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"How Do You Know?"

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Posts: 243
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(@bmactavish)
Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Joined: 6 years ago
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If there is one question that is seriously prevalent to my being, it is this: “How do you know?” I’ve asked that question enough times to fill my car with silver dollars. If they made a crossdresser anthem, that would be its title. Although it isn’t just about crossdressing, as it pertains to being transgender as well as any deviation from what they have spelled out as “Normal Behavior.” The “they” in this case are society, politics, religion, culture, history… you get the point.

I’m a mess inside as I struggle to come to any satisfactory explanation as to what I am and what I should be. I am neither male nor female. Ask me today and I might tell you that I’m comfortable being a CD, tomorrow, I may cry as I long to shed the masculine shell completely and become the woman I am, and the day after that… who knows. So again, “How do you know?”

I could rattle off all the things that I do know and try to equate that to some semblance of a dignified answer, but I’m only kidding myself. I don’t know and I wish that someone could give me an answer that is black and white that would help me to know. They can’t because if there were distinctive signposts for us to navigate, we’d all be holding hands and singing happy songs as we walk a similar path and then step off at our designated stop.

If I haven’t lost you, then let me try to rationalize my thoughts. I’m in constant turmoil trying to figure out “How do I know if I’m transgender… more precisely, I’m wanting to know what are all the feelings that make someone feel they are born in the wrong body and should be a female and must go through the process to rectify the mistake, and… I don’t feel that way. So does that make me, what exactly? Here’s the thing; if you gave me the magic pill, I’d take it in a heartbeat (that’s today and not me from 10 or 20 years ago.) My life is settled, and I can face all the obstacles that would come with a complete change. So, if I could take the pill, then why can’t I start the process on my own? “How do you know?”

I used to ask, “How do you know if I’m a crossdresser or just someone who has a kinky fetish for high heels and lingerie? That answer only came after years of trial and tribulations stemming from self-doubt, irritability, and failed relationships. It morphed into, “How do I know if I am more than a crossdresser and possibly transgender?” Does claiming oneself to be transgender suddenly mean they have to pursue hormones and sex reassignment surgery? Will I lose my club card in the CD world and not be fully accepted into the transgender sorority until I start some recognizable process that exemplifies that I am serious about becoming a woman? “HOW DO YOU KNOW?”

I’ve edited hundreds of articles that have asked and attempted to answer that very question, both on CDH and TGH. The multiple truths shared by everyone have only made that question more perplexing. There are some who indeed, KNOW. They know with every fiber of their being, and I applaud them and envy them. I’m drifting on the vast ocean searching for the mythical kingdom where I am going to be accepted for who I am supposed to be. It will likely be that I will die with that question unanswered. And maybe that is ok and in its own way the answer that I’ve been searching for. “How do you know?” could easily be reshaped to state, “Why do I have to know?” My happiness today, and long into the future isn’t going to be answered by a collection of points that detail a progression from here to there. My line is my line and I only need to accept what I am willing to, nothing more.

How do I know if I’m transgender? I don’t, but I think that I am, and it doesn't matter if I don’t “Check” all the boxes. It shouldn’t take away from this wonderful experience, one that lets me enjoy being a complete crossdresser. I love femininity and there is nothing wrong with my appreciation of it. I’m single so I’m hurting no one—this is different for those in relationships. Not that I wouldn’t love to be in a relationship with an accepting individual. If it happens, great! I’m not holding my breath. I don’t know, so I’ll keep taking one high heel step in front of the other as I sashay along the path to… wherever I eventually land. My guess is that I will never dock my boat at the magical kingdom. It’s possible that I might even drift further away from it. How do I know? Who cares?

It’s time for me to be content in understanding that I won’t find answers to my questions in the stories of others, but what I will find are similarities that have importance to me. If I were to undergo some of the procedures, I can find examples of what to expect. That is essential information to have.

