Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Win a Free Pair of Breastforms

Dear Readers,

I'm excited to announce an opportunity for you to win a free pair of Gold Seal Classic II breast forms!
Transgender Heaven has partnered with the Breast Form Store to bring you a unique opportunity to win an excellent pair of breast forms that are suitable for the transgender girl who is just starting out on hormone replacement therapy.

How To Enter
There are three simple ways to enter:
  1. Circle me on Google+, then share this page on Google+ by clicking the +1 button below and mention +Vanessa Law
  2. Follow me on Twitter, then share this page on Twitter by clicking the Twitter button below and mention @vanessalaw
  3. Friend me on Facebook, then share this page on Facebook by clicking the Facebook button below and mention @Vanessa Law
If you do all three then you'll get three entries into the competition. The winner will be announced in early December. Good Luck!

Since I've received a few questions on this - if you're already friended on Facebook or circled on Google+, all you need to do is share the link and mention me.

About Gold Seal Classic II Breast Forms
Gold Seal Classic II Breast Forms
The Breast Form Store's Gold Seal Classic II breast forms are designed with the transgendered woman in mind. With a concave back, the unique shape is perfect for girls who are on HRT and are experiencing less-than-even growth or haven't achieved their desired cup size just yet. They are also ideal for the transgendered woman who is considering augmentation, but is unsure of her desired size.

Gold Seal Classic II breast forms are asymmetrical, fitting to the left and right sides of your body. The tapered extension toward the underarm adds a natural fullness while making shoulders appear smaller, and is great for a more feminine figure. Best of all, Gold Seal Classic II breastforms are made with SuperSoft silicone, and are made in America.

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The Winner Will Receive:
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  • One (1) free tape kit (Includes 24 v-shaped tapes, 12 Skin Tac Wipes)
  • Free discreet shipping to USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, UK or Europe.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Step Softly, Walk Carefully – The Path Here Is Narrow and Untrodden

This is my final post in the series 'Am I Transsexual' - it marks the point where I went from questioning and exploring to beginning my journey in earnest. In all likelihood I'm still recovering from SRS, and won't feel like doing much besides resting right now - so I offer you this brief trip back in my life:

I am sitting outside the local Walgreens in my car holding the pill in my hands. The sun is gently breaking through the clouds as if to create a boundary around which my world would pivot. My heart is beating a nervous tune infused with melodies of contentment.  As I swallow the pill the next stage of my journey to womanhood begins. Thursday September 9th 2010 at 4:30pm.

Coincidentally it was many years ago at this same store I had begun an earlier leg of my journey. I made my first admission to a checkout clerk that the feminine paraphernalia I had gathered for purchase were mine. But today the questions and consequences were different.

Then I had feared rejection, embarrassment and ridicule. Today my thoughts lingered on the fuller consequences of gender transition, and the irreversible changes that will be created.

One month on testosterone blockers. Slowly ramping up to give my body a chance to adapt. They will allow the estrogen I start taking next month to work to it’s fullest potential. I’ll take testosterone blockers until bottom surgery is complete. I’ll take estrogen for the rest of my life. [Ed: As it turned out I had an adverse reaction to the testosterone blockers, so ended up taking a higher dose of estrogen to compensate - of course, that's not really a problem for me any more :) ]

Over time my body hair growth will slow, fat will redistribute throughout my body and I’ll lose muscle mass. Breasts will grow, skin will soften and I’ll become infertile. I won’t dwell on any unintended side effects – I’ve long pondered what could go wrong physically and chemically. The risks cannot compare to the interminable pain of spending the rest of my life as the wrong gender.

Step Softly

As I pill disappears inside to work it’s magic I’m left with a deep sense of contentment. It’s impossibly soon for even a thought of physical changes, but my emotional changes have already begun. ‘Will do’ has been replaced by ‘doing’. Intention has been replaced with reality. The world around me moved on as if nothing happened – at most someone spied a woman taking a water bottle from her lips and thought nothing of it. Softly she took her first step.

Walk Carefully

Getting to this point in my life has itself been a marathon journey of self discovery. Regular readers have shared in my journey through acceptance and first steps, mishaps and learnings. Yet my inner journey was only part of my careful travel. Before hormone therapy can begin you need to see a counselor for at least three months. Once they write a recommendation letter your doctor then runs a battery of tests – blood work, physicals  and anything else needed to satisfy safety’s caution. Blood tests and regular monitoring will become a regular diet.

