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Where I've Been
Where I've Been
Well, it's been quite sometime since my last blog post. I've been very busy with work, family, and life lately, but that's not the only reason I haven't posted. I just haven't known what to say! Yeah, I know, it's hard to believe.
Well, that's not entirely accurate. I've started half a dozen blog posts and ended up deleting them. I guess I'm kinda struggling with what kind of blog this is gonna be. Do I just talk about TG issues? What about funny "being a girl" stories? Or, how about makeup, shoes, and what brand of pantyhose I like? Heh, none of those options sound very appealing, and I'm feeling a little like I don't fit in.
The TG world is one big stew of emotions. There's crosssdressers, transvestites, transsexuals, transgendered, and more. Then, you take one little slice - like crossdressers - and you'll discover dozens of subcategories there as well. It's enough to make you dizzy. Not that it really matters. I don't care for labels, other than "human", anyway. Still, even among "my own kind", I am unique. I like to shop, but I really don't find it interesting to talk about my new outfit. I'm happy to pass on makeup tips I've picked up over the years, but spending an hour talking about moisturizing and what brand of foundation is best, frankly bores the heck out of me. I can't even get excited about taking pictures of myself anymore!
In the beginning, wearing women's panties was a huge sexual turn-on. Once I progressed to full makeup, wig, etc., going out dressed was a huge rush. It's been that way for many, many years. Nowadays, it just seems routine - and that's a good thing. After years of feeling somehow different, of feeling that "Jocelyn" was somehow a different person, I have arrived at a place where I realize that dressing is just a natural expression of me. That is not to say that I am transgendered; I'm not. I don't feel like a woman, trapped in a man's body. I like being male; I like being a husband and a father. It's just that, sometimes, I like being female. I don't mean dressing up and "pretending", I mean that there are times when I feel that I am female. Adopting feminine attitudes and mannerisms is effortless for me and I find it easy to switch back and forth. In 31 years I don't believe I've ever met anyone quite like me, and sometimes that's hard.
I have a great love for my TG sisters. We share enough in common to forge a strong bond. I celebrate the diversity in our community and enjoy meeting sisters, no matter how they identify. There's one aspect I can't identify with though - attitude.
If you spend anytime in the TG community, it's easy to be overwhelmed with the pain, bitterness, and ugliness - and it bothers me. I've been visiting some forums lately and I've noticed that most of the postings can be put into one of three categories: 1) Threads discussing the relative merits of stockings vs. pantyhose; 2) Triumphant stories about going out en femme; 3) Threads bemoaning the "unfairness" of society.
My thoughts on topic number three recently put me front and center in a bit of a controversy after I posted on a crossdresser's forum. Those who are "out", to one degree or another, were generally supportive. Those still in the closet were quite another story indeed. I've been called arrogant, flippant, and insensitive. I was told horrible stories about beatings and loss of friends, family, jobs, and even of lives lost. I was told that I was an ignorant "idealist" and because I am so lucky, I couldn't possibly relate to what they were going through.
Hmmm, quite a lot to digest and a good reminder that there is no "one size fits all" template for all the unique circumstances that mold our individual lives. So, I've taken the time to reflect and I've listened to stories sad enough to make me cry. None of it is enough to change my mind on the central point of my thesis: If you want to change the world, you've got to start with your little piece of it.
I am the product of an interracial marriage. My white mother married a black man in 1960. During the Watts race riots in California, my mother, brother, and I were attacked by an angry mob wielding bricks and baseball bats. We made it to our home and our mother laid her body across ours as our father drove us to safety, but not before 4 bullets hit inches from where we laid in the back seat.
Being raised in a nearly all-white environment, I am aware of what it's like to be different. My brother and I were the only non-white children in our elementary school. When I dated a white girl, it was nearly always a problem. I've been called names, threatened, and chased by a father with an axe handle.
In my 20's I met and fell in love with a girl. We never married, but we were together for 6 years and had a daughter, a child that meant more to me than life itself. To make a long-story short, TG issues destroyed that relationship and cost me friends, co-workers, my job, and a bit of my dignity. My "loving" girlfriend, threatened to expose me if I didn't agree to completely give up any claims to fathering my child. To my everlasting shame, I caved.
Later, when some of her friends told me of the poor care my daughter was receiving, I cracked and kidnapped my own child. I moved to Florida with my mother and broke all contact with every single person I knew - friends, family - everyone! While we were in Florida, my mother suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. The FBI used her death certificate to track me down and hauled me away from my job in handcuffs. I never saw my daughter again, after dropping her off at daycare that morning.
