How Trans is Trans

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How Trans is Trans?
By Patricia Marie Allen

The real question we are asking here is: How gender non-conforming to you have to be to be transgender?

In answer to that I think we need to define just what gender is, and when is it trans. I’ve been involved in discussion boards for a long time. Decades ago, there were newsgroups. Some of you may be old enough to remember them. The one I participated in most was alt.support.crossdressing. Many of the notable members of our community participated. The idea (to which I subscribe) was floated that gender was a spectrum; with Masculine on one end and Feminine on the other. Society mistakenly seems to think that sex and gender are synonymous. But as stated in alt.support.crossdressing; sex is what’s between your legs and gender is what’s between your ears. Sex is pretty much either or (aside from true intersexed individuals), whereas, gender is varying shades, siding from one end of the spectrum to the other.

In truth, no one is actually at either extreme end of the gender spectrum, at least somewhat from one end or the other. Carl Jung (google him) stated that there is something masculine about every woman and something feminine about every man.

So what we are discussing here is just how far away from the end does one have to be to be transgender. The next question that has to be considered is: Is that a fixed point or can a person progress, or even regress? These two questions are the heart of transgender.

From my personal observation (echoed by many I’ve talked to) is that gender is not a static condition for those of us in the trans community. Most of us, when we discover the first indication of our trans nature have reactions that reflect the societal view around us. That is; we reject the idea as being something to be avoided. Many years of denial ensue. We convince ourselves that, in the case of MTF, we are really men and this aberration present in our gender is transient… that it’s just some phase or curiosity on our part. Certainly not something to embrace.

After some time, we come to acknowledge that we have to deal with it in some way or another. Often we search for a label to explain just who, or what we are. The first and most common label is transvestite, oops that’s a pejorative, offensive term, more politically correct, cross-dresser. It’s safe. We simply cross-dress, but we’re still men… ok, so we appreciate women’s fashion to the point that we like to wear them…. BUT WE’RE STILL MEN.

I personally spent decades telling myself that lie and believing it. But as we get older, we come slowly to realize, not only will our desire to wear the clothes not go away, but the need, because that’s what it really is, becomes more urgent and frequent. The dissatisfaction with our body begins to rear its ugly head. We then are force to reevaluate our gender. Are we indeed, just a cross-dresser, or is there something more going on.

In my personal experience, cross-dressing has gone on for over six decades in the beginning; it was a diversion; then a compulsion, and finally a way of life. About thirty years ago, I began to desire physical changes and sought excuses as to why that wasn’t in the cards. About five years ago, I admitted to myself that I really wanted physical validation of what was going on inside. About two years ago, I got the opportunity to do something about it and started on HRT.

Since I crossed that threshold, I think no one would deny me inclusion in the transgender category. The question posed here then prior to that time when expressing my feminine nature by cross-dressing was enough, was I or was I not transgender?

My answer is I was always transgender only I didn’t always admit it, even to myself. Back in the day, Virginia Prince (anyone remember her) proposed that anyone who didn’t fit the strict societal binary gender, yes, even including the obviously fetish transvestite, was trans to one degree or another. Since this discussion was going on while I was working hard to understand myself, that idea was pivotal in helping me come to grips with the facts of my gender. Because of societal pressures I wanted to desperately to fit the cross-dresser label, but finally allowed myself to embrace androgynous; that is a mix of both masculine and feminine. So, in my own perception, I was beginning to accept that I was sliding along the gender spectrum.

In one post on alt.support.crossdressing I postulated that gender was like a train track. If one started at masculine and headed toward feminine, they could come across infinite stops along the way. We, that is transgender people, could get off at any of those stops… anywhere we felt comfortable. However, we didn’t have to remain there. If we felt we were in over our head, we could board the train and go back the other way to a more comfortable stop. On the other hand, if we still felt that we weren’t at our final destination, we could get back on the train and progress farther down the track to another, yet more feminine stop. This process could repeat itself as often as we felt necessary.

It was my contention that some would eventually ride to the other terminus, or at least as close to it as genetic females reside, and seek SRS, (from there, the return trip would become problematic) but that most would find a stop some distance from that end. At the time, I was sure that most would be well away from it; that is the percentage would be somewhere around two to three percent. At that time, I considered only full transition to be the end of the line. However, now, I see that that there are many stops very close to the feminine terminus. Full social transition without SRS and without even HRT are very close and if the individual is gutsy or fortunate enough to be able to pull it off, that counts.

What I believe is we all battle still outside pressures. Fewer and fewer of us battle societal pressure, but nearly all of us have to contend with family pressures. Some of us, in order to fulfill the need that drives us find it necessary to simply break from family. The very fortunate of us, can manage to go for the gusto with approval, or at least total acceptance of our need. I believe a greater number hold back, making some level of sacrifice for those we love. We feel the need to strike some sort of balance that maintains family and mollifies our inner pressure to express our feminine nature.

That balance, like gender, is a spectrum and we, the fortunate, travel it in the same way. I’ve made many stops home for a time. Then as family (that is my wife) became more comfortable, I got back on the train to travel to the next stop. The first stop was “Do if you have to, but don’t let me see it.” Then came, “Don’t let the kids see it.” (BTW I ignored that one) and then it was don’t let anyone else see it. After that it was don’t let any of our friends see it.

I won’t go into the mechanics of each of those stops. I will touch on the recent (last ten years) ones. I spent a long time at “go where you want do what you want, just don’t embarrass me.” At this stop, I came and went from our house, went to the local grocery store, the shopping centers and doctor’s office in full expression of my true nature. I even talked with some of our neighbors when the postman misdelivered their mail to our box.

Presently, we’ve retired and she’s signed off on HRT. I currently don’t own any men’s clothing, though some of them are on the masculine end of women’s clothes. When I talked to her about getting the prescription, I pointed out that both my father and my brother had contracted prostate cancer and that the testosterone blockers would be prescribed for enlarged prostate, a precursor to cancer and they would help stave off that for me. As a bonus, since she’s post-menopausal and has no real sex drive, I told her that one of the side effects would be the lowering my sex drive. At one point in time, she confessed that she hoped that the reduction in my sex drive would come to match her own. Her real concern was the breast development, but I pointed out it would take five years for the full effect and that at my time of life (I’m 74) that due to the lack of HGH in my system I couldn’t expect very much develop anyway.

Am I at the end of my journey on the gender express? I’d say yes, but then, remember I spent decades absolutely convinced I was “just a cross-dresser.” However, given the time of my life, I likely don’t have enough time to go much farther and at this time, I’m good with where I am. It’s a lot farther than I’d have thought when I first started trying to deal with this and finally got on the train for the first time.

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