Showing posts with label self help. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self help. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Stairstep Method

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

Image Courtesy
Darius Cotoi on UnSplash

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Transgender Risk Management

Through life, transgender or not we face risks. Who do we marry, when do we have kids are just a couple of examples. We transgender women and men face many other risks other than the normal lifetime choices. 

Club Q Memorial


The major risks we face as we are beginning to emerge from our gender closets is to try to present well enough to blend in with the public and look like a clown which I often did. Unless we are one of the very few "naturals" who are very androgynous appearing to begin with, we face major hurdles as we attempt to grow into our authentic selves. In my case, once I learned to dress better and apply makeup more skillfully I was able to make it to the next level of risk. Which was trying to communicate with the world as a transgender woman. In a relatively short period of time I was able to master the artform of feminine communication. In other words I learned the subtleties of how to talk to another woman as a woman. The process was so fascinating and different. Once I had mastered this risk of  being able to comprehend what was really being said to me, I had to move on to the next level. Another example was being complemented on my appearance as a woman, when they were really saying I was a good looking woman for a man. 

Around this time was when I was extremely lonely and began to go out to venues I was familiar with as a single transgender woman. I called it going out to be alone. Again, in a short period of time I developed several venues which I considered low risk I go go to and be accepted. I didn't have many problems being a single transgender woman in those venues but when I started to expand my places to go was when I pushed too hard and tried new venues to see if I presented well enough to get by and hopefully add a new venue to add to my regular places to go. A few succeeded and others I had the police called on me, mainly when I tried to use the women's restroom. Needless to say, I never went back.

Another major risk I tried was when I began hormone replacement therapy. When I started HRT I was in my early sixties so I had my age to consider as well as possible health considerations. Would my body be able to accept the changes I was putting it through and benefit at the same time. Following a very slow exploratory time on hormones, my doctor determined it was fine to increase my dosage to a point where I could really see the changes. Even still, as dosages go, I am on a comparatively low dosage so as not to risk blood clots and other complications which could occur at my age of seventy three. In the words, I know I have been very fortunate to have been able to experience the deep feminizing wonders of HRT.

As I wrote this post, I decided to save the biggest risks for last. The risks we transgender women and trans men face when it comes to the high probability of losing jobs, friends and family when we gender transition. Especially as we approach the holidays, I see too many transgender folk in despair because they are alone when family has refused to accept them. Then, let's not forget the physical harm risks we all face which was tragically proven at the "Club Q" tragedy in Colorado. I believe two of the five killed were transgender.

With the future looking as if we LGBTQ individuals are going to have to struggle to overcome every risk we have to face, perhaps the most challenging opportunities for risk management are yet to come. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Transgender Awareness Week

 During Transgender Awareness Week it is important to note the basic differences we trans folk all bring to the table. From the outside looking in, I am certain most civilians think we are all the same. Persons who want to live as the opposite gender than they were born. The average person isn't sophisticated enough to see gender on the spectrum it is. In other words we all fit in somewhere between the two binary genders of male and female. 

Recently I have been seeing more and more mostly younger people refer to themselves as gender fluid or even non binary. When I do see either of the gender comments I equate them to myself. Even to the point of wondering how a gender fluid idea would have affected me in my formative years before the internet and social media became such powerful forces. A gender fluid idea would have certainly simplified everything I was going through with my gender dysphoria when I was growing up wondering what gender I wanted to be that day. 

Finally the transgender term became the catch term I grabbed onto as being the closest descriptor to what I felt about life. What could be easier than thinking yes I was transitioning from male to female so I was transgender. On my path however there were still many days when I still wanted to cling to my old male life I worked so hard to establish. They were the confusing days when I was having a difficult time deciding if moving forward to a feminine or transgender lifestyle was the proper way to go. None of this major confusion could be understood by the public when I couldn't understand it myself on many days. 

Currently I think I do quite a bit to promote transgender awareness whenever I go out.  Even though I do the best I can to present to blend in with the other women I encounter, I am sure more than a few of the public think there is something wrong with the gender picture they are dealing with. Thoughts of not being accepted used to bother me until I came up with my own little formula to deal with it. I learned the hard way most people are in their little worlds and don't care to be bothered with mine. Then there are the slim few who vaguely recognize something may be out of sorts with the way I look but keep on going anyhow. Finally there are the even slimmer portion of the public who want to make a big deal out of encountering a transgender person. At this point transgender awareness really comes into play. 

Hand Beaded Hair Barret
LizTDesigns
On Etsy 

In many ways I feel transgender awareness is needed in the worst way. The more visible we as a community become, the more political power we have. An example is here in Ohio where the organization "Trans-Ohio" as well as others have turned out in force to at least postpone efforts to try to oppress transgender care for youthful Ohioans. In a state dominated by Republican politicians, every little bit helps. In addition to adding my voice by calling the committee chairperson in the state capital of Columbus, I will be wearing my transgender hair barret to family functions coming up. 

