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Exploration and growing into my transgender self

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Last week I had a disturbing experience at the therapist-led Transgender support group meeting I attend each month. It left me sad and disillusioned, and depressed. Today, five days later, I'm feeling better so that's good. I've thought about writing this in my blog but I've been very torn. I don't like to hear myself complain or whine and I don't know what the point of this post is anyway. Maybe we'll learn together.

Prior to the support group meeting things were looking brighter. My wife had told me that she wants us to stay together, and that while she still has lots of reservations about what I'm dealing with, she wants us to work it out. And on Wednesday evening we had a couples meeting with our therapist that was very productive.

Thursday evening was the TG support group. I'm gradually feeling a little more confident/adventurous so I wore my ballet flats as well as a new women's long sleeved shirt that I ordered from REI. It's pretty androgynous but with its sleeve details and boatneck it's definitely not male. One more little step for me.

As usual, the moderator/therapist (I'll call her Susan) called on the members around the room one by one to talk about what's going on for them. There were four transsexual women (at least on HRT and a couple have had their GCS surgery). The first one talked about some things going on for her at work. Evidently she's an executive at a local technology company. The second one talked about lectures she's been giving at Stanford and some papers she's writing or contributed to. The third one (I call her Pamela, more about her later) talked about having a retaining wall built at her house and travel plans she and her wife have coming up, and the fourth was tired and didn't talk much. Finally, Susan got to me.

I was surprised that no one seemed to have anything to say about being transgender or whatever. I figured, okay, I'm the new girl and not nearly as far along. So, I started by giving them an update on how things are going better for me, how I'm finally internalizing to myself that I am in fact transgender. I made a small joke that I'm probably the first person to question that about themselves.

Pamela, who is 72 and fully transitioned, often tends to set herself up as the know-it-all and this evening was no different in that regard. For some reason she started firing questions at me and making statements, like:

"The most important thing is how well you pass as a woman." I responded that I am not ready for that but that yes, eventually, I may want to, but I may end up being satisfied coming only "part of the way out" in public.

"If your gender is female then you need to decide what kind of female you are. And if you don't know you'd better do some serious introspection." I told her that in fact I have done one heck of a lot of introspection and that gradually I think I'm making progress.

"Or maybe you're just going to give up on this?" As if I might purge or otherwise decide I am not transgender. As if she cares or has a reason to care? I told her that no, at this stage in the game for me, it's clear that I cannot deny it.

About this time I asked her why she was hectoring me like she was, "pushing my back against the wall." She responded that I had asked her questions (which I had not) and that therefore she has the right to ask me questions too.

She went on for a while longer. I felt like I was on the witness stand and unless I kept answering and in a nice way I was going to lose. I almost started crying a couple of times.

Finally, Susan (the therapist) said I was doing fine and we kind of stopped. Since I was the last one, we then made plans for where we would meet for dinner. As I left the office I noticed that Susan's mouth and lips were kind of trembling. I wondered why but later on reflection I think she was also deeply affected.

The following morning I woke up very sad, despondent. I realized that the whole thing had affected me very deeply. I wrote this email to Susan:

Dear Susan,

You asked me at dinner how I was doing and I thought I was fine. This morning I'm sad. Pamela was mean and rude to me last night. Maybe it sounds silly but I came close to crying a couple of times; even now as I think about the interchange with her I am tearing up.

To me, "transgender support group" is a meeting where it's understood that we're all at different places in our journeys and its members are there for each other, to support, provide their thoughts and ideas, and overall, provide a safe place to be vulnerable and open among what might become a group of friends and compatriots.

Instead, Pamela took the opportunity to question everything about me, if I'm "woman enough", committed to being trans enough, present feminine enough, ... all cast in the "reasonable" light of "Well, you asked me questions so I can ask you too." I asked questions of the group, not of Pamela specifically, and certainly not of the insulting nature of her's.

I suppose she has her own issues and maybe that's one reason she attends the group. On the way to our cars Katie kindly patted me on the back for standing up to Pamela, saying she needs to be taken down a peg or two from time to time. Fine, but that's no excuse for Pamela's being a bully.

Our conceptions of what it means to be female are based on inner feelings, observations, and perhaps some wishful thinking. To me, part of being feminine means it's okay to be lighthearted and sweet, vulnerable and feeling, sensitive and caring.

So, I am saddened this morning as I consider what happened and what I should do next. Pamela gave me an insincere apology at dinner. I am glad she will not attend the meeting until August. I'm not sure but I doubt I will attend future meetings when she will be present.

Emma

Here is the email I received from Susan:

Emma,

I was upset re group interaction last nite as well. I could not sleep. I plan to talk to Pamela via phone later this afternoon or before she leaves for Paris. She was definitely confrontive. I am not sure what she was trying to do. I do understand your feelings and suspect the others felt the same way. I agree with your description of being feminine. Try to put it away. She is not important in your life.

Susan

So that's it. This confrontation brought up so much for me. Like arguments I had with my mother when I was preschool and could not express myself. Or when I was taunted and teased by neighborhood bullies in elementary school, whom I wanted to be friends with. The weekend sucked, as I kept replaying the whole thing.

I'm sure we'll discuss this at the next support group meeting when, thankfully, Pamela will not attend because she'll be travelling. Unfortunately that will be four weeks from now. I don't know what set her off. Not that there is a reasonable justification for her behavior. Maybe she's impatient with me. After all, she's transitioned, about 10-15 years ago, maybe she thinks I'm being whimpy. Or maybe she was pissed that I seem to be making slow progress, and that I'm not at all sure I will want or need to transition.

Like I said, I thought this meeting was supposed to be a safe place. Susan didn't interrupt Pamela and I don't know why. I suspect she was caught completely off guard. Maybe what seemed to take 10 minutes to me was only a couple and it took her a while to react? I forgive her nonetheless. And here again, I'll be asking about it when we meet again.

So what's the point(s) we should take from this? I guess that it's just real life in action. Crap happens. I'd like to say it doesn't matter. I feel like I'd be a better person if I did. Over time I'm sure I'll be okay.

Emma

For the very first time I went out to dinner dressed last week and spent a couple of days in skinny jeans, leggings, and my tunic tops. Also wore a couple of my skirt/top outfits. I also received a lot of lessons in makeup and wig care. I learned so much! And I just felt wonderful. 

True, I also learned that, frankly, makeup is hard to learn, and I prefer to wear as little of it as possible. And the wig is hot and not very comfortable. Thankfully my natural hair may be okay so I'm growing it out to see. I guess that will take 6-12 months to know. 

But I also learned that I really would love to transition. Not soon, as I want to explore some more, talk to others, and settle on a plan. I'm currently heading north through Washington and soon through British Columbia to Alaska. Not a good time to mix it up with electrolysis, hormones, and all. But I will have lots of hours behind the wheel and I've ordered some voice lesson DVDs and a CD. Who knows, in a couple of months I may be able to have a much more feminine voice. I sure hope so!

Emma

P.S. Eyebrow waxing hurts but it's over quickly. I'm told that I now need to find someone every 2-3 weeks to repeat it or risk losing the line that she gave me. I'm sure I can do that in Seattle but in the upper part of BC or Alaska? We'll see. :-)

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"You're too sensitive."

I've heard that so many times in my life. Worse, I believe it. 

