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Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Transgendered and The Ex-Amish

My spouse/ sister and I just finished watching a 10 part documentary on National Geographic called ‘Amish – Out of Order’. If you ever wondered how interesting my day to day life is, the fact that I managed to watch a 10 hour educational documentary in just under a week and call it “the exciting part”, should give you a good window into my harum-scarum action packed adventures. We watched because it focused on the fabulous Mose Gingerich; slow talking reality TV superstar from the long defunct ‘Amish in the City’. We love Mose, and I was glad to see he’s doing well and is now the undisputed Zen master of the ex-Amish community. In that 10 hours with lots and lots of recaps, I had time to do some slow thinking of my own.

Something Mose kept reiterating was that the ex-Amish are people who don’t really fit into either world – The Amish, or the English. The “English”, is the Amish catch all for anyone is who is not Amish. Not that they are unique in this at all; a small population coming up with a catchy moniker for the vast majority of “outsiders”. Jews and the goyim; Evangelicals and the damned; Trans and the Cisgenders. The list goes on. Anyway, that last one I mentioned kind of rings a bell, doesn’t it? While true, our mission is to go from a life in one gender to a more accurate life in the other, ideally without anyone being the wiser, in reality we are slipping out of a cisgender identity into a trans one. OK, it’s not a perfect analogy, so don’t get all fussy britches on me; I’m going somewhere with this.

I, like many other trans folk, like to idealize my transition. I like to think of myself as having always been a woman, albeit a fugly one with poorly designed plumbing leading people, like you know, me, to overlook this basic fact, but a woman nevertheless. In less optimistic moments, I get flashes of despair over the fact that I can’t ever be never a “man”. I looked like one, was socialized as one, became a husband and a father, and this past is irrefutable no matter what my present might be. I know I’ve talked about this before, if you were paying attention, ahem. Just as the ex-Amish will forever feel just a tiny bit out of place in the English world due to their upbringing, so are we, at least just a little bit.

Hold on just a minute; I can feel your indignation from here, and I will be gracious enough to allow that maybe you are different and embraced immediately into your true gender seamlessly and phased through every obstacle like some insubstantial wraith. I wish! For most of us, just as many of the ex-Amish can honestly say that they never really bought into the whole ‘plain folk’ schtick, they were still stuck there for some amount of time, and so were we as “men” and “women”. Unless you transitioned at 3, you had years of experience as the other gender, and for most of us, really defining shit like puberty, sex, relationships, and parenthood.

My whole point is that it’s OK to acknowledge this and work with it. The ex-Amish, while now living English lives, with English jobs, and English relationships, all surrounded by the English who didn’t even know they were designated English to begin with, still find community in each other for that common past only they can understand. This is a good thing. It doesn’t make them non-English, but allows the shared experiences and how much is sucked to be Amish with other people who get it. This is good for us too. As much as it feels right to hang with the cis women and find acceptance, only other trans women can relate to formative year horrors like classroom wood, even if we don’t talk much about such things.

Some resist joining trans groups because they feel there is a stigma in admitting their former lives, or like to go all Lone Ranger about it, but honestly I think they are missing out on the community support that shared understanding brings. I really liked that the ex-Amish were able to do this and it was inspiring what it brought them all. Even more inspiring was Mose himself, who after 9 years of fully inserting himself into a true blue English existence, stuck around to help those who came after to adjust to what is a better way of life for them. It made me immensely grateful for the transwomen who although fully passable in every sense of the word, remained to help and guide. It’s a good thing to blaze a trail through the wilderness, but truly great to remain in the middle of it just to wave forward the successive band of neophytes stumbling forward with wild looks on shaky heels. I don’t usually do this, name names that is, but thank you Patti, Ari, Tina, Caroline, and many more. The best I can aspire to is to follow your example.

