Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Holiday Girls Night Out

The holiday lights, the sights and sounds of Christmas and the thoughts of friends getting together for an evening of merriment. These were the makings for our holiday night out at the Crowne!

Joanne and I arrived at the Red Roof Inn around 4:30 on this Tuesday Afternoon with enough time to prepare ourselves to go out that evening. After checking in at the front desk and receiving our key, we gathered our belongings and approached the door to our room. I inserted my keycard and turned the handle of the door only to be greeted by an out-rushing wave of heat as the door opened and I stepped in. It was immediately apparent upon examination of the thermostat, that the last person to vacate this now sultry abode, had taken it upon him or herself, to turn the heat up to its maximum position possible. The room felt as if it were approaching a temperature near enough to a level which would allow it to self combust as I quickly looked for ways to dissipate the heat.

Certainly, I could have made the trek back to the front desk to try to procure another room, but this would have taken precious time - time which I dearly needed in order to ready myself to go out enfemme at 6:00pm. I quickly turned on the bathroom ventilation fan and tried to turn on the air conditioner. Alas, the air conditioner had been deactivated for the winter season and only the fan setting was available.

I lay out my makeup and clothes, turning both beds and the work table into a staging area with assortments of both Joanne's and my own belongings. Makeup and shoes, clothes and jewelry, wigs and hair styling accessories quickly consumed every inch of space in that small place.

I began with the makeup, half dressed en-femme - face to the bathroom mirror and my back to the half open door as I tried to dissipate the accumulated heat still evident in the room. It was an attempt to cool the room as quickly as possible as the layers of makeup on my face began to balk at the high levels of heat. Scenes of the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz were coming to mind as I heard the silently spoken words coming from the makeup on my face bellowing "I'm Melting - what a world... what a world..."

As I continued in my routine of preparation, it became apparent as a car drove by in the parking lot past our room, that the door had fully opened, assisted by a chilly, cold winter breeze. Joanne, looked at me, half dressed in a pair of pantyhose and a bra, slopping makeup on my puss and with my back side now fully exposed to anyone who might pass by and extolled, "Oh Look, Connecticut plates! I think that must be Susan's Car that is pulling up next to us!". Joanne, who had been busy ironing clothes on the floor of the motel, had not drawn the visual dotted line to connect that my back side was in a linear line to the eyes of anyone who might be passing by. As quickly as she said this, she realized the folly and WHAM - the door was shut in a flash. The only thought going through my head at that point was that my first impression I would make for Susan would be the one that would have her turn her car around and head straight back home! Fortunately, my fears never materialized.

At 6:00pm, Joanie came by and witnessed my scatter brained moments as I scurried to assemble all of my emergency make-up that I might need that evening into my purse. Several moments of piecing this all together and we were off to Susan's room, which was next door. We all jumped into my car and we were off to the Mall for some quick shopping at the MAC store and then to dinner. The GG's were off on their own doing some last minute holiday shopping and we would meet them later at the Crowne.

parking in the underground garage at Nordstroms, we made our way to the escalators which delivered us up and out into the main plaza of the mall. As we were all dressed quite casually (or dressy casual), I was hopeful that we would not attract any undue attention as we promenaded through a bustling mall filled with holiday shoppers. My premonitions became reality as we strode down the main promenade and noticed nothing unusual. There were no glances or glares, stutters or stares as we made our way casually down and through past shop after shop. Any looks we did receive were just as any one might receive at any time, anywhere. We were just three girls out shopping that evening and it felt wonderful and empowering.

Head held high, shoulders back, and with an air of confidence, we rounded a corner to arrive at the MAC Cosmetic Store. As I was nearly out of my favorite powder, I felt this to be a good opportunity to combine our outing with a purpose. Entering the store, we were greeted by a tall and very large, masculine looking man. His facial hair and herculean stature were somewhat daunting as he approached us.

"May I help you ladies?", he inquired.

Well, I asked to do this, so I had to respond...

"Yes", I replied as I reached into my pocketbook to produce my nearly empty container of MAC Powder. "I'm just about out of my loose powder makeup", I explained.

Immediately, his demeanor warmed and became overtly friendly. he began demonstrating and suggesting techniques and methods of blending and concealing. It was obvious he knew what I, and we, were interested in as a primary concern, which was concealment! It turned out that he had been a makeup artist in the past to a number of different transgender organizations and was well versed in his craft and art. He provided us with samples and suggestions as he spoke and gave us thoughts on what we might consider trying in the future to get the near perfect look we might desire.

As we left the store that evening, we were quite thrilled with the positive experience as well as the courtesy we were shown. We rambled on to our dining destination at P.F. Changs, an upscale Chinese Restaurant, where we awaited a table in what was an extremely busy setting. Again, there were no qualms or concerns to be considered as we gave our name to the seating hostess and awaited our turn for a table. Dinner was superb as we met up with Tiffany, who always seems able to get the most perfect parking place practically in front of the restaurant every time!

Dinner was, as always at P.F. Changs, simply superb. We dined on a variety of appetizers which we passed freely around the table. Seared Tuna, Crab Rangoon and Calimari were some of the delicacies we tried. My Blue Hawaiian was an oasis of turquoise on the table and helped to take what little left there was of any concerns I might have had. Our hostess was professional and courteous and provided us with a wonderful meal.

