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NancyBalik

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Jul 8, 2020
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126
Before long I will be 70 years old. I don’t believe I heard the word transgender until I was in my 40’s, and it has only been since the advent of the internet that I realized that my desire to be a woman and my discomfort with my male “bits” was “a thing.” When I saw a therapist in my 20’s, I did (quite reluctantly) reveal this to her. She seemed as uncomfortable as me and gave me some interpretation about difficulty identifying with my emotionally unavaialable father and told me that my desire to wear women’s clothes was an effort to sooth “castration anxiety.” At that time therapists didn’t know much about gender dysphoria. Sometimes I wonder whether things would have played out differently had I seen a knowledgeable gender therapist at that time. But, of course, I did not.

By that time I was married with two young kids. I have made a choice not to transition. Why? I could write a book. The first chapter would be about Love. I have been married for a long time. Even though my wife’s refusal to accept my femininity hurts me (okay, she tolerates my underdressing, wearing fem pj’s to bed, etc) very much, we have been through a lot together, and our bond is solid. And my commitment to my children and grandkids is rock solid, so Commitment would be another chapter, as would Loyalty, and Sacrifice.

I have come to believe that had I been born, say, 20 years later, certainly 40, that I would not have gotten married so young. I now realize that part of why I got married so young was to be closer to femininity, to live in a woman’s house, sleep in a bed with floral sheets, etc. — not the best or most mature reason to get married, but we grew together and we made it work. Sharing those experiences with her is why I will not hurt her now by leaving for Nancy. She gave the best part of herself to me. I can’t leave her now to indulge my dream to live as a woman.

I know that I am trans — but, I didn’t know it until about 15 years ago. Not transitioning is a choice (for me, I know some can not psychologically make this choice). Part of my survival is living vicariously through supporting all of you who do move on. However, I would love to see a more active presence in this section on this forum. I can’t be the only one.... Nancy
 

Marie62

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Hi Nancy,

first of all, thank you for this wonderful post, which - imho - should receive a "stay at top" flag so people will find it more easily later on.

You will certainly not be the only one who decided to not transition and seeing as she is online Allie (@OzGirl) will surely want to pitch in. As a matter of fact as active as she is on here, I am thinking that she might be writing write now ;) - Btw. Isn't that wonderful, you being trans and being in the US (me thinks) wrote 8 minutes ago, I am in Germany and am answering only minutes after you write, thinking that Allie, who is down under might be answering just now as well. The world has really become miraculously small with the Internet.

I will not answer for Allie, no way, but I do want to say that there is not *one* trans and there clearly is no right or wrong in this in any way, neither in the way we present or don't present as our identity gender, openly or in private, nor in whether we decide to transition and if so, how far we take it.

And with so many couples getting married for tax reasons only (!) - at least here in Germany - I think doing so perhaps not only, but to a good extent also to enjoy the femininity it brings to the house is nothing to look down upon! I also admire your commitment to your wife, children and grandchildren, but of course only you can be the judge if this commitment comes at a price of pain and dysphoria or not. If it does, then perhaps you can find a "female valve" of some sort, be it being on here and talking to us or perhaps by getting involved in something like Yoga or Pilates, where the gender borders tend to be more fluid and where you could enjoy something good for the body in a definitely more female than male environment and with most participants being women? And I think both you and also me at 58 have the age where we would not cause raised eyebrows in a group like this even if we were to present as male.

Ok 'nough said, good to hear from you ... :)

Hugs,
Marie
 

OzGirl

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Nancy, as you know our stories are similar, though I married because I wanted babies. I made my life as a male with enough Allie time to keep dysphoria at bay until a couple of years ago, and my intention was to never transition. If I had a choice this would still be the case. But it isn't and I have transitioned to full time. I must finish my transition, and I have to admit, it hasn't been the nightmare I believed it would be. I am fully understanding of non transitions, as by choice, I am one!

Hugs,

Allie
 

NancyBalik

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126
Thanks, Marie and Allie, for the quick responses. What if, like kids today, I’d been communicating around the world instantaneously with people like me when I was a teenager? How much sooner I would have come to understand myself. And yes, Allie, I know from our conversations on SP, that your journey has been a struggle and has some parallels to mine. I totally understand how transitioning is something that you had to do, and that the loss of your marriage was a tremendous price. BTW, I did work in. Profession that was 70% female. I was trained mostly by women, had female mentors, teachers, etc. — didn’t fully comprehend until much later why I chose a female-dominated profession, but I never regretted interacting with my preferred gender through the day :) Nancy
 

TonyaJanelle

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What if, like kids today, I’d been communicating around the world instantaneously with people like me when I was a teenager?
That's one of the "what ifs" that I try not to let my mind wander to. 15 year old me googling transgender and finding a world with people like me surely would have changed my life. But it also would have meant that I most likely wouldn't have even met my wife and certainly would not have married her as she wouldn't have been interested in a woman. That would also mean no kids, no grandson. I couldn't trade any of them for that.
 