Sunday Night Outing (Not the Fun Kind, the Other One)

After nearly 40 years of paranoia about such a thing, it would seem that I’ve been outed. It happened Sunday night, just as I was going to bed. I received a text from one of my employees asking, “Are you OK?”. I had no idea what it meant, so I went ahead and asked. The last time I got such a cryptic message I came to find out that 4 colleagues and friends had been killed in a plane crash I had been blissfully unaware of, so naturally my mind went there. He got back to me quickly. “Got a weird text from C.W (a former employee) asking if ‘it was true about Mike’” Crap. There was only one thing it could possibly be.

Just to give you a little back story, I’ll happily disclose that I’ve been working with HR for months now on my at work transition plan. They have been great, but frankly I’m getting sick of it and just want it done already. Part of the process was for the director of HR to interface with our security department to determine what, if any, effects could be expected. They are really, really detailed like that. It took me two seconds to establish the vector. Hmm… C.W. is living with L.O., who got let go back in Jan, but is still close friends with the guys in, you guessed it, security. Ladies, I think we found our leak.

I went to bed Sunday with every expectation that my “big secret” was racing through the workforce faster than a child’s sneeze into the salad bar. I got to sleep relatively easy and slept surprisingly sound. There is nothing so empowering as knowing you are about to be revealed and simply not caring all that much. The next morning I made my lunch and went into work with a spring in my step. I had no idea what to expect, except that there would probably be a lot of questions and odd looks. I mentally set aside the day to have talks and whatnot and see where things landed from there.

Approaching my desk I could see all 4 guys huddled around the cube next to mine. “All right Michelle, I guess it’s go time.” It was not. Fascination was focused on a slightly ribald email sent in from a customer. All they had to say was that they were glad to see me alive. Seriously, WTF? I pressed a bit. “So, what was all that about anyway?” They had no clue. C.W. sent the text and then went silent. Their take was that he was just being silly. My take is that he didn’t want to be the one to break the news. OK. Sooooo…. now what?

I met with the HR director and filled him in. He wasn’t terribly pleased about a leak in his tightly controlled vault, which other experiences tell me is about as porous as a fishing net, or in some cases, air. So we talked it out. What to do, what to do. In the end he was happy to keep things on schedule for the most part, with the “big reveal” now moved up to the week of July 9th.  Yay! Even a week shaved off this onerous waiting process is better than nothing. I’ll take off an extra 7 links on my sweet construction paper chain right now; a countdown to the day when ‘male mode’ finds its way into the Goodwill bags.

That’s the long pole date anyway. In reality, the information is out there. I’m dead sure of it. I would be shocked if it hadn’t found a way into the building yet, creeping silently toward my group. It’s like being blindfolded, being told you are going to be plonked in the nose “soon”, then hearing the room door close. Did they leave? Was it a ruse? Is it coming now, or when the door opens again. For the love of god, will you just fricking plonk me already? We all know there is nothing a girl loves more than a good surprise plonking. Ugh! No, I didn’t mean it that way! Get sarcasm much?

The wonderful part about it all is that none of it is causing me any distress. Come what may, and I have no inclination to click my heels together and wish to be elsewhere, especially god forbid Kansas. What this tells me is that I’m more than ready. I’m over this charade; let’s have it done. Plonk.

Seriously, Don’t Call Me Crazy

The humans have an irrepressible devotion to classify things. Never mind that the sum population will never, ever even come close to agreeing on whatever the standard mostly accepted classification of any given item really is. Maybe it’s an error in the manufacturing process, or there is some grand reasoning in the overall design we just can’t see, but it’s real. Humans will spend countless hours coming up with and defending their own classifications, and even more attacking someone else who is just as set on theirs. In the pristine towers of academia it can get pretty pissy, but down on the streets all it takes is a simple opening like, “technically speaking, it’s actually…”, to spark bloodlust and war. The trans population is embroiled right in the middle of all this malarkey.

