Showing posts with label transgender. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transgender. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

It Takes a Real Man

 It takes a "real man" to be a woman. Because first we have to decide what a "real man" is, or should be. Unfortunately both genders do not begin life as a full fledged woman or man. We are socialized into our preferred gender. The problem being how stereotypes enter into the process. Presumably nearly all of us grow up with unfair media images of what our gender should be like.

The problem is compounded when one is growing up transgender. In my generation we had the influx of cowboys to watch on television who were basically the strong silent types. Women on the other hand were either long suffering but tough bar girl types or the all knowing suburban Moms who always stayed home to raise a family. Between the two feminine stereotypes, I wonder now why I even wanted so badly to be a girl. Through it all I suppose I wanted to be the feminine person being pursued by a guy, rather than the guy doing the pursuing. Over the years I often thought most of my gender thought process came from the fact I grew up in such a patriarchal dominated family. Maybe I was too shy and intimidated to be a quote "normal aggressive boy". It wasn't until much later I understood my gender dysphoria went completely deeper than what was being portrayed on television and film as the strong male stereotype. 

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

What I also didn't realize being born a genetic male came with it's positives and negatives. Sure you had to be the aggressor on a number of occasions including sports but once you did you were rewarded with a certain amount of male privilege. Plus, since I was white, society was set up for me to succeed much easier than others. Of course the journey was not all sweetness and light. Being perceived as a male meant I had to face the uncertainty of a three year military career exactly when I didn't need it. During those days and years I really resented the fact that only males were drafted. It didn't matter, I left home and served like so many others served my time. At that point in time I didn't know if any of it entitled me to the "real man" status. But at the least it all kept most of the people I knew fooled concerning my true gender desires. 

Life went on and as I tried to fight my gender dysphoria, the further I slid towards wanting to live as my authentic feminine self. It was during those days my second wife and I began to have massive fights when she caught me out and about as a transgender woman. She knew ahead of our marriage I was a cross dresser but never once accepted me as being transgender. She was also a very strong person which is why we were together twenty five years until her untimely death at the age of fifty. So when we fought, we fought. 

It was during one of these fights she actually told me to try to be man enough to be a woman.  Initially I was stunned. Sadly, it took me many years to understand exactly what she meant. If I wanted to end our relationship and live as a transgender woman, I was going to have to summon the courage to do it.  I was going to have to step out of what was left of my gender comfort zone and give up my male privilege.  Sadder yet I didn't do it until she passed on. 

I will never have a way to know if she would have ultimately approved of the person I became.  I can only hope to show her it did take a real man to give up nearly everything and become a woman.  

Sunday, April 24, 2022

What Would You Say?

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash


 I discuss being a senior transgender woman quite often. To my knowledge I have never discussed what I would have told myself during my stressful teenaged years concerning my future.  Of course I am aware it's a useless exercise because my crystal ball was broken. In fact, those of you who may remember the "Eight Ball" game, I would have been behind the eight ball more than in front of it. 

Looking back, I would try to advise my younger self to be patient. Easier said than done when you are advising a teen ager, or even  a later age. I often wonder how my life would have been different if it would have not been re-directed by my military service which was forced upon me during the  Vietnam War by the draft. 

Through a series of fortunate circumstances I was able to continue my passion to work in the radio business as a DJ even when I was in the Army. The problem I continue to have was what would I do about my gender dysphoria while I served my time. Of course I was scared to death and wondered how I would make it through three years without so much as touching any of my feminine collection.

It's easy to say now but I should have known where there is a will, there is a way. In fact after approximately a year and a half of my three years of service, I was able to gather my courage to come out to several of my closest friends. I told them I was a transvestite following a Halloween party I went to dressed "to the nines" as a woman. Somehow my "dirty little secret" was never revealed to my superiors by anyone and I finished my three years without any incidents. 

Through it all, I still resisted any offers to re-up and extend my military service. My impatience was at a all time high and I couldn't wait to return to my civilian world. Little did I know, all I would do was begin a frenetic life's journey designed to try to outrun my gender dysphoria in my twenties. Perhaps the biggest warning came from my earliest gender psychologist who told me I was Bi-polar (which could be treated) but I would never get past my gender issues. 

I was seemingly doomed to continue down a path of alcoholic fueled activity. After buying (and losing) a small bar, I divorced my first wife and remarried and picked up and moved from Ohio to the metro NYC area. One of the reasons was I secretly felt I would be closer to a much more prolific and liberal cross dressing scene. I did take a partial advantage by going but it was short lived and my second wife and I ended up moving back approximately two years later. 

I wish I couldn't have gotten the point across to my younger self if I tried to relax and live my life as it played out everything would be fine. As it was I continued to chase my own tail by moving to other areas and countless other jobs.

What happened was, the world finally caught up to me in many ways. A prime example is the use and understanding of the use of the transgender word itself. Through my life I was able to witness a better idea of what gender dysphoria is and how it fits in with being transgender. 

As I enter my senior transgender years, finally I have been able to look back and say I should have relaxed and I was on the correct gender path. A path which would lead me to being able to lead a life as a full time transgender woman. I would have had a difficult time telling myself I would live long enough to do it.  

 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Life AS A Transgender Foodie

 One of my favorite things to do is to go out to eat with my partner Liz. In addition to the food, I am very much a critic of the entire operation due to my long history working as an owner and manager in the food service industry. If you are curious, I always support the restaurant for the most part when something goes wrong. 

Thursday night, when  Liz and I attended the transgender-cross dresser social dinner noting really went wrong.  The venue has always been very accepting and I am happy to say outside of one boisterous newcomer, no one acted out of line. In other words, did nothing to embarrass the rest of us. I only mention it because over the years I can't say the same thing.


