Mentors

Myself, Nikki and Kim (left) photo credit Cyrsti Hart

Referring back to a Cyrsti’s Condo post concerning several cis women friends I had when I first was learning to play in the women’s sandbox, the term “mentors” came up. 

As I thought about it, I became aware mentors could be a very vague term. For example, many could consider a mentor who aides you with your appearance, make up and clothes. 

As you can tell by the photo above, my friends did not emphasize much make up at all. I was the only one who did and I did it all myself.

Of course by that time, I had years of practice. 

What my cis friends did teach me was how to value my self as a transgender woman.  Since they both were lesbians, I learned I did not need a man to validate me as a woman. 

This picture pre dates my relationship with my current partner Liz, so by the time I met her I had a clearer idea of who I was and how I fit in in a feminine world. 

My advice is to be your own mentor. Practice makes perfect as far as your appearance goes. Plus, once you make your way past the appearance phase, the real work begins. Learning to rebuild your personality away from when you tried and failed to live as a guy is a major task. One example is communicating  woman  to woman and dressing to blend. I learned the hard way not totally accept the compliment of looking great. Great for what? A man cross dressed as a woman? 

Granted, finding a mentor of any form is rough. I was just fortunate when I threw caution to the wind and put myself out in the world.  When you find a mentor of any sort, put your old male ego aside and learn all you can.

We Got Mail

 The first comes from “Georgette” and mentions coming out in the pre internet Dark Ages:

“Ah, The coming out in the “Dark Ages”,

Yes it was difficult but hasn’t it always been difficult now and back then,

For me enlisting in the Navy during the Viet Nam era really formed my lifetime career in electronics/computers, And because of my outing during that time it set into the motion of what/where/when I needed to do after the Navy,

I have some now call me brave and a pioneer of sorts, But really it was a do or die, If it didn’t all work out I had no “Plan B”, Not sure what would happen, One thing that it did for/to me was it made me grow a hard exterior emotionally, Oh sure all the pointing/ whispering/laughing at me hurt inside but I was determined because I saw a future where I could be the real me,

These are my only help for all the newer/younger ones now, You can live a happier life and hopefully a longer one as yourself,”

Yes it has always been difficult! Thanks for the comment!

Now on to Connie who commented on the “History” post: “

I can relate, except that I quite enjoyed being a defensive end. Taking on the block of a fullback or pulling guard on a sweep play, and then forcing the running back to go inside – only to be tackled by a linebacker or cornerback – was analogous to my life. It was a struggle, and took all my energy to deal with it, but nobody really noticed my efforts because the glory went to someone else. I never minded, though, because avoiding the spotlight was safe. Still, I could take quiet satisfaction in knowing I’d done a good job.

 Besides, it takes a lot of discipline and toughness to hold one’s ground like that, and the physicality of it all helped me to take out my frustrations in an acceptable manner. 

As far as the cheerleaders go, I remember them teasing me from the sidelines that the blackout under my eyes looked like my mascara was running. Little did they know that there were times, after a game, when I went home and applied my mascara flawlessly. ;-)”

Thanks Connie!

History

Pre Covid Picture. Credit Cyrsti Hart

Many transgender women and men resent their restrictive upbringing not living as their authentic selves. I prefer to think of it as far as I am concerned as the days of cross dressing as a guy. Even though for the most part I was successful, all too often, the whole effort was so very stressful. The entire time I had to hide my resentment. Back in those days (the 50’s and 60’s) there was simply no one to reach out to.

These days of course are different except for the fact some of the young transgender population don’t understand how a seemingly increase in older trans women and men coming out somehow is bogus. They don’t realize how difficult it was to come out in the “dark ages” of being transgender.

Then there is the
effect of testosterone poisoning. The infamous result of puberty often is too much for many of us to overcome. No matter how any hormones you take, there is nothing you can do about your size or bone structure.  On the positive side, many of us learn to dress ourselves to still accentuate the positive and survive the feminine world. 


One idea to look back on your male history is to look at what he did do for you. For some of us, he kept us safe from the bullies. He acted the hated macho role well and did enough to get by. He was able to somehow internalize the confusing feminine feelings. He didn’t want to be a defensive end on the football team. He wanted to be a cheerleader. 

For better or for worse, my history is one of survival. I went to proms and dated when I had to all the way to getting married and having a daughter. I even was forced into the military through the Vietnam draft so I could add it to my “male resume”‘  

Being a historian myself, I have embraced the positive aspects of  being forced to live a period of my life in a foreign gender. Through it all, I learned what it is to live both sides of the gender fence. 

History now tells me it is as difficult as it sounds.

Gender Fluid?

On occasion I feel as if the term “gender fluid” is a relatively new term. In fact those of us in the more mature age range remember when transvestite was one of the only words we could use to describe ourselves except maybe cross dresser. Then, along the way, the transvestite term was shortened to “tr_nny” which became a gender slur in some parts of the world. 

