You Reap what You Sow

Over the years here in Cyrsti’s Condo, precious few posts are dedicated to the transgender allies who aided so dramatically in my gender transition. One of the main contributors who I have mentioned is my only child…my daughter. 

As a child, I tried to do my part early in her life to be inclusive. I remember the days I scolded her on the back of the bicycle I rode her to school on. Particularly about how she was treating a boy who was getting bullied.

As she grew up, her mother (first wife) and I became divorced and moved apart. My wife stayed in Ohio while I moved to New York. We became separate but equal parents while my daughter remained the only child and was raised by a village. In other words, she was able to experience life in more than one situation.

All of this contributed to her becoming a determined confident woman with a stable marriage and three children. 

By now you are probably thinking how does any of this have to do with her becoming a steadfast LGBTQ ally with a transgender parent. It all mattered the day I came out to her. This is how it all worked out. I was extremely nervous of course when I invited her to lunch. I quickly told her why I invited her, I was transgender and would be starting hormone replacement therapy soon under a doctors supervision. 

What she said startled even me. She said “Did Mom and her Step Mom know?” I replied partially to both. My daughter only said “Why was she the last to know?” That was it. No rejection of any kind. Needless to say I was relieved because she was the last major person left for me to come out to as transgender. Everyone else who was near and dear to me had passed away except for my brother who is another not so pleasant experience. 

It just so happened also all of this happened near my birthday. As a wonderful gift my daughter offered to pay my way to her hair salon for my first ever color and style. At that point, I didn’t know to be more thrilled or scared. Of course I went for it and even have an “after” picture of the experience. (above)

Along the way, I paid many prices to go to the salon. First of all, I was accompanied by my daughter which made me even more nervous with the thought of her previous big brave Dad subjecting to her new self and going through all of this adventure. The second of which was cruel and unusual punishment it seemed. All because the salon was long and narrow and I had to walk through a gauntlet of women who had nothing to do but stare at me. 

After it was all over, I was proud of myself for passing another milestone in my path to woman-hood but I was more proud of my daughter’s acceptance of me. She gifted me a gigantic start down the pathway to being my authentic self.

Now, I share a rare acceptance from her family and even her extended family. Needless to say I cherish all of the gifts she has given me. Plus, I have lived long enough to see what I sowed so many years ago grow into such a strong transgender and LGBTQ ally.

Christmas Continues

This is a promised continuation of my Christmas adventure posts which furthered my confidence of surviving in a feminine world. I already have posted my shopping successes when I searched for gifts for my wife but this is a little different.

Actual photo of Clifton Mill


 At the time I was searching for things I had done as a man which I so badly wanted to do as a woman. I wondered how the whole experience would feel.

One place I gave quite a bit of thought to was a actual working flour mill in a nearby village which decorated heavily for Christmas every year

The mill and surrounding shops were normally well visited and were a great time to wear one of my in style heavy fuzzy sweaters with leggings and boots. Even though I still did have to fight off my anxiety by trying such a new idea, the excitement of finally being able to live my dream made up for it.

After I completed the fifteen mile trip to get there, the first thing I did (after I parked the car) was take a deep breath and tell myself to enjoy everything. Two things helped, the first of which was my wife again was working a closing shift and I managed to take the day off so time was not a problem. The second was it was a perfect winter evening. Chilly but not too cold so the deep breaths helped my anxiety quite a bit. 

As I began to notice, no one noticed me. I then summoned the courage to stop in one of the small shops and buy a cup of hot cocoa. Again I was treated with a smile and my courage was at an all time high. It was then time to buy a ticket and tour the mall grounds myself. As you can see by the picture, the mill itself is beautifully decorated. What you can’t see is the extra work they do with the surrounding grounds and out buildings. I was able to take my time and double enjoy my femininity as well as all of the decorations. I even bought a second cup of hot cocoa in the mill itself. Still, no negative feedback from anyone.

My disclaimer is I knowingly (or not) set myself up for success by doing several things. First of all, I had plenty of time to get ready and had the stylish clothes in my wardrobe to help me along. In fact my wife supported me enough that she had bought them for me as a gift. Second of all, as I have written, time was on my side. I didn’t have to rush and ruin this milestone moment in my life. Finally, I attempted it all under the cover of darkness. Which covers a lot of flaws. Even the places I purchased hot cocoa had soft lighting which in turn made me look softer also.

I know it is a selfish thought but the whole evening proved to be the best Christmas present I could have ever given to myself. Plus give me the confidence to continue my quest to locate and support my own femininity. It all felt so natural.

Re-Coil

 I went into the Cincinnati, Ohio VA (Veterans Administration) hospital  Friday for my Covid Booster. Normally when I go there I receive a mixed gender reaction. By mixed I mean, I can be called everything from she to being stared at and laughed at. Keep in mind, their clientele at the center includes a large rural Trumper area, so we aren’t dealing with some of the most advanced people in the world. 

