Although professionals and others, after reviewing my history and story, have assured me that I am transgender that's been a hard pill to swallow at times. I always come way wondering if I might have consciously or unconsciously told them only what I wanted them to know or in a way that manipulates their judgement. And even if I accept that I've been as transparent as I can be I have then questioned their authority to make the determination. This has all been so exhausting, like running the wheel in a hamster cage. But I think I'm coming to an acceptance that I am what I am, and I am transgender. I hope this blog post will provide an example that might help others struggling with this question.
So here's what I did: a couple of months ago I started compiling a history of memories and trans feelings/experiences that I grouped into categories by age and school (for when I was younger). Not all of my memories came to me at once so I added as I thought of more of them. It helped to write them down because it's so hard to keep all those details in mind. That process helped a lot but it wasn't complete. A few days ago I added a one or two sentence summary of that time period that kind of distills what came up for me during that time period.
Wow. It is what it is and at this point I think it's undeniable. Here's the whole thing as of today:
Emma’s TG History
<6 years: preschool and kindergarten
Where I discovered my shame about wanting to be girly and do girly things, and the powerful need to keep it strictly hidden from others. But as an only child where did that shame come from? I assume I learned it from my mother, before I have memories, when I rebelled against her making me be a boy.
- Wore out my baby blanket’s satin edging; I loved the feel of it.
- Twirling like a ballerina at another child’s birthday party; ashamed and stopped before “being caught.”
- Wanted to learn to curtsey with the girls in preschool
- Playing with the girls in the kindergarten kitchenettes; afraid of the boys play and what they would think
- Playing with neighbor friend (who much later came out as gay): making up stories with little characters
6-12 years: grade school
Like a sponge I soaked up knowledge about girls and women, contemplated what it would be like, and fostered fantasies. I spent hours surreptitiously investigating in magazines, newspapers, television, and catalogs.
- Wanted to be a Blue Bird in 1st grade
- Wished I could be a mermaid
- Wanted stirrup pants like the girls: how would they feel to wear?
- Rolled up in my Nana’s satin comforter; shamed by her to stop.
- Playground: with the girls playing hopscotch, gymnastics on bars
- Unexpressed wishing mother would buy leotard and tights for me
- Bedtime fantasies of being dressed as a girl, transported away into space. Or, dressed in a harem girl’s costume, living in an I Dream of Jeanie bottle, with Jeanie.
- Fixated on catalog with sleeping bra, wanting one, trying to figure out how to order and receive it secretly.
- TV: That Girl, Girl from UNCLE, Flying Nun, The Avengers, I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched
- Favorite movies: Patty Duke, The Sound of Music, Three Lives of Thomasina
- Wanted to be able to cry and wear a ring like a girl at school
13-18 years: junior and high school
Covert actions taken to experience clothing, the good feelings that emerged were undeniable.
- "Subtly" trying to encourage mother to buy a tutu for me
- Hand-sewing camisole and romper out of rags while parents at AA meetings
- Trying on girdles from Goodwill bag
- Cutting panties from discarded pantyhose to wear under clothing or to bed
- Bought black long-sleeved leotard at dance clothing store; returned a year later to buy black tights. I had to wait or risk their remembering me.
- Wearing mother’s swimming suit when parents were out for the evening
- Lake Berryessa: bought pantyhose to wear and hang out in, on weekend alone. It felt marvelous but lonely.
- Wanted to crossdress with girlfriend; she was okay with it but I was too cautious
- Stole girl's skirt, top, and slip from restaurant restroom
- Continually looking for discarded/lost girl’s clothing
- Found yellow girly panties on lawn
- Found multicolored panties in HS parking lot
18-24 years: college
More clothing and my first-time experience going out dressed. But otherwise a low point in my TG world as I tried to be what I was supposed to be.
- Stole blue leotard from clothes wash room in dorm
- Halloween: dressed as coed (skirt, girls sweater) for party, loving it and yet feeling so alone, afraid to show that I loved it too much and that I’d be found out.
More clothing and dressing.
- Found navy blue dance panties in parking lot
- Bought leotard and tights at dance store
- Bought leotard at flea market
- Halloween (1981): on the Castro as a nurse. What a great time I had, just being me if only for a few hours.
- Halloween (1982): on the Castro as a bride. Not quite as much fun but a good time nonetheless.
- Wearing leotard/panties during sex
Explorations, confronting fears by buying clothing.
- Wearing panties and nightgown during sex
- Visited TV/TS bar in Munich: a long walk from my hotel but I left shortly after arrival; too scared.
- Foxy Lady Boutique – SF: dress and lingerie
- Lingerie boutique - Mountain View: corset and stockings
Exploring what it means, terrified to come out and be accepted. Once again, full withdrawal.
- Accumulating very small wardrobe
- KOA Santa Cruz: much research, writing, desperate for acceptance and understanding. Drove to LA to crossdressing clothing store; bought a dress, lingerie.
- Delivered overly comprehensive report to my wife that I hoped she would see it all as no big deal. Just the opposite, she was devastated.
- Serious suicide considerations
- Carla's Boutique: bought dress, bra, other
Discovering the new transgender vocabulary, that being trans is inborn, not a choice. Wondering how far on the spectrum I will need to travel. Finally: full disclosure with therapist, wife, and gender therapist.
- Bringing leotard and tights on business trips
- It all emerges again: much more exploration
- Confrontations with my wife
- Serious suicide attempts, much consideration
- Clothing bought on Amazon, REI, Carla’s, dance store…
- Gender therapist’s confirmation
- Attended TG/TS group meetings at Carla's and with gender therapist
- Participation in on-line support groups TGGuide and CrossdreamLife
- Wearing dresses and skirts in private at home; nightgown to bed
With disclosures, my shame is about gone. Still hard to accept this reality at times. What will I do if my marriage collapses and I’m on my own?
- Realization that I'd always wanted to be small and treasured: does that mean female, or perhaps loved by my mother? I think it's the former but it's probably both.
- Wearing dresses and skirts in private at home; nightgown to bed
- Coming out to family and friends: all going relatively well
- Increasingly accepting that I do not see a need to socially or surgically transition
- Attended TDoV, TDoR in San Francisco; surprised I don’t feel much of a bond with these people.
- Dara Hoffman-Fox’s book and workbook: worked through the exercises, provided her with edits for her next edition.