Showing posts with label trans men. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trans men. Show all posts

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Transgender Control

Image from Charles 
Deluvio on UnSplash

Many times, resistance to transgender  women  or trans men comes from people who just want to control us.

Since so many people don't understand trans people, control for them seems to be the easiest way out to deal with us. On the other hand, I dealt with being ignored by men when I first came out in the public's eye. Most of it probably came from the presentation issues I dealt with. Examples included the times I started to talk to men concerning topics I knew quite a bit about and was roundly ignored. However there was the occasional man who tried to dominate the conversation with me. 

Seeing as how I had lived in the male world all those years, I should have known it was coming. Even other men tried their best to control me over the years. With a few of them, like drill sergeants when I was in the Army. What I did was internalize my thoughts and outwardly listened to them. So I learned to get by in the world. Even when I was wondering how I would exist in the world as a transgender woman.

I was lucky I had good role models around me from the women I knew. My Mom started it all off because she existed quite well in the male dominated world she existed in. Then, much later in life, I worked in a profession where again I saw how the strong women around me survived well in life. Very few people controlled them. As their boss, I learned to work with them, not control them. In my dealings with men as a trans woman, all I wanted was the same. A man who would work with me not cut me off in mid sentence when we talked. In all fairness to the men I met before I began to be involved with my group of lesbians, I did meet a couple guys I felt I could be interested in.

My problem was I refused to be treated as a fetish item and required a man to meet me in a public place before we did anything else. Which stopped all of the crazies I met on line. For just a moment at least, I wanted my own transgender control. As my transition progressed, I found control was harder and harder to maintain, especially when I became quite fond of several women around me who accepted me for who I was. Control from a feminine viewpoint was quite different from all I had learned as a guy growing up. Primarily because there was more give and take.

Of course I embraced all the changes and willingly gave up several keys to my life. The biggest one came when I packed up my belongings, along with my cat and dog and moved in with my current wife (and longtime companion) Liz. Now it has been over twelve years ago and after quite a bit of give and take, our relationship thrives. 

All in all, learning control as a transgender woman  is a difficult process. Primarily because of the major differences in the binary genders. In order to survive in our male life, many of us had to learn to control the situation when it came to dealing with spouses, family and employment. While I can safely say I never really controlled my second wife who was a very strong woman, on occasion I tried because I was the man and it was what men do. Above all it taught me, it was NOT what men should do. Especially when I faced it as a trans woman. 

Again, thanks to the feminine role models I grew up with, I blossomed into a proud out transgender woman I am today. They all showed me the way and my inner female finished the deal. 

Monday, July 1, 2024

A Transgender Marathon

Archive Image

 I'm sure you have heard the saying it's a marathon, not a sprint. This is especially true for transgender women and trans men.

Yesterday, I read a social media post from a first time transgender woman going out in public for the first time. In the post, she was bemoaning the fact after applying her makeup and seeing pictures, she did not look as good as she thought she did. My heart went out to her and I mentioned I went down the same path. Learning the art of makeup is just the first part of a transgender marathon into understanding yourself. 

Others who read the post chimed in with similar thoughts and even expanded it into impostor syndrome as a future possible reaction the person might have to face. 

Looking back, I could remember vividly how badly I felt when I first started my visits out of the house and into the public's eye. Back then, pictures were difficult to come by and were mainly only accessible by the old "photo kiosks" and drug stores. Only one time get I get brave enough to take a roll of film to one of the kiosks to see how I looked on film. I was shocked, and not in a good way, I obviously looked like a cross dresser and a bad one at that. The worst part was, the person who developed and gave me my pictures knew me and even worse yet, his Dad worked with my Dad. My marathon was almost over before it started. If I liked it or not. 

As it turned out, I moved back into the mirror and did my best to remove the negative self image I still had from the ill advised pictures. It actually took me years to try to attempt more pictures as my marathon moved on. As with anything else, the more you work on something, the better you become. Also technology was on my side with better cameras, which offered more than the very expensive Polaroids giving instant pictorial feedback. I was fascinated with my first cell phone which took pictures and better yet I had my first computer that I used to upload cross dressed pictures of myself. By doing so, I attracted attention, flattering to begin with in chatrooms until my wife caught on. She learned the computer skills faster than I did, so I needed to try to catch up as fast as possible. 

My marathon marched on, I gained more and more confidence until I reached increasing problems with my gender dysphoria. It seemed, no matter how much effort I put into my feminine appearance and deportment, the more I felt like a guy in a dress. To survive, I finally had to come to a basic conclusion. I was not as good looking as a woman I thought I was, or as bad. There was always the middle point I needed to shoot for. Finally, I knew who I was and I had the confidence to move on from new problems such as impostor syndrome. 

Again, I needed to come to a middle point where I could survive as a person. While I could never reclaim a girl's childhood experiences, or the problems associated with having periods or pregnancies, I had to go through my own set of experiences which presented their own problems. For example, I needed to try to escape my own gender demons which everyone in life seems to have, male or female, trans or not. I finally had to end the part of my marathon I agonized over for so long and claim my own brand of womanhood. Somehow I always found a way to survive and found a path. I was able to chase it and find success...in my own way. Which turned out was all I could do.

Going all the way back to the person who was just starting their public journey as a transgender person, try to make your marathon as easy as you can, Roll with the punches and move along as quickly as you can but always remembering the entire process is a marathon, not a sprint and sometimes, you are your own worst enemy. 

Thursday, June 20, 2024

A Spectator in my Own Life

 

Ohio River Image from
the Archives.

Many times during my life, I felt as if I was just a spectator in my own life, not an active participant.

Included were the times I fell in love with myself over the new feminine self in the mirror at home. The whole experience for years  was similar to the impossible dream I could never achieve.  The older I became, changes began to take place in how I viewed myself. Perhaps, some of the biggest ones came about when I began to meet other diverse people in the cross dresser or transgender community. At the time, I barely knew a transgender or transsexual person even existed and here I was actually meeting real life people I could learn from. I especially wanted to see and understand how two women I knew were going to go through the entire surgical gender surgeries to complete their gender journeys. I wondered if I could ever make the ultimate sacrifice to change my body or, did I even need to. It was until much later in life when I fully learned gender was between my ears and not my legs and living like a woman was good enough for me.

