Trading one Question for Another

I am AMAB, now 68. I’ve been aware of my gender incongruity since I was five. Since that young age, I have struggled with the question, “Why do I have such an intense desire to be a girl?” It wasn’t just that I wanted to dress as a girl and now a woman; no, I distinctly remember longing to be a little girl, then a pre-teen girl, then a teen girl, a young college woman, to being a young woman/mom. Oh, how I wanted to be a mom! And now; to this very moment… well, I’d settle for being Grandma Charlene.

Why? Why? Why?

I did everything I could to not want this. In line with my Christian faith, I prayed, fasted, memorized volumes of Scripture, attended church faithfully per the fundamental Baptist tradition, served in ministry, and all to find no relief. I’ve been in some therapy, and talked to my pastor, my wife, etc. And still the result—I want to live as a woman.

En Femme Style

Why? A dozen years ago, I had the privilege of friendship with a medical doctor, who was also a full-time, fully medically transitioned trans woman. She, too, had a strong Christian background. So, I thought she could better than most understand my struggle with my perceived gender in light of my Bible faith. This was not supposed to happen to a Christian man like me, right? It couldn’t be! It shouldn’t be! But it was and is.

As I shared the darkest recesses of my heart with Dr. ____ finally quietly answered. “Charlene, listen to yourself. Everything you have told me so passionately; your deep longing for everything female; your dream to be desired by a man for your feminine and sexual qualities, your desire to be a bride, to give yourself to your new husband, to be pregnant, and finally be a mom; Charlene normal men don’t desire those things, but you do. Do you know why.?”

“Because I am a twisted, perverted person,” I answered.

Quietly, ever so kindly, without a hint of surprise or disgust, she answered, ” No, Charlene, it’s because you are a woman. You are not a man at your core. You want that which a normal heterosexual woman wants because deep within you are a woman.”

That was such a euphoric revelation. Just hearing another person, professionally trained, confirm to me what I wanted to believe all my life, but just couldn’t bring myself to admit, was comforting and exciting.

Yet, for years after the diagnosis, I ran from it. I feared it. This just couldn’t be true about a man like me. Finally, after years of denial and running away from my truth, I yielded to the fact that I want to be a woman because, at my core, in my very heart, I am a woman.
Wow! Finally, 12-plus years after Dr. ______ exposed my true identity, I am finally embracing the answer to that incessant question, “Why do I have such an intense desire to be a woman?”

Question answered. Now I know. I want to be a woman because I am a woman. After years of incessant questioning, not only do I now know the answer, I embrace the answer. I am a woman who just happens to be trans.

Peace. Correct? Yes, but short-lived.

My answer just opened the door to a new question. “How do I manage this condition to fulfill my natural needs as a woman, while still fulfilling the needs of those who count on me to be a man for them?”

And thus, life moves forward. I love my womanhood, albeit it is still hidden, though more cracks along the surface are appearing. How often is it said that there is no one right way to transition? I am not sure what my way is going to be.

But now I have a direction for the future.

More Articles by Charlene K

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    1. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
      Chloe Dawn 2 weeks ago

      After ready your story twice and reading the comments there is not much to add. I think tne common thread through all of our entries is over coming the social stigmas and family reactions.
      As seniors, I think we are a larger community that we realize, but but in most cases we are hobbled by our families, and thier wants. When I came out just 6 months age my stepson commented the now he has lost two fathers. I heard this secondhand from my wife, and he hasn’t taken the time contact my directly. My other two children have all but ignored me, it breaks my heart. The point of this is not garner sympathy but to illustrate my point .
      That being said I did move forward and am starting the hrt process in November, because I am not wiling to live in the shadows in the later part of my life.

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      Stacia Ranville 2 weeks ago

      Charlene, I am 76 and have probably run myself out of time. I took the chance and came out to my wife of 56 years about a year ago…and my whole wife flashed before my eyes. My choices were/are get out or give it up. Well, you know what I and many others know: you can’t give it up. Right now I am working along with a great therapist who gently but firmly reminds me that I will get out, I must get out; and so must you somehow. I am still hoping for a bit longer my wife will want to be a companion.

      5 years old! I remember it like it was yesterday. It is my first clear, coherent, complete memory as a human being on this earth. I still wonder how so many people can be in denial, but I can tell you I am not and the sense of wholeness and contentment dwarfs the discontent and anger of others. I am a whole, complete, untouchable person for having come all the way out. I hope my wife does not give up the best thing in her life.