Each of us, in our personal way, asks the same question, “How do you know?” I think we feel the need to garner reassurances, an “It’s okay to feel that way,” even the recognition from our fellow members that our posted picture shows our inner female.  The line between being transgender and just a crossdresser is as blurry as a 1960s television station without rabbit ears. (Sorry, couldn’t resist throwing some “old” humor out there.) That is why many of us will never find that particular answer. And… that is perfectly fine because the only answer that you need is the one that pertains to you finding your balance in life and the means to navigate it with happiness and compassion.

If there was one thing that I wish I could have told my younger self, it would be this, “Buy the shoes! Wear the dress! Treat yourself and others with respect and love everyone for who they are and not what they should be according to what society dictates.” Okay, that was much more than one thing. You get my point. I spent too much time hating myself and it took a toll on those around me. Today, I live by being as compassionate as I can. I have lots of years to still make up for, but at least I now like the person (whether in a dress or not) I’ve become and am still becoming.

May your life be enriched by the duplicity of treading the line between male and female, it is most assuredly a blessing and not a curse…

 

Until next time…

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21 Replies
Posts: 98
(@middleground)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Ohio, Ashland
Joined: 3 years ago

Sabrina,
I believe I liked and enjoyed your article about "how does one really know," as I think I've mentioned before, even though I'm on hormonal therapy, I still occasionally ask the question of whether I should be doing it or not.
I think, for me, your words about what society, and religion, and whatever dictate has always been a stumbling block for those that "don't fit the mold." Maybe we were born into a wonderful era of more acceptance. Not complete acceptance, but more acceptance, because as you and I both know, there are those who can't get past fixed molds and into fluid ones. One can see that there are more and more people expressing who they are. This hasn't just started. It has been happening for a long time, and just like women's rights and the "ending" (in parentheses because there is much which still exists) of slavery, these events were the result of multiple individuals who were not content to have others dictate who and what they should be. In my mind, I've come in late to the game, the game being the determined struggle to express who we are and not be assigned a specific role or character based on our anatomy. Our ability to more easily step out in whatever clothing expresses ourselves has become much easier due to the bravery of those before us, and how thankful we all should be.
I've thought for a very long time why it is that for many many years I just didn't allow myself to express all my emotions or use words which really expressed how I felt. And it's like you have said, we are conditioned by society. But as you know, some have expressed who they are with much more freedom than others, even as children, and to me that ability must come from the environment in which they were brought up in, an accepting environment where one's spirit is allowed to accept itself and then express itself fully.
(By the way, and this isn't part of my comments above, I can't seem to get to my article you edited to be able to add my own grammatical edits and then give you my okay to release it. I tried following your instructions but I can't get where I need to go)
Jeri (no longer in the Middleground)

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2 Replies
(@sommekinder)
Joined: 6 years ago

New Member     United States of America, Florida
Posts: 4

I’m going to be blunt. Sabrina your article and comments are very expressive and truthful. No one can judge you unless you give the power to judge. Those who have commented so honestly and forthrightly are absolutely correct in their opinions/advice. We are all individuals on individual journeys… we are all Transgender women. All of us suffer from some level of transphobia, years of societal oppression and trauma. You’re admitting that you’re a trans woman but you’re afraid to believe it.
Once you give yourself license to say those words “ I am a trans woman” and start continually saying that mantra both internally and out loud as often as possible…. You’ll begin to be free to be the woman you desire to be whatever that entails. You began your journey long ago when you first realized that you enjoyed CD and similarly now it’s just another step forward to being your true self. Counseling has given me the ability to self love, give yourself permission to self love.
I’m nearly 75 and started HRT in 2019 and decided that my transition is mine and I’m in charge of whatever that is. I’m on my journey to happiness wherever it leads.

with love and support
Victoria

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Managing Editor
(@bmactavish)
Joined: 6 years ago

Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Posts: 243

Excellent points with much hope and reality mixed in. I haven't been able to say whole-heartedly that I am a trans woman; sure, on some days. I think that what it comes down to me personally is the implied definition of trans. Am I able to call myself that if I haven't yet, am not currently on, or planning to have medical assistance in altering my physical and emotional state, which surgeries and HRT would do. Am I trans just in the contemplation of doing so? In that case, yes. There will be a time in the (near) future when I believe I will face the choice. We shall see... Thank you for commenting! It is very much appreciated.

