Jun 22, 2010

Cross Dressing Character

I sometimes look back on older thoughts to see how well they true up with the present. The very first thing I wrote for this blog is still up on the right sidebar. Check it out with me now …

This desire has been with me forever now. It washes in and draws me out. I often swim against the tide. I sometimes let it pull. I don't believe that its going away though, and so its time for me to court it formally. And in giving it this space, perhaps understanding it better.

The desire I referred to was Cross Dressing. The tidal metaphor seemed a real natural.

I was moved to write about all of this after a very transformative transformation session. I had just then put myself in the very skilled hands of a woman who operates a Cross Dressing service. It had been 20 years or more since I had gone in for a top-to-toe, hair-to-heels treatment. Something tectonic happened. I realized (finally) that trying to keep the shifting plates from reorganizing my landscape was a poor use of my limited resources. Additionally, I rather liked the way the new landscape looked and felt. I felt complete. Becalmed and whole like never before.

That feeling was too powerful to not pursue. The pursuit seemed worthy of writing about too. Hence, all the bloggity goodness here.

I pointedly became outcome neutral about what Cross Dressing might mean to me. The thinking was to let the waves sweep me where they would, and have a good look around whatever shore they washed me up on. I realized I was running the risk of emerging in some unknown Illyria, as shipwrecked as Viola, with no bit parts left over for my own Cesario. Cross Dressing is a common gateway to gender reassignment after all. I worried, but went with it.

As it happens, I am fine with the largely masculine casting I have been assigned in my own drama. I am neither a big romantic lead or a tragically doomed prisoner of fate: just a reasonably well liked-protagonist with a flinty eye toward the human condition and the odd saucy aside for the groundlings in the cheap seats.

In this drama, I have the wonderful privilege, like Viola, of the odd costume change that effects an alteration of gender presentation. Like Viola, I see the world around me with the one set of eyes, and interpret the world with one (reasonably) constant heart. Like Viola, I have seen just how differently the world responds to me depending on whether I am presenting with feminine or masculine surfaces. Lastly, like Viola, I have found that I can present either surface without betraying anything within: I am essentially the same character always, and the clothes say less about me than I thought they might.

Yes, the importance of the surfaces, of the exteriors seems to have diminished to me. This has been an interesting and surprising finding.

What I find most surprising of late though is what is going on in the interior precincts: It is quite noisy in there.

I am practically under siege of my own thoughts. There is a steady, near constant storming and stirring of the mind having to do with matters related to dressing, gender, fashion, beauty and my relationship to it all. Like rain, these unbidden thoughts seep in through cracks in the day, through the brief interludes of idleness. Like wind, they gust and buffet when they damn well please, regardless of how busy I am and how much more my thoughts need to be on other issues.

This state of affairs has persisted for about 4 or 5 months now. My initial reflex was to think of this as a “problem”, something to be railed against (i.e. ...why won’t she just shut the hell up already?...), but I fought against that reflex.

In the same way as I initially let the desire to dress sweep me away, I decided to let my mind work as it will. Intuitively it seems to me that fighting against tireless, ceaseless forces is a sure path to madness, and a path I will be happier not taking.

I am now, only recently coming around to a model of understanding all the weather between my ears. And it goes like this:

At the time that I gave my surfaces the privilege of untrammeled exploration and presentation, I gave my interiors the same permissions. Perhaps I have sparked a reorganization of what happens behind the scenes, between the ears.

The brains of men and women famously and provably behave differently. Gender is a profound influencer of thought. Neural paths and cerebral processes that were suppressed and closeted as my wardrobe and desires were for long, long years have been given a wake up call.

When I made room on the surface for 2 distinct presentation layers, it took time and labor for it all to “normalize”. Perhaps a similar process is happening within. I therefore should not be surprised at all the noise. It is construction season in there you know.

I wonder if, in the fullness of time, my surfaces, my character and the very workings of my mind will all harmonize and seem fully in place, at peace and poised for whatever comes next. I think so. I am a hopeful sort.

I have remained fundamentally the same character regardless of “costume” I wear for the odd scene. I think that my character is better and fuller having access to “Petra”. My experiences have amplified some good things about me (empathy) and moderated some bad things (capacity for anger), but I am essentially the same person.

And this is a good thing.

I am glad too, to have access to new reservoirs of empathy for the human condition and a better ability to suppress anger just now as my brain sorts out how to process all of it. They might just come in handy, yes?


Wendy said...

How interesting and eerily similar your observations are to mine. I could have written most of this word for word, though not as well. Yes, it is nice to see the capacity for anger lessen and empathy grow. Interesting, though, that we are still the same person; the clothes and mannerisms only free us to express what we have always been. Keep exploring the currents and keep us informed of the shores on which you land.


Claire L Hallam said...

Petra, you write so wonderfully, I followed your blog in stealth for a very long time before my first post. The tide metaphor captures my experience too....and you're right, we can be fine with that.

Couture Carrie said...

Love this post and your tidal metaphor, darling Petra! Your writing is just as beautiful as you are!


Halle said...

Dear Petra, you capture the fabulous wonder of who we allow ourselves to become by taking this risk; letting that tide wash and simply observing ourselves without the judgment that usually accompanies it in our society.

This person, that only we who allow both female and male inside can be,is indeed a person of great worth, with much to offer this world. That is what this post says to me.

Thank you for saying it so well.



Lynn Jones said...

my mind will all harmonize and seem fully in place...
...fundamentally the same character regardless of “costume”.

Both lines jumped out at me. Certainly the second line about costume. Just the other night I was talking to a (trans) friend about the same subject. It seems has time has gone on, so there's been this slow merge where my behaviour doesn't really alter subject to my dress. I used to worry me, but now? Now I'm fine with that as it seems less of a battle to keep the walls up. I hope it goes well for you too. :)

Leah said...

Another well-written thought my dear friend... focus on empathy, it will definitely come in handy. Have a great week ahead! xoxo

Couture Carrie said...

Love this metaphor, darling!
Beautifully written!
The more I learn about you, the more I adore you, Petra!


Tights Lover said...

You are so good at putting my thoughts and feelings into words...hahaha!

I understand these feelings you're speaking about...particularly after the transformation session. It's good to know that there is hope for a clean harmonization between the two personas...

ps. I love the 'kinky halloween wedding idea'. ...wonder if I can make it work!

Randy said...


I've known you for over 15 years! But not completely! Feel free to open up to me when you are comfortable!

Your writing style is amazing! Finally worked up the courage to let you know I've been reading your blog.

I love you my friend and my lips are sealed!!


Petra Bellejambes said...

Dear Randy,

Of all the people in my drab life, you are the one I knew would be most cool with the rest of me.

I actually toyed with having a little chat last time you visited. Mrs. Bellejambes and myself remembered you showing a shot of yourself in a Hooters Girl outfit some years ago, so the debate rages here about who has the best legs.

Very nice to see you here, and thanks for the very nice words.

I'll drop you a note soon(ish).

xxoo - Petra

Lisa Lisa Lisa said...

I think this post is incredibly interesting. Do you find that not just blogging, but reading other bloggers helps you on your journey?

Petra Bellejambes said...

@ (lovely) Lisa Lisa Lisa,


While I am a pretty well self-contained person, and not much in need of external validation, it is a source of joy to me to know that there are other people feeling many of the same things as I do.

There is a lot of good stuff in here in Blogistan. I have learned much and met some true friends here.

Thanks for the very nice words and your question. Visit often please, and always feel encouraged to add your thoughts.

xxoo - Petra

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