Saving myself for no one

The concept of sexual intimacy is not lost on you or me. However, somewhere along the line – growing up in a Christian household, trying to be a good, heterosexual boyfriend to the few girls who gave me a chance, my admittance of being of an agnostic, free-thinking perspective, and embracing my identity as a pansexual transwoman – I lost sight of what I should and should not deserve. Rather, I never had much of a chance to really explore the idea of engaging in sexual intimacy. For specific reasons, I just accepted that my time had not come.

My long-standing belief has been that one should reserve sexual intimacy for the person they have committed themselves to in a monogamous, romantic relationship. I have since realized that this line of thinking has been the last bastion of traditional, Christian-centric thought that had somehow survived through everything that had drastically shifted in my lifestyle. The idea had been deeply engrained into me, despite being “born male”, and the shame of contradicting this thinking loomed near whenever temptation arose. My parents being religious & fairly traditional led me to put my own romanticized take on it, believing that if I remained patient & virtuous, one day I would be able to entrust my body to the person I believed was “the one.”

I recently read a novel that turned me on (pun intended) to the very common practice of two characters meeting one another. After their initial meeting, both of them recognized their instinctual attraction to one another over time with each chance interaction feeding the heat between them. Eventually, one makes a move and the other is equally overcome with ferocious passion. For some reason, the timing in which I was exposed to that story – right around when I turned thirty – caused me to have an alternative perspective. Prior to turning thirty, I would have asked “who could possibly jump into bed with someone who clearly had no romantic intentions to remain faithful to them”? However, in the face of physical aging, sparse intimacy over my lifetime, and the high level of self-love I had cultivated as the woman I was born to be, what I read now appeared almost natural and sensible as my former mindset seemed almost something an insane, brainwashed prude would do.

#1: I can be shallow as fuck about looks.

#2: I am light-years from being a “prude”.

“Turning 30” has been a recurring theme in this blog as of late and sexual expression is not excluded from it. As I often do, I wondered why only I had to be the one sexually frustrated, swearing off intimacy just because “the one” hadn’t come along. I could count on one hand how many times I had believed I would marry someone. This romanticized notion of keeping myself “pure” for “my first time” when I was already perverted, unabashedly playful in my sexuality, and near legitimately considered a succubus among my close friends rapidly became outdated through rigorous self-assessment.

Being met with my cold logic quickly turned to frustration. I was three weeks into being 30 and had yet to experience unrestrained intimacy followed by sharing a bed with my partner. Like an ignorant, virgin teenager, I was still wondering how people [read: my friends] have sex and if there were any steps to follow for a successful romp. And then I was smacked in the face with the truth: This was all my own doing. I repeatedly declined the idea simply because no romantic commitment would follow when there were multiple instances where sex likely would have been welcomed.

Another hard truth washed over me: The combination of my past upbringing and now my present life as a transwoman had somehow made me believe by default I should never feel safe experiencing sexual intimacy other than with someone who had confessed their love for me. An amalgamation of anger and sadness careened through my body. There had to be a way to rewrite this automated preset equation that I had left unchecked in the midst of my gender transition.

I want to be a good woman.

Only sluts sleep around.

How do you take love out of sex? I’m so clingy. I’d fall in love with them and get hurt.

Will I ever be loved?

But…

…why I should starve myself.

I’m desirable. Beautiful. Lovable.

If sex with someone I trust could make sense…

Experiencing intimacy with someone I feel comfortable with isn’t shameful.

Yes, I want to be loved. Sex doesn’t equal love. It never has.

I won’t be young forever. Live your life. 

Fuck who you want.

So I did.

Beyond Physical Transition

One of the toughest things I have had to struggle with since beginning my transition is getting past the “physical”. I doubt I’m alone in this – this shared obsession with our appearance and gender presentation stem from our absolute need to pass within society. Newcomers to the transgender journey typically begin with making some drastic physical change that, for them, makes them feel more comfortable in their skin. Whether it be wearing a ton of makeup daily or cutting one’s hair or binding, we all subconsciously know that “passing” is what’s going to help mitigate confrontation, dysphoria, and, ultimately, keep us alive when out and about.

As of my birthday in early August, I’ll be three years into my transition. In that time, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and who I was always meant to be. I deliberately put myself through the ringer of suffering through minimal makeup encouraging seemingly incredulous stares, wore clothes that weren’t what I believed aligned with my gender identity, and forced myself to experience the shame of not belonging wrapped in crippling doubt and fear of being outed by other females. These painful hardships cultivated the rock-solid foundation of the woman I am now. For the first time, I’d like to attempt to break down my process to achieving self-love and self-acceptance.

