Friday, March 7, 2014

Transition Update:



I have been thinking that perhaps I should come back and post a follow-up here as it has been some time since I originally created this blog in the summer of 2012. A great deal has happened in my life since then.

The AGP/Crossdreamer descriptions were something of a stepping stone for me, a language of self-discovery that helped me come to terms with who I am and have always been. After a lifetime of hiding, I finally came to terms with the truth that I had been transgender all my life, repressing it for years with what can only be described as unbearable guilt and self-loathing. In the months following my original posts here I began gender therapy for the first time in my late fifties. Despite the fear and resignation I expressed in my earlier posts, it gradually became clear that I could not go on repressing my true feelings. After once again nearly taking my life one day, I finally concluded that I would have to transition to female to survive.

In the beginning, I was terrified of transition. I expected I would lose my career, my home, everything I held dear, end up on the street, and probably still die. But despite that pessimistic expectation, I could simply see no other choice but to go forward with transition. I am delighted to report that transition has not been anything like that; I am thrilled with my life now that I am living authentically as the female I have always been inside. I only wish I had been able to find my way here years ago.

In the final months of 2012 I began HRT, began losing weight, began electrolysis, began collecting a wardrobe (once again), came out to my family, began working on voice training, and began to learn makeup. I started living openly female everywhere but work early in 2013. In mid-2013 I began the long complex process of legally changing my identity to a new name and gender, and came out at work full time in the fall. I chose a new name and left Heather as a pre-transition pseudonym which I will probably still use for some of my writing.

I lost a great deal of weight with a much healthier diet, and began more regular exercise habits. I suddenly had a profound desire to live my life. My health is now better than it has been in decades. I was able to get rhinoplasty, and after nearly a year and a half of hormones I am now actually able to see a female-self emerging from the fa├žade I’ve hidden in, and been trapped by, all my life. I am also now working on raising the funds to get SRS and breast implants, hopefully late in 2014 or early 2015. Transition has also been like a second puberty for me, arousing profound heterosexual feelings of attraction to men.

I am posting this comment, a very brief summary of a much longer and much more complex story (which I’ve written more about elsewhere), in order to explain to those like myself who begin discovering themselves here, that I now realize I have always been a transsexual in denial. I’ve now begun to think of my childhood in terms of “when I was a little girl,” despite that I was deeply in denial and hiding for all those years. I can look back now with hindsight and acknowledge the countless times I knew in my heart that I felt female but couldn’t find a language to express it, or even admit it to myself.

I am delighted to report to you that there is life after transition! I have never been happier with myself or my life. To tell you the truth, passing at my age isn’t perfect, strangers often know I am transgender, but I am largely accepted as a woman, or at least a trans woman, without any issues. I have truly not had one bad experience with people mistreating me in the ways I imagined I would experience. I’ve transitioned very publicly to hundreds of people -- friends, family, customers, and co-workers -- and have received hundreds of heart-warming expressions of encouragement and congratulations from many of these people. I have lost some “friends,” and gained many new true friends.

The hardest experience has been the difficulty my adult children are still having with all of this. I believe they will ultimately come to accept me, and get to know me all over again. I know that the alternative wouldn’t have been any easier on them.

Please understand, I am not saying that everyone who identifies with the AGP/Crossdreamer profile is a transsexual who has been in denial all their life like I have been. What I am saying is that for many of us in my generation, denial and repression became a survival skill. Fortunately young transgender people today are finding it much easier to begin living authentically at a much younger age as our society gradually learns to accept transgender people. It is my fond hope that future generations will never have to suffer as so many of us have for so long. I would hope that if others come to the crossroads in their life that I did, they would not be as terrified of transition as I was. I am also not saying that transition is simple, but if it is the authentic path for your life, as it clearly is for mine, transition is more than possible, your new life can be WONDERFUL!

