Tag Archives: Dating

Judgement

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Lately I’ve become more aware of being judged and people who feel free to dispense their judgement on others. Some do so from some sort of ethical or religious authority that they use as justification. Others more ignorantly just pass judgement from an arbitrary sense of what “should” be. What I find most remarkable is that these same people do not hold themselves to their own standards or pick and choose which portions of their dogma to adhere with. It’s also amazing they don’t realize that even as they hand out their condemnations and guidelines for being proper they begin building a very confining prison for themselves. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is an old adage that often comes to mind. When one draws too many boundaries around right and wrong behavior it becomes very tricky not to step over those lines themselves. Their lives and those around them become filled with unnecessary rules and restrictions that only serve to distort and pervert our normal state of joy.

Fundamental thought comes in all shapes and sizes and from what I can tell the consequences of it range from damaging to lethal. Guilt and perversion are very typical side effects. How many more times to we have to watch some televangelist ask for forgiveness for a liaison with a prostitute or drug dealer? People only turn to these avenues when they have no access to joy through safer and healthier routes. It could be argued that much of the violence and drug abuse we witness in the world is a result of people’s joy being blocked or taken away. I have witnessed this very thing in my own life.

Formerly as a closeted Transgender person the only way I could express my gender identity was in a night club. Generally these were bars or Drag Revue locations in seedier parts of town. I was fortunate in that at least I had one relatively nearby. Many of my Trans sisters in particular had to travel hundreds of miles to find a safe place. By “safe” I actually mean safe inside. Outside many of these clubs, Gay bashers looking for kicks or sexual predators looking for an easy target would frequently be some of the very real dangers one might encounter. I can’t tell you how much my life has changed since I’ve been able to come out. Not only have I benefitted but everyone I am involved with has as well. I no longer have to hide such a huge part of myself and can be more included and happier participating in others lives in a positive way. My intimacy is no longer searched for on kinky websites but among others who are out in the world expressing themselves openly. This ability to seek and find community or a partner in a more healthy and open way results in less victimization. When we aren’t singled out, discriminated against and targeted we feel more joy and experience higher self-esteem.

So what do the “judgers” get out of looking down on others? I would have to imagine it gives them something or they would be less likely to do it. My impression is that this need comes from their own low self-esteem. It is very typical for children who feel badly about themselves to try and show others how much better they are by putting their peers down or bullying them. If one’s self esteem hasn’t improved by adulthood perhaps it makes them feel better to occupy some moral high ground so they can look down on their lesser neighbors in a more acceptable way. I imagine they were put down or shamed for something they did as a child or as in the case of the Televangelist be hiding something and are over-compensating for it.

Whatever the case, it would be hard to ignore that judgement of others  creates nothing beneficial for anyone. Wasting time wagging your finger or looking down your nose will only limit the boundaries of your own joy and that of others. Rather than wasting our time creating unhappiness why not open our hearts to others and remove the arbitrary boundaries to our joy? We should look for commonality with each other rather than what separates us. If our ideologies and societies are more inclusive than you will find less people pushed to the extreme boundaries searching for their fundamental needs and rights. People will need to escape less, participate and contribute more. I believe there was a great man who said, “Judge not lest Ye be judged.” Perhaps it’s time we listened to him.

 

 

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.

Attraction

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Attraction. What is it? Where does it come from and why are we attracted to certain genders, ethnicities, occupations, values etc? Our preferences clearly aren’t permanent because they tend to change as we age. As children, generally we are attracted to other children. As we age more often than not our tastes age with us. What if you suddenly broke away from this normal shift and were suddenly someone quite different from who you had been before? What if at 50 you were suddenly 20 again? Would find yourself attracted to 20 year olds or would the wisdom you’d gained throughout your life still lead you to find 50 year olds more attractive? Our society worships youth of course so we all have some natural attraction to the beauty and promise of youth. But would you choose someone that age as a companion to spend the rest of your days with if you had 30 years more experience than they did?

