Living Life ‘as a Woman’ was like a career. Now I’m Retiring.

September 7, 2016

The Following is a GUEST POST authored by MIKE.


On the Dissolution of a Dream

Guest Post by MikefromOhio

Hello Everyone,

In response to Gallus Mag’s gracious invitation to share more of my experience, I offer the following account. Let me say first that although I think my experience may be of some value, it is still only one perspective. Please feel free to ask or challenge me about anything I’ve said and I will try to respond. I may have some questions for you as well. Lastly, my thanks to Gallus and all the contributors here for maintaining such an important forum. To my story then.

Like most boys who dream of being girls, I was much closer to my mother than my father. I felt strongly that I understood her sadness, especially as the wife of a man like my dad. I loved her, deeply, while perceiving him as cold, domineering, someone extremely capable in practical matters but having little time for, or interest in, the emotional undercurrents of life. I was sure, as a child, that I was nothing like him. I knew I was a boy and that boys become men, but if my sentence was to end up like him, I wanted no part of it. I wanted to be like my mom, someone open to her emotions, generous and loving to those around her–in every way beautiful to me. In short, I wanted to grow up to be her. But only girls become women. So, though I kept it to myself, I began daydreaming I’d been born a girl. At least in imagination I could find some solace.

I was the first of four children, born in 1963, a few months before the JFK assassination. I don’t know to what degree my parents may have unwittingly transmitted the turbulence of that decade into my child’s mind, but on the surface, our white, middle-class household wasn’t much affected by urban riots or the Vietnam War, far less by any sexual revolution or feminism. If my mother was unhappy as a homemaker she never showed it, though she had been valedictorian of her high school and had won a scholarship to a technical college, where she planned to study chemical engineering. During her freshman year there she met my father, soon after which she left school to marry him.

As a young child, their relationship seemed to me a source of constant tension. When my father was at work, my mother and I were at ease. We were best friends and confidants, able to speak freely, often discussing him as we pondered his apparent coldness. When he got home the tension came through the door with him. He never hit my mom, but there was a lot of yelling, a lot of anger. I see him now as having been deeply unsatisfied with his working life, so that without meaning to, he allowed his role as a loving, affectionate father to take a back seat to his driving ambition to start his own business. When I was still small he took me to see where he worked, a large printing plant in Cleveland. I was fascinated by the enormous machinery, the size of the building itself, the army of workers engaged in what was then, before the Internet, a much more robust industry. Little did I know this wasn’t enough for him, that he wanted to own such a place himself. He did eventually start a business, and as it grew, our family’s financial worries evaporated. But success has its price.

For three years I was an only child before a brother came along, followed by a second brother when I was six and finally a sister when I was eleven. From the first brother’s arrival I felt a sharp diversion of my mother’s attention away from me and toward him, although I remember her letting me help change or feed him. The second brother seemed to further diminish her affections for me. It’s perfectly understandable to an adult that when second and third children come along, the firstborn simply can’t be the center of attention anymore. But as a child, I didn’t like losing that blissful time when it was just my mom and me at home. I would “help” her bake cookies or do housework, or we would just sit together and read a book.

Eventually she began working as a secretary at my father’s newly started printing company. When I got home from school the babysitter would leave and I would be in charge until my parents got home. My mother would inevitably have a list taped to the refrigerator: vacuum the living room, put the roast in the oven at four o’clock, don’t let your brother’s fight, make sure your sister is changed. To anyone who wonders what my parents could’ve been thinking by putting me, at the age of twelve, in charge of two younger brothers and a baby sister, even if for only a few hours a day, I can only say that it was a different time. I don’t think there was the widespread attention to and discussion of child psychology one sees today. Also, kids were actually expected back then to do chores (younger readers can google this word :-)), and generally obey their parents. I was the oldest, and my parents were under huge stress, and debt, as they struggled to grow a small business. I honestly don’t blame them for anything. Untold numbers of people have had horrible childhoods and still become functional, well-adjusted adults. Objectively, my childhood doesn’t look too bad. Subjectively, though, things weren’t so simple. Here I was, harboring a secret daydream of being a girl, and by extension of growing up to be a woman, assigned a daily list of chores which I saw as practice in the domestic arts. I was seeing what what life would be like as a stay-at-home mom.

I wasn’t sexually attracted to men, but strangely enough this didn’t interfere with my fantasy of someday being married to one, of greeting him when he came home from work with a martini and a kiss. It was more of a romantic image than a sexual one, though later it would become sexual. Part of this probably came from thinking my father would love me more if I were female. He certainly showed my sister more affection than he did me. I also enjoyed the praise I got from my mother when she and my dad got home; I wanted to please her as a good little housekeeper. The only thing I disliked was changing my sister’s diapers, a task I grimly endured. I looked nothing like she did down there, a reminder that I was definitely not a girl. I had no idea at this point that there was something called “sex change” surgery, was not yet aware of people like Christine Jorgensen or Renee Richards. I despaired, seeing my sister, of ever having my daydreams come true. Yet they persisted.

During this time I began cross dressing, a habit which from the start I was desperate to keep secret, even from my mother, with whom I would’ve shared anything else. There was simply too much risk that she would tell my father, though for some reason I thought she would have been ok with it herself, that she’d also secretly wished I’d been born a girl. But the reality is that I was the oldest son of a father who might well have beaten me if he ever found out about my secret. What a horror for him to discover that not only did I daydream of being a woman, but I was dressing like one in private. Once I discovered this outlet, though, I couldn’t stop. Whenever I was alone in the house I had to dress up. It was nothing less than a revelation for me to see myself in the mirror, wearing my mother’s clothes, her shoes, her makeup, a dressy hat to cover my short hair. My dream of being a woman now had a tangible expression; the reflection in the mirror _was_ in fact a vision of that future self.

My sexual awakening was tied from the start to my cross dressing. I don’t honestly remember my first intentional orgasm (i.e., not a wet dream), but it may well have been while wearing something of my mother’s. What had been an emotional longing to be female now had a sexual, admittedly fetishistic dimension. This convergence of forces, emotional and now erotic, and seeing in the mirror what I might look like as a woman, were all too strong to resist. My dream took on a life of its own.

At around 11 or 12 I saw an article somewhere, I believe in _Newsweek_, about transsexuals. I was stunned. People actually did this, changed their sex. Of course I know now that they don’t, because it’s impossible, but that was the official line being put out there, and I devoured it. I began, almost from that very moment, to prepare. I started jogging and watching my diet, determined to stay thin, all because I wanted to look good in dresses someday. I bought into this, too, along with my inflexible notions about gender, that women are supposed to be thin. Besides, my mother was thin, so that became a part of my vision. My parents began to worry that I might be anorexic but eventually decided that I just enjoyed running, which I did, but for a huge reason they didn’t know.

I had a plan now, a solid, crystallized dream of becoming a woman. I already looked a lot like my mother, a resemblance people frequently mentioned. And I was short, barely five foot five, which I still am. This is going to work, I thought. I’m going to do this and I’m going to be “good” at it. I was so convinced that because I identified with women, and could some day successfully pass as one, I would _earn_ the right to call myself one. Some kind of grace would come into play, a reward for the sincerity of my efforts, and the missing parts of a normal female life would be filled in or glossed over. No female history? No female genes? No vagina? No problem. I would get hormones, find a surgeon, change my name, and get out there into the world as the best woman I could be. I see now that identifying with the opposite sex presumes the impossible: that one can actually know how the opposite sex feels. I also see now that all I ever accomplished was an elaborate impersonation. I never felt that I was a woman trapped in a man’s body, but I was unstoppably fascinated by the idea of becoming a woman. Once I did this, I believed several things would fall into place: I would be able to show as much emotion as I pleased (something I never felt allowed to do as a boy); I would be attractive to men and possibly find one who loved me (as my dad loved my sister); I would be socially outgoing and not so damned shy; I would be honoring my beloved, long suffering mother by living as a woman myself; and, of course, I would be able to wear whatever I wanted. This last reason may seem the most trivial, but this ignores how powerful a symbol women’s clothes are to MtTs, at least in Western culture.

In high school I found girls incredibly attractive but never dated them. Their beauty made them seem untouchable to me. Other boys my age were dating but I just never found the nerve to ask anyone out. I would see an attractive girl and instead of wanting to date her, I would fantasize about looking that good myself. I never considered myself gay but I think it’s quite possible that in a way I was, only I was mentally blocked from exploring it. During my private cross dressing, I often thought about sex with a man–an intense, wonderful fantasy–but I never indulged in these daydreams while in my public role as a male. Oddly enough, my raging cross dressing habit seemed less taboo to me than sneaking off somewhere to have sex with other boys. Possibly this prohibition was instilled by my hyper-masculine, homophobic father, or it could be that I was just old-fashioned, finding it too strange for men to be with men, or women with women. When I got my driver’s license I didn’t see it as bolstering my dating prospects, I saw it as enabling me to start buying my own feminine items. Now I could drive myself to department stores, usually in neighboring towns, and buy lingerie, makeup, anything small enough to keep hidden at home. It would have been nice to come back from my “drives” (actually shopping trips) with whatever costuming I wanted for my secret dress rehearsals, but I could neither afford nor hide bigger things. I didn’t have the nerve either, at that point, to ask a sales clerk if I might try on a dress or a pair of heels, though I wanted to. So for the time being I would have to borrow from my mother’s wardrobe whenever I had enough time alone in the house.

I got good grades in high school and was accepted by Case Western Reserve, where I strongly considered studying literature but ended up majoring in electrical engineering and applied physics. I was a nerdy kid interested in math and science, but I enjoyed writing, too, something I attribute to the closeness I felt to my mom when we used to read together. Thinking in practical terms, though (and pleasing my tuition-paying father), I opted for engineering. At this point I had decided to try to bury my female ambitions until after college, when, as an engineer, I would easily build a nest egg to pay for surgery. For a couple of years I was able to suppress my dream. I threw myself into my studies, hiding in the decidedly unemotional, logical world of engineering. But inside I was slowly coming apart. My deferred dream wasn’t sleeping very peacefully. Much more than in high school, many of the couples I saw on campus were clearly sexual–my own roommate often spent weekends with his girlfriend–and this lack of inhibition reminded me of my own social hang-ups, which I was convinced could only be resolved by becoming female. Also, except when I was home during the summer, I never had a chance to cross dress, to indulge in that tangible expression of my fantasy. I forced myself to ignore it, but it didn’t ignore me. I would see a (straight) couple walking across campus, holding hands, and want so badly to be _her_, to have her body, wear her clothes, be the happy girlfriend in a relationship. I got depressed. My grades started sinking. I was getting desperate. It’s fine to say that gender dysphoria is all in one’s head, something I acknowledged to myself even then. But I couldn’t find a way to get it out of my head. If I could’ve tuned in to how attracted I was (and am) to women, and channeled that energy into overcoming my shyness and asking one out, it might have changed everything. Instead, my envy of women’s beauty always got in the way of simple enjoyment, in the way of what might otherwise have been an unfettered pursuit of romance and sex. My image of myself as a future woman always blocked me from imagining that I might be the opposite partner in a relationship, that maybe I could be the man, that I could give love and support to one of these women I so adored.

Soon after beginning my first semester as a senior, I sought out a psychology professor who had taught a course I’d taken as a freshman, asking her if she knew of anyone specializing in gender identity issues. She did, and I started seeing this therapist close to campus. My parents knew nothing of this. A few weeks later, without telling anyone I was going to do it, I withdrew from all my classes, feeling a sudden urgency to focus all my energy on what had, in my mind, become a crisis. My parents were shocked, but seemed to believe my explanation that I’d been under more stress than even I realized, and agreed with my plan to continue my studies in January. I moved in with some friends from high school, two guys in whom I had confided everything, and who at this point were trying to talk me out of wrecking my life. A few weeks later I told my parents the full story. I sat with them at the kitchen table, watching them as they sobbed. It was the first time I had ever seen my father cry. The worst part was when they told the younger of my two brothers. Though six years apart, we had been best friends throughout my teens. Now he was losing the older brother he’d always looked up to, and all I could offer as consolation was some vague idea of becoming his sister. I felt horrible about dropping this bomb into our family; it was utterly selfish, but I was convinced it was the only way to save myself. I simply felt that I couldn’t go on living as a man. I didn’t realize it then, but I was embarking on a 30-year career of selfishness, all because I got carried away with a fantasy.

What followed was about a year of psychotherapy with a man who resisted my plan from the start, challenging my assertions about what I needed to be happy, always steering our conversations away from gender transition and toward things I had no interest in thinking about: How did I see my parents as a child? Do I think my father loved me? Why is it so hard for me to cry? I had begun dressing as a woman now all the time. My hair was getting longer and I worked on a more feminine voice. The friends I lived with gave me feedback on how I was doing; they were in the tough spot of wanting to help me as friends, but also of not knowing how they should help. My parents joined my therapy sessions for awhile, but soon decided they wanted no part in them anymore, perhaps fearing that the therapy was somehow encouraging me in my quest. My therapist was associated, after all, with something called the Case Western Reserve Gender Identity Clinic, whose very existence must have troubled them. It’s not surprising that they couldn’t take very much of sitting in a doctor’s office with their son wearing a skirt and makeup, while the three of us tried to talk about our feelings. Fine, I thought, when they told me they weren’t going anymore, now I can just direct my arguments toward one person instead of three. My mother, who during these months had become a born-again Christian (shaking up our rather staid, quiet family nearly as much as I had), wanted me to see the pastor of her church, instead of this “secular humanist” psychiatrist. To her there was a spiritual battle being waged for my soul. Satan had planted this delusion in my mind, and my only salvation was to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Soon after my mother’s religious conversion my youngest brother, the one who had taken my news so hard, “got saved” himself, becoming my mother’s ally in that spiritual battle. All of this would make for some good material in a melodrama if we hadn’t all been in such pain, clinging with a death grip to our respective positions.

