Jocelyn's Transgal FAQ
A little while back, a good friend and watcher (and fellow transgirl), sent me a bunch of questions via Note, asking about my experiences, feelings and advice on certain trans-related things. She said she got a lot out of my answers, so I decided I wanted to post this and share it with other transgirls that might also potentially be able to gain something from this - especially those that are still pre-transition. I have, after all, spent a pretty long time in that agonizing pre-transition stage. Far longer than I wanted.
So I asked her permission to post this and here it is. Some questions have been removed from the original list 'cause my answers were either exceptionally personal or redundant. I also added a couple that different people had asked me shortly after doing this. If there are further questions - from anyone - I am not against editing this and adding more (it's already pretty long; what's more questions at this point?).
Obviously, this will probably be MOST beneficial to transgirls if anyone, but those who are not are certainly still welcome to read this; it may prove to be educational. Do just keep in mind that I speak mostly from personal experience and often state my own opinions. I am NOT representative of every single transwoman. I am me, and that's it. So if your experience varies dramatically from mine, there's no need to call me stupid or wrong. We just had different experiences, is all. But if my experiences can enlighten, it's worth it.
So without further ado:
*What does your lady love think of your transsexualism?
My lady love (her name is Kelly, just in case I have to address her again at any point on this list) has pretty much always been supportive. She was one of the very first people I came out to BEFORE we even got together. Ironically, I really liked her, but I only came out to her because I didn’t think I stood a chance with her. She didn’t tell me to my face at the time, but she was very bothered when I first told her. But she spent a week researching the subject (as she knew nothing about it), and came to understand things a bit better. Less than a month later, she asked me out. She, being bisexual, decided it wasn’t a big deal either way. Although she said up front, “If you’re going to be a woman, then be a woman. If you want to be a man, that’s fine too. Just don’t change your mind back and forth and jerk me around.” She didn’t have to tell me twice. ^_^
Today, she’s my rock. Kelly has always been there to give me advice when I needed it. Tell me I’m pretty when I needed it. Stand up for me when I couldn’t. Let me know when I overlooked something that would clock me in an instant if I stepped outside. She’s always been in my corner and I honestly don’t know if I’d have made it this far without her.
Incidentally, I hear a lot relationships between a trans and a cis have a tendency to crash and burn. So what’s our secret? My being trans was NEVER a secret to her. I think a lot of transfolk try to hide it from their partner – one way or the other – and it ends up being a shock to the others’ system when the transperson either comes out or slips up. And sometimes, that ends REALLY badly (these things can turn violent, unfortunately). So the he key is honesty, just like any relationship. If you don’t feel like you can tell your partner your deepest secrets, then you’re probably not a good match.
*Are you in any way attracted to guys as well, or are you completely lesbian?
It’s hard to explain. I would consider myself a lesbian. I am genuinely attracted to women, and I can’t see anything changing that. I’ve heard some testimonies of MtFs who present as straight men before transition, and turn out to be straight women afterward. There are theories that hormones may affect sexuality. Personally, I don’t buy this. In my humble opinion, I believe in a majority of these cases, the MtF in question had bi tendencies and either didn’t realize it or didn’t act on it. As a man, they just wanted to fit in, so they went the safe route. As a woman, they can finally act on that same normalcy, but the way they wanted though.
That said, I would be lying if I told you I’ve never been attracted to a man (even before hormones). But I still wouldn’t consider myself bisexual. It’s usually actors or celebrities though (or other unusually “pretty” men). I’m also not ashamed to admit attraction to pre-op MtFs or post-op FtMs. All that said, I maintain that I’m a lesbian.
My attraction to men, I believe, is that little idea that it’d be normal. Like, if it were myself post-op and a guy, I’d be a completely regular girl with her guy. It’s just “normal”. I’d have no problem hugging or kissing him either… I just couldn’t go any farther than that. Certain manly traits, not just deter, but outright repulse me. Body hair is just vile in my opinion. And don’t get me started on the penis itself. I don’t want anything to do with my own; the LAST thing I want to do is interact with someone else’s. More power to the straight transgirls out there, but you know what, it’s just not for me. Hence, I am a lesbian.
