Trans of a Certain Age

If you have been following my three part series about my life lived mostly in the gender closet, perhaps you saw a glimpse of your life too.Β 

Connie did, and here is her comment. *Please note we share several similar experiences because of our age.

“For those of us trans women of a certain age, there was no way to know anything, other than some confused notion that being a boy for us seemed to be different than it was for the other boys. Whatever might have been drawing us toward being the other gender (there were only two back then, you know), did not seem to be enough for us to be like the girls, either. Not only was the knowledge and language yet to be formulated by the professionals, let alone society in general, our young minds had no means with which to express ourselves, either.

I must have been about three when I felt the need to express my feminine side. While my mother was busy doing something in the living room, I went into her bedroom and climbed onto the bench in front of her Art Deco vanity. The low counter top and mirror were easily accessible for even a child of my size, and, after clipping on a pair of shiny earrings and applying a not-inside-the-lines coat of lipstick, I remember admiring myself in the mirror. I was so happy with myself that I just had to share it with my mom. I can still taste the soap and feel the harshness of the washcloth on my face as she admonished me for doing something boys just are not to do.

Knowing there is something different about oneself certainly is not a choice. Being ashamed of being different could be a choice, but, like with many things in childhood, the choice is often made by adults who place it upon the child. For decades thereafter, any conscious effort I made to express my feminine-self was a choice to do the wrong thing – or so I was made to think of it. It was also a choice I made to suppress my feminine-self for many years, and another choice to finally”give in” to it again. It wasn’t until I had the revelation that my choices were all about what I was doing, and not who I was, that I found a peace within myself. I then made one more choice, that being to transition, because I really had no choice at that point.

I now turn around that question of when I knew, when asked by a cis person. Their answer is always that they always did, or that they never even had to think about it. Then I tell them that I was always who I was, as well, but I was so painfully aware and have had to think about it almost every day of my life. I’m still waiting for that day when I don’t think about my gender identity, but it’s so much easier to think about it, even dismiss it most times when I do, because I made that choice to accept myself as the woman I was born to be (and to live it, as well).”

Thanks Connie for yet another thoughtful heart-felt comment!

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. 

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!

Normal?

Saturday was one of those rare days when I felt relatively “normal.” Before you jump to conclusions, I know the concept of “normal” is highly subjective.  To narrow it down, to a gender dysphoric person normality is being able to navigate society without being stared at or unnecessarily being singled out. 

To arrive at the point I achieved yesterday, first I had to feel secure in the way I looked. I wore a pair of my favorite leggings, boots and a nice sweater. I felt the outfit was slimming and showed off my legs. Also, I was able to mousse my hair Friday night after my shower, enhancing my wavy hair. All in all, for once I felt I made the most of what I had to work with. 

As far as makeup went, the less is more look worked well without my glasses. And, while I am on the subject of makeup, Friday night when Liz and I went out with the cross dresser – transgender group, another trans woman asked me if Liz did my makeup? I was stunned. I have always done my own makeup. I know too, sometimes it looks like it. Despite being a “natural” lesser makeup person, Liz used to be an Avon beauty consultant. So she does know enough to tell me if I look like a clown. Overall, my goal is to externally project as a “lipstick” trans-lesbian. Hows that for putting a label on everything?

As the evening progressed, we stopped for dinner at an upscale Creole Restaurant we have been meaning to try out for quite a while. All the cooking is done from scratch by a chef trained in New Orleans by Emeril Lagasse. The food was great and we were served by a woman who seemed only concerned about overselling us on appetizers and drinks. One way or another, It’s always nice not to be noticed. 

From there, our Witches Ball group was meeting for coffee at the coffee chain Connie hates…I will let you use your imagination. It’s always good to get together with these friends who accept me for me. 

So, all in all, the day was a reaffirming day as far as my gender dysphoria went. 

I wait for it to go away all together but so far it shows no sign of leaving anytime soon.    

Coming Out?

I have been out for so long, I don’t normally give much thought to the National “Coming Out Day” which was yesterday. 

As I have always written about, coming out can be on very many levels. As little as cross dressing and going out on rare occasions when you are safe, all the way to living full time as a transgender woman. Both are equally as important to the overall trans cause.