After a year of “cross-gender living,” which really entailed little more than dressing as a woman in public, since I wasn’t working at the time, my therapist reluctantly referred me to an endocrinologist. After getting a physical and giving my assurance that I understood the risks, I was prescribed estradiol along with spironolactone as an anti-androgen. When my body started feminizing, I was thrilled. I had taken a huge step in my plan. My legal name change, from Michael to Denise, went smoothly, as did getting a new Social Security card and driver’s license. I don’t know what Ohio requires these days for changing a driver’s license (I’ll find out this fall, when I change my name back to the original), but the first time around, the BMV clerk simply looked at the court order for the name change, and at my request switched the sex designation to female. That single letter on my license thrilled me as much as anything else. Yay! I thought. I got an F! It felt like a passport into another country, one where I belonged. No more worries about getting pulled over by a traffic cop, or, though it never happened, being challenged in using a women’s bathroom. And now getting a job would be much easier. I wanted a job where I could dress up, of course, where I could express how feminine I believed I was, but I didn’t have any experience working in an office environment, nor much experience at all except for delivering pizzas as a teenager.

I found work in a faucet factory in a Cleveland suburb. It was just jeans and tee shirts, no pretty outfits like the women in the front office wore. But it was a job and I found it as Denise. I moved out of my friends’ house and into my own apartment. I had a checking account, a credit card, a driver’s license, an apartment lease, and an actual job, all in my new name. The meds were working wonders on my already short, small physique. All those miles of jogging as a teenager were paying off. My breasts were small but at least they were mine, and by my fantasy-fueled definition “natural” because they weren’t implants. My face was getting softer, my hair longer, the tone of my arms and legs smoother, my hips and thighs fuller. I was so guarded about maintaining my “stealth” life that I decided not to risk seeking out electrolysis. Instead, I started tweezing my whiskers, every day, sometimes for an hour, sometimes two. It was a way of avoiding any five o’clock shadow that threatened to show through my makeup; it was a way, too, of avoiding having to shave, which didn’t make me feel very feminine. So, with enormous discipline, my overall presentation was good enough. It didn’t bother me too much that I had to “tuck” down there. I was making so much progress everywhere else that it was easy to forget I still had a penis. And that would be taken care of too, eventually, whenever I had the money. I still thought about returning to Case to finish my engineering degree, but working an actual job seemed more important at the time.

Guys were paying attention to me, too. A male coworker asked me out, another guy while I was in a laundromat. Men struck up conversations with me in the checkout line at the grocery store and I realized (or believed) they were flirting with me. These encounters were frightening but thrilling. My default response was always to decline any invitations, usually lying about having a boyfriend. When I had my surgery, I told myself, then I might say yes. It would be enough of a challenge to get a man to accept me as transgender, but then to expect him not to mind that I still had a penis would be insane. I really wasn’t interested in being beaten up or possibly killed because I trusted the wrong guy to understand. This was before the proliferation of online dating, including the emergence of lgbt dating sites, so I was yet to discover the tranny chasers out there, those who find the incongruity between gender and genitals some kind of turn-on. I did eventually date such a man, meeting him on a site called PlanetOut, which I don’t think exists anymore. I think I was trying to consummate my vision of myself as a straight female by having sex with a man, though in truth I didn’t like it as much as I did in fantasy. At any rate, we carried on for about a year before the novelty of it apparently wore off for him–and for me, to be honest.

Living in my little Cleveland apartment, I wondered if I’d ever see my family again. It was going on two years since I’d come out to them and my father still refused to let me come home as Denise. I spent holidays either alone or with friends, though most of my family lived less than an hour away. There were painful phone calls, and now and then a long letter from my mother, ostensibly to share any family news but filled with pleading, too, beseeching me in the name of Jesus to cast off my delusions and come back home. The letters always began with, “Dearest Firstborn Son,” or “My Dearest Michael…” When I mentioned that the mail carrier might be confused by envelopes addressed to ‘Mike,’ since it was ‘Denise’ on my mailbox, she began addressing them to ‘Resident.’ These letters infuriated me. My own mother, who had inspired my dream of growing up to become a woman, now seemed to scorn me for that dream. I should have seen that in their own way, my parents were trying to get me to come to my senses because they loved me. But I had no interest in being loved as Mike. I only wanted love as Denise, a persona they steadfastly rejected. Slowly things began to thaw and I was allowed back home, but only if I cooled it on dressing up. So, much like my work life, I appeared on my parents’ doorstep in jeans and a shirt–except here it was baggy enough to hide my breasts a little. I kept my hair in a ponytail and wore just a touch of makeup. It wasn’t easy for them or me. They didn’t call me ‘Denise’ and wouldn’t play the pronoun game, but at least they were trying to reestablish something like “normal” contact with me. I should have been much more grateful for that than I was. Instead I focused only on what I didn’t have (acceptance as Denise), rather than what I did have: a family who, because they loved me, just couldn’t say goodbye to Mike.

I left my faucet factory job for a better one, where I made more money and got the chance to run CNC mills and lathes. I learned to program these machines and do set-up. I was confident, knew how to joke around with the men I worked with, and aggressively sought out more opportunities to learn. My previous image of myself as a traditionally feminine woman was fading away. Before I quite realized it I had become something of a tomboy. I had a nice wardrobe of dressy clothes but never much chance to wear them, and when I did, usually on Saturday shopping trips, they just felt forced. The more feminine I tried to make my appearance, the more self-conscious I was about passing. Maybe I was better off, I thought, working on a factory floor instead of in an office. I job-hopped a little more during the 1990s, building a broader resumé as a machinist. Returning to Case grew less and less likely. I was making good money, especially without any dependents, and I estimated that I’d soon have enough for surgery. I began writing short stories and wrote a bad, semi-autobiographical novel, _Diary of a Tomboy_, in which an MtT factory worker falls for a female coworker. I tried to tell myself I was attracted to men, and even _wanted_ to be in order to build my self-image as a traditional woman (case in point: my fling with the guy I met on PlanetOut), but men have never turned me on the way women do. So I started seeing myself as a lesbian. I know how absurd this is, but for a while it seemed a viable
adaptation to where I was at the time: presenting myself as female, finding a comfortable niche as a tomboy, and being, as I always was, overwhelmingly attracted to women. Maybe I could find a partner who would accept me as an “honorary” lesbian. But I still wasn’t right down there, which might put a damper on the lesbian thing. People can be such sticklers for correct anatomy. In time, I told myself. Keep taking care of yourself and keep saving money.

Gradually, though, my thinking changed about surgery. My body had become fairly well feminized, but the estrogen and spironolactone never reduced my libido very much, possibly because of the dosages, or possibly because I still enjoyed masturbation (quite adept by now at ignoring the irony of having a penis while fantasizing about being a woman), thereby keeping things alive, so to speak. But I began to worry about how much pleasure I would have after such a radical rearrangement. I wasn’t sure I could trust accounts from post-op MtTs about their sexual satisfaction–I suspected that most people who undergo something like that may be inclined to give it a favorable spin–nor did I have any way of knowing how my own surgical outcome would be. What if it was awful? What if I couldn’t come anymore? Was I willing to trade orgasms just so I could look more like a woman? Just so I could wear tight jeans without tucking? Maybe it was better to imagine the vagina and keep the orgasms, rather than getting the vagina and possibly having to imagine the orgasms. After all, I’d been doing the former for a long time. Also, everything was stable in my life, not perfect but good enough. I didn’t feel the need anymore to risk surgery and its possible complications, didn’t need a hospital stay, didn’t need to take a leave of absence from work and worry about explaining it. I decided I didn’t need any of it. So I went from seeing myself as pre-op to no-op. I would simply live as a woman with a penis. As crazy as it may seem, it was a compromise I felt I could live with.

In reality, I think my eventual choice not to have surgery was a way of hedging my bets. Though I couldn’t admit it to myself yet, I wasn’t so sure anymore that I was as “transgender” as I once thought. Not having electrolysis might be seen this way, too, as well as my “accidental” career in a very masculine field. Seeing myself as a tomboy was a way out of living the feminine life I had thought I wanted. Instead of high heels, I wore steel-toed work boots. I kept my hair tied back and worked almost exclusively with men, who probably figured I was a lesbian, since my “boyfriend” was never seen. In some ways I had made a genuine transition–hormones, name-change, and to some degree presenting as female–but my original vision had never materialized. Welcoming home my husband with a martini and a kiss had been long forgotten as a part of my fantasy. Still, as Y2K rolled around, I was comfortable with my life, if no longer thrilled by it.

I kept working as a machinist and writing in my spare time. My life as Denise really began to end, as I see it, when I decided in 2006 to write another novel, this time from the perspective of a lonely male park ranger. I set it in 1974 and called it _The Pardon_, after Ford’s pardon of Nixon that year, but it was really a late bloomer’s coming-of-age story. My protagonist was Gary. He is short, shy, still a virgin in his twenties. He loves women but doesn’t know how to approach them. He has a difficult relationship with his father. When he was a teenager his mother was killed in a bus crash while on a trip with a church group. While not literally taken from my own background, this character was, in many ways, me. Writing from a male perspective was surprisingly refreshing, as was the honest exploration of this particular man’s challenges and feelings of loss, many of which were my own. As I worked on it I found myself envying the relative simplicity of this character’s life compared to mine. I had some of the same concerns he did, but I was so much more encumbered by all of my trans baggage that the happy ending I wrote for the book didn’t seem nearly as likely for my own life. But I couldn’t let go yet of everything I’d worked so hard for. Part of it was stubbornness, part of it pride, part of it my ego–a very masculine ego–clinging to the accomplishment of “becoming a woman.” I wasn’t yet ready to admit that my real accomplishment had merely been a successful, or at least an adequate, impersonation of a woman, that all along I had never been a woman, that I honestly couldn’t say I’d ever felt like one. What man could? But I still wasn’t there, wasn’t ready yet to give up what I had to admit was basically a need to pretend.

The next big turning point came in December of 2012. By this time relations with my family were as good as I thought they’d ever get. I had been welcomed back home for a long time now. I think my parents realized that keeping me at arm’s length wasn’t doing anything to change my mind, only creating more pain for all of us. No one seemed very bent out of shape anymore by my appearance, and during visits back home I dressed as I pleased. And, to my great amazement, beginning around this time, all but one member of my family started calling me Denise and using female pronouns. Even my fiercely religious mother had somehow found a place for me, as Denise, in her view of the world. The older of my two younger brothers explained it to me something like this: “It was getting kind of silly to keep calling you Mike when you’re standing there in a dress, with breasts and long hair and makeup…” It had taken more than twenty-five years, but they’d finally come around. I knew they hadn’t really changed their minds, that when I wasn’t with them they still referred to me as Mike, but I was touched by the simple courtesy of their effort. The lone holdout was my youngest brother, the one who had followed my mother into a born-again Christian life soon after I’d come out so many years earlier. We were cordial to each other now and had recovered much of the closeness we had as kids, but he never went along with the rest of the family in playing the name game or using my preferred pronouns. I can’t remember where it was, but I read somewhere on this site how someone’s refusal to use trans people’s PGPs was a way of keeping the door open for their return to who they really are. I love that way of putting it, and my brother expressed something very similar to me a few months ago, after I told him I was finally done with being trans. He said that his refusal to call me Denise was never meant to be mean, but that he just couldn’t “close that door” and lock Mike away like that.

Back to December, 2012. It was a Friday. I had taken off work to do some Christmas shopping, spending the day walking through malls, picking up gifts here and there for my family. I bought myself a new blouse to wear to Christmas dinner, too. I still loved shopping for clothes and imagining myself as a pretty woman, but there was a palpable hollowness to it lately. I had given up so much for this fantasy and really had nothing to show for it. I might look ok, but so what? The original plan, I reminded myself, was that by becoming a woman I would be so free, so open to my feelings, so much more sociable and outgoing, a full member of the world. But none of this had happened. I was still the same introverted, narcissistic, self-centered jerk I’d been when I decided back in 1984 that I had to be “free,” no matter the toll on my family or my relationship with them. After my last stop, late that afternoon, I got in my car and switched on the radio for the first time that day. There had been a shooting that morning in Newtown, Connecticut, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty children shot to death. All between six and seven years old. I was completely shattered. I have never cried so hard before or since. I was crying at work, crying at home, crying on and off for days. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. All the stupid drama of my life reared up to mock me. Here was real tragedy, real pain. A few months later, on Easter Sunday of 2013, shortly after my 50th birthday, I did something I hadn’t done since my teens: I went to church.

I didn’t know what to expect, and it still had to be on my own terms, as Denise, but I had been feeling so empty and generally disgusted with myself that I was willing to give it a try. I actually googled ‘most liberal denominations.’ Episcopalian popped up high on the list. Ok, I thought, I’ll try that one. So, that Sunday morning, I put on a nice dress and set out for an Episcopal church about half an hour from me. I had the nervousness of a newcomer and found the heavily liturgical service a little complicated. We had been Methodists when I was a kid and this English-flavored Catholic stuff was kind of odd to me. But everyone was friendly and I found myself enjoying it. My family was quite surprised, and probably a little skeptical, when I told them I’d found a church. My extremely conservative mother said something to the effect that it wouldn’t have been her first choice as a church, but it was better than nothing, and she was glad I was trying it. After the Easter service I resisted the urge to retreat back into my closed little world, forcing myself to stay for coffee hour. As I was leaving, a woman turned to me and said, “Happy Easter!” She was clearly older than I, but I liked her striking green eyes and warm smile. I replied in kind and left, looking forward to the following Sunday.

This woman and I became fast friends. She was twice widowed, had a son and daughter about my age, and lived on a sprawling farm. On Sundays after church she began inviting me over for tea. She told me all about herself, how she had taught English and drama at the local high school for 33 years, how her husbands had died, the first from a brain tumor when he was 38, the second from esophageal cancer in 2010. I reciprocated as much as I dared, telling her about my machining career, my attempts at writing, how the Newtown tragedy had led me back to church after a long span of agnosticism. I began feeling guilty about withholding “the big secret” from her; she had told me so much about herself. She had directed 71 high-school plays during her career as a teacher and still loved theater. Well, I thought, maybe someone from this kind of background will understand someone like me. So I told her, one of only a handful of people outside my family I’ve come out to over the years. Her reaction amazed me. She was so kind about it, so completely accepting.