The reason I bring up the gender fluid term in today’s post is I heard it recently from an eleven year old person on national television. They said they didn’t know what gender they were. I quickly flashed back to my youth and knew I felt the same way. In fact, I have written extensively in the past the number of mornings I woke up not wanting to be a boy anymore. On the other hand when I was successful doing “boy” things I enjoyed it. Definitely gender dysphoria at it’s most severe. From a time before gender dysphoria was even a term. Plus, I can’t even imagine having such an understanding and supportive set of parents.

As I grew, served my time in college and the Army I prefer to think I “grew” into the transgender term too and out of being gender fluid. Once I experienced being around other so called heterosexual cross dressers, I learned there was a whole other level of individuals who loosely identified as transvestites. These persons were the impossibly feminine visitors to the mixers I went to. They just didn’t fit. Somehow they were out of place.

Soon I discovered I felt out of place too. I certainly didn’t fit in with the ultra masculine men in a dress crowd and barely tried to hang out with the “A” listers as I called them. I tagged along on the adventures they embarked on after the regular meet ups. I discovered a wonderful world of gay clubs along with the chance to live my life as a feminine being.

All of this decidedly terminated any chance of my gender fluid tendencies but not quite. Even though being feminine felt so natural, going out with friends cross dressed as a man felt good on occasion also. I guess you could say any traces of gender fluidity for me was becoming toxic.    

Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer and took advantage of several drastic changes in my life. I put my suicide attempts behind me and started hormone replacement therapy. Which once and for all forced my male self into his closet.

It also ended any lingering ideas of being gender fluid. 

Stealth versus Invisibility

 I have re-written this post several times as I try to include all of you who are still living in your closets. Finally, I decided to go ahead and publish it because hopefully there will come a day when you too can live freely as your authentic selves. Now, here is the post:

I used to resent quite a few of the transgender women I knew who underwent gender realignment surgery then promptly went stealth. By “stealth” I mean  they went away to simply live their lives away from the remainder of the transgender community. Before you say the often irritated and jealous transgender community…I agree. In fact,  in many ways, I don’t blame them. 

Even so, to a large degree, there were very few trans women and men to follow.. No one to tell us it was perfectly OK to feel and act the way we do.  

Over the years, I have battled the urge to go stealth even though for the most part it has been available to me. Much of being able to go stealth has much to do  with my partner Liz as it does with me and any so called passing ability. Since I so rarely go anywhere without her, I am so very used to letting her lead the way with calling me the proper pronouns. 

Sometimes I wonder if being too invisible as a transgender woman once again is letting the community as a whole down. Or what the subject even means to the average transgender person just trying to get by.  

As I try my best not to be too in depth about the topic at hand, recently I had a chance to unfortunately witness yet another ugly episode of transgender infighting. To make a long story short, in the transgender – cross dresser support group I am in (or used to be), a disturbance erupted between two members basically concerning who was more trans than the other. 

Once again it seemed to me, the more things change over the years, the more they stay the same. I mean really, what does it mean if a person is more trans than another.

Maybe on the other hand, as a community we should protect the out and proud leaders we have gained such as Laverne Cox.   

The more out and proud trans people we have, the more chance we can defeat the evils of the stealth and the invisibility culture.  

I Can’t Help It

Here in Cincinnati, Ohio in the Southwest part of the state, hurricane Ida remnants have passed on leaving us with beautiful pre-fall weather. I have some sort of genetic malfunction which tells me fall weather is football time. 

On top of all of that, one of the baggage items I brought with me from the times I cross dressed as a guy was my love for The Ohio State Buckeyes. I never went to school there but grew up approximately fifty miles away. 

When “Trans Ohio” still used to have an in person symposium, I regularly signed up to give a presentation. In it’s later years, the Symposium was held in The Ohio State University huge student union which of course didn’t break my heart. 

The Ohio State mascot is “Brutus Buckeye” named after the state tree. One year I had my picture taken sitting next to a life-sized bronze Brutus in the student union.

If you are a Cyrsti’s Condo regular you have seen this picture before, if not I resend it because Ohio State kicks off it’s regular season tonight against Big Ten opponent Minnesota. 

Go Buckeyes!

The Naked Truth

One thing I have always wondered is, how far do you go with a potential partner before you disclose the truth about being transgender. These days there are so many variables to consider. For one, surgeries have come so far, a trans woman very well could be as “realistic” as a cis woman when it comes to genitals.  

I can’t imagine being a young transgender person with a full life to lead ahead of you. The younger you are though, I would imagine it would be easier to “back fill” a portion of your life when you were not living as your authentic self. For someone my age, it’s harder to try to hide a half century cross dressing as a guy.  

It’s easy for me to say but I would have to out myself and wait for the person to come along who didn’t care and loved me for me. 

As you may recall, I wrote a post concerning me outing myself to a bone density scan technician when he asked if I had been through menopause yet. I simply told him I was transgender and we moved on. 

