Are you a 60+ transGirl?

Miri
6 min readDec 10, 2023

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Those of us who are share a lot. Let’s talk.

Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

Coming of age in the 60s was great! Sort of.

Those of us born in the 40s and 50s grew up in a rigidly enforced gender binary that was — in today’s terms, extreme. I think now it was traumatic for many of us. The long shadow of war was the context for manliness — we were stripped of vulnerable emotions and readied for a destiny of expendability. Alongside that, the blossoming of protest and freedom seeking in the 60s was a thrilling opening.

We hoped it could be true but…

it was going to be harder than it looked to realize a society that was centered around deep emotional and behavioral freedoms. Coming out as gay was getting safer, but being transgender was still an undefined category. I tried over and over to persuade girlfriends that it was natural and harmless for males and females both to be allowed to express gender across the spectrum. Some were interested, but it was too challenging to try to find safety outside the foundational framework of society.

The view of humanity as sorted by nature into binary genders is deeply embedded, and has been dominant for thousands of years. It has its evolutionary justification in the binariness of sexual reproduction, but in practice this binary segregation is repressive, and blocking the natural expression of human beings.

Gender rules are obviously forced on kids. An astonishing amount of daily norm reinforcements are needed for young children. Most fall in line. The justifications given by parents and teachers assert an inescapable correctness. Tradition, history, conservative interpretations of religous teachings, and outright cruelty with threats of violence or shaming are brought in as artillery to overwhelm logical arguments against the heavy handed narrowing of options for males and females alike. Gender non-conformance was not an option, and it was socially acceptable to physically hurt anyone who tested those waters.

Even today, of course, many children judge there is no easy way to successfully escape, and conforming to norms becomes necessary. Conforming does provide order and predictability, and a path to succeed in the first stated goal in the game of life- to achieve the status of ‘man’ or ‘woman’.

In the shadows, though, the fundamental problem inherent in the gender binary remains. Forcing humans to constantly monitor and edit their natural inclinations causes ongoing psychological distress. Boys and men are constantly feeling like they have to prove their manhood. Girls and women are expected to carefully observe feminine appearance standards. Women and men alter their behavior dramatically around the opposite sex .It seems ridiculous, a huge edifice of effort to keep the gender binary story going.

Why? Femininists have argued for centuries that women are wrongly suppressed, and everyone talks about unjustifiable mansplaining, or how toxic masculinity is damaging. We have had an exciting few years of liberalization of attitudes and exploration of new gender expressions, but the backlash is underway to try to maintain what really are unsupportable norms.

Each individual has to save themselves, as best they can.

As a trans person, I am reaching out here, to those with whom I probably share the most. I expect from seeing other writers here that we may feel like half a person, or a pretend person, because we have yet to be with those with whom we can fully share. We may feel a strange disconnect with parts of our bodies, but we haven’t yet found a common understanding with others of why. Much of life is painful in ways we can’t resolve. Worst of all, the dominant social and cultural myths of gender require that we be classified as deviant, when we are clearly just ordinary examples of the normal distribution of human experience.

If we hide in the closet, we deteriorate. If we find community, we can thrive instead!

My call to action is to ask you to comment here so this story can be an index for everyone to find each other. I am also proposing we start a zoom group chat so we can actually do face to face group sharing about issues large and small!

I’ll share a little of my story here, because, like many of us, I still am struggling. Feel free to share yours in comments as well!

I first became conscious of my sense of myself as a girl in preschool. I got by, like so many with secret crossdressing. Once I retired, I saw that the end of my life was a finite distance away. I made the decision that it was now or never to know who I am. I have worked hard almost every day for 7 years to try to disentangle the web of suppression and understand myself at last.

I felt hollowed out, and my identity split into two. One half of me was a shell, a method actor performing a man’s life, successfully and convincingly.

My life was a play, a representation of reality- to please an audience and make a living. Every day I engaged on stage with the motivations allowed for me, and took as much pleasure in the successes as I could, to play the part as well as I could, given that I didn’t actually feel real. I would say now that I sought objective successes to make up for my fundamental failure to live my truth. I was different, special, disciplined, and lonely. I didn’t think I had any feelings beyond the basics of pride, anger, suppressed sadness, etc.

Every morning and evening, and in many moments in between, as I looked out on the world, the other person I am was calling out to be known, and somehow it was me feeling wholly like a girl. This person was not a shell- more like a pilot flame- waiting to burst out.

A girl, but invisible. She was growing up alongside boy me, hidden in a tunnel, living through me as I played a part as a boy. It was a Greek tragedy in which Fate has given the girl a boy’s body, and, to make it more tragic, a life in which boys have a better deal, more of the time. The boy was also terribly mistaken- always seeking permission to be the girl — which was never going to come. He was repeating the day 4 year old he proudly showed his father his look in some mashup of his sisters’ clothes, seeking complimentary approval. He never mentions it at home again, but we see him raiding lost and found boxes for girl’s clothes and hiding them under his mattress so he can wear them — crazily seeking them out in brief moments when he thinks he won’t be seen. The play’s first half ends with the boy making a long and eloquent plea to the audience, practicing, again. Then he sees some new people, teenage girls this time, and he turns to try again.

The second act opens with the boy staring into a mirror, holding up a dress to himself. He puts on the dress and we hear him talking to himself, imagining a friend. Then he puts the dress away, gets dressed for work, and we see him interacting with others. We hear him speaking to others, and then he turns away and speaks to himself. He can feel that the daily impossibility of living from his core reality has been terribly corrosive, but is not aware yet that it stunted his personality in ways visible to everyone but him. We see his marriage and his parenting. The second act ends with a retirement party, and him waking up in the middle of the night- bolt upright. The curtain falls.

The third act opens with the man writing someone that he can see the end of his life now. Then his wife asks him, why are you so quiet and far away all the time?

The third act is not over yet.

I see that so many of us write — it is a way to share and clarify. But it is so useful in a more emotionally clarifying way to be able to share directly person to person. There is something about talking that is different from writing! So I am trying literally to make a club for talking, via zoom as a group, and individually of course, as friends do,

Here is the link:

Meetup is a bit clunky but I think it will work well if we can get a decent size group! If you don’t want to do that, but still would like to be in touch, highlight something in this story and tap the lock icon, then send me your contact info via the private message function. Or, reply with ‘contact me’ and make sure you have published a story, even a few words, but not just a title. Then I can pm you the same way!

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Miri

We can all help each other a lot by freely expressing our gender