Welcome to Hell

As I continue my Cyrsti’s Condo post from yesterday, the best place to pick up the story is when I was honorably discharged from the Army. All of the sudden I had this incredible sense of freedom. 

As in all freedom’s though, this one carried a price. It all started with the naive notion I could continue to come out to others as a transvestite (the common term for a cross dresser) in the mid 1970’s. As I have written about several times, I was soundly rejected by my Mom and from there mostly headed back into my closet. 

By “mostly” I meant, only my wife really knew anything about my cross dressing desires except for a few Halloween adventures when perhaps I looked a little too accomplished as a woman in front of a few of my friends. Amazingly though my normal macho exterior I worked so hard for carried the day.

As you can probably guess, the yearly Halloween adventure and dressing up at home behind closed doors wasn’t nearly enough. The formula was fairly simple. The more I cross dressed the better I became at it and then I felt more and more natural which led to more gender confusion. 

Virginia Prince 1940

About that time I learned of Virginia Prince and her Transvestia Magazine. I quickly learned I was not alone and I felt it was time to meet others like me. I also found there were mixers going on within driving distance of me. 

As I attended the mixers, I learned quickly there were layers of different people. All the way from the cross dressers who were desperately trying to hold on to their masculinity by smoking big cigars in drag all the way to impossibly feminine figures.  This created yet another quandary for me. Where did I fit in? 

I was far removed from most of the macho cross dressers but was curiously attracted to the fabulous feminine creatures. Of course at that time (and in many instances still do) I ended up in a middle niche I carved out for myself. 

The problem this all created for me was it caused me more extreme gender dysphoria pressure. My answer was increasing my alcohol consumption, getting a divorce, losing a business and moving from Ohio to the New York City area. In other words, I was out of control…sort of. Out of the chaos came another marriage to a woman who knew of my cross dressing desires and who I was destined to be married to for twenty five years. She passed away quite unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 50. 

The problem with all of this was, slowly I was coming to grips with the fact I was probably more of a new term I was learning more about. Could it be I was transgender?  

Being transgender meant all kinds of potential problems and changes. 

The pressure became so intense it led me to try to commit suicide.

More on that in my next post.

It’s Not a Choice

One of the most frequent questions I used to get when I met a stranger was, when did I know I was transgender. 

After many years of fumbling around with the answer, the most correct one finally came to me…I have always been this way. 

Now, having said that, certainly there were milestones in my life I could look back on which confirmed my gender dysphoria.  

As a youth, for some reason I never gave much thought to why I wanted dolls for Christmas instead of BB guns. I also didn’t really know why my attraction to girls in school seemed to be different than most of the other boys. 

I don’t remember acting on any of my cross dressing or girlish desires until I was ten or twelve. In fact, I had a paper route which I used the money from to primarily buy feminine clothes and makeup. When I did, I could stay out of my Mom’s wardrobe and makeup. All I had to do was find a good way to hide my stash.

As I grew more accomplished during my high school years, I was also able to keep the bullies away by playing sports, working on cars and dating the occasional girl. All of which just seemed to widen my internal gender gap.

Very soon out of high school (in college) it looked as if the Vietnam War would make a major influence in my life. As it turned out I was drafted out of college and had to face the problem of not being able to do anything about my gender issues for three years. For you purists, I enlisted for three years to be able to better choose my Army job.  As it turned out a good choice when I landed a job in the American Forces Radio and Television Service. 

Why was that important you ask? Because my job landed me in one of the least military areas in the Army. Thanks to that and a Halloween party in Germany, I was able to dress as a woman and eventually come out as a transvestite for the first time to my friends and future wife. 

For awhile I thought I had won the lottery as some of my gender pressure was dialed back. As it turned out though, the true struggles were just beginning.

I will get into those in the next post as well as explaining how fighting my gender dysphoria nearly killed me. 

It took me years to learn it was never a choice. 

Veterans Day

Most certainly, being a transgender veteran means I pay closer attention to Veteran’s Day. And, I appreciate the thanks I get for my service. Vietnam Vets like me didn’t get many when we were discharged from the military. 