I have vivid memories of misled cross dressers abusing their restroom privileges for the women's restroom. Their thoughtless antics led to messages on the door warning non birth females to stay out. Perhaps the worst case of a person acting badly was when a transgender person on an escalator in a museum we were visiting grabbed both sides of the "moving steps" swung out and flashed the people in front of her. Really? That fortunately was the last time I ever saw her. I do know she went on to go through a genital realignment surgery. Hopefully she learned not to show it off.

I know the moral to the story is if you had any morals as a male person, you will have the same morals as your feminine self. 

Forgetting my rant, I am almost to the point of remembering to take a picture or two when Liz and I go out. This photo was actually taken a couple weeks ago when her son treated us to dinner. In my mind (which is the only one I have), no matter how much I dislike pictures, they help bring life to whatever experience I am writing about. 

Unfortunately, I have to look far ahead to our next night out. Financial circumstances will limit any potential "adventures" for at least another couple weeks until the "eagle lands " and my Social Security payment comes again. On the good side, Cincinnati continues to be a  wonderful place to explore if you are a "foodie" at all. 

Especially a transgender foodie. It's wonderful when gender ceases to be a problem where we go. How good the food is becomes the issue.

  

Friday, April 22, 2022

"Patch" Day

Today I administered my own hormone replacement therapy by applying the synthetic estrogen hormone Estradiol through patches. For my dosage, I apply four of them twice a week 0.1 per patch. I don't write often concerning HRT because everyone is different. Different dosages, different ways to administer the hormones and last but not least your age. 

I am fortunate in that at my age I was healthy enough to begin the therapy at all. Not all receive the same opportunity. Plus, as I always mention, do NOT try to administer your own HRT without medical supervision. Playing with your hormones can be dangerous. I have seen it in action a couple years ago when I attended a "Trans Ohio" seminar on hormones. They featured several different transgender women who abused their hormones by going on line. One was nearly killed. 

I receive my hormone replacement therapy meds  through the Veterans Administration Healthcare system. The process has it's benefits and drawbacks. The benefits include access to a free endocrinologist who monitors my overall bloodwork all the way to a co-pay system where I can purchase my medications at a discount. The drawback includes the VA is very conservative in what treatments and medications it covers. A good example is the Spironolactone medication I am on. It actually serves a dual purpose  of reducing my blood pressure and testosterone at the same time. I understand there are other medications which might do a better job and may be safer but they are n

From the Jessie Hart Collection

ot approved. 

Of course there are many ways to administer your HRT medications. All the way from pills, to patches, to injections.  Years ago I settled on applying patches because I was satisfied with the results I was getting. I have read and heard from numerous other transgender people who really love the changes they have gone through with their hormone injections, Regardless, my main point is, as long as you are doing HRT safely that is all that matters.

Then, there are always the questions. How soon will I begin to feel the gender changes and what occurred under what dosage. These questions have always been nearly impossible for me to answer. For several reasons. The first being the time which has passed since I started my HRT. Since many times I have a difficult time remembering what happened last week, something which occurred nearly ten years ago is impossible. Looking back I do recall how shocked I was because of the feminine changes I was starting to go through. An example was how quickly my breasts began to change and how fast my hair began to grow. Before I knew it, or even wanted it to happen, I had to locate my loosest fitting shirts and begin tying my hair back in a pony tail. All of the changes, not to mention the internal ones started to move my time table up to begin telling the few remaining friends and loved ones I had left the news I was transgender. 

The hormones also had a wonderful way of quickly softening my skin, all the way to me being pleasantly surprised how the angles of my face began to soften and change along with my body hair (except beard) thinning out. Through it all, I had to keep in mind I was in my early sixties and my testosterone would be naturally dropping anyhow. Making way for the new estrogen push. 

On patch day, I always try to pause and thank the powers above for my chance to experience this life the best I can. As far as your response to hormone replacement therapy, your results as I said can very widely on age, dosage and application. Good luck!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

The Younger Generation

 Connie responded to the "Better Late than Never" post. Here is her well thought out comment:

"The younger generation invalidating their predecessors is as old as humanity, itself. One of the joys of my parenthood has been hearing my grown children spout out with words of wisdom that I had said to them when they were younger (which, of course, they had pooh-poohed at the time). I don't expect it to be any different, as it pertains to gender identity.


Photo Courtesy Connie Malone

As difficult as it was for those of us trans people growing up over 50 years ago, I have mixed emotions when I (not often) consider the "what ifs" of myself growing up now. As wonderful as it would seem to have been to have access to puberty blockers and other hormone therapy at a young age, those things come with a whole different set of problems for a growing (emotionally, even more than physically) child. The social and political climate today must make it so much harder for trans kids, especially those kids who had started a transition, only to have resources taken away - even the threat of it.


Although I came to realize that I could have come out much earlier than I did, I can't allow myself to waste the time I have left by dwelling on that. In fact, I have precious little time left, considering the control I would have to give up, should being confined to a care facility become a reality.

If I had to miss out on the puberty blockers, maybe someone will come up with a geriatric blocker soon - but I don't have time to dwell on that possibility, either. Call me an old lady, just so you call me a lady! :-)"

Thank you for the comment. I also cannot help but wonder how life would have been like if I would have been afforded the luxury of being myself.  I am nearly certain nothing comes without it's consequences, good or bad. 

Recently I had the opportunity to meet a pre teen transgender girl during the Transgender Day of Visibility get together. She was obviously pleased. Here she was with the opportunity to be with an incredible group of accepting people. I felt so good for her. On the other hand though, how intimidating would it be to be looking ahead at a gender journey most certainly to be full of unexpected challenges. Plus, how would I feel if my child faced the same path. I am certainly biased but I would try every thing I knew how to help and protect my child. 

