Adventures in Dating
By Romana 11-14-2014
Definition of cisgender: a person who identifies as the gender/sex they were assigned at birth. For example, your birth certificate says female, and you identify as a female woman. A cisgender person could unknowingly still be transgender or intersex.
I don’t get very many dates now. I live as a transgender woman, which seems to pretty much eliminate me from dating cisgender women in my age range. I know how to partner with a cisgender woman, because I was in learning mode for thirty years in my marriage, but most women my age won’t view me as a potential partner. Despite still being effectively a straight male, with good social skills and not too obsessed with the materialistic aspects of gender transition, I don’t generate much interest from women. This is now understandable, but frustrating, and I will elaborate on this.
Males of many animal species mimic females at various times. Almost always, this is to get sex with a female, by confusing dominant males in the way. Mammals and birds can do this in sublime ways, but it is truly evident in many species of fish and cuttlefish. I don’t get any sex by mimicking a female. Strictly speaking, I never actually mimic anyone, but have learned still to be myself, by accessing my built-in female-identity.
When I was young, I did not know I had Asperger’s syndrome; I did not learn this until I was in my mid-sixties. In hindsight, I see how this made me a terrible dater. I did not think I was interested in women in high school, but by the time I graduated I finally had to admit I was interested…too interested, in fact, because I was very driven to get a woman without being socially refined. I graduated from high school in 1961, and I had my first date in 1963. It was with a girl I will call Ms. Renton Highlands, from the Renton High school class of 1963. Last year, Ms. Renton Highlands had her 50th high school reunion. I tried to drop in and set up a dialog, but she would have nothing to do with such a farfetched idea. I also had a date in 1962 with Ms. Windsor Hill, from my graduating class, a neighbor, but I totally blew that relationship by unskillfully pushing a serious relationship too fast.
I had wanted to dress like the girls since I was ten years old. I have no recollection of actually wanting to be a girl. I briefly crossdressed in my mother’s clothes; then I stopped for a very long time, out of fear of humiliation. Asperger boys do not want to be the center of attention.
After a 3-1/2 year tour in the Air Force, I went to work for a civilian aerospace company on Vandenberg AFB in California. I lived in Lompoc, a small community of mostly married people, so it was not a great locale for finding dates. Furthermore, I knew I was inept at dating, but I did not know why. I dated Ms. Ventura once and Ms. Carpentaria a few times. Ms. Carpentaria was extremely afraid of snakes. I remember a hike in Rattlesnake Canyon, in Santa Barbara, when I deftly pointed out one of the critters coiled at a bend in the trail. She relaxed once she realized the snake was not in attack mode.
I also dated Ms. Lompoc once, an attractive woman of Finnish decent. After the date, I took her home. I think she was going to invite me to spend the night, but I was so inept and bungling that I just gave up on her.
I felt, if I was ever to meet a woman, I had to leave Lompoc for a more-populated area. In 1977, I returned to Washington State to work for Boeing.
I had a few forgettable dates that did not go anywhere. I can be very bold, which is an unusual trait for an Asperger person. I decided to try the Loveline, broadcast by KVI radio. The premise was that I gave an introduction; then five women got my phone number. I went on the Loveline three times. The women always safely called the men first, for their protection.
I had more dates that did not go anywhere. I went on the Loveline for the last time in January 1979. I still remember that nervous call from Carolyn. At this time, I had no idea she would become my future wife. I was exhibiting crude dating skills, but she did not care. I was very self-absorbed, and I did not understand how to court a woman. I think she recognized me as a soul-mate, and she was a divorcee hunting for a man for her next affair. I was a rookie, so she had to teach me how courting should go. When I look back, my ignorance of the whole process now seems embarrassing. Eventually, we skipped to the sex, and were married in 1980. We turned out to be very compatible, but I essentially just wanted a woman, so I picked the first one who would have me. I assumed that my unnatural infatuation with crossdressing would come to an end, but I was so wrong.
There were hidden problems in my marriage that I only figured out after my wife died. I was not managing married life very well. I had poor social skills, which made me a bumbling husband. I did not want to take part in her life or relent from my oppositional attitudes. I was still fascinated by crossdressing, so I thought that might help me reduce my male ego.
My wife did not believe I could actually go to work, dressed as a woman, on Halloween 1989, but I did it and got away with it. On that day, my fear of humiliation died.
My wife and I went around and around why I was crossdressing; she was trying to get me to explain something that I had not yet figured out. Carolyn eventually became a great supporter of my alternate identity, especially after she and I learned I was autistic in 2006.
It has now been almost four years since Carolyn died. It was a very tragic episode in my life. It took a lot of help from friends and my therapist, and from meditation to get through this. I had gained a lot of partnering skills, so I thought finding a new woman would be easy. I was so naive.
