What is what?

There's a lot of misinformation around the world on this subject. Not that mine is 100% correct. But I have looked up enough to paint a better picture. Even those who have to live it, are continuously discussing who uses the correct words. And it's also constantly changing in the psychiatry/psychology.

But maybe it can help in giving some explanation to those that don't know a lot about it. You don't find the best examples on the internet and the media is mostly presenting stereotypes.

It's hard to stay objective with this kind of stuff. In part it does involve me. Although not everything does apply to me anymore, but it can give a general idea on the subject. Some of these texts are several years old. Others are adjusted a bit and some are extended. Some were written when I was clear of mind, others when I didn't know where to go with my thoughts. And those are also good ingredients to philosophize. So consider this also when reading. I did :D.

Click the subjects below to open/close the content.


Some vocabulary

Many words are used interchangeably. So a bit of knowledge of what word you are using, isn't harmfull.

A term I would almost forget to mention, what is used quite a bit [at least in Europe], is en femme. This is used as a verb. As you may notice, it's a word from the French language and is used to express that they are dressed as a female. You can look at it as a female-mode and a male-mode.
In the deeper form of the meaning, they would also make it clear that they want to be addressed as a woman at that time and/or so treated.

Misconception :: homosexual/heterosexual

One of the biggest clich├ęs that is thought about T-girls, is that we are attracted to men. While most of us are into women. There will be a lot of people laughing: "How can you call yourself heterosexual when you dress like a woman?!". Simple, because it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Gender-identity and sexual orientation do not walk hand in hand and have nothing to do with each other.
Want to know the best part about it? Many of those so called heterosexual "real men" are the ones that go after T-girls. They're not homosexual, but when nobody is around or their friends aren't looking, they're all over us. Even when they know we are actually men. And don't scare, that number "heterosexual" men is high.

In my opinion it also seems people rather have us homosexual, because that way that "image" makes sense for them. Are you a homosexual T-girl, then you're brave for stepping out of the closet. When you're a heterosexual T-girl, there is something wrong with you. At least, that's what peoples behavior is telling me. And I have to say that I don't feel any acceptance from friends when they say "We don't mind if you would be gay". They can something like that a few times, but if they keep repeating it, then they just want to make it their version of the truth. Just as homosexuals don't choose their orientation, so we don't make that choice.

This misconception is reinforced because there are a lot of T-girls who have their own Web page, proclaiming that when they are female they want to make out like a woman and get laid by a man. Or post photos with their bottoms and/or "breasts" as focus point that it's more like bad pornographic pictures [pornographic photos can also be artistic ;)]. So there are also a lot of T-girls "guilty" for maintaining that image.

Misconception :: sex-oriented

As the internet grew, nobody seemed to be shy anymore to show another side of them. And you can't deny that because of the internet, sex(games) were getting more in the open. SM, roleplaying, ... it all gets more and more in the open. And transvestim is that's frequently in there. Type the word "transvestie" in google. 7/10 that you come accross pornographic tinted websites. It doesn't help people like us. Many still see the internet as the source of correct information. One does not stop to think that because this association, T-girls are "forced" to keep hidden.

Misconception :: better in fashion [and other "womanly things"] than "real men"

Even though I would like to believe that this was true, unfortunatly it isn't so. Just as there are women who don't have any interest in fashion and/or have no sense of fashion, that's also the case for T-girls. Even with gay-people. Expressing your female side by one way or the other doesn't make you great in what is associated with it. At the "big bang" in which virtually every homosexual seemed to come out of the closet, suddenly you saw all these men work at clothing stores, beauty shops and the like. Why all of a sudden that "boost" in that sector? Because they assume that homosexuals are more in touch with their feminine side and thus have a better taste in clothing or take better care of themselves. You can also draw this to T-girls to some extend, with the difference being T-girls are still taboo.