It’s ironic though, the person who may have benefited the most from my service in the Army, never thanked me for my service. That would be my daughter. You could connect the dots and determine she may not be around at all if it wasn’t for the connection between her mother and I (she was also in the Army) when we were in Germany. For what ever reason she can’t seem to remember. 

Thanks to Connie, Liz and others for their thanks!

This is always the time I thank all you other veterans. I know many of you were not forced to serve (the Vietnam draft) but went on your own accord. The ironic part of all of this is, the percentages of transgender military members is probably much higher than anyone has thought. Think of all who paid the ultimate sacrifice and were in the deep closet. 

Also I consider too the tragic transgender military ban orchestrated by our “cadet draft dodger” in chief. It shows again how far we haven’t come. 

On a positive note, thanks to all who took the time and effort to serve!

What’s in a Name?

Connie brought up an interesting point about responding, or not, to one’s old “dead name.” 

“Your slight digression made me want to know more. At that time, you had two names. Today, you have a different one. How, then, do you respond, should someone call you by any one of them? I imagine that you would react differently, depending on which one was used. My dead name has become almost incognizant to me after adopting my new name many years ago.

If I hear someone in a crowded place say, “Connie,” I will likely turn my head in recognition these days, but I no longer do that when my dead name is heard. Well, not until just a couple weeks ago, anyway. I was grocery shopping, and I heard a woman say, in a stern voice, “(Dead name), stop doing that!” I turned around to see a small boy holding a can of something from the bottom shelf, and Mom was standing right over him with a waving finger. It doesn’t take a psychologist to tell me why I reacted to the sound of an irritated mother shouting (Dead name), but I can only laugh now about such a thing. 

Among many other things I did, as a kid, that would irritate my mother was my natural walk; placing most of my weight on the balls of my feet, rather than using a firm step on my heels. I did learn to affect a more-masculine walk, but my mother would always let me know when I had “regressed” to my natural one. Later, as an adult, I started shaping my eyebrows as much as I thought I could get away with, and every time mother saw me, she would say the same thing she said to me regarding my walk: (Dead name), stop doing that! Hmm, maybe I have Cowboy Nightmares and Cowgirl Dreams. :-)”

Sometimes I think I more than burnt out the name situation. Like so many other cross dressers and early transgender women, I chose the name of the cis women of the period I was in whom I admired the most. For example, my earliest feminine name was Karen. Because I used to sit close to a cis girl named Karen in middle school. Back in those days, I didn’t understand why my crushes weren’t really sexual ones but more out of admiration. I wanted so bad to be them.

Over the years, I have been a Darcy, a Roxy a Cyrsti (of course) and finally a Jessie which is my legal name now. Ironically, Cyrsti’s Condo was so established by the time I chose my legal name, I decided to leave it alone. Jessie is actually a family name. 

As far as responding to my dead (male) name, I still catch myself turning around on the very rare occasions I hear it. I am more likely to fight responding when someone uses the “Sir” word when a stranger is using it with another person. Fortunately. more times than not they are directly not referring to me anyhow. 

Now on to my Mom:

My mother and I were much alike and thus never agreed on anything.  I was so focused on living a lie as a guy, I don’t think walking was ever an issue. On the other hand, I con’t imagine she never noticed my forays into her clothes and makeup. Either I covered it up better than I thought, or she ignored my cross dressing urges thinking it was a faze. 

When I came out to her when I was discharged from the Army as a transvestite, she offered to send me to electrode shock therapy. I told her she wasn’t going to plug me into a wall socket and the subject was never brought up again. 

I guess I got the final revenge because I chose her name as my middle name.

Looking back on it now, I hope she would have considered it a honor of sorts. You see, it’s all in a name.

Song Bird?

This is an older experience I haven’t shared for awhile here in Cyrsti’s Condo. In fact it goes back to the 1990’s. 

In those days, I was spending my life divided between the two binary genders. Along the way, I managed to locate a couple small lesbian bars I liked to drink in. One disliked me totally, the other I was accepted in. 