As far as the younger generation goes, I agree all we can do is try to plant a seed and hope it grows. I am a believer too that when you try to brainwash a child into believing only certain ideas, once they are free from your bonds, they will go an opposite  way anyhow. Hopefully all these kids you see with anti LGBTQ signs in far right rallies will follow their own heart  and know it is wrong. 

After all, the future belongs to them.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Better Late than Never?

I am aware I have many interested readers who may share basically the same age I do. In other words, they are senior citizen transgender women and men. I am seventy two and have heard from a transgender woman who came out when she was eighty. 

Unfortunately,  I see a few people coming out with negative comments saying we senior trans people are less than valid because we came out so late in life. Before I explain my reasons why this is so wrong, let me share this comment from Georgette, who happens to be a senior and transgender: 

"Some of us may come out early, some may come out late, BUT it is important we come with no regrets and try to live the rest of our lives the best we can.

It does no good to look back and say what if BUT always look forward."

Christine Jorgensen

Thank you for the comment! I know in my case I was busy battling the "system" early in life which led to very little room for anyone to operate outside of the binary gender spectrum. In other words, boys were boys and girls were girls and there was no in between. One of the few examples of a person escaping the "gender system" was Christine Jorgensen who made headlines when at the age of 24 she began hormone injections to begin one of the first sex change surgeries. As it was referred to in the early 1950's.
Even I was too young to remember when the news was released but I know as I grew up, she was one of the only examples I could look up to .Plus, I had to be very careful how I did it because I had limited access to magazines and newspapers in the semi rural area I grew up in during the 1950's. 

Even with the obstacles I faced "back in the day" I was still able to explore my desire to explore being a girl. So you could say, even though it was impossible for me to come out in the dark ages I lived in, I still was trying.

Like it or not, there were dues to pay and luckily I was able to pay them. Including negotiating a very long military conflict (war) in Vietnam which was going on through my high school and college years. As Georgette said, it does no good to look back but referring back to my history degree, we are doomed to repeat our failures unless we understand the history behind it. So I would hope senior transgender women and men everywhere take the time to feel a little pride in what you have helped to develop in the LGBTQ community. Surely, the "T" is still feeling the pressure to conform and/or disappear but we have helped to create a voice to be heard.

I know I write quite a bit about my experiences over the years but I do it to perhaps help or (on occasion) even entertain as many of you as I can to the peaks and valleys of coming out as transgender. 

As I become older yet, my paranoia rests with my final years in an assisted care facility.  I need to look forward to making it the smoothest transition of my life which has already gone through a few major transitions.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Transgender Diversity

Before I delve farther into what I mean by the title. let me say Happy Easter to all of you who may celebrate it in their own personal way. 

Photo Courtesy Alex Shute 
on Unsplash

Yesterday, my partner Liz and I journeyed slightly North to the metro Dayton area to my daughter's mother in laws to take part in a Jewish Passover Seder. It was mostly all new to me as we prayed, feasted and remembered the exceedingly tragic history of the Jewish people. It was mostly all new to me because I am not Jewish and my daughter converted following her marriage. 

This was far from my first visit to her house and usually along the way somewhere I always get mis-gendered or worse yet get called by my dead name. Regardless, I value the time I spend with the only people who knew the old me. It's always a challenge to re-imprint them to my new life as a transgender  woman.  This time, I was not mis-gendered at all and only called my dead name once and it was only by my first wife's husband who suffered a stroke. So forgiveness was in order.

Yesterday it didn't matter because diversity ended up ruling the dinner. I have a granddaughter who years ago (when she was arguing with my daughter) told her what if she ended up loving another woman. Of course my daughter defused the entire situation by pointing out my status as a transgender woman and she didn't care who she loved as long as she was happy. In addition, my oldest grandson's fourth grade teachers was an out/ gay cis man who also was well known in the community as one of the top drag queens in the city. To make a long story short, the family was immersed in diversity. Even to the point of my first wife, who was also there at the Passover Seder.  It turns out her second husband's brother has a transgender man in the family. 

For a change I wasn't the only diverse LGBTQ person in the room. My highly androgynous granddaughter brought an equally androgynous friend with her. In addition, my granddaughter carried out a majority of the service by herself.  I was so proud! Finally someone else to carry on the LGBT banner in the extended family. 

Being in a safe space and being able to celebrate one's diversity can never be taken for granted and never unstated. My extended family's acceptance more than makes up for the lack of acceptance in my own family. I often have written about the reluctance to support my transition by my only remaining brother. Essentially he chose to not support me because of a potential rebuff by his Southern Baptist redneck in laws.  All of this occurred way before the rebirth of hate the transgender community is experiencing now, so I am positive my reception would be even worse. It doesn't matter, I don't need them anyhow

The best part is the knowledge of what I have gained versus what I have lost. It all contributes to one of the main reasons I cherish my transgender and/or any LGBT safe spaces I find. With my daughter's in laws I have even been invited to speak a couple times at their temple during my grandkids "Bar Mitzvah" The ultimate in acceptance. 

I only wish more transgender or LGBT woman and men could experience a similar feeling.  

Friday, April 15, 2022

A Transgender Change of Pace

Last night my partner Liz went to bed early taking the dog with her and leaving me with the cat to be entertained. Predictably following a good dinner I soon fell asleep watching the television with the cat on my lap. I didn't really mean to do it because the whole deal would make it harder for me to fall asleep later on. Instead of staying downstairs with the cat, I decided to get ready for bed anyhow.

