Did you know you were transgender when you started crossdressing? Or did you simply find a rationalized unexplainable pleasure in wearing garments that were typically women’s clothes; so, you crossdressed. You were a crossdresser, right? You were a man that for whatever reason found wearing women’s clothing quite . . . . (you fill in the blank)
There was no way that you were transgender, but now something is. . . different? You reason in your head, ” Maybe. . . but . . . . no, not me. I just enjoy wearing women’s clothes.” And yet undeniably within your mind, there is “tossing it around” happening. You know it, but vaguely. At this point, you either don’t know what “it” is or you are afraid of being honest about “it.” Moving from being a crossdresser to understanding that you are transgender is not inevitable, yet often the two have a connection.
I crossdressed when I was younger. It was normally an erotic experience and usually somewhat disheartening. Disheartening because I knew eventually I had to take off all the clothes and go back to my male world. Erotic because it was the means I was able to recover something “good” out of the deep disappointment of having to go back. Dressing was so pleasurable, so natural, and yet something was incomplete, something was missing. I knew it, but I did not know what “it” was
However, upon reflection, I realize that I came to understand “it” rather quickly. In those days (early 70s; I was a young teen then) there was no generally recognized term or vocabulary to explain or define “it”. As best I remember “it” was defined in this way, “I want to be a girl.” Over time, I came to realize I just didn’t want to dress as a girl (woman), but I truly wanted to be one. Dressing alone couldn’t achieve that for me, thus the disappointment.
The next leg of my journey came as a result of a magazine article (yes a real paper and ink periodical). It was the early 70s. In our home, we received Life & Look Magazine. In one of them, a particular issue had a feature story about transsexuals, (this was the vocabulary of the day.) The headline on the cover announced the feature story, causing an emotional tsunami within me. I just had to read it!
In the article, I met Sally (I believe that was her name) and her fiancé. Sally was interviewed dressed in her bridal gown preparing for her wedding. Sally was a fully transitioned transsexual woman soon to be a bride and wife. She was young and exquisitely beautiful. She was living her life exactly as I dreamed to live my own.
I devoured the article. I cried. “Oh God,” I said, “This is me!” Finally, I knew what the “it” was. Crossdressing never fully satisfied me because I was more than a crossdresser. My “it” was that I was a transexual. And in Sally, I recognized that there was a means whereby I, a teenage boy could successfully become a girl. This understanding delighted me, yet it still plagued me because, at that time, I was still understanding myself to be a man who wanted to be a woman. This desire ran deeply cross-grain to my sincere Biblically Christian faith.
Upon understanding that I “could be turned into a girl,” I ran from rather than to that reality. This running away indeed occupied the great majority of my life, and certainly was the source of much mental and emotional anguish. Forty-eight year’s worth is my estimate.
Even the best runners finally tire, and I did too. Yet those years weren’t wasted, rather they were invested in understanding this condition, which eventually became properly named as gender dysphoria. With an understanding and explanation that I could be at peace with in light of my fundamental Christian faith, which I was determined not to abandon. I finally admitted and ultimately embraced my reality. I am not simply a man, a male. I am transgender.
Furthermore, I finally concluded: OK, just say it, “I am a woman.” Now I understand and readily embrace that despite all outward evidence, I am a woman at my soul level. I am not simply a man with a strong feminine side, rather I am a woman who is deeply feminine and longs for the world to know me as such.
That’s where I am now. I am not currently transitioning in the accepted normal sense of the formal process. Yet, I am transitioning. How I understand and accept myself certainly is progressing away from the old, “I am a man wanting to be a woman” concept. Considering transition as a possibility rather than an impossibility is a step on the transition journey, yes? Actively engaging in the unseen but customary feminine self-care routines in preparation for a possible transition is a “transition” for me. For those who are on the formal transition pathway or who are now living your own womanhood full-time, were these not steps you may have taken prior to your formal coming out?
I am not sure if I will fully transition, but I am much more open to the idea of a part-time life as my feminine self. I believe full-time would create tremendous upheavals for many; so much “collateral damage.” I am not ready to do that to them. Yet, I wonder, “Is it not possible that by becoming Charlene full time I would be providing for them an opportunity of personal growth? Would not my non-traditional womanhood require their own growth if they chose to accept me as a woman? In my transition to my authentic feminine self would I then not be doing something for them rather than to them?” So many things that need to be sorted out, but one is finally settled, I am a woman.
My transition may not be to full-time womanhood, but maybe it will. I don’t know at this time. Certainly, in a vacuum, I would do so, but at my age, there are so many lives that are closely intertwined with mine. My transition would affect them as well. Perhaps in a positive way, perhaps not. At this time I have made a conscious decision not to force that choice on them.
The point is that understanding and embracing yourself as trans is a process, a journey as so many call it. I am currently 68. I have been consciously on this journey for 63 years. I don’t regret not transitioning earlier. I don’t regret taking all this time to figure it out.
But what I am concerned about is the possible regret that will come if I choose to remain closeted rather than introduce Charlene to the world at large. I am not a man who wants to be a woman, no, I am a woman who simply wants to be. Imagine coming to the end knowing that very few if any actually ever knew the real you.
I hope this helps. May you, the reader, be blessed in your journey of self-discovery.