Tag Archive | Gender

The difficulty of finding acceptance

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I took a few days off from work. The reason was so I could come down to DFW to see my friend so we could see Deadpool 2 together. It was a great movie. Glad we went! I’m not much of a superhero/comic book person, but I loved the first movie, and I loved the second one as well. Now I’m waiting for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I can’t wait!

What I love about heading out of town is being able to exist in my own skin and be me. I don’t have to be drab and pretend anything. I can dress up and remember that I’m more than what my body tells me. I’m more than what my chromosomes made me out to be. I’m what my mind tells me I am.

The long weekend also allowed me to escape from home, to get away from what’s been stressing me out. Ever since my conversation with my parents, then the conversation with my sister, I confess that it got to me. I forget that this is a huge deal. Took me a lifetime to come to terms with it. It’s unfair of me to expect them to just happily accept this. I’m being selfish.

A lot of my friends have been great. They sympathize with me, but they also remind me that this isn’t a minor thing. It’s a monumental shift in my existence. To ask someone to be okay with someone deciding to be a different gender is a lot to ask. For some, it’s too much. That’s the sad reality of being trans.

But for me, though I identify myself under the trans umbrella, I exist as both male a female. I prefer to present myself as female as I feel better of myself as Stefani, but I’m equally secure as Joe. I can’t deny either aspect of my reality.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t considered hormones. I have, I am, and I will continue to consider it. I would like to feminize myself more even if I don’t completely transition. Not everyone wants to have gender-reassessment surgery. I have thought about it, naturally, and one of my earliest dreams I remember about by identity involves me having a female anatomy.

The struggle for me is that I was born a certain sex. I was born, for better or worse, with a penis. I wish I was born with a vagina instead, or at the very least identifying with the gender I was assigned. That’s the struggle we face. Accepting our assigned gender or accepting that our gender runs counter to what our anatomy tells us.

There’s also a certain amount of God-fear as well. I was born Catholic, and though I’m not practicing, I haven’t abandoned my religion completely. I feel as though I’ve lost my faith at times, but to reject it completely is beyond me. I envy those born without this burden.

I can’t help but wonder why religion makes this so difficult. If someone is born with a defect and there’s a surgery or treatment available, most would agree that the sensible thing to do is to accept said treatment. Heart condition? Surgery. Tumor? Surgery. Transgender? No such thing. God made you that way. You were born female/male. Accept it!

But people are born with heart defects and no one tells them to accept it. “God made you that way.” We amputate limbs, fix other issues, but anything to do with sexuality is taboo. The religious mindset is infuriating!

Sexuality is a natural biological function. Why do we place so much importance on it? Penises are beautiful, so are vaginas. Men are beautiful and so are women. Why is sex considered vulgar? Why does engaging in sex make women whores? Why aren’t men held to that same standard?

But I digress. Gender is more than what our physical bodies tell us. It’s independent of it. For most gender and sex aligns, but some of us it doesn’t. Why can’t I be a woman? Why can’t I change my body to align better with what my mind tells me?

In the end, it’s a battle too many of us have fought, and continue to fight, both with the world without, and with ourselves as well. I’ve come to accept who I am after many year of denial. I’ve come to the revelation after running from it for a lifetime. Now, I’m happier than I have ever been, though it’s not easy for me. I’m secure in my identity. I just hope my family comes around.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. Many are outright disowned. That, more than anything, is why being trans is so hard to our mental health.

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Last Sunday Afternoon

20170625_143320I had to summon all my courage, but I actually did it. I went to the Panhandle Pride Festival this past Sunday afternoon. Pride is a celebration of all things LGBTQ, but it is itself a commemoration of the Stonewall riots that happened on June 28, 1969, a watershed moment in the gay rights movement.

What I witnessed at my first Pride Festival was not a demonstration, but an all out celebration, an opportunity to come together as a community, to recognize and find some measure of acceptance from the community at large. It goes without saying that there is still a ways to go.

