What’s in a Name

 2016 it turns out was a big year as I progressed through my MtF gender transition. It was the year I completed my legal gender name change,  My process turned out to have a couple different layers of paper work I had to go through because I needed to include the Veterans Administration in the process. Which meant I needed the help of my VA therapist to do it. She provided the timely paperwork to insure certain medications crucial to my transition continued, especially my hormone replacement therapy needs. 

I vividly remember the day I was able to erase the “M” on my Ohio driver’s license and replace it with a “F”. Second only to the first time I needed the license to vote. The only legal document I have not gotten around to changing yet is my birth certificate which only fairly recently became legal to do here in Ohio. It’s my fault for procrastinating because the whole process turned out to be fairly simple after the gender bigots quit fighting it.

Over the years, my feminine name has proven to present quite the challenge. Early in life I chose the name of girls who I admired such as the one who sat across from me in study hall. Not that is as important today, her name was Karen which of course is not the most popular name these days. Anyhow, Karen had a short lived time in my life because there always seemed to be another girl/woman I was to become enamored with and adopted her name. For awhile.

Just before I settled into a steady feminine persona as I entered the feminine world, the name game became a little crazy. In fact I would buy wigs to match a certain name. An example was Roxy was always a blond while Darcy was always a red head. After realizing I was defeating the chances to establish myself as one unique person in public, I settled into using Cyrsti as my name. It was pronounced the same as Kristi but was spelled different to reflect light going through a crystal. This was all well and good as I began to be able to exist in the woman’s sandbox and the Cyrsti’s Condo blog was born.

Cyrsti was destined to be part of my life for many years, in fact all the way to my early sixties when I came out to my daughter. Her only real concern after wondering why she was the last to know I was transgender to what was up with the name (she disliked it) and what would the three grandkids call me. Since I was close to choosing a legal name change anyhow, the time was right for a revision.

This time I decided to stay within the family history for my new name. I chose my maternal grandfather’s first name (Jesse) and just spelled it different and added my Mom’s first name as my middle name (Jeanne). That way the kids could just call me “JJ”.

At that point, the biggest question was what would happen to the blog. Should I sacrifice all the years of posts and millions of hits I had and change the name? I decided not to and kept Cyrsti as sort of a “pen name” Just to confuse the issue more though I decided to use JJ Hart fairly recently when I began to publish on the Medium writers platform. 

In the future, my goal is to retain a professional to help me with my blog ideas. When I can afford it. Perhaps they could advise me on what to do with my pen name versus my legal name. In the meantime, I’m afraid my schizophrenic name use will continue. 

LGBTQ Pride

 Pride month for the LGBT community should be a year around celebration.  Once you reach the certain point of your life when you are comfortable as your authentic gender self, it’s time to celebrate yourself.  In other words the tipping point of having total confidence in yourself. Confidence of course was the topic of a recent blog post which Paula commented on:

” Confidence is key. It took me a while to inhabit the world confidently as a woman of mature years. We missed out on a lot of the learning process, we had to compress so much into such a short time. But now, I find that I have the confidence to do things I would not have before, because I am not just confident in my femininity, but in myself. ” 

As always Paula,  thanks for the relevant comment.

Pride can be expressed in many different ways. You don’t have to go watch garishly dressed drag queens strut around in heels to participate in Pride.Β  As you can see in the first picture of me at a pre-Covid Pride along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, Ohio.

You can dress in your favorite jeans or leggings depending on the season or you can be the occasional cross dresser in your local bar.  The important part is you are living your life as you feel natural doing.

I know also, many of you think you are impossibly stuck in your transgender/cross dresser closet and will never escape. There was a time when I felt that too. I was just able somehow escape the tragic situation I was in and sheer destiny led me out of my closet and into a feminine world. 

I will say though I had to work very hard to put myself in a position for destiny to find me. I searched high and low on dating sites looking for someone. Either male or female to spend social time with and was a miserable failure. My Pride comes from  from finally being persistent enough to find friends such as Kim and Nikki who I met in sports bar venues and had a great time. All the while I was learning valuable lessons on how to navigate a feminine world. Then there was Liz who responded to a online dating site, saying I had sad eyes.

Along the way, being a partier didn’t hurt me when I did attend various Pride events as you can see in the second picture which was taken in a very busy gay venue in downtown Cincinnati several years ago. 

To make a long story/post short, have Pride in your journey. Even though it may consist of being able to exist in a very dark closet.

You deserve it.

