The question still dogging me “which side is stronger?”

I don’t seem to be able to shake it.

Longer hair. Longer fingernails. Earrings. Hair-free body. None of these are considered out of the ordinary for men these day, but for me it’s something different.

It’s been a long time since anyone at work has seen my masculine expression. Arriving at my office it’s like putting on coveralls or something, except I change my expression from M to F. It’s a routine and I’m still very, very comfortable doing so and enjoy this part of me. But as day change to weeks change to months, that question returns, especially since my mind has started to ask some questions I’d never expected I’d ask…”hey, what about some hormones?” Say what!? Nope. Well how about just some herbal supplements? Well maybe. Again…what!? But why? That damn Sirens song wooing me to take the plunge.

Over the years, I’ve seen and read many online friends and others, slowly creep along the change spectrum; crossdresser, gender fluid, trans woman. “That will ever happen to me”…but now I see so many similar patters developing. It can be scary. And through all this I’ve said to myself “I’m comfortable with who I am” at every point that I’ve examined my past and present life.

Yes, I’m male (all bits there), a dad and husband, but wow, ever since I was young there has been an ever present pull from the feminine side. It might be easier if it wasn’t so accepted, if I could express my feminine self at work, but then I wonder how miserable I might have been.

You know what, let’s just keep moving along with life. Who knows how much longer we have. Remain positive, enjoy who you are, your family and friends, and see where the future takes us.

For me I now I have now until my 65th birthday to make a difference in the Canadian Armed Forces as my retirement extension came through!

It’s Sunday evening. Had a great weekend (xM) and looking forward to a busy week at work…as Michelle.

Happily bigender

Wow. 2021, what a year.

This year I only got around to posting six entries. As I’ve said before, I just didn’t feel the need to have to. Now though, it’s time for a year in review.

As my past posts have indicated, I have found a wonderful balance in my life where I can express my female side at work while still fully enjoying my male side at home. 

Over the last year, of all my work days, I have only xM for 17 of them and a few of those where for education purposes. It’s to a point now that many members of the Wing only know me as Michelle or Ma’am being the default. With that being the case, I’ve let my hair grow with the last “trim” being on the 30th of June…I’m now very much overdue for a shaping trim…lol. A decision as to what style I’ll have next year will occurs in early January.

Throughout the year, I’ve conducted numerous Positive Space training events and recent briefings to entire units. I’m still receiving great positive feedback from these.

2021 was also a big birthday year; the big six ow…60! Yicks! I don’t look it, feel it, or act it and I don’t care. What it did mean was that I was due for compulsory retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces. 

There was a chance for an extension that was requested, but someone else applied for my position thereby cutting any hope for a longer stay beyond CRA 60 to only 111 days.

However, a very recent change in policy now allows for extension requests up to 5 years (so 65) and on the very same day I was informed I could apply (in another position), the member withdrew their name for my position, which now means I can apply for the full five years and remain in my current role! Yay! Now the waiting for official paperwork begins.

Now back to that 60th thing. I asked the family for no big deal and we had a very average day, with cake and a couple of presents the weekend before while all the kids where home.

I did do something for myself though; I got my ears pierced!

I had written my dear loving wife another letter for her to read that morning while I was at work. Later that day, we texted back and forth and I believe found a good understanding on both sides. She hasn’t said anything about my earrings and I don’t make any deal about them, just like my ever growing hair. I still respect her wish not to see or be involved with this part of me but she understands that it is indeed part of who I am. I can go visit friends (baring pandemic restrictions, ugh) and continue educating others about gender identity and expression. 

With the ability to express this part of myself at work, I don’t miss the chances that present themselves every once in a while at home. I do miss being able to get together with friends though. The next three weeks might be interesting. I’ll be off after the 17th Dec and not return until 10th Jan with probably little to no chance of xF. Strangely, I don’t anticipate any issues with my mental state, (but we’ll see) as I know I’ll be xF once returning to my office.

At the beginning of the year, I had pondered the question about which side was stronger. There was definitely a strong pull from the female side at that time. But I now believe that pull has weakened, so I’m not going “all the way” or anything like that, but rather a even pull from either side has me balanced and comfortable in my expressions.

So anyways, Season’s greetings and wishing everyone a happy, balanced, safe and healthy New Year.

Michelle

A nice routine but a wandering mind

88%.

That’s the percentage of work days I’m xF. Most of that time is in blouse and skirt (aka 3B), so much cooler than combats or flightsuit.

So that’s the update to “Update to going full-time Bigender”.

