Monthly Archives: November 2015

10 things to do before Transition

Gen_Transition

Every day I encounter things that I formerly never concerned myself with. Often I take them in stride or am very happy that thy are a new part of my life. Others are just part of the new territory. Not exactly “chores” but I wouldn’t always call them enjoyable either. Most of them were “optional” before transition, but now are advisable or necessary. Sitting at the nail salon today for 40 minutes getting my nails done I wondered how many Trans Women have considered what it takes to be a woman 365 days a year 24 hours a day.

  1. Nails- Let’s start here since I’ve already mentioned it. Your hands, feet and nails. Manicures and pedicures. Most women take good care of their feet. Usually far better than their male counterparts. Men are quite alright with ugly discolored claws growing from their cuticles. Dead skin, skin fungus or peeling it’s all good. They’re men after all! Only “Metro” guys go in to manage their hands and feet. How many men do you know that get a regular manicure? Some? Pedicure? Probably less. Realistically there are no real penalties for men with beat up hands and feet. That is all perfectly acceptable. While some women won’t do these at a salon they will at least do it themselves. After all, men prefer a maintained woman and most women do too. Women usually couldn’t tolerate the level of self-neglect men are comfortable with. If you are maintaining your nails at a salon you will need to visit at least once a month. Plan on spending a minimum of $50 for mani-pedi (and that’s cheap). If you get gel or acrylic nails the cost goes up significantly. Good information to know for the guys who like the “high-maintenance” gals. Press-on nails don’t work for daily wear either. These are fine for a single club outing, but if you plan on using those hands for something other than lifting a martini glass, you are going to have to get the real-deal. This is only the beginning ladies so get your credit cards out!
  2. Hair- Of course, this one is probably obvious. Everyone knows that women will be going to a hair salon regularly to maintain that most important crowning glory. Younger girls (under 40) can possibly get away with a cut every few months. For simply being a woman and walking into a hair salon, your fee is doubled or tripled compared to what a man will pay. It doesn’t matter if it’s long or short. You are not paying per square inch, but for not having a “Y” chromosome. Most simple cuts start around $80. If you are getting a regular cut and color, as most more mature women do, the cost and frequency will go up. While young women aren’t turning gray yet they may have a preference in being blonder than their natural God given dishwater or dull mousey brown. Color usually lasts about 6 weeks. Most women will stretch that out until their roots are really showing so call it every 8 weeks. This will add another $70-$80 to your price tag as well as a longer time commitment. Plan on setting aside another hour and a half to two hours for this one. Wigs you wear out on the weekend aren’t the same for my Trans-sisters. Get in the habit of a regular cut and color and see where you are at with it. Now remember this is just the long term part of mane maintenance. You will need to invest in hair products to protect your investment. These will have to be applied daily. While people differ on what works for them, most women will have some sort of hair product and require some styling time every day.  Brushing it out at night and keeping it clean are a given. Checking it regularly throughout the day is standard. If this is too much, consider staying part-time.
  3. Teeth- Now here’s a sneaky one. One could argue that both genders need to maintain their teeth, right? Well, hopefully. I would have to argue that women are asked to have “better” teeth than men. Women are expected to have a bright healthy smile with all teeth present and accounted for. Healthy pink gums and definitely NO food lingering after a meal. Girls will give each other the smile check after a lunch especially with any meal containing something pesky and green like parsley or spinach. Men can rock up missing a tooth in the back or side and call it a battle-scar like an old pirate, but a woman looks homeless if she does the same. Whitening either with whitening strips or at your dentist is mandatory. Crest whitening strips run about $60 and this pack will last about 6-8 weeks. Whitening at the dentist is about $300. A good place to start for aspiring Trans Women is taking care of your dental work. Get that out of the way first and then move past “Go.” Getting a boob job while you still have a couple of missing teeth is putting the “Ox before the Cart” if you will. If you can’t maintain your smile, you aren’t going to get very far in this game.
