The First Time

| Aug 11, 2008
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close.jpgI know this is popular blog topic, but it is — I think — an important question to ask. When did you first realize that you wanted to dress in feminine clothing? Or when did you first realize that you’d really, really like to know what it would have been like to have been born female? Or when did you first think “I AM a girl?” Some people might reply that this is irrelevant since any or all of these issues are currently present for them; but I disagree and here’s why.

For me, these feelings emerged sometime prior to age four. I recall wanting to have my nails painted like my older sister’s; but only being allowed to have my thumbnails painted. I recall feeling envious that she got to wear tights and a frilly dress. I even recall climbing over the sides of my crib during nap time and sneaking over to her chest of drawers to try to find her tights — but panicking and scrambling back to bed before I located them. Clearly I knew I wanted to express myself in a feminine way, but also also knew that there would be consequences. I didn’t choose to desire this, it was just there; I could only choose whether or not to act on the desire. Moreover, nothing in my recollection or family stories suggests that I was pushed in this direction by some event or trend; it was just there.

A little further along, I recall watching television and seeing characters crossdress. Bugs Bunny’s efforts didn’t do that much for me; but seeing Gilligan trying to pass was another story. And watching Jim Bridges perform on Ed Sullivan one Sunday night had an amazing impact on an impressionable young boy growing up in a small southern town.

These experiences elicited strong and very mixed emotions. On the one hand I was, like a moth to a flame, inexorably drawn to what I saw. Other males actually did crossdress, some willingly and successfully — and I knew that I wanted to do so as well. On the other hand, I knew that I couldn’t let anyone know this or I’d be branded as awful, terrible and evil. Oddly, I can’t ever recall hearing anything specific about it being wrong for a boy to wear girl’s clothing, but I understood at a very deep and visceral level that it was wrong and I was really skating on thin ice by wanting to do so. And by the time I was about 8 or so, I was sneaking into my sister’s room to try on all sorts of things and wanting to do a complete makeover — at least in terms of temporary appearance — and to have my own feminine wardrobe.

But enough about me, what does any of this mean? Well, first of all, I think that for many CD/TG (I prefer ambigendered, thank you) individuals we have a hardwired propensity to want to adopt the dress, appearance, mannerisms of the opposite sex. Is it an inexorable biological mandate, no, I don’t think it has to be, at least not for all of us (I think transsexuals do have that compelling hardwired desire). Secondly, I think that the intensity of the desire is conditioned by our environment, which is why some of us are just part-timers while others need to transition full-time but not necessarily have SRS.

It’s like a dimmer switch; it has to be installed otherwise the lights are either on or off with no middle ground. That’s how most of the world functions — male/masculine or female/feminine; and that’s why we are so hard for them to understand — the transgendered impulse is completely alien to them (another reason I think this occurs is in prenatal brain chemistry programming). But if that gender switch is installed, it can run the full range from 99% masculine to 99% feminine regardless of what pair of chromosomes you were dealt. I’m not a scientist of any sort, but based on what I’ve seen in the TG world and on what I’ve experienced. I just can’t help but believe that we are programmed by nature towards a compelling inclination to express a feminine identity, but that our environments (nuture) strongly influence the intensity and frequency with which we feel that feminine identity should be expressed.

Maybe none of that matters, but ultimately, I think a big part of gaining acceptance and understanding is tied up with the origins of our desire to express a gender identity that conflicts with what biology and society says we should express. I just think it would be significant if it were clear that our crossdressing/transgendered behavior could be understood as something more than just some personal choice — or worse, some character flaw, perversion or sickness. I’d like it to be seen as an expression of an identity that while not typical, isn’t abnormal either. I’d like for those of us whose gender identity doesn’t completely match our biological sex to be considered people who, even if a little different, aren’t a threat. I’d like us to be understood as the normal masculine male and feminine female are understood — as the product of nature and nurture; not to be viewed as the freak of either.

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Category: Transgender Opinion

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  1. says:

    Renee my point is to exaine why a young child pursues behaviors that are contrary to his/her obvious biological state. Is it because they’ve chosen to do so? And why would they do that? No, there is not scientific proof that nature is behind crossdressing, but your distaste for the “nature” argument is hardly scientifically based. Maybe I’ve misread your intention, but my suggestion is that being ambigendered “MAY” be at least partially biologically determined. Nowhere do I say that it is entirely so. Indeed, I think that the proclivity may well be hardwired biologically, but the act is certainly conditioned by environment and circumstance and preference.

  2. says:

    Thank you for an intelligent comment. Myself I know I was a female, even though I had a male’s body in 1997.

  3. Renee_K Renee_K says:

    I have a problem with over-reliance on the “nature” part of this discussion. At this point in time, no one has proven it’s veracity. I rather suspect, like you, that there are biological origins, but right now it’s all just speculation. And I don’t like to pass theories off as truth when explaining myself to people; I hear way too many sisters (regardless of the label they choose to go by) who proffer up “I was born this way” as an excuse, and that’s what it ends up being As if they’re deflecting blame somehow. It’s not good for the psyche, wallowing in that much guilt, and it ignores the element of who we are that *does* involve personal choice.

    Because even transsexuals make a choice. Some have chosen not to transition, and while only they can speak about their own happiness, they’ve made for themselves an outwardly-appearing good life. There’s no moral or ethical wrongness about any of this, so whether it’s nature or nurture or just a decision shouldn’t make a lick of difference.