Being Dana… I Woke Up Trans Again!

What is a gender dysphoric trigger?

To understand what a gender dysphoric trigger is, you must first understand what gender dysphoria is. There are many long and drawn out descriptions of what gender dysphoria is and what it isn’t. It is also important to note not all transgender people experience dysphoria. Here is one of the simplest definitions of gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth.

Ok so what does that mean? The very core of my persona is female. Most of my body’s sexual characteristics are currently male. I say “most of” and “currently” because I am on hormone therapy to bring my physical body into alignment with my gender identity. When I experience something that many females do not, I sometimes feel discomfort. The discomfort can range from mild to very extreme. It can also be somewhat disturbing and trigger fears of certain circumstances either real or imagined. Below is a list, in no particular order, of my more commonly occurring dysphorias and a brief explanation of a simple trigger for each.

  • Facial hair growth.
    Yes, at one time I had a beard. This was a phase I went through in an attempt to feel more manly. Recently I have been known to shave two or three times a day. Some men may say this can be normal with a heavy beard. Those who know me know mine is anything but a heavy beard. My growth of facial hair now triggers a fear of being accused of being a man in women’s clothing, a pervert and even fear of being assaulted and killed.
  • Wearing of clothing that even remotely evokes a masculine appearance.
    If I have to wear a crew neck t-shirt, a men’s style dress shirt, or men’s business slacks I begin to have a panic attack. Obviously this wasn’t always the case. I was able to wear pretty much any typically male clothes until I began to express the person I truly am. Now I experience a fear that I will be forced back into hiding. This fear is debilitatingly intense and is accompanied by thoughts of never being able to express who I am again.
  • Size or lack of female breast tissue.
    For nearly my entire life I have wanted breasts. The hormone treatments I am on are now allowing my body to develop as a teenage cisgender female would. I worry that my developing breasts will be seen as man-boobs, that they are too small for my body frame, that they are not shaped correctly.
  • Genital mismatch.
    This is to difficult to explain in a few sentences. I’ll most likely write a separate article on this topic alone.

This list is fairly common among transgender females. The list of triggers and fears is extremely brief. Unfortunately I have quite a few. A trigger in general can be something I see, hear or physically feel which may be related to one of my fears or anxieties. This morning I experienced an odd trigger for the first time.

  • Pride in being transgender.

How can having pride in who you are trigger dysphoria? The answer is below.

I assist with running multiple Facebook groups which support both the LGBT+ community at large and the subset of transgender or gender questioning people. I am also a member of of multiple groups similar to these. Within one of these large more inclusive groups, a meme was posted. The image was a simple rainbow frame around bold block rainbow lettering stating “I Woke Up Gay Again!” This meme gets posted to the group quite regularly. Today I felt inspired by my pride to create a meme to match for the transgender population. I searched Google for “Trans” in bold transgender pride flag colors. One was easily found. Then in a meme creation app on my phone, I set out to create the meme “I Woke Up Trans Again!”

It’s a simple image with quite a proud message. I am truly proud that I wake up every day as a transgender person! I hid for so long that I now want people to know I exist, that I am human, and that I wake up every day just like you.

I post my newly minted meme in response to the “I Woke Up Gay Again!” meme. A few seconds pass and my meme begins to collect good reactions. Satisfied that I showed some pride in being transgender to the greater LGBT+ group, I then post the image to the smaller transgender support group. The image again begins to collect good reactions. All is good in the world. I am feeling my pride swell.

Then it happens. My bi-weekly calendar alarm goes off. Reminding me which of my thighs will be the target of a prescribed dose of Estradiol. Instantly I feel anxiety due to the fact that I have to force my body to match who I am. The tears fill my eyes. I begin to shake with hatred that I for whatever reason was born a female with male physical sexual characteristics. I collect my medication and the injection supplies. I am now nearly filled with anger, anxiety, fear, and jealousy. I take a break and perform my calming ritual to recompose myself. Twenty or thirty minutes pass, I am now calm enough to administer my medication.

I return to my post in the transgender support group and make a small comment.

“WTH dysphoria!?!?
When I first posted this I was proudly claiming my trans-ness.
Then my reminder that today is E shot day went off and all of a sudden this image is a reminder that I have to force my body to be what I need it to be.

Lately I have been trying not to focus on my dysphoria because so much time and energy is wasted when I do. I decide that today I will not be ruled by dysphoria, instead, I will own it! I go about the rest of my morning routine and begin my day. Tomorrow, I will Wake Up Trans Again!

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Being Dana… Get Your Label Here!

I’ve recently seen many labels being debated in the LGBT+ community.

Some claiming one is more valid than another. Is this really true? I say no!


To explain my position let’s go grocery shopping for someone else. Here is the abbreviated list of items you are tasked with buying:

  • Apples
  • Milk
  • Bread

You decide to go to your favorite store because you are familiar with it and you feel confident you can buy the items needed there.

As you walk into the produce section a dilemma, unbeknown to you, begins to form. There are 4 bins of apples. Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith.

Which apple do you choose for the person you are shopping for? You choose the classic Red Delicious without even really thinking. This process continues and you choose your favorite varieties of the items on the list.

When you drop the items off to your friend you can easily see the disappointment on their face. What did you do wrong? You purchased everything on the list.

I’ll explain using only the apples as the example.

Sure you purchased apples but not ones usually used when baking a pie. The label you chose did not fit the purpose.

This is an over simplification of how and why labels have so many variations. Each label has a specific purpose. Does choosing one label over another matter? Yes! It matters a great deal. Does your choice or belief in how a label fits you invalidate how another person chooses their label? Absolutely not.

A label someone chooses is as unique as that person. Some people change labels based on how they feel at the moment they are asked to provide one. Others rarely choose multiple labels.

All labels are equally descriptive and valid.

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Being Dana… Joining The Circle of Womanhood

This article is much shorter than my others and comes with a small amount of homework. You can choose to do the homework or not there will be no grade given by me.

First the homework. The assignment is to read Circle of Stones; Woman’s Journey To Herself by Judith Duerk. It being a short 70 pages makes it a quick read and it contains a great message. The book deals with the self discovery of one’s place in womanhood. It speaks many times of a circle or gathering of women who counsel, comfort, and console each other, with the younger women joining the circle as a rite of passage into womanhood. The title is intended to be a metaphor where the circle of stones are the women in the group. Strong and steadfast in their knowledge of self and their place in the world.

Swinside stone circle (Lake District of Cumbria England) Image from https://jooinn.com/img/get
Swinside stone circle (Lake District of Cumbria England) Image from https://jooinn.com/img/get

Throughout my life I have had “stones”. Strong women who have helped me when I was going through the worst feelings of sadness and depression. I found comfort in their company, in their guidance and in their examples. My mother is the first of these. She worked tirelessly to support our family and the people she cared for, rarely taking any time for herself. Over the years I have collected other “stones”. Sisters (both by blood and chosen), teachers, and friends. Some have come and had small influences in my life, while others are nearly as large a figure to me as my mother.