I should not be hurt by rude people at work. I seem to be the only one who gets hurt. So no, I shouldn't be affected.

I should not like how I feel when I wear my dresses. After all, it's just cloth. A fabric of threads. And I'm not supposed to like them.

I should not be scared. Scared that people will discover how scared I am. Of being hurt. 

I should not even write this here. After all, I'm a mod; mods don't cry. 

"It's always all about you."

That hurts too. A lot. So if I didn't feel then it wouldn't hurt snd it would not have to be about me.

I should be happy, not sad. What have I got to be sad about? "I'll give you something to be sad about."

Shoulds suck. I should forget that word, delete it from my vocabulary. I like it when I feel my truegender. Inside and out. But it's just a feeling and I don't know if it's okay to feel. Is it? It doesn't seem like it. 

My cursor gently blinks as I ponder clicking the Submit button. Maybe this is what blogs can be for. Sometimes to pour out my heart. Show the world that I feel. I don't like it and I don't know what to do with it but there it is. 

What Is It...

By EmmaSweet,

About lying in bed, in my long white nightgown, reading, with my legs tucked under the skirt. It's like being at peace with the world, comfortable and cozy, and right. It just feels right.

And that's what they say transgender is. What feels right, what does it for you. It's terribly hard at times to really put ones finger on it and like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, as soon as you try, it moves, as if it can't be objectively pinned down.

Isn't it weird that something as simple as this could seem so right? I mean, why the big deal? Why does it mean anything at all? It's not erotic or a turn-on. Maybe I'm past that point. But maybe it's also a feeling of how it should have been so many years ago when I should have been a little girl.

But I'll never be a little girl nor a big adult girl either. Maybe I don't have to be so long as it's okay for me from time to time to snuggle in my white nightgown, reading a book, cozy.  Right now it feels very good, very right.

My wife recently asked me if I feel that I am female "inside."  If I am transgender, then doesn't that mean that I consider myself fundamentally female?  It turns out that those are questions I've asked myself and I am not confident I have the answers to.  After all, how can I ever know if you and I see the same color let alone if my thoughts and feelings are female?  

To try to answer these questions I try to look at the facts that I do know and then draw a conclusion:

  • I know that since preschool I've envied girls and women.  This has been a constant throughout my life, often considering what it would feel like (and wishing I could feel it) to be one. I thus feel it's certain that I have gender dysphoria.  
  • My childhood was shadowed by a clinically depressed mother and an absent father; their relationship was pretty emotionless.  I was an only child, and was often navigating rocky shoals at home, trying to please my mother or just remain out of her focus. Some have written that a single mother's attention might encourage some to "become transgender." Well I'll tell you, there are some parallels but we did not have much of a relationship at all let alone one that would encourage me to look at her as a role model.
  • Even in preschool I had shame about my envies of girls. In kindergarten when I played with the girls at their play-kitchenettes I was sure that this was shameful. My shame around my GD was a constant that developed into depression for me.  

Some ideas:
1. My shame/depression may have resulted from my mother's treatment of me expressing my gender dysphoria.  This might explain why I automatically felt shame even in preschool and kindergarten.
2. My shame/depression may have resulted from my mother's attitude, disposition, depression, and treatment of me (in general).  Why not? 
3. My gender dysphoria may thus have arisen from my childish observations that girls had it better. My home life was pretty awkward at best so it seems natural that I would wish I had it better. I sure liked some of my friend's mothers. It was like I instinctively knew what I was missing.

My gut tells me that the answer is #1, so that's what I'm going with. Okay, but am I female in my head?

In an email to my therapist a couple of months ago I told him that overall I always just wanted to be small and treasured. When I wrote it I felt a shiver like, "yeah!" He noticed it too, telling me that it was an important observation. Small and treasured does dovetail with what I imagine I'd be if I was a girl. I'm sure women outgrow most of it but I imagine it's always there, like a foundational right of being female.  

But I still lack an answer: am I female at heart? I struggle to know. I'm not that unhappy with my life as a sensitive, thoughtful, and fun male.  It's just that something feels missing.  In Dara Hoffman-Fox's book "You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery" she writes that these kinds of self-doubts are very common. It's as if we have an internal Protector who is fed off those "am I crazy?" doubts that creep into our consciousness and are so hard to silent.  We need to acknowledge and thank our Protector for her attention but consider her advise carefully as it is often presented in ways that prevent us from moving forward.  

Yesterday I wrote another email to my therapist.  (Thank goodness he supports this.  It's so important for me to have these touchstones with him in between our meetings.)

  • As a child did I want to be small and treasured, and not receiving it, envied girls and thus wanted to feel like one?

        - or - 

  • Did I want to be a girl, and thus be small and treasured? 

I think it's the latter but it's hard to be sure and seemingly impossible to know. What I do see is that 'small and treasured' is a common denominator for me to this day. If that supports me as being female inside then so be it.  In the meantime I'm satisfied in the knowledge that I have gender dysphoria, that's it's perfectly okay and normal, and that I'm making my own progress in my own time.  

Emma

P.S. I just looked at my profile and see that I joined TGGuide on 10/27/14.  It's less than a week from my 2-Year Anniversary!  Maybe I should use Birthday instead? It feels like it.  I've grown so much over that period with so much support and guidance from our members here.  As the Grateful Dead sung, "What a long strange trip it's been."

Thank you all.

I’ve felt like crying many times in the last few decades but have never been able to really let it go. Yesterday was different. Fair warning: I don’t mean for this to be a “pity party” at all and I hope it doesn't come off that way. <big sigh>

As my wife and I walked to our neighborhood coffee shop yesterday morning I mentioned something that had been bothering me since the previous evening. Our therapist has encouraged me to communicate this stuff so I was following orders. Now, my wife has also been going through some of her own emotionally trying times. She stopped walking, we faced each other and she said, “I’m going to say something that may sound very hurtful right now. I really wish you’d stop thinking of yourself all the time.” Indeed, she was right, I was hurt pretty deeply.

Telling someone that they’re overly sensitive, only care about themselves, and all that, is about the meanest thing you can say to someone. Sure, it “puts them in their place” but more than anything it’s like slamming a door in their face. Afterward, the recipient can only wonder “Am I now again being so self-centered?” And since they face the risk of hearing those words again, they shut down, which only builds resentments and yes, sensitivity to minor slights. I thought about all that as we had our coffees.

I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t going to bring it up more at the café. And I didn’t want to talk about it on the way home, either. When we entered our house I said that I had something to say and we sat on the couch facing each other.

I told her that I have heard that line so many times in my life and I don’t think it’s accurate to say I am so self-centered. It’s such a hurtful thing to say especially to someone like me who is so careful to “learn all the rules” that people around me want to live by. I try to be “good” by internalizing and following them. And now the message I’ve received from her is that I should just shut down. At that point I was so sad. I told her that I wished I was dead. I meant it.

I don’t mean to be dramatic here but it’s true. Shouldering my trans feelings and shame since I was so young, trying to fit in, and always so careful to not be discovered for not really belonging with the boys, girls, men, or women. It sucks.

She gave me a big hug, told me how much she loves me, and told me how upset and angry she’d be if I did myself in. I think I told her that it was unlikely I'd follow through but I do often think that life is like a life term in prison, just waiting for the end.