Here I was, a college graduate; a person who had never had so much as a parking ticket - sitting in a roach infested cell with a man who had run down his wife with a car for burning his dinner. I spent the next 8 weeks in Florida and West Virginia jails. When I got out, I was penniless, jobless, and homeless. Eight weeks prior to that day, I was the education coordinator for a software engineering company. I was housesitting for my boss in his $2 million dollar home and driving a Mercedes. Now I had only the clothes on my back.
So, yeah, I understand what's at stake here. I understand loss and I understand pain. I know what it's like to stand before people who laugh, call you names, and even want to kill you simply because you are different. I intimately know what it means to make decisions that seem to be the right thing to do, but turn out all wrong. And when it does go wrong, other people are hurt in the process. Hey, just another brick in the nice strong wall of guilt you are building.
You know what else I know? Life is a series of events that happen between the day you are born and they day you die. Every single decision you make moves you onto another path. Some decisions put you on the path to happiness, while others do not. The great thing is you are not stuck on one path or another. You can choose to go down another path anytime you want. I'm not saying it's easy. In fact, the path to happiness is frequently the hardest path to take and it's easy to become lost along the way. Still, the choice is yours.
By nature, I am a "glass is half-full" kind of person. Relentlessly positive, I see the good in every situation. I know that life can be cruel and that we do not have control of every aspect of our lives. People die. Circumstances change and catch us unprepared. The only thing we do control is our attitude towards these unexpected events. Now, some may find it perfectly acceptable to wallow in self-pity. I do not. Your life is a gift; it has meaning, and it is profoundly wasteful to live a life of shame, guilt, and anger.
Coming out is an intensely personal decision. I feel no animosity for those who decide to remain in the closet. Heck, I spent the better part of 31 years there myself and, even today, I am not completely out. Those of us who have wives and children to care for are in a particularly difficult situation. I have no answer for what you should do and I have no opinion. I do know this, though: we were wrong to get into the situation in the first place. I understand the reasons we do and I did it myself - but it's wrong. Still, once we have created the problem, what do we do? I guess the best we can.
If you can remain a committed husband and father, while sacrificing an important piece of yourself, you have my admiration. If you cannot suppress your feelings and come out to your family, you have my fervent wish that they can come to accept. If they cannot, you have my prayer that time and a new path will heal the pain.
In the end, I guess what I'm saying is that I reject the notion of "fairness" being applied to life. "Fairness" implies that there are rules and certainly there are no rules to life. I also just can't get too worked up about society either. In my 43 years on this earth, I've seen society change from burning crosses on my grandparent's lawn in 1960, to virtually no one batting an eye when I'm out and about with my Italian wife and very "white appearing" children. Every weekend my wife and I walk through a sea of drunk college students on our way to a gay bar in the middle of small-town West Virginia. Sometimes we hear a name or two being thrown our way, but we mostly hear whistles.
Please, no comments about gay bashing or assaults on our TG sisters. I'm not stupid. I'm fully aware we don't live in a utopia, free from the consequences of being different. I'm also aware of the fact that we absolutely, positively never will. It's human nature. It's been that way since the beginning of time and if you think there will ever be a time when we are 100% free from neanderthal thinking, then I'm going to have to ask who the actual realist is here.
The real question is, "What is the solution?" Well, the way I see it, there are two options: 1) Stay in the closet and wait for the world to change, or 2) Go out into the world and start changing it. The first option is certainly reasonable. I am not advocating that everyone wake up in the morning, put on a dress, and unbendingly demand acceptance. That approach is going to make a big mess out of many people's lives, and in the end, it's not going to create understanding. The problem is, it also means you're going to have to live a lie and you're going to grow resentful. That approach may work for some; it may even be necessary for family harmony. It's just that, if all of us choose that path, society will never change.
So, for me, I choose option #2. I choose to come out with little tiny steps, terrified each time another step is taken. Yet, each step makes the next one easier. Too my delight, I've discovered that the vast majority of people don't care that I'm wearing a dress. If anything, I'm finding that they are very interested in knowing what "makes me tick". Are there snickers and strange looks? Sure. Some even resort to name calling or threats of physical violence. I minimize my problems with physical violence by staying out of obviously dangerous situations. The bottom line is, that in choosing Option 2, what we are doing is changing people's attitudes. It's human nature to distrust those who are different. It's especially easy when your only impression of a TG person was gained from the Springer show. Once they meet a TG person that they know in other capacities in life, their perceptions begin to change.
