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I used to dread walking past young women and girls because I was certain that anyone between the ages of 12 and 25 had a greater developed sense of T-dar. Hence for me, confronting a gaggle of teen girls used to be a stress inducer.

Contrast that with today and that fear is completely gone. I will be standing right next to a group of them and they won't give me a second look unless they are glaring at my heel height to see if I am cheating. If I catch their eye I will smile at them and they will smile back in a friendly way. My developed style and femininity have come a long way.

True, my presentation is better than it has ever been but not 100% better. It is the mental confidence which has taken a huge shot in the arm and made my body language and expression let everyone know that they are dealing with a woman comfortable in her own skin. There is no substitute for knowing who you are on the inside and that will percolate to the surface and affect everything about you.

What helped get me there was an abject fatigue about feeling constrained by the world. I told myself I was no longer going to let others control how I live my life or in any way be apologetic for it. With that attitude I was able to become myself and then truly craft the kind of woman I wanted to present to the world. An effort which would be completely devoid of fear.

No doubt genetics have helped me but there have never been more options today for transgender women and the FFS miracles I have seen online (the amazing work of Dr. Bart Van de Ven at the 2pass clinic comes to mind) allow them to lead normal lives without the fear of public ridicule and scrutiny. Still, above all else, the internals must be worked on first because without that we have nothing.

When I met Patricia's 15 year old daughter recently I could tell from her eyes that she saw a woman; but it was mostly, I think, because I believed it too.

Last night at the pharmacy cosmetics counter Alexandra said:

"Madame Joanna you look radiant as always"

This time I really think she was right because I felt it.


  1. To what degree is personality (or the lack thereof) a determining factor? It seems to me that personality is a powerful force. Two individuals can bring similar skill sets to a task and work at the task with comparable vigor, one will succeed, the other less so. Why? What is the X factor? I am convinced that the power of personality is the factor that often makes the difference. Could it be that your personality, Joanna, is a critical factor in your success in presenting to the world?

    1. I admit I do have a strong personality Kati but I grew up painfully shy and withdrawn and I had to fight to break out of that shell so I am proof that it can be learned. I am certain that with a change in perspective and attitude we can all do the same and rebrand ourselves :)

    2. However, there are also intangible elements that can neither be learned or imitated. Why is it that an actor can bring an audience almost to tears of laughter night after night, and an understudy says the same lines in virtually the same way and is greeted with deadly silence? Perhaps it is a question of timing or tone of voice, but it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the understudy never had the same success as the veteran actor. Some things simply can't be learned. They are unique, innate qualities. I guess what I am saying is that the positive experiences you have had may be uniquely yours.

    3. I don't think that's true Kati because I used to have a lot of really bad experiences with the difference being that I changed my mindset. My point is that you need to believe in yourself before anyone else can. I looked good but I didn't feel good and it wasn't until that changed that things fell more into place. I am not saying its an easy process which is why it took me decades to figure it out. Just work on your insides and the rest will come but start by believing in yourself and your identity as a trans person :)

    4. Interesting concept, Kati. I would have to say, though, that I was my own understudy for most of my life. I had to learn to have the appearance of a "real guy" in order to cover-up what felt natural to me. The difference, now, is that I am no longer doing an act. The old act caused me to develop habits that I had to break, but that was not so hard to do. The more I allowed my "true self" to be seen, the more confident and comfortable I felt. What are innate and unique to me have been freed through their expression. I am now the star of my own show! :-)

  2. "... I could tell from her eyes that she saw a woman; but it was mostly, I think, because I believed it too." I have said, often, that we can spend hours in front of our mirrors, but our true reflections can only really be seen in the eyes of others. It's the difference between two dimensions and three (or more).


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