My First Year as a Woman

First, a little background about me, for those who haven’t read my other articles. I am a 67-year-old trans woman, who came out only two years ago. It has been a whirlwind of changes, some good and some not-so-good. I was a lifelong crossdresser (although now I consider dressing in men’s clothing to be crossdressing since I was always a woman inside.)

I grew up in a city in West Virginia, the youngest of four, in a very conservative Evangelical Christian household. Telling anyone in the 1960s or early 1970s, in this environment, that I was a girl inside would have been pointless. I would have endured some form of conversion therapy, and I might not even be here to write this article now.

So, like so many of us have done, I tried to bury my true feelings and put on the mask of boyhood. I was an awkward child, a dweeb, and only associated with similar “misfits” in my school. I never learned much about “normal” social interaction and have always suffered from ADHD (without the hyperactive component), and I believe I am on the Autism spectrum as well.

En Femme Style

Somehow, I managed to find a girl, fall in love, and get married in 1981 and we had nearly 40 years of solid marriage. We have one daughter, who is a treasure, and I feel very fortunate in these respects. But internally, I felt subhuman. I was sneaking around to crossdress, believing the mistranslations in the English-printed Bible, and feeling like I was the worst sort of hypocrite, one who would one day face God’s disappointing look, if not outright banishment from heaven.

I felt tortured inside and saw no way out. Even later on, coming out didn’t seem like it was possible. If someone in my family was going to have to be miserable, it would be me before I would inflict misery on others. Of course, this was the epitome of stupidity — by denying myself, I couldn’t be totally there for my family. Living half a life only gave them half of me.

Things came to a head in the Spring of 2021. I was secretly dressing in women’s clothes, wig, makeup, shapewear, prosthetics, the whole deal more than ever. My wife had gone out of town to visit her family and while she was gone, I just hit the proverbial wall. I knew that no matter what the result would be; I knew I had to come out to her as a crossdresser. She deserved to know.

At first, she was empathetic, but that gave way to anger and a lack of trust. Who was this person she married? How could I have kept this huge thing from her all this time? What else wasn’t I telling her? Good questions, all that I had little answers for. Even then, I hadn’t seriously considered actually transitioning. I assumed just being free to dress in women’s things at home, some of the time, would be enough to make me feel finally whole.

My wife was (is) incredibly supportive but did not like the loss of body hair and seeing this stranger in her apartment. I don’t blame her reactions then or since. But the more I dressed as a woman, the better I felt. I knew then that the answer to feeling whole was to transition and go “full-time.” She realized it too, and supported my decision to seek HRT, but made it clear she would never be attracted romantically to Brielle. It felt like being a visitor in my own home.

I started HRT in November 2021, starting with spironolactone (a T-blocker), then in March 2022, I began applying estradiol patches. After a few weeks, I was in a chemical euphoria — so this is what it felt like to be a whole person inside! How wonderful! Yet, as good as I was feeling, my wife was feeling the grief of a failing marriage and a disappearing husband. As if I had a debilitating condition like Alzheimer’s or ALS, the person she married was slowly fading from view.

We separated in June 2022; I was unwilling to be married to a roommate; she was unwilling to be intimate with a woman. We remain good friends and the divorce has been amicable, thank God. She continues to be very supportive of my transition goals, and I continue with financial support for her. So how has this last year been for me, then? How has Brielle flourished, stumbled, and thrived?

Three weeks after I started estradiol, I attended my first trans conference, the 2022 Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, PA. It is one of the nation’s largest trans and CD conference in the nation. From Tuesday morning when I drove the four hours from our home in Pittsburgh to Harrisburg, until the ending brunch on Sunday morning and the trip home, I was fully a woman. I brought no male clothing at all. This was not my first time out En Femme, as I had been active in a local Meetup group in Pittsburgh, but it was my first time traveling En Femme and the first time I had no “safety net.” It was exhilarating! I felt at home in my own skin for several days and in a 100% affirming and safe space. When I got home that Sunday, I knew I would seek out a permanent change to my gender and name. By the end of 2022, I achieved that goal, getting my legal name change and disposing of all my male clothes (except a few legacy tee shirts).

But the second half of 2022 was not all unicorns and rainbows; no not at all! Within days of the legal separation, I was getting active on Twitter and other social media. Being newly trans and newly single, I was vulnerable to online predators, and succumbed to one. I stupidly shared some “boudoir” photos with her (I am led to believe it was a trans woman, at least) and she later used them as blackmail for me to send her money! She even sent me screenshots of my wife’s FB page as evidence she would post the pictures on her feed. She even tried to create a fake Twitter account in my name with the pictures included on the home page. It was terrifying, and I felt compelled to come clean with my wife so she would not be blindsided and embarrassed by my faux pas.

Online relationships are not always bad, however. About the same time, I struck up a friendship with an author (female) that has blossomed into a proper romance. We have yet to meet in person, but that is soon to be rectified! She is a loving, caring person who knows about that indiscretion, but has forgiven it without rancor (something my wife did not do).

