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a cautionary encounter

Transgender people have pretty good radar for each other so when I passed a transsexual woman in my neighborhood a few weeks back she stopped me and asked how long it had been since my operation. I proceeded to correct her and we started a brief conversation which led to my learning she was a number of years younger, had been married to a woman and had two children.

She now lived alone post-op in an apartment block not 10 minutes walk from where I live.

Her voice was deep for a woman and she was dressed in androgynous attire which did not immediately betray her gender;without hearing her speak you might need to reflect to ascertain it.

She told me she no longer fixed herself up and pointed to her unshaven legs as proof of how disinterested she was in looking like a woman. I got the impression that she was living in a permanently androgynous state.

I have not seen her since but when I reflect back I can't help but think about how difficult life can be when your dysphoria is so powerful. She had lost her marriage, full access to her children and, without facial feminization surgery, she was left in a permanent grey zone between male and female.

I think of her now as one of the many stories out there with an ambiguous ending. Is the person happier for having had the surgery and how much of that decision was filled by critical need. It was not obvious to me that where her life was now was necessarily better.

Sometimes we don't have the choice and we act only to realize its not necessarily better on the other side.

That encounter will stay with me for a while.


  1. It does make you wonder. I know someone like the person you mentioned. I really wonder if there were any regrets lying deep within the woman you met.

    Did you find it rude that she questioned your status or even that she approached you as being trans? I know several,women, one at work and a couple in an organization I belong to (non-trans related) who are absolutely transsexual and have transitioned. I have never brought it up to them. They don't know about me and I feel it would be rude of me to approach them. On the other hand, it doesn't bother me if someone approaches me with questions but the only time that happens is if I'm attending a trans event.

  2. Calie I was not the least bit put off by her approach. She did so very naturally and sincerely and that made all the difference. I did sense perhaps some regret but also a feeling that she had no choice and just let the chips fall where they did. Not an easy thing.

  3. Joanna,

    I always enjoy reading your posts; unfortunately have not had time to reply. But for this one, I’ll make some time!

    This T-girl spends every day in androgynous mode, and regrettably, not so much time femulating (to use Stana’s wonderful term.) All of my clothes are women’s, including shoes, though NONE of the outfits I wear with my wife when out and about include overtly feminine things, like dresses, feminine blouses or heels – she rebels at that. But I’d estimate that over half of my time we’re in “unfamiliar public” – people we don’t know - (often accompanying my wife, who tolerates androgyny but wishes it wasn’t there) I/we find that I’m addressed as female. Comforting for me… my wife, not so much…but she now tolerates that too.

    Though I’ve had the good fortune to actually meet three wonderful T-girls in person (unfortunately none living within convenient driving distance), only one stopped me to chat, fortunately when I was alone as a vendor at an antique show. I was in androgynous mode, apparently looking much like a woman. She had seen me at this show for several years and watched my increasing femininity, mistakenly believing that I’d transitioned already. Was she ever surprised – not to mention a bit embarrassed - to learn that I hadn’t. She is of retirement age, still married to, and living with, her wife, their kids are grown and all miraculously accept her femininity. And she’s non-op at this point, but fully transitioned. Her name has been legally changed, etc. She’s comfortable with progress to date, though she may not go much farther down the reassignment trail due to monetary and age issues. We keep in touch…it’s nice to have friends!

    If that conversation had occurred in the company of my wife, it would have been a major issue. But alone, it wasn’t – and isn’t - a problem – I’m not offended. I always enjoy meeting a sister…though I still haven’t developed a reliable “T-dar” to spot “other members of the tribe.” I’m working on that…

    I, like most MtF Transgenders, have the desire to be a woman, not just dress like one. However, if I were to transition and then undergo GRS and FFS, I’ve evaluated what I’d stand to lose, and what the future would hold. It’s far too much of a complication to consider. Leaving my wife alone (with her medical issues) in old age is not a good thing, nor would committing myself to living alone (with my own medical issues). Nor would depleted savings be good. At this stage of life, with a lot more behind me than yet in front of me, I’d really have to be super-motivated to proceed any further - and I guess I’m simply “not.” However, if this avenue had been available to me when I was younger, my life story would likely have a much different ending.

    You have good reason for sounding a cautionary tone about all this for your readers. Grass isn’t always “greener on the other side of that fence.” And to quote another old saying, "it’s tough to put the genie back in the bottle once he’s out.” Don’t get me wrong…I’d love for Mandy to be out and about every day as a woman in dresses. But for now, everyday androgyny, with periodic femulation when the occasion arises, “scratches that itch.” And as you have pointed out for your other readers, “your mileage may vary.” It’s not an appropriate path for everyone.

    I feel very apprehensive for the girl who chatted with you… She seems so discouraged. To not even want to dress, after going successfully through all she did, is sad. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain she experiences every day, and hope she has a good therapist’s help in dealing with it.

    Take care of yourself, and be safe…


    1. Mandy -

      Do you keep in contact with the T-Gal who transitioned, still had her wife, but no operation? I'd love to be in contact as well.....


    2. Yes, but not very often. I'll mention it next time we talk! (She doesn't do much with email.)

  4. Mandy thanks for your very thoughtful and very well thought out response. Yes I sensed that her new life might not have been so easy and once you have had surgery you are where you are. I always caution that the best approach is to go very very slowly and to stop at a level you are comfortable with that manages to assuage the dysphoria.

  5. a truly haunting portrait from the other side. I found myself thinking about this post hours later.


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