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More on the CD/TG Equation

How we all share here is simply amazing!

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.

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16 Responses

  1. That was very thought provoking, Lisa, and interesting to compare & contrast with my own thoughts & feelings. Your first paragraph was bang on and Kandi’s emphasis of the ‘no two alike’ bit underlined that. We should listen to the views and experiences of others but not become a slave to them and the statement that no two of us are alike becomes all the more true when we factor in the external issues that are unique to us – family, career and so on.

    What your post particularly did was made me think about my own situation and how I square the circle in a way that works for me. After a lot of soul searching, I realised that I could not define how it really feels to be a woman and whether my feelings are congruent because I’m not one. But equally I can’t define how it really feels to be male because my experience may be completely different to everyone else’s. But I am an expert on what it feels like to be ME and what makes me happy. Some of those things are traditionally male activities and others traditionally female. I know that I get that indescribably wonderful feeling when I cross the gender divide but is that because I’m being my ‘true self’ or just because I like the feeling that comes when I’m presenting in a way that society views as female, albeit fleetingly? And with six decades of life under my belt, I just don’t have enough life expectancy remaining to spend time pondering that; I’ll just enjoy the ride when I can.

    Of all of your points, I found the fifth particularly profound because it hits on something that plagues most of us – the divergence between who we are and who we need to be. And also the paradox of yearning to be a wife and yet being repulsed by the practicalities of having a husband! In the end, like everything in life, we have to accept compromise because it gives us the closest chance of both having our cake and eating it.

    A really enjoyable, and as I said thought provoking, read, thanks!

    1. Amanda,

      I always appreciate your responses (on everyone’s posts). This time I loved your comment, “I am an expert being ME.” We should all strive for that attitude. It is positive and also gives us a goal — to continue to work to maintain that expertise. We own our future. I am OK with the compromises, because I don’t know how any human being succeeds in life effectively without seeing the needs of others and giving in to those needs while not abandoning one’s own needs.

      Thank you.


  2. Lisa, what a wonderful post and your description of yourself is amazingly close to how I view myself. I never felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. Yet, I have elements of myself that feel feminine to me. Like you I underdress. I shave my body hair daily. Thin my eyebrows. I do these feminizing things because it makes me happy and not doing them makes me “edgy” and anxious. (probably gender dysphoria)

    As a guy I don’t do “dude” very well. I feel out of place with other guys. I always feel like I am putting on a “dude act” around others to fit in. My guy self is good for protecting me, but I still feel like a fraud. I prefer being around women.

    Growing up in the 80’s homophobia and transphobia had me in deep denial. There was no language for “Transgender.” I knew I wasn’t gay. But why did I love wearing women’s clothes since puberty? I kept this hidden because I was ashamed. And I was very confused. I thought I was the only one experiencing this.

    I am going through the same journey as you are. I only “came out” to myself at 47. I have a wife (who is accepting). I have come to the conclusion I am Transgendered but one that won’t transition for logistics reasons. So here I am in 2 worlds.

    1. Christina,

      I am happy to know that we are two souls wandering this world with a few characteristics. It takes the edge off the occasional loneliness we each inevitably feel that there are others out there with similar struggles.

      I loved your comment, “I don’t do dude very well.” Me neither. I never have. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt adopted a false bravado to try to fit in, only to feel empty inside afterwards.

      As has been expressed by so many people, transitioning is a deeply personal choice. Some do it because they must. Some do it because they can. Some do it because it is what they want. Even though there are aspects of myself that reflect a person in transition (something my daughter reminded me of a few days ago when I told her again that I would present as her male dad most often), and for the past several years I have experienced the most amazing social transition and even some physical transition, I hope I can maintain the hybrid mode until I am gone from this earth. I remind myself that I often felt like a fraud while expressing the guy me for six decades, so what’s a couple more, especially if I can maintain strong social relationships (in both male and female roles) that keep me happy and in love.


