Crossdresser or Female? The Age Old Question Comes Home

I have been questioning my gender for more than six months now.  At the risk of my family and my marriage, I have taken steps to explore my feminine side.  Why take such a great risk?

In the one of the many fights/discussions/arguments I have had with my wife, she has conceded that I could be a crossdresser, but she doesn’t see a reason why I should transition.  This has put a lot of strain on my thoughts as to the question of CD vs. TG, which is a big can of worms in the transgender community anyway.  I have already made the decision to start taking hormones when they become available to me (presumably in March), and I routinely dress en femme to therapist appointments and support group meetings.  But in the end, the question remains, am I simply a crossdresser or do I feel female?

My quandry comes from the fact that unlike a subset of the TG population, I did not know from birth that I felt female—at least not consciously.  I always envied girls in dresses and skirts.  In high school, I secretly slept in my mom’s old slips and altered an old wedding dress by hand to fit me for a Halloween costume.  I sympathized with women and their unique issues.  Most of my friends were girls.  It was a natural fit.  One high school friend once called me a lesbian trapped in a man’s body.  At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Now, it rings in my head.  What did she see that I didn’t?

Over the years, I feel I have suppressed my femininity.  I identified as male, but I secretly felt jealous of women.  I am envious of the ability to have multiple orgasms in a single session.  I want to carry and bear a child despite the 10 months of discomfort and excruciating labor pains at the end.  I love the feel of silk and lace against my skin.  I want to wear dresses and skirts.

These are all things I wanted before I considered a transition.  In the last six months, I have found that I also enjoy shopping for me.  I like the feel of my smoothly shaved legs.  I appreciate my naturally long eyelashes and long legs; I hate my bushy eyebrows.  I want softer, smoother skin and a higher voice.  I want these more feminine things I never actively considered in my high school years.

After learning I have at least one child who will be appearing in a film in the future, one of the members of my support group asked me, “So that makes you a stage mom, doesn’t it?”  I was taken aback for a second, but then I let those words sink in:  Stage mom… Mom… Mom.  I like the sound of that.

Much of my initial focus of my questioning has centered on appearance, which started to make me think that maybe I am simply a crossdresser.  But the more experiences I get in the world (e.g., sitting at dinner with group members; being called a sister, mother, or one of the girls; and even being asked at a mall kiosk if I want a beauty sample), the more I feel it is more than just wanting to be in a dress that floats around me.  That’s why my decision to start HRT is important to me.  I want to continue to see how I feel mentally, and what affect estrogen will have on my mind and body.  I have received some brush back for considering using HRT as a diagnostic tool (others believe I should be full-time before starting), but I am comfortable in my decision.  I am confident I am more than just a crossdresser, so I move forward down the transition path.  The feelings are strong enough that I continue to put my family situation and marriage at risk.  That scares the hell out of me, but I need to know to be happy with myself.

I would be happy to hear about your experiences and how you came to the conclusion that you are a crossdresser or why you felt you need to fully transition.  What affected your decisions?  How did you come to “know”?  Or are you still working at it?

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So, We Had a Fight…

It’s been a little while, but my wife and I finally had another big fight.

On Sunday, we had an impromptu discussion over lunch where she reiterated that she wasn’t interested in being with a woman and that she did not support my decision to pursue transition in the slightest.  That put me in a very down mood for the rest of the day and into the next.  I was pretty quiet on Monday morning, and she asked if I was mad.  I responded that I was not mad, I was sad.  She then laid into me, basically insinuating that I didn’t have a reason to be sad because I was the one choosing to destroy the family.  She insulted me, and I ran out out the house.  Luckily(?), I had a therapist appointment later that day, where I vented a little, but I didn’t really get much help into what to do next.

After hours of texting with my wife, she admitted that she stills loves some of my qualities, but she has a hard time seeing that good in me because she is in so much pain and constantly angry at me.  She went to bed that night without a kiss or an “I love you.”  No “I love you” the next night, either.  The past few days have been OK, and I think she is trying more to focus on the positives, but the roller coaster of emotions continues to be stressful.

I wish there was more Significant Other support in the world.  Yes, there are a few resources, but while transgenderism affects only a small percentage of the population, and even smaller subset of SOs are affected, and the resources they need are few and far between.  I feel for her.  I really do.  I know what I am going through is causing great pain.  However, I know that these feelings are strong, and I need to explore them.  I just hope that these fights happen less frequently, or someone’s rope is going to break, and there won’t be a marriage or family to save.

