Alternatives to transition

Before I started expressing myself female at work, I would spend all weekend female. On Sundays I went to the Metropolitan Community Church, the church founded to welcome and accept gay people, and after we would go for a drink or a meal together. On the Monday morning I would be presenting male again, and not nice to know. I was stressed and angry.

As a friend said, at first presenting male was normal, and expressing female was Wonderful. Then expressing female was really nice, and presenting male a bit of a pain. Finally expressing female was normal, and presenting male unbearably horrible. Yet letting the man out remained possible. When I saw this video first, it was an excerpt, shared on facebook, and I wondered how someone had just happened to film it- a confrontation between a rude man and a trans woman, without any explanation that it was a “social experiment”. Yet her/his reaction, snapping, responding in a male way is something we will recognise. A friend of a friend living on a council estate was bullied until she turned and beat up one of her tormentors; but being the man again traumatised her.

My friend changed jobs, cities, friends when she transitioned, but had loose ends from her old life to tie up. We were having lunch, and the phone rang.

Hello, hello-

I’m busy at the moment. Can we talk later?

It was the one time I saw her male self. It was shocking, and seemed aggressively rude.

That video excerpt, without the commentary showing it was staged, seemed staged to me, but it was something I could recognise. Off I went to stay with J, and we would go out round North Wales, and I got a gorgeous evening gown in a sale in Prestatyn, then I would have to put on the male to go to work. I had tried so hard to make a man of myself. That seems to be the alternative to transition- Macho-man, acting what a real man should be, terrified of getting found out and loathing the act, feeling constant anger and fear. Transition was liberation. I finally got to be myself.


I am uncomfortable, now, in the role of “trans woman”. I would rather be otherwise. I wrote this, as a draft blog post:

What did I want from transitioning? What did it achieve for me?

How you see it matters- positive or negative. I have been viewing it negatively, which has dragged me down. Perfectionism and black and white thinking make it worse. What did I gain, or lose, by it?

I saw transition as a sacrifice to buy acceptance. I can’t be like this as a man only as a woman. Then I find that I still have difficulties expressing myself female. Or, I saw at the time that “I am not a transsexual“- I don’t fit the box others have created, I am myself- and yet my transition was pretty much as I saw standard transitioning. Hair removal, hormones, transition at work, gender confirmation surgery, presenting in an entirely binary way as a woman, even if not seen as one but as a trans woman.

That is I did not do it simply to please myself, but also to placate others: I lived up to what I saw society expected of trans women. And that does not work, because it is a cultural expectation or stereotype which does not fit how people actually react, what people want or expect. It is a coarse concept, while interactions with others are ever changing.


My draft is just not how I felt at the time of transition. Nor how I felt when I wanted the operation, when delays and setbacks immiserated me, steps towards Thailand elated me. Possibly there was some unconscious motivation like that- unconscious motivation, I think, making me go against my own interests, as I judge myself all the time. Transition felt authentic and desired, but it could not have been really. I second guess myself- I am back seeing my radical feminist friend, so possibly my unconscious motivation for writing that draft was moving more to her way of thinking. I am thinking this through, and unsure that thinking has any value- you can’t avoid missteps except by not moving, which is worse. Do what you feel you want and learn by your mistakes.

My draft sounds so sincere, so convincing! Except now I am writing the opposite. I am just too confused. I don’t know what I want. Just like when I had aversion therapy. I had two views.

  • I have a stressful job. If I want to relax by cross-dressing, it is completely harmless.
  • I am a man, and cross-dressing is unmanly, so I should stop.

Either of these seem reasonable to me, but changing between perfect conviction of one, then the other, then the first again, within six or eight weeks, terrified me. It was mad. And expensive, buying clothes and throwing them away. Eventually I managed to buy a gorgeous dress, keep it, but not wear it for a year. Then I started cross-dressing again.

I started on this post thinking of asking you. Well, what are the alternatives to transition? It felt like that macho act is the only one, but can you live like a feminine male? A Beta-male, perhaps? Would you change from your normal appearance, which gives a lot of cis privilege, if there was any alternative? Being Beta-male and quite that feminine was far more frightening than transition, perhaps because transition was the societally sanctioned escape route.

What part does sexual arousal play in this? Would that I could divorce arousal from how I live my life. Would I have transitioned if I had not been aroused by the thought?

I do not know myself. I seek to know myself. It is now the most important thing to me.


22 thoughts on “Alternatives to transition

  1. It is always so sad reading your blog. What makes me even sadder is that so many others feel like you, (or worse),and even more who will soon feel the same way. So your question is an important one: What is the alternative to transition?
    After years of reading these blogs, I would suggest the life of a happy cross dresser. Lose he guilt and enjoy the best of both worlds.