We topped off our night with a trip to the Crowne, where we met up with the GG's for an evening of merriment and chatter along with many others, a few of whom are also (or will now soon be on...) PE.

It was a great night all around and one that will be warmly remembered by all.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Night Out to Dinner En Femme with our Spouses...

My latest foray out en femme was a wonderful experience for both my wife Joanne, and I. It was wonderful because it was affirming and supportive and it disposed of many of the pre-dispositions we held inside of us and paved the way for further exploration.

For Joanne, it was primarily her fears of how I might be accepted and her worries for my safety. For me, it was more a concern towards how she felt and in our ability to blend in with a mainstream crowd.

We started the night with a repeat visit to a local P.F. Changs Chinese Restaurant. The last time did not include the wives in the adventure so this was a new wildcard to add. This particular restaurant is most easily accessible from within the mall to which it is attached, and so, with this knowledge in mind, we parked underneath the Nordstrom's anchor store as a base of entry. Joanne and I along with another couple were ready to begin our entry into the mall. There were some moments of panic and distress from both SO's when the full extent of our foray through two levels of a department store and out across a considerable distance of the main promenade of the mall was realized.

We alit from the garage escalator and sauntered out into the store. As it were, we happened to be in the women's department which allowed for some quick browsing as we moved through and out into the mall. Dressed stylishly but subtly, we seemed to blend in quite well. Our SO's were holding back several paces as I specifically wanted Joanne to monitor what was going on as we passed by the crowds of people out shopping that evening in the mall. What was amazing was that not only were we not being clocked, but rather that no one was paying attention at all - until - we stopped.

We had been to this restaurant before but we were somehow lost in the myriad of corridors that made up this mall. Fortunately we stopped right at a crossroads where we were presented with a large, lit store directory. As we pondered over where we were, we were rifling visually through the entries to try to discover what corresponding map number the restaurant was referencing on the large vertical panel presented before us. We apparently were looking so distraught at the blur of numbers on the map that a sales woman in an adjacent store came out of her shop, approached, and asked if she could help. We turned toward her and her facial expression, to my own amazement, did not change. We asked in a feminine voice for directions to guide us through the maze and she directed us politely and succinctly. Again we were on our way and no issues.

Approaching the restaurant, we peered through the glass windows and realized that the place was packed to capacity. Unlike last time when it was quiet, the holidays seemed to be materializing hordes of diners to this one venue. The entrance we happened on was mistakenly on the side of the restaurant that had the bar and this was like a cattle car, standing room only, patrons waiting, huddled around the entry podium with their pagers, awaiting for a table to open. This was suddenly becoming a concern for Joanne as it meant that we were going to be rubbing shoulders in a closed and close environment about 11 seconds from now.

"Hold head high, maintain composure and look assured", I thought to myself. Opening the door, we decidedly commanded our entrance and worked our way through the crowd to the seating hostess at the podium. Using a most feminine voice as we could, we requested a table, half knowing what her reply would be. "About 20 minutes is the wait", she said. "But you are welcome to sit over at the bar".

This seemed a good option as it got us out of the rush-hour like crowds. We made our way to the only four contiguous and open stools at the bar. Sitting down, I took a moment to look around at the clientele. The diners seated around us were ranged in age from teenage to late middle age. None were gravitating their attention to us and even the teens were absorbed in whatever they were discussing at their table.

The bartender, whose name we learned was Matt, came over and asked our orders. I ordered a Blue Hawaiian, which he was not sure how to make. I explained that it was a drink made with curacao, and with just that knowledge, he said he could figure the rest out from a reference guide. We had no problems at all in our chat and he seemed more enthralled to have us stay at the bar for the evening. "You ladies aren't leaving the bar for a table are you?", he asked when he saw the pager.

Joanne was feeling comfortable at the bar and didn't want to move at this point, so when the pager flashed, I opted to take it up to the hostess to return it. Walking past the teenagers and several other tables presented no problems what-so-ever. I approached the hostess and presented her with the pager, letting her know our intents to stay put at the bar. Her conversation did not break although I did catch the eye of a waiter from the corner of my own as I spoke. His look was one that I could only define as confounded amazement - almost a look of "something does not compute" in his mind and I don't think he blinked once while I chatted with the hostess for a bit longer. It really felt that I had some wonderful control of the moment just then and it felt great.

Back at the bar, we ordered an array of appetizers for dinner to go with our drinks. The first round of drinks consumed, we were beginning to start in on our second round. Most of the concerns of the SO's were rapidly sinking into the murky depths of the Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians being consumed. The bartender was starting to really enjoy our company and offered that he would buy us a round of spare ribs for the table. We had a great time and really made the evening special for him I am sure. It was equally a success for all and helped both Joanne and I dispel many of our remaining fears that we had imagined for the evening.

