Togethernss and the Bat Girl

 Last night the Cincinnati Bengals did win their first professional football playoff win in 31 years. Predictably, it wasn’t easy and not without it’s controversy. If you watched the game and wondered what the “Who Dey” fuss was all about, as Connie did, “Who Dey” comes from the Cincinnati version of “Who Dey think is gonna beat those Bengals.” With all due respect to the folks in New Orleans who use “Who Dat”, it’s our own special brand of cheering.

Along the way I have received several comments concerning my sports posts which in a way have surprised me since this is a blog about transgender women. I guess it shouldn’t  because many transgender women resorted to sports early in their lives to fight their gender urges. Plus, as Jaron commented on Medium “Does sports bring people together?” I would say for the most part yes. Of course there are exceptions such as regional rivalries such as when The Ohio State Buckeyes play that state up north. It is in bad taste to even mention them if you are a true fan. 

Also I need to share Connie’s post concerning one of her visit’s to a professional baseball game in Seattle:

Photo Courtesy Connie Malone

 “Baseball games have to be the worst for the nervous trans woman. Three hours, sitting with the same people surrounding you, is about the same amount of time as for a football game. The difference is that baseball is so much slower, and it allows more time for people watching (people watching me is what I used to feel). Football games have a totally different vibe, and there’s so much more action on the field that nobody is really paying much attention to the other fans. 

I did make the giant screen at a Mariners game once, though, when I snagged a foul ball in a not-so-lady-like fashion. The ball had bounced off the stairs, and it was coming right at me. A guy figured he could jump in front of me, but I pushed him off and grabbed the ball over the top of him. I was full of both pride and embarrassment for the next hour. At least, I didn’t lose my wig in the process. lol”

I went to many many games over the years and never had the opportunity to try to catch a foul ball and when I started to go as a transgender woman the pattern continued. Plus, when I went (with one of my lesbian friends) she acted much more masculine than I was (naturally) so in the nearly empty stands, the Cincinnati Reds were terrible we had plenty of room to spread out. Protecting our beer was more important than catching a baseball anyhow. 

I am surprised the Mariners didn’t make Connie an honorary “bat girl”. No cheap shots! 

It’s Playoff Time

As I have written about previously, football is a big deal around here  Statewide people are fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes while here in Cincinnati, this year was a big year for the Cincinnati Bearcats who made it to the college football playoffs and the professional Cincinnati Bengals who have one of the youngest teams in this years NFL playoffs. 

Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash

All of this brings me to a long ago evening when I was invited as my authentic self to attend a NFL Monday Night Football game with friends. Even though I was shocked at the invitation, I hitched up my big girl panties and said yes. 

Of course saying yes was the easiest thing I could do. Then I had to figure out what I was going to wear and immediately what I was going to do about rest room usage. Keep in mind this all happened a couple decades ago when I was very much a novice at navigating the world as a transgender woman. I envisioned being called out at every turn for being a cross dresser. 

Back in those days also, I was still wearing wigs. I needed to take care to wear one wig which my hosts had seen me in the most. I chose one plus one of my Bengals jerseys. To be sure not so feminine but it would be worn under my jacket anyhow. 

All too soon, it was game time and we were making the hours drive to the game. Once we arrived and unsavory as it was, I decided to stop and use one of the parking lot portable toilets. Quickly I took care of business adjusted my wig and hoped for the best. 

My first test came as we approached the stadium and needed to be “checked in” by a security person before they took our tickets. For some reason, I was comforted when I was checked in by another woman. It helped when she smiled and told me she hoped I enjoyed the game because I was close to being in total panic mode. Somehow I maintained as we stopped for a adult beverage and made our way to our seats. As we sat down, the stadium was still filling up so I couldn’t get a read on who was going to be sitting close to us. The last thing I needed was a redneck fan sitting next to or close to me . My impostor transgender syndrome was in full swing. I felt insecure enough when the television field camera seemed to stop and focus on me. Finally I managed to stop all the paranoia and enjoy the game. 

