Addiction?

Many years ago I struggled to think my cross dressing  urges were just a harmless way of expressing myself, even to the point of referring to it as a hobby (to myself). There was no way I was going to tell anyone else of my hobby without subjecting myself to ridicule, or worse. As the years went by I outgrew my idea of wearing women’s clothes as being any sort of a hobby. My love of sports and model railroading were hobbies. Attempting to develop my feminine self the best I could became an increasingly serious pursuit.

By that time in my life as I entered my college years, I began to wonder if my crossdressing urges were more of an addiction. The reason being was because when I took the time and effort to dress I would automatically feel better for several days. What I didn’t realize was I was feeling natural for a change when I was aligning my feminine side with my external appearance. 

Photo Courtesy: Cyrsti Hart

Along the way I received a clue from the first gender therapist I went to. She bluntly told me I would never totally lose my transvestite urges. (Remember that word?) To me it meant the path I was on had nothing to do with being addicted to wearing women’s clothes. The whole process provided me with one answer but in turn sent me on another path searching for answers. 

For what ever reason as the years flew by I couldn’t face the fact I was living a lie as I tried as hard as I could to be a macho man. The only addictions I was living through were the stresses my severe gender dysphoria was causing me  and the extreme amount of alcohol I was consuming to to outrun all my urges.

I was very fortunate in that all of my excesses which led to thoughts of self harm didn’t kill me. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to write about my life was in hope others could learn from it. Another way of saying I/you were there too and could make it out of the closet and into the world.

Finally after years of struggle I figured out the only addiction I had was holding on as long as I did to my white male privilege.  Once I let it all go it was similar to taking a heavy weight from my shoulders. Very few people were around to witness my gender transgender transition but the ones who did mentioned how much happier I was. 

I am fond of saying I was a crossdresser for a half a century before I could get it through my thick noggin what my problem was. At that point I started hormone replacement therapy and formed plans to live full time as my authentic feminine self. 

I guess you can say I am still addicted…to my estrogen patches. 

Male Privilege

Recently I have received several very good in depth comments from Logan, a transgender man from the Medium writing platform I use.  From our communication I began to wonder how it would be to undertake a gender transition from the other side of the human binary. In other words , what does a transgender man go through to compete and/or thrive in a male world. Of course as I write this post, I am using a few stereotypes and biases because I can only speculate on the process. 

Years ago I actually went on a dinner date with a trans man. It was the first time I had been on a date with someone as my authentic self  so the first thing I remember is being scared to death. After all, I was building a new person from scratch.  But we aren’t writing about me. Through it all, he was the perfect gentleman and we remain friends to this day.

Other transgender men I have met have come through my dealings over the years with Trans Ohio which true to its name tries to provide statewide services throughout Ohio for the transgender community. My first observation was how well they presented as men. If I had not known, there would have been no way I would ever guessed their true birth gender.  Secondly they all seemed to be so well adjusted, the opposite from many of the transgender women I meet. Probably a topic for another blog post.

Here is where my pure speculation sets in. I would think using the men’s room early on would be as traumatic as it is for a novice transgender woman. Even though the great majority of men try to distance themselves from any communication in the “room.” 

For younger trans men, I am sure the parental adjustment is just as brutal. It is a special breed of parent such as my former hairdresser Theresa who adjusts to, loves unconditionally and raises a trans son. A lot of effort is needed.

I think also relationships may be easier for trans men to form, at least I know several who are in relationships with cis women. My thought is (and it is only a thought) it is because women are more sexually relaxed than men. Meaning, a hybrid transgender male person can be more appealing than a cis man.

What we can’t forget, male privilege comes with the potential of toxic male behavior which I haven’t seen from the transgender men I have known. Perhaps it is because they were never taught it growing up.

The whole process is so interesting but still so confusing to me. Perhaps Logan or someone else could shed some light on the process a transgender man goes through to survive in a man’s world. 

Closets or Walls?

Source: Cyrsti Hart

 It was long ago it was when I first took the big steps and leaped into the feminine world as a full time transgender woman. To refer to it as only coming out of a closet was an over simplification.  It seems to me rather than coming out of a closet, I climbed enough walls to build a house. 

Of course, a closet is often small and dark and a house gives a person increased freedom to move around. When you are transgender, the house is never enough . The quest to being a woman is much more complex.

Examples? One of the biggest one I write about often is learning to look another cis woman in the eye and communicate. I learned quickly the subtle nuances of eye contact, vocal intonation and factors such as passive aggression. Lessons came fast and furious as I built the foundation to my authentic self. 

Even though as I built the foundation it felt natural, it was also terrifying. I was tearing down another house which contained the remnants of my male self. Over the years, I had worked so hard to cross dress and present as a macho male. I was successful. I gained a small family, a good job and all the trappings of a middle aged man. I was awarded the honorary title of “sir” whether I deserved it or not. I guess another example of impostor syndrome.

Now, lets get back to building a gender house. Obviously each wall involved quite a bit of work. Just moving from walking around and window shopping in malls evolved into interaction with clerks. From the shopping trips came having the courage to stop for lunch and attempt to order food and beverage. Looking back at the process now, it seems to have progressed fairly quickly. So quickly I decided for the first time to shed my inner image of being a cross dresser all the way to attempting to go to an upscale restaurant/ bar and interact as a woman. I will tell you jumping the wall was one of the most terrifying things I have done in my life. 