As I was initially out in the public's eye trying to survive as a novice trans woman, often I felt as is I was a spectator in my own life. The pretty girl in the mirror just couldn't be me but she was and what would happen next. What happened was, I immediately wanted to do more in my new exciting femininized life. In order to do so, I needed to begin to communicate with the world if I wanted to go any further. At that point I thought my spectator issues would go away but it did not.

The prime example with me being a spectator happened on the night I went to a sports/restaurant venue to see if I could blend in successfully with other single professional women. Despite being scared to death, I managed to survive even though I still felt like a spectator in my own life. Who was this person?  By this time, I was wondering if my spectatorship would ever go away and I could lead a so called "normal" life as a transgender woman. 

The answer came from repetition.  The more I was out in the world, the more I felt as if I belonged and my authentic self took charge. I no longer felt as if I was a spectator looking in on my own life. I suppose much of my change had to do with the balance of living over half a century trying to exist in a male world, with much a smaller percentage of time learning to exist in a world often not accepting to transgender women. Through trial and error, I was able to see what was working and set out to fix it. I am very stubborn and the same effort I put into my transition often slowed my progress down when I hit a rough patch. Such as how I was dressing. I needed to adjust my fashion away from what my old male self liked into what my feminine self thought was proper and then I started to blend and succeed in the world. At the same time, I felt less and less as a spectator and more and more as a participant.

Being a participant was impactful and fun and made me feel as if I had a real say in my everyday life into my future for the first time ever. It seemed living a life as a transgender woman was within my grasp and I started to understand what my acquaintances so long ago felt, except for the major gender surgeries of course. 

Then there was the major waste of time I needed to face in my life. I always say, if I could have just a small amount of time back when I was day dreaming of being a girl or woman, where would have my life taken me. If I had not been a spectator and took control could I made a bigger success of my male life, or would something else have happened to keep me on the same path I was on. Ironically, age brings on many questions and very few answers except for at the least, I ended up trying to change for the better. 

Maybe we all are spectators in our own lives and never realize it until it is too late. It seems transgender women and trans men just have better seats on occasion  Especially all the times we had to tear down our old life and rebuild anew. .

  

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Workplace Issues

Image from Gabrielle Henderson 
on UnSplash.

Sadly, many transgender women and trans men still get discriminated against when they seek out employment.  Or worse yet are terminated from a job they already had. 

In the past, I have mentioned a local acquaintance I know who was terminated from her job because she was transgender. What made matters worse, she has a family she supports. All her former company cared about was she was a distraction and needed to go. To make ends meet as she looked for her first job as her authentic feminine self, she needed to finally take on various delivery jobs. 

Sadly, she decided she did not want to or could not go down the often bewildering legal route it would take her to fight for her job. Often, the path a trans or LGBTQ person needs to take is more difficult than just walking away from the the job altogether.

Recently, I was approached by Hailey from a law firm which specializes in handling LGBTQ cases. She also passed along a web site which gives guidelines in what to do if you are being discriminated against at your job. The website is very detailed and I had to read about three quarters of the way through it to arrive at what I was looking for. Very relevant information can be found in the section "How to respond to LGBTQ Discrimination in the workplace." Plus a section on how to report workplace discrimination is very good also.. I know each state has different rules and regulations regarding discrimination and I thought this resource could be a benefit to those who need it. 

Here is your link: https://employeejustice.com/lgbtq-discrimination-in-the-workplace/

Thanks Hailey and I have good news to report from my friend who was fired. She finally found an entry level job and has been promoted twice! Good transgender help is sometimes easy to find. 

Friday, June 7, 2024

Last Chance

The Ohio State Student Union
with Brutus Buckeye


In  a recent post, I discussed the problem of waiting through years of cross dressing before I could finally transition into fulltime transgender womanhood. 

Then when I came out, I faced certain people who somehow didn't think I was deserving of the transgender title because I took so long to do it. Of course in my usual way, I thought to hell with them, we all are different in how we are able to transition. In most cases, the younger trans people who were saying all of this, had no knowledge of the conditions we faced in our younger days before the internet and social media. Our closets were potentially darker and more lonely than the days after the internet. 

Enough complaining, reality set in for me as did my age. All of a sudden, all those years I spent supposedly preparing myself to come out of my closet had taken me to the age of sixty and I was facing a now or never proposition as far as undertaking my final transition. In addition, I had never worked on anything as hard as I had to cross the gender border to see if the feminine side was indeed greener. Slowly but surely, I found the grass was greener and I was much happier there. Once I did, my age became a major consideration. Being sixty meant I had more life behind me than ahead, so I had to act. Being the original great procrastinator I was, I needed to change that aspect of my life  and do something about my overwhelming gender issues. 

It all happened one night when I was sitting alone in one of my favorite venues pondering my future when a clear thought came to me. The thought was so simple, I wondered why I did not think of it before. Enough of my drama queen existence.  It was time for my male self to go completely away and I could live in the greener feminine grass for the rest of my life. Plus, the doors of destiny were opening for me so I could. First of all, I was single and did not have an unapproving spouse to worry about. Secondly, I felt I was ready appearance wise to present well enough in public to get by. And finally, my Veterans health care system was starting to approve basic care for trans veterans so I could take advantage of low cost gender affirming hormones which I had long dreamed of taking. As you can tell, I had no real reason not to change my life. I was even old enough to consider early retirement so I didn't have to worry about coming out on a job.

Once I decided my course was clear, now it was a now or never moment I had to act on it. In my mind, I had connected all the male to female gender transition dots I could, so it was time to quit running from my truth and start a new life. As the hormones feminized my body inside and out, I found I had made the right decision. It was my last chance to live my dream and I better take it. I guess I was fortunate in that my choice was crystal clear. I had been transgender all my life and at the least I had lived long enough to live a life immersed in both binary genders. It certainly was not the easiest way to live and I would not wish it on anybody but at the least, my life was never boring. 

Boring or not, I needed to play all the cards I had and take the last chance I had to live my dream. Thanks to a small circle of women friends, who helped me more than they ever knew, my last chance gender gamble was a good one and I made it a success.    

