Tag Archive | Identity

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.

 

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Driving Miss Stefani

20170217_1236551I’m on vacation! It’s nice to get away from the hassle of everyday life. No work responsibilities, no familial ties to bind me into societal norms. I’m free to be me, to explore, to live. It’s an awesome experience.

I left work on Wednesday and drove to my friends house outside of the Dallas Metroplex, getting there around eleven at night. I didn’t change into Stef. I was more concerned about getting out of Dodge than anything else. Thursday was a no go as well. There were too many things to do. My friend, who runs a dog sitting business, had to travel to McKinney to pick up a dog, her cousin’s, and then I went to Commerce to visit my step-daughter.

Friday, however, was my day. I woke up at four in the morning to get ready. Once, done, I finished whatever last minute packing we needed to do, then we headed out at six, down U.S. Highway 69 to Tyler, where we jumped on I-20, and eventually Georgia. It was a looong drive!

The trip itself was uneventful. I sat in the passenger seat most of the way, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. I had never been in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia, so it really was a new experience. We stopped at all the rest areas to take pictures, except in Georgia. By then, it was dark and we were tired of being cooped up in the car.

The only stressful part of the drive was going to the bathroom. Damn conservatives! I myself consider myself right from center, but damn! The evangelicals in the right wing of the party are a bunch of busy body, judgmental assholes. So much for being for smaller government. It puts a great deal of pressure on us to conform into a mold in which we feel uncomfortable.

For the most part, I tried to find places I knew would have family or unisex bathrooms. Where I didn’t, I hurried into the women’s room, did my business, and left. I didn’t linger. I felt pressured and uncomfortable. I feel judged as it is, and I’m self-conscious about taking a pee. I never had any trouble, however I did get some jackass glaring at be as we gassed up in Mississippi. I wanted to beat up the old codger, but I refrained. I’m a very nice person.

I didn’t let that dampen the enthusiasm for the trip. I took over the drive in Alabama, stressing out over how busy the traffic was. My friend fell asleep, and I drove in silence, enjoying the beauty of the scenery. Wishing we had the time to stop more often to explore places I had never seen before.

I gave up the driver seat right before we entered Georgia. We stopped for gas, and once we left, I had to change back into Joe. I was bummed out, but a little relieved. My jeans were a little tight around the waist, and my men’s wear is a little looser. Taking off my makeup and fingernail polish was tricky in the dark, but I got it done.

The people we are staying with don’t know about Stef. I haven’t decided whether or not to tell them. They have a daughter who is a lesbian, so I don’t fear judgement. It’s more that it takes it out of me to revel myself. Opening myself up isn’t easy. We’ll see how it goes.

We plan to leave here Thursday, bound for New Orleans and Mardi Gras! I will spend those few days as Stef, once again stressing about restrooms and the like. I used to worry about it years ago when I took my first steps out as Stefani, but now there’s an increased focus on that, which I absolutely loath. I may end up having to become more political, but not just yet. I’m on vacation. I’m not ready for reality to ruin my fun.

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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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Quiet September

img_20160903_1936571It’s been quiet lately in Stefani’s world. I’ve been closing a lot these past few weeks, and I tend to dress after work, so opportunities to dress up have been few and far between. I had hoped to meet another friend of mine last Tuesday, another crossdresser in town, for dinner, but plans fell through. I was disappointed, of course, but I understood. I hope she’s feeling better now, and I pray we can reschedule soon.

My hair is getting longer now. In fact, it’s driving me crazy. I kind of want to get the clippers and buzz it off. It’s at that awkward stage when it’s not long enough to do anything with, but long enough to get in the way. It’ll be several more months before I can do anything with it, and maybe up to a year before it’s as long as I need it. I can’t wait!

Now that it’s getting cooler, I’m needing to start buying myself some winter outfits. I do have a few, but I need more. I also need to buy myself a couple of jackets, a leather one so I can look like a kick-ass bitch, and something a little more sophisticated.

A friend from work with whom I confided my secret is wanting to take me shopping. I have my usual partner that I go shopping, but another couldn’t hurt. She’s wanting to take me to Maurices, should our bonus checks from work be large enough. I’ve never been in there. I wonder what’s in there. I wonder if there’s anything I’d like.

