Now that I have your attention…
Accepting yourself and identifying as transgender is one of the most significant and life-changing moments you will ever experience. This acceptance can lead to feeling anxious, feeling free, feeling burdened, feeling confused, or even just feeling relieved that we have touched on why we feel what we feel and figured out who we are.
This embracing of yourself will often lead to the question of what’s next. Okay, you’re trans, this is more than just about wearing panties, what do you do now? The short and bitchy answer is, well, anything you want. You can go fishing if you so desire. Being transgender is not like building a bookshelf from Ikea. There is no clear step two. There may not even be a step two. You don’t even have to do anything next. Well, you should have a conversation with your partner, of course.
But there usually is a next step. We usually want to…well, keep going. We learned and accepted something huge about our gender identity and it’s normal to keep going in that direction. It’s not much different than being on an airplane and not getting off when it lands. For some of us we want to try other clothes. That dresser full of lingerie might be a start of a new wardrobe. We own a dress…but maybe we should find a cute pair of heels to go with it. Maybe the next step is seeking support from a group or a therapist or counselor. Maybe it’s time to talk to a doctor or your family. Maybe you are ready to schedule that makeover.
Or maybe you don’t do anything. You don’t HAVE to do anything next. You don’t have to do anything right away. For some of us we lived with the conflict or uncertainty of who we were for decades. It took a long time to get to the point where we accepted that we are transgender. But making decisions too quickly and without thinking things through is a bad thing. Beware the pink fog.
Acceptance of yourself is more important than passing. Mainly because accepting yourself is real and passing is not. If I waited to experience the real world until I “passed” I would still be sitting in my car in the garage. When I think about everything I have experienced or done over the last few years it makes me so happy that I opened the door, strutted out and never looked back. It makes me wonder what else I missed before I was convinced I needed to pass. I never passed. Still don’t. Never will.
Once you accept yourself and start experiencing the world presenting as your preferred gender (and this can be your preferred gender for the day or for the rest of your life), you have grown more powerful than ever before, even if your knees are knocking and you shake in the heels that you practiced walking in for weeks. You will interact with the world and the world will react to you. This will result in varying outcomes, some wonderful, most of them mundane and unremarkable…but there will be some that will break your heart and some that will make you angry. Some will make you want to go home and never leave again. All of these things will happen. Sometimes in the same afternoon. Yes, someone will likely give you a dirty look but remember, this will never be okay. Don’t let some jerk steal your sparkle.
Whether you are dressed from head to toe in wig and heels or in male mode with painted nails, when you are outside the traditional social gender norms you will experience the world in a new way. And you will likely want more. I know I did. The first real time I went out during the day it was just to experience something as every day as getting a coffee. But that went well and I wanted to do something more. So I did. A trip to Target, a couple of malls, more coffee shops…
Over the last few years I have done so many things I never thought I would be brave enough to attempt. Whether it was a makeover or a trip to the mall to try on dresses or attending a Pride festival, I’ve experienced more than I ever thought possible. There’s very little left that I can think of that I still want to do. Some of these things I did because I simply wanted to see what it was like to shoe shopping en femme. No surprise, but it was a lot more fun.
The point is that many of us want to experience things en femme. This can range from everything from watching a movie at home dressed to the nines, doing laundry in leggings to wearing a negligee during sex.
So, let’s talk about sex and the t-girl.
This is a very intimate, serious, and sensitive subject. There is nothing more personal than the sexual relationship between two people. Obviously I am not going to share anything about my own experiences here or…ever. Instead I want to talk more broadly about what many in our community and their partners have shared with me regarding their experiences.
I go back and forth as to whether or not I wear what I wear because I am transgender or I am transgender because I wear what I wear. I think kind of a gateway to something new and something bigger. Perhaps something fascinating and forbidden. It was ingrained in us at early age that boys do not wear bras or nightgowns which only fuels the curiosity, intrigue, and longing. Lingerie is a beautiful secret that you wear. Going to the office wearing lacy panties and matching bra under your suit is really kind of amazing. Its something you wear for yourself…or possibly for someone else. Someone might wear sexy undies to bed because they like it, or they wear it because their partner likes it.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that there are some who dressing up is nothing more than fetish and is completely sexual. Simply put, dressing turns them on, they wear lingerie (or whatever) when they want to…ah, well, you know. They dress up, they have sex, or masturbate and…that’s that. Until the next time. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this. You do you, I guess. But like anything sexual between two people, both have to be on board.
