On the Fence?

Make a decision to do something!

Are you struggling with your gender identity?  If you are, and don’t know where to go from here I have a few things for you to think about.

Make a decision to do something.  Every day that passes without you committing to explore your feelings is a missed opportunity.  Let’s face it, you, I, that guy over there, we are older than we were yesterday, and in MTF transgender terms that is another day for testosterone to change your body.  Testosterone is the enemy for us:  It makes our male facial structures more pronounced; it enlarges our rib cage; it makes us grow hair in places we don’t want it; when we are older it makes hair fall out of places we want it; it makes our complexion oily; it makes our skin tougher;… I think you get the point, the sooner testosterone is counteracted, the better off we are if we choose to transition.

What if you decide to start HRT and later determine it is not your path?  The answer is to start a discussion with a doctor before you begin, they won’t tell anyone else and they will let you know the consequences of taking a testosterone inhibitor or estrogen.  Things to ask about:

Fertility:  You may not be thinking about it now but there may come a time where offspring may become important.  Sterility comes eventually to those taking MTF HRT but there are measures you can take to preserve your genetic lineage.  Ask a doctor.

Blood Clots: Blood clots kill many on HRT because they do it in secret on the black market or overload on supplements.  Don’t do it alone! HRT requires periodic blood monitoring to look at your INR and hormone levels.  Work with a doctor!

Side effects:  This is the reason we are on HRT.  Boobs, soft skin, a butt, reduced libido, emotional breakdowns, they all come with estrogen.  The good news is you can start with just a T blocker and if it helps add estrogen along the way.  If you decide to go all in with estrogen and don’t like the effects stop.  Generally, after 6 months the effects are mostly reversible.  There may be some nipple development but nothing huge (no pun intended).  Ask a doctor.

The point is, the sooner you take action, the sooner you can either accept it or move on.  A few years ago it was harder to take action.  Rules were accepted that you had to go to a therapist, live as your chosen gender… While I recommend seeing a therapist, the other stuff was the medical community keeping us from exploring our truth.  Today there is informed consent.  This means that the doctor can present the options to you and you can make an informed decision for yourself.  One caveat, you must be an adult over 18.  Otherwise, start talking with your parents and bring them in on the conversation with a doctor.  Even postponing the effects of puberty will provide opportunity to explore.

Why am I encouraging you to at least explore the possibilities and consequences?  Because If I would have had the opportunity that exists today, I might be presenting myself differently.  I could have had a skeletal frame that is closer to a girls, I could have had hips, I wouldn’t be shaving, and when dressed en femme, I would look closer to how I feel.

I am happy and grateful for what I have today and accept what I don’t.  Estrogen really is a wonderful thing, and even at 40+ I notice big changes as do others.  Embracing both the male and female aspects of my life are how I get through happy.  If I could relive my younger years with the opportunities available today would I take it?  I look at my life as a whole, I say no, but I have a wonderful family that I adore.  If I were charting a fresh path I would be all in.

Sorry Restroom Closed

We promise to leave the seat down.

You’re all a bunch of perverts!  That is what I would like to say to the ignorant who think transgender people want to go into the women’s bathroom just to prey on the unsuspecting.

The exact opposite is true, if we enter a men’s bathroom ‘en femme’ we are the targets.  Every year those who don’t fit the mold are subject to bullying and violence.  I don’t care if they call you a tranny, a geek, a squid, a queer, a bum, a … If you are different from the predominant culture/economic status/religion/etc. you are a target for potential harm.  What better way for you to get harassed than put on a dress and head to the men’s room.  But there are other reasons that the bathroom controversy is all wrong.

If you have decided to live full time as a woman, I guarantee that you are on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  In this therapy male to female patients are given estrogen, a female hormone; an anti-androgen, a testosterone blocker; and possibly a dash of progesterone, also acts as a testosterone blocker.  Let’s break these down individually.

Estrogen promotes the growth of breasts, makes your derriere rounder, gets rid of the male oily complexion, makes the skin softer, and tells the pituitary gland that you have enough sex hormones and reduces testosterone levels.  A side effect is sex drive is reduced.

Anti-androgens (testosterone blockers) shut down the remaining testosterone to negligible levels.  Anti-androgens are also given to men to take away sexual function completely.