How it all happened I don’t know. I think we were both incredibly lonely when we met. We had our church friends, but also some difficult losses and sacrifices in our lives. But however it was, we became intimate with each other, soon after which she asked me to move in with her at the farm. My parents were thrilled by this. They had no idea then that we were more than friends. I had met an older woman at church who needed help around her farm. We had become great friends, we could talk about anything (I told them I’d come out to her and that she’d accepted it with no problem), and I was tired of living alone. So, I think the biggest influence of all for me, in my return to living as Mike, was this strange, completely unexpected relationship with a woman 23 years my senior, a year older, in fact, than my mother. I had never been intimate with a woman, had never really thought I could be, my lesbian fantasies notwithstanding. I wasn’t very good in bed, to be sure, but it was wonderful for me to open myself that way, to be naked with her, to fumble our way through lovemaking. I was able to be the man in a relationship after all, even if at this point it was only behind closed doors.

I lived with her for almost two years before she got sick last September. The doctors suspected meningitis and possibly a kidney infection, but it took a long time to treat. She had to spend a couple of nerve wracking weeks in the hospital, and during this time her son and daughter shocked me by asking me to move out. The daughter knew I was trans (her mother had told her early on), but not the son, though he surely knows now. She (the daughter) said it had nothing to do with that, however; they had simply never been comfortable with the whole arrangement. There were too many stories in the news, she told me, about seniors falling victim to con artists. I bristled at this. I may have been a con artist of sorts, but I’d only been conning myself about being a woman. I would never try to take advantage of someone. But I had little ground to stand on. It wasn’t my house, and the woman whose house it was still lay recovering in the hospital. To be honest, we both knew our relationship couldn’t last forever, and we certainly had our share of arguments. So, the idea of my moving out had been on the table even before it was hastened by her son and daughter. It was a painful end to an incredible time in my life. I still love this woman and we call and write each other often. She was the first person I ever felt comfortable enough with to share the idea that maybe I didn’t need this trans business anymore. Just having someone to talk to about this is something I will always cherish. She did nothing less than change my life, just by being who she was, in the right place at the right time. My dabblings in organized religion never took hold, but who am I to say there is no God, one who doesn’t work in mysterious ways?

To January of this year. As I mentioned in my first post here a few weeks ago, I had been terribly depressed. I could no longer see my beloved friend. I had just gone through another Thanksgiving and Christmas, welcomed as Denise by my family but just not feeling it. And I was frankly exhausted by all of this transgender crap. It had been a kind of parallel career for me and I had finally realized–and accepted–that I didn’t need it anymore. I was ready to retire.

I’m a machinist at a fairly large auto parts plant (about 220 hourly employees), where I run something called a rotary transfer machine. This is truly a work of art, performing eleven different machining operations on the parts it makes (high lift followers for engine valve trains) and producing a finished part every six seconds, machined to tolerances in the microns. In addition to running this amazing machine, I work with a great bunch of guys. They’re all guys in my department; I had been the only “woman.” In other words, I really like my job. So it was with great trepidation that I decided to risk losing it. I approached our Human Resources department and scheduled a meeting with them and my supervisor, a friendly enough but somewhat imposing former Marine. The small meeting took place, with our two HR women and my boss, and all three were completely supportive. A bigger meeting was scheduled, this time including 20 department heads, at which I stood up and simply told the truth: I had lived and worked for 31 years as a woman, but in fact I had been born male. And the reason I’m telling all of you this is because I’ve decided to go back to living as a man. An hour later, at our individual shop floor meetings, these supervisors passed the news along to their respective teams. Within 24 hours the news was plant-wide. As I indicated in my initial post, people were mildly blown away. For days afterward I was getting compliments on my courage, and even a couple of hugs. Within a week I had new uniforms with ‘Mike’ on the shirts instead of ‘Denise.’ I’m still on the payroll in my current name, but everyone has been great about calling me Mike. I do get the occasional female reference but I don’t let it bother me. What I had worried about the most, people giving me trouble about locker rooms, never happened. No one has scratched FAG into my locker in the men’s room, or done anything at all to intimidate me. And on the women’s side of things, no one has confronted me about having used their locker room. (This had been another tipping point for me, the growing feeling during the last couple of years that I just didn’t belong in that private space.) There are some married couples who work there and I had some serious concerns about an angry husband or two approaching me. But so far, so good. There has been nothing but widespread respect from my coworkers. Just seeing this kindness and forgiveness and support–not only from them but from my friends and family–has been inspiring.

It hasn’t all been easy. Even with my short haircut and the beard that’s coming back, somehow, after years of yanking it out, and wearing chest binders ordered from an FtM site (irony of ironies!), I still get “Ma’am” sometimes from strangers. At this point I think I passed better as a woman than I do now as a man, except that “pass” isn’t the right term anymore, because I actually am a man. I’m short, as I’ve said, and rather small-framed. My face and body are still soft from decades of estrogen. My breasts don’t seem to be shrinking very much and at this point (almost eight months after stopping the meds), I don’t think they will. Whether or not to have them removed is an open question. Maybe I should get rid of them, as a last symbolic severing of Denise from my life. Or, maybe I’ve wasted enough time and energy worrying about my appearance. Maybe I’ll even ditch the binders but I don’t have the guts for that right now. I think most strangers read me as a transitioning FtM, which in some ways I am. Not that I was ever female, but currently my body is a lot more feminine than masculine. To say the least, it’s an awkward time for me. In public I feel just as self-conscious as I did during my early days as Denise, and to be honest this part of my “retirement” (the self-consciousness) has been a struggle for me. But I’m working on it. I had my testosterone tested a few months ago and it is coming back, though whether or not it will get back up to normal levels for a man in his early fifties is another open question. Just for my bone health, I don’t want to be stuck in a lingering hormonal vacuum, with neither enough estrogen or testosterone in my system. So T supplements are a possibility, though I hope to avoid them. The good news, despite these physical and social concerns, is that I feel a deep peace in returning to life as Mike, and such deep gratitude for this second chance to be a real person, flaws and all.

I will close now (another miracle!) with a message for other trans folks out there who may be done with it but can’t find the courage to admit it. There is great power in opening yourself to others, even in revealing things you may not be proud of. If you need to save face, then chalk up your trans life as a bold experiment that played itself out. If you do acknowledge it as a mistake, remember that everyone makes mistakes, and the first step toward redemption after any mistake is to be honest about it. Try saying this out loud: “I’m getting tired of this, it isn’t doing me any good, I don’t need to do it any more.” It’s not such a terrible thing to admit, certainly not as bad as struggling year after year to be someone you’re not. I swore to everyone around me that living as a woman, to the extent I could, would make me happy. I argued my case with great conviction and skill. But I was still wrong. This is a damned hard road, and you don’t have to take it. If you’ve already started on it, no matter how far you’ve gone, there is always a way back home. Just keep following the signs that say Honesty.

Thank you for letting me post this, Gallus. Writing it has been a great experience for me.




[title and images added by me- GM] 

99 Responses to “Living Life ‘as a Woman’ was like a career. Now I’m Retiring.”

  1. Emily Says:

    Mike, I am in tears. Your honesty, humility and integrity are so well-honed by the life you’ve lived. What you’ve done by writing this post is turn the light on in the dark room that is trans ideology. Who knows how many eyes you will open through this post? There was so much insight in your post, but I really appreciated you mentioning that your youngest brother’s continued use of your masculine pronouns kept the door open for you. How important it is that at least someone holds steadfastly to the truth! God bless you for your courage in sharing this through the talent you have for writing. Please don’t stop sharing your story. Thank you, Gallus, for posting this. It should be shouted from the rooftops!

  2. This is such an important and wonderfully honest and authentic account. Thank you, Mike, for sharing your truth and your experiences. All the best to you in your future.

  3. SisterWomanXX Says:

    The planet needs more men like Mike.

  4. Mary Sunshine Says:

    That was a good read. Thank you, Gallus and Mike.

  5. Elle Says:

    Thanks for this, Mike. Have you considered submitting this to newspapers that accept long-form articles, such as the East Bay Express or Denver’s Westword? You are a role model, and yours is a story that needs to be shared.

  6. Medi Says:

    I must admit, the story bored me, I had to skim through it. The more I read about men’s sexual fantasies through the whole M to trans thing, the stranger it gets. I don’t really believe you were able to pass as a woman, I think this is another fantasy male to trans have. Most women would not confront you, they’d just leave you alone. So that is the part I don’t believe. 1963, it was the very beginnings of the modern feminist movement. Women who tried to be machinists got beat up and badly terrorized by males in the world place, did you ever become a women’s rights advocate, protest the treatment of women in the work place. Those factories were horrifying to women. Did you ever get furious over how women as a group were treated by men in society? How you could avoid this seems remarkable to me.

    I am glad you say that you were never a woman, and can never really imagine what the life of women is really all about. The whole idea of pretending to be this just amazes me. I’m a radical lesbian feminist, I don’t suffer this trans nonsense gladly. I find most things men say about themselves unbelievably repulsive. Did you step up and serve people the way women are expected to do this? I never see male to trans cleaning toilets, or doing all the shopping and cooking, somehow they fixate on patriarchally dictated female clothing— all designed for the male gaze.

    Did you really see how men oppress women? Did you learn to truly see how evil male supremacy really is? How much money did you make compared to women at the companies you worked at? Did you get outraged over the whole unequal pay structure of male supremacy? What made you angry about what men do to women?
    I really want to know those things. I’m glad you wrote this, I hope it helps upend the total delusion of male to trans aggressors and imposters, but you bore me. There is something so crazy about this life, and this is really who men are. I think male supremacy needs to end, and I hope you can work to end it.

    I found the part where you thought lesbians would not appreciate the “equipment” unbelievably offensive. Lesbians love women, we are deeply emotionally and sexually attracted to women. Male to trans utterly repulse us.

    • Marm Says:

      Hey Medi.

      I am with you, with regards to your skepticism. If Mike was born in 1963, then when he was senior in university it would have been approximately 1975. I feel doubtful about the context – Cleveland of the mid 70’s was not a terribly cosmopolitan area that a transitioning MTT – esp. one who was not even taking hormones for a year during this time – could easily blend into. At this time, transsexualism was so very rare.

      When I lived in a small university city, in the early 80’s, anyone who was identifiably gender non-conforming was routinely yelled at in public places, or clubs or bars and risked physical assault just for being. The signs of this could be extraordinarily subtle, like having hair that was “too short” or cut funny or wearing what was considered to be New wave footwear. I was a teenage girl during this time – and the level of social antagonism was brutal and terrifying. I was assaulted by strangers many times.The hipster dude types I knew then – who may or may not have been bi or gay men – were also ALWAYS hypervigilant about avoiding assaults by whatever means possible.

      This account is so long, and so full of very specific details about wardrobe, femininity and appearances.This is very common with MTT’s self accounts – which are usually heavy on the fantasy.

      I know a couple of women – both androgynous lesbians – who attempted to train in male dominated mechanical fields (one in the early/mid 80’s in Seattle, one in the late 90’s in Canada). The level of antagonism, harassment and misogyny they received from their male instructors and classmates was so intense that neither one completed their training. It would be exceptionally rare that a woman – or a person completely passing as a woman – would be accepted by their male peers, in this place, time and profession.

      Mike – would you be willing to provide Gallus with any information which corroborates your account – like photographs, Government ID, letters from the gender clinic, your union card, etc. ? Gallus, you would not have to share or publish them, but I would feel more comfortable being asked to accept this account with reasonable verification.

      I feel like there are a bunch of red flags in this account that I am not comfortable with.

      • Medi Says:

        Thanks Marm, very good suggestions about fact checking this guy. I too was living in a midwestern city and also a small college town back in the 70s. I got harassed continuously by boys, because I had short hair, I refused to wear make up, and I did not want anything to do with boys romantically. I took metal working classes, woodworking, small engine repair, and was the ONLY girl in all of those classes. I was attacked, my project sabotaged, and I was screamed at in women’s rooms because I did not look like a girl. “Are you a boy or a girl?” was a question I was often harassed with. So how could a man work in a creepy macho field like Mike does manage to do that? So there is something that is not adding up here. Feminism was out there even in small American towns back then. I was born in the 50s, so there was even more oppression brutally directed at all butch girls back then.

        People still call me Sir, it’s mixed, with people from very gender stereotypical cultures thinking I’m a man, and women from countries where women wear pants and are aggressive totally know I’m a woman.

        The whole trans thing was rare to non-existent back in the day. I would be very very suspicious of this article by Mike, don’t really believe most of it. Don’t believe any man ever “passes” this is all part of the sexual thrill and delusions these guys live in, their “belief” that they are getting away with something forbidden–like the peeping toms that they are.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        No, your math is off! If Mike was born in 1963, then he would have been a senior at university during the 1984-1985 school year, not in 1975 at age 12! Most people are 21-22 during senior year of college.

      • thisismeandonlyme Says:

        If one was born in ’63, that person would be a senior in a university approximately ’84. There was plenty going on in the Midwest cities and they all had very cosmopolitan pockets, if one simply looked. I know, because I lived in one and knew people in other Midwestern cities. I am not saying any of this account is true or untrue, but there were people with alternative lifestyles as well as women in all sort of professions that were traditionally male including engineering and factory work. I knew them and by 1984 a bunch of women were already retired from the factories with nice pensions. It was considered desirable work. Women machinists – that was rare, but then again and after all, this was a guy.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        I agree. This was a guy and everyone knew he was male.

      • petuniacat00 Says:

        Wee timeline note: I was born in ’62. University: 1980. Started high school in the mid 70s.

      • petuniacat00 Says:

        Gallus, you can bin my ‘timeline’ comment. I hadn’t seen lovetruthcorage’s when I wrote it.

  7. Medi Says:

    I have another few questions for you Mike. How hard are you working at eliminating male delusions about women? The whole passing thing I find suspect. Did women ever confront you in our spaces? Women fought for the right to wear pants in the work place, because we don’t like getting sexually harassed, and it was huge. I don’t really see men doing this, fighting for the right to wear dresses, or make up or whatever….. maybe that would make men less creepy in trying to make believe that they ARE US, that is the ultimate male colonizing act.

    Although gay men have done the drag womanface show since forever, white people doing blackface, appropriation of native people’s culture. It all seem basically central to male supremacy. What are your thought of the role radical feminism plays in destroying gender stereotypes in the first place? Why are male to trans so obsessed with acting out stereotypes? Why is male sexuality so creepy at best, violent and colonizing at worst?

