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

Thursday, January 19, 2023

A Gender Threat?

Photo Courtesy Linkedin

Recently I wrote a post concerning a communication with the public as a new transgender woman. When I did the gender transition, I did it and surprisingly learned I could communicate with women better than I ever had before. After reading the post, Paula from "Paula's Place" blog, checked in with this comment:

I have actually found it easier to engage with strangers as a woman than I ever did when the world was experiencing me as a man. Being seen as man often equates to being seen as a threat. Being seen as a woman I am "safe" I can now indulge in the casual conversations with strangers that used to annoy me so much when my Mother did it." 

Thanks for the comment! I agree being seen as a man does equal being seen as some sort of a threat. Plus, there is also the sexuality facet which needs discussed. How many men want to approach a woman from a sexual aspect. Women on the other hand, especially attractive ones have grown up suspecting men because all they want is sex. Or men too, appreciate the chase of a woman and grow restless after they have "won" the "battle" for the woman they were approaching. During my dating years, I was most likely too timid in my approach to women. I didn't want them to think I was only into them for the sex. When in reality I just wanted to be just like them. I wanted to be the hunted not the hunter in a relationship. I thought life would be so much easier if for once a girl would have to ask me out, rather than me going through the torture and the nerves asking a girl out. As you can guess, I was often rejected and most of the dates I went out on were set ups by friends. Actually having a date on my arm helped solidify my standing in the guy community. The date went right along with me driving the best car I could and playing as many sports as possible. All of which were covering up my deepest, darkest secret. All I wanted was to be a girl. 

When we cross the gender frontier and earn the chance to have casual conversations with other women, as Paula said we essentially learned a lesson in gender communication. We are now "safe" and have escaped the rigid boundaries of gender discussion. It is no longer forbidden to compliment another woman on the simplest thing such as her earrings. I learned very early, a simple compliment could open the door to knowing another woman so much better. The more we talked, the more I learned about what the other woman may be thinking about me being transgender. 

The only time (and it was rare) I was perceived as some sort of a threat was when another woman's man entered the picture. I said it was rare because most all men had the tendency to leave me alone. It was when they didn't, the claws began to come out and I had to retreat. As far as I knew her man was just being friendly and was attempting to insert himself into our feminine communication which Paula alluded to. 

Sadly in this day and age women of all types are being subjected to more gender threats. If and when a transgender woman achieves a completely passable image, then she is faced with "surprising" a so called unsuspecting man. Violence could follow which leads to the very high rate of transgender murders. Very luckily in my case I was able to nearly avoid brushes with violence when I lost my male privilege of safety. I learned the hard way and was able to move on unscathed. I was neither the hunter anymore or the hunted. I wasn't a gender threat and it opened many doors I never expected to see behind. The trip was worth it. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

It Was a Team Trans Effort

Overall I have written several times on how a journey down a transgender path can be a very lonely experience. At a very early age we trans youth find we are on our own. We don't even have the benefit of peer influences to shape our path in areas such as make up and clothing. Especially in the pre internet days, our gender closets were very dark and lonely indeed. Because of all of that, many of us desperately wanted an understanding cis-woman to help us with our transition, mostly in the appearance department. In my case I found just because a woman I knew would help me with my makeup and clothes it did not mean she had any real expertise to help me. In fact, the first person to really help me with makeup advice was a male makeup artist at a transvestite mixer I attended. He worked miracles with me and even explained what he was doing so I could repeat the process myself. I went on to help my second wife with her make up on numerous occasions because I actually wore more make up than she did. 

Later on in life, when I seriously began to explore being a feminine person in the public's eye did I begin to find the peer support from other women who helped me transition into the person I am today. They have been so important to me over the years that every now and then I mention them here in the blog. 


Photo Courtesy Rachel


Along the way I received advice on buying a banana from Amy to practice how to pleasure a man all the way to a constant reinforcement that I belonged in the world as a woman from people such as Kim and Nikki. Who had very little to do with men at all. The experiences such as lesbian mixers all the way to woman's roller blade events were priceless learning sessions. Of course I wasn't accepted by everyone but  since I had my core of supporting friends around me, no one else mattered. In other words, my life experiences back then taught me the boundaries of what I could and shouldn't do. For the most part I had a great time as I had in depth lessons on how to blend in with a new terrifying yet exciting feminine world. 

As you can see, I was blessed with having a total supportive transgender team around me including a couple more people I can't leave out.  Rachel was another transgender woman I partied with often. She was the one who told me I passed out of sheer confidence. Which I always took to mean even if I was not the prettiest trans girl in the room, I was not going to let it stop me from living an authentic life. The other person who was so very instrumental in my MtF gender transition was my wife Liz. Eleven years ago she told me she had never seen anyone but a woman in me and I should quit straddling  the gender fence and start living full time as a woman. 