Progesterone acts as a mild anti-androgen and promotes nipple development.

To summarize, if you are on any of these, your testosterone levels are low, if you are on estrogen and an anti-androgen your testosterone is basically non-existent.  What happens when men get older and their testosterone levels fall?  They can’t get it up!  There is a huge medical and supplement industry making money off of replenishing testosterone in men and reversing impotency and making them feel like teenagers again.  The Trans crowd doesn’t want any part of the T-word (testosterone), they want to get rid of it.  If the people fighting to use the women’s restroom have very little testosterone, likely can’t get it up in the first place, and have a lowered sex drive, why are we so afraid of this?  Lack of knowledge and understanding is the only answer.

My final point to make is that in much of the world there is a just a restroom.  Males and females enter together to do the most non-sexual act of expelling waste.  Only in America could we sexualize even the most disgusting of activities just because it is expelled from the same vicinity.

Oh, and we promise to leave the seat down.

Categorization, Stop It!

We are all transgender in one way or another, even you!

What is transgender?  I think that this isn’t as obvious or clear as we think it might be.  To start off I think we need to talk biology.

In nature, the perception is that we are defined as either male or female through our chromosomes.  Females are born with XX chromosomes, and males are born with XY chromosomes.  Simple right?  Wrong!  There are many genetic conditions that take another path.  Men with Chappelle syndrome have XX chromosomes and male features. Androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS) can result in females with male chromosomes.  There are a variety of intersex conditions where attributes, hormones, and chromosomes can vary in a variety of ways.  People can have more or less than 2 chromosomes in numerous combinations.  Even in nature there are exceptions to the general rules, more than the binary male and female categories.

Even in the Trans world, most of us fit into the most common male and female categories biologically, why don’t we just stick with it?  Turning the question around, why would we subject ourselves to the insensitivity, the bias, the pain and expense of medical treatment if we didn’t have to?  Some of us are happy to express ourselves as the opposite gender once in a while.  Some of us hang out in the middle in an androgynous state.  Some of us must do everything we can to shed our assigned gender.  There are endless possibilities in the way we inherently are.  In reality, all of us lie somewhere between male and female in our personalities, preferences, and actions.  We are all transgender in one way or another, even you!

Shocked that I would make such a statement?  You shouldn’t be, what we typically categorize as transgender (even among ourselves) are the extremes.  Everyone has likes and preferences that make them who they are.  Some like classical music some like rock, and others like a variety of styles.  I hate liver, you might like it.  My closest friends are women and yours may be men.  I like pink, you may like red.  I like silk, you may like canvas.  I hate body hair, you may be a mammoth.  There are millions of attributes that make us who we are.  Are you the stereotypical male or female?  I guarantee that in some way you depart from what is expected.  I am not all stereotypical Trans either.  I like working in the garage, going to races, driving sports cars, riding motorcycles, and four wheeling, all stereotypical guy stuff.  I also like romance, lingerie, dresses, and make-up.  Three quarter of the clothes I am wearing right now, at work, are from the women’s section though it is not obvious.  I am on hormone therapy and have breasts, a nice round ass and soft skin and that is the way I need it.  The point is I don’t want to be defined as a man or a woman or transgender.  I am me, different from everyone and all I want is to be able to express myself freely as I am.

Freedom is what it comes down to.  If there is nothing wrong with being masculine or feminine why should anyone care if I wear dresses, grow boobs and shave my legs.  If the time came where I wanted to alter my body to match the way I am inside, I am still not hurting anyone assuming my other half was on-board.  I read that acceptance of transgender people is harder because we ask those around us to accept us as the gender we are presenting as.  I really don’t care what gender you think I am and I think we go overboard with our demands sometimes.  All I want is for society to accept me for who I am in total. Realize that we all have many attributes that when combined make us who we are.  You don’t have to agree, you don’t have to understand, but please be curious, ask a question, I am more than a different exterior.

Can’t help but notice…

“So you like my tits!”

It is hard to resist instinct.  Most guys can’t help but glance down to catch a glimpse of a little cleavage.  I image it might be the same for girls attracted to the same sex (you are free to comment).  I think it is even harder for me to keep eye contact when both attraction and envy are at play.

