Go Out There even if it’s Intimidating

nuku_island_vavau

Photo credit: Msdstefan at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Today was a work-two-jobs Friday for me.  The first part of it, I worked in my software company as an IT geek on some operational support software. The second part, I worked as an automotive geek on a sad Mercedes-Benz convertible and a misbehaving Audi Quattro.  When I had finally ended my workday, and confronted my pantry with a view to providing ingredients for making dinner, I saw a very unimpressive sight, unless I saw fit to quickly develop a fetish for canned food. The better idea seemed: go late-night grocery shopping. Off I went, much as it was tempting to just lock the door and stay home.

I wasn’t feeling particularly energetic or sociable, but as I approached the fresh fruit & veggies section, I noticed a grocery store worker smiling shyly at me from some distance away, just far enough to where I could smile back and then focus on my shopping, or where I could approach and say “hello.” Neither would be rude.

I’m naturally shy but the times when I actively make a point of overcoming this one more time, I sometimes see some significant benefits. The theme song for this sort of situation is, no surprise, written and sung by another cerebral girl who’s naturally shy.  She writes about real-life events and emotions, which is one significant reason why I like her music so much.  As her lyrics tell this particular story,  she was due to meet someone for a blind date, and she made a point of being sociable that night, instead of yielding to the temptation of running and hiding. As it turns out, she found just cause to be glad she’d made that decision. The song reminds me to go be sociable even when I really don’t feel like it.

If the other person is another cerebral shy girl, great, because then it’s a stress-free conversation with another being whose mental wiring is basically like mine. However, we don’t exactly announce ourselves to the world as such — though a certain type of smile does tend to be the most-likely sign that this is a shy girl, being nice non-verbally.

I couldn’t quite place the smile I got tonight, but I approached anyway and said “hello.”  After some chit-chat, it became clear pretty quickly that the girl is indeed another cerebral shy girl.

During the conversation, it became known that her sister is a trans  girl, like I obviously am.  Visually, there’s little hope of mistaking me for a genetically integrated girl. I’m 6″ tall, have a jaw like Rambo and biceps that look … not subtle. So, even from some distance away, this girl picked up on me being a trans girl. We had a very trans-girl-friendly chat about life, and her sister. That made it a good conversation already, and I was glad I’d come over to chat. Yay!

Then, more. She’s from an island in the South Pacific, and she regaled me with how trans-girl culture works and is accepted over there.  In the US, trans girls being out and about in droves is a relatively new phenomenon whereas in the South Pacific, we’re just one more type of human that’s always been around, and we are cheerfully accepted as such. So, I learned something interesting to me (which also made it tempting to go visit there one day). Yay!

Then, more. She prefers socializing with trans girls as opposed to genetically integrated girls because trans girls tend to be more gung-ho about appreciating the joys of femininity.  So, if I ever want to socialize locally, here was a trans-girl-friendly girl. Yay!

Then, more. She’s would love to go to a gay bar with another girl but there isn’t one in the small town where the conversation was occurring. Wow. Okay. So, I gave her my number and told her I’d be happy to take her to a gay bar in Reno. She was somewhat ambiguous so maybe she just likes the ambiance or maybe, like me, she likes girls.  Yes, like that. Either way, it sounds likely to be a nice evening. Yay!

Two like-minded girls connected socially and will get to spend quality social time together. Good!

This reinforces the point I make to many of the trans girls whom I mentor.  Yes, it feels weird to be a sort-of-boy-girl mix in a culture that in many ways is hostile to trans girls.  However, we can have the prospect of negativity intimidate us to the point where we don’t leave the house, or we can put on our big-girl panties, so to speak — actually, no, literally — and go live life and make the most of it.

I chose the latter approach, and it keeps working  for me.

Advertisements

Liking Apple Pears

This is a picture of a piece of fruit I bought in California. Another name is “Asian pear” but I prefer “apple pear.”

imag0395

It’s a funny mix of two things that people stereotypically consider totally separate: apples as separate from pears — and yet, here are the attributes of both, in one piece of fruit.  Also, it’s delicious and it doesn’t have the typical drawbacks of either apples or pears.

You probably can already see where this is going, since you’re reading this in the blog of a trans girl who is a mix of things that people stereotypically consider totally separate: female brain, hair, skin and boobs, as separate from male plumbing and male bone structure.  And yet, here are the attributes of both, in one person, writing this article.  Whether or not I’m delicious, opinions vary.  Until recently, my own vote was a resounding “no.”  I hated having been born a weird mix and fitting in with neither gender stereotype.  Until recently, it was an unpleasant concept for most of my adult life  — but for me as a teenager, it was excruciating — and dangerous.