The staff itself was very much neutral with me. Being careful to call me by name once I signed up for the booster. Ironically it was Christmas time at the VA with people passing out free bags of fruit and coffee. 

Since this was my third covid shot, I knew a little of what to expect. Or so I thought. I sailed through the

first day with no real effects, only to get hammered the second day. I called it the “re-coil” affect. 

At any rate, I ended up in bed watching one of my favorite Christmas movies “A Christmas Story”.  If you aren’t familiar, “Ralphie” the young central character wants a BB Gun in the worst way.  True to form Ralphie, almost immediately breaks his glasses with his new gift…a BB Gun. When the gun recoiled when he wasn’t expecting it to. 

In my corresponding youth, as badly as he wanted the BB Gun, I wanted a doll. Needless to say, I never was gifted with a doll. Plus, never in a thousand years would I ever had the courage to ask for one. 

I never broke any glasses with my gun but my brother did manage to shoot me with it. 

I would like to imagine in the future, gender roles could be loosened and  a boy could receive a doll and a girl could receive a BB Gun with no questions asked.  

Christmas Lessons

I have been saving a couple posts for the time when we came nearer to the Christmas holiday itself. All of them involved me taking advantage of the opportunities to gift shop for my wife. Essentially, I was doing the wrong thing by sneaking out behind her back for all the right reasons by finding her just the right gift. 
It just so happened she was into vintage gardening items so any trip to an antique mall was a great start into finding her a gift. Routinely I used to cross dress as my authentic self and make the trip to local and regional antique malls. I was fortunate in back in those days I brought home a good wage so I had spendable income to come up with a great gift or two.

What did I learn? Essentially two things. The first of which was the basic dress to blend plus I had to leave the heels behind for comfort when I was heading to the antique malls. However, on occasion I did go to an upscale mall over in Columbus, Ohio to shop for a new garden gift in a couple of  specialty garden stores. In fact, I often broke my own heels and hose rules. In my own way I was dressing to blend as many other women were dressed in a similar way.


One night which stands out in my memory was the time I ventured out to buy my wife an oak bookcase to match the roll top desk we previously purchased. My wife was working a closing shift  in the bookstore she managed so I could know where she would be and till what time. .For whatever reason, I chose my black pantsuit, flats, long blond wig, along with my full length black coat.  

As I headed back to Columbus, Ohio for my purchase, I knew exactly where I was going but my anxiety level was still at an all time high because I was fearing how I would be treated. 

I wondered on the other hand how I would ever be able to load such a large object in the car by myself. Little did I know I had nothing to worry about because the store had two young guys ready, willing and able to load my purchase.

I was treated to a thank you mam’ and off I went with my purchase. I had to get it home before my wife returned from work. The trip took about a half hour one way and the best part was I was able to hide it in the garage away from prying eyes.

Maybe though, the best part was proving to myself I could exist successfully in a feminine world. Once again I had “survived” and could move forward again .

It turned out there were several other Christmas lessons to come.

Fun on a Bike?

Actually I didn’t have any fun with my imagined wig hair (back then) blowing in the wind plus having my hands wrapped tightly around my new crush’s waist. I was never able to beg my way into a ride and I never tried. I’m sure you remember the post I wrote about the experience. 

Long time Cyrsti’s Condo reader (and co-founder) Connie Malone does and commented:

” I’ve known you long enough that I recall discussing with you what to do about the biker guy at the time. It was fun girl talk, with lots of anticipation. Although it wasn’t a fairy tale ending, it still created much drama.

Photo Courtesy of
Connie Malone 

The banana thing never appealed to me (intended). I guess I’m penis- averse in general, and even more so concerning my own. I have been asked for dates a number of times, let alone the numerous hits I’ve had to endure – mostly on the unsavory side. I did meet with a fellow band member for dinner one night before a rehearsal, but it wasn’t really a date. He was just a really nice guy who totally accepted me when I came out to the band (a whole story in itself), and we met as friends. I remember sitting with him in the crowded restaurant, amazed that he was so comfortable being with a trans woman in public. Of course, it was fairly early in my transition, so I wasn’t really so comfortable being in public, myself. By all appearances, we must have been perceived to be on a date by others, and I was even more amazed that nobody was staring at us. It was one of those validating experiences that added to my confidence, at any rate.

Of course, having been faithfully married to my wife for 49 1/2 years has a lot to do with any choices I would make in the dating (or beyond) department.”


Thanks Connie for the comment. I say in essence she was the co founder here is because I was sharing coming out experiences with her and she suggested I write a blog. Back in those days, I didn’t even know what a blog was, so I had to research it.


