Connecting the Dots

I hate the word “journey” when it comes to this part of our lives.  It sounds so trite, so cliched, so…  simple.  I suspect I also hate it because it’s probably the most accurate term for all of (gestures vaguely) this.


How did I get to where I am?  How on earth did I find the confidence (or ego) to do what I do?  Whether it is modeling or blogging or simply going to the mall, I didn’t do these things easily or all at once.  It was a step by step (ugh) journey.  I can go back and connect the dots as to how I got here.  We all can!  Regardless of where you are today you arrived at this moment because of what you did yesterday or last week or two years ago.  If you are wearing panties today it’s likely because you bought them.  And you bought them because you worked up the courage to do so.  And that courage came from accepting this part of you, and acceptance started with acknowledging who you are and what you wanted.


Throughout this journey how we identify might change.  As soon as I learned the word ‘crossdresser’ I identified that way.  A decade or so I identified as transgender.  Although I am still both of these, I feel most comfortable identifying as ‘bi-gender’ these days.  It feels more accurate, more nuanced.  More me.  Not all of us think too much about these labels but based on the emails I get and the search terms that are used to find my website there are a lot of us who wonder if they are a crossdresser or if they are transgender.  


If we wonder who we are and if we are unsure of what describes us best it’s sometimes easier to think about who or what we aren’t.  When I have come out to others I get asked the typical questions:


-Do I want to transition?  

No.


-Oh, so you do drag?

No.


-So, this… turns you on?

No.


-Are you gay?

I am not attracted to men


These questions hopefully help answer if I want to take hormones, who I want to sleep with, or if this is a fetish.  Sometimes I feel that answering yes to any of these questions would help someone understand me a little bit better and easier as these can help frame someone like myself into something that others have some familiarity with.  Most people can name someone who is transgender, most people know who RuPaul is, and (almost) everyone has a kink.  In a way these questions help someone else connect the dots.  “Oh, you wear dresses BECAUSE you’re going to transition” or “You wear makeup BECAUSE you do drag”.  But when someone like myself is outside of those parameters it is a new experience for someone.  We are asked these questions because they help frame who we are to someone else.  Typically men who wear makeup or dresses (according to television shows and movies) are kinky or going to transition.  When we are not these things it kind of puts us in a different light that someone else isn’t used to.  If we aren’t going to live full time and if this doesn’t arouse us, then who are we?


I don’t need to explain who I am to most of those that are reading this, just as you don’t need to explain who you are to me.  I get it.  I get you.  You get me.  We understand each other.  We speak the same language.
Once I moved onto clothes other than lingerie and started wearing makeup and having a femme name I didn’t think I was simply crossdressing anymore.  Transgender seemed to be a better, more inclusive term.  As I mentioned earlier bi-gender seems to be the best fit. I believe that crossdresser, drag queen, bi-gender, agender, gender non-conforming, gender queer and other terms are more specific ways to identify but are all under the transgender umbrella. 


But why?  Why is that the best word?


Well, it’s kind of by process of elimination.  I don’t think of what I do as drag.  I don’t feel I am performing or putting on an act.  Once I felt that wearing “girl clothes” was more about expressing one of my gender identities than it was about the clothes themselves the word crossdresser wasn’t quite enough.  I like being part of the T in the LGBTQ+ acronym but the word does have a certain set of expectations, in a way.  A lot of people think that someone who is trans will or is or has taken steps, legal and or physical, when it comes to making permanent changes.  Yes my gender presentation can change throughout the day as I go back and forth.  The gender presentation I have when I wake up is not always the same gender presentation six hours later.   My mannerisms, my perspectives, my friends, my pronouns, my name, are all different as I go from one gender expression to the other.  Hence bi-gender feels the most accurate way for me to identify.  


Of course, sometimes I feel it would be nice if we could just simply be people and eliminate all expectations and norms when it comes to gender and clothes and everything but that is not happening soon.  Or ever.
I know I overthink labels and at my core I am simply who I am.  Sometimes I get fixated on trying to explain or understand myself (gender identity and in other ways), especially to others (hypothetically).  I suspect it has a lot to do with belonging, having a community, knowing there are others like myself.  I won’t ever forget how happy I was when I first heard the word crossdresser when I was in grade school.  To know that there were others like myself, to know that there were so many like myself that there was a word for us.  That word connected the dots for everything I felt, wanted, and wore.  I had a similar feeling when I heard the word transgender when I was in my early twenties.  As I got older ‘crossdresser’ seemed to be predominately synonymous (with many people) with sex/fetishisms.  Not that there is anything wrong with sex or a kink, but that’s not what it was for me.  ‘Transgender’ seemed to be about who I was, not what I wore, if that makes sense.  ‘Bi-gender’ I feel is the end of my dot-to-dot journey in terms of, well, terms, I guess. 


