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someone l can relate to

I am very frank in this blog and if it helps someone to cope with their gender dysphoria, then it will have been worth it. I am not trying to be sensationalist and no longer need to hide from who I am. I also view my existence much more dispassionately than when I was dealing with the paralysis of shame and guilt over being transgender.

In this light, Anne Vitale’s 2003 article titled “The Gender Variant Phenomenon--A Developmental Review” contains a reference to one of her patients that I can relate to. You might recall that she is the one who coined the excellent term "Gender Expression Deprivation Anxiety" to describe what many of us experience.

In the text she describes this patient thusly:

“John, a 50 year-old genetic male, medical research scientist, married (23 years), father of three children aged 20, 17 and 7, phoned me after experiencing a panic attack severe enough to require emergency attention from paramedics at the airport on his way to give a presentation at a conference. John gave me only his first name and informed me that I was the first to be told what he was about to tell me. He said he was "gender dysphoric" and that he was "desperate." Feelings that were once "controllable through sheer force of will," had increased to where he now was having protracted periods where he would close his office door, lie on the floor and weep quietly while curled up in the fetal position, holding his genitals in pain. Other than intrusive and repeated fantasies of being female, he had refused to allow himself any overt form of female gender expression. He reported feeling that if he was to cross-dress and be caught, he would dishonor his wife and family. Having attained international recognition for his work, he was also concerned about his professional reputation. The only other form of temporary relief came through masturbating, often up to five times a day.

Our work together over the last three years has been slow. However, with the help of extensive individual, group, and family psychotherapy, augmented by estrogen replacement therapy, with the full permission of his family, John has recently taken on a female name and is living full time in the female gender role. She is in the process of renewing and redefining her relationship with her family, and has successfully returned to work after an extended leave of absence”.

For the last few years I have been using masturbation to help control my dysphoria and put the feelings “back in the box” even if only temporarily. This means that when I come home from an outing I will try and put away thoughts of wanting to be Joanna by perhaps trying to reconnect with the guilt that an orgasm in women’s clothes once held for me. The orgasm no longer happens without some effort but it is nevertheless a tool in my arsenal to cope with my dysphoria.

With age, the relief periods have become quite short and I find being Joanna to be easy and comfortable such that without the crossdressing that I engage in on a daily basis the pressure would be too much for me to endure.

Anne's patient permitted herself no such outlet so the pressure built and built until panic attacks inevitably ensued.


  1. I think you're courageous Joanna for your post, and I applaud your candor. It's refreshing. I've certainly masturbated a lot with fantasies, Fictionmania, and so forth, dressed as Emma and not. It is kind of a relief and it feels good as if, for those moments, I am immersed in the visceral pleasure of being Emma without anything else but that.

    Perhaps because of age I need that part of it less, and derive more pleasure from simply dressing and living my life (albeit at home behind closed doors), doing whatever I would do normally. For me that would be the ultimate goal, to just be and have been Emma all the time since I was born.

    But of course that will never be. Sure, I could transition. But I don't see that working enough for me, and would probably cause more pain/loss than I would gain.

    What really crashes me is the times when I happen across a woman or girl who strikes me as the female I'd really see myself as being. This happened a couple of days ago when I visited my therapist's office. A mid-thirties woman was sitting outside, waiting for her appointment. She was pretty yes, but not in that "super model" kind of way. Just wearing a nice/simple skirt and top, and black framed glasses. I was floored and got pretty depressed that evening and into the next day knowing that I envied and admired her so much.

    Thankfully I am able to talk to my wife more and more about my feelings and last night I shared this with her. She was very kind and supportive. She carries her own kind of similar feelings. She has vitiligo (lack of skin pigmentation) and when we go to Hawaii or are in the sun she has to cover up because she risks terrible sun burns and cancer. But she sees women wearing sundresses and so forth, just the kinds of things she would love to wear, and she cannot. So she also gets envious and sad...


  2. Thank you as well for your own frankness Emma. This is not an easy road and most especially when we are older. You are fortunate that your wife is to some degree supportive and can at least allow you to vent. We've all been there regarding wanting to be like certain women we see and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Am explanation for this still awaits but rest assured it's nothing you've done but part and parcel of your dysphoria.

    Thanks once again for sharing


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