That would truly make me sad.

I Might Actually Look Good in a Dress

As I continue along in this journey and experience some limited time in the world en femme, I look ahead to what life may be like if I choose to continue and go full-time.  The idea of “passing” is a frequent topic off discussion in the transgender community, and on an individual one, it truly hits home.

When I first starting seeing my therapist, I told her that I wanted to “be beautiful, inside and out.”  What I meant by this was that I if I transition, I want to be seen and treated as a woman, who is at least moderately attractive to the outside world—to pass without having to worry whether or not I’m actually passing.  Further, I want to feel beautiful to myself; that is, I want to be happy.  Ideally, that is the goal:  to be happy with who and what I am.  Right now, feeling womanly is making me happy (even to the detriment to my family).

I’m working on the internal happiness.  Much of that will depend on what happens with my family situation and what final decision I make about going full-time.  That’s all on hold while I sort out my issues and wait to see what effects hormones will have on me when I presumably start taking them in March (appointment pending).  In the meantime, I can’t help but internalize and logically (and probably futilely) think how I will beautiful on the outside.

I have never considered myself a super-attractive person  I grew up as a nerd in school.  Big nose.  Unibrow.  No one asked me to school dances; I went solo, or I nervously asked potential dates at the last-minute.  No one was banging down my door to go out with me.  So, I never really felt attractive.  My best features (other than my brain) were my eyes and eyelashes, but women would only swoon over my long eyelashes because they wanted them for themselves, not because they made me more attractive.

Ever since I started wearing dresses to my therapy sessions and the transgender support group I attend, however, I have been receiving compliments.  Not only do I have great eyelashes, but the nearly 70 pounds I’ve lost has also revealed some curves that my dresses highlight.  I have my mom’s hips, no real discernible Adam’s apple.  I have long legs that I have become more comfortable with since I started shaving them back in September.  I have a sense of fashion.  I’m a girly girl when it comes to fashion.  Skirts and dresses?  Yes, please.  Apparently, I look good in a dress.  Other trans women in my group seem a little jealous of what I have going for me.  I’m a good candidate for laser, they say.  One called me “stunning” in a red dress I have been wearing a lot.  They like my hair.  Even my therapist has complimented my appearance.  Can it be that I could actually be more passable than I thought?  Would it really only take some laser and some smooth skin to actually be seen as physically attractive?  Six months ago, I would have never thought that possible.

So despite the ugliness of home and the rockiness this journey brings to my home life, there is a glimmer of hope that I can attain my goal of being attractive inside and out.  Happiness is not unattainable.  Internal and external beauty is a possibility.  I might actually look good in a dress, and I like it.

New Friendship!

Today, I think I officially made a new friend.  I can’t remember the last time I actually made a new friend, as opposed to making a new acquaintance or co-worker.  I met this person in my transgender support group and our stories are eerily similar to one another.  We can commiserate about marriages, children, age, fears of starting HRT… you name it, we can talk about it.

Because our stories and experiences are so close, I value her input and insight as to the kinds of things I might look forward to as I continue my transition.  At the same time, I can fill that role for her.  While she barely knows me, she has made herself available to me anytime I need to talk.  That is so the kind of friend I need in the world.  Someone to vent with, someone to share thoughts, someone who will not judge me for feeling like I do.  We talked on the phone today for an hour and a half, and it was a little liberating.  I had freedom to talk about anything on my mind—a freedom I do not get within the context of my marriage, since trans-related conversations frequently lead to fights in that arena.

I also find encouragement by the few people that have begun to follow this blog, who care enough about what I have to say to read my thoughts and even go so far as to comment.  Just having those connections to people in the world makes me feel a little special.  I miss feeling special.

Thank you to my new friend, who I hope will become a close friend.  Thank you to my followers.  Thank you all for bringing me a little bit of happiness in an otherwise murky, confusing, and unhappy time in my life.

The Need for Support

As I go through my day-to-day struggles, I find that I have to deal with my issues primarily by myself.  I think that makes life even more difficult.  My lack of a support circle worries my therapist.  It worries me.  I have always been a strong person, but am I strong enough to go through transition solo?  I really don’t know.