Of course, as soon as I hit the bed I was wide awake and my anxieties were closing in quickly. After an hour or so I finally quit fighting my phantom fears and decided upon a change of pace. I thought about all the pleasant memories Liz and I have had in the past when we went on mini vacations north of Cincinnati in Columbus, Ohio. 


We began to explore certain venues in Columbus when I was participating in the statewide Trans Ohio Symposium. For several years I presented hour long meetings on subjects such as transgender veterans all the way to the needs of elderly transgender women and trans men. After the seminars were over, we took the opportunity to party.  And party we did! 

One of our favorite venues is called Club Diversity which is located just a short Uber drive south of downtown. It's a unique place in an old Victorian house and even featured a live piano player on most of the nights we were there. The picture was taken at the bar. 

As much fun as it was getting hit on by gay guys at Club Diversity, equally as fun was eating a famous burger up the street at Thurman's Café. Their burgers are so good they have been featured  on the Food Channel television network. 

Unfortunately the Trans Ohio Symposium doesn't exist anymore so Liz and I have to save our precious pennies to make the trip up to Columbus for more fun and games all on our own. Columbus is a progressive LGBTQ community with a huge Pride parade so good times were had by all and I know I can't wait to go back. 

I need a transgender "change of pace!"


Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Name Game

 I received several responses to my post about attending a virtual seminar on wills, trusts and end of life options. Two mentioned what a person could go through if their life insurance policies needed to be corrected if the insurance does not reflect a legal name change.  

At that point my mind began to wander back to the days when I was legally changing my gender markers, or name. I can't speak for many of you but I went through many different feminine names before I sat down with my daughter and came up with an agreed upon name which would be easy for the three grandkids to use. 

After quite a bit of thought, I decided to choose a name which reflected pride in the family. I decided to use my maternal grandfather's name and femininize it slightly. From Jesse to Jessie. Perhaps the more interesting choice came when I chose my middle name, Jeanne. Jeanne was my Mom's name. As you may, or may not remember she had no understanding of what I was trying to tell her when I told her I was a transvestite way back when I finished my military duty. When the new name was all said and done, the grandkids could call be "J.J.".  Even though my Mom didn't accept me, I decided to still honor her by using her name. After all, without her perseverance I wouldn't be here today.

From the Jessie Hart Collection

As it turned out, the name choice was the easy part. I had to set out to secure approval by the local legal entities. Where I lived, I needed to pay to put a classified ad in the newspaper informing anyone who cared what I was up to. Locally, the process was fairly non expensive, around fifty dollars. After thirty days, I needed to appear before a local judge to have the name change approved. At that point I considered the process could become a little tricky because I knew the judge to be very conservative. However, all my worries were baseless and he quickly signed off on my new name. After the papers were signed, it was a fairly easy process to have my social security name changed as well as my driver's license updated to a new "F" under gender. 

In my case, since I have chosen to be under the Veteran's Association health care, I needed to and couldn't wait to have my name change and gender updated on certain VA forms I dealt with on a regular basis. It was at that point my VA therapist jumped in and provided me with all the necessary paperwork I needed to make sure I could accomplish what I needed to do in a timely matter. Which can be a factor when one deals with the VA. 

What I haven't done yet is take advantage of the relatively new ruling in my native State of Ohio regarding the changing of gender on a birth certificate. By nature I am a procrastinator so I am just  going to make it a priority.

All of this brings me full circle back to the two small life insurance policies I have. I know for a fact one says I am male and the other says I am female. At some point in time I am going to have to get the one resolved. Or maybe both. The entire process proves once again how being transgender is a lifetime process and one which is so complex. As soon as I have more information, I will be sure to share it with you. In the meantime:

The " name game" is just a facet of the whole transgender experience. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Life or Death

 Once you are born, the fact is someday you will die. Tomorrow I will be attending a virtual training seminar from our local elderly support group . The training pertains to living wills, wills and trusts. I already have a living will provided by the Veterans Administration  but I don't have anything else. At my age I have felt for awhile it is important to leave a will behind for my partner Liz and/or my daughter Andrea. 

Years ago, before I lost it all to an attempt at starting my own restaurant I did have a fairly sizeable nest egg built up for the future. These days I still have two small life insurance policies worth enough to satisfy my final wishes and have a party afterwards. 

Photo by Logan Weaver
On Unsplash

Ironically, yesterday the need to accomplish all of this became important again when I learned of the passing of one the board members of the transgender - crossdresser support group I am a member of. Sadly she never came out to her family and the group members initially were told not to refer to her by her feminine name in any messages which may be seen by her family. 

Of course I am fully out to the only family I have which still matters and I could care less what the others think. Especially after I am gone and cremated. But I do have to stop procrastinating and get a will drawn up since being transgender does throw an extra factor in to the whole process. Extra proof to the non believers you are trans until you die. 

Perhaps of more importance to me is adding my wishes into the living will. I already have the "no heroic measures" line added but I am afraid of potential problems cropping up with my physical gender versus my mental gender. Since I have had no surgery done to my genital's, to the casual medical observer I am still a biological male. In fact I was told that the last time I was admitted into a hospital. The point I am trying to make is, I don't want my gender to be a point of contention for Liz or Andrea to have to deal with. Or no heroic measures are needed to deal with a gender bigot. 

One would think following the completely unexpected passing of my wife years ago, I would have done something before now about it. Since I am seventy two years old my biological clock is certainly ticking. 

Hopefully tomorrow I will learn valuable information on setting up a will. Just another step in preparing for the uninventable.   

Monday, April 11, 2022

Finding Yourself Through Gender

Ironically my post on having writer's block produced several very wonderful responses. The responses followed up on what should be a re-occurring theme. No matter how hard you try to assimilate yourself as the authentic gender of your choice of more importance is being yourself. Many times I have written how important it was to me to be accepted by other cis women during my transgender transition. 