And while we're on the subject anyway. These days on reality-programs you have a lot of positive discrimination going on. Like that show where people make food and get invited to judge them. Mostly it's 2 women and 2 men, one of the males most of the times being a stereotypical gay guy. That doesn't bother me that much. What does bother me is when the women get "interviewd" about potential candidates. Half the time a woman says "I hope there is a gay guy, I like gay guys, they are fun!". Like gay people are some kind of toys/dolls they can play and have fun with. That's not accepting anything, that's just pleasing yourself.
And what is the reason most women like gay people? A reason I hear a lot of the time is because they can hang out with men without being "harassed" by male testosteron. Like every heterosexual man wants nothing else to do with a woman then to hump her leg?! Again, you are not accepting, you're just feeding your own pleasure. You do know there are also different kinds of gay people, right?
Don't know how gay people aren't annoyed by that, it even annoys me. Accept people for who/what they are, not because of what they can do for you.

Misconception :: weak and/or effeminate

This has a lot to do with the social ladder society has created. That's why today people still "fight" for equality. But apparantly it is only for the select few groups. Women, foreigners, ... . But us? On the social ladder, men are on top, but with little freedom. Women are a bit lower, but have a lot more freedom. With emancipation women want to go at the same level as men. And so they should. But they don't want to give up part of that freedom women have. And they shouldn't do that either. But men aren't allowed the same freedom. They are allowed to do some female stuff, but not that much. More chores: yes, more freedom: no.
Women going "up the ladder" to the level of men are considered brave and strong. Because going to the status of a man is still considered an upwards motion. Yet a man who doesn't want to be at that level and just wants more freedom and going to the status of a woman, is considered a downward motion. And thus considered weak. And no, this is not some male chauvaunistic thing. Even women these days think this way, although few would admit it.

For example: a woman who loves soccer is considered more male than a man who doesn't love soccer. Because you know, all guys like soccer, right! So a woman who loves soccer is more of man than I am? So that makes me more woman than her? Yet then she's still considered more woman than me, because she physically is a woman. So what doesn't add up here? Is this just a one way street?
And this theory, applied to T-girls. Is this why we are considered weak. Because we want to "go down" the social ladder.

If anything, we are much stonger! We know how it is on both sides of gender. We transcend the genders [cocky, right? How does that feel?!]. We have/had to fight "battles" you can't even imagine, with ourselves and society. Yet we are still standing, some stronger than others, but we're still standing.

Effeminate

You do know we don't develop a very loose wrist all of a sudden? We don't swing our hips like there is no tomorrow. There is a difference between being a woman and being effeminate. How many women do you see with exagerated moves like that? Not many. The same with us. There are some, but those are the same kind as the women they want to represent. We don't go maximum high pitch nor do we start giggling like "sissy's".

Being a T-girl has nothing to do with effemination of being a sissy. It has to do with being oneself that happens to be more on the female side.

Acceptance :: with ourselves

Funny enough, in the beginning, we also have it hard to accept it. And this can take years. It's something that goes against the standard values which are taught tot us. So in the beginning we feel rather guilty. And it is something that pops up regularly.

At the start you just basicly do stuff. And when you approach the mirror and look at yourself you can't stop but wondering: "What the hell am I doing?!". So everything goes off again. But that doesn't prevent you from continueing with it. After a while you notice there is no stopping it. And every time you look, you think: "Why of all people do I need to be that one?!". Most of the time you try to deny it and are looking for some distraction. For me I threw myself on working out. Fitness, cycling, running, swimming, kickboksing, ... . Basicly anything that would drain me physically so I would be distracted mentally. Maybe a decent muscled male body would help me get my mind of it. And with the benefit of some female attention maybe. And that worked everytime... at least for a while. And that time got shorter.
The way of denying it does change too. What started as pure denial, later changed to just trying to forget. What changes into just "drifting around" after that. And then it starts to tear you apart. You don't do anything, you're just floating around and don't have a grip on anything. You can imagine that scene from the movie "Cast Away" where Tom Hanks finally is able to get of the island, but then loses Wilson the volleyball. Your personality and feelings just drift apart from each other. Slowly... and you see it happen, but you aren't able to do anything about it.

Fortunatly you start to look at yourself in the mirror with a satisfying result. Do you just get better at it or are you beginning to accept yourself like that? At least you're not thinking it is wrong anymore. Maybe just when you pick a combination that doesn't seem to work. But it gets fun and you try to achieve better results all the time.
And then the tide changes again. But this time in another way. You try to get rid of the things that betray you in female-mode as much as possible. This is also where you start to look at your body in a different way. And where you used to be rather satisfied about it, as a "woman" you aren't that much satisfied anymore. You do like the stuff women wished they had. But you are still a man. My obvious problem are the shoulders and that's never going to change. But for the remainder... there are solutions.

