Jul 26, 2010

Belle Curves and non-Standard Deviations

We are not small in numbers, we of the CD/TG set. No doubt, if we had some comfy shoes, we could march into a smallish country and subdue the local militia with mere swings of our collective purses. But it would be a smallish country indeed, and there would be frightful lines for the loo. Moreover, I, for one, am not well set up in the comfy shoe department.

That all said, our large numbers are buried in a much bigger whole. Our desires, what drives them, how we act (or do not act) upon them, are relatively marginal desires, minority desires, outlier desires.

In my professional life, I spend a good amount of time analyzing data, drawing insights from rows and columns, and plotting numbers on charts in such a way as to reveal new opportunities to improve something or other. Historically, statisticians (at least those of us in the marketing realm) have focused on the behaviors of the middle. Outlier behavior seemed always too random to act on. Scary, polluted data, to be ignored or actively shunned. With the relatively recent advent of cheap computing technology, and with the world newly girdled and compressed by the internet, the statistical outlier has become easier to analyze and understand.

Ian Ayres wrote a terrific book a couple of years ago that I foolishly loaned out to some forgotten theiving ingrate called
Super Crunchers. The book covered a lot of ground, but focused tightly on examples of enterprises that made out like smart bandits plundering opportunities outside of the 2 Standard Deviation (2SD) realm. SD, being Standard Deviation, and SD being defined as follows:

n. Abbr. SD: A statistic used as a measure of the dispersion or variation in a distribution, equal to the square root of the arithmetic mean of the squares of the deviations from the arithmzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.......

Perhaps SD is better apprehended in graphic form:

At either side of the curve, outside of 2 SD’s is an aggregate of ~ 5% of any large enough data set on practically any issue. This small subset of big samples differs in one characteristic or another from mean (average) behavior very distinctly. I think it is fair (and not at all either brave or bright) to surmise that readers of this blog, and its author are outside of 2SD’s. Five per cent (5%) feels like a good minority number, yes?

The big 95% in the middle is pretty easy to classify. Look around you, there they are, seemingly, untroubled by their role in the world as dictated or complicated by matters of gender.

Making sense of our 5% remains a bedeviling task for me though, because I will be damned if I understand what values need to be on the X axis, and what quantities should be tracked on the Y.

Given that all of this has to do with gender at some level, the values may have something to do with X’s and Y’s of the chromosomal variety. I am sure in fact that this is true for many. I have become friendly with a good number of people whose personal journeys have necessitated GRS, or will in the near future. This is the right and proper solution for many who arrive with the wrong gender markers and who are beset by occasional or constant bouts of dysphoria.

These people are more likely to be contemplating shaking off their birth gender altogether in pursuit of peace, wholeness, and happiness than people who, like me, are driven by something different. These people are preparing to reckon with trauma, where my inheritance seems limited to drama. My difference from the big middle, from the 95%, the differences of this periodic Cross Dresser just do not feel the same, just don't have the same gravity as I surmise things feel for people battling GD.

I am euphoric when en femme, but not dysphoric for the rest of my days. My ability to explore this aspect of my life feels like more of a privilege than a penalty. I can (and do) go weeks without shaving my face, and months without shaving my legs without feeling as though I am betraying any part of myself. I look forward to the shave and all the beautifully consuming moments that flower in the clear cut, but I feel quite whole in the meantime, or at least content with the bland hand I am holding.

In my most recent post here I mentioned Curiosity and Compulsion as being two distinct phases of my own journey. Curiosity certainly came first for me, with my brand of Compulsion clattering not too far behind. I wonder today if the order of operations is important in the Gendernauts long voyage. I wonder if the order of operations has something to do with what sort of 5%’er we ultimately become.

Compulsion does not have a nice sound to it. The whole “…ulsion” suffix feels ... icky (revulsion, expulsion, emulsion…). Compulsion is the unloved step child of Compel. Compelled things and people definitionally do not have much choice in the matter at hand. Perhaps this seeming, or relative lack of choice has much to do with GD in general, with a feeling of being out-of-sorts with ones gender of birth or of day-to-day presentation layer.

I feel as though in my journey, I have impelled much of the action. I feel (and perhaps wrongly, perhaps in misplaced defense of my frail ego) as though I am in most moments, the director of things. With apologies to Descartes, “I think, therefore I am (a Cross Dresser)”.

Perhaps a seeming lack of choice, the feeling of being driven by something within, some life force that has authority in the debate is the difference within our diverse 5%. Perhaps this is the difference between the common garden variety Cross Dresser and the (loaded expression alert!!) genuine Transgender.

None of us, 95% or 5%, are masters of much in many ways. This 5 %’er is thankful at least that I feel more impelled by a desire than compelled by a need.

