Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

I don’t know why anybody else likes wearing clothing that’s usually associated with the opposite sex. There could be lots of reasons, and the only way you’ll know for sure (and maybe not even then) is to ask the person — except that wouldn’t be polite, so you’ll never know, period.

It could even change as the cross-dresser goes through life. It could be for erotic arousal sometimes, at other times it might be a way of earning money, or just for fun.

One of the reasons I do it is so my outside will match how I’m feeling on the inside. When I was young, I could only allow myself to feel feminine when actually dressed as a girl — but today I sometimes feel quite feminine, if I choose to, even when wearing my Farmer John jeans and plaid work shirt. So the cute outfits are a way of intensifying the inner feeling by getting rid of those confusing masculine cues and just being all girl.

The older you get, though, the harder it gets to pull it together. If I look in the mirror, what I see doesn’t mesh very well with how I’m feeling. Girl, if you’re 22, or even 32, and feeling insecure about how you look, I have some advice: Pull up your panty hose, sling your purse over your shoulder, and get on with it! You’re not going to get any better looking while you hide behind closed doors.

I would recommend that you learn about fashion and makeup so you can look your personal best. And maybe take off those extra pounds while you’re at it, okay, darlin’? You will do neither yourself nor the transgender community any good if you go out in public looking like something that floated up off the bottom of the lake after about a week under water.

Do yourself a favor and get it right — but then do yourself an even bigger favor and get it in gear! Strut it while you’ve got it, because it will go south on you.

I’m getting a little jowly, and my neck is sagging, and the bags under my eyes and the veins on the backs of my hands … yuck. I’ve still got great legs for an old broad, but who’s going to look at my legs?

It’s almost easier not to bother with the girl-stuff. Just do the guy thing. It’s easier, but it’s sad too.

I know that all older women (most of them genetically female) face these same issues. It’s not just me. The difference is, a genetic female who has never considered herself anything but female, who is now (more…)

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What’s in a Name?

When you decide you’re really a girl — and that can be because you’re a girl all the time or only some of the time — one of the fun things you get to do is pick a new name for yourself. I’ve known for a long time that I was a Jennifer, but the rest I’ve played around with.

I like Willow because it doesn’t have any hard consonants in it — it’s nice and soft-sounding — and because I kind of adored Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But tonight, in the midst of a major bout of insomnia, I started feeling that maybe “Willow” is trying just a little too hard. I’m thinking about going out and doing some stuff (maybe I’ll have more to say about that in a few weeks, after I wibble around on it for a while) where I’ll need a full name, not just Jenna or Jennifer or Jennifer Lynne. And somehow I get the feeling that Jennifer Lynne Willow is not a name that people would take too seriously. It’s a roll-your-eyes-and-say-“Yeah-right” kind of name.

I’m absolutely going to keep Willow for this blog, if only because changing URLs is messy. But I think for my own purposes, both on the inside and on the outside, I may be turning into Jennifer Lynne Piper. I like “Piper” a lot. It’s still cute, but it sounds more definite, more grown-up and assured. And that’s how I’m feeling today.

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Wax Lips

When I was a kid, you could buy these red, shiny wax lips in a dimestore. Mostly for Halloween, I guess, but maybe they were in stock all year around. I’m sure I tried wearing them a few times. Hadn’t thought about that in many years.

Watching random transgender-related videos on YouTube, I’m struck by how many MTFs (using that term loosely, to mean just about anybody who was assigned male at birth but is now presenting as female) are so fixated on the big red maxi-lipstick thing. I don’t understand it at all. I mean, lipstick, yes, certainly. Don’t leave home without it! But when it’s a deep, deep red and applied so liberally that it splooshes and squooshes out over your natural lip contour onto the surrounding skin — girl, get a grip. Better still, get some tissue paper and clean it off.

Lip liner is another offender. I’ve tried it, I think I may even own some, but it always seems to draw too much attention to itself. Like, “Look at my great big luscious lips!” Thanks, I’d rather not.

One problem with the big lips, and this is a fashion tip, is that if you have a large head (as many of us do), you don’t want to do anything oversized on your face. If anything, you want your face to look smaller. The other thing is, if you stroll down the street, or through the mall, you can go for days without seeing a single woman who is wearing that much lipstick. Even at a club, most women hold back. They know they’re sexy enough already. They don’t have to wave a flag.

But then, I’ve never been into drag. I’ve never owned a feather boa, never strutted down a runway. I wouldn’t actually mind owning (more…)

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So then I took a five-month break. Not just a break from blogging, a break from any sort of trans activity. Not sure why I did that, but it may have had something to do with getting discouraged. I can think of several reasons to be discouraged, and none of them have gone away.