Not that any of this matters anyway, since I’ve been happily married to Kelly for four years (and together with her for seven).
*Have you ever doubted your transsexuality, so to speak? Could you go into detail on what lead you to the conclusion that it must be dysphoria? And did you contact any other transsexuals before concluding it?
I never really doubted it. I tried to deny. To cure it. To make it go away. But doubting it? There was never a doubt in my mind.
You’ve probably heard my “earliest childhood memory” story a thousand times by now, right? When I told my dad, “I wish I was a girl” at age 3 or 4, despite not having any concept of the differences of the sexes. Although he discouraged that behavior right then and there (enough that I’d never tell anyone else about this until I was 20), it didn’t stop me from feeling that way. In fact, the older I got, the stronger the feeling became. And when I was 15 or so and first learned the word “transsexual” on the internet, my first reaction was something akin to “Oh my god, there’s a word for it! I’m NOT the only one! I’m not some lone freak!”
Sadly, I still FELT like the only one for most of my life. I didn’t start meeting other “transgendered” people until I was 21 and started dressing up myself. But the people I met weren’t transsexuals; they were dragqueens. This is admittedly better than nothing, but we just didn’t share that connection, because they didn’t want to actually BE women. No, I didn’t start meeting other transsexuals until I started posting Rain two years ago. As a story that appeals to that culture, it was only natural that it’d help me meet people (albeit, not in person).
And it wasn’t until LAST year during the Summer when I moved to Albany that I started actually personally meeting other transsexuals for the first time. Sadly, I still think I’m closer to my DA friends than anyone I’ve physically met, but again, it’s nice to know there are others.
*If you did contact other transsexuals, what about their stories made you more confident in your own identity?
When I started first meeting other transfolk, they were all very different. Everyone was a different age, different ethnicity, different faith, etc.. But the one alarmingly common thing I noticed was that all of them had at least started transition. For me at the time, this was discouraging in its own right. It made me feel alone all over again. Like I was doing something wrong. And yet, it was simultaneously uplifting. It showed that my goal was indeed attainable. That I really could do this. I mean, they all did!
I met one particular post-op transwoman just months before I started therapy. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t like her as a person (her attitude rubbed me the wrong way), but she’s a huge inspiration for me. Because she began transition at the same age as me now, and finished in four years. It just made everything feel possible. I don’t know if four years is really in the cards for me (I’m a mess, financially), but I feel like it’s something to strive for. My being post-op by 31 is an attainable and appealing goal, and I’m willing to go for it.
*Do you have to deal with hair loss? If so, what advice do you have to mask it?
I have very thin hair, unfortunately. Especially in front. Hormones are said to help that by making your existing hair more voluminous, but it won’t GROW hair. So it was very important to me that I kept it on my head at least before hormones (as odd as that might sound). Still, if it is going to do anything to the hair on my head, it hasn’t happened yet in these first two months. To adjust, I’ve changed my part. As a guy, it was always just easiest to keep my part in the middle… but it looked BAD when presenting as a girl. If you look at any of my photos though, I always part to the side. I still have more forehead than I’d like, but it covers all the stringy spots.
Just make sure you’re taking care of it. Shampoo and conditioner every OTHER day. Trim split ends. Basic stuff.
*What thoughts are running through your mind when you look at yourself? I'd like to know in detail, how you feel about it.
This has changed a little in the last two months, so I’ll explain in two parts.
Before, I flat out hated my reflection. I have a mix of Italian and Irish in my blood. Italian dark black hair, and Irish pale white skin. So even after the best shave jobs, my five o’clock shadow was always visible even if you couldn’t feel it (still is, unfortunately, but I’m working on that). Combined with my thinning hair (as I mentioned above) and my curveless body (not the good kind anyway, since I’m a little overweight). Honestly, I find it kinda funny that so many people think I make a pretty girl (not to toot my horn, but myself included), because as a guy I feel like I just look like that person parents warn their kids to stay away from.