I didn’t really know what this was like until I started to grow breasts of my own.  I spend most of the day as a guy, and let my hair down at home.  Still there is no ignoring the obvious in front of me.  I probably have a B cup size these days and they are obvious to me, my kids, my parents (ugh), certainly my wife, and the COWORKERS.  The latter category is where most of the looks down come from.  Male, female, they are equal offenders.  I think they actually look more than I do!  I wonder what questions might be in their head:

Low testosterone? Yes.  Gynecomastia? Yes but self-induced.  Trans? Definitely on that spectrum.  HRT?  Absolutely!

I don’t share my gender issues with anyone except those who are closest with me (and in a blog of course), but I wish someone would ask about my boobs so I could get some satisfaction out of the shock value and humor of it all.  I know the glances I receive are out of curiosity and not lust, but I would like to blurt out, “So you like my tits!”  I can only imagine the horror and surprised looks on their faces.

In the past, I could bury my treasures in baggy clothes, but at this point it really doesn’t matter what I wear and that has helped me accept who I am a little more.  I am still horrified when I see pictures of myself on Facebook with my bra outline clearly visible.  Does everyone else see it?  I am sure there are girls at work who know, others that may also see it, but despite my fears this is also good and helps lead me further down the path of being myself.

I am still a bit self-conscious about my appearance considering I still present myself as a man.  Slowly I push my envelope and add new femininity into my everyday life.  Despite my fears, I desperately want my breasts to keep growing and perhaps show off a little more of my cleavage.

Relationships

How do you engage in dating and relationships when you are a guy who wants to be a girl, but likes girls too?  I wish I had an answer that would work for everyone but we are all on different places on the gender and sexuality spectrums and where you sit in each of these areas will influence how you should move forward.

Someone once told me to speak your truth when addressing things of difficulty.  My truth in dating and sexuality is that I like women, no I love women more than most could.  I love how they look, how they think, how they dress, how they smell.  I want to know what they think and what they feel.  That innate desire to be a woman enhances how much I can love a women.  Even in my first sexual encounter with my first true girlfriend, I asked and wanted to know if she felt things as I did when making love.

While I love women I have somewhat of a disgust toward men.  Don’t get me wrong, I have close guy friends but I find their appearance repulsive and often I am I am repulsed by their views and actions.  Most of those who I am friends with these days are women.  I have always been the confidant, the one who listens.  I relate better to women than men, and open up to them more than I can with my guy friends.

The fact that I am often just another friend gets in the way of many relationships but the ones I had were very intense, close, and intimate.  Break-ups were also very difficult because of the intense emotional connection I/we would develop.  Through high school and college my girlfriends did not know about my desires and I would not change that.  During these times I was working on becoming myself and learning for my future.  While my relationships were committed, I was not ready for THE commitment.  That changed in my mid 20’s.  At this point I was ready to begin a career and had no objections to going off into the world with someone along my side.

Early on in our relationship, I introduced my now wife to my likes by playing around with her lingerie with her present.  Eventually noticing my interests she would dress up more for me ant that transitioned into me trying a few things on…  My point is if you want to introduce your partner to anything, take it slow.  Running out of the closet saying I’m here isn’t going to work and will likely leave you alone.  Think about all the stress and trauma associated with being trans has caused over the years.  Now imagine what it must be like to unload on a significant other all at once, not a good experience to say the least.  A gradual introduction allows exploration together, creates intimacy, and may very well foster a long relationship.

Keeping everything a secret is definitely not good either.  I can’t say how many stories I have read about the wife finding the stash of girly things and the relationship ending in a bitter divorce.  If you are hiding something all trust and honesty is thrown out of the relationship.  My wife knew I had a girly side before we were married.  Because of this, my girl side was allowed to grow and my wife came along by my side.  I have more lingerie than my wife and it doesn’t matter.  She helped me with shopping, bought me make-up, and even encouraged me to continue with hormone replacement therapy.  If someone doesn’t want to be part of all of your life and know all of who you are then you were not meant for each other, but don’t shock them on your first date either.

Binge and Purge

Getting past the irrational fear of buying girl things is not easy.  It is not too different from trying to buy beer underage, you know that it goes against the rules someone could question you at any time.  The fact is that your average minimum wage worker could care less and is more concerned with their next brake than worrying about weather that pair of leggings is for you or your girlfriend. In any case the stress is real and if you are going to buy something you better take full advantage of the opportunity.