Fortunately for me, some girls are attracted to the androgynous look. I noticed that as to my dad. No surprise, my mom and dad divorced when I was two years old.  My very free-spirited dad had a VERY androgynous look, which was dramatic in a culture (South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s) where even wearing deodorant (at all, ever) was considered sissy, even in a hot climate long before air conditioning was commonplace. In the culture at the time, males were typically trying to out-macho each other.

By contrast, my dad moved with a sort of feline grace; one girl observed him and wondered aloud if he was gay.  My dad replied with “no” and explained the merit of moving like a tiger as opposed to an oaf.  When a gay guy tried to pick up my dad, the reply was “not yet, first I have to have sex with every woman on the entire planet and after that I might consider sex with guys next.”  My point is that “gay guy” was not the explanation.

My dad had very long, curly hair, dyed pitch black or bright red, and typically wore thongs as underwear, blue jeans and jean shirts as main clothing — or dramatically colored overalls such as bright yellow — and elegant boots.  Cleanliness was always a priority, for hair, body and clothes.  Health was paramount.  Booze, drugs and cigarettes were simply uninteresting.  A dazzling smile was part of the charm.

For many years, my dad drove a bright orange dune buggy. A guitar was always close at hand. Having two engineering degrees and a Ph. D. in biology, and having grown up as a street kid and street fighter, then literally working as a rocket scientist and an undercover government agent (yes, really), speaking seven or eight languages including Zulu … my dad was unusual.

As to sexuality, my dad was very open-minded but also very promiscuous.  I have yet to end up in bed with a girl and not have an emotional connection with her; my dad didn’t seem to have that sort of wiring, and the array of pretty and interesting girls cycling through my dad’s bedroom seemed like a blur to me and seemed tantamount to magic, for my teenage mind.

My only viable means of teenage rebelliousness was to be conservative and pompous, so I once asked with preemptive disapproval how many girls had been in my dad’s life, sexually up to that point in time.  My dad stopped and thought hard.  “About three hundred,” was the reply. Holy cow.

My dad was not a classically attractive person as to facial features, aside from piercingly blue eyes with intense intelligence.  No puzzle was unsolvable; certainly not science, chemistry, engineering or math, but also not practical issues like fixing things.  McGyver is a fictional character; my dad was the real thing. As to the puzzle of connecting with girls sexually, that wasn’t a hurdle either.  Evidently, the androgynous look was not a deterrent.

My dad passed away a few years ago after a massive life style change in which adherence to a conservative male role had become the agenda.  To this day, I wonder if my dad might not have been a trans girl.  If I had to guess yes or no, I’d guess “yes.” If you take away 3/4 of the evidence, I’d still guess “yes.”  Recently, I finally asked my mom, who thought hard and then drew the same conclusion with a margin of certainty that got ever wider, the more she thought about it.  For several months, dinner conversations with my mom would often include her mentioning yet one more reason to support her conclusion.  By now, it’s a long list.

In males and trans girls with XY chromosomes, the Y chromosome gets passed down intact from the parent male (or parent trans girl) so the so-to-speak paternal line might well be the link as to trans girl genes being passed to the next generation. That would explain a lot, as to me.

A friend of mine has two daughters, born to two different wives, in successive marriages. His two daughters had virtually no contact with each other, growing up.  One of them was raised almost completely in his absence.  Yet they’re both trans girls — and out as such, even though they live in a culture where being trans is downright dangerous.  So, if the father’s DNA is the one common causal thread, that would explain a lot, as to this situation.

Females tend to focus on their partner’s mind, as to connecting sexually and romantically.  So even when I was overweight and unhealthy-looking, girls still picked up on the female mind in the male body, and the latter suddenly didn’t seem to matter much.  I tried hard to not look androgynous. I tried to look male, move like a male, sound like a male … but girls saw right through that. With some, it was explicit; with others it was more implicit, just (as they described it) an amazing mental connection that they never had with a guy before or since (and now we know why).

Now that I realize I’m a trans girl, i.e. fundamentally female, I like to look, move, sound etc. as female as I possibly can, and the androgynous look is now very apparent.  I also don’t have to ponder how this plays out as to me trying to get girls interested in me because I tend to get hit on often enough.  Evidently the androgynous look has its merits.

Sometimes I wonder about other historical figures who have passed away, and I wonder if perhaps that person was a trans girl but in an era where coming out might simply not have been viable.  The brilliant artist Prince comes to mind, and I mean this with the utmost respect. If you know the Prince story, perhaps you’ll also respectfully draw the conclusion that it’s a reasonable possibility.  As to the sexiness factor of Prince, as to many girls, it was off the right side of the scale.  Examples abound, but the most eloquent example of that evaluation is in this interview, just beyond the 3:15 mark.  The simple sincerity and immediate reaction are wonderful. And no, I’m very much not suggesting that being androgynous is the main reason for anyone, especially this particular interviewee, to like Prince.  But being androgynous was certainly not a disqualification.

