I'm stressed about a lot of things, so I am going to rant about them here.  Perhaps it will help.  I don't know if it is the holidays, or one particular member of ma famille, or the fact that I am transgender on my mind every single second of every fucking day, or finances, or all of the above, or what.

The past couple days, I've been in one of those "what the fuck am I doing with my life?" stages.  I'm 39, I make a lot of money, yet am in debt up to my eyeballs because I've been supporting two households for three years, well, that, and transition.  I am either going to borrow against or liquidate my 401(k) so I can get through the next 9 months.  This isn't intended to be self-pitying... I made my bed, as they say, but I'm just frustrated.  I have the rest of my life to fix all this, but at the moment, it sucks.

A couple conversations I had with my mother this weekend are also weighing on me... two things she said that just don't give me warm fuzzies... a) "you know, of course, that I will NEVER think of you the way I think of your sister," and b) "when you have surgery, I don't even want to know about it."  Thanks, Mom.  "Is this Mrs. K******?  We're calling to tell you that your child didn't make it out of anesthesia.  What's that?  You didn't realize she was having surgery?  Whoops."  And as for point a), yeah, I'm aware.  Although I don't know what you think you are accomplishing by telling me that.  And the ironic part is, she is actually trying.  The problem is that she doesn't want to hear a peep about anything transgender or transition-related, but she purportedly wants a relationship with me.  It's early yet in the big scheme of things, but that isn't going to work long-term, you know?  So that's on my mind.

And then there's my ex-wife.  I go through periods when I feel softer towards her.  She was very upset when I picked the kids up for our Thanksgiving trip.  I felt awful and I wished things were different.  I've been thinking about her more than usual the past couple of days, and today I Googled her.  I do that once in a while.  There was some review she wrote of this fitness class she's taking.  She sounded so much like the person I fell in love with... so alive and full of energy.  I've not seen that side of her in years.  Made me wistful.  Today when she dropped the kids off for the evening, she looked beautiful, and I watched her walk away.  I thought about what it will be like for me when she is dating; what it will feel like if I ever see when I see her with someone else.  The thought is very upsetting.  I actually started crying.  I will likely always have some degree of love for her.  Of course, I need to remember the seashell.

Fortuitously, I have therapy tomorrow.  I am going to try and get my shit together this weekend, as well as some Xmas shopping done.  (ack!!  more to be stressed about)

I did have a nice moment today.  End on a positive note, right?  This morning I went to the Social Security Administration to do my name change, and an older woman, maybe 55 or so, sat down next to me and started chatting me up.  When I said I was there for a name change, she asked if I just got married.  I told her that no, I was transgender, and she got this really surprised look on her face and told me how attractive I was, and continued chatting.  So that was nice.

I know that in the larger context, I have tons to be glad about and thankful for.  I will recover financially.  My relationship with my mom will be what it will be.  My ex-wife and I will, at worst, have a cooperative relationship.  However, at the moment, I'm choosing to look at the trees, not the forest.  I'll get over it.

This Thanksgiving was the first holiday that I spent as myself. It's also the first time any of my family members have seen me as myself. I was a little nervous about how the weekend was going to go. So on Tuesday I schlepped the kids up to Albany. The visit started inauspiciously... my mom and I didn't get off to a great start... she said something that was very hurtful, and I told her so. She wasn't trying to hurt my feelings... she just doesn't quite understand where I am coming from. We talked about for a couple minutes, and moved on. I know that my mom is trying. She tries to use my name on the phone, and used it in person as well.  We had a couple other good talks over the rest of the trip.  I think we'll get through all this.  I think.

Fortunately, the above was the low point of the weekend. The rest of the weekend was pretty good. I took the kids Wednesday morning to visit with my 91-year old grandmother. She was just thrilled that we came to visit. She was as loving as always, and my kids love "Gigi," as they call her. Gigi suggested that we all go out to lunch, which was nice. She doesn't judge or care... she just loves people. The visit with her alone made the whole trip worthwhile. Go out in public, to a place she's a regular at? Sure, who cares? It was me, my kids, and her. Some of the least judgmental people in my life. A 91-year old, a 3-year old, and a 5-year old. Not surprising, I suppose.

