Tag Archive | Transitioning

I made a friend

IMG_20180520_160255_877.jpgWent to the bar a couple of weeks ago with a friend. That in itself is not remarkable. Though we haven’t gone lately, we will occasionally go to get out, have a couple of drinks, and maybe play some pool. By the way, I totally kicked my friends butt that night. The last time we went, however, I was not as fortunate.

But this is not about our last outing, but the one before that, the night I came out the winner. Starting out, we were asked to show our ID’s even before we stepped into the bar. That usually doesn’t happen, so I was taken aback, more so because my ID does not match my gender. Reluctantly, I pulled my license out, waiting to be called out. All that the bouncer said was that I looked good for 42.

With that, we began the evening, getting a bucket of beers, and playing a few games. Across from out pool table sat a couple, a man and woman, who seemed to be enjoying the night out as well. They were talkative, and my friend Jessica was happily interacting with them, but I less so. I hate talking because more than anything, my voice outs me. I hate my voice!

We continued to play, and the couple across from us continued to visit with those around them, including us from time to time. The man was making me a little nervous, but I ignored him as much as I could, and concentrated on the game. Soon, we were out of quarters, and I was ready to finish that last of my beer, and head home. The couple across from us had other plans.

They invited us to join them, which Jessica was keen on accepting. I followed, afraid of being rejected, or worse attacked, as sat down at their table. With introductions out of the way, the man turned to me and asked if I was trans. Feeling as though the jig was up, I admitted I was. What came next nearly left me speechless. He confessed he was a trans man. I never could have guessed that in a million years!

After that revelation, I was a little more receptive to a conversation, he talking about his journey, and me sharing mine. For him, he feels as though he is obviously a woman living as a man, while I feel the opposite, a man trying to live as a woman. In his case, he feels obvious, though of course that’s his own insecurities manifesting. He is not obviously trans. He looks and acts like a cis male.

How much of the struggle to fit in, therefore, is an internal struggle? How much of it is our own insecurities? For me, I know getting on hormones would help, as much as being on hormones helps him, but a lot of passing is partly being confident in living our true gender.

For him, he’s living life as the man he is, with a woman he loves. I’m still living part time, whenever I can spare the time to be me. The thing is, the trans experience is valid for both of us. He transitioned, I have not. Some people go all the way, hormones, top and bottom surgery, or maybe just top surgery. Some never get on hormones, some never accept being trans.

Acceptance begins with yourself. For me it began when I accepted who I was. It was helped by the scores of friends who have accepted me, who have cared for me, who have loved me. It’s an ongoing journey, a journey of discovery and learning to live being true to myself.

I have had few negative experiences going out as Stefani, and so many positive experiences. That night at the 6th Street  Saloon was one of positive experiences, one where I met some new friends. I just have to remember to give others a chance.

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It’s work becoming me

So far this has been an illuminating experience. I have spent the whole of my vacation thus far in Stefani mode, embracing my inner self. It’s kind of exhausting. I know you cis-women are rolling your eyes at me, and I can’t blame you if you are, but damn this is tiring. Getting up, shaving, chosing what to wear, doing my make up, it’s exhausting. And I’m not doing anything special with my hair!

Part of me relishes the simplicity of being a guy. Get up, shower, throw on some clothes. Done and done. It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but damn it’s easy. I look like a slob most of the time, especially at work, but who cares? Right? And when I do dress up, it’s still quick and painless. Slacks, a dress shirt, and done. The difference is quite stark.

Now, it would be easier if I wasn’t putting on makeup. It would save time. A lot of women aren’t into putting on makeup daily, or if they do, a little eyeliner, maybe some lipstick, and done. I can’t do that. It’s a full face all the time, to cover up this annoying 5 o’clock shadow. I’m considering waxing or some other semi-permanent hair removal. Then it would simplify it a little.

But there’s also the matter of dressing. I wear pantyhose all the time. I just do. At first, it was a sensual thing, I won’t deny that. I still love the feeling of hose on freshly shaved legs, but it’s hot, and itchy, and it’s a little uncomfortable. Also, I can’t not wear it. The reason I do is because – how do I say this? – it helps me hide my genetalia. It’s how I tuck everything back.

