Male Crossdressers Are Still Here

There are times where I wonder what people think about men crossdressing. I was watching the television series After Life and an exchange between two of the characters piqued my interest. One said something to the effect of “you never see blokes dressing like women for fun anymore” to which the other replied “good because you shouldn’t.”

I agree and disagree. In the past, I’ve seen guys do it as a spectacle. I remember in high school we would have assemblies where the guys would dress like women and then try to complete a ridiculous obstacle course. I never found it entertaining in the least and it’s probably part of the reason why I ditched school during those events. That stuff should go away. There’s nothing funny about a man dressing in women’s clothes. 

However, there are men out there for which crossdressing is derived from an emotional standpoint other than humor. This form of dress should stay around and it’s that which I will speak to. 

Can I get more options?

As you can imagine, I crossdress. I don’t crossdress in public (well, once but that’s a story for another time) but I don’t hide the fact that it is part of who I am. I dress around home for me and my partner. I’m sure there are a number of motivations for a guy to crossdress and I’m also sure there are a wide variety of people who do it, so I should caution you that this is my story alone.

For me, and I’m going to bet most other men (whether they realize it or not), traditional American masculinity, rigidly adhered to, is confining in the least and soul crushing at most. Men are supposed to act and look a certain way and I find both of those things incredibly limiting, toxic, and just generally non representative of what it means to be a fully actualized human being. 

If you look at men who are insecure about their level of masculinity they often overcompensate. It’s no coincidence that men become the majority of our mass shooters, militia nut jobs, gay bashers, racists, misogynists, and incels. While these are the most pernicious forms of our individuality denied, it should be noted that gender policing among guys is still shockingly common. Calling someone gay (as if gay is non-masculine) when they do something that isnt viewed as manly is stlll appallingly common. These things signal that manly is still a category that is heavily scrutinized and controlled. 

Given this climate, I figured I could go one of two ways. I could own a gun, drive a four-wheel drive and double down on my insecurity by hating anything feminine and portraying myself as over the top masculine or I could create my own version of who I wanted to be. So now, I own a gun, drive a four-wheel drive (because some things just don’t change), and flit around in so-called girly things.

So why do I crossdress? 

I have almost always wanted to feel desirable in the clothes I wear but what I find attractive are the clothing styles made for women. There isn’t much for guys to wear in order to feel sexy.

As men our physical sex appeal is mainly derived from our bodies which are supposed to be somewhat bulky. I am tall, I am also thin. In fact, I am probably thinner than most women. Because of that, I’m never going to carry a good deal of rippled muscle and any other bulk would have to be in the form of a beer belly which while obtainable, is not really my style. I have gone 40 years without having a body that others regard as truly manly. 

This bothered me as a kid but now I love being this thin. I’ve never found muscles or a strictly “manly” physique attractive. I’ve always been drawn to the slighter, softer side of anatomy in all types of folks and so in myself as well.

So donning women’s clothes allows me to feel sexy by virtue of what I’m wearing and there is something I find alluring, even empowering, in that. As an added bonus, my thin build pairs well with women’s fashion. At least as well as it can for a guy. Donning a cute skirt to accentuate hips I don’t have, and a crop top and belly button ring to show off the small waist I do have, is an exciting and fulfilling experience. I finally get compliments about my body that I have never received while dressed as a man; and that’s not hyperbole either. So that’s one reason but, it’s also more than that. 

Just one body?

The next reason may throw you for a loop, or you may understand. I’m perfectly happy in a male body and I readily identify as a male. Still, if I could also morph my body and have a female form, male form, or some other form depending on my mood then I would love that. This isn’t a fetish, it’s an actual desire to be able to live this way. 

When I see a woman walking down the street in a cute outfit I will do a double take but it’s not for the reasons most guys do. Rather, I’m jealous that I can’t look that cute in the same outfit and that I wouldn’t be accepted if I did. Both concerns stem directly from the fact that my balls tend to hang out of skimpy shorts. Physiology problems, am I right? 

Joking aside, I’m also aware that dressing as a man in women’s clothes could also put me in danger from closed minded bigots (those guys I mentioned earlier). Having a female form to change into would eliminate those worries. Since I can’t do that, cross dressing is a way for me to overlay a feminine shade on a masculine base color. 

It’s here I feel I should take a step back and clarify a few things. I worry that saying these things sounds privileged in some way because I’m a guy. The claim being that I want to experience different forms of being but not permanently and so without responsibility.