Others can and have expressed in more elegant words what Pride means. This is not what I’m writing about. This is a personal journey for me. I have been working towards accepting who I am as a member to the LGBTQ community. Am I trans? Am I genderfluid? Am I bi? What does any of this mean? Does it change who I am, or am I simply coming to terms with my personal reality?

I have hidden myself  behind a mask, a mask that I believed expressed what others wanted from me. I became what I thought others wanted me to be, but it came at a price. I was miserable. I was depressed. I didn’t know who I was, how to be happy. In short, I denied myself to make others happy. It was a supreme act of cowardice.

In the past few years, as you well know, if who’ve been keeping up with my writing, I’ve been coming to terms with my identity. Growing up, I didn’t have the resources that are available now. I was a freak, someone to be shunned. I shunned myself. Now, I’m happier, more at ease in my own skin. I make consessions in my everyday life, but even that wall has been slowly falling away, leaving my true self out in the open.

Which brings me back to Pride. I became aware of the festival last year after the fact. The Home Depot, where I’m currently employed, set up a booth as a community outreach program. My store manager is a lesbian and made it her mission to become involved in the festival.

I remember thinking that I wished I had known about it. Further, I wished I would have had the courage to go. Since last year, it’s been on my mind that I wanted to go. I didn’t know if I would have the strength to go as I am, as Stefani, but I wanted to go. I had to.

Pride came around this year, and I decided I would go. I still had doubts that I would actually go through with it, but I wanted to go. Home Depot again would have  booth, and if I showed up as Stef, I knew my secret would be out. I resolved to go regardless, but I would do my best to avoid the booth to keep my poorly kept secret from falling away.

The moment I showed up, however, dressed in my usual jeans and blouse, I went immediately towards the booth. I barely hesitated. The time had come to let the wall fall away, in this sphere at least. I was welcomed with open arms. I had no reason to fear.

My store manager had already knows, as did another of my coworkers, but for the rest, they did not know. I have to give them all the credit in the world. They didn’t bat an eye. I was their friend, and I was treated with the same amount of respect as they always afforded me. I was in heaven.

I was still crazy nervous, but at least that hurdle had been cleared. I soon relaxed, thanks to the few beers I had. Soon I was just another person enjoying the park, a valued friend and coworker.

I had intended to spend an hour at most. I stayed for five. I took my picture, posted it on my work Twitter account for all to see. Even my store manager took a group picture and posted it as well, with me visible. My secret was gone, at least as far as my job was concerned. I outed myself and it felt good.

There are still hurdles to clear, of course. My family still has no idea. It’s been growing on my mind that the time is coming that I will have to own up to my reality. I fear I will be disowned, but the stress of having two distinct lives is wearing at me. I want to be me.

 

Moved in!

20170314_150227[1]I’ve moved in! Well, actually, I’m in the process of moving in, but I have the apartment, and I moved the first of my things in this afternoon after work. It’s a little difficult seeing as how I’m trying to do this alone, with only a car to haul everything. Everyone who can help is out of town for spring break. So I’m doing this solo.

It’s not too bad, I suppose. I’m just happy that I have someplace to call my own. It’s really a process now, slowly rebuilding my independence. It’s scary that I’ll be on my own, but exciting that I’m leaving my safety net behind. Besides, I’ll have a place where I can be free to express myself!

What I’m looking forward to the most is my privacy, a place where I can read and write to my heart’s content. I haven’t allowed myself the opportunities to just sit down to read, or to write, like I want. There’s always something to distract me at the moment. Plus, I’ll be saving about an hour and a half on my commute to work!

I’ll probably wait a bit to move all of Stefani’s things into the apartment. I’m sure my parents will want to come by and nose around the place, open all the closets and cabinets to satisfy their curiosity. Once they leave, I’ll drive down the street to my friend’s place, pack all my things there, and haul them to my place.

It’ll be a nice assimilation of both of my genders, the male and the female. I won’t have to go anywhere to be either. I can express myself as I choose, whenever I choose. I can’t wait for that.

