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....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reflections on This Coming Thanksgiving Holiday....

As we approach another Thanksgiving Holiday, a tumultuous flurry of thoughts whirls about through my mind.  Some of these thoughts are my own and some are thoughts for those friends who add another deep level of perspective as well on this day.

For many of us, Thanksgiving will not be what it was when we were a child.  We will not be the lighthearted and bubbly children who used our imaginations and our lack of foresight into the adult world to create a day of our choosing and to celebrate, unfettered, in play.  For many of us, having endured a lifetime of personal, family and, for many, financial struggles, this can be a sobering time of reflection and of what and who we have in our lives, what things, aspects and loved ones have passed and are no longer with us.

I have been told by many that I come across as a very positive person, with an abundance of bubbly laughter and a persona that is entertaining and enlightening to be around.  But, as I said recently in a conversation to someone in response to such a remark, it is at attitude of choice which I make to also bring out the same in others as well as to repress the many thoughts and emotions I share of a more somber nature both within myself, my own family and that of my spouses as well as the countless stories of those friends I share a small part of my life through and with here and elsewhere. Small bits of a hidden persona are often seen as muses which share a vision or music on my pages and contrasts starkly against the positive persona which I choose to champion and rise above.

For so many, this Thanksgiving is a sobering reflection of a truth unseen.  Where family and parents choose not to include or celebrate this holiday with someone in their family strictly for the choices they made to be who they are.  It is saddening to think that for some, those who choose to be as who they are is a humiliation, an embarrassment or a disappointment reflecting back upon their family and parents.  It is sad that one can be cast aside as if they were traitorous outlaws who have committed some heinous crime, when really, only what was desired was an unconditional love which would stand up to the test of simply sharing in and of the deepest part of our souls.

For myself, I think of the day which many others will have, with large family gatherings and an idyllic and bucolic setting around a table layed out with seemingly endless plates of entrees and side dishes.  Bubbly conversation and a lighthearted banter wafts about as the clanking of plates and utensils merges and is subdued only by the endless chatter and laughter which ensues.

Perhaps and mostly such visions are idyllic and perceptual rather than real, but as a child, many of us, I am confident, have perceived this to be the time of Thanksgiving.... even if it was but a manifestation and an extension of reality as seen in a child's eyes.

As an adult now, and having lived through enough years in life to see what reality exists and what has been lost, it is a more somnolent time.  Another Thanksgiving without mom at the table comes to my mind first.  Time usually yields one the benefit of softening memories as visions become muted through it's passage.  I only wish that were the case but it is not.  As an adult and seeing with eyes which no longer are able to preconceive a bucolic and idyllic setting which perhaps never existed, my thoughts become jaded with a sense of dismay and disappointment in so many I had called family.  I continue to bear witness to the knowledge that I am not welcome by some and disrespected by others who see me as little fit to grace their table with my presence and not a thought nor call considered if I were not to make it first.

Truth be told, this will be a quiet Thanksgiving Holiday.  I'll be thinking too of all my friends, many of whom I have come to know and meet.... and others I have not had the pleasure to know beyond the virtual web which we share.  I'll be wondering how they are feeling and reflecting and thinking as another humble holiday comes upon us and is soon to pass.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Girl I Never Knew

The Girl I Never Knew

-Christen B

It was years long ago
Perhaps when about age five
Someone who I knew I truly was
First knew that she was alive

Others thought she was a girl
It was her curly hair they would say
The comments she remembered well
Visions of an earlier day

Through the early years of school
She had friends with whom she would play
It was always with all of the girls
With whom she confided in each day

Her best friend was the little girl
Who visited from across the street
Imaginative games were our world
Our worlds combined were complete

And as time and life wore on
Our worlds began to be torn away
Aspects of the world I had been living in
Were taken from me each day

The girls in school left me alone
The girl next door, she stopped seeing me too
They were becoming more as women
I was alone and felt nothing I could do

The toys of my sister’s
They were one by one taken away
Each was replaced with another
That I was told I would enjoy anyway

I identified not with the boys
Their aimlessly rough and crude play
Decisively, I created my own world
And spent hours in the library each day

Worlds of science fiction
Worlds of truth and fact
Worlds that could be created
And others that could not be brought back

In this world of self
A wall of safety I thus did build
Learning so many aspects of science and math
And all of my own free will