I am going to take a lunch break now, and return soon to see if I can plot some new X’s and Y’s. I would be happy to be compelled by your comments. I encourage you to visit T-Cental in the meantime if this essential resource is not in your usual routine. Calie has organized a superb series of personal essays there from people who have wrestled these things down better than I have.

Thanks for your gracious visit.

Jul 16, 2010

5 (un) Easy Pieces

I. Curiosity.

It was all far too interesting to not investigate of course. The colors were brighter and the shapes were fuller. The touch too, especially the touch, the feel of those different garments. Youngsters are drawn close to Mothers, and to other care givers. Softer, smoother, silkier. Floral, frilled, fragrant.

Then our teachers, young and fresh, newly liberated, free to wear that mini-skirt and the Nancy Sinatra boots. Lean legs gleaming, and blousy sleeves brushing the arm of the mesmerized boy attempting to master cursive script and long division. So much to admire in and desire of the fairer sex, long years before the sexual awakening.

My things were different and duller. Cowboys and Indians, baseballs and bats, big buttons and buckles. Coarse and heavy and ready for the rough and tumble ways of long young days. Not confining, but somehow confined. Practical and durable, and in need of wear, hard wear. Attractive perhaps, but never enchanting.

II. Compulsion.

Supper tables, sermons and the savage society of young friends warned us into assigned corners, boys here, girls there. The price of blurring the lines, of crossing into opposite camps was high and evident. Forbidden fruit was all around, and private moments might be found to taste it.

With one first feel of sheer nylon, of a high heel too big, of a side zip and a clumsy twirl one is privileged yes, but burdened too with a great secret. Having for a moment found the curiosity to explore, having for a moment felt so special, the longer moments of fear attend. The tracks are covered, the guilt and worry descend.

The day arrives then, in euphoric moments before the fear, when the body stirs in a new way, and demands attention. The body’s gratitude is expressed, shockingly. A marriage between fabric and feeling is privately, very privately solemnized, not to be torn asunder. A marriage forbidden and hidden.

III. Containment.

Spinning bottles, truths and dares, first kisses, fumbling, fondling and finding in the arms of the girlfriend warmth and unsurpassable, yielding beauty. The newness of it all, and the very real care felt for the lover pushed the urges to the background. The beautiful clothes were there yes, but there to be slowly and madly removed from the other.

The clothes call though, especially the things beneath. There she is in soft-core images stashed here and there. She looks more beautiful still dressed, all hooks and eyes, clasps and cups, seams and heels. I want her, and I want her pretty things too. I get some pretty things, and bury them even deeper than the Playboys.

A kink, smooth beneath the surface, a kink that would iron out. A fetish perhaps, a fetish that would not fit me if my dimensions where changed by true love. Such a love came and I moved on, leaving kink and fetish behind, old and spent. Forgotten in the new and beautiful marriage, the old hidden one, jilted and patient.

IV. Consent.

The jilted, patient one would call from time to time from dresser drawers and laundry bins when we were alone. She knew she had my attention, and knew she had hooks in my heart. She aroused my mind now, and not so much my body. I tried to introduce her to my love, but failed, not finding the words. With that failure, came her death, quiet and final I believed.

She called again then, from beyond the grave, with my wife away, far away with troubled family, wanting attention. I gave it and felt whole and calm like never before. As with my first curiosities, this feeling was too, too true to not pursue. I needed first to persuade myself, grant consent to myself.

Consent has been chronicled in part here, online, with you. Consent has been made easier by you, here, online. We always want to feel unique. We all want to be special. We sometimes want to be alone. We don’t want to be lonely. Here, our consents are met, and we are not lonely. Thank you.

V. Consequence.

Consent has consequence. Some actions do not have equal and opposite reactions. Where before “yes” was answered with “no”, a new answer appears and the equation does not balance. We tinker, mathematicians whether we know it or not, we work on our sums.

This unsolved equation can be ignored or forgotten when life is busy, when sleep is deep, when in the care and company of people we love. Then it takes only the idle moment, the sight of a stranger, the unbidden flash of envy or unease and we are back again at the blackboard. Reckoning.

I am devoted to the problem, and mostly delighted too. Even so, my equation may never balance, the sides may never sum. I suspect I will resign, at some time, from the unresolved. Others will pick up the pieces, the easy ones and the uneasy ones, in different sequences, with different consequences.

Jul 14, 2010

Guest Post Snack Pack

I am delighted, chuffed in fact, to be guest blogging today over at The Lingerie Addict. The proprietress of this lovely site, Treacle, is a star of both the internet and the underworld. My little essay is on the topic of some of the steps a Cross Dresser might take to achieve an attractive, curvy and convincing effect around the belly and butt. While this essay is focused on the particular requirements of the M2F Cross Dresser, I believe that people of the full time female persuasion might get a kick out of the article too. At the very least, the ladies might enjoy a well deserved giggle, a small measure of payback out of the knowledge that you are not the only ones who sometimes madly wrestle their way into their clothes. Please visit Treacle. She is a treat.