Online shopping helps some but it is hard to see if those stiletto pumps fit from a keyboard.  I have acquired a few wasted purchases.  There are ways that the internet can help the transgender shopper.  It is not often that you see breast forms at your local Walmart or a size 44 bra at Victoria’s Secret.  Make-up is even worse for the inexperienced, it would likely be less stressful to sit down at the closest beauty counter and get a makeover than it is to try and figure out the differences between foundation, concealer, shadows, and blushes online.  Then there is the exfoliation, the moisturizing and everything else girls do to look good.  I now understand why there are huge sections in every store devoted to these products.  Girls have it pretty difficult.  Knowing the stresses of purchasing all of the products that women use and wear you would think we would hold on to our stash forever, but we don’t.

During times of change, self-doubt, and new relationships all the things we worked so hard for can go away in seconds.  The process is called purging.  Tired of the stress of it all, purge; Moving to college; purge; New relationship, purge.  We delude ourselves into thinking we can change; however, we are what we are, we feel what we feel, it is not a choice and we need to satisfy the girl within.  It is the natural tendencies you see in small children, most of the time girls like girly things and boys like boy things, for us it is just reversed.  While it is not a choice what we are drawn to, I could make a choice to live an unhappy life and deny myself of what I need.  I have tried it, I have purged and committed myself to an assigned existence but the girl within always finds her way out.

Worse than the purge is the forced purge.  I was found out at an early age.  I kept my things in my closet and under the bed in a box.  Sure enough my mother found it and I was questioned and everything was gone in an instant.  It is like having your heart ripped out.  I never answered the questions asked.  I made up a story and moved on.  The collection started again.  I am still in the closet with my clothes.

Discovery

I started to realize my interest in women was a bit different in late elementary school and early junior high.  I had a friend whose parents were more open to a child’s curiosity in the opposite sex.  Needless to say at his house I had access to a wide array of men’s magazines.  Like any other boy entering puberty I was enthralled with the anatomy of a woman but there was a difference.  I didn’t just want to see the images, I wanted to be the images.

In those pages was also my first exposure to a person at the time a called transsexual.  There was an article about work with hormones where men could grow breasts.  I remember my thoughts at the time, I wanted to experience the same thing, and I wanted to be a girl.

I’d noticed in my younger years that women’s clothes were also different.  The materials were soft and silky, there were many styles and overall they were more interesting than cotton shirts and blue jeans.  I felt the materials every time I was in a department store and I certainly didn’t miss the lingerie section.

Lingerie, why are we drawn to it?  Many think it is a perversion, sexual and nothing else.  I see it different though.  Sure it is sexy as hell, teasing in all the right ways, but it is also part of the variety of clothing that isn’t experienced as a male.  There is something else along with the variety that draws us, it is a way we can get in touch with our feminine side and it is experienced in secret.  It is an opportunity to feel feminine without anyone knowing, without casting judgement and shame.  It is one of the first opportunities to feel closer to who we are.  I won’t go into how I started out wearing lingerie, there are plenty of stories on the web that can fill in the blanks.  I will only say that I never went back to how it was and I started my stash, my collection.  I was in junior high when I purchased my first pieces of lingerie, a couple of Playmate satin panties and a teddy.  I was scared to death heading to the register at the Target store.  I wanted to get out of line as soon as possible to avoid the prying eyes that I knew were judging me.  I was elated once my purchase was complete and I hurried to the restroom to put on the teddy and hide the underwear in my jacket pockets so that my mom wouldn’t see them.  Purchases seem much easier today with automated check-out so prevalent.  Soon I accumulated pantyhose from drugstores and other items as I found time to make the purchases.

I wore lingerie most days I didn’t have Gym Class, reveling in my little secret.  At home I would dress in old women’s clothes filling the extra closet space.  Washing would happen discretely in the bathroom sink and would be hung to dry in the back of the closet.  and night-time was my chance to wear the fun stuff.  Things went this way through high school, less often once I started dating.

Even when dating the topic of lingerie came up, one of my girlfriends Julie showed me a picture of a silk camisole and asked if I liked it.  Of course I liked it, and it opened the door for conversation about what I would like to see her wear, little did she know I wanted to wear it too.