Caricature versus Reality

From disabled transgender poetΒ Torrin A Greathouse:

“If we’re not feminine enough, that is a failure. But if trans women are too feminine, that is also seen as a flaw. It is seen as a caricature of womanhood.”

Where does that statement leave you? For me, it brings back memories of obsessing over every aspect of my feminine presentation. In fact, I have often written about the differences between my early posts here in Cyrsti’s Condo as compared to my current offerings. Nearly all of the decade old posts have a definite  bias on every aspect of what I was wearing.  Perhaps I was presenting as too feminine and maybe I was a caricature myself. 

Of course time changes all of us and I was changed by the cis women I interacted with.  They brought a different feel to their femininity and one I happened to identify with.  All of a sudden finding exactly the correct accessory to wear when I met them wasn’t the priority, communicating with them and the world became a real goal. I guess you could call it acceptance over accessories. Through it all, I was able to observe how they interacted with the world and my small tight-knit circle of friends ushered in my unique personal womanhood. 

In other words, I was able to escape the “caricature” mold Greathouse writes about by capturing what being a woman meant to me. Obviously there were surprises along the way. 

Overall though, I changed and was able to finally thrive. In no small deal thanks to all of them. 

They showed me the way out of the clothes into the real world and gave me confidence to live the life I had always dreamed of living. 

If you would want to read more of the “NPR” post with Torrin Greathouse, follow the link above. 

Transphobia

Recently, I was following the lives of some of the Facebook friends I actually know fairly well. 

One of which, I was fortunate to have met during the very beginning of her transgender transition. As with most of us, she has gone through the peaks and valleys of a Mtf gender transition.  She was obviously in a valley as she described a transphobic someone not in total acceptance of her being transgender and a woman for the rest of her life.

Here is what my partner Liz wrote: “Most people say things like this out of fear. They are either afraid of something that they know nothing about, or they are afraid of something they fear in themselves. When people react in anger towards others that they don’t understand, it is usually because they fear something in themselves that they refuse to face. You are beautiful, and I am proud of you for finally living as your true self. 

Something that I tell Cyrsti all the time, is you have to realize how amazing you are. You have completely changed who you are! You have completely reinvented yourself into who you are in your heart and soul. How many people can do that? Very few! I am always so proud and in awe of all Transgender humans, people, because of your depth of heart and soul to live as your authentic selves. You are all very special, very magical beings. Those ignorant people could not even begin to understand how special you all are. None of those fools would have the courage or tenacity to completely transform themselves. They walk blindly through life not wanting to see the real world around them. Just think of how sad their lives must be. Believe in yourself! You are more beautiful and courageous than all of those ignorant idiots. Don’t waste your time on them, they aren’t worth it. Just believe in yourself and know how special you are! Hugs!” 

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πŸ’œI am so fortunate to have Liz in my life!

Trans in Smoke and Mirrors

Gender Dysphoria and how it effects us separately is often a very personal experience. Also it revolves too on how we interact with the public as a transgender woman. In other words, do we pass. I dislike the term but it is one of the few I could use other than “present.”

I remember the days when I first began to try my hand at a feminine life, I chose places which had an abundance of mirrors I could reinforce my feminine image in. One place I recall many visits was a large coat factory store where I could try many women’s winter coats I couldn’t afford. One in particular was a pale blue mid length wool coat I dearly loved. I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out of the store for being a pest and not buying anything.

Still I persisted with mirrors I even sought out sports bar venues where I could sit facing the mirrors behind the bar to reinforce my feminine thoughts. Of course the feelings were fleeting and all too soon, I was left alone with my Mtf gender dysphoria.

Recently I read another take on the whole idea called “Being Trans in a World of Mirrors” by Emma Holiday: “Everyone has moments of self-criticism and self-hate. They can be even more painful if parents, siblings or friends highlight your own perceived weaknesses. That kind of negative attention takes the extra rawness and makes it throb inside our soul. We are all forced to find ways to deal with it and survive; it gives psychiatrists, psychologists and bartenders job security.

But being transgender seems to be the Olympics of internal pain and external vulnerability. Over the last three years I have experienced the transgender gauntlet of gender dysphoria in all its glory. It is an inescapable experience of doubt, confusion, shame, guilt, anger and fear, churning 24/7 in your head. When you have gender dysphoria, the frightening statistic that 40% of transgender people attempt suicide suddenly makes sense.”