Acceptance :: gossip, prejudice and other stuff

As if we hadn't have a hard time dealing with that already, put some gossip and prejudice on top of that. Now I can't speak for other people on that matter, but I had to endure a lot of this. My best friend became my worst enemy and started a lot of gossip about me. Now you can say, everybody has to endure some gossip, just rub it off and continue with your life, it doesn't affect you if you don't let it. That really doesn't apply here. These gossips were destroying my life. And worst of all, they were believed by many people. I had to endure a lot of gossip and prejudice to a great extend of my life. Going about the gossip and prejudice: I was a homosexual, I was a gangster, I was a drug-user, I was a drug-dealer, I was blackmailer, I was a washed-ashore Italian [yes, all of a sudden I'm an Italian] who thinks women are only good for sex,... . You want to know the best part of it?! I'm quite the opposite of all of that. And what did people think? That this gossip didn't eventualy end up to me? That it wouldn't hurt me? And why did I had to prove my self over and over again, just because people thought I wasn't smart, that I wasn't educated, that I didn't have any skills,... . How do you think I felt when people thought nothing would hurt me, I didn't have any emotion, that I wasn't worth their time, that I was selfish? Do people have any idea how much that hurts. How much energy it costs to constantly prove otherwise [to myself and others]? And then still, I had to deal with my very own issues.

You say that gossip will always be there. And you're right! You shouldn't let gossip dictate your life. Right there with you, I'm sure! Prejudice, everybody has that. Even I. And there is no going around it. But there is a difference having prejudice dictate you or you dictating prejudice. Despite my own prejudice, I'm not shy of admitting I'm wrong and getting through that prejudice. And I am the one who has to work to get past that prejudice. Not the person whom I have some prejudice about. So why would I have to put in the extra energy when someone has prejudice about me? And I'm talking about a person who can have control of certain aspects of your life [a job-recruiter, friends, family, neighbours, ... ].

Words can't hurt you say? Are you sure of that? Do you know words probably have cost more lives than wars ever did.

Negative, oh so negative

I get blamed for this a lot. I'm not the most positive person. I can't see anything good. My behavior/expressions are very negative, that's why negative things happen to me.
Did people for a moment stop to think and consider that I'm not the source of negativity but that my behavior/expressions are the consequence of the negative things I've been through?! No, because that's impossible? Do you really think you can be positive when people spread lies about you. When they scale down the achievements you made, look down on your skills, take every opportunity to put the blame on you, try to steal the things you obtained, "friends" that get close to stab you in the back, ... .
Do people even consider the fact that I'm still alive because I have positivity still left in me, despite the crap I have been through?!

Expression through tattoos

It so happens to be another great example of prejudice. Although a lot of people have them, they are still frowned upon. Supposedly we're suddenly bad people, have two left hands and no brain. While tattoo's are just a form of expression for most people, like some like to express themselves through music or verbal communication. Some of us are not that verbal and express ourselves through images. And we are so certain of that meaning, we get tattoo's for it. Because we know it's going to last.

People don't even bother to think my tattoos have any meaning to me. Did you know my tattoos represent my basic 3 principles of life? My pain! My future. And basicly about a lot about some form of eternal life.