The book talks of younger women joining the circle when it is time. When they have found their knowledge and wisdom. I have been on a journey collecting knowledge and wisdom. Throughout much of my life this knowledge came through masculine means. i.e. “This is what it means to be a man.” This type of pattern always felt to me as if it weren’t enough. There should be more meaning, more connection to life. It has been through my journey of transition that I am finally finding what was missing. I have been living now for nearly a year as a woman. Do I now know a lot about womanhood? No, far from it. Each little bit of womanly knowledge I am finding is filling a void in me which I never could fill previously. I am becoming a more complete person.

Many of you know I have moved across the country from Highlands Ranch CO to Erie PA for employment reasons. The timing of this move in relation to my transition is amazing. I am starting life again in a new city where very few if any will ever know my old name or identity. My opportunity to grow as a woman with this change is immense. I may still be seen as a transgender person and this is more than acceptable to me. The idea of being me and only me from the start in a new place is so exciting. I will bring portions of the old me along. Those experiences made me who I am. I can not abandon them. While I leave behind some of my “stones” their impacts will always be in my heart.

I have been through my sadness and my depressions for long enough to finally emerge as the person I truly am. I have grown, as a woman, so much over the last year. I am ready to join my sisters in the circle of womanhood.

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Being Dana… The struggle of being myself

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

I’ve struggled with writing this article multiple times. OK eight times. Each of these times the article tried to deal with only my emotions. There was so much disappointment, hatred and anger that I could not bear to publish any of those versions. Much of my anger was directed toward someone I love very much, my youngest son. I also was the target of my own anger. In this version I will detail more of what happened and leave most of the emotions in my rough drafts.

Earlier this year I had come out as a transgender woman to my family, friends and finally at work. Many of the discussions I had during this time were so supportive and helped me grow so much. Discussions of my feelings which I had locked away for so long were finally common place. My many fears of rejection, embarrassment, and not being accepted as myself were being swept aside. In September I came out at my workplace. The last place where I was still wearing the costume of who I thought I had to be. Things were going well for me. Things were going well for my son also. Near the beginning of September he and his girlfriend made the announcement that they were engaged. The wedding was to be on the 14th of December.

My son had been quite surprised by my coming out news. When he shared his happy news, we discussed that I would like to be in attendance at his wedding. I felt as though I expressed that I, Dana, would want to be in attendance. More discussions followed. I could feel the hesitation at having me attend their event. It would be the first time many of my family would be able to meet me as Dana. We both felt this may take away from the celebration of the happy couple. It was suggested that I might be able to attend for a short period of time and excuse myself if anyone started to shift the attention to me rather than the attention being on my son and his bride. Even this did not seem to sit well with him. Eventually I made the suggestion that I might be able to to attend as the old me. This was my mistake. I should have never made this offer. How could I have suggested that I go back to being the person I had worked so hard to stop being. I had found such joy in finally being myself. My only answer to this is I made the suggestion based in the love I have for my son. I did not want him, his wife or the family members to become uncomfortable with me. We decided that he would take all the information I had given him about my situation and they would make a decision of who would attend his wedding, Dana or the old me.

I figured my son and his bride to be needed at least a week to make this decision. The first week passed. I got busy with something or other. I’m sure they were very busy planning and making arrangements for the wedding. Two weeks go by, we again did not reconnect.

During this time I had discussed the situation with my therapist. We discussed the many feelings I had about being part of a wedding. Among the many questions I came up with were these.

  • If I attend as the old me, how would I be seen by those who knew I was now Dana?
  • If I attend as Dana, how would I be seen by those who did not know?
  • Would I be asked to be in photographs regardless of my gender expression?
  • Would there be dancing?
  • Would I be asked to dance with my son or new daughter in-law?
  • Would I have to attend as the old me?
  • How long could I wear my old clothes?
  • Would I have to be intoxicated to cope with the stress?

I spent pretty much every waking moment obsessed with variations of these questions and many more!

I also discussed my situation with my wife, with the peer support group I attend, and with my friends. I received varying degrees of suggestions on how I should handle the situation. These ranged all across the board. Here are the basic four categories the responses fell into.

  • Not going and cutting off communications with my son who appears to only partially supports me.
  • Going as me and drawing attention to the fact I have changed and will only be seen as Dana now.
  • Going as the old me and when the stress level reaches its peak, changing into Dana.
  • Going as the old me and only staying until the stress level reaches its peak.

Putting aside the emotional and dysphoric factors these four categories it seems quite simple, anyone should be able to perform any one of these. Oh were it that simple! I have always been an emotional person. Add on the fact I have now been on hormone replacement therapy for 9 months and the situation becomes extremely complicated. Add on my dysphoria and the scale becomes exponentially complicated.

The reason I am undergoing hormone replacement therapy is to treat gender dysphoria. I am a woman who just happens to have male sexual characteristics. The hormones will finally help my body and mind come into agreement with this simple fact. Along the way my body will take on a more feminine appearance. As it does, I am also becoming much more comfortable expressing myself as a woman. One of the recent changes I made in this expression is to rid my closet of almost all my male clothes. I kept only a couple pair of pants and a couple dress shirts. I did this in case I would be asked to attend the wedding as the old me.

The removal of male clothes from my wardrobe was so freeing. I began to wonder if I would ever be able to present as male again. As the decision regarding my attendance was being made, I decided to try on my old guy’s pants. I built up my mental strength. I told myself it’ll be like wearing a costume. I stood in my closet staring at the pants. Putting one foot into the pant leg didn’t seem to be to bad. Then it hit me. I shuddered with anxiety, and a new fear came over me. I feared that I would have to hide being myself again. I would never be free to be me. The tears instantly flowed. I sat in the closet sobbing with my guy pants in the corner in a heap. When I regained composure I reached for my favorite skirt. Putting it on brought back the comfort I had searched for my entire life. This is me. I am a woman.

A few days more passed. My son and I finally were able to catch up and speak to each other. The call came as I was parking my Jeep before a scheduled therapy session, how convenient. The phone call was with him and his fiancé. A decision had been made regarding my attendance. The news was relayed and I was crushed. They had discussed the situation with a few older family members and they all had decided I should be the old me for the wedding.
They all decided! THEY ALL DECIDED! How could they do this without reaching out to me to understand the situation fully. Am I also not a part of the decision? I provided information to my son about my situation. This was conveyed with much emotion which the others did not have the benefit of experiencing. This was how my first onset of my rage began. The second was that I became furious at myself for even suggesting the option. I plead my case one more time on the call. Expressing how out of place I would feel, and not knowing if I could even do what was being asked. My reminder alarm for my therapy appointment went off. I had to end the call and go.

I walked from my Jeep to my therapist’s small office in her backyard. I was holding back the tears the best I could. The instant her door opened I began to cry. We discussed only the decision for the entire session and then some. Over the next few weeks I attempted to enlighten my son. This went nowhere. I had to come up with a plan and a few options which I could live with.

  1. I would not attend the wedding festivities at all. I felt this would hurt or relationship. Perhaps even instilling in him more misunderstanding of what it is like to be transgender. This could be overcome with time and education.
  2. I would attend as Dana and defy their wishes. This would definitely harm the relationship and perhaps forever drive a wedge between us which I feared may never be removed.
  3. I would attend for as long as I could as the old me, while maintaining a small token of my femininity intact. Perhaps jewelry, keeping a fabulous manicure or having my hair done.