All this time I have concentrated on confidence being your number one asset when you enter the world but being yourself could be more important. This first comment comes from Jamie Aileen through The Medium writers platform: 

" Learning to be a woman is so much more difficult when you are 70. But first, I want me to be just me!"

The second comes from Medium also from Logan Silkwood who is a transman and naturally approaches the subject from a different angle:

"

Yesterday, I looked in the mirror and saw myself briefly: an effeminate gay man. It’s a rare but lovely thing to get that validation from myself. In those moments, I realize I don’t need men to see me as a man. I simply am one. I’m me. 🏳️‍⚧️"


Specifically you novices are probably thinking this is all well said and good as you look forward to what seems like an endless road to a gender transition. But if you can, try to keep in mind you are finally receiving a very rare but difficult opportunity to shape a new human being who just happens to be you.  Second chances are so rare in life. 


From the Jessie Hart Collection

Yesterday, my partner Liz's son took us out to eat in our favorite Mexican restaurant which happens to be right around the corner. This is one of the few pictures we have taken recently before the margaritas arrived. Even though I think I show every bit of my 72 years in the picture, once again we had no problems being served. My gender wasn't questioned and no I wasn't I.D' d to prove I was old enough to drink. :) So in essence we were left again to just be ourselves. What's helping me now is with our diet and the effects of HRT, I can wear more form fitting clothes and not look like a clown.


In many ways I am the direct reversal of Logan.  When I look at a picture or a mirror I no longer see a very masculine man but on the other hand, I see a rather masculine woman who as you can tell wears very little makeup. 


The tragedy is I went through so many years of testosterone poisoning to get to where I am today. I can't say I can quote Helen Reddy and her song I am Woman but I can quote me and say "I am me."  

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Gender Sponge

 I am fairly sure many of you, similar to me, have spent days, weeks, months or even years attempting to figure out all the ins and outs (no pun intended)  of being the opposite binary gender. The one we always  desired to become a part of.

How did this all begin? With me it all began with a fascination with my Mom's clothes and makeup. For some reason in a male dominated household, I was able to watch Mom transform herself with makeup. It all translated into trying on her clothes and using her makeup when I was by myself. While other boys my age were out terrorizing each other, or the world, I was at home doing my best to look like a girl.

After a Mary Kay makeover
Jessie Hart Collection

All of this carried over to school. When I couldn't help but focus on the girls in my age group, I had to really focus hard to bring home reasonably good grades. After all I was desperately trying to assume a gender life I increasingly didn't want.  In the meantime I kept the bullies away by focusing on traditional male activities such as sports and cars.

Through it all I put all girls up on a pedestal. I was so envious of their lives. All of it. Their clothes were a start but one which wouldn't last forever. I became a gender sponge, from afar I did my best to immerse myself in everything feminine. Everything from how girls huddled to how they seemed to all talk at once. The frustrating part of it all was the fact I couldn't climb the gender pedestal myself. Little did I know I was just paying my dues. Eventually I would have a chance to live as a transgender woman full time.

Ironically, everytime I thought I had learned enough or paid enough dues to play in the girls sandbox I learned I was only just beginning. I had to be even a better gender sponge. A prime example came about when my wife called me a terrible woman. For the longest time, I didn't know exactly what she meant. What about all those years I invested on observing everything feminine, how girls dressed, how they moved. The truth was, my wife was right, my woman gender training was far from complete.   It turned out her comment about me was concluded with a comment saying she wasn't talking about my appearance. From that point forward I dedicated myself to learning what she meant.

Unfortunately I didn't learn until after she passed away when I was able to attempt to exist fulltime in a feminine world and finally leave my false male self behind. 

The first of many powerful lessons I learned came from when I began to learn to communicate with other women as my new authentic self. It was one of the things I wasn't allowed to be part of when I was attempting to live as both genders. I quickly learned cis women mean what they say. It's also true they say it differently which is lost on most men. One of the most flattering encounters I happened upon was when other cis women would ask me questions about their spouses and/or boyfriends. One of the powerful benefits of being transgender became using the knowledge I learned from being forced to live as a guy to help others. It's a shame more of the public isn't motivated to take advantage of trans women and men instead of fearing us. 

Possibly the second of the major lessons I learned involved the loss of white male privilege I encountered. Quickly I found how difficult it was for women to be recognized in many circles and how all of the sudden I had to be very cognizant of my surroundings. 

Finally, for this post, was the lessons I learned from other women regarding passive versus direct aggression. Many times I felt I was accepted as s transgender woman only to be stabbed in the back by another woman. With a smile on her face.

The more I learned, the more I tried to be a better, more complete gender sponge. It's been a long journey from my days of watching Mom and her makeup. 

 

Friday, April 8, 2022

Transgender Writers Block

 You regulars know I have very few days when I don't have a post to share with concerning the transgender world at large. Every once in a while I need a day off from my writing to step back and consider where I am with my writing. 

First of all, the one thing I don't do nearly enough is thank all of you who read my work here or on the several other social media platforms I write for. An extra thanks goes out to all of you who participate on my posts by commenting. It all means the world to me. 

Photo Jessie Hart Collection

My last "day off" from writing a post came after my latest therapy session. Since I have to complete my session in private on my lap-top, the battery is nearly drained following every session. So, I have to wait until I can recharge the lap-top before I can write again. 

While it is true I could write ahead and schedule posts to be active, lately I haven't thought I had enough material to bother trying. 