I, for now, claim the exact opposite. Different bodies come with different socio-political realities. If my body morphing powers came to fruition I would simultaneously be bearing the brunt and benefit of each body type I filled. I couldn’t take any form without it’s reality bearing down on me. I have no misgivings that if I were some version of female I would be the subject of men’s toxic behavior. If I had a combination physiology then I would have to fear people who can’t wrap their mind around anything but a gender binary (still mostly men by the way). My claim isn’t that there is no danger, but that wearing some of the things I want as a woman puts me under the radar bigots. Changing forms then would simply be changing realities and not escaping altogether. However, I want to explore this idea more fully in the future.

What do I call myself?

I know I am not transgendered. That’s how I initially started this paragraph then I read some material from trans folk that includes what I do under the trans umbrella. I have no problem with being called trans should people choose. I love my big, beautiful, queer family and that absolutely includes my trans brothers and sisters. I support them wholeheartedly. We have some similarities I’m sure and some differences. We can celebrate them all as facets of our uniqueness. 

Maybe there is a term for how I feel. I think of what I do as gender blending for the most part. I’ve seen the term transfeminine (male at birth, but identifying closely with femininity, yet not desirous of being a woman) and I think that fits closely but not exactly. I am desirous of being a woman, but also a man, and also configurations in between. To be perfectly honest, the name for what I do and how I feel doesn’t matter much to me. I’m just trying to embody what feels like the truest expression of who I am within the bounds of reality. 

I have always thought it would be an easy thing to explain; this way I feel. Now that I try to put it in writing for the first time the words seem too definite. Each sentence that I try to use as a tack to hold down what I am seems to have my feelings squeezing out and around every word. Nothing seems as accurate at the conclusion of my sentences as it did when I began them. Feelings are easy to experience but more difficult to write down. Still, this is a beginning and that’s an important step. 

My future

I don’t know what my future holds on this front. My everyday look is slowly evolving. I’ve picked up bracelet making and I’m trying to blend masculine and feminine styles, I paint my nails when I have the time, and I’ve been tossing around the idea of a choker necklace and eye liner. None of this is overly important other than to say, my goal is to blur gender expressions just enough to soften my masculine edge. I think that’s where my happy medium will be but the whole endeavor is an experiment and I’m enjoying the process. Life is more colorful, fun, and lacy now. 

As far as my advocacy goes, I plan to discuss this issue more often from a variety of standpoints. I also want to talk about useful things for folks that crossdress such as finding the right clothes (once I learn how), shopping tips etc. I want to make this issue more visible because there are more people like me out there and I want us to be seen and heard. 

Ultimately, I want the kind of society in which folks with all types of bodies and styles of dress can be accepted and don’t have to face the repercussions of closed minds. Perhaps then I would be satisfied with just my body, perhaps not. 

I imagine I will expire from old age before I will see the type of society in which I would be comfortable. The best I can do right now is to help expand what being male can be so that someday, someone else can live my dream. I want to help enlarge our circle of compassion so we may be the better for it. Crossdressing helps me wrap my mind around that from a practical and abstract standpoint. It helps me to feel things that I am not traditionally allowed to feel and to be closer to who I want to be. It puts me in touch with something rather intangible that I want to help others find. 

The Little Pink Bottle That Could

DSC_3842cThis may look like an ordinary water bottle (I don’t know anything about the bike shop so don’t ask) and you would be correct. However, at one time it’s symbolism extended far beyond its function.

I acquired this sports bottle semi- unintentionally. I had entered a mountain bike race at Kickapoo State Park in Illinois which was put on by a wonderful local group called the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club. As is part and parcel of mountain bike races (at least in Illinois) the organizers were handing out grab bags for racers part of which was a clear or pink bottle. As you can well imagine, being a guy, I was handed a clear bottle. I took it and began to walk away from the registration table.

Then I stopped and began to think better of my decision. You see, ever since I watched the Giro d’Italia, which is a nearly month long bike race around Italy, I fell in love with pink as a color for cycling. In the Giro the leader’s jersey is called the Maglia Rosa and as the name might suggest to you the color is a brilliant rose pink. The pinkish hue is everywhere; on the cars, billboards, podium, bikes built especially for the occasion and on the confetti that falls precipitously at the finish. Yes, by the end of that twenty-some-odd day race I could never see pink again without seeing it for it’s flashy, race worthy badassery that is on display during that event.