  4. Body/Facial Hair – alright, the secret is out, women DO have these! After having extensive laser hair removal and electrolysis there are still those annoying little gray whiskers on my chin or random strays on my chest that will pop up. What a relief to find out that other genetic women suffer the same plight. Who knew?? Women, especially as they mature will often get more hair growth in areas they formerly never concerned themselves with.  While comforting to know I’m not alone, it doesn’t mean it’s ok to let them stay. No, they must be eradicated with severe malice. Plucking them is fine and will do the trick temporarily, but if you really want them gone, it’s going to require a bit more intensity. Electrolysis is the only guaranteed method for permanent removal of gray hair. If you’ve ever accidentally been shocked by a 110v outlet you will have some idea of what electrolysis feels like. Imagine a torture in which someone inserts a needle like electrode into your hair follicle and then explodes it by administering a painful shock. Now imagine doing that over and over about every 3 seconds for an hour. Imagine doing that once a week for months or years.  This is what most Trans women will need to tolerate in order to deal with the hair they don’t want. Genetic women may just go ahead and pluck theirs but for those that want a permanent solution electrolysis at least 3 sessions for each unwanted hair is it. Once again, it ain’t cheap. Usually about $75 an hour. Trans woman if not naturally hairless can shave close and that will last long enough for your Saturday night date, but if you don’t want 5 o’clock shadow as part of your look, it will have to be dealt with. Then their are the brows. While the unibrow may be OK in the Cro-Magnon world, Homo-Sapien women are expected to have a far more groomed creature over their eyes. For my Trans sisters, start off by shaping them. If you are still living as a man, get in the habit of shaping them anyway. You don’t have to get the full Goth-girl arch going but keep them neat and definitely pluck the ones that are closer to your hairline than your eye socket. If you can handle this, you have some hope of joining the sisterhood.
  5. Legs- Obvious some say again, but perhaps not for my Trans sisters. Do you shave daily girls? Every other day? Every third maybe? Some can get away with waiting longer but most women will need to shave at least twice a week. I rarely go 2 days myself. I love the feeling and still enjoy it but if you aren’t doing this yet girlfriend, you need to get in the habit. I would once again call this a minimum requirement. The cost on this one is negligible. If you can’ afford to start with the more expensive entry requirements (above) at least do this. Make sure you get it all though. No one wants to see a strip of hair running up the back of your thigh honey. Attention to detail and a full length mirror are your friends.
  6. Chatting- Now why would I say this? Genetic women may not get it, but I am here to let you know you girls love you some talking. I was chatty before and considered myself quite the small talk pro, but that was before I transitioned. Now I have been properly put in my place by many of you GG’s (Genetic Girls). Trans sisters, if you can’t spend some chat time with your GG sisters you are going to have a rough time connecting. A woman’s world is about slowing down the action and spending more time discussing life. Oh, don’t expect men to care about what you have to say either. You are there to smile and be impressed with their exploits. I don’t care if you are an astronaut and landed on the moon, you will have to feign interest in some computer nerd’s thrill with his RC helicopter. Make sure and boost his ego or he will move on and talk with someone who can. If you hate chatting, you may want to consider lip-synching as a drag performer only.
  7. Make-up – Mandatory? Well, I do know many GG’s who wear little or none. My sister is one of those. I would call these women rare. There are a few very naturally attractive girls who can pull this off. I happen to know a whole family of women like this, but once again, they aren’t your average woman. If you are like me and don’t have or aren’t confident with going make-up free, then applying it daily will be part of your life. Getting your little kit started with the foundation, eye-shadow, mascara, lip-sticks or glosses, blush or toner and then all the expensive brushes to apply it will set you back at least $200. Even women that don’t wear make-up regularly like to have it handy for special occasions. For my Trans-sisters the upside of getting your facial hair removed will be you will need less make-up when going out. Lots of Trans girls have to wear a thick foundation or cover stick to hide their beards. While GG’s don’t have this concern, they often do some regimen for their skin daily. For my Trans sisters, include a little time with very light toner and lip care as part of your morning routine. This will be a small intro to doing your full make up daily and help you get your timing down. Don’t think you’re done here though. Make sure to bring a compact mirror with you in your purse or bag. You will want to check your make-up around lunch and then again around 5pm. A girl needs to make sure her mascara hasn’t become a black smudge or that her lips don’t look like she has Beri-beri or some other exotic disease.
