Visibility for the gender non-conforming community

I have not met most of you unless you were one of my FB friends before I decided to pull the plug on my nearly 1,000 “friends.”  I am now rethinking that decision after a session with my counselor who has helped me come to grips with my genderfluid self over the past three-plus years.  She is a “butch lesbian” (her description) and pointed out that the CD/gender non-conforming community will never be accepted if we do not at least have visibility within the LGBTQ community.

I work from home and I can be Carrie virtually whenever I want.  I am lucky to have a supportive wife.  I shop for groceries, go out to eat and spend time as Carrie pretty much at will.  In the past year I have pulled back from the local groups, Denver’s Gender Identity Center, the GBLT center in Denver, Out Boulder County and our local Tri-Ess group just because I felt some conflict in all of the groups.  I get the, “So, you are genderfluid, huh?  When are you going to transition/pick a side/get comfortable and admit you are a woman?”  In the LGBTQ community I would say gender non-conforming people are the least understood of any group and by pulling back I added to that.  In the general community, I am very visible – except nobody notices because I have a nice wardrobe and I dress to blend even though I am 5’10” and 185 pounds.

What I mean by this is that by staying closeted and on forums where all of us feel safe we run the risk of our community becoming even more marginalized. While there is the serious concern for safety, especially with today’s political climate, there are “safe harbors” in virtually every city across the US in the form of LGBTQ centers.  As genderfluid (sorry, I just do not like CROSSDRESSER as my label – when I am Carrie, I am Carrie for days or weeks and do not feel like I am crossdressing, but I know I AM part of the community) I need to help other LGBTQ people see that there are a LOT of others like me.

Crossdresser Heaven - Find Your Tribe
I have heard from more than one in the CD community that THOSE LGBTQ PEOPLE “creep me out!”  Even the leaders of Tri-Ess feel that way, as I found through personal communication with them.  We are always in the shadows even though there are way more of us than anyone realizes.  The thing is, the LGBTQ umbrella covers us.  The T even looks like an umbrella and, yes, we are part of the transgender community whether you identify as genderfluid as I do, CD, gender non-conforming, transitioning or whatever label you choose for yourself.  Do not like the T? How about the Q?  The Queer community encompasses a wide range of identities and personalities.
If gender non-conformity is to ever come out of the closet (thank you Jaden Smith!) we need to follow the lead of the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans and Queer folk who blazed that trail.  How would your life be different if you felt comfortable as a heterosexual male being able to just present however you want, whenever you want?  Even though many of our cis-gender friends know Carrie and were at the 62nd birthday party my wife threw for me over the winter, there are still times I am not 100% comfortable.  The younger crowd does not feel the stigma those of us in the Boomer generation feel, but it is still not mainstream for assigned-males.
My goal with this article is not to point fingers but to ask any of you who can to start going outside your comfort zone and get involved with your local LGBTQ community.  Let’s see if we can make our community better understood!

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36 Comments
  1. A very interesting article. With most of it I’m in total agreement. I firmly advocate that we, in the trans community, quit hiding. I say this after years of hiding myself. The LGB community got no where when they were being as secretive as possible. It wasn’t until a significant number of them came out publicly that any of them were able to establish rights and acceptance from the general public by convincing the general public that they were upstanding citizens who’s only difference from the general population was their sexual preference. We likewise need to be visible so that we too can convince the general public that we are upstanding citizens who’s only difference from the general population is our gender identity.

    Now, the problem we face it having the courage to risk it all, just as the LGB community did. That mean risking our family connection, our jobs and our social standing. A huge price to pay for “the cause.” Everyone can’t afford the risk. So it falls to those of us who are already out to our families to assess the risks in the other areas and start taking those risks.

    I’m not advocating bursting out of the closet on all fronts and telling everyone to just deal with it. In my case, being willing to be seen in public by the same people in my male disguise and my true feminine expression… being willing to push the envelope, with the people who’ve only know my male persona, in gender expression, in clothing and hairstyle letting people who know me see that I have a feminine side that, to borrow a CBer’s expression, is “wall to wall and treetop tall.” The changes I made amongst my friends have been subtle but progressive. Over the years I’ve increased the use of women’s clothing in my everyday attire a little at a time to the point I no longer own any men’s clothing. I’ve let my hair grow starting to wear it first in a low ponytail, then a high ponytail and most recently gathered on the sides and top with a barrette at the crown; replacing first my trousers with women’s with the fly on the distaff side, then with side zip and finally elastic waist with no hip pockets; my shirts with loose shirts that button on the distaff side; my shoes went from men’s loafer to women’s penny loafer, then to women’s boots. My socks went to trouser sock, then to knee-highs. All that while, I was wearing a bra starting with small enhancers, growing to and A cup. growing finally to a full C cup. Years ago I began wearing Toujours Moi, by Dana perfumes daily and recently I’ve begun wearing a neutral lipstick. Subtle, progressive changes in how I present myself.