I feel blessed that this portion of the ‘standards of care‘ has gone so smoothly for me. My counselor and doctor have been partners to help me, not gatekeepers to stop me. I know that others are not as lucky. Despite all my years of working through being transgendered, I am happy so far with the pace prescribed. 3 months seemed like an eternity, yet the decision is so large that it will affect my eternity. 3 months is a small price to pay.

The Narrow, Untrodden Path

I’m not the first transgendered woman to walk this path. So few have traveled it I can barely see the trail through the overgrowth.  Yet I am grateful to those who forged ahead before me – transgender care is light years ahead of where it was just fifty years ago. Despite all this progress, and even though optimistically we number in the hundreds of thousands, drug treatments for transgender woman are still classified as experimental. And health insurance benefits to cover surgery are still few and far between.

To you, my dear reader, I thank you for reading this far and for sharing my journey. It feels like I’m just started, but when I look back I can see how far I’ve come. I pray that your journey is fulfilling, and leads to the destination which is right for you.

Hugs and blessings,

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Do I Fear?

Dear readers,

Well before my surgery I scheduled a series of posts entitled 'Am I Transsexual' - as a way to transfer articles I originally posted on Crossdresser Heaven to a more appropriate place, and to share my journey with new readers. As you read the below, assuming everything has gone according to plan it will be *spoiler alert* a few days after my gender reassignment surgery. It was written a few weeks before I started hormones.

This week we take a brief respite from our walk through my past and jump ahead many years to today. I was recently reading a passage in “True Selves – Understanding Transsexualism” that gave me a clearer picture of the emotional journey behind me, and the path stretching before me. For those of you following along – you diligent souls you! – this is from the section on page 112 that discusses the negative emotions and issues that transsexuals face.

The passage discusses the types of fear, anger, guilt, shame and poor self esteem that are commonly experienced by those who are transgendered. I recognized quite a few as intimate emotional companions, even while others (such as the many types of anger) I found difficult to relate to.

Emotions I’ve (Mostly) Come to Terms with

Shame is like a darkness that hangs over our heads, hiding the true light inside. For many many years I was ashamed of who I was and what I did. I had not dared to share my true self with another because I was deeply ashamed at how “sick” and “perverted” I was. By any measure – in society, in the church, or even how I felt inside – I was unworthy. I was a sinner who continued to live in sin despite knowing the “truth”. [If you’re struggling with being a transgendered Christian I encourage you to read this article ‘Crossdressing is a sin‘.

I crossdressed in private while clutching my dark secret close to my false bosom. Fear born of shame kept me cloistered and alone. Over the coming weeks I’ll share more of my journey, and how I overcame the shame and the fear that was it’s child. Realizing that I was not alone, and considering the blessings of being transgendered were vital ingredients to my growth. Words alone cannot give sufficient weight to how important it is to join a local transgender support group.

My shame is but a distant memory, and the fear I felt out in public has mostly been replaced with the joyous and easy calm of living as myself.

The See-saw of Self Esteem

For as long as I can remember I’ve had low self esteem. No doubt growing up a smart, overweight, socially challenged kid with a deep dark secret had something to do with it. Yet as long as I could take solace in the comforting glow of my computer screen this was manageable. After all, I was doing everything that was expected of me – I didn’t get into trouble, got good grades at school and left my parents undisturbed by my emotional distress.

This all changed when I left for college almost 750 miles away from home. The formula I had used so successfully in high school no longer worked. I had imagined college to be a haven for the intellectual elite where studious application to my coursework would ensure joy and prosperity. I quickly came to realize that the adoration of my Professors was irrelevant in the social world fueled by drunken revelry and frequent intimate engagement with members of the opposite sex.

Today I won’t regale you with my woefully inspirational tale of near suicide and joyous rebirth. My final years in college gave my self esteem a much needed boost, and the recent overcoming of transgender shame and fear of being out in public have fortified this further.

Yet I still play on the see-saw of self esteem. At times I’m assailed by negative self image (too tall, too fat, too masculine, …) or by the dastardly negative emotions you’ll hear about in a second that I’m still working through. Though continuing the see-saw metaphor further, I do feel as though much of the time there is a fat kid sitting across from me, leaving my self esteem dangling high in the air. Only on rare occasions does this kid summon enough strength to push herself off the ground and – momentarily – cause my self esteem to alight on the ground from which it came.


One of my favorite movies is The Lion King, and when I write about fear I can’t help but picture the scene where the hyenas mere mention of the name “Mufasa” causes shrieks of shuddering fear.