For now I need to get off. I have some more packing to do. Maybe my family will be back soon, and they can help me move my things over, especially the larger things that won’t fit into my car. For now, goodnight!

 

Moving out and moving on

img_20161129_182453Since my divorce, I’ve been living with family. At first, it was a necessity since I lost my job soon after the divorce was finalized, and living with friends was becoming a drain on the friendship. It also afforded me time to heal, in the company of those who would allow me to grieve. It was truly a blessing.

In that time, I went back to college and earned my degree, found a job, but I’ve remained here, unwilling to strike out on my own. Now, I’m starting to feel a little antsy, as though I’m ready for a change.

Well, I’ve been ready for some time. Change is long overdue. While living here has been a luxury, for some time it has been holding me back. I don’t have the freedoms I need in order to move on with my life. It’s hard to look for romantic attachments living with family. I need to support myself. It’s important for my own self-esteem.

What’s more, I would like a my own place where I can store my own things. All of Stefani’s clothes and make-up are at a friend’s place. It’s not very convenient for me. It doesn’t afford me many opportunities to be myself. It kind of sucks.

So I’m about to look for an apartment, in Amarillo, for now. Part of the hesitation to this point has been that I didn’t want to move to Amarillo. I wanted to find a place outside of Dallas. For now, however, I will settle on a place closer to home, as it were, in order to get used to being on my own again. It’s been over ten years since I’ve lived by myself, what with being married, then losing everything. It’s kind of a big, scary step.

But I think I’m ready. I’m trying to psyche myself up. I can do this. I’m ready to do this. It’s time to move on.

Day out

20161024_130905I spent the whole of this past Monday out and about, enjoying the free air. Freedom is such a sweet luxury. Away from responsibilities, away from that which confines me, enjoying the world without sans the need to hide myself. It was a blessed relief, and a much needed tonic to soothe my frayed nerves. If you can’t tell, I enjoyed myself tremendously!

I asked for a few days off, five in total, to go down to a town south of Bonham, Texas, northeast of the Dallas Metroplex. The occasion was a Halloween party at my best friend’s house. That was last Saturday. On Sunday, we went to the closing day of the Texas State Fair, and again, another enjoyable experience.

But as fun as those two days were, I had to enjoy them in boy mode, which was a bummer. It wasn’t until Monday that I had the opportunity to head out. Part of me almost decided against it, dressing up being such a pain in the ass, but I knew those days don’t come around as often as I would like. It took me around an hour to get ready, and though we didn’t head out as early as I had wanted, we left, my friend Amy and I, and went to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

I was hoping for a slow day at the gardens, but unfortunately the place was packed with mothers and their children. I’m not too confident en femme, but I knew I had to confront my fear of public spaces, so we went in. Interestingly enough, most people didn’t spare me a second glance, and my friend said that the few old women who did look at me, didn’t do so with the appearance of malice or hatred.  I fit in enough, my excursion in OKC helping me relax out in public.

It turned out that my only issue was the Dallas heat. It might me late October, but the weather often doesn’t cool down until mid to late November, and sometimes even later. My face felt like it was melting, and I was dressed way too warmly for our day out! I managed to survive, however, and in spite of the way too crowded venue, and the way too warm day, I had a blast. We had lunch and enjoyed the gardens for almost two hours, until we decided we were ready for air conditioning.

After that, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for some avocado eggrolls and a slice of cheesecake. I’ve been going there for over fifteen years, so how have I never had a slice of cheesecake? I don’t know, but I had a slice, which was way too rich and fattening, before leaving to shop at the Container Store, and later at Barnes & Noble, buying more books that I don’t need, including  Being Jazz, by Jazz Jennings.

But, like all good things, our day out had to come to an end. I was getting tired, my body still struggling trying to adjust from my three weeks working overnights at work. I changed in the car on the way back to Amy’s house. Though her husband knows about me, we didn’t think he was ready to see me in all my fabulous glory. By the time we drove into the drive way, I was Joe again.