Speaking of coming up, TDOR is fast approaching which is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Sadly at least thirty two trans people have lost their lives this year to senseless violence. So it pays to be careful if you are out and transgender.  

In the meantime, even if you are still in the closet, hopefully someday you will be able to swing the door open and enjoy the nicer more welcoming world to the transgender LGBTQ community. Even if we have to force the door open.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Burning Transgender Bridges

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

Image Credit Romeo Varga
on Unsplash

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 7, 2022

At Least it wasn't Boring

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

Photo Courtesy
Jessie Hart 

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 14, 2022

Gender Embarrassment

 
Yesterday was a big day for several reasons which involved my first visit to my Veteran's Administration primary provider. A primary provider role in the VA is similar to a family doctors in the civilian world. The significance to me was once again I would have to break in another medical provider into what makes me who I am.

Who I am of course can become quite complex to the average person if they allow it to be. Yesterday I was really surprised when one of the first questions I was asked by the nurse checking me in was how I identified. I knew the VA was attempting to learn more about transgender patients so I answered "transgender lesbian" and then added she and her as my pronouns.  From there we settled into the real reasons I was there.

Jessie Hart in Civil War 
Cemetary

As I have attempted to explain before, not only are my gender issues a point of separation between me and the "normal" other patients the staff may see but also trying to explain why my care is separated between two VA hospital centers. Add in the fact I am bi-polar and questions can become a little personal. Yesterday I needed two issues resolved above all others. One of which was getting my bloodwork done here in Cincinnati which saves me a trip to Dayton, Ohio to get it done. Fortunately after I learned each center has different systems, it would take some work and patience to accomplish the relatively simple task of blood letting. Then the major problem became was what was this estrogen and testosterone test for anyway. To make matters worse, to get it done, they had to ship it out to somewhere else. I lucked out and was assigned to a tech who stuck with the process, made a few calls and finally ended up drawing eight vials of blood. It seemed everyone wanted a sample of my blood.

Now, where the embarrassment came. Finally when I was able to see my provider for the first time, she and the nurse did a fairly decent  job of using my name in place of pronouns. Then in rapid order they screwed up twice and called me the hated "he" word. They apologized completely. So much so I was embarrassed for them. Plus I didn't want to be too much of a pain because I knew I still had two shots coming. One flu and one pneumonia plus I had another big favor to ask. I held my sharp tonged response back and mumbled something similar to it's all right. Which of course, it wasn't. 

The other favor I asked was admitting I was old and I needed a handicapped sticker to place in the windshield of our car when parking spaces are sparse and far away from where we are going. Of course all the worrying I did was for nothing as in five minutes later I had a legal document from the VA to take to the motor vehicle office to apply for a window placard. 

What seemed like hours in the clinic was finally over in probably a half hour and oh yay, I was tagged to for needing another colonoscopy. I was let free to stop at our favorite fast food chicken place NOT called "Fil A" and picked up lunch.

Now it is on to finishing up our wedding prep and picking up a new member of our feline family to replace the two who passed on last year. Hopefully, all the blood work will come back fine and my providers won't have to live through their self imposed gender embarrassment again.  

Sunday, October 9, 2022

You Win Some - You Lose Some

Very early in my gender transition I felt I was successful if I "fooled" another person into thinking I was actually a woman. Little did I know how wrong I was. An example was I would recoil at the mention I "made" a good looking woman. I felt I wasn't making anything, I was just becoming my natural self. Perhaps I was being hard on myself because in reality I was working very hard to perfect my feminine new transgender appearance. By doing so I was encourage myself I could actually survive in the world as a woman.

At the Park
Photo by Jessie Hart

When I first began to notice I was succeeding in my feminine quest was when I was shunned by male friends I knew when I dressed as a woman for a Halloween party. My "costume" was way too serious to be mistaken as a casual excursion into the feminine gender. Maybe among all the other clues, shaving my legs for the evening gave me away. 

It wasn't until years later I realized I had witnessed the first vestiges of losing my male privilege. In other words when I was successful at presenting as a woman, I was kicked out of the boys club I had worked so hard to be accepted in. I was naïve in thinking I could to try to live part time in each binary gender. The entire process nearly cost me the ultimate loss when I tried suicide in addition to a very self destructive existence.

As I transitioned into a fulltime life as a transgender woman, I began to understand exactly what I was winning and what I was losing. Naturally what I was winning was a life as my feminine authentic self when I finally let her out of our gender closet. On the other hand, I was out of the boys club forever and needed to adjust my thinking. I learned the hard way, I had become in essence a second class citizen in the world of men. Long gone were the days when my opinion actually mattered in a group of men. Even though I knew more about the subject than they did. It was humorous to me when I was "mansplained" about a sporting comment. I lost the battle in society but won the war personally. 

