Gender Burnout

(by Annette Brunette)

Hello to all you lovely ladies,

I thought I'd write a personalized little thingy about my own journey through the gender world. Many excellent posts have been written about Gender Euphoria and the need to maintain balance in our lives and I don't have much to add to them at the moment.

I, too, went through my own period of euphoria lasting from 1995 til roughly 2004. Lately, though, the gender world has been a flat line and I've been feeling apathetic about the whole thing. So I'm writing from a different perspective, that of a burnt out CD. I still go out from time to time. But I don't enjoy it as much as I used to.

Burnout? Or maybe it's a gender midlife crisis. I looked in my closet the other day and stared at all my dresses. Shocking but apart from a Pagan transgender wedding that I had attended a few weeks ago (as "space girl") I hadn't worn a dress since January, the annual "First Event" TG convention in Massachusetts. Had my dresses suddenly gone out of style? No. Not really. I just realized that putting on a dress didn't excite me all that much anymore. It didn't make me feel more girly. Less masculine, perhaps, but not more feminine. I wracked my brains trying to think of the last time I got really excited about "dolling up." It was a few years ago and a genetic woman friend and I attended the Boston Symphony Orchestra in our black dinner dresses. After the concert, we had a lovely dinner at the local restaurant. Since then I've been out clubbing many times but it's never been quite the same.

Yesterday: Like most CD's I became interested in women's clothing at an early age. In northern nowheresville, Illinois where I grew up (and was incarcerated there for the first 23 yrs. of my life) you were not allowed to think about such things never mind discuss them openly. College years in Indiana. A move out east to Boston in 1984. Nothing changed. A GG roommate and very close friend began buying me lingerie in the early 90's. I was too embarrassed to buy them myself.

The dam burst in 1995 when I saw a special on CD's on TV...no pun intended. The next day I was at the IFGE (International Foundation for Gender Education) and Vernon's CD boutique. Then the Tiffany Club, a CD support group. Wigs, dresses, spandex, makovers. Many jaunts in public. Because I was short and small I passed very well. The Tiffany gals even took me to Jacques (the "sewer tour") before Jon at Urnotalone hung out there. Let me tell you it was wild seeing female impersonators live for the first time. I was dressed like a librarian but I still had guys hitting on me. I disliked shaving so much I started electrolysis. No more razors. Contac lenses. A trip to Provincetown. Manray, the local pvc fetish/bdsm club. I was in tranny heaven. It all happened in a blur. I met so many CD's I lost count.

Anyone who has never done so should attend a TG convention. My first one was in January 1996. There were over 200 people there. Somehow I got shanghai'd into modeling in the fashion show. Talk about being nervous! As clumsy as I was on the runway, it was enormously gratifying to walk in front of a supportive audience. The saddest part of the whole weekend was disrobing at the end and changing back into a "pumpkin." I didn't want the magic to end. In spite of all that happened in 1995 and '96, I never felt I was a TS and had no desire to transition. I just wanted to see where it would go.

Not much happened between '96 and '99 due to cash flow problems. Still I did go out semi-regularly en femme. By 1999 I had hooked up with some good CD friends and we spent more time clubbing and CD getaways down on the Cape. Manray, the local goth/BDSM club really rocked on Halloween and the B & D Ball. Nurses, cops, school girls, scantily clad women and CD's in PVC and leather. You name it, they had 'em all. Being a CD never felt so good and I was, once again, in Nirvana.

Every CD I know ponders the "next big step." Should I go out in public? Will I pass? Do I care? What about electrolysis? Laser? Makovers? Photo shoots? Maybe I can try a blonde wig instead? Should I tell my significant other? What about the children? Some even ponder transitioning and hormones. My "big step" was growing out my hair. It took a lot of nerve. The guys made fun of me from time to time but in the trades there's not really a dress code. (I told them I was "keeping up with the freaks" at Manray Club.) Along the way I had my ears pierced. January of 2002 was the magic year as I said goodbye to my wigs. It had taken 12-15 months and I remember the ineffible bliss I felt jumping into the pool in a bikini and submerging my head under water. Annette had come full circle! That should have been the high point in my journey into the CD world and it was ... for a while.