The grand question in all of this really centers around, “Transgender, eh? So… what is that exactly suppose to be anyway?” Most of the folks asking this question are about as qualified to contemplate this as Huck and Jim floating on a raft on the ol’ Mississippi wondering if “stars was made, or just happened”. As a result, we get to hear all kinds of craziness, some closer to the mark than others probably, but still a wide right in the best of cases. “Trapped in the opposite gender body” “Mental illness” “Right brain in a left body” “Lifestyle choice impaired” “Jokers who just like to try to fool everyone” “Medical condition” “Two-spirit” “Reincarnated as the wrong gender” “Perverts”  “Super-duper flaming gay” “Childhood abuse victims” It goes on, and only gets worse from there.

The reality is that we don’t really know what this is. It’s infuriating to try to explain to cisgender people, including therapists. The latter are very happy to accept their fee, cash or insurance, and ensure we get proper care all while attempting to “dissect us with their blunt little tool”. That line is from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and by most estimates the very worst depiction of a “trans” person in mainstream media to date. Don’t worry, I’m sure there is an upcoming post where I get all hissy pants about that as well. As it stands, the psychological community is currently keeping us in the DSM under the auspices of ensuring we have the means to get proper care. It does make sense in a way, because it is nearly impossible to get any type of coverage for something that isn’t classified as a four alarm problem. But is this a good thing overall?

Very hard to say. On one hand, I’m very glad my work insurance suddenly started covering “transgender surgery” (exact words in the policy) because it’s going to save me a ton of cash when previously it was considered an unallowable cosmetic procedure. By covering it, they consider me to be someone who ‘has something’. But what is that something? And how excited am I to be tagged with the diagnosis of a mental illness when the real treatment is simply being myself? The hormones, the laser treatment, the various surgeries – these are all really, really nice things to have, but all I really need is to be myself and present to the world as the person I am dead certain I am. Not exactly indicative of a mental disorder, right? The vast majority of people have a problem doing this anyway to begin with, and the only real thing that separates us is that we something look a little strange doing it.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think there is something that sets us apart from cisgender people. The explanation I’m going with is that we have brains that formed different than the body, possibly due to a lack or, or false surge of, certain hormones early on in uterine development. Hard to prove at the moment, but it seems crisp, clean and fits Occam’s Razor, or at the very least a Bic disposable. If so, it’s a form of intersex that is inclusive of the brain and not just the genitals. That I can live with. It’s a bona fide medical condition, a condition of birth (not a birth defect!), that should be covered by treatment and without the scary sounding stigma of ‘mental illness’. So don’t call me crazy; well, at least not for this.

Top 10 Reasons Middle Age Transition Doesn’t Suck

I’ve noticed that a lot of the really cool bloggers out there like to make Dave Letterman type Top 10 lists. OK, maybe not me, or any of my excellent blogger friends in my b-roll way down to the right, but people do this. Now in the past, it’s always been my firm policy to observe what the cool kids were doing and run in the opposite direction, you know, just to be different. Not that being different was a big chore for me, but whatever. Wouldn’t it be really, really different if I made like a monkey and aped the cool kids? No? So what, I’m doing it anyway. And yes, these are all tongue in cheek before you get all ‘Analytical Annie’ on me.

Without further ado, the Top 10 Reasons Why Middle Age Transition to Womanhood Doesn’t Suck:

  1. It’s Way Better at Making You Feel Young Again Than Buying a Corvette – Seriously, what in life is going to make you feel younger at 40 or 50 than going through puberty again? Just a few months of blue pills and you are right back with Margaret doing those “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!” exercises. The added bonus is that you don’t even have to keep tampons handy in your purse for when your special friend finally arrives. Way beats looking like a ridiculous looser in a sports car everyone thinks you bought for penis deficiency reasons.
  1. Suddenly You Are the Interesting One at High School Reunions – I’m going to take a wild stab and guess that not a whole lot of us were the captains of the football team. We all know we secretly wanted to be cheerleaders or on the synchronized swimming team; let’s not lie to ourselves here. When we show up now, suddenly Johnny Brewski’s 4 touchdowns in one game in 1986 isn’t such a draw any more. It’s OK, he can sip Old Grandad from his flask while the crowd of people you only sort of remember lavish you with positive attention.
  1. Very Low Probability of Ass Kicking in the Forecast – OK, we all deeply envy the kids they like to show on Nightline who both figured themselves out at like 5, and had the guts to insist on it at the same time. No yucky male puberty, and get to do all the girly stuff we are now too old for. We also didn’t have to present as teenage girls with a penis. I’m sorry, but that just seems like it’s got to suck and super dangerous if inclined to date. Teenage boys are simply not known for non-violent restraint when their masculinity is threatened. Yes, at our age we can find ourselves in the same boat, but by now we do have some common sense about it, plus we don’t have to wait what must seems a horrendous amount of time to take care of things. At 40, a few years is but a blink.
  1. We Can Just Go Buy Pretty Things – Just getting started and building your wardrobe for the final time after Purge #8? You can shop anywhere you want, and buy anything you want, anywhere, anytime, even in total dude mode because (1) everyone is going to assume you are married and doesn’t even blink and (2) you just don’t even care anymore anyway! Remember those nerve wracking trips bringing a dress from the K-mart clearance rack up to the register at 21, sweating and blushing the whole time? Those days are done sister!
  1. We Can Buy Those Pretty Things in the Right Size – Nothing was a bigger bummer than ordering that sweet looking dress online and failing to understand what the ‘P’ meant on the size chart and looking like the Morton Salt Girl as a result. By middle age and after dozens of heartbreaking Salvation Army donations, we are finally no longer attempting to stuff our feet into way too tiny shoes, or wearing pantyhose that cut off all our lower circulation. The feeling like we are still trying to squeeze into our younger sisters outfits when just trying to look nice is done as well.
  1. Chances Are, You Got Your Shot at Having Kids – Maybe not true for everyone, but the majority of us had the joy bringing life into the world. Maybe not the way we would have wanted, but still. We can’t all be as smarty pants as Dr McGinn and think to freeze our sperm before starting HRT, so our younger, more male-ish lives were the best chance we were ever going to have. [Note: Dr McGinn, in the tiny chance you read this, it’s all tongue and cheek! I certainly don’t need my potential surgeon getting miffed (So, little Miss Michelle thinks she’s so funny, eh?) and adding 4 additional testicles or something.]
  1. The Value of “Comfortable” is Well Ingrained – One thing we learned in the years of acting male is that men generally refuse to wear anything truly uncomfortable for any length of time. Even ties are really not that bad. Younger trans women, as well as a great many cis women, are willing to subject themselves to fantastic levels of suffering in the name of looking good. Four inch stilettos, way too tight clothes, jewelry that makes barbed wire seem like a good time, and so forth. By the time we hit middle age, we are generally willing to suffer pantyhose when necessary, and maybe a pair of heels on special occasions. We are saved excruciating pains up our feet and shins just through the knowledge that looking pretty good in flats or low pumps is way better than looking really good in foot shredding, ankle breaking platforms.
  1. Lower Expectations – Back in the dude days, people didn’t expect a whole lot out of you when it came to the softer side of life. You could forget everyone’s birthday for 5 years straight, then make it up with an animatronic talking fish head wrapped in the classifieds section and be lauded as truly swell. Now that you are revealed as female, it’s time to stop being such a sandbagging lump of crap and actually read through the Hallmark section a bit before randomly picking something for your mom’s birthday that says, “To My Nephew Who is 5!”. By this point, after all the years of really screwing the pooch at this, anything you do is going to look like a huge improvement, even if the same thing from your sister would raise eyebrows of disapproval.
  1. Old People Kind of Look Alike Anyway – OK, you saw how fast the last few decades have gone, and how exponentially faster every added year has been as well. With the way this is going, it’s not long before you are going to be “get off my lawn” old. I’m sorry, but this isn’t the place to pull punches; there just isn’t time. The good news is that once you hit about 65, the great big public difference between the sexes seems to be boobs, hair, and clothes. And just barely at that – there is a lot of overlap. That’s just 3 things you have to worry about  to pass in public with never a person looking at you with the hairy eyeball. Sure, your chances of ever looking like Natalie Portman may have fled, but there is something to be said for being unquestionably a Ma’am as you munch your senior Moons Over My Hammy at Denny’s.
  1. Your Older Relatives Are Probably Dead – I’m not saying we should be jumping up and down yelling, “Yay! Aunt Bernice is finally pushing up daisies!” At the same time, the older we get, the less of the preceding generation is left kicking around to call us pansies, Nancy-boys, or worse, all while peppering their language with the ‘N’ word and making it to the polls do or die to vote against us. We still miss Aunt Bernice, and her constant attempts to trip us with her cane and steal the cough medicine from our bathrooms, but it’s OK to be a little glad we don’t have to try to explain this. She just wouldn’t understand.