Through all of this though, I had my own “coming out” experience this morning. With our changing weather and numerous errands to run this morning, I had to go my wardrobe and find an outfit which was comfortable and was designed to blend with the majority of cis women I encounter. I came up with my long sleeved Durango, Colorado railroad shirt, along with a slightly faded pair of leggings with a pair of tennis shoes. 

Normally, I am not real impressed with yet another rather mundane outfit but this morning  However, today somehow was different. For once I accepted I had arrived. This was life as I hadn’t really planned for but found anyway.  

The coming out process for me went something like this.  I always knew my goal was to blend. Early on I focused on professional women around me. As I progressed though, I decided I loved the “hippie” bohemian styles from my youth. Finally these days I have settled on comfort and whatever style I can afford. I love this part of the year because I can wear my soft sweaters. colorful leggings and boots. 

Most importantly, I have reached a point of having confidence in my feminine appearance which accordingly has acted as a deterrent to my gender dysphoria. 

Whatever coming out means to you, building confidence could be your best friend. After all, the great majority of us start so far behind cis women applying makeup and having understanding of what outfits are flattering or not. One of the major problems is battling the mirror which always tries to lie to you and going through our teenage years when we are much older. Which leads to the stereotypical mid aged cross dresser in the mall stuffed into a mini skirt and heels. 

Rest assured, it is all part of the coming out process. Here’s to hoping yours is coming along well too!

Damn Hormones

I haven’t written for awhile here in Cyrsti’s Condo about my involvement with feminine hormones.  To be sure, it’s been a rocky affair, with plenty of blind corners and unexpected results. 

I guess since my recent brush with discontinuing my hormone replacement therapy all due to health concerns, has brought taking the life altering meds back into focus. 

Many people over the years have asked about the process. First of all, most of all the usual changes in skin, breasts, hair etc, started taking effect for me relativity quickly. I would say in the first six months. However, as time passed on, the changes began to slow and all of a sudden, I was looking at 4 plus years on HRT. 

Looking back, the biggest change over the years had to be the emotional roller coaster ride I experienced.  I think perhaps the emotional ride contributed to extra problems when I was in the middle of negotiating a particular difficult bout of gender dysphoria. 

It was during that time I have considered re-evaluating the whole gender process I was going through. Calmer minds prevailed though. 

Here’s an example of the effect feminine hormones have on me. Yes, I cry but mostly when good things happen (especially during football games when Liz is making fun of me.) Yes, I have my own modest sized breasts which seems to fascinate some people. My skin is softer than it has ever been and am slowly and surely developing hips. 

I an truly fortunate to be able to have undertaken this gender adventure health wise.

I Tried it Once

Today I was surprised when a person who should have known better referred to me as he twice in the same conversation.

Finally, I took the next opportunity to throw in the chat I had tried the “he” part of life already and it almost killed me. For those you who don’t know, I tried to commit suicide after a particularly nasty bout with gender dysphoria.

As far as the guy went, he was taken aback and from then on he referred to me with an emphatic “she.”

At least I didn’t have to explain further what I meant

Aura Revisited

Recently, I wrote a post here in Cyrsti’s Condo concerning being mis-gendered and possible being because of the “aura” I was presenting at the time.

Connie replied with this very interesting comment:

“I think that projecting one’s feminine aura is largely dependent on ignoring one’s dysphoria (Aura, Dysphoria, Ignore ya – there’s a song in there, somewhere, I believe). It’s not an easy thing to ignore, even after years of trying, and one little two-letter word is all it takes for it to raise its ugly head. When it does, though, we can learn to ignore the awful feeling it causes. 

I must say that, when dealing with medical professionals, I am more forgiving. I always tell them that I’m a woman, but I want them to treat my body as it is. I had a doctor, once, who was hesitant to do the always-enjoyable prostate exam because he was afraid that he might offend me (he was trying so hard to be politically correct). I finally asked him to do the procedure, and I told him that I didn’t want to end up a woman who had died from prostate cancer. Then, there are doctors who just have a terrible bedside manner in the first place, and they only look at your body – in which case, “he” is used as it applies to the XY body being considered.

