By Crystal Joens
Years ago, sitting with other parents of children registering for college, I noticed a mother who seemed distraught. When I ask if she was okay, she said, “No I am not. My daughter is 18 years old, and she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.” I smiled, and said something like, “Well, Ma’am, this may not be of much help, but I am 47 years old, and not only do I not know what I want to be, I don’t even think I want to grow up.” She just walked away. It didn’t help her. It did help me.
To this day, when someone asks where I grew up, I will correct them by saying, “I haven’t grown up yet, but I can tell you where I’ve lived and what I’ve done.” And as I write this, I am closing in on year 74.
That same question comes up when someone learns that we like to dress in societally defined women’s clothing. For years, I said, age 12, my mom’s lingerie drawer. Actually, maybe it was when I was conceived. Perhaps it was the youthful awareness and appreciation of the gender I was “not”. The latest re-awaking and new awareness came to me just 4 months ago. And I am sure with some of you sharing your thoughts, more awareness will surface for me and all of us at our own times.
There is always lots of backstory, and for now let’s stick to today’s story. I dress whenever I can, which isn’t often. Right now, my Wife of 50 years is, as far as I know, unaware of Crystal. When I do get to travel on my own, I look for a makeover artist and schedule a session. And usually, the artist takes a couple of photographs.
So, with a couple of extra days planned in Nashville, TN in mid-January, I began my online search for an LGTBQ-friendly makeover artist. I found a “muse”, a person or force who is an inspiration. Literally, her name is Brittany Muse, Owner-Creative Director-Makeup Artist of Artofficial.
She agreed to take the assignment, on the condition that she wanted to better understand me and my motivation for dressing and the makeover. Dang! That really made me stop and think. And I loved it, because as an Executive Coach in my own world, great questions are vital to self-discover. So, we spent well over an hour with her asking great questions.
We not only booked the makeover, but I also added 4 days to my trip, we booked 4 makeovers and scheduled a professional photo shoot for day four.
While there are no “final answers”, from Muse’s caring inquiry, several significant revelations emerged, that have led me down paths I had never explored before. Here are a few, that are still works or thoughts in progress.
I am happy as a man, very happy.
I am a bit happier, dressed and feeling like a woman. Okay, much happier.
That feminine spirit has been a core part of my being forever, dressed or not. Just smiling readily and often at others is a form of feminine attire.
We all have both genders within us. Feel free to re-write that statement any way you want.
We all realize and express both genders in different ways.
Dressing in feminine attire is a tactile device that re-charges my emotional batteries. Even my gender therapist, when they first saw a photo of me as Crystal, exclaimed how amazed and impressed they were at my look. They also noted how much more joyful I seemed as Crystal.
My core femininity has contributed to my life longevity, my strong personal relationships, my life and career success and my ability to improve the world around me…. for years.
My new gender therapist taught about a word in ancient cultures that revered those who were “complete” people, gender non-specific, who were revered: Two Spirits!
So at age nearly 74 I have just learned how much I embrace my Crystal self and what a wonderful Friend she has been within me.
Next chapter, sharing my joy of having Crystal in my life and hers.