She then suggested we go lie down on the bed. When we got in there I told her how sorry I am that I’m “this way.” That I am definitely not trying to manipulate her into something she doesn’t want.

About then I mumbled that I just don’t want to be rejected. And I started to cry. Sobbing, with those jerking shoulders, tears, and all. I think I carried on for four or five minutes. She kept assuring me that it was okay, that I should let it out.

When I was done I didn’t really feel like it was all let out. In fact, she asked me how I felt and I said it felt uncontrollable, like throwing up. You know, running to the bathroom and then convulsing uncontrollably. She agreed that that's what it's like for her, too.

So, that’s it. After waiting more than a half century, I finally got some real tears shed. I think it was helpful but I can tell there are more in there. It’s good to know that I have the capacity to do it. I suppose it’s also good for my wife to know how deeply I feel. I’m very lucky and grateful to be married to her.

Emma

Below is an email I sent to my therapist this morning in preparation for our couples meeting with my wife tomorrow evening. Names have been redacted or changed to protect the innocent.

I imagine and hope we will have a great meeting tomorrow. Our therapist is remarkable how he helps us learn how to communicate better and, together, my wife and I are working through the scary assumptions and worries about what it means for me to realize I am transgender. As of this post it's been about seven months since coming out to my wife. It's been tough sledding especially early on but maybe we've progressed to a point where both of us will get our needs met and we'll remain happily together. I sure hope so.

Hi Andrew,

I have gender dysphoria. It's been hard for me to admit and accept but really, there's no denying it. There is no “cure,” no “fix.” Last night I read the WPATH Standards of Care (SoC). Didn't really learn much except that it's good to see, in one place, a comprehensive and professional look at what it is and recommendations on treatments for both MtF and FtM people. The dysphoria may be mitigated via a range of treatments/strategies such as:

• Therapy

• Occasional dressing, either in public or private

• Living part- or full-time as the other gender

• “Transition”

o Hormones

o Surgery

Let’s start from the transition end of the spectrum. In my heart I know I wish I had been born and raised female. And maybe if I was in my teens or twenties now I would avail myself of the increased public acceptance of transgender people, perhaps living more openly and even considering transition. But at this stage of my life it doesn’t feel right – if it ever would have.

Now, even with full hormones, surgeries (there would be several, for sure), and complete “passing” as a woman, I would still at heart be me. I can imagine myself on this treadmill of trying to achieve one more step toward being female but never achieving the unknowable, while also likely losing the one person who is most important to me in my life, Marie.

Marie and I have been very close these last few days. Although we haven’t broached the “transgender subjects” at all my sense is that we’re coming to some level of acceptance. A couple of days ago she suggested that perhaps this Sunday I could return to living/sleeping in the master bedroom with her. I imagine that will be a topic for our couples meeting with you tomorrow evening.

She and I have also talked about what we might do as early as a year from now, when the lease on her shop expires. Perhaps then we will pack up our house, rent it out, and move to Europe for a year or more. This has been a dream of ours for years. Thus, my returning to the master bedroom is a microcosm for our working out how we will live together as we move forward, traveling or even just at home when both of us are together all the time under the same roof.

As I said at the start of this I do have gender concerns and I need to deal with them on some level (which is sill being determined). I think we need to bring this out in the open with Marie. I think a place to begin is with the term “crossdressing.” On previous occasions she has expressed her dismay and disapproval. And there’s no doubt in my mind that I would appear pretty odd to her when dressed in anything feminine.

But given my gender dysphoria, why is it appropriate to label my dressing, either in bed, under my clothing, or even at some level of completeness (e.g., a dress with stockings, shoes, etc.), “crossdressing” at all? Am I not being (more) true to myself and that that is valid in its own right? For example, these days I am always wearing a nightgown and panties to sleep in. It feels good, right, comfortable. It eases my dysphoria, makes me feel better. It’s not erotic at all.

I imagine all this will take some getting used to for both of us. But I think it’s an important bridge to cross for both Marie and me. But it's definitely a scary one. Hard for me to put myself out there in this way. I'm afraid of vulnerability, of being re-shunned, of Marie's being hurt, of being presented with still more unanswerable questions.

Emma

Photo: We were on a boat in South Africa, on a river in a place called Viljoensdrift. Just a pastoral setting, having a glass of local wine, watching the river bank drift by. Heavenly.

This is a real first for me, taking my photo and posting it here or anywhere! :wub: I'm really enjoying this new dress that I just received last week. Sitting here typing up this blog entry just feels right, you know? The whole thing feels so right, I just want to get up, go out to my car, and walk around downtown. Maybe have a coffee and a croissant.  Or a lady finger.  Hahaha! 

The slope is a little slippery right now.  I keep finding myself shopping (on line) for more, admiring styles, looks, and almost ordering. I hold myself back since, after all, I must soon remove all this and prepare for my lovely wife's return from her day. 

Which is bittersweet, isn't it? That I have to remove my dress at all, that I cannot just be myself - whatever that is. Seems like there oughta be a law, don't it? I am very grateful that I can even do this. So many cannot, because of their inhibitions, personal situations, and yes, finances.  Deep down I am a very grateful girl.  

I hope you like my photo and I hope, like me, you're getting ready for a wonderful 2016.  

Hugs,

Emma

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Happy Holidays

By EmmaSweet,

Dear friends,

I'm blessed to be a part of our community here - I think of you often. I wish you, your families, and your friends, all a wonderful holiday season.  Let's all pray for peace on earth and good will to all.

Love,

Emma

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>100 Miles!

By EmmaSweet,

I've been wrestling with myself about posting this today. I don't think I'm one to blow my own horn (much) but yesterday I accomplished something I've been working toward for the last few weeks.  I rode my bicycle over 100 miles, from Redwood City to Cupertino, back and forth, and finally returning home almost 8 hours later.  Total riding time was just over 7 hours and the difference is due to stop lights and a couple of times when I stopped to open up my little pouch to munch on a piece of Clif Bar.  

The last two Saturdays I've tried to reach 100, but each time just could not go farther than about 75 miles.  It was like I hit a wall and if I went further I was afraid I might just pass out.  I do carry four bottles of water (mixed with electrolytes) and a couple of Shot Blok packages, but I got nauseous and had to head home.  Yesterday as I passed 75 miles I was definitely moving slower. I started arguing with myself: go ahead and head home, at least I'd be more than 90 miles this time! But it finally came to me, to achieve more than 90% and then give up for the last 10%?  No way. And, truth be told, I don't want to do this every weekend.  Too many hours.  I have other things to do too, and now, next weekend, I can take a "short 50 mile" ride and feel okay about it!

Why do I write about it here?  I don't often consider myself as having much grit and determination. I am intimidated all the time by stuff that others just don't understand. Stupid things like trying to diagnose why my wife's computer is no longer receiving emails into her business account.  Now, I know how to do this sort of thing.  But I feel an anxiousness when I don't know how it will end up and can't control the outcome.  

So maybe that's where I'm coming from. I certainly didn't know how it would all play out when I told my wife I am transgender two years ago.  At first she was devastated, assuming that our marriage was over, that the one she loved so much had betrayed her trust, and that I was destined to transition. God, that was scary and emotionally wrenching.  It took a lot of work in and out of therapy, more confessions from me, and finally starting to take an SSRI that seems to be really working, for once.  

