Un Masked

My Partner Liz, me, and trans friend Kathy

The transgender – cross dresser local group Liz and I are members of have decided to open the doors again to a rather aggressive social schedule. 

I think it is time to venture out if people have been vaccinated so I have no problem with doing it. 

Saturday is the first social get together in public, followed by an on line support group meeting on Monday and yet another public social next Thursday. 

With everyone being so tired of staying home for so long, more than likely all events will be well attended. 

The socials are a very good idea for experienced and novice transgender women of all kinds. Most importantly, the venues know we are coming and provide a safe space.  Very simply, it is a chance to get out in the public’s eye and try out fitting in in the feminine world. 

The best part is so far, everyone has not embarrassed the group by doing something decidedly ignorant. 

Even though we will not be attending Saturday nights social,  it’s a very good chance I will be at the other two. If you happen to be in the metro Cincinnati, Ohio area and need information, let me know. 

The Time of Discovery

This week by chance, I have encountered not one but two individuals close to my age strongly considering following  seriously their feminine gender urges. Perhaps you noticed  I didn’t use the transgender word to describe either because they didn’t.  Both were so new in their explorations, I think they were involved in the brave new world of gender exploration, they didn’t know where they were on the journey. 

One discussion was involved with how my initial results went when I first started hormone replacement therapy. It seemed, the person had started some sort of hormones without a doctors guidance by obtaining non prescription meds. Of course I  passed along my usual warning concerning starting the HRT without medical guidance could be hazardous to one’s overall health. Secondly, she wanted to know how fast the effects of the hormones showed to the point of not being able to hide my gender changes any longer.

In my case, although everyone’s case is different, minimum dosages of estradiol and a testosterone blocker within six months produced effects which were hard to hide. My skin and face softened, my hair grew long enough for a pony tail and of course my budding breast growth was getting harder and harder to hide. There was a definite difference for me of having “man boobs” and the feminine set of breasts I was magically growing. To make a long story short, I was forced out of my male closet and into my authentic self faster than I ever imagined. At this time, after my wife passed away, I was living by myself and my two dogs didn’t care what I looked like. So, I didn’t have an  un-supporting  spouse to worry about. 

The second person, is local and seemed to be very impressed she had found a supporting group of individuals who are transgender, questioning or cross dressing folk. Ironically, she was drafted into the Army nearly the same time I was in 1971.  At the time, the problem of going into the Army seemed as if it would be the worst possible move as I tried to deal with my mis-understood gender dysphoria. Years later though, I still reap the benefits of my service by taking advantage of Veteran’s Administration health.

Overall, I was able to provide a positive look into what a transgender life can look like if certain factors come into line.  At least, that is my goal.

I’m very comfortable pointing out to people too, the whole gender transition process I went through was no walk in the park and I went through my share of doubts and dark days. 

The whole process of discovering my true self proved to be very  satisfying for me. The alternative of cross dressing and acting like a man would have led me to an early grave. 

Security

Over the years here in Cyrsti’s Condo I have tried to make it a point to write about our security when we leave the comfort of male privilege and attempt the gender journey into the feminine world. I found out the hard way it is something to be taken very seriously. 

Older Redhaired Photo from Trans Ohio

As I have written before, my first real foray into possible feminine violence came at a party my deceased wife and I went to years ago in nearby Columbus, Ohio. For the evening, against my wife’s wishes, I wore a very short mini dress to the party. As much as I hated to admit it later, she was right. It turns out I was cornered in a hallway by a much bigger crossdresser “admirer”. It seemed to me before I knew it he had me stuck in a physical situation I couldn’t extract myself from. About the time he was seemingly going in for the kill, my wife appeared and diffused the situation. That was the good news, the bad news was she wouldn’t let me live it down my skirt was too short. This was many years ago. Way before the “me too” movement and other causes which focused on how women still shouldn’t suffer sexual abuse no matter what we wear. 

The bottom line for me was the realization all of a sudden I could be overcome by a bigger person and forced into a compromising sexual situation.

The second lesson I learned  could have involved more physical violence.  It was late one night on a downtown urban street in Dayton, Ohio. I was by myself leaving a gay venue when I was approached by two men. To make another long story short, I ended up being cornered again and was able to defuse the situation by giving them my last five dollars. Lesson learned, the next time I was there, I asked for a trans guy I knew if he would walk me to my car. Which he did. 