After such a slow lonely start, it was a total team effort for me to become the person I am today. I have been fortunate to have had so much help.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Trans Imposter Syndrome

During the strenuous years of trying to achieve a passable feminine image, I never thought I would ever come close to feeling the  transgender impostor syndrome. In fact, I know for certain for the longest time in my gender transition it wasn't a term at all. Before we go any farther in this post, here is what the imposter syndrome means to me.

Photo from the 
Jessie Hart
Archives

My interpretation is when you have arrived at a certain point of your life which you have worked diligently to achieve,  all of a sudden you feel you don't belong for whatever reason. The closest example I can come up with was when I was promoted to a executive general managers restaurant position I had worked years to secure. Once I did get promoted I always felt I belonged there because of all the work I had put in plus all the success I had achieved. Ironically, I never felt the same when I transitioned to  a full time life as a transgender woman. 

As my life unfolded, I always wondered why I wasn't more satisfied with the results. I mean, hadn't I earned my spot in the feminine world by doing a ton of experimentation which led to learning  what worked and what didn't as continued my often lonely path to gender fulfillment. Even though through much of the journey I had my doubts if I was going to make it at all, still I pushed forward. The one thing I never considered was what would my ultimate gender destination look like. 

I also never considered once I arrived as a full time transgender woman, would I ever feel as if I didn't belong there. Most certainly I have paid my dues over the years learning the feminine life experience. None of the learning came easy but on the other hand it all felt so natural. The first nights I went out to  be a woman, not just look like one was the huge unveiling of what my life could be like if I continued down the difficult path I was headed. Again, after that first successful evening, I knew deep down I could never go back and sooner more than later my life as a male would be over. It was about that time, I began to feel twitches of what I later learned was imposter syndrome. Even though I knew I worked hard at making it to where I was in my gender journey, did I belong there. 

It wasn't until much later in my life when all the new internet/social media driven terminology began to appear did I notice the transgender impostor syndrome. I saw seemingly more successful and attractive trans women and men who had their doubts concerning their journeys also. So I knew it wasn't just my own paranoiac self taking control. In my times of doubt, I was fortunate to have my relatively new feminized body and my wife Liz's reinforcement to get me by. My coping mechanism was I had as much of a right as the next woman to occupy the space I was in.  The world could always use another woman and she was me. I just arrived by a different path.

For the most part, any trans impostor syndrome I suffer from is a figment of my imagination and a part of my past. To be filed and put away with so many other often unexpected circumstances from my long and eventful gender journey.     

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Future Transgender "A" Listers

 Back in the day when I was first exploring my public feminine self, I learned the hard way there were many cliques, even hierarchies in the new transvestite community I was witnessing. First I think I learned that although the group was supposed to be exclusively heterosexual, it clearly wasn't the case. Even though nothing sexual was flaunted in public there was plenty going on behind the hotel's closed doors. particularly among the group I called the "A "Listers.  



Photo from the Jessie Hart
Archives


To me the "A's" were the impossibly feminine attendees. Other groups included the cross dressers who were trying desperately to maintain what was left of their masculinity even though they were trying their best to be feminine too. Then there were the rest of us. While I did my best to look the best I could, I also found myself to be an observer on the highest level. The reason was because I was still so confused on several issues which were dominating my life. At the time, I had no idea if how far I could go as an aspiring transvestite or even if I wanted to go farther at all. Then there was the pesky sexuality question. Little did I know, I would face years of self searching and practical experience before I would come up with any solid answers. 

Even though I didn't fit in with the "A's" appearance or personality wise, I found they could offer me a unique way of seeing the world as a feminine person. One way was even though this was before the transgender term was even invented, the "A's", clearly were a step above most of the other cross dressers who came to the transvestite mixer. However not all of the steps were positive ones. All too often they formed a clique not unlike the prettiest girls in a high school. Regardless, what appealed to me about the clique was they would go out into the world to select gay venues after the mixer was over. I didn't care what they thought of me, I just wanted to get out and explore the world to learn if I could make it as my authentic self. I took advantage to the fullest and even ended up achieving a great result one night after a meeting which included a free makeover to anyone who wanted one. I gathered up all my courage and went for it and was rewarded for an invite to go out with the "A's" to party. 

During our night out, I was further rewarded with a guy coming up to me in a bar we went to who wanted me to sit with him or play pinball. The group was amazed when I was picked up and none of them were. Mainly because I was in a different city than I was used to, I decided not to stay and went back to the hotel with the group. Plus, I didn't know how much the guy who approached me knew of my not so little gender secret. 

In the years following my earliest adventures at the mixers, I actually became a regular acquaintance of a couple of the "A's". One of which I even attended regular parties at her house in Columbus, Ohio. I knew that her as well as the best of group (appearance wise) went on to undergo genital realignment surgeries. Unfortunately, I lost contact with them after that. 

