When do you know you’ve crossed the line?

Perhaps during the past year or so I have been rather more introspective than usually. It shouldn’t be surprising: I’ve been picking up a serious practice of Buddhism according to the teachings of a genuine teacher (not by just reading a book or visiting all those New Age groups who worship the Dalai Lama in the same breath that they light a few candles to the Virgin Mary or the Angel Gabriel or Mother Nature…), and this mostly means seriously looking at my own mind, passing no judgement, but just analysing it thoroughly, methodically, and being honest to myself about what I find there. The technique, if applied properly, does have some results, but it takes several years of long practice to see any effects at all — most people these days want immediate results, and prefer just to buy some more popular self-improvement books in their search for something easy and fast. I prefer to be patient and just use the same tools and methods employed by literally hundreds of millions of people in the past 2600 years — if it worked for all of them, even though it took a lot of time, it should work for me as well. All it takes is patience, analysis, a rational stance, healthy scepticism (never take anything for granted; try the methods to see if they work for you or not, but don’t blindingly follow them if you don’t trust their efficacy — or your teacher), and a lot of time. A lot indeed.

But after a year or two, you’ll really start to have to deal with your innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And “dealing” with your own mind is not easy (this is usually the point when most people give up on Buddism and move towards something more simple and pleasant where you don’t need to deal with your own thoughts). The whole purpose of Buddhist training is to strengthen your mind to be able to deal with your thoughts — not much differently than modern, contemporary psychotherapy — with perhaps the major difference that you don’t really need to “chat” with a “shrink”: you just get familiar with some methods to look at your conscious mind. These methods get mistranslated in English as “Buddhist meditation” and would get some of the old teachers rolling in their graves if they hadn’t been cremated… — the actual word for the technique simply means “getting familiar (with your mind)”. And our mind is just like a theatre stage upon which thoughts, feelings, emotions, with more or less intensity, are projected. For most of us, we equate our personality with the ensemble of thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and feel compelled to act upon them. So, if we are sad, we cry; if we are happy, we laugh; if we are angry at someone, we insult them or even hit them. The close tie between the thought or emotion and the action is something we regard as “natural”, as being part of ourselves, and we notice that everybody else acts the same way under the influence of their emotions, so we know we’re not different, and are doing the “right thing”.

Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between feeling an emotion, having a thought, and actingupon it. What is loosely called our “freedom of will” is the ability to make a decision: just because I feel or think in a specific way, I don’t “need” to be conditioned to act in a pre-determined way, even though it feels natural to do so, and everybody else around us does exactly the same. In fact, we humans have this uncanny ability to be able to completely separate the emotion/thought from the action. If you think it’s too hard, think again. We all have felt hungry at some point but unable to eat anything; some of us will become utterly obsessive until we find something to eat. But most of us have experienced a moment where the “hunger” — no matter how powerful the emotion can be! — can be momentarily overruled and just filed away for later: you are aware of it, but are not compelled to drop everything and have a bite. Assuming you eat regularly, you won’t die from starvation if you delay your meal for a few hours, no matter how powerful the urge might be.

In the not-so-distant past, we tended to classify those “override-able” emotions as being part of our common heritage as instinctive animals, and some people still believe today that what make us different from animals is our ability to contradict our instincts (but if you have a pet, you’ll see that they can override their instincts, too — perhaps just not with the same ease as we do, but they certainly can do it as well). These people tend to classify what is “instinctive” as being opposed to what is “rational”, and label those emotions accordingly. The problem with those “labels” is that they depend on individuals. I have seen people completely breaking down and entering a frenzy if they all of a sudden skip a meal, while the rest of the group merely laughs at them. Others might go out in a cold night wearing little more than a T-shirt, and if we ask them, shocked, if they don’t feel the cold, they will shrug and just answer that they most certainly feel it, but are not overly worried about it. Of course if the temperatures outside are dropping 30 or 40 below zero, this might not be simple to do 🙂 My s.o., for instance, shivers with cold and needs to get a coat during a hot summer night with temperatures above 30º Celsius, just because a very soft breeze — the kind that won’t even disturb leaves on the ground — has just started to blow. So why do some of us react completely conditioned to their “instincts” while others do not? The answer is that, although we pretty much experience the same things (barring any physical or mental disorder), a few of us are just not so compelled to immediately react in a pre-conditioned way to what we feel and think about.