Having my options in place, I set out to make my decision as to what I would do. A month went by. Knowing I would be overly stressed as the date approached, I had a made an appointment with my therapist for the Wednesday the 11th before the wedding which would be on Saturday the 14th. I began the session by explaining where I was in the decision process. I had still not made a full decision. I would already not be allowed to see the actual ceremony, as it is a religious one and I am not found worthy in the eyes of the religion to enter the building where weddings are performed. I had decided I would not attend a family dinner as I know I could not present as the old me for very long, if at all. That left the reception. I was holding out on this decision until the last moment. Perhaps even until I walked in. I did not realize it but my stress and anxiety was showing in my voice and mannerisms. My therapist had me stop everything and examine where I was mentally, emotionally, & physically. Mentally I was a mess, all over the map. Jumping from one train of thought to the next with little or no warning. My emotions were not much better. I was filled with rage, remorse, sorrow, empathy, and love all at the same time. The combination left me physically tense. My body so tight that I was in pain. I was shaking, and wringing my hands.

Have I mentioned I LOVE my therapist! She is capable of seeing exactly what I need and helping me to get there. With her help. I was now realizing the state I was in. We knew something had to be done. Discussion of meditation was brought up, including vagus nerve stimulation.

I had heard about this previously but never really understood it. All I knew was it was part of some meditation techniques. One of the easiest way to stimulate the nerve is through breathing. Deep breaths in, slow controlled breaths out (trying to exhale for a count of 6). I would also slowly focus on relaxing portions of my body, my hands, arms, legs, etc. In addition to this I was to find a pleasant memory to focus on. Some time in my life when my gender dysphoria was not as prevalent a force.

OK lets think about this for just a moment. Many months previous to this appointment I had finally accepted I was gender dysphoric and truly a transgender woman. It was then I began to examine my entire life. Trying to find the point where I “knew”. The searches I had performed of my life were extensive. I spent months sifting through my memories. Replaying the situations and examining them. the results I had found so far indicate I have always been dysphoric. I just didn’t have the words or the knowledge to label it.

My search for a time when I was truly happy with who I was and not concerned with my gender was difficult. Locating my pleasant memory took a little time, but I finally found one. As a child my family regularly went camping at Meadow Lake, near Gilmore ID. We would climb the mountain across the lake at least once during each trip. My memory was of one of these climbs. A storm was passing while we were near the ridge. We knew how to take shelter from storm especially if there were a chance of lightning. As the storm approached each family member found a small crevices in the boulder field which would provide the shelter needed. We would remain in shouting distance if someone needed assistance but we, in essence, were alone on the mountain. It was in the solitude of this memory where I found my comforting image. The mountains and valleys around me were being blanketed by the sheets of rain from the storm. The vantage point I held allowed me to see the storm, a rainbow and the sun shining among the rugged beauty of the mountains all at the same time. It is at this point in my life where I found solace in being alone, knowing a storm was raging nearby, but that it would pass and I would soon feel the calming warmth of the sun.

Armed with my memory I began the breathing technique. At first I struggled and gulped for air. Soon with my therapist guiding me I was beginning to calm down. The entire process took quite a while. I may not have this much time to devote to calming myself at the wedding. My therapist knew this and suggested I talk to my physician about a prescription for Xanax, which I did.

I was prepared for the reception. I had my best & favorite supporter, my wife, going with me. We decided our puppies would also provide me comfort, so they came along also. I had supportive family members who would also attend the reception. I had a calming meditation technique. I also had pharmaceutical help.

It was Friday Dec 13th the day before the wedding. We began our drive from Denver to Salt Lake City. We decided to drive I-70 through Vail Colorado instead of I-80 through Wyoming due to high winds being forecast. Travel in Colorado during the winter is always interesting. One moment can be clear and the next you could be engulfed in a blizzard. We made it over Vail pass just before it was closed due to snow. Upon arriving we settled into our hotel, ate dinner, and I began my breathing meditation. It didn’t take long and I was calm, so calm I was asleep.

The day of the wedding had its minor ups and downs. Trying to find a dog park that was open, arranging some name change processing at my bank, etc. We ended up at my dad’s house before the wedding. My very supportive older brother was there. He was so very excited to meet his new sister & I was excited to meet him as myself. Another brother and his family arrived to attend to my dad’s social needs. Soon it was time to begin dressing for the wedding. I took my Xanax, and began my meditation. I slowly began to feel at peace.

The bathroom. So many times in my youth I hid in the bathroom and wore my feminine clothes. I was being forced (partly due to circumstances of my own making) to hide my femininity once again. I took off my leggings & blouse. I stood there in my bra and panties, looking myself in the mirror. I saw the woman I am looking at me, desperately pleading to not be hidden. I did another round of meditation, reassured myself it would only be for a very short time. With tears running down my cheeks I hid. I hid my makeup, my bra, and tried to hide my breasts. I let myself wear dangly earrings up to the parking lot. I also kept my necklace but wore it as a bracelet. I did this to show myself I am STILL Dana. I am a strong woman who loves her son so much that I would willingly hurt myself for his benefit.

The feelings I experienced when hiding myself were not over yet. I remembered our puppies would be in the Jeep with my feminine clothes. I would have to hide the clothes under the seat to keep them from being chewed. The very thought of this brought me again to a near breaking point. I offered a quick explanation to my wife of how I felt I was hiding myself again before asking her to hide my feminine clothes for me. I felt awful. The dread of having to ask someone else hide my secret which should not be a secret anymore was tremendous. I attempted the meditation again on the ride to the reception. Let me just say meditation while riding passenger in Utah traffic is not advisable. I did meditate some more in the parking lot before going into the church building. When I believed I had again found my calm, my peace we went inside.

It was not long until the feelings I was experiencing were showing signs of returning. I was so focused on hiding myself and the anxiety it was causing that I didn’t even notice if any of my hundreds of other fears about the reception were coming to pass. The level of my discomfort was rising. I sat with family who is supportive, still it rose. We discussed topics of family, work, and enjoyable activities, still it rose. I noticed I had begun to wring my hands. I was realizing I had reached a point where I needed a break. Not knowing if I would be able to return, I cut in the receiving line and called out as I did “Parental Privilege!” I said my hello to my son and daughter in-law, gave them hugs then retreated to the Jeep and our puppies. The family I was sitting with followed. My nephew and his wife were among them. They happen to have a weimaraner puppy also. We talked for a few moments then I decided I had experienced enough and needed to leave.

As we left, my wife asked if I needed to change. YES! Into a gas station we went. Straight to the bathroom I dashed. Within seconds I was again looking more like myself. Before leaving the gas station my wife asked what I wanted to do with the guy clothes. A short discussion ended with the clothes in the trash.

I made it through! I did what I thought would be a near impossibility. As I look back at it now I understand a few things better.

  • I should have never offered to present as the old me, something which I had a doubts I could accomplish.
  • I have many people who love and support me.
  • The time and effort I spent in thinking through the hundreds upon hundreds of scenarios was utterly wasted. When it comes down to it I may have only though of one thing that I could have been prepared for. I should strive to only live in the present and not try to forecast how my presence will affect any situation.
  • Self care is extremely important. If you can not be there for yourself then you can not have the presence of mind to ask for help.
  • Asking for help is a good thing. No one does anything alone.
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Being Dana… Whirlwinds of change

Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya from Pexels

I’ve felt the wind most all of my life. There have been days when the gusts push my body backward, to the side and even in some cases forward.