    I’m retired, but I just got a part time job driving school bus in a small western Oregon town with a population of about 2000. I applied with my hair worn as described as above with an obvious bust line.

    I’m sure that people notice I’m not your average male, but I’ve yet to have anyone take except to how I present myself. What I’m saying is, push the envelop where you can.

  2. Sassy Stacy 1 week ago

    I much prefer the term genderfluid than crossdresser because genderfluid describes what I am while crossdresser describes what I do (sometimes?). And I totally see genderfluid is being under the Q umbrella in LGBTQ. Nevertheless, it’ll take more time for the stigma to be lessened in the public sphere.

  3. *skippy1965(Cynthia) 2 weeks ago

    Sorry this is a test to see if I can comment given the performance issues I am experiencing.

  4. Tasi Zuriack 2 weeks ago

    Nicely said Carrie. We use labels so we can relate to other people but it’s a shame that those same labels also act as a filter and sometimes run unwanted interference. It’s almost unconscionable that any in the T community would use labels to separate others from our community. I identify as crossdresser but I could just as well be gender non-forming, genderfluid or just plain transgender. What difference does it make. I’m still a part-time girl when I want to be.

    I’ve been exploring the use of these different terms for some time so this is a most helpful dialogue. My specific interest is because gender counselors don’t understand the trans community unless they are transitioning yet 80% of us will never transition. The media and political communities just as soon cast us all in one mold, but we are hugely diverse. Take a look at my articles on All About Crossdressing and All About Transgenderism on Sister House
    (https://www.sisterhouse.net/library/category/transgender-resources/all-about-crossdressing/?numtoshow=3&archive=yes) and (https://www.sisterhouse.net/library/category/transgender-resources/all-about-transgenderism/?numtoshow=3&archive=yes).

    Yes the key is get out there and be visible. I did when living in the US and now when retired in Mexico. It’s not such a scary world after all

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Hi Tasi,
      Thank you for the informative stuff. I have not had a chance to go through it all yet, but I will.

      I agree that many counselors are just not equipped to deal with “part time girls.” We were so lucky to find a counselor who has experience across the gender and LGBTQ spectrum. I have to give kudos to my wife for digging until she found the person who fit for both of us.

      In the general public, part of the problem, visibility-wise, is people just assume I am transitioning, I think. If I have time to discuss with someone I will share, but for the most part if I am even noticed they just think I am a trans-woman. I have never been mis-gendered in three-plus years.

      That is part of why I keep coming out to more and more friends – and another couple coming to our house for happy hour tomorrow will confirm what they saw on my wife’s FB page when I inadvertently tagged her in a photo on my Carrie FB page.
      Happy Fourth!
      Carrie

  5. Mia West 2 weeks ago

    Carrie,

    I am a trans woman and have known for quite some time. I started my transition a little over a year ago. I have not gotten involved in the local LGBTQ community where I live currently. I was more active in my early 20’s when marching for gay rights than I have been for my own. This last weekend I went out to protest what has been happening out west with the migrant / child issues. While in the same month I did not participate in pride. I don’t feel guilty for it and for the most part it has kept me out of a lot of drama. I like the point that you make for those who are gender fluid or nonconforming and I support them weather they are visible or not. I guess I am so fortunate that others paved the road for me for so many years and has my own personal transition a very happy one, and one with out much conflict. I am not full time yet but am very close to being so. At times when out with friends when I am not dressed as Mia my friends have asked why. The answer is really simple either I did not feel like I had enough time to prepare for the day or event or quite possibly I might not have felt safe where I was going. I hope all under the umbrella of LGBTQA+ feel they are represented, their opinions count, and that their needs are met as far as acceptance as to how they wish to express their gender. Thank you for your article.

    Mia

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Mia, thank you for the reply. I think that for most who transition the goal is to live a binary life, but on the other side of the fence and not straddling it like many of us do. I get that and support it.

      The non-binary/genderfluid/CD community needs pioneers so that one day generations to come can be as comfortable living that non-binary existence as you are living your life now.

      For you in transition I am sure you are Mia regardless of presentation, whereas, for me Carrie is a state of mind that is usually only present when presenting fully female. I find it difficult to blend genders like the young generations do.

