Like most of us, my introduction to transgender began with my earliest memories. Unlike most of you, that was a very long time ago. Things were different, really different, to be honest, Don Draper could have been my father. I remember being shooed outside so the adults could play bridge, "Jess, go outside and take the rest of the kids with you. Bring your BB gun, y'all can play with that". They did not call me Jess, but they did say 'yall' and the BB gun thing is true.
So my understanding of transgender began at a time when no one used the term, or understood the idea. Around 1967 or so, there was a Time magazine article about sex change, complete with pictures of pretty girls who had been men. I was fascinated. I remember my mother saying 'they had to go to Sweden, doctors here would not do such a thing.' And 'Look at it's upper arm, it's too big, you can always tell' . Yes she used the pronoun 'it's'.
The knowledge that there was information tucked away in books and magazines lead me to seek them out. In the past, it was far from as convenient as it is now. Google never stares down at you when you type in a search phrase as did the librarian upon being presented a book with transgender themes.
I learned the 'woman trapped in a Man's body' phrase, and 'sexual reassignment procedure' that involved years of therapy, that you had to prove you were not just 'kidding', or could not be 'cured'. Next were hormones and to live as the opposite sex for at least a year. Followed by a complex 'surgical origami' procedure on your genitals to reverse them.
Yes, I know, please don't correct me, There is more to it than that. I said this is what I was able to gleem from the poor pittance of information available in the 1960's, 1970's, the 1980's , 1990's...
By the 2000's there was new information beginning to come out and I heard the term transgender for the first time. This was good, but the basic info was still firmly planted in mind. 'If you wanted to express gender other than what was expected, you had to completely change everything.
Fast forward to the relative present and I had come out as a ...Crossdresser?, part time female impersonator?...what? I had really just told everyone, save a few, was that 'I liked to play girl'. I knew I wanted to express my feminine inside, but I was not up for a complete change, I am fond of my naughty bits and am attracted only to women.
After a couple of years going out to the local LGBT scene, mostly bars, I got tired of it and just stayed home. Finally I found a piece of info that provided a new unsuspected alternative. There is something between full on Gender A and Gender B. and there were people out there that looked like Gender B while still perfectly happy to keep the naughty bits of Gender A.
So I decided to start HRT, but that meant I would have to see a doctor. Would this be the beginning of the long, arduous procedure of me convincing a string of people that I was not crazy, broken (or fixable)?
The appointment came, the doctor is there and I blurt out 'I'm transgender!' . He pauses, looks reflective, I'm thinking 'mandatory trips to the therapist', a begrudging 'maybe in a year or two'. But he just looks up and says 'I have several transgender patients. What do you want?' and proceeds to give me a run down on what he can do, what does what, and a lecture on the evils of estrogen pills, he only approves of estrogen patches, not pills. Next two of his assistants come in with a huge stack of sample estrogen patches, different doses. They instruct me on how he wants me to ramp up and ask if I have any questions, then send me on my way with a smile on their face, relief on mine. Easier than getting a flu shot.
So what is the point of this long drawn out rambling? Part of what has always held me back, was simple bad information. I was working on impressions from long ago. In my mind this, like most everything I had ever thought about my transgender feelings, were overblown.