Since starting hormones though, there’s a fair bit more confidence. Even when I’m not presenting as female (although I’m trying to more often). When I see my face, it looks different to me. I can’t explain how. I genuinely don’t know WHAT is different, but I feel like my face just appears more feminine. That fact does wonders for my self-esteem.
*Also, do you have issues showering some days?
Oddly, no. I hear a lot of transfolk have trouble with the shower, but it’s never really been an issue for me. I mean, no, I don’t like my naked body. However, when I’m in the shower, my glasses are off and I’m blind as a bat. So, I’m actually quite a bit better more at peace in the shower than I am practically anywhere else.
*Name a few things that make you feel dysphoric?
Dumb things. Like when people address me as a guy or associate me with masculine things because I appear to be a man. It seems so trivial, but when people say things like that, it wrecks me. Sometimes a single innocent comment can debilitate me for a week. I wish I knew why, and I wish I could stop it. It’s become less frequent, and admittedly hasn’t happened at all in the last two months, but somehow I don’t think this mindset is going to just go away cold turkey like that.
*Does it depress you when you put on men's clothing, and at what age did it really start to affect you?
Yes. To be fair, it used to not be so bad on a regular basis when I was just always presenting male. It was a bit of an nuisance and I didn’t like it back then, but it didn’t actively bother me often until I started actually owning my own female clothes. And usually it was the result of having to switch directly from female garb to male garb. Admittedly, I kinda shot myself in the foot with this one, because among the first girly clothes I’d owned were pajamas, so virtually anytime I had to go to work first thing in the morning… well, you get the idea.
Before I started owning my own girl clothes, like I said, I still didn’t like dressing as a boy. That said, it was usually only when I saw a girl wearing something particularly pretty that I would look down and hate myself for the wardrobe I was stuck with. (Catholic school was rough for me because I liked their uniforms.) I occasionally snuck into my parents’ room as a teenager and tried on my mom’s clothes to cope, but I admit it wasn’t a big deal for me either way. My mom’s just not a skirt or dress kind of gal like I am.
*What about jealousy? Are you easily envious of other women's appearances and general womanliness? I'd like to know some detail here too.
Yes and no.
No, because I have always been decidedly feminine, and when I dress up, it’s clear. I don’t have big feet or big hands or a manly face or a prominent adam’s apple. I’m technically taller than the average woman, but only by two inches (which isn’t that big of a deal). I’ve got dainty mannerisms, and where I need to learn has been easy for me to adapt to. In general, I can honestly say transition is probably going to be easy for me in general. I’m very fortunate in this regard, and I’m very grateful for this. I firmly believe there’s not a person alive that is incapable of passing (sometimes, it just requires more work), but those transfolk who aren’t quite as fortunate get a world of sympathy from me.
But I do suffer envy quite a bit. Usually when I’m presenting as male, and a pretty girl walks by. I’ll like something she’s wearing and wish I could ask where she got it. Or she’ll be notably easy on the eyes and very well-endowed to a degree that even after years on hormones, I’ll likely never reach. These kinds of situations suck.
*How long did you live as a woman, before finally getting the professional help you needed?
This is a somewhat difficult question, because even after two months on hormones, I’m still not living fulltime. Since I was 21, I’ve tried to present as female as often as I can. It’s become more frequent over the years, but even at 28, I hesitate to say I’m “living as a woman”. A lot of the reason is confidence with passability. I know you’d probably think, “You look fine, though! How could you think you don’t pass?”
I can pass. Approximately every other day. It’s something about the way my facial hair grows in. Like I said earlier, even after I shave thoroughly, it’s visible. So foundation is a necessity if I want to go outside presenting as female. And then it grows back fast. If I shaved that morning, I may be feeling it already by early evening. When if first grows back, it’s short and course and doesn’t shave right at all; half the time, resulting in a bloody face post-shave. Following that, when I put the makeup on, it just clings to the tips of my five o’clock shadow that cannot be shaved and accentuates it! As such, I can’t present as female two days in a row at this time, which limits my ability to live as a woman. That’ll change once I can start laser surgery, but I’m just not in a good financial situation for it right now, so it’ll have to wait.