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        Charlene K 2 weeks ago

        Hi Stacia, thank you for taking the time to read my article and comment.
        Oh my, 76 with 56 years of marriage. In doing the math that is how long I would have been married should I turn 76. As it was after 38 years of marriage my first wife divorced me because once she found out how deeply engrained my feminine essence was she decided she could no longer be married to a “man that wanted to be a woman.”
        I did not dress regularly or allow my feminine essence out. Living like that at times made me withdrawn and moody. That was the extent of my “expression.”
        I kept a journal as writing helped me cope. Eventually she found the journal, read it, and was emotionally distraught claiming that she finally understood the cause of my times of moodiness and distress was because I couldn’t be Charlene. It was too much for her to process, accept, and live with so after 38 years she divorced me. Ironically the motivation my my deep closeted life was to avoid divorce.
        Truly I understand your need to come out. Truly I do hope your wife can find peace with who you are authentically and that recognizing this is part of the “for better or for worse” that she vowed to 56 years ago.
        I rejoice with you in your sense of freedom and wholeness. May the contentment of authentic living carry you through the pain and uncertainty that may be your lot ahead.

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      Jonnie Bigelow 3 weeks ago

      Hi Charlene,
      You know God sees you. Hope you know God loves you. The bind you are in is one of womanhood’s largest: putting all others before yourself; pleasing everyone but yourself. Another trait many women suffer is believing there is something wrong with them personally for not loving enough, doing more for others, giving enough, and wanting experiences they are not having. Sound familiar? You are Woman. At least you know yourself. Your whole life brought you to just where you are. Celebrate your feelings. Consider what beliefs you have that are still making you feel shame or bad. Do these serve you? Do you really believe these mere ideas that are holding you back from being you? Do the inner work. Have gratitude and revel in your life this second, that will always bring even more to experience and be grateful for. Be you, even if you still wear “boyfriend” type clothes. Blessings and LOVE for you. You can do this you thing.

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        Charlene K 3 weeks ago

        Hi Jonnie,
        Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your reaching out to encourage me. I do know that God loves me, has fearfully and wonderfully made me which includes my gender brokenness and has done so for His purpose.
        We are told in the Bible that to everything there is a season; a time to every purpose under the sun. Every flower blooms in its season. I see my outward womanhood expression the same way. I will bloom in my season. When my time comes certainly I will be ready and able to do this.

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      Roxanne Lanyon 3 weeks ago

      I love that story so much! I am a mature transwoman, who began her life as a young boy exploring her way around bras, panties and girdles, occasionally. Now, after a full male life, I am desiring to really be a woman. I never thought I would feel this way, but now, at 75, I WANT to become a Lady! No, I do not know why, it is just a feeling I have, and finishing the rest of my life as a woman sounds so appealing to me. I want to be cared for, wanted by someone else, especially a male, to be truly loved. Ai times there is simply nothing else I would rather be! A woman, a Lady! I want my heart to throb when a man coms into the room and smiles at me. I want to feel faint when he kisses me on the back of the neck! I want to say “YES!!” when he proposes to me, and live the rst of my life in skirts, blouses, lingerie, all things female, and pretty. \
      This is so true, I just not have yet figured out how to get there, and, whether I am now too old for this! But, being a Lady would be the best ever thing that could happen to me! I just “know” it, so much! Lord, let me be a “she” for the remainder of my life!
      Miss Roxanne Lanyon

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        Charlene K 3 weeks ago

        Hi Roxanne,
        Thank your for your thoughts. I understand your thoughts and longings for I share them. And often, I think daily, continue to ask the Lord to make it clear that my time for outward female expression is now. Until He does, I wait, for longsuffering is one of the fruit of the Spirit.

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      Krystal Garven 3 weeks ago

