How To Combat Gender Nonconforming Loneliness
The age old problem some crossdressers/gender benders/transvestites face is about "falling between the cracks." In some particular communities, many trans women want nothing to do with crossdressers, as is similar with the gay community; the drag queens got no time for them either; EVEN in some cases, some crossdressers get intimidated if another crossdresser looks too good in femme. And it goes without saying that the general public thinks Crossdressers, meaning men who dress like women, are "weird." In other words, from time to time a CD/TV (crossdresser and/or transvestite) may feel that it is hard to find their "tribe" = community = friends = peeps to hang out with and experience the world. What does this REALLY mean? This all adds up to an overwhelming sense of LONELINESS for those who crossdress AND those who are attracted to crossdressers.
It is no surprise that at any given moment all across American and the WORLD there are innumerable CDs/TVs who are all dressed up in their finest lady clothes alone at home or in a hotel room feeling as if they have nowhere to go. And even if there was somewhere to go, they don’t have a gang, a clique, a posse, a tribe to join in their adventures. They feel like outcasts, misfits, like they don’t belong in ANY close circle. They feel socially isolated.
Many if not most crossdressers are in the closet. They hide, shield, and protect that part of their secret/private lives from family, friends, coworkers and just about everybody. YET, deep down inside they long to be SEEN and HEARD. They long to be out in the world: feeling FREE of social norms. They long to belong to at the very least a small click or group of people, a "tribe." Their fear of coming out of the closet about their crossdressing is completly understandable in these current times we live in where one’s livelihood and marriage can be compromised by someone outing them. So, on one hand they want to make friends and on the other hand they are very cautious as to with whom they share their secret. Coming out to somebody is a very courageous act leaving one quite vulnerable. Yet, being vulnerable with others is what creates deeper human connections. Being open about who you are and how you feel is what builds a tribe. It’s what kills the loneliness.
What is loneliness anyway? Loneliness as Dr Sue Varma explains is a subjective feeling that people feel as if folks are not with you, people don't understand you, you don't feel connected, you feel ALONE and not in a good way. You could very well have interactions with family, friends and coworkers, and still feel lonely. You could be surrounded by folks at a party and not only feel like you don't belong, as expressed by the Ed Sheeran's song "I don't care" , but you can also feel lonely if you don't feel connected to at least ONE person at the party. It's like living alone in a bubble.
Only now is science starting to understand the harm loneliness and social isolation can bring. As we age our odds of becoming more isolated increase. Even though we are more connected than ever through social media one-on-one human interaction in person can be rare for some folks. For folks who are in the closet like CD/TVs that isolation increases since not everyone crossdresses or understands what crossdressing actually is or feels like.
The good news is that the LONELINESS spell can be broken by ONE single good listener. WHO is a good listener? That would be a compassionate listener. As Thich Nhat Hanh said "Compassionate listening is giving permission to the other person to empty their hearts." Most of us are too wrapped-up in our own lives to be bothered to hear other people's live's challenges. However, it is when we open up and hear other people's plight that we not only feel more connected but feel more understood.
Compassion is empathy in action.
Personally I LOVE spending time ALONE. Those who know me, know that I periodically turn off my phone, lock myself in a hotel room and put on the "do not disturb" sign in order to write a few times a year. I don't find those alone times to be lonely. They are empowering. I see them as my "Moses on the mountain" kinda times. They are alone times where I can reconnect to my inner self, my inner voice. Of course that being said, if I spend too much time alone I start feeling like Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away. My biggest fear is that I will start talking to a volleyball as if it were a person. Naturally in the rare times I feel lonely I know exactly what to do...
We are all social creatures, and as such we need the company of others to bring a better quality of life to our existence. I strongly believe that even in our deepest feelings of loneliness we have the capability to reach out to someone. And I believe that it is in those special moments that we can recognize someone else's desire to connect, which in turn gives them the very thing we seek: human Connection aka the end to loneliness.
Life can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes, but when we reach out life surprisingly becomes more enjoyable. So why not reach out today to tell someone how much you appreciate them? Who knows, by doing so you may be taking away their loneliness without even trying...whether you are dressed like a man or a woman.