    • lovetruthcourage Says:

      The questions in the 2nd paragraph are excellent and I wonder about those things too. It amazes me that more people don’t see the obvious parallel between minstrel shows and drag. People lampoon Rachel Dolezal for playing black, yet praise Jenner as a stunning and brave woman. Both equally have chromosomes that tell a different story. Why the double standard?

      • LC Says:

        Actually, far as I’m aware, there might not be any way to determine Rachael Dolezal’s racial group through DNA. Race is ambiguous at a genetic level. Sex, not so much. So… yes, exactly, why the double standard?

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        Race / color is a social construct, and perception of it is dependent on which genes express themselves in multiracial (for lack of a better term) individuals. Ethnicity / general world region of ancestry is not quite as subjective. If someone says their grandparents immigrated from Poland (for example), and they have genetic markers for that region, and hundreds of years of family records of living in Poland (even when Poland was off the map politically for 100 yrs, the region still existed!) and a history of marrying Poles, than it is what it is. Different testing services sometimes label things differently, semantic issues.

        One can take a genetic ancestry test and see if any % comes from a region where people are considered to be “black.” In the USA, we generally consider people from sub-Saharan Africa to be “black,” provided they aren’t descendants of white colonists or anything like that. If Dolezal’s tests do not come up with any ancestry anywhere near Africa, let alone sub-Saharan Africa, then she is not considered “black” using a common American definition.

        Dolezal’s parents came out and said on national TV that they were European descendants and they look white, for what that is worth (doesn’t always tell the whole story, I know.) Rachel publicly claimed a different father completely, one obviously with African ancestry. Her birth certificate vindicated the white man claiming to be her dad. Sure, it could be wrong, but Dolezal backed way off her claim about that other (black) man being her dad. So, it does appear that she lied. Journalists and fact-checkers also got involved and said that she lied. I saw an interview with her, and she seemed to understand that she got caught in a lie.

        We agree 100% about the double standard issue.

  8. Lis Brook Says:

    Thank you for your writing. I hope the path is easier for you from now on.

  9. Can’t find “Case Western Reserve Gender Identity Clinic” online – from , there’s only this:

    “Case Western Reserve University is proud of the rich history of LGBT activism on campus. The benefits of the hard work and determination of students, faculty and staff of long ago are still felt today as new leaders in each of these groups continue to create an awareness of the issues our community faces.

    From 1987, when the Lesbian/Gay Student Union was first formed, to the opening of the LGBT Center in 2010, the campus’s history is full of rich stories of courage and community.

    Unless otherwise noted, all articles in this section were originally printed in The Observer, the Student Newspaper of Case Western Reserve University.”

    I think the opening of a gender identity clinic relatively early (back in 80s or 90s) would get a mention, wouldn’t it? Also, this person says:

    “I began writing short stories and wrote a bad, semi-autobiographical novel, _Diary of a Tomboy_, in which an MtT factory worker falls for a female coworker.”

    As well as:

    “I decided in 2006 to write another novel, this time from the perspective of a lonely male park ranger.”

    I hate to be completely cynical (no I kind of like being completely cynical), but I feel like this person is just trying to find out whether the trans narrative they’ve created, er, “passes” well enough, to actually be published as a legitimate trans narrative. No, I don’t think it does. Maybe this person is trans. Or maybe not. I think the whole thing is just creative fiction, possibly layered over actual autogynephilia. But pure fantasy of factories and “rust belt” America LOL hilarious. Oh sorry I did say I was completely cynical. The scenes set in a factory, for that time period, as others have questioned – no. Oh no. Oh hell to the no. Just no.

    • GallusMag Says:

      There most certainly was a Case Western University Gender Identity Clinic active during the time period described. There are a million citations for it immediately brought up on google. You are the worst researcher ever. Astonishing.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Despite Benjamin’s efforts to find surgeons in the United States for his MTF patients, most were forced to travel to other countries for gender-affirming surgery through the
        mid 1960s. However, within months of the publication of Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon in 1966, the Johns Hopkins University opened the first gender identity clinic
        in the US to diagnose and treat transsexual individuals and to conduct research related to transsexuality. Similar programs were soon established at the University of Minnesota,
        Stanford University, the University of Oregon, and Case Western University, and within ten years, more than forty university-affiliated gender clinics existed throughout the
        United States (Bullough & Bullough, 1998; Denny, 2006; Stryker, 2008).

        Looks like the GID clinic at Case Western was headed by Leslie M. Lothstein, a forensic psychiatrist (now of Yale University)

        “My initial involvement with transsexual research began quite fortuitously. By chance a colleague, Dr. Stephen Levine, asked if I would evaluate psychologically an aging heterosexual man who wanted to change his sex.” (Lothstein, 1983, pp. 86-87).

        Lothstein and Levine started a study group, and, subsequently, the Case Western Reserve Gender Identity Clinic was formed.”

        “The severity and intensity of some patients? psychopathology and acting out were . . . revealed within the group, for example, two members brought loaded guns into the group (One member had to be forcibly restrained from using it!); auto- and mutual masturbation; exposure of breasts; an attempted kidnapping; several near-violent confrontations among group members which carried over outside the group (in which patients threatened each other physically and one patient drew a knife); innumerable sexual overtures to the therapists; patients bringing in pets (two dogs and a menagerie of land crabs); serious psychosomatic symptoms (including ulcerative, arthritic, hyperventilative, and cardiac distress). (Lothstein, 1979, p. 73.)”

      • I’m not usually the worst researcher ever – but in this case, I certainly was. Still, the more I think about it – in this day and age – the whole thing is just too literary and unsourced, coming from someone who says they’ve written two novels and short stories.

  10. Marm Says:

    lovethroughcourage: Oops – yes, you are absolutely correct – my math was stupidly off by 10 years. Even so – in the early/mid 80’s – it was a rare day that I wasn’t verbally assaulted on the street by some stranger, for their perceived infraction for not having an “acceptable” appearance.

    Before I had my hair cut very short/dyed(age 15) I was screamed at and assaulted by boys/men for having visible breasts or some (any) other visibly female physical attribute(age 11 on). I don’t know any girls/women who have not experienced this, even if it was a male stranger yelling at them about how they were unattractive, too fat, too thin, too tall, too pale, too flat – too much or not enough. After my hair was cut then strangers screamed at me about that. I was also followed, received threatening/obscene anonymous phone calls and notes, and had strangers pounding on my ground floor window in the middle of the night. I find it hard to believe that even a perfectly passing MTT would not mention they also received this type of sex based aggression/violence, particularly in a smaller city.

    • Hedda Gabler Says:

      To be honest, I am more than a little bit sceptical about Mike’s claims of perfectly passing. It sounds to me more like that he was perceived as a harmless weirdo guy who was somewhat isolated, but mostly tolerated. Which if you are living a rather sheltered life in a relatively small community as he seems to, isn’t necessarily attracting as much harassment as trans activists like to make out.

      Based on my own adventures in gender non-conformity and the experiences of trans people of various stripes I know, I would say that overt displays of transphobia towards people who are not a massive car-crash is probably a lot less common than everyday misogyny, so the surprising lack of any negative experience that would be familiar to a woman in his narrative hints strongly towards the conclusion that his belief that he ever was perceived as a woman to a significant degree may be more than a little bit fanciful.

      What is quite real though is the feeling of loneliness and isolation that can result from being a non-passing trans person who isn’t properly socialised in their “target” gender. And I think this is what really got to Mike in the end. Together with getting religion and having what seemed the first meaningful relationship with a woman other than his mum.

      • MikefromOhio Says:

        Ok, again, I never said I passed “perfectly,” just adequately for the kinds of jobs I took. Also, I’m not sure how you got the perception from my post that I was perceived as some harmless weirdo guy who lived a sheltered life in a small town. I live in a suburb of Cleveland and work in a plant with 220 employees. Others here have described industrial settings as “creepy macho” environments. “Macho,” maybe, depending on the industry. And “creepy,” okay, let’s say they’re creepy, too. Do you really think that if these macho creepy guys were onto the fact that I was trans, they would just let it slide? I’ve worked over the years with a lot of tough guys–major gun nuts, hunters, Harley-Davidson riders, ex convicts with jailhouse tats on their arms–some definite homophobic and transphobic types. And these guys did occasionally ask me out. I’m done arguing about “passing.”

        What I like about your comment is the part about not being properly socialised in my “target” gender. This did, among other things, eventually get to me. I never quite “got” organized religion (I lean more toward Buddhism than anything else, which is something I didn’t talk about in the post because it was just getting too damned long). But in trying to “get religion” I did meet a wonderful woman.

        Thanks for commenting. I would like to hear more from you.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        I am sorry to say that, Mike, but I have to admit that I do have real problems with believing your account in its entirety, especially now that you have portrayed your environment as actively homophobic and transphobic.

        “Non-op trans woman lives for three decades in stealth mode in a dangerous macho-environment full of homophobia and transphobia , somehow is perceived as “one of the boys”, doesn’t really interact with women and suddenly decides that it was all wrong and he was a man all along once he meets a woman at church, comes out as reformed trans (in an environment that is allegedly transphobic and homophobic) and all is suddenly a-ok”?

        I really don’t know, it’s just all too convenient a narrative tailor-made to portray yourself simultaneously as a “trans success” on one hand and as a repentant sinner who appeals to people rejecting the trans narrative.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        I am confused about this business with passing perfectly versus passing adequately. What in the heck does any of that mean, Mike?! Either you pass completely or you don’t pass at all. Either you are a man or a woman. Either you were perceived as one, or the other. A person perceived as a feminine man is not perceived as a “woman” or “adequately passing.” A butch woman is not perceived as a “man” or “adequately passing.” Passing: you do or you don’t. Women are women, whether GNC or more conventional looking. Likewise, men.

      • MikefromOhio Says:

        Thanks for another thoughtful comment, Hedda. I never said that the macho, homo/transphobic environment that I worked in early in my career was the same one I came out in today. The point I was making in mentioning the tough guys I’ve worked with “over the years” was directed at your doubts about my passing adequately. Things have gotten much better now than they were in the old days. Companies don’t want to be sued for sexual harassment of any kind, and large companies in particular will fire anyone who is proven to have harassed someone. I don’t know about the UK, but it is widespread now in the US to see the phrase “zero tolerance” on the forms one must sign in getting hired somewhere. Toward the end of my post I even said–in the present tense–that I work with a great bunch of guys (in the context of wanting to keep my job). Don’t know if you pay much attention to our country’s presidential campaigns going on this year (I know I try not to :-)), but a “trans woman” actually spoke at this year’s Democratic National Convention. This whole pro-trans wave, maybe the result of overly extended liberalism, is completely absurd. But in my admittedly unusual case, I realized that I could ride that wave myself–except backwards.

        At that first small meeting, before I could finish telling her that I wanted to go back to living as a man, and would like to do it at this company, one of the HR women piped up and told me that even though Congress hasn’t acted on it yet nationally, [company name] is staying ahead of the curve, and absolutely respects its employees’ gender identification and expression. I don’t know where some commentators here are getting their notions of _modern_ factories, but the same workplace discrimination policies that may have begun in white-collar fields have now largely been adopted by blue-collar industries. Again, no company wants to get sued, so things have gotten better.

        “Repentant” is a good word for what I feel now, but I never had any real “trans success” except in the shallowest of ways, something I fully acknowledged in my post (e.g., “I might look ok, but so what…”).

        If you can’t believe my account in its entirety, you seem to be in good company. I’m realizing that many of the readers here are struggling to fit me into their preconceived ideas about MtTs. The immediate knee-jerk reaction of trying to trip me up on timelines, being “unable” to find a gender identity clinic associated with CWRU, all of the adamant assertions that no MtT can pass anywhere at any time, that several people wrote off my account as boring and could only skim it, that some found it too literary or composed to be authentic, and several people actually believing me _less_ now that I’ve given _more_ detail, are all very telling.

        “…it’s all just too convenient a narrative tailor-made…”

        And yet it’s true!

        I appreciate the care you put into your comments, Hedda, as well as your fine writing. Thank you.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        @lovetruthcourage: I have been thinking about Mike’s concept of low-level passing and I think it can make sense under certain conditions, despite it appearing to me to be a bit odd at the beginning, especially if you are used to fa world of strong social interactions.

        In a way I have a bit of a shared experience with Mike in this regard, albeit with different starting conditions, a different outlook and a radically different outcome. When I was at university in the late 80s, early 90s studying for a degree in computer science (at the time a mostly male dominated) and being of a build not dissimilar to Mike, i.e. a build that would be not out of order in a woman or a man and fairly androgynous features it was essentially random whether people who encountered me for the first time would initially read me as male or female and it was not alway easy for me to tell how they read me. I remember distinctively how you always got some people who made a double take at the door of the toilets in the canteen building when they saw me through the open door of the (sex appropriate for me) toilets washing my hands.

        Small changes in my look as far as hair, presence or lack of yet al little bit of jewellery, baggy unisex or more fitted clothing would skew the results considerably and I quite often before they knew my name found it hard to tell whether they actually read me as female or male. It took me a while to notice that a certain caginess on meeting me tended to mean that they were just not quite sure where to put me. In the end it seemed in many cases really just be my name that ended up putting me in the “correct” gender box that would match my actual sex so to speak.

        So I suppose if you don’t send any strong sexual signals either way, have a sufficiently androgynous baseline appearance you strategically nudge in the right direction and do this in a predominantly male environment with rather low levels of social interaction and little awareness of trans matters you may be able to not necessarily pass in the deeper sense people have in mind, but may well end up getting away with your gender-identity unchallenged, even if it not really matches your sex. The key there is a fairly uncritical environment, a certain amount of natural androgyny, being a bit of a loner who doesn’t really interact a lot with people on a truly personal level and a fair amount pf confidence that convinces you that not being challenged does indeed mean that you truly pass for what you perceive your gender-identity.

        One of my important take aways of that time for my future was that most people do not have a particularly easy time relating to people who appear to be too eerily androgynous.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        Lack of challenging others on their gender presentation is not the same as believing a person is truly the opposite sex. Yes, some people are more androgynous than others, but they are still just one sex or the other (rare intersex conditions aside.) There is no such thing as “low level passing.” Either people believe you are the opposite sex — or they don’t. If they don’t know where to place you initially, this does not change anything. If you do not conform to stereotypes, that is fine, but it does not equate with “low level passing.” To me “low level passing” is similar to being just a little bit pregnant.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        @MikeFromOhio: I do very much appreciate that you are willing and able to respond to my skepticism in a constructive and cordial manner. Thank you for that. You do make some valid points in your answer and it is certainly true that me not being in your skin, certainly predisposed to think in a way that seems very different from yours and not familiar with the environment you lived your life only leaves me with a very limited way to map your experiences to something that I feel I can truly understand. In the comment above (in answer to lovetruthcourage) I made an attempt to do so. Sorry for the many typos in it.