I got many compliments on my hair. (the "mop") Cd's said that I had it all. Short. Small boned. Full head of hair. No body hair save my lower legs. Feminine face with a soft jawline and no facial hair due to electrolysis. A Cd's dream? Yes and no. Imagine being cross dressed 24 hours a day 7 days a week. That's what it was like. Over the years I had been using less and less makeup. Even in drab I looked very effeminite. In fact the only difference between Jack and Annette was a pair of breast forms. Passing as a guy became almost comical. At a New England Patriots game last year the ticket taker told me I had to use the lady's line. (It was very very long and I was with 7 other guys) I told him twice that I was a guy. Finally (at his request) I showed him my driver's license and he apologized and let me through. At my boss's birthday party when I walked thru the door his sister in law asked who that "handsome lady" was. "That's Jack" he said. He told me that wasn't the first time I'd been misidentified. Even during my day job when I get hot and dirty outside I've been whistled at by passing cars.

Now none of this means that I'm complaining. Nor do I want to cut my hair short and start looking like a guy full time again. :-( (yech) But it does make me question my own femininity and how much and how often I really feel like a lady. What it has done is taken away the excitement of transformation. Showering. Shaving. Choosing an outfit. Dolling up. Putting on the wig. I've also noticed a lack of interest in "super femme" things like 5" heels and long pointy press on nails.

More pertinently, I've come to feel over time, that the feminine role can be just as restrictive as the masculine role. Amruta Slee, in the book, Dick For A Day: What Would You Do If You Had One? wrote, "I wish men and women, too, had created less cartoonish identities for themselves so we could all relax a bit." What this means for me is that physically I like my soft feminine body but mentally I prefer to slip back and forth between both genders. Sometimes masculine, sometimes feminine, sometimes a little of both and sometimes a lot of neither. Genetic women who I've become close to over the years like my ability to be caustic and verbally abusive one moment and very empathetic and sensitive the next.

I've also come to realize how much I clash with traditional people, both male and female. When I first got involved with the TG community, I idolized women, put them on a pedestal. Now I realize that women, like men have their own likes, dislikes and foibles. And yes, some of them support the binary straightjacket that "men are men and women are women." The man is supposed to be strong, decisive, the knight in shining armor. I read an editorial in a Boston newspaper about why a woman voted for G.W. Bush. He had strong moral convictions and didn't flip flop on issues. So did Hitler.

Today: I used to think I transformed into a different personality when I dressed up but I no longer feel that way. Dresses, PVC, leather skirts, pantyhose, pink spandex, Vickie's Secret lingerie ... it used to put me on cloud nine. But alas, the magic seems to be gone. Have my two personalities merged? Perhaps. I like to think that dressing up helped me to become aware of my softer and more vulnerable (dormant) side ... something I was never encouraged to do in my youth. As for my current lack of interest in feminine clothing, perhaps it's a combination of growing older and a lower sex drive and a realization that it's not necessary to put on a skirt to feel feminine. (A close Cd friend thinks I'm suffering from mild depression but that's another story)

Comments

Jenna said…
Annette, I enjoyed your post. Right up to the Hitler comment. Very well written and very insightful. Thank you!
Alexis Rene said…
Kool I have a cd burner too !
Oh wait a sec ...Sorry wrong board, I thought this was electronics ! oops, lol:)

Still giggling! K am with it now!

*The posts on this board continue to get more and more interesting. I am learning so much more than I thought I would including this post of Annette's. There are so many different backgrounds and means for ones aspects of "being" than I thought. So Annette first and foremost...Thank you for sharing something that is very personal in my mind .

I used to think there were only two categories...The sexually explicit looking for hook ups or those trying to express a gender opposing their own. So much for a black and white table of contents huh?

Anyway Annette, I am like you in the respect that I don't get excited about getting all dolled up or going out as much as I thought I would.(scc maybe a little different) But the cross of that is I do feel complete and at ease when I am. Or maybe more in a natural state of being. But I am only part time so maybe that is to be expected.

You have accomplished SO MUCH for not wanting to transition. No wait, You have accomplished so much period. I am in complete awe of that aspect alone. But I wonder if that is the cause of your "burn out" feeling.

