish my plug for the venue by saying it has been visited by Guy of "Diners, Drive ins and Dives" Food Network fame and I had the same half pound burger which he did. Well, not the same one but made the same. 

A Turf Club Burger

Probably, most importantly, no one seemed to notice the tallish transgender woman in the crowded restaurant. It was the second time this week I experienced gender euphoria. The first was when I was instructed on which frames were for the women earlier this week when I went for my new glasses. This was after I spent too much time worrying about if the eye glass receptionist would have any gender related questions for me. 

Finally, today was my therapy day. It turned out nearly the entire session was dedicated to  revisiting all my old Veterans Administration mental health paperwork in the system. So, for the second time this month I was asked how I identified by the VA. Again I dutifully replied, I am a transgender lesbian and I answer to the she and hers pronouns. 

On the plus side I found I was going to receive a new I-pad to enable me to better be served virtually by the VA. Of course it can only be used for veterans related needs. 

Actually I fibbed earlier. Liz and I are attending a close friend's funeral who committed suicide. I have only been to one funeral since I gender transitioned, so I have picked out my best black outfit for such a sad event. That's the ugly of a terrific week.    

Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Most Important Appointment

Today was my six month virtual visit with my endocrinologist. Quite possibly my most important appointment I have with all the various experts who attempt to keep me on the rails of life. Going a bit further, my endo prescribes and monitors my hormone replacement therapy medications. Without her support I would struggle to be outwardly the feminine person I am today.

Halloween Picture from
Columbus, Ohio Black Party
Courtesy Jessie Hart

HRT is always difficult to write about for several reasons. The first and main reason is that too many  having rogue unmonitored hormones can be extremely detrimental to your health. Estrogen can only take you so far in your outward feminine development before the tables turn. Which I have seen years ago in a couple transgender women at Trans Ohio meetings. Both of them were in ill health and blamed their problems on too much HRT.

On the other hand, under supervision, my years on hormone replacement therapy have for the most part produced magical results. I grew breasts, hair and hips while I went through the second major puberty in my life. But, it took me years to do it, often at minimal levels of added estradiol to my system. Most likely what aided in my progress was the fact I was older when I started around the age of sixty. So my natural testosterone levels were decreasing anyway. While I will always regret waiting so long to begin HRT, at least I could be confident I did the process the right way under medical supervision. To be sure, testosterone poisoning was something I still fight with but the memories of living in a toxic male world will always be with me too. 

Perhaps one of the biggest changes I didn't see coming were the internal ones which no one externally sees. I had heard the stories of emotional changes which occur with HRT but I can't say I was prepared for them when they came and became reality. Finally being able to unleash the emotions of my feminine inner soul was akin to lifting heavy weights from my shoulders. All of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I didn't have to be ashamed to cry. The whole experience was very enlightening. Once of the examples was when my body thermostat changed dramatically. Quickly I went from a person who was never cold to a person who always was. A shock when I found out all those years I thought women were faking it when they said they were cold. 

All of these reasons, plus several more I didn't mention all combine for me to consider my Endocrinologist appointment my most important visit. She checks all my extensive blood work to see if anything appears out of range, refills my Estradiol patches and Spiro and sends me on my way. With a promise to do it all again in six months. I take nothing for granted at my age and sadly am prepared to give it all up if my life depended on it. Which for many transgender women it does. After all gender is in your head. Not between your legs. 

I'm sure though by the time my time has run out, hormone replacement therapy will have done it's part to take years off my life. I will just have to decide if it was all worth it to enable me more completely to live an authentic life I  waited so long to live.