The truth of the matter was I became hooked on the pink bottle as soon as I saw them, but until this very moment I had accepted the clear bottle as a matter of social conditioning even though I didn’t want one. I was about to remedy this. I turned around and asked, “Actually, could I get a pink one instead?”

That’s about all I remember. I don’t really remember the event itself. I think there was a little blood, a shitload of sweat from that good ol Midwest humidity and a mid pack finish for me.

At this point in my life, I had firmly accepted that I was pansexual but it seemed a rather academic point rather than a pragmatic one. I was married so exploring this newly realized identity was not exactly a viable option. I was comfortable with this. Plus, I didn’t solely like guys so being married to a woman didn’t undermine my identity.

If I can offer an aside, It’s important to note that I was also living in a conservative part of the country where being different isn’t exactly accepted. People aren’t wrong when they say the Midwesterners are nice. You can have a conversation with almost anyone on a whim. Just make sure to keep things on a superficial level or you may not like the topic once it shifts from the weather.

I always tell people that the Midwest (at least the rural portion) consists of a thin veneer of nicety concealing a seething cauldron of hatred beneath. At least every other day I had to back someone down from making some kind of horrible statement. Whether it was demonstrating xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, transphobia or what have you. It was tiring to say the least.

In fact, right around this time I remember a coworker/neighbor of mine taking a line of joking, that she started, the wrong way. Through the drags of her cigarette and with a good amount of hatred and disgust she called me a faggot as I parted her company. All of this before anyone aside from my wife at the time even knew that my sexual interest deviated from women.

I should say at this point that there are also some quality people in the Midwest and they deserve their credit. It must be admitted though that the small town mind pervades this geographical area more so than other parts of the country, save for the south perhaps.

I’ve lived in my new home state for almost two years now and I’ve been 100 percent out the entire time and have never had to back anyone down from anything racist, homophobic or the like. It feels like an emotional vacation, but I digress.

So now I had this pink water bottle which I loved, but did I dare use it in rural America? At first I began using it just as a way to haul extra water in my cooler on ride days. So when riding laps at my local trail I could stop by and refill my Camelback. I had to take a few friendly jabs about it but it was easy to say it was my Giro pink bottle even though the color didn’t match the Maglia Rosa. Then I started taking it to work daily as my go to bottle for the day. When anyone said something about it I quickly stated my fondness for it, “Are you kidding? I love pink, that’s my favorite bottle!” All of it was true.

What went unspoken was that in a weird way this became a means for me to push a boundary, admittedly a small one, on gender norms. This was literally the only pink thing I owned because as a man I wasn’t supposed to. If this sounds like bullshit, it is, but I swear to you this dynamic exists and is alive and well. Carrying this bottle was a way for me to signify that I was different.

Yes, I loved the color and I would have used it regardless of my sexual orientation. Even though the color pink has nothing definitive to do with being queer, it became a secret symbol of my queerness. It was a way for me to take that part of me out into public even if no one else knew what was going on. This gender-bending symbolism slowly gave me confidence.

Before I left the Midwest I came out to a few people close to me. It was the next step in my evolution and as weird as it may sound that pink bottle played a role.

Recently, I noticed this bottle was missing from my collection. I had long chalked it up as lost and had forgotten about it until my ex-wife walked into my place with it the other night. I had left it in her car and so it had remained for months.

As I washed it and placed it in the dish rack I realized that I still loved the color. A pink bike or team kit? Yes please. However, the bottle itself had lost it’s hold on me. I still like it but it’s no longer my favorite. It’s a bottle now, nothing more than a utilitarian object with a symbolic past.

I’m out! I’m queer, bisexual, and/or pansexual. I’m a faggot, whatever you want to call it I don’t really care. I paint my fingernails and toenails, I cross dress for myself and for my partners. You see, I don’t have to deal in hidden symbolism anymore. I am my own living symbol and that feels better than carrying around that pink bottle ever did.

 

Men and the Culture We Create

In talking to women I’ve been able to notice a few common threads when it comes to their dealings with men. One in particular has troubled me from the moment I realized the implication.

Usually we’re talking about dating and the horrible behavior that people bring into that sphere of interaction. Too often women tell me things men have said to them or done to them that were truly abysmal and then passed it off as being normal.

