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Exploration and growing into my transgender self

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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

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

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

Emma's New Red Dress, 20160109.JPG

I'm very drawn toward resources and ideas that I hope will help me practice and make automatic inner kindness. I need this as I have such a litany of self-directed put downs and labels that seem to come so automatically before I have a chance to prevent their affects. I've recently come across several that I hope I will find helpful and maybe you will too. I think of them like tools in my toolbox. But like any tools we need to use them enough so that they become familiar and automatic:

Internalized Trans-Phobia

This one feels risky for me to even post since I worry that TGG members and visitors will assume I have some sort of phobia against them. Truthfully this is not true at all. But that said, "It refers to how some people hate that part of themselves and are ashamed of it." As much as I am aware of my gender dysphoria and that it's a natural part of me I have to overcome my shame that has been with me for so many years. This article isn't a cure-all. It's a start as it says that we're okay if we have it and the place to begin is to be aware, acknowledge it, and accept that dealing with it is another aspect of our lives.

James Altucher

I've written about him before. He has a free email list (which you can subscribe to by clicking on his name). I don't like all of his writing, sure. But today he wrote one called "It's OK If You Don't". Among other things, he wrote:

"At some point I gave myself permission:

  • It's ok if you don't know what you want to do next.
  • It's ok if you're scared. Scared sh*****ss.
  • It's ok to not write a bestselling novel.
  • It's ok to leave early.
  • It's ok to not be a billionaire.
  • It's ok to not start a charity that ends malaria.
  • It's ok to get fired or to fail. Or even worse, to lose someone's money."

The main message: it's okay to goof, to try and fail, to forget... to be human. It helps me to remember that from time to time.

A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method

Leo Babauta has a website called Zen Habits, and he also has a free email. Sure, they don't all grab me. Sometimes they just don't fit. But this one I think is a great summary of a behavioral therapy approach to dealing with our inner Ms. Crapness. (Yeah, that's my word.) Notice it (be aware), Accept it (might as well), Comfort it like you would a small child who scraped her knee, and Love it and yourself. Easy to say, and all too easy to ignore for its touchy-feelyness. But hey, why not give it a try? And if it doesn't work its magic right away for you remember that it's okay for it to take a while.

Love Your Inner Child

My therapist recently gave me this homework: consider the questions, statements, and wants of me as a 3-7 year old, especially as it relates to his gender dysphoria. And then, write down what you'd like to tell him given what I know now. Example:

Child: "I'd like to have a doll like Mary's."

Me: "That sounds like that would be nice, doesn't it? Your birthday is coming pretty soon so it's good to know that's something you would like to have. Tell me, what is it that you like so much about her doll? What does it mean to you? What should I look for when I buy a doll for you?"

After I tried to do this for a day or two I told him that I was torn between being fully supportive and possibly warning him that the other kids might give him a bad time for having such a doll. His advice?Give him (really, me) all the love and support, and forget the warnings and mixed-messages. None of us need that.

Be kind to yourself. Practice inner kindness. Be well. Be you.

Emma

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.

"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. 

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

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

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.

From what I've read the Nature vs. Nurture question remains open, except perhaps for those who always knew. Throughout my investigation into the roots of my transgender nature I wanted the result to be that I was just born that way. Then I could easily say to my wife, the world and myself, "I am what I am, those were the cards I was dealt." And then they could take me or leave me, and if they left I'd at least know that because it was in my genes it just is what it is and move on.  In case you're wondering, I still haven't figured it out.

Recently my therapist suggested I read Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want. It essentially goes like this:

  • Babies are born with emotions that are like little flames that need to be nurtured. If they are not, the babies learn to suppress those feelings so as to get along in life.  For example, the baby feels anger, expresses it, is then rejected or isolated, and the baby then turns it on herself, as if to say (to herself) "I must be bad if I have emotions, therefore I have to suppress my emotions."  But this results in sadness.
  • This behavior may result in behavioral patterns (e.g., depression, flat-line emotional control, dissatisfaction) of adults who don't really know how to feel. Because when they do they defensive feelings emerge to counteract the genuine feelings which perpetuates the cycle.  

