The High Maintenance Gender

 As I began my transition years ago into a full time feminine world, I learned the hard way what I suspected all along. Being a woman would prove to be infinitely more difficult than I thought it would be.

 Most certainly in my cross dressing days, I did learn the basics of looking like a woman but as my wife always told me, I really didn’t know anything about being a woman. In fact, one of our fights ended up in her telling me I would make a terrible woman. She later went on to explain to me her statement had nothing to do with how I looked.

What she didn’t take into consideration was all the years I had studied all women so intently. Including the time I worked in a predominately woman dominated business. So all I had to do was to step up my game even farther. 

I am fond of pointing out my first  major learning experience in my male to female gender transition came as I learned how women communicate between themselves often by using visual cues more than the straight forward ones used by men. I tied my experiences in with a couple I already knew. Women operate on a passive aggressive basis and are more apt to form cliques rather than teams men form. 

The more I was able to get out and try to live a feminine life, I found out my wife was right and I changed.  To make matters worse, she passed away before she ever had a chance to see my transition.

So, applying the makeup and picking the perfect outfit is gratifying all the way to being fun, it is all still icing on the cake.

Being able to reinvent yourself as your authentic self is so deeply satisfying. Proving once again living the layered life of a woman proves you belong in the sandbox of the high maintenance gender. 

International Women’s Day

 International Women’s Day was yesterday, so yes I am a little late in mentioning it. In many ways I feel justified being late in mentioning it because of how transgender women are largely ignored.  

Since women of all types have been hit so hard by the pandemic, I understand the urgency of any sort of a quality push for gender equality. 

As a woman of transgender experience, I feel added pressure to “fit in” in society. After all, we trans folks, woman or man, have to blend into on some occasions and have to be better on other occasions than our cis gender counterparts. Plus, it’s so much harder to obtain quality employment, housing and insurance which also needs addressed.

So, on this late “International Women’s Day” post, I’m having a difficult time getting enthused. Even though I have been welcomed to play in the cis women’s mailbox on occasion, perhaps it’s my impostor syndrome which is keeping me from feeling totally equal.

Then again, maybe someday the world will catch up to our world and transgender women will truly be able to be included in the Women’s Day observance. 

Thanks Tonya

Perhaps you recall the Cyrsti’s Condo post I wrote not long ago about the former server/acquaintance I employed years ago before I transitioned.

When I responded to her Facebook friend request, I was almost certain from there she would try to get ahold of me. Early last night, she did. 

Very early in the Facebook Messenger conversation, she was very complimentary as far as my appearance is concerned.  For whatever reason of course, any compliment I receive does wonders for my gender dysphoria. 

Not long into the conversation I asked her if the tavern we used to go to in our hometown was still open. She said she was going to ask me the same question. It turns out she moved from our medium sized city at approximately the same time which was seven years for her and close to that for me. She said the town had become toxic to her.

Even though I had not thought about it, the amount of toxic feedback I received (real or imagined) made it easier for me to move too. Along the way, due to me finally giving up the ruse of leaving my house as my true self , the word finally escaped of my desire to transition to a woman. I faced passive and forced aggression from people I knew. An example was the 4th of July party I went to with my deceased wife when the DJ who used to work for me just “happened” to play “Dude looks Like a Lady” when we arrived. Worse yet was when a long time acquaintance told me my reputation would ruin my business. 

So, Tonya was right, the toxicity got to me too.

My partner Liz even noticed it from our earliest days together when she said I had “sad eyes”.

Hell, my very own brother wouldn’t even back me up. I was fortunate though when my daughter,  her in-laws, and of course Liz and her family accepted me as a transgender woman. 

In conclusion, here is a picture of me you probably have seen from the toxic days.  Circa 2014.

Impostor Syndrome

If you feel “Impostor Syndrome” in addition to, or part of gender dysphoria this post from “Kira Moore’s Closet may help.

To me in my past, Imposter Syndrome has crossed gender lines many times in my life. For example, as I climbed the professional ladder in my business profession as a guy, even though I had nearly reached the top, feeling as if I did was still difficult.

Actually,  the term dates back to the early 1970’s when it was mentioned by two women :

One of its early introductions was in a 1978 article titled, “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention,” by psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes. “Impostor syndrome is a set of beliefs that leave you feeling doubtful of your skills, ability, and whether you deserve to be at the table, and that you will inevitably be exposed as a fraud,” says Dr. Ayanna Abrams, Psy.D., Licensed Clinical Psychologist and owner of Ascension Behavioral Health in Atlanta, GA.

 Outside of the clinical look at the process, the whole idea to me brings back memories of my “girls’ nights outs.” Outside of being scared to death, I kept having the deep seated fear of not belonging. Even though the conversations still involved me and didn’t really have any of the mystical gender fantasies I had manufactured in my mind and held onto over the years. In other words, if I could finally make it  into the “woman’s” gender sandbox, I could gain so much knowledge. Indirectly I did.