One of them has an "accidental" double meaning. And also lends itself very well to this subject, why gossip and prejudice isn't good for anything.
One of my tattoos says: "Ut Vivimus, Sic In Aeternum Resonamus", which means: "What we do in live, echoes in eternity". And although I don't believe in life after this life, we continue to live on by how we are remembered. And that is "enternal life" [to me atleast]! So how do you think I feel when blatant lies go around about me. People remembering me as this "evil", "bad" person... while I'm not. And you still think I have to accept gossip and prejudice? I really don't think so!
The double meaning of it was at the loss of someones life. The owner of the place I worked out, I considered a good friend [although we didn't hang out]. I had seen him build his company from something small to something big and successful [I helped him building a website, which started out as a schoolproject, but I kept maintaining it]. He was a friendly and respectful guy. Just before I went on my first time journey to Australia, he wished me happy travels and we would see each other when I'd be back. He was healthy at that moment. So consider me surprised, while about 3 months into my journey, a friend of mine informs me he died. And it was at the same time I got this tattoo. I thought my friend was playing a sick joke. Only to discover, when I got back, he really wasn't around anymore. I couldn't believe it and still have a hard time believing it. I couldn't believe this friendly, good natured, healthy, positive person in the prime of his life was gone. In just a matter of months.
But I heard his funeral had a very large attendance [I did go pay my respects when I got back from Aussie]. And still to this day he is remembered [certainly by me]. And he is remembered as the guy he was. And in an instant it proved the meaning of my tattoo. He has his "eternal life". Because he still lives on in our mind, as the guy he was.

So maybe now people can understand why I don't go for lies, gossip and prejudice. Or why I just have to accept that they exist.

Acceptance :: on social- and/or worklevel

On social level acceptance it at it's "best", but that's not saying a lot. While in a working environment it isn't really embraced.
In social surroundings it is more like "You do what makes you feel best. Nice!", what in itself is very good. But you can't stop to notice the distance people take from you. You can get compliments, but for the rest you get dodging behavior. "What would people think when I hang out with somebody like that?!" will probably cross the minds of many. People are less distan in festive and/or party circumstances.

A (female) partner is something we can almost forget about. These days even love has to go fast. So try start explaining something like this up front. Almost every time you'll get the door slammed into your face [with all respect ofcourse]. And if you keep it to yourself for a while, how long should you wait? Too soon and you still don't have a "connection", they're gone aswell. Wait too long and you'll be accussed of leading them on.
Most of the time, as a T-girl, you can just be considered a friend, but not more than that. Or you have to broaden your sexual orientation. And it's very strange coming from me, as from the 3 relationships I got, 2 of them accepted that part of me. One of those two wasn't really confronted with it, but both of them could see the benefits of it. But I was just "lucky", and luck runs out some time.

People still claim not to be bothered by it and that they accept it. But what is acceptance to you then? Not giving us a dirty look? Not throwing insults at us? Being allowed to breath?
Because really, accepting it is more than just those things. If you say you accept people like us, yet you don't want to know us based on this, you don't want to hang out with us. Is that really accepting us? Do you really think that, that is all that is to us? Did it ever cross your minds we might have similar interests, hobby's, taste in music, ... . Do you think we don't notice the "distance" you take while claiming you are "accepting"?

On worklevel this isn't accepted at all, few cases excepted. Maybe they are a bit more tolerant when it is a transgender in his/her transition. Although... .
I don't even see the problem with it, as long as it as decent as the rest of the women. Even if you keep it to your private life, you have the risk of being fired or you'll get dismissed for the job you applied for. Although they will never admit such things, avoiding the risk of being prosecuted for discrimination.

Acceptance :: with the partner

This is one of the most important and difficult ones. You are part of each others lives. It isn't easy for you partner, that's for sure. Especially because all of a sudden they get a different image of their partner. It's the last thing that would have been on their minds. Most of the time there will be a panic attack and an opinion based on the little bit they do know about it. Correct sources aren't easy to find. There are few websites or venues where they can go for information. If that provides for solutions, I'm not sure. Because you're always going to get others opinion. The only place you'll get the right information, is with your partner. Everyone experiences it differently and everyone has different reasons why they are doing it.
From our side, we maybe should be a bit more aware how hard accepting it can be. We are used to it so much, we sometimes forgot how hard it was to accept it ourselves.

With my previous relationships I also notice that a woman needs strong about herself to be able to accept such a thing from her partner. A woman who is insecure about herself has the tendency to act out her frustrations on you if they notice you have qualities she would like to have herself. Not that we aren't guilty of the same thing. We wish we had some features women have [or even don't like about themselves]. Seems like a reverserd world from time to time :).
But it can work in a relationship. Even very well.