Thanksgiving was fun... my mom had 17 people for dinner.  I had dressy pants on at first and felt uncomfortable, like the classic overdressed transgender stereotype.  So I changed into jeans.  Much better.  The holiday didn't feel any different to me than any of my previous 38 Thanksgivings.  I wasn't treated differently. People tried to use my name and a couple apologized when they didn't. I told them that I was glad that they were trying.  I didn't hold back much with my appearance... I visited this summer and was very androgynous-looking.  This trip, I made sure to say "girl" with my presentation. My daughter took this picture of me. Pretty good for a 5-year old. It took a couple tries, but we got a good shot.  Friday we went over to my Dad's (parents are divorced) and spent time with his side of the family.  My Dad, as many fathers do, didn't have much to say/ask about my transition, etc.  Not because he is avoiding it... that's just him.  We've never talked much.  I got pretty much exactly what I expected I would from both of my parents.

Got home today, dropped the kids off, went out to the store and got something for dinner.  I couldn't help but notice how alone I felt.  It was a little depressing at first... being around so many people all weekend, then dropping off the kids and coming back to such quiet.  The first two or three hours after getting back from a trip with them (the kids), I just want to relax.  Then I start missing them.  My son and I slept in the same room this week, he on a little cot, me in the bed.  When he woke up, he'd come over to me, wake me up with a kiss, and cuddle with me.  As a parent, you treasure those moments.  Even if you wish they were at 7 AM, instead of 5:30.  I got 8½ hours sleep last night for the first time all week, but I'd trade it for 6 and a wake-up from my 3-year old.

I noticed the monotone voice I used in my head above when I wrote about this holiday not feeling any different.  I had this same tone in my head when I wrote about work not feeling any different.  On the surface, this seems like a good thing.  But I didn't like how things felt for the past 30 years.  A topic for another day.  For a first visit with family, things were alright.

For Thanksgiving, I'm taking my kids up NY to visit family. This will be the first time that they will be seeing the real me. I visited in August with the kids and presented androgynously. Not this time. I'm not sure how I feel about this trip. I'm looking forward to spending the time with my kids but the whole family thing I view with trepidation. I suspect my family feels similar. I felt like the trip was going to be OK, but there have been a couple things that I'm not going to go into here that have set me back a little bit. Thank God my kids are coming.

My family is trying but at times things are said to me that shows me that the speaker Just.Doesn't.Get.It. For example, with respect to the preschool thing, one comment I got from a family member was "I can see where she's coming from." I've been told it is strange that I have donated my old male clothing. I could go on and on with this, but I will stop. Won't do me any good. Instead, I shall think about family members who do get it.

I am supposed to go up there for Xmas, without the kids, and I am trying hard to not think about it. I'm trying hard to wait and see how this trip goes before making self-fulfilling prophecies about how the next trip will go. I say self-fulfilling prophecies because I believe that the more of an issue people make about my trans-ness, the more of an issue it will be. I've said that to people. I am trying hard to follow my own advice. The more I build up in my head and/or write about how stressful these trips are going to be, the more stressful they will be. *I* need to make this a good trip. It is under my control. I shall stop writing now.

The following is a compendium of questions I've been asked, advice I've been given, and things that have been said to me by well-intentioned or otherwise friends, family, and strangers. None of it is made up or embellished.

Enjoy and/or cringe. :)

This post came about after reading Gin's post on the "T-Word." I started leaving a comment on her blog and it started getting a little wordy. So rather than hijack her blog, I'll turn my comment into a blog post.

For those of you who don't know, the "T-Word" is a word that is a not-so-nice "nickname" for transsexual... it's a word that mechanics use to talk about transmissions. To a transsexual, it is a pejorative, and it is offensive. It is somewhat equivalent to the N-word, although it's not quite so hateful. I've always hated this word. I don't like hearing people use it, and I certainly never liked it when trans people used it jokingly about themselves. A friend of mine had a mindspring question site called, "Ask A T****y." I didn't get that. Was never able to understand when I'd hear African-Americans use the N-word. As if it was OK for them to use it, but not others. I always found that somewhat hypocritical.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was talking with a couple friends. We were discussing how all these people were coming out of the woodwork for lunch dates with me, happy hours, etc. I jokingly and lightheartedly rolled my eyes and said, "yeah, you know, they all want to meet the t****y," and I laughed.