Marie62

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Nancy, I think many of us have regrets about not having found ourselves sooner, about not having been told the right things, etc. - but we must keep in mind that society was different then, no matter where you hail from. I had been allowed to live as a girl for the first 6 years of my life "full time" and when phasing me out after that didn't work I was radically re-educated and while this sucks, especially since I lost all memory of my early girl-years and all these years did not know what was wrong with me, I hate to think of all the societal hardship I would have had to endure had I openly lived as a transgender in Germany in the late 60s, 70s, 80s even in the 90s. Today the world is different and even though we are still being discriminated against, this is nothing compared to ~40 years ago! This is why I have rested my case on the past, there is only hurt to be had there!

I also think that many of us make career choices that are compatible with our gender identity or - much sadder - make career choices that try to beat down that icky feel of being a woman when being a biomale or vice versa. - I, for one chose clinical psychology and worked with clients from right around this field while never really touching it, sex therapy, couple therapy and doing a lot of teaching on disorders of sexual functioning and development. All that time it felt right to do all this, but only now I understand why I did it...
 

Monica

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Hi Nancy, I just flipped over to SP to see when I joined there, Nov of 2015, so it's been 5 years. The very first friend I had there was Denni. We became so close writing every day. She was about your age, a Marine, with wife and grown kids, grandchildren, and church going ways. We helped each other a lot. I transitioned, she did not. As we progressed through our journey's it became quite clear that her path took much more strength than mine. She was fiercely loyal to things important to her and her wife was not accepting either. She opened up and I saw how painful all this was for her. After all, I dealt with things that were scary, but at least I had the release of making progress in becoming me. She could see no such progress. Still she wanted to know everything. I'm not urging anything in your case here, Nancy, but part of the story with her was that I urged her to grab a little mental peace for herself. It was a battle and I was persistent. Finally, she went on HRT. She second guessed it for a while but came to accept this little bit of something that she could do for herself. It brought her a great deal of peace with herself. It allowed her to live with dysphoria even though she kept the effects hidden and to herself. Tia, who is a member here, was friends with both of us at that time. I was devastated to here that Denni was killed in a car accident. I take some comfort knowing that this wonderful, extremely loyal woman was able to do something for her, that she found some personal peace in her life after a lifetime of self denial. So, no, you are not the only one, and yes, what you are doing takes great strength. I respect how hard this is for you.
 

Kenna

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I'm 65 and only discovered my true gender less that 2 years ago after a life of discomfort and never really fitting in, along with some joys and pain in both business and family. I could survive without transitioning, but when I began this journey I had hope. I'm now gradually learning that that living is very different to surviving and I still have hope that as I continue my journey I'll eventually learn to flamboyantly celebrate life!
-Kenna
 

Katie

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@NancyBalik thank you for the candid view into your history.

Castration anxiety is an antiquated and outrageously flawed theory derived during the 19th century by Freud and his contemporaries. The idea back then seems like they believed everything revolved around sexuality, and that only male sexuality existed. Even women were evaluated in relation to male sexuality. I suppose @Marie62 will jump in and scold me for being inaccurate, but that was the gist of what I got from trying to read early psychology literature.

The decision not to transition is a topic that is rarely discussed in mainstream media. There are plenty of stories about transitioning or detransitioning, but choosing not to transition just doesn't seem to grab people's attention.

Please know that you have our full support and we value all choices of how to live out gender identity as valid and valuable.
 
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Maddie

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Feb 9, 2020
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Hi Nancy!

I desperately sought help for this when I was 18-19. Was told in a humiliating way in front of sherrifs and other people being intaked that I was not transexual and that I was "afraid my mommy was going to chop my balls off". They asked me if I wanted sex with men, in front of rough men I was to be spending time locked up with!! Plus I was already living in fear my whole life at home because of what I really was. Layers in layers of self protection.
Ten years of surviving later I made it to a gender diagnosis and counselor that knew something. By that time my lack of success assimilating had me under court appointed management who decided I wasn't able to pursue this counseling and instead upped my meds to a very controllable functioning level. At that point I decided to get off all the meds and clean my system so that I could do something and get somewhere. Lots of denial. With false starts and less than successful attempts it took 15 more years from my gender dysphoria diagnosis to actually get started "transitioning". Somewhere in there I became aware of the word transgender, which had never been shared with me, no matter who I went to and told that I really really really wanted to be a woman.