When all of this happened, I had my clothes on. The mammogram was the only visit where I had to strip to the waist. I can’t imagine what would happen if I would have to take all my clothes off, as Connie did:

Photo Credit Connie Malone

“Years ago, when I first went to see a doctor as “myself,” the nurse had set up the exam room for a gynecological exam – complete with a speculum. Both the doctor and I got a good laugh when she removed the towel that covered the tray that had all of those instruments! 

I guess I was passing to the nurse, but I had already outed myself to the doctor, as I was sitting naked on the exam table at the time. :-)”

I guess you did out yourself! Thanks for the “naked truth.”

Ouch!

 Well, part of my week has come and gone. Completed are one trip to the dentist, one virtual visit with my therapist and the mammogram. The mammogram went a little worse this time as my breasts are still complaining a day later. Plus, I have not heard back on any results. In this case, no news is good news. 

If all this fun wasn’t enough, out of the clear blue sky I was able to sell my old car which had been sitting on the street doing nothing. A guy came along and left a note on our other car about buying cars and I immediately called him. On the phone he struggled with my gender as most do and kept calling me “buddy”. I didn’t care, I just wanted him to buy the car. In person, he struggled with me too. In fact he ended up only dealing with me on a final price and left the rest of the transaction to Liz. 

Now, one of the few remaining pieces of my past as a guy is gone and I feel good about that.

Of course my fun filled week still has a bone density scan coming up on Friday. I have had one before and don’t remember it much. Since I don’t, I feel as if it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle.

What I hope to do Saturday is take Liz out for a steak dinner and celebrate our tenth anniversary with the extra money I made on selling the car. 

I Escaped

Summer Picture Credit Cyrsti’s Condo


 For some reason the heat and humidity all went down here in Southwestern Ohio yesterday, just in time for a shopping day out Liz and I had scheduled with a friend of ours who happens to be gay. Similar to Liz, he is heavily into the Wiccan and Pagan culture. 

When meeting someone new in person, my gender dysphoria always kicks in until I can look someone in the eye for a reaction. In yesterdays case, I saw the briefest realization (I thought) of my transgender status but no negative reactions. 

Ultimately there were two stores we were heading to. The first was staffed by two clerks who paid me no mind as I wandered aimlessly about. Finally I took a spare seat to save my back as I waited for the other two to shop. I was in the market for a pair of ear rings but the prices were too steep for me. The only point of interest for me was a mirror in front of the jewelry. I couldn’t resist and took a quick look at what I could see of my image. I was so excited to see a distinctly feminine figure looking back at me. Plus, I was wearing my form fitting ribbed tank top along with my flared distressed jeans. All of which gives me the image of having more pronounced hips than I have. 

Then again too, the diet is working. Over the past three plus weeks I have lost (or released as they said) nearly 14 pounds. The ego trip passed quickly and soon we were off to the second shop which turned out to be close to an hour away in crummy traffic.

In direct difference to the first shop, the second one was much more reasonably priced than the first and was operated by two gay men. One was very sociable and even welcomed us at the door. I purchased a couple of inexpensive rings as well as a crystal necklace. There were no mirrors to distract me and, as I said was welcomed warmly. 

All to often, the afternoon was over and even though I was hoping for a lunch stop. We decided to head on home and eat.   

What Have we Learned?

 As I made the final gender transition from male to female, hormone replacement therapy was one of the keys to living more comfortably as a transgender woman. I have mentioned many times the wondrous effects as my skin softened, my hair grew on my head (and stopped growing on my body) and my breasts grew.

None of that came even close to the largest changes I was destined to experience on the other side of the gender frontier as a transgender woman. 

As I learned to perfect my outward feminine appearance, my life began to change. Perhaps the first example I encountered was when my car broke down and I had to call a tow truck as well as deal with a well meaning sheriff. I found out very quickly I didn’t really know the best route home to my own house. Later that month was the first time I was actively shunned from a group of guys mansplaining to each other guy stuff. I knew then my life was changing forever and yet it felt natural. I should have been dealing with it for years.

I’m on the Bottom Left. My first Girl’s Night Out.

All along, before she passed away, my wife was telling me I didn’t really know what being a woman was all about. Until I seriously went down the path to learn, I found she was right.   

What else did I learn? Mainly how important communication is (or isn’t) is between the two main binary genders. I also learned how important it was to learn to understand the unspoken communication between women and of course how much effort should be put into blending. In other words, walking the walk and talking the talk. 

I don’t know if I couldn’t have accomplished this gender trip on my own. I was able to form close friendships with several cis-woman. Even though they didn’t outwardly teach me anything, I was observing and learning how they dealt with life.

Jumping genders is not for the faint of heart. It is a mostly error of trial and error until you get it right. Plus, I am not so sure I ever got it right. 

As an old transgender girlfriend told me years ago, I didn’t pass as a woman easily. I passed out of sheer effort.

Nearly daily I learn I still do.