On certain nights, the venue I was accepted in had karaoke. I don’t sing at all (except for a David Allan Coe song I knew.)  The song was/is “You Never Even Called Me By My Name but I digress. 

I was only vaguely aware it was karaoke night when I got there. I didn’t really care because of course singing was the last thing on my mind. 

I also remember I was wearing my blond wig with jeans, boots and some sort of tight top. Indirectly, I wanted to look nice for the other patrons. It turns out I did I guess! 

About half way into my second beer, a big butch lesbian comes up (in a cowboy hat no less) and demanded, not asked, if I would sing with her. Of course I tried to politely decline. Then I learned quickly I was going to choose the song and sing it with her. 

As I panicked, I thought there was only one song I knew and mentioned David Allan Coe to her, hoping she wouldn’t want to do it. No such luck though, she grabbed my hand and headed to the stage. Fortunately the lights were dim in the place and there weren’t many patrons there yet and I did the best I could to sing with her.

After we were done, she looked at me and said my voice was lower than hers and headed another direction. I took that as my time to escape. I paid the bartender who knew the truth about me and took off.

I never saw the butch lesbian in there again and wondered if she ever learned the truth about her duet partner that night so long ago. 

Political LGBTQ Successes

Regardless of all the anti LGBTQ hatred being spewed from the White House, there were positive results in elections this week.  In Kentucky, the home of such notables as Moscow Mitch McConnell, the Democratic nominee for governor managed to narrowly defeat the solidly trumper Republican incumbent. Which hopefully bodes well for the upcoming presidential election.

Around the country, After a string of successful general and special elections, the number of LGBTQ elected officials in the U.S. today stands at 698 — the highest number ever, and an increase of nearly 25 percent over last year, according to the Victory Institute, which tracks openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer elected officials.

While in Virginia:

From the New York Post:” Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected and serve in a state legislature, was reelected to her Virginia seat on Tuesday.

Roem, a Democrat, bested her Republican opponent Kelly McGinn by a 57-43 margin.

When she was elected in 2017, Roem beat a longtime GOP delegate who led efforts to restrict bathrooms to transgender people.

Her opponent that year, Robert Marshall, sponsored a “Physical Privacy Act,” which was modeled after controversial bathroom legislation passed in North Carolina in 2016.

“Danica inspired trans people across the nation to run for office,” Mayor Annise Parker, president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund said in a statement.”

Reasons being given for the increase are more people are running, more are getting elected and more are coming out of the closet who are already serving. 

Now all we need is a solid front from the “L,G and B’s” to help the “T’s” in our struggles.

A Different Transition

Well, as expected, the weather around here in Southwestern Ohio is making a dramatic turn from fall to winter. 

Fall has always been my favorite season of the year and I am always sad to see it go. Why? Primarily I have always liked the fashions and maybe on a separate level, football has always been my favorite sport. Long ago I decided just becoming a woman should not stop me from enjoying part of my male life I so loved.  Also, fall has always meant a time of deep change to me. Somehow I always have equated fall with my gender transformation.  

Perhaps it had to do with Halloween’s effects on the season too.  Long suppressed gender feelings of being a girl were reawakened.  Plus, the successes of going out on Halloween in a feminine costume just urged me on to go farther. 

One thing led to another and all of a sudden I was at the tipping point of living full time as a transgender woman. 

It seemed too, fall was a great fashion time to present as a woman. As I did, I learned the basics of shopping for myself, experimenting with makeup and adding the proper accessories. In doing so, I found I needed to communicate with the public, which in turn taught me the very different basics of gender communication. 

I know I am giving too much credit to the season because the gender learning curve for me lasted for years, not months. But I vividly remember the joy when the weather cooled off and my makeup didn’t melt off. 

In the meantime, as Mother Nature transitions into winter around here, there is plenty of time to enjoy boots, warm fuzzy sweaters and soft leggings!

Trans Visibility

It’s election day and I am proud to say I haven’t missed many elections over the years. I am sad to say I have witnessed a couple of very bad presidents in my lifetime. Nixon was one. I think you can figure out the other. 

