I would like to start by apologizing for the long break between posts. A little thing called life intervenes and my writing suffers. Family, health, work, friends, and a couple video games sucked up some time. Add in the sudden death of a friend from cancer and on the other end of the emotional scale a wedding between two close friends and writing didn’t have a chance. Also there was a lot of deep thoughts that I had to process. All this has lead me to rethink this blog. I started it when I was struggling to find out who I was and who I was becoming. I’ve kind of outgrown the FrugalCD. It’s not who I am anymore. I’ve been toying with a new blog focusing on the next stage in my life. I’ll let you all know when I make my decision. Until then I’ll keep plodding along.
I had two comments to recent posts I stopped to consider. I haven’t responded until know because I didn’t want to throw out whatever quick comment my brain kicked out. In one the commenter laid out a scenario where my transition would destroy most of what makes my life worth living. Regret would rule my life if I continued on my transitional path. It was suggested I examine my life and stop living a fantasy and detransition. Then I could be happier and things would be normal again. Well considering I had a regret or two and some doubts I thought it wise not to dismiss this offhand.
The second commenter looked back into the depths of my archive to pull out passages where I mentioned I was turned on sexually by dressing female. This person called me an autogynophile. For those that don’t know what this means I’ll explain. Psychiatry professor Ray Blanchard coined the term which basically states that male to female transexuals fetishize having a female body. The commenter was so sure of this diagnosis that they posted it to a blog that calls out autogynephiles. As much as that idea seemed absurd I also decided to think on this.
I’m taking these topics in reverse order. I dug through my brain to get at the reasons I wanted to live as a woman. Was one of them because I coveted a female body? Was I that aroused at the idea of me having breasts and possibly a vagina? Could I be suffering from autogynephilia? I will admit to checking myself out in the mirror waiting for the body changes HRT would bring on. I couldn’t wait for my chest to bud into real breasts. I may even have pleasured myself (while the equipment functioned) reveling in my newly developing female body. After about a year on HRT and almost a year and a half of being full time at work things changed. My body just was. I cleaned it, dressed it, worked out in it; basically I took care of it. My body is a source of pleasure including sexual pleasure. But so was my old body, just in a different way. I wasn’t running around in sexy outfits, fondling my boobs and masturbating furiously to myself. I went on with my life as boring and mundane as ever. Nowadays if I fondle myself it’s to do a breast self exam, not exactly sexy (a necessity given the history of breast cancer in my family) I look in the mirror and don’t think “you’re hot!”, I think “should have done a couple more reps at the gym”. My libido has been tempered by the hormones and I love it. Before I had the typical male feelings towards sex, it clouded my thoughts and colored my relationships with women. I had sex on the brain. Today, right now, I crave closeness and love. The feel of my wife’s hand in mine as we walk down the beach. Lesbian maybe, autogynophiliac hardly.
As for the second commenter and his concerned plea for me to detransition. Happiness and regret are part of my life. Male or female it doesn’t matter. I regret not taking a sales job at a large marketing firm in my early twenties. I regret not finishing my college degree. I regret not being at my mom’s side as she was dying. I regret putting my family through my transition. I regret not transitioning sooner.
I have talked to a number of people who regret transitioning. Some detransitioned. I learned about their regrets and their choices. I had a long conversation with a transwoman who had major regrets about having gender reassignment surgery. I didn’t go into transition in a vacuum. I also had doubts. But I sought these people out to hear their stories. I had a need to hear the worst so I could make informed decisions. The first support group I attended nearly every participant told me to be ready to lose everything; my family, my job, my home if I transitioned. Why did they tell me this? Because they had lost everything. However I also sought out the couples that made it all work. Not the ones with a bisexual or lesbian partner who embraced their partners change of gender. I sought the straight partners, the ones who struggled against everything and stayed with their trans partners. The common threads amongst their stories are love and time. A love that says “don’t give up just yet”. Time to see where that love leads.
Time, for many in transition, especially late transitioners is a commodity in short supply. The tendency to want it all now can cause us to rush forward leaving our loved ones fighting to catch up. Sometimes the pace is too much for even the most well meaning partner or family. They give up. They stop trying to run with you. Emotions will flare. The loved ones will accuse the trans person of being extremely selfish (transition in and of itself is a selfish process). In turn the transitioner might counter with “you are trying to hold me back!”