Over the past two years my winds have changed. They became stronger. Strong enough to topple many ideals I held to be true and unchangeable. These winds have also caused many whirlwind effects in my life. Whipping around me as I struggle to find their source. As soon as I found the source it would shift location.

Try as I may, I could not resist twisting and turning to face away from the source, to look in the direction the wind was blowing. I tried to stand my ground, was it really mine? It felt like mine, I had claimed it through my actions. The ground felt familiar but strangely foreign. The wind continued to howl and strengthen. I found myself taking steps with the gusts to my back, pushing me forward. I realized I was resisting the push of the wind less and less.

One gust was pushing me onward to again seek help with my struggle. I determined that even though this one was strong, I should let it push me to help. I searched online. I read books. Many were biographies of people I didn’t think were like me. I was drawn to the struggle they detailed. The winds the authors faced were similar to mine. I began a factual search of the source of my author’s winds. I turned my face into the wind to see if the source of my wind was similar. As I did, my wind swirled wildly pushing debris in my face. When I recovered, I knew the source was similar. As I turned, facing again with the gusts, I found myself willingly taking steps forward. Somehow my understanding of the source of my winds seemed to weaken the gusts.

I now know where and what my wind’s source is. It is the drive to live fully as myself. To no longer be satisfied with anything less. I felt great about identifying the source. I thought my storm would die down. Oh my, was I wrong!

Oh, the stress I encountered from knowing my source was too strong for me to cope with alone. I sought out a therapist. Her help provides a welcome respite from the ever changing winds circling around me.

How do I accept what/who I am?

What steps are available to me to withstand the wind?

How do I discuss my winds and their sources with those around me?

Will the person I thought I was be obliterated by the wind blown debris?

What/who will be left?

I’ve spent a many months in the shelter my therapist provided. Together we developed a plan. I came up with the actions I would need to take to abate my winds. She provides shelter as I figure out the priorities. She also assists me on my thought process. When I felt I was ready to face another gust I would discuss it with her. I also discussed each step with Becca, my wife. I also enlisted the help of a local peer support group and a few online groups too.

Many times the wind felt to strong to withstand. Each time my support team would provide the assistance I needed.

My winds reached hurricane strength in July of 2019. I had reached the point of needing to be myself full-time. I informed my family of my plan. It was now time to inform my employer. I came out as transgender to my on site manager on July 11th 2019. The tornado of stress and worry had reached it’s peak velocity. There is a phenomenon with storms. Some have forward momentum but seem to stall. A few storms will fall apart at this stage. Mine did not, it’s winds held their strength until September 19th 2019. This was my first day of work. Yes I had been working my entire life but never as my true self. It was on this day that Dana withstood the winds. I eagerly took steps forward with the winds I had fought for so long. (Those steps were in strappy black wedge sandals accompanied with a black lace skirt, a cream lace top & burgundy pullover sweater.)

I have now been walking with my winds for a month. I do still experience gusts, from family with their acceptance of me, from members of the general public with a judgmental look, from the processes I have to follow to recreate myself as who I should be. All of these gusts now seem more manageable. Yes, some gusts have more strength than others. Most I can now bear alone. There are some which in my view blow me back a step or two, especially gusts from well meaning family. In reality I have not been blown back. Perhaps a little to the side, or held without forward movement for a time. But like the winds I have already faced. These will also pass. I’m hoping they will eventually turn in direction and be at my back, pushing me forward.

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Being Dana… A Letter To My Protector

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

A letter written to that part of me who kept me safe until I was ready to show myself to the world. I have heard that many transgender people tend to abandon this portion of themselves who for so long protected them. I feel for me that my protector now requires love, thanks and protection.


My dear friend and companion,

When we were young we played together. I remember one of these days clearly. We played with cousins in the dirt. The Tonka trucks and excavating equipment was a way for you to show me how we could fit in with the boys. We were digging a potato storage cellar. It was just like the one the farmer nearby was building only on a much smaller scale. You drove the dump truck when its bed was full or dirt. It was your job to unload the dirt in a pile near the shallow trench which was forming. From there the dirt was scraped by a cousin using a road grater to form a berm around the trench. It was hot, dirty work well suited to little boys. I remember feeling a deep need, one which would not go away. I took the dump truck when you weren’t looking. I drove it to the kitchen. When I arrived, I announced to my aunt that I needed to take a load of lunch back to the boys who were working. I didn’t explain to anyone that I was playing the mother preparing a picnic for her boys. They wouldn’t have understood, but you knew. When I returned with the picnic, you explained to them that you got hungry and needed some sandwiches. I never thanked you for covering for me.

You became my protector, my example of who and what a young man should be. As a teen you showed bravado in the face of fear. I led you into fearful situations so many times. Each time you proved your value as my champion. The situations varied through those awkward years but you never failed me. You taught me how to pay attention to detail so I wouldn’t be found out. You taught me how to think through the many scenarios of possible outcomes which would be a result of my actions. This attention to detail and logical thought process has proven very valuable in building my IT career. I never thanked you for teaching me these lessons.

I hid so many times behind the face you showed the world. When I was ashamed of an action you stood in my place when I was confronted. I’m not too proud of some of the stories we came up with to explain what had happened but I am glad I had you to hide behind. I felt so fragile during those times. You were strong. I learned from your strength. I never thanked you for this.

We entered high school together. I admired you so much. I emulated everything you had done for me over the years. I portrayed your essence with such precision. We became indistinguishable at times. I made quite a number of friends as a result. I showed them all the lessons you taught me. I even met a special someone. You taught me to interact with the world on their terms. I never thanked you for this.

The college years were soon upon us. We had become nearly inseparable. I did find time every once in a while to be myself. It was a very stressful time for me. Once when I thought I would disappear forever, you gave me shelter in your personality, in your very being. I found comfort with you for a few years. No matter how busy our schedule became you still allowed time for me to be myself. I wasn’t sure I deserved this time. You told me that I had value. I never thanked you for believing in my worth.

I became a parent, twice. You showed me how to teach my children to be boys. I was jealous of your skill. I became very angry with myself over this jealousy. Those near me suffered from my inability to express myself. I asked for more time to be myself and you indulged me. You showed me kindness when I feared all others would shun me. It felt so good to be me. I began to steal away some of your strength. You didn’t mind. I never thanked you for giving me strength and showing me kindness.

We began to have disagreements with each other. I wanted even more time as me. You continued to tell me it wasn’t safe yet, that others would hurt, ridicule, or even kill me. I felt things needed to change. Your arguments were much stronger than mine, I relented and we became one again. You kept me safe, even through the discord of a divorce. I never thanked you for providing this safety.