I’ve been faced with a similar question after changing gender from male to female at the age of 52. My world has suddenly and dramatically shifted and it’s not just my perception but perhaps just as importantly the perception of those I meet. They no longer meet a lean athletic single male of 50, but a athletic woman instead. The world sees a woman now and the expectation is typically that I would now prefer men. To remain heterosexual I should swap my former preference from women to men. Interestingly by becoming female and still preferring women I have become Gay. Now when I am out with my fiancé we are more aware of any displays of affection which fall outside  the boundaries of normal female friendship. Holding hands and touching, sitting close and even platonic kisses are ok, but there is still a boundary that hetero couples do not have. We have both had to learn to mind that new line as it is easy to forget. Gay men’s boundaries are even more rigid. When we first began seeing each other I lived as a male. Since my transition our behavior has been modified accordingly. Not too long ago we were on a rooftop bar in Manhattan overlooking the city. We were both wearing cocktail dresses standing at the edge of the roof looking off into the evening lights. My partner casually ran her hand along my inner thigh and left it there. I am much taller than her and she was simply holding me lightly in a place that her hand naturally landed. I began to notice people sort of “looking” and then realized what was going on. I said, “did you realize that your hand is on my inner thigh?” “Oh My God!” she laughed. We both chuckled, but that is the sort of moment we often run into. I am very attracted to her, but my attraction to women and more particularly a woman like her wasn’t always so clear.

When I was younger and first “out” in the world dressing as a woman, men began to approach me. At first I was repulsed but then became accustomed to it and even began to enjoy it. Later I explored kissing and touching men. At the time I wondered about my sexual orientation. I was partially confused because I wanted to be a woman. I assumed that meant I should be attracted to men. This idea motivated me to explore being with them. I certainly enjoyed flirting and all the attention they gave me but when we began petting I felt very little interest. This was in contrast to my initial experiences with women. I found everything about women intoxicating. I would practically pass out when I was near a woman I found attractive. The way she smelled and looked, later as I became intimate I longed to feel her skin and body against me. My attraction was inarguably chemical and physical. With men I finally had to acknowledge it wasn’t like that. I found some more attractive than others but not for the same reasons as I was attracted to women. With men it was more about who they were not how they looked. Were they someone I found interesting, funny, accomplished, capable, powerful? I began to realize it was what men did and how capable and successful they were that is attractive. It also didn’t hurt if they were presentable or well dressed and smelled good. I began to wonder if other women felt this way?

Now living full time as a woman I believe I am seeing men more as other women do and it’s really fascinating how often men haven’t the slightest idea what causes women to find them attractive. Young and old men will try to out perform each other in athletics imagining these displays will gain the interest of a woman. Unfortunately this is generally not the least bit interesting to most women I know unless it has something to do with their career. For instance if they’re some sort of professional athlete. By in large the triathletes and weekend warriors are mostly ho-hum. A guy that walks up and begins a conversation with imagination and humor while his macho friends are competing in a basketball game is going to make a lot more headway.

It took me a long time to realize that my attraction fell somewhere in between male and female. I suppose that would make some sense. I like the way men pursued me but felt more interest in the female body. Eventually I realized I was a Lesbian. What a revelation that was when I had a very male body! I could just imagine approaching a Gay woman and saying, “I’m really a woman, I swear!” Lots of men say that to Gay women already. It’s similar for women who think they can “convert” a beautiful Gay man. They just haven’t been with the “right” woman. With them it would be better somehow. They miss the point. Gay women are attracted to a woman’s body and essence. Wow, what a dilemma. A man trapped in a Gay woman’s body? How on earth was this ever going to work out I wondered.