While I am appalled by the behavior of the men, I’m equally if not even more horrified by the culture we have created in which this behavior is deemed normal or expected and goes unchallenged. Whether it be guys that feel entitled to grope women or the actual site of women walking with their keys in their hand ready to use it as a weapon against men, we have created a environment where toxic masculinity is just thought of as normal. This social construct disturbs me to my very core.

This article and the author’s experiences brought the horrors of guy culture to the forefront of my mind.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-i-wish-men-knew-about-that-creepy-guy-at-starbucks_us_572b6ddde4b016f37894e05d?

Gender-splaining

I was having a conversation with a woman last week about me identifying as cisgender and it occurred to me that more than a few people still don’t know these new words that have cropped up over the years or the importance of them. For those of you who may have questions about the terms used to identify gender here is a short introduction that will have you up to speed quickly.

http://mic.com/articles/139805/cisgender-v-transgender-v-gender-fluid-here-s-what-these-gender-identity-terms-mean#.fu8X0x7sz

Man Writes Letter to His Cock

As I get a little older I find a lot of wisdom in what this guy is saying. I’ve found that my cock is influenced not only by my biological state but my mind as well. In fact, guys tend to view their dick as a separate entity all together. If you don’t believe me ask yourself what names you, or someone else, has called your cock by over the years. There has to be a healthier way to regard this sensual part of the male anatomy.  Give this a read and tell me what you think.

http://www.jaysongaddis.com/a-letter-to-my-cck/

When I Say Feminism What I Mean Is…

This last month I went to get a haircut, naturally I chitchatted a bit with the stylist. As we were talking, she said she is not a feminist and believes in gender roles. My jaw must have dropped because she started to rationalize this statement, using horrifying example after horrifying example of times in her personal relationship where they used gender roles. I was too stunned to speak and I honestly didn’t know what to say. So I said nothing. I laughed in discomfort, we finished the cut and I left. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. How could anyone, especially a woman, not believe in gender equality? Being me, I decided to comment about it on my Facebook. The majority of my friends have a similar mindset to my own, surely we were all about to have a great conversation on feminism and banishing gender roles.
Oh how wrong I was. Instead I was sent down a deep rabbit hole to redefine my moral conduct and what the sexual revolution looks like to me.

So I posted my post and continued about my day when bing! a notification came through;
“The whole point of the sexual revolution and gender equality is to give people the choice to live how they want. If she wants to live a certain way, then what’s wrong with that?”
Being me, my initial response is usually emotional and all I’m thinking is EVERYTHING IS WRONG WITH THAT. It is my life’s work to change the sexual culture that plagues America so the thought of encouraging people to live as they want, even if it goes against my moral values, threw me for a loop. As an activist and sexual being I have adopted the mentality that all sex is good sex as long as it is safe, sane, and consensual. At this point, I was starting to question this philosophy. If she is aware of her gender roles, wouldn’t that make it consensual? Was she not agreeing to those terms? The idea that someone can not believe in gender equality and still fall into the perimeters that I had been laying out for the sexual revolution kept me deep in my own head space for days. Yes, I believe in people living the way they chose. The idea of me trying to take away that freedom from someone left a bad taste in my mouth. Then again, so did the idea of allowing these ideas to perpetuate.

At this point in my thought process, I began to think about all the sexual activities I am into and have ‘justified’ because they were safe, sane, and consensual. Consensual nonconsent, spanking, choking, and activities like these which many others may view as dangerous, crazy, or weird I find to be ok under the guidelines of safe, sane, and consensual. The more I thought, the more I fell into these mind loops that I wasn’t being supportive, that I was going against all that I stood for till a notion dawned on me. My sexual activities are just that, activities. Others can choose, or not, to take part in them. Gender inequality however, is not an activity we just get to opt out of. We don’t get to tell everyone else if we want to use gender roles or not. When we allow these societal norms of inequality to continue, we are allowing inequality to reign over ALL of us, not just a select few. There is not a way to pick and choose this kind of matter, it is an all or nothing sort of deal. That is one deal I won’t take.

