Welcome to the Jungle

“I love being a woman”.  How long will I continue to convince myself of this premise?  No, I love being myself.  Myself just happens to be a woman.  Let’s get it straight for the record shall we?  There, I said it.

 Without argument, I do love it when I wake up in the morning with an entire essay in my head.  Swirling clouds of thoughts materialize themselves as concrete and lucid entities that are clear as day.  I love it even more when I read an article a day later and realize I am not alone in my thoughts.  That love quickly fades to a sense of realization and this is where the writing begins……

In comparison to women who have lived their lives as women from day one, I haven’t been around on the planet for all that long to share in the “amazing” experience.  No.  I’ve been able to live my life from the perspective of a woman starting at the tender age of 45 years old.  Heck, by actuary statistics, I was well beyond the half way point of my lifespan when I came out of the gate.  I had some quick acclimatization to do and a lot to catch up on.

I got passed the, “Hey this is fun to play dress up with high heels and stockings and short skirts with revealing tops”.  Truth is, I got passed it before I even stepped foot outside the house as the real “me” that was locked in side.  I’m glad I did because being a woman in the western world I happen to find myself living in entails a stark and staunch realization of just what is in store when you happen to be born as one.  Even more fun is learning how you fit in when you are, like the person who enters the meeting at work 15 minutes late, suddenly viewed as “different” and “non-conformist”.  Why is everyone in the room looking at me and talking at me without saying anything to me? Hmmmmm.

This story is not about anyone elses opinions, or observations or thoughts.  I respect yours.  I listen and observe and interpolate yours within the cogwheels of my own mind.  I get that.  This is about my own observations.  I have been (note the facetiousness) “lucky” enough to get to experience the world as a woman by getting dropped into at right in the middle of my life.  This is akin to being dropped by parachute into a remote jungle in the Congo with just a brochure in your hand, which you had read before being thrown out of the plane.  “THIS DOES NOT LOOK LIKE WHAT I SAW WHEN I READ THE BROCHURE ABOUT BEING A WOMAN!”, I exclaim to thin air as I fall from 15,000 feet.

Here I am, interpreting what it is like to live my life as the person I have always been inside and having to now relate to the world as my true self.  I didn’t have the chance to acclimate over more than half a lifetime.  No, I jumped out of a plane.  You know when you see children and they seem to be wide-eyed and amazed at the smallest things we take for granted?  They can stare at an ant, or a cloud or a piece of spaghetti like it was the Holy Grail?  It’s new to them.  They are processing information that is bewilderingly new to them?  That’s what it’s like to be in the world, for me, as a woman.  Hey, it feels right to me, for the first time in my life, don’t get me wrong.  Still, it’s a bit of shock landing in the Congo Jungle and staring at what’s around me and then back down at my neatly printed one page brochure.

So here I am, in the jungle.  Now, things get interesting.  Not only am I seeing how the interactions between women work with each other but I am seeing how those interactions work between men and women…..from….. a woman’s perspective.  Some of it is affirming, like the ability for women to be able to cross-socialize in ways that men can not, and some of it is horribly annoying, like the ways that women are able to cross-socialize in ways that men do not.  That list goes on and on and on.  Is that woman staring me down because I’m the only one dressed in a business pant suit here?

I could start a thesis on what I have learned and observed from my perspectives in the short time I have been living my life in a woman’s world but I won’t bore you with that here.  No, my observations are taken from my hyper-aware state in this Congo Jungle realizing I am not like the other natives who inhabit it.  I am seen by many as a transgender woman.

It has been said that after bottom surgery, you know, where I make an “outy” an “inny”, that all of a sudden, my transition is over.  Sure.  “Waiter, can you drop a Rufi in my drink please and wake me up when the non-reality party is over?”.

No.  This is not going to happen.  Have your surgery and then have 10 more if you need to.  Looksism is everything.  If you don’t look the part as the majority of the world would have you  look “as a woman”, then all of a sudden you may find that all your self-proclaimed self-affirmations are about to crumble.

As a woman who has lived their lives from birth as a woman, the fun starts right away.  People are classified before they even have a chance to be seen for their significance.. 

“Hey, Joe!  Did you see that short, fat, ugly woman?”

”Oh, you mean the one who wrote the paper on interdimensional time travel?  Sure, I saw her the other day.  She needs to lose weight”.

Things get more fun when you are a transgender woman (men too, but remember, I’m writing my own thoughts.  You write your own essay…..because I want to read that too!).