I have a lot to be grateful for. I am 48, healthy, and God willing I am going to get the surgeries soon and try to have some life over the hill as female. If you want to vicarious me , I will vicarry you. Might not be pretty. I love you and have a ton of room in my heart and awareness for generations of people who were like me and apparently born too soon for what's much more acceptably going on now. People who's reactions and defense mechanisms doomed them to a life of violent crime and imprisonment when really all they were were beautiful little flowers trampled by demons in this world.
I swear I carry you inside with me. All the time. In everything I do.
I shake my head when I hear about "brave trans kids" now. They are brave, but it's not remotely the same thing. People seem to have no concept what it was like in the past in general, and that in the case of transgenders this was actually a punishable crime, often equivalent with a death penalty, and that people are so often forced to do what they do by circumstances for their survival and their loved ones.
 

Linde

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All the reminiscing about ifs are just dreams, and do not fit reality. If medical knowledge would have been as today in the time I was born, I would not have been AMAB but AFAB, but the knowledge was not there, and I was made into a male. On the other hand, if I would have been allowed to grow up and live as a female, I would have not met my wife, with who I experienced the most happy 36 years of my life. One gives some, one receives some. It was out of my control whether I wanted to become a woman or not, because my body took over the lead, and decided it was tired of trying to pretend I would be a guy, and that it was time to do the female bit of my chromosomes. For me it would have been impossible to remain in a gender free stage, and I admire everyone who has the strength to not transition fully. I could not have done this, but my son and my ex accept me fully as a woman. And I am a pretty happy woman these days.

Hugs
Linde
 

Randi

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Hi Nancy, I am somewhat familiar with your situation from Susan's, but have not heard as much of your history. Ever word rings true to me. I was middle-aged with young children by the time I encountered a trans woman online in some type of Compuserv forum in the early or mid-90s. Prior to that time, the only understanding of trans I had were the horrible messages so prevalent in the culture and media. It made transitioning just seem like a thoroughly failed life, and I was resigned to secretive cross-dressing. It was probably not until I was in my early 50s that the thought actually occurred to me that yes, this was an option. And of course by then I was too old, it was a road not taken, etc., etc.. And then in my mid-60s -- boom! And here I am. I envy you the relationship you have with your wife. My marriage has lasted forever, though it has been fractured for a long time. But there is not the level of love there that you appear to have, though love is there, as well as a sense of obligation, and just an incredible interweaving of our lives that would be both difficult and heartbreaking to untangle. Don't know how it will shake out in the long run, but Randi's time of life is slowly emerging. It seems absolutely unstoppable, though I don't know for sure who Randi really is or how she needs/wants to live. The last years of my life are shaping up to the a hell of a sunset.

Sorry to have rambled on about me. You know, it's never far away from my thoughts these days. To return to the subject at hand, my respect for your decision is immense and I feel for the compromises you have made, and fully understand them. I would encourage you to talk about your needs as much as you can with your wife. It may well be that you can expand your boundaries without a full transition and live in a way that would be more satisfying to you.
 

NancyBalik

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So many thoughtful comments...all appreciated. There are so many similarities in all of our journeys, and it seems that often certain twists of fate have determined which fork we’ve taken on this gender path. I would never venture to speculate which path requires more courage. What we all know is brutally hard is to go it alone, to be misunderstood, and to struggle with our own shame about who we are. Finding others like me has done wonders to help me with my self-acceptance.

The day I began accepting I was transgender began with my first professional makeover/transformation about 20 years ago. It was something I had dreamed of, and saved for, for some time. I was on a business trip to Seattle and scheduled a 4 hour experience at a place called The Emerald Fantasy. During my makeover and subsequent trying on multiple outfits, going shopping, out for dinner, etc., I had themost open talk I’d ever had with anyone (actually the only talk except my telling my wife that I wanted to wear her clothes and her being upset and my telling a female therapist as noted above and her giving me Freudian psychobabble). At dinner, I told her that “I’m not trans. I’m just a crossdresser.”

She laughed a gentle laugh and said, “Sure honey, I saw the look on your face when you were trying on all those dresses.” We talked more about how often I thought about actually BEING a woman, not just dressing as one, and for the first time in my life I felt totally understood and accepted — and I was sitting in a restaurant in full makeup, wig, skirt, blouse, stockings and heels. :) After I got home I started reading more and doing more self-examination. Since then, I’ve come to realize that, although I love feminine clothes, it is about far more than clothing. Nancy
 
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