Buddhist practice is about learning methods and techniques to avoid that pre-conditioning; the first step is, though, to take a good, deep look at one’s mind and see what happens there, and recognise that the “urge” to react in a pre-conditioned way is just a fantasy we create for ourselves. In a sense, we “justify” ourselves by saying things like “oh, I’m sorry I got angry at you, but I can’t avoid it, it’s just the way I am”. In reality, that’s not what happens: we have the choice not to follow the urge to act upon our anger, but we think it’s justified under most contexts, so we just let our emotions flow and let them “take over” our actions.

You might ask yourself what this has to do with crossdressing 🙂

Well, I asked that myself, too. Being naturally patient and usually a calm and moderate person, it’s relatively easy for me to recognise how things like anger or fear distort my perception of the world and condition my actions. Recognition is the first step, of course; an important one for sure, but the next step is to “de-condition” myself, which is way harder: I have a whole life of training that compels me to act according to my feelings and thoughts, and that is hardly easy to deal with…

But on the other hand, everybody who is reading these lines has at least become familiar with the concept of “training”: we all learned how to read, for instance. It was hard at the beginning! We needed someone to teach us how some curly strokes on a piece of paper actually represented sounds, and then words. It was hard to memorise them, and you started reading things very slowly, and often in a way that was hardly rewarding for all your efforts. But after a few years, reading just became second nature. A mind trained in reading will obviously require “refreshing” once in a while — if you stopped reading altogether for a decade, you might need to relearn it again — but, in general, we won’t “forget” how we learned how to read.

What is harder to understand is that this kind of training will apply to pretty much everything, not just reading, of course. Most of us crossdressers remember the first day we wore makeup, or put on some high heeled shoes. It was incredibly hard (specially because many of us never had a good teacher, unlike most genetic girls, who had a lot of help on their first steps, from mothers, sisters, and girlfriends), but we eventually managed it as well. We acquired a fashion sense. We learned how to move ourselves like women do, and some might even mastered the technique of speaking like a woman. All that happened because we trained it more and more; and when that training becomes regular, everything becomes more easy, more “natural”, and we can only laugh at our pitiful attempts on the “first time”, and cannot even understand why we did so many things wrong, which are perfectly natural for us these days!

One thing that makes me smile every day is listening to genetic girls, used to comfy flat shoes, talking about the horrible experience of wearing a pair of high heeled ones for a dinner party, looking at me, with tears of frustration and anger, and complaining: “you have no idea how this hurts and how it is hard, you guys are so lucky, nobody expects you to submit yourselves to this torture“. Of course I might feel some pity towards that girl and speak some words to that effect (she is, after all, hurting from all that suffering!); but inwardly, I’m just remembering the experience of walking in heels for the first time — it was certainly awkward, hard, and hurt a lot. These days, with proper heels (a badly designed shoe will always hurt!), I can wear heels for 12 hours at a stretch without experiencing that as “painful” or “awkward” or even “hard” (in fact, I love it every minute!), and I’m quite sure that most CDs with enough experience will feel the same way — I watch their videos, and they’re as familiar with walking on heels than any genetic woman. Probably even more so — because we tend to have an even stronger heel fetish than they do (if that’s possible!…) — and so enjoy the whole experience more intensely… but obviously I don’t know. I usually like to give my mother-in-law as an example: she’s one of the most elegant women I know, and she wears heels all the time. But she’s not a natural “heel walker” — she had to learn to enjoy the experience — and these days, by watching her walk, I don’t think she walks more gracefully than any of the CDs I watch on videos (including myself, if I’m permitted the lack of modesty at this point).