I made a conscious decision to work through my issues at an almost glacial pace. I was even accused by other trans people as giving into my families demands to not transition. The thing is neither of us, me and my family, knew what transition was going to be like. Fear, plain and simple ruled over us. My fear of never being able to finally be myself. My wife’s fears that I would destroy my kids’ lives and that I would be running around like some over made up drag queen in a sequined ball gown and stripper heels. I forced myself to work through each small step. I had starts and stops. I had small detransitions. Eventually it became clearer to my wife and I that transition was inevitable. Still I went slow. I didn’t start HRT until long after I was issued my prescriptions. I only dressed as female at work for two years before it became a burden on me. Even then I would leave dressed after my kids went to school and changed before I came home. After two and a half years I finally came out to my boys. It ended up being anticlimactic. They pretty much figured it out and were waiting for myself or their mother to confirm it.
Jump forward another year and a half. My older son’s girlfriend and her family have met me. They have no issues with my son having two moms. My younger son I thought would have the most problems with me being a woman. So far since I came out his grades have soared. He has more friends and even invites them over to play video games. He’s not ashamed of me being trans. In many ways he’s proud of having a dad with such a unique life. He even volunteered to go to Arizona with me to see my dad before he passed. Then there is my daughter. She has grown up and moved out on her own. My biggest fear four years ago was losing her. When I came out she said “if you become a woman I will hate you for the rest of my life”. Since then her boyfriend has watched me transition. He still gives me a hug when they come over for dinner once a week. My daughter and I attended our first lesbian wedding where we even participated as legal witnesses. Her roommate used to be in a lesbian relationship but now she’s seeing a trans guy. In my daughter’s life LGBTQI aren’t just letters, they represent friends, customers and family members.
Lastly there is my wife. We became friends before we started dating. Over five years went by before we considered marriage. She thought she knew me while I thought I knew myself. When I came out to her she felt betrayed. I was accused of lying to her. She also accused me of using her to get a family. We fought more that year than in our first twenty years of marriage combined. Both of us felt lost. We talked and yelled, sobbed and sometimes laughed. She was afraid of what everyone would think of her. She hated that people would assume we are lesbians. My wife tried to understand and to find help. More often than not she was told to either accept me and my transness or get out while you can. Each step in my transition brought more pain and fighting. She watched with aching slowness her husband dissolve away to be replaced by ‘some woman’. Then we confronted the biggest lie trans people tell. We say “but I’m still the same person inside”. Parts of who you used to be have to change otherwise you end up the same miserable person you were before transition. There are also things trans people feel they have to rid themselves of to make room for the new feminine things (or masculine in the case of female to male persons). My wife complained that this new ‘girl’ I was become lost everything that made me, me. For me the turning point was when I stopped trying to be female and let myself just be. I started doing those things I liked doing before transition. My sense of humor gradually came back. She started to see in me the things that made her like me when we met. I became a woman who didn’t rely on ‘girly’ things to be female (oh I’m still very femme though). I ended up being a true female version of my male self.
My wife and I have reached a point where we can go food shopping and being clocked as a lesbian couple is no longer a big deal. She even laughs when people try to guess our relationship. Her response is usually “you wouldn’t believe it if you tried”. We argue over the same old shit we did before transition. Talking about trans things doesn’t cause her to run out of the room in tears. And we end our days sleeping in the same bed together; sometimes sharing it with the two cats when they let us.
Things aren’t perfect. But time gave us the opportunity for her to see how much happier I am. It also showed her that we raised great kids together. My being a woman hasn’t ruined their lives. The only difference is that their dad is the woman in a tank top and yoga pants dropping them off at school. Transition has not been easy for us. But in many ways it’s changed our family for the better.
So, let’s sum all this up. Since I’m not sexually obsessed with my female body, I’m not an autogynophiliac. (Shocking revelation here, none of the trans women I know are. Well maybe one, she’s weird). I’m still married to a wonderful woman. My kids aren’t scarred for life. I happen to be happier and more productive at work. Which kind of rules out the idea that I’ll be happier going back to being my old miserable male self. In fact this average trans woman is looking forward to whatever transition brings in the years to come. Good or bad. I’ll leave it to eternity to figure it out.
When people say “how could you do this to your loved ones?” I am reminded by something my wife said years ago. My daughter talked her mom into dying her hair purple. A group of moms were picking up their kids from school and they made some nasty comments to my wife. They seemed very offended by her purple hair. In front of my daughter and her friends she turned to these women and shouted, “I bet you have never done anything for yourselves to make you feel happy”. That day she earned the respect of her daughter and a dozen little girls. It also just happens to sum up what transition is all about.