        I found it quite interesting and somewhat ironic in a way how the current high profile of the trans issue ended up allowing yourself to extract yourself from the trap of a shallow transition you had found yourself in.

        One can only hope that we will ultimately be able to have a truly open discussion about biological sex and socially constructed gender that doesn’t end up forcing people into pretending to be what they aren’t in return for a glimmer of hope that they can escape from the expectations attached to their sex in a meaningful way that doesn’t leave them stranded utterly alone in the world.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        “One can only hope that we will ultimately be able to have a truly open discussion about biological sex and socially constructed gender that doesn’t end up forcing people into pretending to be what they aren’t in return for a glimmer of hope that they can escape from the expectations attached to their sex in a meaningful way that doesn’t leave them stranded utterly alone in the world.”

        Yes, this is EXACTLY the discussion our society needs to have! Trans is not a good substitute for this discussion.

      • MikefromOhio Says:

        @Hedda Gabler: When you described your gender non-conformity as “adventures” you weren’t kidding! I enjoyed hearing more about them and how people reacted to you. What a far, far healthier way that is to explore and experiment with a comfortable way to live, instead of just diving whole-hog into the full-blown trans life. I don’t know how calculated the adjustments were in your presentation (e.g., changing jewelry or the bagginess of your clothes), that is, whether you _wanted_ to skew people’s views of you, or if it’s just something you noticed after long experience. But either way I found it interesting.

        As for your conclusion about people having a difficult time relating to those who are too “eerily androgynous,” I’m experiencing some of that now when I interact with strangers. In your case it wasn’t the result of trying (and ultimately failing) a hormonally-assisted gender transition, but in my case it was. I get double-takes all the time now and I really have to force myself to walk into a grocery store, etc. I don’t like it and it’s been a struggle. The physical characteristics I used to be so grateful for because they helped me pass as a “woman” (being short and small-framed, looking like my mother, the effectiveness of the hormones) are now coming back to haunt me. I don’t mean to sound so dire about it–and I’m definitely NOT soliciting any sympathy here–but it’s possible that many strangers I encounter from here on out will have trouble reading me as either male or female. But despite all this awkwardness, I’m glad I decided to come back to being Mike. My current self-consciousness is a small price to pay for leaving my sad delusion of being “Denise.”

        Fascinating stuff–androgyny. Even when one is driving and has only the briefest moment to see an oncoming driver’s face–and no view at all of his or her body–the first thing one perceives, or at least the first thing I perceive, is gender. In one out of a hundred drivers who whoosh past you, you hesitate for a second, not sure what mental “stamp” to put on them. And for me, if I just absolutely can’t decide what the hell that driver who just passed me was–a man or a woman–it nags at me a little. I feel, perhaps, some of what those people feel who give me the double-takes in the grocery store.

        This makes me think too of Jeanette Winterson’s beautiful novel, _Written on the Body_, in which the gender of the narrator is never revealed. In that case, while reading it, I didn’t find the omission of gender “eerie” at all; it just made the novel more captivating. Again, fascinating stuff.

      • LC Says:

        Mike- I once met a very androgynous woman myself, and interacting with her was uncomfortable for exactly that reason. No one wants to be rude and “get the pronouns wrong”, and I believe now that there is a basic human need to categorize by sex. I know almost instinctively(it’s not instinctive, but based on experience, I suspect) that strange females are ‘safer’ to be around than males, and so my reaction to them adjusts accordingly. There are things I might say, jokes I’d make to a woman that I wouldn’t to a man, if I knew nothing about either one. I think it’s deeper than human sexuality, a desire for self-preservation- maybe more so for women than men, for obvious reasons.

        I really do sympathize with trans individuals who are trying, but can’t quite make that social shift to be accepted, along with those like you going back whose bodies have been altered by hormones. That uncertainty that comes from androgynous people, or from trans people when you know their real sex- I doubt that every really goes away, for anyone. You can’t change a fear/survival reaction(without serious brainwashing), and I’d imagine that leaves many such individuals far more lonely than they anticipated. If it was merely prejudice, it would fade across society over time, and with education… but biological sex is real, and the activists will never convince a majority that it isn’t.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        @lovetruthcourage: I think when discussing passing you always have to consider the perspective. From Mike’s perspective, the perspective of the male object of observation, his concept of passing essentially would’ve meant that he inferred from not being challenged by his observers (in a way he would notice) that people believed him to be truly female unless he knew that they knew otherwise. Ultimately for him passing is his perception of absence of evidence contrary to it.

        From the perspective of the female observer it obviously looks very different. You infer from an assumed ability to correctly “spot all males” who cross your path that it is impossible to pass. However, how would you know if somebody you observed did actually pass as female while born male? You obviously can only register the failed attempts at passing. A hypothetical passable transgender person (assuming for a moment this person actually could exist) would not be noticeable to you, at least under the assumption that it is not possible for you to scrutinise them to an intimate degree.

        Incidentally, I am quite certain I spotted a transwoman while sitting in a pub in small town England yesterday. I would assume that they assumed that they passed. However, it could well be that I only clocked them because I overheard two women next table talking about a transgendered friend and as such I was somewhat primed to encounter a transgendered person in an environment where I usually wouldn’t particularly expect to see one.

        You could now have three different viewpoints. The person did pass, because nobody said anything. The person didn’t pass, because there was one observer (i.e. me) who noticed. And in fact I also could be wrong and the person wasn’t really trans and I just expected somebody transgender to turn up after overhearing the conversation and latched onto the best “hit”.

        It’s a bit ironic really that the heightened degree of trans awareness may have made it harder for people to pass in the sense you understand it, but may have made it somewhat easier in the sense Mike seems to understand it.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        Thanks, Hedda, but that wasn’t my point.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        @lovetruthcourage: Fair enough. Sorry to have gone off on a tangent then. Would it be accurate to think that your idea of “passing” is that of a binary attribute that is either true or false and true only if nobody (in the absence of previous, external knowledge) ever even so much as suspects that the person may have been born as the opposite sex from what their appearance would superficially suggest? By that definition passing would of course be pretty much impossible, low level passing has no real meaning and Mike almost certainly didn’t pass.

    • tinasweet Says:

      I grew up in Utah in the 80s and have never had one single negative experience with a man in my life, or had the experience of strangers yelling at me, despite at various times having short hair or being overweight/too thin, nor have I heard such stories from my female friends. For this reason I’ve always tended to feel that women on the internet are exaggerating such claims, but I suppose it might simply be more of a cultural thing and depend on where you live. Regardless this story didn’t seem implausible to me.

      • GallusMag Says:

        “I grew up in Utah in the 80s and have never had one single negative experience with a man in my life”


      • Linx Says:

        I grew up in Utah in the 70’s and early 80’s, and though wearing make up,and having a very feminine face, got tons of shit about my short hair, penchant for flannel shirts and jeans, and felt I couldn’t take a walk around my small city without constant comments on my clothes, my refusal to constantly have an inane smile on my face, and my unwomanly directness. Oddly, I was always treated with respect by the devout Mormon men but the blue collar and college boys were ruthless.

  11. Oneofthehated Says:

    (Assuming your story is legit) Would/do you have any advice for someone who might feel as you did earlier in life?

    Could you have made different or better decisions?

    If so, what could you have done? How could you have done it? And why didn’t you at the time?

    I hope you find peace and even some happiness now you’ve chosen to live authentically.

  12. atranswidow Says:

    Mike, I have to admit that on first reading there seemed to be something a bit ”off’ about your account that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s in the way that your fantasy and story writing life compete with your actual life and how you believe that others react to you and you to them.

    One thing that is refreshing about your account is the lack of any trans activism or rhetoric. You put it like this…..”I never felt that I was a woman trapped in a man’s body, but I was unstoppably fascinated by the idea of becoming a woman.” Have you any idea why this idea is ”unstoppable”?

    The reason I’m asking is that just at about the same time you were seeing your therapist my then husband-to-be was battling similar thoughts. We had met in our first year at uni and he told me that he sometimes dressed in women’s clothing but wanted to stop. He went to see a doctor and was basically offered reparitive therapy. He was so upset by this prospect that he said he would quit by himself. I believed him, but of course he couldn’t stop.

    You start off your narrative by declaring your closeness to your mother and your relationship with her dominates a lot of your account. I’m not sure if ”most boys” who end up declaring themselves transgender are necessary very close in the way you describe, nor is it the case that closeness to a parent of the opposite sex would always be a factor. When I met my ex he had a complicated relationship with his parents. They were very controlling, critical and undemonstrative. Visiting them was always an ordeal. When I had my children my mother-in-law told me that she hadn’t been allowed to hug and kiss her children. Sad. It troubles me that your mother used you as a sounding board for her relationship with your father.

    You query as to whether your desire to pass to the extent that men make passes at you and your fantasy of serving your ”husband” a martini on his return home from work are indicative of homosexuality. These are classic autogynophilic fantasies. Have you read Michael Bailey’s ”The Man Who Would Be Queen”?

    To some extent Medi’s disbelief at your experience working as a ”tomboy” in a very male dominated field are valid but I don’t think that you are lying about how you experienced your relationship with your colleagues. I know that my ex didn’t get body language. After he had ”come out” and he was still at home he went through a long morphing, much as in the way Bruce Jenner did. As a family we belonged to a large organised social group. He would tell me that every one was OK with what he was doing. At one of the last occasions that we all attended an event together with this group I took the opportunity to sit aside in a place where I could see everyone. As he walked through the crowd it was painful to me to see people subtly shift their positions after they had seen him so that they would not make eye contact and I even saw people turn to watch him after he had passed and nudge elbows and barely control their laughter.

    Your relationship with the older lady touched me. If this sprang from a mutual respect and sharing then it is sad that it had to end.

    For your future I wish you the best. You’ve come full circle and, yes ,it does come down to HONESTY. My ex is too new into the trans cult to even contemplate turning back. It is the dishonesty of our lives together that is the source of too much pain.

    • MikefromOhio Says:

      To a transwidow,

      I am so sorry to hear about your ex and and everything he’s put you through. I hope he comes to his senses faster than I did.

      As for my fantasy being unstoppable, why that was the case is really the ultimate question, imo, and one I tried to answer, apparently not very well, in my post. Psychiatry as a whole has struggled to treat this disorder and failed miserably at it, frankly. Hence the advent of medically assisting these people in pursuing their fantasies. There was a mention somewhere on this site of Dr. Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins. He wrote an excellent, very succinct op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago. I don’t have the link, but you can easily find it. So, this whole trans craze might be literally stoppable if more physicians like McHugh just start saying NO to their patients who want transition. Sadly, things at the moment seem to be going the other way. Another difficulty in turning this trans battleship around is that so many docs and therapists have been sucked into seeing trans rights as a civil rights issue. I don’t know why the “T” was ever added to “LGB,” but it really doesn’t belong there.

      As for being gay, I absolutely could have been, but as I said in the post, I felt blocked from exploring it. I haven’t read Bailey’s book but will put it on my list. Thanks. Again, I’m sorry for what you’re going through. I wish you and your husband all the best.

  13. I found this all so totally boring & blah. I AM a woman & I AM a REAL TOMBOY. I wear men’s clothing because they’re more comfortable, not because I want to be a idiot man. & I wear dresses in the summer, also because they’re cooler & more comfortable, not because I “present” as a woman. This whole autobiography is STUPID. I wanted to be like my dad when I was a little girl but I never EVER wanted to changed my gender. Only F*d-up people do that. Get over yourself already.

    • Medi Says:

      Yeah, I like comfortable sturdy clothing. I don’t want men harassing me, and I am just your average butch dyke. Men don’t bother me very much at all, and I just hate the fake stuff het women have to put on a show with to sell their bodies to men.
      Mike, you are a terrible writer, and still living a delusion. We are women, you guys are just fake clueless out of its. Sex is a real biological status, you can’t erase it, you can’t turn yourself into a woman, at best you can be perhaps a little more plain than a drag queen. It just amazes me how little male to trans actually know about real women, they are so caught up in the whole patriarchal beauty myth, just a false oppressive world to women.

      This droning story I suppose might be of some benefit to other deluded men out there, or at least it is something that calls into question the assertions of the trans cult, which is a VERY huge threat to all women and the private lives of women, which don’t matter at all. I wonder how many women were creeped out by you as you entered their personal spaces thinking you were “passing” when actually you were a threat to those women. Men are always a threat to women, and they don’t pass.

  14. MikefromOhio Says:

    Thank you everyone for all the comments so far. Sorry I haven’t addressed anything yet, but I’ve been counting to ten.

    First, to GM, thank you for such an elegant presentation. I love the gold watch! Not that it commemorates any long career of service–might this have prompted the questions about what I’ve done for feminism?–but as a simple token of celebration, it’s perfect.

    To Medi, lovetruthcourage, et al, who were/are _real_ tomboys and who have suffered because of that gender nonconformance, all I was trying to express by using that analogy is that that’s the social niche I fell into. I had suddenly dropped out of college, I was estranged from my family, and I was going broke. I got very “lucky” in getting my ID changed and this made it easier to find jobs, the first of which was on an assembly line in a faucet factory, after which I started working my way up. I actually am a machinist. Not all MtTs, whether current or former, are hairdressers or hookers. I’m sorry if the whole tomboy thing rankled anyone, but that was my adaptation. I think I addressed that pretty well in the post, along with how I began to see it as a fading away of my inflexible, highly polarized ideas of gender.

    As for passing, I never said I was a supermodel, but in the blue-collar context in which I made a living, my presentation was adequate. If there are “transgender tropes” then perhaps this skepticism reflects an anti-trans trope: that it’s impossible for any MtT, anywhere on the globe, to pass well. Ok, whatever you need to believe.