      1. Lisa, what is interesting, is that once I stopped the “denial” of myself at 47 and accepted my femininity that’s when I REALLY started to see how fraudulent I felt presenting as a guy. It is easy to do. It is safe. It protects me. I can walk around in society with no worries. It is my carapace. But it is a fraudulent representation of my inner self. All my life I had been “swimming upstream” and now I am “floating downstream” and allowing myself to feel without societies restrictions. I am a better person for it, even when I am not dressing femininely.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience, Lisa. Although some people may have many things in common, there is always things that differentiate each individual. As in your case, there have been countless times that I have seen women on film or in real life that made me think how fun it would be to be in their heels. However, I have come to realize it is because of the way they dress and move so gracefully rather than wanting to assume the role. I mention this because there is not one of us, regardless of how we perceive ourselves in the vast spectrum between masculinity and femininity, that has not had such thoughts, although with different interpretations.

    Your post is very clear and helps me understand your and other sisters’ situations. As you so rightfully said, I can only tell what I am and could not even tell how it is to be a man who is not a CD. In the end, as with all aspects of life, what matters is that we learn to deal with our liberties and limitations in a manner that makes us feel at ease and reasonably happy, while making others around us reasonably happy. For those of us who are married and with children, it is always about keeping a healthy balance, although I nunderstand that for some transitioning is the only way out.

    Great post!

    1. Ana Cristina,

      You are an amazing person, and it comes through in your writing. I am thankful this community has so much diversity in thoughts and feelings, because it allows each of us to parse the details and decide where we land on the “spectrum.”

      I very much like the way you distinguish how you feel in the dance situation. But, having read your reply, I have come to see that the dancing example may not have been my best, because I have never particularly wanted to dance with a male partner (the traditional female role when two people are dancing). Let me try another example that may highlight my personal situation even better. When I was in high school I would go to the American football games. I enjoyed the overall game, but spent a lot of time watching the cheerleaders (who were all women wearing the cutest outfits). I wanted to be out there with them doing the cheers. I never wished I could be one of the football players making hard tackles. I loved the athleticism and from backyard play thought it would be fun to go up and make a graceful catch, but I didn’t want to join the guys, while I did want to join the girls. Who was I identifying with? To me, it was pretty clear it was the girls and not the boys. Based on your reply, that distinction would not hold true for you. I must admit envying you that feeling a bit, for reasons articulated in my second point about myself. I know I remain impacted by my internalized transphobia. Yet, when I find myself wishing, yet again, that I had been born a girl, I stop and remind myself how thankful I am for my wife and family. My life has been so amazing, with a wonderful wife and amazing kids, I won’t allow myself to second guess my lived experience like that. So, I fall back on keeping a “stiff upper lip” about being a transgender woman, and every once in a while I own that identity with great pride.

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply!


  4. My Insightful New Friend, Lisa,

    Allow me to not “bury the headline”, an old television news saying, from an old television person. Your thoughtful insights help me both with my own journey of self discovery as well as the sometimes more difficult journey of helping my accepting wife’s ongoing questions, doubts and fears about my feminine expressions. Her journey! OUR journey together! Thank you!

    Reminding us of the impact and interactions of our “loved ones” is critical. My wife has done extensive research since I opened up to her. There is precious little, if any, from the wife’s point of view. Much of the clinical research serves only to heighten her fears that there is another phase coming from me – phase five of full transition. Another “shoe” to drop and she is afraid it is a high heel. I am convinced this is where I want to be, though I must be open to discovery. Her fears are real and I respect and honor them.

    “Underdressing”! Love that new word in my vocabulary, though I won’t use it when we play scrabble, partly because I only have 7 letters + what’s on the board at the time. (Ha!)

    “I strongly prefer feminine!” Is such a revealing and restorative phrase for me personally. It will take prominence in the journal I keep about all of these feelings.

