“What can I do for you?”
[ I’m starting to consider the first words I might say in answer to such a question posed by a therapist circa August 2012. Right now, I’m not sure, but it might go something like this: ]
Well, it’s a long story, but here’s the short version. I’ve had gender questions pretty much my whole life. I started wishing I was a girl pretty early, but I thought for a long time that it was just about wanting to wear the clothes. I started trying on girl clothes in secret when I was about 5 or 6 years old, and the thought of becoming a woman has dominated at least my sexuality (if not exactly my whole consciousness) since well before puberty — to the exclusion of basically everything else. (I realize this leaves lots of blanks to fill in.)
Socially, I’ve always been shy (“not exactly a people person” my family would say), but noticed early that I felt more comfortable with women, and always felt distinctly uncomfortable with men. It’s not like I played with dolls as a kid (I did not; my questions and feelings have always been pretty much kept to myself), but I’ve always found it easier to talk to and relate to women, while finding it very hard to talk and relate to men. I’ve always felt like I was playacting as a man. But actually being a man puts up barriers between me and women that I just don’t like and have always wished were not there. (Again, there’s lots more to this story.)
I’ve always considered myself straight, and I’ve never had a sexual experience with a man (when I have fantasized about such a thing, which I certainly have more and more as time has passed, it has always been about having a quintessential female experience, and not from attraction to any particular man). My sexual experiences with women have been very satisfying, but only if the sexual activity was in the context of a meaningful emotional relationship (dating relationships which turned sexual too quickly always ended in disaster for me). Even so, my sexual performance always (quite literally) relies on a mental shift to imagery of myself as the female (though in a distinctly different way than when I am alone). I’ve tried to write that off as just good technique for sexual performance, but it’s more than that, I know.
Anyway, here’s the impetus for coming in. A couple of years ago, after a rather long period of remission or incubation or something, when I didn’t really dress at all, I started dressing again in private. But now I was dissatisfied with my wardrobe, which tended heavily toward the “tranny” end of the scale. So I started getting rid of all my “tranny” clothes and buying real-woman clothes. It happened kind of gradually, but all the short dresses and high heels and frilly or extra-girly things that I could never wear in public got donated, and in their place I started buying jeans, sweaters, flats, much more everyday items, with the criteria being things women actually wear, and things that I might look OK in and could actually wear in public without drawing too much attention. In other words, I began buying and wearing clothes that I would if I were in active transition (or post-transition).
Why this shift happened, I do not really know. But it was clear early on that something was different inside me that was driving it. I probably couldn’t have denied it, but I didn’t even try. I just went with it.
Once I started buying these things, I started wearing them out in public (basically just to run errands). It was a pretty natural thing. At first I went very subtle, so no one would ever notice. But I found that when I went out like that, I started to see the whole world from a different point of view. It was barely noticeable at first, especially because I was pretty nervous. But there was nothing sexual about it, and something warm and emotional about it. I found that I got a little tickle down deep inside, and it grew every time I went out. I smiled more, and behaved more gently. While I was out dressed, for the first time ever I started to think of myself as a transgendered woman. This thought was not shocking or uncomfortable, but rather inviting and exciting, albeit unnerving because I knew where it could lead. I actually began to imagine what a real transition would be like.
I’d considered that possibility many times in my life, of course, but always thought it was just a sexual fantasy, based on the clothes and maybe the taboo nature of the activity. And I always convinced myself that some fantasies, even if they serve a purpose, generally are best left unrealized. I never had the passionate/desperate need to transition (like you hear about so many transwomen). Even now, I’m pretty confident that I could stay male and not be too miserable because I’ve come to terms with it pretty well. But from time to time, through the years, and especially in this new era, I also thought it was more than a fantasy, and maybe my actual destination. I’ve started to wonder if “not being too miserable” is really good enough, when something much better may be possible.
Well, once I got started going out dressed, and once my wardrobe built up a little, I’ve found myself going out pretty much every chance I get. What’s more, now I think of myself as a transwoman the whole time, and I’ve stopped trying to hide it while out (like today). I just got to a point where I wanted to meet the world as a transwoman and see what it was really like. Now, as you can tell, I’m willing to be noticed, and I’ve accepted the role — at least on a limited basis. I don’t do it everywhere, or even anywhere it could cause personal repercussions.
And that’s why I’m here. I need help in figuring out what this is about, and whether it is some passing phase, mid-life crisis, sexual addiction, or a real desire to transition. I’ve come to think it’s the latter, but I’m not the expert. And though I think I know what I want, I need to consider my family, whom I love deeply, and for whom my transition would certainly be a burden.
Which leads me to admit that, along the way, I think I’ve read and seen everything there is to read on transgender issues, including scientific papers, blogs, biographies, autobiographies, TV specials, materials from support organizations. It’s been a daily concern for most of my adult life — seriously — and I’m someone who has to know everything there is to know if I’m into some subject. I’ve learned a lot about the steps and mechanics of transition, how people with gender issues sometimes get treated by the public, family, friends, coworkers, etc. I’ve read about the risks, and the rewards. It’s a pretty daunting thought, and I’m surprised at myself that I might even consider this. That’s really what makes me take this shift very seriously.
So I’m trying to be honest with myself in coming here for help. Even though I’ve read a lot of transition stories, and seen elements of my own in many of them, I don’t think I’ve taken a typical path, and I don’t think I’m imagining a typical transition. For example, I’m not necessarily interested in genital surgery, but the thought of being rid of my testosterone is very attractive. And I accept that I might never be “passable” by some standards, but that gender is mostly an internal thing. Being accepted as a transwoman would, I think, be sufficient for me.
I think that I’m interested in just letting my female self out so that I can change my perspective on the world. My hunch is that what I’ve been feeling while out as a woman is just the leading edge of what is possible. I imagine it being like seeing the same scene, but with the focus on a very different portion of it, and a different interpretation inside. I also imagine that it would allow the breakdown of those barriers I feel between me and other women, while also alleviating my discomfort with men by lifting the sense that I am playacting. I really think that I could relate to both women and men better as a transwoman (whatever that means).
OK, I guess that’s the not-so-short version. So…what comes next?