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Who Are You?

Do you ever feel like there are two people living in your body? Is there someone buried deep inside of you, overshadowed by an outer you that the world knows? Do you find it hard to switch from one role to the other? Is there a non-surgical way of bringing you back to being one?

A major problem transgendered girls face is that most of us construct an outer personality to get on in the world, while trapping our inner selves. Leading two lives at best is a challenge, and for many it's confusing and often very painful. The process of allowing our inner self out is often called transitioning, but was does transitioning really mean? Do you have to change your body to be at one with yourself?

For most transgendered people, the outer male persona is pretty solid. If you're dressed as a man, you'll respond as a man, often without thinking about it at all. However, the inner female persona is equally real - like pain, you can't see it, but you can unambiguously feel it. The further apart the two are the more painful it feels and switching back and forth, for me, made me feel like I had a split personality. When dressed, I'd be sweeter than a Cadbury's factory, when male, I would be moody, irritable and withdrawn. The problem was that I always felt female inside, yet I had the appearance of a man. Maybe you've felt something similar, like a nagging urge to dress how you feel rather than how you look? Have you ever tried to relieve the pain inside by dressing to express yourself?

The obvious step is to camouflage your exterior to look as close to how you feel. But does that make you woman for a while? Does it really cure the pain you feel from having a different physical sex to the one you feel you ought to have? Girls wear trousers too, but a girl isn't clothes. The next thing that normally happens is that you start to "act" feminine and start trying to put as much distance as possible between your male self and your female persona. Do you find that you do any of the following when you are dressed en femme:

  • Become much softer and gentler than you normally are?

  • Do things that you wouldn't dream of as a man like take care of your appearance, become neat and tidy or get finicky other little things?

  • You start to open up and become more talkative?

  • Feel sexy, maybe even turn yourself on thinking about yourself in that wonderful silky underwear?

  • Allow yourself to be submissive and sheepishly follow any orders given?

Are these behaviours really "you" or are they a face you're using to make yourself more feminine? Be honest with yourself, as the only person you are cheating by lying to yourself is you. Are you guilty of creating a separate female persona that's equally as false as your male one? Have you over-compensated for your original male form by becoming hyper-feminine? What characteristics are the real you? Without finding the real inner you, it'll be very hard to transition fully and be comfortable with being yourself. Why? Because unless you know the inner you, you're never yourself! You're not you as a man and you're not you as a woman. You're no-one. Family, partners and friends will have trouble coping with you, even if you only present one form to them, as you'll likely have lots of contradictions or gaps in your personality. If you started to find your whole life is a lie, will finding real, lasting happiness will be difficult?

To break the confusion, the first thing you need to look at is how you define behaviours as being gender-specific. What, in your mind, makes a characteristic male or female? Is being assertive masculine? Maggie Thatcher, Venus Williams and Jennifer Lopez are all clear examples that women can speak their mind and be strong without the need to dress like a man. What about being nurturing? Have you seen the way that Alan Titchmarsh cares for his plants? He looks after them as well as an any mother her child, whilst the many stories in the press of unguided children becoming troublesome at school clearly shows that not all women display this ability to care and nurture. What about the way we walk or hold ourselves? If you think that flapping your hands around limply or batting your eyelids is a female only phenomena, take a trip to your nearest gay bar! What about being aggressive? My wife would punch you if you called her soft, and what do slang terms for women like "the old battle axe" or "the dragon" mean?

The honest truth is that no behavioural traits inherently manly or womanly - they are all qualities of humanity than any of us can express freely and are not limited by gender. If you open your eyes and look at the people around you without pre-judging, you'll soon see that there is a huge variety in people and that both men and women can choose to be any of these things.

So why do we think that certain behaviours are intrinsically male or female? Where do these ideas come from? When I first put a dress on I was 4 and it never crossed my mind for a moment that anything was wrong. Many of my transgendered girlfriends tell me they did something similar. So we definitely aren't born pre-programmed with this division of roles. It's actually something we learn as we grow up, from our socialization and the systematic brainwashing of the masses that's so endemic most of us are oblivious to it's effect upon us. Basically, it's because everyone else thinks so. Girls are like this, men act like that. That belief, once it gets accepted by you, will sit, unquestioned, deep inside your mind and limit how you allow yourself to behave.

Now let's look at the reality, not the stereotype! It's a fact of life these days that most girls don't know how to cook, whilst most of the top chefs are men. There are thousands of non-transgendered guys who are complete wimps and go into office jobs because they are too scared of getting their hands dirty. There are women out there in positions of power, women who spend all day in the pub and women who practice blood sports. How can we still hold on to the Victorian stereotype of a submissive woman who has been so down trodden and abused, she knows her place and won't speak out? How likely do you think it was that women in that situation felt as repressed and unhappy as you do now? Didn't women give their lives and chain themselves to railings to throw off that type of enforced mental slavery? If you want to be a real woman, you need to express what's inside, not invent a lie based on an outdated chauvinistic stereotype of what a woman really is... unless, of course, you are a transvestite chauvinist pig in which case you deserve to suffer every misery women have ever had to endure!

Your beliefs about what women and men are will determine your ability to express yourself within those roles and the the roles you play out in life will not only determine how happy you are, they go far further than that. They'll determine how successful you can be, whether your relationships are successful, even how healthy you'll be in your old age. If you believe that it's right to pigeon hole yourself and limit your freedom of expression according to which role you are in aren't you the one who is stopping yourself from finding happiness? Do you feel that you can only act a certain way depending upon which persona you are currently pretending to be? Too many transexuals and transvestites are guilty of boxing ourselves in and often hide many of our best qualities inside for fear that as we go about our daily business people will think us weird, gay or effeminate. It's such an easy yet tragic mistake. Chances are, if we wrote down all our male and female characteristics in one list, the average person on the street would struggle to tell from those alone if they were faced with a man or a woman.

Don't think that if you really are born a woman inside that acting a certain way makes you more of a woman... you're either a girl or your not! It really is that simple! Doing anything else is like searching in the forest when the elephant you're hunting sits in the front room!

For myself, when I decided I needed to transition, I realised my problem had been that I'd been putting on an act to fit in. I could be hyper-masculine or hyper-feminine depending on where I was. And neither was really me! I wanted so badly to be a woman, I'd over act, and I wanted to hide my dysphoria so badly that I'd be more macho than anyone else. So I decided that I needed to bring the two together and work out what was really me. As all behaviour is simply human behaviour, and neither inherently male or female, I could be as I liked. And at that point I threw off the mental chains that I'd imprisoned myself in and came out to live in the glorious sunshine that is the real world.

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