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.