It’s crazy how invested I’ve become in this. I’ve come along way from my purging days, where I’d buy a few things, hide them, then become disgusted with my perversity and throw everything away, only to have my compulsion force me back into the cycle. Now I’m trying to build as large a wardrobe as possible. I’m staring to shift gears and buy more comfortable articles, shorts and t-shirts. I’m wanting to buy some capris, but I do believe they’re out of season. Damn it!

I brought another person into my circle recently. Actually, I had my bestie tell her husband about me. She told me that he wasn’t all to surprised by it. I think he had suspected I was a little on the gay side, so me being transgender wasn’t too much of a shock. I’m not gay, by the way, not that it matters. I’ve come to the conclusion that as far as Stefani is concerned, I’m bi.

Hopefully I can dress up this weekend. I desperately need it. The only thing is that I have nowhere to go. Gone are the days when dressing up and hiding all day in my friend’s apartment was sufficient for me. Now I want to dress up and go out. I love being out in public. I’m just not in a place where I can do so comfortably.

 

And yet another

20160824_150210It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’m still alive, though extremely exhausted. Work has been brutal these past two weeks, and I don’t see it letting up anytime soon. I could use some time off. I should look into scheduling a vacation.

Things on the Stefani front is still about the same. I did bring someone else into the fold, my cousin. It began when she brought up a guy we went to school with, someone I always wondered if he was transgendered. There was something about him that made me suspect that he was.

That conversation led me to disclose my own gender identity, though I was nervous to do so. I opened myself up to her, and we ended up talking until after midnight. She was surprised by supportive. I showed her a picture, and she was amazed that I didn’t come across a some drag queen. I took that as a compliment.

Earlier, I had wondered out loud whether I should grow my hair back out, and she pieced it together, that my desire to grow my hair was an extension of my gender identity, and my loathing for wigs. She then made the suggestion that I should try to use extensions instead.

We talked clothing, makeup, and other girl things, which I found quite strange, but oddly satisfying. I could drop all pretenses and be me. It was great. I felt free, happy that at least I have an ally in the family. She did agree with me that my parents would never accept me, nor would my sister, but that’s a longer conversation.

What I hate is that I don’t have ample time to me Stef, only the occasional stolen moments. A friend asked me if I intended to transition, and all I could say is that I didn’t know. I’ve maintained that I had no intentions to do so, but this pull is getting stronger, and though I’m unwilling at the moment to say that I will do so, I have to concede that it is a possibility.

I don’t have to make up my mind yet. I can still dress when I have the chance. It’s the best I can do, and it’s fine for the time being. I have found some measure of peace whenever I do get to dress. I have found happiness, though only for brief moments of 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.

And another one finds out

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At Myriad Botanical Gardens. Forgive my crazy eyes, lol! ~Stef~

It seems like I’m being found out all too often lately. A few weeks ago, my ex-wife called me to tell me that my step-daughter saw my pictures on my ex-wife’s phone. Okay. No problem. Not what I wanted to happen, but she’s okay with it, and we can live with it. Then last Monday, a co-worker hinted that she found my Facebook profile and asked if that was me.

Yikes! I thought I was being more careful, but I also knew it was inevitable. I pulled out my cellphone, opened up my profile, and asked if that was what she found. She nodded excitedly before berating me for not telling her. She has two gay sons, after all. Not that being transgender and being gay are the same thing. Still, she had a million questions, which I tried to answer discreetly.

We tried to talk a little more on Friday, but again we couldn’t say much. Too many prying ears, so I said we should have lunch sometime to discuss my crossdressing even further. She did ask if I was gay. I am no. Bi? Well, not really, but I have fooled around a few times. Does that shock you, my readers? It freaked me out. I almost had a panic attack the following day after my first time.

But back to my co-worker. I wondered if she wanted to hook me up with her son. He’s currently in a relationship, so I doubt it, but what if? Is that what I want? I don’t think so. I mean to say that I’m attracted to women, but the thought of being with a guy no longer terrifies me. I’ve kissed one. I’ve given a few guys a blowjob – but not at the same time, mind you – and I enjoyed the experience. I’m keen to do it again.

But what about a real date? I wouldn’t mind going out on a movie date some time with a guy. Maybe go to a nice restaurant, or an art gallery, a musical, opera, etc. What I want are experiences. I’ve closeted myself for far too long, especially to myself, that I have no true idea of self. I’m only a reflection of who I think people want me to be. Isn’t that horrifying? The me that exists is merely a mask I wear to please those around me.