When I was sitting in a Florida jail cell many years ago, I had a lot of time to think. I was angry at the injustice of life, at my own stupid decisions, and at the fickleness of my friends and loved ones. I had a great life back then. I was fresh out of college and the district manager for a restaurant chain. I had the respect of my co-workers, a loving girlfriend, a new baby, a great apartment, and plenty of money. One thing changed and it was all gone in an instant. In the grand scheme of things, the revelation that I was a crossdresser was really just a tiny part of my life, wasn't it? It didn't change the way I supervised my employees and it certainly didn't change my love for my family. But it was enough for them to abandon me.
While I was in jail, I had a revelation that hurt more than anything else, save the loss of my daughter. I realized that everything about my life was a sham. Not only didn't I know who or what I was, I didn't know who the rest of the people in my life were either. I was perfectly content thinking I had respect. I was happy that my girlfriend loved me unconditionally. Unfortunately, neither of those "facts" were true. Slowly, I began to realize that I could have lived my entire life like that - perfectly happy on the outside, but every bit of it a lie. I suppose one could argue that as long as we don't know it's a lie, it's OK to continue on. However, deep down most of us do suspect that are lives are a sham. That's why we are afraid to tell our secret. That's why we suffer in silence.
Maybe it's because I lost it all and then regained far more than I had ever had. Maybe it's because of my deep belief in God's presence in my life. Maybe it's because my race makes me different in a way that is impossible for me to hide. Whatever it is, I can never go back to that way of life. I can accept the fact that some people will call me names or try to physically harm me. I can accept that some so-called friends may go away. But, I will never again accept a life that is a lie. I spent the first half of my life bowing down and trying to live as everyone expected me to; I won't make the same mistake in the second half.
I have no anger for those who can't bring themselves to follow in my path. After all, it took the total destruction of my life to put me on this path. I really can't recommend it as a walk in the park. Still, you should ask yourself some hard questions. Is a friend or family member who would abandon me because I wear a dress sometimes, worthy of my love, care, and sacrifice? Is the fact that they would abandon me, indicative of larger problems in our relationship? Would they, in fact, actually abandon me at all? Which is worse: the FEAR that they would abandon me if they knew, or the FACT that they did abandon me when they found out? I have no idea what the answers are for you; I only know how I answer those questions now.
Many people write to me and tell me how "lucky" I am. Although, I am blessed, I am not lucky. Many years ago I chose unwisely and I paid the price. My troubles were not the result of a bit of bad luck; they resulted from choices I made. Conversely, my good fortune today, is largely the result of good choices I made years ago. I am finding acceptance because I made a conscious effort to build a life that was not a lie. Perhaps more importantly, I simply will not accept anyone in my life who does not love and respect me. I'm not an unfeeling automaton. It hurts when people reject you and it's certainly something I seek to avoid as much as the next person. Still, it hurts a lot less than the alternative.
In the last year, I have met so many wonderful people. My wife and I are part of a community that accept people for what they are. It has been such an inspiration to meet BLTG folks who are successfully, even happily living their lives, and it is a blessing to call them my friends. I paid a heavy price to get here; so have others before me. I sincerely hope all of you find a way to either successfully balance your secret life with your "other" life, or find the courage to come out. Whichever way you choose, no one should think less of you. I know I certainly won't.
11/27/2005 6:49 pm
Hi Jocelyn welcome back! I missed you!!!! As always you really make me think when I read your blogs. Come out or stay in the closet? In my life I am 61 years old. I am a submissive bisexual crossdresser! I am not ashamed of who I am but right now I chose to stay in the closet. My girlfriend supports my crossdressing but doesn't know about my bisexual feeling but probably has a very good idea. Since she is in ill health I perfer not to rock the boat right now. I still have desires that I would love to fulfil but have put them on hold for awhile. I will come out of the closet soon but not right now! I wait for the day that I can appear in my outfit wearing my high heels and jewelery. I can't pass as a woman but I just love the way they feel and how they make me feel. I think Jocelyn that people think that you are so lucky is that you can and do look like a woman when you are dressed up. When I pass away I really hope that I come back as a woman so I can wear all the pretty clothes that woman wear.|
11/28/2005 4:00 pm
Hi Jocelyn - Another very insightful posting that will give all of your friends and I much to think about. Life for me and many others has never been and most likely will never be easy. So all we can do is make the best possible choices as we move through this life of ours.|
Thank you so much for putting your thoughts down for us to read.