[Here are links to the first two – Trying to look back through the gender fog (part 1) and Trying to look back through the gender fog (part 2)]
Part 3 of gender fog basically gives my best shot at this time in answering have I been a female all my life. I say “best shot” because further thoughts and memories might arise at a later time.
So, now comes the time to analyze my life prior to identifying as a woman, and see if I can figure out if I could have realized this earlier in my life. Or, if the timing of becoming Stephie could not have come earlier. I will start off by sharing some parts of my life after recognizing myself as a woman that may also provide clues from the past.
The funny thing is that outside the skewed view of trans porn* I knew very little about being a transgender woman before my blooming time as Stephie. The only real information I had reached way back to the mid-nineties when I watch a Barbara Walters’ special on transgender children. While I was accepting of these kids and the reality of there being transgender persons, I did not reflect much at all, besides maybe voicing the idea some time after watching the show, that I didn’t feel like much of a guy. I chalked this up to the fact that I was still adamantly opposed to locker room talk and other such “manly” words or actions. So, with the internal knowledge that I was a woman assigned male at birth. I began to explore the internet and read some books.
My knowledge grew exponentially. During this upward curve of growth of gender knowledge (it wasn’t just transgender identity that I was learning, but the whole gender spectrum^). So, I learned about transitioning: social, legal, and medical. At first I had no plans to transition. I barely knew myself as a woman. If I transitioned I could hardly wear what I had been wearing in private. Not only would it be inappropriate, it would also not be very safe. It would be nine months until I made the decision to transition. With the help of my girlfriend (Bette) and therapist I made my first steps. This began on July 10, 2019 when I came out to my therapist. I had already come out to Bette in the spring earlier that year. Slowly, I began to get my look together. I had been finding out all I could about cross hormone treatment, and I soon made the decision to do it. And in April 2000 I started. Getting gender affirming surgery, or the decision thereof took longer. It was not until late spring of 2020 that I finally over came my last reservations, and in July I sought out surgeons. I am waiting to have all my ducks in a row and for Medicare to set criteria so the doctors can bill them, so I can get my surgery paid for.
But, I also learned about what may cause and how and when one finds out in regards to having a gender identity different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Not all identified early on in life, although some did even before much gender socialization occurred in their lives. A good deal seem to have their first inkling of their different gender identity by the end of their teenage years. Other’s it does not become conscious in their minds until their 20s and 30s. While it is unusual for one to come to an awareness like me into their 50s, it does happen.
Why is their such a difference in ages in coming out to themselves? My unproven theory based mainly on thinking about it and my own experience is it takes some triggering episode(s). For some it is just becoming aware of their genitals. Others, possibly, it is finding the opposite gender to the sex they were assigned at birth to become the focus of their attention. Some it might have been a same-sex experienced that triggered them to question their gender identity. A plethora of other triggers my be possible and probably are. These were only the ones I have some knowledge of from individuals’ experiences either written or personal.
Many believe that no matter when you first recognize your gender identity as different from your assigned sex at birth (ASAB), this recognition does not mean that you were not that gender all along. Some studies indicate your gender is innate, like most believe sexual orientation is. What that really means in actuality is that you can’t change it without severe problems, even suicide, if you try. There is so much denial in transgender and gender non-conforming persons (TGNC). Many go through periods of purging all they own that does not match their ASAB. It seems like purging is hardly ever permanent. The denial is caused almost entirely because of society’s overall negative view of TGNC.
So, do I have proof that my gender never match my ASAB? Proof maybe a rather strong term to use here, so maybe it is better to ask is there a strong likelihood that it didn’t? What it does do though is show that it would have definitely been a possibility.
I will attempt to be more definitive about this, but first I would like to know why is this so important for me to make the attempt to answer it. After all I am devoting three post to it, which does require a lot of digging, thought, and analysis. I suppose there is a little wanting to fit in with other transgender persons, even though I am quite secure in my gender identity and do not need to shore it up with anything, but with what I feel in the now. Another reason is those little snatches of memories that seem to be connected with a transgender identity. Why are they there? Do they hold any significance? Will it explain some of my mental health issues of the past? Maybe, there is even a chance someone will find what I write useful in their own gender journey. Finally, it is something I enjoy doing—exploring myself—actually exploring anything connected with ideas (philosopher girl here).
So, what leads me to think I could have recognize my gender identity as a female for most of my life? The first bit of evidence is the fact that I much preferred to be with girls, and was never really comfortable around male friends unless it was using drugs or drinking. This began early on from at least the age of five, and continued through out my life. I shared some of my intimate feelings with other females, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of bringing them up with my male friends. This preference for female friends from my experience with other transgender women I know either online or have read in other blogs or that I have read in books is very common. Why if I was not always a girl would this make much sense. Not that life has to make sense, but I feel most of us like trying to make sense of life and all that’s connected with it.
First, there is adequate evidence that gender is inborn, whether voiced or expressed from the first cognitive get go or not. This comes from a variety of studies. Given this information, having been female in gender against my ASAB (male) is certainly possible (there is nothing 100% in science, especially the fuzzy stuff like gender).