I’m considering making the move down to DFW soon. I’ve come to accept that I have to reason to remain in the Amarillo area. Though I have my family here, They neither know, and I’m certain they wouldn’t accept me were I to try to be out here. Also, I have no romantic attachments or even the prospect of one. I never meant to stay here as long as I have so far. Maybe I should say goodbye and open a new chapter in my life’s story.

Regardless of what the future may hold, I enjoyed my day out with my best friend. She has a calming effect of me. She’s the first I told about being a crossdresser, the one who urged me to come up with my name, and accepted me for who I am. The more I think about it, the more I think my days in Amarillo are numbered, and I don’t think I’ll miss them all too much.

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Strides

20160612_213735This duality in my life is really exhausting. Like flat out, I’m weary to the very core of my being. My friend V says I should just come out. It’s easy for her to say, being openly bisexual, not that coming out would have been easy for her. I’m still stuck on self-preservation mode, though I’ve found myself setting up to be outed at any time.

The issue I have is that it’s not easy having the conversation with people. How do you do it? I don’t know how, and I’ve had that conversation a few times now. I’ve told several friends about my identity, that I’m not in fact the man they see, but a woman who struggles with the image she sees in front of her.

So my life is one of contrast and duality of spirit and body. As such, I feel that not entirely one or the other. On the contrary, I’ve felt that I’m neither, some oddity, a mistake made by a Creator who wasn’t paying attention when I was made. If God makes no mistakes, then he purposely made me like this, else there is no God. So which is it?

It’s difficult to exist in such a manner. People see me as a man for that’s the way I’ve chosen to present myself, accepting the role society place on me on the basis of my apparent sex and gender. Who I am is not what can be seen by the naked eye. It’s invisible, a matter of spirit rather than physical.

Even on those divine moments when I have a chance to dress as Stefani, what I see is in discord to what I feel. I see too much of the male peaking through the carefully made-up face I put on. I only feel somewhat feminine the moment I put on my wig. Until then, I’m just a weirdo wearing makeup and women’s clothes. If clothes make the man, does hair make the woman?

I feel as though I will come out fully sooner rather than later. It’s gnawing at me, the perpetual itch begging to be scratched. I want the world to know me as I am rather as they perceive me to be. One day, I’ll heed V’s advice and simply come out to the world, resplendent in my true identity. I wonder how much of my introversion is a result of living a lie. I wonder if living the truth instead with set me free, bringing me out of the prison that I’ve been cursed to live my life.

Until then, I’ll continue to make strides. I’m leaving for Dallas on Friday morning, and I’m almost entirely sure that Stef will make the drive. I plan to spend some time as myself while at my friend’s house. I even had my friend A tell her husband about Stefani. He’s still reeling from shock.

And now even more people from work have been let into my secret. Soon, the entire place will know. When that happens, will I tell my family? How will they react? Will the accept or reject me? They, more than anyone, are the reason I haven’t come out. I love my family, and the threat of losing them is more than I can bare. We’ll see, I suppose. Until then, small strides, one step, one day at a time.

Opening up my circle

13908956_1801598180075561_1473466685205957204_oWhat a crazy week. I don’t know whether to feel exhilarated, exhausted, or some combination of the two. It’s been a whirlwind of emotion, elation and suspense, all threatening to send me over the edge into a full-flown anxiety attack. Somehow I have made it, but I can go over at any time.

First, my outing. My coworker couldn’t make it to 212 on Saturday night. I had  feeling, and after the rough day I had at work, I decided I didn’t want to go. I had people call in sick, and then my assistant manger left at noon, leaving me to run the store on my own, without an experienced person in paint, so that I had to spend most of my day there, in addition to being the only manager-on-duty.

