One Small Step, yet One Gaint Leap for my Mom

I’ve seen various mother-and-daughter relationships be intensely adversarial, and that helped me be prepared for my own set of conflicts with my mom — conflicts that predate me realizing and announcing that I’m a transgender girl, and also conflicts about that subject.

Both categories of these conflicts have been long and bitter, with extended periods of leave-me-alone quiet in between. It’s been a rocky road. And yet, nowadays, my mom and I have reached the sort of just-right dynamic where there is enough emotional distance and yet not too much. We add value to each others’ lives without it being intrusive. Too much closeness, and the latter can be a problem because deep down, my mom and I have very different personal values. Attempts to reconcile these have failed so miserably that I’ve given up on that. We basically agree to disagree, and that’s not a bad way of dealing with some things.

As for me, at some point I was excruciatingly embarrassed about being out in public as a t-girl, and today all that’s in the past. On some days I look good, on others, less so — but I have a life to live and if I decide to wear a summer dress then I do, period. I have too-male facial features, and Charlize Theron would have looked way better in the dress — but that’s OK. I do what I can with what I have.

Until recently, I used to rush into explanations of being a t-girl prior to anything else, and nowadays that sort of seems secondary to just living my life. I’m just a girl. I happen to be an unusual sort of girl, but that’s not productive to dwell on, especially when other folks are involved. It’s not all about me. More important to whomever I deal with is often: I have value to add. So, that’s my focus.

As for my mom, she’s not delighted with how me being a t-girl now implies that she knows this and a vast amount of people in her past don’t. She chose to not mention this to them. The downside to her is that she has to keep managing this information in a compartmentalized way. Personally, I would have handled it differently, but it’s her decision as to what she says, and to whom. For the most part, she has a hard time referring to me as her daughter and by my now-correct name because often she functions in the mind-set of still thinking of me on her old assumptions.

So, imagine my surprise when today she copied me on an email to a business associate in which she mentioned me, described some of my values and how they were relevant to the conversation, and referred to me as her daughter, without even going down the “my transgender daughter” route — as if the transgender aspect doesn’t really matter. Because finally, we’ve reached the stage where … it doesn’t.

Better. 🙂

Verbal Gender Judo

I have a blue belt in Judo. The mind-set comes in handy. It did so again, today, at Wells Fargo Bank albeit not in a violent way.

The name “Judo” translates into “Ju” = “gentle” and “do” = “way” hence “the gentle way.” In Judo, your opponent is guided where you want him / her, which is typically the floor, but it can be done gently. People who attack someone skilled in Judo don’t have to end in the Emergency Room or the morgue, though both are certainly an option if it’s necessary and justifiable, because the Judo practitioner ends up in control.

640px-Haraigoshi

Judo is a nice contrast with sports like Karate where the only options are to kick and punch the opponent.

These two alternatives, Judo vs. Karate, make for a nice analogy to how transgender girls (like me) can deal with gender pronouns in a social context. One way is gentle, the other not. I choose the former.

In Judo, timing is very important. I recall having perfect timing just once, in my entire judo “career.” The feeling was so wonderful that I remember it to this day. It felt effortless … I performed a minor, easy movement and my opponent fell to the floor dramatically. In my case, the good timing was due to luck. Normally, anticipation is part of good timing.

This brings us to the situation where a transgender girl like me is in a social setting, with enough cues (hair, nails, bra, dress) to make it clear that she’s presenting as a female. And yet, some people struggle with referring to a transgender female by a female pronoun, for whatever reason. Perhaps such people think I’m still “ramping up” because visually, I don’t look 100% female. I look like a mixture of genders. So, they might be choosing consciously or they might be reacting to some deep cues that span the last x decades of their mental model. So, I don’t take offense, but I also don’t have to be passive about it.

When the conversation involves a friend, and she uses a male pronoun to refer to me, I gently point that out and then she’s typically surprised and mortified, and I spend the next minute assuring her that it happens all the time, and I know she didn’t mean it, and I know she basically understands I’m fundamentally a female.

