Thursday, September 6, 2018

Clothing Optional

There are several things I love/hate about Pinterest - that is to say, which vex me but I can't really complain about. For instance, Pinterest knows what I'm looking at and enjoys herding me down channels of mini-obsession. It knows I like shoes and outfits, but it likes to suggest exotic lingerie, short tight skirts and (!!?) light bondage wear. Pinterest is trying to turn me into a little slut.

Also, when it comes to pinning I'm just a cheerful ball of compliance, enjoying everything I see so much I don't even know if I've already saved it two or three times. The more time I spend ogling girly things, the happier Pinterest is.

It's ultimate goal: replicating my brain with pixels and creating a digital
copy of myself, who will finally appreciate all the effort its making.

What plagues me most of all isn't really down to Pinterest itself, but the lack of harmony between my virtual closet and my personal set of existential desires, which my Pinterest boards represent. The bane of my transgender used to be department stores, where I still conceal my jealousy and yearning as I pass by shop windows full of feminine wonder; now I don't even have to leave home to experience this dysphoria!

I stepped through the barrier of female-exclusive consumerism in college, when (with the emotional support of my bestie, Angel) I bought my first outfit: a short sleeve purplish lavender body suit & button-up denim mini from thrift, and my first ever pair of black high heels (MY heels, all mine!) from Payless. It's funny now, how I think back on those choices and roll my eyes at how cheap, how tawdry these particular clothes were... I mean, today I do own a denim mini, several body suits and black heels, only they're much more tasteful. But those were first steps, the first time I'd ever worn clothes that were based on my tastes, my choices, my identity, not just borrowing from someone else's, so I value that turning point.

Currently, my wardrobe consists of a decent variety of styles for nearly every occasion, from casual to dressy. I've already mentioned how I could last a few weeks using this set of clothes without needing a wash day. For someone who doesn't leave the house, it's practical, pleasing, and reflective of my personal feminine image. I have nothing to complain about.


reeeeaaaaallly want more clothes! I can't help it, and I probably wouldn't help it if I had the choice. I love to dress up. When I'm Kris, I don't give much thought to what I wear or what people think of me - jeans and t-shirts, that's the life for me. (And don't get me started on the masochistic lunacy of NECK TIES as a masculine fashion tradition!). Guys have a simpler fashion palette, and that's just fine. As a woman, however, I require special considerations in the clothes I wear, such as intricacy, appeal, variation, and distinct muliebrity.

I bet they didn't put THIS word in your SATs!

Therefore, If I ever find myself a sugar momma willing to bankroll my softer side, I have a list of wardrobe improvements* I'd like to make:

1) Breasts
Let's start with a very basic need which supersedes attire. I'm absolutely weary of not having breasts to fill out my bra. I hate going about my business and having to push my chest back down every ten minutes or so, due to lack of fundamental weight that defines the point of even wearing a bra. Do any women have Floating Bosom Syndrome? Not according to Google, they don't. Ridiculous!

In short: I want to wear bras, so give me the means to justify them. (Synthetic, please. I'm not in the least prepared to explain to the world why I decided to spring for implants.)

2) Lingerie
If a girl's outfit could be compared to a work of architecture, then underwear is the foundation. Perhaps no one can see it, but it makes a world of difference to what we see on the outside. The right kind of underwear can inspire confidence, improve one's demeanor, or just be a feel-good part of your day.

I want a drawerful of matching bra & panty sets. I need a variety of stockings with garter belts, and a selection of patterned tights (and basic colors, too). Another drawer must be filled with lacy chemises, teddies & silky negligees. Bustiers would be a lovely addition, and since we're talking... I've always wanted to try corsets. ... And now that we're venturing into, um, dedicated preferences, I'll confess that I won't say no to the odd bit of intimate leather and metal, if such apparel does indeed exist. I'm sure I wouldn't know...

