By Lisa P.
Christy’s post, “Is a CD Necessarily Transgender?” is an important description of her reality and contribution to the thought processes of all of us. It is important for all of us to validate her truth, as well as our own, because if there is anything I have learned after more than six decades of life is that no two of us are exactly alike (emphasis added by the editor). I would never in a million years suggest to another Kandi’s Land reader that you should be or do anything except what is real for you. For that reason, I am grateful to Christy for her post, her honesty and her excellent discussion about a topic of concern to most Kandi’s Land readers.
At the risk of staying on topic a tad too long, I will add some additional and contrasting food for thought for anyone still on the quest to understand themselves (and for the record, I would still put myself in that category).
First, there is no substitute for talking things over with a gender therapist and/or psychiatrist, as Christy and I and others on this website have done. It will likely help you understand yourself, or at least sort a few things out for you. I say this for a simple reason. Decisions about gender identity have major consequences, not only for your life but also for the lives of your loved ones. Go slow, be careful, be thoughtful and research the heck out of the topic. But, most of all, to thine own self be true.
Second, consider whether you are suppressing your identity because of transphobia. I will go on record as saying that probably only the young truly can embrace being transgender as a good thing, at least in the sense of something that only brings good to them. For anyone who has lived a significant part of their life in the gender they were assigned at birth, it is cataclysmic to consider being the other gender. Being an actor? Easy. Expressing oneself through female clothes. Easy. Accepting yourself as being a woman when you were born and raised a male, married a woman, fathered children with her, and continually exercised male privilege – that is terrifying. So, it is important to consider whether you are on the outside looking in because it is more comfortable to window shop than to go into the store and see what that means for you.
Third, for me there were hints along the way that transgender female is a better descriptor than crossdressing male. Underdressing is one. One doesn’t prefer the undergarments of the other gender unless there is a powerful psychological need to express one’s gender for oneself and not as performance art. Another is thinking about your gender all the time and in most social situations – seeing women and wanting to be like them. An example for me was seeing couples on the dance floor and wanting to be the woman partner, swirling across the floor and letting my dress flow behind me. Thinking – if only I could be in that role, and not in other.
Preferring the female role doesn’t mean that I must think “I am a woman trapped in a man’s body” to be a genuine transgender woman. I never have had that thought; it doesn’t describe my feelings. Over the years, I became very accepting of my male body and even to some extent the male role. I certainly did for most of my adult life, even as I crossdressed whenever I had the chance. The truth is that I am very good at being male and I can act male when needed and without a lot of effort. I am good at being “protective” of my wife and children. I can exercise male privilege with the best of them. I can mansplain. I can use my booming bass voice to command attention in a room. It still feels good to be able to use my voice that way. Moreover, I have never hated being male or looked at my “male bits” with dismay, even if my preference was to have the “female bits.” What I have come to understand instead is that I strongly prefer the feminine. I love being among women, accepted by women, and experiencing life as a woman. That is my joy. It is as if someone turned on the lights in a dark room and now I see more of myself than ever before.
Fourth, there is a truth to the proposition that you are what you think. If I really wanted and needed to be a “man” I would constantly and consistently reinforce that role. I probably would spend weekends with male friends, being a “bro.” I would focus on building my body physically. I would assert myself as a male with others. To put it more succinctly, for me I have come to realize that if I really preferred the male role, I think I would revel in being assertive and acting dominant. I would be focused on “facts over feelings” and even believe that controlling my feelings was a good thing (instead of a personal weakness). I would embrace competitiveness in everything I do. I would think of my expressive and creative sides as my less desirable traits. I wouldn’t enjoy being gentle and kind. I wouldn’t be focused on being thoughtful and empathetic. I would recoil if people thought of me as sweet and caring, nurturing and sensitive. I wouldn’t take much time to try to anticipate the needs of others. The fact that I embrace all of these characteristics often identified as feminine, and in contrast am not comfortable being around those who make fun of someone who has those characteristics, has helped me to see my reality. I love being a woman in all those ways.
Fifth, being heterosexual adds a lot to my confusion. It is an obvious conclusion: if I am attracted to females, I must be a male. If I were a gay male expressing female characteristics, it would fit the traditional picture better, because our male dominated culture often confuses homosexuality with feminine weakness (the one-two punch of misogyny). It is a heteronormative point of view, and one that society in general pushes. I still find it all very confusing. I am happily married, and my wife wants me to be a man so that she can continue to have a heterosexual relationship with me. I need to honor that desire, somehow, if I value our relationship. Yet, being a transgender woman means that I hurt her by my need to express my female self. If only I could be a crossdresser and assure her that none of “this” invades my thoughts except on those rare occasions when I emulate females for an evening. Alas, that is not my reality.
Therefore, my truth is still complicated, and my journey continues. I have found peace for the time being by accepting myself as a transgender woman and honoring Lisa as herself. There would be no peace, however, if I didn’t also have the courage to keep all my other priorities in order while exploring that truth. May we all do that well, so that we can take pride in how we live our lives.