  8. Clothes/Shoes – Now this may be unique to my Trans sisters but you will have to invest in a “real” wardrobe. Just fyi, GG’s don’t wear sequin mini-skirts, tube tops and platform heels every day. You’re going to want to tone all that down a bit and attempt to blend more. Consider in a real way (as all women do) what your strengths and weaknesses are. Be honest. If you have a 44 inch chest and beer-belly, don’t buy yourself a lot of skinny jeans. Think about wearing skirts and dresses that accentuate a “shape.” Every GG has to do this and so will you. We all wish we looked like Marilyn Monroe and had a J-Lo booty, but unfortunately no matter what that guy at the bar said, it just ain’t reality for most of us. Now if you are over 6 feet without heels (as I am) consider buying lots of flats or lower heels. Some of my GG friends will disagree, but there aren’t as many women over six feet as their are men. Even if you are stone-cold gorgeous as a woman, you will still want some flats. My daughter AND my new daughter in law are both gorgeous and over six feet. They are stunning in heels because their legs go on forever. While that is fun and will turn every man’s head, most of the time they don’t want that. The majority of life is spent taking care of mundane things and getting that sort of attention just gets in the way. Heels are fun, but unless you are a smaller girl they should be worn for special occasions rather than as your only option. If you simply have to wear pumps 24/7, you may have a foot or shoe fetish. If that is all that interests you, just get a Frederick’s catalog and go to town.
  9. Diet/Eating – Now here’s one that all girls have to deal with and one many of my Trans sisters may have not entirely considered. Women generally eat less guys. I’m sorry, but it’s true. (Especially in public). Some of my GG friends may find this offensive, but macking down the chili cheese fries when you’re out to lunch along with your dude friends just ain’t going to be real attractive. Eating with your mouth open or talking with your mouth full are pretty much unacceptable. While men are celebrated for putting it away, women are condemned for it. You will have to slow it all down and take smaller bites. Chew bites and swallow before speaking. Please check that you don’t have a piece of cheese on your chin if you have the least doubt. Sit up straight and practice your best table manners. Knowing how to hold a fork and knife are a plus. Your fork is not a shovel and there ARE other utensils that have a purpose while dining. I’m sorry if this sounds snobby, but coming from the other side of the gender tracks it helps to do more than you think is necessary to pass rather than less. Having a trim figure, improved digestion and elegant comportment are the rewards for these efforts and from my perspective well worth it.
  10. Walking/Movement – Now I know plenty of GG’s that move like linebackers, but they are GG’s and they can get away with it. Walking bow legged down the street may be alright as a part time girl but my Trans Sisters will want to work on this. Have a look at how a woman moves and walks.Women naturally have more hip movement because of their anatomy. Trans women can approximate this by placing your foot steps more towards your center line. Imagine you are taking a drunk test and need to walk along a chalk line. This will cause your hips to move and give you more of a runway model look. No one will object to that comparison. Sit with legs together wether wearing a skirt or not. Hands in your lap, elbows off the table. Scratching yourself, grabbing your junk and spitting are verboten. Remember to bring a tissue in your purse for a runny nose and check for unwanted nasal objects regularly. Try and slow your movements down and be more aware of your appendages. Are you swinging them wildly or are you considering other’s space? Getting up from a table and knocking over another table’s drinks just seems less common among women because they are generally more aware of their own physical body. Being the drunk and sloppy girl is pretty much not attractive and quite dangerous. The unfortunate reality is that there are more male predators out there for women than men. That one has been hard to wrap my mind around because I used to feel quite able to defend myself. Even if you are men might not perceive you that way and you will have to consider that. Don’t go out at night alone and walk with confidence if you have to. Women rarely go into bars alone for this very reason. Men see you as available and vulnerable. Be advised girls, going out alone will be seen as an invitation by many guys.                                                                                   While there are probably more things I could list, I’d say these are the 10 biggies. I sometimes wonder what I would have thought had someone given me this list before transitioning. I did have some guidance beforehand. I remember the first therapist I shared with challenged me with some of these. She noticed all the ways I was not prepared and challenged me to come up to speed BEFORE I made some of the larger changes. I believe transitioning can be done more smoothly if it is done somewhat strategically. Start with the easier ones. See if you are able and or interested in doing them before tackling the bigger more expensive steps. Keep your goal in mind but try and be realistic. I hope this list helps someone out there to understand what they are up against. I hope it will serve as informative but not discouraging. Like any really important move in life knowing what you are getting into ahead of time usually helps.