All in all, I learned quite a bit from being an hanger on to the group. I was torn because I badly wanted to look like them but in no way did I want to act like them. In the long run maybe I achieved both.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Benefits of Crossing the Transgender Divide

Quite often it seems our journey across the gender divide is perceived  as only being a negative experience. Equally as often, our early coming out experiences add to our overall thoughts about breaking out of our dark gender closets. Every time we are completely rejected by the public, it reinforces the negative ideas we may have had which led to the many purges we went through of all of our feminine possessions. 

Jessie Hart in the Ohio State
Student Union

Still we endured as we walked down a lonely path to gender discovery. So much frustration and even tears led us to risk much if not all of our lives. For the fortunate ones, we were blessed with enough gender euphoria to move forward. For each time we were rejected and belittled for showing off our feminine selves, there was another time we were embraced by someone else in the public's eye. The best part was, gender euphoria felt so natural. So much so if I could sing, I would have since I felt that good. 

Looking back, I think the first time I felt the benefits of spending time on both sides of the binary gender fence was when cis women began to ask me for advice on how to understand their husbands, Even though I did my best to help them, I still had to explain (regardless what they thought) most all men were not all alike. The majority of their problems came from communication. It wasn't so much that men didn't listen, it was more as if the men just didn't comprehend what women were saying. An important part of my learning process came when I realized women did communicate vastly different than men. I learned the hard way to look for non verbal cues when talking with another woman.  Before I was allowed to play in the woman's sandbox I suffered many claw marks and back wounds before I learned how to play. 

All in all, my gender wounds were worth it because once I gained access to the sandbox, I didn't ever want to go back. I see the process now as a real benefit in my life. How many other humans can say they experienced such a deep process as living a life experiencing both sides of the gender divide. A recent experience which could have caused me to be mis-gendered at the VA may have been caused by how I answered a question by one of the nurses. She asked me who my driver was after my colonoscopy . I said my wife when maybe a better term to use would have been partner or spouse. I am a believer in how the smallest details can help me get along in the world. 

Even though I had to give up so much of a male life I never really wanted, the work of learning the feminine gender was a work of pleasure because mainly I felt so natural. The topic for an entire other blog post. 

Now I am happy to say I have made it to a place of gender understanding. However, I think I am far from knowing it all. I don't think I will ever know why I was chosen for this gender journey. Hopefully when I pass on, I will find out the answer. 

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.   

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The Transgender Day of Reckoning

Image Courtesy Elisha Ventur
on UnSplash

Finally I couldn't take it any longer. My gender issues  were getting the best of me and doing a better and better job of ruining my life. I had to make a decision to save myself. On one hand I had my old male self to deal with who had done an admirable job of keeping me afloat in an existence I didn't really want to be in. Together, we were able to carve out a life which was fairly successful. Even culminating in the birth of a daughter. Around this time was when I was seriously exploring if I could live a feminine life also. Also was the key term because I found out the hard way I couldn't live my life in a situation where I lived a couple a days as a man and several days spending all of my spare time being a woman. 

Finally it became increasingly evident to me the only real obstacle to me living as my authentic feminine self was my wife of twenty five years who I loved dearly. So much so months before her unexpected sudden death, I made what I thought was the ultimate gender sacrifice by putting away my make up, wigs and clothes grew a beard and again tried my best to live a masculine life. Spoiler alert, It didn't work for tragic reasons. 

First of all, trying my best to live as a man was making me extremely sad. As a result I tried to hide myself in a bottle which in turn led to overeating and weight gain. I ballooned my body up to two hundred seventy five pounds. Of course, before all of that was an ill advised suicide attempt  which fortunately I did not do a good enough job with. My intense sadness was destined to change when as I said my wife suddenly passed away. All of a sudden, the door was thrown wide open for my feminine inner self to have her chance in the world.

I remember the night I decided to listen to her as vividly as if it was yesterday when in fact it goes back to 2007. After taking the time to dress in what I considered to be a nice outfit complete with wig and makeup, I sat by myself in one of my favorite venues sipping on a drink pondering my future. All of a sudden a calmness came over me and I felt as if the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders. The answer to my ultimate life question I had put off for so long was now clear to me. There was nothing stopping me from living my dream. To live fulltime as a transgender woman. Clearly I heard this voice tell me what took so long. 

From then on, the transition doors began to swing open fairly easily. I was fortunate in that my Veterans Administration assigned therapist had LGBT knowledge and could look past my bi polar issues and treat my gender ones. She was instrumental in helping me begin my hormone replacement therapy. From then on, there would be no looking back as I had my legal name changed as well as my VA gender markers.

My day of reckoning most likely had a sweeter ring to it because I waited so long to step up and take care of what always came natural to me. I was just too scared to accept the consequences. When I did, I was on the road to finding true happiness with myself.    