Yet I’ve found that in real life fear is not quite so humorous or easily recovered from. I had thought that once I overcame my fear of going out in public that I was done with fear, but three fears yet remain:
  • Fear of losing employment and my livelihood
  • Fear that I’ll never pass well enough to be accepted as a woman
  • Fear of losing family and friends, and never having an emotionally intimate relationship again

I’ve come a long ways towards dealing with the first fear – the many tales of successful transitions in the software engineering field, and growing transgender support among large tech companies heartens me greatly. I’m also fortunate to be in a position where I’m able to save up enough to give myself some time should my employer prove to be less than generous in their transgender support.

The fear of never passing is harder for me. I’m confident that I could live successfully as a woman in society, yet I’m still wary of living as a transgender woman and having my genetic deficiency become obvious to anyone who gets to know me. I’m heartened by the times when I’m reverse read, and all the people I know have been extremely generous in their compliments. Yet brief encounters in public are different from lasting personal or professional relationships.

Objectively I’m taller and larger than most woman, and my voice can still use a fair amount of work. I know that diet, exercise, hormones, facial feminization surgery and femininity training can take me far, but I must live with my bone structure. I steel myself, knowing that my fear of never passing pales in comparison to the anguish I would endure living out the rest of my days in my male fa├žade.

My greatest dread is living the lonely life of an outcast. Never able to find love or emotional intimacy again. Knowing my lovely wife will leave me after transition it’s difficult for me to understand how I could be happy without a deep relationship in my life. Though I hope against hope, it’s painful enough coming to terms with an eventual separation from the person I love most in the world. Losing her and the hope of ever being loved is crushing. At times I’ve even thought that the lack of human connection could cut deeper than living the rest of my life in a male lie. Yet the loss of all human connection is but a chance, and the torture of maleness a certainty.

And Finally Comes Guilt

Before my wife and I were married I told her that I was a crossdresser, that I was not gay, and that I had no intention of becoming a woman. This was the best truth I knew at the time, yet as I have discovered it was not the whole truth. Now with talk of transition I feel as though I have deceived her and tricked her into a life led astray, in a relationship that challenges her sexual identity and social acceptance. I feel guilty.

I try to console myself that her life with me has been more prosperous and abundant in experience that it would otherwise have been. Yet I pretend knowledge of fate in doing this, as her marriage to me may have excluded other fulfilling life paths for her.

While guilt can vex me, I know that how I handle the coming months will play a significant role in her future happiness. Wallowing in guilt not only doesn’t help, it distracts me from the care and compassion I need to cultivate. More often these days my rational mind is able to push aside the guilt and realize that the past is lived and the future is unknown. Today we get to decide what the past means, and how we’ll live in relation to that.

Dear reader, thank you for reading this far, and indulging me as I search inside my heart. My muse is spent for today, so it’s with warm wishes and blessings I pause – I shall parlay more with you in a while.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Terrible Teens

If all has proceeded as planned I will be on my way to Arizona for gender reassignment surgery in a few days. Your thoughts and prayers would be a most welcome blessing to me at this time. No doubt it will be a while before I'll be able to check any electronic communication, so without further ado - the continuation of my exploration a few months back into whether I'm a transsexual.

My First Pair of Pantyhose
We resume the story with our intrepid heroine about to enter her teen years and experience the joy of her first period, breast growth and discovering boys. In your mind you should now hear the scratching sound as the DJ hastily lifts the needle off an old LP record just before the crowd turns around to stare.

Our unfortunate heroine had none of those delights to look forward to, but rather the twin tyrannies of massive height expansion and needless hair growth in places entirely unbecoming.

Not that I knew what to expect at the time, or even that what was happening was wrong. It was just what everyone had told me was supposed to happen. I never had the sense of identifying strongly as a girl when young – though honestly never really felt that I fit in as a boy. I was too big to beat up, too shy to find and too smart to get into trouble at school.

The computer in my room was the perfect distraction from all my social and romantic ineptness – it was something I could understand even as I failed to understand myself and my relationship with others. As it turns out this distraction would pay a key part in my future welfare – but we’ve jumped to far ahead already…

When I was 12 or 13 I found myself obsessed with the idea of purchasing and wearing my own pair of pantyhose. I have no idea why that would be a good idea, and tried for many weeks to push the thought from my mind. Yet after fighting the anticipation for so long I finally broke down, and found both the courage and opportunity to purchase my first pair of pantyhose.

My mom, brother and I were out shopping and I found occasion to “browse the shops by myself”. I told my mom I’d meet her back at the car in a while, and off I went. I made a beeline to a store I knew sold pantyhose, but that was on the other end of the shopping center from where my mom and brother were shopping. I could feel my heart drumming a tune of nervous ecstasy in my chest as I circled the aisle where the object of my obsession was kept.

