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Graduation Questions

It never ceases to amaze me here that we always find a new and different way to view all of this. Well done LP!

By Lisa P.

It is that time of year. Young ones are walking across a stage and receiving diplomas and certificates. What does that mean for them, aside from unemployment, work, and stress? It means they must now choose their next move.

As a mature transgender adult, I continue to move from experience to experience. Each time those experiences have produced new questions for me to explore.

Early in my journey, I was a “mixed-up kid,” wondering if I was the only male-type person in the world dreaming about being more like Nadia Comaneci, Jane Seymour, and Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman!). I kept asking myself, “What am I, and what am I doing thinking this way?”

Later I went through a period of overwork and avoidance in an effort to rid myself of gender thoughts (spoiler alert: it didn’t work). After I entered the work world, I realized that I should apply my prodigious (!) mental abilities to try to figure out why I kept finding myself trapped in a gender maze. No matter how many times I entered the maze from the “M” side with the goal of finding a way out, I always ended up stuck in the middle at the “F” ending. Don’t get me wrong: I have always enjoyed that F center. I just don’t want an F on my report card!

At least once a week during this period of my life I would visit the local library (still later, sites on the early Internet) to read as much as I could about “why” I am this way. I am guessing all of us dwell on the “why?” and “why me?” questions for a long time. I can’t even estimate the number of hours I spent on the search for answers to those questions. I applied every theory I found to my personal experience. The results were always indeterminate. My facts never aligned well with the applied theory. In the end I concluded that there is no easy answer for me. These days I rarely think about the “why” question. I have come to believe that my “why” likely is different from your “why.” Humans are such complicated creatures. Nature/Nurture – who knows? Maybe I rewired my brain because the cells in my body told me to.

After my “why” period, I went through an extended period of about 25 years experimenting with crossdressing baby steps: stepping into dresses, stepping out into the world, and then stepping into stores to discover a world of beauty. That period of my life was so long I thought for sure that I would be able to “two-step” my way through the remainder of my life. Why not keep one foot in each world? If you asked me, I would have said I was a closeted crossdresser. I believed I could do what I do and remain the male head of my family without anyone being the wiser. Then one day I stepped sideways. I didn’t intend to do it and I don’t know why it happened. There was no “misstep.” I wasn’t suffering from any new stress.

My path had changed though. I found that my work/family life gave me more freedom to spend time in my happy place. Without being aware of it, I found that not only was I sleeping in women’s clothes (androgynous versions which my wife doesn’t notice or care about), underdressing (necessitating a time each week when I can surreptitiously use the laundry), going out into the world every other day, and researching supplements that mimic female hormones (where did that come from?). I also found myself seeking women-only spaces and activities and dreaming of expanding my life to include them. Soon, I made several of those things happen. I developed a long bucket list, not unlike the bucket lists Dee has explored, and gradually I ticked experiences off my list. I finally reached my Waterloo (with apologies to Napoleon, who seems to have been a “man’s man” and would not have taken kindly to the comparison). I reached out to a gender psychiatrist to diagnose me. When she came back with a report (previously discussed here), it was the end of my neatly configured world. She solemnly pronounced the sentence — “thou art TG”.

Suddenly, the ground shifted beneath me, and I found myself in a “what now?” modality. I remain imprisoned within that daily question. A couple of years ago I discovered Kandi and the wonderful online community she has created. I began to contribute here as a catharsis, as a way to explore the “what now?” question, and as a way to support Kandi. Each time I write about my personal experiences, I feel like I am pounding in a new peg to support my bed, ensuring it won’t collapse from the weight of my gender identity in the middle of the night.

I never made a conscious decision at any point in this process, except to avoid at all costs identifying as queer. That is something I would not allow myself to do until I reached a mature age, saw my psychiatrist, and ultimately gave up fighting my identity. Today I understand that I am a transgender woman, albeit a part-time one. It still scares the hell out of me, primarily because it reinforces the “what now?” question. But I am guessing that I have deeply ingrained internal biases that continue to haunt me, which lead me to dwell too much on that particular question. I remain concerned about potentially hurting my wife and/or destroying my reputation. Coming out requires sacrifice.

Still, as I hinted at the outset, I know that I will slowly graduate from my “what now?” mode. I may not receive a diploma, but I will know it when it happens. I am glad that I see that day coming. Graduation is a sign of hope; a sign of a new future. I’m not sure why I have started to believe that day will come, but I do. Perhaps my hormone regimen makes me feel more whole. Perhaps I feel more comfortable now that I have a female social network and a spouse who knows about and puts up with me (although still without ever wanting to see me or hear too much about me). The “what now?” question that still haunts me resides squarely in the marriage side of my personal equation. I want to do everything I can to preserve my marriage and support my lovely wife, while balancing my need to be me on the other side. If she moves into greater acceptance, I believe I will achieve more equilibrium. If I reach that stage, I may be looking for something new again.

I treasure this community. We are honest with each other. We share our failures as well as our successes. We accept each other’s differences. We don’t preach and we don’t practice politics. We are a community with members who wish to grow and learn from each other. In a way, Kandi’s Land is our CD/TG school.

With that in mind, don’t be afraid to “graduate” to a new way of thinking, doing or being. The world is wild and wonderful and there is a place for women like you and me, you can be sure of that.


14 Responses

  1. Lisa, I really enjoyed reading that post, there’s nothing like reading someone’s deep dive to make us think about our own situation!

    I think you’re right when, towards the end, you question whether you will ever graduate from your ‘what now?’ mode? Let’s face it, there will almost certainly be a masters or doctorate to entice you and, as humans, we have a duty to push the envelope!

