State of the Relationship Address: Call me Jena!

As my partner slid her hands beneath my dress, pushing it up around my waist, I asked “Will you call me Jena?” This is something I had wanted for a long time but for whatever reason the femme side of my gender was rarely on display during my sexual encounters with her. She complied, but I could sense a little unease in her voice as she said my name. So I took over referring to myself in femme ways and relaxing into a roll I so desperately wanted to fill. Doing this for the first time and accepting that part of me was exciting and liberating. Everything inside me had been leading in this direction.

After this experience, I asked my partner how she felt using my femme name (admittedly, something I should have done beforehand). For a little background, my partner is a cis-woman and as straight as they come. By my telling of it, she has never found any part of a woman attractive in any significant way. She is attracted to male-bodied me and yet has been supportive of me wearing whatever female clothing I desire in private or in public.

Still, she said using a femme name for me was not something with which she was comfortable. It did not create any attraction for her. Quite the contrary, I got the impression that it created a kind of repellant visceral response (the opposite of attraction basically).

I want to be clear that I do not fault her for it in any way. While I think there are aspects of attraction that we can control and help shape, there is also a part of desire that cannot be forced. Accepting this duality has been central to my own journey of exploring sexual attraction and even gender identity. I accept and support her boundaries.

Additionally, for about two years we have had an agreement that I could be with other queer folks sexually. For this arrangement I would be non monogamous and she would be monogamous. This was actually her idea initially and one which she mentioned a couple of times before I actually accepted it as a viable possibility. We did this because I wanted to continue exploring my queerdom and retain my visibility as a queer person.  

During that time of being able to “date” (or whatever you want to call it) other folks I had talked to many folks but none who could muster up any interest that went much past the tip of their genitalia. I also found it hard to believe that my partner was one hundred percent okay with this arrangement. Accordingly, I didn’t want to proceed full steam ahead and do irreparable damage to our relationship. As a result, I had only been with one other person who was a dear friend of mine on one occasion.

So when I initially heard that she couldn’t accept calling me Jena I was worried but knew that perhaps I could still explore this aspect of me with others. I felt like I still had a lifeline and an outlet in which to revel in who I was becoming. A week or two later this too came to an end.

My partner told me that while our relationship arrangement made logical sense to her that she couldn’t accept it on an emotional level. Now that she had discovered and spoke her truth, I was happy to focus instead on monogamy. The clarity of monogamy has always felt reassuring and I find simplicity and beauty in the practice.

All of this creates a number of quandaries for me. Is my femme side in any form a problem for her that will eventually surface? For now, I am aware of the possibility, but am accepting that I have heard the truth as best as she currently knows it and am proceeding accordingly. 

The larger issue for me is that now that I am monogamous can I express my femininity in such a way that is still fulfilling for me while not being off putting to my partner? Is it possible to walk this line and leave everyone happy or will tending to her boundaries squelch my identity? Furthermore, is it even reasonable to walk a line at all where gender identity is concerned? Isn’t it more preferable to be who I want and need to be and let the chips fall where they may?

I don’t pretend to have the definitive answers, or any answers, but I do want to talk about what I have discovered while wrestling with these questions.

Realizing My Femme Side

In my past, I had kept my femininity shutoff from the outside world. I was closeted on purpose. Growing up I was surrounded by people who didn’t understand virtually any queer issues nor did they make an attempt. They mainly ridiculed and disparaged those who were different. Twenty some odd years ago, I shared a few pics with the person who was my first spouse. They were of me wearing her undergarments. Later when she was upset about something, she said, “I leave for a week and the first thing you do is dress up in my underwear.” I didn’t know exactly what this meant as it didn’t pertain to the argument at the time but I got the picture. I was expected to knock it the fuck off. 

I had reached out to someone I thought I could trust and I received a scolding that was the death knell to me living openly with her. I didn’t want to experience that again and in small minded (I mean small town) America it was sure to happen each time I tried to publicly become who I needed to be.