    I’m sorry that some people were so bored by the post that they had to skim it, and also that some found it too literary to be believed. It surprises me that some of the same commenters who wished me good luck after reading my first post are now, after reading more about my life, suspicious of me. GM invited me to post more about my experience and that’s exactly what I did. I did not do it because I wanted to ingratiate myself to the readers of a radical feminist, anti-trans blog; I did it because I thought it might actually help other MtTs out there. Everything I said is absolutely true.

    GenderTrender is such a great forum and in my opinion can play a very important role in advancing a national conversation about all this trans madness–and by “advancing,” I mean getting back to reality and being honest. At its best, GT shines more light than heat on this conversation. That’s all I was trying to do, offer a little light.

    Emily, I didn’t mean to make you cry. My brother is indeed an amazing man and a tremendous blessing in our family.

    So many good comments and things I haven’t addressed yet. But, it’s time to go to work (and count to ten again).

    • GallusMag Says:

      No deep meaning behind the image selection. I’m not that clever. I thought it was cute. Visual accent for the post.

    • LC Says:

      Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but just as mine, I found your account interesting. Certainly far different and more honest than most of the MtT’s that come here to offer their sad-story tales. I don’t usually read long articles online(it hurts my eyes and they’re rarely interesting), but I did read through all of this one and found it engaging. You have a talent for writing, and it simply reminded me of the way many writers would express their life story(as far as it being ‘literary’). It’s also brave(not in a Caitlyn way) for anyone to write something open to the criticism of others, but especially a personal story.

      I don’t find it hard to believe that you could pass as a 5’4 male. The biggest give-away for most transitioners is height, and not having many close friends, I doubt most people were thinking too deeply about whether or not you really were a woman. Personally, I rarely spend much time looking at stranger’s faces, and even if I did, that wouldn’t be my first thought. Not saying that you definitely passed either- how would anyone be certain of that?- just it doesn’t seem impossible.

      There is a place for men to express their thoughts and reflections on gender, and the flaws of transgender ideology. You were given that place, and I think the story can play a part of understanding how people come to see themselves as the opposite sex… and hopefully, that they don’t have to see themselves as anything other than what they are. So thank you. 🙂

      • MikefromOhio Says:

        You’re welcome. Thank you for reading it. I was looking back through it myself and it is kinda formal, but I’ve been in “article-writing mode” lately, working on a paper with my therapist which we hope to publish in a journal (probably Archives of Sexual Behavior). And eventually I’d like to do a book-length memoir. I’m sure Medi will want an autographed copy. 🙂

  15. Medi Says:

    Most male to trans out there were macho stereotypical men–ex-military men, Olympic male athletes, police officers, helicopter pilots, they were not hairdressers, I think you are confusing sterotypical gay male jobs. Like you, they held traditional male jobs, and go advancement and privilege based on being men. Since just about everybody sees these so called “passing” male to trans as MALE, and women are very adept at spotting creepy men, basically they still continue to get male privilege based on this. They were socialized in male dominance.
    Fallon Fox, the man who lied his way into women’s mixed martial arts was a male athlete and military man, before he went all trans, and before he bashed almost to death a woman mixed martial arts athlete. There is zero feminism in this boring droning deadly dull narrative, and most of us just write off these guys as preditors, delusional or real dangers to women everywhere. Go out and talk to men Mike, and edit your work next time. I wish these male to trans guys really would get out there and do anti-rape work, and talk to men’s groups about MALE violence, rather than invading women’s spaces and lives. Men believe whatever they want to believe about “passing” since all of male life is predicated on living a lie, the lie of the oppressors and their ignorance of what the oppressed really think of them. Yeah count to ten, I’m not going to placate or praise you, I’m going to hold you accountable and expect you to confront men, that would be of social value to radical lesbian feminists. My suggestion for getting an authentic life.

  16. Medi Says:

    Oh and “Tom boy” is a slur against butch women, just for your information. We aren’t men or boys, we are girls and women who refuse to go along with male control or male rules. We don’t obey men, we are our own women. We don’t “perform” gender, we are women who actually look like what all women would look like without all the fake make-up and male defined servile mannerisms. I found your view of lesbians absolutely an atrocity, insulting, clueless and woman hating. So what else is new with men who think they are women, they are VERY male in their view of lesbians.

    • rheapdx1 Says:

      @Medi In your post/comment to and about Mike’ article and bio in same, I do agree with what you stated about those who use the trans label, as a means to usurp the space belonging to women …and in particular lesbians. Reason being is that for one, the issue of freedom of association.

      That is about common interests, goals etc….and from what yours truly and others who have distanced themselves from the collective have seen and heard..the invasion is based on so many false narratives, it is not funny. Just tragic, not humorous or life affirming. By the way, those invaders are the same ones who in the past (and in quite a few places, online and otherwise), as well as in this day still practice being exclusionary….be that on race, income, how many carnal conquests, etc. Call them on the list and one gets an inordinate amount of hate their way. Which also goes for the derision as well.

      By the way..while Mike’s post should and needs to with those who are living fulltime, (sans surgery or chemical degradation) but understand the frank limitations bet the canned fantasy and reality, it may not happen. Those who are not comfortable long term, for various reasons…with going through with this and quit are dismissed or ignored entirely. After all, no need for reality to break up a malignant fairy tale. That would mess with the lack of order of things.

    • missmatriarch Says:

      Thank you Medi. You really brought it to this guy. Your concerns and disgust high light how I was feeling while reading his account. The lesbian bit was insulting, his emphasis on his sex life and fantasies was gross, and yes, his narcissism and male fantasy of womanhood really speak for themselves. He hasn’t even apologized throughout this whole account. There is no apology for his male entitlement and delusions of passing when in women’s spaces. Even his comments here, his arrogance and entitlement come off in waves. It’s shocking. But I really shouldn’t be surprised, he had that I’m-such-a-victim tone in the whole account, even though he’s no victim to anything but his own entitlement and delusions; it’s women who are the victims of his own blind actions and disregard for their safety. He still has not answered a lot of your questions, probably because he either can’t or he’s too prideful to do so.

  17. Bob Doublin Says:

    Medi,THANK YOU very much for taking the time to write your great comments.

  18. Hedda Gabler Says:

    Mike, I am glad that you seem to have found yourself after a long and somewhat convoluted journey.

    However, while your account is certainly interesting, the ease with which you seem to have returned to your male self, the very masculine viewpoint that seems to inform pretty much everything you said in your account of your life, the career you ended up having and the allusions that you were really a “tomboy” most of the time does suggest that despite the length of time you spent as Denise your transition always remained rather shallow and that neither you yourself nor your social circle ever was deeply invested in your “woman” identity.

    In fact, it does come very much across as if neither yourself nor your surroundings ever truly believed in yourself as a woman or built relationships that would’ve required people to truly perceive you as a woman. Even assuming you did really nominally pass as a woman on a regular basis.

    Which of course would’ve made it quite natural for Denise to simply evaporate when you came out of your self professed isolation and started to interact with the community of your church and entered a meaningful relationship with people that wasn’t professional with family or based on your trans status.

    As you said yourself in your piece at some point, the whole thing does very much come across as “hedging your bets” rather than as a real commitment to an identity that would’ve been coded feminine by society. It is certainly quite unusual to be able to hedge your bets for quite as long as you did.

    People always tend to assume that transphobia is the biggest challenge that transgender people face. In reality however, it often turns out to actually be the loneliness resulting from a failure to truly socially integrate as a person of the gender you identify as.

    • MikefromOhio Says:

      Some great insights–thank you. Yes, in some major ways, my transition never worked for me. I was an introverted male, thinking that I would be more outgoing as a woman, but I ended up just being an introverted “woman.” I was confident as Denise, but only around men. I never developed any real friendships with women until I met my friend at church. The tomboy thing is, at best, a huge way of dodging my original plan of being traditionally feminine.

      As for how invested I was in becoming Denise, I would have to point out that I was willing to tear my family apart, willing to drastically change my body with hormones, willing (for a time) to pay a surgeon to mutilate my genitals, and willing to endure whatever hardships came my way, just so I could be Denise. So I think that I really was invested in it, at least early on. But as you say, there was a shallowness to it, and although I believed I could become _enough_ of a woman to actually feel like one, it never happened. But I got trapped in the whole routine of “being Denise” and didn’t know how to get out of it–or even if it was worth the risk.

      “In reality, however, [the biggest challenge trans people face] often turns out to actually be the loneliness resulting from a failure to truly socially integrate as a person of the gender you identify as.”

      This is so well said. Thank you, Hedda.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        I think it is quite amusing how our ideas of investment differ.

        Your definition is like slamming a huge wad of cash on the table to “establish your gender identity” no matter what the cost, whereas my idea is more like a steady stream of social micro-transactions you make in order to establish your identity in other people’s minds in a way that hopefully makes them treat you in the way you prefer to be treated.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        How can a man ever truly know how a woman feels— or even think that he does? It doesn’t matter if he spends on shoes, surgeons, and make up. It doesn’t matter if he calls himself by a girly nickname. A man can not know how a woman feels or vice versa. Fantasy is not reality.

    • ephemeroptera Says:

      “People always tend to assume that transphobia is the biggest challenge that transgender people face. In reality however, it often turns out to actually be the loneliness resulting from a failure to truly socially integrate as a person of the gender you identify as.”

      I’ve felt this about a few instances of trans*women I’ve encountered, but I’ve never articulated it. @Hedda Gabler thanks (and to Mike for his narrative that allowed this conversation to occur).

    • lovetruthcourage Says:

      “People always tend to assume that transphobia is the biggest challenge that transgender people face. In reality however, it often turns out to actually be the loneliness resulting from a failure to truly socially integrate as a person of the gender you identify as.”

      ^^^Excellent! This is exactly it!

  19. againstvaw Says:

    You describe your “life as a woman” as a career. I wonder if gender identity therapists share that view?

    They don’t seem to make any effort to look at underlying issues. It’s as if they believe that being a woman is actually a full-time occupation. Obsessing about shopping for the ideal dress, shoes, make-up etc. Then applying all this stuff to get the right look. Do they thing that TW will be too busy ever to think about why they wanted to take such drastic action, what it was they couldn’t face?

    Have you found, Mike, that you are facing some emotional issues now for the first time?

    • MikefromOhio Says:

      Well, I said it was like a parallel career. I do have a main career, too. As for many therapists viewing trans as a career, I don’t know. I think there are some good therapists and some bad ones. The good ones really drill down into _why_ someone wants to change gender. The bad ones pretty much see their patients as customers. Back in 1984 I viewed my own therapist as a major roadblock, and strongly considered finding another one when I realized how conservative he was. When I finally decided I’d had enough of being trans this past January, I sought him out again, glad to find him still practicing at age 73. He is as thrilled as anyone that I’ve come back to being my true self.

      Can you explain a little more what you mean by my “facing some emotional issues”? Thanks.

  20. WeWillWin Says:

    I enjoyed this account, including the writing style, and I wish the author well. I love hearing people’s stories…so I’ll tell a related one of my own.

    I worked in printing factories in the ’70’s in the US and found the sexism to be much more crushing in some workplaces than others.

    In one place I worked in the bindary along with other women and the men worked on the printing presses. To come in and out of work we has to walk a gauntlet of cat calls and aggressive sexual comments. The hostility was so thick you could cut it with a knife and there was a huge divide between men and women. I don’t think I had one friendly conversation with a male co-worker the whole time I worked there.

    Applying for the next job, to make more money, I claimed I had experience running a press (I didn’t). The HR person laughed in my face and told me they didn’t hire women as printers.

    I was so angry that I went to a government office and filed a lawsuit for discrimination. I was only 15 though so I applied for the job and made the complaint with a fake ID. I let some time pass and went back to the same company and applied again (with my real name this time) and they hired me on the spot. They put me on a small press that printed receipt books. Interestingly, as a printer the men left me alone, there was very little harassment. And I did so well and was so fast that after six months they hired a second woman printer.

  21. MikefromOhio Says:

    Awesome! You were pretty tough for only 15! A slight difference for me here is the time period. I started working in factories in the mid-80s and it really wasn’t until the early ’90s that I got into machining. So the whole harassment culture was a _little_ better by then. Like you, I was very assertive. Unlike you, I was raised male, and whether you call it confidence, male privilege, a feeling of entitlement or whatever, that may have given me an edge over the real women in those same factories who had been raised quite differently. Still, I did get the feeling many times that the men around me weren’t taking me all that seriously because I was just “a woman.”

    The most interesting comment I ever got was at a place I worked at about ten years ago. I was the first “woman” ever hired as a CNC machinist in this company’s history, and on my first day a woman who worked in the Quality Control dept., which was all women, came up to me and said, “We’re so proud of you.” I thanked her, of course, but it made me feel really awkward. If I could have, I would have told her that she really shouldn’t see me as some kind of representative for women’s achievement. I was a guy pretending to be a woman, who happened to end up in a male-dominated field.

    Thanks for sharing your story–and thanks to all the people who work in skilled trades. Someone actually needs to _make_ things in this world.

  22. Siobhan Says:

    Mike’s comment about the loneliness of never really being part of your target “gender” reminds me of the sad story in the most recent Time magazine about a trans person (the author’s sister) who got pregnant and had a baby while acting as a “transman.” Like many “transmen,” she passed pretty well, with her beard and bald head, so people just assumed that she was a guy with a beer belly and she never got the attention from strangers for being pregnant that most women do, and that made her a little wistful, or something.

    I think it was supposed to be inspiring, but I found the article pretty cringe-worthy. It’s really hard when a woman struggles with infertility, but when she has trouble conceiving because she has been trying for years to poison her body with toxic hormones to give her a more masculine appearance to convince everyone that she is really a male, I am less sympathetic.

  23. Medi Says:

    I think Mike needs to apologize to all women for committing fraud, and getting compensated for this fraud. Being the first “fake woman” getting into a trade is fraud. You were a man, you used male privilege to create false statistics on women’s advancement in those horrifying male dominated factories, where so many women were brutally sexually harassed. Perhaps you might want to consider paying reparations for the health care of women damaged by male attacks in the work place. All your creepy sexual stuff is more perving, more violation of women’s space, so why don’t you step up and advocate for women’s equal pay in these work places? Why don’t you create a fundraising effort to support scholarships for women in the trades? And stop calling yourself a tom boy, we told you it was a slur, so STOP IT NOW. I am so disgusted by the stuff you write, I can’t believe how clueless men really are.