It is not unheard of that a t-girl wanting to wear lingerie in intimate moments. Lingerie might help someone feel beautiful no matter what they are doing, during sex or simply under your clothes when you go grocery shopping. Someone wearing a lacy nightie to bed is something they are doing for themselves, and possibly for their partner. However, t-girls need to be aware that surprising their partner by doing something similar can be… well, it probably won’t go as planned, especially the first time.
This is one of those moments that both partners involved want to avoid. Nothing derails a moment like an awkward (to say the least) surprise. This is something that should be discussed before it happens, especially if going outside traditional gender norms regarding clothes is new to the relationship. Don’t tell your wife you are a crossdresser on Friday and then greet her in the bedroom on Saturday wearing a corset and stockings. (Unless she asks, of course.) Communication between a couple is important and it’s never more evident than when it comes to intimacy, fantasies, and what happens in bed. Or the living room, if you are so inclined.
Many t-girls and crossdressers want to experience things as a different gender identity. Sometimes it’s going shopping en femme and sometimes it’s being intimate en femme. This is not uncommon. However, your wife being okay with you wearing panties under your work clothes is not the same as her being okay with you wearing them in an intimate moment. You should not assume she will be.
The best, and only way to know what your partner is comfortable with in the bedroom (or anywhere) is to ask. Tell them what you want to try, what you want to wear. If they are not comfortable with it, then drop it. It may be hard to let go of a fantasy or a desire, but…drop it. Move on. Seriously. If they change their mind they will let you know. You don’t need to ask again. Drop it.
If you partner is receptive to you dressing in bed, wonderful. Their feelings are still something you need to be conscious of. Maybe she wants to be the pretty one in bed sometimes. Maybe leave the lingerie in your drawer once in a while. She may feel intimidated by your matching bra, garter belt, panties and stockings when all she has on is a simple teddy. She may not want to have sex with a woman. She might want to have sex with her husband. Again, beware of the pink fog. Sometimes it clouds our judgment, sometimes we choose to let it cloud our judgement. I think you know what I mean.
We know being in a relationship with someone like us is not easy. This is part of that. Be kind. Be generous. Be worth it.
Driving a car is different in heels, having sex in heels (among other things) is different too. Some crossdressers and t-girls may, well, take on a different role. Or different behaviors. They may want different positions, accessories, different role-playing scenarios… Some want to be called their female name. Sometimes these changes are a turn on for our partner…sometimes it isn’t. You and your wife watching a movie while you are dressed up is not the same thing as you being in bed en femme with her. Don’t assume your partner is okay with “her” in your living room and the bedroom. Again, communication. Both verbal and non-verbal. Pay attention. If your partner is communicating something to you, don’t ignore it. Don’t pretend that you aren’t picking up on it. Communicate. Before. After. During.
If gender is…well, flexible, then it stands that sexuality can be as well. Some t-girls say they are straight in male mode but bisexual as a girl. Some are attracted to men when they dress up, or at least that’s when they admit it. Dressing en femme can bring about different feelings. Different aspects or parts of our personality can appear when we are wearing certain clothes. Some men feel confident in a certain suit, some feel a sense of hometown pride when their wear their team’s football jersey. Some guys get a boost of confidence from a pair of expensive sneakers. When I am dressed I feel different, too. I don’t feel like sleeping with a man, but I feel more social, chattier, and braver.
There are those who feel the attention from men helps them feel more like a woman. The attention validate them. It’s flattering to some. Some t-girls and crossdressers want to experience as many things as they can en femme and for some that includes having, or fantasizing about, sex with men.
To the partners out there, yes, I know this is a fear. It’s hard enough finding out your beer drinking, Fantasy Football playing man likes to dress up, but the fear that they might want to be with another guy is a different level. There is nothing more important than trust between two people, and many partners entered into committed relationships without the full disclosure of their partner’s gender identity. It’s not uncommon to feel betrayed, deceived, or mislead. There’s no excuse for lying.