Sometimes I wonder also how much material is there to write about at all?  If the truth be known, there should be plenty to write about. In many states including my native Ohio, politicians are trying to potentially erase our very existence. Since so many of us face the problems of coming out at all, I am hesitant to keep mentioning the obvious. 

The obvious should be, a sizeable amount of transgender women and men are out and finding ways to carve out a new life.

So, when I am suffering from a transgender writers block I try to remember all of you who have been kind enough to comment on my previous posts, Hopefully my mistakes will help you  not make as many. I  highly regret the days when I was a thirty something cross dresser trying to pass myself off by dressing as a teen aged girl  My excuse is it took me awhile to learn true public validation as a feminine transgender woman came from other women. Not men. 

Through it all I became a "gender sponge". Everything, no matter how small became important to me. Finally, my :studies" led me to am impossible situation. I was trying to live with one foot in my pretend male life and the other in my more increasingly more natural life in an expanding women's world.

By now you may be thinking where was the transgender writers block? It actually occurred a couple days ago. All it took was a day away from writing to cure it.   

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Transgender Muses

 One topic I can't seem to quit writing about were the lack of transgender examples and/or muses who stayed in public and provided a pathway for the rest of us who were so desperately questioning our gender. 


One of the very few I can remember was Jennifer Finney Boylan (left) a very accomplished author of  fifteen books In addition, From 2011 to 2018 she served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD, the media advocacy group for LGBT people worldwide. She was co-chair of GLAAD’s board of directors from 2013-17.

The problem is, I go back much farther than this. All the way back to the pre-internet days, known by many as the dark aages of information sharing.

I remember the days  when  "men dressed as women" were rounded up and arrested outside of gay bars in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Obviously the last thing I wanted to happen.

So what was a novice transgender girl supposed to do. For me, this was around the time when I learned of Virginia Prince and better yet her Transvestia Magazine. Virginia, among  other things was a proponent of "heterosexual cross dressers" or transvestites.


Virginia Prince 
 To put her age into perspective, Virginia was born in 1912 as compared to my 1949. Most of her biographies I have read, list her as a transgender activist. Others deny the claim she started the widespread  usage of the transgender terminology. None of that mattered to me  as I waited for my issue of Transvestia to arrive. It was my only connection  to the outside world which featured other transvestites as we were known back in the day. As I  remember, each issue featured a model cross dresser who for the most part I could attempt to copy and look like.

Soon I discovered  something even more important to me than the featured model. I discovered in the back of the issue a list of upcoming mixers hosted by a group called "Tri-Ess"  The organization is still active Here is their mission statement from their website:

"Tri-Ess is an international support and social group for straight (heterosexual) cross dressers and their partners, spouses and families. Our organization has provided over 50 years of cross dress service." 

Amazingly, the closest chapter to me was in Cleveland, Ohio which was within driving distance. For the first time in my life I could go meet like minded persons and see what my life could be. 

The first mixer I attended scared me completely but I was able to observe and meet a wide variety of supposedly straight cross dressers. After all, who knows what went on behind all those hotel room doors. Regardless, there were everyone from those impossibly feminine attendee's I called the "A Listers" all the way to the cigar smoking crowd who seemed to be trying all too hard not to leave their masculinity too far behind. Perhaps it would stray so far they could never retrieve it.

Through it all, I still didn't gain any contacts I would call "muses" The closest I did come was a couple of the "A Listers" who were from Columbus, Ohio which was much closer to where I lived. Eventually I became somewhat close to one of them before she moved on to the ultimate gender realignment surgery. As was the norm back in those days, we both went on our separate ways.

As I look back at the years gone by, I suppose I could say my wife of twenty five years was my muse. Before she passed on, we used to fight over my desire to become a transgender woman but more than she ever knew her lessons to me on how a woman was so much more than appearance began to ring true and make so much sense. 

It took awhile for me to fully comprehend what she meant but once I learned, she helped me to become the person I am today. She was truly my main muse and sadly I can't thank her. It's too late, she passed on years ago. Gone but never forgotten.  

Fear as a Transgender Motivator

 Recently I wrote on the subject of how difficult it was during my MtF gender transition. Every time I thought I had taken a step or two forward, I was sent backwards when my high heeled pump became stuck in a sidewalk crack and ended up sending me into a decidedly unfeminine situation. 

Through it all I was so alone and left on my own to judge my appearance and mannerisms. Similar to so many of us crossing the gender frontier, all I had was a mirror which seemed to never want to tell me the truth. Looking back, fear and trepidation of what the public was going to think of me curiously kept me going. When I was laughed at or even asked to leave a venue, my setbacks just led me to try harder to be successful. 

The entire process was exciting yet terrifying. Interestingly, we transgender women and men all shared similar but all so different experiences. Take Connie for example:

" By the time I finally made it out to be a visible part of the outside world, I had become so afraid of the thought of never leaving the safety of my locked room that going out was more a relief than anything else. The scenarios I'd imagined would surely come to fruition turned out to be much worse than anything I've ever actually experienced.

Connie Malone

 Of course, I really did know that would be the outcome. I'd read Dale Carnegie books, and I was fully aware that 99% of the bad things you think are going to happen never really do. I was also familiar with the Al Franken character, Stuart Smiley, and his inept life coaching tagline, "You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You." Throw in a favorite quote of mine from Oscar Wilde - "Life is too important to be taken too seriously" - and my fears were subsided by the thought that I'd rather have died laughing (even being laughed at) than having been found, alone in my locked basement room, dead in a pool of my own tears.


As I like to say: If ya can't leave 'em laughing, at least leave 'em guessing. That's how I relax and enjoy the ride! :-)"

I agree 99% of the bad things never really happen but it was the one percent which kept coming back to haunt me. 