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Trans Christmas Shopping

Image Courtesy Waldemar Brandt
on Unsplash 

In reality,  all of this experience happened when I was primarily still a cross dresser still exploring advancing myself into the novice transgender category. Of course this is all important if you are into any sort of LGBT labels. I use them to further explain where I was on my long gender path.

Back in those days I was nearly at the maximum income  I would ever make. I had the spendable income which enabled me to spend money on nice gifts for my second wife who was really into Christmas. Traditionally I was a late shopper and would wait until the last minute to buy her the gifts I wanted. Along the way also I discovered I really enjoyed shopping for her when I was dressed as a woman. I would go to very upscale malls dressed to blend with the rest of the shoppers which allowed me to often wear my favorite black pants suit, along with my black flats and blond shoulder length wig. My outfit gave me the all important courage to move out of my closet and into the feminine world. 

One mall in particular was in Columbus, Ohio and featured an upscale garden store I was interested in. Among her other interests, my wife was very much a gardener. so it was a wonderful place to find her a special gift. I was always treated with respect there most likely because my money was green. Other places I went included green houses, antique malls and even a few oak furniture stores for gifts. Fortunately, since my wife worked in the retail book business, she was working many hours which allowed me to enter my feminine world and shop for her. I could knock out two major desires at one time. The desire to find her the perfect gifts as well as satisfy my new and wonderful desire to interact in public as a woman. 

One night in particular, both worlds came together spectacularly...almost. Over the years, I had tried to purchase my wife various oak furniture pieces for her living room including a large roll top desk with matching file cabinets. On the night in question, I just happened to stop by a store in Columbus to see if they had any matching oak pieces I could buy for my wife. By accident I found the perfect glass book case which matched her other oak pieces perfectly. The problem was here I was in my wig and pant's suit wondering how I was going to move my gift to our truck. Mentally I was still in male mode thinking I had to do everything physically myself. I was proven wrong when I made my purchase and found I didn't have to lift a finger. The store owner summoned two young guys to move the book case to my truck and even finished off with a big thank you Miss. I thought wow! I could get used to this. 

Once I arrived back home, it was a fairly simple task to slide it out of the back of the truck into the garage once I begrudgingly returned to my old unwanted male self. On Christmas Eve, the bookcase was a huge hit. Overall the entire experience made Christmas shopping so much more enjoyable for me. I could completely look for the special gift while expressing my desire to live a feminine life . I loved it! As we will get into in another post.  

Monday, December 19, 2022

It's Nice to be Wanted

 

Remembering Warmer Days!
From the Jessie Hart Collection

It is especially nice to be wanted during the holidays as an transgender person. Yesterday my wife Liz and I went to her circle's celebration of Yule. Being a special gathering I was invited since I am not a full member. The circle is heavily LGBTQ involved and actually the leader was our officiant at our wedding. Fortunately I found once of the guests was an excellent pastry chef of sorts and brought two trays of his home made cookies to sample. I am a huge lover of peanut butter cookies and the ones he brought were among the best I have ever sampled. 

The host also has two dogs which were very friendly and I felt again how much I missed not having a dog since both of ours passed away. Perhaps after we get our living arrangements straightened out, we can go to the animal shelter and pick out another dog to spoil. 

Since most of you already know my experience of being banned from attending what was left of our families holiday gatherings by my spineless brother who refused to stand up for me when I came out as transgender to him over a decade ago. I bluntly asked him if I was still invited and he just as bluntly told me no. So that was the last time we spoke. His in laws are very conservative bigots and I think he was afraid to face them with anything to do with me wanting to live as my authentic feminine self. I always felt if he and my sister in law were that shallow, I didn't need them anyhow and it turns out I didn't. I was fortunate, I fell into having an extended family which was far more cohesive than anything I had known in the past.

First of all, through my entire MtF transgender transition, my daughter stood by me and even embraced the change. So at least I had some remaining blood relation which supported me.  What I didn't anticipate was the amount of support I received from my daughter's in laws. Their support was nothing short of amazing to me. I was invited to any or all family functions as if nothing had changed. To add to that, Liz's ultra conservative late father even came to a begrudging support of me. So, all in all I came out of the holiday process in a better space than when I went in. It was nice to be wanted.

I should point out also, the group yesterday at the Yule ceremony the other Gay and Lesbian people there went through being ostracized from their families also. Thus, the group was more giving and happy when gifts were exchanged. The whole celebration felt to me as if I had found s new home. These days with the increasing number of LGBTQ centers around the country and cohesive social media contacts, it is very possible to locate other non-blood family replacements to attempt to sooth the pain of having no family for the holidays.

I hope through the holidays ( it is hard to believe Christmas is almost here!) you have some sort of family to replace the one so many of us have lost in the transgender community.