Upon finishing this book last weekend I got terribly depressed. It was as if the rug of "I was born this way" was ripped out from under my feet. You see, the book thoroughly describes my home environment. Without getting into too much history my mother was terribly depressed herself, hospitalized a couple of times, electroshock therapy, and when I was 24, committed suicide.

Throughout my childhood I was alone when at home even if my mother or father was there. My mother might have been at home, often in bed or otherwise disconnected, and my father was at work, nights and weekends, on various space flight programs. Without getting into details, I was well and truly taught to be seen and not heard. 

When I met with my therapist last Thursday I recalled for him that I'd always admired girls, their unfettered expression of emotion: joy, love, sadness. And after reading this book I wondered: perhaps my transgender nature results more from my envy of girls' "allowed" to express emotion where, as a boy in my family, I was not?

This morning I happened across this: I Am A Girl! - Ik ben een meisje! on YouTube. I'd seen it before but it really touched a nerve. She is so pretty, happy and, at 13, so grounded! I think you'll love seeing her. Clearly, she is transgender by nature.

So now I wonder: 

  • Nature: was I born like Joppe in the video, but my natural needs and desires were suppressed into smithereens by my family environment?
  • Nurture: If the former isn't correct then maybe I have an envy that arose from my upbringing, a desperate need to express and be myself which I saw as only available to females?

Or maybe it's a combination of the two? 

Why does it matter? I guess I just really want to figure myself out. As if, like my wife, I was adopted and just want to know the truth of my background. 

I have fragmentary memories of early childhood that support either or both theories.  No one to ask, since my father also died about ten years ago and I don't have siblings.  

Hmm, maybe I should return to my therapist's advice and just Stop Thinking! Just accept myself, follow my feelings. I am trying. But on Saturday mornings when I'm not consumed by career it's hard to ignore these thoughts.  Oh I remember now what he'd say: "Get mindful, take a step back and consider your thinking from afar.  What would you say to yourself as a child, if you could, today?" 

I think I'd say this: "IT'S OKAY TO BE YOU!"

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.

As I increasingly accept my transgender self I find understanding of past issues and behaviors that I have often wondered about. Two in particular have become clear very recently.

1. Unexplainable breakups

As a teen and young adult I had plenty of girlfriends. I suppose I was attractive enough, "nice," and possibly they sensed a level of kindness and sensitivity that was lacking in other boys and young men. Several of these relationships went on for a long time and seemed to be headed for marriage until I just had to break it off. That was incredibly hard for me since I hated the thought of hurting these girls/women and perhaps worse, I didn't have the words to tell them why I just had to do it. Now I know.

I could not find the courage or vocabulary to tell them about my transgender feelings and desires. And, I could not risk their telling other friends and associates any of it. So after the exhilaration of having a soul mate I broke it off and broke their hearts and mine.

Thus, I sincerely apologize to Stacy, Leslie, Megan, Jane, Deanne, and others I've hurt. I've carried a lot of guilt over the years about my behavior and I hope that at some point you found in your hearts to forgive me.

2. Secrecy is the breeding ground for negative assumptions

For most of my life I've had fears and intuitions that my parents, friends, wive(s), sons, and associates were mad at me or otherwise disappointed. I'm realizing now that the root of this is my almost unceasing review of whether or not my secret has been exposed.

Also, I've always had such a strong need for external validation, often sacrificing (and rarely sharing) my wants and desires in order to gain favor.

I apologize to myself for this. I also forgive myself. I really have always tried to be as good a person as I can be.

Here again, accepting and disclosing my transgendered nature is good for me. You've come a long way, baby!

Photo: a cathedral in Helsinki, Finland.

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

Morro Bay 2.jpeg

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

My next one-on-one appointment with my therapist is this coming Wednesday afternoon. During the week before I consider what we might talk about even though it often seems that we end up talking about something completely different. I suppose I want to be sure that I’m able to take advantage of the time and money spent. I want to extract every last bit of help that I can get.