On the other end of the spectacularity scale, here I am with my humble degree in accounting and auditing, no Ph.D., minimal guitar-playing skills and with the pace of girls coming in and out of my bedroom so glacially slow that my dad would have considered that as imperceptibly slow.

And yet, I have enough wonderfully nice romantic-interest girls in my life to by now have finally convinced me that I should have stopped feeling sorry for myself long ago, and that me being androgynous is not a disqualification as to being attractive.

As to guys, i already know this. Guys tend to obsess about me, and when I was doing escorting, that was useful. However, my brain isn’t wired for romancing or being romanced by guys, so that audience doesn’t really register, for me.  As to girls, the issue matters 100%, for me.

All of this brings me to the Wicked Weasel bikini competition.  Basically, a girl buys some of their swimwear, informally models it, gets pictures taken and sends these to the company.  If the judges like the pictures, they post them, and winners receive  an impressive prize consisting of much more swimwear.  So, last night I sent them my pictures with the wording:

* * *

Hello,

I”m entering the competition.  I’m wearing:

317 digital rainbow tri top: multi: medium
212 digital rainbow bikini bottom: multi: large

I’m a trans girl.  Until recently, I thought it’d be pointless to enter since it’s not mainstream and many people don’t like trans girls.  But then again, many people (girls and guys) very much do.

So, without me striving to be pretty in the pretend-not-to-be-a trans-girl paradigm but openly as a tall, muscular, blonde trans girl, I asked my girlfriend to photograph me and here’s the result. She likes my look; even if you don’t, please consider that others might.  And — all natural. No implants. 🙂

Thank you for your consideration.  If I need to improve anything specific, please guide me.

~Tanya Charbury

Reno, NV, USA

* * *

This fulfills a fantasy I’ve had for a great many years.

Even if I don’t come close to winning, I tried, and I’m glad.  Sometimes an apple pear wins the taste test, sometimes not — but without being entered into the competition, certainly not.

 

 

 

 

Slow Progress adds Up

ggggg_20160915_235035

My journey as a trans girl began, of course, as soon as my cells were being formed and my brain developed with a female structure whereas my reproductive organs didn’t. From there, it was a journey with social difficulties and (probably as a result) a downward-spiraling lack of self-value, until a few years ago I was at a low point. Psychologically, I’ll just sum it up by agreeing with a savvy friend who works as a formal counselor and has a Master’s in the subject. She described me as having self-hatred. That wasn’t all of it; I was also not clear as to who or what I am, or where I fit into the grand scheme of things.

Was I a gay guy, maybe? I went to gay guy clubs and (carefully) let men have sex with me. Very quickly I figured out that this wasn’t an explanation. “Gay guy” was the exact opposite of who I am. That was at least minimally helpful to me. I knew what I could rule out. It was sort of like Edison having tried to make an electric light-bulb, and having failed. As a result, he knew of one way in which not to make an electric light-bulb, but he still didn’t know how to proceed exactly. The analogy applied to me, too.

Medically, I was severely overweight, with bad blood cholesterol and high blood pressure that were likely to kill me off soon — as in, very soon. I didn’t care. I was also going blind due to having cataracts. “Young person’s cataracts,” they called it, but either way it was getting very hard to see.

During that time-frame, I was also told I had skin cancer. The dermatologist came in with a grave face after the first attempt to cut out all the cancer had failed, and they had to cut out a much larger piece. Right after she announced that, I recall literally giggling as my first reaction, because I sincerely found it so charming and unfathomable that she would think that I actually cared about my body to any extent.

I was not surprised that I got skin cancer. As a teenager, I used to lay in the African sun for hours on end without sunscreen, so as to intentionally damage my skin, so as to get craggy old-sailor skin and maybe fit better with the male culture into which I was so desperately trying to fit while being so bewildered — since males my age seemed to be from another planet. I was told I was a boy and that I’d better fit in. I tried SO hard. At age 14, I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day to be macho. Nothing helped me fit into boy culture. I might as well have tried to fit in with rhinoceros culture.

I always felt that if I’m a boy, then wow, I’m a very different type of boy than the other boys — a boy who’s A LOT like a girl. That I actually AM a girl wasn’t a possibility I even considered at the time.

Finally, decades later, a few wonderful girls helped me realize that I’m simply a trans girl, and the fact that a vast amount of people deny the possibility, or hate girls like me — doesn’t mean I should think as they do. What IS — that’s what matters. Not opinions. If I’m a girl, I’m a girl even if the entire planet is annoyed at me. It’s sort of like what Galileo dealt with. The earth is a sphere that revolves around the sun, and whether or not that annoys the church, the truth nevertheless stands. That includes my right to live openly as a girl.