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.      

Friday, December 16, 2022

Holiday Errands

It is time to venture out into the world at large and run several errands with my wife Liz. 

Since she is

Photo from Jack Dylag
on Unsplash
now on her near to end of year vacation from work she has something close to eleven days off. As Liz is used to doing, she normally uses the time to push together everything we need to do.

The one thing I don't think she ever understands is how the simplest of errands can affect me. On occasion, just thinking of facing the public can set off my gender dysphoria. Even though it probably has been over a decade since I have been confronted concerning my gender, I still have flashbacks to the days when I was laughed at or questioned. My fear is with the current trend of anti-LGBTQ feelings I may be centered out for negative attention. 

Our first stop will be to a big box store which happens to have the best prices on the cat food our feline critters eat. I imagine they will be fairly crowded with holiday shoppers too involved in their own shopping to worry about me. Also, since my handicapped placard has not arrived back from the state of Ohio yet, the amount of walking I hope doesn't bother me much. Perhaps if I am quick about it, I can sneak a peek at the stores selection of holiday sweaters. 

From there it is off to the grocery store where I have never had a problem before. So I don't anticipate any issues this time. Certainly nothing exciting, except shopping for munchie ideas for the holidays. New Years Eve is out this year because this year the semi final national football playoffs are scheduled and The Ohio State Buckeyes are playing the Georgia Bulldogs in the late game. We are huge fans and will be in front of the television. 

Along the way today also, I may talk Liz into stopping for a light lunch depending what time and how hectic the day becomes because we most likely will make another stop at the pharmacy also.  

As far as what I am going to wear, I already have chosen my charcoal gray cable knit sweater for warmth and I am pairing it with my navy blue leggings and faux fur boots. The outfit should be warm enough for comfort along with showing off my developing hips. Plus at the same time be comfortable and not attract attention. From that point forward, an application of light makeup and brushing out my hair and I should be as ready as I ever will be to face the world. 

I just don't understand why after all these years I still have to put up with all my gender dysphoric doubts. I keep telling myself all the success I have had as my feminine self in the world after all theses should mean something. It does until I look in the mirror and all the old doubts come rushing in.  


Thursday, December 15, 2022

Transgender Life

Often I am amused when less than knowledgeable individuals or transphobes say we transgender women or trans men had a choice of transitioning our gender. Those of us who are in the middle of traveling a gender transition path know our decision was never a choice. Many times the whole process is a matter of life and death as is proven by the extremely high suicide rate in the transgender community.  

Photo from the Jessie Hart
Archives

Using my own gender path as an example, I can easily highlight the highs and lows of the journey. Highs included the times I tried and succeeded in breaking out of my own very dark gender closet. Early on, I was excited when I was accepted and even helped by clerks in clothing stores. Soon I learned most of the clerks were just doing their jobs and went out of their way to sell me something. From there I went on to seeing if I could present well enough as a woman to easily be able to prowl the malls around me looking for the occasional bargain. When the malls started to become mundane and boring, I decided to step up my journey by stopping different places to eat lunch. What I didn't realize was, how going face to face with servers and hostesses would expand my need to establish a real live feminine personality. As I climbed my gender affirmation staircase, for the most part I had more successes than failures when I learned how to dress to blend with the rest of the women around me. The less attention I created the better. 

When I was successful, there was nothing better in my transgender life. Even before I really knew what the term transgender was all about and how it fit in with me. On the other hand, when the lows set in, they were really low. I still remember vividly the nights I was laughed at and literally went home crying. Slowly but surely I recovered and re-committed myself to the goal of being able to present as a woman to the public without being stared at and ridiculed. Once I went through going back to the drawing board as many times as I did, I finally made it to a point where I had the confidence to go out as a transgender woman and exist in my own little world. Little did I know, my own little world would not stay little very long. My new and improved transgender life proved to provide the force to propel me forward. Sadly, the force was sending me straight on a collision course with my life as a man. 

Predictably as I was trying desperately to live parts of my life as a man and then as a woman, something would have to give. That something was my own mental health as I stepped up my attempts to sneak out behind my wife's back as the woman she disliked so much. The more I was successful doing it, ironically the more depressed I became. Leading me to a suicide attempt following a fight in which I was caught out in public by my wife. As with any other suicide attempt, I saw no other way out. 

Luckily I wasn't any good at self harm and the bottle of pills I took wouldn't have killed me anyway I found out later. Life is but a circle and if we are fortunate enough to live long enough to find out the bad times can reverse and become the good times. Most certainly a transgender life can be fulfilling if we are given a fair shot of being able to live it.     

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Only a Fool

 Only a fool knows everything is a quote I recently heard. Of course when I heard it I made a mental note to try to remember it and use it for a blog post. Amazingly I did remember since my memory is not what it used to be, or never was to begin with. 