Of course Emma has more to add and you can read it here.

Femininity and Masculinity

Β I have written extensively here in Cyrsti’s Condo concerning the terms “woman and man” are socialized terms and are simply an extension of “female and male.” Here is another look fromΒ Addison J. Smith (they/she):

“Masculinity and femininity are cultural concepts that change over time. They are something we can relate to but they don’t come from us. We learn these concepts. We see ourselves in others and we learn what it is to be like them. If you see yourself as a man, no matter what body type you have, you will want to learn what it means to be masculine as your culture currently defines it. If you see yourself as a woman, you will want to learn what it means to be feminine. We identify with a gender and learn to be that gender. It happens at such a young age that we don’t even realize we do this. Instead, we believe this learned behavior is something intrinsic to us.”

Our identity comes from seeing others and knowing yourself through others. 

My example comes from when I first started to go out in the world and explore it as a transgender woman. Very quickly of course I was rejected by men because I had left the male club with all of it’s inherent privilege’s. Somehow I became part of a conversation between a couple men and was startled by the way I was treated. I had lost most of my intelligence it seemed. On the other hand I was accepted more or less by the cis women I encountered. Perhaps it was because I was reflecting their femininity back at them. I know it might be a difficult idea to consider and as a matter of fact, I didn’t think much about it until I read Addison’s post. Much of it was written about reflection between your perceived and actual gender. 

To this day, since I have not attempted any bottom surgeries at all, my actual biological gender is still male but my perceived gender is female. Obviously it took me years to come to this knowledge. I actually survived well in the male world and played the game as best as I could. I guess you could say I reflected well. 

I did it until it was impossible to do anymore. The gender stress was killing me literally. I drank myself to the point of suicide. 

It was about this time too, I learned the feminine image in the mirror meant nothing unless I could project it in a quality manner to the only gender which really mattered to me…women. 

Finally I will conclude this post with another Addison quote: 

“I don’t have a problem with masculinity (except the toxic kind), I’m simply not masculine. Masculinity is great for people who are masculine. Be masculine, have fun, just don’t be a jerk. I can’t say that I’m really drawn to be feminine in the popular sense, but if you know you’re feminine, go for it.”

Finding Me

Sadly, it seems I have spent the majority of my life searching for my true self. Selfishly, on occasion, I want the time back.Β Of course, I know it is impossible to regain time spent, so I try to make sense of it all. I try to remember all the highlights (and low lights) of desperately trying to discover my true gender. Unfortunately, I didn’t make all the right moves as I went down the gender path to transgender womanhood.

One major mistake I made was trying so hard to make my presentation perfect, I neglected the most important part of my Mtf gender transition, what kind of feminine person did I want to become. As I started to go out to the same venues, I was recognized as a person. I recognized at the time, it was because I was trying to discover a new world as a cross dresser but I didn’t want to be known as a bitchy one.Β 


Then I came to the point when I couldn’t “put the genie back in the bottle.” I was seriously beginning to establish myself as a feminine person and it felt good and natural. Better yet, it was easy for me to be a “nice” person since the greatest majority of the people I met were nice to me. Essentially I was taking another giant step out of the mirror. Early on when I went out shopping or whatever, it seemed all I was doing was going from mirror to mirror to try to re enforce my feminine appearance.Β 

Looking back on all of this now, it seems like a blur when in reality it took years to happen.Β 


As I like to do, I’m bringing in another quote from a person namedΒ EmmaΒ who went through a similar experience:


“I have searched a lifetime for me, never understanding who I was. My ignorance made me afraid of me. Everyone around me shared the same ignorance and fear.
How desperately sad. How tragic. What a heartbreaking thing to finally realize… but what an amazing discovery. What an exciting realization. What an opportunity to touch a part of your neglected heart, an untouched part of your soul, and to know it’s ok to share it all with the world.

It’s ok to feel these hidden pieces mend and meld to make you feel whole, finally, and to tenderly feel their warmth.
It’s like the passing of a storm. The clouds part, and the warm rays of sun create your own personal rainbow. You suddenly breathe in and know that your lungs are filled with the joy of life.


I always will hold on to these moments of discovery for the rest of my life. No one will ever take them away from me.”


Well put!

Hey! Are You Transgender?

 I don’t ever try to hide the fact I am transgender. Very rarely is it a potential issue. 