After what seemed like hours of mustering my courage I approached the forbidden temple – and panicked! What size was I? Where was the color I was looking for? My pending sweat gave me little opportunity to think straight and I grabbed for the first pair I thought might have a chance of fitting, hastily made my way to the cashier and then out the store.

I had a few more minutes left, and I could wait no longer – off I rushed to the public bathroom to put on my new stockings, only to discover that they were gray! Damnit. I imagined my legs encased by sexy black stockings, not gray. Not gray! It was too late though, the deed was done and I was half naked in a bathroom stall trying to figure out how to put on pantyhose when someone banged on the door.

My heart dropped to the floor, “How could this be happening?!”. I was about to hastily scramble and get dressed – sans stockings – when the person identified themselves as the cleaner. I mumbled something and pulled those stockings on as fast as I was able to. Anxious beads of sweat were dripping down my face as I realized I was late meeting my mom, and rushed out to the car.

I could feel the pantyhose brushing against my pant legs, and in the car ride home I kept pushing down my socks to feel the texture of these divine encasings, riding the thrill of a desire achieved for the rest of the afternoon.

I’ve never felt such a heightened level of excitement at purchasing woman’s clothes before. Perhaps the energy was sexual, but this was before I had any experience or knowledge of what a sexual experience would entail. I was a naively innocent pre-pubescent boy who had re-discovered the wonderful world of femininity.

I won’t bore you with all the details as to how this pair of pantyhose caused me so much joy and tension. Wearing them, sleeping in them, stressing because I had to wash them without being discovered, finding a place to hide them so noone would discover them – as it turns out my calculator case was a fabulous hiding place :)

This was also the period where I began to derive sexual pleasure from woman’s clothes in one way or another. I won’t dwell on this, since just mentioning it has me blushing behind the luminescent screen of my laptop and anyway, this aspect is no longer an important part of my journey. I must admit eagerly looking forward to the time when the correct hormones are flowing through my body and such desires are under the controlling care of my mental and emotional faculties.

What do you recall about your first shopping experience for feminine finery?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In The Beginning

Crossdressing Childhood Drams
In a continuation of the series first published on Crossdresser Heaven, I explore my earliest transgender memories.

To get where you’re going it’s critical to know where you are, and often helpful to know where you’ve been. I must confess that much of my childhood is shrouded in the fog of memory, but I will strive to share those moments which shine brightest in my mind’s eye.

Crossdressing Childhood Dreams

My earliest memory of being different was when I was about five years old. I can remember it as if it was yesterday. I was besotted with the idea that I would wear my mother’s nightie to bed, yet knew that this desire was wrong. At such a tender age I have no idea how I knew that it would be frowned on, though I’ve heard other ladies say that they were similarly aware at a young age.

As much as a five year old could, I hatched a plan. Early in the evening I would smuggle my mom’s nightie from her room and hide it in the hallway closet. When she came to check on me before going to bed I would pretend to be sleeping, and then wait the torturously long while until my parents went to bed. Once they were soundly asleep I would sneak out to get the nightie, put it on and enjoy a night of bliss.

I must say that I’m quite surprised my plan went off without a hitch, and the next morning I changed back and reversed the “nightie from mom’s room to hallway closet” routine. I remember feelings of anticipation, excitement and then a deep abiding calm as I drifted off to sleep in her nightie.
Crossdressing in Bathing Suits

Still in early childhood I recall one day when a neighborhood girl came to play and then sleep over. In the afternoon sunshine I convinced her to trade bathing suits before running to the pool and jumping in. We bounced around in the water, and I remember loving every moment of it. I was scared that my mom would think something was amiss, yet delighted when she noticed our swap with what I can only imagine was a joyful laugh at the innocence of youth.

Later in the evening we tried to swap pajamas, but the lack of any expandable material in hers meant they didn’t fit. I grudgingly spent the night in my own PJs. My first blocked crossdressing moment, and transgender disappointment…

Crossdressing Party – It’s Allowed!

One of my fondest crossdressing memory came not too many years after the bathing suit event. I’m not sure how old I was, at best I can remember I was about nine or ten. A neighborhood girl (she who was generous with her bathing suit) was throwing a “Crossdressing Party” for her birthday. Everyone had to come crossdressed as the opposite gender, and I went as a Hawaiian hula girl, complete with grassy skirt and appropriate chest coverings.