Jack

Snow WhiteBWLt

My oldest brother and I drove up the 405 freeway in his sleek new Audi 5000 surfboards on the roof and Steely Dan on the CD player. We’d just driven down to Trestles in San Clemente California and battled for waves all morning with the hottest surfers from Orange County. Trestles was the epicenter of the surf industry and also their proving grounds. It is an amazing wave, a perfect peak made for doing high-performance turns. It was far better than anything near Manhattan Beach where my brother lived. We hadn’t turned any heads but had at least gotten a few good waves.

Jack sat in the driver’s seat chewing Nicorette gum.  As I looked over at him he was the picture of what I would call “success.” He drove a nice car, lived in a nice house, had a wife and a daughter and lived life with an energy and joy that were magnetic. He and I looked somewhat alike but that was where the similarities ended. He was more  powerfully built and his personality far more dynamic and outgoing. He worked as a Commercial Real Estate Investor. His job was extremely high-flying financially but he seemed to thrive on the stress rather than be beaten up by it. I was 14 years younger and attending UCLA as a Fine Art major. I lived in my 1967 Chevy Van and felt very self conscious about it. I was introverted and reclusive. I struggled with anxiety in large groups and had a part-time job I hated waiting tables.

We didn’t know each other when I was growing up. When I was 4 he was 18 and already out of the house and off to college. There were 7 siblings in our family and he was the oldest. All hell was breaking loose when he left and he pretty much stayed away. My parents had a contentious and messy divorce and my mother was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. Myself and the other 3 youngest brothers had moved with my mother to San Diego while Jack had joined the Hare Krishnas in Denver. My mother, a devout Catholic had disowned him, forbade contact and threw away his letters and gifts. I  hadn’t really known him at all until after my mother died. I had been 14 at the time.

The first time I saw him he arrived with a shaved head and a ponytail. He wore a robe and was wearing prayer beads. He seemed other worldly and sort of scary. He, his wife, Devi, and his cherubic little daughter, Anjali, all arrived at our house in a big Chevy van. They brought us gifts of sweets and smelled of exotic oil and incense. At 14, growing up in a sheltered suburb in San Diego, I’d never seen anything like them. Our mother had warned us that he’d been “brain-washed.” She made sure we read the Ted Patrick books describing how these “cults” worked. They would lure in unprotected or lost young people by offering them food and shelter and then either through drugs or deprivation convert them into their cult. Ted Patrick wrote books about how to “rescue” these poor kids from the cults and by using similar methods as the cults, “deprogram” the kids back into normal Christian-American society. He had scary black and white photos of the process of deprogramming that looked like a scene out of the “Exorcist.” Jack had arrived on the day before my mother passed away and his timing had also seemed otherworldly, as if he knew when she was going to die. He had been gone for 10 years and then suddenly he was back. He stayed for Mom’s funeral and then all the siblings went surfing. The one thing we all  had in common was surfing. Jack hadn’t surfed once in 10 years and he exuded pure joy out in the water that first time. We still thought he was weird but at least he liked surf. It seemed he wasn’t entirely lost.