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart

What I was thinking of when I heard the quote was how many times I was the fool when I thought I knew all there was to know about completing my gender transition to a transgender woman. Living my dream fulltime. Looking back I realized there were many times when I thought I knew everything and was certainly the fool. 

The first time was when I was very young and thought my new exciting girl like image in the mirror really meant something. It took me years to realize the cross dressing process did mean something. What it meant was the mirror was lying to me and the underlying reason I was feeling the gender stress I was came from the fact I wanted to be a girl rather than look like one. I did some foolish things when I came out dressed as a girl to a neighborhood friend of mine. When he refused to even look at me, I knew I had done something wrong.

Following my failed experiment of coming out to a person I knew I went back into my deep, dark closet for years. Approximately twenty I think. I certainly did not want to be the fool again when my deeply hidden secret saw the light of day. As it turned out, I would still have plenty of time to play the fool as I attempted to grow into my authentic self. The most self destructive urge I had was the one I document so often in my writings. By far the biggest mistake I made was when I tried in vain to dress sexy which in turn came out as no more than a trashy attempt at validation. I was so stubborn and the mirror lied to me so much, I'm lucky I came out of my trashy period of life relatively unscathed. The worst which happened to me was to get laughed at. Obviously I was the fool who thought she knew everything about being a woman but was just getting started. 

My learning curve finally stated to kick in and I realized if I dressed to blend in with women and not to supposedly attract the attention of men, amazingly I could exist successfully in a feminine world. But still I was caught playing the fool. In what seemed like a small period of time, I had to build on merely looking like a woman and develop a personality to go with it. I had to quit changing wigs every time I went out and doing crazy things such as changing my name to go with the wig I was wearing. Darcy was the redhead, Karen was the brunette and Roxy was the blond. Of course all I was doing was destroying any attempt I was making to establish a solid base for my brand new feminine persona. This time it took me just a short period of time to quit playing the wig game and settled into to a person who had wanted out of me for so long. My closet finally was coming open.

Even with all of this new found gender success, I had to guard against being the fool again. An example was one night when a cis woman with her smiling face in essence tricked me into thinking we could be friends. I learned the hard way she was carrying sharp claws behind her back and was just making fun of me. From that point on I learned a smiling feminine face did not necessarily mean acceptance into the girls sandbox. Until I grasped the whole world of how women communicate with each other, I was doomed to play the fool when I was cornered in the world.

These days, I am a combination of being guarded and on the other hand confident at reading other women. However, I don't think I know everything concerning a transgender transition which would make me the fool.  

Monday, November 21, 2022

Why Men Don't Trust Me

 I left the men's club is the main reason. Men don't trust me. I knew how to play the game. On top of just playing a game I never wanted to play, I was able to play it fairly well. I had a loving wife and daughter, a good job, two college degrees and my own restaurant when I decided to leave the club. I was macho and tried desperately to hide any feminine tendencies I inadvertently would show a friend or stranger. Cigars, many beers and sports were my best friends.  As you can see by the image I worked hard at it. 

My before picture cross dressing as a man.


The problem was, I didn't want to play in the club at all and never did want to play. In fact years later I finally came to the conclusion I wasn't cross dressing as a woman, my inner feminine dominant self was cross dressing as a man. Even though I took my time transitioning to my authentic self, there were still surprises I was too na├»ve to realize they were going to happen.  

What I am referring to is all the male privileges I lost and relatively quickly. In fact, I was able to measure how well I presented by how I was treated by men. I can't say I was treated as a cis woman because I didn't know exactly what that was, I just know I was treated differently the better I presented as a woman. The first time I felt it was a night in a large sports bar venue when for some reason I ended up in a conversation with a group of men. Through it all, even all I was knowledgeable concerning the subject, I was ignored. It was my first experience at being ignored  as a woman in a male dominated conversation. Of course from there more was to come. Much more as a matter of fact. Along the way I learned how vulnerable I became as a transgender woman when a much larger man cornered me in a hallway and I quickly learned how women could be taken advantage of sexually. 

Then there were the times I almost was attacked in dark spaces I shouldn't have been in to start with. I finally learned to ask for friends to escort me to my car. The so called honeymoon phase of leading a feminine life and leaving the men's club was rapidly disappearing. I knew it was coming, just not as fast as it did.

Another reason men didn't trust me is for the same reason the two main binary genders have a difficult time communicating to start with. The men who knew I used to be in the men's club also knew I had knowledge of what went on behind the male gender curtain which threatened their often male senses of being. I have often mentioned how men in reality are the most frail gender and they proved it to me again after I transitioned and even began to try to date a few guys. After being stood up a number of times when I insisted meeting in a public place and meeting a few guys who wanted to wear my panties I finally gave up on the pressure of trying to find a good man and fell back into the circle of women friends I had been fortunate enough to develop. I didn't end up missing the men's club or their mistrust of me at all. Before I go any farther trashing men as a gender, let me say stereotypes are wrong to use and I did encounter several decent men along the way. Timing and destiny, or mistrust on my end could have spelled doom for any potential relationships I may have developed. 

