Baggage

Photo courtesy Cyrsti Hart

In a recent post I mentioned sports as one of the items of baggage I took with me when I crossed the transgender gender frontier. Obviously, undertaking such a difficult journey requires planning and experience to attempt a smooth trip.

The first lesson I learned was relying on an obsession with appearance was not going to work. Certainly projecting a feminine appearance helped open gender doors but didn’t accomplish much when I was faced with one on one interactions with the public. In order to survive, I had to pack gender communication skills as well as trying my best to achieve a feminine voice. To this day, I am not sure I ever made any real strides with my voice. Even after attempting vocal lessons. 

I guess you could say I was traveling light and learning as I went during the early part o
f my journey. I discovered the hard way how women lead a multi layered experience. 

One of the biggest lessons I learned was losing my male privilege. I lightened my baggage extensively and quickly. All of a sudden I was excluded from male conversations. Even to the point of supposedly not knowing the quickest route to where I lived. All of that was easy compared to the danger I encountered when I made in roads to areas where cis women knew not to go. I was fortunate to have not been subject to violence. I learned quickly to park in lighted areas and not be cornered by over aggressive admirers in narrow hallways. 

All in all, it was a terrifying yet exciting time in my life.

So, what do you pack? What about your sexuality? In my case, I ended up with women anyhow so it didn’t matter. On the other hand, these days, I know several transgender sisters who have made the journey and found men to live with. Plus with all the information available today I know several transgender individuals who were able to make the transition journey with their spouses. Finally, with all the surgeries and insurance becoming available, I know too several trans women who have found and established relationships with other transgender women through the increasing influence of social media.

Even though the gender crossing won’t be easy with many hills and valleys along the way, the most important item to pack is your desire to make the journey. Otherwise, if you aren’t willing to add or discard items along the way, the trip will be so much more difficult.   

Weekend Review

Liz and I. Photo Credit Cyrsti Hart

My weekend was built around sports with a pleasant surprise added in. 

As I have already written about here in Cyrsti’s Condo, I was deeply shocked by The Ohio State Buckeyes losing in college football. Almost as shocked as I was when the NFL Cincinnati Bengals won their first game yesterday. To make a long story short, both happenings are rare. 

I’m sure there are many of you who could care less or perhaps didn’t carry sports with you as part of your baggage when you crossed the gender frontier. Sports was always such a big part of my life and I was delighted when I found other accepting cis-women who shared my passion. 

Now, onto the pleasant surprise. Liz and I’s tenth anniversary was actually August 5th. We have been putting off (for various reasons) going out and celebrating since then. Yesterday we finally made it. We went to an upscale steak house for huge rib eyes. For the occasion I wore a simple lace top and leggings. 

The steak was good and I was able to splurge a little on the sides because the diet has been progressing so well. I am now down 22 pounds to a weight I have not been since basic training. 

So excluding the Ohio State loss, it was a great weekend, and the weather was good too. 

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. 

Life

Looking ahead to the week I have coming up,  I began to think of my life as a whole. As I have mentioned before, I have two specifically female related medical procedures coming up. A mammogram and a bone density scan. Hopefully, I will have no issues. If I do with my breasts, I am sure my days of dealing with hormone replacement therapy are over.

But when you come right down to it, it’s all part of life. Since I have nearly reached seventy two years of age, it is easily to realize life is but a circle. For all the lows, there are highs. 

Some would argue transgender women and men add a unique struggle to their lives. Of course I am biased and would totally agree. Crossing the gender barrier is brutal for the greatest majority of transgender people. It’s not beyond life to throw you a curve ball. You have to start all over with a new life without your former family or even job.

It’s no wonder I receive so many comments praising me on my “bravery”. When I wasn’t brave at all, I was just doing what I had to do to survive my life after a suicide attempt. I will say though, life became much easier after I managed to match my external cross dressing desires with my internal feminine being. It turned out all those years of thinking I was a guy cross dressing as a woman, the opposite was true. I was a woman cross dressing as a man. My only regret was it took me so long to accept the truth.

As I enter the twi-light of my life, I know I am blessed to have had a couple women along the way who guided my life. Especially my second wife who once told me to “Be man enough to be a woman.” I wish I had been profound enough to say it as I was busily trying to destroy our relationship. Then there was my partner Liz who finally kicked me out of my closet.

Of course, one of the less profound things we humans do…is die. 

I just hope the funeral directors get my pronouns correct.

I “Doesn’t” Know It

From my Dating Days. Photo Credit Cyrsti Hart

The title above is a phrase from a former Hall of Fame Cincinnati Reds baseball announcer, used when he didn’t know something. I borrowed it from him as I thought about today’s Cyrsti’s’ Condo post. My idea was to write about dating while transgender. 

Way back in the day in my earliest days of coming out of my closet into a feminine world, I had to decide who I was going to date since I had abruptly became single at the time and a widow. Very quickly I faced the differences between gender preference and sexual preference. At that time I had never even kissed another man. 

