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

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Prom Time

 

Image from Amy Kate
on UnSplash


I graduated from high school way back in 1967 and where I went to school in Ohio, going to prom was a big deal.

I was very shy and as it turned out my junior year in high school prom was my first date with a girl ever. I didn't even really ask my date out, it was pre-arranged by her friends who knew she did not have a date nor did I. So I was set up for success. 

Of course success for me was scary. I had no idea how I could ever spend an entire evening with a girl. What would I say? How would I even communicate? The only real interactions with girls were with my Mom. All others just seemed to be up on a far away pedestal I had invented. Then my gender issues came crashing in to make my problems even larger. All I really knew was deep down inside, I wanted to be the one wearing the pretty fancy gown rather than the restrictive monkey suit called a tuxedo. Worse yet, I had to spend my own hard earned money to rent a tux. 

It turned out renting the tuxedo was only the beginning of my expenditures. I was fortunate at the time to have had a very well high school paying job so my parents did not have to contribute much to my initial adventure with a girl. In order to go all out for the evening, tradition was the guy paid for nearly everything from flowers, to dinner at a supper club, to tickets to the after prom which was a way to spend the entire night out. What I didn't factor in was how much my date had to spend on finding a dress, having her makeup and hair done and of course locating matching shoes. All of the processes the girl went through for prom to me felt like a labor of love to me I couldn't have waited to try. 

My date's parents were doctors so Dad even went the extra mile and let me borrow his car for the evening. Needless to say, I was scared to death in my tux when prom time approached. Somehow I managed not to blurt out anything stupid when I was introduced to my date and let her Mom put the corsage on for me on my date's spaghetti strapped gown which I loved and told her so. Just didn't happen to mention just why I loved her dress so much as I wondered how it would look on me. Fortunately, we were meeting another couple for dinner, so I didn't have to feel so stressed about carrying any sort of a conversation myself. So far so good, my first date was coming off without a hitch and ironically I was able to experience some sort of transgender revenge when I went to the old supper club when it became a gay venue. I was there one night and was able to use the women's room completing some sort of gender circle in my mind.

By the time my senior year rolled around, I was a seasoned prom pro and ended up going to two proms in one night. Since I was dating a girl who went to a competing high school, we decided to go to both proms. I even drove my own car since she was familiar with it and I didn't have worry about asking my Dad for his car. Overall, I managed to have a good time since I wasn't so frightened of the whole experience. For the rest of my life, my prom experience was over. For better or for worse. 

Probably, my parents were relieved I was finally dating girls. I on the other hand wasn't doing anything to relieve my gender dysphoria. I still wanted to be my girlfriends and live their lives. My cross dressing tendencies continued all the way until I was drafted into the military and had to stop for obvious reasons. By this time, I had more to worry about than how I looked as a girl. I was looking at surviving college so I could stay out of Vietnam as long as I could.     

Today I see the young high schoolers seem to view proms as less structured affairs than we did so long ago. It's all for the best.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Transsexual Harassment

 

Pow Wow Image from the
Jessie Hart Archives. 

In a previous post I promised to write about the times I was sexually harassed as a transgender woman. 

The first time I experienced harassment came when I attended a nearby mixer/party with my second wife in Columbus, Ohio. The parties were relatively small but very diverse group. Anyone from cross dressers to transsexuals headed for gender surgery to male admirers attended. 

To begin with, my wife did not approve of the outfit I was wearing, saying it was way too short to start with. Of course I did not listen to her and went with the dress I wanted to wear anyway and yes it was very short on me. Even to the point of making it very uncomfortable to sit down even though I had freshly shaven legs and new panty hose.

Once we arrived at the party, I grew restless and needed to move around. Space was limited in the small house of the host so everyone was basically confined to the living room. There was also a hallway which led to a bedroom and bathroom. When I did get up, I didn't notice one of the male cross dresser admirers got up to follow me also. I was/am a big person and had never experienced any problems with my size before and was shocked when I saw how big the person who was suddenly stalking me was. Before I knew it, he had me cornered in the hallway and for the first time in my life I felt helpless. I didn't know what I was going to do until I looked up and saw my wife glaring at both of us. He saw her too and immediately backed off and the threat was over but not before my wife gave me the I told you so lecture concerning what I wore. Even though deep down I knew my wife was right, the deeper meaning of what happened to me never went away.

From that point onward, I knew how a woman could be overpowered and sexually assaulted by a man. I found out the difficult way, once I put on heels and hose and cross dressed as a woman, my male privileges changed forever. Gone was the idea I would not be stalked and attacked on a dark lonely city street or parking lot. Of course I needed to learn the safety lesson the hard way too. 

When I first came out of my gender closet, I frequented my share of three male gay venues clustered together on a city block in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Once I made into the venues themselves, I normally did not have any problems. It was when I was going back to my car one night, I ran into problems.  As I was walking down the sidewalk, I was approached by two men who ended up stopping me. I was lucky that night and was able to "buy" them off with the last five dollars I had. 

From that point forward, I told myself I would be safer where I went. I made sure I parked in lots which were safely lit and park as I could to where I was going. I even would ask friends to follow me to my car when I was out. I was lucky to escape any actual harm when I first ventured out of the closet as a transgender woman. I discovered negative harassment in no way validated me as a woman. All it did was put me in danger. In fact, it wasn't until I began to hang out and visit my lesbian friends did I learn I didn't need a man at all to validate my existence, transgender or not. 

Once I learned losing my personal safety as a former man was behind me, I could move forward and recognize what being an out and proud trans woman was all about. Transsexual harassment became an unwanted and unneeded determent to my life.   

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Being Prepared for a Transgender Future

Image from Chad Walton
on UnSplash.





For nearly a half a century, I hid behind the idea I was nothing more than a cross dresser who liked to wear women's makeup and fashion. What harm was I really doing? The answer is, the only harm I was doing was to myself.  

Had I known all I was doing was to prepare myself to transition into a transgender woman later in life, I may had approached the process in a different light. The problem was, everything seemed to be so life and death serious. Primarily since I was locked into a very lonely, dark gender closet. I had no role models around me to prepare for a highly uncertain future. No one to tell me my make up looked clownish and my skirt was way too short. I only had my old male ego and a mirror who were teaming up to make my life miserable. 

