As I said in the last past, I'm far from smart enough to figure out where we end up on the spectrum. Is it all an internal process which we were born with, or more of a reaction to external stimulus or a mixture of both?
Most certainly, if you are satisfied with occasionally cross dressing as your non birth gender, you probably were influenced by external factors sometime earlier in life. But what about the rest of us?
Here is a comment Connie sent in:
Oh, if it were only as easy as flipping a switch! I've found it to be more like shifting gears - as with a 10-speed bicycle. My first little hints of my transsexual self were much like learning how to ride a bike; playing dress-up in my mom's old clothes that I found in a box in the garage, and trying to apply her lipstick in the bathroom mirror. Funny enough, it was close to this time that my dad had bought an old bike from Goodwill (the assigned destination for the clothes I had been wearing from that box in the garage). It was a 24" bike, and much too large for a five-year-old. Nevertheless, I did learn how to ride it - even though my legs were too short to be able to push the brakes back properly. I couldn't stop the bike, and I couldn't stop my "desire" to be a girl, either.
The irony does not escape me that, without training wheels, I accomplished my breakthrough moment of riding on my own just as I kept my gender "secret" to myself. Dad did give me instruction for riding a bike, but not for a bike that was too big for me, just as he tried to raise me to be a man (a little one, anyway). I took it all in, dutifully, but I came up with the necessary modifications by myself. In retrospect, I'm sure that my parents had become aware that I was not completely displaying the more-masculine traits of a little boy, even though I was trying so hard to conform to their expectations. My ability to stop my gender identity was as difficult to do as it was to apply the brake on that bicycle. So, I was stuck in first gear (the bike only had one) with my only way of stopping being to either crash or fall off. By the time I had the opportunity to ride a 10-speed bicycle, I was no longer crashing, and my ability to keep from falling off the bike matched my ability to walk effortlessly in Mom's high heels.
The bike belonged to the older girl next-door (a girl's bike!). I learned much from her about shifting gears - both on the bicycle and with my gender identity. Stopping was no longer the big issue, but learning to use the proper gears in order to climb the hills was something else. The hills I have been negotiating since then have been mostly of my own making; marriage, children, establishing my male persona within the community.
I worked hard to be an "A-lister" in those categories for years before realizing that I was in the wrong gear. At the same time, though, I was stuck in first gear with my gender identity. It could have been easy enough to maintain my "A-list" standing as I (falsely) presented my male self, while still being accepted by the "A-list" cross dressers; or so it may seem to others. I cannot see myself as belonging on either of those lists, however. To climb the hill, then, I must continue to up-shift, being careful to know the right gear to use, as well as the proper timing in shifting to that gear.
Thanks for the great comment Connie! From my own humble perch on the bike, I never saw the possibility of ever escaping my gender turmoil, did very self destructive things to myself and finally made it to where I am today. I just couldn't get by putting on women's clothes and thinking I was a complete person.
The next companion post to this one will be "Gender Survivor". If you have a comment, I would love to read it! Send it here, or to my email - cyrstih