So I kept it all under wraps. I dressed in femme ways only when I was alone and my partner was gone. I never mentioned it to her again. Later with other partners I was able to bring this side of me to life but mainly did so only in the bedroom; the most private of spaces.

This year though I have started wearing women’s clothes (pants and shorts) out in public. It is still less than I would like to wear, but it is a process and I am in the middle of it. Still, dressing with femme clothes in public is removing the secrecy around my gender. It is helping to give me some visibility as a queer person.

Likewise, when I was chatting with folks on dating apps I was leaving it up to people to call me by my masculine name or my femme name. Those who chose my femme name lightened my step. It felt foreign to be called Jena but it also resonated with me and made me happy. Having this quality in my life makes me feel more rounded and gives me visibility as a queer person. It’s as if my figurative masculine edges are being sanded down a bit. I like that.

What I’ve Learned . . . Kinda

This revelation is another step in understanding where I have been and in some ways where I am at now. My desire to be femme during intimacy was because I had kept this side of me in relative secrecy. I’m curious to see if having the femme me on display in public will erase the need to be referred to this way occasionally by my partner. If this is the case then I’m not walking any figurative line at all. Problem solved.

Conversely, if I still have the urge to be more femme than my partner can handle then it will be unfair to myself to continue walking someone else’s path. It seems as if this is the more likely outcome. While dressing femme in private led me to also dress in public, the occurrence of the latter has not diminished the occurrence of the former. So it seemingly follows that using my femme name in public is still going to be something I desire during intimate moments as well, though that experiment has yet to be conducted.

It must be admitted though that in a monogamous relationship that one half of the experiment is missing. I can’t use my femme name during intimacy to see how much I need to express that part of me. I just have to wait and see if I think I want it used. If I do, the relationship will end and I’ll have to hope that I was correct and that I didn’t make the wrong choice. It has become a much larger burden under monogamy than it was previously.

I used to feel as if I had a clean slate to explore and write down who I wanted to be. Now the surface of my slate is hemmed in with words to direct my path. I can write down who I am so long as I do not obscure parts of the slate which already contain the writing of others.

Keep in mind, I’m not asking to go back to nonmonogamy. That didn’t work and anyway, I don’t need it. It’s just that now I don’t know how to proceed. However, proceed I must because there is no other option before me.

I have had a difficult time writing this because I do not truly know where I stand. Each line I put down on the page feels shaky and dangerous. How much of what I write here is being constrained by the boundaries of my partner and by my fears? Truthfully, I do not know. Only time will reveal that answer. I have tried to be as kind and yet truthful as possible. I know that being gender fluid is firmly a part of me. I’m unpacking it piece by piece and while it feels good to do so, I’m scared of the consequences that my thoughts on this page could have in my current relationship. Seeing it all typed out here is less than reassuring.

If the romantic aspect of our relationship does not survive then it is no one’s fault. In fact, it will be for the best of all possible reasons. That my gender identity does not line up with her sexual attraction is certainly no one’s fault. It is just one of those unfortunate things which can occur as people grow.

For now, my partner says she is comfortable with me dressing in femme clothes and is good with incorporating these clothes into our intimacy. This gives me hope and currently I could use a little more of that.

My First Time

For decades now I have been crossdressing in private. In the last couple of years my desire to take a little bit of this feminine flair out into the world has been increasing. I was going through my clothes the other night and I noticed how much I liked wearing women’s jeans. Moreover, I realized that certain designs were not that far off from the men’s pants I was already wearing. Suddenly, wearing the perfect pair of women’s jeans seemed like a nice blend of masculine and feminine.

There was a slight catch. Because I acquired most of my women’s clothes surreptitiously from strangers (craigslist, ebay, etc), I didn’t get to try any of it on ahead of time. So while I have a huge collection of clothes (more womens than mens, truth be told), not all the pants fit as well as I would like. Accordingly, I knew that to be comfortable for everyday use I couldn’t shop blindly and hope for a good fit. I would have to go the conventional shopping route.