I really learned how miserable I could be when I began to leave my closet and explore the world.  Being stared at and laughed at to my face taught me the mirror could lie to me and the way my old male self was telling me to dress was all wrong. I was going back to my cross dressing drawing board too many times before I learned what I had suspected all along, becoming a part of the feminine gender was going to take a lot of work. I needed to go so far to finally understand all along I was a woman cross dressing as a man and not the opposite. 

The more I began to understand where I was in life, the more the future came into focus and preparations for major upcoming decisions became important. As I was exploring and building a new life as a novice transgender woman, it became clear to me I could indeed live my dream of living as a woman. Before I could arrive there, I still had heavy preparation work to do. There were major issues of coming out and telling what was left of family and friends I was a trans woman. Once I did, there would be no more running home and hiding in the mirror wearing a dress, The first person I told was my only child (my daughter)  went very well and I was emboldened to tell more people such as my only sibling ( a brother). He accepted my transness terribly so I ended up with an even split in salvaging any of the family life I had left since my parents had long since passed away.

The next crossroad I needed to navigate was what was I going to do about supporting myself in my new world. Following quite a bit of planning and preparation, I decided I was close enough to being able to take an early Social Security retirement which back in those days was sixty two. To get there, all I had to do was work another two years. Ironically, during the two years, I was able to prepare even further for my future when the Veteran's Administration Health Care System I was part of suddenly began to accept HRT or gender affirming hormones for veterans. So, the extra two years gave me the time to further prepare for a future which included changing all the legal gender markers I could including a new legal name. 

Since I was newly single again following my second wife's sudden passing, I really could use the time to prepare for the final transgender transition into a new life I had been preparing for since I was born.  

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Saving my Own Life

Image from Alysha Rosly 
on UnSplash
 
 
I make no secret of my Bi-Polar mental condition which went undiagnosed for a good part of my younger life. 

Ironically, it was my first gender therapist who connected the dots and determined my condition when I told her I often spent days struggling to even get myself out of bed. I just thought I was riding the waves of gender dysphoria  which kept me so depressed or elevated when I was experiencing brief moments of gender euphoria. During this time of my life, I was far from being the easiest person in the world to live with. At the least, I was prescribed medications which evened out my moods. The meds also helped me sort out my gender issues and finally figure out one mental issue had nothing to do with the other. In fact my gender dysphoria was not a mental issue at all but instead an organic one. Had I listened to my therapist, she was trying to tell me all of that but I was unwilling to listen. Primarily because at the point of my life I was in, I was still a novice transgender woman and didn't know if I could live my dream life.  There were still too many gender bridges to cross such as telling family, friends and bosses I was transgender. 

The furthest I had come at that point was telling approximately five close friends and spouses I was a transvestite. A long way from living as a transsexual with all the resultant rules I would seemingly have to follow Such as major gender operations, moving away and then starting all over again. To make matters worse, I hadn't even thought much about my sexuality. Would I suddenly desire men sexually? I was overwhelmed with all the big questions and just continued my life as a very serious cross dresser. At the least, I was able to work on my presentation as a woman and go from there.

Even though, my solution was far from perfect, I was saving my life the only way I knew how. The problem kept reappearing when I started to go out more and more behind my second wife's back. When I did, I fairly quickly began to build up a robust life as a transgender woman. Every step I took, the more natural I felt when I could never see how I could go back to living a male life. The whole process created tremendous pressure on my already fragile mental  health. I became increasingly self destructive, all the way to an unsuccessful, ill advised suicide attempt. Essentially, from the point of suicide, I purged most of my feminine belongings and even grew a beard to prove to my second wife I could do it. By doing so, I was intensely unhappy for the short time she lived until passing away from a massive heart attack. I often wonder what would have happened with us had she lived.

Following the tragedy in my life, over a short period of time, I regathered myself and refocused  on a new feminine life. I quit dwelling on death and began living a preferred life as a transgender woman. By doing so, I was all of a sudden needing to quickly learn more than I ever imagined about my new life. Throwing out or giving away all my male clothes was at once liberating and  on the other hand, very scary. I had never purged my male self my entire life and he resisted. 

Regardless, scary or not, the process of a gender transition saved my life. Over a space in time, my mental health has stabilized and with the help of gender affirming hormones, for the first time in my life, my body and mind are beginning to mesh. The entire process took me a lifetime to figure out but as I always say, it all was so worth it. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

One Gender Size does Not fit All

Image from Grae Phillips 
on Geraldo television show.

 If the truth be known, all the way back when I was a kid struggling to understand what gender I was on any given day, I would have been known as gender fluid. 

Of course, gender fluid was a term which hadn't been invented yet. Anyone who was interested in cross dressing was branded as being a transvestite and even worse labeled as being mentally ill. In the middle of my gender vacuum, even I knew well enough I was not mentally ill just because I wanted to wear makeup and dresses. I hid my desires and hoped for the best, which mostly came when I was left alone to cross dress and admire myself in the full length hallway mirror at home. Most of all, I was trapped and could do nothing about it. Keep in mind, all of this was happening in the information "dark ages" before the internet and social media. The gender underground I was interested in came mainly from the pages of Transvestia Magazine and Virginia Prince. Even I knew the pages of the "National Enquirer" and other predecessors of Faux News who sensationalized cross dressers were not to be trusted.

Then came the barrage of so called reality television talk shows including, Donahue, Springer and Raphael. All of whom seemed to be pushing the theme of cross dressing husbands Except for the impossibly beautiful and talented "Grae Phillips" who put everyone else to shame. All of these shows probably did little or no good for my gender dysphoria except for publicizing the fact there were cross dressers of transvestites of all kinds at all. All I knew was I desperately tried to watch or tape every show I knew was coming up from my "TV Guide". My wife was trying to tape her soaps and I was trying to tape my talk shows and both kept us busy. Even though I still had to watch my shows in private attempting to learn anything I could about the outside world.