The article goes on to explain how the syndrome is extra difficult for marginalized communities such as the LGBTQ groups to overcome. And, how becoming part of a community can help. 

Agsain, using myself as an example, I think I was able to overcome my idea I was somehow an impostor in the cis woman sandbox because I started to understand many of the cis women respected me for making the transition into being a full time transgender woman.  Even though I still had my detractors in the group, I was overwhelmingly made to feel welcome. 

Once I finally came to the conclusion I could never fully play in the girls sandbox as a native, I had earned my way in as a woman of transgender experience. Once I arrived, I lost the impostor syndrome for good.

Munroe Bergdorf

Recently Transgender model Munroe Bergdorf (below)  has taken on the giants of social media. This excerpt comes from “Reuters”:

LONDON, Feb 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – With online abuse pushing her to quit Twitter, transgender model Munroe Bergdorf has called for social media companies to act faster to tackle racism and transphobia on their platforms.
The Black trans model, who said she regularly receives threats and waits hours for racist comments about her to be deleted, called on social media firms to invest in minorities to design algorithms to better protect themselves from abuse.

“If you can censor a nipple and a picture gets taken down with a nipple on it straight away … then why can’t you develop an algorithm that targets transphobic speech or racism?” the London-based model asked the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“If you’re only investing in cis white men, or cis white people, to write the algorithms then there’s a huge oversight there when it comes to lived experience and the nuance of hate speech,” she said, using a term to describe non-trans people.”

Best of luck!

More “Blind” Dates

Recently I wrote a post here in Cyrsti’s Condo which revolved around an idea I picked up from “Emma Holiday” about having a blind date with herself.  I added my own perspective to the post by writing on my early memories of secretly wanting to out my old male self to several of the cis women friends I had made. Fortunately, I was rebuffed in doing such a thing because the women couldn’t/didn’t want to see any male in me. After reading the post, Connie added her ideas:

” If I ever had a blind date with myself, it was because I was blind to the fact it might have been happening, at all. It had always been such a relief to me when I could express my femininity, which was natural to me, and to lose the masculine façade I spent so much of my time and energy to present. Not that my façade was anywhere near that of a macho man, in the first place, however.
I have always been athletic (slowing down in my old age, now), and I enjoyed being that way. That’s not necessarily a masculine trait, but it helped in covering up my femininity. I hated all of the “dirty jobs” that I purposely took on to appear manly, and slithering around in crawl spaces is helpful in forgetting about one’s gender (if only temporarily).

On the other hand, I was the envy of many of the wives in our circle, as I did a lot of the cooking and cleaning around the house and have always treated my wife like the lady she is. I was the only one who knew that I did all of this because of my hidden feminine-self, and that I was, in a way, living vicariously through my wife.

I had a cross dresser friend who would manipulate encounters with women by showing herself or himself (depending on the current presentation), either by showing pictures or showing up again soon thereafter in the other mode. She/he would always take much delight in doing so, and I was often embarrassed by this when we were out together. I only showed a pic of my worst male-look, complete with scraggly beard, one time. It was to a woman who had only ever known me as the woman I am, and she reacted with horror – not necessarily because it was a most unflattering picture of me, but because, as she told me, she had never thought of me as being anything but a woman. It certainly caused her to gasp, anyway. It also taught me that I don’t need to confirm my femininity by comparing myself to the dichotomous male façade that I once wore.

The only way I date myself is by making archaic references. Like, the Twist was a dance from the 60s, and not about my gender identity. :-)”

Thanks for the insight! In some ways I think wanting to show a picture of your male self is just a narcissist’s way of fishing for a compliment. Similar to you look good as a woman…for a man.
One of these days I will have to write a post concerning how I felt about going out as a transgender woman to be by myself.

Impostor Syndrome

 In somewhat of a continuation of the Cyrsti’s Condo post on “Terf’s”, here is another idea I have seen recently which effects transgender women during their lives. 

I have a young transgender woman acquaintance who has shaped herself into a very convincing woman. Even though she has transitioned well, she has what she describes as “impostor syndrome.” I think it is another description for gender dysphoria. 

She is quite outspoken about her life and the trials and tribulations of working while trans. For awhile, she was employed as a receptionist at a psychiatric clinic which primarily dealt with transgender patients. Along the way she left that job and decided to re-pursue her educational goals. Along the way too, she worked at a deli and was accepted by everyone except perhaps the worst Terf of all, a religious one. Daily, my friend was subjected to religious reasons she shouldn’t be living the life she was. 