      I had some minimal religious growing up , not much but my sense of self at 5 was the same before grade 1 to be a girl – socially I had no idea why ? it’s interesting how I absolutely at that age wanting my genitalia female in my thinking so young – I just new I was wrong as a so called boy – it was absolutely a true natural feeling and I was not sexually abused either ! – I just new – as a child I found my mothers old 1950’s black satan underslip with a ballet type bottom frill out for the old style dancing skirts and secretly put it on down in the furnace room back in Edmonton Alberta circa 1963 dreaming and being totally happy thinking and wanting my boy parts to be girl equipment down below – at this age it amazes me my thinking today as a fully transitioned Transwoman doing it so late in life at 61 years old – I technically came out at 10 in 1968 – it’s something that never left me my whole life – your born like this I finally realized but always new actually – I never dated in my teenage years , just kept quite , a shitty life like forever , wouldn’t even try to do the Man thing , not once – I new my gender and just drank became an alcoholic, worked only nothing else – I missed my 20,30,40,50’s and now almost 66 and still learning like a 12 year old girl exploring what I couldn’t have growing up in the 60’s – I understand many try to and get married to prove manhood but I just couldn’t do it – I was obviously a really hard introverted Trans female case – one of the worst and so many years lost – I was in a Rehab 2018 again but this Rehab was for basically Gay men and never felt gay just female and started Transitioning and by fall time my Birth Certificate was changed to female on HRT and by summer 2019 I flew to Bangkok on my own and had SRS with No companion – I was embarrassed I guess kept to myself , not many new I went to finally be myself and have never regretted doing it – I was me finally – my only regret is I didn’t have the guts maybe 30 years ago not doing it and still trying to make society happy but nothing for myself – life isn’t perfect but I’m way better off than before struggling with this gender Sh#t – at least I did it before I die and totally legal beagle everything now – 60 years I lost but no more – it’s done !

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        Charlene K 3 weeks ago

        Hi Krystal,
        Thank you for taking time to reply to my article. I understand your regret in not “doing it 30 years earlier”. However understanding gender transition as perhaps the greatest life change any human can face ones heart must be totally “in” in order for such a change to be successful. Perhaps your heart wasn’t there 30 yrs ago, but obviously it is now. With that heart so committed, forget that which is behind and press forward being the best trans woman you can be. Be a great asset to our community.

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      JAKe Hatmacher 3 weeks ago

      Thank you for sharing your story, your story up until now and continually evolving.
      As usual, I find similarities to my story in the other stories I hear and read. I grew up in a Catholic Christian home, and although not a lot was said or discussed, at least with us kids, the way I was supposed to behave was clear, or seemed to be clear. It took therapy sessions during my decision time about who I was, and am, to reveal to me my girlish and womanly desires went back to my early childhood. In the 50’s and 60’s those types of feelings were never talked about. I don’t think I was reluctant to acknowledge my feelings because of my faith though, like you. It was just not a thing to share, and what would I share, because I felt odd with having thoughts of having no problem doing girl things like wearing what they wore. It wasn’t until junior high school when I put on a few extra pounds and hated it that I discovered my joy in wearing girl things. To explain, when my parents weren’t home, I’d go through my mom’s clothing. I found some shape wear and tried them on. Of course, they hid my extra weight and that was great. But it also led to me trying on other things, too, like her nylons, etc. Of course this activity was all clandestine.
      By the way, I’m almost 69 and have been on estrogen for about two years and had my full-depth “bottom” surgery six months ago. I feel so good with my female body and realized some time ago now how dissatisfied I had been with my male one.
      In regard to your new question about needing to continue doing your “male” duties, remember, those duties were societal determined. They are not intrinsic to male or female. Just look at all the women doing classically accepted male jobs. Our society, in my eyes, just has a harder time accepting men taking on long accepted “female” jobs. So, with that, and although I’ve been retired now since 2017, I continue to do the “male” chores around the house. Heck, someone needs to do them. My wife would have a harder time doing them. But I can tell you, my strength to do some of the things has waned, waned probably due to a combination of estrogen and age! I would urge you to do the things you are capable of doing and discontinue labeling them as “male” or “female” in your mind.

      • ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' /> Author
        Charlene K 3 weeks ago

        Hi JAKe, thank you for taking the time to reply. Wow, 69, been on HRT for 2 years , and now recovering from full depth bottom surgery. Girl, you make me envious, especially the full depth bottom surgery part.
        Congratulations on being so far along in your journey. I do hope one day I can offer such encouragement to another coming up behind me.
        My male duties – well we have a difference of opinion in that I do not believe all such duties are societal driven or constructed. Per my Biblical faith, I recognize many of those duties are God ordained.
        And thus I go on without a heart compelling answer to my conundrum, of meeting my womanly needs without sacrificing my responsibilities to others that need the male me for their own lives.
        Sigh, often the search for that “holy grail” is exhausting.

        • ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
          JAKe Hatmacher 1 week ago

          You piqued my interest.
          Besides the sexual act of penile insertion, what jobs can only be done by a male, and you must do?