*What were some ups and downs about that period? Did you go as a man some days and as a woman most days? Would you say you pass in public for the most part?
I’m not sure what to add here, since I think I said it all already in the last question.
*What was it like, to meet with an expert on the subject, and did he have any questions for you before concluding that you were in need of help with your gender reassignment and that you were indeed transgender?
I’m not gonna lie, I struck gold with my therapist. He’s actually an FtM, and has been through most of transition himself (I actually didn’t know this when I picked him). About twenty minutes into our first session, he said to me, “There are no wrong answers. You came in here and told me you were trans, and I have no reason to doubt that. So nothing you say will make you seem any less of a woman to me. Just be honest. You don’t need to hide anything. You don’t need to try and give me the answers you think I want to hear. Just say it like it is.”
And he’s right. It’s ironic that we need to be “diagnosed” as transgendered before we can begin transition, because it’s just not something we can literally prove. Since meeting him, I’ve adopted his philosophy that if someone says they’re trans, I’ll believe them and treat them as such. I can’t disprove anyone, because what being trans is is different for everyone.
Anyway, he’s still legally required three months of sessions before being allowed to recommend me to an endocrinologist though. So rather than spending that time having me trying to prove what he’s already long accepted, he told me to bring questions to future sessions. He asked me to address my fears and concerns. After the last session, he emailed me a worksheet with a list of personal questions (kind of like this, actually) for me to fill out. This way he had all the information he needed for my letter in one place.
*How often do you get people outing and being generally mean towards you because you're transsexual?
Thankfully, not often. But it does happen, and when it does, it sucks.
The plus side is that for every douchebag or ignoramus who gives me a hard time, there’s countless friends on and offline who’ve got my back. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy kid show, I couldn’t have ever gotten this far without my friends.
*What precautions have you taken to defend yourself?
I’ve considered buying a knife; one that I’d hope never to have to use, but something that might offer a little peace of mind when I’m out by myself late at night (because being a guy alone and being a girl alone are two very different experiences). That would be just another expense though, so in the meantime, I usually have a box-cutter I accidentally took home from an old job (it really was an accident, I swear). It’s not as effective, but it’s better than being completely unarmed.
*How did you come up with the name, Jocelyn? (It's a really nice name by the way ^w^). Is it a female version of your parent-given name?
My birth name is Josh, so while Jocelyn isn’t the “female version” per se, it does sound a little similar. Originally, it was meant as a placeholder to make things easier for my friends to remember. I didn’t want to cause confusion when I came out to them years ago, so I chose something that wasn’t a far stretch that they could adapt to easily.
But somewhere along the line, I grew very attached to it. I like “Jocelyn” in the way it sounds, as it is both pretty and distinctly feminine. A lot of people I introduce myself to typically make a point to tell me what a lovely name I’ve got (nobody ever said that about Josh). It’s also unique, without being bizarre (as in, I don’t personally know any Jocelyns currently, so it stands out; yet I have met or heard of Jocelyns in the past, with this or other spellings).
If I hadn’t been Jocelyn, I honestly don’t know what I’d be though. My personal favorite girl’s name is Lydia, but I actually kind of had that reserved for if I ever had a daughter someday (even though I no longer have intention of having kids anymore). At this point, I just can’t associate it with myself. So in the end, Jocelyn will do.
Also, my chosen middle name is Charity. I don’t like it as a first name, but I think it follows up my chosen name very nicely as a middle name.
*Have you gone through a time in your life when you've felt trapped? Like, maybe your parents has limited your ability to be yourself? If so, how was that like for you?
Yeah. The first 28 years of my life ring a bell on that one. Again, when I first told someone how I wanted to be a girl, I was just a little kid “who didn’t know any better”. My dad responded “No you don’t” and ended that conversation in a hurry. And even at that very young age, that experience etched it in my head that this is a taboo subject and I should not bring it up. And I didn’t, which led me to feeling alone. I always wanted to bring it up, but I’m a pleaser by nature and I didn’t want anyone - least of all my parents - to be mad at me. As an adult, I look back and I wish I had pushed it more, really stressed that this in fact was how I felt. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to wait until 28 to start. But I couldn’t do it and disappoint them. I don’t really blame them though; honestly, I trapped myself.