Sadly but predictably, my team lost and the person who invited me along won. So I had to put up with a little abuse but overall the game went off fine. I didn’t get “clocked” as a man in women’s clothes and outside of a few glances nothing happened. I even braved the long line to the women’s room and again took care of business in a better environment than the portable toilet in the parking lot. 

The whole experience was totally amazing and I still remain in contact with the woman and her daughter who invited me. Even more amazing was the fact they accepted me so totally as my authentic self. 

I owe them so much more than I can ever say and you might ask how did I meet them. The daughter was a bartender in a sports bar venue I became a regular in as I started to explore the feminine world. She would eventually introduce me to her Mom. The rest as they say, is history. So the whole meetup was sheer destiny,  

You may also ask if I have ever been back to another game. The answer is no not football but yes I have been to professional baseball games. The biggest reason now is not because I am transgender, It is because of my increasingly poor mobility. I am starting the process to securing a handicap  brochure and since Liz wants to go to her first The Ohio State Buckeye football game next year, maybe we will be able to do it.

In the meantime…GO Cincinnati Bengals!

Jury Duty and the “Big O”

Overall I lead a very boring life. On occasion it seems I just sit around writing waiting for something remotely different to happen. This week  I hit the jackpot for all the right and wrong reasons. Plus, I am 72 and retired.  Now the wrong reason. 

Two days ago, my partner Liz’s son tested positive for the Omicron Covid 19 virus. Even though he had been vaccinated twice. Because of his age (24) and vaccination history, we hope his recovery is swift and does not spread to Liz and I. Plus, both of us have been vaccinated twice plus have been boostered. Either way I am now in quarantine for a least five days.

Then out of nowhere came a jury duty summons. In my entire life I believe I have only been summoned twice and never was required to serve. The only problem I have with doing it now is how bad my lower back is now. Sitting in any chair for much more than a hour is torture. I have been considering applying for an Ohio handicapped permit but my pride/ego has stopped me from going ahead with the process. Clouding the problem now is I am being assigned a new primary provider (family doctor) at the Veterans Administration. So now I am required to complete the process with somebody new. 

Also I was lucky. I went on the court’s website this morning and learned the county was cancelling most all of the lower level court cases due to the pandemic and my participation wasn’t required, for now. For obvious reasons I need to point out my hesitation to serve was only due to physical reasons and had nothing to do with me being transgender. In fact, as regular reader Paula once wrote in a comment, being transgender is only a part of who we are. We are so much more and so complex.

Putting all the negatives aside, this is a huge week around the Cincinnati,Ohio area and beyond as the Cincinnati Bengals football team attempts to win its first NFL playoff game in thirty one years. I am proud to say, my friend Connie out in Seattle will be rooting for the Bengals. Back in my dim past when Cincinnati was actually in the Super Bowl I actually broke a small bone in my foot celebrating a touchdown return during the game. It was difficult explaining why I was on crutches the next day to my bosses. 

So, as you can tell, my week finally shaped up to at the least be a bit different.  

Sports Crazy

 Recently I wrote a post called “Baggage” which questioned my desire to bring my love of sports with me as I transitioned into my life as a full time transgender woman. To make a long story or post short I concluded I could because as I looked around I discovered many other cis women who follow sports. I was thrilled when I found several other women friends who I could share a game in a sports bar with, along with a beer (or two, or three…) 

Photo courtesy of Paula

I also received a couple of other comments from regular readers who shared their sporting experiences. The first is from Paula in the UK:

“My sporting passion is Rugby, I used to play before there was a women’s game, so when I start pontificating about a game I often get the “what do you know about it anyway” attitude from guys. Sometimes I fail to resist the temptation to tell them I played in the front row for nearly 30 years!

I’ve only been to a couple of big games since transitioning, one of the joys is these are at least one of the rare occasions when I’m not the one queuing up for the loo!”The second comes from Connie :

“I’ve not changed my lifestyle much, at all, since the onset of my transition. I enjoy sports, just as I always have, and I’m not ashamed of sharing my sports knowledge with anybody. There are plenty of women who know more than I do, so I don’t feel any less feminine for sharing what I know. I do, however, usually refrain from adding my war stories from playing high school football to the discussion (even if they might be perceived to be first-hand expertise on the subject at hand). I don’t enter into these discussions in a competitive way, as I might have done in the past. I’m so relieved that I’m not expected to prove myself on such matters these days.