Last weekend, my wife and I attended a garden party, at which we were entertained by a string quartet playing classical music. As a musician who was brought up more on Steppenwolf than Wolfgang (Mozart), I still like to show my appreciation for a performance, and I took the opportunity to do so by talking to the second violinist at intermission (which we old rockers call a break). At the same time, my wife was talking to the violinist’s husband, and the small-world-moment turned out to be that he was a high school classmate of my wife. I had known who he was in high school, but I don’t know that I had ever really talked with him. Later, the four of us got together and talked for a bit. I couldn’t believe that he used my dead name repeatedly, even though he did attempt to correct himself in a rather-confused manner. I finally told him that I had just been called that name more times in the last five minutes than I had been in the past five years. I think he finally got it, but he had already done the damage by stirring up some of my dysphoria. What I noticed about myself, though, was that the dysphoria had subsided almost as fast as it had come up. Even his wife’s slightly invasive questions about “when I knew” and “how my children and grandchildren are taking it” didn’t really faze me, either. Actually, I had been more intimidated by her being a trained professional classical musician, in comparison to my self-taught rocker status, during our earlier discussion (OMG, does this mean I have music dysphoria, too?)

Anyway, as much as I just want to be a woman, and to be seen as one, I can’t forget that most people will still describe me as a transgender woman. That’s the best I can expect. Even if I’m referred to with the correct pronouns and name in their presence, I have to assume that some people will refer to me as “he” when I’m not around. Especially when I may never encounter that person again, it’s not worth my energy to educate them, but it’s still worth my energy to ignore the dysphoria. Thank goodness, it takes less energy to do so these days.”


I know the last time being mis-gendered happened to me, it was from my female Doctor.  I went back in my mind and referenced what was going on  when it happened and came up with this…First of all I was surprised when I saw her and didn’t have a chance to put up any of my usual defenses. Perhaps I became a little too relaxed and was shocked when it happened. 

I do agree with Connie, a misplaced pronoun or dead name can wreak havoc with one’s gender dysphoria. 

Going “Full-time”

I am fairly sure there are more than a few Cyrsti’s Condo readers who are considering and or dreaming of going 24/7 as a transgender woman. As I read back to some of my oldest posts from five or so years ago, one of the biggest changes I noticed was the influence of how I looked back then versus my addiction today to how I am treated by the public.

Much of it continues to amaze me in how different it all is from my perceptions years ago.  After I went through the basics of gender discrimination and losing my male privilege, the reality of an everyday existence set in. All of a sudden, I had to plan way ahead  on what I was going to wear and try to figure out how I was going to blend in the easiest way with other women where I was going. 

Let’s just say most of my preconceived ideas of completing a Mtf gender transition were not accurate at all. I still suffer from gender dysphoria after all these years and probably always will. Regardless of being able to navigate society as a feminine person, I am still deeply hurt when I get mis-gendered. I am reasonably sure I always will. I always try to keep in mind I suffered from sixty plus years of testosterone poisoning, so I am fortunate to have come as far as I have.

For another look at the process, here is a comment from Connie:

“Dreaming of going to a full-time existence is based on our experiences of one-event-at-a-time. Living every moment of every day as a woman eventually becomes the new normal, but it need not be any less exciting. Just living life as ones true self is amazing in itself. Or, as I like to say, I know I am really living when those things that were once extraordinary become ordinary – which is extraordinary in itself.”

So true! Thanks!  

Accepted!

I just received a message my workshop proposal for the Trans Ohio Symposium has been accepted. The symposium takes place this year again at THE Ohio State University Student Union center from April 26th through the 28th. I will find out later in the week when my workshop is scheduled.

As you may (or may not remember) my subject matter will center around navigating through severe Mtf Gender Dysphoria. (suicidal)

The whole weekend is beginning to come together for Liz and I. A week ago we secured a hotel reservation at a nice venue close enough to the campus which provides a free shuttle service to the union. Then, a couple days ago I reserved a rental car for the two hundred mile trip to and back from Cincinnati to Columbus for the symposium. Which saves extra wear and tear on the only high mileage car we have left. The other self destructed a couple weeks ago when the timing belt broke. Plus, we won’t have to worry about an untimely breakdown on the trip.

Now I have to concentrate on “fleshing” out the workshop proposal I sent. Fortunately, a trans friend of mine brought back a helpful little booklet I could use from the “Keystone Conference” in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania not long ago. It’s a great “cheat sheet” or for those of you who remember, a version of”Cliffs Notes” on transgender issues.

I really need to do a better job of presenting this year than last year…no crying!

Before I conclude this post, I would like to say hello to Angie in Kentucky!