Hey Traci!! That is an extraordinary post and story. You managed to live a full life in the face of such perplexing adversity. I am glad you were willing to share that with me. I think one of your initial points is noteworthy: all of our issues are unique. For example, you were able to participate in contact sports while you were an adult and knew very early in life that your spirit was routed in the feminine. In my case, it seemed as though the more time passed, the further I kept falling into a role of the opposite gender. When I was younger, I participated in more sports. One of my favorite things to do, however, was to just explore forests in nothing other than my shorts. I was like a wild man who was invulnerable to bugs, spider, poison ivies, I didn’t care. It was fun, and I never seemed to come away with anything other than mosquito bites. Still, in my heart, compared to other boys, I knew that I was more ‘delicate’ not only emotionally, but physically too. I felt that, but I never had the words to describe the sensation then. Of course with peer pressure and everything else going on in a child’s life, we always pretend to be stronger than we are or try to fit in with the current friends we have or hide any vulnerabilities. Sadly, my friends were more understanding of these things than my brothers were, so I had two levels of peer pressure to contend with as the baby in the family.
Still, that was the extent of my gender exploration at the time. I must confess that my childhood up until about my thirteenth year was something of a fairy tale, and I rarely thought about anything other than the seemingly endless amount of fun we all had. It was so pleasurable that I think it had some ill effects even in the short term. After every summer, I used to have intense anxiety about going back to school because I always felt that it represented the end of the ultimate fun period of the year: Summertime! Goodness, I used to go to the beach, the boardwalk, theme parks, swim in the pool, play games inside, have the best friends come over, and spent countless hours at a local establishment that my parents ran with more friends that I could count. All of that came to an end when I moved, and I never really recovered what I had lost. Actually, the kind of life that it was traded for was almost the complete opposite as the good times were replaced with endless family quarrels and squabbles. My brothers evolved by exploding into the drinking scene when they were old enough where sex and fun was in abundance. I, for whatever reason, never broke into that scene… I just couldn’t. I didn’t feel like I was mature or grown up enough “as a man” to even drink and only had a handful of unrelated friends by the time I finished high school. I don’t even remember if any of them drank, but I was such a strange entity that I was never invited to parties or bars in any case. I was too busy working in my jobs, however, until my last year of school. Also, when I graduated, my family fell colossally into debt and I was literally stuck at home alone while my brothers had already moved out to live their college lives full-time while my parents both worked two jobs struggling to stay afloat. I couldn’t even drive… and no one was around to teach me or take me to a job.
Although it might seem kind of funny to a lot of people, it was kind of a fantasy of mine to be the life of the party again like I often was when I was growing up. I always had the energy and charisma, but I couldn’t ever really break into that scene. That’s why Saturday Night Fever is probably my favorite movie. Tony Manero’s (Travolta) life in Brooklyn and character encompassed everything that my life had represented before it went to hell: he was exuberant, the king of the dance floor, he had a crazy posse, and he cursed like a sailor, but he was the coolest guy in town. He had a local hangout like I used to have too which defined my life, but he eventually leaves it because he felt it was keeping him from progressing forward with his life and dreams. My father told me, without referencing the movie, that he was afraid that my brothers and I were headed down the same road with the family business, and he didn’t believe that that was going to be good for us in the long run being defined by some local hang-out. Considering how we all turned out, I can’t say that I fully supported his wisdom, but he had a way of understanding these things beyond simple reasoning.
Anyway, I immediately withdrew into this seventies fantasy and was surprised because when I bought the movie, I thought it was just going to be this campy pseudo-disco-musical, but I was blown away by the story’s undertones and allusions to social trends of the time. The music and cinematography were compelling in showing the life of Tony through his eyes too. I was living alone for first time, and it was like the first movie I had bought. I used the seventies as a gateway into wear tighter fitting, vintage clothing (like bellbottoms, brightly-colored shirts, ankle boots, etc.) full-time which sort of began to satisfy a potion of the impulses I felt on a daily basis. I was also experimenting with shaving and my eyebrows at the time, which I thought were too thick. When anyone would ask what inspired me, I could just tell them that I loved the fashion from that era, but I was doing it more or less because I didn’t identify with clothing that was exclusively for men in our current culture. For someone as shy and timid like me, dressing in that way with the hair that I had grown was a very Loud fashion statement which drew a lot of attention my way, most of which was positive. It wasn’t too rough of a transition, but there are still some times even today where it makes me apprehensive about leaving my house. I found a rare pair of soft pink bell bottoms last fall, and I had to seriously consider the consequences of wearing them on campus. Somehow, I managed to wear them out a few times without incident. Strangers have regarded me as something of a trendsetter and my friends here at school often wish to explore my closet. At the time though, I didn’t really understand what I was experiencing in terms of those impulses and really convinced myself that I was just destined to be this super-unique individual. I was following my heart, and I loved music and dancing beyond anything else in my life. About two years ago, I started thinking that I started dressing that way because deep down, I wanted to live the rest of my life as a woman, not as the awesome Tony Manero who was way more masculine than I could ever be, and it was a controlled expression of femininity. My family has been extremely patient and understanding about my style, with the exception of my one anger-driven brother, but I honestly couldn’t predict their reaction if I were ever to get permission to take hormones.