I did learn once again. my gender size was unique and did not fit all. In fact, I still felt out of place when I started to attend my first cross dresser - transvestite mixers here in my native Ohio. I discovered there were so many different levels of participation from transsexuals headed for gender surgeries down to the weekend cross dressing hobbyists.  For some reason, I was not part of either group and once again my gender size was not fitting in. The problem was, all of this happened before the transgender terminology was introduced. When it was and I started to have access to my first computer, I was able to research the term which was unknown to me. Suddenly I knew what had been missing my whole life, a gender size which fit me and I set out to discover more about being transgender. For me, it meant being part of a gender description which was somewhere in-between the spaces I had been in previously.

Even though my gender size did not fit all, finally I was able to locate my own niche to thrive in. Life became fulfilling, scary and exciting at the same time. I found out I was fine being who I was all along and it felt so natural. I was home. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Transgender Pressure Cooker

Image from Jeshoots.com. 

When someone writes or says something about me being a transgender woman being a choice, I have to laugh. 

I'm sure those of you who have gone through life the way I have with gender issues would agree. Primarily because we have given up so much to cross the gender frontier. Primarily, I am referring to losing family, spouses, employment and gender privileges to transition. Just losing male privileges alone is a major issue. Very quickly I discovered I lost a portion of my intelligence when by accident I became involved in a conversation with several men. I found I was not respected in their world until I finally got tired of being ignored and left the group. Then I began to not speak much until I was spoken to until I began to gain more confidence. 

When I began to be successful, the pressure to be even better as a transgender woman started to increase. For several reasons, my fragile mental health became worse as I started to try to live a life situated between the two main primary genders. In other words, I was stuck in a gender fluid universe I did not want to be in. Living one day as a man and the next as a transgender woman, nearly killed me.  It became so bad I needed to make a conscious effort daily determining what gender I was going to be that day. How was I walking and talking were just a few of the many gender considerations I was going through as the pressure kept increasing. 

All of a sudden, I was able to establish a whole new identity as a trans woman. I was talking to other women and building a small circle of friends which taught me so much about the world I so much wanted to be a part of. I kept going because the process became so natural to me and very soon the main source of pressure came from having to return to what was left of my male life. Even thinking about going back caused me stress and added pressure. 

Finally, I knew I had no way around it and never really had a choice with my life. As a gender therapist told me so many years ago, there ultimately would be no choice for me if I was a transgender woman. Sadly I did not believe her and stubbornly went on to fight a losing gender battle for years before I gave up and faced my gender reality. By doing so, I tried very self destructive measures including suicide and excessive alcohol abuse before I started to live my truth. 

I had no choice and needed to give up all the pressure I felt to transition into a feminine world before it all literally killed me. Thank goodness for all the friends and family I had who helped me through my difficult pressure packed days. The more good days I had with them led to my belief I could live my gender truth full time. Ultimately transitioning was similar to sliding down a hill towards a steep cliff for me. I had others around me who took the pressure off and made the landing a soft one.  


Monday, April 8, 2024

Growing into the Problem

Image from Karla Hernandez 
on UnSplash.



 Back in the day when I was growing up as a young gender dysphoric person, I felt I had been able to hide my femininization efforts from the rest of the family.

For years and years, I lived under the impression I was successful. After all, I was doing my best to compete in all the basics I needed to fit with a demanding, unwanted male world. I was born into an extended male dominated family, so there was considerable pressure to conform as one of the oldest sons of three competitive uncles. 

Along the way, my main goal was to properly hide my small but growing collection of feminine clothes and makeup. I used every cent of my allowance money plus money I earned from delivering the local newspaper to rural neighbors. I thought I was successful because I was never confronted by primarily my Mom about what was going on with me. Remember also, this all occurred during the late 1950's and early 60's. Information on gender issues was for the most part non existent and was considered to be a mental illness which was even worse. 

I think now, if indeed I was ever "discovered" as a truthful cross dresser, my Mom who essentially took on the major role of raising my brother and I, just decided I would just grow out of it. Plus, she may have thought I had some sort of fetish for woman's clothes rather than the deeper issue of wanting to be a girl. It could be described as kicking the rock or can down the road just hoping it would go away.

Instead of going away for me, I grew into the problem but it took me years of wasted time and effort to take advantage of my gender growth spurts. I say "spurts" because of the time I took fighting my transgender issues at all. Keep in mind too, I am referring to at over a half century of my life. Quite a bit of time to consider mistakes and successes when it came to accepting and then growing into my considerable gender dysphoria. For me, gender dysphoria could be described as looking in the mirror one day and seeing a feminine face then the next seeing a masculine one. The whole process just destroyed my fragile mental health. At the point, I sought out therapy to help me. Which provided me with various amounts of relief. 

I had one male therapist who told me to ignore the problem, all the way to a gender therapist who told me the truth. I needed to learn to live with being transgender because it wasn't going away. Easier said than done for me because I was too stubborn to listen to the advice I was paying for. 

True gender growth for me didn't really begin until I started to escape my dark closet and began to explore the feminine world. Of major importance was the fact I finally outgrew what I call my cross dressing fashion adolescence. In other words, I stopped trying to dress as a teenager who was able to wear revealing or even sexy fashions. On the other hand, I just looked ridiculous or even trashy. Once I learned to dress for my age and body style, my presentation as a novice transgender woman improved and my new public life improved dramatically. I was growing into my so-called gender problem. I grew so fast, plus with the help of others, I discovered I didn't have a problem at all. 

Once I grew into my "problem" I discovered a wonderful world I had only dreamed of. I was even able to bring a substantial amount of my old male life with me and carefully weave it into a new existence previously dominated by my old male self but then taken over by my new feminine one. She quickly proved to me, she knew what she wanted in life and had learned from all those years of  rejection. She was like I told you so. 

Now I am not sure all the time and effort I took to grow into the problem was worth it. Many times I wish I wasn't so stubborn and had taken the time to listen to my feminine reality and just went ahead and transitioned into a transgender world.  

As always, thank you for following along with all my experiences here on the blog! I appreciate your time!  

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Transgender Lables

 

Hunter Schaefer at the Oscars.

Spoiler alert, this post contains unfortunate stereotypes. 

The subject I am attempting to write about is about what actress Hunter Shafer said recently. I paraphrase but essentially she said she had turned down many transgender acting roles because she did not want to be stereotyped as a transgender actress in the future. She wants to be known as a woman only. 