In addition, I too had a couple dates with men who went out of their way to make me feel feminine. Outside of the sexual side of being with men, I tried to learn communication skills which would help me on a date. Naturally, I was scared to death but survived anyhow. One of the men in particular wasn’t from the area which I lived, so he was just passing through (as I hoped I was) when we went on a dinner date. The other I left up to him to contact me if he wanted to but he never did. Ironically, I was a regular in the two places we went and received great service and knowing looks from the servers I knew. My rule of thumb always was have a good attitude and tip well and it worked.


Speaking or writing about male crushes, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to watch one of my all time favorite male screen crushes on Turner Classic Movies. For some reason, I always have been fascinated with the WWII era and earlier and Robert Mitchum was my male crush way before I knew I was allowed to have one.

Robert Mitchum

Of course, any ideas of having a male crush were stifled and mis-understood. To the point I couldn’t even dream of him for fear of what was happening to me. It all makes sense now why I didn’t really crush on any famous cis women celebrities. Of course I wanted to look like them but did not desire them sexually.  


It was all part of my gender puzzle I have written about in the recent past.
As far as motorcycles go, without a doubt I am sure Robert Mitchum would look great on one. Plus I am sure Connie was a suburb dinner date. As far as I am concerned, I was single during the dates I wrote about. So now I wouldn’t even consider such a move.


It’s always fun to consider the “what if’s” of life and how everything turned on a dime (or quarter). 

Masks

Another Cyrsti’s Condo reader I have been in contact with over the years wrote in and commented on her feelings about applying makeup. Her name is Mandy and she lives on the East coast of the United States. Over the years she had been able to survive balancing her life in a feminine world along with living with a spouse and having young grand children.  

In the comment (thanks), she said she viewed the whole process as applying a mask. Admittingly I think she is right in many ways. I know back in the day when I first started experimenting with basic makeup skills it was a process. Something I had seen my own Mom do so effortlessly with her own makeup proved to be so difficult. Of course there are no pictures but I am sure “clown like” would be applicable. 

Cis Model with mask being applied
Photo credit: Chalo  Garcia (Unsplash)

Still I endured, bought my own makeup and embarked on a process of improving my makeup skills. Slowly but surely I was able to improve my “masking” skills. 

When you think about it, all women (cis or transgender) use makeup as a mask. These days, much to the chagrin of many transgender and/or crossdressers, women have moved to a more natural look. Which means much less makeup. I noticed an example as another much younger woman stood in line ahead of me at the dentists’ office. She was wearing very little makeup except mascara and perhaps lip gloss. Of course with her youthful flawless complexion she didn’t need any mask. Her whole demeanor screamed female. I was envious in that I had to put much more work into my feminine presentation. 

Unknown to me however was what kind of skin care routine she used. I am fortunate in that I was able to “sneak” in my own personal skin care routine. The act of shaving probably provided me the greatest benefit when I was able to exfoliate old skin cells and replace them with new ones. Then I was able to convince my wife I needed a moisturizer to help me with razor burn. In fact, one of the biggest recommendations I can make to novice transgender – cross dressers is take care of your skin. The second is watch your weight. It is a real possibility you will be able to present better as your feminine self if you follow those rules. Your “mask” will come along with practice.

These days locating help with your mask is easier to find. If you live near big urban areas at all, makeup specialty stores often are happy to help you with tips. There is so much to consider with contouring and color.

I was fortunate enough also to be able to undertake hormone replacement therapy, which really helped to smooth out and soften my skin. Plus age alone aided my transition. I was of the age where the binary genders have a tendency to blur. 

Whatever your case , I hope you can adapt to wearing a makeup mask and it helps you lead a quality life. If not, remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. Just keep working and don’t get discouraged.      

Feminine Socialization 201

Essentially this is a continuation of my recent post describing portions of my early feminine socialization. Included  in the post, I wrote about almost being included in a bachelorette party get together. I say almost because I was briefly invited then heard nothing more about it. I didn’t give it much more thought because the marriage only lasted approximately one week. 

The entire situation started when I expanded where I was going to socialize, or try to. If it sounds as if I was doing quite a bit of drinking during this period of my life, it was because I was. It is important to note I rarely drink alcohol at all now. Back then though I used it as a crutch in numerous ways. When I drank I was braver to go and try to socialize with others. To basically dive into the girls sandbox and see what happened. 

What happened was I found I was accepted into a small group of acquaintances who were socially interesting. Especially the exotic sister of one of the bartenders. She was truly exotic in that she was a dancer as well as being a hair stylist. This was in addition to her being a well tattooed dark haired beauty. To say I was envious is an understatement. She always threatened to work on my hair but I wasn’t sure how that would work back in those days when I was wearing a wig. It turned out it never really mattered. The rest of the group included me (the transgender woman) a lesbian, the bartender and her husband as well as others who drifted in and out. 