So moving along, contrary to my timid demeanor, I haven’t exactly been a stranger to women’s clothing myself, but I’ve intentionally restricted exploration of that until the timing is a little more conducive to my life. It was during a transitional period (no pun intended) during my life. In order to get the degree that I sought for in college, I needed to go to two different schools and eventually transfer and move to a new town about three hours from where I used to live which is where I am now. This was a little over two years ago. Throughout my life, I’ve had little luck with women as I’ve said, but there was one who identified with and loved me for everything that I was. She was dysphoric like I was, we shared a lot of hobbies, we went on out a lot, etc. She needed someone to fill in the gaps of femininity that she was lacking as well and used to call me “Woman” as a nick for a while. She said that when she met me, there was a gracefulness about my mannerisms that hinted toward a type of gender imbalance. She was very bright and perceptive. We moved out of town for a while, and we came back to live on her folks’ property in a loft apartment when things didn’t work out. I was still living there while attending my second year in school, but the tension between us grew as time went on. We used to be good at making everything work, but we really started to fall apart as a couple and it caused us both so much pain as we did truly and genuinely love each other. School wasn’t the biggest issue, but our inability to plan around it ultimately exacerbated our breakup, and we decided to split in the middle of my semester. Not too long after, she was already seeing a new love interest, and he was intent on moving in as soon as possible…
The semester was brutal, but I managed to get through it. This winter was especially cold and would eventually bring three or four major snow storms before the season was over. By this time, I was living alone in the loft. She was often staying at her parent’s house because she didn’t want him to sleep over in the loft while I was still living up there. I didn’t particularly want to meet him either, but I wasn’t against her being single and alone. Her parents were uncomfortable with the awkward arrangement and by December wanted me to move out. I couldn’t leave the area and had AT LEAST another eight months before I had to move. The situation made my Christmas break a nightmare. How do you move when it’s freezing out and when people are trying to enjoy the holidays? About a month later, I found a house in the country that had a room on the first floor for rent that I couldn’t afford, but I didn’t have any options. It was like a haunted house in the middle of nowhere considering the dirt road that led to it, but it was more of boarding house with seven bedrooms for rent between the first and second floors. There was no internet and no cable. (which I didn’t use anyway) I didn’t have a private bathroom, but I did have a relatively large room with my own refrigerator. All in all, it was a beautiful, quaint, country setting that I would eventually become accustomed to in a detached sort of way.
It had been a while since I had felt completely alone. I always had someone to watch my back whether it was family or friends. Our relationship was something I was not ready for. We were best friends for a long time, but she wanted to try being official or “dating” to see if it could work. We moved during this time though and never really made a determination about whether we should continue or not and just let it keep going. I was very unsure about myself, my compulsions that is, and my future. I couldn’t fathom being in a relationship when I didn’t really understand who I was or where I was going. She understood my concerns probably better than I did, but she thought that by being together, we could empower each other and solve all of our problems together. Sadly, the opposite took place, and I stopped hearing from her completely in no time. A childhood friend of mine spoke to me about the possibility of inviting me into her family the previous year. Sadly, she was a psychopath and I stopped speaking to her some months ago because her presence in my life complicated our relationship. As my last semester started and the work piled up, things became incredibly hectic and the stress was relentless. As a result, I turned to the devil in the red dress for comfort. I was truly desperate and had no means of reaching out to anyone else. When I thought I couldn’t feel worse, expecting a psychopath to express remorse or empathy was a precursor to an anxiety attack. She was a piece of work… illogical, irrational, inconsistent, belligerent, selfish. It was like I had lost the ability to connect with anyone.