In the first place, we all should be as fortunate as Shafer is to possess as much passing privilege as she has. I am sure in any situation, no one is saying "Hey! That's a guy," 

Now, that is the easy part of the post. Secondly, does she have any responsibility to the rest of the transgender world to keep the trans part of her name?  No she doesn't but the whole idea of exactly who is a woman was brought up again in the public's eye. In my case, I have always thought achieving the title of woman is a matter of socialization in life. Just being born female doesn't guarantee a person will ever make it into womanhood. The same goes for birthing children. My second wife never gave birth but in itself, that did not make her less of a woman. To be fair, many males never grow into being men either. Often becoming the toxic males we read so much about.

Then, there is the subject of gender surgeries. It used to be, some transsexual women looked down on all of us who did not have any surgeries at all. Viewing any and all transgender women as little more than glorified cross dressers or transvestites. At the time, as I was exploring what I wanted to do with my gender life, I saw no problem with fitting into their stereotype, even though I resented it and thought it was wrong. As the years went by, I resisted giving up all my male privilege I worked so hard to obtain and had no gender related surgeries at all. If it makes me less of a transgender woman in some people's eyes, so be it. I was still able to navigate the world as a feminine person, or, as my trans friend Racquel said I passed out of sheer willpower.

Of course I don't know Hunter Shafer but I respect her opinion to be referred to as only a woman, not as a transgender woman. After all, who would not want the same privilege after waking up in the morning and looking like her? On the other hand, there are zillions of women who don't have the same passing privilege's as she does and Hunter has been able to bring into some sort of focus what being a woman is all about. 

As we all walk our gender journeys, we have to come to our own conclusions concerning womanhood or manhood if you are a trans man. It is certainly more than how we look or what restroom we use. It involves life itself. For the sake of discussion, I hope Hunter Schafer's next acting role is of a so called cis-woman, she has paid her dues. 

Sadly being transgender will always be a weight we all will have to carry throughout our lives no matter how we look or how many surgeries we have undertaken. Personally, I don't need an actress to inspire me to be a woman instead of a transgender woman. I have made the decision for myself. I am just me. Looks don't make a transgender person. Your soul does. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Living in the Transgender Present

Image from Alexander Grey
on UnSplash.

As I lived and constantly thought about escaping my unwanted male world, I daydreamed major parts of my days away.

It became very difficult to stop looking ahead and live in the present when all I could think of was the next time I could cross dress as a girl or woman. Over the years, I wish I could reclaim just a bit of the time I lost due to my day dreams of being a woman. The problem I ran into was when I started to journey away from my dark gender enclosure and was successful, the more natural I felt and the more I wanted to challenge the world as my authentic self. My overall life became more and more complicated and further disrupted my already fragile mental health. At the time, I was seeing one of the few therapists in my native Ohio who dealt with transgender issues at all. Along the way, during one of my sessions, she (my therapist) told me the truth. There was nothing she could ever do about my gender issues and somehow, someday I would have to deal with them. On the positive side, she also diagnosed my bi-polar depression for the first time and was able to separate my two main issues, mental health and gender. 

Then I reached a  point  where I had to decide how to exist in the present dealing with two major issues. I was prescribed several different medications to deal with my mental health issues but as we all know, there is no magic medication to deal with being transgender. The only positives which ultimately came from seeing the specialized therapist came from my wife. She thought I was trying to help the problem she saw in our relationship which back in those days was considered cross dressing or being a transvestite. Which still was a long way from just being viewed as a guy who liked to dress as a woman for Halloween. Naturally, my wife was afraid of what our friends might say. During it all, we hoped seeing a therapist would help. I can only imagine, if I had listened to my therapist about the long term life expectations of being transgender would be, how much different my life would have been.

With each experience, as I started to explore the feminine world more and more, I began to begin living in my transgender present. Every time I was successful in the world, the more confidence I began to experience and maintain. My whole world essentially flipped. When before I day dreamed about being a woman, now I was dreaming in a negative way about going back to a male life I increasingly did not want. To help even more, I had a new therapist who helped me keep my two main life issues separate and even provided crucial assistance in aiding my search for gender affirming hormones. 

In my mind, the hormones, or HRT as they were called then, helped me to cement where my life had become. I loved the external and internal changes the hormones had aided me in achieving. In a short period of time, I had come so far I asked my therapist for her help in changing my legal name and other gender markers. She came through with flying colors and with the help of my daughter, I came up with a new family based name which reflected my heritage. I chose the name of one of my maternal grandparents as my first name and my Mom's first name as my new middle name so my initials would be easier for my three grandkids to remember and use. 

From there on to the present, I have gone all out to live in my transgender present and make up for all the lost time I had in my life daydreaming away for my next trip in the cross dressing mirror. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Controlling What you can Control

 

Image from the Jessie Hart Archives

Quite early during my adventures as a novice cross dresser, I found I had several variables I could not control.

One of the main ones was having privacy to admire myself in front of the full length mirror in our house's hallway. Even if my parents happened to be not at home, often I was stuck baby sitting my slightly younger brother who seemed to have the ability to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. If he caught me cross dressed, I could certainly count on him to run and tell my parents. Which would then put me into all kinds of trouble. This was the 1950's and early sixties when cross dressing at all was a serious offense. I certainly did not want to face a therapist at such a young age when I had no control over the situation.

In those days, I was na├»ve and thought when I became older, I would have some sort of control over my gender destiny. Little did I know, my boundaries in life I called my closet would be very dark and confining for years or even decades to come. Finally, when I was honorably discharged from the Army, did I discover I wasn't all alone and there were others who wanted to cross dress as women. Better yet, they had transvestite parties or mixers which were close enough for me to attend. Which I did and discovered once again I had little or no control over my gender issues. In my haste to fit in with the group of men in dresses, I found I still didn't fit in easily. I didn't have the looks or attitude to fit in with the "A" listers or mean girls as I called them but then again, I didn't fit in with the other group who were busily smoking cigars and still acting macho. There had to be some sort of a middle point which to that point I had not discovered. 

