February 26, 2013

You Don’t Belong

You may have detected in my posts recently a desire to be part of a group. This isn’t a new development for me. I’ve always been a social loner, the kind who’s on the outside looking in even with groups I’d call “friends”; I don’t like opening myself up to people, yet I crave a sense of belonging. Call it a social Catch-22.

But when I finally came out to myself, I made the conscious choice to buck my habits and start trying to connect with like minds — that is, to “fit in” with a group.

Hey! You!
Is there something worth aspiring to?
And can it be found in a record store?
Well it’s not there anymore.
Just think of all the things we did,
We were different,
Just like all the other kids.

The first place I chose to go was Crossdressers.com, because, hey, when you search Google for “crossdressers” it’s pretty high in the rankings. It also has a large, active community full of kind and supportive people, so it’s an easy place for a newbie to go and avoid judgement.

I was immediately and warmly welcomed. The community was sympathetic and understanding, and they offered up thoughtful and well-meaning responses to my first questioning posts. I chatted with a few of them via PMs, and they really made those first few weeks easier.

However, as I explored my own feelings, I quickly got the sense that I didn’t quite fit into the community. The character of the community over there is very focused on … well, on the dressing. So much time devoted to detailing the outfits worn during the day, the outfits worn to bed, how wonderful pantyhose are, etc., etc., etc.! There’s a girlishness that permeates everything, the more feminine the better, and a certain “Oh! Gosh!” naughtiness to tales of wearing frilly thongs under rugged denim.

Also, I don’t get the photos. What’s up with the photos? I do not share photos. I don’t even like being photographed.

I still like to visit Crossdressers.com and contribute to threads. But I’m selective about what I read and contribute to there. It’s far from a perfect fit.

Hey! You!
Is there something worth belonging to?
And can I pick it up for a song
Or a diploma or a worthy cause?
Well let me tell you that there’s nothing wrong,
It’s just that ones like us will never belong.

As I began to explore things more deeply,I began identifying more with the label “transgender.” So I went looking for a forum that paints with a slightly different brush. I spent time reading at The Transgender Boards, Transgender Beauty, and a number of other forums that I didn’t save links to (some of them with terrible HTML and scripts — I have an aversion to bad webpages).

Here, again, I felt out of place. Transgender forums tend to be dominated not just by transgender conversations, but transsexual ones — that is, the character of these communities are heavily influenced by those who are actively progressing in, or have already completed, gender reassignment. There’s lots of threads about hormone replacement, gender reassignment surgeries, and convincing parents to use the correct gender pronouns. I may need those conversations in the future but right now they’re foreign to me. Enviable, but foreign.

The transgender forums also seem to skew quite a bit younger. I’m in the latter half of my thirtysomethings, but the average girl on these boards appears to be twentysomething, with more than a few having transitioned when they were teens. Did I miss a boat somewhere? Apparently.

Ultimately, I haven’t yet joined any transgender sites. I simply wouldn’t have anything to contribute.

Hey! You!
Is there something worth belonging to?
You know we’ve been here all along,
Like a confederacy of the wrong.
And I confess it could be prejudice,
But to you I dedicate this song.

Where I am finding the most sense of camaraderie and community is in individual connections with other bloggers and with the readers of this blog. Blogs such as Call Me Meg, Diary of a Crossdresser, and Randa Lane have made my regular reading list, and I enjoy swapping comments and e-mails with the great people who produce them. Each one offers a different take, each writer is at a different point on the CD/Trans spectrum. That they’re also fellow bloggers probably helps; we haven’t yet had chats about increasing site visits or improving content, but we could.

[Hmm. That makes me wonder if there’s some sort of CD/Trans blogger’s network out there. That would be fun … ]

Meanwhile Twitter has been a great place to find and follow some Tweeting trans-folk who share their moment-to-moment successes and frustrations. The content of these Twitter feeds is not always trans-specific, but that’s something good to be reminded of now and again: it’s not all about the dressing. Life is life. However, they also talk a lot to each other about trans issues, the more interesting day-to-day things — how coworkers treat them when they know; how they still have to be conscious of their voice every day; how they got “made” in a coffee shop and how it made them sad. Maybe someday it’s a group I will be talking to, but for now I’m content to read and appreciate.

In the end, I haven’t yet found a single place on the Web that feels like home. Maybe I never will. But I have begun to forge connections online, and if I have to do it the hard way, so be it. Nothing bad ever came from a little elbow grease.

[All lyrics come from “You Don’t Belong” by Bad Religion]


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