I will admit a few things while I’m at it. I sometimes doubt myself. Am I really trans? Do other transgender ever feel this way? Do I doubt because I’m unsure or because this is an arduous and painful process? What does it mean to have this doubt?

I know I can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Or maybe Pandora’s box is a better metaphor. I can’t but Stefani back in the closet. I’m unhappy without her. I’m unhappy with Joe. I’m somehow neither and both. Schrodinger’s gender? A bad joke perhaps, but somehow also true.

That’s the thing I’m discovering about myself. It’s not entirely black and white. I thought the whole gender spectrum was a bunch of bullshit. I’m discovering that it is truer than I could have imagined. I’m a little of both. A little bit country, a little bit rock n roll. Another bad joke. I apologize.

In the end it’ll come down to which side is more me. It’s going to take me a lot of time to figure this out. I have a spiritual advisor to help me out, and she gave me the name of a therapist who deals with LGBTQ issues and hosts a transgender support group.

I refer to my female self in the third person not because I consider her someone else, but to identify her, to give me an identity. Joe is who I am everyday. Joe is drab, and mundane. Stefani is an emergent butterfly, ready to take flight after her transformation.

I do want to make clear that Stefani is not a mask, a costume I wear when I’m bored. I wouldn’t bother trying to come out if this was just some cheap thrill. I wouldn’t risk friendships and possibly alienating my family on some fetish. I am Stefani. I’m also Joe. I’m both and neither, and sometimes it’s overwhelming and confusing.

And the act of maintaining two distinct and separate lives is exhausting. Yes, there’s be some integration of my two halves, but it’s not complete. In the end, I think I will have to let Stefani out more and relegate Joe to the shadows. I’m happier as Stef. I’m freer as Stef, even if being Stef is a little more maintenance. It’s a small price to pay to be happy.

But why does it have to be a lot of work?

From then until now

It was a year ago that I took my first roadtrip as Stefani. I drove to Oklahoma City, spent the entire time dressed up, did some sightseeing, and drove back, without once changing into my male alter ego. I didn’t even take him clothes. It was a scary and exhilarating experience, and one I will never make again.

Since then, I’ve grown bold in my femme persona. As I write this, I’m in a coffee shop in Amarillo, a few blocks from where I work, wearing a skirt and blouse. Being Stef is less of an issue. I’m still apprehensive about it, especially with all the negativity thrown our way via the politicos in Washington and Austin, but no one gives me a second glance. I’m invisible.

Part of it is growing more comfortable in my skin. My first forays were spent in a state of hyper anxiety, waiting to be called out. But the more I have gone out, the less anxious I have become, learning to relax and enjoy my time out. The more comfortable I’ve become, the less attention I draw to myself.

Since my trip to OKC, I’ve gone out several time to DFW, visited the Arboretum there. I’ve driven to Lubbock and spent the day. I’ve started going out during the day here in my city. I’ve let more and more people into my life, the fear of being discovered having less power over me.

Only last week, I drove to Dallas, spent the entire time as Stef, and even visited my old work place. No one bothered to pay me any attention. I spend almost all my free time as Stef, only going out as Joe when it’s necessary, or when I go to work. I’m not yet ready to introduce myself as Stef there, even if most people already know.

Where I am now is coming to the decision that it’s time to move on. I never meant to stay in Amarillo, and I think my time here is coming to an end. I think that by next spring I’ll be ready to make the move to DFW. I’ll transfer to another Home Depot around the McKinney area, or maybe I’ll consider looking for another job altogether.

I’ll admit that I want to go to work as Stef. I want to live as Stef. The act of transitioning is growing more on my mind. I feel no rush when I dress up any more. I do not feel the excitement as I once did just to step out the door. It feels natural, it feels right, I feel like me.

I’m supposed to call someone my friend has recommended I talk to. She’s out of town until this coming week, but I’ll meet with her as soon as possible. I need to know how to proceed with my life, and my spiritual life is just as important to me as my physical well being.