Your mind shapes the training — your will to learn something, the persistence in the training, will eventually reach a goal. But, surprisingly — or perhaps not so surprising as that! — the reverse is also true: your training will also shape your mind. On my daily activities I might not have noticed how true that is, but when crossdressing, which is an activity with a very powerful emotional charge, I pay attention more closely. And sometimes it shocks me how certain things become easy and natural, just because I’m getting familiar with them. Way, way back in my early crossdressing days, I would find it impossible to write or type when wearing long fingernails — even simpler activities like opening a door would be hard. These days, I type as quickly with my false nails glued on than without them: there is no noticeable difference. Well… there is. My gestures become more gentle, more feminine — but that comes not exactly because I “will” them to be so, but rather because the mind-training of rethinking how to position my hands correctly so that I can perform all activities even when wearing long fingernails will automatically require more gentle and graceful movements, which we automatically identify as being “more feminine”.

This pretty much applies to all aspects of crossdressing. A friend of mine says that she loves to watch me “flip my hair”, because she said that it was irresistibly feminine. But I don’t think it’s like that — not anymore, at least. It’s just because if you wear long nails, bracelets on your arms (to which hair gets easily entangled), and have long hair, you learn how to position your hands and body posture automatically so to avoid getting tangled or stuck. There are few ways to do it correctly, but all of them look “feminine”, because women have long come up with the same gestures to wipe the lost strands of hair out of their faces. We just associate those gestures with a feminine pose, because most males don’t have long hair, and those that do, don’t have long fingernails, bracelets or jewelry, or earrings to worry about. Start “worrying” about all those accessories you wear (and to which hair will stick), and, with some training, the resulting gesture will be nothing less but feminine.

Another friend of mine, a genetic girl, always laughs at me when I smoke and has often asked me to teach her how to smoke in such a graceful way. I tried to do my best, but it wasn’t easy to explain some of the details, because she’s not the kind of person that worries about her image. When “smoking as a girl” there are a lot of details that you have to worry about, like not getting ash inadvertently on your dress, making sure your nails aren’t spoiled, and that you don’t accidentally come with the tip of your cigarette too near to your hair. And, of course, there is a difference between just merely being a tobacco addict, or someone that actually enjoys the pleasure of smoking — the way you exhale will immediately classify you under one of the two types, even if it’s completely unconscious. So if a genetic girl has never gone to a manicure salon (and doesn’t worry about the state of their bitten-through nails), wears short hair, a T-shirt that has seen better days, and just smokes because of the addictive properties it has… she’ll smoke like a guy, without elegance at all, without any “femininity” put into that gesture. There is simply no need for that. (Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to polish your nails to smoke gracefully; a woman that just does her nails occasionally will nevertheless develop a graceful style of smoking. The problem is if, as a woman, you never ever worry about those things you will hardly acquire a graceful way of holding a cigarette — developing “grace” requires attention and patience, too!)

Why do guys slouch but girls stand up straight? I have no idea, but in my case it’s obvious: when wearing a corset, you simply cannot slouch. I find it ironic that the corset has gone out of fashion in the past 50-60 years, because it was seen as a form of medieval torture perpetuated until modern times… when in fact it’s only a “torture” if you are wearing a corset way too tiny for your size and pull it in much too tightly! A properly worn corset will give you the required support for your back so that you can sit or stand up straight and get proper support, even if your muscles are not “trained” for that (because we spend way too much time slouching in front of the computer or the TV…). So the corset is not only a wonderful body shaper, it also changes posture, and it’s rather hard to look ungraceful and slouchy and sloppy in a corset, because it simply doesn’t allow that.

