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.