Monday Inspiration

After three decades the Cincinnati Bengals are still in the hunt for a Super Bowl. In an exciting game in Nashville, the Bengals beat the Titans with a last second score. It all sets up a rematch with Kansas City next weekend in KC, Needless to say it has been very exciting for the whole town of Cincinnati. 

On the other end of the sports spectrum were the Green Bay Packers (Wisconsin)  who lost their game this weekend to the San Francisco “49ers”. 

One of my favorite transgender women who I share photos of is Melonee Malone who is also from Wisconsin and a Packers fan. I always say she has transitioned really well. Here is her latest photo:

Photo Courtesy Melonee Malone

No Fun

 My partner Liz asked me the other day not to write anymore when it ceased to be fun. I’m sure anyone who has ever attempted to write a daily blog will tell you there are so many times when writing is the last thing I really wanted to do. Definitely not what I would call fun. So, you may ask why to I keep doing it. 

The easy answer is the great majority of days  I do enjoy writing, which I separate from fun. An example would be back in the day when I first started exploring wearing my Mom’s clothes then began using my meager funds to buy select items of makeup and/or clothes on my own. It all was so exciting and fun but all too soon it wore off. Looking back at it now, it was the first milestone in my life when I should have known my gender issues were far from being just wanting to wear feminine clothes. I wish I had realized there was so much more to just looking like a girl…I wanted to be one. As the fun began to wane, a sense of satisfaction set in when I thought I had achieved a certain level of excellence when I adored myself in the mirror. 

As the years went by, I learned an even more important lesson. Not only did I enjoy the feminine world I was increasingly enjoying, the lesson was how natural the whole process felt.

Maybe writing is the same way. I started this blog hoping to help others dealing with their similar transgender issues. At the time, of course I had no idea that over ten years later I would still be writing as many times as I do. Along the way I have managed over 6000 posts and I wonder how I can come up with different things to write about. I enjoy blaming my friend Connie for the whole blogging adventure when we shared experiences with each other about our feminine lives on another transgender – cross dresser web site. I wish I could bring back a few of the exchanges she had with a few of the other participants who we ended up calling “trans-Nazi’s”   They were the ones who felt they were better than you because they had more operations to prove their femininity. In today’s world, they would be the bigots who want to point out they are more transgender than you. Many just for the reason they started to transition earlier than you did.

Maybe there was very little fun along the way because crossing the gender frontier is such a deadly serious journey. Often at stake are families, jobs and friends. Very few of us also are lucky get through the process unscathed.

Whatever the process has been for you, I hope you have managed have a little fun along the way. The same is true for my writing. Even though certain days it is not easy to write and I hope I don’t recount the same experiences from my past very often. The problem is many of the happenings are tied together similar to a huge collage of my life.

Thanks for being along.
 

There is a World Out There

Amazingly, my partner Liz got off of work at the right time. A time which gave us plenty of chance to get ready and actually could go to one of the cross dresser – transgender socials which have literally been scheduled for years. 

I was surprised Liz wanted to go because  of the ongoing Covid threat and the fact the temperatures were in the teens (F). But she did, I jumped at the opportunity to get out of the house. Plus we have both been fully vaccinated and even had our boosters. So, I was excited! Two days in a row out of the house. 

After I found out I was going out, then I had to figure out what I was going to wear. I went with my normal fuzzy green scalloped sweater which extends down over my newly forming hips and in addition, is very warm. I wore the sweater with my black leggings and charcoal gray boots. After adding a light layer of eye makeup and lipstick, I brushed back and clipped my hair and was ready to go. 

Once we arrived, the “group” turned out to be just two other transgender women. Without being too blunt, the two women had social skills which was great.  Of course much of the conversation revolved around the coming out process and family Since most of my family (Liz) was there, it was easy to refer to her as being the main reason my MtF gender transition was as easy as it was. 

Along the way we also chatted about the influence our families had once we had come out. It turns out most all of us had lost a significant number of persons in our life (to death) and had a clean slate to start all over again. As Liz puts it, rarely does a human being have a chance at a “do over” so don’t screw it up.  

Ironically, one of the other trans women who came has a transgender sister. It turned out also, all had accepting children  and the only person who had a parent who was still alive was accepting too. 

The nice thing about having a small group to me was the communication was better and I could even hear everyone at the table. 

It turned out also I ordered the Meatloaf not knowing the musical artist of the same name had passed away. Now I can eat a wonderful cold meatloaf sandwich in his honor.