I finally understood. I also applied integrity to the situation, and lived openly as who I am. I didn’t know if this would mean being all alone, homeless and penniless — but it seemed to be a distinct possibility. I proceeded even so. Even if I were to live only one more day, I’d live and die as who I am.

It was hard. I felt excruciatingly awkward, whether alone or socially. As to the latter, I felt awkward as to how I look, move, walk and talk — all of which are major elements of social interaction.

I’ve overcome these issues, but even now there are other negatives. For example, I have a lot of business debt and I’m way behind on that. I’m also not young any more. I’m also running multiple businesses with only one assistant — an amazingly brilliant one — but still, it’s hard to keep up with everything. Being a trans girl also does mean that there is much cultural negativity focused on me. But … psychologically, these negatives seem so tiny to me that they just really don’t register anywhere on the scale, for me.

It’s been an amazing journey. Had it been only a fraction as nice yet much harder, it would nevertheless still have been overwhelmingly worth it. Even now, five years later, I vividly remember the best people and the worst; the best experiences and the worst. As things panned out, my life is so nice that I feel intense gratitude to those who have been kind and supportive to me, and I sometimes feel tempted to just stop in awe and wonder.

…. which brings me to yesterday.  My day was a classically “me nowadays” day — waking up next to a wonderful and brilliant rainbow girl who’s part of my life and who brightened my day with her presence. Then, my day consisted of making professional-grade custom business software for a client, then working on custom business software for my auto parts business, then working on a 1980 Mercedes-Benz convertible, then coaxing it towards its destination during a 60-mile journey during which it was often on the brink of overheating, then having my hair done, then visiting my mom for dinner, and then working on my 1998 Audi A8 Quattro.  Then, more custom business software work, then watching the final 2 episodes of the L-Word series on Netflix, then an in-depth intense conversation with the lovely girl whose presence continued to brighten my day. Yes, she’s my girlfriend. Yes, we’re openly polyamorous. Yes, it works magnificently well.

In a wider sense, I’m accepted and loved by many magnificent individuals, my friends and family — my framily (to use a word I learned last night).

As to how this fits in to the no-longer-feeling-awkward part of life:

In the morning, I needed to renew my automobile insurance policy over the phone. Based solely on my voice, girls tend to realize that I’m a female, albeit one with an unusual voice, even on the best of days. Males have a much harder time — and the person on the other end of the phone was male. Even so, he correctly figured out I’m a girl, and it was “ma’am” this and “ma’am” that. So, as to how I sound — good enough.

All day, I felt confident about how I move as the girl I am. I felt graceful.

In the evening, my girlfriend and I went for a walk. I felt comfortable and graceful as such, too.

Late that night, we had a fun photo shoot, with the results below:

Remember that line from a classic movie, where someone says “we’ll always have Paris?” The context is that when you have a good day, nothing can erase it. It’s past. It happened, and if it was good, your life was positive to that extent, indelibly. Living a happy life, one day at a time, is like that. What good or bad things might happen today or tomorrow are a separate issue. They can’t undo the wonderful day that was yesterday.

Yes, this is being posted in my trans girl blog. My point is: if you’re a trans girl and your life is hard, I empathize. For me, it was hard too. Maybe not as hard, maybe more. But for me, it got better, vastly so. Maybe for you it can too, if you live with integrity and embrace who you are.

Respect for Alexis Arquette

This afternoon, I found out that Alexis Arquette passed away yesterday. From hearsay I conclude that her family seems to be exceptionally positive in general but even so (by my own standards anyway) this is a time for mourning and for extending comfort to the family, so I’ll be brief.

Hardly a day goes by in which I don’t see examples of how much more trans-friendly general culture is today vs. five years or so ago, when I came out as a trans girl.  A few years ago, for me, the mere act of going out in public involved the same sort of mental bracing as other girls might undergo before jumping into a pool of cold water — and I had it relatively easy.  Some of my trans girl friends came out some years before, and their stories made me wince. Ten years ago or so, life as an “out” trans girl was more awkward, more difficult, far more dangerous and socially much less acceptable.

Add to that the extra pressure of being the focus of Hollywood attention, and the level of stress and difficulty go up much more yet.

Alexis braved all of this, by being openly transgender long before it was as relatively easy as it is today.  Gender pronouns can be difficult to handle correctly so rather than deciding how best to refer to Alexis, I’ll quote from Wikipedia:

In her late 30s, Arquette transitioned from male to female.  Her experiences were documented in the film Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother, which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

Coming out at that time and in that context would require much bravery. Also, every publicly known person who comes out openly as transgender is a windbreak for those less willing or able to bear the gale of public animosity toward transgender people.  For these reasons, Alexis Arquette had my respect and gratitude.