Give Yourself Permission To Be Both

The other day, I came across a post in a Facebook group about Transgender Makeup. It had nothing to do with makeup, but it got over 100 comments. Here is an abridged version of the post: “My feelings are in a state of constant contradiction. I do so well for myself and my family. We are legitimately happy. But, how could I possibly even experiment living life as her. I find it absolutely depressing when having to undress and revert back to being a Dad who is a construction working “man’s man”. I feel when I’m dressed it’s just a (very short lived) escape from my stressful demanding life. I can’t be feminine in the slightest. I would loose tremendous amount of respect at my job. But clearly, I feel as if a woman is inside me. I’m the sole bread winner of my family, otherwise I would give this other life a shot. I’m happy where I am, but when there is this possibility of maybe something more it’s just daunting and a constant reminder of what I could never be.”

The bulk of the commenters said that they currently have the same problem or they that had the same problem before transitioning. And, I have to confess that I have felt the same in the past. But, those of you who know me, know that I don’t see transition in my future. So, how have I gotten out of this struggle, this pull from two directions? Basically, it comes down to giving yourself permission to be both. To decide to be happy with having both worlds. Actually no, not just “be happy with it”, but feel blessed to have both. Despite all of the struggles I have with my family – two teenage kids and I probably don’t have to tell you about the challenges of holding together a marriage for 25 years – I am blessed to have all 3 of them in my daily life. Julie would be an empty shell, if I didn’t have them to go back to – even though they often drive my crazy. On the other hand, Julie gives my life vibrancy. She does all the fun stuff that boring dad doesn’t have time for. She has all the charisma and knows how to work the room. Yes, the guy version knows how to strike up a conversation with strangers at a jazz club, but it’s not the same. People just light up at the sight of Julie and are so much more eager to engage. It’s completely intoxicating.

So, how do I deal with coming down from that emotional high? Going back to a life that seems almost colorless – like an old black and white movie? Well, the first part of that answer is that Julie is exhausting and there’s no way I could keep up that pace. But, after a few days of rest, I start looking for the next outing. Julie only makes an appearance maybe once or twice a month, so there’s actually quite a bit of downtime. However, because I’m almost always in the process of planning the next outing, it’s almost like Julie never leaves me. Let me say it another way. During the pandemic, there were periods when I had no idea when my next outing would be. It was just a void in front of me. This is when my dysphoria started to kick in. I was grumpy, short with people, especially my family, and generally bitter about having to do things for them with virtually no appreciation.

You see, this is the other part of the equation, Julie would be a shell without my family, but without Julie to look forward to, I wouldn’t be able to deal with struggles of family life. I sum that up as balance – one could not exist without the other. So, the balance is this. During my daily life, which is mostly boy mode, I’m almost constantly planning for my next Julie outing. And there’s so much to do. Who will join me? Gotta invite folks. Where will I go? Gotta research and make reservations. What will I wear? Lots of last minute shopping to get that outfit together. How will I look? Gotta keep up my workout and skincare routine so I look great in that outfit. Are you now seeing how Julie is always with me even during that downtime?

Even writing these blog posts or planning something like Paint the Town (https://paintthetownchicago.wixsite.com/2022) is part of that process. The pic at the top of this post are my suitcases for Pinkfest 2019 – tons of outfit planning, but also planning a bunch of the activities that year. Having all of that going on and having my next Julie activity in the front of my mind is what allows me to remain calm and composed while suffering the indignities of being a husband of 25 years and father of 2 teenage kids. This is why I say, I feel blessed to be who I am. Because, I don’t know how I would survive without having Julie by my side.

Oh wait. You’re probably looking for some pretty pictures. No worries, I got cha girl!! A couple weeks ago, I went to Rori’s T-girl party out in the suburbs. It wasn’t really planned, but there was 5 week gap between my planned outings, so this was a bit of last minute self care. Usually, I take the train in boy mode and get my Julie on in a hotel out there. But this time, I got a room in the city and Julie took the train. The original plan was to wear my houndstooth skirt, which I started the day with.

But, while shopping in the city, I found an awesome skirt – leather, but metallic pink. Back in the room, I changed into a black top and was like, I need to wear this tonight!! But, I thought it might be a bit much for riding on the commuter train. So, I packed the new skirt in my purse and went back to the houndstooth. On the train I started to feel the beginnings of a migraine coming on. As I got off the train, I noticed a supermarket where I could get some Advil. As I entered the store, I overheard a guy hanging around the entrance say, “Now, that’s a fine looking woman”. I was looking rather sophisticated it the houndstooth and chic boots – my friend said I looked like a lawyer. None of that made it any easier to get my inflated head through the front door. The T-party was great fun with lots of friends in attendance, many of which I hadn’t seen before the pandemic.