When it’s a stranger, it’s more difficult, but … timing helps.

Today, I was about to meet with a senior banker lady at Wells Fargo Bank. I was in the waiting area with two other ladies, one of whom was very charming and chatty. I was wearing sparse make-up but a nice summer dress, elegant sandals, and red nails. The chatty lady was called over, and she mentioned that “the other two ladies” (me plus the not-so-chatty lady) had been there before her. So, far, so good.

A bank employee reassured the chatty lady that the not-so-chatty lady was waiting for someone else, and that the senior banker lady was about to come and see …

… moment of truth. I was ready …

… “him” the bank employee said, referring to me. Ouch …

… “her” I said clearly and so rapidly that it was almost as if she’d said it …

… “her” she said immediately afterwards, and added “sorry.”

I smiled. Sometimes, timing IS everything. I think the bank employe and I both preferred my approach to 5 minutes of lecturing about the emotional plight of transgender girls who have just been referred to by the wrong gender pronoun.

The Dilemma of the Bisexual Transgender Girl

BOOTS

These boots were made for walking …

I reached a conclusion today that is likely to greatly change how I spend my time and energy. Here’s the stream-of-consciousness thought process:

I’m bisexual. I have no doubt that I’m sexually attracted to girls, and I have many data points to substantiate that. I’m also attracted to guys. Some of my hottest fantasies and experiences have involved guys … unfortunately. If there were any part of my mental wiring I could change, it would be this. I would re-wire myself to be 100% gay – a totally lesbian girl. In my case, a totally lesbian transgender girl, a.k.a. t-girl. In other words, my life would be a lot simpler if I weren’t attracted to guys, at all.

I’m sure there are some great guys out there. I know this for a fact, because a dozen or so of them are my personal friends. But, as guys go, only a small subset of guys are great guys. And, only a small portion of guys are romantically available at any given point in time. When we combine the scarcity of great guys with the small window of availability time, then we see why the odds of any one girl ending up in a relationship with a great guy is … small.

The bad news for straight or bi t-girls: the subset of great guys who are enthused about t-girls is really, really small. If you begin with a small thing and then take a small portion of that small thing, then you end up with something truly tiny. That tiny thing is the target you’re shooting at when you’re a straight or bi t-girl, trying to end up in a relationship with a great guy. I know. I’ve tried, very hard, over and over, in many different ways – even in many different geographical places, and many different places online, for too many years.

If you’re a straight t-girl, I don’t know what to tell you except that I sympathize.

If you’re bi, then there’s hope for you. Why? Because you can concede that guys are part of your sexual-attraction spectrum while abandoning the entire quest as a losing proposition, after you factor in the minute probability of success. You’ll have better odds trying to win the lottery. Sure, winning would be great, but pursuing it in that context is not logically a good use of your time and energy.

That’s a true statement even if the alternative is enjoying your sexuality solo, but fortunately for bi t-girls who have given up on relationships with males, the planet is populated with billions of really wonderful entities called “females,” a sizeable portion of who make for great relationship material, in and out of bed. If you’re worried about this meaning that there will be one missing ingredient in the bedroom, then go buy some sex toys for mutual use and you’ll soon wonder what you were ever worried about. So, start your bisexual journey with a focus on females, and then because you know you’re bisexual, also honestly try to find some great guys to round out the mix.

After you fail to find any, then “plan B” is to replace your partial focus on females with … a total focus on females. That’s my recipe, anyway. The “plan B” part begins today.

Please don’t take my word for it. Go try to find great guys, until you’ve convinced yourself it’s non-viable (unless it’s not, for you, and you hit the jackpot and find that really great guy, yay!)

From here on, my life is likely to be greatly simplified, yet richer. I feel silly at not having reached this conclusion sooner, but I didn’t want to abandon my focus on guys until I’d given it a really fair chance of success over a long period of time, and with my sincere best efforts behind it. And now, it’s time.