Guys who don’t know what to do with their hands put them in their pockets; it’s a natural male posture, because, well, all jeans and pants have pockets. If you’re wearing a dress or a skirt, however, there are no pockets to place your hands; and if you’re wearing a corset beneath the dress, and have to be straight, there are not many places where your hands will be able to rest when relaxed. Almost all ways (except just letting your arms dangle straight down) will thus be graceful as well, and be immediately recognised as feminine. Similarly, if you’re wearing heels, you’ll have a far better balance if your legs are close together, and the two feet are at an angle like the hands of a clock (at 10 and 2), close to each other. It’s also far more safe to rest the weight more on one foot than on the other (which will enhance your curves). It has far less to do about “emulating the natural feminine pose” but is much more a function of physics — keeping a proper balance. Anyone who has trained martial arts or even some formal ballroom dancing will immediately recognise those poses as being the ones providing the best balance (although, of course, women always keep the legs together, which would look awkward in martial arts). Even when sitting down, if your genitalia is safely tucked in, crossing your legs is far more natural than in “male mode”, since there is nothing “in the way”.

Although some womanly postures and poses are a social function — for instance, keeping your legs together when sitting down prevents guys to look up your skirts; similarly, having your back straight instead of slouching, will prevent those same guys to admire your cleavage better — most, I have found out, are just natural functions that come from the need to deal with a whole lot of accessories and clothing types that guys simply don’t have to worry with. This made me think that the sometimes “effeminate” look on men portrayed on paintings between the 15th and 18th century is because the dressing code was so different. Corsets, just to take an example, were a mandatory male accessory until well into the 19th century, even though they looked a bit different; males did wear high heels and long-haired wigs in the 17th and 18th century, too. And of course they wore tights during that period as well. It’s not so surprising that their poses, which might look and feel natural for them, look “effeminate” through our 21st-century eyes…

Still, I’m not saying that I’m either an “expert” in female posturing (I am not!!) or even that it’s something “easy” to accomplish, e.g. just wear a dress and some high heels, and you’re done. That would be a quite simplistic statement! Having lived a large part of our lives as males, we are conditioned — trained — to move and pose in a certain way: when we start dressing and using accessories which were designed for women, it all looks awkward. In fact, nothing is more frustrating, pitiful, or even comic than watching a male donning his first dress and feminine attire: he’ll invariably try to use his acquired male gestures and try to express them inside clothing and accessories that were simply never designed to allow them! That’s why it seems so ridiculous: you’re trying to use male gestures which won’t work at all, just because you’re not familiar with the way your whole outfit conditions your movements. But over time, all those “new” gestures will just become a matter of necessity. One of my stupid training to get more familiar with the proper gestures is to do my allotted house chores (e.g. everything but cooking, for which I absolutely lack any talent) when crossdressed. It drove me insane trying to change the bed covers when wearing heels and with long fingernails!… even something simple like putting the dishes in the dishwasher seemed impossible. But I learned a lot, like the proper way to pick something up on the ground when inside a tight-fitting dress — the “male” way of bending and picking it up without “grace” simply won’t work, you’ll rent the dress and probably stumble on your heels 🙂 However, if you do all those chores plenty of times, all your movements will be graceful and very feminine — there is simply no other way for you to do them without ruining your outfit. For me, what this means is that, over time, I have to think less and less on how to move and behave like a woman, when I’m crossdressed, just because there is a right way to do it, and a wrong way. You learn the right way even if you’re not consciously wishing to be “more feminine”; with enough training, it’s not “harder” nor “requires a lot of effort”, it’s just the only way that it works, and by a lovely “coincidence”, it just happens to be the way it looks more feminine!

But it comes with a price.

