Soooooo I’ve been neglecting my ‘online presence’ for quite a while now… I do apologise for that! It has been a complex sequence of months with little spare time to do much…
Since I last wrote on my blog, I’ve lived in four different apartments… moving three times in less than 10 months! I know, it sounds awful, but the only reason for those multiple moves was… bad timing! Let me explain briefly: after my dad died, I sold the tiny apartment where I used to live and moved back to the City (where all conveniences are available at the distance of a 5-minute walk — even public transportation!) with wife & cats. Only… the timings were all wrong! There is a concept called ‘bridge loaning’ where a bank sort of holds your new home as escrow so that you can safely sell the old one, do all needed restoration & improvement work, and move in leisure. Unfortunately, that financial service is not available in most (if not all) banks around here — they certainly know about it, they just don’t offer the service…
So what this meant was selling the old house while at the same time buying a new one, and renting a place to live while the restoration work was underway. That was the original plan at least. But it didn’t happen that way, mostly because I bought the new place with cash (and not a mortgage!) but the money I had from my father was not enough — I needed part of what I got from the sale of the old house first. Well, I’m not going to dwell upon the details, but everything went wrong in the worst possible way (Murphy’s Law!), I ‘lost’ the apartment we wished to buy because I didn’t have all the money available yet, then, when we finally started looking at other places, the original owner wondered if we had already bought something else, because — for various personal reasons — they didn’t manage to sell the apartment we wanted… so we could still buy it if we wished. Of course, the money I had given as deposit would be lost (because I failed to fulfil the timeline set in the contract…), so the place would actually be bought for a higher price than before, but… it would eventually solve all our troubles (we did really enjoy that apartment!). So we went ahead… but in the meantime, the place we had rented temporarily from a friend’s sister-in-law was not available for the amount of time we needed, so we need to move once more… spending in total ten months or so of rent, waiting for finally being able to move to the new home.
Whew! No, it wasn’t my easiest year by far. Now, fortunately, all that mess is over, we’re in the new place — about a year after we first saw it! — and slowly (very slowly!) we fell back into our routine…
The main change from our previous routine is basically having access to all amenities and public transportation (the subway) practically across the street. This is important because, if you remember my earlier posts, my wife does not drive (and now that self-driving cars are just around the corner, she completely gave up the idea of getting a driver’s license), which meant that I was her personal chauffeur (or rather, Uber driver — she would message me and I’d go pick her up wherever she happened to be). She would mostly need me to drive her to work, to university, and to go shopping for food… which would practically take all my spare time. This was incredibly tough on me and I didn’t cease to complain to my psychologist about it!
Now, however, things are a bit easier. We barely use the car these days — 99% of what we need on a regular basis is available, as said, within a 5-minute-walk-radius (and this includes more esoteric things, like the day I wanted to buy a new keyboard — not a computer keyboard, but rather one to play the piano! — and I found an amazing shop nearby. By mere coincidence, across the street where we live now, there is a recording studio… a very discreet one, we didn’t notice it until we read some signs posted on their doors… small world indeed!). We mostly use the car to drive to my mother-in-law (as well as my father-in-law too, of course… he sadly passed away a month ago. Long story. Really long story…); it remains parked within sight of our wonderful veranda most of the week. Sometimes, of course, there might be an ’emergency’ requiring the car; and although I can easily go to my psychologist by public transportation, I take three times as much to reach his place (it’s not far away; it’s just that public transportation around here is not necessarily the best option in terms of speed); because most of the time I’ve spent way too much time in ‘dressing up’, I’m always late, and tend to use the car instead (also, my wife, for some reason, does not like the idea of using public transportation while crossdressed — as if I haven’t done that before, several times in fact, without her ‘official stamp of approval’…).
I would, therefore, expect that I’d be able to dress much more, now that so many things are, in a way, much ‘simpler’ now. In fact, in this new house, I got many ‘special’ places to store all my stuff — my wife was very generous in allowing me a slot on the wardrobe, for instance, but I got more space besides that. So, instead of having all my stuff stuck into the weirdest places, and having to gather everything together before even starting, now things are much more practically disposed and organised. Also, it pays off having an architect designing one’s renovation — architects are very good at creating ‘space’, even when space seems limited, and the result was that there is way more storage room for everything, as well as being much, much easier to do all my stuff inside the bathroom, where there are convenient places — shelves etc. — to temporarily keep my things around at an arm’s reach while I’m using them, and easily store them away when I’m finished.