Thursday, June 6, 2024

It's All a Big Transformation

Image from Ross Findom on UnSplash

Before we get started, I need to take a moment to remember the surviving military members of the D-Day invasion. It is important to remember how we arrived at the point of having to fight such a monumental war at all and hopefully learning our lesson to never do it again. My Dad fought in WWII but was not in Europe for D-Day. 

Now, on to the post: Anyway you look at it, life is nothing but a big transformation. We are born into a certain gender (right or wrong) and have our opportunities to grow into men or women. Not just males and females because it is a socialization process. Sadly for transgender women or trans men, we go through extra transformations in our life. Mainly because we need to escape from the initial gender declaration we were straddled with when we were born. Being forced into square gender holes when we were born as round pegs is cruel and unusual punishment. 

Over time, if we are lucky, we are able to climb out of our gender closets and thrive in the world but to get there, often it takes several separate transformations to arrive at our goals. For example, the first transformation I went through was when I was able to look at myself in my Mom's clothes in the hallway mirror. From there, I went even further by raiding her makeup and basically looking like a clown before I improved. At the time, I compared my expertise to painting a model car which were so popular at the time. It took awhile but I did get better with both at the same time. With no guidance from anyone, I needed to start from scratch.

Along the way, somehow I did manage to catch up partially with other girls of my age who I was watching closely. Another problem I had was having any income at all to purchase any feminine items of my own because I was rapidly out growing all my Mom's clothes so I took on a news-paper route to augment my meager allowance and buy a few items. In order to do so, I needed to visit my Grandma who lived very close to the downtown area which back in those days was a thriving business district. I snuck out, spent my money while being scared to death I would run into my Dad who worked nearby. Then sneak all my purchases back home and into my regular hiding places. By doing so, I was helping my transformation along.

The older I got, the larger my transformative steps became. Starting with going to Halloween parties dressed as a woman and then sneaking out of the house cross dressed, I knew each time I was successful, I could not go back to my unwanted, boring male life. Yet I needed to because I was still the round peg struggling to get out of her square hole and enjoy an authentic life as a novice transgender woman. Most importantly, it was looking as if I could defy all odds and do it. All because of the evenings I went out as a trans woman to be alone and ended up socializing with the world. Granted, it was a huge transformation to climb out of the male life I was in and make it into the dream world of women I always wanted to be part of but I made it.

Perhaps the biggest transformation came when I began gender affirming hormones. In addition to feminizing my body, I also feminized the world as I saw it. Finally I didn't have to play the old macho male game and was able to cry when I needed to. Surprisingly to me, my body even became more sensitive to changes in temperature and smell as my world softened.

I look at myself as being so fortunate in that I lived long enough to sense and go through several big transformations in my life. All the way from being able to father a child I love to living a fulltime life as a transgender woman with a woman I love, in many ways I feel I have received more than I deserved.  

Sunday, June 2, 2024

A Zig-Zag Trans Life

Party night at Club Diversity
Columbus, Ohio.

 Maybe I should have called this post I should have zigged when I should have zagged. Or vice-versa.

In many ways, I see all sorts of transgender women or trans men in the same situation. I started at a very young age when I would zig away from my younger brother when we were home alone and I was able to get away from him when I cross dressed by locking myself in the bathroom. Fortunately, I never needed to zag because somehow, he never caught me and told my unapproving parents.

Somehow I thought when I got older, my life would improve. The first thing I learned was my urge to be or at least cross dress as a girl my age would not magically disappear. In fact, it became stronger when I learned it was not just a phase and I began to understand my gender dysphoria better. At that point, I really had to start zigging and zagging just to maintain my fragile mental health. When I was old enough, I even began taking myself to therapists to seek out help. My only main success which came out of it was when I was diagnosed with a bi-polar depressive disorder. It had nothing to do with my gender issues at all. As far as zigging or zagging, I was able temporarily save my marriage and received my money's worth when my gender therapist told me the truth. She could do nothing about me wanting to be a woman. Overall, my desires should not be a problem and I should face my truth. Of course, I wasn't smart enough to follow her advice and resumed all the zigging and zagging. 

It took me years and years to grow up and away from my male self and settle into a life as my authentic feminine or transgender self. By this time, I was growing so tired of all the zigging and zagging I was going through. Even though the whole process was an exciting time of my gender life, I was still becoming fatigued by my life the way it was. Ironically, when I was, I settled into a long term set of appointments with a very understanding therapist. She talked me off the ledge several times and along the way helped me secure gender affirming hormones and the paper work I needed to change all the legal gender markers I could. All of a sudden, I was able to visualize myself living my dream as a full fledged transgender woman. With my daughter's help, we were even able to come up with a new legal name which would reflect my family history and would be easy for my grandkids to use.

Finally all my exhaustion came to an end and I was able to live how I pleased. All the zigging and zagging had worked. All the times I hurried to hide myself away from friends and family, were put behind me. Through it all I learned one difficult lesson. If you can somehow believe in yourself, you can live your best life. Even though you may (like me) take years and years to evolve into your authentic self, the trip is usually never boring as you lead a zig-zag trans life. Overall, it takes a ton of effort to weave your gender issues into a life of family, spouses, jobs and friends. You learn to be forever vigilant in protecting yourself and end up internalizing way too much of your life. It seems the entire process is just ingrained as part of a transgender life as breath itself. We just have to finally zig to get around it. Then zag to adopt your new life as a trans woman.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Opening Transgender Doors

Image from Nathan Wright 
on UnSplash


What is the old saying, "When one door closes, another one opens." I think the saying is especially appropriate for transgender women or trans men.

Along the way, I have documented several substantial times when I slammed doors during my past and opened new doors. 

Probably the first time I closed a door was when I was going out with a certain set of party friends who ranged from cross dressers to transsexuals who were planning their genital realignment surgeries. I wasn't very interested so much in the cross dressers but on the other hand, I was very interested in the women who were going "all the way." I wondered if I could ever slam the door on the male life I had fought to live and open a new door into a feminine world. 

Luckily I was able to see different sides of the gender coin so to speak. One friend in particular was a firefighter in Columbus, Ohio who was gorgeous and near retirement. So she had the financial risk of a gender transition covered as did the other main transsexual woman I knew at the time. She also was gorgeous and had a very secure job as an electrical engineer. She was so good at living a woman's life, she regularly went on snow skiing trips, spending whole weeks as her authentic self. So, as you can tell, I had lofty role models to try to live up to. I knew they would be difficult to match up to as far as appearance and income plus neither one had a spouse to deal with. I loved my spouse very much and wasn't sure I was able to close the door on my relationship with her. 

