Note: This is the first of a three-part series where I sort through what triggers my dysphoria, and how understanding that is essential to accepting that I am trans.

fashionable-womens-snow-boots-uqggr1vkqDoes she have any idea what those boots do to me?

Does she realize, when she puts them on, that for a segment of the world — which includes me — she is sexualizing her legs most powerfully?

I don’t suppose that she thought about me when she put them on, but does she know that I see her very differently differently when she wears those boots?

Does she realize that, even though I know and respect her, and don’t think of her as an object in any way, that the hormones in my body react to those boots in a way that makes it nearly impossible for me not to objectify her?

Oh, Carmela. I do not want to be toward you the person that those boots make me want to be. You are a person, a whole person, and I respect you. You are smart, and valuable, and a whole person well beyond your body.

And I don’t think that you put on those boots this morning with the idea that they would over-stimulate my sexual conquistador juices — or did you? Did you know that they might cause me to become transfixed, consumed, obsessed with you? That they might make me want to seduce you?

This is not an academic question. It’s very real. But there is an equally important second set of questions that I must also ask of myself.

Do I realize that those boots only sexualize Carmela in my mind? Can I remain fully aware of the fact that she likely did not put them on with the intention of attracting me? Do I fully understand that the attraction I feel for her when she’s wearing those boots is not something she created through her decision, but something I created through the act of observing and contemplating her?

Those boots engaged my eyes, and then my testosterone surged, and my thinking became laser-focused on her and nothing else. It was the boots that grabbed me, and only a few drooling moments later did I notice the night-black opaque tights which bridged the gap between the tops of those amazing boots, and the equally transfixing hem of her sweater dress — a hem which descended to exactly the right height on her powerful thighs.

The full truth is that, when I saw her today, I wanted to walk up to Carmela, put my hand around her waist, compliment her beauty and her clothing, smell her hair, touch her arm, and get lost for a few minutes in her shapely smile. I wanted to flirt with her, and convince her to go with me to some quiet place where I could explore her curves and lips.

Perhaps this description makes her appearance sound provocative, but it was beautifully muted. She is a 40-ish mother of two who has retained the most beautiful femininity and girlness. I know her well enough to know that it’s not an act, and it’s not for the benefit of any man. Her beauty, which perhaps not all would see, is about who she is, her clothing being only a visual manifestation of that.

As I glanced at her, carefully short and calculated glances, I tried to keep myself aware of the fact that the power of her thighs was only in my mind. She did not place it there, nor was it something inherent about her anatomy. She did not reveal her deep attractiveness by her choice of outfit. She was, in sure fact, just being herself. It is only in my mind that Carmela became, in that first moment, my ultimate dream of womanhood — both for my male hormones, and my female sensibilities.

Because, while the male part of me would love to kiss and hug her, and hold her hand, and tickle her ear with a whisper, these are not the thoughts I had about her which really interest me.

What her boots, and indeed her whole outfit, even her whole persona, did to me was create very real and deep envy. Whatever things about herself she may hold inside, and there certainly is plenty, through her choice of outfit she was giving herself to the world as fully female, and fully comfortable with that identity. She was confident, open, and plainly herself. And once I got over the testosterone surge (through sheer will power), that is what I realized was causing me to remain transfixed upon her. If anything, it wasn’t even the femininity which attracted me, but just her overall comfort with herself, and her seemingly effortless ability to project her true self into the world.

Setting aside the great distraction provided by male hormones, which I truly wish I could be rid of, her boots — as a proxy for her whole appearance — didn’t make me think, “Gee, I wish I had boots like that,” or, “Gee, I wish I could wear such a thing,” or, “Gee, I wish I looked like her,” or even, “Gee, I wish I could be a girl like her.” What her boots really did to me is make me think, “I wish I could be that open and honest about who I am as I move about the world. I wish I could just say, ‘Here I am, all of me.'” That’s what her boots made me wish.

Sweet Carmela

Sweet Carmela

As my male hormones retreated into self control, I came to realize that she wasn’t wearing tights at all, but just tightish black pants. And her “sweater dress” was really just a long sweater, falling down to its full length, and falling about where a miniskirt might. But it wasn’t the bombshell look my instincts had at first assembled. It was much more sensible. The boots had just taken my mind into flights of fancy about her clothing decisions today.

And that would be the point. To Carmela, everything she did, wore, decided, was about her, and not about me or anyone else. She picked clothing which she thought looked attractive on her (it did), but she did it not to attract me or anyone else. She certainly didn’t do it to sexualize her body. All of those ideas arose within my mind, stoked by hormones, and did not come in any way from her. It was all me.

Sometimes I wonder if my desire to be a woman is about being able to arouse such thoughts in other people. I mean, it’s perfectly possible that she did want to turn guys on with her look today, though I think that unlikely. Even if not today, I’m sure there have been times when she wanted to sexualize portions of her body to attract a man or men.

But Carmela is someone who I sense has some insecurity in this area. I think she would be genuinely surprised that I had any of these thoughts when I saw her today. Even setting aside my trans thoughts, which she could have no inkling about, I think she would be surprised to know that I wanted to embrace her. I even suspect that if she knew she were having that affect on someone (not just me, anyone), she might have chosen a different outfit for the day.

But the lesson is in the mechanism. What she wore caused a reaction within me, but that is all. I observed her and reacted. Part of it was instinctive, animal. Part of it was more than that. But what I can gain is the sure knowledge that my reactions are my own, even if caused by someone else’s clothing decisions.

She made me understand that what I want is to bring my whole self to the world, and that I cannot do that right now, as a man. My hope is that I could do it as a woman, but that’s only a hope.

But the episode made very clear that, when I understand my reactions, and accept that they are mine alone, and that they serve to explain me to myself, then I might understand myself better by way of women (and others) like Carmela — something she will never know.