I finally figured out most of the percent I was failing came from setting myself up for failure. A prime example was one venue I tried time and time again to visit where I knew I wouldn't be welcome instead of going to another venue close by where I had already established myself.  The whole process led to the time I had the police called on me just for using the restroom. 

As I eventually became wiser to where I could go, I was able to begin to relax and build the new feminine person I was always destined to become on a firm foundation. From there forward I didn't have to rely on fear to motivate me.


Sunday, April 3, 2022

Scared to Death

 One idea I do my best to dis-spell is the idea my Mtf gender transition has been anything but easy. I believe some people are led to believe it was from many of my posts. Most certainly I experienced more than my deserved share of quality experiences but on the other hand many of the experiences required me to be extremely courageous to even attempt. Plus, if the truth be known, some should not have been attempted at all. 

I believe the  most scared I have ever been happened the first night I had determined I was not going out as a cross dresser. I was going to try as closely as I could to see if I could be accepted as a feminine person. If not a woman, the closest I could come. Over the years I have not been shy writing a description of the evening. To make a long story short for those of you who may remember, I ended up sitting in my car in the venue's parking lot a half hour before I could summon the courage to go in. Once I finally decided to go forth with my plan, I knew all I had to do was get past the hostess stand and grab a seat at the bar. 

Furthermore, my grand idea was to dress as a professional woman to blend in with the other women who frequented the place when they were done with work at a nearby upscale mall. For the evening I chose my black pantsuit, black flats and long over the shoulder straight blond wig. To finish my look I did my best to add a tasteful reasonable makeup application. 

Photo:
Jessie Hart
Collection

As I wrote, my plan was just to find a seat at the bar which had seating on three sides with two big ornamental wooden posts at the front of the bar. I was lucky, I managed to secure one of the only seats remaining by chance next to one of the posts. I remember sliding into the bar stool and all the while wishing I was invisible. Of course I wasn't and very soon I was waited on by what turned out to be a very friendly bartender who turned out to be one of my regular servers as I returned many times over the years. 

Surviving the first experience only emboldened me to try more. The problem was, the more I tried different venues to see if I presented well enough to get by, the more I found just weren't accepting. In a couple I was asked to leave and even had the police called me in one place. None of it was easy as I explored the world. 

The world though was different back in those days. The public was more likely to be more vocal to their resistance of having  a transgender woman in a non gay venue. In fact, it was difficult to be accepted as anything more than another drag queen in many male gay bars. To make matters worse, the term "transgender" was new too.

As I look back on my explorations I wonder what drove me forward. My best idea is I was driven internally by the strong desire to explore living a feminine life. The more I lived, the more natural I felt so I knew it had to be right.

I can't stress enough how good it feels to have managed to survive all my life experiences and come out the other side, alive, well and living full time as a transgender woman. I also can't stress enough how frightened I was on so many occasions when I was exploring my journey. My message is to try to relax and enjoy your own gender journey. It can be so worth it to be yourself. 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Mean Streets

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When you get down to it, many streets or parking lots just aren't safe for women. All women, cis  or transgender. Yesterday when I was going back to my parking lot alone, I keenly felt the pressure of walking two blocks down an urban street alone. To my benefit, the time I was doing it was just before dusk so there was still plenty of light. Along the way I began to wonder why I didn't see (or notice) any uniformed police presence. Usually, the Cincinnati Police has an LGBT Outreach unit they send. Perhaps they decided to be present at the Transgender flag raising ceremony the same morning at City Hall.  One thing is for sure, I noticed nearly no one during my walk.

I don't move so well anymore so I couldn't move quickly if I had an incident. 

My paranoia proved to be just that and I made it to my car without an incident. There was a time years ago when I didn't. I was still very much a novice when it came to being in a feminine world. I still didn't realize how much of my male privilege I was giving up as I transitioned to a transgender woman. One of the biggest was my personal safety. No longer could I ignore parking in poorly lit parking lots or streets and it came back to haunt me in the worst way.

One night (late) I was coming out of one gay venue in downtown Dayton, Ohio I used to visit on occasion. When I left I was confronted on the sidewalk by two guys wanting money. Luckily I was able to defuse the situation by giving them my last five dollar bill and they let me go on my way. From then on whenever I went back there I made sure I was not alone. I remember vividly the first time I asked a trans man I knew to escort me to my car one night when I left a big gay club. Lesson learned which was reinforced on the night I have written so much about when I was physically threatened by a man at a party I attended. 

As I wrote, none of this is new to a cis gender woman. They grow up living in a world where they are in physical danger at some point in their lives.  One of the most important lessons you need to learn as you begin to navigate the "mean streets." 

None of this is meant to make you paranoid.  It is meant as a gender warning. Just as if you have faced a point in your MtF gender transition when you were treated as a second class citizen , potentially losing your personal security is even worse. 

As many cis women will tell you, welcome to their world. If you are careful, you can negotiate the mean streets just fine as your authentic self. Just don't make the mistake of thinking you can bully your way out of it. Plus, I know some transwomen who carry firearms to protect themselves. Even with my Army weapons training, if I did, I am afraid I would shoot myself before anyone else. Instead I choose to not be alone on the mean streets if I can help it. I am fortunate in I usually am with Liz who is very familiar with Cincinnati and knows where to go and where to stay away from. 

As they used to say on the old "Hill Street Blues" police show, let's be careful out there!

Friday, April 1, 2022

A Brisk Day Downtown

 Another Transgender Day of Visibility has come and gone. As I previously wrote about I helped "man" the table for three hours for the Transgender - Cross dresser support group I am part of. It was held at the downtown campus of the county library. A portion was set up in the library and a portion was set up outside in the parking lot. 