Hopefully, it won’t be as long again until we can get out of the house again as I enjoyed last night so much. Plus it was good to be around transgender women who all had positive stories. Perhaps the world out there is changing for the best. 

When a Plan Comes Together

On exceedingly rare occasions when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror it screams woman. Most of the time though, the opposite is true. In fact what I think is not printable. 

Yesterday was one of those rare days when the mirror said, I was doing the right things in the gender department to live easily in a feminine world. Of course I was dubious because the mirror has lied so many times to me in the past.

Plus, recently I have been so secluded from the world. who would know anyhow?  Because he was vaccinated Liz’s son had a mild case of the Covid virus and came out of it fine. So after he served his time in quarantine, he was finally free to buy another car. That’s where I came in. Since he hadn’t much knowledge in the car buying world, Liz wanted me to go with him. As much as I am far from being a used car expert, I’m not sure I wanted to go at all. 

To make a long story short, I went and with no pressure (ha) agreed with Liz’s son the car would be OK to purchase. I also was pleasantly surprised when the gruff looking man who sold him the car was nice to me. Maybe the mirror didn’t lie to me after all. Maybe I had reached gender nirvana and I could finally take the trans out of my trans woman description. I know what you are thinking and I agree. He was being nice because he wanted to sell the car. 

In the end run, it didn’t matter. The car was purchased and I had escaped yet another gender meeting I preferred not to do unscathed. Someday I will learn men in that kind of situation have a tendency to ignore women anyhow. Unless they want something. I hate to think I would be taken advantage of though. Just because of my gender. Just one of the problems of losing male privileges’. Or don’t try to “mansplain” to me why a car “works”. 

 Whatever it was, the guy gave me a shy wave and a grin . I hope all he saw was a woman  accompanying her son on a car buying adventure.

Who knows? The guy at the car place got his money, Liz’s son got his car and in a off the wall way I got my chance to again conquer the world as a woman. 

Maybe I should relax and take mansplaining as yet another step I have to negotiate the feminine world. On the other hand, the whole process infuriates me as it negates  much of my life’s experiences. What would my mirror say? Very simply, this is what you asked for and worked so long to achieve. And, as I was told so long ago, there was so much more to a woman’s life than being the “pretty pretty princess.”

Sometimes a plan comes together and it does work. 

Spilled Estrogen and Health

Along the way here in Cyrsti’s Condo, I enjoy reading other experiences from other transgender women who share a similar age to me. Five (at least) are transgender veterans and it seems I am learning of more trans vets daily. By reading their comments, what the typical person doesn’t realize I think is the wide range of care you can receive in various Veterans Administration Hospitals. 

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabonao
on Unsplash

Also, trans persons in my age range (65-70 plus) go through being an educational experiment. Meaning, we are educating our medical providers about the needs of transgender patients. As it has turned out, I have been on both sides of becoming a self care provider.  I do think over the years, more and more medical professionals are being educated to us. When I look back at my experiences mostly at the Dayton, Ohio VA center, they have many residents from nearby universities following around my regular doctors. I always take it as a good sign when a young college aged professional has the opportunity to see a transgender woman such as me be cared for. 

Unfortunately I know all haven’t been able to  have the same beneficial experiences. I know I am mostly speaking to the choir here but imagine if you have to fight through personal and or  religious discrimination to even receive quality transgender care such as hormone replacement therapy. Which studies have proven to be mentally helpful to the mental health of so many gender dysphoric individuals. Alternatives such as Equitas Health are proving to be life saving medical providers for the LGBTQ community if you are lucky enough to live near one of their offices in the Midwestern United States.

Now, let’s go back to another major service the VA provides for transgender veterans…mental health care. Again, from the comments I receive, the care a vet receives varies widely from VA center to center. As I have previously written my original therapist at the VA has been with me all the way and has been completely sympathetic and proactive to my needs. Of course HRT meds come to mind but there was so much more such as providing paperwork to help with name and gender changes within and out of the system. 

Plus, even though I had to educate my initial endocrinologists, my current “Endo” is also a wonderful provider who monitors and takes care of my needs. 

Through all of this, I hoped I would be the rule, not the exception. But from many of the comments I receive I am afraid I am not. it is too late to cry over spilled estrogen when you are 72. Sure, such as many of you I wish I had worked my way out of cross dressing and into a transgender life much earlier than I did. It seemed my gender crystal ball was a bit cloudy and the life I so meticulously built and protected as a man was too good to give up. 