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Posts: 69
(@kdahlenbergen)
Trusted Member     United States of America, Minnesota, Park Rapids
Joined: 4 years ago

I’m right handed, 6’2”, blue eyed with white hair fits and betrays my age. These attributes are all obvious.

What goes on between my ears is seldom shared with anyone else, and even when I do share my thoughts, these can be equally unclear to me and those I confide in.

Its getting late in life. I know, so many say its never too late. But like you, I am just not sure. I think it may indeed be too late to expect a flash of clarity after six decades of uncertainty and self doubt. And you know, that is ok.

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Managing Editor
(@bmactavish)
Joined: 6 years ago

Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Posts: 243

Thanks for commenting, Kim! I may never know and that is (mostly) ok. I'm at a point where I can move forward if I choose, and that at least takes some of the burdens away. It's "Do I want to?" that is hard to answer.

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Posts: 23
Member
(@kb)
Eminent Member     United States of America, Florida
Joined: 3 years ago

Think if they, "society, politics, religion, culture, history," were not the ones dictating what is or is not normal. Lets reverse that thought.

I wonder how different the world would be if the LGBTQ community dictated to society, politics, religion, culture, history what is or is not normal.

Now you have to ask yourself, how would I feel about who I am? or what I am?

It is my belief that religion, all religion is what is wrong with the world. Religion is what has shape all societies, all politics, all culture, and history as we know it to be.

Put all of that aside like the day you were born and just maybe there is an answer.

Lets not let "They" guilt us into believing we aren't "Normal," as if "They" know what normal is. If "They" really knew what normal was there would only be one religion...."They" can't even agree on that!

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Managing Editor
(@bmactavish)
Joined: 6 years ago

Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Posts: 243

Great points! I appreciate the comments. Thanks!

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Posts: 243
Managing Editor
Topic starter
(@bmactavish)
Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Joined: 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing your point of view. I agree. Our conditioning from childhood is much different than today's children endure, although I will be careful here to suggest that it is better. There are many points I could make to both good and bad. In most cases, we are trying to teach tolerance, which is good. The world 100 years from now will look markedly different. We can only hope that being human is the only label one has to wear.

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Posts: 194
Ambassador
(@reallylauren)
Reputable Member     Canada, British Columbia, Victoria
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi Brina, You already know what my answer is... I KNOW I am a trans woman! How do I know that?
That knowledge probably came planted in my brain before I was even born, because I've always known I was supposed to be a girl. I've always felt like one, thought like one, wished I was one, had the mannerisms of one, and my mother even gave me a girl's name.
I recently had somebody I know ask me; "How do you know you're transgender?" My immediate response was: "How do you know you're white?" He looked back at me with a 'deer in the headlights look', and I said, "exactly, you just do..."

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Managing Editor
(@bmactavish)
Joined: 6 years ago

Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Posts: 243

I can certainly see that. That is one of my points as it pertains to me. I wish I had more certainty or could say, "I just do!" I'm not saying that either way comes without pitfalls; they both have obstacles that must be addressed. (I've always been good and shining those same headlights onto others...) Thanks for the response!

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Posts: 110
Member
(@emilyalt)
Estimable Member     United States of America, California, North County San Diego
Joined: 5 years ago

I see transgender as an umbrella for lots of other gender identities. I see nothing wrong with using that as your identity. It works for me and it's how I identify. I adopted the label when I still considered myself a part-time CD. I will continue to use the label regardless of where HRT and my transition takes me.