As I write this, I’m forced to conclude that I don’t know who I am. Which one of my identities is my true face and which one is the mask? Is it even fair to ask the question? Can’t both be part of my true self, different halves of the whole, man and woman made one in me? More importantly, can I have both a boyfriend and a girlfriend?

I read Alice in Genderland by Richard J. Novic, M.D., and he found himself in a marriage that allowed him the opportunity to live as Alice on the weekend, and as her was in a committed relationship with a man. I admit that I was fascinated and a little jealous when I read that. Isn’t that the fantasy I have, of having a wife and a boyfriend with their respective blessings?

I don’t know, but truth be told, I have to admit that it is. It feels like the moment of truth is circling ever closer. It’ll be soon that I’ll be outed at work, and what then? Some will be intrigued, some few maybe even excited, but I suspect most will be repulsed. I’ll become the laughingstock of my coworkers, the butt of their jokes. I’ll be mocked and made to feel less of myself.

I hope I’m wrong, of course. Sure, some will mock me for sure, but I pray that it would be as bad as I fear. Part of me just wants to be done with it, to let the world in on my secret. It would simplify so many things. I’ll no longer fear being discovered and outed to a hostile world. I’ll be able to just be me, and let the mask slip from my fingers.

I’m supposed to have lunch with my friend, hopefully this coming week. I believe she wants to go out with me as Stefani next weekend as well. I’m not committed to that, but I’m thinking about it. It would be nice to have more friends in my corner, should the worst happen.

Discovered!

IMG_20160603_210251I got a text from my ex-wife yesterday evening telling me that we needed to text later. I hate it when people do that, by the way. “We need to talk,” is rarely met with good news. I text her back asking what was wrong, and she replied that it wasn’t anything bad. “…it’s actually a good thing.”

I finally managed to cajole the news out of her. My step-daughter was playing on my ex’s phone, got on Facebook, and saw my Stefani profile popup under people she might now. She said “…that looks like a dude cuz of his eyebrows…she needs to shape them and thin them out….” My ex-wife proceeded to tell her that Stefani was in fact me, her step-father. She was okay with it.

I haven’t had a chance to actually talk to my step-daughter, but I’m still processing what it means. If she’s in fact okay with it, then does that mean she’ll get to meet Stefani? Will she want to? Will my ex-wife allow it? Will my ex-wife want to meet Stef?

My emotions are all over the place. On the one hand, there’s one less person I have to worry about keeping the secret from, but that also means there’s one more person who can accidentally out me. I wondered out loud to a friend how long I could keep me a secret. Stefani’s grown and is kind of taking over. It’s exciting and frightening!

Maybe this will lead to a better relationship with my step-daughter. I can only hope it won’t lead to a greater estrangement. Only time will tell, I suppose, but that’s one less person I have to hide from. I’m guessing I’ll have to come out sooner or later. When I do, I fear I will lose my family altogether, but again we’ll see.

Pictures

2016-07-08I haven’t taken as many pictures of myself as I used to. Isn’t that odd? Maybe it isn’t. My friend thought I was being a little conceited every time I got dressed up, and I would take several pictures of myself, admiring the transformation from drab to glam. It was intoxicating! I wanted to document this change to prove to myself that I really did look that good.

Okay, that’s coming out a little conceited.

I don’t think I’m alone. On all the blogs I follows, forums I visit, social media sites where others like me post, I see countless examples of other crossdressers posting pictures of themselves, seeking validation that maybe they kind of pass. I know I’m guilty of that. I’m also guilty of enjoying the compliments I receive.

Lately, however, I have not taken as many pictures. I click a couple, but I don’t sit and pose, trying to find the best picture. I don’t dress to validate myself. I dress because it feels right. I dress to be me, and that’s enough.

So there aren’t as many pictures of me to post. I don’t feel the need to document every time I put on a dress. I’m able to enjoy my time now, sit back, and glory in my femininity. It’s nice. I still enjoy being complimented, so I suppose I’m not going to stop taking pictures all together. I mean, years from now, I’m going to want to see what I looked like. I owe it to myself, after all. I’m just a little more discerning.