Even still, I continued to observe and learn as well as set out to open my own transgender doors. It just took me longer than others to find a path of my own. I know all too many of our gender journey's are similar yet so far apart. It is difficult to leave the first door in our closet and find the other doors in the darkness. Once I was able to find the light and it wasn't the train at the end of the tunnel, I was able to progress quite nicely but not without trepidations. Of course I still had to deal with the usual problems transgender women and men have to deal with when they transition and close the big door. Sometimes closing the door is the easy part compared to opening the doors to different living situations with family, friends and finances. 

I think too many potential transgender folk believe the transition itself will cause the life problems to go away and they haven't thought enough about the all the situations they would have to face now when spouses and/or families want to leave them behind. Not to mention the prospect of losing long term employment and friends. All of the process led to opening very heavy doors and not having much of an idea what the future held. 

I was fortunate when I finally had the courage to open my final transgender doors and face the world. As I did, I could look back at all the times I was petrified to try a new life as a transgender woman. Every time I was so scared it seemed I made it OK which felt so natural and gave me confidence to move forward and look for new challenges. I don't think I ever forgot the two early gender role models I had in Columbus, Ohio so many years before but similar to my male life, I was able to carve out my new life as a fulltime transgender woman so different from theirs.

Even still, I have my doors to open as I face a challenging future with end of life issues. I am still paranoid concerning facing the problems associated with nursing care or assisted living. It will be quite the journey as I face the final door we all have to open and see what is on the other side.

Friday, April 19, 2024

A Toxic Male?

Image from Jurien Huggins
on UnSplash.

As I transitioned from a male to a feminine life, I often looked back at my life as a guy to determine if indeed I was a toxic male in any way. 

Of course I immediately mentally recoiled when I thought I could be toxic towards women in any way. After all I had spent a considerable amount of time worshipping the women around me, wondering how it would be to experience just for an instance being a girl. How come I couldn't wear the pretty clothes and be the gender who was so admired by the other. The problem with me was, I went way past just admiring a girl sexually, all the way to wanting to be a girl physically.  

Did any of it make me a toxic male? No, I don't think it did. In fact, I think the opposite happened as I put women up on some sort of an impossible pedestal. By doing so, and adding the fact I was extremely shy, I never had much of a chance to interact with girls or women growing up at all. From my perspective, the feminine grass always looked so much greener. 

Since I was forced into the male camp, I needed to learn to exist and had to put up with sexist comments directed towards women from many of the guys I grew up with all the way to adult hood. Mixed in too were the bullies I needed to somehow co-exist with. I learned to bluster my way around the bullies without jeopardizing my inner transgender self to ridicule or worse. In order to do so, I participated in as many of the male activities of the day as I could such as sports and cars. It worked and I was left alone for the most part and I even dated a few girls along the way. Since it is prom season around here, I am always reminded of the two proms I went to in high school. Even though I was the perfect gentleman at the proms, I wonder if my dates thought perhaps I was a little too timid and took it personally. I will never know because one of my dates and first serious girlfriend before college later in life committed suicide years later when her husband left her. What a shame. 

As I started college and started to date more regularly, I really began to see the results of toxic males around me. Especially in the fraternity setting I was briefly in. Certain fraternities were expected to co-mingle and party with certain women and sororities only where I went to college. I found out very quickly I did not fit in with the frats social system. Which was a forerunner to me not fitting in with the strict layers I encountered at the first cross dresser - transvestite mixers I went to. I felt so out of place and the only toxic people I saw were the "A" listers who were doing their best mean girls high school impressions. Maybe their male toxicity was bleeding through. 

I completely learned how not to be a toxic male when I settled into a career in the restaurant business. Along the way, as I progressed into higher management positions, I needed to coexist increasingly with women. Both crew members and managers. I learned quickly female crew members had the tendency to build cliques (not teams like the men) to be successful and the women managers I knew had to be tough but fair to survive. I on the other hand needed to be on their side when it came to battling any toxic males at all. Looking back, I think male toxicity was the prime reason for letting someone go. Which included sexual harassment which is a topic for another blog post.

My only regret was I wasn't a more vocal advocate for women my entire life as a man. I could have certainly spoken up when another guy joked about a woman. My only excuse is I was so intent on hiding my interior feminine self, I was afraid to do more. Transgender women and trans men speak of the importance of allies speaking up for us. I feel the same way about standing up for women before I transitioned. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Transgender Plan B?

A Bright Idea from Diego PH
on UnSplash


In life, did you ever have to come up with a new plan if the one you were working on didn't work?

In my life, I had many "Plan B's" because I didn't think things out before I did them. A prime example was when I was engaging in all the cross dressing I was doing in front of the mirror when I was very young. If the truth be known, I didn't know what I would do if I was caught. Except to lie and promise to never do it again. Plus, what if I was caught shopping for makeup in a downtown department store close to where my Dad worked. In the vacuum I lived in, I just plowed blindly ahead, hoping for the best and expecting the worst never happened. Which it never did.

I suppose I always thought there was a "Plan B" somewhere if I was discovered. Somehow I would magically give up on my dream and keep marching ahead in a male world. In reality or not, I always thought there had to be some sort of back up if I failed at anything. There was always going to be another chance to put on a dress and apply makeup if I was careful. 

The first time I encountered a situation where the only back up plan was applying myself in the system was when I enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War to evade the draft. When I went through the human machine called basic training, the threat of failure was real. The drill sergeants made it clear if you failed at something you could be recycled back to the beginning and have to start all over again. No one wanted to face that "Plan B." The result of going through basic built my confidence in that if I was forced into a situation I certainly did not want to be, I could still survive. The main problem I had was I couldn't (of course) cross dress at all and had to put my gender issues aside. During the several years which occurred before I could indulge in cross dressing again, my back up plan was to do quite a lot of daydreaming about when I finished my military service and could resume my life as I had lived it before. 