Photo Courtesy Connie Malone

My wife had grown to enjoy sports over the years, and so we continue to watch football and baseball together. I’ve even enjoyed watching figure skating with her without feigning disinterest (as I used to do). I always get a little chuckle, recalling my official “coming out” to her:


My dysphoria had gotten the best of me, and I’d reached the point of finding my male life intolerable. I had locked myself in my basement office for two full days, and my wife had had enough of it. She left the house that Saturday morning, and, having heard her go out the door, I felt it safe to come out from hiding. The letter she’d left for me on the kitchen counter was an ultimatum, and I knew that I had to finally confront her. She knew what I had been doing (cross dressing), but she didn’t understand anything about it (I can tell you that explaining the X’s and O’s of football is easier than explaining the XX and XY of gender identity). So, I responded to her letter with a short note stating that I could only be completely honest with her, and that I had to do so as the woman she’d never seen or met. I then went about the business of cleaning myself up as preparation for her return home (she hadn’t taken the large suitcase, so I knew she’d be back before the weekend was over).


When my wife came home on Sunday afternoon, I was in the bathroom finishing my makeup. After she’d read my note, she asked me, through the door, if I was coming out of the bathroom soon. I said back that I would be out soon, and asked if it were OK that I did so in complete honesty. She answered, “Yes,” and then turned the TV on to watch the NFL playoff game. When I appeared to her, it was as if nothing was really different. I knew that she was playing it cool, and she wasn’t about to give me the satisfaction of receiving a big reaction to my big reveal.

As I began to try to explain myself, she seemed to be distracted by the game on the TV. I finally said that I would just wait until half-time to try to talk to her, since the game seemed to be more interesting than what I had to say (a little passive-aggressive on both our parts). I then proceeded to prepare some nachos and a batch of Margaritas. By the time the second half of the game began, I’d made her understand that I had to live as a woman, and that I would never hide from her again. She made it clear to me that she was not a Lesbian. Then we both enjoyed the game together, just as we always had done before. I think that the Margaritas helped a lot, even if the second blender-full didn’t lead to a sexual encounter (as it might well have done in the past). :-)”

Thank you both for the enlightening comments! As I have written about in the past, and will in the future my very scary yet thrilling trip to a Monday night pro football game here in Cincinnati as a woman. Since enthusiasm is building to a fever pitch around here for the big Bengals/Raiders pro football Saturday, I have decided to save the post as we get closer to the game on Saturday.   

Therapy

Approximately every two weeks I have my scheduled appointment with my Veteran’s Administration therapist. Over the years I have drastically changed my expectations of therapy.

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Many years ago when I visited my first therapists I thought they would be some sort of a mind reader or on the other hand, I would be paying another person to talk about me for an hour. My very first visit to a therapist is difficult to remember.  It was so long ago in the 1980’s. What I do recall is he seemingly refused to take me seriously about any desires I may have to dress or act in a feminine nature. The only thing I got from him were my first mind altering meds, without much explanation of why I was supposed to take them. Needless to say, it was one and done with him.

Several years later when my wife and I lived in Southeastern Ohio (near the Ohio River) I was compelled to seek out the services of another therapist. At the time I had learned of her from other attendees at several of the transvestite and/or crossdresser mixers I went to in Columbus, Ohio. An example of how rare the therapist was she was known as one of the only psychiatrists in the state who knew anything at all about gender issues. 

As it turned out, I decided to make an appointment for all the wrong reasons. At the time I was really dealing with my gender dysphoria and it was winning the battle. I bounced between extreme depression and euphoria. Of course the only way I thought I had to cope was to cross dress as a woman, ignore the deal I made with my wife not to be seen in public and go out anyway. Predictably I was eventually caught sneaking out and yet another bad fight broke out between us. So, getting caught motivated me to seek help and supposedly save our relationship.