Finally, I want to emphatically encourage everyone with any interest in these issues to read Janet Mock’s new book “Redefining Realness,” released February 4th, 2014, and reaching 19 on the NY Times Best Seller list in the first week. She is a heroic figure that should encourage transgender people everywhere to live authentic lives, and challenge society to finally begin to understand us, accept us, and welcome us into the human family.

Transgender people are EXACTLY who they say they are!

10 comments:

  1. I do not expect to post any further transition or life experience updates from my real life in this blog, but I plan to continue to post some creative writing here.

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  2. Dear Heather,
    i‘ve read your story in the crossdreamers blog of Jack. First of all congratulations that you are happy with your new life as a woman you always wanted to be. it is really great that you‘ve got such a support from friends, colleagues and other people of your social life.
    I‘ve read your original postings from 2012 and it is really interesting to read your life story and what you thought, what you wanted to be, how you felt yourself, how you suppressed your real identity.

    Maybe you‘ve read my comments in Jacks Blog, which is really a great website and a source of information which helps me a lot, but now i am more confused than before. I posted my first comments this week as anonymous but later as Simone, which is my favourite name.
    At least you answered my postings and yes you are not a professional therapist and i appreciate this.

    You recommended me to see a professional gender therapist. i really appreciate your recommendation, but why did you add the word emphatically? Do you think that my current situation is serious that i have to talk to somebody professional about this quite soon?

    Do you know what i will expect? Do you know how such a meeting will take place? for me it is still something private, something my whole family, friends and so on do not know. And i never talked to anybody about this, because yes i think i am afraid of the reaction. You called it repression i think. But maybe more i am afraid that the therapists really finds out that i am transsexual and recommend transition. Don't get me wrong, i always dreamed about to be a woman, i think in the same manner as you did, but should i go so far then? I'm not quite happy to me a man, yes i admit, but i accept this or maybe i just say it to protect myself to accept that maybe i am as you said woman caught in a male body? I really don't know.
    Yes, you said that i ask the right questions, but i do not have the answers. it is like do i really think this way or is it just a dream i have for a long time. Which is real desire, which is just a thought, a wish or something else?

    But on the other hand you wrote that sometimes you can suppress this for a week, or a month, maybe for years, but it always there and waiting to appear. I realized this for the first time 15 or 16 years ago and since that it comes and goes regularly. and I actually get used of it, it is always a fantastic time. I love to live my female side this way.

    i bought a lot of woman stuff and one of my favourite moments is when i change my dress is when i feel my silicon breasts which i bought a few years ago . Then i really feel that i am a woman. Years ago I’ve bought an artificial vagina which i love to wear as well. I could wear it all day long and always worry when i have to switch to my common life as a man. When

    i go to the office in the morning i realized quite often in the last time that i rather wear my favourite woman clothes and nice shoes and a really nice make up. Really strange, i cannot control it.

    I already had my coming out, means i already went out as a woman a few times. it was strange, but i like it. And the funny thing is that quite often, if i wear my hair a bit longer some people think i am a woman. So maybe i really have feminine traits visible for other people.

    Sometimes i wonder why people, especially woman look in a special way and smiles at me, even if they are married. Is it that they see my female side and think i am attractive?


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  3. Silly questions, but i just wonder about it, that it happens quite often in the last days. I wonder why because i know that from time to time i wish to be a woman i cannot wait til i am finally arrived at home to dress me up as a woman. But then for weeks there was nothing and i had my normal life as a man and there wasn't any desire to be a woman. But in the last month, especially in the last days the wish or the feeling to be a woman was stronger than at anytime before so i finally found the time to think about me more in detail and started to do some research on the internet. So i found Jacks page and your blog and a lot of more sites.

    Usually i do not have so much thoughts about being a woman during the day when i work or my customer, but something changed. I watch woman closer, notice what they wear,(i really love this femine look, i do not like this androgyn look), what shoes they wear ( i love high heels and i wish i could walk with them all day long) and think about if its fit to her or not and if i would wear it, if they use make up and if yes if it looks good or not. and then i daydream about how i will do my makeup to look good.