I learned the hard way why cis women live their lives living with a totally different awareness than men. It goes way past walking past the leering stares of men in a construction project to the prospect of losing so much more of your personal security.

It’s one of the most important aspects as you transition into a feminine world. 
     

Peaks and Valleys

Being Bi-Polar myself, I have become used to the ups and downs of my mood reactions to life. Quite possibly, before I was diagnosed with my own version of being “Bi” I did my share of hiding behind a dress to take my mind off the daily stresses of life. 

Of course, I could argue the simplest stresses came from trying my best to live up to male standards as I lived my life. 

The older I got and after I was honorably discharged from the Army, the worse my mental issues became. On occasion it was a struggle to just to get out of bed on certain days. Along the way, I finally resorted to therapy. The first guy I went to was a total waste of time as he didn’t seem to want to discuss my fondness for cross dressing at all. I solved the problem by going to one of the very few therapists in Ohio at the time who had any knowledge at all of cross dressers as this was way before the transgender idea was even discussed. 

Ironically, it was her who diagnosed me being bi-polar and was able to separate it from my gender dysphoria. She was blunt (and truthful) when she said my desire to be a girl would never go away. For the first time in my life I felt a glimmer of hope. 

Even still, it was difficult for me to separate my two main issues and continue to live a reasonably successful life as a cross dresser. Meaning I was a woman cross dressing as a man. Years later when I needed to take advantage of the Veterans Administration health care, I was paranoid if I would find a therapist who would understand my complex problem. Fortunately I did and amazingly nearly ten years later she still is my VA therapist.

She was the “gold standard” for me as she signed off on helping me begin my hormone replacement therapy all the way to providing me documentation to facilitate changing my legal gender markers in the civilian world plus within the VA itself.  I consider her as one of my top three people who assisted in my early Mtf gender transition. 

These days, while I still have the occasional valleys in my life to climb out of, my medications keep my moods relatively stable and I am able to understand when  my gender dysphoria  enters my life. More so than my Bi-Polar condition. 

Most importantly, I have done away with my self harm issues. It took a while to separate all of this out but thanks to a ton of help I have learned to live the peaks and valleys.

Back to College

 Recently I visited  regional universities twice  (virtually) to take part in LGBTQ discussions. The most recent was as a guest of a sociology professor at her masters degree class at Miami University of Ohio.  There were four of us there including another transgender elderly woman veteran and two cis gay men. 

Campus, Miami of Ohio

Along the way, the class provided us with a lively discussion. I had two questions directed specifically at me. The first of which asked what was “Crossport” which is the transgender – cross dresser support group I am involved with here in Cincinnati, Ohio. The only problem was, with a slip of the tongue, I undirectedly talked down to the cross dressing portion of our membership. With me, I have many “slips” so they are relatively common. Yesterday, I simply said the group dealt with transgender women and men all the way down to cross dressers. In no way shape or form did I mean it negatively but I am afraid it did. After all, I considered myself a cross dresser for over fifty years. 

At any rate, I apologized and went on to my second question from a student asking what to do if they encounter a negative situation  from a negative person in an assisted living situation. I of course replied it is one of my biggest paranoia’s concerning my future. My only answer was just to be the best ally you can be and provide as much support as possible, 

Finally, I learned another fact I didn’t know from the other trans woman who was in our group. As one of the students who had worked in a hospice last summer told her experience of a transgender woman losing her fight to have her authentic gender on her Ohio death certificate. It seems, here in the backwards Repuglican stranglehold of Ohio, whatever gender is on your birth certificate automatically is placed on your death certificate. Even though the courts have declared Ohio’s refusal to change gender birth certificates to be illegal. Ohio so far has refused to abide by the ruling. Leading to yet another court case. 

So, as you can see, I was part of an interesting, fast paced class and the hour went quickly.

Since my Mom was a Miami graduate there was more than a little gender poetic justice!

I’m Sad

Perhaps you have read about the demise of the lesbian bars around the country. This morning I read  a place in Columbus, Ohio where I used to frequent a bit is now the last remaining lesbian bar in the entire state of Ohio. According to the “Columbus Dispatch” article I read, Slammers is one of only fifteen lesbian bars left in the nation.