The gender therapist’s office as I wrote took me an hour to drive one way, was expensive but was very worth it. After I described my terrible mood swings and cross dressing she told me there was nothing she could do to change my desire to dress as a woman but there was something she could do about my mood. For the first time in my life I was diagnosed as being bi-polar. At least part of my life made sense and again I was prescribed medications that actually worked. Armed with this knowledge I felt better and headed home. 

Unfortunately, similar to so many other times in my life and even though my moods had evened out, I couldn’t stay true to my word and kept leaving the house unattended. The gender therapist was right, she or no one could sway my increasing desire to discover a feminine lifestyle.

By now, many of you know my wife and I actually stayed together for twenty five years until her sudden death from a heart attack. Her passing tragically opened the doors wide open to attempt a final journey over the gender frontier.  

In order to do this, I chose the Veterans Administration health care system. In order to be accepted in the hormone replacement therapy program I had to be seen and approved by a therapist. The potential problem I saw was having my bi-polar status hurt the whole process. After all, being bi-polar didn’t have anything to do with me being transgender but I was paranoid someone else may not think so.

At the time, I didn’t know how fortunate I was to be assigned to the therapist I was. She understood both of my issues were separate and even had knowledge of the gender issues I was experiencing. No education on my end needed! 

The best part of the experience is we still meet after all these years.     

It’s Patch Day

Twice a week I apply new synthetic estrogen patches which help me match my exterior appearance with my inner gender feelings.

Approximately eight years ago I started my transgender transition journey very seriously by being able to begin hormone replacement therapy. Even though I was still living part time in both binary genders. Specifically, I was attempting to balance my old life as a man with my new life as a woman. Needless to say the entire process was very difficult for me and led to many other problems. I was miserable. Deep down I knew the answer was I couldn’t continue to live as a man any longer. Finally I faced reality and sought out medical help to start my hormonal journey.

As I write this post, or any others on HRT I urge anyone and everyone to seek medical advice to make sure you are healthy enough to do it. 

Of course I had many questions I attempted to have answered as I started my journey. I learned of a nearby doctor in Dayton, Ohio who would prescribe hormones, was accepting new patients and didn’t require a therapists’ approval. I made an appointment and nervously showed up in the office.

Very soon I had a prescription for the minimum dosages of Estradiol and Spironolactone which would inhibit my testosterone. As I remember, the only real advice the doctor had for me was I would grow breasts, my hair would grow on my head and my sex drive would go away. I accepted all of that and off I went to the pharmacy. I think now I was more nervous in the pharmacy than the doctors office. Especially after the one time the pharmacist made it a point to loudly point out did I know what taking Estradiol would do to my body. Regardless of her transphobic mini rant, at that point of time I didn’t fully understand all of the changes which were coming.

The biggest change came when the Veteran’s Administration announced it would begin helpomg veterans with their HRT needs. Since I am a veteran and use VA health, I researched what I had to do to qualify for the program. Even though I disagreed in principal, I had to go through a VA therapist to be initially approved. I was fortunate. My assigned therapist had a knowledge of  transgender issues and we are still together today. From that point forward I was able to purchase my meds through the VA and save money.

Since I was on a minimum dosage my changes were supposed to me minimum too. Except they weren’t, for the most part. Very quickly it seemed I was developing very feminine breasts, my body hair was thinning and yes the hair on my head really started to grow. It was time to quit wearing all my old guy clothes and start my life as a fulltime transgender woman which I was so ready to do. Except it was still so scary. You know what is said about the unknown.

As I fast forward till today, my experience with HRT has been a magic carpet ride. Over the years, my world has developed into a much softer place. Sure my breats have developed too as well as my skin has softened. I am more emotional and have a tendency to cry even when I am happy.

Overall, it’s been a fun journey I have been blessed to take. I used to think my bi-polar meds were the most important meds I take to maintain who I am. 

Now I think it’s the Estradiol.

No Days Off

 Yesterday I took a rare day off from all my blogging activities. It was one of the few days I couldn’t come up with anything to write about in the cluttered transgender universe which is my mind. Today as I retrieved and turned on the old lap top (I knock on wood every morning when it comes on.) and proceeded to come up with a new post. 