We met a very special person. We decided I would again hide behind your strength, and knowledge and in the safety you could provide. From time to time I would show myself. I began to grow in the environment you provided. I became stronger, wiser, more capable of letting others see me. You saw this. You enjoyed seeing me grow stronger. I didn’t know then that you were growing old before your time. I didn’t know that you were training me to be able to stand on my own. I began to believe that I truly had value. I wanted to show myself to the special person we had met. You explained she wouldn’t understand. I persisted. I was relentless. Eventually, after many years, you agreed. I was timid. I was unsure. I drew from your strength. I showed a portion of myself to her. She didn’t hate me. Were you wrong? Were you testing my resolve to show others who I am? You began to be much more lenient toward when I could show myself.

I decided it was time to show myself to others. You cautioned me vigorously of the dangers I would face. I reminded you of all the lessons and skills you had provided me. We debated for a long time. I thought you gave in to teach me a lesson. I now know I was as strong as you because of the things you taught me. We decided I would go out for a drink. I found a place which was supposed to be safe, to be friendly. I got dressed. You whispered little things in my ear, both supportive and surprisingly hurtful. I went out anyway. Your whisperings continued. I became nervous and left for home before I could show anyone who I am. At the time I despised you for the hurtful things said. I know now I was not ready. I did not thank you for teaching me to have caution.

Many more years passed. I have become very strong. I have become very determined. I am becoming a happy person. I still look to you for guidance. I search the room I’m in only to see an old man. Is it you? Did all the years of protecting me bring old age to you this soon? You look so frail now. Tears come to my eyes as I realize you gave everything you were to protect me, to allow me to grow into the person I am. I feel very honoured to have had you by my side for my entire life.

It is now my turn. It is my turn to protect you. To cherish the the times we shared. To keep you with me always. To be your loving mother as you fade in the memories of others. To me you will always be my strong protector, my champion, the person I could not be. I can not thank you enough for all you have given me. It will be my pleasure to now protect you.

I love you dearly,
Dana

1,350 Words

Being Dana… 2 Ton Heavy Thing

A young red haired feminine presenting person wearing a grey t-shirt top and a long multicolored floral skirt lying under the edge of a very large boulder pressing down on-top of them.

The first thing that comes to my mind when someone uses any version of the phrase, “that carries a lot of weight” is whatever was stated is of great importance. This importance may be of a theoretical value, such as a hypothesis on the beginnings of the universe, or of a moral value such as it is wrong to kill other humans. There are many other values to which this phrase can be applied.

I want you to think for a few moments of a specific kind of weight. One composed primarily of shame and fear. Imagine that you, for the majority of your life, could rarely find any lasting happiness. Sure you have been able to feel happiness because you did something pleasing to or for others or had pleasing things done for or to you. This is only a temporary happiness. It doesn’t last long in my experience. I am speaking of a happiness filled with joy. Joy, I think, is something of a more personal nature and for some it may even have a spiritual component. It is something which at times can defy description. Joy brings with it a lasting happiness which can not be diminished.

I believe one source of joyful lasting happiness is within the grasp for each of us. To obtain it we must find the ability to express our true sense of self. Many people trudge through life and never know who they truly are. These people are not completely at fault for this. The path has been well worn and is easy to follow. We have been trained to follow many religious and societal values. These learned values often become our only path through life. Following something because we were trained to do so does have some benefits. We are trained at an early age to not touch the hot stove top. This certainly provides benefit. By following this particular training we preserve our health, or a portion of it. We are also trained to repress or hide certain uncomfortable things. There may be nothing actually wrong with what we hide. It may just be difficult to explain, or discuss openly. Repression such as this carries weight and it accumulates over time. It makes the original information even more difficult to discuss or explain. A couple of the ways the weight accumulates is through shame and fear.

What is shame? I’ve recently heard it described as a painful feeling experienced as a result of doing something against our training. Who defines which training is considered appropriate and which is considered shameful? Many of the things which I have been trained to understand as socially or religiously appropriate do not fit me. I have also found many which were deemed inappropriate or shameful to fit me quite comfortably. The majority of my fear is rooted in someone finding or knowing my shame.

Throughout my life I have picked up scraps of shame and pieces of fear. These have formed a massive concretion. I placed this weight on top of something which can bring me joy and lasting happiness. This weight rests on top of my ability to express the true person I am. I have let this weight of shame, fear, and other burdens crush the joy of being me. I have recently found that I can chip away at this weight. The chips fall away but don’t seem to really go away. They are left as a pile of rubble surrounding me which others must make their way through only to find the person I was trained to be. They rarely look beneath the weight to find me struggling to be free of it.

A young red haired feminine presenting person wearing a grey t-shirt top and a long multicolored floral skirt lying under the edge of a very large boulder pressing down on-top of them.
Image by Italo Melo via Pexels.com

A few months ago I had finally chipped away enough of my weight to allow my person, my wife, Becca, to see a portion of the real me, the person trapped under the weight of shame, and fears. She saw me for who I am. She saw I needed help with clearing away the rubble, with chipping away at the weight. She began carrying some of the pieces away for disposal. Through her love and support I realized I needed more help with this task. Without her I would not have begun the process of allowing others to see who I am. For this I am forever grateful.

One person I enlisted in this process has been a light in the darkness. She is my therapist. She has extensive experience in demolishing these heavy burdens. She has helped me to realize the weight which is upon me is fractured, with cracks that run deep. This weight was, after all, built piece by piece over many years. Knowing this allowed me to understand my weight could be dismantled. With help of my team, we could begin to clear away the debris which has for so long obstructed the view of the real me.

Prying at the cracks in my weight has and will remain a difficult task. I am now enlisting the help of my family, friends and even my coworkers. Some are quick to see the person trapped beneath the weight, some will take time to discover who I am, and others will ever only see the person I was trained to be.

I now have a number of people on my team lifting, prying and chipping away at my weight. I see, at times, a valued component amongst the rubble. When I reach for it and bring it into the light, I find the gleam which had drawn my attention loses its luster. The light which my therapist and now others are holding allows me to determine which pieces have true value and which do not. Those which have little or no value are discarded. Others are kept in a small pile of rubble which will need to have more light shone on it. I bring these pieces into the light often to examine them.

I am now beginning to feel more of the joy and happiness I had longed for. Others are noticing this. It feels fantastic to show others the person whom I have always hidden.

I want to briefly mention another weight, the one of being transgender. I need your help to chip away at this weight, to clear away the rubble. It is composed mostly of views imposed by society and religious values which include but are not limited to:

  • Being hated for existing.
  • Being labeled as confused or ill.
  • Being labeled as detrimental to society.
  • Being the target of false claims.
  • Being a subject of ridicule.

I need you to see I am Dana Lynn Rasmussen, a kind, caring, trusting person who is willing to love others more than myself.

I ask you to educate yourself on LGBT+ issues. In particular transgender issues.

By doing these simple things you will help clear not only the rubble from around my weight, but you will clear rubble from the weight of others whom you may never know, allowing more people including yourself to find the true person under the weight.

1,189 Words

Being Dana… It’s the little things.

A little over a month ago I was having a pretty bad day. The dysphoric triggers seemed to be everywhere.

  • As I got ready for work, seeing my feminine clothes and knowing I can’t yet wear them to work.
  • My dangly earrings and a hair scrunchy on the bathroom counter as I brushed my teeth. I need to wear them.
  • At work, walking past the women’s room to the men’s room for a bathroom break was a painful reminder that I’m Dana, but only a select few know it.