    Your “facts over feelings” is a concept that I have been helping my wife to understand. The tactile feelings of dressing do reinforce the empathy, caring and nurturing side of me that she has come to love in our 52 years together. That is a wonderful help to our ongoing discussions and discovery together.

    “Invading my thoughts,” is a perfect help to me in processing her fears, so yet another offer of gratitude to you, Lisa.

    And finally, perhaps most importantly, in how your eloquent, insightful post has helped me most, “the courage to keep all my other priorities in order while exploring that truth.”

    You and those who commented and Kandi and so many others are making this challenging walk less alone.


  5. Crystal,

    How much we need each other. I am celebrating 42 years of marriage myself, a decade behind you. I have to believe that love will win out over fear, and that you and me and all our sisters here who have come together due to Kandi’s open heart will be strengthened by this community — enough to endure whatever may befall us.

    Thank you for your kind words and new friendship.


  6. Lisa,
    Many thanks for posting some well considered thoughts on the subject close to many of us .

    I totally agree in seeking professional help , the simple act of finding someone to talk to without any fears , to be completely honest about oursleves . For me it was like a millstone being lifted off my shoulders , as I’ve mentiomned before the problem with counselling is wives and close family may see it as a cure .
    The battle with transphobia is a hard one , many of us mentally struggle with acceptence of the possiblity we are transgender before we can even consider coming out to others . I often struggled with the argument , ” it’s not about the clothes !” What other way can we express and inform society of our inner feelings ? I feel Eddie Izzard summed up the situation by saying , ” they’re not women’s clothes , they are mine !” I no longer think about the term ” crossdressing” unless I have to be dad or grandpa a couple of times a year . I obviously don’t get the highs anymore being fulltime but I do enjoy having the choice of colours and styles to express how I feel every morning .

    Being caught up on the debate about portraying ourselves to be male or female appears to be a problem for many in our community . At times we have to answer to so many others , I consider myself very lucky to live as I chose , the outcome is I no longer have to consider the debate , I’m just being me . There are some male attributes which I still find useful but I’ve learned how to combine them with female elements I prefer to show . The loss of inhibitions is so freeing , I can show emotions , I openly cry if I’m happy or sad , I can talk about caring and show support for others .

    Then we come to the problem of our sexuality . Do we make more of it than we need to ? Personally I’m attracted to women and always have been but as I gradually transition what label do I continue to use ? I have never had an attraction to men , in fact I dislike men to some extent . Having lived that life for so many years I now consider the attitudes and expectations are like wearing a male straightjacket , I don’t hate my body as such but I’m pleased to have lost that rigid lifestyle .
    While many CDers talk of their wives or partners knowing about their female needs they still want to retain the man they married . I do question the fairness of that at times because one of the other is living in a marriage of compromise , those who can come terms with the sitation often go on to live a closer and happier relationship . I know my ex-wife regrets that she didn’t deal with the problem differently , she didn’t realise what she was losing until it was too late .

    1. Teresa,

      As always, your input is very much appreciated. You are one of those persons who has moved down the road further than many others here, so you speak from a lot of personal experience.

      I too love Eddie Izzard’s comment. Eddie emphasizes that we (perhaps particularly those in the CD/TG community) make too much of whether we are wearing clothes that are sold for “females” and those clothes that are sold for “males”. The social construct of gender seems to demand that, yet Eddie is spot on: the clothes I wear are my clothes, not ‘his’ or ‘hers.’

      Compromise is a necessity in marriage. This morning I asked my wife to make an accommodation so that I could go swimming with other ladies. I could tell she was annoyed that she had to adjust her schedule (since she doesn’t want to see me), but she did it. She has made hundreds of small compromises to her own sensibilities, and I let her know I appreciate it. In turn, I remind her when I am compromising, as I do often.

      I wish your ex-wife could see her way to reestablishing some of what was lost, if that is what you would like. You don’t need to answer us on that one, as it is terribly personal, but know that your friends want you to be nurtured and loved, for we all need that in our lives.