Walking back through the mall later that evening, we passed two guys who Joanne thought would "make" us. She saw it coming as we apparently were oblivious to each other's collision course approach being that I was in a "femmy" chat mode at the time. Joanne said later that she was amazed that they didn't even turn a head or bat an eye at us as we crossed paths. I asked her later - "Do I really look that far off to be made?". Her reply - "I guess its just because I always only see you". Having been happily married for 16 years, I'll take that as a big compliment for sure! It's nice to be seen as just "me" - I'll take that any day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Christen's First Mainstream Foray Out!

More than a few requests have trickled in regarding my first adventure out into the mainstream world last Tuesday evening and so here's the trip log and a little bit of what I was feeling and experiencing....

Although I had been out prior to alternative clubs as my true feminine self, I had not as of that point, ventured to great degree into the more busy realm of the mainstream world. Last Tuesday evening represented my first foray into the greater world and it was met with great success and validation.

The evening was to start with dinner at a mainstream Chinese Restaurant linked to a major mall. As we drove through the parking lot of the mall in multiple loops, it became more and more obvious that this restaurant would only be accessible by entering in through the Mall. This realization added a layer of subdued panic to that moment, although I composed myself to maintain authority of the impending situation. We parked in the garage under Nordstrom's and made our way to the elevators up to the store. Being dressed casually feminine in dressy slacks and low heels, I was in the hopes of not drawing any undue attention. As it were, we clip-clopped past the womens' department and out into the main alley of the mall. I made note, head held high and with calm poise, out of the side of my eye at the passing customers. In no instance did I note any glance upon me to be anything other than just that - a normal and casual glance. To be sure, at various points, I stopped and scanned my surroundings of the 360 degree panorama of perusing people and again, nothing. Certainly what I was hoping for but not what I was expecting.

We continued on to eventually find the restaurant, hooked into one of the side corridors and accessible by an elevator to the upper level. Disembarking, we found ourselves immediately in the waiting lounge just outside the restaurant. We approached the hostess who addressed us as ladies, and without hesitation, led us to our table where we met one other girl who had already arrived and had been waiting for us. The waitress promptly came over soon after we were seated, and, from her look we could tell that she knew we were just a bit special. Her initially trepid poise was overcome as we began to interact with her. We ordered a round of drinks and I used my best possible feminine voice to request a "Blue Hawaiian". Unfortunately, the waitress had never heard of a "Blue Hawaiian" and so this then required me to really interact in a more serious way in describing it more fully. I really could have used that Blue Hawaiian just before that point but alas this was not the case. The waitress never showed anything but a compassionate and respectful composure throughout the evening. By the end of the dinner, she was chatting with us, and even went so far as to let us know what nights she worked and to ask for her specifically the next time we came to dine.

Leaving the restaurant, we migrated back through the mall and became disoriented in Nordstroms as to where the elevators to the parking garage were. The clip-clop of heels on the hard tile floor ceased suddenly, and this sudden silence caught the attention of a store employee who immediately gazed upward and, without pause, asked "May I help you ladies?". Explaining our predicament, we were pointed toward the elevators and made our way back to the garage. Mission accomplished. I believe I only noted one genetic male in our sojourn, dressed in a suit, who gave us ladies a quick look and then what I determined as a "we've been made" smile of knowing, but in no way did we receive a negative response.

We were off to the Crown Plaza after this adventure, where every Tuesday there is a get together for cross dressers and transgendered ladies in the lobby bar. Again, we parked outside the hotel and clopped our way in through the main doors and across the lobby to the bar with no reactions to be noted. The bar itself was alive with chatter as a group of about 10 girls were seated in various forms of dress at a train of cocktail tables assembled together in the middle of the room. The Bar held patrons from the hotel as well as other transgendered individuals mingling juxtaposed to one another. The far corner of the bar was taken up with the weekly Scuba Diving Enthusiasts get together. This latter group caught my interest and I was able to engage at one point in conversation with them. Being an avid scuba diver myself, I found common ground in being able to discuss some of the great dive spots I had the opportunity to experience and to learn of other's stories.

We migrated later to the bar itself where the bartender knew many of those who were weekly regulars and she was quite comfortable in engaging with all of us in conversation. Joanne had a wonderful time as well and was put at ease by the fantastic company of those she was with. It was made especially easy by the two wonderful ladies from PE who made this a fantastic evening for her and for all. We will certainly want to repeat this adventure again in the very near future.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming to Terms with the Realization: I am transgender

Repressed memories really do take some time to surface I am finding. I have only in the past 6 months come to realize so much about myself from childhood that I never thought I even remembered and this was before I started to research this.

The past came at me with a single remembrance one evening recently that struck me and opened doors into my memory that I never knew existed.

Working back through the memories, I pulled out many photo albums which contained pictures taken during my childhood.

I looked at each one carefully. Facial expressions, poses for the camera - all were examined. I asked my spouse to look through these as well and to independently come up with her assessment of what she saw.

It was the poses, the way I stood, the way I looked, the way I had my hands on my hips. The looks of sadness or that look of being a million miles off in space when the picture was taken.

Some of the pictures from the teenage years, she said, showed a deep depression. She was right.

It was all of these things put together.

She said she saw, in all of these pictures, an unhappy little girl.

We both realized at that point what we would talk about next.