As it turned out I never burned my military draft card during the Vietnam War and I served my time. On the other hand, without any remorse I burned my men's club card and moved on. I had again served my time and I was able to move on. I guess you could say my failed attempt to live out my life as a man was as doomed as the war in Vietnam anyhow. It was just wrong.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Power of Confidence

I nearly labeled this post the power of self conviction for one big reason. First I always write a transgender woman greatest accessory is her confidence. I am sure we have all observed a cis woman or two walking down the street or in a store who just seems to exude a huge amount of confidence in herself. Who knows, maybe she just bought a new outfit, visited her hair stylist or just was raised to be sure of herself but it surely shows. 

Photo with new glasses
courtesy Jessie Hart

Over the years I have been able to capture just a portion of the frail confidence of a few cis women I have known. I say frail because of all the times I have thought I had turned the corner on my male to female gender transition, only to be ridiculed to the point of feeling temporarily wanting to go back into my gender closet. Within a few days calmer gender minds ruled and I began anew to try to establish myself in a feminine world. During these dark days, the only thing which kept me going was the fact my transition felt so natural. So natural in fact it felt like it was the only path I could take and be able to live. 

Even with all the successes I managed to have, I still was paranoid of being harassed like the old days by some unfeeling transphobe. 

This morning my wife Liz and I went to two doctors appointments. One for her and one for me. Hers was much more intense as she had to go in to the doctors for an feminine test which was both painful and intrusive. On the other hand, mine involved going to the Veterans Administration local office and picking up my new glasses. Being able to see well after all these years was a pleasant surprise. During both appointments no one gave us much notice even when we went into a full waiting room of others getting their glasses proudly holding hands. Nothing gives me more confidence than doing that, even though if I present well (as I always try to do) holding hands gives us away as two lesbians. 

All in all, the power of confidence allows transgender women and trans men the conviction to move forward as our authentic gender selves. It is sad it has to be so difficult.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Voting on Hormones

 My wife Liz and I went out to vote yesterday when she got off of work. Without becoming too political, of course I voted mostly the Democratic ticket since the other party seems to be more involved in  erasing transgender people everywhere, not to mention attempting to control women's reproductive rights. That is all I am going to say politically.


Even more important to me is the fact I was able to exercise my rights as a citizen as a female on my state drivers license which you have to present in order to vote. It is very special to me because years ago voting with my new female drivers license was the first time I had the opportunity to use my new legal ID. All things considered, changing over most of my legal gender identifications was not too difficult even in Ohio. Back in those days though, Ohio hadn't yet changed the rules on changing your gender on your birth certificate and Social Security was still  into changing names only on their records. Not gender. It hasn't been very long since both of these procedures have changed. Social Security being the most recent. 

In addition to changing all my civilian legal documents, I had to change my gender on all my Veterans Administration records. With the unwavering help of my therapist I was able to change my gender with most all of my VA documents. So I have a Veterans identification card marked female as well as being female on my records. Ironically, the VA is updating all it's records and they are now asking how I wish to be referred to. So I updated my records to transgender lesbian, she and hers. Naturally I was surprised when I was asked about my preferences. 

Overall, changing your legal gender markers, is a big move. It goes way past just choosing a new name. For me choosing a new legal name represented another milestone in my journey to a feminine life. No longer could I change my name as quickly as I changed my wig. I can't tell you how many names I used before I got together with my daughter and decided on my new name I would carry with me until I died. I went back a couple generations and selected a name from my mother's side of the family and selected my own Mother's name as my middle name. It made more sense to me than the old male name I had naturally but even more so because I could honor my family and heritage with my new name. My new legal  name I feel would have been approved by my mother.

All of this usually comes to my mind everytime I am able to vote. Plus it is also a chance to get out into the community and exercise my right to be myself...my authentic self as a transgender woman. Plus if you don't vote, you don't have any reason to complain about the results of the election. For my efforts yesterday I was thanked by a male smiling poll worker, voted and received my sticker. And, since yesterday was also Liz's birthday, I took her out to dinner after we were finished at the polls.

I wonder as I grow older if voting will still have a special place in my heart as the first place I was legally recognized as my true feminine self. As I proudly showed my identification with gender marked as a "F". The way it was always supposed to be.  