It turned out, the label which fit me the closest had not really been invented yet. It was called transgender and once I was able to research what it meant, I felt I would fit right in. For once I felt as if I was gaining some sort of control. In reality I wasn't because when I came to the stage of my life when I began to explore the world from a feminine point of view, I again lost much of my control. Most of it came from how I was validating myself as a novice transgender woman. I was taking the easy path and thinking my control of the world came from my old male point of view. Beginning with fashion and makeup, I totally screwed up and didn't try to blend in with the other women in the world around me. The end result was, my validation came from them and gaining it gave me more control over my life as a transgender woman.

With age came the realization I could only change what I could and if someone else didn't like me for whatever reason, it was their problem, not mine. The freedom was wonderful and allowed me to do more and more with my feminine soul who had waited so long for her turn to live in the world. In a very short period of time, she proved herself to be a capable person in addition to being a survivor. In addition, she was much wiser in knowing what she could control, or not and left it alone. It all turned out to be the best move I could ever make.  

Monday, April 1, 2024

Steps Forward and Back on Our Transgender Day of Visibility

 

Transgender Flag image from 
Alexander Grey on UnSplash.

During this week, we celebrated the "Transgender Day of Visibility." A time to be see and be seen during a time of great duress depending upon where you happen to live. It is also a time to remember and celebrate how those of us who are fortunate enough to have escaped our gender closets. Then were able to carve out a new life. 

In order to do the carving, you must have a sharp knife and be prepared to expect steps forward and steps backwards. In my early days in the public's eye, it seemed I couldn't get my feminine presentation together. It seemed on nights when I had my makeup and fashion together I then tried to ruin it all by slipping and almost falling in my heels or worse yet, just walking like a linebacker in drag. 

Of course I took a couple steps back when I left the comfort of my mirror and encountered the harsh reality of the real world. In many ways you could describe the process as the second act of my life. Of course the first involved working very hard to make it in a male world I never really wanted. Then I needed to work even harder to take the steps to leave it all behind. Even when I was struggling with the world at large by getting stared at, all the way to being the subject of out and out laughter, somehow I found the will to keep trying.

The problem I had was I sure I was trying to achieve the right goal. Could my dream of living a fulltime life as a transgender woman ever be a reality anyhow? Many dark days told me I was spending too much time, energy and even money on an unapproachable goal. The next step forward as I was in the darkness searching kept happening because everytime I saw the light in my closet, it felt it so natural. Deep down something was telling me to keep pursuing my journey.

The problem was, life kept getting in my way. First of all, my male self and my second wife had the idea any femininization I was thinking of would be totally wrong and cost me all chances at the life as I knew it. Even though I was at a disadvantage, I still knew deep down I had the courage to pursue more steps towards the point where I couldn't return. For me it meant beginning gender affirming hormones if I could be medically cleared to do so. I still could not take the big step until my wife passed away and I was cleared to begin. 

As with everything else in my life, hormones did shorten and lighten up the steps I was taking to living a transgender life. For any number of reasons, destiny opened my closet doors wide open. Tragically, when I lost so many friends and family who were dear to me, people I needed to come out to were few and far between. Other factors came into play also such as my age (sixty) which enabled hormones to take effect faster. At the same time, I wasn't too far away from being able to retire early and not have to worry about my finances when I was forced to come out on a job. Another plus came when the Veterans Administration health care system which I took advantage of started to accept transgender veterans like me and help with hormonal care.

As you can tell, destiny was urging me on to take the final step and live my life as a trans woman. Finally, I could take it no longer and took the final step and never look back. Taking the steps makes me proud to be a part of this year's Transgender Day of Visibility.   

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Outreach Revisited

Trans Flag over Cincinnati City Hall.

This week has come and gone, along with  the two outreach events I had.  One was easier than the other. The first was our virtual meeting of the local Cincinnati Alzheimer's group I am a part of. 

The second was much more difficult for several different reasons. The first one was I needed to be there in person. Which meant I needed to navigate the congested area of the University of Cincinnati campus where the Transgender Wellness Clinic was being held. Of course, as predicted, the GPS on my phone wouldn't work, so I made several wrong turns along the way before I made it. 

Once I did manage to arrive, I received a warm welcome plus the closest parking spot available for the event. In fact, the walking distance to the elevators was very close and a welcome respite for the long, congested drive. 

Since the Wellness Clinic was held on a college campus, the crowd was predictably young. As far as the panel itself went, I was a little disappointed in that I was by far the elder of the group. I thought several others in my age category would volunteer to come but I learned they all turned down coming except for me. The organizer said they expressed fear when approached about coming. From that point onward, I made a point of me not having any fear of being seen in public and I am slowly but surely trying to get out more. No matter how stressful it may be. 

As far as questions went, most of them revolved on how times have changed since all the panel members came out of their gender closets. Even though, most of the other panelists were half my age, several of them came out approximately the same time I did, since they had the courage to follow their inner souls faster than I did. Since I have known several of them for years, the reunion was fun. Plus, there was quite a bit of good group interaction from the panel. Even better, was when I found out how many people listened to my introduction and picked up on the fact I am a transgender veteran and thanked me for my service. 

I left the panel feeling better about the world after urging the younger generation to stay politically active and fight all the negative political changes which are under court challenges here in Ohio. On the positive side also, the trans woman who invited me to the Wellness event also was able to raise the transgender flag over the Cincinnati City Hall.   

The trip home was predictably the same with me making the wrong turns and getting lost but somehow I found my way. Which might also describe my gender journey. Don't panic, just try to find another route and keep moving towards a goal. My only main problem I encountered was a huge interstate traffic jam caused by a bad accident. After I arrived home, I finally had a chance to look back with pride that I was included in such a wonderful event. 

Pictures were taken and if I see any, I will pass them along to all of you. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

It's Game Day

 

Red Wig Image from the 
Jessie Hart
Archives and the game...


Recently, the Cincinnati Reds kicked off their latest professional baseball season. Opening Day is a big deal here complete with a parade and sell out crowds at the game. 

As a guy, I somehow managed to secure a ticket or two to the game because the company I worked for knew I was a huge sports fan and it was their way to keep me happier. As a transgender woman, I also managed to go to a few games but never opening day. As I aged, the problem became when I was unable to walk long distances to get to the ballpark and had nothing to do with me worrying about being accepted by the other fans in the stadium. Plus what remained of seeing the whole sporting experience in person as a woman just reinforced the fact I could take my love from one gender to another. 