On the other hand, I don’t often out myself either. I am far from the dating scene of my past so it also isn’t a major deal. My heart goes out to younger transgender women and men who have to negotiate the dating world. Ironically, it seems the better you present, the more difficulty you may have. Even to the point of placing yourself in danger if you are “discovered” by an unsuspected suitor. 

Last night though, I found myself in a situation I don’t think I have ever found myself in. Back in the day, I was always surrounded by my cis women friends so I had never found myself in a situation with a man where I was outed. As an aside, I didn’t ever feel as if I presented well enough to confuse the public totally on what gender I really was. I always assumed everyone knew I was trans and I was satisfied with all of that as long as I was treated with respect. 

For some reason last night, I went against my basic rule and accepted a friend request from a man. The reasons were  he was in a group I was in with similar political leanings and he was local. If worst came to worst I could always mention my very territorial partner of nine years or just block him. 

I didn’t have to do either last night. Interestingly, his first comment was he was surprised to learn I was a woman. Obviously, he had not read my profile…yet. Because after I answered with I was fine with his surprise. He came right back with how cool it was when he found out I was transgender. Followed with how good my picture looked.

Fortunately, a simple thank you from me and he was gone. 

The whole deal brought back so many memories plus a realization I was fortunate to be in a relationship with a partner who accepts me for who I am.

The “Passing” Game

If you follow American professional football at all, you probably have heard of the frustrations over the years from the hapless Cincinnati Bengals. This year, once we drafted Joe Burrow our passing game dramatically improved until he suffered a major injury and is out for the remainder of the year. In other words, their “passing game” went away.

The same can happen to transgender women as they work their way through life. Early in my life, as a prolific cross dresser, I had various levels of success and failure when it came to my appearance. When I came out as a transgender woman in my sixties, I relied on any natural success I acquired cross dressing along with the changes brought along by hormone replacement therapy to mostly succeed at presenting as a transgender woman.  

Along the way, I received several comments on the passing post. Ironically, the last thing I wanted to do was try to fish for compliments on whether I passed or not. At this point in my life I am way past all of that. If I can’t get by in the world the way I am now, I never will.

As a change of pace in this post, I have decided to pass (no pun intended) along a couple comments.

The first is from Connie:

”  Gee, the way you started this post, I thought you were referring to a Hail Mary Pass. πŸ˜‰ Self-deprecation does not become you, sweety.
If one looks at passing as a last-ditch effort or a win/lose proposition, it rarely works out favorably. Desperation is more telling than one’s actual physical presentation. In continuing the football metaphor, I am a Seahawk fan who has learned that attempting to force a pass (as in a certain now-infamous Superbowl play) can lead to disaster. :-)”
If you don’t know, the Seahawks were basically on the goal line attempting to score the winning touchdown with time running out. They pulled a Bengals and tried a pass which was intercepted in the end zone as time ran out. No “passing privilege” for them!
And now, here is another comment from Emma Gray:
“I love your self-description of yourself: “a woman of transgender experience.” I use that a lot for myself too.
As for “passing”: I know it’s the common lingo and although I’ve tried I haven’t come up with an alternative. The thing is, I don’t care for that word because it implies that I’m like a secret agent, passing within society for something I am not. I thus worry that it could reinforce unsupportive cis people’s ignorance. Anyway…

I also like Rachell Brindell’s quote. I’ve wondered that myself, for me, but especially for trans children who are increasingly being raised with pubertal hormone treatment that supports their authentic gender. So, they won’t be identified as trans until and unless they disclose. I suppose there will always be post-pubertal transitioners so we won’t disappear per se.

Then again, it seems to me that gay people are not nearly as identifiable as they were in the 70s and 80s when they needed to establish pride, self-esteem, and community identification.

The worst situation IMHO is for non-binary (NB) people. My therapist is AFAB NB. Visibly feminine, they are consistently triggered by well-meaning people using the wrong pronouns and gender for them. And there’s nothing they can do. Should they where a sign? I certainly don’t think so as it brings the Nazi treatment of Jews to mind.

Anyway, being identified as a woman without qualifying adjectives is delightful isn’t it!”
It is indeed! I look at it as a payback for the years of harassment I went through! Thank you all.

My Cup Runneth Over

 Well, actually it doesn’t when it comes to my breasts. 