I also learned the hard way how losing my male privilege could be dangerous. I write often how I was cornered at a party by a much larger man and suddenly found how vulnerable women could feel. To make matters worse I needed to be rescued by my wife. Yet another instance when losing my male privilege nearly led me to harm occurred during a late night excursion to a gay bar in downtown Dayton, Ohio. When I left the relative safety of the bar and headed down the dark sidewalk to my car I was suddenly stopped by two men. Luckily I was able to escape with no harm when I gave them my last five dollars. Never again did I walk that sidewalk alone. 

Even though there is no way I would give up my feminine privilege which included my new cis woman friends, it still is amazing to me the white male privilege so many men take for granted. 

I certainly won more than I lost.       

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Between the Transgender Rock and the Hard Place

 

Photo by Leio McLaren on Unsplash

Sadly, many of us in the transgender community have experienced losing a spouse as we continue our journeys towards living as our authentic selves. 

Equally as sad is the fact for many the trip turns out to be a selfish and solitary experience. In addition, our spouses all too often have front row seats as we slowly slip away. First there are the clothes and the makeup, then comes the occasional trips to test the public's eye and those turn out to be the simplest part. 

In my case I have written often how my second wife (deceased) accepted me being a cross dresser but rejected any ideas of me transitioning into a transgender woman. It led me to sneak out behind her back as much as possible and into huge fights when she caught me. All of the hostility led her once telling me to be man enough to be a woman. 

She unfortunately was gone before I transitioned and I will be forever interested in what she would have thought about the new person I became. I loved her very much and held on to the bitter end. Looking back, had she lived I am sure we could not have survived as a couple. The draw to live a feminine life was just too strong and felt all too natural. I can't imagine her accepting me changing my name for example. 

Having said all of that, I have several transgender women friends who have managed to hold together a marriage through a transition. Slowly and often begrudgingly spouses have decided to stay with their trans mates for any number of reasons, including children. Another subject totally. Some kids just seem to accpet more than others. 

I can't imagine if my spouse decided to transition to being a trans man. Of course I am biased and think there would be no problems but deep down I'm not so sure. Even though on occasion Liz is more masculine than I ever was even when I was trying to hide any toxic masculinity I ever had. 

The whole process certainly puts us all between the rock and the hard place when it comes to our gender transitions. Deep down we know it's something we have to do regardless of the number of years we have put into a marriage. I was at twenty five years and counting when my spouse passed away. We faced problems in the relationship when I was the girly girl of both of us. So much so, she asked me to help with her makeup on special occasions. 

The whole process for me was similar to a slippery slope. The more I did as a novice transgender woman, the more I wanted to do. As I was finally syncing up my feminine soul with my exterior and exploring the world, the better I felt...for awhile until the pressure to explore again began to build on me. It was then I began to feel I was between the rock and the hard place. Having someone who love but not as my authentic self. 

The whole process eventually led me to a suicide attempt. The rock and the hard place was a brutal place to be. As I looked over my gender cliff, I didn't know where I would land and how soft the landing would be. New friends made it all a success. 

  

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Legally Complete

Dinner with Liz on the right
Jessie Hart

Yesterday, Liz and I made the big step of going to the courthouse and obtaining a marriage license following eleven years of knowing each other. No need to hurry, right? 

After walking what seemed like a mile to me to get to the courthouse, we made our way by elevator to the tenth floor where marriage licenses are done. As I waited for the process, the more nervous I became. How would the clerk perceive us and would there be a bias. At the least we would be perceived as two women getting married and at the worst I would be outed as a transgender woman marrying a cis-woman. It turned out the only major problem I was going to have was my own fault. There was a pre-certification process I had to fill out before we went to pick up and/or do the licensing process.

For one, somehow I filled out the wrong question concerning my deceased wife and they had me as divorced at the time of her death. If all of that was true (it wasn't) I would have had to come up with a divorce decree. I was able to convince the clerk I filled the form out wrong and I was definitely still married to her when she passed away. 

Once I passed that hurdle, I had to go way back in my old noggin to 1978, to my divorce from my first wife. I was able to search county records on line from my hometown and actually located the file of our disillusionment I was looking for. Ironically the hardest part of the entire process turned out to be the part I did correctly because the clerk said all my information had been accepted.

From then on, it was clear sailing as we filled out the rest of the necessary paperwork and paid out the seventy five dollar fee. By the way, no bias was shown due to our gender situation. For all the clerk knew, we were two women getting married. Just the way I wanted it. The only thing that made it difficult was my own mistakes filling out the information.

We are all set now until the official wedding date of October 16th. Liz in particular is excited for her first marriage. 