There’s a lot to look forward to, and I can’t wait to live my life. My only regret is that I waited this long to come to terms with who I am. I can’t change the past, but I can make the right decision going forward. Here’s to me.

Wig, wig, wig, hair!

20160522_204647I recently decided to start growing out my hair. I say recently, though the truth is that it’s been growing for a few months now. I hate having the wear a wig. It feels unnatural and I fell that the upkeep is next to impossible. Maybe what I should do is spring for a high-quality, human hair wig, but I don’t have that kind of money.

I grew out my hair in college, back in the mid-nineties. When I say I grew it out, I mean just that. I wore it long, all the way to the middle of my back, for almost ten years. I did chop it off once, around 2000, but I grew it back out. Long hair was just part of who I was. It felt right.

But when I was about 28, I decided to cut it off for good. When I say I cut it, what I mean to say is that I shaved it off. Nothing left. I had been wanting to cut it for a while, but it took several drinks, to the point of being quite inebriated, to give my the courage to make that drastic a change. I kept it like that for several years, until after I got married, then I started wearing it in a spike, which lasted another few years.

Then I grew it out. Not long, like I’m doing now, but decently trimmed, short, but not buzzed. I always missed my long hair, but I was a grown up, trying to make a living, trying to look somewhat professional. Now, I don’t care so much. I want to look professional, sure, but I can do that with my hair long. I’m not planning on becoming a businessperson, working my way into the corporate drudgery.

I’m not sure if growing my hair will work. I’ve hit middle age, and though I have a full set of hair, it is receding. If it gets too bad, wigs will be my only option. We’ll see. I just know that I would prefer my actual hair. There’s a lot I can do with it long, say shoulder-length. I’m limited to the style my wig comes in. I can buy different wigs, but that takes up room. I don’t have any to spare.

It’s getting to to the point where I can start wearing hair extensions, which I better than a full wig. I’m doing some research on it. My cousin was the one who suggested it in the first place. I want to ask her to help me, but that may be a while before that happens. We’ll see.

 

Updating my blog

20160723_220725I’m starting to make a few changes here on my blog. I bought my domain name for starters. Now it’s simply StefaniLara.com. I think it has a nice ring to it. I also updated my tagline to The Girl Within from A girl in Disguise. I never liked the latter much, and I think the new tagline captures my current experience.

Here’s what’s going on. I feel this transformation is starting to take over. I’m compelled to come out. I’ve grown tired of all this secrecy. I know that I’m the one keeping the secret, and it’s one that’s not easy to discard. I’ve lived this lie for almost all of my forty years. I’ve grown accustomed to the mask I wear on a daily basis. Sometimes I’ve forgotten which mask I’m wearing, my true face, or that of my daily persona, Joe.

That’s right, kids! My name is Joe. Legally it’s Jose, but Let’s not quibble over technicalities. It’s a moniker that I wear daily, one that fits because I’ve worn it since the day I was born. Stefani came about when I first revealed this part of me to my then girlfriend, now my best friend, back in college. She asked me what my girl name was. I didn’t have an answer. I thought about it, and the name Stefani came to mind because there was a Tejano singer named Stefani Montiel. I have no idea where my adopted surname came in.

Were I to undergo a transition, I may keep my surname, which I’ll continue to keep secret for the time being, and use Lara as a middle name. It also feels right to me. It fits because I have had it for nearly twenty years.

This isn’t my first attempt at an online presence, either. Long ago, way before social media was really a thing, a website call GeoCities existed, where one could create webpages for free, so I did. I had to actually write the HTML code for the webpage, and I had a blast doing it. I also had to create all the images such as the title banner, which was the very original Stefani Lara. I’m nothing if not inventive.

Which brings me to today. I’m sitting here, in my drab wear, wishing I could dress up and be free. My spending on clothes has gotten out of control. I bought a pair of boots on Saturday when I should have been buying Joe some shoes. I then spent nearly $50 on panties alone! It’s not like I really need them. I dress up maybe once a week, if I’m lucky.