    • Thank you. Welcome, Joe.

      It could just be a matter of temperament. It always seemed to me there were two groups down the cross-dressing club- the feminine ones, and the blokes down the pub for a drink, who happened to be dressed strangely. And not every cross dresser would like to transition- like my friend who once cross dressed for a week, and at the end was sick of it. Just as he could not understand transition, so many people cannot understand cross-dressing. Why would a man do that?

      Why spend so long reading these blogs? Trans blogs, do you mean?


  2. I’m not sure what the “perfect” answer would be, but my heart tells me to just be who you want to be. And surround yourself with people who love you for exactly who you are. Easier said than done, I’m sure.
    I know many of us feel guilt when we want to be a certain way, but we fall short of how we think others might think of us. I did that for a long time: people-pleased. Now, I’m starting to shed the layers of a difficult family and love them for who they are and accept who they are, but that also doesn’t mean I have to talk to them or visit them or be near them – I no longer feel obligated to please them and have just tried to go on with my own life. I’m spiritual and many of them are evangelicals and I just can’t even. So I don’t. And I make sure to only let people in who would accept me for who I am. ❤ Sending you hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad of that facebook group. I am delighted to find you.

      From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves
      unless restored by that refining fire
      where you must move in measure, like a dancer

      I have often responded in fear and desperation, and so have not managed to please myself or others. That growth into trust and love is so necessary.

      Hugs warm me. Bless you.


  3. your post brings up so many personal feelings in me because I am living that life now. The woman on the weekend and the man during the week. I hate to be able to say that I don’t think there is a perfect answer and I struggle with this idea that if I were ever to do what you have done would that make me happier? you are not a crossdresser and neither am I which makes it much harder. There are those who are happy to go to these trans conventions once or twice a year and put the woman back in the trunk once its over. That would be far easier for me.
    My choice has been to realize that I have lived too long as a man to reverse course and will try and make the best of it going forward with a compromise. But it is still important to realize that no matter which option is chosen, elephant skin is required because society will want nothing short of living in the box they set for you…so in the end be yourself no matter what is a pivotal part of the answer…


  4. Clare – I came across your website via a link from T-central and read your post of yesterday. You raised many thought-provoking points that relate to my situation. I suppose that I am somewhere in the cross-dressing part of the spectrum. When I have the opportunity to dress and express myself in a feminine manner, I never want it to stop. So much so that I have sometimes gone to great lengths when away from my home environment to create opportunities to dress 24/7 for 2-3 weeks. And yet I always know that “all good things have to come to an end” and I will have to go back to my male existence for a period of time, which I suppose I accept because this is the form of “normality” that I was brought up to expect. But the nagging doubts remain and I wonder whether, given the opportunity, I would simply dive into a full-time transgender identity. The chances are, though, that these nagging doubts will just have to continue, because my personal circumstances are unlikely to change. C’est la vie, as the French would say.


    • Welcome, Davina. It is lovely to have you here.

      Levels of dysphoria vary between people and circumstances play a huge part. If you are happy, or happy enough, that is wonderful. But- can you let your true self out when dressed as a man? Does she need a woman’s voice, name, clothes?


    • The only feminization guide. Um. Well, Jon, asking for an email address first is a bad idea. Your link is deleted.

      With this much information, you could normally expect to pay upwards of $500. But I’m only charging $49.95, because I believe that the information of how to be accepted as a female should be affordable for every transgenderist, transsexual, transvestite and drag queen.

      That’s worth over thousands of dollars of information — professional make-up skills, various male to female transformation techniques, disguise methods, psychological tricks and more — for the price of just a few fast food meals! Not worth it, anyone.


  5. Clare,

    Love your posts. They always make me think — more. I have presented primarily male for more than 60 years. I must present as privileged white male at work five days a week. But for the last nine months I have been able to live 16/7 as the female I feel I am for the first time in my life. It’s exhilarating, terrifying, liberating and confusing as all get out. At my age I am far from sure that surgical transition is in the cards for me. I have met several trans persons who present as female/males and say they are comfortable and don’t care what people think. I admire their courage and authenticity and don’t think that is for me either.

    Surprise, surprise there are no easy answers just more questions, discoveries, mixed feelings and learning along the way. This much I know: l am grateful for the opportunity to learn more about who I am even at this late time of life and grateful for you and other bloggers like you who act as our guides. Thank you!


    • Welcome, Paula. Thank you so much.