Further to that, a woman I work with was telling me about her ex, that we work with, that’s trying to get into her good graces again, showing her things on his phone that she’s rather not know. Curious, I asked her as to what it could be, and like the proverbial cat, I was skinned right there. She replied that he had shown her a certain picture, and that I probably know what she was talking about. She gave me no doubt as to the subject, which of course was me, as Stefani.

She was okay with it, for the most part, though it felt as though my world was slipping out of my fingers. Fearing that I was being whispered about, I went back to the paint desk, where a friend of mine had finally come in, and told her about Stefani. Actually, she told me, after I started talking about my alter ego. She was like “You talking about Stefani? That popped up on people’s Facebook about 8 months ago.”

So after work, I text my friend, freaking out, and she casually asked if I wanted a beer, and she wanted to finally meet Stefani, before everyone else did. I suggested 212, and she agreed. When the time came, she backed out, claiming she wasn’t in the mood. Neither was I by that point, and told her that the only reason I came out, was because of her. In the end, we ended up on her patio, drinking beers. It was nice, but weird to be out in front of someone I know. She loved my look, by the way.

Now, two days later, I decided that I needed to come out to my Store Manager at work. I figured that if people are talking about me, that if I’m being outed, that she needed to know, to preempt any problems that my arise, namely for my own safety.

Which brings me tangentially to my trip to OKC. I drove back en femme, getting back just in time to wash my face, shower, and dress for work. While there, my manager made a comment that it looked like I had eyeliner on. I must have had an arrested expression on my face, because she didn’t continue joking about it, though I tried to save face, and made some flippant jokes about it.

So back to today, sitting in her office, quivering with nervousness and fright, opening up to someone about myself, especially something I’m so protective about. I felt so vulnerable at that moment, confessing the biggest part of me. Those of you who are crossdressers  and transgenders know the fear. Those who have come out as gay know as well, I assume.

I sat there, in her office, across from her, and opened my soul. She was shocked and amazed, and extremely grateful that I shared that with her. Of course she’s been out as a lesbian for years, and understands the struggles. I told her that I am an extremely private person, but people have found out, and that I didn’t want any problems at work. To make a long story short, she promised to have my back, and that I shouldn’t fear that anything would jeopardize my job.

The thing I want to stress with this is that I didn’t come out as a crossdresser. I came out as transgender. It was freeing for me to speak to it, feeling the boundaries slowly slipping away. It’s amazing, and wonderful, and I’m happier for it. I feel the pretenses slipping away, slowly allowing me to be me.

I’m a long way from begin out all the way. I’m not ready for that, assuming that I ever will be. Considering where I began, I’m still amazed at my own progress and daring. My biggest fear is my family. I have no reason to believe that they will accept me for who I am. I have every reason to believe that they would disown me, the embarrassing son, destined for Hell.

And I’m afraid of the flames of Hell, but living a lie is its own torture. Coming to accept myself has given me the freedom to be happy. I’m happier now than at any other time in my life. It’s not easy, and the fear is overwhelming, but it’s getting easier.

Hero

20160603_184413I’m a role model!? I never thought of myself as such, and I certainly don’t feel the part. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it’s an eye-opener to be sure. Whatever it is, it’s humbling, given that I’m just a boy, dressing like a girl, wishing she could be a girl, but knowing that that final plunge is one I will never take.

But her? She has a courage I lack, a determination to be who she needs to be, despite the hardships blocking her path. She’s my hero, my role model. She inspires me.

After my last post, I received a message from one of my followers. I don’t often get private messages, and when I do it’s usually some porn starlet seeking followers, are perverts wanting me to scratch their tranny-chasing itch. It’s creepy and a little insulting.

This one, however, was from a mother telling me about her son who wants to transition to female. Mom didn’t say much, and revealed a few intimate details that shall remain between us. What I will share is that my writing seems to inspire her son. Mom even sent me a picture with her son, and she’s beautiful. Her son, that is. Mom is too, but that’s tangential to the story.