I happened to meet a woman with a very strong male side at a party some time later. She noticed and approached me. I was tall and slender with long brown hair and light goatee. She thought I was attractive. She pursued getting to know me and we began seeing each other. To me her essence was very male. She admitted later she knew mine was feminine. Dating her I realized there were women out there for me. It didn’t turn out to be her but another woman with a similar male essence while simultaneously having a female body. In many ways she is a trans-male. She in her turn had dated another trans woman before me and realized that was the sort of person she was attracted to. What are the odds? We both marvel at it. She had struggled as I had trying to find her mate, her true partner. At 52 years old I finally found the person I was attracted to both physically, emotionally and intellectually. An accomplished woman I can admire who is more gregarious and assertive than I. We are Yin and Yang but not in the most traditional sense.

Our attraction for each other seems to have three parts. Physical, mental and emotional. I’ve attempted relationships with one or even two of these, but they failed. Looking back it was obvious to me from the start that a key piece was missing but I had ignored it. In each case it was exactly that missing portion that had grown larger and eventually ended our relationship. The first step which took me nearly 50 years was to identify my own needs. That turned out to be remarkably difficult but I would call it critical. After all how can you know who to be with if you haven’t identified who you are attracted to?

The Proposal

She was acting weird all day. So many probing questions. What do you want your future to look like? Do you ever see us living together? Do you need indoor plumbing to find happiness? Honestly I wondered if her meds were off again. Normally our morning conversations over coffee were lighter. We celebrated just being together and the wonder of actually finding each other in the first place. The view from my place was incredible, a stunning 180 degree view of the canyon and ocean from my deck was often the focus of our evening toasts “The Queendom” as we called it. Well, really She had coined that term, like so many others. There was no end to her nicknames for situations, people or locations. We usually laughed easily over all this joy and goofiness, but tonight was different, more serious. Her eyes were darker green, with that outline of blue, steady and intense like a predator waiting to pounce. I could probably read her moods by the color change in her eyes. I knew a few variations now. Passion was deep green with a bit of firey yellow in the center. Her eyes went a light ice green when her desire was satiated like the color of the local ocean underwater, cool and calming. I hadn’t really seen much anger yet except that one night at the bar in San Francisco when that gross guy wouldn’t leave us alone. Then they had gone like green slate. Dark gray green, ominous like a severe thunderhead. But today, today dark green with that clean blue outline. Were these her serious eyes?

Form. Maybe that was it. We had been “storming” as she put it. All fun and passion, desire and joy, reckless and care free. We’d gone to balls, clubs, parties, and on romantic road trips for the last 6 months somewhat neglecting our “real” lives. Maybe the time had come to ‘form.” Maybe. “Come sit down.” she said pointing to the couch. “Okay.” I said. “What’s up?” I asked as I sat where she pointed on my couch. Maybe we were going to have one of our “difficult” conversations. She liked to confront any issue early and head off misunderstandings before they got up steam. I must say I appreciated the concept as unfamiliar as this practice was for me personally. This didn’t really feel like  one of these “difficult” conversations though. She seemed…nervous. Yeah, she was actually nervous! I hadn’t seen nervous before. She was solid like a rock. Unshakeable as a granite mountain. Were her lips trembling? My mind raced. What could be going on here?

I thought back now. How long had we been dating?  We started last may and now it was March. 11 months. I do remember her saying something strange to me after our second date. ” I’ll be asking you a question in 11 and 1/2 months. I want you to be ready when I do.” Had it been that long? She would occasionally remind me. “I’ll be asking you a question in 10 months, 9 months etc.” She quit doing that about 3 months ago. I had sort of forgotten about that. Maybe this was that moment. She was acting really strange. She sat down on the coach next to me and looked at me with those direct serious eyes. “If I ask you to say “yes” or “no” without a question, what’s your intuitive answer?”  she said with a slight smile. I was a bit confused by the question. “What do you mean?” I asked.” “It’s simple” she replied. “Just answer the universe, yes or no?” “Okay” I replied. “Yes! I like to say yes more than no, so, Yes!” She smiled and stood up from the couch. “‘l’ll be back in 20 minutes.” she said. “What?” I asked. “Where are you going?” “I’ll be right back.” she said as she gathered her purse and car keys. “I say yes and you leave?” I complained as she walked out the open french doors to my small deck. “I’ll be back!’ She said now exiting the gate as I followed onto the deck. The Dark blue Mercedes SUV backed down my steep driveway then made the quick turn downhill and was gone.