Now 7 years later he sat next to me driving a very nice new european sedan chewing his Nicorette gum as if he wanted torch it with every grind. “So how’s  school going.” he asked as we sped down the freeway. “It’s good.” I answered. “Sometimes kinda frustrating that I have to take other classes besides Art to get my degree though.” “Yeah, like what?” he asked. “Philosophy is really annoying.” I answered. “I really don’t care what Descartes thinks about existence.” I just want to learn how to draw and paint.” “So you’re not interested at all in what we’re doing here?” He said looking over for a moment. ” It’s not that.” I answered. “I guess it just doesn’t seem like he has a point. I think therefore I am? What kind of answer is that?” “I get it.” he said now staring down the road again. “So what do you think…about existence? Do you have an opinion?” “Hmmm”, I thought. “Dangerous territory here.” My mother had warned me about my brother and his cult. I was concerned that with all his new fast lane looks and lifestyle he was still a potential wildcard and I should be careful.

I considered for a moment. Ever since I had arrived in LA Jack and I had been getting to know each other. He had opened his home to me and given me a base to rest and refuel before getting back on the street. Our family home was sold out of necessity to pay off debt when I was 18 so I hadn’t had a place to rest and collect myself since I moved in with my girlfriend at 17. Jack’s house was the first place I had been able to retreat to since then. I never stayed for more than a meal or a movie but having a place to go, be inside and feel loved was priceless. Jack and I played racquetball once a week at his “club.” He belonged to a health club that featured all the best fitness equipment and classes in a very upscale environment. We would play in the early evening when he was done with work. I would time my arrival to his place from West LA so we could immediately head off to play. We bonded during those matches the way men do, trying with everything we had to beat each other. I might win a game here or there but Jack always took the best 2 out of three. As a competitor he was very fierce. After that we would return to his place and have dinner. Sometimes his wife Devi would have made a meal but many times he would make us some Dal or Mung bean soup with chapatis. Many nights I’d hang out and watch a little TV or chat with with his daughter Anjali and wife Devi. It was very comforting and they were very kind. I reasoned that whatever my mother had said regarding his cult may have been skewed. After all I had read a few books disputing the Christian version of the universe and wasn’t on board with that version anyway. I guess I was at least willing to open my mind to what he had to say.

“What do I think about what? The meaning of existence?” “yeah” he said. Any thoughts?” I did have some, but so did he. As it turned out he had considered it in depth. “Hare Krishna”or “Vedanta” was a philosophy he found during a search through many other ideas and writings. Upon arriving the Krishna temple he had become engaged with an ancient and profound exploration of their writings and teachings. That surf trip turned into an unforgettable introduction to these. I couldn’t help but find it interesting even as he had. I didn’t tell him at the time but I didn’t identify with my body as it was and never had. I had always felt more like a woman than a man and it was very confusing for me. This philosophy actually addressed this situation. “None of us are this body” he explained one night a few weeks later. I had become his student and he kept feeding me books to read. “This is just one life of many and this physical body only a garment we change as precious as a coat left at a bus stop.”

Our relationship deepened and our connection strengthened with my new understanding of who he was and another thing we both shared in common. I found an interesting new way to see my inner conflict and my brother had finally come home in my heart. Through this time and our interaction I began to feel at home even in the huge city of Los Angeles. I learned that wherever I went my siblings and I always had each other. For us home isn’t a place but a simple knowing we are all connected.

Skin Deep

Ardhanashvara

So now after living a a woman for more than a year, people have begun to ask, was it worth it? Any regrets? After living as a man for 52 years, what is it like to be a woman?