When my work day was finally through I was greeted at home by my wife. “How was your day?” Why that question? Why that day? I don’t like unloading my burden on her. I don’t wish to cause her pain with my troubles. She has reminded me time and time again that she only asks so she may lighten or share my burden. We are, after all, married and are each other’s person. I relayed the pain and discomfort my triggers had caused. I felt the burden lift but only slightly. Later, the burden was back on top of me “like a ummmm ummmm a 2 ton heavy thing”. My wife knew I was uncomfortable. We discussed how I could hopefully lessen the degree to which the triggers impact me. She made the suggestion of trying to look for and think of the good things in my day and my transition.

I took about a week to let this sink in. Most of my life, I had focused on bad or discomforting things. I always thought I did this so I could plan an attack to overcome the issue. Focusing on the negative has become very tiring. Compound this tiring effect with the additional knowledge I now have about being Dana and the total effect was pushing me downward. Preventing me from enjoying any progress. I decided to take my wife’s advice. I began a list of little things which made me happy to be a transgender woman. I’ll go over some of these and the circumstances surrounding them. Hopefully this may inspire others to also see more than the bad and to recognize there is a lot of good in our transgender lives.

Dining Out

I (as Dana) recently went to a Brazilian steak house with my wife, a good friend, and her new fiance. I did my hair a bit, put on some light makeup and wore a nice but casual outfit. We were celebrating my wife’s belated birthday, our anniversary, and our friends engagement. Once we had ordered drinks, I noticed the wait staff really only talked our friend’s fiance, the one male in our group. I was frustrated at first. Why was this happening? It then dawned on me. This was normal, even though not acceptable, behavior which I had never noticed before. I was being treated as just another woman in a dining group. Strange as it seems, I was filled with happiness at knowing I was being treated poorly.

I began to think back to other times when I was treated as just another woman in the group, my mind came upon one instance which occurred a few weeks earlier than my bad day. I went for a ride with our good friend, just two biker girls out for a hundred or so miles of Harley driven wind therapy. We traveled from our Denver suburb on the two lane highways through a few small Colorado towns. On the way home we decided to stop for lunch. I thought nothing of the fact that when the check came our waitress brought two checks and asked if she could bring us ladies anything else. My friend asked if that felt great. I was confused. What felt great? She explained to me that when out to lunch with just the girls it is common to have each woman be brought her own check rather than one group check to split.

Getting Ready

As I was changing clothes one weekend, I noticed how my bra strap had left a small indent on my shoulder. I also thought of the exciting possibility of seeing a tan line from MY bra strap. These thoughts brought tears to my eyes.

Damn it! I chipped a nail! I used to laugh at that phrase. Now I have a very personal reaction when this happens. My first response is that I am deeply saddened. It took weeks to get my nails looking the way they do. Next I begin to feel a small wave of anger build. Now I have to start over again! This anger forces me to turn to a girl’s best friend. No, not diamonds. The other best friend, Google. “How to repair a broken nail” I soon learn that using the paper from a tea bag, and superglue I can keep the length on my nails without having to start over. When the repair is complete I feel pride in knowing I saved myself from weeks of not having long feminine nails.

A Home Repair

What does one do when the fan in the bathroom doesn’t work? If you have been taught by a great father how to perform minor home repairs, you repair it. I put it off for about a week. I then began the repair. Either the switch has failed or the fan motor has failed. Having had a different bathroom fan motor fail in our home a year or so ago, I took a bet that the motor was again the issue. I removed the ceiling louver, unplugged the motor, and removed the screw holding it in the duct. I then plugged the motor into an outlet to test my theory. Yes, it was the motor.

Off to Home Depot. As I entered the store carrying the old dusty dirty fan motor in a used grocery bag, I was approached by a male store employee. “May I help you find anything Ma’am?” Wow! I got Ma’am-ed! That made me feel great! But my experience doesn’t end there. I open the bag and say I’m looking for one of these. The employee escorted me to the location, pulled the replacement from way back on the shelf and asked if I knew how to install it. My reply, Well I removed this one. He smiled and further explained there are detailed instructions on and inside the box just in case I got stuck.

I successfully evaded being man-splained on how to do a minor household repair. I have to admit I thought I was man-splained only to be later wife-splained that the Home Depot employee was probably just trying to provide good customer service.

The magic of hormone replacement therapy

Nearly all transgender women will tell other new transgender women; “Get ready for a wild emotional ride!” This has not failed to deliver in my case. I have become much more emotional. I have now cried for many reasons and even for no reason. I also now understand the phrase “A good cry”. I find such a relief in being associated with the women of the world and to now be “Allowed” to show my feelings.

Ooo my legs are smooth! This discovery happened to me after about six months of HRT. I was putting on a skirt and my hand brushed my leg. Wow! My legs felt much more feminine. I had been shaving them for now over a year. I also exfoliate and moisturize. This did not prepare me for what I immediately thought. That’s a woman’s thigh. It definitely did not prepare me to know that the woman’s thigh I felt was attached to ME!

Ouch! My boobs hurt! When I started HRT I was told there would be breast pain. This pain is associated with the growth of mammary tissue. OK, I can deal with that to get the body I feel is correct for the person I am. My doctor started me on estradiol injections every two weeks. The first three injections were to be in her office. Before I went back to have my second dose, my nipples were extremely sensitive. Feeling this pain meant the hormones had begun to work their magic. This pain has continued to spread all over my breast tissue. It is very painful at times but it is the most joyful pain I have ever felt. Every bump of my breasts reminds me I am slowly bringing my physical body into alignment with the person I am.

Day to day activities

For years I have watched women. Some may think this statement a bit creepy. Let me explain. This began as just a fascination. I watched them to notice how they moved, sat, and interacted with the world around them. When I came to the realization that I am a woman, I had a reason to continue my watching of women. I would need this knowledge to portray a more feminine persona if I didn’t wish to be the topic of every conversation or worse, clocked and outed. I have now integrated multiple versions of crossing my legs, playing a with my hair, and adjusting my arm movements as I walk. I have stopped greeting people with the bro head nod. You know the one, the quick upward nod a guy usually makes when greeting anyone. Instead, I now have begun to look a person in the eyes and just say hi.

My posture has also seen improvements. I have breasts now. They are small but I am very proud of this fact. When I notice my posture is poor, I return to a catch phrase from one of the many books I researched, Becoming Kimberly : A Transgender ‘s Journey—Kim Davis “Chin up! Tits Out!”

One of my day off activities is to take our two dogs Lu C Fur and L.C. to a local dog park. I really enjoy being just another dog-mom when at the park. I smile almost the entire time. I greet people. I get boob sweat! Yes, you read that right! I get boob sweat and I LOVE it! I’ve heard the women in my life complain for years about boob sweat. I’m sure as time passes my enjoyment of boob sweat will be less of an affirming thing. For now I am totally enthralled by it.

I so love seeing a skirt on MY shadow!