    And when i've read your comment this morning i was really confused and nervous. Ok, i am a really good actor, so my customer did not realize today that my mind was somewhere else.

    When i reflect now all this stuff i wrote in the last hour i feel sorry that i bother you with my inner feelings, fears, fhoughts, but actually i just want somebody listen to me. I know that i repeated myself a few times, but i hope you think it is interesting.

    But to be honest..when i reflect it one more time what i just wrote about my feelings it is obvious that i really need to see a therapist to find out more about me. But right now from my understanding there a lot of indicators that it is possible that i am transsexual. But what should i do with this knowledge? It is a dream, a demand, it would make me happy, but i do not feel unhappy right now, i just feel that there is something else.

    I think the next step is to find a good gender therapist as you recommended. And right now i know that i would go to him/her as a woman. With a nice rock, nice shoes, decent makeup and i think i should just myself and then i will see what the recommendation will be.
    And this evening i contacted a gender therapist via email, i am really eager what he will tell me.
    thank you for your time :-)
    best regards
    Simone

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  4. Dear Simone,

    I can so easily identify with all of your comments. I feel like I know well what you're going through.

    I suggest a gender therapist because I believe it helps to have someone to talk with who understands and has talked with many others going through similar issues.

    You never mentioned how young you were when you first became aware that you identified with female things. I think most of us found that we had some idea at a very young age of 3 to 5 years old. We often do not have a language to explain it with, but may have begun things like wanting to wear a silky nightgown or something at that age.

    The other reason to get to a gender therapist is a matter of safety; we can easily fall into self-destructive bouts of gender-dysphoria-driven depression. This can be a dangerous time for us to be alone. A professional therapist will understand your need for privacy and security and will protect you.

    For me, and my transition, I found that I did not have to lose my career or professional relationships, in fact transition actually strengthened many of my relationships. I found that many of my customers and vendors find me easier to work with now that I am so much more secure in myself. The hiding I did tended to leak out as subtle behavior problems, over-compensation to be strong or tough to cover up my feminine inclination. I've also concluded that my thoughts and interactions were sometimes like a rather insecure woman with hundreds of times too much testosterone-driven aggression in my system.

    I am now so much more secure in myself. I know that people sometimes see me as a trans-woman, and sometimes as simply as a woman, but I'm not hiding from anyone, so it really doesn't matter, I really don't worry about it. Either way, that's who I am.

    (cont ...)

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  5. (continued ...)
    When I was considering transition, I realized that I had a lot of work ahead of me, collecting an extensive age appropriate wardrobe for a professional woman. When I was cross-dressing, I tended to be happy with fetishistic styles and not much variety. A professional woman needs enough dresses and separates and accessories to not duplicate her outfit for at least several weeks or a month. That's a lot of clothes, and accessories, and shoes. I found that I could stretch the budget very far with nice condition used clothing from charity thrift stores which are common in America. Some things I found I needed to buy new: shoes, some of my jewelry, scarves, and a few blazer jackets. Then there is learning to create an appropriate makeup look which I did with the help of a friendly makeup artist at a mall makeup store. I found some good online sources for stylish shoes in my size.

    I mention these practical considerations, because I think it is important to not underestimate the practical considerations, and maybe there is a clue in these things as to what my true nature is. I found that the more I thought in realistic terms about what I was facing, the more I found it a very attractive adventure. I realized that I would have to begin getting up at least an hour or an hour and a half earlier each day to get ready for work, and I was okay with that. I would have to spend a lot of time and money building a serious wardrobe, and I found I loved to do that. Yes at first I was very nervous, sometimes buying clothing as if buying gifts, in male mode, and then in my first public ventures with a crude approximation of womanhood. Over time I have become much more knowledgeable and practiced to the point where now I go anywhere anytime without a care. I have not felt any gender dysphoria for more than a year now.

