Transgender Life – What triggers the need to dress? In the last couple of weeks this topic has come up in two different discussions. The first was with a cisgender woman friend who really wants to understand what makes us feel the way we do. She is trying to understand what can bring on the desire to initially dress and present and then what turns that into the need to live as our real gender and undergo all that it requires to do so. I long ago learned that if gender dysphoria is not even on someone’s radar, then it’s a concept that is very hard to describe and understand. There were many of the usual questions about dressing, clothing, going out and the like. The hardest of them all is “Why?” We talked for a long time and I also told her that this isn’t something you grasp in just a few minutes. Her next question was, “Do you feel this way all the time?” I had to admit I don’t feel it all the time and sometimes it will wash over me like a tidal wave. I told her that we don’t know when it will take control or what causes it, but there are times everyday when I would see something or someone and the real heart-felt desire to dress would be so strong. Maybe the smell of a certain perfume, a pair of shoes, looking at a well-dressed woman and the want to live life that way comes over us. It’s very complicated and I hope she keeps asking questions and I can keep answering and also explore my motivation and feelings.
My dear friend, Charla and I were talking at lunch about a week after this first encounter and she told me that since being on hormones, she may go a significant amount of time and not feel like dressing or presenting. She also said that her trigger is a nicely tailored business suit, stockings and heels. She said that gets her every time and then she will spend time dressed. I told her I would get the trigger in shoe stores or cosmetic counters and a nice dress will get my immediate attention. Being a chip off the old block, my mother and I couldn’t pass a shoe store without a good look in the window.
I find that those who are not full time, the triggers will hit hardest. We’ve all gone through the dreaded purge only to have the trigger get us and then we are replacing all that we trashed. It’s a viscous cycle, to be sure.
Whatever the trigger, we don’t know when or where it will happen. I have a girl friend who sees a leather skirt and off to the races she goes. I find it very helpful to our cisgender friends, family members, loved ones and others, to let them know that we may not walk around 24/7/365 feeling this way, but it never goes away and the more they learn, the more we hope they accept.