If you’ve been following me via the Flickr link on the side of my page, you will have seen that I’ve been quite busy and visible; flag raisings, haircut, attending change of command ceremony, Pride TGIF and casual Fridays. I just never got around to writing anything about them as I didn’t have a “need” to.

In the past, I’ve stated I’ve used this blog as an outlet, a place I could express this part of myself during those time that I physically couldn’t xF. That is still very much the case, except recently I’ve found it harder to concentrate at work due to a number of factors and so it’s time to put fingers to keyboard again.

Firstly, as a Reserve member of the CAF, closing in on the compulsory retirement age of *shudder* 60, even though I’m very able and willing to work longer, I’ve had a target on my back, meaning, anyone else could apply for my position (who has more than a year of service time remaining), and nullify any extension request I may have submitted. This is exactly what happened last month. However, the incoming member isn’t available until the end of March, so my extension request for two years (strongly supported by the Wing Commander) has been amended to six month to allow for a handover period. Well, at least that’s better than a kick in the pants.

I’m not ready to retire. So of course, that has been a bit of a distraction.

I’ve also found my mind wandering. The act of xF while at work is not a distraction, it’s part of my daily routine now and I’m very comfortable being me. What is causing a bit of consternation, are a bunch of “lesser” issues.

I’m letting my hair grow. During lockdowns/closures, that was simple to get away with, not so much now. I wouldn’t get any grief at work even while xM as its part of the total expression (and the Wing Chief knows…not an issue). I’m waiting for my wife to say something…that’s a bit stressful. And I really, really want to get my ears pierced. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was a teenager. Again, not an issue as far as work is concerned, it’s my wife’s reaction that I’m somewhat worried about. Then again, I say to myself, “this is for me. I haven’t done anything really for myself in decades. At my age I’ve earned it”. I anticipate she will be worried what other people may think. I know this shouldn’t be of concern to her, but…sigh. And they really are just little things, but mean so much to me.

The interesting scenario though with the above situations is, there are changes coming to the CAF Dress Regulations, to make them gender inclusive. We are hopeful it will be released this month and it’s anticipated to include a singular hair as well as jewelry policy. Ergo, there should be no need for my wife to have any concerns.

When others have the so called mid-life crisis, they go and buy a motorcycle or project car or whatever. I just want studs and style-able hair. Simple things, yet so meaningful to me.

CHANGE. Inevitable?

Is it change or is it growth? Or maybe discovery? But then again, maybe it’s finally accepting? Whatever you want to call it, was it inevitable?

Over the years I’ve read many personal blogs. Of those that I connected with the most, I’ve seen many go through various stages of their lives and followed their changing understanding of themselves. Some, even progressing from being a cross dresser to living as a woman. “That will never happen to me” I’ve told myself. Well.

A couple years ago, I finally met a transgender friend I’d known on FB for a few years. While talking about my then personal status, she recited that age old joke (pardon the word usage here) “what’s the difference between a cross dresser and a transsexual?…about 2 years!” Haha, well that’s not me so I don’t need to “worry”.

Gulp! What has happened to me over the last two years? I’m sitting here at work on my lunch break, in uniform (unisex combats), expressing that feminine part of me, averaging 4 out of 5 days, so 80% of the time, at work, attending meetings, training, whatever…I’m comfortable. I have established a routine. Many on my base know the total “me”, some only my male or female “me”.

Looking back over the years, I had only ventured out of the house on a few occasions. 2018 was the year of awakening however; Positive Space training, realization I had to be true to myself, first ever Pride parade in Halifax, getting out more locally with friends for dinners.

The following year there where more opportunities to be out in public. Out to coworkers and Commanding Officers. A chance to get new women’s uniform, and other events to attend. And then last year, the realization that “bigender” (under the transgender umbrella) was the best descriptor for who I am.

Wait! What just happened? When did this change occur? Didn’t I say that something like this wouldn’t happen to me? Was I kidding myself? Was this evolution in my being INEVITABLE?

“Hey, have you heard the joke, what’s the difference between someone who thinks their just a cross dresser and someone who identifies as bigender?…about 3 years!”

xF, xM and more firsts

xF – my new short way of writing expressing female. Same goes for xM, expressing male. It’s just more efficient or I’m lazy, lol.

So, with the start of a new year, I had decided to see how it would be to xF at work. Of the 30 working days this year, I’ve xF for 28 of them. The 2 days I didn’t was because I just didn’t feel F one day and the other was the last day away on course and I wanted to show my male self. More on xF/xM later.