Aside: I'm not sure how to classify body suits, but they turn up in every search for "lingerie," even though you can wear them visibly as part of an ensemble. They're tight little shapers that help keep nether bits snug, support the chest, and slim contours. I have four pair myself, two solid and two striped, and they are unparalleled for bring my femme to the fore. Simply magnificent... SO, I'm just going to leave this here.

3) Dresses
Say what you want about the liberties women enjoy to wear whatever they want, but I'll insist there is no happier expression of feminine spirit than the essential dress. It's a do-it-all kind of piece, decorating the shoulders, neck, bosom, back and waist, then cascading from the hips down with a gender-exclusive signature look that cannot be replicated. Examining the last century, decade by decade, makes me fall in love with dresses and how they've evolved, convincing me they're never going away, and thank God for that. I would wear a different dress every single day.

4) Skirts, Pants & Tops
I feel like I have to put these together, because even though tops may be worn with pants, you can't have a skirt without tops. (The censors just won't have it, I'm sorry.) Also, the combinations are infinite. Also also, you MUST coordinate - this skirt with that camisole, those slacks with that shirt, these jeans with a peasant blouse, etc. etc. That said, I love options. Female clothing offers a myriad ways to communicate mood, style and personality for any occasion. Fill my closet with such options, and I'll be downright giddy.

5) Shoes
I've already been over shoes, but it bears repeating in such a list as mine. I will most certainly wear: High heels, sandals, flats, Mary Janes, wedges, ankle boots, knee high boots (not cowboy, thanks). I love bows, buckles, ankle straps, peep toes, platforms, sneakers, lace-ups and tie-ons. Basically, just look up my Pinterest board "Well Heeled" and make that list a reality.

6) Jewelry
There's a fashion rule, that before a lady leaves the house, she should remove one piece of jewelry. This leads me to believe that women have a tendency to over-accesorize, which may not be a problem for me. I'm seriously not sure how much of a jewelry girl I really am. I suspect having bits and bobs dangling all over my person might drive me nuts after a while, especially since I work with my hands so much that rings and bracelets might become a nuisance, even an impediment. That said, I wouldn't turn away a generous sampling of bling. Necklaces and bangles are nice, and anklets, and armlets. Maybe chokers. What I'm absolutely in love with is the earrings (which is saying a lot, for somebody with no pierced ears). Danglies, hoops, studs... I'm just saying, if you sat me down in a chair and popped two holes in the lobe & one on the outside (left & right) then I wouldn't likely complain much.**

 ~            *           ~            *             ~          *            ~           *            ~

They say clothes make the person, which is just a cryptic way of saying "You are what you wear." Maybe that's so, but even if you don't actually wear the clothes I believe preferences count as intentions. Despite the clothes, of course, I must still use a bit of imagination and ingenuity to make the look work for me. Just as well, since I'm not generally trying to impress anybody but myself.

Also, a girl can always dream.
And she does, mon cher... she does!
-- HCP

*setting aside, for the moment, the basic need for extra space, time and interpersonal attention that having an expansive wardrobe demands. They say you can't have it all. Well... who the hell asked "them," anyway?

**I bet piercing stings, at least a little, so I probably WOULD complain.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Intention Deficit

I'm looking at my recent wave of posts and thinking, "How many different ways can I say 'I want to come out, but I won't, because I'm considerate and selfless?'" followed immediately with "Could I just shut up and pick another topic?" Obviously, the self-sanction/self-denial contradiction has been weighing on me this summer.

It probably started last month when Erica, completely of her own volition, broached the subject of me taking a "girl day." I actually faltered (in shock, mostly), demurred (because I'm soooo selfless, have I mentioned that?), and gradually relented, since it's been entire years since I've had spouse-sanctioned permission to switch wardrobes, much less when it's her idea!

The time was delightful. Erica insisted there was no problem spending the day with me "as friends," and we even tackled downsizing our full-to-bursting closet together. I made her try on every outfit she owned and did the same with mine, and we gave each other feedback on what worked and what didn't, what to save and what to donate. As women do.

Later, we binged TV shows and ate junk food
in pigtails and pajama pants. As introverts do.