Hobbies I became immersed in
Creative and thought provoking there were a few
Of model railroad empires that were my domain
And of astronomy and telescopes too

One allowed me to create my world
And to govern its state of being too
The other gave me a portal
To worlds with a different view

Through high school I maintained
An academic prowess gained by few
My personality though was somewhat guarded
And of good friends, I had but just a few

Anxieties asserted themselves strongly
Around and about grade ten
A nervous breakdown I then had
And felt nearly it was the end

It had started back when I was near age 10
When I first found my sister’s clothes
A skirt or a dress, anything that I might find
Some makeup perhaps and some hose

What it was of these things-
These items I discovered on that day
Brought me relief from all my stress
And a sense of loss held at bay

It was a man who felt he was a woman
A film on TV I saw one night
A transsexual she was called
Gave a sudden meaning and fright

I knew at that point in time
I was blind but not a fool
I felt it such a deviant trick
That I had not been born a girl

Of thoughts of why this could come to be
Nights of sleep yet always wide awake
I recall my heart would shake the bed
And my life perhaps to take

A strict house did I thus within grow
Of physicality and anger I do recall
Of a father’s anger and temper
And to the floor my mother would fall

And one day at home I was dressed
A feminine outfit and heels
My parents returned home early
From dining out to eat a meal

My mother was the only one and saw me first
She could not understand it too
Her only response to me was
“Keep this from your father’s view”

“Dispose of this please
Of this I will hear no more.
I will not allow you to stand there
And look as if a whore”

I purged then of all my clothes
All I had accumulated to that day
Thoughts of how disappointed my family was
Again I prayed; take this life away

To admit any of these aberrations in me
I simply could not bear to do
So I buried them in a mental box
And denied that they could be true

Off to college I ultimately went
And a persona of normalcy I did pursue
Of computers and of engineering
And of dating women too

Many women I would date
Interesting they thought of me it’s true
But something about me was but a shell
And by a second date most were through

A few I did come to know
For more than an extended time
But intimacy I could not, to them, always show
The reason was yet hidden, and I simply blind

I finally had the opportunity
To meet the love of my life
The person I would share my essence with
The one who would become my wife

Again, into the relationship
Intimacy I could not easily show
What was wrong, she said one day
She desperately wanted to know

I dress as woman I told her
It is a hidden aspect of me
It brings me satisfaction
And a feeling that I am free
In September of ’93 we wed
Many happy years together we thus spent
Occasional dressing at homeoccurred
Relaxed, the years came and went

But during years now only recently past
Something changed in me inside
Something was different, something was wrong
An anxiety now that I could not hide

I was still dressing at home
This continued, it is true
No longer however was there mental release
The sort I had become accustomed to

The stress began to build up again
I broke down once again and cried
I pulled out albums of photos of myself
And through those aging pages I pried

Photos I saw with eyes anew
Which did not look the same
Photos of a child a million miles away
A child sad and in pain

The pieces I put back together
The same puzzle from years before
The same answer as when I was age ten
Was knocking at my door

I had closed this door before
To contain that beast within
Again it came to my door knocking
And this time I let her in

And in that moment of acceptance
An understanding of what I already knew
A woman inside I had always been
It had been the girl I never knew
And with this new revelation came
A loss of anxieties and stress
Of mental anguish and hidden loss
To myself I thus did confess

With head held high and confident
For it was the woman who knew not fear
She took her first steps out the door
To the public she now did appear

To my own surprises, it was deftly true
That the woman I had held inside
Who was ultimately the keeper of all the confidence
For truly she was the one with all the pride

And so my life is interwoven now
With responsibilities and commitments held dear
As I am no longer age ten
And now there are consequences to fear

The shell of the boy who built this life
Had components necessary it is true
That allowed the girl within her
To manifest and ultimately shine through

The girl's destruction of the boy
With a realization starkly cold
Would bring about the absolute demise
Of all that they both dearly hold

So in the final determination
Of the life built, and the one I now lead
I struggle to hold a middle ground
Voice of girl and of boy I doth heed

Of two persons - but also as one
Both coexist today as the same
The fettered spirit of both exist
As the woman inside my brain
I appease her and occasionally bring her out
For to allow her the world to show
She cannot be fully denied any more
And to this truth I fully know.

The balance is mostly tenuous at best
There are still times of anxiety and of pain
But I know now that the woman inside
Has never existed in vain.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Transphobia: Why Does Society Judge a Book by it's Cover?