I keep a tally in my iPhone of thoughts and ideas. Here’s the current running list:

  • I remember being so sad and terrified when, as a young child, I did something – anything – wrong. Sad that I had again disappointed my mother and scared of the punishment.

  • After last week’s couples appointment with my therapist my wife told a gay friend of hers, and the mother of a young woman friend of hers, about what I disclosed to my wife, that I am transgender. In years past I would have been devastated to hear that anyone knew, that they would think me weird, and that I might run in to them. Now it doesn’t seem to matter and, in some ways, I’m kind of pleased that my wife is reaching out.

  • Sometimes, these days, I feel pretty alone and needy. I only have my therapist to talk to openly as well as my friends here at TG Guide. I compulsively check what’s happening here and whether I have any messages several times a day.

  • With my wife I’m more calm and self-connected than I have been in years. I’m stroking her, helpful, and we’re are very close. I think she likes this but I can see that she stops short as she thinks of my revelations.

  • I ordered a dress, tights, and a slip on Amazon this week that I expect to arrive in a couple of days. Imagine that, a slip. Well, I want the dress’s skirt to flow and not get all bunched up. I researched it all a lot and chose carefully. But as I wait for the delivery I keep wondering if I’m completely nuts.

  • I’m having trouble focusing on much other than transgender stuff. Reading whatever I can find on the Internet, here on TG Guide, etc. I feel I should also be studying on some unrelated topics that used to fascinate me but I find it impossible.

  • We have a couple of small watercolor paintings hanging in our bathroom showing scenes of young, pretty women, in pastoral Italy. It seems so obvious to me that anyone looking at these women would want to be like them. But I know that 99.9% of men would not and would think I’m crazy for even thinking of it.

  • Regardless of whether or not my transgender diagnosis is accurate (and I really think it is) is it okay? What makes it “right?” On Sunday mornings my wife and I go to a local pastry shop for coffee, a light breakfast, and to read the paper together. This morning she looked me in the eye and told me how much she loves me. We both show our sadness to each other at these times.

Geez, a lot to talk about this Wednesday and I still have three days to consider more topics. And then, of course, there’s also all the stuff I wrote in my “progress report” a couple of days ago. I’m overthinking but it seems impossible to stop.

Emma

Photo: The Zambezi River, Botswana, at dusk, a couple of years ago. Not good for swimming; many crocodiles.

>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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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

As some here will recognize this "nature vs. nurture" thing has bothered me at times. At my age it hardly matters. It's not as if knowing that is going to change anything for me.  But I've always felt it would help me to know that I was born this way.  Last week I wrote about it a bit in this post: Chicken or the Egg: Nature vs. Nurture

As I often do I shared my post with my therapist; we talked about it last Thursday evening.  I love the way that I'm able to share my posts with him, and to receive his support and encouragement.  As we talked about the nature vs. nurture question I mentioned that for the last couple of weeks I've not been feeling those transgender visceral needs/wants/envies. When this has happened in the past it's been both a relief and a regret, and a wonder when or if they will return and if I can possibly recognize a trigger for those feelings.  Maybe now, I speculated, that I feel a bit more in touch with what happened to me emotionally in early childhood I'll discover that my transgender nature emerged from my rather strained nurturing?  

Without hesitation he replied, "Ebb and flow sounds completely natural to me. Not like a habit at all. And maybe that also reflects that, as a woman, the need, thrill, or awareness of dressing becomes unimportant until, for some reason it arises as a need to 'get your girl on.'" 

We talked about it some more. He said that it also seems evidently nature-based because, after all, I kept returning to these feelings throughout my childhood and life.  As a young child (3-4-5 years old) I could have reacted in many ways to feeling emotionally suppressed. I could have been defiant, or a bully, or... Instead, I envied, dreamed, and often considered, being a girl. And those feelings were consistent through elementary school, junior high, high school, and college. It wasn't simply a reaction, it was me, expressing herself! How cool is that?