I had died and gone to heaven and then died again and gone to heaven’s heaven. I still remember my mom telling my to “sway my hips” as we walked around their pool for the final judging. I ended up winning the prize for “best crossdressed boy” (the girls had a similar prize). I don’t recall how I acted after that, though I suspect a combination of hesitant joy and uninterested aloofness. Crossdressing was a fun thing to laugh about, not something to truly enjoy…

All I Want For Christmas

The last memory from my childhood was about a Christmas wish almost fulfilled. Like many youngsters we wrote letters to Santa asking him in our most polite and grateful way what we would like for Christmas. As was routine, we would write the letter, mom would read it and then we’d put it in an envelope and mail it to the North Pole.

I couldn’t have been much older than eleven, when I remember desperately wanting a dress for Christmas. Somehow I knew that telling my mom I wanted a dress was not a wise course of action. I had planned to wait until after she read my Christmas list and then discretely add “A Dress” at the end of the list before mailing it to Santa. After all, what harm could come if Santa brought me a dress? It would be Santa’s fault, not mine.

Unfortunately I chickened out at the last minute. I’m not sure why – perhaps I was afraid that Santa would tell my parents, or that mom would take one last look at the list before I could safely wrap it in an envelope. Whatever the reason, I remember a sense of lost opportunity that Christmas morning despite my abundance of gifts that included a really neat Capsela building kit [Hey, I've always been a geek in my feminine heart…]

The rest of my early childhood fades back into time. I vaguely remember times I sat longingly watching my mom applying makeup. Perhaps it was just an imagined fantasy, but I seem to recall her doing my hair or letting me play with her makeup. Things would only get more interesting when I took my first tentative steps into adolescence…

What memories do you have of your early crossdressing childhood?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Am I Transsexual?

To my dear readers,

In a few short days I'll be undergoing gender reassignment surgery - the key to unlocking the rest of my life. A blessed beginning that I'm eager to embrace. Since in all likelihood I'll be able to focus on little other than recovery for a while, I thought this was an opportune time to post some material I've previously written. While I first published these articles on Crossdresser Heaven, I felt that they are more appropriate on Transgender Heaven, since they deal explicitly with the transsexual experience and may be helpful for those of you who haven't followed my journey up until now.

For those who have been following me, I pray that a re-reading will provide you with new insights. To those who I'm sharing this with for the first time I pray that my story is a blessing to you.

Am I Transsexual - Starting Therapy

Transsexual Therapy
Even though I’ve been walking this path all my life I finally feel as though I’ve started my journey to womanhood. As many of you may know I recently began my transgender therapy. My aim is to validate that transitioning is right for me, and to find a partner who will assist me in the next steps along the journey (hormone therapy, going full time, and eventually the necessary surgical changes).

The beginning of therapy itself was a moment that my life took an irreversible turn – I was going to deal with my gender dysphoria one way or another. I had spent many years running from myself, exploring who I was, learning about the transgender community, discovering my feelings and testing my true nature.

After many years I have been able to overcome the shame I felt at being transgendered and the fear I felt at being myself out in the world. It’s these many years of learning, experience and testing that lead me to therapy almost completely certain that the next stanza in my life needs to be sung in soprano. Yet I know that I must temper my certainty with skepticism and allow my therapist to ask me the hard questions. I must seek new insights and self discovery. For if I don’t my experience through therapy will be poorer, and I would have missed a beautiful opportunity to validate myself.

For myself I find that sharing my experience in words with you lovely ladies is healing. The process of expressing my emotions, and the wonderful comments and insights you share have made my life richer up until now. I would be remiss if I didn’t share my rebirth as a woman with you as well. In advance I thank you for your gracious ear, your wise counsel and your continued readership.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share a new series I call “Am I Transsexual?”, where I seek to answer that question with more completeness and certainty than I’ve been able up until now. You’ll hear my journey, see my changes and get to join me on my experience into my true self.

Before I begin I want to offer a disclaimer. This is my story, my journey. Everyone’s life song is unique and beautiful. There may be aspects of what I share that resonate with you and others you can’t relate to. This is not meant to be a map for navigating your transgender experience – as similar as we are, we are still different, and I highly encourage you to travel your journey along with a licensed professional. If any of this is helpful please let me know – your comments are a true blessing to me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Okay

It's okay when your friends forget you're transgender
For the last few days I've been staying with an old friend who knew me before transition. It's been wonderful to catch up with him and enjoy each other's company. Now that I'm living authentically I feel as though there are fewer barriers up, and we're able to have deeper and more meaningful experiences together.

One thing I've had to work through is the occasional slip he's made into my former name and no-longer-correct pronouns. When he first said it I was a little shocked, mainly because I hadn't heard that name for a long time, and it took me a few moments to realize who he was referring to.

As soon as he said it you could see him trying to reel it back in. It was almost like the cartoon character that grabs words from the air and shoves them back before they can be all the way heard. He accepts me completely as Vanessa, and he was clearly distraught about his slip up.