 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Transgender...The Lonely Path

Sadly many  transgender women or men are involved in a seriously lonely journey to live as our authentic gender selves. Along the way a few of us are fortunate and found someone to help us in our transition. I remember vividly thinking I couldn't wait until a cis woman helped me with my clothes and makeup. In my novice mind, helping me to jump start my path to presenting as a realistic woman. What actually happened was she really didn't have much more skill with makeup than I did and I already had most of the clothes I needed so she wasn't really such a big help after all. Plus later on, she tried to hold the whole evening against me when the military came calling with the Vietnam draft. After the evening I more or less went back to being alone on my own transition path. 

Image from Unsplash

From the point forward I was unable to or did I seek out anyone to provide assistance on my transgender path. Due to timing or trust issues, I never found another cis woman to help me. However, having written that, I did go through a period of being monitored by two wives who knew in advance I was a cross dresser. My first wife was very much a go with the flow type person and she did not add much if any feedback on my appearance. On the other hand, my second wife minced no words and told me what she thought. Rightfully so, I was going through my teenaged look a like crossdressing phase and she had every right in the world to comment on my appearance. The sad part is my phase led to her never respecting my desire to transition into a novice transgender woman. Once again I went out on my own to learn what she meant when she said I had no idea what being a woman was all about. Eventually I learned the hard way what she meant on my own but by the time I did, she tragically passed away. I often wonder if we could have ever made friends woman to woman.

As it worked out, I started nearly immediately following her passing considering how I would pursue my life as a full time transgender woman. What I did was figure out which venues I could go to to be what I called "out by myself". The first realization I made was the so called safe spaces of gay venues was not going to work. At least the male ones where I was treated as a drag queen outcast. I did find a couple small lesbian bars I could go to and had a few very interesting experiences. One night I even had to sing karaoke against my will by a very persistent butch lesbian in a cowboy hat. 

Other venues I began to go to were essentially the same ones I went to as a guy. For years I had enjoyed managing and going to big sports themed venues. Give me several big screened televisions and a big draft beer and I was happy. It took a while to be accepted as a regular but once I was I could have a good time. Ironically going out to be alone eventually led me to a small group of cis women who for the first time in my life provided me with feminine role models I could learn from and be around so my transition wasn't so lonely. 

Overall, even though my path proved to be a successful one thanks to so many women later in life like Liz of course,. I wish I could reclaim the time I spent alone when my only path was between the mirror and me. The mirror proved to be an overall liar in that it told me only what I wanted to hear or see. In the end result the mirror couldn't help me stay off my lonely transgender path. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Transgender Balance

 The delicate balance between the two binary genders often is very fragile. Take for example how a cis woman date or spouse feels when an in the closet boyfriend or husband sneaks a peek at another woman when the two are together. 

Image from Fabian Moller 
On UnSplash

In an extension of yesterdays post, Lauren wrote in with a very interesting comment. Lauren said her late wife and current lady became upset when she even remotely looked at another woman. What Lauren went on to say was how difficult it was to explain how or why the reason you were looking at another woman was very different. Being a transgender woman often means we look at other women differently. I know to this day, my attraction to other women is not a sexual one. 

On the other hand, I have an appreciation of a well put together woman. Every once in a while when I get out I notice a woman who gets my eye. So much so I have to struggle not to stare. An example was a couple women at the funeral I went to Saturday. They were dressed in black of course, one wore what appeared to be a knee length skirt and jacket with long wavy hair and black heels. The other was wearing pants with her jacket and had very tasteful makeup. Again with heels. All at once I felt envious and totally under dressed, even though I was wearing my best black embroidered long skirt with a nice black sweater. It just wasn't enough. 

At this point in my life I don't think much is going to change. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be one of the girls I envied so much. A big portion of the learning process I wished I had understood earlier was the difference in looking like a girl rather actually being one. What mattered was finding my way out of the mirror which I was admiring myself in and finally getting into the world as my authentic self. 

When I first left the Army and decided to get married , I thought and maybe even hoped the process would enable my gender dysphoria to subside. Which it did for only around six months. After that the old feelings began to creep back in and I was intensely envious of cis women everywhere. Why couldn't I have their soft skin and round curves. Worse yet I had no one to explain my envy to. In all fairness, I barely understood it myself. How could another woman who was born with curves and other lifestyle necessities I so desired, even understand what I was going through. So I took the male approach out and bottled it all up inside me and tried the bottle to drink it away. The whole process made me depressed and angry. Until I finally did something about it. 

Now of course my life has changed. For the most part I am able to study other women from afar. What they are wearing and how they are wearing it. Which as I have found over the years is a true gender art form. I have also discovered the power of a woman to woman compliment. The briefest mention of a woman's accessories for example is a real ice breaker among women. Looking back, I wonder if I had not been so gender self centered and complemented my spouses on their feminine qualities if my life may have been different. 

Just another "what if" of life which age sometimes reveals. As my Dad used to say, "Once you become old enough to understand it's too late to do anything about it."