Some more firsts

I’ve always wanted to skate as a girl. We’ll ever since my teens. I finally got the chance early February. I’ve owned women’s figure skates for years just never got them sharpened, but when I saw that our local base rink has adult skating from 1000-1100 on Tuesday and Thursday I knew I had to try them out. It’s been a couple years since I was last on skates (ice) so took me a while to get comfortable. This was of course the first time ever in figure skates but I knew enough to watch out for the toe picks. There was only two other women on the ice for the hour who too where also not that sure footed. I had a blast! Need to get on again soon.

My annual fitness test was over due, last November in fact, but COVID had halted testing. now that it’s back on and I needed to get it done for Reserve contract requirements. And as I was feeling good about myself and wanting to be visible, I did it while xF. During the hour at the gym, I didn’t notice any strange looks from the 7 guys who where also participating or from the fitness staff. I didn’t give a thought on how I looked, I just did what I had to. One of the guys I did know, but in masks it’s hard to tell. We did chat at the end about the testing and my new position. Nothing else.

Due to being not that active over the last 4 months, my fitness level had dropped and I was a bit slower on 3 of the tasks and significantly slower on one. Oh well, still got to the Bronze level. Not bad for a 59 year old.

I’m sorry, we don’t cut women’s hair”

That was how I was greeted when I showed up for my 1000 appointment.

“That’s ok, it’s not this hair”, pointing at my wig, “but what’s under it”. Hair dresser “but I hope you understand we can’t wash or styling. You should have let us know you needed more time”. She was still under the assumption I was a woman. “I’m bigender, this is my female expression but it’s my male short hair that needs some clipper attention”. “Oh”. I enter the area, wash my hands, head to the chair and go from short straight blond to my mop of dark and grey. A brief chat on gender identity then moved on to other topics. After #4 clippers on the side and 1/2 inch off the top, I get out of the chair, brush off my sleeves, and put my blond wig back on. What an interesting experience but nothing I had any anxiety about doing.

Oh yeh, I also got my ID renewed with the photo showing me while xF. No other info has changed, so despite some back and forth with the Commissionaires at the ID centre, nothing special was required as this is how I now express for the majority of the time at work. Which leads into…

So, back to that xF and xM thing


I almost lost track of time in the shower the other evening as my mind was wandering around in a bit of a pink fog.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to have a definite end goal, but that’s not me. I’m like one of those dolphin trainers standing on two dolphins (xF, xM), one foot on each. Having to maintain balance as they swim in parallel but no particular place to go. I don’t want to fall and have to hang onto only one or the other, I need both to get me through. These last few weeks have been an eye opener for my feminine expression; almost everyday at work, fitness test, a new ID with female looking picture. I’m not hiding (at work). I’ve got zero inhibitions of doing anything as Michelle. But then I think “am I somehow letting my male side down, at work?” After all, I’ve made it known I’m bigender, so shouldn’t I also be xM at work? The thing is, I xF typically only between the hours of 0800 and 1600, arrive and leave in male form. I xM everyday at home, evenings and weekends, so not letting that part down really. But then I think “I’ve xM all my career, hidden this part of me for all those years. I’ve earned this. I’ve struggle with this. Now I can show this part of me!” I’ve only got a few more years in the CAF and I want to show I’m proud to serve and proud of who I am. So yes, I’ll xF as much as I can and/or want to. I enjoy being ME!

Update to Going-Full time Bigender

So yes, it would appear it is possible.

Of the last 40 working days, I’ve expressed female for 32 of them. I would leave and return home in male mode and change in my office.Those day I expressed male, I’d gotten to work and didn’t “feel like it”, to put on makeup and change. But that was ok.

It has become a regular routine and I have no guilt or regrets of not being male all those days. It’s comfortable. It’s me.

“Which side is stronger?”

That was a question I was asked by a Facebook friend after I had posted about this weeks course attendance; first three days expressing female and the last as male. Here is how the post and responses went.

ORIGINAL POST – So today I only once caught myself walking in the direction of the wrong bathroom…lol. But the rest of the day was just me being my male self…except at the end of lunch when the dining room staff (the mess hall was empty except of me) said “ just leave your tray, we’ll get that” to which I replied “ok, thank you” but in my feminine voice, which I only realized as I started walking out…lol.

FROM FRIEND – Which side is stronger?

ME – I had to think. It really depends on the moment I am in. Right at this moment (male) I’m good with being and expressing male. Yesterday, I wasn’t thinking of my male(ness) at anytime, I was just being me; female. It’s an interesting place/feeling that I never thought I’d be in or feel. I like this balance of expression.