    Picking up on your final ‘don’t be afraid’ paragraph, it’s ironic that it was only yesterday that Kandi reposted my first ever post here in which I said that I thought that having been transformed by the person who I consider to be one of the best MTF makeover specialists in the world, I would be able to walk away from my CDing as nothing else could ever match up to it and my longstanding ‘what does female me look like?’ had been well and truly answered. It didn’t take long, probably no more than a week, for other challenges to come into focus, not least because we don’t exist in a vacuum and others inspire us.

    And apart from the ‘what now?’ question, there’s its close relative, the ‘what if?’ question. Often that’s a question whose answer is either untenable or rooted in fantasy land but situations can and do change, not least as spouses come to realise that they can push their own envelope in respect of their level of tolerance.

    I love reading your posts – we need more of them!!!

    1. Amanda,

      Thank you, as always, for your comments. I remember the first time you posted about your makeover. The thought that came to my mind was, “she looks fabulous! “ It wouldn’t make sense to me for someone who looks so fabulous to put it aside.

      You mention the “what if” question. I admit to asking that question too, but I’m often afraid of the answers that immediately come to mind.

      And thank for your affirmation. We write as part of and for this community. It is important for our posts to be relevant to that community. I always love hearing from you too!


  2. Lisa,
    What a wonderful telling of your journey, and I love the way you told it.

    I am definitely in the “what now” class, with no plans to graduate. In fact, I am quite comfortable staying this way.

    I completely agree with every word in your last two paragraphs. Very well said. I am a much richer and happier woman because of the friends I’ve made through Kandi’s Land.

    Thank you for this great post.

    Love to all the KL readers,


    1. Jocelyn,

      No need to graduate if what you need is to continue to ask the questions relevant to where you are today. Maybe I have always been a little too restless, craving the next adventure…

      We do enjoy a special sisterhood here. Thank you for all you do to support it.


  3. Lisa,
    I bevieve I’m a lifetime learner. I may graduate, but then there college, then grad school, then post-doc, then ….
    Never stop learning.
    Try replacing the ‘Why’ question with the ‘Why NOT’ question.
    I did that with my nails and heels, very visable; and my waxing – brow, legs, bikini, less visable.
    I LOVE nail color, Why NOT wear nail color 24/7/365?
    Keep ‘learning’ Lisa,

  4. Cali,

    What a lovely thought. Lifetime learning means we never get to stop and pretend we have somehow “arrived” at the perfect place.

    And I like the “why not” question. I too am smooth-skinned and wear polish all the time (albeit discretely). But I can’t see a way to incorporate heels — my old knees would never forgive me, even if my wife did!

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

    1. Lisa,
      I am surprise how easy it was to go to wearing nail color fulltime. The ‘Why’ question was easy – I love it. I have both men and women wanting to see my fingernails. It has also opened up many conversations with people about their nails and my nails. I am very surprise how many men tell me they would love to do it too but they are scared.
      As far as heels go, I’m 69 with 4 knee operations, 3 ankle reconstructions, and .. There are many 3 inch screws and a metal plate that holds me together…… You just have to find heels that fit and don’t hurt your knees or your feet.

      1. Cali,

        Hah. I beat you. I have had five knee operations. Trust me when I say I know what works for these rebuilt posts, on which I must make my stand!

        Still a great suggestion for girls out there who aren’t afraid to “step out there.”


        1. Sorry LP, unfortunity I have a trump card that makes any number of knee operations look like a walk in the park on a gorgeous sunny day. I NEED heels to walk without pain. So ‘Why not’ fully embrace and enjoy it.

          1. Cali,

            I thought we agreed no politics?!😀

            You definitely have prevailed. I’ll bet you soar in your heels!


  5. Lisa,
    I personally couldn’t dodge the ” why ” question , I needed to have a clear explanation so I could accept myself and hopefully explain to family and close friends , I guess I knew even at that stage I would not be happy with a foot in both camps . I also knew it was going to be an uphill struggle , I had to believe in myself so I could deal with acceptance ( or lack of it ).

    It’s very rarely nuture , as it’s nature that crosses the wires during development in the womb .

    I know the problems of the ” what now ” question , it’s so hard to present the conversation with counsellors to your wife and family when they consider it an illness and you’re searching for a cure . Did I want a cure ? Before I knew I was TG I desperately wanted it to go away , the guilt and shame can be overwhelming at times .

    Graduation is different for each of us as it depends so much on our circumstances , for me it must be six years ago when I separated and adopted the life as Teresa , I’d finally solved the problem of having to keep a foot in both camps , I find it hard to put it into words how good that felt .

    1. Teresa,

      It is always valuable for us to hear your perspective, because you are living out your truth and have accepted (dare I say “embraced”) the consequences. It has allowed you to solve the problems in the way that work best for you. I say, “you go, girl!” You walked across that stage and both demanded and received your diploma!


  6. Lisa, I’ve thought all day about how I wanted to respond to this post. I never really asked myself “why” I was this way, I just knew that I had to keep it to myself. Certainly, during my early years of dressing, when I did not have a wig or wear makeup, it was imperative that I did. I “graduated” to going out dressed only in the last 13 years, finally facing my fears 7 years ago. Since the number of outings I have is so small, I expect it will take quite a while for me to progress to the next step, whatever that may be.

    And for both you and Cali, I’ve only had one major knee surgery, and I love my heels – I just wish I had more time to walk in them!

    1. Tina,

      Thank you for considering my questions, even if they were never yours. You were lucky if you never asked “why” — it is a bedeviling question. Drives many of us crazy. Better time is spent contemplating just how well Cali walks in her heels, since she is blessed with the requirement that she wear them constantly! Enjoy your time out as yourself.

      Thank you.


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