What regrets? Pondering this, I suppose the only regret I might have is that I wasn’t more open and less fearful about being transgender before I transitioned. Surprising and or hurting anyone when I revealed myself as Transgender is something I regret. There are those I could have possibly told sooner and saved them some heartache. Almost every time I “revealed” myself as Transgender it had a negative impact on the relationship. It “hurt” the “us” part of the relationship. I had withheld information for good or bad. So I regret hurting anyone by withholding knowledge from them regardless of my reasons.

What’s it like? Now that’s a much more complicated question. That assumes I know what it’s like to be a woman. In fact, I will never entirely know. I wasn’t born genetically female and can only partially experience what a woman experiences. Two of the biggest parts of being a woman are her reproductive cycle and baring children. I will never know either. I can’t say I’m sorry about not having a period. I’m sure most women would rather not. Having children however is quite different. I would have loved to experience that and many women say this was the single most powerful moment of their lives. I’ve witnessed my own children being born and even as an observer it was (and still is) the most profound thing I have ever known. To carry a child for 9 months and give it life is the most extreme thing a human being can do and any woman that has a child has to go through this. It’s like doing some ultra-extreme athletic event and a spiritual pilgrimage at the same time. No matter how well prepared you are, no mother gets away without confronting that challenge. This concept is staggering to me. I will never have to ask that of myself. My inability to experience birth or participate in the cycle of reproduction keep me somewhat separated from knowing what it is to be a woman.

In other ways, I can comment on what it feels like to live as a woman. Perhaps the best way is to discuss how it compares to being a man. After all I had 52 years of attempting to do that. I might start by saying that everything has gotten more complex. Relationships, socialization, appearance, dining and eating, athletics, business. I don’t think there is any way I could have grasped much of it before transitioning. Going out cross-dressed occasionally can never prepare you for the reality of living female 24/7. The “fun” of dressing up for a club outing is quite radically changed when dressing for another audience. Women have a myriad of considerations in dressing that men do not have. Men typically dress more or less the same every day. If a man is a white collar worker, often the only thing that might change is the color of his tie or perhaps his shirt. They are otherwise the same style, cut and color. If a man is a blue-collar worker, he will wear jeans and t-shirt or some sort of labor uniform. They may even wear the exact same clothes for multiple days. Don’t ask a woman to do that unless she is a “Tom-boy.” Even then it would be rare. When men go out their requirements are equally simple. If a man wants to be identified as flamboyant or “artistic” he will experiment slightly with the print and cut but more or less stay with the same clothing as every other man. If a man does care to be a creative dresser that’s considered a “plus” and generally he will get lots of attention for putting any effort into his appearance at all. There isn’t any potential downside. Other men aren’t going to be jealous because of what another man wears.

Women on the other hand are expected to be creative and pay quite a bit of attention to how they dress. In addition there is make-up and jewelry. All need to coordinate and be handled well. If you wear a blouse that is slightly too low, believe me other women will let you know either verbally or with dirty looks and whispers. If a woman works with the public in retail, the very last thing she wants to do is offend other women. Is your make-up too heavy or dark or colorful? That skirt too tight or clingy? Those heels to tall? What men often want to see in women, other women will crucify them for. A drag queen is free to go over the top because everyone knows she’s not trying to look authentic. A Transgender woman need to hit the mark like any other girl. That is IF she ever wants to make friends or get a job.

This same scrutiny applies to all aspects of a woman’s life. Better be looking in that mirror regularly girl. NOT because you’re vain but because there are so many things to check. How’s the hair holding up after a few hours at work. You may have spent a solid 20 minutes on it this morning but guaranteed it will have become unruly by noon. Make-up? How’s that lipstick? Cracked and flaking? Are your lips looking like you have some exotic skin disease? Something in your teeth after lunch? Good Lord! Not a lot of forgiveness for accidentally unbuttoned blouses or jeans. Men get a chuckle but women get a judgement. Women (if they are friendly) will let you know when your “gig” is out of line somehow. Others might just point and giggle. Something akin to having a sign taped to your back all day. Having a girlfriend give you the once over every now and then is a priceless and necessary partnership. Men always assume they look great. Women always assume something is wrong.