Alas… Time, the big conspirator, is always working against me. I thought things would be easier in this new apartment. I thought I’d have way more free time as a result. But, in truth, sometimes it even feels that I have less time overall.
Let me try to explain why I have that feeling. In the past few years, my wife would spend one or two days per week away the whole day — leaving by mid-morning and returning after dinner. Those days would very often be used for me to dress up in leisure, have lunch, and then enjoy the rest of the day with whatever I wanted. At nightfall, I would return home, start the undressing, and be ready for dinner when my wife eventually arrived. While such days were actually a bit rarer than I wished for, they happened perhaps once or twice per week.
Now, thanks to much easier access to her workplace, and not needing me to drive her around, my wife just works a part-time of about 6 hours, and only in the afternoons. Her current academic studies — writing a thesis — also do not need her physical presence at the university, so this year she decided to take the mornings off (which she mostly spends buying food). As a consequence, this means that I only have the afternoons free for becoming Sandra — and, since my wife is returning home much earlier than before (sometimes even arriving before 8 PM!), it means that my ‘time window’ has shortened considerably. Assuming that I’m able to do the ‘basics’ in the morning (which mostly means having a bath and shaving very closely) — which sometimes I cannot, for various reasons — I nevertheless still require around 2 hours to ‘get ready’ to go out as Sandra. Assuming that we finish lunch (and subsequent cleaning up, which is my home chore) around 2 PM, it means going out at about 4 PM, but returning at 7 PM, since I will need at least one hour to ‘undress’, remove the makeup, wash the underwear, and basically store everything in its proper place.
I have managed to do so several times — in fact, things went so smoothly that I have often the impression that my wife never even noticed that I spent the whole afternoon as Sandra — but usually things do not go that smoothly. There may be external interruptions, like someone calling me on the phone (in some situations, I might be able to put them on the speaker and continue to do the makeup, but this is not always possible), or an urgent e-mail which has to be sent because a client really needs it now. Often, however, I fall prey to self-sabotaging (something which requires another full article, which I’ve been writing about and not finished yet); and, also quite often, sometimes things simply ‘go wrong’ when dressing up, and I take way longer than planned.
For example, since I’ve ordered a bespoke corset (actually, a pair), I started to lace myself in the back. You’d think that would be the most normal thing in the universe — that’s how corsets are supposed to be laced, after all! — but in order to save time, I simply used to tie them at the front instead. It’s so much easier (and way faster)! However, a side-effect is that this ruins the corset in the long run — the laces are not supposed to be constantly chaffing at the corset’s exterior. With off-the-counter corsets, mostly ordered cheaply over the Internet, I couldn’t care less. With a custom-order, bespoke corset, which costs an arm and a leg (and is worth every penny!), I have to be much more careful and follow the instructions precisely. One of them, of course, is that the laces have to be tied at the back.
Fortunately, with a custom-order corset, which fits like a glove, it’s much, much easier to do so than I thought. Well… to a point. Usually, the final knot is something I accomplish easily in a minute or less. But sometimes… I keep doing it wrongly, over and over, and I might have to try a dozen times (sometimes more!) until I’m satisfied with the result. Now instead of taking less than a minute, suddenly twenty minutes have elapsed — twenty precious minutes when my time as Sandra is at a premium!
This happens a lot with any step in my preparation… getting the eyeliner ‘just right’ might be just a question of drawing the ‘perfect’ line on the first time around (one minute), but so often I need several attempts, ‘erasing’ the line and drawing it again, and again, and again… until eventually I’m happy with the result… and another twenty minutes have been wasted. The same can be said about the lips and so forth. Not to mention figuring out half-way through with my makeup that, after all, the clothes I had picked do not fit any more or have some stain (or hole!) which I cannot ‘disguise’ in a hurry, or suddenly the weather changed and it’s way hotter than what was predicted and I have to change to lighter clothing… or, well, at the very last step — usually, glueing the fake nails — I realise that the set of ten nails is missing one, and there is simply no time left to get some polish and paint a replacement; it’s far faster just to get a different set, but, still, more minutes get wasted… and, of course, sometimes I notice at the very last moment that the heels I’ve picked for the day are in need of repairs and I cannot wear them… anyway, you get my point. There are hundreds of things that can ‘go wrong’. And all those minutes add up very quickly.
