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Archive for the ‘Psychology’ 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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The Gap

Sometimes I back away from my transgender self. There’s a gap — both a temporal gap (which can last for years) and a gap within me, a gulf between who I am and how I’m thinking of myself.

It’s been over a year since I last posted to this blog. Yesterday I started asking myself, “What happened?” The best answer I can come up with at the moment is the title of a song by Dan Hicks — “I Scare Myself.” I get to a certain point with being feminine, and then I want to go further (maybe a lot further), but taking the next step(s) starts to look overwhelming. How will I deal with X, or Y, or Z? So I go into a tailspin.

Here’s a plaintive message from Jessica, over at crossdressers.com, that I identify strongly with: “I get so disgusted with myself sometimes due to my complete fear of going out … When I’m dressed at home and someone even knocks at the door, I go and run and hide in my room. This fear, shame and guilt of being who I am is driving me insane … But then when I sit at home expressing my real self, I feel isolated and cut off from the world. I find that the idea of going out with somebody while I’m dressed is less stress-inducing. But nobody I know is 100% comfortable doing this with me, and the one person I know that is now lives over 2,000 miles away.”

Been there, done that. Oh, boy, is it painful!

Right now I’m working with the idea of breaking the great big ball of fear down into nice little bite-size chunks. No, I don’t know how I would respond if, for example, a guy started coming on to me. (Not that that’s likely to happen. I’m not as young as I used to be.) Or if I were refused service in a restaurant or harassed on the street. But I don’t have to worry about that right now, because that’s not happening right now. All I need to do right now is decide if I want to go shopping for a new bra this afternoon.

There are quite practical things we can do to lower our fear and stress level. Learn about fashion! Learn how to walk in those shoes.  (And how to operate the pedals in your car with them.) Practice your voice. Learn about the legal status of cross-dressing in your community, and decide if you need to keep a lawyer on your speed-dial. If you’re wearing a wig, learn how to style it and care for it so it will look natural. Look around for support groups in your area.

When I tease it apart that way, I feel better. I feel less like retreating into the gap.

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Join the Club

People like to join clubs. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, fraternities, sororities, Rotary, Kiwanis, the Latter-Day Saints — we humans plainly have an instinctive desire to belong.

I was the world’s worst Cub Scout. I don’t think I ever got a merit badge. It was not a happy experience. Later, in middle school, I sometimes ended up as the umpire in playground softball games — not because my judgment was to be trusted, but because neither side wanted me on their team.

I had a few crushes on girls in middle school and high school, but looking back on it today, I think what I really wanted had far less to do with getting laid (the details of that activity being still, at the time, very hazy in my mind) than with (more…)

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Little Chatterbox

Yesterday I had to shoot a bunch of video clips for a project. That is, my MacBook Pro was the camera, and I’m in the videos. The people paying me for this project know me as a guy, so I had to grit my teeth and go into guy mode. Then, while editing, I had to watch myself pretending to be a guy.

Afterward, my inner narrative voice was firmly my guy voice. I felt … the way I’ve felt for years. Like a guy, or whatever my conception of that is.

I got a good night’s sleep, and somewhere in the middle of the night the guy thing let go of its clamp-like grip on me. I feel much better now. But the experience was a good reminder. How we experience ourselves on the inside arises, in no small part, from the tone of voice we hear in our head while constructing the moment-to-moment narrative of our lives. “Need to wash the dishes,” the inner voice says. “Only 20 minutes until the movie starts.” Whatever it happens to say. Nothing remarkable, most of the time, but it’s a little chatterbox.

If I’ve been hearing my guy-voice all day, the inner voice will be unequivocally my guy-voice. And that will change how I’m experiencing myself.

I’m sort of baffled by genetic males who (more…)

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Something in my head hates me. This thing in my head wants me to be miserable and scared and confused. It wants me to never have any fun. It wants me to pretend to be someone I’m not. It keeps telling me I’m disgusting. It keeps telling me people won’t like me. It wants me to be paralyzed. It wants me to be an abject failure as a human being. It wants me dead.

No, that’s not quite right. I’ve been dead for years. It wants me to stay dead.

I’m not mentally ill, and I’m not delusional. This is not schizophrenic babbling. I’m describing a real neurological condition, as it appears from the inside.

If I didn’t have this thing in my head, I would have become a woman 40 years ago, in a social, personal, and emotional sense (and maybe with a little surgical help too — at this late date, who knows?). My life would have been a whole lot different, and a whole hell of a lot happier. But I’ve never been able to shut off or get past this thing in my head.

Years of expensive therapy haven’t helped. Being honest with a few friends hasn’t helped. Even getting out of the house wearing my skirt and makeup and cute wig didn’t help. I used to do that sometimes — haven’t done it for years. This thing in my head made me stop.

I don’t know how to shut it off. It isn’t localized, so a surgeon couldn’t snip it out. It’s a self-perpetuating, implacable (more…)

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Hello? Hello?

The Internet’s a charming place, but none, I think, do there embrace. (Yes, I’m paraphrasing Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress.”) Having some online interaction with other TGs is incredibly useful — but an online friend is not a real friend, and an online forum is not a face-to-face support group.

I keep getting stalled out. Instead of moving forward with my gender identity transformation, whatever that turns out to be, I take one step forward and two steps back. This has been going on for a very long time. Today I’m feeling really crazy about this pattern. I need to change it! I don’t know how to do that — but I can’t help feeling that a core component in the change would be face-to-face peer support. Someone to talk to.

I need to talk to somebody who has been where I am and got through it. I need to talk to somebody more than one hour a week, and without having to pay for the privilege. (Today is Monday. I called my therapist Friday morning and suggested an extra meeting this week. I guess maybe she was out of town for the weekend. I’m sure she’ll call today.) And hopefully it would be somebody who lives within 20 or 25 miles, so we can get together for coffee. Driving into San Francisco and facing a room full of strangers at a once-a-month TG-related meeting would be quite a chore, and what could it lead to? I’d be meeting people who live an hour and a half away from me. No spontaneous coffee dates are likely to ensue.

And, you know, I need to talk to somebody today, not develop a new friendship over the course of six months.

Hello? Hello? Is there anybody there?

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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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