Online dating was new, and I thought that would work great for me. First, there was one meet-up with Ms. San Juan in early 2011, followed by a few others. I met Ms. Port Orchard on Craigslist, and she seemed to accept my gender identity, but the actual meet-up seemed to make her sick, because she kept cancelling meet-ups due to various illnesses. We eventually met twice, but I failed to notice that she had already had chickened out. I now realize that there is no cultural script that a woman can use to judge me as a future partner; there are too many variations of transgender women, and we rarely get any factual press. I also lead an experiential life, not using convenient cultural relationship scripts, which is not what most women seem to want. Of course, there is no easy formula a woman can use to judge any male.
When I met Ms. Seattle, I thought I had finally met the one. When I revealed Romana to her, she seemed to like me even more. I even invited her to an Emerald City meeting, but she interacted with others present strangely, and she left the meeting without saying goodbye. It turned out that she thought transgender people were hyper-sexual, so she only wanted me for sex. Once she learned that I was not hyper-sexual, we parted company.
More than two years ago, I met Ms. Shelton online. Getting that first meet-up in Lacey took a lot of maneuvering, and she was shocked when I showed up as Romana. Still, there seemed to be a lot of chemistry between us. We actually talked seriously about getting together, but she backed out last April. I was shocked; I actually loved this woman and wanted to be with her, especially after we seemed to do so well in subsequent meet-ups. I realize now that Ms. Shelton has deep pain in her life, which I can’t help. Also, most of the chemistry I imagined happening between us was almost all a personal fantasy on my part. I got over her and some later prospects, but I still love Ms. Shelton. I meditated on this hard and long, searching for answers. Eventually, I reached some conclusions.
I now believe that everyone has both a male-identity and a female-identity, and that one’s sex is a biological convenience, but this does not seem to impact our culture much, or improve relations between men and women. Women had been deemed incompetent to do anything important, than to maintain households and raise children, for centuries; however, many women shocked our society by adequately doing men’s work in the factories during World War II. The establishment made a vigorous push to keep the girls of my generation submissively feminine, rather than to seek to implement feminism and equality. These girls, grown-up, are the women I am trying to date.
In the 1950’s, during all the anti-communist propaganda, it became patriotic to standardize gender roles and force everyone be straight; being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender was considered perverted, which was an unreasonable association with communism. Women were supposed to look one way and men another. Women got to crossdress with restrictions if they wanted, but this was disallowed for men. Women were supposed to defer to men in matters of authority. Social mechanisms were put in placed to make sure everyone obeyed tacit rules of gender behavior. Men could face humiliation if they deviated, and women could face loss of social status and even loss of their children. The bottom line is that many men and women who tried to adhere to such artificial cultural rules developed neuroses, and women often blamed men for their woes, but men became victims too.
I meditate to deal with my neuroses, but most people live in a world void of reflective contemplation. I never have actually learned to date, because I can’t really be a standard male. For a while, I was blindly pursuing women, without any caution. Once I balanced my hormones, I calmed down and realized that I probably can’t handle the neuroses of many women my age. They are either widowed or divorced, and may have spent a large part of their life battling men’s egos. If I partner with the wrong woman, I could face nagging for the rest of my life for my non-standard comfort zones and values.
In the quest for a mate, logic and good partnering skills do not seem to matter; it seems more about generating adequate cultural chemistry, those scripts that are supposed to define a personal as a good date, but not necessarily a good partner. I get a lot of ugh and oops reactions from women my age. It seems obvious to me that online dating does not work well for older men or women. Analysis on the internet has said that online dating works best for those thirty-five and younger. The internet offers a lot of promise, but there is a lot of fraud and lying. Men still pursue women based on the push of testosterone, and the women enjoy this pursuit, but often do not really want to risk actual meet-ups. While there is a new opportunity for actually becoming friends, male-female friendships without attached strings are not a feature of our culture.
In the meantime, I think I have caught up with my non-autistic peers. I count my blessings. I can now function much like a normal human being. I have become ultra aware of what is happening around me. I am no longer attached to my personal suffering, and this has led to almost daily enlightenment. I do not fear death, and I have some idea what will happen after I die, but that’s another essay.
However, I have to give up my idea that my experience and integrity will logically get me a woman. We still live in an age where a wife can kick a crossdressing or transgender husband out of a marriage, without encountering any shame from friends and peers. While such men can still perform husbandly duties, and they can pick a transition path free of surgeries wives do not like, any kind of gender-bending can be viewed as very exceptional and inconvenient.
I wonder how much longer we can keep this antiquated system going, where men are supposed to rule impassionately, while still putting women down and not giving women an equal share of the power. Men and women both react too easily in stereotypical ways, despite knowing that old ways are very sexist. Gradual changes have been happening for years, but we may have many generations yet to go before these is substantial improvement.