As it turned out, it would be a while longer before I did. I craved being with a man because it would validate my femininity in public but it seemed destiny  had another path charted for me as far as my sexuality was concerned. I did have a very few dates with men and a couple I enjoyed immensely when I sensed they were treating me as a woman. However those dates were few and far between.  

In the meantime, my contact with women continued. My first dinner out was with a friend who eventually came out as a trans man but was still undecided (?) when we went out. I hung out in lesbian bars and even left a mixed party I went to one night with a lesbian and went to an upscale club. Destiny has a funny way of hiding around corners when lifestyle changes are considered.

Through this all, I really had very little knowledge of how to date while transgender. In fact, I was still on the gender fence as far as which way I would go. I just knew my attraction to women had not changed during my transition. 

All of this leads me to my final attraction to and acceptance by a group of lesbians I met in a sports bar. Including my current partner of ten years Liz.

I have led a sheltered dating life. 

These days I see on social media many more alternatives to dating between various groups such as transgender women. Even now though I still see very few trans women with men. It seems to be the last frontier of dating. At times it puzzles me because transgender women are uniquely qualified to be with men. After all, we understand what men go through in life. 

As with so many other things in life, I know most men have a very fragile sexual ego. So I do know this one.

Loving a Transgender Person

“Sad Eyes” Image. Credit Cyrsti’s Condo

 So many transgender people, women and men have a difficult time finding love as their authentic selves. Why is that so?

I think the path we have to take to arrive where we are takes an enormous toll. Take my journey as an example. My wife of twenty five years accepted me being a cross dresser but drew the line at any suggestion of the transgender word. We fought tooth and nail primarily when I became moody due to my gender issues or dysphoria. Little did I know, life would intervene, she would pass away, leaving me so alone.

I was down on myself and had very much given up on finding anyone who would accept me the way I was. I know too I wasn’t alone, so many transgender women and trans men are fated to follow a similar path.

I am a believer in you have to love yourself before someone else can love you. During all the messy breakups due to transgender issues, both spouses come out deeply scarred. Then, when you add in the affects of certain social media sites and everything becomes worse. Too many “male admirers” seeking gratuitous attention. Too few seeking solid relationships. 

I went through all of that through a myriad of dating sites while all along I told the truth about me being transgender. At the same time, I was hanging out in straight sports bars as I went out to be alone. What happened was I was destined to meet two cis women (lesbians) who I became friends with. Primarily due to the fact I maintained my interest in sports as they did. 

Then there was Liz. Literally she picked me up off a dating site when she responded to one of my pictures saying I had sad eyes. Ten years later, we are still together. 

From all the sorrow and angst I see on certain social media sites, I was very fortunate. Once I learned to accept and love myself for what I was, I was able to accept the friendship and love from others.

Certainly, it is not easy to love a transgender person. So many are too touchy about their pasts to easily let love happen.

I do think though, more and more it is happening and I am no longer the exception to the rule.
 

Calling all Doctors

Seemingly this week, all my doctors have ganged up on me. 

Monday I actually had to go to an in person appointment with the person who is called my primary provider in the Veterans Administration. Similar to a civilian’s family doctor. Our visit was a fun filled half hour as she went over my blood work, examined me and set up two future feminine related exams. The first is my yearly mammogram which I don’t particularly like but I consider a rite of passage. The second turned out to be a bone density scan. Bless her heart, my primary said all women my age should have one. Ironically both have been scheduled within days of each other in a couple of weeks. 

Tuesday was my video visit with my therapist. This session seemed to go a little better overall but I can’t truthfully say I went into any very deep issues. I’m working on bringing more up to her but it is difficult for a person like me. 

Also yesterday was one non doctor related meeting, a Dayton Ohio Elderly Rainbow Alliance Board Meeting. It was very short as there was little  to go over. However coming up in September there is a presentation coming up down here in Cincinnati which I am going to volunteer to help with. 

Today is my video appointment with my new hematologist. It should be interesting to see her ideas on my iron levels. I have a tendency to run higher levels of iron which can hurt me. If the levels are too high, I have to have a phlebotomy (blood draw) to bring it down. The results of my latest labs were within range so I expect the appointment to go well.

Also today, sometime we have to squeeze in an appointment to the grocery store. 

All of this leads me back to the idea I had when I first came out as a transgender woman. How would life be once I couldn’t go back to hiding in a man’s world. Definitely material for another blog post. 
 

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.

Amira

Different people celebrate going through the act of a sex realignment surgery in different ways. 

One of more dramatic celebrations recently came from  Blantyre’s Amira Nadeem who celebrated her first year as a woman by appearing naked on national television.

The 21-year-old starred in Channel 4’s dating show Naked Attraction tonight, where hopeful singletons choose a date from six people, based solely on the power of naked attraction.

Amira decided to show off the body she had longed for and said: “One night I was sitting watching TV eating chips and cheese, and it just came to me. I decided to go for it.

“After going through my sex-change operation, I felt proud and wanted to show myself to the world.

“I wanted to encourage more people like me who have been through what I’ve been through to come out and be themselves.”

Definitely, a dramatic way to do it!