Hmmm, that feels good. Gee, do I feel an inkling of Pride? I can hear Star Trek's Mr. Spock, "Interesting emotion, 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. :-)

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

No Big Deal

By EmmaSweet,

A friend of mine's husband told her that his crossdressing is "no big deal." It bothered her because the phrase tended to dismiss her feelings; I understand and agree. I've often also thought of this phrase myself and thought it might be interesting to consider what it means to me. I'm not offering any solutions here, just food for thought and, perhaps, conversation with your partner.

By the way:

  • I'm using feminine pronouns for the husband, which is the polite/supportive thing to do for her;
  • My apologies to my FTM brethren as I'm only talking here about the husband being the transgender person.

Now with that behind us let's dig in! I'm first considering it from my perspective. (It's my blog, I get to choose who goes first. :rolleyes: ) When I think of my crossdressing as "no big deal" here's some my reasoning:

  • It's just clothes after all, at least in the privacy of our own home. Who cares if I'm dressing in feminine finery?
  • My therapists have also said that it shouldn't be a big deal.
  • I wish my wife could also treat it as no big deal because then I'd feel better about myself. As it is I feel like there is a winner and a loser, and we should both be able to win.
  • I am and will stay faithful to my wife and am confident that I will not stray no matter what.
  • I still am the person she fell in love with at my core. Shouldn't she feel happy that I'm "finding myself" and support me?

Okay fine, let's consider what might be going on in my wife's mind for whom it seems to be a Very Big Deal indeed.

  • She was socialized to be the pretty one in relationships and society, to wear feminine clothing and be feminine. If I'm feminine too, where does that leave her? Should she now consider herself to be a lesbian?
  • I think it's known that cisgender women may judge each other pretty harshly at times, and "their man" may be a proxy for her success as a woman. What does it mean if he crossdresses (privately or not)? Is it because of some failing of the wife's?
  • Although we know that gender orientation isn't correlated or the same as sexual orientation, my wife is still concerned that in the euphoria of the moment (aka "Pink Fog") I might be tempted to experiment.
  • Who's to say that I might so enjoy crossdressing that I find myself inexorably drawn to Gender Affirmation hormones and/or surgery?
  • How will this affect our sex life? Will we even have a sex life going forward? And if not, why should I accept that?
  • If our marriage/relationship needs to dissolve, how will I explain this to my family and friends?

Oh my goodness: the scale is leaning so heavily toward my wife. Maybe I'm just being negative. I am sure there are missing points in both my and my wife's sections. Please feel free to post your thoughts on all this.

Regardless of whether you agree with what I wrote or not I think it always comes down to communication between ourselves and our partners. Easy for me to say but I think my wife and I are making some progress. Yeah!

I wish you a safe New Years celebration and a thoroughly wonderful and fulfilling 2015,

Emma

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

"JUST GENDER tackles the all too often misunderstood world of transgender. The film explores the common myths and misunderstandings about transgendered people, as well as the confusion between sexual orientation and gender identity as reflected in the rigid binary view of the world generally held by society. JUST GENDER also touches on the discrimination, hardships and brutality resulting from those misconceptions and prejudices, including the numerous deaths caused by hate each year. Through the stories of transgender individuals and their spouses, friends, and allies, the film explores the confusion, the isolation, and the fear felt by many transgender persons. It also reveals their growing awareness and acceptance, and ultimately their joy in blossoming comfort as transgendered persons."

I learned about this movie/documentary recently in the Transgender section of the Huffington Post. (Which, by the way, is excellent.) And I watched it last night. About 90 minutes long, they address many issues and questions, with transmen and transwomen and other professionals as spokespeople, that I have, my wife has, and have been raised here and elsewhere. It was very well done and in my opinion valuable for anyone, TG or not, to watch. It does cost $9.95 but it's great that you can download it to your computer so you'll have it forever.

http://alivemindcinema.com/justgender/