Guest Appearance

Author Josey Vogels has a couple of columns (“Dating Girl” and “My Messy Bedroom” she writes about sex online that are also syndicated in several Canadian newspapers. We “met” on a Book Television show a few months back.
She recently got a question from a young woman who was confused by the hot sex she had with her boyfriend when they were both in French Maid outfits, so she turned to me.
Do check out her online column on April 7th to see my ‘guest appearance’ as an advisor, or check one of these Canadian newspapers for the print version:

  • * Hour (Montreal)
  • * See (Edmonton)
  • * Current (St. John’s)
  • * Halifax Daily News (Halifax)
  • * The Baron (University of New Brunswick)
  • * The Interrobang (Fanshawe College, London)

Guest Author: Dana Johnson

One of our MHB faithful wrote a piece called “Why Not Passing Ruins My Day,” and I thought it deserved a larger audience. – Helen
When we talk around TG issues, we are very careful.
We phrase things such that we do our best to respect and support one another. I am, in general, an enormous fan of this.
Unfortunately, it’s possible for that very politeness to mask out feelings we have, or to make us less willing to bring them up and feel legitimate doing so.
So I’m going to drop that pretense, and describe what this is like from inside my own head as clearly as I can. This is how I feel about what is going on with me, and may or may not have any real match-up with reality. It is, however, how this whole thing feels to me.
I begin at the beginning.
I am a woman.
I am not “expressing myself as a woman”. I am not “presenting as a woman.” I am a woman.
Nobody else sees a woman when they look at me, for the most part.
It was worse when I was a girl. Not only did nobody see me as a girl, but a lot of effort was put into making sure I was being a proper boy. It was quite clear to me that I wasn’t a boy, but everybody else insisted. I knew that I was supposed to be a boy, so I did everything I could to do what I was told.
I drove myself half-mad, over the years, trying to convince myself that I was a boy, against my own perception of the facts. I tried to be interested in sports. I tried to date girls.
I succeeded at convincing most people that I was a geek boy, although I never managed to convince myself, really. Which is why it became such a problem.
I don’t try living as a man anymore. I live as a transsexual. That is, a man who is largely perceived to be mad, and who is generally recognized as attempting to live as a woman. This is not the same as being a woman, but it’s better than being a guy.
I may be seen as a guy in a dress, but at least I get to wear a dress.
One of the reasons it’s better to live this way than as a man is that I get brief windows into what it would be like if everybody just agreed with me that, yes, I am a woman. These windows are called “passing”.
If I am passing, and someone “clocks” me, well, it’s a grounding of a particularly painful sort. You see, there’s only two ways I am made aware of the fact that I’m not a woman. If I’m made aware of some component of my own anatomy (ie, facial hair, voice, plumbing) or if someone else points it out. Otherwise, I’m fairly oblivious. I am a woman, as far as my ability to discern and categorize myself is concerned.
I’m not necessarily aware that I’m anything other than a woman unless some idiot says, “Damn! It’s a Man!” or something of the sort, at which point I’m buried by the avalanche of an entire lifetime of bitter frustration.
Luckily, I’ve learned to cope with this a bit. It generally doesn’t result in days or weeks of navel gazing and depression. No, it’s now down to a few hours or an afternoon.
People don’t really understand why this is hard to get over. I mean, nobody gets what they want in life. So why should I expect to? In many ways, I suppose they’re right.
The problem I have is that I have found no way of successfully reprogramming my brain about this stuff. As far as it’s concerned, I am a woman. It’s not a question of not getting what I want, it’s a question of something I’m sure I already have not being there — kind of like when you go for your keys and they’re missing. You were certain they were there, and now they aren’t — where could they have gone. Someone saying, “No you aren’t a woman” always comes with that kind of cognitive dissonance — “I was certain that vagina was there a moment ago, but now it’s a penis.” Empirically, I have learned that “they” are right. But emotionally it has never sunk in. I still wake up every morning a woman, and have to readjust to the fact that there’s a penis down there for some reason.
I have to readjust, every damn day, to the fact that I’m a woman who is balding, has a deep voice, and has a penis. Thankfully, my breasts are no longer missing. Still, it only gets so easy to do this. It always seems a bit off. Why would I have a penis? Are you sure it’s really there? Yes, yes it is. Why? I dunno. Can we get rid of it? Well, yes. Whew! Okay, so how do we ditch it? Um, well, it’ll take a few months/years/decades…
Once I manage to get over that little early-morning hurdle, I can ignore for the most part the fact that reality doesn’t match up with what my brain keeps insisting on. Except for every time I get a weird look, or I have to pee. Or some idiot says, “Damn! It’s a Man!” When one of those things happens, it’s painfully obvious, again, and I have to readjust, again.
Some days I’m just better at that than others.
It would still be nice to move from being a transsexual to being a woman, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m trying to be as pragmatic about all this as possible, and as respectful of others point of view — ie, that I’m not a woman — as I can. If I’m a transsexual and people are polite, well, it’s better than being a guy, and I do get to wear a dress. And every once in awhile, I pass, and I get to be normal for a brief window of time — the world and my brain in harmony with one another. I try to enjoy it while it lasts.
It’s always over soon. And it will never last the way it’s supposed to.