And that leads me to this conclusion. I’m wanting to out myself. I’m slowly telling people, and I’m setting myself up to be discovered by others. I want to open that dialogue, but it’s not easy. I want to be true to myself, but Joe is a very real person to them. While those I have told have been great about it, a time will come when someone will reject me, and that’s okay.

The truth is not easy. I have spent years, decades, trying to deny it of myself. Acceptance of ones self is the hardest acceptance to earn. I struggled and fought against it for years, though I knew in my heart who and what I was. Only recently have I begun to work out that who I am is not the man in the mirror I wake up to every morning. It’s the woman I transform into when I have a chance.

I no longer consider myself a crossdresser. When I have the conversation, I tell them that I identify as transgender. I’m a woman pretending to be a man, not vice versa. I know the arguments of gender and biology, that biologically I was born a man, but in my mind I’m not. In heart I’m not. In my soul I’m not. I’m not in unity with myself, and that’s a hard thing to deal with for so long. I lost a lot of years being depressed, though not clinically, because I wouldn’t deal with the truth.

So I’m making changes with my online presence. It’s not much, but changes sometimes comes slowly, building until there’s a build up and then a sudden release. I know I’m building up to something. I pray that it’s a good thing, scared that it may be a bad experience, but ever hopeful that I will come out stronger and happier than I have ever been.

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.

Lost time

20150803_203347When I think about all the time I lost, I get depressed. I can’t remember the last time I treated myself for a nice outfit and got dressed up before now. I know it was some time before I got together with my ex-wife, and that was in 2005. I want to say that I had “quit” years before. So it’s been ten to thirteen years since Stefani made an appearance. The best years erased in a futile hope that I could just be a normal guy.

No wonder I was so depressed.

I think I look okay now, but I’m still over-weight, and I have the upper torso of a 40-year-old dude. It’s amazing what lighting and camera angles can achieve! I have made a few changes lately, the main being cutting out sodas completely. I lost a pant size as a result. I would like to lose a little more, especially around the belly. I may have to cut out sugar, or gasp! start exercising!

Oh the horror of horrors! Exercising is the bane of my existence. I hate it. I get enough of a work out at work, but I know that I have got to start, if nothing else for my health. I also need to do some strength training, but not so much that I bulk up. That’s the last thing I want to do! Well, maybe bulk up my legs and butt. They could totally use it.

When I was in my early twenties, when my best friend first started showing me the ropes about doing make-up, it didn’t take much. My skin was flawless, I didn’t have much in the way of a beard, so covering it up wasn’t much of a hassle, and I was thin as a rail. Seriously, I could pass as a woman (I think) and I would go out sometimes, even during the day! It felt so good to be out, wearing shorts with pantyhose and a sleeveless shirt. Now, were you to look at me in public, it’s so obvious that I’m not a woman. Damn my advancing years!

I guess I could continue whining and moaning about the lost years during which I kept Stefani locked securely away, unknown and unseen. In the end, I grappled with a feeling of loss, of anger, and depression. It took me a long time to realize that I couldn’t keep me locked away, safe from prying eyes. I had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not a man, in the same way I’m not a woman. I’m somehow neither and both. Call it transgender, call it gender fluid, I really don’t care about defining myself with arbitrary terms. What I do care about is being faithful to who I am as a person.

Above all, and I want to be crystal clear about this, I am a human being, and deserve the respect thereof that I’m entitled to. I am both male and female, and I made a mistake of trying to narrowly define myself as one to the exclusion of the other, and I suffered for over a decade, in denial that half of myself was missing. With all this talk about gender and transitioning – thank you Caitlyn Jenner! – we have been thrust into the glaring light of public opinion, and the amount of vitriol coming from those who believe we chose to be this way is astounding. What bothers me is the amount of vitriol coming from our side!

Maybe I’m naive in hoping that we can move past this. All I want is to respect and to be respected. I want us all to respect one another, even if we’re not altogether comfortable with the other. I have no desire to “push” my lifestyle onto others, whatever the fuck that means. I need to make the best use of my time going forward to be myself, to blossom and welcome the sun’s warming glow illuminate who I am. I am Stefani, and I love this part of me.