    The rewards of living authentically are impossible to over state. It comes at a cost which varies for every individual. For me, I did not find the courage until I could see no other altermative to taking my own life. My only regret is that I did not find a way to do this years ago. I am so jealous of the short lifetime I have left to live as myself.

    I too am rambling, we tend to do that I suppose. This is just so overwhelming a process for us.

    I wish you the very best.

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  6. ps: If you want to send me an email address there is additional info I can send to you.

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  7. Hi Heather,

    thank you very much for your support. It helps me a lot to get a better understanding of what i will expect. And as usual i really appreciate what you wrote, it sounds so interesting, but when i read through the columns i get the feeling i just have to be myself.
    Yes you're right, i tend to ramble for myself.It is such a strange situation and so many things have to be said or written. But you asked me for my email adress: simonebonnie1@gmail.com.

    this evening i wear my favorite clothes and it feels so good. The long blond hair, my silicon breasts, the nylons, the high heels, i feel so good to wear it and to live my woman side. If you like i can send you one or two pics of me, i really like to know what you thinking about these.

    have a great day
    Simone

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  8. Yours is an inspiring story, Heather, for those of us in middle age who have belatedly come to realise that we may be transsexual. You describe transition as being like a “second puberty”. In my crossdreaming I instinctively identify as a young woman, with an active sex-life. Is that what you mean? That when you start over in your new – true – gender, your impulse is to live through a whole sexual life-cycle that you never experienced from the other side, beginning with female puberty?

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  9. Dear Dabrela,

    Thank you for your kind words!

    My use of the term "second puberty" was conceived to describe the awakening of a sexual attraction to men that I had never experienced before in my life. It reminds me of the experience many young people have when, as children, they are not interested in members of the opposite sex, and then with the onset of puberty, powerful new attractions completely take over, sometimes leaving their parents to think their children have lost their minds. LOL!

    I had always had very close, even intimate, friendships with guys, but these had never been remotely sexual. While trying desperately to be successful hiding out as a male, my heterosexual self had always felt attracted to females, but that attraction was confused and complicated by secretly "wanting to BE them," not so much wanting to be "WITH them."

    Even more complicated was that in the heat of passionate love making (which I experienced a few times with a woman), I would invariably lose control of the male masquerade and imagine that my lover was a faceless male making love to a very female me! As soon as this passionate ecstasy had passed, the male mask would come right back, and I would struggle to deny these feelings had ever happened. I was sure my partners could sometimes tell how feminine I was feeling in those moments.

    Now that I can finally see myself fully and forever more as the female I was always secretly desperate to reveal, the heterosexual me has discovered a powerful - perhaps long-repressed - natural attraction to males. I covet each tiny moment when a nice guy smiles at me, opens a door for me, offers to help me carry some burden, or shows deference to my feminine self. An out and out complement that I look nice can send me into rapturous delight that lingers the rest of the day! (blushing, but it's so true!)

    For a variety of reasons (not just my own repressed female sexuality, but also the sexual and emotional struggles of my ex-spouse of 31 years), I had never experienced a very fulfilling sexual life. I literally only experienced sexual intercourse a handful of times in thirty one years of marriage, two or three times with other partners before marriage, and I had been completely celibate for ten or fifteen years before my transition. I had never been intimate with a guy till after my transition. So, you ask if I have an "impulse to live through a whole sexual life-cycle that I never experienced from the other side, beginning with female puberty?" Um, well, ... yes! (blushing!) And I must say, so far, it is delightful!

    Heather ... Delighted to be me!

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  10. Just another update on my transition. I've been on hormones just about two years now, but still struggling to figure out how to fund SRS.

    The good news is that it looks lie my employer is going to be adding insurance coverage for SRS! It isn't absolutely definite yet, but I think that by this time next year I might actually be recovering from SRS! It has been a long journey, but I'm more excited than I have words to express!

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