When you’re subconsciously moving around as a woman because it’s really just the only way to move when you’re fully dressed — consciously you might just be thinking about the chores you’re doing, or about what you’re writing on the chatroom/blog, or just lighting a cigarette to relax, and not really worrying if you’re doing it in a “feminine” way or not — this kind of training will also change the way you think and feel. It’s very hard to describe it to anyone who is not a regular crossdresser, because it’s that kind of thing that you really have to experience. Let me try to give an example. When I first started to use silicone breastforms, which have the same weight and inertia as real human breasts, my first feelings were mixed. Of course they were enticing and alluring, and erotically very exciting — because that’s part of being a crossdresser, you get excited when you dress like a woman — but they were, well, a pain. In some cases, a physical pain (if you read my other blog post about my tragedies of gluing breastforms to your chest, you know what I mean), because they didn’t feel natural, and now you have a new garment on which chaffs on your chest (I get welts from wearing a bra for several hours at a stretch, for example). They are also a more “mental” kind of pain, since you have to remember how to adjust them, or remind yourself that they’re “there” when you squeeze through a narrow passage to a room in your home which you would otherwise go through without a second thought, and so on. Well, of course, for a crossdresser, all these are part of the experience and thus also exciting, but during the first times, they might feel strange and awkward. Similarly, the first time you use a gaff (or very tight pants) and learn to tuck in your genitalia, it might be way more uncomfortable than “sexy and exciting”, specially when you lack the experience to do it properly, think you’ve done it right, then sit right on top of your precious bits with all your weight and squeeze them. Ouch! Not fun! You tolerate the experience because, well, it’s part of an experience that you love, but it’s not exactly all fun

But of course, as time goes on, things start swiftly to change, as you start to learn to “do things right”, like how to use the least amount of tape to get good-looking cleavage (something which took meyears to learn!). In my case, and I don’t know if it’s common to everybody, what happens is that while I’m starting to dress up, I get very, very excited. My whole body tingles with expectation to see the finished result, and, when I’m finally finished, I’m very self-conscious, usually very nervous (like on my first ever day!) and trembling due to the adrenaline rush — simply put, I’m excited all over. This is the moment where I still walk shakily on my heels, notice (too late!) that I didn’t adjust the gaff properly, and forget about smiling, because I’m way too excited, way too self-conscious, to really be able to remember everything. I’m just on an adrenaline overdose, and feeling the rush, and, in a sense, my whole body seems to be on remote control by a very rookie pilot who doesn’t know which buttons to press to make things happen.

This “rush” happens to me every time I dress, but… it quickly passes after a few minutes. After half an hour or so, I would describe the sensation as simply “letting Sandra take over”. Now I don’t need toconsciously think about how to move, how to walk, how to brush my hair away from my face, or even how to light a cigarette. While my male self might need to “remote control” my body to do all those things during that self-conscious phase, Sandra, by contrast, doesn’t need to worry about any of those things. My female self just knows what to do, and has plenty of experience doing so, and everything comes natural to her, because there is really no other way to do it properly.

Now this is not a “personality split” or, worse, some kind of demonic possession!! Not at all. Imagine that you’ve learned to ride a bicycle or ballroom dancing when you were a kid, but haven’t done that regularly for many years. Then all of a sudden a friend invites you to a bike ride across the country. The first minutes are the most difficult ones, as your brain tries to quickly remember how exactly you need to move and find your balance on top of a bike (or in a ballroom) and remember how the brakes work, remember how to shift, how to turn, and so forth… but since you have learned all these gestures and poses in your past, it’s just a question of time until your past training “takes over” and, well, you can stop worrying about it. Instead, you’ll just enjoy the view and chatting with your friend. It might take a few minutes, or some hours, but, eventually, you’ll get the hang of it — because it’s a kind of training that you did have acquired in the past, and it just takes a while for your brain to adapt and adjust, and, well, “take over”.

I think that is the best way I can describe my own crossdressing experience after the first moments of the adrenaline rush is that the acquired training of moving, acting, posing, and so forth, while crossdressed, will “take over” the conscious effort of doing all those things, and it just becomes a function of your body, as natural as breathing.

Of course this doesn’t apply if you attempt to do something new which you never done before when crossdressing — on that moment, your conscious mind needs to take over again, and all its sets of instructions to move your body in that new situation will be designed for a male body in male attire, so there will be some difficulty while you figure out what works best if you’re in female attire. So there might be a moment of awkwardness — or comic relief! — as you struggle to make sense of your body and your outfit to deal with the new situation. For example, you will need to learn how to drive a car again, now that you have long fingernails, hair (and breasts!) that get tangled in the seat belt, and high heels with which to press the pedals. The feedback you get is completely different than the one you get in male attire, so you will need to adjust.