As for you delightful fans of Treacle, I bid you a fond welcome. Clearly, we share an enthusiasm, and would no doubt have much to chatter about if we got to know each other better. If you have a little time to kill here, you might get to know me a little better by rummaging around a while. I have arranged a small bouquet of posts for you below. Most are lingerie themed, but not all. Grab a coffee or something even more fortified and stay a while.

Here, you will find a product review on Calvin Klein pantyhose. This is one of about 30 such reviews I put together over the last couple of years. If hosiery is your thing, just do a site search on “Petra’s Pantyhose Parade” for the rest of the entries.

For an opinion on the Stockings vs. Pantyhose debate, my 2 cents worth is offered

A very professional brassiere fitting is big stuff for any lingerie enthusiast. I wrote breathlessly about my time lost in a fitting rooms endless reflections of me and a rich bounty of beautiful bras just right over
here. This is a field trip I highly recommend to both part time and full time women. Especially full time.

Well, enough about the underthings.
Here is a little essay on a very nice chat I had with a complete stranger whilst poking about the clearance racks in the shoe section of a nice-ish department store.

If you are the type of person who enjoys wading through mediocre poetry, and desirous of seeing exactly how a Cross Dresser sums up a life in 2 wardrobes in a few short stanzas, then surely, this post
here is for you. I trust however if you are that person, that you have likely by now found the right meds and would only want to read my lame poetry out of morbid curiosity. You have been warned.

I am always happy to know visitors to Voyages en Rose better, so please, if you feel so inclined, leave a comment. Thanks so much for your visit here, and to The Lingerie Addict.

Happy dressing and everything else…

Jul 7, 2010

Worlds Collide. Superman Survives

I have done a good job of integrating my two halves (or whatever fraction they actually constitute) for myself while keeping them separate from the rest of the world. I think on the whole that the people we interact with in our day to day lives like to have a simple set of instructions, a users manual if you will, for dealing with each other. I therefore provide the world with a pretty simple set of signals and surfaces to respond to.

I am largely known as helpful neighbor, competent marketing strategist, proud husband, and sometimes even as entertaining raconteur. Other things too, and sometimes no doubt less flattering things, but simple things. Perhaps complex things, but not complicated.

If I was largely known as helpful cross dressing neighbor, competent cross dressing marketing strategist, proud cross dressing husband, or as entertaining cross dressing raconteur it would complicate things. My dimensions would not be broadened, they would be limited. I like having large dimensions. I maintain those dimensions by carefully cloaking Petra. I may be a radical, but I am not a martyr. Thusly, the worlds are kept in separate and simple orbits.

The net result is that the world that I interact with day to day (as far as I know) with the exception of my wife, thinks that beneath my Superman cape, there lurks a Clark Kentish chap. They do not (as far as I know) suspect the presence of a Lois Lane.

But worlds did indeed collide. A dear old friend happened upon this blog and was moved to leave a very warm, accepting and loving comment.

My first reaction upon seeing the comment in my inbox was to look around the room for a defibrillator. The moment passed though, and my heartbeat returned to its usual over caffeinated rhythm. Yes, worlds collide, and it is not such a big deal.

I have friends with teenage kids early in their college years or about to escape from high school. There is a lot of focus and debate on what exactly they should study. I listen to the parents anguishing about the kid who wants to pursue the Arts when clearly a scientific or technical major is the track that leads to success. I tell them not to worry. To my thinking the most vital skills a youngster can acquire are related to how well they choose friends. If you do that well, whatever you wind up doing for a living and for a life will be done reasonably successfully.

I was pretty well into my 20’s before I figured out that I had a talent for choosing friends well. They have made all the difference in my life. My friend who found this blog is a former neighbor who Mrs. B and I met some 15 years ago when I first moved to Atlanta. We were first very causally friendly, and developed over time a genuinely close relationship. He has a house key and knows where the guest room is. At least one of the dogs sleeps with him when he camps out on his periodic trips back to Atlanta. Our friendship has survived car accidents (sorry about that one really), home remodeling projects (thanks!), financial disasters and the lack of maintenance that the long distances between us now allows.

And so the friendship will no doubt survive my cross dressing too I suspect.

We texted back and forth, but have not had a chance for a real talk yet, which I look forward to.

In the meantime, I will use this platform today to tell my friend that he probably has no idea just how highly myself and Mrs. B treasure his friendship.

And if you, dear reader, have had such good fortune as I in your choice of friends, don’t worry about the possibility of people seeing a little flash of lace beneath your cape. There is not so much Kryptonite out there as we fear.
Subscribe in a reader