From your writing here, I wonder if you weren't propelled through alot of things based on your friendships exploring your dreams and natural stunning looks that you felt you had to adopt a certain frame of mind aside from what was already there.*If that makes any sense at all*

I know for instance for me, I go through a yearly cycle which is very strange I know but hear me out .... From just prior Memorial Day through late June I could care less if I do anything. It is an annual event sadly enough. As a matter of fact almost a denial stage, But not quite.
With that said, I will never, nor have never denied my friends that I have made, but it is almost feeling like I need to go on a sabbatical of sorts. I have my balance down cept that 30 - 45 days out of the year which is something that I had to learn on my own to keep things on a even keel.....I think everyone does to some extents.

It seems for you though, you are balancing a very thin threshold of the door to masculine to femininity. More so than what others would have too. Am thinking that is and would be much harder than most think or even you wrote it is.

Bottom line would be this. As I was saying with the friend side of things and as you noted your hair and some other things. We are married to this to some extents. Even though neither of us have been on hrt or anything there is no going back, There just is. So this would just be another stage of growth you are experiencing, Though it is not the glamorous model walking down a runway. It has its merits and sensibilities all on its own !

With love and respect, Alexis
annette said…
Hi Alexis, (and everyone else)

Thanks for reading my little blurb. Your comments were very insightful and thought provoking.

*****
You said, "I wonder if you weren't propelled through a lot of things based on your friendships and exploring your dreams ... that you felt you had to adopt a certain frame of mind aside from what was already there."

You hit the nail on the head. When I was with the tg community everyone was concentrating on learning about all things feminine. Makeup. Voice. Posture. Walking. Psychology. Communication style. Outfits both formal and casual. Some even talked of transitioning. I was immersed in this for years, infatuated with it in fact. Something was missing. It was as though as a lady you were expected to be "sugar and spice and everything nice" and I just didn't feel that way all the time irregardless of how I was dressed. Many years ago (back in 1990 or so) I wrote an autobiography by hand. The thing was over 600 pages long and took two years to write. I was shocked at all the gobbledeegook that had been cemented in my subconscious, the rage I felt towards midwestern thinking, traditional people and other authoritarians. Oh yeah, I also wrote a ton of stuff on fetishes and cross dressing which I had been ignoring for years. Some of that is still with me. From reading books like "Radical Honesty" by Brad Blanton, I learned that the human brain does not operate in a particularly logical manner. Scary but his prose, caustic and brutally honest, matched my own brain waves at times. It's not particularly feminine but I can't NOT think that way. (occasionally) Sometimes there's just no way to sugar coat things.
*****

Purging: Here is another comment that you wrote. "From just prior Memorial Day through late June I could care less if I do anything. It is an annual event sadly enough. As a matter of fact almost a denial stage, but not quite."

I think this is your attempt to keep that crucial balance in your life. You start off being raised in one gender with all the trappings that go with it. Then you discover the other side and what you've been missing and you immerse yourself in that side. At some point you may feel you are "overdoing it" and stop, pull your head out. You need a breather. The other side feels more natural but it's perhaps, too much of a good thing. I, too, go through a "purging" period, but when I purge I just stop going out and take long naps during the day.
*****

The line between masculinity and femininity: Your comment was "It seems ... you are balancing a very thin threshhold of the door to masculinity to femininity." That is also true. Last weekend I went out to eat with a gg friend (in "drab") and the waiter kept referring to us as "you two ladies." We giggled. I felt like pigging out and I did. But again, gorging on food is a guy thing and even though I look like a lady I just didn't feel like one that night.
*****

Thoughts on our feminine image: Here is another comment that you wrote. "We are married to this to some extent. Even though neither of us have been on hrt or anything there is no going back, there just is."

That's very astute. I don't think any tg person who's had hair removal thru electrolysis or laser would ever want to go back to the razor again. Or become an ape. And I never want to cut my hair short. Not any time soon, at least.

Thanks for listening,
Annette
Anonymous said…
Tanks for a "real" time out.
The glam has to find common ground with the day to day blah, blah, blah.
Your brain is finding functionality with the mirrored persona.
You seem to have made the most of CD land and have crossed the line to TS.
Perhaps you are not a CD or ever was?
Good luck and be careful what you wish for.

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