Will your partner want to be with a man? Maybe? Sexual and romantic preference and gender identity have little in common, so while it’s understandable to worry that they will want to be with another male because they wear lingerie in bed, it’s not necessarily the same thing. I do not believe it is inappropriate to ask your partner this question. Your partner coming out as a crossdresser or transgender or as someone who likes to dress up every once in a while will trigger a lot of questions, feelings, and confusion. You are trying to process this. This is likely new territory for you. Ask us anything you want.
I know its not easy. I know it can be…shocking, off-putting, a mood killer, even heartbreaking and devastating to see your man in a corset and panties. It’s a lot to take in. This doesn’t mean you aren’t supportive of the LGBTQIA community. You fight for equality and love your gay friends, but seeing your spouse in a garter belt is a little different. You choose your partner for many different reasons. You choose them because of their personality, sense of humor, interests, and probably because of their appearance. You were, and hopefully still are, attracted to them. Seeing someone you love in a dramatically different gender presentation, whether it is everything from wig to those cute bedroom heels or them wearing a simple nightgown takes some time. It may take a few minutes or it may takes years or it may never happen. And that’s okay. Tell them how you feel. You can be an ally and a fighter for the community even when you struggle with your emotions and thoughts regarding your partner’s gender identity. Your feelings count too. And you will have feelings about this.
You may feel that this isn’t the person you married. We insist we are. Many of us tell our partners that whether we are wearing lingerie or a suit that we are still the same person. I don’t think this is necessarily true. Coming out and accepting yourself changes someone. We feel braver but at the same time we are feeling more vulnerable. We just shared something that for decades was a secret. This becomes an elephant in the room. In the days, weeks, and months ahead this hangs over the pair of you. It can create tension, stress, and unspoken thoughts. Resentment, albeit temporary, is not unheard of. It can consume both you and partner. While you might be trying to not to think about it, we might be dying to talk about it. We may want to ask for help with shopping or applying eyeliner. We want our partners to go out with us. We want to share this side of us with the most important person in our life. We have been wanting to tell you since the day we met. We have for years kept this side of us private and now we are ready to slam the pedal to the metal.
But we lived with the secret for years. Our partners need time to catch up. They cannot go as fast as we are ready to. We feel we are the same person regardless of how we are dressed…because this is who we have been our entire lives. But we have just revealed another side of us, the biggest side of us and it’s understandable that others in our lives might look at us in a different light, at least for a while.
Our partners are processing this. And it’s not easy for us to be patient as they do that. We are wondering what they are thinking and the reality is that they are thinking a million things. Or they might be trying to not think about it. They can’t always express just exactly what they are feeling or going through. Your partner looks and thinks of you differently. You have something about you that they never suspected. They may have thought there was…something about you that they couldn’t quite put their finger on, but this probably wasn’t what they imagined.
I felt different when I came out to my wife, my mom, and my siblings. I wasn’t the same person. It was a feeling of…well, like there was a new reality. They knew about me, they knew the half of me that was a secret that I kept every single day up until that point. It was awkward, it was uncomfortable at times. I gave them space and was honest with their questions. We can do no less for our partners.
Think back to when you’ve come out to someone. Life all of a sudden felt different, didn’t it? You feel different. You might feel a weight has been lifted or that you turned the world inside-out. My point is that we might think we are the same person before and after we come out. We might think we are the same person whether we are in jeans or a nightgown. But we know we are not.
Finding a balance between more than one gender identity is not easy but it can be done. We need to find that balance in our own lives, but we also need to make sure the balance works (as much as it can work) for our partners. It might not. I am not going to suggest that every marriage will be able to make it work. In many relationships this is not what our partners signed up or what they expected. If your partner does not want this in their relationship it does not make them a bad person. This is a lot to ask of someone and it’s a reminder why it is important and necessary to come out to your partner before the relationship gets serious.
Finding a personal balance varies from person to person. We might want to dress up three times a week, but that might be too much for your partner. It’s not that different (but it’s also totally different) than you if you wanted to go out for beers with the guys after work several times a week. Be considerate of your partner’s feelings. Be there with them. Be present. Be worth it.
All the time.
In every room of the house.