One of the first, and most transformational, mindsets I had to own in overcoming my obsession with portraying a “hyper-feminine” appearance was remembering that no matter what I changed on the outside, the “mental” and “emotional” transition was where I needed to keep my focus. Conceptually, this sounds simple, but then you remember that those two aspects of our personality are actually quite fickle & can’t be as easily controlled. When doubt and low self-esteem has already rooted that you won’t be truly “seen”, it’s difficult to just let go, love yourself and be you.

Right around when I had begun transitioning, I was also starting my third contract at WebMD – my first time working any job as “Nina”. I knew that the time would eventually come where I would need to be comfortable with going natural (or at the very least not spend literally ninety minutes on it daily). So, like with any fear or bad habit, I weened myself off of makeup gradually. Also, to take the focus off myself, I added another layer by treating this as a social experiment; I would track the responsiveness of the people I encountered daily. Starting on Monday, I’d gradually wear less makeup as the week progressed until I was only wearing cover-up of problem areas and some eyeliner.

The results led me to a number of observations about society and a clearer understanding of myself.

  • People don’t care as much as you think they do. The people who do will act.
  • Fuck attention or stares. You have no one to impress.
  • If cisgender people are still who they are without society’s validation, you too are valid.
  • Your masculinity/femininity is defined by you and you alone.

These realizations began to empower me and, as a commuter into NYC, thickened my skin in a way that put me in full control of my femininity & gender identity. I was starting to understand what it meant to love myself and embrace the imperfections of my physical appearance that created the chemical to slowly erode away the presence of body dysphoria. This was the beginning of my mental and emotional maturation as the female I needed to be and the acceptance of the intense, outspoken, confident girl who filled this blog in secret during my college years…

This entry was getting too long. I will continue this subject of lessening the emphasis on the “physical” transition in my next post. As always, thanks for reading.

More than just a pretty face

Yesterday, on my break, I overheard an older man flirting with what I perceived to be a fairly pretty woman. If this was just  any man, I wouldn’t be writing about this. Given his voice and choice of words, I quickly realized that he was the same man who had flirted with me just under a month ago in the same establishment just as I was about to leave.

He began his flirtations just as I was receiving my food on her opposite side. I’m not going to go into detail about what he said and did, but he used the same level of persistent charisma as well as his “I work here” line before ordering her a slice and drink. All the while not noticing that the not-so-put-together woman next to her – almost incognito in a way as I was wearing glasses, no noticeable makeup & had my hair up – was the same very put-together woman he tried to give his number to.

Not all cis males are like this and being a transgender woman makes this really easy to accept. However, being a transgender female is exactly the reason why it’s important for me to remain vigilant and aware of my self-worth and intuition. This does not apply to just me, but to other humans like me. Cisgender or not.

With regard to my personal narrative, transitioning later in life as I have seems to come with a lot of baggage. For example, lack of self-love, body dysphoria, low confidence levels on most fronts, self-doubt, etc. We typically want to be “seen” as a form of validity in our fear-mongering society. The best way to achieve that? Grabbing the attention of a person within our sexuality’s alignment. Even if that person isn’t someone we particularly are attracted to, we’re so hungry for that attention and validation that we typically wind up settling for just about anyone who will accept us at the risk of being outed, deemed “damaged goods”, or, in the very worst case, assaulted.

That lack of awareness and self-worth is what “chasers” look for. They settle and never grow in their strength, relying on the honeyed flirtations of the cis population to make them feel like they’re worth something. This is the most dangerous path for anyone, not just transgender people, to end up on.

As the fight for human rights and transgender/queer equality continues to rage on, I wish to remind my transgender siblings to seek not the approval of everyone. That is an exercise in futility. Rather, become the best version of “you” possible through building your own foundation of self-worth, self-love, and self-confidence. The pattern is obvious; selfishness for the sake of your own survival is necessary. When others refuse to hear you or see you, do not allow their actions or words to have power over you. Take control of how you believe others should acknowledge you by consciously making daily decisions to value yourself – how you look, who you are, and what boundaries won’t be overstepped.

The “younger” me, fresh into my transition three years ago, may have fallen into the emotional trap of allowing myself be so easily affirmed by that man to the point of having my self-worth of him “seeing” me as a woman to be stripped away. Thankfully, the only affirmation I received was knowing my intuition to use the “my significant other wouldn’t approve” line when he offered me his number was right on the mark. And the only thing I gained from him was being momentarily irked he didn’t offer to pay for my food like he did with his new flavor of the week.