A good friend, Sherri,  published a piece on Transphobia recently and it brought to light, a darker aspect within the greater bounds of society that I have found disturbing myself.  We are judged NOT by who we are but often by how we are interpreted by others.  We are told and have heard, many times, the saying to "Not judge a book by it's cover", yet this is exactly how we, as transgender individuals, are interpreted in many instances.

I know of a number of transgender individuals who have completed their gender reassignment surgery but have had notable encounters attesting to their being questioned of their gender in public accommodations.  Societal expectations of feminine appearance often dictate whether or not one's gender presentation is questioned, irregardless of legal or plumbing status being congruent with that of their assigned gender.

I've had the opportunity to view this discordance from the opposing end, where no one seems to ascertain me as anything other than natal female when I am out and about.   When anyone discovers or questions quietly within their own mind, a notable variance,  there are quick shock double-takes and then an immediate re-acceptance of me back into the female realm, as if nothing ever occurred...

What it is seemingly coming down to, appears to be in this order....

1) This person notes that I appear to be a woman
2) Anomaly is noted about me in which I was presumed to be a woman initially (moment of shock or double-take)
3) Re-acceptance back into the realm as a woman (or woman/other) based upon presentation, outward appearance. movement and gesticuations.

Sadly but seemingly oft occurring, the same is not incurred by those who are unable to satisfy a majority of topical visual and sensory cues attesting to what constitutes a "woman".   Irregardless of medical notes, hormones, facial and gender reassignment surgeries and even legal documents, there are questioning looks and even queries rudely made as to the gender one is.

For those who "pass" visually (as defined by the greater natal societal realm), we would create more distress to others by using a public accommodation of the legal sex we are, even though our gender attests otherwise, yet we would be at odds if we were "outed" for using a public accommodation of the gender we are presenting as.  Either way it is a gamble and there are no provisions made for those who are legally one sex but pass easily as the opposite gender.

In a similar vein, it is equally horrific as to how those who have legally changed their gender are, or can be, questioned by others in exactly the same situations.  It is a demeaning experience to say the least.

We certainly need to continue to maintain pressure to assure that federal, state and local laws are created which ensure for basic accommodation for those who are transgender.  Many opponents suggest that so-called "Bathroom Bills" pave the way for male sexual predators to gain access to female restrooms under the guise of being "transgender".  I've read enough studies and seen enough reports regarding the outcome of such locations which have enacted such provisions.  In reality, there is no data to support these claims and it is seemingly a fear based reaction to something which does not factually exist.

One of my thoughts to allay these emotionally fueled and irrational fears would be simple.  Although it should not be a necessity, it could go a LONG ways toward getting these provisional bills regarding public accommodations for transgender individuals PASSED!  A recent win in Massachusetts for a “Transgender Rights Bill” has passed and been signed.  It was only possible to get it passed by eliminating the “public accommodations” aspect from it and thus removing the bathroom bill.  It was still seen as a better alternative to letting the bill flounder in a rewrite which could tie it up indefinitely or… forever.  Now that the bill is in, it may be just a step closer to getting the “Bathroom and Public Accommodations” stipulations into a revision next go-around.  Sometimes it is better to get what one can rather than to risk it all and never see any bill passed.  The bill can be reworked and amended later as a “step two”.

Many of us have had or hold "letters" from our therapists indicating that we are being treated for "Gender Identity Disorder".  (I don't agree on on the words disorder or dysphoria here but that is fodder for another blog).  Such letters have been traditionally used as an explanation in situations warranted, where one's gender presentation and one's physical sex do not match.  Since they are not legal documents and not standardized, their scope of use is not guaranteed.

My proposal would be, at a federal level, to have the ability to acquire an identification card which attests to one's "transgender status".  Such an identification could be useful as a standardized means of allaying fears by attesting to one's legitimacy as perceived by the general populace and to "weed out" those "sexual molesters"  from our nation's public accommodations.  Although such a threat does not meaningfully exist, it might be enough to help secure a legal status which could be used toward further upholding of what should have been already, inalienable rights.  The downside of having an officially sanctioned transgender status could be it’s use by government or private corporate parties to unwittingly use a thinly disguised prejudice to marginalize and discriminate by creating stipulations which would deny and crate further barriers.