Photo Credit: Cyrsti Hart

Writing for me is either a labor of love or a real chore. I compare the whole process to the early days when I was exploring the world as my true feminine self. Many days I would feel so confident and good. Other days, the process was not so seamless. It felt like everytime I turned around something was going wrong. An example was the day I was (in my mind) proudly negotiating a mall in my dress, heels and hose when I promptly stepped into a crack in the sidewalk. Needless to say I didn’t feel very feminine as I almost fell and had to retrieve my shoe. Fortunately no one else seemed to notice and I learned another valuable lesson. Watch where I am going and not so much on the publics’ reaction to me. 

Another discovery I made was learning I could never take a day off from the feminization process I was slowly but surely going through. Unfortunately, the whole process made me a very difficult person to live with or work for during what I called my “down” days when I couldn’t cross dress as my true self. Between battling my bi-polar behavior and gender dysphoria, life was no fun. Still I kept going spurred on by working way to hard all the way to changing jobs and moving to different places. Another prime example was when my wife and I moved from one part of Ohio to metro NYC then back again, only to move to  a very rural area of Southeastern Ohio to open restaurants. I learned the hard way no amount of frenetic moving and changing could solve my basic problems. Plus, I won’t even m mention the amount of heavy drinking I did to self medicate my problem.

Along the way, I always considered myself to be a competent but deeply flawed person. Looking back now I see taking any days off from my issues would be impossible until I “manned up” and faced them like a woman. Which is exactly what my wife told me to do. Instead I blundered ahead until I tried suicide. It turned out I even screwed that up and went to work the next day like nothing happened. Looking back of course, I am glad self harm didn’t work for me. 

What did work was finally realizing my inner feminine self was the dominate portion of my being. Once I let her live was when I could relax, build a new life as a transgender woman and take a day off…from myself.  

Dreams

I have been curious, as I add to the years I have lived as my authentic self , how long would/will it take for my dreams to switch over to being exclusively feminine in nature.  Right now nearly all of my dreams are from my male past.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I guess living nearly sixty years struggling to live in a male world completely imprinted my subconscious. As much as I dislike it, I seem to bypass the times I spent with my first wife (seven years) and current partner of ten years and go straight to my deceased wife of twenty five years. 

As much as I feel frustrated my dreams are still masculine in nature, obviously it seems there is nothing I can do to flip the switch and be feminine. Perhaps as time goes by and I compile more experiences as a transgender woman, all of this will change. 

I also know in the scope of life, dreams are less of a priority. Just getting by in the world is just more important. 

For example, today Liz and I have several errands to run including her getting a booster vaccine.  It would be a poor time to get harassed over living as my authentic gender. Since I will be wearing a mask, chances are slim. 

Speaking or writing about Liz, she is more of a believer in the power of dreams. So I asked her what she thought of my dreams. She said several things. The first suggestion was did I have specific dreams of being a guy or was I dreaming of being in a male environment. An example would be the time I spent in Army basic training. I rarely if ever dream of being back in basic, instead I dream of re-enlisting. Over and over again.

The second point she brought up was how early in life we become gender objects. In other words, the time our parents begin to make sure they pound us into gender stereotypes. Transgender women and men are unlucky enough to be round pegs pounded into square holes. This process can affect us for life. Including our dreams. 

Finally Liz said I could shape my dreams by training my mind before I went to sleep by thinking feminine thoughts. Of course, as she told me all of this, she couldn’t help but tell me when I sleep with the television on (which I do) does me no good. She didn’t think I had anything to worry about.

Now I can focus on the present, not the past. Until tonight.

The Long Wait

As I mentioned in a recent post, often I regret waiting so long to cross the transgender frontier and live as my authentic self. 

Most of you regulars probably know I am seventy two years old, considered myself to be a crossdresser for over a half a century and did not start to transition seriously until I was in my early sixties. At that point in time I started hormone replacement therapy (HRT). 

As many of you know, especially of the same age bracket, the world we grew up in has changed drastically for the best in the transgender community. The biggest changes came with the advent and advancement of the internet. I remember vividly the first time I made contact with another like minded person on our home computer. I also remember the pain and suffering I went through when my wife found out. I had no idea the computer kept track of where I went to but she did. As always I tried to ride out the problem and rearrange our life once again. I reestablished myself and set my next goal, to  make an excuse to buy a combination printer/copier/fax machine so I could send pictures.