This morning while being just another dog mom at the park, I looked down as I walked near a pond. I saw a woman’s shadow. She was wearing a short, athletic style skort. I stood there alone, in the early morning light, tears flowing, simply staring at MY shadow on the ground. When I regained my composure, I took this photo and immediately posted it to multiple Facebook transgender oriented groups of which I am a member. The caption I added, “I so love seeing a skirt on MY shadow!” The photo while simple has gained as many like and love reactions as any other image or supporting comment I have made. The simple joy I felt in being myself and seeing that even my shadow now resembles who I am is indescribable.

I am beginning to feel more complete.

My Name

Every transgender person will tell you one of the very best things they can hear is their name. Not the name they were given at birth by well meaning parents, but our own true names. In many cases we choose our names after a great deal of thought. I spent months agonizing over what mine should be if I were to change my name. I beam with pride, and joy when I hear my true name. The first time my wife used my name it was a two tissue event! And that was before any hormones!

Soon I will be legally known as Dana. I hope the joy I feel when hearing my name will not fade as time goes on. The process we as transgender people go through to find ourselves is a monumental one. I highly doubt anything I have done or will yet do will compare to finding myself and my name, Dana.

2,082 Words

Being Dana… This or That

One of the most impact-full moments of my self discovery was working through the This or That section in Dara Hoffman-Fox’s “You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery”. This section of the workbook allows one to confront and analyze the possible options identified when discovering a gender identity.

Before reaching this section I had already narrowed down my list to these three options:

  • Am I only a cross dresser?
  • Do I fetishize my need to present as female?
  • Am I transgender?

Let’s explore each of these and the answers I came up with using this workbook along with a lot of self introspection. When I say a lot I mean a LOT. I spent nearly six months in this two hundred fifty page workbook. I did all the exercises on my own, which in retrospect may not have been the best course of action. I have heard a few of my transgender family have gone through this process with their therapist’s assistance, guiding them through the workbook. Ensuring the necessary self care is performed when dissecting and examining everything they thought they knew about themselves.

Am I only a cross dresser?

I have always had a fascination with women’s clothing. As a small child I fondly remember playing dress-up. I would try to wear dresses and carry purses as much as possible. I also remember taking this a little further such that my play would take on a more motherly and feminine role. I would pretend to the the shopping, cooking, performing the caretaker roles and the stereotypical feminine chores in a family dynamic. Please keep in mind I’m not saying any of these are specifically feminine. The time frame I grew up in and the locale did impress on me these were the things women did.

I specifically remember the feelings I received when playing in this way. I felt as if I had become a calm and caring individual. Mimicking these chores made me feel complete. The dresses also provided this same type of feeling. A sense of calm and completeness which came from the very core of my being. I don’t remember the details but at one point I was no longer allowed to play dress-up. This did not quash my desire for the feminine, instead it opened a door. A door to a closet which I remained locked inside for decades.

I first learned the differences in women’s and men’s underwear when learning how to do laundry. I took advantage of the fact that our laundry room was in the basement adjacent to a bathroom and not too far from a bedroom. I would sneak articles of clothing belonging to my mother or sisters. I would wear the items for a while, then return them to the laundry. Wearing the female clothing gave me such feelings of happiness, calmness and completeness.

This is the foundation of my cross dressing. In order to rule this out I needed answers to the question. Is cross dressing something I can stop doing?

I attempted an experiment. Granted, this is not the first time I had attempted to stop cross dressing. It was however the first time I was stopping as an attempt to identify who I am.

This time I kept a log of my moods, feelings and experiences. Essentially who I was and who I would become. I began the trial period feeling optimistic for the experiment. I hoped I would be able to stop. I hoped for a normal answer to my problem. A week went by. My mood gradually decreased. I began to become very irritated with everything. I was unhappy not being able to dress in a feminine manner. Two weeks went by, my stress levels had increased. I drank much more than usual. I drank until I basically passed out for the night. Waking up and getting ready for work was miserable, but not because I was hungover. I was miserable because I would see my feminine clothes hanging there, watching me put on my male persona, mocking my attempt to be normal. They seemed to already know. She’ll be back for us soon.

They were right. Most of the way through my third week I gave in. I needed to feel the comfort, and the peace of being feminine. My clothes knew it, I knew it. I just hadn’t accepted it yet.

So can I quit? No, if I do I will spiral downward, ever closer toward becoming a person I do not like.

Do I fetishize my need to present as female?

Ah puberty! That wonderfully confusing time of life for normal people. That guilt ridden confusing time of life for a cross dresser who knows nothing about the possibility of being transgender.

My puberty manifested when I was around ten or eleven. I had continued my ritual of wearing women’s clothing in private. One day when I was wearing a lace trimmed slip and had begun to pull a dress over my head, something happened. I received my first erection, or at least the first I can remember. My parents had not sat me down for any of those talks yet. I knew nothing of sex thus far. All I knew was this was REALLY weird! I instantly felt guilt and shame but I had no idea why. I quickly took off the borrowed clothes and returned them.

Weeks went by, I felt angry & upset for not allowing myself to indulge in the one thing I had found which had provided such joy. I had been the recipient of a few more erections in the mean time. Each just as confusing. I also had heard from my friends that this can happen to a guy without really any reason. Armed with this information I again borrowed a slip and a dress. I rushed to the bedroom and put them on. Magically I was cured! I did not receive my unwanted friend or the accompanying guilt and shame. Well at least not at first.

While dancing in the dress, again I had an erection. More than likely caused by the silky fabric bushing against me. This was followed by the immediate feeling of guilt and shame. This pattern continued for many, many years. Eventually I incorporated masturbation into my routine. Every instance would begin with the euphoric feelings I so craved, but I ALWAYS crashed headlong into guilt and shame.

The pattern of fetishizing my cross dressing was well established but was this all it was? Again I needed my answers. Is this purely a sexual fetish? Can I be feminine without the sexual arousal?

I needed another experiment, one more difficult than any previous to it. I knew from my past that I would often, very often, become excited by the soft caress of silky smooth fabric against my skin. I knew I would have to somehow overcome the excitement. I knew that if I focused on something else I could somewhat control my erection. Yes, I would still have one but I could through focus lose my erection without having to climax.

Armed with this knowledge I planned my experiment. I would dress feminine for a weekend, but not too feminine lest I fall prey to my fetish. I would go about a normal routine. I would do housework, and check things off my honey-do list. As soon as this experiment started I knew it would be difficult. After all, I had trained my body over many years to feel excited when I expressed my femininity.

I did become excited, but it soon passed. I went about my day. I performed task after task on my list. By the end of the day I was exhausted. I decided I would fill a glass with wine and the tub with hot water and take a long bath. I hadn’t taken a bath for some 30 plus years. Baths were feminine I was male. As I drew my bath I also decided I would fully shave my legs. Previously I had only shaved my thighs and only a few times. I justified the change as I was trying to embrace femininity without arousal. Also having something to do in the bath would occupy my mind as I relaxed.

With my legs now silky smooth, the bath water cooling down and an empty wine bottle lying on the floor I decided I would turn in for the night. I selected a long silky red nightgown from my hidden wardrobe. I turned back the covers, climbed into bed and started watching a chick flick. Before I knew it morning had arrived. I quickly took a personal inventory. Did I wake in the night with an erection? No. How did I feel? Amazing! My smooth legs, the silky nightgown were great, but the feeling I had inside was nearly indescribable. All of my life I had chased the calm, peaceful feeling I remembered from those first few times dressing in my youth. I had found it again. This time I had no remorse, no guilt, and no shame and best of all it remained with me for quite some time.