I had a pair of men’s jeans from American Eagle that fit me well. Based on that and the selection I saw online, I decided to give them a shot. Once there, I quickly settled on a pair of their Artist bootcut low rise jeans in an x-long, cuz “I gots legs for dayz yo!” I was curious to try the Boyfriend jeans in a more straight leg, but that style may be discontinued as I could not find it in the store.

I went for the dark color version of the jeans to help hide the masculine shape of my legs just a little bit more. The jeans were a good fit. The stretchy Artist jean fit snugly through my hips and upper legs and then relaxed around my knee and gently flared at the cuff. I was initially concerned that the flare was too much but once I put on my shoes that concern diminished. The bootcut flare on this style pants may still be a bit on the large side for my liking but I decided to go with it. 

Admittedly, one of my chief concerns was how my butt would look in them. I have a rather flat posterior and so my butt really gets lost in most of the sloppy fitting guys’ jeans – happily, it looks better than it ever has. I’m not creating anything I don’t have, I’m not about to pad anything, but it definitely helps me show off a bit. 

As curves are concerned, the front of the pants does showcase more than what folks with penises are probably used to. It’s not extreme, it’s just that we aren’t accustomed to seeing our form showing through (a trend that I would love to see reversed). The pants have enough compression to keep anything from being a spectacle. This aspect of jean fit does mean that the type of underwear I wear matters much more. I’ll touch on this in my next article but suffice it to say that the tighter you can bundle everything together the better the fit looks.

Now that I had found my pair of pants the only thing left to do was put them on and go outside. During my first wearing I was a little self-conscious but not because of anything I noticed from other people. It was just a reticence based on the fear of what could happen. Truthfully, if people were looking at me, I didn’t notice. I honestly didn’t even feel like I was making a scene. I was just being me. 

That last part is important because I have noticed that I am happier that I now wear these types of pants. They say (i.e. studies have shown) that people who have traits which cross the (artificial) gender divide have higher self-esteem than those who rigidly conform to it. My experience reinforces this finding. Living more authentically for me brings me joy, staying hidden does not.

After multiple outings in these new jeans I love them more each time I go out. There are differences based on what I’m used to with guys pants, that is inevitable. I am noticing more and more how they give me a feminine look, more than I had anticipated. However, I have come to love this as well. 

I have always been shamed for my thin body by other men. It used to bother me that I wouldn’t be perceived as masculine. Now, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t end up with the compacted muscular frame I wanted as a kid. My tall lanky build lends itself well to my desired style of dress. I enjoy seeing clothes hug my body and accentuate the thin form that I have come to love. It’s all very wonderful to experience.

At this moment, I am wondering how to maintain my blend of clothes come summer (jeans are too hot in warm weather). I’m currently exploring women’s shirts to wear with my guy shorts as well as looking for a few styles of womens shorts to pair with some of my more form fitting shirts. This is an exciting new frontier for me and as few people seem to talk about this type of thing I plan on detailing my experiences here as I go along my cute, little, merry, crossdressing way.

Until next time, join me in obliterating those gender boundaries my beauties.

Footnote:

I have resorted to generic terms of men and women, masculine and feminine, for the sake of clarity. However, make no mistake that if these labels don’t fit you, then trust me when I say that I see you, you sexy gender trail blazing thang you (I really don’t talk like this, lol). I am also aware of the argument that there are not women’s clothes or men’s clothes, but just clothes that anyone can wear. I find validity in this viewpoint. However, for me there is a distinct appeal to wearing something that I know is designed for women. I also enjoy referring to it in that way. I feel sexy wearing “women’s” clothes. Doing so allows me a rejection of masculinity that feels more complete than wearing gender neutral clothes would.

This likely stems from the fact that I am exploring the identity of being genderfluid and with that the recognition that I sometimes feel a little more masculine and sometimes a little more feminine and never fully one or the other. For this reason, I’m starting to hedge on calling what I do crossdressing. Until I come up with a better term then this description will awkwardly suffice.

