The “Ick Factor” for MTFs – Let Others Transition with You and Keep Your Family & Friends

Jamie Farr as Corporal Maxwell Klinger

Jamie Farr as Corporal Maxwell Klinger (c) 20th Century Fox

For so many of us, we have spent our lives hiding who we are. As children we grow up wanting to do the things that other little girls our age are doing. But either through our parents constant reminders, or our own self inhibitions, we know we must behave like little boys.

And so it goes. For some of us this might go on for decades. For some, we go to our graves never showing the world who we are.

So many transwomen, such as myself, find ourselves transitioning while in our middle age years. Suddenly we go from having “gender dysphoria” to becoming “gender euphoric”. For so many years we had to, NOT wear makeup, NOT do our nails, NOT wear pretty clothes, and were certainly never the pretty ones having some gentleman hold the car door for us.

Once you’ve made the decision to transition the flood gates are opened. You start buying makeup, you start doing your nails and get to buy pretty clothes.

For you, its your greatest dream coming true. For others they probably think that you  have gone completely insane. And even worse, despite their best intentions, they probably see you as nothing more than a “man in a dress”.

There are so many things we can do to help others transition with us, but there is a never ending list of things we can do to turn people off. Those things we do are called the “Ick Factor”.

In previous decades transsexuals were instructed by psychologists to move to another town and start a new life. These days most will stay in their current job and try to stick it out with their current family and friends. Most with varying degrees of success.

The good part is that families still keep their loved ones. The problem is that now we must expect our families to also transition. They have to go from thinking of you as one gender to now thinking of you as the other. You know you are the same person, but others understanding of who, and what you are, must change.

As transsexuals we expect, erroneously perhaps, that everyone is going to understand. After all, you’ve always been trans, this is old news for you. But for them this is likely very new and extremely strange.

The transperson often doesn’t help. First because now that you’ve come out, you want everything now. But more importantly, what happens to us when we transition is that we overcompensate. Before you could never own anything pink, so now everything has to be pink and so on.

Transition for most is, and certainly was for me, like a pendulum. It starts off on the male side. Often we overcompensate by doing extremely male things. But as we transition, the excitement of being allowed to be female overcomes everything and we try to become extremely female. So often that means wearing too much makeup, too short skirts and too high heels. Often this compensation out does anything that any female our age would consider to be reasonable.

And its no surprise, since we never got to be teenage girls. After all, isn’t this what teenage girls do? The difference is of course that they are young and cute and can pull it off. Us middle age men have middle age men bodies and we just can’t do cute like they can.

One transwomen I know that’s in her fifties posts pornographic pictures of herself on Facebook. This of course is a sad sign of low self esteem and overcompensation.

But unfortunately beyond that, she is setting herself up for all kinds of problems, not to mention personal safety issues.

Now just imagine she wants to look for a job or worse, wants to get custody of a child or grandchild or wants to work as a volunteer for almost anything. This extreme and public overcompensation can only work against her and damage her character as a person in general.

Fortunately most of us don’t go that far. But many of us do go too far. And hopefully, with time, that pendulum will settle back to a place that is suitable for a woman of our age. And, hopefully we will find peace with ourselves and who we become after transition is done.

Here’s a list of things to consider not doing:

  • Wearing too much makeup.  Keep it simple.
  • Wearing age appropriate clothing while trying to blend into the female population.  Remember that sign on What Not to Wear, “No Miniskirts Past 35″  And if you think maybe you can pull off that outfit … you probably can’t.
  • Go easy on the heels.  If you must wear them.  Learn how to walk gracefully in them. (And remember they don’t work in sand and mud.)
  • Go easy on the nails and jewellery.
  • Don’t talk about aspects of your transition with anyone outside of your support group.  (Nobody wants to know how big your breast are getting.)

… and somethings to consider…

  • Work on your voice, but try to keep the changes subtle.
  • Consider taking a women’s deportment class.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Electrolysis!

For those that are starting into transition, try to remember that what you are going through is tough for them too. And, if you try to avoid the “ick factor” it might be easier for others to accept your transition and you may end up keeping most of the people that are important to you in your life.


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