The point here is that it becomes easier with time. The more time you crossdress, the more activities you do while crossdressed, the more often you wear women’s clothing — all that will make engaging a completely new activity more easy. Have you ever watched a woman in a dress and high heels attempting to do something she never did before? Like, say, handling a pump at the gas station? She’ll look awkward too; our male brains will probably describe it as “cute” (or “embarassingly cute”) and just smile (while we’d cackle with wild laughter if we saw a crossdresser doing the same thing!). Then watch that very same woman after having performed the same thing over and over again — she’ll handle the gas pump like a professional attendant, dress or no dress, heels or no heels, just because she found the “right” way to do it. However, and this is the point, she’ll do it in a feminine way.

Now I think I came round full circle. From learning techniques to properly observe my own mind and the way I react to things, I observed my own reactions when crossdressed, and watched what my mind was doing. It was, mostly, getting trained — becoming more and more familiar with everything that is feminine (and loving it every second!), and, like what happens with all kinds of training, pushing the constantly-conscious mind that has to learn a lot of new things when wearing woman’s clothing into the trained subconscious that just “knows” how to do everything properly, leaving the mind free to do other things (like enjoying everything that was happening!). It’s pretty much the same thing as when I learned ballroom dancing: at the beginning, i just worried about the steps, and the posture, and listening to the music and making sure the steps matched the rhythm, and being very self-conscious about my position in relation to my partner (so that I wouldn’t step on her!) and in relation to the whole room. But after a few years (I’m a slow learner!), I wouldn’t worry about any of that: my mind would just be free to chat with my partner and have a good time during the dancing classes, which is supposed to be the whole point of going there!

But the next step is that the whole “training” also feeds back into the mind itself, and shapes it. The more I learned how to move and behave as a girl, the more I learned all these tiny tricks about balance, pose, gestures, and so forth, the more my whole mind got a powerful new type of feedback about the way I experience my surroundings. Perceptions change: now the whole universe gets filtered to my mind from the perspective of a woman, not of a man. This shouldn’t be too surprising. Our brain gets visual feedback and adapts its perception to the kind of visual feedback it gets (other things, like balance and inertia, are more subtle but nevertheless there). If I reach for my lighter, but what my angle of vision sees is a femininely attired arm, with long fingernails, reaching for the lighter, the brain just tells the conscious mind “this is a woman reaching for her lighter”, and this triggers some emotional responses that are appropriate for that visual perception. For instance, one of the things that I almost always notice when crossdressed is the texture of the lighter or of the cigarette itself. As a male, I never even remotely think about that. Women, however, are much more attuned to textures (talk to any genetic woman you know, ask them about their taste experience, and you’ll see that more often than not, she’ll not only talk about flavour and smell, but often about the texture of things she eats) — if it weren’t so, we wouldn’t have those lovely silky, lacey things to wear! — and react far stronger to them than most men (who will worry more about visuals). There might even be an evolutionary explanation for that: primitive humans had a clear role separation: women would gather roots and berries while men went out to hunt. Hunting requires strong visual coordination (tracking prey, but also keeping visually in touch with the other hunting partners), while picking up things from the ground will very likely require a lot more textual experience, and thus it’s not surprising that, 100,000 years later, women are still keenly attracted to textures and have a more acute touch sense, while men are purely visual beings. However, in spite of those clear role separations, it doesn’t mean that the two genders have such different brains; it’s rather more a question of focus. A male artisan, working with different materials on his workshop, will probably have a much keener touch sense than the average woman. And it goes without saying that any female artist will have a far more powerful visual sense than any man; in fact, the old saying that men just see 16 colours while women can distinguish between the subtle colour difference between “coral” and “salmon”, shows that there can’t be much difference between the brains. It’s just a question of how each bit of the brain is used for. Women’s clothing is designed to give a pleasurable experience to the touch because women still care about the touching experience after those 100,000 years, but that doesn’t mean that guys cannot appreciate the same intensity of experience — they just have little opportunity of doing so. But when they’re crossdressed, they have exactly the same experience, and my reasoning is that they appreciate it in pretty much the same way — and the same intensity — that women do.