For those who are comforted by the rainbow of terms that are out there, how did you come to identify as that specific term?  Do you find terms comforting?

Love, Hannah

8 thoughts on “Connecting the Dots

  1. So insightful. I have been thinking about this a lot lately too. It was/is a journey, maybe more of an adventurous and confusing journey at times for girls our age. Whenever possible I encourage the young girls to live and explore because they can more openly in many cases, at least to a larger degree than we ever could at their age. Think about body hair as one small example. In our generation you were bullied in the locker room if you didn’t have enough and today it’s almost the opposite. Pierced ears is another. And the information and resources, good and bad, available to the novice these days. I wonder if I would have been as confused as long if I had all of the information on all of the growing list of categories? Probably so. But they may have more of a map for their journey that we did. Before you tell me to go put on my support hose and house dress, please know that I am happy to be able to continue on this journey, maybe wiser, only occasionally confused, in part because I have found people like you to provide spot on perspective, advice and resources.

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  2. “…but are all under the transgender umbrella.”

    It’s all inclusive approach too. Language and terminology change, and so do people. You can move around under that wonderful umbrella. Maybe try a few labels for size or maybe not bother with one at all. That’s a choice too.

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  3. Hannah, I don’t think that you or anyone else who expresses themselves in both gender, needs to give themselves a label. Do you believe that the part of you that is “real” is invisible to the human eye? That your real part is “spirit”?

    As I approach the tender age of 70, I long to cross dress again. I also try to see myself as spirit, which is forever young. Sometimes, I see myself as “ cross being”, or experiencing myself as both genders at once, and sensing the richness of that experience.

    Your friend,

    Carly

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  4. For me, I was never comfortable with a label until I began to be somewhat comfortable with myself. Once I crossed the bright red line and began to present myself as fully en femme, being transgender was no longer quite so frightening as it had been before.

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  5. I used to wish that my desire to be a woman would “go away.” Although I will never transition, I now embrace “her.” I know I did not choose to be transgender— it was chosen for me. Nancy

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  6. For me, going em femme absolutely began as a sexual thing, a huge turn on. It still is, but now only partly. The sexual aspect, in fact, has become the least of my joys while I am Alana. On those rare occasions when my wife and I can go out as a pair of girlfriends on the town, the experience is far more than just an extended prelude to sex. When I am en femme, I feel… Free. When I am Alana, I am a person separate from all the heavy, dispiriting realities that plague my life right now (and have been doing so for several years, with no end in sight). For example, to my surprise, Alana is British. I’m not, but she is. And when I am spending a day or even just a few hours as Alana, I don’t feel like just a man posing as a woman. I probably also don’t feel like a woman (but since I don’t actually know how a woman feels, I guess I can’t say for certain). I just feel like another, happier, very genuine person. I don’t know why I am making this comment or exactly how it relates to your post. But I suppose it has to do with the expression of self. I can’t express Alana to anyone else except my wife, who is the joy at the center of my heart, and who’s unconditional support helps me trudge through this life. But when I am Alana, I don’t have to trudge. I can skip. I can prance. I can meander. I can stride. Alana opens a whole new, wonderful avenue for me to travel.

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  7. I think everyone including the cis world and us goes through an expedition of self discovery, to fully (if that’s even possible) understand who and what we are. With the added dimension of being who we are, that can be so much more complicated and even frightening. When I first learnt of the term crossdresser, it brought a mix feeling of both trepidation and elation at the same time. I felt delighted because I know that I am not alone but also felt the fear that the world knows of our little secret. We are now so lucky to live in world where we can find support on the internet from each other like ourselves and that the world has a better understanding of gender diversity. There is still a long ways to go, it will eventually get there even if they are taking tiny baby steps.

    Rachel M

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  8. 100% yes. I really enjoy your blog Hannah, but this post really hit home in terms of how I feel. How I identify had changed over time, both in terms of where I am in life and also in terms of understanding identities other than the traditional ones.

    I have come to embrace the label bigender, as you have, as I feel that most accurately reflects where I am these days. I can also envision the possibility of that changing in the future, but time will tell. I shy away from using “transgrender” because there are many who think that means intending to/in the process of/already transitioning, including some in the trans community, as opposed to your broader interpretation.

    It is nice to have a term, but I don’t think that I would call it comforting or some kind of milestone. With time, I have been becoming more comfortable with (accepting) who I am. When I feel that I can fully come out of the closet, I expect that will be when I can fully accept and love who I am.

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