After I moved out of my parents place (whom I would come out to for real to two years later, and as it turns out, the very accepting), I set out to transition. I was 20. But despite my personal freedom, and the support of my friends, I became trapped in a new place completely devoid of professional support. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was literally the ONLY transperson living in that town at that time because there was absolutely nowhere I could go. The closest place required me to get a car, drive out to get on a ferry to Vermont and seek help there. That was not an option. Especially since my job wasn’t paying me enough to save anything AND wasn’t giving me insurance. In other words, even if I could get out there, I wouldn’t have been able to pay for anything. I was still trapped; it was just a different kind of trapped.
*And finally. What advice can you impart with to a transsexual living in a small town, soon to move out of her parents place, and basically starting to live like a woman full time? Any tips for enhancing the female parts and reducing the male parts when it comes to clothing? Any advice on where to shop?
The hows the whys, and general advice on living as a transsexual male to female. I would very much appreciate it.
For a transsexual living in a small town, soon to move out of her parents place, I would recommend trying to find a not-so-small town. As I mentioned just above, I was trapped for over seven years with no professional support available to me so that I could actually start transition. I think small towns are ideal post transition, because they’re small, quiet, uneventful; in a word, they’re safe. But during transition, you want places you can go, whether for direct support to help you transition, or a place where you can just talk out your feelings. I mean, I should clarify: if you know there are places for support nearby, then don’t throw that away for the possibility of more. But before moving, I would recommend trying to research where you’re going, this way you know you have access to the things you need.
Padding is a transgirl’s best friend and they’re more common than you probably realize. Genetic women are sometimes not well-endowed, hence there is padding to increase the bust by a cup size for those who wish to have more without resorting to expensive surgery. With a bra (especially a padded bra), they’ll work just as well for a transgirl. I also have what I call my “magic boob trick” to even give go the extra mile and give you cleavage. Have I shared this with you before? You’d need two sets of padding – one adhesive and one foam. With the adhesive, you place them as far on your chest from each other as possible while still covering the nipple. When the clasp is done, you’ll already have cleavage. The additional foam pads (held in place by a bra) give lift and perfect, realistic cleavage from any angle.
There’s also padding to enhance the hips and butt, thus creating natural-looking curvature. They’re quite a bit more expensive though, unfortunately. I don’t even own any myself, but I know they exist.
As for hiding the “you-know-what”, you’ll want to get used to tight undergarments. Personally, I recommend pantyhose or Spanx. Even if you’re not wearing a skirt or dress, pantyhose is still fine to wear under pants (and actually keeps your legs REALLY warm in the Winter). The same with Spanx, except in that case, it doesn’t cover your whole leg (so it’s more idea for warm weather). Either way, you tuck first and put that on over it.
Are you familiar with tucking? I guess I should just explain. The trick is to push the testes back up into your abdomen. There’s this natural cavity there that they can fit into (contrary to popular belief, they cannot get stuck there; in fact, they’ll likely have trouble staying put so you usually need to act fast). Then the penis itself is tucked as far back as possible to be out of the way. And then you use your tight undergarment to hold everything in place. It seems tricky and feels a little uncomfortable the first time you try it, but it gets easier every time until it becomes second nature. But if done right, you should be able to wear even a relatively formfitting skirt without any unsightly bulges.
Er-hem. I’ve also heard testimony that duct tape also works, but I don’t think I’d recommend that. It sounds really painful, and I’m pretty sure that can become potentially dangerous if left on for too long.
Some transgirls have difficulty tucking, whether because they can’t find that cavity or they’re especially “well-endowed” or something. Honestly, that’s okay. You CAN get away with not doing it, but that depends on your clothes. You’d need a long shirt, something long enough to conceal that part of your body. Or you need a flowy skirt. Something that naturally comes out and does not cling to the body. If you do this, tucking isn’t quite as necessary.