Slammers/Columbus

I liked Slammers for any number of reasons including it was a “safe” place for me to go. Unlike the male gay bars I tried to go to. In lesbian bars I enjoyed the music and the fact I wasn’t treated as if I was a drag queen.  At the worst, I was just tolerated.

Then again too, as I have written about before, lesbian bars played a strong role as I sought to develop myself as a transgender woman. Along the way, I was asked to sing karaoke (or told to) by a super butch woman in a cowboy hat who I was never sure if she knew I was trans all the way to being asked to be a “wing person” for a lesbian friend of mine trying to pick up a date.   

It all was a simple choice for me. I felt natural and at home in the bars I went too, except for one lesbian biker bar I went to where they hated me. Plus “Wall Street” in Columbus was my first foray into leaving the friendly confines of the cross dresser mixer I went to. I joined the more ambitious “A” listers for trips to  the lesbian orientated dance club. 

Unfortunately, even then I could feel the demise of the women’s bar spaces as the two I went to in Dayton, Ohio closed. Competition proved to be too great from other venues who began to accept a more diverse clientele. 

Covid complications of course have also played a role in many closings around the country.  But there is a remaining venue in Northern Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati which partially bills itself as a lesbian which is open.

Still, a part of my transgender youth is missing and I am sad.

Growing Up Transgender

This post could easily stretch  out  into multi posts but I am going to try not to. For no specific reason. 

Similar to so many other transgender folk in my age bracket (70 ish), I grew up in a very isolated world where I felt my gender issues  were mine alone. In my patriarchal family it did not take me long to build a very dark closet. 

My closet had rooms though where I stashed my feminine articles which became so dear to me. I was able to purchase my own select feminization items through meager earnings from a paper route and allowance for completing household chores. Successfully,  I managed to summon my courage to find my way to a couple of the long gone “five and dime” stores. I bought my own makeup and even found a pair of shoes I found which fit. Plus I could buy my own hose and quit running my Mom’s.

Once I managed to buy my items, I had to find a place to put them which no one else in the family would find. One of my places was in an old box above the cars in the garage. To my knowledge, my Dad never found my “treasures”, or never mentioned it. 

My second space was way more inventive. We lived in a very rural area and the property next to our house was a fairly dense uninhabited woods which we explored all the time. One of my favorite things to do was to go down into the woods, uncover my stash hidden in protective plastic in an hollowed out tree, and get dressed up in a dress, hose and shoes I had purchased.  

Between the garage and the woods I was able to learn the basics of dressing like a girl and at least for a while, relieving my gender duress. It would take years for the term transgender to even be invented and for me to understand how well it fit me and my gender dysphoria. 

As I look back on my formative cross dressing days, I wonder how successful I was at hiding my behavior from my close knit family and friends. Outside of a couple times I tried to involve a neighbor guy friend in my cross dressing, my big experiments involved in taking the long walk to our mailbox while dressed in my not so fashionable mini skirt, hose, makeup and blouse. 

I suppose at the least, growing up transgender enabled me to become more creative and resilient.    

Did Gender Fluidity nearly Kill Me?

 It seems to me the term “gender fluid” has just become popularized by the younger generation of queer women and men everywhere.  My idea was reinforced recently when I attended  a transgender – crossdresser meeting. Several of the participants were 20 to early 30 somethings  Along  the way, they mentioned the idea of being gender fluid.  Or how they wished somedays they could work as a guy and the next as a girl. 

Oldest Known Picture

At the time, I wondered  if being gender would have worked for me, or was I at all? 

Then I realized I tried being gender fluid and it led me to a suicide attempt. I was trying to live part time in my old male life while at the same time attempting to learn to live as a transgender woman. 

Hormone replacement therapy came along and forced my hand. If I was going to choose a gender, it would have to be the higher maintenance feminine one. When I started HRT, it seemed all too quickly I was growing breasts, my skin was softening and my hair was becoming long enough to tie it back into a pony tail.

At the time, I wasn’t planning on the process happening so fast. So, very quickly any thoughts of being gender fluid left my mind. Even though the term itself was probably a decade away from being used at all.

As I proceeded on my journey, it was increasingly evident I was home. I had discovered what deep down I always knew…I was born to be a girl/woman. 

In conclusion,  I wish anyone trying to pursue a gender fluid life the best of luck. It nearly killed me.