I was lucky when I found and was accepted by a small group of women who were passionate about sports also. We regularly gathered at sports bars to watch our favorite teams play while we drank quantities of good cold draft beer. Good times were normally had by all, even though our teams lost. Perhaps the best part was, since I was part of a group of other women, no one questioned my gender at all. I had my validation as a person I so desperately sought. 

With one of my friends (Kim) a friendly competition developed over which professional football team we were fans of. Her family is from Pittsburgh, so naturally she is a Steelers fan which collided head on with me since I am a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Along the way, we became so close she invited me to go along with her family to a Monday Night Football game in Cincinnati. All of a sudden, I realized what such a major deal going to a real live National Football League game was when it came to my gender transition timetable. For most of my life, I wondered what it would be like to attend a game as my authentic transgender self and all of a sudden, the time had come. 

Back in those days, I had not started gender affirming hormones yet so all I had to wear was a barely fitting wig Kim and her daughter Hope had always seen me in. Hope was a bar tended/server at one of the venues I became a regular in and initially set up a meeting between her lesbian mom and I. Needless to say, I was terrified yet still excited to take another major step along my gender path. The door to my closet was opening faster than I had ever dreamed it would. Once I made it to the stadium, it was dark which helped my presentation and I went through the initial stadium security check points with no problems and my confidence began to build. We made it to our seats and no one gave me a second look, so I was happy. After all, everyone had paid a premium price to watch a football game, not a stray transgender fan in the stands. 

The only perceivable problem I was going to have was how much I could drink. I didn't want to chance going to the women's room if I could help it but I couldn't risk having to go during the long road trip home if I had to. So I compromised and just had two beers and made only one trip to the rest room where nothing happened. I got in, took care of business, washed my hands and got out. 

Per norm, the Bengals lost to the Steelers that night, so I took some abuse from the others in the group. Little did they know how just going was a complete victory and confidence builder for me and to this day, I can't thank Kim enough for including me.

These days, the Cincinnati Reds have a young exciting team who are fun to watch and my dream is to build myself up to the point where my wife Liz and I can see a game or two this summer. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Outreach Week


 Unexpectedly, this week has turned into an outreach week for me. 

First of all, recently I virtually attended another Alzheimer's diversity council meeting. The rest of the council is all women so I fit in quite nicely. Every once in awhile, the moderator slips up and calls me "he" but not at all in the most recent meeting. Which was nice. As I always mention, the local Alzheimer's group reached out to me initially and I have been treated with the overall respect on occasion I never see in other groups.  So, if you are facing a dire health situation with a transgender or other LGB relatives when it comes to an ugly case of memory loss, don't hesitate to research your local Alzheimer's Association for help. My passion for this subject comes from the fact my Dad passed at the age of eighty six following a prolonged tragic bout with Dementia. Also, if you happen to be in the metro Cincinnati/Dayton Ohio area, feel free to reach out to me for more contact information.

My second outreach opportunity is coming up later in the week.  Again I was approached by a transgender friend to participate in a panel discussion which will  be held at the University of Cincinnati. It's called the "Transgender Wellness Event" and I am excited to be able to meet a majority college crowd and field any questions they may have about escaping their gender closets later in life. Like I did. It will be my first such opportunity ever and I am excited. Now I have to hope my wonky cell phone GPS gets me there in one piece since I am still fairly new to the tangle of streets which makes up the city and especially the university itself. I rely too much on my wife Liz, who is a native, to get me around. 

At this point, the weather forecast is good, so I still have not decided what I am going to wear. Plus I am thinking of (for the first time in my life) taking a cane with me in case it looks like I will have to walk a long way to make my way into the event itself. 

One way or another, I plan on making it into the venue and witnessing first hand what a portion of the college age students have to say about being transgender. Plus, just being available to be there and answer any questions is also very important in this day and age here in Ohio where we are in a constant battle for our trans rights. Being in a college setting, I don't expect much push back but I am prepared one way or another.

One never knows if getting out more will help me to get out again and explore the world as I used to. Even if I have to utilize a handicapped sticker and a cane.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Life's Little Nudges

Image from James Lee
on UnSplash



In an extension of yesterday's post, there were many times when I needed a little push to keep going towards my dream of living a life as a transgender woman. 

Perhaps the first push I needed was I had to know if I could exist in the public's eye as a novice cross dresser (or whatever label you want to put on me) at all. It seemed everytime I left my closet, I was being laughed at or at the minimum stared at. It was during those dark days I waited on any rationalization to come along to justify what I was doing to myself was right. The light I saw at the end of the tunnel certainly seemed to be the train back then. 

Somehow, I kept dodging the train and relied on the least bit of gender euphoria I felt on occasion to propel me forward. One example was the short, flirty tennis style outfit I came up with to wear to the mall. I managed enough pizazz to generate admiring looks from many of the old men who were in the mall walking at the time. Back in those days, I didn't really understand what a true validation as a woman meant to me. I was still obsessed with appearance only.

Slowly I was nudged off my appearance pedestal by comments from my second wife such as I did not have any idea of what being a woman was all about. Since I had spent nearly all of my life to that point studying the women around me, I resented the fact she said it at all but even still, I set out to find out what she meant. Sadly, most of what I learned from her comments did not come until after she passed away. At that point, gender doors began to open for me and I was nudged through them. Finally, I paid enough dues to be allowed to play in the girls' sandbox. Where the real learning started. Slowly I survived having my sandcastles destroyed and sand kicked in my face by the mean girls and I moved on.

As my world widened and I actually learned I could make it in a transgender world, it seemed each night was a bigger and bigger push in the right direction. Destiny showed me a path and I took it. My small group of lesbian friends showed me how to validate myself without a man and secured once and for all my sexuality. I was living my dream and decided to take it a step forward by beginning gender affirming hormones. After all, at the age of sixty, if I was healthy enough, what was holding me back. It turned out nothing was except for a surprising reaction to the new femininizing hormones in my body. It was much more than a nudge when my breasts developed to a point where they were easily visible under all my old male shirts. All along, I thought the process would take longer but it didn't and it was time to come out to what was left of my family. 

The coming out process showed me both sides of coming out as a transgender woman in a male dominated family where I was supposed to be the patriarch. Because I was the oldest surviving man. My brother rejected me and my daughter accepted me is the short and sweet version I relate to so much here in the blog. 

