By Amanda J.
My first steps into the trans world were taken on Flickr, the photo sharing site that’s become a major social media platform for the crossdressing community. It’s a great place – just post a photo of yourself looking fabulous and then sit back and wait for the (hopefully) inevitable flood of comments telling you how gorgeous you look!
Well, that’s the theory anyway. In practice, things can get rather more complicated. We feel flattered when a male admirer compliments us whilst simultaneously thinking ‘ewwww, no way!’. There’s a moment of pride as one of our photos is ‘faved’ before we realise that the ‘faver’ has a deplorable attitude to women, regardless of provenance, evidenced by the titles of the Flickr groups they belong to. We befriend people because they seem to be like minded and then they deal one from the bottom of the pack by either outright admitting that they’re attracted to us or leaving a suggestive comment that leaves little to the imagination. Thank heavens that Flickr has a block button!
But every so often, we’re rewarded with a comment that’s so left field that all we can do is laugh!
To set the scene, I’d wanted to try out a look involving a smart tailored jacket with a rather short checked skirt and a night away from home in a Travelodge (UK chain of reasonably priced hotels and a bit of a favourite with the CDing community) gave the perfect opportunity. I managed to get quite a few photos which I was comfortable posting on Flickr including this one.
Soon, I started to collect comments on the photo and in amongst all of the others was the following: ‘Really fine presentation and legs quite likeable for leg lovers’
Whilst it was pleasing to note that my presentation was ‘really fine’, I have to confess to a tinge of disappointment that my legs only looked quite likeable and even then, only for leg lovers. Oh well, a compliment’s a compliment I suppose and I’ll take whatever I can get.
But there was more to come! This batch of photos also came to the notice of another CDer who soon got straight to the point on a comment on another photo. She talked about the challenges of getting a good photo paid several very nice compliments about my outfit but then added: ‘I think that hairstyle needs work or another style. Maybe I’m wrong. Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend.’
This was just the sort of comment I loved to receive. She’d made a genuine attempt to connect & empathize with my emotions. She said the outfit was great. She didn’t like the hairstyle but her honesty was refreshing, as was her worry that she may have offended me which she definitely hadn’t. Wishing to reassure her, I replied: ‘Thank you for your lovely comment. You’re right about the hairstyle, I think. It can look nice but it doesn’t on this photo.’
I really should have stopped there but excited about the prospect of exchanging views with my new best friend, I continued: ‘I’m glad you like the outfit, though. I really wanted to put together a smart outfit with a shorter skirt and I think this outfit looks good.’
It was at this point that the conversation took on a life of its own. She paid me another compliment and we were obviously kindred spirits but, unfortunately, as English was obviously not her first language, misinterpreted my comment about wanting a shorter skirt (by which I meant shorter than I’d previously worn, not shorter than the one on this particular photo) and gently scolded me explaining that ‘very short skirts are worn by indecent girls’, and then reiterated that, regarding the hairstyle, ‘something has to be done’.
It was time for me to start trying to get myself out of the hole I’d dug for myself:
‘This skirt is definitely as short as I’d want to go – any shorter, as you say, looks indecent on all but the most beautiful women!’
Whilst the reply that came back did give me some reassurance that my skirt was just on the right side of the decency boundary, it did little to convince me that I wasn’t still digging that hole:
‘I believe that a woman should be a mystery. A skirt down to your underpants is no longer a skirt. But slightly exposed knees create a mystery. There is an intrigue in the length of the skirt…On the beach, girls go almost naked and there’s no mystery. But if the knees are slightly covered with a skirt, there’s mystery and intrigue. A skirt shorter than this should not be worn but it could be slightly longer, I think.’
On a positive note, at least my hairstyle was no longer under scrutiny but, at that point, I decided that it would be best to stop digging and ensure that, in future, my skirts left more of me to the imagination and less to the naked eye!
Perhaps, before I go on, I should address the elephant in the room. What possesses a man in his 60s to try to transform himself into the most glamorous woman that his testosterone riddled body will permit and then post the results on public forums. I have no answer to the first part of the question as I am still trying to figure it out for myself but I can give insight into the second half – why do I post?