Weather wise, the day was less than ideal. To say the least, the weather was brisk. Regardless,  there were plenty of participants who attended from the community. In addition,  there also were speakers and several entertainers. 

Surprisingly, even with the gray cold day attendance was still good. Although after the presentation most of the group moved to a warm place inside the large library where they had catered refreshments for us. I went in with a friend and as we thawed out As we chatted, it was difficult not to notice the complete diversity of the group.

My friend and I were on the older (more mature) end of the spectrum but it ranged from several pre teen transgender girls and boys all the way through many in their teens to us old people. As we enjoyed the food and warm friendly climate, my friend looked around and said how wonderful it was to be part of a majority for a change. So true!

To further the thought, the library even had a feature of the several "scary" books alt right politicians and preachers would like to ban. Of course it was wonderful to see such an outpouring of support. 


If you know anything about the politics of my native Ohio, it is important  to note the state has pockets of LGBTQ support. Take Cincinnati where I live for example. For the Day of Visibility, the transgender pride flag was flown over City Hall. 

I am not going to ruin this positive post with all the negatives which still face the transgender community. Even though the weather didn't cooperate, the people did.

It was good to be out and proud. And by all means...visible! I think many times when I am out with my partner Liz, I blend too well and end up not representing the transgender community at all. I guess you could call it a version of stealth. It's one reason why on occasion I prefer on occasion being an example of what can happen if you are able to live long enough to accomplish your gender goals and live as your authentic self. 

I fear some people just see the end result with me and not the fifty plus years to get here. 

A brisk day downtown brought it all back into focus for me. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Another Look

 Recently I wrote a post concerning the rash of anti transgender bills around the country. Especially Florida's so called "Don't Say Gay" legislation. Through out the post I didn't even mention the backlash against transgender athletes. The cases in so many states against the athletes are so ridiculous because the legislation is started and backed by politicians who have never met a transgender person in their lives. Plus, even rarer is the person who has gone through, or is going through hormone replacement therapy and knows the drastic changes HRT can cause to the body. I know in my case, subtracting the testosterone and adding synthetic estrogen has had a dramatic effect on my strength and muscle mass.

Lia Thomas. Trans swimmer

I never was a completive swimmer but I can only imagine the differences hormone replacement therapy would have on my overall performance.  Of course none of that seems to matter to the gender bigots who are fighting to keep transgender athletes from competing. Where it all will end is anyone's guess. 

As it turned out, trans athletes weren't the only part of the equation I missed. Here is Connie's take on the subject: 

"Those of us who belong to the genus, Transasaurus Wrecks, are not given much attention these days. Other than bathroom bills that usually fail to become law, there are not many of these legislations that pertain directly to us. Of course, this doesn't mean that we are not affected by what is trying to be done to young trans people.


For a while, after hearing stories of young trans people who are comfortable in declaring their gender identity and who have accepting parents and schools, I was so envious and happy for them. I couldn't have even thought of being able to do that at their age. However, despite the pain of growing up thinking I was some kind of freak, I don't know that I could have lived with having such freedom, only to have it then taken away (or even having to live with the threat of it being taken away). In fact, even at my advanced age, I know that I would end my life, rather than have to go back to living a male existence. Long-term care facilities scare the hell out of me. I suppose I might do as my mother did over the last year of her life, rationing morphine so that she had a stockpile large enough to kill an elephant. She didn't want to go to a nursing home to die, either, although not exactly for all the same reasons as I do.

Along with what you said about the cat out of the bag, the same applies to us individually as it does for us as a community."

Thanks for the comment!  As you regular readers know, I also am scared to death of being forced into an unforgiving gender situation in a nursing home. Being placed in a situation of going back to living as a male may drive me to a morphine solution also. 

In the meantime, I have a lot of living to do and this week which contains the "Transgender Day of Visibility" means a lot to me. Tomorrow I am one of a very few volunteers to help my Transgender - Crossdresser support group during the formal observance. It's my chance to be visible and take another look at the trans community around me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Journey to Where?

 Just when I think the transgender community is making strides forward, there comes a giant step back. 

Photo Courtesy Google

This time it is Florida trying to out do Texas (as well as a few other states I won't mention) as the most anti LGBTQ state in the union. By now I'm sure you have heard Republikkan governor DeSantis of  Florida signed the "Don't Say Gay" bill yesterday. In essence, the bill tries to restrict schools from teaching any sort of LGBT material at all. 

It's sad the number of bills being introduced around the country which will eventually try to inhibit our right as transgender women and men to exist at all. Obviously a very un-American idea.

It's also tragic the number of all transgender or gay/lesbian people this will drive back into their closets. Growing up with any sort of gender or sexuality disorder is difficult to begin with. Being in a dark closet makes it worse. 

The only positives I see are the various pro LGBT organizations which exist on a national level which are powerful enough to fight these bigoted bills in court. Once the transgender cat is out of the bag, one way or another it will be difficult to force it back in.  

It's also difficult for me to write about what's left of the political system. Somehow over the years we have let the educational system decline to the point of just "dumbing down" large portions of society. Then, some are influenced by out right lies by a major news network I won't bother mentioning. 

This Thursday is the "International Transgender Day of Visibility." I will be writing in depth on what I will be doing to be extra visible. I know also so many of you are still in your closets and are unable to get out and be seen. 



In the meantime as I will mention again and again it is so important to know who you are voting for. Even it's just for a school board seat. It's going to take a grass roots effort on our part to maintain any gains we have made.

By doing so we can tell the world not only is it OK to say Gay, it's also OK to say transgender. 

It will make our journey to where, a successful one. Where you can lead a safe life.