Membership to the Ultimate Social Club

I’m super-fortunate in that I’m gay and I know it. Mostly, anyway. There’s some attraction to guys mixed in so officially I’m bisexual, but I’m a lot more attracted to girls than to guys.

I hasten to say that some of my best friends are guys. I’m just describing how I’m personally wired, not editorializing about who’s objectively better.

As a result of knowing what I prefer, I now have a wonderful female romantic partner, and it’s a delightful experience for me. So, what’s better than having a girl in my life? Having MORE girls yet in my life. That happened tonight. Here’s what I wore, and looked like tonight:

IMAG0383

Before your mind races off to thoughts of wild orgies, I should explain that tonight’s addition to my social dynamic was non-sexual yet intimate in the sense that there was intense emotional closeness and openness. Four girls (three straight girls and I) met socially and we looked at the sunset, drank pink champagne, ate pizza and talked about … just about everything. I love how female culture is so accepting about diverse conversational topics. We can say whatever we think and feel. Instead of harming the friendship, such openness makes it better.

The contrast with guy culture is SO stark. A male friend of mine, whom I’ve known for maybe 10 years, used to meet me for lunch on a regular basis. I’d be fine with chatting about anything and everything. One day, the talk got into sexual topics, and he got a very pained expression on his face and confessed that one day he’d like to try being the recipient as to anal pleasure. He wasn’t implying anything but sex toys, but I could tell he was very embarrassed to say this. I nodded and was about to say something encouraging but he seemed so flustered that I wasn’t sure how to phrase this in a positive enough way. Shortly afterwards, the lunch ended on a sort of awkward note. That was five years ago. I never saw him again. He’d vanished, presumably embarrassed. My attempts to contact him and be reassuring failed.

With another male friend whom I’ve known for maybe 10 years, a friendly email conversation became focused on the subject of sexuality, and various ways of having sex. My friend mentioned, in a way that came across as macho, that he’d never experienced any sort of sexually themed anal interaction and wasn’t ever planning to. I mentioned that perhaps he was missing out. Whoa! The email exchange ended right then and I never heard from him again. That was two years ago. In male culture, some conversations are like a minefield.

By contrast, female culture is SO okay with discussing anything and everything, including intimate personal and medical details.

Now that I’ve transitioned from trying to fit into male culture to where I’m enjoying female culture, it is SO nice to interact in a way that is a happy and natural fit for me. I like many things about coming to realize that I’m a transgender girl, but being accepted in female culture is high on the list.

It’s Scary, I Know — But GO for it

I am charging ahead with my own journey, and I love it. In the process, I’m making contact with more and more girls like me.  Many of them are not living publicly as the girls they are. They feel ashamed or they find the process intimidating, or both. I understand how that feels. Even so, I proceeded.

The best quote I’ve come across to describe my own reasoning is:

Die with memories, not dreams

I hope to live a long time, but when it all ends, I will have lived richly and openly by my own values.

Weird Moment in the Mirror

This post is another one about my aesthetics. By now, I feel the need to point out that I also do spend much of my time focused on far-less-superficial issues, in case anyone was starting to wonder … 220px-My_Wife_and_My_Mother-In-Law_(Hill).svgThe above picture is a classic “ambiguous image” — depending on how you process it, it’s either the face of a young lady as seen from behind her left ear, or it’s the face of an older lady as seen from the side.  The same image can come across as two separate things to the viewer.  It’s kinda cool and odd at the same time.  I recently experienced something like this, personally.

My own journey towards better aesthetics has been psychologically excruciating. The worst experience of my entire month would be when I’d get a haircut and for 20 minutes I’d have to look at a very unhappy, ever-fatter, aging male face in the mirror. I don’t know if I hated myself but I certainly hated how I looked. Picture-taking was something to be avoided. My health and looks were deteriorating and I was unable to find the motivation to do anything to stop or reverse the process. It seemed pointless.