All of those years that I had professed to myself - had professed to HER that I was simply a cross dresser and enjoyed the clothes - was simply not an accurate representation of the whole of what I am. I am transgender.

The stories came next.... stories of growing up and sitting with the girls in class. Avoiding the boys. Watching the girls grow and then leaving me alone without friends in a playground at recess - no longer part of their community.

The little girl next door, who, until age 12, would come over my house where we would play pretend games - some days it was playing cosmetologist and we would concoct cosmetics and face creams from items already in the house.
But she came over one day to say that it was no longer a good idea for us to be as close friends as we were and I was lost again.

It was the doll house that I found of my sister's that I played with for a few weeks at about age 8. It was my father who took it without warning one day and when I asked, said that it was not alright for me to play with doll houses.

It was the books and hobbies I immersed myself in to console myself in my own world. It was stories of fantasy, science fiction and the escapes they allowed me. I was given encyclopedias for children which I read cover to cover - ALL of them. By Junior High, I was already versed in every science book in the library from grammar school and many from the local library. I realized in college taking some of these courses for credit, that I had obtained by that early age, a first college semester's knowledge of astronomy, geology, meteorology, electronics, environmental science and physics. I was building my own telescopes, building radios and soldering together other circuits on perf boards from parts at Radio Shack, developing my own B&W photos. I was writing stories and poetry. I had immersed myself in everything I could to avoid the one thing I could not learn and understand - ME.

It was the music I listened to. The bands, groups, lyrics. The general themes of each.

It was revealing to put the pieces together - no - it was a revelation...

I fully realized that evening that I was never just a cross dresser and that I had been showing all the traits of a small girl growing up.

I was transgender.

I cried for hours that evening and in waves for days after. It was all in relief in finally understanding myself that I cried.

But this revelation left me feeling empty

Why did it take this long up to this point for me to realize all of this? How well I hid this from myself. I had all of the pieces to put this all together but I did not. No... I WOULD not. I had believed that any problem - ANY problem could be broken down into small enough finite components such that any person could comprehend the solution. I realized then that I had kept the secret of myself FROM myself. I had all of the pieces but I had failed to put them back together to form a coherent solution.

I didn't need a therapist to help me learn this about myself. I finally have learned the one thing I could not figure out and it was myself.

Now the road is paved to a better understanding as I walk this road of life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Taking Time to Enjoy the Journey

Recently, a thought came to me.... "Happiness is the journey, not the destination" which started me to thinking about this in the context of the life I have led thus far.

Earlier in my life, I felt that happiness could be obtained by carefully mapping out my life and connecting the goals-of-life dots. The end result was thereby the penultimate achievement and the journey then was at times being ignored. In the process, I suppressed my own sense of self to fit the mold that would map out this course of direction. As time passed, I checked off each of the things I managed to achieve and came closer to the materialistic and definable goals I had mapped. In the process, I ignored my own sense of self and ignored the journey it needed to fulfill. I had suppressed the journey of self in favor of reaching the destinations of the material life. It was not a negativity, just a lack of inclusion for an important facet that was being repressed.

In a similar way, I am finding now that the journey I have allowed myself to come to terms with within myself, is so much more valuable than reaching an end destination. Whereas my materialistic journey of accomplishments was more like traveling in a corporate jet piloted by those who could get me to my destination the fastest, my gender journey is realizing the necessity to travel by train and to peer out the window as the countryside passes by. I am the engineer of this train and I will travel the rails of life at a speed that allows me to enjoy the view. In this way, I may decide that in my journey to my destination, I have found a place that is so much better than where I had intended initially to travel. And because I travel with eyes open, looking around at the panorama unfolding out the window and not from high among and in the clouds at jet speed, I can gain the perspective to understand that it really is all about the journey and not the destination. My destination is the journey and the destination I thought to travel to, with my new found perspective, may not have been the place I was intending to go to after all.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Christen's First Night Out

Last night, Saturday, was my first event out as Christen. It seemed difficult for me to believe that I had waited for so long to actually do this but I needed to be ready and comfortable in my own mind as much as I needed for my wife, Joanne, to be as well. The day itself, and what we later did afterward that evening, were a momentous and defining series of events for us both.

The main and only event we were initially considering attending was a Tri-ESS chapter meeting in New Hampshire. We both had talked about this impending event with some trepidation and anxiety. There were numerous potential problems we feared we would encounter. The list was wide ranging with some of the fears bordering on ludicrous as we built up complex scenarios that we might potentially incur.

Saturday morning was busy enough however to put many of those fears at bay as we scrambled to put together our contribution to a pot-luck dinner for the Tri-ESS meeting that afternoon. After that, it was time to both get ready ourselves. We both decided to take a middle road and to wear some stylish tops paired with slacks and heels. With makeup and hair complete, we loaded the car and headed out. Other than the one hour drive to the meeting itself, this certainly was not an event that we felt would be unsafe in any way. The drive down on the interstate was without incident and Joanne decided she would drive just as a precautionary measure.