All of a sudden as a transgender woman, not only do I have to worry about the whole looksism aspect by maintaining proper weight, dress, appearances, coiffured hair and primly done makeup but I have to do it because what happens if I am suddenly denigrated because I missed one of those finer points that all women seem to have to ascribe to at some level or another in their lives, then I add that to my list on top of being Transgender.

There’s that word again?  Hey, what if I had my surgery?  I’m a complete woman now, right?  I don’t think so.  You end up, in this world, being labeled just like anyone else and if you don’t “seamlessly blend in” stealthily as a woman, then you become the lucky winner of yet another box! 

“Hey, Joe!  Did you see that short, fat, ugly transgender woman?”

”Yeah, I did!  She just invented interdimensional time travel”.

True story.  I was in a local watering hole once and sipping on a wine as I whined with several of my girlfriends.  Across the bar was a woman and three guys.  This was early on in my transition and while this doesn’t happen much, if at all anymore, on that night it did.

This woman was staring at me intently and trying to pick up clues, like she was trying to solve a mystery.  She just wanted to be sure before she proclaimed that “Colonel Mustard did the murder in the parlor with the candlestick!”   After what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably only a few moments, she turned to one of her cohorts and spoke softly but distinctly in a way that I was tuned into at that point in my hyper-aware state.   She clearly stated, “THAT’S A TRANSGENDER WOMAN!”  She then paused and added on immediately after, this qualifier, ‘”BUT SHE LOOKS REALLY, REALLY GOOD”.

BANG!  Classified.  Put into a box and then told I look pretty good for someone in that box.  I’m not a woman in her mind.  I’m a trans woman.

This sucks.

So how much energy does a transgender woman have to employ to ensure that they don’t have to fall into the box marked “OTHER”? I certainly don't have to but there are societal consequences for not so doing.

What happens if I am in bed with a guy and he notices I have something, that looks just a little off.  Great, I have a vagina but my body shape is slightly off or some anatomical feature just doesn’t map to the standard production run model of this vehicular auto-body called “woman”?

I see so many trans women doing so much to change such seemingly small aspects of their body, moving fat around, having ribs removed, all to achieve that spanking fresh, out-of-the-box, generic pine scented car air freshener look.  FUCK IT.

If I have to compete with natal women, I’ll buy a dog and go it alone.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many guys on dating sites have said how amazing I am, that I am smart, intelligent, witty, and inventive.  They say that they don’t know anyone who seemed to achieve or do what I have all in one package.  Oh, yeah, but you are transgender so you have a nice life and take care.  Buh-bye now.  Fuck That Too.

So I have two choices.  I can keep on being me and do as I see fit.  I can dress and look and be who I am without caring what others think and in so doing be admired from afar by the majority of the world OR I can work tirelessly to blend in seamlessly by conforming to this new box I find myself in, reshaping my body, reshaping my entire character so that even my true self as a woman is now imprisoned in a brand new shiny box with boobs…….and maybe, just maybe if I do all of that, find a sense of normalcy, contentment and true love as the woman I am……which doesn’t exist anyway, transgender or not.  As Guns N' Roses would say, "Welcome to the Jungle".


  1. Dear Christen,

    I think it's perfectly understandable what you're going through, and it sucks, big time. To look at your photo, you're darned beautiful. I'm not surprised to hear it takes a lot of effort to achieve it, and indeed I'm not sure I have it in me.

    I'm a non-transitioning, bi-gender transgender woman. AMAB as they say. But I love your blog, as I appreciate your heartfelt writing.

    I'm learning to love and accept myself. To validate that I am valid. It's hard at times because there is no objective measure of transgender. We just know from a very early age, don't we? We didn't have the vocabulary or the full picture but as we review our lives, feelings, and experiences the circumstantial evidence piles up to the point that it's undeniable.

    Okay, fine, but we have to live our lives, too. For you, you needed to transition and I'm both glad for you, that you knew that you needed that, but also, sad to hear your struggling. I am sure I'd be like you.

    To the guys who might find something unusual in you: screw them. To the woman in the bar, screw her too.

    Christen, you're a good person, a pretty lady, and a valid woman just trying to put one foot in front of the other. Keep it up, one foot in front of the other, knowing that there are people like me who are rooting for you.



  2. Loved your article here Christen.I often have to remind myself and others that we are human. Just gave a sermon at the Unitarian Church here in Ithaca as part of their transwisdom service. I concluded with longing that one day we won't have to "come out" and simply be treated as human beings on this path like everyone else. Just sent you a PM to friend me on FB. I would love to connect with you.

  3. Christen, it's been more than two months since your last post. You sounded pretty disheartened and I hope you're feeling better.



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