Following years of not really needing to wear a bra, I decided to try a few of the old bras I have saved from my “falsie” days to see how far I had progressed. The quick answer was, not as far as I had thought. 

To make a long story short, I could fill out a “C” cup bra but fell well short of a “D” cup. While I was slightly disappointed, I still decided to wear what remained of my “C” cup bras to get used to wearing bras.

So far, so good. The extra feeling of restriction hasn’t really bothered me as much as I thought it would. I guess I was finally going through a much delayed female rite of passage. A training bra undoubtedly is part of every young girl’s path through puberty and on to adulthood. Perhaps you noticed I didn’t say womanhood because not every girl makes it to be a fully socialized woman. In other words, the terms women and men are socially related in addition to being gender related. 

I doubt it but I don’t expect much change in my breast development with my current increase in my Estradiol prescription. I am well aware, extra synthetic estrogen can only provide so much development.  Plus, during my years on hormone replacement therapy, I have always preferred to stay on the side of caution as far as my dosages went because of my age.

Besides, I really don’t have anyone to impress. My partner Liz is quite well endowed in the breast department so she doesn’t pay me much attention. Of course too, we are into the colder fall/winter season around here and we don’t go anywhere because of covid, no one else see’s me either. 

What I am hoping for is the hormones will develop me more over the next six months, so I can enjoy a more feminine figure this Spring and Summer. Since I am not into wearing any “shape wear” of any kind, what the public see’s is all me.

Perhaps my cup will run over with more than a cold cocktail when summer rolls around.

Do I “Pass?”

You have all seen my pictures and I am sure more than a couple of you have thought Cyrsti has a lot of courage to go out and live a feminine life looking like that. In fact, years ago, a transgender girlfriend of mine told me I passed out of sheer force. 

Along the way though I think I have taken most of the negatives and turned them into positives when it came to living the life I wanted to. In other words, a life as a woman of transgender experience. 

To accomplish my goal. I had to heavily rely on hormone replacement therapy. Relatively quickly my skin softened, I sprouted breasts and my emotions changed for the better. The world softened as my hair grew out faster than my hips and breasts. It all worked together to help my inner feminine self to sync with my outer appearance.

Plus, I can’t forget the powerful influences my partner Liz and daughter Andrea had on me. My daughter gave me a gift certificate to her hair salon/spa for my first hair styling which was terrifying yet exciting while Liz completely backed my Mtf transition saying she had never seen any male in me. 

Approximately the same time I was fortunate to find several cis women who happened to accept the authentic me. It all worked together to give me confidence to “pass” as me. All of a sudden, I didn’t care what others thought. I embraced my life and began to enjoy it. After all there weren’t that many “out” transgender women. 

As always, I have found another thought on the whole “passing process.” It comes fromΒ Rachell BrindellΒ Β and the “Empowered Trans Woman” site:

“By being visibly transgender and not hiding behind the ridiculous gender norms that have been pushed on us for decades I feel I can contribute more to both the LGBTQ community and the cis-normative community as well. After all, if we all passed, who would see us?”

For more follow the link above.

Where Were You Born?

On occasion I become humored when I read of someone who says they were “born into the wrong body.” 

I figure I didn’t have a real choice. I had no choice on my parents, where I was born or the gender I was assigned. No matter what I thought, those three “facts” were non negotiable. Of course, as I grew, I learned while the “Big Three” were non negotiable, they could be questioned and even changed. 

Like them or not, my parents will always be my parents. Sure, they had their faults but who doesn’t. As far as coming out to them, I tried to come out to my Mom. I was rejected and never tried again. I never tried to come out to my Dad. After all, I was doing my best to live a robust male life, so who cared?

I cared of course. As my gender dysphoria continued and began to take it’s own peculiar shape, I learned to suffer silently. Even though I think I came up with every possible question I could over why my gender issues were so prevalent, at no time did I come up with the idea I was born into the wrong body.

What I did come up with was I had a overwhelming desire to change the body I had. The more I was able to feminize it the better I would feel. I was fortunate in that the body I had was healthy enough to undertake hormone replacement therapy at a later age in my sixties. Thanks to HRT, I was able to learn the body which I was given was fluid enough to provide me a male foundation to play football and survive Army basic training all the way to presenting as a woman in public. 

So, I guess I can say, I wasn’t born in the wrong body. I took what I had and adapted.