How I looked back then.

Very quickly it seemed our little group of acquaintances who gathered in the venue for drinks grew. Included in the group was a big teddy bear of a man who worked in a local lumber yard  and rode a classic Indian motorcycle. He fell in love with the exotic one and they decided to get married at the spur of the moment. Ironically, I think most of the group thought it was the wrong move to make. I know I did.

We all were right because the marriage only lasted one week. After it was over, it turned out my feminine socialization was to take another turn into new territory. I was becoming attracted to a man who was paying some sort of attention to me. It all started when the marriage had dissolved. The poor guy still kept coming into the venue and I thought was treated rather poorly by most of the group. I felt sorry for him and let him know. By knowing both of them the short time I did, I didn’t think the two were a match made in heaven. 

At any rate the group began to go in separate directions but I kept coming in the venue as did he. Surprisingly to me, he chose to sit next to me at the bar and all of the sudden I had the ultimate validation of a novice transgender woman…a man at my side. Especially a bearded one who rode a motorcycle. I always fantasized about how it would be to ride with him but never got the chance. Very quickly he took another job and moved away from the area.  

What did I learn? Even though I was having a difficult time being attracted to male companionship, I proved it wasn’t totally out of the question. Also knowing the lesbian in the group was my introduction into knowing anyone who identified as a cis gay female. 

Most importantly I gained another level of confidence. I found I could socialize with a diverse group of other people.

I had graduated to another level of life on my transgender path and it was looking more and more as if there was no turning back.    

Doors

Or, in the gender out door.  It seems all my life I have been trying to force my way in the out door when my gender has been involved. 

Of course, similar to many of you, my earliest explorations into a feminine life involved diving into my Mom’s clothing and makeup. The more I did, the more I felt the gender door I was trying to go through was closed to me. Still I persisted against all odds. The harder I pushed against the out door finally it seemed I could see just a little of what was beyond the door.  I guess you could say there was life outside of my gender closet.

The more I pushed, the harder the out door was to open. Looking back, I believe now the problem was I was still taking the whole process of transitioning into a feminine world too lightly. Even though I considered myself a student of watching the cis women in my life, my view was still clouded. I was so envious of their lives I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. The prime example is how I was so self centered on the appearance factor of being feminine, I missed the true layers of being a woman.

I then came to a point of no return. I was cross dressing as a man close to the amount of time I was spending as my authentic self. Most importantly I realized I was not challenging the out door enough and resolved to push through it and see if I could live my gender dream. I still remember the first night I resolved myself to seeing if I could blend in and present well in a venue I had frequented many times as my male self. 

To say I was terrified is an understatement. Literally, time stood still as I approached the door of the upscale restaurant/bar I chose for my personal coming out party. I am fond of writing an oxygen tank would have been my best accessory for the evening. Through it all, I was accepted and was able to find a seat at the crowded bar with several other women who were just getting off of work from their jobs at a nearby mall. Once I started to breathe normally I began to feel so normal. Once I had pushed the gender out door this far I felt I would never be able to return. 

I never did return. From that point on I set out to build a feminine life I thought  would never be possible. I made new friends who accepted me as my authentic self. My closest transgender friend even said I “passed” out of sheer will power. Which is the subject of another blog post. 

To make a long story short, I was able to shatter my gender out door and eventually start hormone replacement therapy. 

It was a long and difficult struggle. It took me over a half a century to get through the gender door but I made it.

Giving Thanks

For many in the United States Thanksgiving is a bittersweet holiday. Especially in the transgender community. I am an example.

Over the years my deceased wife hosted the family for a Thanksgiving feast. Our door was open also to my employees who may not have a family to celebrate with. To put it all in perspective, one big turkey was never enough. Through it all, after my parents passed away, my extended family was my brother, his two sons and the kids of theirs (and mine) who followed. We had a big house I was restoring so we had a large space to set up in and all were still welcome.

For the most part these were fond memories until I transitioned. By this time my wife had passed away and the dinner had moved to my brother’s house. Before I showed up as my authentic self for Thanksgiving, I called and talked to my brother. He said in essence he would always refer to me as my old self and he would get back with me concerning having an invitation at all. He never did and I never looked back. After all his in-laws were all right wing Southern Baptists. I guess he didn’t want to stand up for me.

As I said, I never looked back. I found myself firmly entrenched in my partner Liz’s family plus I was welcome in my accepting daughter’s extended family. 

I know so  many in the LGBTQ community aren’t so fortunate. Too  many are ostracized from their families and previous friends. Now it’s not uncommon to refer to other “non-blood” folks as new family.

Whatever it takes, I hope you all are able to take a moment and celebrate your blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for stopping by Cyrsti’s Condo! I truly appreciate it.