The process of rummaging through my clothes showed me an unprecedented premise, regarding the kinds of clothes I've been collecting over the years: dresses, skirts, shoes... naturally. Also: tops, pants, sweaters, shorts, overalls (long and short), assorted lingerie, including underwear, bras, legwear, nightwear, & *ahem* playwear. In short, my wardrobe doesn't reflect someone who obsesses with dressing as a woman, so much as it indicates the thoughtfulness and thoroughness of someone building their female identity. If I didn't know any better, I might say that subconsciously I was taking steps to transition from one life to another.

I'm not, of course. And I realize that sounds like denial, and many readers are shaking their heads and placing little bets with themselves that I'm about two years from announcing my full, legal abandonment of all male entitlements and privileges. It's because I really want to, yes. I admit it. But still, I won't. Because I don't have a good enough reason.

I've definitely got reasons to come out, though, you betcha! Shall I list them? You betcha.

1. I like being honest. If there's one trait I possess that's both a virtue and liability, it's truthfulness. Don't go thinking I'm all pious, because I know how to lie, and lie well. (It sorta goes with the closet life.) My issue is that I want to proclaim truth. This makes me trustworthy and dependable, while at the same time completely annoying to my Facebook friends who constantly post stupid inaccuracies in the news and with various memes. Usually, though, I pair my truth with tact, for maximum effectiveness.

Put another way: when a relative of mine once said he could always count on me to tell the truth, this was less of a compliment and more a way of pointing out that I always tell on myself. Truly, I find intimate personal divulgence romantically idyllic. People close to me have no idea how easy it is to get the truth out of me, if they try. Although, maybe they don't want to. Which brings me to...

2. Hiding my femme identity is exhausting. As I've mentioned before, there are loved ones who know of my secret feminine self, but most of them don't want any part of this world. I make the effort to keep them shielded from it. And then there's... the rest of the world, basically. For half of them I'm good, since I really don't care if the men catch on (in fact, I prefer it). My problem is the distance between myself and other women.

I could (and might) write an entirely separate article on how agonizing it is to know women, to have them as friends, and not be able to explain how deeply I relate to them... more so, to withhold the opportunity for them to care. It's indescribable, the heartache of socializing with women and knowing they still see me as male, being the only one who can see the invisible wall between us. At least if they knew, there could be an informed decision. Of course, once or twice the wall has fallen, and the response was... less than optimal. Leading to...

3. I hate the idea of getting "caught." It's only funny in sitcoms. The old "It's not what it looks like!" routine followed by a laugh track, or the wail of a sad trombone. In real life, there's shock, anger, a tragic lack of adequate vocabulary, and wild ultimatums. In the best case scenario, there's still debris to clean up, left over from the world everyone once knew but is gone forever, a sense of loss, the pain of change.

It's the concept - "caught" - that highlights the difference between asserting oneself and becoming a victim of circumstance. Basically, you can't get caught at something if everyone knows you're doing it. Feeling guilty because someone learned about your secret, outside of it being your decision to let them know, somehow suggests wrongdoing. In moral circles, they say that whatever you practice in secret must be immoral, if you don't want anyone else to know you're doing it. Truly, if I were to out myself as transgender there would still be judgment, but I believe that might be easier to endure than this gender purgatory I dwell in now.

They also say the grass is greener, over there. That could also be
because there's more fertilizer to step in, if you know what I'm sayin'.

As I continue my journey, I notice another trend that hasn't quite caught on yet, but may impact events in the future: I'm less concerned with secrecy. It's become more a job than an obligation, to the point where I should classify it as "community service in lieu of jail." Except that I've been serving time as well. And I still don't see how I'm guilty of any crime. One of these days, I may just blurt it out in a flash of blind rebellion, just because I need to evoke a reaction. At worst, I'll get sideways glances and hasty exits from the rooms I walk in. Maybe that kind of treatment doesn't worry me anymore.