So a male crossdresser might start with the urge to dress like a woman because he feels that need to have a “female experience” — that would be the driving force behind it — but once he starts to “immerse” himself in women’s attire, the female experience will feedback and enhance, stimulate, expand, refine the “thinking like a woman” bit. Which in turn will enrich the whole experience — it becomes more and more natural to dress like a woman and feel and experience what a woman feels and experience; it becomes more easy to move, act, gesture like a woman — and, ultimately, it will also make the mind subtly change to think more like a woman.

I used to think it was something that you could switch on and off more easily. A lot — if not all! — of crossdressers tend to say exactly that. They’re fine in being males most of the time, but enjoy the special moments when they can forget about their male selves and get in touch with their female selves — temporarily. When they remove the last bit of makeup from their faces, they’re back in their comfortable male environment. True crossdressers enjoy the best of both worlds, not excluding any of the experiences in favour of the other: both are part of their minds.

Well, I have to say that pretty much the same happens to me. When I finally put away all my clothing and accessories, wear my male pyjamas and sit on the sofa to relax after a crossdressing session, usually reading a book and having a last smoke, I have “discarded” the whole experience as Sandra and returned back to my “male” mode of behaviour. I won’t sit straight up and cross my legs. I won’t smoke with feminine gestures. I might yawn and stretch (or scratch!) myself just like any other guy. All my perceptions will be male again, and I’ll behave according to it. At least until recently it was just like that.

Women don’t stop being women when they take their fancy dresses off and packed their heels away. They might adopt a slightly more relaxed posture if they do the same thing, i.e. read a book and have a last smoke before going to sleep, but they will still perceive the world around them through a “female filter” and behave accordingly. Even if they’re wearing pyjamas and flat slippers and tied their hair in a bun, they will nevertheless move and behave like any women, even when “relaxed” in very casual, comfy attire. They’ll still be sexy, exciting, and move and gesture and pose like the sexy and exciting creatures they are. So we cannot say that “it’s all about the clothes”, although there is often a difference, but it’s certainly not so harsh and abrupt. I think that the main difference is that we crossdressers — and I mean the ones that dress occasionally, i.e. not every day — have our minds “trained” to behave in two different and antagonistic modes, male and female, and switch accordingly. While women are just trained to behave in female mode, all the time, 24h/day, and even if they’re not feeling particularly sexy because their minds might be busy with something else, e.g. reading a book, without external stimuli towards their femininity — they’re in casual pyjamas, not sexy outfits — they will still “radiate” femininity just because that’s how their minds were constantly trained to do so.

But the more I “train” to act and behave like a woman, the more it becomes a “second nature” that just requires a bit of stimulus to put my brain into a “female shift” — just looking at the fingernails is often enough — the harder it is to “discard” the female behaviour and get back to “male mode”. A year or two ago, I’d switch back to “male mode” the very instant I’d finished packing all my things, and this was done automatically and subconsciously; I wouldn’t think much about it. Nay, I wouldn’t think about it at all — it just happened.

These days, however, as I said at the very beginning, I’m much more aware of what my mind is doing. Not all the time — it will take decades of practice for that! — but definitely more often than before. And what happens now is that I have to consciously get back to “male mode”. It’s not hard to do so — I’m not saying that. Usually, all it requires is the awareness that my pyjamas do not feel even close to what my female clothes feel; to experience how my feet inside the flat slippers touch the ground in such a different way than my heels; to sit down, unencumbered by a corset, and assume a slouching posture; and so forth. Tiny details, which in microseconds will give my brain the proper feedback — “I’m not a woman any longer” — and let me quickly revert to my good, old, male self again.

