[Author's Note: Well, it's been almost three months since i posted that introduction, and i've been using a lot of that time working on composing this entry, first letting it spin in my head for a long time and then actually forcing myself to sit down and hash all of this out at the keyboard... ad even then it's been like trying to pour water through clogged pipes getting all of this to flow out through the keyboard. The result of all of these months of thinking of, really, little aside from this (classes be damned) is the post below. Hopefully it helps explain where my head has been for all these months of blog silence. Content Warning: this post talks about my sexuality and anatomy. Potential Trigger Warnings: Trans Fetishism, Depression]
It started out as a fetish. i feel shitty for even saying it, much less leading with it, because i know about the problems the Trans community often faces with fetishists who see Trans people as nothing more than an object of arousal. But as much as i’d like to ignore the fact, it remains true: my serious interest and exploration of my gender got its start as a fetish, though perhaps not in the way usually associated with Trans fetishism…
As a submissive in the BDSM lifestyle, i’ve sort of adopted the attitude that i’ll try almost anything once, and most things twice just to make sure. It was this journey of personal discovery that eventually brought me to the idea of crossdressing and feminization play. Before i ever had the chance to try out anything in this vein, i can remember feeling oddly drawn to it, as if from a deeper level. It was a similar feeling to the one i recall when i first began my explorations into BDSM–curious, a little scared, but somehow feeling like it was the “right” direction for me to be going. More and more i felt myself being pulled toward the idea of feminization in a BDSM context, but none of my play partners at the time were particularly interested in going down that road with me; in fact some of them, from the context of discussions had in passing, seemed to be downright against the idea.
But the idea persisted, and eventually i was able to borrow an old pair of panties from The Woman during the time that we were together. The two of us never really played out the fantasy at all, but when i tried on the panties, i was instantly aroused. After the break-up i kept the panties, but i didn’t get them out again for a number of months. When i did, their association with her didn’t affect my response. i was clearly into what i had tried so far, and i wanted–needed–to explore further.
i’m not sure exactly when the play turned serious. i can’t pinpoint the exact moment my thinking shifted from a fun and enjoyable expression of my sexuality to serious considerations that i might be Trans in some way. As close as i can figure it, it was close to the time that i started regularly shaving my legs and armpits. There was just something about the act (and the result) that just felt… nice. Not necessarily nice in just a “smooth legs feel good” or even an aroused sort of way… just… nice. The feminine feeling and mindset it brought felt… right somehow.
The feeling of rightness persisted through further experimentation. With the help of a few close friends at various occasions where the opportunity presented itself, i tried wearing more lingerie and learned the ins and outs of putting on makeup. i even took my first halting steps in heels. Each time i tried something new it felt like i was moving closer and closer to something… something big and inescapable, and more than anything, something true. i wasn’t just acting out a fetish for the purposes of play anymore. There was something deeper about my identity that was surfacing in this exploration.
The exact nature of what it is is still fuzzy and shrouded to me. i’ve tried to piece together what i can based on present feelings i have had, along with memories of things from my past that have been recontextualized in hindsight. Starting with the past, i remember early on that i had a tendency to socialize more easily with girls than with boys, and my play style during recess and other settings tended more toward cooperative play, most notably games of make-believe, than the more competitive, sport-oriented play of most young boys. i can remember willingly playing games like “House” with playmates in grade school, as well as more elaborate story-based games well into the later grades of Elementary School, by which point most of my male friends were occupying themselves with football or basketball on the playground. Even at that age, as young as first or second grade, i felt a measure of stigma to the way i played. i was openly ostracized by the time i reached fourth through sixth grade, and it was “suggested” to me many times by my peers that i should join in the football or basketball games in order to be more accepted.
The stigmatization of behaviors that were not “masculine” was a steadily intensifying factor in my grade school years, and i learned the lessons of those years well, to the point that, while i didn’t necessarily go out of my way to be Super-Masculine Sports Guy, i definitely developed an avoidance, perhaps even a fear of doing anything that might be perceived as feminine. One such thing that i struggled with was my emotional expression. Like many children who were different in some way, i had to deal with a fair share of bullying, and my strong emotional reactions were often more than i could contain, leading to tears. This, of course, only made things worse, and i remember taking a page out of Star Trek and basically turning myself into a Vulcan over the course of my eighth grade year. The unfortunate side effect is that i am still very much an emotional bottler, and i do not deal with my negative emotions in a healthy manner.
i’ve now strayed a bit from my original course, but this still illustrates one particular example of the “locking away” i did of anything that could leave me open to ridicule. To this day i have difficulty letting go and relaxing completely. Self-preservation has taken control of many of the things that might have blossomed and developed at an earlier age if i had not feared so much to simply allow myself to be myself. i’ve been a late bloomer for pretty much everything about myself that has been different… leaving my parents’ religion, having my first sexual experience, discovering my bisexuality, embracing my submissive BDSM proclivities… this new journey within my own gender is just another entry in a long line of things i have come to behind the curve. i need only look to my early adolescent years to see examples of how i might have progressed in this direction much earlier if i had been less afraid of myself.