Social norms. Can't live with 'em, can't leave the house without 'em. (Although if I decide to try, I've got maybe two weeks' worth of outfits before I have to come home to use the washer & dryer.)

-- HCP

Monday, July 30, 2018

Moniker Business

Don't fall out of your seats, because when you read what comes next the revelation might make you a bit dizzy with disbelief:

Holli isn't my real name.

It's not even my first not-real name.

Uhh... good job handling the news?

As I'm confident that your fannies are still comfortably secure in your chairs, I'm also probably right in thinking that most people who stumble across this blog have toyed with the idea of fantasy cross-gendered names in their lifetime. We're all at least a little curious, what our parents might have named us if the "gender reveal" dial was flipped. For me, it's kind of a burning question... and for lack of a satisfying answer, I took it upon myself to christen my unidentified feminine side. A handful of times.

This entry doesn't move forward without me admitting information that's a bit more revealing than anonymous bloggers ought to, but I'm intent on getting this down. So here it goes:

My given name is Kris. It's a name about three inches away from the gender border, but no one who mentions it regards me as female. It would be super easy to leap from Kris to Krissie, or use it mistakenly in that regard, but surprisingly it has occurred to very few people. Even grade school bullies must have thought it was too easy.

I used to write out ways to change my name, the way other girls would write out the last name of their classroom crushes as if they planned to marry them someday.

"Kris. Krissie. Krissy. Krissa. Kristy. Kristen. (Oooh, how about a y?) Krys. Kryssa! Krystina! Krysallinnia!?? ... uh, WOW... no..."

And then I would rip the paper into a million pieces, throw it away, and deny everything, whether I was asked or not.

Which was really hard, having one of these in our living room.

In college, (keyword: Halloween), my girlfriends dubbed me Krystal the first time they saw me dressed as a girl. (Oh, how warm was my inner glow!) The name became legend in our social circle, but fell into obscurity. 

Elsewhere online, I've gone by Alyssa Cooper. Under this name, I've said and done a bit of roleplaying - mostly good, clean fun, but I've certainly fueled a few fantasies contrived by hapless chat room gawkers (nothing exceedingly licentious, but it was nice to pretend I was desirable for awhile).

What seems ages ago, I thought very hard about who I am as a woman, and arrived finally at Holli Cherise. There's a bit more to it than just inventing a name, but part of the process is a bit telling, and shall remain private. I will say, though, that while partly my own doing, this designation was also inspired by circumstance and opportunity. The important thing to know: this is now who I feel I am.

Tragically, for me it still comes down to authenticity. Names are traditionally bestowed. We may request them, of course, for a variety of reasons that suit us later in life, but most people grow into identities partly (not exclusively, I know) rooted in the bed of their given names. For most of my life, I have been Kris - pointedly NOT Krissie, NOT Krystal, NOT Alyssa, as far as anyone else is concerned. These identities are false.

In a way, it's like if no one knows I'm Holli, then no one can tell me I'm NOT. I recognize that I'm giving certain people way too much power over me, but there's a positive catch as well. You see, I feel it works both ways. Someday, someone precious to me, someone close, will call me Holli (I really don't care what the circumstance, but I'll know when it happens), and I will answer. And then I'll know.

The naming of a person is to channel life, to lend spark from one's own flame so that another may blaze into being. Names are powerful. We share them with those whom we love and trust, and we hide them from strangers, malcontents, and those who would betray us. There's a lore in names and naming that's very important to each of us in our own worlds. Dare I say? Names are magical. They hold a truth that can set us free or bind us where we stand. Like a sword or pen, how significant they are depends on how they're used.

Take it from an Austrian literary giant who knows.

What's in a name? More than anyone bargains for.

Call me Holli. One of these days, I might just be the woman you were looking for.

-- HCP

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Tingling Teeth

I used to hate the term “coming out.” The meaning of this phrase, of course, is derived from “coming out of the closet” which was almost exclusively a gay metaphor which basically everyone else appropriated. Even straight people can “come out” about their guilty pleasures. (i.e. “I’m a closet wrestling fan” or “I don’t tell many people this, but I have sexual fantasies about Daisy Duck.”)