When I did finish, I found myself needing a whole new set of "Plan B''s." What happened was, I started to go all out at Halloween parties dressed as a woman. Where I learned the basics of surviving in a new exciting world as I was slowly growing up as a novice transgender woman, which was my dream. Of course the problem was Halloween only came around once a year and what was I going to do the rest of the time about my gender dysphoria. What I decided to do was sneak out of the house and into the world as my new transgender self. When I did it, I needed plenty of "Plan B's" if I was caught. My rule of thumb was to be as careful as I could and deny anything which happened if I was caught by my second wife. Not the best plan. 

As my femininization presentation improved, I found I needed a whole new plan to survive in the world as my authentic self. Primarily I needed a way to communicate with women I was meeting who were curious why I was in their world. Initially, I tried to mimic who I was talking to as far as using their vocal pitch and then even moved on to taking voice lessons to sound more like a woman. Finally, I moved to a point where I was half way comfortable with the way I sounded and I did the best I could.

I am biased of course but I feel the back up plans we transgender women or trans men face are far more impactful than those of the average person. We trans folk often face the possibility of losing almost everything as the "Plan B" we have when we enter the world. All too often, I read the sad, tragic stories of trans women losing their entire families, jobs and even friends when they made their way out of the closet. 

Hopefully, in the future, society will come around and we won't have to rely on severe "Plan B's" to survive.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

My Gender Clock never Stopped

Image from the Jessie Hart 
Archives. Ohio River in back
ground.

 Although it is difficult to remember my thoughts when I first viewed my girlish image in the hallway mirror growing up, I am certain I had a mixture of emotions. 

Probably, my biggest emotion was elation and from that point forward, something within clicked and a new gender clock was set and running. From then on I had a new goal and possibly a new life to consider. One of the things I needed to figure out was how deep my gender leanings were running. My young mind needed to consider was I just trying to look feminine or was there something much deeper going on. At that point, my clock dramatically entered the picture. Within a relatively short period of time, everytime I cross dressed, the "buzz" would wear off and I needed to try to sneak around and dress as a girl again and again. Something just wasn't right and my young mind was feeling it. Looking back, my clock issues with cross dressing could be easily explained away. I was in the earliest stages of considering I was transgender, which I ran from for most of my life.

As I grew older, I grew braver in my gender outlook and I began to search for ways to open my closet door and see the world. Sometimes I was successful and other times I wasn't. The successful times when I was able to negotiate the world as a novice transgender woman essentially set my gender clock forward a few minutes. When I wasn't, my clock was set back when I needed to head home and attempt to figure out what I was doing wrong. For some reason, I wasn't able to complete what was going on with my gender puzzle. On occasion, when my feedback was quick and brutal, my clock had more than it's shares of setbacks.

On the bright side, as hard as I tried to wreck my male life as I knew it, I was never successful as I searched desperately for my truth...could I really or ever live a life as a happy fulltime transgender woman. Since happiness was always difficult to define in my family growing up, I often wondered if gender was the missing ingredient for me to survive. 

Then there were the times I needed to put my gender clock on hold due to many major life changes such as going away to college and serving my time in the military. Essentially, again to survive, I needed a safe spot in the back of my head to store my clock until I could put it into use again. Thanks to several well attended Halloween parties I went to and tested out my prowess at being a novice transgender woman, I was able to set my clock forward to some sort of version of gender savings time. Because, at the same time I was watching the time, I was saving my life for the future. 

As I set the time forward, my life as a cross dresser became so intricate, I needed to seriously consider making a change. Finally, I came to the conclusion I was a woman cross dressing as a man and I needed to perceive myself in a different way. The different way involved me seriously considering if my gender clock wouldn't stop until I started to live more and more on the feminine side of life. At that point, my gender clock went into overdrive. I quickly started to develop a new life as a woman where very few people knew the old male me and I made the major decision to begin gender affirming hormones. 

Luckily, all this activity made my mental health better and my gender clock stronger. To this day, it has never stopped. Plus, if the world didn't like me, it was their problem, not mine.

In another side note, I received comments from "Sunshine Jen " and others on my health situation. So far I just found the main Cincinnati Veterans Hospital wants to take a further look at the spots on my head. So we are still in a wait and see place. Thanks for asking!

Monday, March 18, 2024

Somewhere between Heaven and Hell

 

Image from Sara Kurfess
on UnSplash


Very recently I received a comment from "J" asking me about my experiences coming out to my immediate family. After giving the comment some brief thought and I came up with this explanation, my coming out to family was somewhere between heaven and hell. 

To begin with, I had it relatively easy coming out since most of the important members of my family who needed to know anything about my transgender issues were not around. My parents, as well as many of my uncles and aunts had all passed away, leaving me only my daughter and my slightly younger brother to tell my truth to. 

The heaven and hell came in with both of these two close family members, it seemed as if destiny was showing me both sides of coming out. To begin with, I chose telling my daughter first at one of our breakfast meetings we often scheduled to catch up with our lives. One very nervous, scary morning, I chose to tell her I was indeed transgender. I will never forget her reaction which initially was a resounding why was she the last to know. Keep in mind by this time in her life, her Mom was long divorced from me and her Step Mom (my second wife) had recently passed away. So I guess she resented neither one of them telling her the depth of my gender issues. It certainly wasn't their fault because even though they knew I was a cross dresser or transvestite, even I resisted the idea of me possibly being transgender. In the meantime I was trying my best to hide any feminine desires I had from the rest of the world. Evidently, I did a good job and I was also amazed the cross dressing subject never came up with her. When she asked me why was she the last to know, I had no answer.

From then on, she gave me more support than I could have ever asked for. My daughter initially offered to take me on a shopping trip which I politely declined and then since my hair had magically grown to the point of being able to be professionally styled, she offered me a styling at her upscale spa and salon for my birthday. A gift I just couldn't turn down and after conquering my fears of going to the salon, I learned why women were so in love with their salon visits. I loved mine and I was in heaven. To the day, "J", my daughter has provided me with the heavenly acceptance I needed to make my male to female gender transition so much easier.

Now, the hell part comes in with my brother and his extended family. As luck would have it, I told my brother just before Thanksgiving over ten years ago. I wanted to know if it was OK if I attended as my authentic self or not. Before I asked out of respect, I knew the answer I would be given. My brother's in laws were all right wing leaning Southern Baptists, many of whom I always argued with during family get togethers. 