All my life I've had emotional issues, and have spent countless hours with a variety of therapists for the last 35 years. I kept expecting that he/she/me would discover the "one thing" that was going on for me, we'd address it, and... problem solved! It sure didn't turn out that way. Part of my problem was that I was unable to disclose my transgender feelings to them or myself. But even when I started to do so with my present therapist, three years ago, the improvement in my well-being has been so subtle and gradual, at times unnoticeable.  But as I contemplate how things are going these days it's undeniable that I have made progress.  

I don't know what "done" is, nor do I expect it.  I still have my anxieties.  I did yesterday morning as I considered getting up and, once again, trying to make it to 100 miles.  But I did it! You can too.

Love and hugs,

Emma

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Last night I met a male friend for dinner whom I've known since first grade - quite a long while. I'd told him via email that I'm trans a couple of months ago and he was supportive, so he wasn't particularly surprised when I appeared in skinny jeans, athletic pumps, and with studs in my earlobes. He's a successful corporate attorney and is friendly, very articulate, and handsome with designer glasses, died hair, and clothing that while very casual were color- and style-perfect for the occasion. But as an attorney, and a man, he consistently talked over me, peppering me with questions and thoughts while I tried to hold up my side of the conversation. Things like:

"You're not going undergo genital mutilation, are you?" I was able to tell him that for me that's a bit over the horizon but also possible. I wasn't able to educate him on the fact that this surgery is in no way any kind of 'mutilation' with what that implies. I will be sending an email to him on that subject.

"You're not interested in men?" I tried to tell him that sexuality and gender are orthogonal and unrelated but here again all I could tell him is that I'm only interested in women; I'm a lesbian.

None of his comments or body language were delivered in any kind of negative way or overtone. He's told his parents who said that they wish me the best too, and his father (whom I haven't seen in over 40 years) said that he thought I'd make an attractive woman. I was just kind of taken aback at his assumptions and ignorance. As I said I'll send a follow up email to clear this up but imagine how hard it is to effectively us to people whom we've never met?

I want to know what my label is which I suppose can be interpreted to knowing my own identity. Perhaps that sounds strange to some. After all, I don't think anyone wants to be labeled by others. We (or at least, me) want to know what we are ourselves. What does it matter? I think it's so that as we progress through the day, interact with others, we know who we are in the world. And yes, I'm talking here about gender. For many, it's binary: male or female. We've all heard it before so why write about it here? Well heck, it's my blog! And maybe this will help me and others sort it out a little. You be the judge.

I think I remember the first time I read about "transvestites." I was in elementary school and thought maybe that's what I am. But I didn't like the label with its "tites" at the end. It sounds like some sort of disease to me. Sure, it's only a word, but I didn't like it even though it seemed to fit.

Then came "crossdresser." Good, it lost the "tite." But there was something I didn't like about it, I'm not sure what. Well, I guess I know. It's not that I only like to dress in feminine clothing. I also imagine myself to be and feel like the girl or woman. So, crossdresser is too limiting.

When I registered on TGGuide.com the other day I was asked to label myself. Let's look at those:

Not Telling

Okay, that one's obvious. I didn't want to select it since I would like to know too.

Transgender

This is the one I selected. But I'm not perfectly happy with it because it seems that common usage also includes transsexual within its scope and as far as I can tell (or admit?) I'm not transsexual. (Now there's another idea for a blog posting.)

Male, Female

These are obvious of course.

Androgynous

According to Google androgynous is partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex. I don't think I fit this, which I think is a bit unfortunate. And, it's an adjective, not a noun, so is it even a label?

Intersex

In some ways I wish this were me. At least, then, I could point to my body parts and say "what the hell, it's how I was born!"

Other

Huh? I guess this is like undecided. It's cool for me if it's cool for you but not very descriptive, is it?

But this thought experiment enabled me to identify one of the things that's bothering me: objective vs. subjective. It seems to me that Male, Female, Intersex, and Transsexual are very objective. You are what you are, take it or leave it. Unless one falls into one of those buckets the label is subjective?

I seem to always be left with questions and here I am again. Perhaps the moral of this story is that I need to accept that there may very well be more colors in the rainbow than there are names. Diversity, yeah!

Best,

Emma

Photo: I took this photo of a meerkat in South Africa a couple of years ago. I like it that he stands up so forthright, keeping an eye out for his fellows. Consider all the names and labels he has: meerkat, mongoose, suricata suricatta, mammal, carnivore.

My wife’s been out house-sitting for a couple of weeks, and will do so for another two weeks, so that’s provided me some space to explore myself. Most mornings I walk a couple of blocks to our local coffee shop before breakfast, buy a large cup, and return home to catch up on emails while enjoying the coffee. Now, though, I can add something feminine to my clothing which I like to do.

But I must not present anything girly on the outside. I know many of the people I run into and as we know, males simply do not even show a hint of lace, feminine color, or fabric not typically found in masculine clothing. I can consider, therefore, only wearing feminine clothing underneath my shirt and jeans. But it doesn’t end there.

I must not wear a bra. Even the slightest padding under a shirt and sweatshirt may very well show something unusual and remarkable that I’d have to answer for. And we know how bra straps show through outer clothing by tugging in around the back and sides.

I could just wear a pair of panties, sure. But darn it, it’s not enough! Even though no one will know I will know and I want to express myself even in a hidden yet sort of public way.

It’s getting chillier here these days, about 40-45 degrees in the morning, so it’s natural and comfortable to wear a sweatshirt or jacket over my T-shirt. And it’s cold enough for me to wear something under my jeans. I thus don a long-sleeved leotard and tights, and then everything goes on top. And yes, I wear socks as well since I can’t risk my pants leg riding up and showing (horrors!) what is obviously feminine fabric.

It feels good to do this. When I run into people I can’t help but imagine that they see something odd about me but they really do not. I’m warm and safe and I know that deep inside I’m expressing a part of myself that I always want to. It’s not erotic in the least. Just feels like I’m being hugged all over. And as I walk and encounter people I know that deep down I am me.

This posting was hard for me to write because I worry that some here will think it’s silly to wear dance clothing underneath. I guess so but I can tell you that back in the 60s and 70s I envied girls who wore leotards as tops. I guess that fell out of style but not for me.

Isn’t it kind of interesting that even wearing something as simple as this under so many layers can make one feel so good?

Sincerely,

Emma

Photo: I took this some months back on my iPhone. A pretty sunset in Cayucos, California.

I attended my first therapist-led support group last night. In short, it was a very good experience for me and I'm grateful to have found it and their warm welcomes.

There were six of us in all, including the therapist and myself. Three are transitioned transwomen and the fourth is taking hormones, thinks she would like to transition but isn't sure. Three are married and one's wife passed away some years ago. All are well known to each other; some have attended this meeting for more than a decade!

We went around the room introducing ourselves with me allowed to wait until last. They described their journeys, home situation, children/family, and a summary of their transition - especially as it related to acceptance and feedback they received at work.

I appreciated their openness and heartfelt support and although all are either transexual or in transition no one challenged my telling them that I may be remain at the crossdresser end of the transgender umbrella.