After he'd said it, I had a realization of my own - It's okay. I don't need to be stressed, or feel invalidated, or self-conscious. When I do this I feel bad, and make my friend's inadvertent mistake seem more catastrophic than it really was. I put emotional intensity into a moment that is best handled by leaving it cast aside in the dim veils of memory.

The next time he made this mistake I thought about how he was feeling. I smiled, said it was okay and told him how much I appreciated his effort to get it right. I diffused the situation, and let him know that I care about him and his efforts.

We all make mistakes, and that's okay.

How do you handle the times when a well meaning friend or family member slips up with your old name or pronouns?

Photo courtesy of dollen

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meeting Those Who Dont Know

When I first came out as a transgender woman I told everyone. Most of my family and close friends knew already, but I blanketed my social circle just the same. All my coworkers, all my friends, long lost acquaintances and colleagues from jobs of yesteryear on LinkedIn.

Naturally, all my transgender friends had known for a while. It's almost a given that you'll be outed when you meet the friend of another transwoman. It's a story for another time, but trans women love to talk about trans stuff. Even if that subject never came up, it's easy for the new introductee to do the math. Tall girl, friends with my trans friend - lets look for other signs. And they're always there. Hands a bit larger, voice not quite perfect - there's something.

Given how thoroughly I came out, it's still a rare experience when I meet friends of friends who know nothing of my history. And I'll admit, it's a somewhat daunting challenge. It's one thing to pass in the brief collisions through daily life, quite another to do so over a meal.

I'm spending the next two weeks in California with some friends. They know all about my transition, but every other night I get to meet the new friends they made since moving to Cali - over dinner, at a party, in other close contact social situations.

While I'm looking forward to meeting new people, I've already decided that I won't talk about my past. I'm not trying to fool anyone, just live my life and meet some great folks. I'm eager to move as quickly as I can from circumstances beyond my control and take my place in the concert of womanhood.

How have you handled similar situations? What was your best or worst experience?

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Token Woman

Society still treats woman as outcasts
While I've been recovering from facial feminization surgery I've had far too much free time. As much as I enjoy writing, for many weeks I couldn't muster the cognitive energy to write much of anything interesting.

When I did have energy I often used it to interact with others - whether it was my dad and his girlfriend who were taking care of me, or friends who came to visit, or friends and family I spoke to through Skype.

These short bursts sapped my strength, and left me needing long stretches of vegetative restoration. Time that demanded to be filled by something requiring no energy. Thankfully - and I say this with telegraphed irony - man's ingenuity had provided just such a device with flashing lights and squawking noises that bore an uncanny resemblance to real life.

There's nothing quite like TV to distract one from pain and discomfort. During my infirmity I noticed a disturbing trend. In just about every show the women were there merely as tokens. Either to serve as sex symbols to appeal to men, or to propitiate the other half of the population.

Women as a token sex symbol

It was almost always a man or group of men who lead. The men were expansive, could evolve and change character easily to adapt to situations. While the woman were more often than not typecast, solidified in the role as humorous distraction, or sexy color or devious villain. The roles they played weren't filled with the complexity of life. It's almost as if someone had once read about woman and tried to cast a character based on what they had read, rather than what they had experienced.

Now, it's quite probable that the shows I tend to enjoy aren't as good at expressing the full richness of women's interactions as others. Yet even as I think back across the years of TV I've watched, I'm hard pressed to name many woman who were as complex, rich and engaging as their male co-stars.

In recent years I've become more of a feminist. Not the chauvinistically created stereotype of an angry, man hating, bra burning, hairy armpit feminist. Rather, someone who notices the small everyday injustices against women, the additional burdens we bear, and is not willing to accept that status quo. I'll resist with quiet, polite and kind determination being typecast.

The realization I had about women in the media today is one I'm sure many others have shared. I'm shocked at how subtle it is, how it trains our daughters to stand in the shadows of men even if they're bright, hard working and competent.

Please share your examples of how women in the modern media are portrayed differently from men.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Woman Come In All Shapes and Sizes

Woman come in all shapes and sizes
It stands sentry all day and all night. Waiting for the chance to taunt you, to shame you with the flaws it exposes. It draws your gaze with tempting promises of a feminine reflection and then shines a spotlight on everything that is out of place.

The mirror boldly declares, "Too tall". It shouts a litany of insults meant to dissuade your self confidence, "Shoulders too broad", "Feet too big", "Arms too long". It joins the chorus of refrains heard by woman blessed to be genetically so, "Too fat", "Breasts too small", "Hips too narrow", "Stomach too large", "Thighs too large", "Flat butt", "No curves".