I am not going to dwell on politics though in this post. I have a couple of comments to get to as well as the experience of voting for the first time as my feminine transgender self. I was a little nervous when I did it but on the other hand couldn’t wait to produce my brand new driver’s license which said “F” in the gender category, rather than “M”. The license was scanned and nothing was said. I was just given my ballot to cast. Wow! It felt good! I guess now, the bad part is voting as a woman has become very mundane.

Both comments indirectly touch on the mechanics of getting to the mundane part if you are considering exploring a life as your true self (transgender) or just feel an affinity to dress as the opposite gender (cross dresser).

The first comes from Dawnautom who reads most of my posts on the WordPress blog platform:

 “Over the years I’ve talked to hundreds of transgender people all over the world most loved it when they could get out as them selves but a few found it felt to weird to be out in public like that. We’re all different in how it affects us, some it has no effect on others spend their whole life in the closet. 

 I’m happy for you that your able to get out and be your self, I think the biggest problem we face is self love and confidence ones you master that everything else is down hill ( so to speak ).”

Looking back, I can see how someone would think it was weird to go through a sudden change of gender privilege . In fact, at the last cross dresser – transgender support group meeting, a young trans man was explaining the difference approach society uses when dealing with different genders. 

The second comment comes from Connie:

“I believe that many, if not most, trans women go through a stage where their choice of feminine presentation is based on what they think a man would find appealing. I would take that one step further and say that it is often the case that the man they are seeking to please is themselves. After all, especially when one is closeted, the only man who will see “her” is “himself.” Presenting oneself as a bit of a slut in public, though, does not necessarily garner the kind of attention her inner feminine-self was looking to receive. 

There’s a reason that moms warn their children about this kind of woman – not marriage material. It’s not that marriage is the goal of every trans woman, but it is that more-conventional kind of woman many of us transition toward. Gender dysphoria, I think, is on a spectrum and can vary for each of us, just as gender does itself. Gender expression can be a manifestation of one’s perceived gender, the dysphoria, or both. For me, it’s been as though my perceived feminine-self were the angel on my right shoulder, while the dysphoria sat like the devil digging his claws into the left. The more I listened to the sweet words of the angel, though, the less of a hold the dysphoric one had on me. I still like to wear my high heels, but the devil does not make me do it! :-)”

I agree gender dysphoria is also on a spectrum along with gender and sexuality. Good point!

Thank you both for your thoughtful comments!

Thank You!

Thanks to all of you who have made comments here in Cyrsti’s Condo or perhaps are new visitors to the blog. It means a lot! This includes those of you who comment through Facebook. 🙂

As far as the weekend went, we had another Cincinnati Witches Ball committee meeting to go to plus the ever exciting weekly trip to the grocery store. Both went without a hitch. I switched up my outfits by wearing my paisley soft leggings I love so much with my long red sweater and boots of course. 

As I mentioned in my last post, the two “C”s (Comfort and Confidence) mean so much when combating my gender dysphoria. Again, as I mentioned, I didn’t realize how deep my dysphoria ran.  Perhaps it all stems from a few highly unsuccessful  feminine trips in the public eye years ago when I first began to explore a new scary but exciting world. Basically, this was back in the 80’s when times were very different.  Most of my problems were self created to be truthful.

Basically, I made the mistake of dressing for men and not women. Specifically, I dressed too trashy and drew too much unneeded attention.  I was stubborn though and figured since I didn’t get to go out much, I needed to go all out and get the most bang for the buck. All of it resulted into too many mini skirts and high heeled days. 

The only time I was really successful was when I dressed professionally and happened to blend with other cis women dressed the same way. 

Which leads me full circle to the night I went out to purposely be a woman and blend in with other women getting off work from a local upscale mall. I was scared to death as I made my way to the upscale bar and ordered a cocktail. The first lesson I learned was, I lived. The second lesson was (after I relaxed) was I lived and actually felt very good doing it. The problem was I felt so good I knew I would experience more problems going back to my male life. 

Little did I know, years later I would still be experiencing much of the same feelings. 

Enough of me though. Thanks again to all of you for visiting!