Upon arrival to the place of meeting, we quickly fixed our makeup and hair which was needed partially due to the rainy and humid weather we faced that day. Grabbing our pocketbooks and our trays of Italian stuffed shells, we sauntered across the parking lot to the main entrance. Joanne certainly could not believe how confident I appeared as I walked across the rain soaked parking lot in 3 inch heels balancing trays of Italian food.

Entering the building was quite momentous for me as it placed me for the first time enfemme in front of the eyes of others. There was quite a large gathering already assembled inside and so I placed my food down and was immediately welcomed by all. It was so exciting to be able to be myself and to talk so freely among such a diverse range of individuals. Joanne was able to spend some time as well getting to know the two other SO's who were also at the meeting and to share her thoughts with them within the context a discussion group.

It was curious to me that several of the members at the meeting were somewhat impressed when I mentioned to them I had never been out of the house before, that I did my own makeup and that I could handle myself extremely well in 3 inch heels. I was also asked multiple times if I felt nervous or uncomfortable in any way. Really, I felt quite at ease and comfortable in a warm environment. I mentioned that I had been dressing for nearly three decades and certainly felt very comfortable with myself at this point to not be nervous. I assured to all, that the day I stepped out of the house would be the day I would also be ready to be myself as well – and without trepidation or fear.

Joanne and I enjoyed a nice dinner and conversation with those at the meeting. It was toward the end of the meeting that we found out that some of the others were intending to go out afterwards to an alternative club. Although Joanne and I had originally only intended to attend the meeting, we did look to one another and I asked her if she might be alright with this next step. I knew I might be pushing the envelope just a bit fast going from closet to a safe club and then to the outdoor world in just our first night out but I was like the little kid in the candy store at that moment. She did say this would be fine since we were going to be in a group situation with three others.

As we headed out to our respective cars, we learned that there was going to be an intermediate stop at a local Fashion Bug clothing store for some quick browsing. This caused a moment of panic for both of us as we arrived at the shopping center parking lot. Joanne did not feel comfortable with going in to a public store just at that point but urged that it would be alright for me to do so. As I felt this would be a great socialization and learning experience for me, I jumped at the opportunity to do so while Joanne remained for the few moments I would be gone to reapply her makeup in the car for our intended destination at the club.

We all sauntered into the store where I took my own direction to wander the racks, partly browsing, but more so observing the reactions of customers and sales staff to us in general. I was quite pleasantly surprised to observe that there were no real reactions or leering stares made to us and in fact, a sales woman did come by and politely ask me if I needed help in finding anything. It was certainly very reassuring and affirming in the uneventfulness of this experience. I was also quite surprised how comfortable I felt with all of this and just how calm and relaxed I was in this situation.

Returning back to the car, we headed off to the club – this time with me driving. The club, located in Manchester, NH, was a gathering place for all types of alternative life-styles. We parked and walked in where we had our ID’s checked at the door. Joanne noticed that when I presented my ID, the security attendant did at least two double takes between the picture on my license and then of me, to which I simply told him "I look a lot different in person".

We had quite a nice evening chatting on some comfortable sofas just downstream of the bar and dance floor where some karaoke was going on. Joanne prodded me to go up to the bar for some drinks, which I did. Surprisingly, I received some very nice complements on my attire from the bartender as we chatted briefly. As we sat and chatted, the club began to fill in with other patrons as well as some amateur drag performers. One performer, during her act did seem to find her way to where we were sitting while prancing the floor and lip syncing. She did make it a point to stop directly and specifically where I was sitting for quite a close up and personal moment during her performance.

Joanne did find some concern for me when it became a pressing need for me to utilize the restroom. As I felt much less comfortable entering the men's room enfemme, I opted for the women's bathroom. Joanne did accompany me just to keep a protective watch though! Again, there were no surprises to be had. The one other genetic woman touching up her makeup at the vanity mirror didn't even bat an eyelash at my presence.

All in all it was a fantastic evening out. We encountered absolutely no negativity whatsoever and instead made some new acquaintances, discussed a number of gender and non-gender related topics, enjoyed a delicious dinner, a trip to a clothing store, and a night out at a club which welcomes all diversities in life. We learned more about how others perceived us and how we each felt together between ourselves in sharing this. It was all a positive and inspiring experience. Our only remaining worry on the hour ride north toward home that night was the thought of hitting a moose on the empty interstate highway. Again, this improbable potentiality also did not come to pass. I had a great time and Joanne, too, was so much more comfortable as well with all of this which meant even more to me.

It was a fantastic first night out - one that will remain as a key moment in our life's memoirs - and we will certainly be doing it again!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Life Until Now......

As time moves on, the fog slowly lifts it's shroud to reveal more about the essence of my life till now.

Like so many other transgendered individuals, I somehow knew I was different from other children at a very early age. As early as age 5, I remember trying on earrings from my mother's jewelry box. My hair was always very long as my parents apparently had a fondness for "big hair". I used to hear such comments from other mom's indicating what cute little girl I was - only to be quickly corrected by my mother. I, however, relished and thoroughly enjoyed these remarks but at that age, was not sure why.