Even the most self confidence trans-woman needs to steel her defenses against the mirror's barrage. In a world obsessed with image, we seem to be cruelly caught between the body dysmorphia common to so many women, and the fear of not blending that is unique to those in the transgender community.

What I don't like about myself
I am blessed that I'm generally not questioned out in public. Most of those who look twice are men not so subtly staring at an image I can only presume they appreciate.

When I look in the mirror there is much I'm grateful for. My smile, my eyes, my figure, my hair. I can even appreciate my nose on those days when the swelling from facial feminization surgery subsides. And I furiously cheer on the hormones that have caused my breasts to nudge against an A cup.

But some days my countenance is not quite so bright. Like postprandial cramps I find myself unable to digest my imperfections no matter how lovely the appetizers were.

I look at myself and lament my height - at almost 6'2" I tower above most women. I don't wear high heels much for fear that even pro basketball players will be too intimidated by my height to ask me out.

I notice how the long sleeves don't quite reach all the way to my hands, and curse the dearth of arm shortening surgeries available. My size 11W feet taunt me - so large they are like sails fueling the ocean going ships of yore. Too large to shoe shop at most real world stores, yet just a few tantalizing sizes away from being able to wear any style I'd like.

How I Love Myself Inspite of My Flaws
I use three strategies to prevent myself from falling into despair. On the best days I can even accept my flaws as beauty, on most days I do enough that I'm able to ignore them.

Compensate: While there are things I don't like about myself, I choose to focus instead on everything that is good. I take an extra moment to linger on my face, appreciating the blessings God gave me and the surgeon enhanced. I step on the scale and smile at the three digits staring back at me - feeling sexy for all the hard work I put in to get to my ideal weight.

Commiserate: I'm not the only woman who goes through this. The winner of America's Next Top Model just last season is taller than me - her height was achieved even with being genetically female since birth. In fact there are websites devoted to celebrating tall women. My heart is warmed when I see so many beautiful women who are taller than I am. Doubtless their shoe size and arm length follow in proportion, and they have the same struggles I do trying to buy shoes in the department store.

Perspective: Physical beauty as defined by our society fades with age. True friendships aren't formed because of how fabulous you look, and lasting happiness in marriage does not depend on whether you  grace the covers of beauty magazines. My spiritual growth, emotional strength and loving relationship with others are far more likely to determine my life's joy than my body. It's merely a mirage covering my soul.

What do you consider flaws in your feminine appearance, and how did you learn to love yourself?

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How To Go Full Time When You Don't Pass

As a woman we need to pass out in the light of day
I've heard from a few ladies who struggle with this. There is a deep longing inside them to express their feminine side, to live as themselves, to begin their transition. But there is an equally strong fear - fear of embarrassment, of rejection, of having others stare at them and mock them. Sometimes this fear is born of a dire imagination run wild, but other times it's hard earned through experience. Regardless of the source, this fear holds them back, and turns what should be the joy of blossoming into their new life into tragedy and heart ache.

How can one hope to go full time when you don't pass in public? When walking in public puts your safety in jeopardy, and using the restroom threatens to incite violence from those who share it with you?

I'm blessed that I've never had much trouble passing in public, but that doesn't mean I haven't had my own demons to slay, or had occasions when I failed to make the necessary grade. Today I'd like to share with you four strategies for ladies who feel trapped. If you're feeling trapped by passability, read on.

Arm Yourself With a Smile
I remember an occasion where my birth assigned gender was discovered while I was out in public. I was with another trans-woman, at a restaurant in Portland. She's a lovely woman, but both of us are quite tall, and two tall woman together are bound to draw attention regardless of what they look like. On her way out the restaurant a lady looked over at us with a look of disbelieving incredulity. And she kept looked, perhaps bend on starting through our clothes to verify the truth for herself.

When I noticed her I turned to her and gave her the biggest smile my face could hold, and after a few seconds she started smiling back.

Now, at no point did she seem intent on making a fuss, and she was more perplexed than threatening. Yet it is amazing how much difference a smile made - her whole countenance changed, and I'd be willing to bet that she walked out of the restaurant with a better impression of transgender women.

There is nothing as disarming as a smile - this should be the first weapon in your arsenal of public acceptance.

Walk Like A Girl
Before going full time there's likely not a lot you can do about your appearance. Facial surgery is a drastic step without the certainty of full time. Hormones and weight loss are both valuable tools to use in passing, but neither will put you over the edge if you move like a caveman coming home from killing a wild animal.