And so concludes my latest attempt to witty, whimsical, or simply copy other people who actually are. Fear not my munchkins, I’m sorry to say that I’ll probably be doing this again, as I thought of a bunch more after I already typed ‘10’ and didn’t want to go all the up to the top of the page just to correct.

Yeah, Androgynous is Just Not the Same

“If only society was so advanced as to find it perfectly acceptable for men to dress like women, as it is for women to dress masculine, there would be no problem.” How many times have we heard that old chestnut? (BTW, never call my breasts ‘chestnuts’, I hate that) it’s such a lovely, egalitarian and liberally enlightened sentiment that you just have to appreciate the meaning behind it, even if it’s just so horribly wrong. Well, for us anyway; the CD’s would probably be thrilled.. or not, I still don’t have a strong bead on the motivation there to be perfectly honest.

I, and dare say we, have gotten into that conversation plenty of times. It’s such an uncomfortable one because we understand that for sure the person saying it is trying to be understanding and very supportive with the very best of intentions. We reach over, head tilted, lips puckered in sympathetic understanding, stroke their arm, and say, “That is just so nice, but sweetie, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about.” It’s rough, right? The last thing we need to be doing is taking a seventh floor tinkle on our allies’ upturned faces on a day they left the umbrella at home.

The question was posed to me again recently at the dinner table by my spouse/ sister and a friend. “What if the societal norm was such that men and women dressed exactly the same and had the same roles in society, and such was that they were virtually indistinguishable in outward appearance?” A Star Trek analogy was tossed in there for good measure. It was a thoughtful way to put it, I must admit and had to think for a moment. I chucked the Star Trek thing aside at once. There is absolutely no mistake of which characters are female and which are male, roles or genderless coveralls aside. But what if no one could tell and there was no social discernment?

I think there is only one right way to answer this. Even if this was so, and when I walked out the door female it would not be one iota different than walking out as a male, as far as the neighbors could tell, it still would be necessary to transition, just arguably easier. You see, I would know. I would still feel the frustration of missing emotional depth. I would still see the difference when I got in the shower. I know some are able to get over themselves and enter into a physical relationship with someone while still sporting the wrong parts, but I simply can’t. It just feels too uncomfortable. And let’s face it, no matter how homogenized society becomes, there are always going to be differences between the genders. How we plug into the world is just different. One way is just way more ‘us’ than the other and there is no way around it.

When it comes right down to it, appearance is nothing more than finding a comfortable way of modeling our personal look in public, to whatever sub-demographic we further identify with. There is a secondary factor in there to blend with our gender enough to avoid getting hassled when we have to pee, but this is really a ‘nice to have’. OK, a really nice to have, but you get where I’m going with this. In the unlikely event that we become disembodied intelligences floating about the ether willy nilly with no regard to an animal gender binary, things might change. Just let me know when that happens, because I don’t think I’ll be holding my breath for it.