Interestingly, India has already begun providing for inclusion of a "third gender" within official realms as noted here.   What implications and ramifications this will have are yet to be fully seen.  One of my concerns, however, with having such a legal identification card, is the possibility that such an identifiation could be utilized by such realms as health care providers or by other entities to create demographic markers or... worse yet... to be able to identify what might then be deemed, "high risk" individuals, leading to denial of services based upon those having come forward to be counted as part of the transgender pool.

In thinking about the possibilities, benefits and possible concerns, I find that there is not one answer to this problem that yields a solution without both positive and negative potential consequences... or both.

For the mean time, I can only suggest that we continue to be as active in the community as possible, to be out and proud of who we are, and to continue to present ourselves in such a way as to allay fears as much as possible and to create a realm whereby those we meet on the street will come to say.... "Hey, I think that person is transgender, but you know what?   I met them, talked and interacted with them... and found that they are people, like any one else.... and I was pleasantly surprised to come to know them!"

For those who wish to further their reading on this subject, the blog to which I was initially referring to is here:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Continental Divide

Be it far from me to ever wish to stratify, segregate, elevate or separate myself within the transgender realm, yet interestingly, I have begun to notice and piece together just this sort of rift which has begun to developed.  In the transgender continuum, there is a huge difference between "doing" and "being".  There are many I know who find that simply emulating a woman in form and fashion is but enough to suffice their being.  They are those who "do".  Dressing and emulating the feminine form are the key and primary factors.  Photos and pictures arise in high numbers which validate presence and to entice with a show of form.

Then there are those of us who are out as transgender women, as women.... who dress because that is who they are and feel they are... deep inside.   The dressing is simply a state which provides for the congruency which exists deep within and allows for integration and association within the female group which one feels most comfortable with.  It is not to say that the act of dressing is understated or of less importance, but rather, that it is simply a part of who one is.  In other words, dressing is not the thing one does, it is part of the essence of who one is....

I first became aware of my own presence on the continuum approximately three years ago when I had a nervous breakdown over the frustrations of crossdressing at home.  I, at first thought, that perhaps I simply needed the excitement of getting out and that this would quell the urge for what I do.  But what I began to find, as time progressed and as I got out more and more, was that the opposite was becoming true.   I was not finding the act of dressing and getting out to be something of what I do, but rather, it was really an expression to others of who I AM.  It became ever more clear as I would revert back to my male form, only to realize, through contrast now made clearly and plainly visible to me, that I was utterly unhappy and not at peace with myself as a male.

For so long, and for so many years did I live the life layed out before me, accepting it and my gender role at face value for what it was, as male, that I had succumbed to a lifetime of denial.

No one believes me, when they meet Christen, that she is anything but outgoing and sociable.  She has no fear of public speaking or qualms at taking the stage solo to sing.  Yet, to know the male persona is to see another person, another side, which no one can believe exists or existed.  Here, was a person who was shy and recluse, who had panic attacks for 30+ years in public situations, had to avoid many social situations, restaurants, crowded malls or anywhere where attention might be drawn... for fear of a panic attack which would render me, many times, catatonic for minutes on end.   I resolved the problem, I thought, by avoiding situations, places and people using avoidance techniques as my recourse of resolution.   Yet, inside, I was a nervous wreck, always.   Joanne would ask me what was bothering me... Why was I biting my nails constantly until they bled?  Why did I not want to go out to a restaurant?  Why did I always want to spend time in far-away places away from people?

What was I running from?  In the end.. I found that it was ME that I was running from.  I was running away from myself.

And this placed me into the continuum not of dressing as what I do, but rather of who I am.

The comments I receive, some by people I have never met and others by friends, all attest and affirm to what I know inside to be.  That I am not simply engaging in the act of cross-dressing, but that I am simply existing as a woman, albeit one who can only emerge for brief visits to the surface to bask in the sun.

And as much as I am privy to this knowledge... this understanding,... I am also noticing an ever increasing separation, one that is not hostile but simply ambivalent as part of what interests those who "do" and those who "are".

Those who "do"... are posting and commenting more with their friends who also are of like demeanor and in like place on the gender continuum.   As I grew from the short mini-skirts and sexy outfits and more into the realm of what I felt most comfortable being dressed in, so I noticed a drift and shift in the attention as well.  My stories and my experiences are, perhaps, not of interest to those who simply enjoy emulation of the female.  My concerns are deeper and perhaps less "fun", less "flirty", less topical, and maybe just a bit more concerted and emotional and relevant to who I am.