My main take-aways:

  • If one wishes to remain happy and married to their significant other we need to recognize that they are going through their own unasked-for transition. Be sensitive to that, don't push or pressure, communicate and allow her to come to terms with the "new you." It's all too easy to be self-centered especially as we're experiencing and enjoying our new freedoms. Try to keep that in check or at least be sensitive to your wife's needs.
  • The therapist provided her metaphor for the transgender journey: a train chugging along the track, unaware of its final destination or distance to travel. We may get off at early or intermediate stations and stay there or get back on the train and continue.
  • I expressed some of my reluctance and ambivalence to ride the train and was advised that I need to swim with the fish to uncover where I'm meant to reside under the umbrella. (Sorry for the incredibly mixed metaphor!)

After the meeting we went to a local restaurant that they always go to - which happens to be one that my wife and I have also gone to often enough in the past that, you got it, the manager recognized me with the group. Full smile as always, warm greeting, and as a bonus, a little extra pour of the cabernet.

This morning it occurs to me that the only regret I have for the meeting is that I'm joining a group and making friends that will likely never include my wife. Still, it was good times and I'm looking forward to the next meeting in early February.

I met privately for an hour yesterday with a therapist who has forty years experience working with gender dysphoric clients; she runs the monthly TG Support group I've been attending. She was wonderful, knowledgeable, and so resourceful. I feel very fortunate for being able to meet with her and felt others here might appreciate my sharing some of the details (that I can recall!) of our meeting.

I broke up the points into three sections to make it a little more readable. There is no particular order within each section.

General Information

  • There is a biological based theory of gender dysphoria that has had some confirmation with animal testing. It goes like this: there are pulses of hormones in the womb that occur in the second trimester (after sexual organs are defined in the first half of pregnancy) whose timing, intensities and/or durations create the fetus's gender identity in its brain. If those signals are distorted for whatever reason gender dysphoria may result. At this time there is no way to measure these pulses or otherwise test the theory on humans.

She felt that this theory seems especially applicable to me, as my mother had many psychological issues of her own (in and out of mental hospitals, major psychiatric medications), eventually ending her life by suicide. Additionally, that I adopted her shame as my own through association.

Thus my theory that I developed my gender issue because of envy of girls may be more of a result of a biologically-induced gender issue than its cause. And, inasmuch as it's biologically programmed, there's no "undoing" it; it's an integral part of who I am.

  • It’s quite common for men to feel intense shame about these feelings and find themselves unable to ignore them in mid-life as they more fully grasp that their life is unsettled and/or incomplete and they have limited time to address/explore their gender issues.

  • She doesn’t like to use labels and says that the terms “transgender” and “transsexual” may be going out of favor due the baggage that anything “trans” may carry. She prefers to use “gender concern.”

  • Some men find that while they don’t need to or cannot live dressed as a female (at home, work, or both) that they must wear some female clothing underneath their male clothing or otherwise not be able to remain focused on their work. Examples include: panties, bra, stockings, camisole, etc. Or, they may dress at night and then drive around in their car.

  • Men with a gender issue often experience intense erotic feelings with feminine clothing when younger (teenage) that with time tends to decrease.

  • She had told me previously that contrary to earlier belief that the number of cisgender males and cisgender females having gender issues is heavily weighted toward males, she strongly believes that the ratio of males/females who have gender issues is identical. That said, she acknowledged that women (at least in the US) have much greater latitude of socially acceptable dressing and thus may be able to contend with their masculine desires (such as wearing masculine clothing) without attracting undo attention.

  • I pointed out that a source of uncertainty and frustration for me was that it seems that one's “transgender diagnosis” and location under the umbrella is largely self-determined and that all a therapist like her can do is mentor, consult, provide guidance and so forth. She agreed completely; she cannot tell anyone exactly what’s going on for them nor can she predict the future of where they will end up.

Given all of the above I think the intensity of my feelings, need to be accepted for who I am, and emotional reactions to feeling rejected (real or imagined) are very understandable.

Specific to Me

  • My struggle with verbally explaining or describing my inner feelings is very understandable; she didn’t have suggestions of other words I might use. (I had thought she might have words that she’d heard from other clients.) She confirmed that my description of being more “emotional” and “sensitive” than a more typical male made sense to her.

  • I described that when I dress in the clothing that I have (e.g., a dress, nightgown, leotard, tights, panties, bra) that it “just feels good” (like when my skirt brushes across my legs when walking) and that I simply go about my otherwise normal existence at home, working at my desk, dealing with our pets, etc. She said this is entirely consistent with her experience.

  • I told her that although the outcome of make-up is appealing the thought of applying it, going through all that, is not. She said let’s face it, most women don’t particularly like doing it either, and women have varying styles. For example, she had a transwoman visit from Las Vegas, wearing alluring clothing and high heels that were appropriate for there but quite unusual for Palo Alto. Likewise, a transwoman from Idaho came wearing a plaid shirt, jeans, and work boots – “right off the farm.” Appropriate for Idaho but equally unusual for Palo Alto!

  • I told her that I don’t have dysphoria with my body; I’ve never felt compelled to chop off my penis for example. Here again, she said that physical dysphoria is also largely a myth; surgery is more for alignment with one’s inherent gender than with revulsion of ones cisgender sexual characteristics.

  • I had printed out the “Sex Orientation Scale” that Karen posted on her blog and highlighted the characteristics that feel most in alignment with me. She immediately recognized the chart from Harry Benjamin’s book “The Transsexual Phenomenon” and showed it to me. All of my highlights are in the in Group 1 “Transvestite” and mostly in the Type I and Type II columns.

BTW: she feels that many of Benjamin’s observations and so forth are still valid today, except for the language and terminology.

  • Prior to my current therapist I’d partially come out to two others whom I told that I occasionally crossdressed. They both told me that in and of itself it’s no big deal (sorry, that phrase again). This therapist agreed 100%. And in fact, here’s what’s kind of weird: when I dress at home, like just wearing a dress and underwear, it feels “right,” “good,” but not much more than that. I like it. But when I return (as I must) to Levi’s and a T-shirt, that’s no big deal either.

Here again, she said that this is what it is: all very common. It feels good to be dressed at least occasionally (and however partially) as a woman for people like me. Hard (impossible?) to explain: it just does. And to reuse a very tired phrase, if it is what it is, and it seems to be, it really it is what it is. It’s perfectly okay. I’m okay, you’re okay. How about that.

Regarding My Wife/Marriage

  • I need to recognize and appreciate that my wife has only become more fully aware of this in the past 2-3 months and that is a very short time; I need to be patient and allow her to come to terms with her own and very valid fears and anxieties.

  • Contrary to an assumption my wife had, I don’t pose/prance in front of the mirror when dressed, admiring myself. In fact, I prefer not to see myself at all although it’s not particularly bothersome if I do. Again, quite a common experience.

  • With my engineer’s mentality I tend to perform thorough analysis, prepare reports, and anticipate that the recipients will appreciate my being so forthcoming and transparent. But as I saw with my wife when I enthusiastically gave her a report a couple of months ago, this was simply too much information too fast. Again, a common enough occurrence.

Conclusions: Wow.

P.S. For those interested, the therapist’s name is: Judy Van Maasdam, and she can be reached at: jvanmaasdam@gmail.com. Her office is in Palo Alto, California. She gave me permission to publish her name and suggested that those interested email her; you/she can follow up later via the phone as needed.

Onward!