      1. Lisa,
        The only part I wish I could correct is the situation with her and our children and grandchildren . She’s making life more difficult for them because of her acceptance of me . She’s not protecting them because they are adults , she’s still trying to exert control to protect herself but that begs the question protection from what ? There can never be any reconciliation , there would be no long term future for me to go back , it would be an end to the life I’m living now .

        We must take care with compromise , many of us tend to live an unequal life , once we’ve come out we tend to be the guilty party in every circumstance . I hated the feeling of permanently walking on eggshells .

  7. There’s so much positive stuff in your post, as in Ana Christina’s, and I don’t want to make a long reply longer by restating what many commenters have done so well. I do feel like it’s important to point out out that both Lisa’s and Ana’s posts are centered around the male/female gender binary. If I’m don’t identify as male, then I must be a trans woman, and that is going to have such and such an impact on my relationships, etc. This ignores the fact that gender identity is a spectrum. In fact, the term “transgender” simply means that someone does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. That’s it. There’s nothing male/female about it specifically. It’s meant to be an inclusive term, to include trans men, trans women, and everyone under the nonbinary umbrella. I was assigned male at birth, raised as a male, and have lived most of my life as male presenting. I’m married to a woman, and I’m a father. BUT, I don’t identify as male! That doesn’t mean “I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.”
    Trans isn’t a pathology; there’s no “diagnosis” just as there’s no diagnosis for “normal, well-adjusted”. One’s “trans-ness” does not depend on the degree of one’s transition, HRT, surgeries, or anyone’s opinion about it. Transgender is who transgender people ARE, transition, HRT, surgeries are just CHOICES that transgender people can make to resolve their dysphoria. For me, that was the liberating idea that helped me understand myself as nonbinary. I’m not male OR female, I’m male AND female. None of this is to say that there are or aren’t heterosexual cismale crossdressers, just that the discussion is much more nuanced than is typically presented. Trans is a big tent, and even if you do not identify as trans, as a crossdresser you will still be subject to the prevailing social whims about whether or not trans people have the right to exist or not. That’s enough common ground to warrant solidarity in my view.
    I’m going to leave aside the question of sexual orientation. I’ve heard it said best as “gender identity is who you go to bed AS, sexual orientation is who you go to bed WITH…”

    1. Nikki,

      I am happy to see you post and add so many good, personal thoughts to the conversation. We are such a mixed bag that even terms to help us explain ourselves are not completely understood by others. We can’t know each other’s personal struggles, personal triumphs or the decisions we make for ourselves unless we share them with each other. I am sure that is one reason the responses to my post tend to be long — it takes time to even start to explain one’s own perspective.

      I, for one, love the different perspectives. Long ago I gave up trying to find another Lisa, i.e. someone with exactly my experiences, feelings and goals, although it was tempting to try to find that person. Recently, my wife agreed to do more background reading on being TG to understand me better, but she asked for reading recommendations. After surveying all the literature, movies, articles, etc. with which I am familiar, I realized that none of them capture me. Moreover, most of them are likely to result in having her develop more fear about what it means to be married to someone who identifies as TG. My solution is to write a book just for her. I am not far into it, but I am hoping she will read it and use it for further discussion with me. One can never talk too much to a partner if your are TG.

      Thank you for sharing.


    2. Nikki,
      All your reply is so true but we must take care not to over analyse the situation . I do believe we need to know the answers or at least as much as we can to explain it to ourselves and those who take an interest . However I discovered there comes a time when the labels can or need to placed back in their boxes because they don’t affect your life within society , basically the general public aren’t interested . I can’t remember the last time I used the word transgender in conversation , I’m accepeted for what I am , hopefully more female than male and I’m freely allowed to live that chosen lifestyle , that in itself is wonderful and something I never believed I could achieve .

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