There is no "better" or "right" place to be on the continuum.  I just am noticing that, whether I am aware of it or not... and I am becoming more and more attuned and aware, that my place is in a realm that is far more serious than I would have wished it to be.  It makes life more complex and has me more at odds than ever with the duality which I lead.  It is so much harder when one finds that their gravitational trend is toward the feminine and when the facade of the male is peeled away, in layers like an onion, that what remains is the truth.  The truth is that this is not what I do, but who I am, and what I am, right now, is very frightened.  It is the love and support which Joanne has given to me in all of this, that has helped me to BE.  I know of no more awesome gift of love than of this.

Tomorrow is another day.  What truths will I continue to unravel as the veneer unfolds?  With my spouse alongside, we are slowly finding out, one day at a time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Of Love Lost That Never Was

How can so many smiling pictures I post not even come close to portraying what hurt and sadness and betrayal I feel inside?  It truly amazes me how well I have learned over the years and decades to bury these feelings so well.  Yet still, I am unable to forever hide this pain and these thoughts from my self.  This post is one which will be different from the many you may have read.  I truly do not like to vent my sadness or my hurt and would rather choose to post only the bright and positive and of the good of things to come.  But the weight that has been hiding and lurking within is becoming more and more omnipresent in my conscious thoughts by day and my agitated lucid dreams by night.

My mom passed away a horrible death from dementia in January... something I blogged about in this link here. It was the end to many of the dark secrets and more dark secrets I had written about and hoped were put firmly behind me.  Yet the box of Pandora is rarely kept closed for long without it being opened again by another event, another force... out of one's own control.  Just such a box and chapter of life has re-emerged and it saddens me to no end.

Sadly, I have had to de-friend my own sister from facebook.  I had shared the true nature of my self with her on a night out for dinner last November.  As I mulled over a glass of wine, I shared pictures of Christen and tried to explain to her what had been a hidden part of me for so many years.  I needed to share this with her as I could not play act the rest of my life without being true to my own self and with the others who were part of my very family.  Because of the strife in our family and the divisions created by both my mother and father, I never really had a relationship in growing up with my sister (learned later to be a half-sister only in recent years).  My mother's hopes and some of the final words she uttered as she slipped into a deeper and deeper dementia were that she wished that out of this life's mess, that I would find a way to reconnect with my sister.  And so I did... and I shared my self with her and set her up to know this blog and to connect on Facebook.

All seemed well enough at first.... but fresh paint on a rotting house, the peeling began.  At first I tried to slough these bits and chips of peeling paint as nothing to be concerned with save for my own fears.  It started with my sister's impending trip back east from her home out west.  She was coming to Boston to take her friends on a trip to show them the historical sites.   Joanne and I both had asked if we might be able to see her when she did come out but yet her reply was that she would likely be too busy to undertake time to meet up with us. 

I still thought that there might be a chance to meet up for coffee or a quick visit anyway and so Joanne had emailed her prior to her trip to wish her a good one and to ask when she was coming.  She received no reply from that email.  When I asked her after her trip why she did not bother to give us a call when she was out our way, her reply was that she had heard that we were going on a trip sometime in September and thought we were away when she was here.  We had never had the opportunity to tell her the dates of our trip in the month of September so there was no way for her to be sure unless she called... or had wanted to call... to find out.  Not knowing when our trip was exactly and not bothering to find out was a convenient excuse for a convenient truth.

And then... on a day in September when I had come down to Boston to visit with Joanne's mom, I also stopped by my mother's grave to pay my respects.  When we arrived at her tombstone, we both were surprised to see a bouquet of Mum's laying gently on top of it.  I was shocked, for I knew that my father had not visited as I had checked immediately with him upon discovery.  There was no one else either who would have visited.  All of my mother's relatives had forsaken my mother and the entire family years earlier and so there was no one else who would have visited her grave to leave those flowers but my sister.

We left our own flowers next to the other arrangement, took a picture of them both there and reflected in silence for a while before leaving as an ever deepening blue sky heralded the approach of evening.  The next day, I uploaded my picture to her wall on Facebook with the caption:  "Hey Sis, I visited Mom's grave and was wondering whose flowers were left there already?"  Now it is important to note that I had not ever posted anything on my sister's wall that would tie Christen to her as brother and sister but I needed to know if she was avoiding me for who I was and to find out if she was ashamed to have met me in the presence of her friends.  Was this, then, the reason perhaps why she did not want to meet up with us on her trip out?