      Mmm. “Female/males”. If you mean dressing male but acting feminine, what do people actually think of such people? Some people might be uncomfortable with them. It is not how men should be. But here’s a thought experiment. Imagine such a person behaved that way one day while dressed male, and the next day behaved the same while dressed female. There might be a few people who thought that’s not how a man should be on the first day but on the second day thought Oh, that’s a trans woman, that’s how a trans woman should be. However, I think most who disapproved of her behaviour dressed male would also disapprove of her dressing female. And most people who accepted her, or were capable of courteous behaviour, towards her when expressing herself female would be at least as courteous, or accepting, when she behaved the same way but dressed male. You have to pass for it to be otherwise. Some people do, I rarely have.

      For me, the disapproval has always come from within myself. I have felt able to be myself, expressing female, and constrained to act male, presenting male, but it is my own permission giving me freedom, my own constraints making me act male.

      I have loved to dress and imagine myself as a woman. That matters. And surgery is expensive and risky. Have it only if you really want it.


  6. Knowing that I was not the male I was thought to be from an early age defined my life. Once I reached an age where I could choose my clothing became very feminine, thank goodness for the times I grew up in! Nothing could make me act as a typical male and reap the benefits for that misogynist privilege. I chose to be as true to myself as possible and paid the price of no career and no decent pension to see me through the old age that I never thought I would live to see.

    The world changed and perhaps i was lucky not to have tied myself to a family and sacrificed my life for them. All I can say is do not give up and do not ever think that it is too late to finally be yourself.


      • Clare, so sorry for not replying, after all these years I still find wordpress a mystery and missed your question. Yes I did finally transition in my fifties, a long and slow process becauseI never imagined that I would get the help needed to get right through. A long time in the coming for someone who knew that there was a problem before I was even three. Stubborn as I was I lived in limbo, refusing to play male and dressing feminine / androgynous. I have a long abandoned blog out there, let me know if you are interested and I will send a link by email.


  7. This seems to me to be an incredibly important piece of writing. There’s so much in here. I agree with Sageleaf when she says, “but my heart tells me to just be who you want to be. And surround yourself with people who love you for exactly who you are. Easier said than done, I’m sure.”

    It’s so interesting that you say, “Being Beta-male and quite that feminine was far more frightening than transition, perhaps because transition was the societally sanctioned escape route.” Joanna touches on this too, with her comment: “society will want nothing short of living in the box they set for you…so in the end be yourself no matter what is a pivotal part of the answer…”

    I suspect it’s this trying to fit people into boxes that causes so much suffering (and not just regarding sexuality.) What we need is for there to be acceptance of everyone, no matter who or how they are, so that anyone can feel safe however they are. I often think about this, about how young children mostly don’t put these boxes on themselves – one of my daughters used to wear khaki trousers and fairy dresses, a male friend of hers loved purple and pink and because so few boys’ clothes were made in those colours, his mum bought him girls’ clothes. That was fine till he started school and realised (or was told) boys “should” be a certain way. If we didn’t create these artificial boundaries, how much suffering, like yours, would be avoided?

    Right now, the sort of acceptance that’s needed seems a long way away, particularly with Trump’s ascendance. But twenty years ago, gay marriage being made legal seemed almost impossible, and yet when it came about my teenage daughters found it hard to understand why it was even an issue. To them, of course everyone should have equal rights and they were astonished when we explained just now cruelly gay people were treated and portrayed even just 20 years ago. Of course, even with this as a legal right, there’s still a long, long way to go in shifting attitude and creating acceptance. That’s partly why I think your post is so important. It’s so open and honest and looks at this from so many angles. It’s what is needed. There needs to be room to ask questions, even if we don’t know the answers.

    Your final statement: “I do not know myself. I seek to know myself. It is now the most important thing to me,” is universal, even if the circumstances you have gone through are not what the majority of us face. That’s partly what makes this such a wonderful post.


    • Your daughters found it hard to understand why equal marriage was an issue, and yet now there is a steady flow of demonisation, in the Daily Mail and even the Times, of benefit claimants, immigrants, and I met a gay teenager just after he had come out to his parents who did not know a single other gay child in his school. We need to show courage and love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, even as I wrote that about my daughters, I thought that their perspective could be coloured by going to a very liberal-minded school. I’ve just had a conversation with one of them about this and when she was 13 or 14 one boy did express anti-gay opinions and the whole class turned on him, saying, “What are you talking about?” That’s the only time she can remember such a thing, and doesn’t know if that’s because her generation is more accepting or if it was the school and area we live in – very multi-cultural. And she’s at university doing history now, so still in a liberal-minded bubble.
        For sure, legislation is only part of the way forward, because as you point out, there are still plenty of demonisation going on. It takes change of attitude at individual level for it to become intrinsic, but legislation must come about partly because of that shift in individual attitude, and then the legislation change must also affect how individuals think. So there is progress, but still a long way to go.

        Liked by 1 person

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