By EmmaSweet,

It's a wonderful day, today. My wife is away this morning on business and while I miss her I have the opportunity to be myself for a couple of hours. After my shower I dressed with some feminine underthings (well concealed by layers of more masculine apparel) and headed out to our regular Sunday haunts, the coffee shop in Palo Alto, Trader Joe's, and the farmer's market, where I picked up long-stemmed tulips, a couple of heads of lettuce, some fresh asparagus, and cauliflower.

Now, I'm at my computer, having changed into my dress, and listening to a Karla Bonoff "best of" album. Life feels pretty good at the moment. Later today I'll head back out to buy some fish for tonight's dinner, and after, we'll dive back into a couple of episodes of House of Cards and a rather large bowl of popcorn.

This week will definitely be interesting. On Wednesday evening we have a couple's meeting with my therapist. Thinking about it now I'm a bit apprehensive but I think it will be okay. Thursday afternoon I have a 1:1 meeting with the same therapist. He asked me to bring my small collection of female clothing, which I plan to do. We didn't talk about what the goal is but I assume that by doing that I'll further see through experience that I am really okay.

On Thursday evening I will attend the monthly TG support group. Last week I bought some black ballet flats on Amazon which actually fit! (I did a fair amount of research into foot measurements, and took an educated guess of my size which turned out to be 11M. Here's a funny aside: I measured my left foot's length and width to determine the size; I learned later when I received the shoes that my right foot is slightly larger. :rolleyes: It still fits okay but I'm trying to stretch it a little with a shoe tree.) For the meeting I plan on wearing some black tights under my jeans and then change into my ballet flats nearby, for the meeting and dinner afterward. They say we should take baby steps and I know by many measures these are indeed small steps. It's great to have something to look forward to.

Have a nice week!

Emma

* Illustration from Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Life is Good

By EmmaSweet,

My friend has a cap with the words "Life is Good" on it. I often wonder if he realizes how much it affects me. I'm feeling that way these days. I am increasingly realizing how unbelievably oppressive it was (and is) to live with such strong feelings and hurts about wishing one is the opposite gender from their birth sex. And, how we can be conditioned to work so hard to suppress it to get along. But that "getting along" for me meant waiting for it to be over. Which seemed like such a waste.  

So today I'm posting a photo of my new pink dress.  Even when shopping for it (yes, on Amazon) I hesitated ordering such a bright and pretty color. Conditioning strongly at work that tells me that certain shades of blue, green, maybe a brown would be okay.  But not girly pink!  But I'll tell you, I LOVE it.  I really do. And it's a nice soft cotton, which is perfect as the temperature is getting a little warmer. 

I did attend TDoV on Thursday.  Call me old but honestly, it didn't do much for me.  Kind of reminded me of street fairs I attended a few decades ago on the Castro.  But then again, all happy people having a good time.  What I enjoyed the most was talking to several people as we ate finger food and had a glass of wine before the main event.  It was fun to meet more transgender people who are all happy and well adjusted. Funny story: I met another Emma!  But she was probably 20-30 years younger than me and had never even heard of Emma Peel, which cracked me and another couple (my age) up. What fond memories I have of watching all of Emma's moves in The Avengers so long ago.  She was my dream.

I'd also like to say goodbye to Patty Duke. I know that wasn't her real name but that was who she was to me.  When I was young my parents used to drop me off for an outdoor movie night at Lake Berryessa. I remember watching her in at least one movie and, as with Emma Peel, watching Patty so intently while trying to slowly chew my Milk Duds.  And of course I also loved the Patty Duke Show...

So yeah. Life is Good.  

Love you all,

Emma

pink dress.JPG

In my past career when we said that we were “falling on my sword” we meant that – typically in front of a customer – we were admitting that our company or product was at fault. We were being transparent, vulnerable, admitting we were in the wrong and hopefully the customer would thus react with less drama and instead collaborate on working around or developing a solution to the problem. This blog post feels like that to me, thus its title.

Of late I’ve been reading “Crossdressing With Dignity: The Case for Transcending Gender Lines” by Dr. Peggy Rudd, who previously wrote “My Husband Wears My Clothes.” She is a psychologist who happens to have a transgender husband, and because of this developed a personal and professional understanding of what it means to be transgender for the individual and for the family. The basis for the book is that crossdresser/transgender people are not wrong or bad although society may cast them in this light. Perhaps worse, these transwomen tend to be their own worst critic because of internalized shame, guilt, and fear. Carrying that load is sensed by others around us and often reflected back, confirming those cruel assumptions and beliefs.

I’ve sensed this off and on throughout my life. I know that I am too dependent on external feedback and opinions. Who cares what they think! I’m my own person, right? And I can stand on my own feet. Oh yeah, sure. At times like this I find that easy to say and darned hard to believe.

Below are some quotes from the book and some corresponding thoughts. Perhaps through this I (and you?) will make some progress.

  • “In our society men are taught from an early age that they must never be like girls. Because of the awareness or knowledge, you may fail to accept crossdressing as a part of your personality. There is that subconscious rule that says you are doing something wrong.” – Roger Peo, PhD.

I think I was happiest before around age 4 or 5 before I realized that part of the way I was, how I liked to play, was sissy and wrong. I was often reminded of this by neighborhood boys whom I desperately wanted to be friends with but who seemed to delight in tearing me apart with their ridicule.

  • “The search for normalcy is a very strong motivator. Each person wants to find love, and sometimes they are willing to absorb guilt rather than lose love.”

I’ve always longed for normalcy, wondered why I wasn’t, and am often hyperaware of how I believe others think of me. And indeed, closeting my shame and feelings from my wife, friends, and associates to protect what feels like such tenuous love and caring.

  • “The guilt related to the erotic nature of crossdressing is a major concern for many.”

Guilt and shame, not only from within and from my wife, but also worried that it will rain down on me from the transgender community as it seems that the fetish aspect of crossdressing is one of the shameful secrets that we don’t talk about. So here’s a major hara-kiri (seppuku) confession: I do have some fantasy and erotic feelings about crossdressing. Whatcha think about that? Not always, but it can be pretty thrilling.

  • “Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” – Frederick Wilcox

Okay, that saying makes sense of course. It’s easy to say as it kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? And yeah, I have come out to my wife over the past few months and to this day I don’t know if I did the right thing. You call that progress?

Okay, enough of the downers. Here’s a couple of quotes showing what we’re aiming for:

  • “When you can think of yesterday without regret, and tomorrow without fear, you have found true dignity.”

  • “The key to having a rich and full life is self-acceptance, a virtue found only within.”

So, how to get there? Dr. Rudd includes lists of steps from a variety of people who responded to her research questionnaire. Here’s one that I liked.

  1. Remember to have a sense of humor.
  2. Learn to be in touch with whom you are.
  3. Start believing you have the freedom to express the total personality.
  4. Share your guilt and fears with someone you trust.
  5. Be a good listener when other people share their feelings with you.
  6. Remember there are other people out there with similar problems.

I think I need to have these tattooed on my arms for handy reference.

Be well,

Emma

Busted?

By EmmaSweet,

As usual, this morning I was reading the New York Times online edition on the computer in my home office – a very interesting article titled “The Ride of Their Lives” with the following opening paragraph:

“NO FAMILY DOMINATES a rodeo event the way the Wrights do saddle bronc. But rodeo is a young man's game, which is why the family patriarch works to grow his cattle herd. Rodeo and ranching may be vestiges of the Old West, yet the combination is one family's hope for future generations.”