Interestingly, my sister's wall saw very little activity and she never seemed to be online and would never post to any of my updates or pictures.  But, although I thought she was not on very often, truth be told that no sooner did I put that post up which associated myself and her as family to all of her friends, did that post disappear in a matter of a few hours.

Not only did that post associating me with her to all of her friends on Facebook disappear, but so did every post I ever put along with those of Joanne.  All ties and clues associating Joanne or Christen disappeared in a flash.  I was heartbroken and so emailed her of my utter hurt which that had caused.  A day went by and then I received a long-winded and relatively stolid and monotonic voice mail in which she explained that she had not purposely removed Joanne's and my posts but that it was some sort of Facebook glitch that must have occurred .  She claimed that perhaps her lack of familiarity with Facebook had something to do with this weird anomalous behavior and disappearing act.  She further related how much she cared for both of us and that how not ashamed she was to know of my gender variance....  and that any thoughts otherwise were contrived by my own imagination and created within my own head.

I had received that voicemail while out on a hike in the White Mountains and so, when I returned down from the hike and back home that evening, I went online to her page and lo and behold, EVERY POST that Joanne and I had ever made to her page and that had ALL been removed, suddenly reappeared.  She had in effect, not deleted them but simply "hid" them all from view by others.  That was the icing on the cake and I knew... as obviously as it must be to all who are reading this, what must be going on and truly what is.

I never returned that call to her after I saw this.... I didn't have the words to... and it has been two months without another call from her.  Silence speaks to me the answer which needs no words.

Looking back, I recalled when I came out to my sister back in November that I had voiced that I had wished to tell each of her two son's about me on my own, and in person when the time I fell was right.  I was able to tell my oldest nephew.  He seemed to be alright with it when I told him but later heard back through my sister that he was having a hard time dealing with it and accepting me.  When I confronted him to ask him about this he denied he ever said such a thing.  He also ignored my attempts to communicate with him on Facebook and would not keep in touch.  After many months, both Joanne and I defriended him as well.  We have heard no contact nor inquiry from him of our sudden absence.

As for my sister's younger son, who is 24, my sister took it upon herself to tell him about me without heeding my initial request so that I could have the opportunity to explain.  His response to finding out about me was, "It Figures".   Basically, I took this to mean that with all the craziness of the past and the hidden secrets and lies, that I was just "F'ed" in the head .  I never received a phone call from him, ever, and if I do, I shall be skeptical of reason and intent.

Since this blog is public space, I fully expect, that there are eyes which watch silently in the shadows and yet not wishing to communicate with me.  Likely this story will be continued if and when that email arrives one day in my inbox or if the phone ever rings.  My heart is leaden though, saved by my spouse who loves me with all her heart and soul and who understands me like no other would or could.... and it is saved too by all those who consciously choose to call me a friend and who have and continue to be the light through this maze of hidden deceit and lies and darkness which surrounds the very essence of my life.  Perhaps that darkness, sprinkled with but a tinge of hope, comes through in my music on my pages here.... perhaps now you may have some conception of how one who should seem to be so happy with all she has can still lament for what she has lost, regained, lost again, and, in the final act of the mirage of family.... never really had.  That what she thought she had was really all lies and deceit and cover-ups to create convenient truths and live that were never true and love which was never there.

Words may speak intentions, but actions can only materialize the promises of utterances made.  And in the solitude of the silence which remains, the unspoken truth resounds.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween is NOT always a free night "to be out"...

I know many who say or who have said that "Halloween is the 'free night out' for crossdressers and transgender individuals alike. I suppose that, in one sense, it is... but in many ways it is not as well. For those who have spent countless anxiety ridden years hiding their feminine sides from the world in fear, it is a night that can bring a sense of acceptance or, at the very least, a perceived tolerance when they step out the door into the world for that one night. I beg to differ however in the entire premise of that perception.  The realizations are subtle but poignantly made in my last stop of my story of that evening...

Joanne and I went out for a night on the town on Halloween Night. Neither of us were dressed for Halloween as we were not heading for a party, but rather, were heading out for an evening of shopping and dining. At the local Kohl's, no one perceived or was cognizant of any variance from the gender I was presenting as... save for one young, 18-20ish woman who picked up on my subtle and soft-spoken, yet off cue voice while conversing with Joanne. I could see that she was not sure but it set her radar in motion as she looked puzzled and unable to make a clear determination one way or the other.