As I have mentioned, I am married.  I have children.  My wife is not on board with this at all.  As she says, this is not “what she signed up for.”  Any mention of transition can get her worked up, and she is subject to fly off the handle.  She doesn’t get physical, but her words can be downright offensive.  I know she is hurt, and any happiness I might find in the transition process is a dagger to her heart and our marriage.  I just wish we could work together to work through these issues.  I keep my femme clothes from her.  I don’t wear panties to bed, even though I wear them all day long under my regular clothes.  I don’t want to rock her world anymore than it has already been rocked.  But still, as I much as I try to shield her and give her small doses of my thoughts and feelings, those glimpses into my transition scare the hell out of her.  I get that.  It makes sense.  I just doesn’t translate into a support structure.

My children are very young and impressionable.  I don’t present female in front of them.  It’s not that I am scared of their reactions.  In fact, even my son has called me “pretty” when he has seen me in female Halloween costumes.  It’s just that they are super social and storytellers.  I am not ready to be full-time.  Presenting in front of them means spreading what is still largely a secret to the general world.

My family is fractured and small.  What was once a large family has been divided by the deaths of the elders and the moving away of my immediate family.  My mom dies a few years ago; my dad lives hours away.  My brother is a little wary of talking to me in the wake of me sharing my issues with him.  Otherwise, everyone else is too distant to care.  Even the people I considered my closest friends don’t make concerted efforts to reach out to me, and generally speaking, they have all moved across the country.  I don’t have a lot of close friends.

In the end, that leave me few and far between moments to explore my femininity, and very few people to share my experiences with.  Maybe that’s why I decided to start this blog.  Just to share my thoughts and feelings with whoever may care to listen, and if nothing else, just to bear my soul to myself.

I do value my therapist’s opinions, but I only get to see her once a week. I also have come to value my transgender support group and its regular attendees.  But really, I need a larger support circle.  I cannot rationalize and logically project how transition will ultimately affect me.  I don’t want to predict my life.  I want to live my life, and while I couldn’t care less as to what the general population thinks about me, I do miss having close friends and family who I can talk to.  My need for support is great (especially as I look ahead to starting HRT), and I don’t know how to expand my circle without somehow further widening the divide at home.  I’m open to suggestions.

Thanks for listening.

Ups & Downs

Now six months into my questioning, I feel like I have great ups and downs when it comes to my transition.  For each step forward I take in discovering my true self, I take another step away from keeping my marriage and family together.  Tonight was a shining example.

I attend a weekly transgender support group as often as possible.  I am usually a frequent contributor to the group, but tonight, I really didn’t talk too much.  Instead, I listened to what turned out to be a larger group of people than usual.  As I listened to other’s stories and situations, I felt comforted knowing that at least one person in the group is in a very similar situation as myself.  She was married and has children.  She is nervous to be considering HRT and has a similar build as myself.  We have a lot in common.  The main difference between us is that her marriage has already ended, and I continue to fight to try to save mine despite the turmoil I bring to the relationship by considering transition.  In the end, I think I may have found a new friend.  We can help each other in our transitions.  Coming home, I felt a little bit happy that I had connected with someone and made a new friend.

Then I got home.

My wife was infuriated that I was out until midnight (even though I asked if I could go out with group members at about 10:00).  With food, drive time, and time to change out of my dress (as she doesn’t want to see me dressed), it took about that long to get home.  My wife immediately offended me by telling me she was stuck at home while I was “playing dress up” and that she she’s done dealing with this every Friday night.  Immediately, the mild happiness I experienced leaving my group was shattered.

Where does that leave me?  It once again leaves me wondering if I can really keep this marriage together.  My wife tells me she loves me and that she is trying to figure all of this out (we even had a good date night last night), but then she blows up at me.  Shouldn’t I be encouraged to attend a support group and talk to others about what I’m going through?  Shouldn’t I expect at least an ounce of support at home, even while acknowledging how difficult all of this is for her?

This is just one example of the ups and downs I experience.  Each time I make baby steps into womanhood to see how comfortable I am in this world, it feels natural and right.  I dress for my therapy sessions and when I attend the support group.  I wear women’s underwear on a near daily basis under my pants, and I like the feeling (except when I tuck a little too tightly).  The one major shopping trip I took months ago en femme was liberating.  All positives.  But I have little support and nearly zero at home.  In an ideal world, my wife and I could have civil conversations about what is going on in my head and heart, but instead she blows up and wants me to leave the house.  Serious negative.

As much as I love her, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep it all together.  I am excited and fearful of the future.  2015 seems like it will be as confusing and challenging as 2014.  Still, I hope for more ups than downs, and I hope my new friendship becomes something I can rely on to raise my spirits.