Received Wisdom

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve read or heard that when a CD/TG goes through a “slutty phase” it’s because they’re just going through their female adolescence, like all girls go through – experimenting with styles, wearing too much makeup, etc., I’d be rich woman.
While it may be true that teenaged girls experiement with makeup and clothes, it also occurred to me that I had never gone through a “slutty” phase. So I started asking other women – partners, friends, sisters – and amazingly enough, none of them had.
One woman (a trans-partner as well) pointed out that the “slutty” girls in high school – the ones everyone knew would have sex with nearly anyone – were the only ones who dressed that way. (She also pointed out that in retrospect, those girls were most likely subjected to sexual abuse or violence as children or young adults, which I think is entirely accurate).
Most of us were busy covering up our newly-exploding bodies, dealing with what it felt like to have curves, to be looked at sexually. It wasn’t easy. But the last thing we were doing was dressing like sluts – believe me, it comes as quite a shock to have thighs, get your period, grow breasts – and suddenly find that your male friends look at you differently. A lot of women I know just covered up – in whatever ways possible – until they’d made peace with their new bodies. And for a lot of us, that didn’t happen until college, if then.
So what are trannies really doing when they dress slutty? It’s my feeling that what they’re doing is indulging in a “look” that they – socialized as men – think is powerful. It’s part of the mythology that women are in control, that we use men to suit out purposes – you know, the “cold hearted bitch” myth that even Robin Givens is debunking on Oprah this week.
And that’s not so much what bothers me. What bothers me is how quickly we as partners are to accept this “received wisdom.” This crap wasn’t explained this way by a partner – I’m pretty sure of it. Because it does not compute. Any woman who has been raised as and lived as a woman knows it doesn’t compute, but we tell each other things like this to feel better about the way our partners are objectifying women in their choice of clothes. We fail to inform our partners, too.
The most beautiful women I know are not masters of their realm. They are usually more insecure than other women who don’t play the beauty game, actually. I was friends with a woman who was beautiful who would always make sure people had noticed her when she walked into a room; it helped boost her confidence, because otherwise she felt she had nothing to give. She waited by the phone like every other girl, wondering if he was going to call like he said he would.
So please – let’s drop this little bromide. Every time a partner tells you her partner is going through the “slutty” phase, just ask her: did you have one? My money is on the fact that she didn’t go through a “slutty” phase, and neither did any other woman she knows.

The Sanctity of Marriage

Does it strike anyone else as insane that the “marriage is sacred” crew are the same people who have decided that Terri Schiavo’s husband can’t make the decision about what she would have wanted? I mean, isn’t that what marriage is all about? Isn’t being able to make this kind of decision what they’re trying to keep gays and lesbians from?
Do they even know what they’re talking about, or look in the mirror ever? I don’t think so. Neither does Dahlia Lithwick of Slate.
Another article, focusing on the privacy of decisions like this, and why our seniors have come out most strongly against this kind of governmental intervention.
And another, focusing on the political grandstanding, which mentions the fact that although the Catholic Bishops have recently started a new campaign against the death penalty, Bush and DeLay and their boys aren’t interested in it. “Culture of Life,” indeed.

Are You a Yale Alum?

As many of you know, I took a panel of crossdressers to this year’s “Trans Issues Week at Yale” in order to elucidate the issues het crossdressers face. Other events later in the week focused on female masculinity and trans youth issues. The only problem is – the funding that financed the first two “Trans Weeks at Yale” has ended. In order to have a 3rd, and 4th, and 5th, funding is needed.
As a result, I’m looking for Yale alum who identify as trans, or who are interested in helping promote trans awareness at Yale. Yale is the college for “future policy makers of America” and as such, is a great place to be having these conferences.
Please contact me at helenboyd(at) if you are interested in helping get involved in this event – either by donating directly or by helping fundraise for it.
Thank you,
Helen Boyd

Our Boy Overseas

I got an email the other day from a 19-year-old crossdresser who was reading my book.
He mentioned how lucky he felt to be dealing with this stuff at 19, before making any permanent commitments in his life.
And then he mentioned that he’s an Army truck driver in Iraq, who parents made him join because it would do him “a world of good.”
He doesn’t get a lot of mail, or packages, and as we all know, our Army guys are taking the hardest hit in Iraq. As a result, I thought it might be cool for a bunch of us to send him mail, email, and even care packages.
Now remember, he wants to fit in with the rest of the guys, so no boxes full of panties (though he is looking for a copy or two of Girl Talk, if anyone’s got a copy they can spare.)
Send letters, cards, gifts, etc to my PO Box, and I’ll ship them to him (though mark them “for our boy overseas” so I know who they’re for). Likewise, send me emails at helenboyd(at), and I’ll forward them to him.

Website Re-Design

In about a week, Betty and I will unveil the new website design for, including the new name for my blog.
A lot of the same information will remain (or simply be updated) but there will be a couple of new features as well that I think folks will like. It will of course look entirely different as well.
If I seem a bit absent from the message boards, or don’t post new blog entries here, that may be the reason.
A Happy Holy Week to all who celebrate Easter.

Couples' Night

Since around November, a group of couples has been getting together on Friday or Saturday nights for dinner. We’ve been very lucky in that the restaurant East of Eighth has provided a good spot – it’s big, they don’t mind if we’re there for a while, and we can hear each other speak.
We’ll be going out together tonight again.
If anyone is interested in joining us for an upcoming gathering, please check the TG Events Listings part of the MHB Boards.