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      Rebecca Lay 3 weeks ago

      Charlene: Your article spoke to my heart. I too have come from a strong Christian background and did all those same things to try and change my feelings about my gender identity. None of it worked. One day as I was seriously considering taking my own life I cried out to God and said why, why am I this way. He quietly spoke to my heart and said you know whom you have been your whole life and I know whom you have been. I accept you for the woman you are. From that point on, I knew it was okay to be trans and started working on my transition. My former church does not accept me but God does. And by the way, I love being a grandma.

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        Charlene K 3 weeks ago

        Hi Rebecca,
        Truly I appreciate your taking the time to write a reply to my article. It is always comforting to meet another strong Christian trans woman who has been able to work through the myriad of questions and difficulties long enough to finally know that God is permitting her transition. The doctor I mentioned in my article who helped me understand and finally accept my own womanhood experienced the same revelation. She assured me that when His time was come, I would know. Thus far that time has not arrived.
        I do appreciate all that have written me with much encouragement and advice, though that which resonated most deeply with my core was your closing line, “And by the way, I do love being a grandma.”
        There are so many female experiences that will never be mine. My male personhood and now age have taken those permanently from me. I do hope that somehow this golden years experience of womanhood could be mine. At this point I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to depart this life as a fulfilled woman who enjoyed her “grandmahood.”

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      Lucinda Hawkins 3 weeks ago

      Charlene great post never thought about all that. i feel the same way as you do. i feel more as a female then a male. i would rather be female for all the reasons you said. the clothing real women have to choose from is unreal, pretty dresses, skirts make up, earrings. heels, nylons, bra;s.all real men get to choose from is jeans and shirts. nothing sexy about men’s clothing at all. real women wear jeans and shirt, so why not we will dress up as females. when i don’t dress up i feel not my self, i need to dress up in female clothing. i have more female clothing then male clothing and more female clothing then my wife does. i am too old to have a sex change, for dressing up i will do in my house when our last adult child is at work and wife will tell me i can dress up.

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        Charlene K 3 weeks ago

        Greetings Lucinda,
        Thank you for your thoughts. I empathize at where you are in your journey.
        Though you believe you are past the time of transition, there are those who would disagree with you. I respect their position, however I would tend to side with you. I often wonder at my age if the “remaining years benefit” would justify the cost of full transition, and I don’t mean simply monetary. As we all know there are cost far beyond the money necessary for therapy, HRT, and surgery.
        I am happy that your wife accepts your need to express your femme self albeit with limits. Be thankful for what you do have, and ever vigilant to seize opportunity for what might be.

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      Kim Dahlenbergen 4 weeks ago

      Thank you for your article, Charlene. I had not considered that self-acceptance might lead to the new question, but it definitely makes sense. Even once you or anyone else has accepted who they are, it remains a question of how they work that new understanding into their lives.

      Like many of us, I continue to be all over the place in terms of self awareness and understanding. I have come to the point where I am beginning to accept that I may never have a firm, stable understanding of my gender, or in other words, I’m may simply have to accept that I am gender-fluid. Although its a different answer to the question than you have reached, the next question is the same: how do I meet my own needs while fulfilling my obligations to others.

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        Charlene K 4 weeks ago

        Kim, thank you for your reply. Your journey of question and answer is so similar to mine. Answers we both have as to who we are prove adequate for the now and are foundational for further successful journeying.
        Gender-fluid, I never really considered this for myself. Perhaps it is because I am so disposed to the gender binary, yet I think not. “I am a woman”; for me this just “feels correct.”
        You reply encourages me in knowing that I am not alone in seeking the answer to the next question, “how do I meet my own needs while fulfilling my obligations to others.”

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          Kim Dahlenbergen 3 weeks ago

          Hi Charlene,

          I think I chose the term gender fluid rather carelessly…because I am also predisposed to the gender binary. I just seem to slosh back and forth between the two poles…more out of necessity than inclination. It has become a matter of accommodating those parts of my family and work life that were built around the male facade.

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            Charlene K 3 weeks ago

            Hi Kim,
            Again I see similarities between you and me.
            “It has become a matter of accommodating those parts of my family and work life that were built around the male facade.”
            Dear Kim, I so understand. Accomodations – we all do this don’t we? Cis and trans alike. It’s just that as a trans person our accommodation pushes so incessantly and often times irritably up against who we know ourselves to truly be that it often robs us of fulfillment and contentment does it not?