In grammar school, I sat primarily with the other girls and enjoyed their companionship and conversation to that of the boys. I especially enjoyed the friendship of one girl who used to either be at my house or me at hers every day playing. These platonic friendships all seemed to end right about age 12 or so and I remember that I felt isolated and not fitting in. I wanted to play with the girls but I was a boy and was therefore excluded. The boy's played the rough housing games at recess and I was not interested in that. I found more solace turning inward through reading and so read many books. From books of fantasy and sci-fi to books on science, geology and astronomy. I was quite well versed in many of the sciences at an early age performing numerous experiments, building my own telescope and studying the natural sciences.

All this time I was admiring the girls but felt excluded from their circles. It was about age 12 that I first tried cross dressing. At first it was just with a few basic foundation pieces but within a year I was sneaking what I could from my mom or sister. During the summer, often everyone was out of the house so I had great opportunity to dress. I felt "right" when dressed but could not explain why. I also felt ashamed that something was wrong. In 1979, a movie about a MTF Transsexual had come out on prime time television and I watched with eyes glued to the tv. I found that I longed to be that person in the movie. For weeks after that movie I would lay in bed at night and dream that I might wake up as a female.

The effects of puberty started kicking in around this time and I was starting to notice my voice changing. By around age 16, I was starting to get facial hair and I hated it. I remember that my father had bought me a razor for my birthday that year. I looked at it with contemplation and disgust. I wanted to just throw it out the window and did, in fact, throw it against a wall in disgust of who I was becoming and the betrayal I felt that God had dealt me.

Through early adolescence I went through the stage which is usual for many in which I would cross dress and would feel shame and guilt. The inability to understand at the time why I needed to express a feminine side left me with feelings of being perverted and worthless. It was by my late teens that I was caught by my mom who happened to arrive home just a little bit early one day. I raced to change and clean up but I left the pair of heels that I had been wearing lying on the floor. My mother would hear nothing of what I told her and asked me to rid myself of whatever female items I had. I felt so rejected, disappointed and alone that day. I drove that evening to a nearby town to purge myself of this perceived perversion. I contemplated that night of taking my own life as well while I drove and very nearly did.

College started that next year and I started dating. I thoroughly enjoyed dating women but also found that I was quite envious of their lives as women. I felt imprisoned in my male self and I felt that I was not fully being true to who I felt inside. I did finally meet the one woman with whom I have spent the past 16 years in marriage with. She has been my soul mate and has understood and enjoyed my expression as Christen since the time I have told her of my feminine side when we were just newly engaged. She had always been something of a tomboy growing up but always enjoyed makeup. This diversity of character fit well into the character of my own persona where I enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors where I find solace as well as the inner reflection of the beauty I feel the need to express from inside.

I threw all my cards on the table when I was just newly engaged to my wife. The stress of hiding Christen from her was gnawing at me each and every day. If I told her well after we had already been married, I felt she might feel betrayed that I hid this from her for so long. Additionally, I felt she might wonder if there might be "other" secrets I was hiding. I figured that this would be an all or nothing situation and, fortunately, she was not swayed in her opinion of me when I told her. I just didn't know, at the time, that it was anything more than just "crossdressing" - well - at least I was sure I was not admitting it to myself.

I cross-dressed at home but found that I was doing it more and more often. There was no sexual thrill in it, nor was it a fetish for the clothes. I just felt right when I was able to express myself and felt as one with myself. I dressed to emulate and blend in. I didn't know if I could at that point, but I attempted my best efforts to look as presentable and respectable as possible.

I looked back through old pictures of myself in photo albums and asked my wife to look through with me. In all the pictures I have which feature myself - in nearly every one - I appear to be sad or a million miles away when the picture was taken. In a select few - the ones in which I appear to be happy, I noted that my poses were all feminine. That is to say that my hand would be on my hip or in some other similar pose that one would see in a young girl. I certainly never knew I was posing in such a way nor did I note this until I looked through these pictures for the first time about a month ago. This was really something of a surprise and my wife picked up on all of these same observations as well.

In recent times, there had been an ever increasing knot in the pit of my soul to become more of what I truly feel I am inside. I don't know if anyone else knows the feeling where it is as if you have a constant gnawing in the pit of your stomach and a crawling edginess that is not quelled by attempts to sleep at night. Lately I've come more to accept the journey of exploration and this has quelled the daemons inside....

This journey of self exploration is becoming more enjoyable as I let myself accept more and more what I am.

...and being truthful in answering to myself has been the key....

It would only come later that the medical explanation of how I was born the way I am would be revealed to me as the family secrets kept from me would come to light....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Admitting I Was Transgender: Reckoning Day

In 2007 we decided to move to New Hampshire and to find a house in the country. I had had enough of the social stresses and of having to play the male role I had to force upon myself daily in life and at work. It had been my self imposed responsibility and duty to play someone I was not. The woman inside me praised my ability to play this role by doling out anxieties and frail nerves to the point I could not exist to play the part any longer.