Last night we celebrated by going to our favorite Mexican restaurant to have a Margarita and talked about our past, present and most importantly our future. Somehow I have always felt two is better than one so yes I am excited about the future.    

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

A Vacuum?

 

Photo by Lukas ter Poorten on Unsplash

Nothing happens in a vacuum. No matter how hard you try, there are always outside influences which effect the outcome of what we want to happen. 

This is especially true for transgender women and trans men. During our gender transitions we rely on others on occasion to show us the way. Recently, I have mentioned cis women such as Liz, Kim, my daughter and Min who provided guidance or even a shove to get me moving in the right direction. Liz in particular told me she didn't see any male in me at all, my daughter took me to her hair salon and Kim took me to a professional football game. All were totally instrumental in me becoming a full time out transgender woman.

Ironically, early in my transition I didn't believe in needing a cis woman to assist in furthering my own gender trip across the frontier. I went back to my much anticipated visit with my fiancé when she would completely dress me head to toe as a woman. Even though it was a thrilling day, deep down I wasn't impressed that much with the results. As far as the makeup went, by that time I had plenty of time to practice on my own over the years. Her improvement just wasn't that noticeable. As far as the clothes went, I picked out the outfit myself. I should have known she wouldn't do that good because she is the one who wanted me to say I was gay to dodge the draft. When I wouldn't she dumped me which turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me in my life. Nothing happens in a vacuum for sure.

Vacuums however are funny creatures. Without the women I mentioned above, there would have been no way I would have developed the confidence to go public and learn how to communicate with other women. I consider communication the most important hurdle I had to cross when I MtF gender transitioned. I say that because appearance wise I had reached a point where I didn't have much of a problem with the public but building a new life as my feminine self was something totally different. I needed to build a new person from the ground up plus I was in a vacuum on how to do it. 

Slowly but surely and again with the help of friends, I managed to find a place in the girls sandbox and after a few mishaps, survive. I made the mistake of trusting smiling faces who were holding knives behind their backs. I think when I surrounded myself with cis women friends, negative people couldn't get to me. Expanding on the vacuum theme a bit, essentially I expanded my vacuum to survive and thrive as a new person.  

I may be age biased but I believe older transgender women have a more difficult time coming out of their vacuums. Many lose family and friends and find it difficult to restart their lives. Many are content to let their lives play out as I was until Liz came along and changed everything. She found me in an on line dating group. Proving once again how wrong a vacuum can be.

Monday, August 29, 2022

What is Normal?

 

Photo Courtesy Jessie Hart

I love this question because the easy answer is nothing is normal. The more that transphobes and other haters like to say about it, the more they prove themselves wrong. Just because they think they are in the majority of hetero-straight humans, doesn't make it normal. 

On the other hand, during my life, I disliked being called "normal". If I was normal as compared to the rest of society I would have never succeeded in being accepted into the American Forces Radio and Television service when I was in the Army. Other lesser examples were how my daughter came along against the odds as well as various college changes kept me out of the military draft as long as I did. 

For the longest time in my life, I did my best to be a normal guy. In middle school and high school I did play sports, worked on cars and begrudgingly dated girls. In other words, I did what was expected by my family and society. Of course the entire process brought extreme confusion and often pain. My parents always were fond of telling me not to be into what other people said. But of course, all of that  ended when I wanted to be a girl. Then, normal, took a whole other turn in my life.

For the longest time I considered myself less than normal when I was dealing with the everyday public. I used it as an excuse to explain my cross dressing "habit" to myself. Somehow since I felt I had a different "hobby" I was less than normal. 

Once I started to increasingly explore the feminine world as a transgender woman, all of my thought patterns started to change. Slowly but surely I began to realize I truly wasn't normal. I had been doing my best to live a lie and exist in the male world. The more I transitioned into my authentic self the more natural I felt. Often how I was feeling was the only thing which kept me going during the dark hours I went through as I learned to play in the girls' sandbox. Even though it is painful to remember and write about, the tears were real and came too often. 

The more I learned the more normal I felt. I can only assume it is because I am finally living my own feminine reality. As I face the world now, I have found my own normal 

I am now living a better life because of it. After all, normal is fairly simple. It is what you make of  it.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Comfortable in your Own Skin


As transgender women and trans men transition into our authentic selves often we take longer to feel comfortable in our own skins. As with many others, it took me  many years to catch up and feel much better on the direction life was taking me. 

The first thing I had to do was to grow up and out of my teenaged girl years which of course weren't happening until I was in my thirties. I have documented many times how I went through a period of dressing more trashy than classy as I was trying to validate myself as a woman. Another way of saying I was desperate to feel comfortable in my own skin but was failing completely. Fortunately even I got it through my thick noggin what I was doing wrong. By this time I was learning to dress to blend and interact with other women. 