So there I was, reading the article, browsing the fantastic photos, and reading the caption to the photo shown here (a young cowboy crashed out from a hard day’s rodeo) when my wife walked in to say goodbye for the day.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Oh, nothing, just an interesting article in the New York Times.” I scrolled around a bit to show her some of the other photos. We proceeded to say our farewells and I went about my recent efforts on her business’s tax preparations.

About an hour later, I receive this text message: “I was upset this morning in your office seeing your email. I would like to talk to you about it tonight.”

I couldn’t imagine what email she was referring to, and replied, “Which email was that?”

No response. Uh oh.

I wracked my brain, looked over the few emails that I had written and responded to, nothing looked particularly unusual. Then it dawned on me: the New York Times photo of the cowboy! Oh crap, once again, she’s terrified I’m GAY!

Although I assure you, my Maker, my therapists, and my wife, that I am 100% heterosexual (and I really don’t care if one is or isn’t, I just am), she has been worried about this ever since I came out to her about my being transgender. Once again I have to enter Damage Control and undo what her worried mind is conjuring up.

I printed out the front page of the NYT showing the article in question prominently displayed in the top center and rode my bike the 10+ miles to her shop, to show her the real source of the article as well as my sincere disclaimer about being gay.

I think it all went fine except I should not have mentioned that I also enjoyed "Brokeback Mountain" for its cinema-photography, soundtrack, and heart-wrenching story. (Which I did, not for the gay-ness just because it was a terrific film.)

I’ll know more in about three hours. Suffice it to provide this Important Safety Tip: Be darned careful what you are looking at on your computer when your SO is around! Yeah, something else to tattoo on my forearm.

Today is – quite literally – the first full day of the rest of my life. Yesterday (on Easter Sunday) I left my wife (now, ex, which is hard to fathom), home (now hers), friends, and family, to venture out on a Hero’s Journey (if I do say so myself) to see what I find in my gender, life, and home. I woke this morning in my Minnie Winnie near Healdsburg, California at a KOA campground, figured out how to hook up the water and sewage to the coach, and cooked eggs and coffee for breakfast. 

The last couple of months have been very challenging and exhausting for both my wife and myself. I returned from my camping trip in early February to find that my wife had decided that we should divorce. She said that the reason is that while we are together it will be unforgivably impossible for me to truly discover and be myself, whether I need to transition, live publicly as a woman, or whatever. That, and for reasons she doesn’t understand herself (and feels guilty about) there is something about my being transgender that she finds very hard to accept.  

At first there was some anger and hurt feelings between us. She asked when I might leave (the earlier the better), we both worried about how we would settle our affairs, and I could not wait to simply drive away and move on. We found a divorce mediator, I created a spreadsheet that helped us try out different asset division models, we started to trust each other, and finally came to an agreement. She got a bit more than I did but that's the way it needed to be for her to keep the house. But I got my freedom in an enviable way that I have often dreamed of my entire life.  

Once that was worked out the rest of our time was mostly spend packing and provisioning my Winnie, unwinding our family finances, pushing through the myriad forms needed to file for divorce. We worked hand in hand still wearing our wedding rings. Our mediator and attorneys were amazed that a couple as caring of each other as us would even consider getting divorced. I’m deeply saddened now as I write this. I know she is too; we talked last night on the phone for 45 minutes.

When I arrived at the campground yesterday I unpacked my Emma clothes into my closet and drawers; they’d been in boxes that my wife really prefers not to open. And now I consider what I want to do in the coming months.

My plan is to head slowly north, through Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, to Alaska, for the summer, and then return south in time to miss the winter snow and rain, through Iowa (or Idaho, not sure), Utah, and Colorado. In each location I want to see what feels right and wrong about the place, and experience what’s available for trans people like me. For example, in Portland (Tigard, actually) and Seattle, are what I call “training wheel” services that provide help with dressing, make-up, and the rest, and opportunities to get out and feel what it’s like to be as female as I can be. I hope that through that and more I’ll learn more about where under the TG umbrella I’d like to be. 

But it’s not all about being transgender. I have my acoustic guitar, camera, bicycle, books, hiking boots, and paints. I want to exercise, eat well, and meditate on staying in the present, while pushing against my fears and boundaries that I have allowed to control me for the past six decades. 

And who knows, I might meet the next love of my life. I’m not looking but I’m open to it so long as it doesn’t happen too soon. And, my ex and I plan to stay in touch, and she may visit me in Seattle, Alaska, or both. We might even decide to get back together if I truly find that I don’t need to transition and she becomes comfortable with my true self, whatever that is.  

That’s about it for now. Stay tuned, there will be more!

Love,

Emma

 

Emma and Winnie.jpeg

Last Thursday as I was planning my day I knew that that evening I had an appointment with my therapist. I made plans to drop by an Amazon locker to pick up a new top and told some people that I was nervously thinking of putting it on in his restroom and surprising him in our meeting.  At lunch I read some encouragement from Veronica, Bree, and I think others, which just felt wonderful. After, as I walked to get a cup of coffee I suddenly realized I was smiling. I felt so wonderful to contemplate that evening and to receive everyone's encouragement.  Thank you!

Now as it turned out I hit traffic on the way there and was kind of in a rush. I dashed into the restroom, tried it on, and felt that it was too small - I should have ordered the larger size.  But I tried it on today and it is maybe a little small but I think it's okay. I took my photo wearing it along with the leggings I bought last weekend. It feels really good to be wearing it now as I write this.  (BTW: I bought those tulips in the photo for my wife to surprise her for Valentine's. Score!) 

At my therapist appointment we had a nice conversation but I complained that although I'm feeling better these days I still find myself questioning my being transgender. It's as if a part of my brain is stubbornly refusing to let go and I keep on running through a rather long list of history and experiences that make it so obvious that I am trans. His advice?  Stop thinking, and appreciate the fact that Emma is a huge and lovely part of me. Learn to love her and live by following my feelings more than my thoughts. I think that is good advice and I'm really working on it.  

I'm also reading a book called "Who's Really From Venus?" by Peggy Rudd and really liking it. It's basically a book about how to live with yourself as well as a partner when you are transgender.  She has a lot of experience with this, as her spouse is trans. I am about halfway through it now and am at a place where she talks about how to cope with yourself.  Here's what she provides as coping skills:

  • Learn to deal with problems successfully.
  • Define the problem and seek solutions, possibly with the help or input from others.
  • Handle or dissipate the fears and hurts of life in a constructive manner.
  • Recognize yourself as unique.
  • Realize your potential for true inner strength.
  • Develop the ability to move forward in spite of the lack of acceptance.
  • Keep learning from all experiences, both positive and negative.

I think that is terrific advice and the third one is probably the toughest for me. She also writes:

Even if it takes years to find a comfort zone with your own identity, you must keep searching. Acceptance from others will follow. At some time we may need to have the forgiveness of others, but of greater importance is the forgiveness we owe ourselves. Love is not about keeping old wounds open. Love is about healing wounds. It is about moving forward and learning from past mistakes. It is about getting on with life.

We do owe ourselves forgiveness and space to be ourselves. We are all wonderful and loving people who just want to be... ourselves. 