Even though it was at times a very difficult and rough gender journey I went down, life's little nudges made my life anything but boring. In fact, it tended to be on the terrifying/exciting side.   

Monday, March 25, 2024

Trans Crisis Management

 

Image from the Jessie
Hart archives. From the Ohio 
State Student Union. 

Over the years as I went through the process of living my life as a transgender woman, I encountered many instances of crisis management. 

Some of the encounters were funny, some were anything but funny. Several come to mind as I write this post. Probably the most humorous account came at the ill fated expense of a water balloon I used as a breast form one night when I was going out to my regular venues I loved the feel of the balloons. They provided a realistic bounce and even matched my body temperature if I filled them with water of a certain temperature. Of course, as I was doing all of this, I knew how fragile my fake breasts would be. And, a night I remember well, it happened, one of my beloved water balloons broke sending water down my clothes. I was lucky in that I was headed from my seat at the bar to the rest room and had just made it to the safety of the women's room, if it was empty at the time. It was empty and it saved me from any rushed explanations of the water which I caused. The only crisis management statement I could come up with was I was pregnant and my water broke. What really happened was, I gathered my one breast self together and left the venue like nothing happened, then headed home determined to find another form of realistic breasts. 

The next  profound crisis management encounter I remember was one of the worst I ever have had. It happened in another venue I went to regularly. After consuming my usual amount of beer, I naturally needed to innocently use the women's room. When I did, I didn't notice the woman who came in after me and I should have. I saw her and an older woman  I perceived to be her Mom come in the door and pass nearby me at the bar. The older woman wasn't shy about glaring at me but kept on going, minding her own business. I should have known my relaxation would come back to haunt me because when I came out of one of the stalls in the restroom, I was confronted by the daughter. Out of the clear blue sky, she started screaming at me and began her tirade by calling me a pervert. 

At first, my fight or flight mechanisms kicked in and my first inclination was to vacate the rest room. Instead, my inner female kicked in and faced the red faced screaming woman. Somehow during her rant, I was able to learn she ran her own hair dresser salon. When she slowed down, I asked her for a business card so I could pass it along to a very influential local LGBTQ organization and naturally tell them about my negative experience with her. It worked because she abruptly stopped and left the rest room while I not so calmly washed my hands, checked my makeup and returned to my seat. The whole experience taught me to always be aware of my surroundings and other potential problem people in it. 

Of course, these two examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dealing with our own brand of trans crisis management. From makeup and fashion  struggles when we first come out of the closet, all the way to unwanted government discrimination, we face it all. I am sure all of you have faced your own crises over the years. Maybe going back all the way to being caught cross dressing in your Mom's or sister's clothes when you were growing up. Surviving it all was the challenge while preserving our mental health. Sadly, with the extremely high rates of suicide in the transgender community, too many don't make it. In fact, we just had a local trans musician commit self harm and die last week. 

Crisis management with all of us just needs to be a priority. 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Transgender Ego Revisited

Image from Chloe (I think)

 Recently I received a comment from Amara concerning a post I did in 2011!

Unfortunately she was asking about a dress in a picture I used back then. I didn't know the answer for her. Plus I really don't know where the image came from. Back in those days, I didn't always give credit where credit was due. Which I regret now.

Some other regrets I have now looking back was the ego I needed to deal with when I first came out as a novice cross dresser or transgender woman. I know for certain if I looked back at the overall subjects the blog covered, they were overwhelmingly centered on how I looked. Sadly, I suffered because I was still operating under the impression my male self thought I should look. And, how his ego was effected by how my trans self was treated. 

To make a long story short, her (my) experience wasn't always pleasant and I came home in tears It seemed the mirror was lying to me at every turn. Finally I went back to my cross dressing basics and changed my perspective on going out in the public's eye. As much as I hated to do it, I needed to admit my second wife was right about how I looked. Instead of being the "pretty, pretty princess" as she put it, I needed to learn to tone my look down so I could blend in with other women in the world. 

Ego-wise my outlook changed from emphasizing how my old male self thought I should look in public. Going from worrying what men thought of me, all the way to being able to better interact with the other women I met. Which became very important because the majority of people I met and interacted with were other women. I learned from them women have ego's too, just different from men. A couple times I learned the hard way not to interact too closely with another woman's man or boyfriend and  then needed to treat the claw marks in my back. 

I became a quick learner when it came to dealing with a new transgender world. In my girl's nights outs in learned how the women treated each other with no men around and then how they interacted when men were added in the evening. The change was dramatic. 

As much of a change as my feelings today versus 2011. I can't imagine or put into words all the changes I have gone through. Before I wrap up this post, I did manage to find the dress and image Amara was referring to. Just guessing but I wonder if the person was a candidate in a womanless beauty pageant which used to be prevalent in society and the South before the fervent anti-transgender attacks. Even though I wish I could say I would or could even wear that dress in the photo. it is certainly not me and never was. No matter how hard I tried.

As always, thanks to Amara and all of you who take the time to read and comment to all of my posts. Your input makes my efforts so worth while.   

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Leaving me For Years

Image from Brock Wegner
on UnSplash


I become a little amused when someone thinks I overnight completed my gender transition from a fairly successful male to a struggling novice transgender woman. 

To put everything in perspective, it took me nearly half a century to figure out my gender issues and how I needed to deal with them. Perhaps you noticed I used the word needed and not wanted because deep down I knew I never had a choice in my life. My gender journey was pre-written for me and I just had to follow the script.

For me it meant dealing with years of extreme gender dysphoria which wrecked my life and several relationships along the way. It was an extreme struggle for dominance from the two binary genders which lived within me. Naturally, even though he wasn't happy or satisfied, my pre-destined male life just didn't want to give up all the male privileges' he had worked so hard to gain. While, on the other hand, my feminine side had to put up with the fact she felt so free and natural when she was let out of my gender closet. 