Now, tucking will NOT prevent spontaneous erections. However, if done correctly, it should prevent it from “going anywhere” and revealing itself. Unfortunately, the feeling of it being bound while like that will still be very uncomfortable. Just try to ignore it (watch your hands!) and it’ll go away on its own. Obviously, if you have one prior to tucking, there’s not much you can do, and you’re really stuck just waiting it out.
Last point on tucking: try to go to the bathroom BEFORE going out en femme. Yes, if you’ve done everything all right and pass well enough, you should be able to use a public ladies’ room with no issue. However, going to the bathroom will require you to untuck and have to redo everything, which can bring with it the potential for error. In my personal experience, it’s always harder to do the second time (for reasons I honestly can’t explain).
If I knew more about your body type, I might be able to recommend specific types of clothes. But as is, here’s some basic advice. Many transgirls are excited to finally be able to dress how they want and they end up overdoing it with showy, sexy, impractical outfits that are not ideal for the setting, the weather or their body type. Even if they technically pass, it draws a lot of attention to them. And this is bad. The longer a person looks at them, the greater a possibility there is for them to be clocked. I’m not saying, “don’t wear nice things.” But you should mindful of what you are wearing. Most genetic women with common sense don’t wear over-the-top showy or exposing outfits when it’s freezing outside. If you’ve got broad shoulders, you should probably avoid sleeveless tops that might accentuate that broadness. If you’re six feet tall, you don’t need to be wearing 6-inch heels (you really don’t need to be wearing 6-inch heels anyway, honestly). And for the love of everything, unless you’re going to a convention or it’s Halloween, don’t be whipping out the Japanese schoolgirl uniform or something. Most people generally don’t cosplay on a regular basis (although admittedly, that’s a shame). ^_^
I’m telling you this because I have outfits hanging in my closet that I bought on year one of dressing up, that I’ve never been able to wear out of the house because they’re impractical. When you’re acquiring your wardrobe, get the stuff you want. Really. But try to think about the situations you’re going to be wearing them. Casual is best. It’s okay to get pretty skirts, and flashy dresses and stuff, but seriously, don’t forget a t-shirt and jeans. Once you have a solid set of clothes available to where you can leave the house in something different for a couple consecutive days, THEN you can consider spending your money on “novelty” outfits. Even if it’s just for you have to make you feel good.
Shopping itself IS tricky. But to be fair, it’s only as hard as you make it. First off, try to research your size (with several sources) before getting anything. There are conversion charts out there that will tell you the comparable female size versus the male size you’re more familiar with. Also, be warned: female sizing makes no goddamn sense. It’s not uncommon for you to wear three different sizes of the same kind of clothes just because they’re different brands (hence, why I said to check several sources; get an average size to work with).
When you’re ready to pick things out, there’s two options: the internet or the store. The internet is potentially ideal if you’re nervous about picking things out publicly. The downside is that some things look or feel different than you’d expect based on the picture online. Alternately, you could go to a physical store. Now, once you have some wardrobe, you can just dress up and take as much time looking through things as you like, but if you don’t have any girl clothes yet, that might not be an option. It’s scary to look through it as a guy. I always felt like people were watching me; not thinking I was a tranny, but that I was a filthy pervert. But you do have to keep in mind that you’re not actually doing anything wrong. If you, presenting male, bring a pile of women’s clothing to the counter, you show that you’re buying it and giving their company money… and that’s all they really care about. You don’t need to make a big scene, and you don’t have to make excuses. Of course, if you have the option, a trustworthy female friend can help everything feel much less awkward.
And after two and a half pages, I’m not sure what other advice to bring up. Although I feel like I’m forgetting something… -_-
If i haven't said so already, thank you for taking the time. It helps a lot. And i mean a lot!
No problem. I’m always happy to help if I can. If you need me to clarify or elaborate on anything, by all means, just say so.
One last thing. I know deviantart has a tendency to obfuscate PMs. So if you'd be so inclined, tell me if you read this last sentence or not in your answer.
I have indeed read this last sentence. DeviantArt has not failed you, it seems. At least, not this time.