One of the earliest things i can remember as i began to become more sexually aware was a sense of discomfort with my own anatomy. And, yes, i realize that this is a common trend for most people during puberty, but i remember actively wondering what it was like to have female parts and wanting to experience what it felt like to be a girl during this time. This wasn’t just a passing thought; it was something i remember actively thinking about, to the point that i actually voiced these thoughts to someone who i thought was a friend at the time. He turned right around and told one of my main bullies during that period, and i definitely heard about it later.
i can also remember exploring in my parents’ bedroom one evening when i had the house to myself. i discovered a drawer of my mother’s more risque lingerie and tried some of it on, modeling it in front of a mirror in my parents’ room. i remember really enjoying that… i hadn’t really thought of it in years until i started heading down this road, but now that i think back, the memory is vivid. It wasn’t a one-time thing either, i repeated the play a few more times when i was home alone.
It could be that some of the things i’ve related from my past are things that i am reading too much into, but that doesn’t change the feelings i am having in the present. Those feelings have been, first and foremost, intense cognitive dissonance. Part of me feels like i have been pushing an important aspect of myself down for almost 20 years, to the point that i don’t even really know how to properly interact with it. Another part of me wants to just keep things simple–i’ve made my life complicated enough with all these other non-standard orientations and belief systems, do i really need to continue making it even more difficult? A third part of me wants to just completely immerse myself in every part of this exploration and find out exactly where this rabbit hole is leading me. My instincts say that this third part is probably the closest to the healthiest outlook on this situation, but it doesn’t really negate the existence of the other two.
This push and pull extends to specific details as well. At this point i’m reasonably confident that the eventual destination of this gender exploration is going to be some sort of non-binary orientation… genderfluid is the one i find myself most drawn to… because that’s honestly how i feel. My gender identity feels like it’s in a state of near-constant flux, moving up and down the continuum between male and female from day to day… sometimes from minute to minute. There are times that i desperately wish i could just swap my gender entirely and be a woman, and there are times when i just want to chuck this whole idea and keep being a man. Most of the time, i’m somewhere in between. i wish i could feel sexual arousal and orgasm from a female perspective, but i don’t especially want to lose the male experience that i currently have, either. i want to feel free to express the feminine aspects of this fluctuation when they arise, but i often feel silly and artificial when i try–i see too much of the male me present in the reflection in the mirror. i know i’ll never naturally fill out a bra, and i know that there are ways i can create the illusion of doing that without permanently altering my body… but there are times that i desperately wish i had a pair of beautiful breasts with real cleavage and a sexy feminine form. There are times when i catch myself thinking “i wish i could just be a girl,” but there are also times when i truly need to continue to be a man (most often in professional settings).
The truth of the matter is that at this point i really don’t know what i am.
The only thing i think i know–and i’m really not even entirely sure of that–is that my gender falls in some sort of Trans identity. i feel like dressing up in feminine clothes and presenting as female is too much of a performance at this point to be completely comfortable with it (and perhaps that will change as i get better at hiding the masculine features that still poke through when i do it), but i also feel like presenting myself as entirely masculine and male is just as much of a performance… just as artificial feeling. i feel sort of trapped somewhere in between, and i want to be able to express either, or both, depending on how i’m feeling at any given time. i really wish i had more androgynous features, just in general, because that might at least make some of this a tiny bit easier.
And now this has pretty much turned into a bit of a stream of consciousness rant. That last paragraph wandered all over the board… some of it fit in a new paragraph, but that last sentence would have probably been more at home in the paragraph before. And, truth be told, at this point i’m just letting it go on in this stream of consciousness fashion, because that’s how my stream of consciousness is right now… this incredibly tangled Gordian knot of thoughts and emotions that won’t seem to properly resolve or become less complicated. Every time i make some kind of progress, the shifting sands of my mental state create more disharmony.
i’m a naturally depression-prone person as it is… i don’t think i can remember a time since maybe fourth grade where there hasn’t been at least some sort of lingering discontent hiding in the back of my mind. Through the years it has ebbed and flowed, sometimes just being that slightly off-kilter feeling underlying an otherwise contented existence, sometimes blossoming into a fully-fledged major depressive episode like the one that landed me on academic probation twice in two years during my undergrad. Most of the time it’s somewhere in between, and it really doesn’t matter what’s actually going on in my life. Right now my fledgling career is really starting to gain momentum, i’m getting closer and closer to a more financially independent state of existence, i have multiple friends who i know love me and want me to be happy regardless of what that happiness means. i have all of this stuff going for me in my favor, but it’s the most depressed i’ve felt in a long while. i know that a lot of it has to do with the fact that i’m basically uprooting and inspecting my own existential core, but that understanding doesn’t really make it any better. And despite the fact that i’m incredibly quick to provide a kind ear and support for friends when they need it, and the lip-service i give to the necessity of getting help from people, i still don’t really know how to properly ask other people for help… it feels like i’m being selfish and needy and troubling them with my problems in addition to their own when i try to do it.
The truth is i’m really kind of a mess right now. i’ve really been kind of a mess for years, truth be told, i’ve just gotten better at being a more functional mess, mostly through the cultivation of an ability to laugh at my own pain and engage in dry gallows humor. And even now, for the most part, i’m a very well-hidden, swept-under-the-rug mess about 90% of the time, especially in professional settings.
But the mess is still there, waiting for me to be alone with it.
Shit, that took a hard left turn. Where the hell did that come from? i think i really need to stop procrastinating that whole “getting back into regular therapy” idea i’ve been kicking down the road for the last year or so…
Update 3/19/14: i’ve scheduled a counseling appointment, so… progress?