Something I have noticed in my exploration of the American sex culture, is that using the word feminism almost always gets negative comments back… and I work in the adult entertainment industry. Never once have I been put down for doing porn but as soon as I say ‘feminist’, there is an uproar. I wonder why this word causes such strong, negative reactions. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as  the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. That’s it. Equal rights and opportunities regardless of gender. Somewhere along the way it seems this has been misconstrued. Feminists these days are made out to be unattractive, men hating woman who scream angrily and while waving cardboard signs in your face. I don’t see anything in the dictionary about that…
When I say feminism what I mean is…
I don’t want to live in a world where a short skirt makes me a whore and a target
I don’t want to live in a world where men are told they have no control over themselves
I don’t want to live in a world where boys can’t play with barbies and girls can’t play with dumptrucks
I don’t want to live in a world where a person’s birth given genitals make them superior or inferior
When I say feminism what I mean is…
As a woman, I should have the same rights and opportunities as men
As a man, I should have the same rights and opportunities as women

That’s it. It really is that simple of a definition.

 

~~Merasmin~~

I Don’t Shit Rainbows

NFb6j

If you were to read my dating profile you would see that it lists a number of progressive ideas about sex positivity and gender self-determinism. Listing that info is a double edged sword. On the plus side, these are views that women don’t encounter much while perusing through men so it definitely sets me apart. Also, listing this allows me to attract quality people. Someone who is homophobic isn’t likely to show interest in me if I list myself as a pansexual feminist. A thinning of the herd that I’m wonderfully happy with by the way.

However, I often feel as if I’m fetishized to a degree. I get the impression that some of those folks expect me to be the most evolved person to walk the face of the Earth. If I show up to a date and I don’t have rainbows shooting out of my ass (a known carcinogen by the way) or pieces of the mountain top I was meditating on still stuck to my clothes people get disappointed. I can appreciate the enthusiasm but the expectation feels unrealistic and oppressive.

What I do is for others in a general sense and I don’t fucking care if it looks like what someone else expects it to. For instance, I identify as cisgender because I agree that failing to do so creates an accepted group (those happy with their assigned gender) and an outcast group (those happy with their non-assigned gender – i.e. transgendered). The same goes for allosexual. I don’t feel like asexual (or demi or graysexual) people should feel like anything other than normal so I categorize the level of my sexual desire. By doing things like this I’m helping to create the kind of world in which I want to live.

Did you catch that last part? The world I want to live in. My actions are for me too. How’s that for enlightened? Even if what I do primarily has a benefit to others, it also helps me to become the person I wish that I (and everyone else) was. It makes me happy to be who I am. It’s that whole, be the change you want to see shtick.

Ever since I was called a racist at 17, all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a better person. That impetus has brought me to where I am now and I’m reaping the benefits. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and for the first time I’m starting to cultivate a group of friends with shared values. My friends, dates and other random people tell me the nicest and most heartfelt things and I know it’s because I have done the same for them and that I’ve created an environment where they trust me. Moments like those bring tears to my eyes when I think about it. I’m finally having the intimate meaningful connections with people that I’ve always wanted to have. It’s such a wonderful place to be.

However, I’m not perfect. I’m still just a clump of electrical and bacterial processes that we call human. As confidant as I am I still have insecurities that can occasionally lead me to be emotionally unhealthy. I’m working on it. Sometimes I get excited about a topic and I realize that I’ve been talking for 5 minutes and unintentionally monopolizing the conversation. I’m working on that too. I’m a radical sometimes to a fault. I’m wondering how to work on that or if I even should. I also use profanity. I’ve no plans to work on that at all because if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Okay look, I realize that most of you who read this will never meet me (I mostly blame you), but you can extrapolate this into your own life. Whoever, you’re in the process of idolizing make sure you do a reality check on what it means to be human.

People are wondrous and beautiful creatures and we exist in a myriad of ways, but obviously we’re not perfect. Sometimes our imperfections make us beautiful. Other times, it’s how we deal with those imperfections that make us shine. Either way we all have work to do and that’s okay.

Mal, a character from the television series Firefly, said it best, “It’s my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another.”

Hell, I don’t even have a statue made of me unless you count voodoo dolls and burning effigies.

Masculinity As A Crutch

“I think the white-knuckled grip some men keep on what defines a man” is “clinging to an old idea of the world, one they can control, one that isn’t new or different or equal or, let’s just say it, actually happening.”

One of my ideas for writing has been to do something like this article by David Greenwald. Until that is penned (and even after) you should really read this.

https://medium.com/@davidegreenwald/against-masculinity-498339cb8f42#.msue0qrsc

Note: I took a few liberties with the quote above such as splicing two sentences and removing a question mark, but I think it is the essence of the paragraph from which it was pulled. I just thought you should know in the spirit of honesty.