"It gets really in-depth after the third volume of
my unauthorized fanfic, 'Anatidae, Another Dollar.'"

Call it “confession” or “disclosure” …I don’t care anymore. These days, letting people in on my closet-sized secret is all I want to do. I’d go so far as to say it’s a bit of a discreet mania.

I haven’t shared my gender identity situation with anyone in years, which is down to basic consideration for my wife, who would prefer to never know what it feels like for our friends & family to learn that she married a bi-gendered person. I get that, I really do… but from the perspective of a trans-person trying to get some basic identity acquiescence, it’s a frustrating arrangement.

I’ve shared my female identity with seven people in my life (not counting the pre-marriage counsellor, who was, in retrospect, wholly unprepared to deal with that specific sort of speedbump in a burgeoning matrimonial relationship; but she did try, bless her heart, even though “wrapping myself up tightly in a sheet from the arms down” is not valid replacement therapy for actually wearing a dress… but I digress). The hope was always to have people I trust and care about, and who cared about me, be comfortable at any given time to freely address my transgenderism, so that I didn’t feel so alone and helpless in my distress. I assumed part of the process would involve some acceptance that I, on occasion, would dress the part (in their absence, of course… unless otherwise indicated… in which case I would just be thrilled).

Instead, what happened was the establishment of two camps of interaction:

Camp Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell - this is inhabited by friends who don’t know how to integrate transgender topics into natural conversation. Their inhibitions seem derived from a fear of saying the wrong thing and offending me, or - in the case of those opposed to my practical application of a wardrobe - accidentally implying that they approved of my preferred modes of expression. Broaching the subject in this camp is generally a complete waste of time.

"Could one of you at least give me a push?"

(To be fair, I’m the only one of my kind whom these good people have ever met. Everything about addressing transgenderism has been new territory for them since the 1990s, thanks to me, exclusively.)

Camp Practical Listening & Shared Wisdom - this camp has an enrollment of one. Even when she admits she might have no idea what she’s talking about, she still has something to say. It helps that we’re both wired with the same belief, in that there’s no such thing as analyzing something too much. Unfortunately, this angel belongs to a popular club - “Life Obligations” - that prevents her (and potentially everyone else in the world) from getting too involved in my problems. (Currently, we are on friend hiatus while she strengthens bonds with her husband, cares for her children with special needs, and celebrates an endless parade of birthdays in her ever-expanding family, all while enduring a weight loss battle. I have no grounds for protest.)

SO. In the absence of old confidantes, my natural tendency is to seek out new ones. The obstacles here are multifold.

1) The older my peers get, the more set in their ways they become. They become more guarded of the stability of their own lifestyles, and thus fear any changes that threaten the idyllic worlds their lives have become. (This point is valid on the condition that everyone has a personal definition of “normal” that my revelation would endanger, which I believe most people do, on the whole.) This makes me hesitate to bring newer friends closer.

2) Telling more people makes the circle wider. The bigger the circle, the harder it becomes to keep a secret.

3) My spouse just loves keeping this secret. She can live with it, but knowing that other people know is a wound - one which my convictions prevent me from exacerbating any more than I have.

Therefore, being able to out myself to certain people whom I believe could be intellectual and/or spiritual allies in my crusade for trans-recognition has become a crossdream fantasy in and of itself.

As I write this, I’m compelled to add an important fourth drawback, which suddenly seems very crucial to the matter:

4) The point of telling someone a secret is to violate its status as a “secret.” The point of letting someone know that you’re suffering from quiet desperation is with the hope that you might find an escape from it. Sure, at least you’re not being quiet any more, but if you want things to change, shouldn’t you expect them to change? Why, then, would I tell someone if I didn’t?

In that regard, my friend Angel once asked me point blank, “What are you prepared to do?”

Lorelai's been there.