Of course there were plenty of pictures.

Afterwards, a friend gave me a ride back to the city and I grabbed a nightcap at this great blues bar, which happens to be just a block from the Paint the Town hotels Here’s the bottom line. Having two sides need not be a curse. With the right perspective, it can actually be a blessing. Who we are makes us unique, interesting, and most notably, better equipped to deal with the struggles of everyday life. Please, please, please, go out and find your sparkle. You will not regret it.

8 thoughts on “Give Yourself Permission To Be Both”

  1. I am going to leave something here in the form of a comment. The absolute joy I get from one of my contributors, here it’s Juls, writing something as meaningful and thoughtful as this is indescribable. Thank you ladies, all, for this gift to me!

  2. Julie,
    What a wonderful story and certainly one that I can relate to! The balance, at times, can be overwhelming. “Sherry” is always in my mind as I want the best version of her to shine when I go out. You look beautiful as always, love love your outfits ❤️
    Stay beautiful-Sherry

  3. Julie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and relating to us your outings. You have a lot of fun and you look so beautiful.
    My Jocelyn times are rare and quite simple. But they are satisfying enough for me. Your stories, and Kandi’s, Sherry’s and Dee’s allow me to live vicariously through you. Thanks for letting me “tag along”.
    Jocelyn

  4. Julie,

    Lovely Little Story — and real at that– Understand the balancing act, however now that spouse on the scene and both daughters married and living out of state was able to trade the “BIG” four bedroom suburban house with two car garage for a smaller two bedroom cottage in a smaller town and have complete freedom to be Marie almost full time ad have developed a network of supportive CIS women who treat Marie as just another girl. And yes Marie’s wardrobe in all its varieties far outnumbers the slim boy by a factor of 20-30 to one and includes sleepwear for every night of the week with some extra. I do not present to your level but enough not to be bashful. Am very comfortable being Marie, Thanks you for your posts. Best of everything. MAG

  5. Julie, you have so clearly written what is on so many of our minds. How can we balance these two sides of us without going crazy (or worse)? I’m always thinking about outfits and being out, but my opportunities for dressing have been, sadly, very rare since the start of the pandemic.

    On a happier note, I love both of your skirts! You certainly are a “fine looking woman” in the pictures.

  6. Great post and great skirt, Julie!

    I am guessing that for many of us not a day goes by without thinking about dressing. I too am always trying to determine my next time out, what I’m going to do, what I’m going to wear. It’s like a junkie needing to get her fix.

    Even the yin and yang of the fun and the angst of dressing is evident in your post. Found a great skirt! Yea! Wear on commuter train? Not so much. Deep down, you know it would be OK to wear the new skirt on the train, but the negative thoughts are always lurking in the back of our brains, telling us no.

    We contributors still share those doubts, but finally decided WTF and overcame those doubts. The plans and dreams became realities and somehow not only didn’t the world end, it got better.

    Getting out dressed occasionally gives me balance too.

  7. Julie,

    Great post and very thought provoking. This can be a very tough life and we can easily get wrapped up in fantasy land, even perhaps believing that transition will resolve all of our problems. Truth is, it only resolves one – gender dysphoria – and there’s always the risk that it’ll pile on far more than it resolves.

    So we have to seek compromise – and thanks to our chromosomes, it will always be a compromise – but as you illustrate, that compromise doesn’t have to be the worst of both worlds as many fear. For me, that compromise is looking through my photos 2 or 3 times a day just to remind myself of who I really am. And as you intimate in the title to your post, self acceptance is important – I’m a whole lot calmer about all of this now that ‘he’ and ‘she’ have stopped battling with eachother for supremacy and accepted that they’re one and the same person, sometimes dressed one way and sometimes the other. I’ve also learned that I don’t need to put on a dress & heels to allow ‘Amanda’ to flourish; tapping away at the keyboard gives her a voice when circumstances prevent a more visual manifestation and interacting with others through that medium gives her much needed validity.

    In fact, my main frustration these days is having to keep all of this under the radar for reasons I’ll cover in a future posting of my own – I’d love to show others my photos and tell them how proud I am that that’s me and I look forward to the day that that is a reality, not just a pipe dream.

    Great outfits by the way!

  8. Julie,
    Your posting is wonderful and could have easily been me. I too love my life and family. Could I have lived my life as Joy, yes! But by choice and necessity, I live in two world.
    Thank you
    Joy

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