ME AGAIN – Upon further reflection, while on the bus crossing town to my daughter apartment, I got to thinking deeper about this. Expressing male, its as if there is almost always a Siren’s song off in the distance, beckoning me to come over to the other side. While expressing female, there is no equivalent. No thought or anything trying to pull me in a male direction. So…with that in mind, it would appear that indeed, the female has a slightly stronger tug at my expression. Humm 🤔

So…so, so, so. Interesting. I’d never contemplated my expressions that way. I’m surly repeating myself somewhat here, but, I’m still happy being male; a dad, a husband. There is an ever present interest in wanting to express my female self but I don’t pine over not always be able to. And as I mentioned in the response, I’d never considered the fact that I didn’t think of my male self while expressing female, though the fact I was AMAB never disappears completely (reminded every time I have to pee, but I now treat that just as a lady issue I have to take care of).

So some may ask; which expression makes you happier? I can’t put a general quantitative figure on that. Yes, I indeed enjoy my female self and have been told I “seem” happier and more confident. But I don’t lack any self confidence in male expression either. So where does that leave me?

Pretty much where I was at the beginning of this post, contemplating a simple question: which side IS stronger?

Clothes, expression and thoughts

The following is based upon my experiences and may differ from others I’m sure.

I don’t say “I dress as a woman” as that implies it’s about the cloths. I don’t “present as a woman” as that makes it sound like a show. I “express myself” and clothing is only one way of doing that. I don’t use the term “pass as a woman” as that to me implies there is a standard to be met or exceeded in order to be perceived as a woman. “Blending” is my preferred term.

It’s been just over a year since I embraced the notion of being bigender and since then I’ve come to fully embrace who I am. In recent months, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to express and be accepted as my female self at work. It has been very enlightening.

I’ve stated in the past, that after examining my life, there has always been these two genders resident within me. One thing that reinforces the idea that I’m not just a cross dresser and that it’s not about the clothes, is the fact that for the last couple of weeks I’ve either worn a flight suit or combats during my work day. Neither is feminine, in fact very gender neutral. They have not though made me feel any less feminine in my expression. Sure I don a wig and makeup, use forms and tuck (my new bra is so comfortable I forget I’m wearing one), but all that just melts away moments after getting ready. I don’t spend time gazing at myself in the mirror but just go about my day as I would if I was expressing male. I’m me, just happen to be a woman.

I don’t know how long this “double gender living”, male expression at home, female, sometimes male at work, will last. I’m comfortable with it. This past Thursday, after have expressed female for the past 8 working days, I didn’t“feel” like it and just stayed male, with no second thoughts about it.

Next week I’m on course (Unit Harassment Advisor) dress is civvies. I plan on expressing female for all but the last day, for both personal reasons (wife is picking me up after class) and as a chance to educate others on bigender matters.

While the ruffles and lace, silk and nylons may be all nice, they are not something I lust for or dream of wearing on the weekend or whenever. It’s so not just about the clothes. Clothing is part of my expression, weather that be male or female and makes me happy to be me.

“Enjoy who you are, however you can”

Michelle

Where to next?

2020 is almost behind us and destined for the history books, mostly for the wrong reasons. It was a very bad year for many reasons; in my home province of Nova Scotia we suffered a mass murder and the loss of a deployed RCAF helicopter and all its crew, and along with the rest of the world learned to cope with COVID-19 sickness and lives lost.

Putting aside the devastating losses, on a personal level this past 12 months has proven to be a massive breakout year for my expression. If you’ve cast an eye to my Flickr pictures, you will have seen a number of examples.

Year in review.

The beginning of the year brought with it the realization that “bigender” was the best descriptor for my gender identity. The following months allowed some expression at work and an article or two published in the local paper. With the prolonged closure of barber shops, I got to see my hair grow longer than it’s been in a while and raise a couple of questions reference military dress regulations.

In June I organized the second annual raising of the Rainbow Pride flag at the Wings main gate and the first ever Transgender flag to close out the month. That event, covered by the local paper and published on Facebook, lead to my big “outing” the next day on the CBC regional afternoon show Mainstreet. The Wing Commander and myself where interviewed where we talked about the flag, what it symbolized and inclusion, oh and the fact I identify under the transgender umbrella, more specifically that I’m bigender. No hiding anymore for sure!

While social activities where curtailed during the summer, I was still able to express both at work and at a couple of work related events. In the fall, I was able to instruct a number of Positive Space Ambassador courses and a couple of info sessions.

I also started a new position in November, moving from Wing Operations to the Deputy Wing Commanders Branch, assuming the duties for Ethics and Harassment coordinator.