I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the picture. My female side is in awe by her beauty. She’s young and beautiful, with a wonderful smile and gorgeous hair. I’m a little jealous, to be honest. My male side is like, whoa! Who’s the hotty?! My two sides crack me up sometimes. Then I realize I’m forty and creep myself out. Aging sucks!

But more than her physical beauty, it’s the fact that she’s able to be completely honest with herself about who she is that I find remarkable. She found the courage to be frank about her gender and then found a way to tell her mother. I could never do that. I’ve made my peace with living in the shadows, only making brief forays into the light, and this young woman is eschewing the darkness to bask in the glow of the sun.

I envy her!

I feel for her because I know being trans isn’t easy. There’s a lot of uncertainty and a tremendous amount of risk involved, yet she steadfastly seeks to walk that path. How is that not courageous? How can I not be awed by her strength? How can I not be moved by her mother’s devotion? It’s too amazing not to share!

I’m only a storyteller telling the stories I have lived. I feel like a scared child, poking their head out the door only to pull it back in again, shutting the world out again, then writing to tell you all about it. I won’t completely close the opportunity to come out to the world, but I highly doubt I will. For those who choose that path, I pray you find love and peace in the world. And for you, it’s not much, but I’ll extend my hand in fellowship and friendship. You’re a braver woman than I can ever hope to be. You are my hero.

God bless.

Reintroductions

IMG_20160603_210251I’m about set to take another road trip down to visit a friend of mine next weekend. I can’t wait. I’m working to get my car ready as my air condition decided it no longer needed to work. I think I’ve located the leak, I’ve ordered the part, and I’m hoping it arrives before I leave. The Texas heat has begun to settle in, and I’m not looking forward to making that drive sans air conditioning.

I’m also looking forward to it because I’m planning on making the drive as Stefani. I did it last time, back in March, but I pulled over before I got to her house, changed back into boy mode, so that her husband wouldn’t see me. He doesn’t know, and as macho, right-wing man, anyone that doesn’t subscribe to traditional gender roles is to be ridiculed.

So I’m leaving early Friday morning, around five in the morning, and I asked my friend to be off that day. I want to introduce Stefani to her, even though she already knows. I send the occasional photo, but she hasn’t seen me dressed yet. At least not since 2000. I can’t believe it’ been that long.

She was the first person, back in ’97, that met Stefani. In fact, she’s the one that asked if I had a name. Back then, I dressed in secret, and though I came out to a friend even before then, it was still more of a fetish thing, one that filled me with shame and regret.

I came out to her as a joke. We worked at the same place, a Burger King on campus of the university we were attending. I kind of fell in love with her, which is strange to say now as she is my best friend. Then, I didn’t know her, but I thought she was cute, and we had that awkward banter that two people who are into each other fall into.

I would joke how I probably looked better in a dress than she did, as I recall. She laughed, but then she called my bluff. She told me where she lived and invited me over. To my everlasting surprise, I went over. I’m not sure if I actually put no a dress on that occasion, but I eventually did. I remember her pulling out a short, black dress. That I could have put it on is nothing short of amazing, considering how thin she was back in those days. Come to think of it, I was a lot thinner, too. Ugh, I feel fat!

Back to my story. She’s the one who helped me accept myself for who I was. She exhorted me to stop feeling guilty and to embrace the woman within. She taught me how to dress, showed me who to do make up, and encouraged me to leave the house, which I did. We went our during the day, me in short shorts with hose, and a sleeveless blouse. I totally rocked the look back then. It helped that I actually wore my hair long back then. We even went to Lubbock once and shopped around, if I recall correctly.

A lot can change in over the years. I’m no longer a thin wraith, and I don’t pass as well as I did back then. We dated for a while, broke up, but remained friends. She married, and I did as well, before divorcing five years later. The only constant is our friendship. And though I hid Stefani away for years, she never wavered in her acceptance of a person I tried to deny.

So here I am, ready to reintroduce myself to the woman who helped create my identity all those years ago. I can’t wait to make that drive, to step out of that car, and have her see me again.