  6. Maggie 2 weeks ago

    Thanks for the insights Carrie. What I take away from your article is that no matter the label we should be more willing to get out there in the world and support differences in people whether gay, lesbian, gender non conformist etc as they all have many various labels as well. These communities of people esspecially the LGTBQ folks are the ones that have paved many paths already.
    I have the pleasure of going to an LGBT lounge and the folks there are wonderful and very supportive. I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Helen Boyd who has written books on the subject. As one of her constructive criticism s is and I happen to agree is that the gender fluid community is still so heavily closeted that we do very little to push forward. I feel that your article touched on that and every time we go out or go to an LGBT event we are just going to further our situation even as difficult as this can be for many of us given the threat of job lose or family rejection etc.
    Thanks look forward to exploring this idea as I continue my journey out of the closet!
    Maggie

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Hi Maggie, thank you for the reply. I hope people who read my article do not take it as personal criticism if they feel they must stay in the closet. I get it. However, if we are ever to have a society safe for us to come out there have to be those who are able and willing to pave the way. I actually have an article in mind about staying safe while still being more public.

      As a community, the genderfluid or CD community, is very closeted much like the lesbian, gay, bi and trans communities before us. As you mention, the main reason I am not just totally public is my wife and I both would take the chance of losing our jobs so I keep Carrie “privately public.” All my family knows and I have felt rejection. I knew it was possible, but the overwhelming response has been neutral to positive.

  7. Paula1 2 weeks ago

    Another great article thank you so much

  8. Rozalyne Richards 2 weeks ago

    Hi Carrie it shouldn’t be up to other people how you live your life but it seems that more and more people think that you should live by their ideal’s and not your’s, if some people are happy staying in the closet then that’s their business and nobody else’s, in all walks of life whether if you are gay, straight, bi, or transgender they want you to fit in a box and wear a label, shoes are what you put in boxes not people and the only label you should wear is my name is!!!!!! Hugs Rozalyne x

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Hi Rozalyne, thank you for the reply. I definitely agree that how far “out” a person wants to go is totally up to that person. I just want to be sure it is safe for those who want to be more public, as I am.

      As for labels, I hear that a lot, kind of like the song DON’T FENCE ME IN by Cole Porter. I agree to some extent, but when meeting new people (or coming out to old friends!) it is useful to me to have a descriptor which is both accurate and helps stimulate conversation and questions – hence my use of GENDERFLUID.

  9. Terri Anne 2 weeks ago

    Carrie, Very nicely written article. Thank you for your insight and candor.
    -Terri Anne

  10. Very nice article Carrie. I have to say I am personally fine with the “Crossdresser” label, but I know others aren’t, and if I spent more time as April I might also find it less apt for my situation. In general, I don’t worry too much about labels these days – let people call me what they will. I know that once I got comfortable with who I am, what people called me didn’t seem to matter anymore. And I have found your observations about young people versus us baby boomers to be spot on. Most young people (especially women) are much more open and accepting to those of us who are gender nonconforming.

    Again, great article – I hope to see more from you in the future.

    Hugs,
    April

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Hi April,
      Thank you for the kind words. Four years ago if you had told me I would be spending 20%+ of my time as Carrie I would have called you crazy. If you would have added that I would be this happy in boy-mode I would have have thought you were even MORE nuts. Funny how life works.

  11. *skippy1965(Cynthia) 2 weeks ago

    Carrie Lynn,
    Great article-you have a gift for expression! As a former ambassador once said-“Labels are for cans, not people!” I am not certain where my path lies, but I do know I am enjoying the journey and that Cyn is and always will be a part of my life and what makes me who I am. She shines through at times no matter how I’m dressed. Transitioning may or may not be possible due to work and some family complications, but I find myself feeling more comfortable being out and about as Cyn after spending my first 50 years hiding in the closet. Thank for a thought provoking article!

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Cynthia,
      Be who you need to be to get through. It is as simple and difficult as that.

      We just spent the day with a friend who has medically transitioned and her wife. I was boy-mode which seems to drive them crazy because I can be happy either way. The only time I am not happy is when I get pushed into Carrie-mode or made to feel guilty because I am enjoying boy-mode.

      Again, I know how lucky I am with my circumstances which allow me to be Carrie just about will and with a loving, supportive wife and family.

  12. Why oh why must people label others who are not out of the same mold as the lableler? Is it because they think they are better or are the perfect role model or does it make them feel better about their own inadequacies? Confuscious said…..Empty barrel makes loudest noise. A wise man speaks when he has something to say….a fool speaks because he has to say something.

    Maybe the LGBTQ should drop the labels and go with We are just Ordinary people. I really hate the word queer as well. Lots of people wear so called female apparel….Africans….Tailanders, Shaolin Monks, Swiss Guard of Vatican, the Greeks and let us not forget the “hippies”! Perhaps we should call the normals….unenlightened ones?? After all…..Jesus wore a gown or dare I say dress.
    In todays’ society everyone gets labelled as “something” The law says it is illegal to comment one anothers’ race, color, creed. Is that not what is happening to us??? Maybe we should file a few “racist/discrimination” lawsuits and put an end to this labeling.

    In reality…..so called discrimination will never end.