December was the penultimate experience of the year. For the month, for a $25 donation to the Wings Combined Charities, one could wear civvies instead of uniform and for those members “who identify as women” we could paint our nails! For 13 of the 14 days I worked, I enjoyed being able to express that female self of me, which also included attending the sections Christmas Luncheon. I knew a few members in attendance, but the majority saw me only as a woman. Lady Luck must have been in my side that day as I walked out at the end with three draw prizes!

Christmas break has been all about family and not much thought about gender identities. I say “not much thought”, but it’s still there. Upon return to work in the new year, I foresee the continued opportunity to be me, though i think I’ll change up to wearing combats vis flightsuit with hopefully maybe once a month a casual Friday.

As the title says, where to next will be the theme for 2021. In the meantime I will continue with my new found mantra of “be the change“ and to “lead by example”.

I may not be writing as much as I did in the past as ack then I found it was the best outlet for my expression and a self therapy of sorts. Now that I can express myself physically more often, I’m comfortable with who I am and find I don’t need to use writing as often. That being said, I’ll try to keep my blog fresh with updates, but probably the best way to stay up to date is via my Flickr page.

Until next entry, please, observe medical advise, stay safe and healthy!

Michelle

Right off the high board into the deep end

I thought I was dipping my toes into the shallow end of the pool, but somehow I had managed to make it to the highest diving board and before I knew it, I’d jumped (or stumbled) off the edge right into the deep end.

Since COVID-19 had put a damper on almost all activities during Junes Pride month, I thought it might be a bit of a bust. I’d been hoping for so much this year; attending functions, doing presentations etc. Oh well, I’d settle for the approval to have the Pride Rainbow flag raised for a second year (asked for a week, the Wing Commander said “it’s Pride month. Leave it up for the month.”) and maybe the Transgender Flag for the last couple day. We ended up having it fly for the last week of June. That last request and action, the raising of Transgender flag for the very first time, led to an interesting week.

I was working the night shift, but expressed female on the morning of Tuesday 23 June. Headed over to the main gate at 0730 to meet up with a few folks and the Wing Commander (WComd). After a few words from myself and the boss, up went the flag with notes and pictures being taken by the base newspaper, The Aurora. Those pictures appeared later that day on the papers Facebook page along with a write-up. I hadn’t said too much as what was important had appeared the day before in an article I had submitted for the weekly printed version of the paper. I was amazed to see the response and number of shares of that small Facebook post.

The next day, Wednesday 24 June, I got home at 0830 from my last light. At 1230 I got a text from my wife saying that the Wings Public Affairs Officer (WPAO) wanted to know if I was available for a radio interview with the WComd and CBC Radio Halifax. Oh! Umm, I hadn’t told her about doing the flag raising…(by the way nothing has been said…).

So anyway, I call him and its’ short notice; can I be in the WComd office in 60 mins? “Yes” I said with not much thought or angst. I got there at 1315 and we talk about a few things and I learned he had canceled another scheduled teleconference call in favor of this interview as he flelt it was an important message to get out. At 1330 we both got calls on our cellphones and the interview commenced. I was more nervous listening to the show later that afternoon than I was doing the actual interview, but it all went very well. This was though, me, outing myself regionally, Nova Scotia, as a bigender military member under the transgender umbrella. We talked about the flag, support from the Wing, Positive Space ambassadors and yep, I’m transgender!

A printed version was posted on the CBC news site and on the CBC Halifax’s Facebook, which also got great responses. As is typically, there are some negative comments, but one could also tell that some people hadn’t read or listened to the whole article.

The next afternoon I received a text from the WPAO saying “you’re valley famous”. “What now?” I reply. Turns out one of the local valley radio stations picked up the news item and reported on it too. WOW. I quickly texted the kids to let them know in case they had any friends that might have heard and had questions. Again, only positive responses had been seen by a couple of them.

At work too, those who had heard it only had praise and I’ve received notes of appreciation from complete strangers on FB. As a good friend, Nata, and I took down the flag at the end of the day on the 30th, we were joined again by the WComd. It is absolutely fantastic to have the Colonels full support for those like myself and all Defence team members who work on the Wing. He also passed on a greeting and message of support from a Brigadier General who had been my Squadron CO and also a Greenwood WComd in the past.

Thinking back on last week now it seems like a dream. All this time, I’ve slowly allowed my female expression to trickle out and was never one for the spotlight. The newspaper editor and I had a good working relationship; my male name might appear in the text because of what I had said, but it never appeared alongside a picture of me while expressing female. Well, don’t have to worry about that anymore…lol. And I found myself fully illuminated by that spotlight I had avoided.

All is good at home. Nothing said. I’m glad I didn’t say no. It was/is an important message of support and inclusion that needed to be shown.

I am proud to serve, proud of who I am.

Serving with Pride.jpg