After some brief discussion with his wife, my brother sold me up the creek and said essentially it would be better if I did not attend the only family get together we planned for the whole year. The dinner was always the most important get together for my second wife and she did all the cooking a preparation for it for years after my parents passed away. So the rejection hurt a lot. I moved on quickly and haven't talked to my brother since. Which describes the end of my hellish experience of coming out to family.

Plus, I was lucky, I had my wife Liz and my daughter's extended family step in to fill the holiday void. And, I turned out better in the long term. 

I don't know, maybe destiny just wanted to show me the heaven and hell of coming out to family. While I didn't have the quantity of people to come out to as being transgender, I certainly was able to experience the quality of seeing both sides of the rejection/acceptance spectrum.

Thanks for the comment! I hope my experiences help. I value all your comments and questions! 

Friday, March 15, 2024

Saving my own Life

 

Image from the 
Jessie Hart Archives

As I began to transition into a transgender life in earnest, the more and more I knew I was saving my own life.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, all the obstacles I conquered on the gender path I was on just made my entire life more complex. Every time I met a stranger and established myself as a transgender woman to them was a new exciting time but not one which had it's share of fear. After all, I was losing all my well secured male privileges I had worked so hard to have. As a guy, I knew how to react to almost any situation negative or not. As a trans woman, I was in a different world and still had so much to learn. When I was first confronted with losing part of my so called intelligence in a group of men I somehow found myself in, I knew then my life had forever changed. I discovered the men just wanted to ignore me and my thoughts on what they were discussing.

In order to save my life, I needed to adopt what the other women in the world around me were doing. In many ways, they ignored men the same way men ignored women and it became very evident to me why the two main binary genders had a difficult time communicating. I was lucky because after my male upbringing, I had many of the tools to understand what men were really saying. While, at the same time viewing their comments from a woman's viewpoint. Even though the whole concept seems so easy for me to grasp now, back then, I really needed to understand which side of the gender fence I was on since for the longest time I tried to live in both a female and male world.

Soon, I found myself in a gender pressure cooker. On one hand, I had all the male positives to live by which I had learned to expect. On the other hand, the new and exciting (but scary) feminine side of life was increasingly opening gender doors for me. Since I was beginning gender affirming hormones, my world became a softer more sensitive place to be in. The ripping and tearing of my reticence to make a final decision on how I was going to live was slowly but surely destroying me. I was stuck in a gender world never never land which I would not wish upon my worst enemy and I needed to get out and save my own life.

It's no secret what decision I finally made. With the help of several close women friends, I donated all my men's clothes to a thrift store and never looked back. I equate the entire process with jumping off a huge cliff, then having a soft landing in a feminine world. It was difficult, yet it saved my life by making life fun again while at the same time restoring my mental health. 

Saving my own life never felt so good.    

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Climbing Transgender Walls

 

Image from Katherine Hanlon
on UnSplash



Just when I thought I had conquered one obstacle in my gender transition, another obstacle suddenly appeared for me to climb.

The problem I had was I am very afraid of heights and some of the walls were taller than others. For example, makeup was not a big wall since I had so many years at home alone in front of the mirror to practice. By the time I went public, I had perfected most all the makeup ideas I needed. Plus, benefiting completely from having a professional makeover at one of the transvestite/cross dresser mixers I went to. The makeup artist really showed me how to scale the wall which on occasion had made me look like a clown.

At approximately the same time, I was fighting climbing another obstacle called fashion. For years I dressed my feminine self for what my old male self thought was appropriate  The whole process was completely backwards as I should have been trying to present as close as I could to other women of my age so I blended in. Once I scaled the obstacle, my life as a novice transgender woman in public became so much easier. Once my life became easier, I thought I had it made but I was so wrong. What happened was gender doors began to open for me I wasn't really ready for. I found it was much easier for me to move around in society as my feminine self than it was to actually sit down and have a conversation with another woman or man. Communication for me was a huge wall to climb. So much so, I even ended up taking vocal lessons at one point in my life to sound like a woman. 

As I write this post on walls, it occurs to me, I should have added in all the stop signs I went through on my path to living as a fulltime transgender woman. Coming to mind were all the times my male self was screaming stop!!! when his domain was being challenged. All the times, I put my marriage at risk by sneaking out behind my wife's back when she was at work is an example of running a stop sign just to try to climb another gender wall. What I was doing was slowly but surely building a way around the old male obstacles I faced, to build a new life as a transgender woman. At that point, if I had been honest with myself, I would have known my new life felt so natural, it would win out in the end. But, I wasn't honest and boxed myself into what was left of my male life which I had hated so much.

Finally, the world around me changed because of dire situations where family and friends had died leaving me the freedom to climb the final walls out of my gender closet. I came to the point where I had the tools I needed to conquer my fear of existing in public as a trans woman thanks to gender affirming hormones and pure courage to live. 

The walls I kept facing kept declining to a point where I had no choice but to do the right thing for myself and go ahead to live my lifetime dream of living as a woman. Looking back, maybe I should have described all the obstacles or walls I went through were more of a maze. Maybe I should have paid more attention in the scouts or the military to find myself an easier way through. Although, after communicating with all the other transgender women and trans men I do, maybe an easier way just wasn't possible. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Changes and Trans Life

David Bowie and Changes

One of the only constants of life is change. From the day we are born until the day we die, changes are part of our life.

I am biased but I think all transgender women and/or trans men receive more than our fair share of change. Depending where your age may be in the spectrum of life and how long you are able to live, you may have to bring more baggage with you when and if you decide to take the huge step and decide to complete a transgender transition. 

In addition to the "Three F's" or family, friends and finances, there are other baggage items to consider. Such as how did you fill your time when you weren't working for instance. In my case, I was a huge sports fanatic and wasn't sure if my passion would survive as a trans woman. I was left in even more doubt when I began to not appreciate my time going to so called safe gay venues. For the most part, I didn't like the people, the music or being treated like I was an out of place drag queen. What ended up happening was, I went where I was comfortable as my male self. Venues where I could watch sports on huge televisions with beer to match. I figured if I was going to be made uncomfortable, I might as well use the change to try for better.