We had visited Alaska twice in the years prior and I had fallen in love with the grandeur and splendor of the wilderness and of the solitude that was offered in abundance there. I had considered to move there and was speculating real estate outside of Fairbanks. But in reality, I knew this would not be realistic with both our families and for our jobs. We then turned our eyes back to New England and searched in New Hampshire, looking in the far northern reaches of the state. Joanne and I found a beautiful Log Home in Colebrook on 16 acres and high up in the woods at the end of a dirt road. The view from the living room window looked out across the sloping green fields and into the nearby rolling mountains of Quebec, Canada. In the end, this too was an exercise in fantasy as we realized there was no way we would be able to maintain our existence with any ease in such a remote location.

We settled on the Lakes Region of New Hampshire where we purchased a home in a quiet and rural town with less than a thousand people. It had no post office, no convenience stores nor even a gas station, but still was within an easy 20 minute reach of stores and services in any direction. It was here that after a year I was able to realize the full scope of why I was here and what I had been distancing myself from. The Trains, the hiking, the travels and the move to rural New Hampshire were all part of my way to run away from the one thing I could not run away from and it was the woman inside me who could not be quelled, quieted or calmed.

I continued my cross dressing at home. There was no sexual thrill in it. I simply found that I just felt at peace somehow as female and was at once one with myself when I was able to express as such. I began to change my wardrobe and manner of dressing at home to more tasteful and appropriate attire.  The skimpy and slutty clothes began to be exchanged for more classy, casual or comfortable pieces.

Working from home gave me the time to slow down and really think. Thinking and reflecting about myself was never something I would allow myself the opportunity to do prior. With time, thought, and self reflection also came the danger’s from the Medusa within the Pandora Box of my inner soul, who would in the silent quiescence, be at once released and given the opportunity for her to be heard.

I found that my frequency of crossdressing increased, from bi-weekly to weekly and then to daily. I never stepped foot outside the house for fear and the thoughts that I would never be able to pass as a woman in the greater world.... EVER. And then one night, while dressed at home, I had a complete and utter nervous breakdown. Fully dressed in female attire at home, I broke down and cried and could not stop. Standing there as I was in the kitchen that evening, Joanne empathetically held a look of concern as I grasped my arms to hold myself tightly. Mascara and eyeliner were running down my face as I sobbed in despair with the frustrations of a lifetime pent up and suddenly, in that one moment, released.

Up until that very instant, I had not wanted to piece together the answer to the ever increasing frustration I was feeling each time I expressed my gender as a woman.  The ever increasing frequency at cross-dressing was a vain attempt to try to relieve the underlying tensions that were building within.  They were the frustrations that were never completely resolved by the act of cross-dressing.  Somehow, the clothes and the makeup were not the very thing I thought I simply needed.  They were, as I had realized in that very moment, only the physical attributions associated with the female gender and yet, all the pieces of my life which had led to this very moment, told me that there was something much deeper, much more deeply at play here.

I was just beginning to realize in that moment and through the tears, that the woman inside had broken free and I had not the energy nor the means to confront her and to suppress her even one more time. I was finished holding her back for all these years – she had won.

With tears came past memories. They were memories that I never realized or admitted to myself existed. Working back through these memories, I began pulling out my old family photo albums which contained pictures taken during my childhood. I looked at each one carefully. Facial expressions, poses for the camera - all were examined. I asked my wife to look through these as well and to independently come up with her assessment of what she saw.

In all the pictures I have which feature myself - in nearly every one - I appeared to be sad or a million miles away in each picture taken. In a select few - the ones in which I appeared to be happy, I noted that my poses seemed all feminine. That is to say that my hand would be on my hip or in some other similar pose that one would see in a young girl. I certainly never knew I was posing in such a way nor did I note this until I looked through these pictures for the first time about a month ago. This was really something of a surprise and Joanne picked up on all of these same observations as well.

It was the poses, the way I stood, the way I appeared.
The looks of sadness in those photos or that look of being a million miles off in space with vacantly dead eyes when the picture was taken.

Some of the pictures from the teenage years, she said, showed a deep depression. She was right.  I was very depressed and I never realized that one may not understand the very depths of the depression they were in, until they have been lifted out far enough to be able to look back at what they thought was just a normative state.

She said she saw, in all of these pictures..... an unhappy little girl.  The poses and the body frame and just everything was so obviously feminine and staring right back at me now.

We both realized at that point what we would talk about next.

All of those years that I had professed to myself - had professed to HER that I was simply a cross dresser and enjoyed the clothes - was simply not an accurate representation of the whole of what I am. I am transgendered.

The stories came next.... stories of growing up and sitting with the girls in class. Avoiding the boys.
Watching the girls grow and then leaving me alone without friends in a playground at recess - no longer part of their community.

The little girl next door, Susan, until age 12, would come over to visit at my house where we would play pretend games.  Some days it was playing cosmetologist and we would concoct cosmetics and face creams from items already in the house. I lost my girlfriends one by one as they matured and separated from the boys but Susan remained and then she was gone.  I recall that one fateful day she came over to say that it was no longer a good idea for us to be as close friends as we were and I found myself sad and lost again.  I recall everything in that moment... where I was standing, every detail around me as we talked on the front porch outside of my house, not wishing to come inside to speak to me.  I didn't understand.  I didn't know why. But now I do... she was a girl and I was a boy... we were different... and there were some things that her parents felt were not right with her being with a boy.  I saw us both as the same.
 