The result is that sometimes I’m just finished and ready to go out by 6 PM. But by then it’s too late: I might have to be back at 7 anyway, to start the whole process of undressing to be ready by 8. I resign myself to take some pictures and that’s pretty much all I do. A whole day gets wasted that way, and for what? A few minutes of pleasure.
But wait, you might say; wasn’t my wife ‘tolerant’ about Sandra? So why don’t I start the whole routine early in the morning, to be able to go out after lunch, with several hours of free time?
Well… as time has passed, my wife changed her views about ‘transgender’ people. As I’ve mentioned in the past, she is a deep thinker and follows her reasoning until the last possible consequences. She is now fully convicted that most transgender people are just ‘activists’ of a ‘lifestyle’ — people that have been able to create a mostly political movement to get them certain ‘rights’, including many which are completely ludicrous, such as the right to change grammar (and force others to change grammar, too) in order to defend their ‘identity’. Activists have infiltrated themselves simultaneously in political circles but also among scientists, who are only allowed to publish research that validates the activists’ view — which, in turn, is used by activists as ‘proof’ that their views are ‘correct’ and, therefore, place pressure on politicians to make them pass laws that favour the trans community.
My wife has absolutely no issue with people dressing as they want (so long, of course, that such people are fully willing to embrace the consequences of their particular choice of clothing). She is fine in viewing crossdressing as a harmless hobby (as long as it remains harmless, i. e. no unnecessary risks are taken while crossdressed — such as taking the subway, for instance); just as some people are completely fanatic about sports and can be wholly irrational about it, my wife can agree that the same applies to ‘crossdressing’ in general. She may have just a few qualms about the insane amount of time it takes to ‘crossdress’ and the very little pleasure that is derived from it (considering the amount of time spent in ‘dressing up’ and later in undressing), but, in general, she agrees that there are way worse ways of waste time.
However, shifting the concept of ‘crossdressing’ towards a glorified form of ‘hobby’, or ‘habit’, or ‘lifestyle’ — as opposed to crossdressing as a gender expression — means emptying the whole package that comes with ‘being transgender’, and crossdressing becomes just another activity, one that is merely tied to leisure, but has no more philosophical strings attached. In other words: the whole ‘transgender narrative’ is nothing more and nothing less than, well, BS — convenient for some activists to impose their views over others and be very vocal about it. Oh, and incidentally, it’s also a way to escape the usual treatment for a very specific form of dysmorphia, which is avoiding cosmetic surgery. By relabeling their dysmorphia as ‘gender dysphoria’, transgender activists are able to get access to cosmetic surgery (in fact, they have been able to persuade doctors that it’s the only alternative to ‘cure’ their gender dysphoria).
You can see how my wife thinks — in fact, it’s not much different than what most heteronormative people think about so-called ‘transgender people’. The main difference is that my wife does not use classic arguments such as ‘it’s a question of biology’ or ‘God wants humans to be male or female and not change as they wish’ — my wife is several degrees above such simplistic (and easily falsifiable) arguments. Her own arguments are much tougher to debunk: if one points out current research on transgender issues, she will always shrug it off as ‘activist BS’ (or at least activist-inspired, or activist-promoted research, in areas that are wishy-washy pseudoscience anyway — according to her, of course). If one points out the historical background — there have always been transgender people around, in all societies, in all epochs — she will argue that each culture has dealt with the ‘wish to crossdress’ differently (sometimes simply suppressing it and imprisoning or killing those who ‘indulged’ in the ‘vice’ of wearing cross-gendered clothing…), and it’s just our culture and our civilisation, which has access to amazing technology, which allows human beings to physically change their bodies, via hormones and surgery, so that they can ‘pretend’ to be of a different gender than the one they’ve been assigned at birth — and therefore, because this is a possibility today, activists have embraced the technology allowing them to change their bodies, and developed a very convincing narrative to justify being ‘allowed’ to undergo such changes (in many countries for free, thanks to welfare states funding all required surgeries, therapy, and often even voice coaching or some of the necessary drugs).
