coming out and feeling feminine

Wow – coming out….I “came out” back in 1999 when I was 36 years old. I remember thinking: “I have never felt so feminine in my life!” After years of struggling to wear lingerie to please a man, I was thrilled to adorn my body with the very same piece of clothing for the pleasure of a woman. That was the beginning, until the butch/fem thing crept into my dating life and once again, I did not want to seem fem for the sake of the existence of masculinity. I am spiteful… Included in my journey is getting sober, going to therapy both physical and talk. In the past 8 years I have gone through an incredible roller coaster ride.

First feminine, then androgynous (which is what I have been most of my life), then back and forth masculine – feminine. I often can not make up my mind and feel like I will be in a crisis when I go out in public. I obsess about how I will be treated vs. how I feel vs. how I look. Sometimes I am so uncomfortable, I would rather just stay at home on the property inside the chain link fence.

My life dating men was tumultuous. Lots of drinking and then when I actually lived with a man, we would battle constantly about how I looked or what my capabilities were. I remember one boyfriend trying to fix our closet. He was incredibly frustrated and I could see his pride was failing him. I saw what the problem was and made a suggestion. Still he could not get it. So I asked if he didn’t mind – I give it a go. The closet door was repaired in a few minutes. He was incredibly distraught. The very same boyfriend wanted to “wear me” on his arm when we were out in public, he was most energized when I wore high heels, stockings and a skirt. In the mean time my work environment was equally absurd. My strength as a designer was solving technical problems – how to design the mechanics of things. I was a woman good at doing “men’s” work and men would try to sexually intimidate me and/or give me challenging work they themselves should be doing. I would do the work and they would either hate me or take credit. Once in awhile, I would be left to my work and actually be rewarded – I quit the design industry, because I was getting sick and tired and sicker and sicker both emotionally and physically.

I guess some of this accounts for wanting to feel feminine when I began to love women. I don’t always want to be seen by others as feminine – but I am a woman and although I am sometimes called “sir” because of my short hair – my body and face are female. The funny thing is when I was in my 20’s & 30’s, I was so skinny, my breasts were flat – and I felt I had a boy body, but I had long hair. In the 70’s if I was wearing my black leather vest and jeans, I was mistaken for male. One boyfriend told me I should get breast implants and then could not figure out why I was always so mad at him. I have since gained 20 pounds and have more of a female figure. Still, when my back is turned or I am walking down the street, I am sometime mistaken for a man. Often, it is my short hair and other times my walk. I developed a tough girl – street walk when I was a skinny kid. I grew up in an urban public school system – albeit a smallish city – still not without stiff racial and economic competition of the 60’s and 70’s. Luckily no guns, just hand to hand combat – so I walk the street walk which is often attributed to men. I am also fairly assertive and sometimes aggressive – I learned from my Dad and as an adult; it is not socially acceptable for a well bred female to act these ways. ….and there are societal expectations….my 4 year old Spanish speaking niece calls me “bald tia”. I can not remember the Spanish word for bald. At any rate this term of endearment is generally reserved for a “tio” or uncle. So you see the family has expectations, lovers have expectations, my boss has expectations, the general public gets confused and often angry…..I could go on….but that’s all I have today.