It was the doll house that I found of my sister's that I played with for a few weeks at about age 8.
It was my father who took it without warning one day and when I asked, said that it was not alright for me to play with doll houses.

It was the books and hobbies I immersed myself in to console myself in my own world. It was stories of fantasy, science fiction and the escapes they allowed me. I was given encyclopedias for children which I read cover to cover - ALL of them. In my studies I could immerse myself in a world free of people, of judgement for feeling and being so different.  By Junior High, I was versed in every science book in the library and many from the local library at a first year college level. I realized in college taking some of these same courses for credit, that I had obtained by that early age, a first college semester's knowledge of astronomy, geology, meteorology, electronics, environmental science and physics. I was building my own telescopes, building radios and soldering together other circuits on perf boards from parts at Radio Shack, developing and printing my own Black and White photos. I was writing stories and poetry. I had immersed myself in everything I could to avoid the one thing I could not learn and understand - ME.

It was revealing to put the pieces together - no - it was a revelation...

I fully realized that evening that I was never just a cross dresser as I had envisioned and that I had been showing all the traits of a small girl growing up and trapped in a world where she had to express her gender as a boy.

I was transgender.

I cried for hours that evening and in waves for days after. It was all in relief in finally understanding myself that I cried.

But this revelation left me feeling empty

Why did it take this long up to this point for me to realize all of this? How well I hid this from myself.
I had all of the pieces to put this all together but I did not. No... I WOULD not.
I had believed that any problem - ANY problem could be broken down into small enough finite
components such that any person could comprehend the solution. 

I realized then that I had kept the secret of myself FROM myself and now having all of the pieces
I somehow had failed to put them together to form a coherent solution.

Of all the aspects in life which I had challenged myself to, I only now began to understand the one aspect from all these years which I could not come to accept – and it was my own self....


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Music With A Meaning

Some of the Music whose lyrics really speak what's on my mind and in my heart....

Any of the items in red are clickable to bring up the music video...


"So silent, No violence, But inside my head so loud and clear
You're screaming, Cover up with a smile I've learned to fear"
Lisa Miskovsky: "Still Alive" 


"Set Me Free" by Chasing Eidolon


"Like a Dream in the night, Who can say where we're going?"
Brian Ferry: "More Than This"

"I'm looking at myself, reflections of my mind,
It's just the kind of day to leave myself behind"
Moody Blues: "Tuesday Afternoon"

"Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at the door?"
Moody Blues: "Question of Balance"

"Life is bigger than you... And you are not me..."
REM: "Losing My Religion"

"I reached inside myself and found... Nothing there to ease
the pressure of my ever worrying mind"
AHA: "The Sun Always Shines on TV

"Close to home I cannot say - Close to home... Feeling so far away"
Enya: "Evening Falls"


"Learn from my mistake, Leave what others take, Speak when spoken to, And do what others do. Silence always wins So silence everything. It will be all right In the morning light. Just silence everything"
AHA: "Foot of the Mountain"


"In silence she reaches out...."
Amethystium: "Treasure" 

 Something at a very subliminal level from years past prior to starting to accept and transition...
Ladytron: Destroy Everything You Touch

Friday, May 1, 2009

Transition Resources

This is a work in progress...  please check back for new links as they are noted and added....


Transgender Basics - Understanding what it means to be Transgender - Great Video

http://gaycenter.org/gip/transbasics/video

One stop shopping for Name and Gender Change in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Transgender Political Commision



 Changing sex marker on a birth certificate - Listed by state

http://wiki.susans.org/index.php/Changing_sex_on_birth_certificates_in_the_US



Transgender 101: A primer page

http://www.wikihow.com/Respect-a-Transgender-Person



Listing of Diagnosis Codes for Doctors and Therapists for Billing



An excellent resource page for all who are transgender

http://www.transgendersoul.com/



Traveling by Plane - What you need to know from the TSA

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/transgender.shtm



Changing Your Passport:

http://www.tsroadmap.com/reality/passport.html#us

http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_5100.html



Changing Gender Marker with Social Security:

http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1667/~/change-gender-on-your-social-security-record



Helpful Videos for Developing a Female Voice

Get the GRAM Voice Analyzer
Tutorial on YouTube


Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

http://tldef.org/


 Transgender Benefits at the Workplace...

Transgender-Inclusive Benefits: What are Clinical Guidelines?

https://w3.hrc.org/issues/workplace/benefits/14356.htm




If you work for a company that has 15 or more employees in it, you are eligible to file a discrimination report if you feel you have been fired or let go for the reason of simply being transgender:

Have you been discriminated against in the workplace?



LGBT Laws and Protections vary by state.... Find out what your state has to offer and where it may be deficient:

http://transgenderlawcenter.org/equalitymap



Transgender students now protected under Title IX against discrimination

Videos With A Meaning

"Is that good...being like everybody? Isn't that the same as being nobody? ....There's got to be more to life than just that...."
Number 12 Looks Just Like You

"We must cut out all that is different, like a cancerous filth"
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

"After a time, you may find that having, is not so pleasing a thing after all, then wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true"
Amok Time