I hope your journey across the gender frontier has brought you to where you want to be. No matter the years it took you to get there and the experiences you had with your health care.

Sing Like a Bird

Over the years I have enjoyed hearing and watching several of my transgender and/or crossdressing acquaintances perform on stage. No matter how small the venue. Most recently before the pandemic hit the transgender – cross dresser support group my partner Liz and I are part of met to watch or perform karaoke.  A couple turned out to be amazing singers, able to look and sound the part of feminine participants.

Photo by Nikola Duza on Unsplash

Before karaoke and before I became bored with the whole drag queen scene, I used to go to the occasional drag show. In fact, Liz and I’s first date was a drag show in a gay bar. Regardless of the entertainment, the date must have gone OK because we are still together  ten years later. As I wrote though, the overall scene was becoming boring to me as you can only see so many cis-gay guys attempt to mimic the same songs so often. Plus, perhaps the most important reason I was becoming bored was the further I went into living my life as a transgender woman, the less I wanted to be compared with the drag queens on the stage. The opposite was true only if the performer appeared to be impossibly feminine. Then I was envious.

Ironically, over the years, I only had the chance to participate in one “pageant”. It was put on in Cleveland, Ohio by one of the earliest transvestite groups I was a member of. Since I was a seasoned radio disc jockey used to being in front of groups, I thought why not? Well, I learned quickly the “why not” was because I had no rhythm what so ever and could not financially come up with a proper pageant dress. The best I could hope for was the consolation prize I earned. My stage “career” as a transgender woman was over even though I had an acquaintance in Columbus, Ohio who tried for years to start a “all cross dressing girl band.” I was so bad at mastering any kind of a musical instrument I had to turn her down.  The best that could have happened was a guest shot on the Jerry Springer Show 

I suppose I just am envious on several fronts. I know Connie is a musician and I know a couple others who are singers. I have met some rather large drag queens who could do some dramatic moves in impossibly high heels without losing their wigs. My daughter’s hair solon is co owned by a gay man who can cross dress himself into a beautiful blond woman. Along the way I have been “ordered” to sing a karaoke song of my choice by a butch lesbian with a cowboy hat (another blog post.) And, maybe most notably missed out on a group of women strippers visiting a lesbian bar.

We only live once. Maybe I should relax and stop looking so hard for the next adventure. 

Another View

The more I write about or feature other comments concerning attending sporting events as a transgender woman here on the blog, the more ideas I receive. Which is wonderful. The latest comes from Paula who puts together the Paula ‘s Place Blog:

Pride Photo Courtesy Paula


Here in the UK the crowds at different sports have very different characters. ON Saturday I watched my old Rugby club win an important league game, I may have caused a little confusion but everyone was very accepting and friendly, 

I recently watched an professional American Football game at Wembley, this is a vast stadium, but was very far from full, there was a great atmosphere, and everyone was happy chatting to their neighbours (I was surprised how little time they actually spent playing football though). 

At a Cricket match I think much depends where you sit, I usually manage a seat in the clubhouse as my Brother is a member of our County Club. On the other hand there is no way on God’s earth that you would get me to go to a pro football (soccer) game. The crowds there are tribally partisan, and within the game there are still major problems with racism and homophobia, I just wouldn’t risk it.”

Self admittedly, I am not very familiar with Cricket or even Rugby but I do know enough about the European brand of pro soccer to very much agree. In fact. a few of the major sports bars feature the matches when they happen to time up correctly. Regardless, I can understand your point. 

Way back in the day during my novice transgender trips into the world. I stood the chance of being harassed when I would go to watch the games. Mainly if I tried to use the women’s rest room. Which I always did anyhow. Of course all of that began to change when I started to build up my own circle of women friends who were happy to watch the games with me. There is nothing as protective as a supportive group around you. I always point out too they were lesbians so there was very little outside interaction with men at all. It all taught me I didn’t need male validation to confirm my femininity. I was able to build my own personality doing what I liked in a circle of women. Since I had always struggled to establish close bonds with other men anyhow as I was attempting to exist as a man, the entire process felt so natural and at times easy. 

Thank you Paula for the insight to sporting events in the UK. Yes it is true how little time a football team uses to actually play the game. After all they have to sell commercials.

If you are considering a gender change and you love sports, I would encourage you to do it. Just be aware of your surroundings and venue. An untimely police visit can ruin your evening. Been there, done it.

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

Β “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.Β 

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!