Our own worst enemies....

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Yes, I know. Your ragtime gal has never been the best blog-keeper--the detritus of three different blogs on the net, begun but not maintained by yours truly, attests to that. I believe, however, that in this circumstance I have a passable excuse.

My mother, constant source of encouragement, endless font of humor, avid reader (enough to put even this book-crazy ragtime gal to shame) and fan of murder mysteries and goofy comedies alike, passed away recently due to cancer. It spread through her body, undetected, with the speed of a forest fire. Her sudden, inexplicable death has left me feeling strangely adrift, lost, as if I were a frightened six-year-old abandoned in a bus terminal with not even a stuffed animal for company. The person who encouraged my writing, who laughed at my letters, who thought I was funny when no one else did, my audience of one--is gone.

So putting words on a page--or a screen--has proven to be impossible, when anything funny or interesting enough to write about is prefaced by the thought, "Mom would have loved this...."

What spurred me to write again, at least in the protective confines of this forum, was a post by one of the BC's better-known authors--namely, Little Katie. A fact of which she was, of course, completely unaware, and I hope I'm not embarrassing her by writing about it now.

She did what most of us here are reluctant to do--she showed her face; her real, unadulterated, un-Photoshopped face. The Internet equivalent, in other words, of throwing oneself to the wolves and hoping they're on a diet. It says a great deal about how far she's come already.

Sooner or later, we have to come to terms with what we see in the mirror, made all the more difficult by the fact that we are often the poorest judges of how we look to others. If we look in the mirror and like what we see, are we being objective or narcissistic? And if we don't like what we see, are we being honest--or putting ourselves down? I have bad news for those of you just starting out on this journey--despite having been full-time female for nearly fourteen years, I still have not come up with a satisfactory answer to that question.

The temptation to put oneself down can be automatic in our situation--to kick ourselves before anyone else has to.

Every time I see my face, I think of the first time I uploaded my photo to the Internet--and immediately regretting it. For a brief time about seven years ago, I belonged to a Yahoo group devoted to people who had, or were considering getting, facial feminization surgery. My chances of affording such surgery rank somewhere between winning America's Next Top Model and figuring out the unified field theory, but I joined because I wanted to get an objective idea of what work needed to be done should I, you know, find a well-to-do lover or a long-lost, rich relative.

So, I dutifully followed the group moderator's instructions and posted a "mug shot" of sorts--front and side view, hair pulled back, no makeup. I immediately cringed. Side views, up to then, were something devoutly to be avoided, as my birth father's Native American DNA kicked in with a vengeance at thirteen. Seemingly overnight, it took my cute little button nose and gave me something which looked like it should be continued on the next face. (You see how ingrained the put-downs are?)

But I wanted an honest assessment, so I bit the bullet and took the dreaded pictures.

Boy, did I get one.

Among the more *polite* responses were comments like, "You're very brave for doing what you did," which, given the sniping tone of the list in general, I took to mean, "Ugh! Get yourself a human head!!" The others suggested, in so many words, that I essentially do to myself what they did to the Statue of Liberty in the '80s--erect some scaffolding, start at the bottom and work up. The procedures they felt I needed were so numerous that had I heeded their advice and had all of them done, I'd have to hope for reincarnation in order to pay off the bills. It would have required nine, ten lifetimes at minimum. Rhinoplasty, scalp advance, work on the jaw, the chin, the ears, the eyelids--all this was necessary, they said. I wouldn't have had an original piece of skin left on my body.

I lasted there exactly three days.

And this was seven years post-transition. You can just imagine the comments I got before:

"Are you sure you want to go through with this? You have a very....mannish face!"
"You want to become a woman with skin like that?"
"You've got to be kidding! Look at that nose--those ears....you'll never pass!"

Followed, in short order, by years of being "sirred", despite external gender markers that practically screamed "female": dress, purse, braided hair held by a scrunchie.

How did I continue in spite of that? For years I told myself it was the hormones--they softened my face, I thought, and that made me more passable.

The hormones did do that, to some extent. Yet I noticed something: those friends of mine who knew me before those little pills did their work never remarked about how much more feminine my face looked. My face was my face, as far as they were concerned, the same before as after.

So am I more confident at this point in my transition because I do truly look more feminine than I did, or is it merely the "magic feather" effect? You know, like the one Dumbo used, which he mistakenly believed was the reason he could fly. I don't know. I only know I didn't let my face, or my feelings about it, stop me.

In closing, I've decided, in a gesture of solidarity, to post some snapshots of me here. I do so not without a certain amount of risk, as I am not fully "out" online. There are people I've known for ten years who have no idea I'm trans. Or at the very least, I've never told them....

In keeping with a site I found, thanks to one of the members here, devoted to celebrities both with makeup and au naturel, I've decided to post two pictures--one with makeup, and one without--and let you all judge for yourselves whether I pass, or require the services of a brown paper sack.

(Photo removed)


(Photo removed)


I'd call you

Ma'am if I met you on the street. Matter of fact, you kinda look like my sister in law.
So... my vote is NO paper bag.

Some days you're the pigeon, some days you're the statue

looking good

Rachel, If I could look half as good as you I would die a happy girl.

Love Ronnie :) xxx


You're fine

Your bangs hide any bossing around the eyes as far as I can see, though the pictures really do not show it clearly enough one way or another. You will not win any beauty contests (nor would I for that matter) but at first glance you are visually passable. Other cues, like voice and body language and movement and overall body size and shape, we cannot judge with so we only have your POV and opinions to go by.

My condolences for your mother's death hon,


One more thing

I for one think FFS is being used way too much these days under the guise of transitioning and is no longer merely a tool to ensure passing and has become a bit of a vanity piece. I have seen people in the support group who went for it and the effect was minimal to say the least. They certainly did not get the amount of benefit for the certainly steep amount of money spent. I have not had FFS myself and I would like certain improvements myself from certain angles, especially side view but any improvement will be incremental. I will probably get some work done when I reach 60 to finish out my work days and as a last hurrah but that would be just basic plastic surgery and not a whole brand new face.

But I would suggest to all folks who consider FFS to think long and hard before doing so.


First off *Big Hugs*

That was really brave telling us all of that and getting it all out there:) And like some of the others out here have said you both look better than some people we know and resemble some. I see the native blood though and the thing is I think you might have some younger relatives here. I know two girls both native blooded that look like you....darker but the facial shape, the set of the eyes all the same.

You definitely do not need no paperbag.
Oh...and your Mom sounded like one awesome lady.
*Great Big Hugs*

Bailey Summers

You look like a writer

laika's picture

Some of my favorite women writers have opted for honest unglamorousized photos on the backs of their books. Toni Morrison, Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy Allison come to mind (and I don't mean the pictures taken when they were 70). There's a strenght to their faces in these photos, a female strength that only the most superficial assessment would mistake for "mannish"; an honesty of presentation (Here I am, this is me) that reflects what I like about their writing. That's my first impression, the association that popped into my head. They're both good pictures, the sort I'd like to take if I didn't run away at the first sight of a camera (I literally puked the last time someone wanted to take my picture, this was ten years ago, and was emotionally wiped out for the rest of the day...). So when's your book coming out?
~hugs, Veronics

I won't post a picture

I don't want to scare anyone. I'm definitely in that category of "YO, Frankenstein! Tell the Doc that there a lot of better heads in the morgue!" Don't feel so bad. I'm also in the waiting line for that reincarnation thing. I musta done something really bad in my previous life!