I  finished the last few sips of wine watching the sky change from red orange to maroon and dusty purple. It had been a beautiful Winter day in Summerland. Coffee and a hike together in the morning after making love, we had parted ways in the middle of the day and I’d gone for a swim in the local pool 10 minutes away. She had returned with appetizers, a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a beautiful bouquet of orange and purple stargazers with green palm fronds. I had arranged the appetizers and flowers and we had brought it all outside to enjoy the sunset. It was something we’d done many many times in the “Queendom.” I loved it. Life was perfect. Better than I could have ever imagined. After my transition last October from male to female I had fulfilled a lifelong dream. My world had become instantly simpler without living the “dual” life as a man and part-time woman.

I never imagined what might happen after I transitioned. It had been the end of my plan, the “zero” moment. I had thought I may have to leave town to transition, even thinking of moving to South America or somewhere remote so I would be able to start over without judgement or embarrassing my children. I can see now that would have been insane even impossible for me.  Very extreme, but then, nothing about my life had been average. She had arrived even as I was setting the date for my transition surgery. She seemed like a gift from the Gods. My perfect mirrored soul in a female “earth suit” as she called her body. So many similarities in our lives I couldn’t imagine life now without her.

I heard the neighbors Golden start barking and then the engine noise of her SUV coming up the road. In a minute she had parked and came walking back onto the deck. “Welcome back!” I said “Thank You” she said  giving me a light kiss on the lips. “Come back inside.” she said grabbing my hand. “Can you sit down again?” She asked pointing to the couch. “Okay…” I said with a little emphasis so she knew I was really beginning to wonder what was going on.  “Do you remember how I told you I’d have a question to ask you when we first started dating?” She asked as she sat down next to me. “Yes.” I responded stating to get a little nervous myself now. “Well.” she said now sliding off the couch and onto one knee on the carpet. My heart began to pound. This was unbelievable I thought to myself. “Is she doing what I think she’s doing?” Realistically I knew it would be coming, but thought I wold have another month or so before it happened.

I had struggled with how to handle this moment should it arrive ever since she first mentioned “the question” 11 months before. At the time I was somewhat fresh out of a 3 year relationship in which I had proposed to someone else. That relationship was seriously flawed from the beginning but she had accepted. Fortunately we had broken it off and gone our separate ways. That along with a failed marriage 18 years ago had definitely soured me on the idea of doing it again, but neither had started as this relationship had. This time I had started as a woman.

And now I was having that quintessential female moment. She pulled the small black jewel box from out of her pocket. “I knew I wanted to ask you this from that first time you came over to my house.” she said looking at me with the most intense eyes I’d seen yet. They were green and gold and blue all at once. I felt like they were boring into me. My hair began to stand on end and I could feel waves of goosebumps sweeping across my skin. “Genivieve” she said, “Will you marry me?” She asked opening the box to reveal a beautiful round cut 1 carat diamond ring. Tears began to run down my cheeks. I was shocked. Was I really feeling like this? It was startling, unexpected and overwhelming. “Yes.” I said leaning forward and holding out my hand. There was no other possible answer. I wanted to always be with her. My eyes began to blur with tears as she slid the ring on my left hand. It fit perfectly. I looked at my hand with the long pink nails and diamond ring and thought, “whose hand IS that?” It seemed so strange to be in this position after having been on the other side before. I looked up and kissed her as the tears came down.  This is what I was always supposed to feel during a proposal I thought as the kiss went on with beautiful intensity. “This is honest unreserved love.” I thought. “This is what I’ve always wanted.” I never felt so sure about anything before. This was right.