I’ve come out to both families, with only one overtly negative reaction on my wife’s side. I came out at work a few days after the name change hearing in December, and that has been great — no problems, or negative responses. It’s been surprisingly easy here in Pittsburgh. While the city is affirming, it is located in a solidly red political region, and I was concerned about being called out or harassed in public. That hasn’t happened, but I am fortunate to be slightly built for a male, so also I blend in very well.

My gender dysphoria has dissipated, but I have more pronounced body dysmorphia now. I returned to the Keystone Conference in March 2023 with an eye to attend all the workshops relating to surgery and physical change I could. After the conference, I decided it is right for me to pursue bottom surgery sooner rather than later. Upon research and much soul searching, I have decided to get a vulvoplasty, or “zero-depth” vaginoplasty.

This procedure is appropriate for my age, future intimacy plans, and recovery protocols. I have no desire for vaginal intercourse and had prostate cancer surgery back in 1995 (just before my 40th birthday) so a vulvoplasty is the better choice for me. I will look externally like any woman, but will not have a vagina, and that feels satisfying for me. I also will not endure weeks longer recovery and a lifetime of dilating.

In summary, the last half of 2022 and the first half of 2023 have been overwhelmingly positive. Things I didn’t imagine happening have happened. I stumbled at times, but I believe I’ve conducted myself well and will continue to take the high road in life as much as possible. I don’t have to hide my true self any longer and that has made all the challenges worth the journey!

The coming year has many exciting changes on the horizon if I can work out the details and continue nurturing relationships that have been so beneficial for me. I can hardly wait to see how I will get on and I am full of love, life, and light as I move on in my journey.

EnFemme

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Brielle

Biological male, crossdressing off and on for at least 60 years. Married to cis female since 1981, just came out to her in June 2021. I've started HRT and plan to live FT as a woman by the end of 2022. My wife is supportive and we are taking things a day at a time, but sadly looking to divorce in early 2023.

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Charlene K
Member
Active Member
Charlene K(@charlenev)
11 months ago

Brie, you probably don’t remember me, for it has been a number of years since we became friends, either here or on CDH or perhaps both. Besides our common compelling desire to express ourselves as women, our Christian faith united us. I understood we were slightly different in doctrine, but it seemed we both knew Christ as our Saviour. Thus I accepted your friendship request since we both shared a common faith and a common gender anomaly. I have disappeared from both CDH and here but my longing to be me, simply a woman, has never left. It ebbs and… Read more »

Jennifer R
Member
Jennifer R(@jenniferr)
11 months ago

Oh Brielle, I think there are many of us, thousands across the country, maybe tens of thousands, who can feel your story. You’d think a path worn by so many travelers on the same journey would be a smoother trip, but it’s not. Thank you for sharing.
Hugs,
Jennifer

JAKe Hatmacher
Active Member
JAKe Hatmacher(@middleground)
11 months ago

Brielle, First let me say you look sweet in your picture Iwith the article. Second, it’s amazing how many of us seem to have very similar, obviously not exact, stories. I recently had lunch with another girl in transition…I actually don’t like using the term transwoman because I am a woman at heart…and we talked for two hours finding so many similarities. I too am in my 60’s chronologically. I feel much much younger mentally. I have to comment on your decision about bottom surgery. I see your point, but since I have no clue what the future portends for… Read more »

Dana Munson
Member
Member
Dana Munson(@misstranslation)
11 months ago

Brielle, reading your article almost felt like reading my own biography, There are so many overlaps between the two! It is always sad when a long and happy relationship is broken up by one person’s need to finally be true to themselves. Sounds like you are finding your way through that. Congratulations on becoming YOU!

Jackie Rusalka
Member
Member
Jackie Rusalka(@jackier)
11 months ago

Very nice… I identify with so much of your journey. Your story is an inspiration to those like me making my own plans. Thank you.

DeeAnn Hopings
Member
Active Member
DeeAnn Hopings(@flatlander48)
11 months ago

One thing that is apparent, if you read between the lines, is that your path (our paths, in general) are not linear. There will always be spikes, plateaus and downturns, but the good news is that the basic trajectory is upward. That’s the important part.

Lauren Mugnaia
Member
Active Member
Lauren Mugnaia(@reallylauren)
11 months ago

Hi Brielle, You’re probably already aware of this. On top of completing my first full year of living as a trans woman, a new major change has occurred in my life, courtesy of having a medical issue that required a visit to the local ER. The doctor who saw me had looked over my medical records which must contain information on my blood work. She asked me questions about growing up, and told me things about myself that had probably happened when I was a young child. She then leaned forward, placed her hand on my knee, and told me… Read more »

Joyce Mitchell
Member
Joyce Mitchell(@joyceann)
11 months ago
Reply to  Lauren Mugnaia

Lauren, your article made me smile..

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