Snapping back to reality, it’s all such a moot point. For the foreseeable future, which I think drags on for hundreds or centuries or worse, our species has markedly different genders. Maybe two, maybe a lot more, that is all still being worked out through philosophical semantics and endless biological and mental variations. By and large, my overall impression is that almost everyone likes that these differences exist. Even in the Star Trek universe, it is plain to see that the ‘androgynous’ uniforms have a way of amplifying a woman’s curves, front and back, as well as a man’s shoulders and , er, package. It’s a long toss down a short pier to say the show would have been just as popular had they went with a Snuggie model. Dear God, please let that never happen! I like things the way they are.

But What About the Children?

I must have just a tiny bit of masochist in me, because after reading the article about Tom Gabel of Against Me! coming out as transgender, I once again scrolled down to the comments treated myself to nice big helping of angry ignorance. I’ll tell you too, angry ignorance tastes nothing like chicken; try going a bit lower. It’s the same old same old, time and time again. The ‘junior science kit’ geneticists, mounted evangelical warriors atop the paper tiger of scripture, the people who decry ‘genital mutilation’ with such rabid frothing one has to speculate about an increased blood flow to their own genitals when they are thinking about it. So chock full of misspelled zingers that queen Palin herself must be blushing with embarrassment by the association. Maybe.

The only ones that succeeded in needling me, just a little bit, were those that castigate Laura (nee Tom) about the effect on her daughter. I’m already comfortable that the genes that triggered my gestational format one way instead of another have nothing to do with my identity. I found the paper tiger dissolves with a nice bucket of water, just like the Wicked Witch of the West. I don’t even need the bloody details of the corrective surgery I plan to have; the good doctors will do their thing and that is all I really care about. I do, however, have a 4 year old son who is the light of my world.

I think we can all agree, transition is no one hill marathon by a long shot. The biggest of these, which of course comes right after the starting line and is in fact in plain view from miles before we get there, is dealing with how this is going to affect our loved ones around us. The mere idea of it is generally enough to sustain our delusion for years that there is no race to begin with. Even so, the weight of its shadow is paralyzing, even asleep and a thousand miles away. Somehow though, we end up there. “How the hell did this happen? Yeah, this is really, really going to suck.”

I was hoping very much that the good I had done previously would help balance out the scales in admitting this tremendous wrong about myself. Still, I was prepared for heavy losses. I hoped not, but hey, you never really know how people are going to take it when you rip off the rubber mask and say, “Surprise! This has been the real me all along.” Friends, family, my mom, my spouse, and my son. My beautiful son. How could I take that risk?

The answer of course, and something the comment trogs can’t fathom, is that by acting I cemented my future with him. I chose to live. The old song says, better to burn out than fade away, but I say the hell with all that. I’m not going anywhere. Those who both love me and need me found it in their hearts to accept my transition, and he needs me most of all, so in my mind there really wasn’t any other choice. To those who think he’s going to need years of therapy because of this, I’m not so sure, but I am relatively certain that had I gone in any other direction he would have needed lots of it.

I think I’m going to stop already with the comments sections, well except for here where I only receive lovely responses. If I want confused hostility I’ll tune into Fox News or zap a wasps nest with the garden hose. For those who wring their hands in mock concern, ‘but what about the children’, well, my only advice is to go have some and do the very best you can. I am.

How To Tell If Your Man is Really a Woman

“How to Tell if Your Man is Really a Woman!” Sounds like great blub for the cover of Cosmo, situated right beneath Zooey Deschanel’s armpit. I love her by the way. I can’t say if this has ever been an article or not for as you all know, most of these posts are hastily written, and even more hastily researched. I’m doing a PowerPoint presentation, replying to an email, and listening to someone tell me something I clearly don’t find important even as I write this. If it really was an article in Cosmo, Marie Clare, or even 17, it should not have been. Whoever wrote it doesn’t know a thing.