The blizzards were a blessing for they closed school twice as a result which gave me an incredible opportunity to catch up on this massive amount of homework. The executives at my company, however, were rather malevolent and made us all drive to work during conditions where the roads were frozen over with ice. I didn’t mind that, but the other stress that I was dealing with was intolerable. I had a lot of ways of dealing with stress: immersive games, movies, television shows on DVDs, exercise, etc., but I couldn’t handle this. I had most of my belongings in boxes in two large closets that were part of the room. One evening as the stress continued to dominate my daily existence, I was looking through my stuff for one reason or another and found an outfit that I bought for my ex and a pair of women’s shoes that, essentially, belonged to me. (long story on that one) These were no ordinary clothes though. It was a rather exotic, hyper-feminine outfit that I bought for her from Hot Topic a while back, a bodice and a skirt with a pair of tights. All red and black like a harlequin, even the shoes were nearly the same shade of red. I think I told her that I would sell them for her if we ever to split. I don’t really remember what I was thinking, but considering the nature and ultimate purpose of this entire website, I think it’s safe to say that what happened next is a foregone conclusion. I wanted to see how “it” looked on me, the feminine side of me in a truly fully-feminine outfit. I needed some relief from something I had been resisting for such a long time. As slinky and slim as I am, it fit without a hitch and expressed a wonderfully feminine figure and silhouette. When I turned my face away, almost I was entirely convinced that a woman was in the mirror. With slightly wider hips, a larger chest, and a softer visage, I could easily pass as a woman. I think it was then that I had a moment of perfect clarity under rather bizarre circumstances in that country house. This was in the midst of the winter, and it was still bitterly cold. I crawled into my bed, shoes and everything, and just sort of embraced myself… embraced “her”… and suddenly, for a short time, all of my anxiety started to subside slowly before I fell asleep.
It became a habit, for the first time in my life. It was an incredible relief and a very unfamiliar feeling every time. I even walked around the house in and out of my room a handful of times without giving it much of a thought. In for a penny, in for a pound. How can I stop turn back now? Months later when I finally moved, I even found a new pair of Mary Jane black platform shoes and red/black opera length lace gloves that matched the outfit perfectly during the Halloween season, but I wasn’t dressing up nearly as often. My roommate was generally at home, but I still did here and there. I even expanded that wardrobe a little bit further, but I eventually stopped altogether. I wasn’t interested in cross dressing as a fetish. However, I eventually took the behavior to another level when I bought a new pair of women’s ankle boots and began to wearing them freely in public. I had an excuse for why I thought I did this, but I know that I was driven by an impulse that I chose not to ignore. I didn’t think anyone would really notice considering the rest of my wardrobe, and even if they did, I just didn’t care anymore. It’s more important for me to understand myself rather than living up to everyone else’s values or standards. I want to understand where these impulses come from and why perpetuating this behavior made me feel less stressful and whether I had problems with my hormones. I believed that if I was ultimately meant to be a woman, I could eventually pursue the clothes, look, makeup, etc., aspects later. Changing my face and body would cost money that I don’t even have yet too, so what’s going on in my heart and mind are important to me at this time. One step at a time. I always had an ongoing suspicion that my hormone levels were directly related to my tendency to be shy, insecure, anxious, depressed, angry, xenophobic some days, and generally abhorrent to masculine tendencies. I have a lot of books on various health subjects, and every once in a while, the subject of hormonal effects on the body are touched upon but not often expanded upon probably because none of the authors are endocrinologists.
So far, it’s been a very unique experience. I often wonder now that if, by becoming a woman, I would alienate myself further from everyone or finally begin attracting people into my life again. I’m certain my family would have mixed reactions or the “I knew something was wrong for years” malarkey. Not once has anyone in my family ever suggested suspicions of having a transgender in the family, and feinting that certainty would be seriously disrespectful from my point of view. I’ve surreptitiously tested this from time to time, and it is almost always dismissed immediately. How could anyone ever suspect? We’re less than 0.1 percent of the entire populous. They’d have a higher likelihood of winning the lottery than meeting a fully transgendered person. If I got that far, I wouldn’t be ashamed. Quite the opposite in fact for I am coming to terms with it more and more each day and loving myself more as a result as well…