As I continued to build and expand my house, there always seemed to be the “what’s next” problem. I was hanging out at a couple lesbian bars about this time. One was extremely non inviting, the other the opposite. The only reason I can see now for building this room was a desperation to be accepted which I wasn’t in the male dominated gay venues where I lived. Very early on, I closed the drag queen room in my gender house. What’s next quickly became going to large cis gender venues to watch sports and drink beer.  With my career in similar venues, becoming accepted by the staff was fairly easy. Be nice and tip well was my way to getting my foot in the door. In one of my regular stops I was even invited and went on a girls night out with several of the servers. Even though I was scared to death, I ended up learning key lessons interacting with other women.

Finally I came to a point where my house was built as far as I could get it. I had provided myself a quality second existence which rivaled my cross dressing male life. The next major wall I had to escape involved the major step of starting HRT or hormone replacement therapy. The problem was my wife of twenty five years who I loved deeply was deeply against it. Her rational was she didn’t sign up to be with another woman. 

Then, in a prime example of life changing on a dime, I was destined to see the doors of my walls swing wide open and I could make the lifestyle moves I needed to do to fully transition and live in a feminine world. 

More on it later.

More Magic

Photo: Cyrsti Hart

Georgette wrote in and commented on my recent “Makeup Magic” post which delved into powerful memories of shopping for and trying to use my own makeup which I had saved up for from my meager allowance as well as my paper route money:

“I remember those days of going thru my mother’s dresser drawers, And wondering what some of it was for, My mother hardly ever used much makeup, I don’t know what they put in them but the red lipsticks didn’t easily wash off, I developed a habit of biting my lips to have an excuse of why they were reddish.

My first time buying something for myself was in the mid 60’s. My mother only wore stockings and so many of the other girls in my age were into some of the newer pattern pantyhose. That first store bought item of MINE. I had also gotten a plain pair of flats shoes. I was so happy and proud as they were mine and not borrowed from my mother. “

Thanks for the comment! As luck would have it, I was able to find a pair of women’s shoes which fit and I cherished them for as long as I could before sadly I outgrew them. 

I also distinctly remember having my own wig was the impossible dream and it would be years before I could do anything about it. In fact, there were several “impossible dreams” I conquered on my path along the gender divide which I will write about in another post.

Life on the Gender Fault Line

When I woke up this morning and headed to the bath room, of course I had to check myself out in the mirror to see if I was still alive. 

Even after all these years, the mirror experience can never be taken for granted. On certain mornings I see too much of my male self peaking through. Then on other days, I am pleased with seeing all my hair along with my breasts, soft skim and rounder face. All of which scream feminine. 

To make a long story short, I am living on a gender fault line. Another word for the gender dysphoria which has been part of me for as long as I can remember. 

I feel the tremors. Not as bad as when I was trying to live as both genders but still noticeable. I used to have the tremors so bad I could feel an explosion coming on if I didn’t cross dress into my authentic self  to relieve the pressure.

I would not wish my life on the gender fault line on anyone but then again the chance to experience both human binary genders has at times been electrifying yet terrifying.Β Β 

Changing Gender Gears

 Of course I am biased but I have always thought a human changing gender was one of the most difficult things to attempt. 

As far as I am concerned, as I began to become more serious about making the jump to a transgender feminine life, I began to practice feminine mannerisms when I thought others weren’t watching. I would go to big box stores during their down times just to practice my walk. 

Earliest known 
Picture
Circa 2012

Make up wasn’t such a problem for me as I had been applying it for literally decades before I seriously decided to transition. As I remember though, I had to remind myself to not overdo it. As I started to go out and live with women and be accepted, I had to learn to blend. 

Of course, all bets were off when I started hormone replacement therapy. Even though I started on a bare minimum dose, the changes began to be very unmistakable.  The obvious happened, I grew breasts and let my hair grow out. The surprise came when my skin softened and my face began subtle changes. All in all, I had planned a year before I had to put my male self in the closet. I ended up revising it to six months. 

As I look back to the whole experience, I was fortunate in that I found a small group of cis women to socialize with. I always say they taught me more about the feminine lifestyle than I could have ever learned on my own. But learn I did.

Putting my old guy self in the closet was one of the most satisfying things I have ever done. Overall though, changing gender gears was as terrifying as it was exciting. It was an experience I was born to do.
  

More Transgender Hype

 By now, I am sure you have heard the exciting news the cover model of this years “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue is transgender woman Leyna Bloom. 

When I first heard the news, I think it took awhile for the enormity of the cover to set in. 

Obviously, it is one thing to make it into the issue as a transgender woman at all but to make it on to the cover is wonderful. 

All of my thoughts turned to “back in the day” when I worked as a restaurant manager and had a “Sports Illustrated” subscription. all my cooks knew I was going to be receiving the swimsuit issue and were clamoring to see it ASAP. 

I can only imagine their reaction when they found out the cover model was transgender. 

Perhaps times have changed enough that it’s time for a Leyna Bloom to be accepted. 

Demons into Angels

 “Back in the day” when I was strongly considering making the big jump and starting to live as my authentic feminine transgender self, I considered the whole process as sliding down a slippery slope. One day, I would just go too far, make the leap and put my male self into the closet. The more I explored the world as a transgender woman, the more I wanted to. 

Looking back at the whole process now, I have a tendency to .look at it as an interaction between my personal angels and demons. I suppose it all goes back to when I was growing up and I considered my transgender leanings as being demons. 

Of course, finally all of the “demon” thoughts began to change. Rightfully so, my mean old male self became the demon to kept me out of the world for all those years. As my feminine self took over, she certainly wasn’t an angel. She partied hard and for the most part had a good time. Perhaps she was making up for lost time. 

Each of us are individuals trying to make our own journeys as pleasant as possible. 

The quicker you are able to turn your male demons into female angels the better your life will be. Each of us has to seek out our own path to do it.