My first experience putting on female attire was the private donning of my mother’s pantyhose in high school. Again a similar event to many transgender women in their teens with some putting on whole outfits, and some beginning a lot early. Did this activity make me feel like a girl? Not exactly, but I did love it. There is always the possibility it was all about sex, but my late in life experience argues against this. While I did masturbate in them, it was not a necessity for this activity. A certain thrill was there, still I liked it whatever the case might have been.
There were also times when I imagine having a vagina instead of a penis. This did not occur often and I am not sure when it started, but I know it would cropped at least a handful of times in my life prior to any absolute feelings of being a woman. The first vague memory of this was about the age of five. It reappeared a couple of times in high school, and few times in my adult life at least. I don’t believe that this is a typical thought for a male person to have. I guess some curiosity might account for it, but the fact that it was repeated through out my life weighs against that interpretation.
I had several intense short periods of dressing in feminine undergarments, eventually to become a self anal sex experience, lasting no more than a week. This happen 2 to 3 times in my 20s. Why this did not continue after this is probably not living alone for long periods of time. Once I even went out in front of the house in pantyhose, shorts, and heels with a bandana on my head during those times in my 20s. Again, this is not really consider normal male behavior.
Then, there were the times (at least twice) when I shave my legs prior to the intense period of exploration. I loved those smooth legs even though I let them grow back after the shaving events. The first was the second time I had the female dressing activity. The second, oddly enough, was when I had been living with Bette for about ten years. Why I did this in front of her in the bathtub is a mystery. Perhaps deep inside this was the way I wanted her to see me.
Self anal sex eventually became a common occurrence when masturbating. However, at no times until the later intense period of feminine exploration did I feel I was having sex like a female.† That was a short lived period relative to that four years of exploration maybe for about a half year. Once I had become Stephie this would quickly stop—feeling like I was having sex as a woman. This was mainly due to the fact that I learned to orgasm by prostate stimulation via self anal penetration, and this is what I desired most. If you think about it this is not what most ciswoman like, let alone experience this type of sex. The fact that I was penetrating myself, no longer seem an aspect of my femininity. It was something I did for pleasure and still do occasionally. I stop for a while because penetration had taken on a connection with male topping behavior (although that is not necessarily a male activity as many transwoman use their male genitalia to penetrate others). But, because it was associate a lot with my feminine dressing, it could be seen as another clue
Finally, there are recent mental events that have occurred. I got the feeling recently that I have always been a female, despite male appearance and gender norms on the outside. This is not just a vague feeling; it was intense. And, I seem to return to this feeling since that first time I felt it.
Taking all of this into account, it adds up to me that there would be a strong likelihood that I had a feminine gender sense from early in life. So, why did this remain under my radar for all those many many years?
The first would be the lack of transgender visibility when I was young. But I believe the main reasons for most of my life was that the use of drugs and alcohol fogged up my gender sense. I just did not have the capability from the age of 11 to 25 to focus on it. It has also been the case that my life began to be taken over by depression and anxiety for another 30 years after sobering up. It was only after I came out of that portion of my life, that I dressed in private as much as I could, and it never waned until 4 years of this dressing my gender became apparent to me without any doubts.
As mention none of these aspects of my life before identifying as a woman is proof that I had always had a sense I was a female. But, I see it now as a strong possibility argument for this conclusion.
There is one other thing I would like to consider. This is the possibility of repression. Was my gender identity basically repressed for most of my life only peaking out here and there. It would be a convenient way of explaining my addiction and subsequent depressive years. I realize this could be a possibility after reading a book by a transgender woman who had described her own repression, which for her involved self harm and suicide attempts (I shared the suicide attempts, but not the self-harm).
So those are my thoughts on the possibility of having a gender sense different than what was marked on my birth certificate. There maybe a time when I will revisit this, but have no plans to do another post on this, although It will certainly be revisited in my mind and will be mentioned in other posts. One aspect I am writing about is of that recent feeling that I have always been a woman.
So, as for revisiting the topic at hand, it might not be strictly true, as I am currently exploring those recent and recurring feelings that I have always been as I am now—a woman. The more this feeling arises the stronger the sense becomes. So much so, that it may be the main reason for considering that I have always been a female. I do realize that placing much stock in feeling oriented evidence is not a basic reasonable thing to do. But, this feeling whatever it strength in reasoning maybe is coherent with all the stuff I have been able to uncover. One other point to this sense’s validity is that, while not infallible, my intuitions have mostly been spot on since I was willing to take heed of them. Again, intuitions are not the most soundest of reason to believe in something, but most intuitions, and this not only for myself, wind up being valid. I believe this is so because so much of what are brains our working on is unconscious, and intuitions maybe an outcome of these brain processes, which could be labeled thinking.
* I no longer in indulge in viewing this type of media. I do believe it served a use when I did indulge. But, it lost that use as my current life became more and more openly feminine. I suppose it was like encouraging me in a slanted way (know I was not influenced by forced feminization vids; I found those distasteful and demeaning). It surprised me greatly that this was no longer an activity I carried out; it kind of dissipated semi-consciously, more or less over time. Anyway, that was then, and this is now.
^ It is hard to come up with a way of looking at gender as to be as inclusive as it needs to be. I use a gender spectrum, a gender umbrella, the LBGT acronym, the LBGTQ(+) acronym, TNGC, trans*, etc.
† See part two’s footnote on a brief critique against autogynephilia.