It’s discouraging to have nobody in my life that I can talk to about the issues surrounding my gender identity. I have this one gay friend that I technically can talk to, but it’s not useful. His ability to nurture is stuck somewhere back in the eighth grade (which is also when he formed his political opinions, but that’s a subject for another time).

It’s discouraging to be 62 years old. For anybody, I’m sure. It’s no picnic at all. And I’m healthy as a yearling colt, relatively speaking. Some people have a lot worse problems. Like being inconveniently dead, for example. Still, for people like me, there’s another factor to contend with beyond simply having weak eyesight and stiff joints: Who wants to dress up like a grandmother? How much fun is that? Even if I were (more…)

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In Praise of Cis-

When you’re born, they look between your legs and instantly decide to put you in the pink basket or the blue basket. By the time you’re three or four, you start to internalize what that means. If you’re pink, you get to play with the dolls. If you’re blue, you get to play with the race cars and the toy soldiers. By the time you become an adult, quite a lot of your day-to-day behavior is coded pink or blue.

People who got put in the blue basket but like the pink stuff or vice-versa have a real hard time. We get gossiped about. We get pointed at. We get laughed at. Or worse.

Here’s the thing to remember, though: Transgender exists only because there is a “normal” binary cis-gender pattern, both in people’s brains and in their choice of shoes and hair styles. If a powerful cis-gender binary didn’t exist, and if it wasn’t constantly reinforced by your society and culture in a variety of ways, you couldn’t be transgender. There wouldn’t be any gender boundaries for you to cross over.

What this means, in strictly practical terms, is that discrimination against the transgendered is absolutely inevitable. Discrimination could only vanish in a world in which the cis-gender binary had dissolved. If that happened (and it never will), you’d be able to have a penis and play with dolls if you wanted to, but playing with dolls would not be coded pink, so it would feel no different from playing with race cars and toy soldiers.

Just for today, instead of feeling sorry for myself because I don’t fit in, I’m going to try being grateful to all of the people I run into who are upholding (quite unconsciously and effortlessly, for the most part) the cis-gender binary. Thank you for giving me two quite distinct options to enjoy!

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Gay Panic

It’s weird that so many cross-dressers are insistent that they’re not gay. I mean, if you were, would it matter? Of course not!

But today I think I may understand it a little better. Somewhere inside my head are lurking some nasty negative stereotypes about gay men. Like, gay men are sort of moist, weak, self-indulgent, insecure, flamboyant, and hysterically emotional in a PMS-fueled-by-testosterone way.

Well, ewww! Who would want to be like that?

In reality, I have several gay male friends, and none of them is like that at all. But the stereotype is still creeping around inside my head. It pops out when I’m least expecting it. When I see myself as essentially female (in every way but anatomical), I like myself. When I see myself as a gay man, I’m disgusted. And I haven’t changed a bit! What has changed is the category I’m putting myself in.

There’s more to the “are you gay” story than that. I also have zero interest in having a close, intimate relationship with a man. Men strike me as boring, crude, insensitive, and dangerous — not at all the sort of person I’d want to share a bowl of microwave popcorn with.

Maybe that’s just another stereotype. Well, yeah, of course it’s just another stereotype. Millions of women seem pretty comfortable snuggling up with men, so there must be more to men than I’m seeing.

Not that it matters. I’m not planning to snuggle up to anybody anytime soon, and there are not candidates lining up outside my door carrying flowers. I’m just saying, it’s fascinating how our attitudes and expectations open some doors for us, and slam other doors shut.

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The other day, on one of the forums, someone asked why women can wear pants without anyone thinking it’s weird, but men can’t wear skirts (or at least, very seldom do, and please don’t start talking about kilts). I started bouncing up and down in my seat and waving my hand wildly, because I know the answer.

It’s about power. When women wear garb that is traditionally male-coded, they stake a claim to more power. But when men wear garb that is traditionally female-coded, such as skirts and scarves, they’re moving down the power ladder. Women are not physically as strong as men, so female garb on a man is a signal of weakness.

Feminists may object that women are just as powerful as men. In many ways, that’s true. But I’m not talking about ideals here. I’m not talking about how we would like things to be or about how things can be today, thanks to recent changes in culture and technology. No, this is about instinct and tradition. Instinct and tradition are conservative forces, and change very slowly.

Indeed, instinct doesn’t change at all, on a time scale shorter than 5,000 to 10,000 years. And the important instincts, such as the ones about making babies, are wired very firmly into the brain stem. They’re not going to change, ever.

What happens, among most species of mammals (and among birds too), is that the males compete to see who’s the biggest and strongest. Male bower birds (more…)

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