Next stop was BJ's and some needed groceries. Again, I was invisible there until the register balked at my purchase of a queen-size bag of flour, spewed it back onto the scanner, and triggered the dreaded flashing light and announcement, "Please wait for assistance, someone will be with you shortly".

The cashier came by and I quipped to her as she approached, "Looks like this register doesn't want me to do any baking... and here I was planning to make a cake".

The cashier gave me a pleasant smile, one which I have come to know very well. It is that sort of look of "I know your secret, but it's cool and it's OK". I call it the "cutesy smile" and it is one which I receive mostly from the women I find, when they do notice.

Off to the Chinese Restaurant for a nice dinner over a glass of wine. Dinner was uneventful, and we were both quite sure that no one ever picked up anything other than two women out. Of course, it helps when I keep my mouth shut or busy in eating and drinking rather than talking!

After dinner, as we headed back to our car to head home, I noted to Joanne that our dessert of my left-over homemade vanilla cake would taste so much better with some lowfat ice-cream on top! As there was a Shaw's Supermarket next door, I headed in to make a quick ice-cream run. Now, interestingly, I found that I stood very much out in the store, in ways I had never seen before. Assuredly, it was not in a negative way at all... but.... I did stand out. I realize that I was dressed perfectly well for the restaurant and for Kohl's but was well above the level that most women would dress at that hour of the evening for a Shaw's Supermarket. This, of course, brought all eyes of attention onto me. With it being Halloween, it did so in a way that I had not seen when in the same store on other nights with similar mode of dress.

A passing female customer made me, but gave me a big, pleasant smile and a warm "hello". Two younger male employees walking past me together, also gave me that sort of grinning smile as well. Again, nothing negative as my appearance was pleasing to their eyes even when the variance was detected. At the register, the male cashier seemed not to notice or be aware but the young, late teenage aged cashier in the next aisle gave me a very pleasant "that's pretty cool" smile.

I am sure that being overly dressed at 9:00pm on Halloween Night in a nearly empty Shaw's was a good test for observation and reaction. The take away from this whole night was several lessons.

1) Be confident in who you are and others will be confident to be around you.

2) Dress to blend in where possible if one is not looking for undue attention.

Dressing becomes challenging in rural New Hampshire where putting on makeup generally is considered an option. And if one is going out to eat up here, being dressed up works but then one ends up being overdressed for anything else. The joy of being a woman is that there seem to be too many modes of dress that ONLY work for certain situations. Being a guy is easier in these respects and so this is why I do note that most women just "dress down" as it is the "lowest common denominator" that works in every situation. Unfortunately, I enjoy and find I have a high fashion sense and enjoy having fun with putting stylish outfits together.... I guess this means I will continue, then, to have to put up with the "cutesy smiles". :)

3) And this is the most important one... Dress and present in a respectable fashion, that, even if it is beyond what the average woman will be wearing around you in the environment you are in, that one will be perceived in a pleasing manner and not a frightening or demeaning one.

4) If one really wants to be as invisible as possible when going out.... DON'T do it on Halloween. Everyone's radar is in high gear and when you dress to pass very, very well and are only outed by the smallest variance, just be ready to get back that cute little smile that says... "Hey... I know YOUR little secret... you look TOO good to just be doing this for Halloween... but you look really good"

In conclusion, it is my personal observation and feelings that I am absolutely FINE with not passing 100% ALL THE TIME. If I pass all the time, then I blend in completely and no one ever has the opportunity to learn that there is an entire cross-section of society that identifies as transgender.   I am part of a group of society that needs more visibility in having fair treatment in this world as human beings. being SEEN for who I am and presenting it in such a way that makes it a pleasant experience for those I do meet, means that they take away a positive experience themselves. Perhaps... Just perhaps... they may go home after meeting me and say to a friend... "I met this really cool transgender woman today. She looked really good, had a cool sense of humor and... you know what? She was just an average person like myself".

It may take a lot more work when one is transgender, but it is possible to make a positive and lasting impression, one person at a time.... And that can go a LONG way from a grassroots level toward humanizing us all as valid and equal members of this little blue ball hanging in space that we all call our home!