Article soundtrack: Every Time I Die – Post-boredom. Every Time I Die – Ebolarama. PUP – Totally Fine. Bayside – Strangest Faces.

Horny Hometown

They say you can never go back. Sometimes though that isn’t true. 

I’m from a small town in the middle of nowhere Illinois. When I was a child I had a crush on a fellow classmate. He didn’t know it at the time. What I didn’t know is that he also had a crush on me.

Once we were out of school, I would occasionally bump into him at the store. I would say hello, hoping he would say anything back. It never really happened. Crushes can be weird that way. 

Twenty five years later we discovered our mutual interest and discussed possibly meeting up to fulfill some part of our desire. 

The thing I didn’t mention about this small town is that it is somewhat incestous. Through social media I watch people bounce from person to person, classmate to classmate; married to one and then another. It’s like a game of romantic musical chairs and when the music stops for the final time you die with the one you’re next to. 

I often wonder if anyone imagines potential romantic partners existing outside of that two mile square radius. 

My crush messaged me to say that another classmate was in a bar and had just made a couple of moves on him. He seemed very excited about it all. Nothing against either of them but I suddenly became aware of the dynamic I was considering entering into.

I don’t think I am above anyone that lives there, it will always be a home, but I don’t want to become another townie fuck toy. Someone who is just a tidbit of conversational fodder consisting of “hey did you hear who so and so had sex with!” A coupling with my crush would initiate me into the familial order of the small town orgy. It’s not that the talk alone bothers me, I’m sure I’ve been a part of the gossip round table before. It’s that I don’t want to become part of the culture and what it represents. I do not want to shrink back down to fit in there. 

I realized that during my return trips, I visit the same place I was at during high school, the same place I was at when I married at 20, the same place I was at when I divorced years later, and the same place I left 900 miles behind me 8 years ago. 

Nothing there has changed, except for me.

You’re Woke And It’s A Huge Problem

Woke was a term that when I first heard it, I thought it was a novel way to describe oneself. By the second time I came across it, the word had already soured. I realized quickly that it would be a self congratulatory term and as liberals we do too much of that as it is. 

Perhaps the biggest challenge to any group but most certainly the liberal/left is to check your ego at the door. We like to think that our views (or perhaps our belonging to a disenfranchised group) put us above others, that we are somehow better than whatever out group we have established. The truth is, most of us are still jerks that live a very unexamined life. If that sentence pisses you off then you need to keep reading more than anyone else. 

We hide behind labels. If we are woke, feminist, liberal, and egalitarian then we can’t be sexist, racist or transphobic. We make those who are outwardly racist/sexist/queer phobic evil and so we must be by opposition, automatically good. 

If being critical of racism, sexism and heteronormativity makes you feel good about yourself then I assure you that you are doing it wrong. Why do you feel good about affording people a basic level of decency? It is because you have positioned yourself against your so-called villains that you seem so accomplished and enlightened. 

Casting ourselves as heroes shuts down our critical thought. This is why women and people of color (though by no means exempt from my criticism) lament the emotional labor they have to expend on their supposed allies and sometimes ask for spaces which exclude us. 

We are still sexist. We expect certain physical or personality traits from out partners (you must be this tall/short and masculine/feminine to ride). The idea of what male and female is has been deeply embedded in the ways we think and act. We think we choose our partners freely but that is no closer to being true than it was 50 years ago. Sure we can marry a wider breadth of people than we could then, but our stereotypes still remain as to how people must look and who they can be in relation to us.  

We have more diverse friends now but how many of those friends serve to make you feel good. I have a friend who talks about being the token black guy among his liberal friends and as much as I’d like to assure him that this isn’t true I know there is an element of truth to it. Likewise, as a queer man, who cross dresses occasionally, I watch liberal women’s faces light up when they tell me they would gladly go out on the town with me in drag. What a story that would be for them and it’s a great way to get your “woke card” stamped. 