Better stay in shape too. Don’t get flabby with a big booty and muffin-tops. No forgiveness there either. In this case however it’s the men who are judging. Women do forgive each other and have compassion for this faux pax. Men want every woman to be lean and super-model beautiful but still miraculously have D-cup breasts. In this I may have some advantage. Having been male and still battling the evil hormone testosterone daily I tend to be leaner and more muscular than the average gal. The downside of being so lean is I’m naturally less curvy. I was extremely self conscious about this and tried to dress so that I seemed to have a waist. This process will sound familiar to any woman but not so much to men. M<en think they are God’s gift no matter how out of shape they are. What I’ve learned is that women come in all shapes and sizes but they all strive to hit the same abstract ideal. Turns out my struggle to be that is the same for every woman.

Now what about the upside of living as a woman? Obviously there must be something women enjoy about their gender. From my perspective there is quite a bit. Most men wouldn’t help another guy out if he seemed to be hurting emotionally. Women do. Women will step in and help another woman far faster than a man. If she needs help, the girls will circle their wagons. Men tend to cast out the “weak” ones and let them be eaten by wolves. Women have a gentle nurturing culture which seems in stark contrast to all I’ve said earlier. Delicate in touch and thought in ways men very rarely possess. Women are far more communal and supportive and I have definitely felt the difference. If a woman likes what you are wearing she will tell you. “Beautiful skirt!” or “I love those earrings!” Imagine a man doing that for another man….NOT! Having been a single Dad I can tell you men aren’t good at reaching out. I could have really used a “Daddy and me” back then. There weren’t any support groups for Dads. When my kids were with me, we were on our own unless I recruited a woman (possibly with her own kids) to join us. Back then I didn’t know how or feel comfortable reaching out. Now it feels like the most natural thing in the world.

Men treat me differently too. Much of it I enjoy. Now doors are held open for me with a smile. I’m greeted warmly often hugged or even given a little kiss. Men will try to chat me up, buy me a drink and are generally far more interested in me than before. They, of course, have an agenda which I may not have. Sometimes the looks they give women can be quite frightening. Just FYI guys, don’t just sit and stare. That freaks women out and you will be labeled “creepy.” Women are almost always receptive to a compliment if done tastefully. Intelligence, cleanliness and smelling good are all huge. Please don’t be the too-drunk guy either. A woman wants to be chosen by someone who is actually discerning. I’ve had my share of weird encounters now but in the balance I really enjoy my new relationship with men outside the workplace.

At work though men have become a new adversary. I’m a small business owner and wear many hats. Formerly as a male, most of my business encounters were as direct as possible. Men in business are expected to be that way. Not so for women. Especially in dealing with men and their fragile egos. Every woman knows men require special handling. Be direct in making a man aware that he screwed up and you will be labeled a “bit@#” pronto. Suddenly you will be out in the cold and your communications will become significantly more difficult. Judgements will go against you and no one will say why. What I’ve learned is to stroke them and ask for help rather than doling out blame. Men love to help a woman. Anytime I try to lift a heavy object or get my hands dirty around a man more often than not they will ask if I need help. Learning to say “yes” and allowing them to assist me was initially quite unfamiliar and awkward especially if I knew I could do it better. Bottom line, if you want male friends, let them help!

Last but certainly not least is just the joy of feeling free to be me. I didn’t wait 52 years to transition lightly. It was incredibly hard to wait and search for happiness without feeling whole. Every day I put on a skirt or make-up, jewelry or do my hair is a celebration of finding myself finally. I love it! To be accepted into female culture no matter how well I represent a genetic woman has been worth it in every way. All the pain of surgeries and procedures to get there joyous moves in the right direction. I have not regretted any of it. I am here, finally and every day is my best day ever.