Nothing new here. Other gender non-conforming folks of myriad flavors have been adopting the trans label for years. And it's accepted practice in the mental health community.

Taking a broader approach to our identity has some advantages.

First and perhaps most important, it settles a question that many of us struggle with for years. Why not just say you're trans and be done with it? It works.

And as a side note for the trans purists that reject anyone that's not medically transitioning....get over yourselves. If anything, you ought to be happy for all the new allies you gain. You need them.

Second, trans is a label that most cis folks understand and are more likely to accept or at least tolerate. As a practical matter, this could save a relationship or keep you out of the hospital. There are still some cis folks that look negatively upon CD's (transvestites) but understand transgenderism is a medical condition. Go figure.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure your path defines the label you use....not the other way around.

/EA

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Ambassador
(@reallylauren)
Joined: 2 years ago

Reputable Member     Canada, British Columbia, Victoria
Posts: 194

Hi Emily, I completely agree with you. I've known I was trans almost forever, even when the word didn't exist yet. I've been telling people I'm transgender for several years when I was purchasing things, even if I was in drab. I've never had a negative reaction but almost always positive and often it starts a conversation. Now that I've transitioned and presenting as Lauren, there are still moments where I know they're suspicious so I will tell them I'm a trans woman, never had a problem so far. My medical card and my license both say I'm a female if they want to see ID.

Hugs,

Ms. Lauren M

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Member
(@emilyalt)
Joined: 5 years ago

Estimable Member     United States of America, California, North County San Diego
Posts: 110

I guess I could say the same Lauren. Deep down, I've always wanted to be a girl. I've always been trans. It took decades to say that out loud. Feels good to say it now. Seems to be opening doors....as they say.

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Managing Editor
(@bmactavish)
Joined: 6 years ago

Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Posts: 243

Great comments! I would like to wholeheartedly agree with what you've said. Yet... You also defined the reason for my trepidation, the class status between groups. It's not just Trans or CD but even in what constitutes being a CD. It can get nasty going both ways. What usually happens are more specific labels to quantify, which I see as a reason to exclude rather than endorse. Anytime the broader base wishes to infringe (I use that word as it is most typical of the historical responses) on the smaller and perceived to be "more important" class tempers and war have broken out. I am neither condemning nor supporting here, just stating. Tolerance is something we demand and then try to withhold from others. If it's good for us then by all means, come, join us. If it means giving up a particular benefit or recognition, then sorry, no way.

This is where my quandary comes in. You stated part of my rationale that by adopting the "trans" label I open myself to better treatment (in many regards) and acceptance by the general public. Being a CD carries more negative perception (unless we include drag as being part of that larger label under crossdressing--plenty of arguments there, too). The issue, I believe, has deeper roots as every pocket of every potential grouping struggles and fights for equal rights. We have hate, and we have disregard for those who are not us. The question is, "Why?" Even in this life that I understand to be difficult, I'm still guilty of seeing others negatively and often shame myself for thinking so.

So yes, I want us all to ditch unnecessary labels and come together respectfully and with acceptance, compassion, and understanding. And that includes me. Thanks for the insightful comments.

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Posts: 14
Member
(@terrim)
Active Member     United States of America, New York, Long Island East Nassau
Joined: 6 years ago

Thank you Sabrina for your article. It made me think more of who I am. I am becoming more aware that I am transgender. But because of my family obligations I really can't bring myself to go further. So may say that's a cop out. But it's what I feel.
Yours Terri

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Managing Editor
(@bmactavish)
Joined: 6 years ago

Reputable Member     United States of America, Iowa
Posts: 243

That's my point. Don't put self-pressure on yourself. You don't need to be anything but you. I totally get the responsibility thing... I have a 95-year-old father that depends on me—no need to spring anything else on him at this stage in his life. I can wait and accept where I currently am. As to the future, who knows...

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