The difference, as said, is that I do it consciously, with awareness that all these things are happening in my mind, before I “return” to “male mode”.

And a question naturally arose next. I don’t have that much training behaving as a woman; adding up all hours that I was crossdressed, I’d say that they were perhaps some 4000 hours in total. It seems a lot, but it pales in comparison to the 360,000 hours I have spent as a guy in male mode. On the other hand, you’re supposed to learn how to drive a car in 25-50 hours; but, again, “driving a car” is probably far, far easier than “being a woman”. But perhaps something which could be compared is to get a university degree, which takes about some 3000-5000 hours, depending on what you’re training for. After that degree, even though you have zero experience, you’re qualified to get a professional job in that area. After 3-5 years of experience — some extra 5000-8000 hours or so — you’re considered to be an experienced professional in an area. Hmm. So you see the analogy here: I think I’m close to having completed my “degree in applied female studies”; if such a thing existed, I’d be probably close to be released into the job market as a professional in that area 🙂

I know I’m stretching the analogy here! But bear with me for a moment. What I feel about my crossdressing is that I’m nowhere near to “pass” in public; however, I think I have acquired all the skills that I possibly need to pass in public, if that were my ultimate goal: live as a woman. I might look still awkward and strange to most people, but not much more awkward than a lawyer or a doctor fresh from college starting on their first day of “real” work. I have acquired the basic background of what it feels and means to “be” a woman, I just don’t have any experience in actually be one. And perhaps with a bit of false modesty I might add that I have pretty much leaned enough to understand most aspects of the “female experience” (well, at least the fundamental ones), and, while I might not be good at it yet (because I’ve just “graduated” and haven’t lived in “the real world”), I’m as good as a student on their first job: a rookie, still doing things awkwardly, but having at least a hint on why they’re doing things wrong, and having acquired the skills, methods and techniques that will enable them to work as a good professional. All they lack is experience.

Even a “rookie” lawyer or doctor already thinks, acts, and behaves like a professional lawyer or doctor — they know the jargon, they know the procedures, they know what books to read to further their studies, they know how to interact with their clients and patients. Of course they might know far more about theory and little about practice, but they have at least acquired the mindset that will make them to behave in their future lives as nothing else but a lawyer or a doctor. A recently graduated lawyer has the “lawyeriness” already set in their minds. They might still have to do a small effort to think and act like a lawyer — because they’re not yet fully familiar with everything that comes with the “lawyer package” — but they won’t “forget” those things on a pinch and revert back to behaving like someone who never read a Law book before. Of course that doesn’t mean they cannot relax, have different hobbies, even different jobs requiring totally different skills — but it certainly means that a certain mindset has already been engraved in their minds, which will be carried during all their professional lives (assuming they exercise Law, of course), and just be reinforced all the time, as they interact with people that look upon them as lawyers, and demand a lawyer’s response from them. The “awkwardness” from the first days will swiftly fade after a few years, and they will just laugh at how silly they behaved on those first days, when they were still unsure about what to do, and had to do a conscious effort to “behave like a lawyer”.

Given enough time acting and behaving like a woman, getting used to have the same kind of feedback a woman gets when wearing fancy dresses, high heels, long hair, and warm breastforms, there issomething that has to change in our minds as well. The analogy with getting a degree utterly fails in one point: crossdressers have to have the urge first to crossdress — unlike lawyers, who are not born as such — even though they might have no idea why they feel the urge, and have no idea what happens when they first wear women’s clothing (they might just imagine what they might feel, and in a sense, project their expectations of what they will feel). But after the first experiences, and assuming that a crossdresser becomes regular in their activity, I’d say that there are at least some parallels with the way the mind changes when engaging in any kind of training.

So my big question is: when do I know when I’ve crossed the line — “graduated” as a woman — and what happens next? To be honest, I’m a bit scared of the answer…