    Carrie…….thank you for your article….you gave me pause to think. Bless you sweetie.

    Dame Veronica

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your reply. I think it is Eddie Izzard who says, “These are not women’s clothes, they are MY clothes!” LOL. The thing about labels for me is it gives me a starting point in a conversation when I am coming out to someone. If I say “crossdresser,” because of the way media portrays c/d’s as weirdos and degenerates many people are grossed out from the start. If I use “genderfluid” it starts a dialog. They ask questions.

      You are correct on the discrimination thing in my opinion, too. We really are at the beginning, where the lesbians and gays were 20 years ago.

  13. Deety 2 weeks ago

    Thank you for writing this. I too share your concern with the LBGTQ folks. Why is there this emphasis on transition and labelling? I am not, nor do I want to be a woman, but neither am I all that much of a man. I am a ME! An unique human being who happens to enjoy wearing what some people regard as odd. Sexually I am predominately straight, but that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy male beauty or resist sex appeal from any gender.

    I don’t need labels, I don’t need categorisation, I need to be accepted. And I am sorry that doesn’t mean acceptance by a marginal constituency like most LGBT groups but by the world. OK “Queer” might be a starting point but that has perjorative overtones for my generation. We, people like us just need to be recognised as being normal and we need to shout that long and hard

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Thank you for the reply. I agree on ‘queer.’ I try to overlook the connotation, but it is hard. Many in LGBTQ say the Q is QUESTIONING, but that is not a universally held opinion and I am not sure even that Q fits or feels any better to me.

  14. Sarah Daniels (SC) 2 weeks ago

    This is great Carrie, So many people are unsure where they come on the scale. And many dont even know there is a scale.

    I think Gender non conforming probably encompasses more people than we realise. and probably some people dont realise they fit this group either.

    Great article.

    Sarah.

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Thank you Sarah. Until there is less/no social stigma associated with gender non-conformity there is no real way to have any idea how many people actually feel this way.

      It took me 59 years to come to grips with it and accept myself. There are still times I retreat a little like last week when I inadvertently tagged my wife on my Carrie FB page and some of our cisgender friends commented on being accepting. We now have a couple more friends in our tribe so it was all for the best.

  15. Leonara 2 weeks ago

    Carrie,
    Thank you for the timely article..I too consider myself gender fluid but I have been attending counseling to help me with my identity and my femininity… I hope the more ladies who are in the CDH family get a chance to read your article.
    Leonara

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your comments Leonara. It was with the help of our couples counselor three years ago that I realized that I am genderfluid. Finding a counselor with some experience in the gender non-conforming community is paramount to finding acceptance within one’s self, and from those around you, in my opinion. No one can expect for others to love and accept them if they are not willing to learn to love themselves.

  16. Gina Angelo 2 weeks ago

    Thank you Carrie for writing this article. I feel that we could be soulmates in a way. I also am gender non-conforming, though Gina only goes out a few times a month unless I am away at a conference. But I digress. I consider myself a two-spirit because I (like you) do not care for the label “crossdresser” and terms like gender non-conforming are just too long and have no true meaning besides the obvious definition of those words.

    My full transitioning friends consider me “socially transitioned” in that when out, I am Gina. She has a distinct personality separate from my drab self. However I do not plan to transition for many reasons, so I understand that gals like us do need to stand up and be noticed/counted. I hope that some day it gets easier, not by being closeted, but by dressing to blend and being out.

    Thank you again for writing something so close to my heart

    Smooches
    Gina

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Hi Gina, yes, it does sound as though we have a similar path. I always think of myself differently when I am dressed as Carrie rather than boy-mode. However, my wife and our friends really do not see two people anymore other than the obvious clothes and makeup. Carrie dresses to blend in on the stylish side of casual where my boy-mode self is more from the unmade bed school of dress – cargo shorts, week old stubble and a t-shirt. I know how lucky I am that I can go either way just about any time I choose since I work from home and have a wife who is very supportive along with a group of friends who are amazing!

  17. Alexandria Divine 2 weeks ago

    Carrie, thanks so much for sharing this encouragement! After trying to ignore or repress my femininity for a very long time, my newly-self-accepting self is most comfortable identifying as genderfluid. I’m still figuring out what this will look like, and I have plenty of questions to sort out. But I want to be me. And I want to be visible. Your words have helped me immensely.

    • Author
      Carrie Lynn 2 weeks ago

      Alexadria, feel free to reach out any time. It may take me a little time to get back to you, but I know how important it is to have someone with whom you can have an honest and open conversation. For 59 years I thought I was doing all this for sexual gratification and as most American males will say, “Whatever it takes to get off sexually is good with me!!” Knowing this is who I am and admitting it changed my life!

  18. Sophie Amb-France 2 weeks ago

    Carrie, that is an interesting article and thank you for raising that vaild point.

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