As I did, I began to seriously realize I could be successful in my new gender skin. Every now and then I am asked how I made it to this point. My answer was and is two fold. The first answer is to practice, practice and more practice. My second advice is don't become discouraged no matter how tough life becomes. Specifically when it comes time to attempt a few or all of the same things cis-women have to do to better their appearance. Examples include working to lose weight and taking better care of your skin. Remember, women, similar to Rome, weren't built overnight. If you are having problems with your makeup, don't hesitate to hitch up your big girl panties and go to a makeup store for help or keep practicing until you become better. 

At times you may feel the road you are on may never end. After all, women lead such layered and complex lives and once you escape your gender closet and see the light of day, it's natural to be terrified to the point of wondering if you will ever be able to live the life you dreamed of forever. Plus you never know how your future life may change and allow you  to better live as a transgender woman. It happened with me. I went from a bearded two hundred seventy pound life long cross dresser in a little over a six month period to a full time transgender woman. When my wife passed away totally unexpectedly. Although I don't  recommend what happened to me, the fact still remains it could happen.

Being comfortable in your own gender skin is a lot of work but completely worth it in the long or even short term. Much of the process involves having the confidence to do something about it, which we will discuss in an upcoming post.  

Thursday, August 18, 2022

How the Transgender Tree Grows

 

Image from Unplash

Most days I sit and ponder what I am going to write about today, I notice the same huge tree growing in the neighbor's back yard. Today for some reason I made a connection with growing up transgender with that tree. 

All of us at some point lay down our gender roots, transgender or not. Waking up in the morning more times than not I would wonder what gender I would be that day. Non of it included the pain when I had a very vivid dream of being a girl. Of course dreams like that made the whole situation worse and made the roots grow deeper. The problem also was I was trying my best to up-root my feminine leanings. Please keep in mind I grew up in the pre-internet era when there was very little information on gender dysphoria. 

As I grew past that time in my life, my feminine roots really took over. Especially when I began to discover others with similar outlooks plus information how to deal with it. No matter how much root killer I tried to use to kill my feminine instincts, nothing worked. In fact, as my gender tree grew the stronger it became. 

Then came the big growth spurts caused partially by me going to Halloween parties. It doesn't seem possible but the time of year for Halloween is rapidly approaching and it will time for me to once again do my Halloween "Greatest Hits" posts here in the blog. In the meantime I will say the entire experience did more to send my feminine roots deeper than anything else in my life, up to that point.In short I learned there was a possibility I could present well enough as a woman to survive in society. My roots had branched into a tree which started to bear seeds. 

Multiple seeds sprouted into more transgender trees and I reached several points of no return in my growth into living as a full time transgender woman. So much so, that finally the female seeds choked out the male seeds completely. 

Which brings me full circle to the place I am today. From my initial explorations in my Mom's clothing what seems like it was a hundred years ago to going to my next Mammogram on Wednesday my roots have grown a strong transgender tree. Even with me trying my best to destroy them by destroying myself. I just hope my roots can remain as strong through an upcoming marriage and my later years in life. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A Closer Look at HRT

 

Photo Courtesy Connie Malone

Several days ago I wrote a post called "Comments" which ultimately came from a post which dealt with hormone replacement therapy. The post turned out to be one of the most commented posts I have written in a while. Mainly because to some HRT is the main gateway when you transition from cross dresser to transgender woman or trans man. As I wrote there are more dangers from the extra hormones to many people than are known. I also wrote about Connie being one of those individuals. She faces dire medical circumstances if she would attempt HRT. Here is the comment in reply to Jas:

"As you stated, in answering to Jas's comment, I have not been able to enjoy the mental, emotional, or physical effects that HRT may have had on me. Actually, though, at my age, my hormone balance is not so different than most 71-year-old cis women. That many people have expressed their assumption (of my consumption:-) of HRT for me is both gratifying and frustrating. I can, at the same time, think well of myself for "pulling it off" and also be offended that someone could say such an inappropriate thing to me. I suppose, then, that the next assumption would be that I have had all the surgeries necessary to "womanize" myself (and some have expressed that, as well).

One saying they are dying to be a woman is fine, but not very many would mean that literally - myself included. I also reject the statement made to me years ago that, because I suffered from male pattern baldness and could not (I think they said would not) take hormones or have surgeries, I could never be more than a "professional cross dresser."

Even though I have been on hormone replacement therapy for going on eight plus years now and live fulltime as a transgender woman, I have not undergone any surgeries. I suppose in more than a few critical transgender circles I too would be considered a "professional cross dresser." Then again, like Connie, I didn't begin this life long gender journey if I cared what most others cared about me. In fact it was years ago when I met Connie we found we thought alike when we harassed so called transgender nazi's who made a big deal out of how many surgeries they had under gone. 