Fortunately for her, she escaped the Terf and now is advancing quickly up the ladder of a restaurant chain. Since I worked in the same business for over three decades, I whole heartedly think her personality would be ideal for the job. 

I just hope her “imposter syndrome” doesn’t reoccur and get the best of her .  We all have to remember we are never gender frauds. Human beings rarely exist on the well worn gender binary. There are more than two genders. Sooner more than later, narrow minded bigots in society will have to work their way through it. Similar to the current waves of Republican bills in state legislatures around the country seeking to curtail  transgender representation in sports all the way to bills against youthful medical transgender transition. This time around, we have the groundwork in place to fight back.

Always remember…Instead of gender frauds, we are the true gender survivors.


Do you know what a “Terf” is, or what it means?

To put it simply, a Terf is a cis woman who dislikes transgender women  First of all, here’s how the name came to be. It is the abbreviation for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism. Essentially the idea it is impossible for a person assigned a specific gender at birth to transition and occupy the space of another gender. They take it as far as seeing it  as an invasion all over again from the patriarchy and essentially raping women again. 

In their neat conceptual world, men are the predators and women are the prey. To introduce any form of a transgender woman is an attack on feminism everywhere in addition to trans males being a threat to butch lesbians.

I would have to ask Paula for sure but I think Terf’s are more publicized in Great Britain where Paula is from. However, a few years ago I was confronted by gender rejection at a lesbian Valentine’s Dance Liz and I went to here in Cincinnati. You could definitely refer to the person who literally sought me out to harass me as a Terf. 

I was minding my own business waiting for Liz to rejoin me with a few appetizers when this lesbian approached and started to ask me about what my “real” name was. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had my name legally changed yet to produce my driver’s license.  By the time Liz returned, the bitch had disappeared again into the crowd. 

Being the glutton for punishment I was back in those days, I even tried to join Liz’s lesbian meet up group which put on the dance. Naturally I was rejected for being transgender and not a “real” woman. Shortly after that, Liz left the group, 

Since essentially, my feminine upbringing was helped along by cis women lesbians, I know all lesbians aren’t Terf’s. Plus, naively I have always felt the more the better when it comes to any form of human movements. In other words, I don’t understand why cis women Terf’s wouldn’t want transgender women involved in their search for equality in gender rights. After all, we have seen the gender world  from both sides and made our choice to leave our male privileges behind. 

In the meantime, I will forever remember the time I was gender slurred and attacked by a Terf. 

Passing Privilege

 I know many of you follow Stana’s Femulate Blog as I do. If you do, I am sure you saw the series of responses from readers to Stana’s question concerning the time or times they have “passed” as a cis woman even though they were transgender or a cross dresser. I read the experiences with great interest but decided not to add my own oft repeated occasion when I went to a transvestite mixer and was nearly turned away for being a “real” woman. 

Ironically then I read a lengthy and in-depth insight into passing written by Phaylen Fairchild on “Medium”. 

“Let’s call “Passing” what it really is: The desire to meet the standard of an external social gaze. The privilege of blending in with the rest of society as a “norm” rather than stand out as an “other.” I am not sure why no one has told these incredible people why standing out is far more powerful than falling into formation to satisfy the often unreasonable definitions of femininity and masculinity as if they have firm definitions… they don’t. I know many women with masculine traits, wide shoulders for example, arms with ample hair, some stand over six feet tall or are mistaken for a man on the telephone because their voice is not received as explicitly female. There are men with small waists, even proud busts that make small-breasted women jealous. Some have soft features or mannerisms that have been classified as traditionally feminine. That fact is, while masculinity and femininity are identifiable characteristics, they are not and never have been exclusive to men or women, transgender or not.”

She goes on to say: 

” The demand we place on ourselves to satisfy the external gaze becomes nearly excessive, thus, self destructive. What does the perfect woman look like? How does she sound? The ideal man?”

You can follow this link to read more but in the meantime, I think Phaylen’s next post should be based on “passing privileges'” which she seems to have from her picture above. 

I know in the all so brief fleeting moments when I have completely passed, I could only describe the time as wonderfully liberating. To the point in which I immediately wondered if it happened at all. 

Emma Said it Better

One of the writers I follow on “Medium” is Emma Holiday. 

From what I can gather, she is roughly the same age as I and has shared many of the similar transgender experiences.

Today I thought I would share her latest post “Who is Emma?”

It took time, a lifetime for me, to understand that she and he are truly just one person. The thoughts they shared were always a collective sharing of perceptions, ideas and beliefs. They are a brother and a sister to each other. They protect and consoled each other. Their endless internal conversations eventually provided the strength for Emma to finally emerge.
She is transgender. She combines a life time of male experiences with the soul of a woman. She has the remarkable opportunity to draw on her gender and her sex to see the world with a unique perspective and to share it with those who care.”

Plus there is more: Go here to read it.