The struggle left me in a situation for years where I couldn't win. I was in some sort of a gender trench warfare when one side had a little success, the other side would come back to reclaim victory. Battles were won, purges were made but the war went on and on. First I tried to hide in the mirror but that didn't work when I began to escape into the world as a cross dresser. All of a sudden, I discovered I might be actually able to live a dream life as a transgender woman if I worked hard enough to do it. At that point, I sat out to take better care of myself and lost nearly fifty pounds so I could fit into the woman's fashions I so admired. Plus I started to take better care of my skin so my makeup was easier to apply and I looked more natural doing it. 

At that point, I tried to outrun my gender dysphoria the best I could by changing jobs and locations where I lived way too quickly. In a space of three or four years my second wife moved from our home in Ohio to the metro NYC area, back to a very rural area where we heated with wood and finally back home again. All I finally learned was I couldn't out run my problems. They all began and ended with my gender issues. 

Even with all the problems I mentioned, I still did not want to give up totally on my male self. In many ways, the life he had carved out from such a bleak beginning was just too comfortable. What happened then were the years I spent as a novice transgender woman. All of them were scary yet exciting times to live through. 

So no, my decision to leave the male world behind was not an overnight decision. It just turned out he was leaving me for years. 

Friday, March 22, 2024

A Transgender Inch Equals a Mile

Image from Jessie Hart Archives
Civil War Cemetery Cincinnati

Distances are often very blurry when it comes to beginning and pursuing a gender transition. 

The meaning wasn't lost on me when I began to remember what many of my more experienced dating male friends said when it came to discussing their girlfriends. The biggest complaint was when the guys gave in an inch with their women, the women took a mile. 

As I transitioned into the feminine world, often I thought the same thing about my inner girl self. Or, as soon as I cross dressed in front of the mirror, the more she wanted. Specifically, she wanted out of the mirror and into the world. Quite early, it meant making the trip to the mailbox to check to see if there was anything in the box. I so enjoyed the feel of the outside air on my freshly shaved, panty hose covered legs. 

What I discovered was as soon as I made the very short trip out of the door, my girl dreamed of doing more and more in the world. So much so, my entire life was effected to the point I would become very grumpy almost to the point of disorientation when I couldn't cross dress again. The whole process just didn't seem fair because I was doing the best I could with the very limited resources I was able to put together. Fashion was difficult to find for my rapidly growing body but I could manage to buy my own makeup with my very small allowance I earned plus the money I put together from having my own newspaper delivery route.

Through it all, I managed to get by when my inner trans self wanted to take an extra mile when I was giving her an inch. I thought it was some sort of a gender poetic justice when my male friends complained about their girlfriends and I knew exactly what they were talking about when I wasn't outwardly involved with a girl at all. 

It wasn't until much later in life when I could begin to give up more than just an occasional inch to my transgender self and discover all I was missing. More and more I was able to take the extra mile. Even though I was scared (or even terrified) to do it. Such as the first night I went to a "Fridays" bar/restaurant for a cocktail. I ended up sitting in the parking lot for a good thirty minutes checking my makeup before I gathered the courage to go in. Once I did, and began to breathe again, I was able to relax and enjoy myself.

At that point, I was very proud of myself and considered I wouldn't challenge my novice transgender woman for more. After all, I had just given her the mile she wanted and I thought she should be satisfied for awhile. Needless to say, none of that worked. Instead of going to the so-called gay venues she had been going to, she wanted more of the "Fridays" vibe she succeeded in. I found she could become a regular fairly easily by being friendly, minding her own business and above all, tipping well. All of a sudden, a new life was beginning. No matter how scared of it I was at the time. 

Perhaps the biggest transgender inch becoming a mile was when I started gender affirming hormonal treatment. In what seemed a very short period of time, my body femininized as well as my inner self. I was feeling more emotional than ever before in my life as the new hormones took effect. The whole process was close to running a record setting mile. 

All along, my old male self was fighting giving up every inch he could. Not wanting to lose his life and all he had worked for. It turned out, once I went all the way into an new exciting transgender world, he lost the battle and the victory belonged to my stronger half. My feminine self as she took the final mile.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Walking the Transgender Tightrope

 

Image from Johannes Plenio on 
UnSplash




I have never been accused of being coordinated at all which completely held me back when it came to me being able to participate in any sort of athletics except for football which often meant dealing with brute strength. 

Little did I know, I would have to develop my own sense of gender coordination to deal with my gender dysphoria. It turns out the better I became navigating the world as a novice transgender woman, the more balance I would need to survive in life. What happened was, the better I became with makeup and fashion, the more confidence I felt and in addition I was gaining the all important confidence to try more and more exciting yet terrifying experiences as my feminine self. 

Doing the more I could possibly hope for led me to trying to walk part of my life in my old male gender and part in my newer female one. My second wife even approved of a plan where I could have three days a week to leave the house dressed as a guy, go to a motel, cross dress as a woman and basically do whatever I wanted. Then dress back into my boring drab male clothes and come home. It didn't take long for me to become bored with this arrangement and I began slipping out of the house behind her back when she was working. Out of sheer willpower I needed to begin being more coordinated in how I was trying to run my gender conflicted life. There was really only one thing I knew for sure, I loved my feminine side and wanted to do more and more to let her out. 

Sadly, the whole process of trying to balance the two genders fighting for dominance within me was destroying my already bi-polar fragile mental health. I tried therapy and for years had only one therapist tell me the truth...there was essentially nothing I could do about wanting to transition into a transgender woman. I was what I was and I should accept it. Of course I wasn't smart enough to take her advice. I still wanted to save what was left of my long term marriage to my second wife while at the same time exploring what could be possible if I actually had the courage to transition into a fulltime world as a transgender woman. 

Finally, after falling off the tightrope more times than I can say, I could take the mounting gender pressure no longer and tried suicide as a solution. Just before my wife passed away from a massive heart attack, I thought I "purged" for the final time and got down from my tightrope. I grew a beard, gained a bunch of weight and overall was miserable but I gave it my best effort. 

I proved to myself I wasn't coordinated enough to navigate something complex enough as a gender tightrope and moved on to living a life as my authentic self. I am not one for regrets but if I allowed myself one, it would be I would have had the courage to transition earlier in life (before the age of sixty.) I would have saved myself so much time, effort and frustration as I attempted to balance my gender tightrope.      

Sink or Swim

Image from Trans Wellness Event.  Jessie Hart Archives.  Many times when I first entered the world as a new cross dresser or femininized mal...