Our privilege (ie: ignorance) surfaces when we ask someone to speak for all people of their identification or sexual persuasion. It happens when we occupy the spaces of feminists or people of color and feel resentful that our opinions aren’t weighted to the degree we are used to. It happens when we use others to atone for our “social justice sins” by hogging the spotlight for ourselves and our woes. We want to be good but not at the expense of others noticing how good we are. We languish in our selfish habits. 

Essentially, we rely on others to do the work that we should damn well be doing ourselves. No one is asking you to break down and ask forgiveness from the group (i.e. representation of the other). They are asking you to listen, then take responsibility and put your words where your mouth is. You have to do your own work. The information is out there if you look for it. I hate this term but I’m going to use it, “google it!” Alternatively, ask people what might benefit you to read or watch and then actually do it. 

For instance, I’ve been reading work by trans folks/people in an attempt to understand them as much as I can. It’s shocking how much I thought I was being an ally and yet I was still making so many assumptions that could hurt them and their cause. It’s hard to learn we are wrong but it’s absolutely necessary. Moreover, learning there may not be a correct way to view certain things, like gender, can be exciting and humbling all at once. It’s not always fun work but it’s work that needs done. 

While you’re taking in new information be so honest with yourself that you’d rather not. Then be honest even more because I guarantee you that no matter how much work you do there is still more to be done. Your job of self growth ends when you do. And for god (that I don’t believe in) sake, drop the fucking self-congratulatory labels.

An Alternative View of Labels

Like one of the authors of the articles below I have always wondered if labels concerning human sexuality do us more harm than good. I think there are arguments for both sides and I find the interplay of ideas particularly interesting.

Here are two stories of people who though they were stalwart adherents to a particular way of being until someone special helped them discover an unexpected truth about love.

I Came Out as A Lesbian – Then Fell In Love With A Man

How My Sexuality Changed When My Husband Became My Wife

As you can see by the titles, the first story follows a traditional view of relationships while the latter has a more non-traditional story arch. I hope you enjoy them and whoever you love now or come to love in your life, I wish you the greatest happiness.

How Did Your Sexual Orientation Form?

I think for many people the premise that sexual orientation is not fixed, but can vary with stimuli, will be a difficult one to accept. However, thanks to trans folks (again) we have a wonderful new outlook on the world. Here are a couple of women who might just change the way you think.

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/the-trans-women-who-become-lesbians-after-years-as-gay-men?utm_source=broadlyfbus&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000050

Why She Is A Slut And You Shouldn’t Care

A very short but useful article straight from the source. If you want to help her cause, stop slut-shaming when you hear it. I’m fairly easy going but I’m quick to interject my alternative view that there is nothing wrong with being more open with your body and sexuality than others may be comfortable with.

http://www.femalista.com/im-a-slut-and-100-proud-of-it-so-stop-shaming-me-already/

Famous Model Comes Out As Intersex

To be truthful I’ve never heard of Hanne Gaby Odiele, but then I live under a rock where the light of day as it concerns models cannot penetrate. I was very pleased to read this though and I know this will be the start of something great in societies throughout the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/24/model-hanne-gaby-odiele-reveals-she-is-intersex

This is proof that no matter how many ceilings we shatter there are others in the houses down the street that need demolishing as well. Being accepted as gay wasn’t the last social battle to be won, being accepted as transgendered isn’t the last frontier, and being accepted as intersex won’t be the final struggle either. We will never stop evolving as a people and as a society, nor should we.

Guys, You’re Doing Friendship Wrong

Sociologists have long known that the way we do friendship now is not the way it has always been. However, you’re not a sociologist (well not an employed one anyway) so check this out to start understanding that there is something contrary to human nature about how we do friendship then work to change that; both for your health all those other guys who just want someone to hang out with.

http://www.vice.com/en_us/read/why-men-lose-friends-in-their-20s?utm_source=vicefbusads

As I read through some of these stories it becomes obvious to me why I have tried to establish friendships with women recently.

Wait Till You See These Old Photos of Men

These photos are awesome and they will turn the very notion of what men used to be compared to what they are now on its head.

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/29/bosom-buddies-a-photo-history-of-male-affection/