Do I fetishize who I am? No. Through this experiment I learned I did not need the sexual arousement to claim my inner peace.

Am I transgender?

I now know I can feel feminine without pain, guilt, or shame. I truly enjoy who I am when I am feminine. I am happy. I am at peace. I am complete.

What does this mean? I believe it means I am a feminine person. Am I truly transgender? The term transgender means something that crosses the generally accepted gender boundaries. The person I am internally does cross these boundaries. I am feminine while my body is male. I wish to no longer fight with my true self. I want to be the happy, calm, and peaceful person I was able to catch glimpses of in my past and in my recent experiments.

While these are by no means all the possibilities I explored they are the most important ones in my case. To quote one of my favorite fictional characters Spock from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country “ When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” My circumstances are much different, however I do feel I have eliminated the impossible. I used to think being transgender was improbable. I have eliminated the doubt of improbability from my mind on this. My truth is I am Dana, a transgender woman.

1,778 Words

Being Dana… “I respect your decision.”

“I respect your decision.”

This has been a response I have received when coming out as transgender to some of my siblings. I want to believe the comment is intended as a supportive one, but I can’t help but wonder if there is not a hidden meaning, especially with my family.

To understand my wonder and concern I need to explain a bit about my family. I was born fifty-two years ago, to a very religious family, in a small Idaho town of roughly thirty-five thousand. I am the seventh child of eight. I have five brothers and two sisters, all are older than I am except for one of my brothers. My family, for multiple generations, have been active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Mormon or LDS). This religion is a Christian religion which has much of it’s doctrine rooted in the concept of free agency. So much so that even being born on Earth was a choice every person made in a pre-Earth life. There is much more background I can give but this should be enough to begin discussing the topic at hand.

I must also state I have not followed the Mormon teachings for quite a number of years. This is due to me finding fault with much of the logic and revelation given to the members as doctrine and truth. This would include bigoted patterns and practices. I found I could not be a part of an organization which supports such things.

On with the topic. Before coming out to my siblings, I prepared these notes to make sure I get across what I intend without forgetting anything.

  • I want to talk to you about some important things I have discovered about myself.
  • I’ve figured out how to bring more happiness into my life.
  • We don’t talk much as a family but because you are so very important to me I want to speak with you, to listen to your responses and try to answer questions you may have.
  • I have struggled with and hidden this most of my life.
  • Recently I have sought out some professional assistance with my self discovery process.
  • Through this process and a great amount of thought, I have discovered I am a transgender woman.
  • Please keep this private as I want to talk to each family member personally. Spouses may be told. Once I have talked to everyone on my list I’ll give the go ahead for open conversation.

My calls have so far allowed me to get to the point of stating I’m a transgender woman before any real involved conversation starts. It is at this point where the responses have been both extremely supportive and also more of a depressed tone from my siblings. I have one older and one younger brother who are gay. The responses from these two have been AWESOME! That, however, is another story.

One brother, who has gay children, made the comment “I support your decision.” but followed it with “I don’t fully understand what you are going through.” and “I love you and accept you.” His tone of voice was more in line with someone who is truly trying to understand and appreciates how big of a deal coming out is to me. The call ends and I begin to wonder if he was just struggling with the words to show his acceptance of me or if there was something more. Another brother also made this same comment. His tone of voice was more of a depressed and disappointed nature. This brother also stated that he loves me and wishes me the best in my journey.

The “I support your decision” comment from both brothers has weighed on my mind. What did they mean?

Was it my decision to call them to talk? Yes, I rarely speak directly to my family so when something as life changing as me realizing I am transgender happens, of course I want to share the good news. While this is a decision, I don’t think this is what was meant.

Could they have meant my decision to take action on my discovery? This is a possibility. After all, I decided to begin presenting as female as much as I could. This couldn’t be it, I hadn’t relayed that information yet.

Was it that I also chose to begin hormone replacement therapy? No, this was also not relayed.

Did they mean to imply these decisions have been made? Many people think to be transgender means you are actively changing your body, however this is not always the case. Many transgender people do not or can not make changes to their bodies.

The information of me being a transgender woman was communicated but I fear not comprehended. This fear is based in the decades of religious teachings we endured. I’d like to discuss a couple possible choices. Some of this discussion will touch on teachings of the Mormon religion. Please bear with me on this. While I no longer follow these teachings, they are still a part of how I was raised so they often enter my thoughts.

Remember everything is a choice in the Mormon religion. I am a transgender woman. Does this mean at some point in my life I chose to be transgender? All of the scientific evidence I have found has proven this to be false. The existence of transgender humans is a fact of nature. Many of earths species have variations in gender. Why would I choose a life of difficulty, ridicule and mental anguish. The answer I have found many times over is I did not choose to be transgender.

One Mormon principle is we all chose to be born on Earth when we existed in a Pre-Earth life. Jesus and Satan, our older brothers, proposed plans to save all God’s children and return them to live with God after living a mortal life. Jesus’ plan was based on free agency, the right to choose to return to live with God by being righteous. Satan’s plan was that everyone would be forced to always live righteously and all would return to live with God. Thus Satan’s plan lacks the free agency component. The followers of Jesus won this “war” and as a result chose to be born on Earth.

Supposing this principle is true, in my Pre-Earth life, was I a female spirit and chose to be born into a male body? I struggle to find validity with this possibility. Why anyone would choose a life of difficulty is my first of many issues with this possibility. Below is one option in which this would make sense to me if I still followed the Mormon religion.

A female spirit watches life on Earth and sees the turmoil and hatred caused by other humans when a variance in gender occurs in humans on Earth. She feels that somehow she can overcome the challenge of being a female spirit born into a male body and teach humankind through her experience.

Could this have been the decision my brothers were referring to? I don’t think so. My brothers, despite the years of life experience they have, do not have much, if any, experience with people who are transgender. I doubt they would have come up with such an explanation to justify my existence as a transgender woman.

This leads me to the more troubling of possibilities. My brothers, however wise I may have thought them to be, are lacking knowledge and facts. They have been indoctrinated so thoroughly in the religious views of my family that they will never truly accept me for the woman I am. For this I am very sad. I wish I could explain what and how I feel. Words fail me on this. While this is an overly simplified explanation this Internet meme holds a lot of truth.

Another possibility is that I have done as I usually do. I have over thought the reply. I have heard that this trait of over thinking is common among transgender persons. Overthinking in general is linked to anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy and frustration. Expanding on these would take quite some time as I along with most all transgender persons deal with varying degrees of each.

The more I over think the possible options the more I am liking this final one. My brothers may truly be accepting of me as a transgender woman. They just lack the knowledge and experience needed to express this support in an clear and concise manner which does not foster doubt.

One final note, I mentioned my feelings on this phrase to my wife. She paused for a few seconds and using her sarcastic sense of humor replied with “I respect your decision.” then gave me a hug. Holding back tears of joy, I replied “I know what YOU mean.” I would not have the courage to take action on the fact of me being transgender without her support. I love her immensely.

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