By this time in my life, I did know and had met other transvestites at mixers I had went to, so the computer was just another tool to advance my knowledge. All of a sudden, there were chat rooms and search engines which could further my research into who I was as I walked the fine line hiding my info from my wife. Which didn’t work forever of course.

Keep in mind also, the whole word “transgender” was a new term. For the most part, there was the “transvestite” word which roughly aligned with cross dresser  and then “transsexual” which meant you were planning to pursue sex change surgery (as it was known as) then move away never to be seen again. The problem with that was as a transgender generation we lost most all of our potential role models.

Looking back now, these years were a blur for me. I spent most of my life trying to outrun my gender dysphoria. Taking what opportunity I could to see if I could truly understand what a woman went through in her life and seeing if I could do it too. Even though I was a good student of the feminine  binary gender, I felt like an outsider looking in, and was. 

It wasn’t until the 1980’s  when I started to seriously explore an everyday life as a woman. I would jump at any opportunity to do errands such as the grocery shopping while my wife was at work. The more I was able to do,  The more I did, the more natural I felt and for the first time began to consider I was much more than a cross dresser. 

The next milestone I reached in my gender transition was when I had to begin to communicate with the public as a woman. Of course I was paranoid about my voice but then I learned the keys to gender communication I write about so much. During the whole process I was slowly aligning my inner feminine self with the person the public interacted with. 

Once I did it, the long wait was worth it. In no way was waiting lessening my standing as a transgender woman. I was making the best of life’s situations as they presented themselves. I totally dislike it when a trans person attempts to say they are more trans than another.  As a community we have all the layers as society does and we need each other.

My fondest desire is the younger transgender persons of today have the freedom to explore themselves  and don’t have to wait as long as I did to live as their authentic selves. 

Gender Baggage

It’s no real secret we transgender women and men carry a ton of baggage with us as we cross the gender frontier. Even though the amount of baggage we carry varies, we all seemingly have our share to bring along. 

Photo by Caroline Selfors on Unsplash

The older we are, perhaps the more baggage we have to bring along. In many cases we have years of building families, jobs, friends and lives in general to deal with as we transition. 

By the time I was able to transition I could cross a couple of the items off the list.   First of all, at my age nearly all of the few close male friends I had passed away. Secondly I was newly single and of the age I could consider an early Social Security retirement. Finally, my family was mostly distant and really only consisted of my daughter and brother. 

Tragically as I look back I wonder how much life I lost by not embracing my gender dysphoria and doing something about it. My excuse is my fear of transitioning held me back and I tried to not get close to many in the outside world.  After all I didn’t know how many would accept the true me.

Years later, as I began to transition in earnest, I learned most of my fears were not grounded in reality. Looking on the bright side, I found I was presented with another opportunity to rebuild myself…from scratch. An opportunity many humans never have. As I was approaching my new gender challenge I learned I was experiencing a true void. The biggest example was my love of sports. How was I ever going to watch and enjoy sports again. My stereotypical brain told me cis women just didn’t delve into sports as much as I did. Plus on the rare occasions I encountered a man who wanted to talk sports, I would have to “dumb” myself down and act as if I knew very little.

What really happened was I found three cis women who shared my passion for sports. All of a sudden we began to gather in big sports bars to watch key games. We even went to a women’s roller derby event in Cincinnati. The biggest thrill (and scariest) was when I was invited along to a pro football game which I will go into in another post. 

All of a sudden I was just one of the girls and since two of the others were very outgoing I didn’t have to worry about interacting with any men. The guys always took aim for them.

As you can tell, I was fortunate when I transitioned. I brought my love of sports with me and was able to shed most of my old male baggage. I give credit to my hormone replacement therapy also as the world seemed to soften around me. 

Whatever the case I was able to pick and choose what I wanted to keep in my new feminine life and move forward in life. The whole process leaves me wondering why I waited so long to do it. Which is also a topic for another post.