How do you approach it then? Good question. From my experience, don't delay the conversation as soon as the partner knows, that's unbearable for both. Hoe pak je het dan aan? Goeie vraag. Uit mijn ervaring zou ik het als volgt aanpakken. De conversatie niet uitstellen van zodra de partner het weet, dat is voor beiden ondraaglijk. Do everything in a calm matter. Both need to have the chance to pose questions and to answer them. Ask questions that help you understand it. Don't ever ask the opinion of outsiders [best friend, family, colleagues, ...]. It's important to form your own opinion from the answers you got from your partner. You also need to consider that you're probably both in a "shock". Making a judgement on that same moment wouldn't be wise. In the end it depends on each person and from couple to couple. There is no ideal way.

Acceptance :: through [social] media

[Social] Media has become very important these days. People are constantly connected to the internet and constantly updated. So it's a good way to try and gain interest and acceptance through it. Reach people you otherwise couldn't. And as I said before, in the past there wasn't a lot of decent information to be found.

But now you can even find good information on sites like youtube. I especially find it brave of those people who are in transition and let people into their lives by keep posting video-logs about what they are experiencing and better yet, how they are experiencing it. They are putting themselves in a vulnerable spot to help others like them in the way they can. Their stories can help a lot. And it will also help them a lot.
I followed a bunch of them for a while and the reality of it they presented was a real eye-opener. Unknowingly they safe lives. You can hear them tell about their struggles, yet they are courageous enough to continue on and also keep posting. Because I think it's good of them to let people know about the bad side. The struggle is hard and we still need to battle for it. And they can help people cross their own bridges in life. If they are brave enough to show themselves like that, why should I let fear hold me down.
So to those people, thanks a lot!

Reasons :: creativity

Those who know me well enough know this is one of my main properties. I've always had a rich imagination. I was practicly born with a pencil in my hand. I always liked drawing. Lines, colors and shapes always felt natural to me. I'm a very visual person.
That probably also drew me to girl-/womensclothing. There is a lot more done with that than those for men. Take a party with a dresscode for example. Take a few men and a few women. All men look almost identical. With the women you have a lot more variation and it can be more striking. Although they do try with male clothing these days. It's still too stricted and stays rather boring!
And yes, I like boots :), you can't find those with men. Wouldn't suit either.

Not considering what I felt inside, it also started as a creative challenge to represent a convincing image of woman as a man. And if you know how much time and energie a woman spends on looking good, imagine how much it would take to go from male to female. A lot! I'm shit out of luck when it comes to hair growth. So I have to maintain my body hair regularly. So it takes up a lot of time [which I rather prefer to put somewhere else, but what you gonna do].

Reasons :: a tad rebellious

When I stop to think about it, I have to admit that one of my reasons has also to do with my rebellious nature. I don't like social rules that much. I only listen to the rules of nature. Clothing serves as protection. All the rest is made up by society. I once found a forum message that expressed this very well. I hope this person doesn't mind I'm using his words.
Here is some piece of that message:

"Don't you all find it naive how some respond over here.

Do not forget that we started using clothing to protect ourselves. I have a hard time with these strong religious forced norms and values, society, becoming more and more a symbol of stature. (For example did you know that for the strong religious assimilation it wasn't uncommon for women to go on the battlefield?)

If I today decide that I feel more comfortable to drive a yellow car (although therefor it doesn't take anything from its functionality), then I just do it? Same goes for clothing, functionality comes first (warmth, comfort, protection) and if those criteria are met, you look further at how you feel with certain clothing. If then you have criticism at how someone behaves (especially criticism to point out that someone wouldn't behave instead of being constructive), then you have something agains equality (I admit I'm guilty of the same thing, I have something against religions that aren't our own, but are enforced on us by violence)."

Couldn't have said it better myself, I think. Skirts are only considered exclusive by society and religions. Besides the protective function, clothing needs to be an expression of yourself, but in this day and age it became an image of stature.
Many have forgotten that decennia ago women weren't allowed to wear pants. And that many years before that, pants didn't even excist. The Scottish kilt does still exist because they kept their culture. Therefor that piece of clothing is still accepted for a man. The image of it never disappeared and so the acceptance of it remained. In my opinion people won't accept T-girls as long as they aren't allowed to get into the (right) view.

And lets not forget. A lot of elements that are now "exclusive" to women, used to be exclusive for men. Especially for royal people. Like heels. In history this was something for rich men. Make-up was also used by men and women, again by rich folk. And there are many more of such things.
These days about every element is being absorbed by women and thus provides women with extreem freedom in clothing.