Usually, my last argument is pointing out that intersex people do exist; and what about non-heterosexuality — is that the result of ‘activism’ as well? Here my wife swiftly changes sides: she even admits that there are people who are born in the wrong body and that this manifests itself at 3 years of age or so so that such people ought to be allowed to go through puberty appropriate to the gender they identify with. In other words: sure, intersex people, homosexuals (or other forms of non-heterosexuality), as well as what used to be called ‘primary transexuals’ (nowadays a horrid term which has been stricken from all literature about the subject), all these kinds of people exist, are allowed the ‘right’ to be or become what they identify with, and their sexuality is a personal issue which is part of one’s private life. She is naturally also quite tolerant of all sorts of sexual fetishes: while she doesn’t understand why crossdressing ought to be so pleasant as a fetish, she admits that most fetishes are impossible to fathom to anyone who does not share them, but, sure, such fetishes are ‘natural’, all humans have them in a form or the other, and so long as nobody gets hurt or forced to engage in sexual intercourse against their will, she’s fine with all that.
She would even be fine if I admitted to a crossdresser fetish, but it would be totally wasted on her since she’s not attracted physically to ‘men in women’s clothes’ — but she can certainly believe (and accept) that there are such women who might find the crossdressing fetish attractive (and, obviously, the same applies to female-to-male crossdressing fetishists).
However, she draws a red line at activists’ claims that someone in their adult life, enjoying crossdressing as a hobby or a fetish, ‘suddenly’ realise that, after all, they have been assigned the wrong gender at birth — and promptly start to ruin their lives, cutting all ties to family, friends, and colleagues at work, to start a ‘new’ life from scratch, poor, stigmatized, and subject to transphobia — and remember that ‘transphobia kills’. Such a ‘transition’ is beyond her ability to understand in a rational manner — why someone would seriously wish to undergo all that trouble just to be able to wear clothes that will fit them better (after hormones and surgery) — and the argument that gender dysphoria is not rational at all (if it were, psychologists could ‘out-reason’ people suffering from dysphoria and ‘cure’ them) fails to earn some compassion with her. Using Occam’s Razor, she thinks that self-delusion and a very specific form of body dysmorphia, fiercely stimulated by activists, is a far better explanation which does not require such a complex narrative as the whole ‘transgender baggage’ — and, therefore, in a scientific and rational manner, the more complex and confusing mainstream explanation of what ‘transgender’ is should be rejected.
Now, as an exercise to the reader, I leave you with the task of refuting and debunking my wife’s arguments (hint: there is a very specific difference between body dysmorphia and gender-dysphoria-related body issues; a trained psychologist can very easily spot the differences with a few simple questions). But place yourself in her shoes: this is what she believes to be true, and, consequently, her reactions to me as Sandra are driven by those beliefs. She will always fall back to her argument that activists have pretty much ‘invented’ what we call today ‘transgender’; and psychology and psychiatry, while often being able to cure patients, are soft sciences with many errors (see this article on the Smithsonian Magazine explaining why it’s so hard to replicate results in psychology); and, of course, she claims that many studies in the area of gender identity and gender dysphoria are sponsored or promoted by activists and their allies, so the results are, at best, skewed/flawed; at worst, they’re just pseudo-science…
Anyway… I’ve presented my wife’s theories a few times now. The whole point is that I’m pretty sure that she regrets having given me a certain freedom, a few years back, and now fully believes that if she doesn’t keep me on a short leash, I’ll really do something drastic (such as entering transition). So she wants to persuade me that I’m not really ‘transgender’ — just a ‘regular’ crossdresser (I’d argue that all crossdressers are ‘transgender’ to an extent) with some crazy ideas read on the Internet and influenced by online (trans) friends, activists, and activist-inspired doctors.
This allows her to convince herself that I don’t ‘need’ to crossdress as much as I wish; after all, if it’s ‘just a hobby’, it can be relegated to ‘reasonable’ schedules (say, a few hours per week).
My psychologist is flabbergasted by that — because he knows that gender identity issues don’t simply go away by waving a wand and speaking some magic words. But he’s also stumped at how he can help me further…
It will be an interesting year for sure!