    • LC Says:

      I don’t think Mike is still referring to himself as a tom boy, and not everyone views it as a slur. Where and when I grew up, ‘tomboy’ was a compliment, and the only acceptable way to be a girl who wasn’t very feminine but still to be part of a group of females. ‘Butch’, by contrast, very much would have been considered a slur, along with ‘dyke’.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        I agree that not everyone views “tomboy” as a slur. To me, it meant that I was simply better at sports than most men and boys, since that was the only context it was used in (with me.) I have not once been mistaken for an actual man. I look traditionally female— tall, thin, athletic, waist-long hair, etc…

  24. MikefromOhio Says:


    I am sorry for many things in my life. I regret deeply all the years I’ve wasted, all the pain I’ve put my family through, and for buying into the whole idiotic trans narrative. I was a fool. If you think I still am, so be it. Someone said after my first post last month that they were glad I “woke up.” Obviously I still have more waking up to do. That’s one of the reasons I decided to jump into the fray in the first place on this site. I am keenly aware of being a guest in your house here. I am sorry for offending anyone here, either in the way I wrote my post or in my comments. The lesbian references could have been handled much better and less offensively. The “sticklers for correct anatomy” line was meant to be humorous, but I was a jerk for putting that in there. I’m sorry. I’m not a lesbian, because I’m not a woman. I know that. But my intention in that part of the post was to try to describe why it became a way of adapting to my situation.

    I apologize to you and anyone else who found the post–or anything else I’ve said–offensive. Yes, I went into a lot of stuff about my fantasy life, but I was trying to give a thorough account of how I came to call myself trans.

    As far as I know, you and I have never met. I was definitely part of a class of people called “transgender,” but I think it needs to be recognized that this encompasses a whole spectrum of people. I’ve never been violent, have never threatened anyone. I understand why you see the whole trans movement as a threat, and an erasure of female and lesbian identity. But I, personally, never intended anything like that by being trans. Still, I apologize for being a part of that movement.

    As for using male privilege for career advancement, may I suggest that maybe FtTs do this more? I mean, if I had been an actual woman who disguised herself as a man in order to get better factory jobs, then _that_, in my opinion, would be using male privilege to advance a career. But my situation was exactly the opposite. I mentioned in a comment to the woman who told about her career in printing that I did feel a certain edge because I’d been raised male, but that’s different from socially presenting as male in order to advance a career. Ok, I’m mansplaining here, but I am, after all, only a man.

    I mentioned in my post that I was utterly selfish, prideful, arrogant, etc. I still am those things in some ways, but I am _trying_ to be a better person.

    Again, I apologize to you and anyone else for being offensive. And I also want to thank you, Medi, for all of your comments. They are the “slaps in the face” that made me keep coming back to GenderTrender when I first discovered it. The truth hurts, but I know that I need to hear it. I do honestly thank you for that.

    • I think you misunderstand what it is to have and to use male privilege. That “certain edge” you mention? That is male privilege. You were raised to believe yourself entitled to be confident and assertive. You were raised to expect to be heard. Girls aren’t. One of the ways you can be a better person is to take a good hard look at the actual benefits you’ve gotten by being raised male. Your experiences did NOT negate your privilege.

      I am a woman who has defied many gender norms. I have friends who are ftt. I have friends who are detransitioning women. You make our experience sound so very simple – buzz cut, put on a tie, and viola! professional success. It doesn’t work that way. When you were in high school, wishing you could wear a dress or even talk to girls, I was in elementary school wishing grown men would stop staring at me in my school uniform like I was a dinner entree. My teachers would make it clear I needed to stop raising my hand because I was participating in class too much. My teachers and my fellow classmates made it very clear that my interest in and skill at mathematics were utterly inappropriate for a girl. When I was in high school, I was sexually assaulted more than once, with one memorable attacker telling me I deserved this and needed to learn my place.

      And still I persisted in doing things I wasn’t “supposed” to do. But every assault, every denigrating comment from the mouth of a teacher, every time my hand was ignored – even when it was the only hand raised in the entire damned classroom – that took a toll. And still I learned somewhere deep in my subconscious to put others first, to make sure nobody is upset, to take care of everybody else.

      My friend (who lives as a man as best as my friend knows how) is not experiencing male privilege when even transition means no release from hating that female body – still that neverending list of cannot, cannot, cannot is there. No edamame (phytoestrogens), no dessert (gotta watch those hips), no anything that might give away that there is a female body under the suit and tie when returning late from a work function.

      Doing our best to navigate around the restrictions placed on us since infancy is NOT privilege and you should stop asserting that it is. that is one of the more pernicious lies told by the transactivists.

  25. callynom Says:

    Wow, a lot of touchy women overreacting to this post. I’m a woman and I even I think half you ladies need to go take your Midol. If Mike wasn’t completely sure he didn’t want to be a woman, I’m sure he is now! Degrading a man for sharing his experiences and perceptions (which are obviously going to be different from yours, duh, men aren’t stupid they just haven’t had the same experiences) when he’s not trying to do anything to attack you is a complete embarrassment and disgrace to women everywhere, you women are every bit as bad as misogynists. These are exactly the bullsh*t, victim-minded attitudes that make people hate feminism, and I’m disgusted by all of you.

    Mike, I thought it was an interesting read and thank you for sharing with us.

    • GallusMag Says:

      That’s funny callynom- you sound EXACTLY like “tinasweet” upthread!

    • soporificat Says:

      callynom, it is blindingly obvious that you are a man. Your maleness sweats and drips from every phrase that you have written. You can’t even “pass” with the written word. I can’t imagine what you actually look like.

      Ho-hum, another man foaming at the mouth desperate to tell actual women how much he despises them. What else is new?

      • Medi Says:

        Callynom –yup soporificat you got the guy. Totally a man pretending to be a woman! Nailed him to the wall. So obvious, no woman writes like this, these guys can’t even pass in writing let alone in real life. But hey, this is one of the few sites where we just don’t mess around. Women are very very aware of how fake the whole male to trans nonsense really is, massive fraud, backed by such stereo-typically BAD acting, they might want to sign up for the next Charlie Chan movie—- I think they are auditioning for fake Chinese people. But hey, Hollywood would NEVER make a film like that now or would they?

  26. Nemesis Says:

    I can understand the anger and scepticism at Mike’s story, but I appreciate him sharing it, and Gallus’s choice to publish it. AGP M2T’s got us into this trans trender hell, so they need to help turn the tide. We have all these truly courageous female detransitioners going public, and now there are mothers asking for male detransition examples as well.

    I am of a similar age and background as Mike, though female. In the eighties a small m2t would often pass precisely because they were still relatively rare. People wouldn’t think of it unless they were part of the gay scene. Among straights, yeah, it was actually easier to pass then, in some ways. Not if the guy was huge, of course, but short femme guys, yes.

  27. Medi Says:

    Male privilege derives from growing up and being treated as superior to women. Boys are central, girls are forced to accommodate men and boys from an early age. So Mike, you cannot escape male privilege because you are a male. I would have thought that you’d be better able to tell exactly what this was like, since you played the role of a woman, and had been a boy. Of course boys are worshiped at the expense of girls duh.

    The creepy narcissism and sexual fantasy of your life explains a lot, the clueless words to describe a world where men are a total threat to all women and the planet itself. Arrogant, uninformed, selfish beyond belief. This is the true face of the male to trans, and I kept wondering if they ever had a clue as to what the entire feminist movement of the last few hundred years in this country has been about. No knowledge of it; personalization of fake woman hood — objectifying women enough to being deluded that you were a woman. Men want to possess and own women’s very selves, a peculiar colonial enterprise that exceeds the British Raj.

    What will you do to make amends to women? What work will you do to make sure women succeed in the trades? What kind of activism do you intend to do to take on the trans cult, and all it stands for? But you are not going to do any of that, ultimately you will remain the attention seeking coward and narcissist that you are.

    You have no ability to understand the women’s movement for freedom, or the war men like to wage on women every day. Enough of the psycho-babble, get to work. Stop avoiding male privilege and what the structure of that privilege does to every woman you come in contact with. Assume when you are with women, that most of them will be too polite to tell you to go to hell to your face or to order you out of their spaces. Assume women are thinking this, then shut up and leave women alone. Your work is to take on the male to trans out there, put your neck on the line for once, give up your pathetic ego, and heaven help the people who have to wade through some boring book you’re writing. Ugh another man writing another book about his self involved life. Hasn’t that story been written a million times already?

  28. Medi Says:

    You thought being a woman was a “career”? No you were not a woman, and no being born a woman is not a career, being born a woman is an actual biological status, with real world consequences, none of which you have ever faced or ever will face.

  29. Medi Says:

    Hedda Gabler, I thought your comments about how passing might look to Mike vs. how most women are observing him but choosing not to comment. I see all kinds of weird men out in the world, but for the most part, if they don’t mess with me I don’t mess with them.

    Women almost never confront men on anything in public spaces, unless there are guards around. I’ve challenged men who dared to cut in front of me in line at a bank, because a butch female guard was on staff to make sure the man got his punishment.

    I just laugh at the outrageous things men believe, when if women don’t correctly I.D. men immediately, we are at risk. Mike didn’t have a clue that he actually was raised with male privilege, so naturally has no idea that it gave him a significant advantage in a male controlled factory job. Men delude themselves into thinking women don’t object to things, they choose to believe all kinds of things, but naturally, since women aren’t in socially dominating positions with police forces and military to back up women’s demands, men continue to erase the underclass, underestimate the intelligence of women, and naturally believe they get ahead in a male dominated profession because they are some sort of fake woman wonderful. It never ends with these guys I guess.

    • Nemesis Says:

      As women, I think we learn very young to look people in the face, and to read body language, in a way men rarely if ever manage. I think it’s a survival skill. We have to be able to spot danger — which so often comes from male humans. But it also allows us to connect with each other and see one another in a way males cannot. I am routinely shocked at how bad men are at spotting m2ts. They just aren’t used to looking very closely.

      • Hedda Gabler Says:

        @Nemesis: It is very true that men are usually quite bad at spotting M2T. Which is not entirely surprising, considering how many M2T dress in clothing that comes from the woman’s section, yet totally not in the way a woman would dress. I mean, if even M2T fail to look closely enough at women to be able to convincingly replicate the way they tend to dress, what does this say about how observant males are in general?

      • sellmaeth Says:

        I think that might be more due to M2T not wanting to look like real women. They think they are better at “being women” than real women are.

        And of course, they are in no danger if they don’t pass in the eyes of actual women, so they are not overly invested in looking authentic.

        It comes all down to privilege.

      • lovetruthcourage Says:

        Yes, it all comes down to male privilege, and the fact that men retain theirs, even when going MtT, shows that they do NOT pass, or pass very rarely. If they truly passed, they would experience the shock of having their privileges stripped bare, and they would routinely feel like 2nd class humans, if that.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Transwomen definitely “pass” better among other men. Men have no survival need to be observant as you stated. Also, let’s get real- men’s sexuality is largely based on violence. Men want to stick their dick in anything they can violently dominate. Violent domination is their sexual jam. For a large percentage of men, sex is violence. Violence is sex for men.

        Some feminists say “Rape isn’t about sex it’s about violence and control” but let’s get real. For many (most?) men, that’s what sex is. Rape isn’t about sex for female victims but it is for men.

        Men will rape helpless animals, and infants, without conscience when convenient. Fuck an inanimate object. A pumpkin. Corpses. Other men in prison. Rape and batter a 92 year old woman as she sleeps in her bed as one of my sex offender neighbors did.

        Men really are “gender sexual”. There’s a reason transwomen claim men who want to fuck them are not gay. Many ostensibly hetero men are sexually attracted to femininity (ritualized submission), not females per se.

    • Hedda Gabler Says:

      @Medi: Thank you for your comment. I think you are absolutely correct in the way you describe male privilege and the way that men tend to misinterpret lack of confrontation or pushback as consent and implicit acceptance of their behaviour and view of the world.

      It seems to be invisible to most men, but having it is so very much an advantage. Not only because it means the world is organised around their needs and has their point of view enshrined as the dominant narrative , but also in the way it means that due to the fact that it affords them the luxury to be largely oblivious to their surroundings it lowers their base cognitive load and leaves them more capacity to indulge in flights of fancy.

      Like imagining themselves as women for example.

      Sometimes I think that part of the reason of why there seems to be so few reasonably well adjusted M2T is simply that you need to be very full of male privilege and very blind to it to be deluded enough to think that your gender identity and your own reflection of womanhood as seen through the filter of the male gaze has anything to do with actual womanhood.

    • lovetruthcourage Says:

      Exactly. Lack of confrontation =/= “passing.” I have noticed transgender MtTs, and yet haven’t confronted any of them in a public space. These men are legends in their own minds. They may perceive themselves as having “passed” but they have not. There is no such thing as adequately passing. Either one passes or they don’t. There is no such thing as being a little bit pregnant. Either one is, or they are not. All people go into male or female boxes, whether they want to or not— indeed, whether it is fair or not. Humans are animals that reproduce sexually and we are closely related to other primates. We humans are not special and above nature, as is frequently pretended. We are biologically primed to recognize sex. Most of us make very few, if any, mistakes in this. Even Professional trans like Cox, Mock, and drag queens like RuPaul do not pass.

  30. GallusMag Says:

    So interesting that multiple “female” trolls have suddenly popped up -on this of all threads- to defend menfolk. Funny. Isn’t it?

    I agree with commenters who gut-check Mike as a troll. Doesn’t mean he is a troll, but I get the gut check.

    I don’t think a memoir of a life spanning thirty plus years that lacks all mention of any friends in toto, and any romantic relationships lasting more than a year or two has any reflection on “transgender”. If such a life exists, the issues are far more dire than anything having to do with “transgender”.

    I’m not sure that such a life reflects the isolation and loneliness of “the trans” – rather that such dehumanization and dissociation lends itself to fantasies of “the trans”.

    I’ve never seen a memoir so absent of human connection and introspection. I guess “the trans” is supposed to override the absence of basic humanity in Mike’s narrative.