As an aside in case you read her book there is one thing I have a concern with.  She writes everything about "crossdressers" instead of "transgender people." I think that is an important point since I really don't see myself as being all about the clothing whatsoever. It's much deeper than that. Maybe she, given that she is cisgender, doesn't discern the difference or the sensitivity to that word. (Or maybe I'm making too much of a deal out it.) Anyway, I love the book regardless.

Be well, and with warm hugs,

Emma

 

New Top, 20160220.JPG

Now, I suppose the title of this post may sound like I'm having a bad time but no, just the opposite.  I came across these book covers recently - aren't they cool?  I just love them.  They bring up all kinds of thoughts and feelings for me. I'm going to look around eBay and elsewhere and see if I can get my hands on them.  (Postscript: It's on Amazon for $2 (Kindle version. Yay!)

But really, my life is going pretty well recently.  I never thought I'd say this but the SSRI medication that the psychiatrist prescribed actually seems to be working.  I was promised that "we have new ones" that would work better with fewer side effects.  I wasn't a believer by any stretch having gone through so many trials and errors in the past.  I've been on the medication for about four weeks and wow, I can tell that I'm much better than I was. It's a subtle thing - most of the time I don't even think about it, which is good.  I don't want to even be aware of it.  

My wife and I are doing very well together, too.  I'm sure we'll still have our ups and downs but maybe with the med I'll not go into a crashing end-it-all depression whenever she makes some comment that I misinterpret or can't deal with.  It's seemed that way thus far so my confidence is building.  

Work.  Well, not for much longer!  We had a 1/3 of the company layoff two weeks ago and they asked me to stay for another four weeks to transition my responsibilities to others.  Why not?  An extra four weeks of pay.  But really, it kinda sucks given that they don't know who to transition my work to, and the others in the company know I'm Dead Woman Walking.  (Well, I guess they'd not refer to me as a woman but hey, it's MY blog!) Lest you be worried about my losing my job, please don't.  I will likely just go into full time retirement.  Which is kind of scary in that I've spent the last four decades using the busy-ness of work and my rather strong work-ethic (thanks Dad!) to avoid some things and to feel needed.  As an old friend once said many years ago, I get a lot of emotional groceries by staying busy.  A lot of satisfaction too.  

But I have some things to look forward to.  I recently looked on Amazon for Julia Cameron's book "The Artist's Way" which I was thinking about re-reading.  If you haven't read it and are looking for any kind of inspiration - it's a gem.  Really.  But you know what?  Just one month ago she published a new book:  "It's Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond."  How cool is that?  I'm hoping off buying it until I'm truly unemployed.  I don't want to spoil the treat.

I also signed up for a one-day class at Stanford, "Happiness: Gumption, Gratitude, and Grace" which my therapist suggested.  Looks like it will be interesting.  Who knows what lies there or what will come up?  I am looking forward to exploring further.  

There's more, of course. My wife wants me to build a tiny house for her in our backyard as a kind of retreat space.  Not that we have a very large lot... pretty much no one does in the Bay Area.  I was initially concerned that she plans on moving into that little house but no, she doesn't.  Heck, maybe we can have sleepovers.  That'd be fun.

So it's all good, my friends. 

Emma

The Well of Loneliness.jpg

The Path Between.jpg

As some of you may know I'm on a rather extended road trip through the end of February, having stayed in San Diego (Chula Vista) for a couple of weeks, and am now in Mesa, Arizona. Why am I on this trip? My wife and I felt that it would be good for both of us, to provide some space for us to clear our heads and consider our future. 

The first week and a half were pretty emotional and rough for me. I kept falling into a funk as I felt lonely and sad. Traveling by myself isn't the best (no one to share adventures with) and leads to all sorts of mind games, rehashing the past, assuming the worst for the future, all that. 

A few days ago my fog lifted and it's not returned. I'm not manic or whatever, just calm and centered. Part of it is that I am simply accepting my transgender nature. (Yeah, I know you've heard it before but I mean it this time!) At the risk of upsetting the karma I am liking myself and how I feel, as a trans woman who may not need to present as such outwardly but knows who she is internally. I've been reading Harry Benjamin's "The Transexual Phenomenon" which, while over 50 years old, offers helpful insights into the spectrum of transgender people. I wish there was a similar book published more recently. (If you know of one please let me know.) 

I'm also grateful that I can even have this experience. Most people probably can't afford it. I'm staying in KOA "Kamping Kabins" that are about $65/night, and I prepare almost all of my food so I'm keeping expenses down. It does get chilly at night so I bundle up and get cozy. I've driven over 1,200 miles so far and spent about $100 on gas; thanks Prius!

I'm also grateful that I've been receiving such warm affirmations from friends and family lately: Bree, Michael, Monica, Jack, David, Paul, Dara, Joanna, Rob, and Glenn. It helps so much to be able to talk to them on the phone or via email from time to time and not just about TG stuff. 

That's about it for now. I'm in Mesa until Friday and then driving to Flagstaff, which while more northern appears that the temperature will be livable for me.

Best wishes to all,

Emma

Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry's father kept yelling "Serenity now!" when he was upset and about to lose it? Very funny show.

I'm not very religious and don't attend church.. I was raised Episcopalian, attended a church school for 6th and 7th grades, and my parents often had us recite the Serenity Prayer or the Lords Prayer before dinner. I think the prayer was for my benefit... I remember how earnestly I repeated the words in the Serenity Prayer, hoping that my emphasis would gain me that serenity that I wanted so much. It never seemed to work although I suppose we might speculate on how I would have been had I not said those words at all.

These days the Serenity Prayer has come to mind a few times. I think it's a wonderful prayer and says so much in only a few words:

Lord, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Each of these four lines says so much and they are hard to achieve. I would like more serenity. I think I'm getting better at accepting the things I cannot change, such as:

- I was born male.

- I am transgender.

- I cannot control my wife's acceptance or behavior toward me.

In the third line I'm starting to understand why my therapist (and even my wife) have said that I'm being courageous. I didn't really believe it, but I suppose I am demonstrating that:

- I'm coming out to myself and acknowledging my being transgender.

- I'm coming out to my therapist (which was damned hard).

- I'm coming out to my wife.

- Heck, I'm even coming out here. That was hard at first. I worried a lot about saying the wrong thing, or creating misunderstandings.

I suppose that by listing the things in the acceptance and change buckets one develops the wisdom to know the difference. Maybe the thing to do is to consider things that I'm now not able to distinguish. I'll have to think about that a bit.

Be well,

Emma

When I first wrote about No Big Deal I thought I could make a point that would be helpful. In the second post I felt that the Bigness of the Big Deal should be measured by comparison of "intrinsic" vs. "sociological" needs. Now, though, I'm embarrassed to have written any of this.

Behind the scenes a friend pointed out that for her (a cisgender woman SO) it's all about her preference, comfort, and desires. And when I read that I realized how meaningless my previous posts were.

I'd like to close this by saying that No Big Deal may very well be: a Very Big Deal for some SOs, a Little Problem for others, No Biggie for still more, and (going out further on the limb here) the measure of its importance isn't static, it may change depending on circumstance, attitudes, and presentation.

I think the one important and overriding truth is that communication between the partners is everything, especially if one hopes to achieve No Big Deal.

And that, my friends, is all I'm going to say about that. Well, at least for now.

P.S. As embarrassed as I am I would like to acknowledge TG Guide's member's tolerance and patience as I worked this out. No one bashed me in public or private. Remarkable! Thank you. :-)