Most importantly, I found other women (Cis, not trans) who shared my passions for sports and gave us a reason to socialize. The whole process opened up the rest of my world to more changes. By this time, I felt as if I was right in the middle of the David Bowie song "Changes." When I looked around at all my middle aged friends stuck in ruts of life, I felt so liberated to be where I was although at times I was petrified of exactly what the future may hold when I transitioned into a fulltime womanhood. 

Little did I know, the biggest life changes were still ahead when I decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue beginning gender affirming hormones. In addition to the obvious bodily changes such as breasts, skin and hair growth, I also found myself reacting to yet another puberty experience in life. The first time I experienced a major hot flash still is a vivid memory when I think back to wondering if I was internally combusting. In addition, hot flashes and the hormones led to me all of a sudden being more emotional. As the world around me softened, I became more in tune with temperature changes and smells. It was my own special world and I loved it.

Looking back at the whole process of gender changes I went through, even though I knew deep down I never really had a choice, I cherish most of my life as it turned out. At the least, I was never bored and was always challenged to do better. First as a cross dresser and later as a transgender woman. I found the path was less traveled but when I discovered a fellow traveler, the meeting was normally positive. 

I also had privilege of living through the birth of the internet era, which in turn started the explosion of social media. Which brought the LGBTQ+ community together. All of a sudden it was easier to bring a little light into previously dark gender closets. 

Change is similar to a roller coaster ride. You can only hope the ride up is worth the ride down.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Mom Approved

Image from Kelly Sikkema
on UnSplash
 
Very few transgender women or trans men have the benefit of an approving Mother. I can't imagine my Mom ever providing me the fashion or the help to become the girl I strongly wanted to become. 

My parents were members of the "greatest generation" who went through the great depression and WWII. Both of those major events certainly shaped them into individuals who were strong on providing for a family and weak on emotional support. Which was exactly what I needed. My Dad's family was very male dominated and my brother and I were expected to follow in his footsteps. Wanting to be feminine at all did not fit in to the advance family plans my parents had for their eldest son. I was expected to grow up, go to college and marry into my social class or higher. Quickly I was discovering, I had different ideas.

Even though I was busy playing sports and working on other male activities. I can't say I excelled at any of them but I tried my best. One thing is for sure, I was on my own because there was no way I could ever bring up my true gender feelings to my parents. Especially my Mom, who often took the lead in raising my brother and I. So, I was solidly hidden away in my dark lonely closet until I could break out much later in life. 

Through it all, I still sought out my parents approval. My Dad was very difficult to out due because he was very much the stereotypical self made man. He built his own house and rose to a bank VP position with a high school diploma. He served in the Army Air Corps in WWII, so at least my military duty in many ways corresponded to his. My brother on the other hand thanks to a high draft number, never had to serve at all. It took until I was out of the Army for me to try to come out to my Mom. One night after drinking with my friends, she was waiting up for me (before I could move out into my own place) and I blurted out I was a transvestite. I don't know what kind of a reaction I thought I would get but it was anything but the negative one I received. She recoiled and immediately volunteered to pay for therapy which in those days was the approved method for dealing with gender dysphoria. I basically said go to hell and that was the last time it was it ever brought up to her. And I never came out to my Dad either before his death at the age of 86. 

It took my daughter to break the chain of family disapproval of transgender issues and help with our over all family mental health. Growing up, my oldest grandchild (a girl) kept showing signs to my daughter she was having issues with her gender. When she was mad at Mom, she would say things such as what if I liked girls instead of boys. Since all three of my grandkids knew I was transgender, threatening my daughter with gender issues was pointless. Now my eldest grandchild goes by the "they" pronouns, has a partner and goes to The Ohio State University. Needless to say, I am so proud of my daughter and her family. It shows how much can change in a generation or two in a family. 

Even though my Mom never approved of my feminine soul and I never had her input on my cross dressing desires, I understand now she was just a product of her generation. During her later years, she was a little difficult to deal with, so as I said, we never discussed my gender issues again. I wish now I would have given her the opportunity. 

To make up for it, I adopted her first name as my new legal middle name when I changed my gender markers years ago. It was the best I could do to bury any lingering resentment I may feel. Maybe somewhere now, I am Mom approved as the daughter she never had.   

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Pockets of Insecurity

Girls Night Out, I am Bottom Left
Image from the Jessie Hart Archives.
 Where I live in suburban Cincinnati, it has been rare in the past decade when I have ever been harassed for being transgender. In fact, I think the only time it happened was when I first moved down here approximately ten years ago.

However, if I travel a few more miles east into a neighboring county, I always find myself in a decidedly redneck or MAGA areas. One of the most memorable occasions took place two times when the Wiccan group I was part of had garage sales in a small village in the middle of the area I am referring to. Here we were on a Sunday morning and afternoon set up just outside of a big box store selling crafts and baked goods to interested people. Yes I was scared!

I thought, how the heck did a transgender Wiccan trans woman end up in an heavily redneck area on a Sunday? One in a million I thought. Then I was wrong, there was another trans woman trying her best to come out in a hostile world who owned a house not far from where I was. We have kept track of each other over the years through social media and recently has said she has had more than her share of problems from her world. She has been subjected to everything from old ladies shaking their fingers at her at the grocery store, all the way to men yelling derogatory things from their cars. Gender bigots everywhere it seems for my poor friend. 

The frustrating part is she presents well except for the usual problems with her height and voice. Naturally, she has expressed her frustration with living in the entire Cincinnati area. Several others, including me, mentioned it wasn't the entire metro area, just where she lived. 

Sadly, in many ways, my friend is stuck in a small way in the same problems all transgender women and trans men have living in Ohio. Even though, the metropolitan areas of the state are inviting, diverse and liberal. the redneck Republican politicians are now trying their best to erase all of the gains and rights trans Ohioan's have gained over the years. Now including even the rights to gaining healthcare for gender affirming hormones and beyond. In doing so, the state is threatening to come after the very clinics which work with the trans population. If it happens, it will be scary to see if the states' intrusion into my life will reach all the way to my Veteran's Administration health care. Which, for me has been overwhelming positive when it came to my gender affirming care.

The moral to the story is, no matter where you are or how far along you are in your transition, you better be aware of what your future could hold. Even though you are deep in your closet, you need to vote accordingly for your future. 

As far as my friend goes, I hope she finds away around all the gender bigots and discovers a way to live an authentic life. 



Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Audacity of It

Image from the
Jessie Hart Archives


When you view the transgender community from the outside, I'm sure more than a few people, other wise known as transphobes, think we are nothing more than a group of people asking for audacious demands. 

I know with me, I often felt audacious in my demands on my wives as I transitioned towards being a transgender woman. After all, my wives were seemingly making all the sacrifices in the relationship as their man faded away. Through it all, yes I did feel guilty but at the same time, there was nothing I could do. Gender change was impossible as I journeyed along the path to eventually leaving my male self behind. Since deep down I knew there was nothing I could do about my gender issues (and or cross dressing), I knew my wives would eventually have to get over their misgivings and I would get my way. 

Also, I need to say both my first and second wives knew I was a cross dresser before we were married. I don't think either woman really cared until it came to me becoming more serious about living increasingly fulltime as a woman. My first wife was very easy going and never really pressured me before we broke up. My second wife was much more opinionated and did participate somewhat with my transgender self but never really liked my feminine self for whatever reason. From the beginning and all the way until she passed away, she drew the line at me starting hormone replacement therapy and taking another giant step along my gender path.

The audacity of it all came when she said she didn't sign up with me to be with another woman and she was right. There was nothing I could say. I will forever wonder if she ever would have come to get along with the woman I always was before she died. Of course I will never find out.

Then there are all the transgender haters or transphobes who have the ability to change our lives in the real world or as keyboard cowards (as I call them.) The audacity of all of them to intrude upon our lives speaks for itself. The only defense I can think of is, the transphobes can't and won't take the time to understand trans women or trans men. The unfortunate part of it is that just consider how long it takes most of us to understand our own gender issues. I know in my case, it was a real struggle to come to any understanding of what was going on in my life. 

The biggest audacity for me now is the fact I don't care what the world thinks of me. Especially transphobes and/or TERFS. Now I can face the world as my authentic feminine self with a tight knit group of family and friends around me. Plus I am a role model of sorts for my transgender grand-child. 

Being audacious all those years when I was struggling to learn the world as a transgender woman left me with so many scars. I learned the hard way to develop a thick skin and keep learning all the important lessons I needed to discover. The whole process was terrifying but all so satisfying.    

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Ohio Proud

Image from Cyrus Crossan
on UnSplash


 It was another big night here in Ohio with the midterm elections taking place. 

Along with several other states in the country, Democrats won big in a state unfairly criticized for being entirely conservative. If you are from Ohio, you know the differing areas of the state which has been excessively gerrymandered. Meaning districts in the state which have been set up to protect Republicans who run year after year. The results are worthless politicians such as "Gym" Jordon who recently tried an ill fated attempt at running for the Speaker of the House of U.S. Representatives who is from Ohio. Jordan has managed to be in congress for approximately sixteen years. Recently, the many big metro parts of the state have been successfully organized to fight back people like Jordan. 

What this means for all of you who are out as transgender women and trans men is, if supposedly backwards Ohio is an example, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us which isn't the train. It bears mentioning also that anti abortion proponents tried to tie in gender realignment surgeries into their advertisements to vote the abortion issue down, to no avail. 

I have always urged all individuals with gender issues, including cross dressers deeply hidden away to consider their political future and vote appropriately.  After all, you never know what the future holds and you may have a chance to escape your gender closet in the future, into a more forgiving world. Especially when you consider how different the younger generation is when it comes to gender. As far as personal preferences go, my transgender grandchild in their early twenties, in my mind, has had it much easier than I did years ago. Plus when you vote, don't forget to remember your local school boards. Even our local school board had two candidates which had support from the alt right "Mom's for Liberty" lost handily when they were exposed to having no kids in the district as well as other facts. 

Sorry to have made this post so political but when a certain political party is trying to erase us now and in the future, it is time for the transgender community to put it's petty differences behind us and unite.

It is also time for the TERF's and other transphobic women to realize trans women are women too and can help in their political causes.

Now is the time before the next BIG election when our democracy will be on trial.


Tuesday, November 7, 2023

It Was All a Dream

Image from Marcos Paulo Prado 
on UnSplash

Similar to so many other transgender women and trans men, when I was young often I woke up sad in the morning after vividly dreaming I was living as my preferred feminine gender. 

Of course, then depression set in when I had to face yet another unwanted day as my old male self. On those days, very little motivated me to get going. Somehow I managed to make it through another day. On the good days, I had figured out how I could sneak around my family's back and cross dress in my small wardrobe and admire myself in the mirror. In the meantime, I tried to study the cis-women (natural born) around me to see if there was anyway I could copy their dress or mannerisms without being too obvious. I was so envious.

It took me years and even decades to figure out how totally reversed my gender dreaming really was. To this day, after living as long as I have as a full time transgender woman, my dreams are still flipped. In other words, most of my dreams still involve me as my old unwanted male self. I'm sure the main reason is the fact proportionately I still have lived the majority of my life in a stressful male world. To be successful I just had to learn the game well. All of which has carried into, and remains a substantial portion of my self-conscious thought. 

Plus, on occasion, I feel as if my entire gender existence has been nothing more than an extended dream. Perhaps it is because for such a long period of time I considered being able to live as a transgender woman was just an impossible dream. Then when I began to leave my mirror behind and break out of my gender closet into the world, I began all the changes I would need to do to live a new fulfilled life. Suddenly my life evolved from just doing my best to appear as a woman, all the way to communicating effectively as a trans woman with other women in the world.   

It was around this time of gender discovery when I started to believe I had my whole life backwards. There were certain aspects somehow I needed to do as a male but overall the other set of experiences I went through could have been lived by my dominate feminine self. I couldn't believe how much easier my life became when I finally gave in to her and let her live. She in essence was telling me she was right all along and she was.

It turned out, my dyslexic self had my gender mixed up also. All along when I  considered myself a male to female cross dresser, in reality I was a female to male cross dresser just trying to survive in an unwanted world. 

Now my past is mostly a dream, some parts good and others bad. Perhaps one of these days my sub-conscious will flip into dominant feminine role too and my dreams will become predominantly feminine in nature. I suppose if that is all I have to complain about, life is good.   

Finding your Happy Place

From the Jessie Hart Archives   As a transgender woman or trans man, it is often very difficult to find your happy place. A happy place can ...