    • lovetruthcourage Says:

      It seems like Mike had to isolate himself in order not to be “found out” or more correctly, “called out.” I suspect people knew, but left him alone. Otherwise, they would have fallen out in shock at the HR meeting. It is hard to hide that kind of shock, that someone you thought you knew for decades, was the opposite sex all along! The calm acceptance says it all. I mean, I am polite, and I wouldn’t kick and scream, but I am sure there would be a “tell” about my extreme surprise, if I was fooled for over a decade.

      • MikefromOhio Says:

        Thanks, Gallus and lovetruthcourage for your thoughts here.

        Just a couple of reminders first. I haven’t worked at this same company for 30 years; in fact I only started there last fall. Recall that I began at the faucet factory, “job-hopped” during the 1990s, etc.

        As for people being shocked at the HR meeting(s), I did see some very surprised faces at the big meeting. At the small one, my supervisor (the former Marine) was quite surprised, whereas the two HR women were–as they’ve been trained to be–very professional about it. Some of this may be that women can just spot MtTs better–I’m sure they can–but after the big meeting, two female coworkers did come up to me and say first that they had no idea that I was trans, then congratulated me on my courage. Two male coworkers approached me and shook my hand, one of them saying (jokingly, because we had met when I was hired), “Nice to meet you, Mike. I’m Steve.” Another big factor in this widespread acceptance of my “coming out / back” is, I think, just the times we live in. As I suggested to Hedda in a comment, maybe I’m riding the current social wave of pro-trans, but I’m riding it backwards. Also, this company is headquartered in Europe, and as such is very big on “diversity” in its corporate culture.

        To Gallus,

        Among all the insights I’ve seen here, I find yours the most sobering–in fact those same realizations led me to try to write a bare-all confessional post as a cautionary note to others “in the same boat,” to use your phrase when you invited me to post. My post wasn’t meant as an illustration of what happens to the average person who decides early in life that he’s trans, just what happened to me, as I see my own life. Self-declared trans people today have so much support that it’s actually celebrated when they come out, but back in the 1980s this wasn’t the case. I was so guarded about staying “stealth” that I kept anyone from getting too close to me–and this has led to a life that I have to admit has been largely devoid of genuine human contact. Without the trans, I might have been a good husband, a good father, and perhaps ironically, an advocate for feminism. Instead, as a lonely teenager, I thought I could extrapolate my escapist cross dressing fantasies into an actual life, but all it really became is a sort of half life. I’ve been a productive citizen, and have certainly had many friends over the years (though I only mentioned two in the post), but I never came anywhere near to living a full life.

        When I moved in a few years ago with my female friend–sadly, or perhaps giving hope, the only person I’ve ever been in love with–I began questioning my life, with her encouragement, in ways I never dared before. Flawed though it is, my post was an effort not only to continue that personal exploration, but to encourage other MtTs, wherever they are on that path, not to be afraid to ask some painful questions. This is a movement (trans) that isn’t doing anyone any good.

        If the post has limited value to modern trans people, or if it’s better seen as an account of social isolation leading to trans, rather than the reverse, I can understand that view. My own view is that in my life, the causation ran in both directions.

  31. Medi Says:

    “I’ve never seen a memoir so absent of human connection and introspection. I guess “the trans” is supposed to override the absence of basic humanity in Mike’s narrative.”—
    This quote above from Gallus really hits the nail on the head, it’s why the narrative seemed so boring to read, it was devoid, it had no passion at all. It was the deadly dullasdust male view, so arrogant, so clueless. Other comments above about male privilege being the right to ignore, to not observe, to treat women as servants and objects. Male to trans who can’t even dress like women, shocking. This was even true at lesbian events they invaded, they’d sit primly, loaded with make up and truly ugly clothing while the dykes all looked like down home real women.

    • ephemeroptera Says:

      I never noticed an extreme lack of friends and romantic partners, but I read Mike’s narrative as more of a clinical sex history self-description.

      I’ve read a few in books and articles, and they tend to focus on practices and self-described etiologies (and people only insofar as they relate to either).

      In Lawrence’s “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies” autogynephilia book, she says that the paraphilia competes with and inhibits relationships in a small group of men, though, and that def seems applicable to Mike.

  32. Medi Says:

    Being taught I think from an early age to REALLY look at people, girls are told from early childhood how to navigate the world, don’t take candy from Mr. Stranger Danger etc. This creates a kind of hyper vigilance. Because men are violent sexual aggressors, or pathetic posers at best. The whole male to trans thing is sexual aggression and contempt for women, it is male privilege itself that allows the deluded man to live out this fantasy life. Men live in a fantasy world, they really aren’t in the reality of women at all.
    It’s similar but not the same as racism –whites have the privilege of completely ignoring what happens to black people–

    I really love the commentary of the women on this thread, so powerful and insightful. It gets at what I intuited the moment I read Mike’s story, and I so respect Gallus for respecting the “gut feelings” of women who thought he was a troll or wanted to fact check every sentence of his story. His narrative is so devoid of true human feeling, no wonder we all doubt it. He should be subject to the complete disbelief men subject women to, because that is what women have to live in in mensworld.

    Someone else commented that men don’t spot male to trans as well as women do. Men’s sexually violent natures respond to ritualized femininity, so they rape and kill male to trans, because men rape and kill femininity. Violence IS sex to men, they don’t really distinguish between the two at all, that is how they live, that is their absolute contempt for women. Mike’s total contempt for lesbians was very clear to me, ignorance of male privilege, ignorance of how he doesn’t pass, ignorance of how men don’t see male to trans. Men don’t see human emotions, they don’t see the utter boredom on women’s faces; it is remarkable how inhumane that species is.

    • Mon Says:

      “men don’t spot male to trans as well as women do.” Another example of why I appreciate this site. We women get to talk, hear each other, compare notes, and I find the above statement to be true as well. I once had time to kill at an airport, so I walked into a crowded bar alone. I took the only open seat at the bar. I glanced at the person to my left, it only took a few seconds to realize he was MtT, even though he was young, and not in over the top dress up mode. I had struck up a conversation and he could tell I knew. He fessed up and said he basically doesn’t know what he is, really.
      Meanwhile, the big farmer dude travelling on business to my right, had no, clue. It was fascinating to watch how the big guy was chatting with MtT, and I kept wondering, when is this guy going to suddenly have the light go on? He didn’t. When MtT left, I just had to ask, he didn’t have a clue.

  33. Medi Says:

    I think Mike might get a very rare glance into how women actually view his dehumanized self. Devoid of humanity, devoid of emotionally connecting with anyone almost for 30 years, it almost seems like the story is out of time. Does not even exist in real history as we know it. This is a perfect example of the dead male mind in fantasy pose— kind of like the dead male minds of video gamers. So it is femininity and fantasy that men invade, but this is proof that there is no consciousness of women as real human beings in the entire story. And even the woman he lived with is devoid of real detail, or emotional depth. It is the flatline dead dryasdust…throw in Buddhism …. and even that seems dead.

  34. Gallus, I hope you don’t mind me talking about autogynephillia. Is this the proper place to bring this subject up? I usually say it as I see it.

    Autogynephilia is all I see. Sorry for being so blunt, but it fits the profile. Heterosexual males with a long obsession for cross dressing, typical masculine occupation, and needs to cross dress for sexual pleasure.

    This is some good background information.

    “My sexual awakening was tied from the start to my cross dressing. I don’t honestly remember my first intentional orgasm (i.e., not a wet dream), but it may well have been while wearing something of my mother’s. What had been an emotional longing to be female now had a sexual, admittedly fetishistic dimension. This convergence of forces, emotional and now erotic, and seeing in the mirror what I might look like as a woman, were all too strong to resist. My dream took on a life of its own…

    Once I discovered this outlet, though, I couldn’t stop. Whenever I was alone in the house I had to dress up. It was nothing less than a revelation for me to see myself in the mirror, wearing my mother’s clothes, her shoes, her makeup, a dressy hat to cover my short hair.”

    So, Mike is wearing his mother’s clothes and getting erections. No, nothing autogynephilic about it.

    “When I got my driver’s license I didn’t see it as bolstering my dating prospects, I saw it as enabling me to start buying my own feminine items. Now I could drive myself to department stores, usually in neighboring towns, and buy lingerie, makeup, anything small enough to keep hidden at home.”

    Oh, hell no! I can’t stand it when heterosexual male autogynephiles call themselves “lesbian”.

    “I began writing short stories and wrote a bad, semi-autobiographical novel, _Diary of a Tomboy_, in which an MtT factory worker falls for a female coworker. I tried to tell myself I was attracted to men, and even _wanted_ to be in order to build my self-image as a traditional woman (case in point: my fling with the guy I met on PlanetOut), but men have never turned me on the way women do. So I started seeing myself as a lesbian. I know how absurd this is, but for a while it seemed a viable
    adaptation to where I was at the time: presenting myself as female, finding a comfortable niche as a tomboy, and being, as I always was, overwhelmingly attracted to women. Maybe I could find a partner who would accept me as an “honorary” lesbian. But I still wasn’t right down there, which might put a damper on the lesbian thing. People can be such sticklers for correct anatomy. In time, I told myself. Keep taking care of yourself and keep saving money.”

    I could really do without this sentence.

    “Gradually, though, my thinking changed about surgery. My body had become fairly well feminized, but the estrogen and spironolactone never reduced my libido very much, possibly because of the dosages, or possibly because I still enjoyed masturbation (quite adept by now at ignoring the irony of having a penis while fantasizing about being a woman), thereby keeping things alive, so to speak.”


    Thank you for such great insightful comments. Autogynephiles see a fetishized version of woman. Companies don’t have to hire actual females any more. All they have to do is hire “women” who are biological males, and were raised and socialized as males. They can count these “women” as women.

    “I think Mike needs to apologize to all women for committing fraud, and getting compensated for this fraud. Being the first “fake woman” getting into a trade is fraud. You were a man, you used male privilege to create false statistics on women’s advancement in those horrifying male dominated factories, where so many women were brutally sexually harassed.”

    The harassment of women in skilled trades and technical jobs could fill up this entire blog. They are harassed because of their sex.

    If I were a betting person, I would say that Mike still cross dresses.

  35. Artemis Jade Says:

    I’ll admit I find detransitioner stories pretty fascinating, whether male or female. But the FTTs seem to be a lot further along than the guys in terms of a community and in terms of their analysis. Who are the guys besides Heyer, ThirdWay, Nowak, Miriam Afloat, AwesomeCat. There are even detransitioned guys who post on the GC reddits. I begin to wonder if these guys need to stop hanging around female spaces and start organizing the way the FTTs have. I don’t know—are there a lot of tumblrs by detransitioned MTTs, the way there seem to be new ones from FTTs every day? The detransitioned MTTs need to tell their stories not just to GC feminists but to each other and to the wider audience. I see the aforenamed detransitioned MTTs taking a stand against transactivist nonsense but it seems to be in isolation. If they built a community they might have more strength in numbers and be able to help other lost guys.

    • Hedda Gabler Says:

      I think the comment by SkyLarkPhillips above is part of an answer to your question.

      A person coming out as a detransitioned MTT on average probably will increase the number of people who hate their guts and reduce the number of allies they have.

      Ultimately, at least in cases like Mike, their testimonies will end up allowing people to dismiss any male who doesn’t carefully keep to “acceptably male” sort of expression as just another perv.

      Personally, I think this is one of the reasons why the obviously flawed concept of gender-identity has taken so much hold over the years.

      If the only two options are “Oh, look at the noble trans woman, let’s respect her gender identity and pretend that she is really a woman!” or “What a Perv! I bet he rubs one out in front of the mirror after his little adventure out in the wild!”, it’s quite easy to see how people may be inclined to prefer the first, despite its obvious problems.

  36. nonny Says:

    Sorry for being OT, but a thread about “transwomen” in the workplace seemed as good a place as any to post this strange situation in the free software world that’s unfolding right now:

    Background: The GNU project is an ongoing effort to write and provide free and open software. It’s hard to sum up what they do, but they are closely tied to the FSF.

    Leah Rowe, a person in charge of developing a crucial component (Libreboot) is pulling it out of the larger project. Rowe’s claim is that there’s been discrimination against a transwoman (Leah Maginnis) involved, on the part of the FSF. (Basically, GNU is the production arm of the project and the FSF are the privacy activists.)

    Afaik, the entirety of the accusation is this:
    “The Free Software Foundation recently fired a transgendered employee of the FSF, just for being trans…”
    (Note: The transwoman in question had worked on the project while being openly trans for two years.)
    “…because some transphobic cissexist people wrote negativly (sic) about her. The FSF fired her because they thougdt (sic) she, rather than the assholes bullying her, was causing the FSF potential damage. As a result, she was fired from the FSF.”

    No further explanation or context! Btw, “Leah Rowe,” the person writing this letter, is also a man. Entire letter here: )

    Notice that there is NO DESCRIPTION of what went down, NO CONTEXT or EXPLANATION.

    Rather than the doubt or dismissal most actual female women would face, especially from the average tech bro, it’s being met with comments like this one:

    “I’m sorry to hear about this unacceptable prejudice, as you’ve described it.”
    ( )

    And articles like this one:

    Which includes quotes like this one:

    “….no matter how this plays out, the news is disturbing.”

    By the way, I noticed that the supportive article above is written by “Christine Hall,” who has been involved in reporting on Linux/FOSS since 2002. A woman involved in Linux/FOSS? Sweet! Oh wait…except Hall is actually also a man.

    Requests for explanation or context are met with comments such as:
    “There’s undoubtedly context we don’t and shouldn’t have in this situation which means any ensuing discussion is going to be pretty useless.”

    My first reaction was that the trans woman was probably getting called out by actual women for harassment. Then I realized that this is a tech project, so there probably aren’t any women involved, lol. Indeed, the two “women” listed here as being involved in the Libreboot project
    Are Rowe and Maginnis!

    Tl;dr: transwoman who has been openly trans for TWO YEARS while working with FSF is fired. Another transwoman at Libreboot throws a tantrum, condemns GNU because “her” friend got fired, claims it’s due to transphobia, and tech bros take “her” at “her” word that this unspecified transphobic bullying, harassment and discrimination occurred- offering the type of support that actual females rarely if ever see when actual harassment (and worse) actually happens.

  37. ByJove Says:

    Well-written and earnest account. And yes–courageous. I hope it helps others in that situation, and everyone who has swallowed the transanity pill. …And great that this outlet for sharing it is offered by Gallus.

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