These days, for the most part, I think the barriers within the transgender community are coming down. I am seeing more and more younger people identifying as non binary. Even still, I see the "I am transer than thou" raise it's ugly head entirely too often. 

As I have written many times, I am so fortunate to be able to begin and tolerate a hormonal replacement therapy at my advanced age. Anymore it is such a part of me I would hate to see it go. So far, so good but I am always prepared for the worst but HRT no longer defines me as a transgender woman.    

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Answer to a Transgender Guestion

Image from Unsplash 

Yesterday I wrote a post asking the question "What is a Transgender Woman." 

Today I received this wonderful response through my Medium writers format from Jas Martinez: 

"  Gender identity of a female? Not all females have a gender identity of a female. There has to be, there probably will be a better definition in the near future. There are trans people that label themselves trans women, however many of them are simply trans people that cross dress. I guess I am a gatekeeper is sorts. A trans woman is a trans person who lives full time as woman, has legally changed their name and is on HRT to be recognized or assumed to be a cis-woman. It’s the same as being a veteran.

To be recognized as a veteran one must have served in the military. To be recognized as a surgeon one must have graduated medical school, be licensed and actually perform surgeries. Label yourself any way you want but those are only words. To be a trans woman one has to live the part."

Thanks for the comment! There were so many to choose from. The only part I would disagree with is the portion which said HRT was a needed to be a transgender woman. I know several transgender women who live quite well as their authentic selves without going the HRT route. One in particular is Connie who can't because of medical issues and the other I believe is "Stana" from the Femulate blog.

On the other hand I agree not all females have the gender identity of a female. My partner (and future wife) Liz is way more masculine than I am and can't wait to call me "Mrs. Hart". I asked her the why's of being a transgender woman and she replied a trans woman was/is a person who knows where she came from and knows where she is going, even if she doesn't know the exact path.

Interestingly, Liz thinks too many transitioning novice transgender women have too difficult a time letting go of their old male privilege's. Growth doesn't happen over night and a person needs time to grow into their authentic selves woman or man.

Then Lauren added another comment:

"Yes JJ, gotta love the haters, it's really hard when they're family members who refuse to acknowledge or accept you. How do you reply to someone who says: "I don't understand and frankly, I don't want to understand, what you're doing is wrong!"

The answer, you don't really. you walk away and the relationship is over. Hard but necessary. They just can't get it through their thick skulls we are born this way and have been since we were children. It's just wrong."

Thanks to you Lauren and for the rest of you just to confuse everyone I decided to write Medium under my legal name change JJ or Jessie. Plus as far as haters are concerned, my very own brother falls under a person I just had to walk away from. Sadly.

I love comments and wish I could answer more of them in actual posts but it is difficult to do. Thanks again for those of who who do comment!


Sunday, July 3, 2022

Grounded

 Perhaps if you are similar to me you also have to "ground" your transgender feelings. 

Liz (left) and I during a night out.

Over the years it mainly meant I had to uncover my "collection" of feminine clothing and makeup then find the nearest mirror to examine my handiwork. The problem quickly became when I started to explore the world as my feminine self, I encountered many people who didn't share the mirror's idea of how I looked. It was after these occasions of being rejected I had to go back to the drawing board and attempt to ground myself again. 

As I progressed down my transgender journey, becoming grounded became more intricate. For example, when I advanced to the point of properly presenting myself as a feminine person, the time came to form a whole new personage. All too quickly it seemed people wanted to actually talk to me. Staying grounded while I learned to communicate as a woman was difficult. Especially when I began to understand the nuances of communication between the genders. After a day, or even part of a day, it was exceedingly difficult to adjust my grounding back to my non authentic male self. The stress of attempting to exist part time in both of the binary genders was intense and one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. 

All of the stress finally led me to another suicide attempt and I decided to take the path which was more natural to me and attempt to live fulltime as a transgender woman. Once I achieved my goal, unfortunately the stress of being grounded as my authentic self didn't cease. Even though I felt I might have it better than the average transgender woman I encountered in support groups, I still had my moments of not feeling grounded. Perhaps it is because I still took all of a half a century to fully transition. Perhaps it has just taken me a bit longer than I wished to lose all the figments of who I was,

Now I am fairly sedentary and still don't get out much even after Covid. During the time I have learned to finally accept myself for who I am. I am no longer fighting to be a false male self . Even still, when we can, I cherish the times Liz and I can go out to eat. It's a time I can reestablish my feminine self and get grounded again as my true authentic self.

Hopefully your path has been easier than mine and you have discovered and live as you please.    

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Parental Guidance

Can you imagine your transgender life if years ago you had the benefit of positive feedback from your parents? 

Photo from Noah Busher
on Unslash, Not of the author.