That doesn’t change the fact that it is something every heterosexual cisgender woman would really like to know. I don’t blame them one bit either. There are a lot of really good reasons for that. In terms of base animal attraction, there are a whole lot more late night fantasies playing about Channing Tatum than Cpl Klinger from M.A.S.H. I’m not saying it never happens, but come on. In the hetero female world shirtless Diet Coke guy always beats guy in a dress. That obviously excludes shirtless Diet Coke guy wrestling himself into a pair of Spanx after hitting the Old Country Buffet. Hetero women, cis or trans, tend to gravitate toward more masculine men. Even Sheldon Cooper comes in way above a trans woman, even when she was originally perceived to be a gentle yet commanding powerhouse of a dude.

Finding out you married a trans woman also comes off as a great big ‘fuck you’ to a whole lot of life planning. This is especially true in marriage. Everyone gets married with the expectation that this is it, no more having to worry about dating, ‘the scene’, and attempting to penetrate the confounding intricacies or lack thereof of yet another male brain. The thought itself is exhausting. Marrying, and especially having kids with, a trans woman is essentially the presentation of a huge complex problem for any woman, no matter what she decides to do with it. Suddenly she’s got to share the mirror, get constantly asked if her partner looks OK, go to countless family and friends and declare “well he, I mean she, sure got me!”, and all the other fun stuff. Plus the once big strong man who used to be able to carry in all the groceries in one trip now has to call some guy just to move a set of shelves.

Honestly, it goes on from there. I could probably spend all day on this. The point is that my razor sharp perception is that the vast majority of women sure would love way to see this kind of thing coming well before diving in too deep. As far as I can tell, however, there isn’t. At least not unless the trans woman in question is right on the hairy edge of being self realized and doing something about it. “But why Michelle? I mean all you do is go on and on about all the fricking signs that you were trans from the time you were like 4. Were these not big whooping red warning signs?” Yeah… now they look like that, but at the time they were sunk a mile beneath the earth in an abandoned mine shaft, cemented over, with rabid baboons posted miles away from the entrance.

I know I’ve said it before, but it can’t hurt to drag out again. If I didn’t know, you sure weren’t going to figure it out. Unlike the legendary gaydar, we can’t spot each other either. There was a trans woman sitting 20 feet away from my office just as I was starting to figure myself out. No facial hair, long beautiful hair, breasts, and I even thought she was a girl until I saw her male name, and failed spectacularly in putting the facts together. My chance of telling if someone is trans is as good as yours. Having the body of, plus being raised and cultured as, the wrong gender is the world’s greatest camouflage. Jack Byrnes, the living lie detector, would have passed me with flying colors.

“Bullshit Michelle, your stories are rife with clues! Share much?” Um, no. I sure didn’t. I should have, but even now looking back, there was no chance of that happening. I don’t know if it’s a form of super OCD, or something else all together, but I would have happily submitted myself to endless water boarding rather than ever breath a word of it. Exceptionally terrible things would have happened. Like the worst thing ever plus infinity. I don’t know why I thought that, but it was the stuff of nightmares, frequent ones, for well over 35 years. Even so, we minimize it all to the most trivial of unimportance. “Me dress female? Well, maybe once or twice, but only as a lark. Just a fun little diversion to take my mind off the Bills crap ass season.” Never mind the four cubic yards of clothes crammed in every hiding spot.

Getting back to the main point, there will never be an accurate article with this title because there simply can’t be. Even the most powerful psychiatric tools available are wholly and completely dependent on the person being ready to acknowledge the truth and answer honestly and openly about it. To even the trained and highly experienced professional, it’s a grueling process. So sorry my cis sisters, if I could tell you I would in a heartbeat, but in truth you are just playing the odds. At least they are heavily in your favor.

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