Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Past, Present and Future

From the Jessie Hart Archives
The Ohio State Student Union with 
Brutus Buckeye

I know I write about my past experiences quite a bit but my excuse is I am old and allowed to. If you believe it or not it's my excuse and  I'm sticking to it. One thing I try not to do is dwell too much on the past to the point it effects my present. On the other hand, I find many of my readers who take the time to comment (thank you) share the number of years lived and similar experiences lived  as I have. Even more are very similar. Take the military for example. Since most of us who share the same age will agree, like it or not, the whole experience was a life altering time. Including what we were able to do concerning our gender issues.

In my case, the whole impact of losing three years of my life to serving my country did not impact me as much as what was going to become of my more than serious cross dressing urges. I couldn't imagine my drill sergeants in Army Basic Training would have approved of my favorite mini skirt or heels. On a serious note though, I learned several lessons in life from my gender dysphoria and the military. My biggest lesson learned from both was I could essentially make it through anything if I tried hard enough. In basic, for the first time in my life, I couldn't hide behind my skirts and use the excuse if I only was a girl, life would be better. Which might have been true but the problems would have still been there in a different form. 

The truth was the only unescapable fact that separated my past gender problems was my overwhelming jealousy women could not be drafted into the military and the burden of fighting all the wars and possibly dying fell upon the men. I learned the hard way in basic, to get over my problems and move on. Which was the best possible result which could have happened to me. I think too, my cross dressing-transgender past helped me to get by too. While it was true I couldn't sneak off and practice my feminine craft, I brought the idea with me that someday in the future, I would be free again to be as much of a girl as I wanted. 

Another part of the past which was really important to me was when my daughter was born. Little did I know how much she would force me to begin to settle my life down and be some sort of a father. An art form which I had little past knowledge of because for the most part, my Dad was very unapproachable. Even though my daughter was raised in two separate homes due to her Mother and I divorcing, later in life I found I must have done something right because my daughter grew in to having much of my spirit and also turned out to one of my main supporters during my gender transition. 

The problem is having the opportunity to learn from the past while still attempting to live the present in it's fullest.  Surely there are times I have a tendency to dwell on things I should have done differently in my life. Most certainly the possibility of transitioning earlier was one of them. Even though I know the world was vastly different. As the old saying goes, you can't cry over spilled milk and it quickly becomes useless to worry about the number of bridges you may inadvertently burned. It's a fact a long successful gender transition is better than never taking the chance to do it at all. I wonder how many tombstones in the cemetery would read "I wished I could have lived as my authentic self".  Which leads me to the future. Since I will be seventy four this year, I can see the end of the line and I worry about my health as well as the health of my loved ones. Then, of course what will become of me if I live long enough to find myself in an assisted care facility as a pre opt transgender woman. 

In the meantime, I do my best to honor the past, live in the present and plan for the future the best I can.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Is Seeing Believing?

Image from Unsplash

 Many cross dressers or novice transgender women and trans men spend a majority of their time living in their mirror. Many because they don't feel secure in totally leaving their gender closets and checking out the world. I know I spent years over respecting whatever the mirror was telling me. I would think I looked extremely good, then immediately get laughed at when I gathered the courage to go out the door. I learned the hard way the mirror was lying to me. 

Once I did learn looking good in the mirror wasn't my primary goal, my life changed. Instead of the mirror the public became my focus in judging how successful my feminine presentation was becoming or, how far I still needed to go to be successful in my gender dreams. Once I started to begin to communicate one on one with other women, I began to see in their eyes and actions how I was doing. The whole experience of stepping out of the mirror and into the world was at once exciting and terrifying. But everytime I felt as if I failed, I picked myself back up and decided to try, try again. 

Along the journey also, I learned there were so many different kinds of women. Some were attractive and had their own sort of extra special passing privilege and others needed to work harder on their hidden strengths to get by. I finally concluded being the most attractive woman in the room was not a reachable goal for me but perhaps being the most authentic one could be. By setting a more realistic idea of how I was presenting helped me to survive in the world.

I wonder now with all the anti-transgender feedback going on in the country, how it will effect the segment of cis-women who do not possess passing privilege. What  will happen when other people begin to question their restroom usage?   Will the transgender community gain more allies by default? It will be interesting to see what a cis-woman thinks when she is faced with the same discrimination trans girls grew up with. 

If by chance you were a "natural" and your feminine transition was relatively easy, perhaps your life in the mirror was too. For the rest of us the learning curve was so steep, hanging on was often the main problem. The mirror was all we had to get by since we didn't have a real peer group to rely on. I have included the infamous "faux" teenaged dressing years in this thought. Sadly, most of us were far beyond our younger years when we first escaped the closet and tried out a new world.  

Seeing is believing for me came when I became confident I could negotiate the world as my authentic feminine soul had wanted to do for so many years. Mostly pursuing my goals as a very serious cross dresser. It took me many years to realize the truth I wasn't cross dressing as a woman at all. In reality, I was cross dressing as a man and the mirror never told me.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Impostor Syndrome Revisited


Pride Ohio River Photo
from the Jessie Hart Archives

For many years as I started my transition from male to female, I felt as if I was an actress just trying to fit in with the world. In many ventures into the public eye I felt I needed to concentrate on having a feminine walk, among other important things. In many ways I was creating my own problems as I began to settle into a public presentation which fit in with other women. As I was having fun exploring all the new aspects a woman takes for granted, I was feeling guilty about my progress.

All along I wondered why. After all I was beginning to live a life I  previously could only dream of doing. Perhaps it was because I was still experiencing my age old guilt I suffered in my lonely, dark gender closet as I was growing up. In other words I was experiencing the same old problem expressing my true authentic self. At times the struggle seemed to be to much to bear. As the saying goes, what doesn't kill you, just makes you stronger, did make me stronger in many ways and hurt me in others. I overcame by trying my best to explore ways to power through my gender issues. 

By powering through, I attempted many less than successful opportunities to express my new self. I ran the gamut of reducing a young grocery bagger to a stutter all the way to be snickered at and or stared at in public when I tried too hard to be sexy. I  found when I did that, I never had the chance to experience impostor syndrome because I was attracting the attention for all the wrong reasons. For awhile, one of my favorite activities was making sure my short skirt was even shorter when I slowly passed a semi truck on the highway. When the driver responded with a horn blast or the flashing of the lights, it validated my femininity. Which I discovered was all wrong.

My impostor syndrome really began to kick in when I found myself in situations when I needed to communicate one on one with other women. All of a sudden I needed to evaluate what I should talk about and how I was able to voice it. Often I would be talking with another woman feeling great then the doubts would set in and I needed to try to encourage myself to keep going. If you are familiar with bowling at all, it is similar to bowling three strikes in a row then overthinking the next attempt and totally messing it up. 

It took me many years to overcome my impostor syndrome by primarily realizing I had as much of a right to be a woman as the next person. As with every other female I had earned my socialization rights. I can't stress enough how difficult the process was for me. My deep seated paranoia (from childhood) that somehow living as my chosen gender was wrong took almost as long for me to completely overcome it.  But I did and these days my primary response to impostor syndrome is to get over it. Especially if I encounter any out spoken gender bigots.