Most certainly it didn't happen with me. My parents  of the "greatest generation" age group did not have the knowledge tools and/or the emotional background to handle a gender dysphoric child. You have to remember also I was born in 1949 which lends a reference to the time period I am referring to. I can't speculate on what my Dad may have thought since I never had the courage to tell him. As I have mentioned many times, the only time I told my Mom was when I was out of the Army and she told me they would help me with psychiatric care. I found the whole idea to be totally wrong and distasteful to me because not long ago I had come out to a few close friends as a transvestite. I found the experience to be totally liberating and the last thing I wanted to do was go back. In typical form, the night we talked was the last time Mom and I discussed my gender issues the rest of her life.

So I can't even imagine having the opportunity to have been "Daddy's little girl" Or being able to play in my Mom's makeup without the fear of being in trouble. What if I was allowed to receive the doll I wanted as a gift for Christmas instead of the hated BB Gun. Furthermore what if I had benefited from the guidance a mother can offer to a daughter growing up. Could I have separated the good from the intense pressure I am sure I would have encountered as Mom wanted me to conform. It was bad enough as a cross dressing  boy. I am sure the grass would not have been always greener on the other side of the binary gender pasture. 

The other day when my daughter and I were enjoying breakfast, she asked me if I had always known I was transgender. I told her, from all indications yes. The problem was the knowledge of the term or even the invention of the word itself was far from being a household term when I was growing up. The whole idea was so foreign to me it took years to figure out yes indeed I checked all the transgender boxes and finally I had found something which I felt as if it fit me. 

I don't really know why but even with her complete acceptance I still am slightly shy when she asked me questions concerning my gender issues. Possibly it is because a portion of me still doesn't pull back the macho man curtain to her and let her see the true me. One of the remnants of what my Dad taught me. 

These days I am so envious of the transgender youth who are fortunate enough to have understanding parents. Some to the point of even being willing to move to areas of the country which are more transgender friendly. This extends to all the sympathetic spouses who are willing to transition with their loved ones. 

Definitely positive parental guidance should be praised and cherished.     

    

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Friends

 What are friends for? Right? As far as transgender individuals are concerned, friends mean quite a bit. 

Many of us go through a portion of our lives when we desperately seek out "replacement" friends to help us with how we look or even how we move as we attempt to live as our authentic selves. I remember many times in the blog when others have mentioned how badly they needed a cis woman to do their makeup. Over the years I found I was mostly self taught which sometimes showed until I learned how to not look like a clown. I say mostly because on a couple of occasions I did take advantage of a free makeover. Even then with my ego, I had to "face" the makeup person with absolutely no make up and more importantly try to understand exactly what he was trying to tell me about applying makeup.

Years before I sought professional help, I did beg my fiancé to help me totally cross dress as a woman. It turned out to be one of the most exciting times of my life yet one of the worst decisions I ever made. Later on I had to endure a very messy breakup with her before I went into the military. She told me to tell them I was gay and not be drafted or we were finished. It turns out she was holding my cross dressing desires against me. The wonderful end to the story is getting rid of her was one of the best decisions of my life. 

These days there are many ways to seek out help with cosmetics. Depending upon your finances, there are larger makeup chain stores to help you. I say finances because naturally, they will try to sell you many products. Some of which you may not need. 

Girls Night Out Photo. Courtesy Jessie Hart 
I am bottom row far left. 
Of course there are many other ways friends can help you down your path to living as your authentic self. I was fortunate to find several close cis women friends early in my transition when I was going out to be alone. In other words, I was desperately lonely so I still went out as my authentic self to enjoy what I had of life. Also I had recently gone through the loss (death) of my wife and several close friends, so I felt what else did I have to lose. 


My new found friends helped me to find life again and more importantly accepted me as my authentic self. As with most everything else in life, time moves everything in a circle if you live long enough. In my case I was able to finally replace the few long time friends I had acquired as a cross dressing man with equally as close friends I could socialize with. Being social again brought my life back to a place I could ever imagine.  

Transitioning certainly means more than coming out to family. No matter if you are able to find new friends through local LGBTQ groups or wherever, establishing a new world as your authentic self is often key to a healthy existence. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Therapy

 My experiences with therapy started years ago. So long ago I barely remember when. However I do remember I built up the courage to tell my first therapist (a man) that I liked to cross dress as a woman. I remember too he basically glossed over my admission and began to write me prescriptions for such mind altering medications of the day such as Prozac and Lithium.  I don't remember much about the

Jessie with Brutus Buckeye

side effects of Prozac but I know I didn't like or tolerate Lithium well at all. Through it all, the medications didn't have an affect one way or another on my cross dressing. Plus, I felt the doctor must have felt worse talking about it than I did, because he never brought it up again.