A couple of reasons really. The first is that, as a closeted crossdresser, it’s my feminine side’s only interface with the outside world. It feels good when someone responds to something I’ve posted and even better if the responder is happy to engage in conversation as our friend above was. The second reason is that I want to spread the simple message to anyone who reads my ramblings is that they’re not alone. They’re facing exactly the same frustrations and challenges as the rest of us have faced at one time or another in our lives and if I can encourage others to accept this side of themselves, prevent them from making the same mistakes that I made or even just prompt them to tell me that they’ve been through the same, I’m a very happy girl. It’s nice to post a photo and be told that I look nice but I want to guide people to read what I write and engage in the conversation. I’m definitely not just fishing for compliments.
Having decided to withdraw from Flickr, I looked for another forum where I could spread the word and came across Reddit. There seemed to be quite a lot of intelligent conversation going on in the trans community there so I took the plunge and posted one of my BWBG photos and talked about the profound emotional effect that my visit to BWBG had on me. And I got some really nice comments back – some just telling me I looked nice and others doing exactly what I was hoping for and engaging in the discussion. So I did a couple more posts with much the same response.
But, of course, put on a dress, nylons & heels and a wig & makeup and post the resultant photos on a trans themed website and it’s a foregone conclusion that I’d quickly come to the attention of the ‘admirer’ community who assumed that, just because I’d posted photos of myself looking particularly feminine, I’d find their charms irresistible. And apparently, the Reddit ‘chat’ facility is the weapon of choice for any self-respecting admirer!
Now, I have a personal rule never to reply to admirers. I’m not interested in a relationship with anyone other than my wife and to engage in dialogue with even the slightest sexual overtone with anyone else, particularly men, is just completely inappropriate. So I’ll never know the true intentions of the first couple of chat requests I received – they were fairly innocuous compliments – but I can have a good guess where the discussion would have quickly gone to if I’d replied. But the next one was more than happy to make his intentions clear: ‘this is really random but are you into guys? I’m 23 and quite handsome’
Well, that was a relief. I’d have hated to think of him as 23 and ugly! My first thought was to reply along the lines of ‘listen sonny, if you’d read what I wrote, you’d realise that I’m old enough to be your grandmother and this is a serious thread to discuss trans issues amongst the older members of the community, not a ‘grab a granny’ dating app!’ but, in the end, I decided that discretion was probably the best way forward and hit the ignore key consigning my love-struck suitor to oblivion (or, more likely, to the next ageing trans woman he fancied his chances with).
And only this morning as I was writing this, I came to the attention of another potential suitor. All I’d done was to respond to a comment about ‘passing’ but that was enough to get me noticed and a chat request to come my way: ‘You look beautiful I have some amazing photos of my wife if you want to trade’
I’m still lost for words as I write this! Perhaps I should feel flattered that he considers me worthy of comparison with his wife although I do note that he seemed to be careful to use the word ‘amazing’ to describe the photos rather than his wife so the bar may not have been particularly high here. That said, I’m sure she’s very nice and would no doubt be horrified to learn that her photos were being offered up as a trade for those of a 61 y/o crossdresser. Equally, I’m not entirely sure what he was expecting on the photos if I did decide to take up his offer to trade but something tells me that he may not have given quite enough consideration to the fact that, stripped of my makeup, wig and outfit, my body is never going to bear even a passing resemblance to his wife’s. Or perhaps he has given that sufficient thought and the offer of a trade was for ‘amazing’ photos not of me but of Mrs A in return for similar of his wife.
Unfortunately, neither he nor I will ever know because of the irresistible urge I am now feeling to click on the ‘ignore’ button and consign his message to the aforementioned oblivion!
And if, unlikely though it probably is, any of the authors quoted above is actually reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Living with what we have to contend with is not easy and sometimes we need to be reminded to lighten up a bit and enjoy this side of ourselves, not curse it & allow it to overwhelm us. And every interaction I have, particularly the ones that make me smile for whatever reason, is something to be cherished because it provides much needed validation. And that’s not validation that I’m considered woman enough to be compared with someone else’s wife (yeah, right!) or that I look particularly gorgeous or any of the other gushing adjectives thrown around like confetti by admirers of the trans community (as if!) or even that I was born to be a woman (not with these chromosomes I wasn’t) but just validation that, for whatever reason, this side of my personality is worthy of being acknowledged. Because that is our reward for all of the effort we put in and frustrations we endure just to live this part of our life.