More “Blind” Dates

Recently I wrote a post here in Cyrsti’s Condo which revolved around an idea I picked up from “Emma Holiday” about having a blind date with herself.  I added my own perspective to the post by writing on my early memories of secretly wanting to out my old male self to several of the cis women friends I had made. Fortunately, I was rebuffed in doing such a thing because the women couldn’t/didn’t want to see any male in me. After reading the post, Connie added her ideas:

” If I ever had a blind date with myself, it was because I was blind to the fact it might have been happening, at all. It had always been such a relief to me when I could express my femininity, which was natural to me, and to lose the masculine façade I spent so much of my time and energy to present. Not that my façade was anywhere near that of a macho man, in the first place, however.
I have always been athletic (slowing down in my old age, now), and I enjoyed being that way. That’s not necessarily a masculine trait, but it helped in covering up my femininity. I hated all of the “dirty jobs” that I purposely took on to appear manly, and slithering around in crawl spaces is helpful in forgetting about one’s gender (if only temporarily).

On the other hand, I was the envy of many of the wives in our circle, as I did a lot of the cooking and cleaning around the house and have always treated my wife like the lady she is. I was the only one who knew that I did all of this because of my hidden feminine-self, and that I was, in a way, living vicariously through my wife.

I had a cross dresser friend who would manipulate encounters with women by showing herself or himself (depending on the current presentation), either by showing pictures or showing up again soon thereafter in the other mode. She/he would always take much delight in doing so, and I was often embarrassed by this when we were out together. I only showed a pic of my worst male-look, complete with scraggly beard, one time. It was to a woman who had only ever known me as the woman I am, and she reacted with horror – not necessarily because it was a most unflattering picture of me, but because, as she told me, she had never thought of me as being anything but a woman. It certainly caused her to gasp, anyway. It also taught me that I don’t need to confirm my femininity by comparing myself to the dichotomous male façade that I once wore.

The only way I date myself is by making archaic references. Like, the Twist was a dance from the 60s, and not about my gender identity. :-)”


Thanks for the insight! In some ways I think wanting to show a picture of your male self is just a narcissist’s way of fishing for a compliment. Similar to you look good as a woman…for a man.
One of these days I will have to write a post concerning how I felt about going out as a transgender woman to be by myself.

Another Look at “Passing”

Recently I received this comment on “passing” from the Cyrtsih@yahoo.com email from Tami:

“It seems that many have different views on the importance of passing, and I won’t argue that.  To each their own.  I put high value on it however.  Like many, my initial experiences out in public were guarded. My wig was ok, my makeup just ok, outfit not quite right.  Then I matured, the facial hair was 95% removed, and I grew my hair out. 

Already small at 5’9″ and 145 lbs at my heaviest.  My dermatologist helped with a little botox and fillers to feminize my facial cues.  (So supportive too!) I took some voice lessons at U of A in Tucson .  It all just came together for me.
I still go to work as male, push my medium length bob back and play it straight.


At a business lunch with a speaker recently, I sat next to a woman at our table of eight women.  I invited her to lunch a few days afterwards.  She had no clue I was trans and said so, when I mentioned it late into our second meeting.  So I don’t need to be ‘stealth’ but if it happens, I let it.  I could share a dozen more stories that warm my heart given the intimacy, good humor, and kind words that were shared. 


I pass now 99% in any setting, and there isn’t anywhere I won’t go or do confidently.  Friends have said I own the room with my confidence.  I can (and do sometimes), have a bad ‘voice moment’ and leave someone wondering, but never a discouraging word is heard.  Always a compliment!   I always want to be the best ambassador for trans people and it works.  So the icing on the cake (for me), in passing is the total acceptance from others; the many female friends I have developed long and lasting relationships with.  And, sometimes their husbands too.  I had once thought that other women might only see me as a novelty, and their interest would fade.  It hasn’t.  They are remain friends and the circle grows.


So it’s the relationships – normal friends and a social life that makes passing rewarding for me and easy for others to befriend me and stick with me.”


Thanks so much for the comment! I know another local trans girl who is a “natural” and passes easily. Even to the point of being a wonderful karaoke singer (when there was such a thing!) but she still goes to work as her male self. 
To each their own! 


My own story was a little more complex as I was slightly under six feet tall and weighed over 275 lbs  when I started to transition. I then promptly lost fifty pounds. I too though began to rely on my personality and confidence to gain any “passing” privilege I could.