It’s a wake-up slap, that question. It basically means, “Make a decision right now, and see if you can live with it.” Well… the hard truth is that I’m not about to make any decisions that benefit myself at the expense of my other. I can’t be Holli and keep Erica.

Nor can I cease to be Holli. That’s not even a decision I get to make.

Given any kind of chance to live the rest of my life as Holli without consequence of those I love suffering, I know I’d take it. I don’t even know if that life is better than this one. I would push that button, because I need to know.

Therefore, me not finding someone else to trust and telling them who I am is like refusing to walk in the room containing the button. This is basically me admitting that I fear someone supporting me and telling me to go for it. I fear someone telling me it’s okay to get what I want though it destroys someone else. I fear that I could be convinced to be that person.

And I don’t think I’m that person.

At least it’s still my decision, even if making the right one isn’t as satisfying as making the one that feels good.

c. Charles Schulz
-- HCP

Friday, July 20, 2018

Platform: Shoes - A Declaration of Advocacy

I have 99 transgender problems, and shoes make up about a dozen of them.

For every (rare) day I decide to wear an outfit, I begin with shoe selection and build around them. Every ensemble I lovingly critique, I start with choice of heels. I perk up at the sound of clicks on tile or sidewalk, then swivel around to see if the shoes (and the person filling them) are as attractive to me as they sound. My Pinterest board “Well Heeled” overflows with a seemingly redundant conveyance of every shoe I could ever dream to wear.

(If you’re curious, please feel free to drop by: ...y'know, if you want.)

Shameless cry for attention. So, so shameless.

I suppose, then, it would be no surprise to anyone that high heels were the first definitive form of feminine apparel I tried on as a child. How old was I? 6 or 7, perhaps? Crazy, how the culmination of three events led to that moment: my mother leaving me in the car so she could run into the grocery store to cash a check; a pair of red, strappy heels left in the backseat; my mounting curiosity about what it would feel like to wear such beautiful things. Seizing the moment, I put them on my feet, one at a time. I was shorter than my mother, but - a bit startling - they fit very well. And then… I buckled the straps around my ankles, hands trembling ever so slightly… sitting in place, feet together, feeling the spikes press up, forcing the arch, commanding my sitting posture, redefining my very character….

And then I opened the car door. And then I stepped out. I touched the pavement, gingerly. The sensation of solid ground under my newly-shod sole communicated to me a novelty, how different things were now, as I took that first step. Two feet on the ground now. I stood up. Perhaps I wobbled, but just a little. I looked around to assure myself just how alone I was, unobtrusive between all the parked cars. I took a few steps.

Electrifying. Exulting. Transformative.

It would only escalate from that point on.

It’s always been as though I was born to wear heels. I don’t get women who complain about them, their discomfort, how they exist to merely objectify the body, their suspicion that this is all part of the male agenda to subjugate women (forgetting that men were wearing heels before women appropriated them). On the contrary, I find they make me feel sexier, more capable, and somewhat special whenever I wear them.

In my opinion, if heels are worn strictly for the pleasure of admirers, then you’re doing it wrong. Like lipstick, clothes, jewelry or perfume, it’s down to choice, which is an expression of self, no matter how you dress it up. High heels are the essence of dramatic interpretation, or costume theater if you will, as much a part of feminine exotica as an alluring smokey eye or elaborate gown.

No, heels aren’t the end-all/be-all of forward footwear fashion.

Yes, they make you less likely to escape from a charging tyrannosaur.

No, you aren’t less of a woman if you don’t wear heels.

Yes, I'm a little partial in my appeal for high heel celebration. Then again, I don't get to wear them very often, so I'm not the one destroying my knees in them every single day. (Then again, nobody should be that cruel to themselves. "All things in moderation," as the old adage goes.)

"Stop trying so hard to stand out, Susan!"
is probably a less-popular axiom.
(But no less valid.)

In conclusion: Life is short. Go climb that mountain. Eat the chocolate mousse pie. Wear the heels. (Just, not all at the same time.)

-- HCP