No matter how tall or stocky you are, feminine movement will make the difference between instantly being outed and being given the benefit of the doubt. This is also something that you can practice in the privacy of your own home while you build up confidence for going full time. I highly recommend Denae Doyl's feminine image DVDs - they're a bit pricey, but well worth it. I find that she errs on the side of being overly feminine, but that's exactly what you need when starting out.

Talk Like A Girl
If your eyes are a window to the soul, your voice is the door. If you've managed to keep composure and pass in passing, a deep masculine voice will undo all your hard work in an instant. I remember an occasion early on, before I'd begun voice training, when I walked into the bank to deposit some money. Before I spoke everything was fine, and when I opened my mouth the teller reacted with such shock you'd think I had slapped her. Clearly I had passed up until the point I opened my mouth, and clearly I no longer did. It wasn't the end of the world, but both she and I felt quite uncomfortable for a few minutes.

I still stress about my voice, but after 18 months of hard work I'm to the point where I'm hardly ever misgendered because of my voice, even on the phone where that's the only clue they have to my gender. If you live in the Seattle area I can't recommend Sandy Hirsch enough - she's not only a sweetheart but a very accomplished speech pathologist. If you'd rather do a self study course, Kathy Perez has a very solid set of training CDs to get you started.

There is No Pass or Fail
If you're spending every moment in public wondering whether you pass I have news for you - you're doing it wrong. At the end of the day it's not about whether you pass. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."

Do your best to blend in, and then be satisfied with your effort. Accept yourself as you are, and others are more likely to accept you. I know I still need to work on this area of acceptance - I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times, but I'm trying to head the advice of some good friends who tell me that I'm doing fine, and I shouldn't stress about it.

It can be daunting to go full time, but try to have fun.

Good luck ladies!

P.S. Follow me on Google+ for great discussion about transgender news and issues. If you don't have an invite, you can get a free invite to Google+ here.

Photo courtesy of Alaskan Dude

Friday, September 9, 2011

Womanhood, feels like... nothing

What does womanhood feel like?
For the last 9 months and 28 days I've been living as a woman all day, every day. At home, at work, and out in the world I am a woman. Whether I'm exercising or relaxing, spending time with friends or alone I am me.

I know that many transgender woman who haven't transitioned long for a few brief hours to express themselves. Like a child before Christmas morning they're enraptured by the experience, and the intoxication of being yourself seeps into your pores like an addictive drug. You might find yourself swinging from highs to lows based on how true you've been to your soul this week, or this month.

I've had a few ladies mention to me that they'd love to present as a woman whenever they want - no doubt anticipating the rapture that authentic living provides. But what does womanhood feel like?

The Resonance
In my experience womanhood feels like nothing. There is no spectacular fireworks display and no mind blowing bliss - merely the harmony of life dancing in time with itself. The song that was sung out of key is now as it should be. The notes in my soul resonate, and create a melody where before there was noise. But the music doesn't overwhelm you with it's presence. This is no rock concert that shocks your system awake. Rather, it's the gentle lapping of waves on the shore - bringing peace, bringing calm. Ultimately it's the backing vocals to the symphony of your life. Enhancing and supporting, never leading.

To me, being a woman feels like the most natural thing in the world. It feels as how everything was meant to be - it's not something special, it's just who I am. My transition hasn't solved all my problems, but it has allowed me to approach them without a cacophony of discordance drowning my life force.

Womanhood feels like nothing, and that's the best thing I could ever have hoped for.

If you've transitioned, how would you describe your feeling of womanhood?
If you haven't, how do you imagine womanhood would feel?

Photo courtesy of nathalielaurie

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A More Appropriate Place

Greetings gentle readers,

Thank you for following me here to this new portion of the web I call my own. I have deep love and care for all those wrestling with gender issues, and for their loved ones who wrestle alongside them. However I found it more and more difficult to write with authenticity about my own life at Crossdresser Heaven. In particular because I can no longer identify with the title. In fact, since transitioning I haven't crossdressed once, or had any desire to. I now live my life in the gender I was always meant to.

As those who have chosen this path can attest, it is most difficult, joyous, challenging, exhilarating, liberating, traumatic, heart wrenching and beautiful. This is my path, the path I was born to walk eventually. I look forward to sharing each step along the way with you. My hope is that this website can become an important resource for others who are considering transition - to that end I'll be reposting some articles I wrote for Crossdresser Heaven that are particularly relevant to the those going further in their transition.

I went full time in November 2010. During the last 10 months I have experienced the world with the delight of a newborn. Thank you for joining me in my rebirth - I look forward to hearing from you.