Around that time was when I picked up my small family and began to move to various places around the country trying desperately to out run my gender problems. Following a year and a half stay in the NYC Metro area, we bounced back to our native Ohio, to a largely rural area along the Ohio River.  Near that time was when I began to seriously explore the world as a cross dressing woman. My wife knew of my cross dressing desires but never approved of me going out from our house which happened to be in a very rural area. Of course, the more I snuck out the more I wanted to. Which led me to being on a collision course with being caught by her. Every time it happened a huge fight between us took place. One time after a particular nasty altercation, I volunteered to schedule an appointment with a therapist who specialized in gender difficulties or dysphoria, I believe I discovered her information in an issue of "Transvestia" magazine. To do it at all was quite a task because of where she was located an hours drive north of us in Columbus, Ohio. 

Ironically she was a successful trip for all the wrong reasons. Fairly early in our visits, she told me there was no way she could help me with being a cross dresser or transvestite as it was known back in those days but she could help me with the vicious mood swings I was going through. In other words, she was the first therapist to diagnose my Bi-Polar disorder. Through it all, every visit I managed to take, I was prolonging the inevitable next fight with my wife. So all in all, my experience with this therapist was a success. At least the next time I was caught out and about cross dressed by my wife I could say I was trying to do something about it.

My next experience with a therapist came years later when I began my care under the Veterans Administration health care system. One of the main reasons I sought out their help was because I was severely financially challenged and unable to purchase my Bi-Polar medications on my own. Of course in order to be prescribed through the VA I had to be seen by a therapist. This was near the same time my wife had passed away and I was considering starting hormone replacement therapy, so in essence invisible doors were beginning to open for me since this was all in the early days of the VA accepting HRT work also. 

I was really fortunate. The therapist I was assigned is still with me today. A near impossibility in the VA system as I know it. More importantly too, she was willing to listen to me and accept the fact my transgender issues were completely separate from my Bi-Polar issues. She kept me on the medications which had been a success for me in the past and approved me for HRT meds. Fairly quickly she became one of the most important people in my life.

I am aware I could be the exception to the rule when it comes to therapy and many transgender persons resent the idea they need therapy before they can start HRT.  I know also several trans persons who either had a difficult time finding a therapist who deals with gender issues or being able to feel comfortable doing it. 

Hopefully if you have sought out therapy you have been successful finding one who helps you with your gender dysphoria or any other issue you may have,   

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

What If?

 Why does it always seem there is a "what if" to every transgender question. Examples are many. Lets explore a few.

What if I had never went exploring in my Mom's underwear drawers and discovered the luxury of silky hose and panties. Would I have still had the same internal idea somehow I wanted to be a girl just because I wanted to wear feminine clothes. The answer was an easy one because very soon while I was still wearing the clothes of a girl I found the clothes were a stop-gap measure, I really was more interested in being the girl. Not just looking like one. In actuality proving to me I was a transgender woman not a cross dresser.

Then what if years later I had been completely recognized when I was surprised by my wife's boss in a store parking lot. Here was I dressed in a tight mini skirt, flats and wig feeling totally on my own in my chosen gender. I ended up throwing my shoulders back, standing up straight and walking past him without making any eye contact. I say I wasn't completely recognized because he made a point later of telling my wife of the large "red head" he saw in a store parking lot. Of course she made it a priority to tell me knowing full well I owned a redheaded wig and it was my favorite,

There was more "what if" to this experience. What if I had never decided to try to accomplish more day to day womanly tasks such as doing the grocery shopping. If I didn't I would have never

 
encountered a young grocery bagger who was totally flustered waiting on me. Of course it will be forever one of those endearing ego based mysteries. Was he flustered because of how I looked as a cross dresser or was it all because I was a cross dresser to start with. Either way, it was another lesson learned when a woman mentally over powers a man.

Perhaps my biggest "what if" has to with the night at the Fridays restaurant/bar when I decided enough was enough. What if I quit going out doing my best to "fool" the world into thinking I was a woman and see if I could actually exist as one in a feminine world. What if I had actually backed out of the idea after I had sat in my car positively panicked waiting for a half hour for just the right moment to go in. Of course now it is all ancient history what happened. I wasn't laughed out of the venue and ended up establishing myself as a regular for years to come. All as my authentic self.  

From there the dominoes began to fall as I began to explore the possibilities of living a feminine life I had barely dreamed of ever living. Leading me to a huge "what if" I had the determination and the perseverance to begin hormone replacement therapy. Again I made the commitment to "do the meds" and the rest is history as I love it.

In a transgender life there always seems to be more questions. I am nearly seventy three years of age and now it is time to look my final "what if" head on. My biggest fear continues to be what will happen to me if I ever have to go into an assisted living and/or nursing home situation. At this time in my life I keep telling myself not to worry about jumping off that bridge until I come to it. 

In the meantime I am setting my sights on being able to enjoy the up coming Cincinnati Pride Pub Crawl.