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              Kim Dahlenbergen 3 weeks ago

              Hi Charlene,

              Indeed, at times the accommodations feel like confinement. I am a bit better these days at putting that feeling aside when confined or consigned to male clothing and pretense. I don’t feel resentment so much as resignation to the necessities of the moment. And I know soon enough the confinement will end.

              As it has today! I spent the past week traveling for work, of necessity in male form. Now I am free to be myself for at least a few days. I’ll try to enjoy the freedom and put thoughts of reentering confinement aside till it must happen again.

              With regards,


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      Amy Myers 4 weeks ago

      Charlene, that is some time you have spent questioning yourself, I am now starting to question myself in that way, as I never was one of those who always felt I was in the wrong body though I did start dressing up at a young age it took till my 60’s to really let me femme self be freer. Now I do wonder if I’m on that slop towards being trans, no answer to that one yet!

      We simply cannot explain these things, why we are drawn to this no one knows. However I’ve used another analogy which people never question about me, and often compliment me on, musical ability.
      Oh I’m no Mozart every bar I play right got there the hard way, but I’ve been drawn to make music since my earliest days when I could reach the keys on my grandmother’s piano. Not that I’m all that great a musician as I’ve let too many other things get in my way over the years, much like my dressing up!

      You are yourself and no one else is quite like you but of course at this stage of life we often have people who depend on us for things. Plus I’m sure you do not want to cause your loved ones pain by becoming the woman you are on the inside but now the outside as well. Tough, tough choice.
      Here at least you are among like minded people, we are all at some stage of our journey even if we aren’t yet sure which stop we are getting off at.

      Thank you for sharing with us.

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        Charlene K 4 weeks ago

        Thank you for your thoughts. Questioning ourselves seems to be one of the commonalities of we who are trans. Lot’s of questions. . . and turmoil, while we work out solutions to those questions.
        One of those turmoils for some is hating their body. Like you that was never one of mine. In accord with my faith, I understand I have been sovereignly given my body by God. In that understanding I find body acceptance, though my body doesn’t match my gender.
        Yes, you are correct; no one really knows why we are drawn to this. At best there are theories. Deciding which one resonates with each of us as individuals is an important part if our journey.
        That decision plus a myriad of others are what makes up those tough, tough choices to which you refer.
        Most “normal” folk can’t fathom the questioning that is part of the trans. experience; others scoff, scorn, and ridicule. But some do “get it” and thus our safe harbor here at TGH. Thanks for being part of our community here.

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      Lauren Mugnaia 4 weeks ago

      Hi again Charlene 🙂

      Yes, you know the answer, you’ve always “known” who you were , and always felt that way since you were a child.

      Our stories match so much!

      I finally reached the point in my life where, if I didn’t transition, I wasn’t even able to consider any other option. I had to leave the old life behind and face a new future, so I’ve been living and working as a woman for over 18 months.

      As I think I’ve mentioned, due to a recent medical issue I had, relatively unique to women, a urinary tract infection, I was informed by a lady doctor, who had been going through my medical records, that I am an intersex person. She placed her hand on my knee, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Lauren, you ARE a woman!”

      Charlene, sometimes we have no choice but to move ahead with the future that has been placed in front of us. It can be a difficult path, but nonetheless, it is the path we must travel down.

      Any time you need to have a chat about all this, I am there for you!

      You aren’t alone, you have sisters who are there for you.

      hugs girlfriend,

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        Charlene K 4 weeks ago

        Hi Lauren,
        Thank you for your thoughts and encouragement.
        Obviously I can’t know for certain, but I reason it thus, “If I could only be like Lauren or others I have talked to; to be diagnosed intersexed. This would give me a justifiable and understandable reason to transition.”
        But would it really?
        I know of at least three other trans women who for whatever reason in their middle age found their endocrine system “malfunctioning”. Estrogen became their dominant hormone, their testosterone levels became suppressed to female levels. There is probably not a day goes by where I don’t ask God to “hiccup” my endocrine system so that my body would begin to feminize. Transition would follow in a heartbeat.
        In either of these scenarios I would be far less concerned about the needs of those who need me to be a man for them.
        But unless / until that happens, others needs for the male me trump my own womanly needs. And honestly, haven’t moms been doing so for their children for ages. So in that sense the sacrifice of non-transition is for me very much like the choices of sacrifice made by a cis-woman for her family. Non-transition at this point is a choice of my unique womanhood.
        Nevertheless I do wish that my family could know, love, and appreciate in an authenticate way the woman who is making this choice for them. Yes I suppose we all wish this don’t we?

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