Reasons :: feminine side

I don't believe that anyone is 100% female or male. That's something for stereotypical thinking. You always possess something from the other side. A bit of the Yin/Yang principle, one thing can not exist without the other. It depends on the proportions and the aspects of it. One person shows his feminine side in his sexual orientation, another person in it social status [or other stuff].

Same principle of "watching in the mirror" applies here. Whatever you think your proportions are, they change because you always look at yourself differently and discover more about yourself. Where I used to be sure of it wasn't like that, changes. And therefor also the proportions. Did I always made myself believe something else? I don't know... .
There has to be more to it, when I can answer a definitive "No" at the question "Are you homosexual?" [as a male], but if asked if I want to be a woman, I can't or don't want to answer it. Where do you have to derive it from. Not from sexual preference, because it isn't related. From your hobby's? Don't think that either, 'cause that's mostly being stereotypical aswell. My hobby's are "typical male" as well as "typical female". As with sports, I like kickboksing for example. Not that I enjoy hitting someone else, but it's just a great workout and there a lot of technique involved. Currently I'm not doing it anymore, because it was getting crowded [which I don't like] and because it seemed I couldn't focus myself anymore. And that's a good recipe for getting hit a lot.
With designing I rather have some emotion in it and probably can get more "feminine" in style [not always tho]. No minimalistic stuff for me. Like some detail and a mood to it. And contrary to what my behavior exhibits, I'm actually quite into fashion. I always wanted to learn it, but never did it because of the stereotype. But it would have come in handy as some of the clothing need some adjustments to fit us well. And some of my ideas are never to be found in stores. Maybe I'm going to pick it up in the future.

What if it isn't about being male or female, but about feeling free? Because except for the pain from time to time, what do I really feel. Do I still feel something? I haven't felt myself living in my body anyways.
But what if it is about letting go?! What if that way you can loosen those brakes? When I'm "female", I feel like letting go. I feel that those brakes aren't thight anymore. Maybe it's about that? Because I can't feel the difference between man and woman. I just can feel... me... when I'm around.

Future :: 24/7 [full-time]

This wasn't necessary in the past. Sounded cool, but not necessary. Certainly not when having a partner. She still had to be able to picture you as a man and know you as one. So somewhere I always kept it to myself how much I wanted it. Probably because I was afraid that it would be the end of the relationship.

In the end this question seems to answer itself. For me, it doesn't work anymore to maintain my male life and my female life. And certainly these days, what does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? What is a man supposed to feel? What is a woman supposed to feel? This in an age where there a women who want to have jobs stereotyped to man. Where men have to do tasks stereotyped to women. Does anybody actually know how a man or a woman is supposed to feel? Isn't it just about feeling like yourself? So after a while, isn't it just about who you want looking back at you in the mirror?
And maybe I never admitted it to myself, mainly because of my relationships. But as the years have passed by, I've grown to my female version looking back in the mirror. And I get annoyed by the "fake" stuff.

During transition you are expected to go 24/7 at a certain point. That's also why I have thrown everything out in the open. I know gossip is going to happen and I just want the biggest part of that behind me, so I don't have to deal with that later down the road, because it's going to be hard as it is.
What's going to happen with applying for jobs? I don't know, I'm not hearing very positive things. But then, is it really going to change that much for me? Even now I'm being rejected for jobs with the lamest excuses. So would I hold myself back for that?

I really do want to take these steps, as hard as they may be. But I'm still not able to say it out loud. It feels so surreal. Sometimes it feels like fiction. Can people really change bodies?
When I talked to the psychiatrist and he asked me if I wanted to become a woman, I had a hard time answering. Not because the answer could be "No", because inside I was screaming "Yess!!". But I was so used to setting aside what I wanted for myself. And you know why also? Because I'm tired. I'm tired of "fighting" people, I'm tired of fighting myself... I just want to be me.

Am I scared? You bet your ass I am scared! But I'm also happy. Happy that I finally take matters into my own hands. Will I able to pull it off? I really don't know. Do I want to get at it on my own? No I don't, because I'm scared.

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