[I hasten to add there’s nothing wrong with looking male if someone is male, wants to look like a male, etc.  I just personally don’t. ]

Now that I know I’m a girl, I’m actively taking care of my health, looks and style. I wear make-up, nice clothes that I choose and match carefully, well-styled hair, and I take care of my skin, figure and general health. Over the last two years, my looks have gradually improved to where I look less and less male, and I generally look better and better.

However, it’s always a strain, an uphill battle to look less androgynous, something that I can make progress towards if I wear dark glasses to hide my male-shaped brow, or I wear extra nice eye make-up, or whatever. It’s never a magical transformation. It’s always the feeling of actively trying to pull away from having a basically too-male-shaped face.

Granted, things are much, much better than how things were … but I don’t look in the mirror and expect to see a lovely young blonde girl look back at me. That’s because I’m not lovely and not young.

However, even with my aesthetic challenges, I like taking pictures.  I like my physique a lot more than my face and so my pictures tend to focus on my butt or legs or abs.  But, in the process of feeling self-conscious about my face and trying hard to make it look as good as possible in pictures, I have learned a lot about posing and shadows.  Turning my head so I’m facing the camera or mirror at just the right angle (as to horizontal rotation and vertical elevation) hides the too-male brow, forehead, chin and jaw perfectly even though they’re all in plain sight.

The angle is everything, and it’s a very, very narrow range of angles that this effect possible. A day or two ago, I was sitting in my hotel room, and I glanced at the mirror when I happened to find just the right angle. The effect was like looking at the picture, above, and suddenly seeing the “other” way of envisioning it.  For the first time ever, I saw the image of a pretty young girl looking back at me.

I knew it was not accurate because that’s not how I generally look, and I knew it was fragile because if I moved, the angle would be different and the just-so effect would be destroyed. But, if only for a moment, it was a freeing, shocking, weird and satisfying feeling to see that image reflected back at me. Being able to think of myself as a pretty, young girl was wonderful even if only for a few seconds.

It reminded me of some hypnosis CDs I’d bought years ago, intended to inspire an overweight male-looking person to become feminized and to release the pretty, slim, shapely female within. The marketing materials showed both profiles superimposed, and it made for a stark difference.  And yet, that’s what I’ve done … changed from one to the other.

Another piece of marketing material showed an unhappy, not-pretty male looking into the mirror. The reflection that looked back was a lovely young lady. It all seemed so impossible to me.  And yet, for however briefly, I actually experienced it.

Ever since I allowed myself to live as the girl I basically am, I have experienced so many things that beforehand had seemed utterly preposterous and unachievable.

It has been a wonderful journey and not nearly as scary as I’d expected it to be.

 

Congratulations, You’ve Arrived

IMAG0362I tend to spend a lot of time with pretty girls, and I notice the “you look hot” looks they get, and Saturday night I’ve gotten a lot of these myself. l liked that. Most importantly, I looked good to myself. I’ve rarely felt or looked this good. I love how Shelley did my hair and make-up:

  • Eyebrow pencil
  • Eye shadow
  • Semi-permanent eyelashes
  • Colored lip gloss
  • Bronzer

IMAG0360This was at a Bangles concert at the Eastside Cannery in Henderson, NV. I ended up walking through the entire casino to get to the restaurant area, and then I walked all the way back to go get something out of the car for Shelley — and then another long walk back to the restaurant area, yet again. I walked happily and elegantly on my 6″ stilettos. I know people can figure me as being a transgender girl, so the best I can do is to look good and walk elegantly as a transgender girl.

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It’s sort of like being a hot black girl. She’d never be mistaken for Miss Scandinavia … no blonde hair and pale skin in that paradigm. But, she could look hot in the black-girl paradigm, and that would be just fine.

So, there I was, looking hot as a transgender girl … finally. Yay!