Whoa. Did I just say that? What's up with that? I hate that word. I thought about it some later, and what I figured out, was that I'm past the point of allowing myself to be hurt by a word that someone else uses to describe me. Call me whatever term you like... it doesn't matter. No one has the power to hurt me with a word. I do not grant you that power. If I were to be called that by someone who meant it in a degrading sense, I'd end up rolling my eyes at them... whatever. But, I get that others in our community don't feel that way. I was there. I still am there in a group sense... I don't like it when the word is used to refer to trans people as a group. Not so much because of the word itself, but because of the intention behind the word. The T-word doesn't hurt my feelings on a personal level, but I know it does others. Gin pointed out that groups such as trans people can try to take the word back and wash them clean, but such words will always have some stigma attached to them... and she's right.

So what does that make me, for using it? I guess it makes me a bit of a hypocrite. It's great that I've attained a level of self-acceptance where a mere word cannot not hurt me. However, that doesn't make it OK for me to use it. It's not acceptable or fair of me to use terms about myself that I would chastise others for using.

I'm not going to use it again. With or without asterisks.

I've been putting too much pressure on myself to write thoughtful posts lately. It gets exhausting. I get tired of thinking so much! This post is just going to be about what's going on. Things are pretty good, the whole preschool thing excepted. Work is going very well... it feels like nothing at all has changed. Part of that is because I'm on this project with 4 guys, none of whom are social. They all treat me exactly the same as they did before. Which is good, I suppose. I wish I worked with some women. I had lunch with our HR director, whom I refer to as "my HR angel," the other day. Was great to see her... we have a great relationship and talked about a lot of non-work stuff. Very cool.

My voice is really bothering me. I've neglected it and it shows. It is nowhere near where it should be and I have no one to blame but myself. I got sirred twice today. At least I think I got sirred. One had a thick Vietnamese accent, the other Middle Eastern, but I'm pretty sure I heard a "sir" in there. One of the sirrings was after the guy called me "ma'am," and then I spoke. Seriously? Even if my voice sounds like crap, why would you call someone that is obviously trying to present female, "sir?" Ugh. I really need to work on it. Can't explain why I haven't. I worked on it for about a month a little while back, but lost my voice mojo. So that's something I need to get moving on.

Hmmm, what else. I need to get started on hair removal "down there." I am absolutely dreading it. I think I will probably end up having surgery with McGinn or Leis. They both work out of Philly and I have a few friends in that area who could help with rides and dilation and such. Haha!! Kidding about the dilation, of course. Hopefully as close to a year from now as possible. Now that I am full-time, it bothers me a lot more than it has in the past. Without it, whoa, too many pronouns there... I mean without having had surgery, I feel like somewhat of an impostor, or that I am less of a woman. I wonder how I will feel afterwards. Anyway, I am starting that process... the research, consultations, figuring out how I am going to pay for it, assuming I am unable to get my company to uncheck the "Discriminate against transgender people?" box on our health insurance policy.

My daughter's school has what they call Parentgarten next week... the kids "teach" the parents. S. asked me if I was going to go. I didn't know what to say. I'd love to go, but it is in the middle of the work day and I am a little gun-shy after this whole preschool thing. I'd be lying if I didn't say that it has shaken me up a little bit. I'm stumbling around in the dark a bit right now with respect to school and the kids. I don't feel that I have anyone I can talk to about it who is truly impartial. How involved to be? I didn't cry when she asked me about it, but I know she sensed that I was a little upset. After we talked about it, she came over and "gave me love," her sweet way of saying cuddles and hugs and kisses. I got very teary-eyed at that point, but she wasn't aware, I don't think.

I've been on hormones for almost 9 months now. The past month or two, it feels like things are stagnating. I've not been as emotional and am very dissatisfied with the growth of the girls. I'm on Premarin and it seems like everyone else is on estradiol. And my "drive" is returning, which I don't like. It is returning slowly and is nowhere even remotely near where it used to be, but I don't really like it. I'll see my endo in March and we'll talk about estradiol then.

Overall, things are good. I will be glad when the "major" transitioning things are done and I've figured out how to best handle this with my children and school.

Dear Shar,

May I call you Shar?  I feel like we're old friends, after all we've been through together, without even meeting in person. "Ms. Lander" seems somewhat formal, and I fear that I would misspell "Sharlene," as you misspelled my name on your first email to me.  Really, Shar.  "Teigan?"  Tut, tut. I hope you don't teach spelling at school, Shar. My little joke!! Anyway, Shar, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your most recent email, where you banned me from the school premises. Despite that, you showed your kindhearted nature by allowing me to drop my son off at car line. Always the practical one, Shar.  I promise not to so much as poke my head out of the window, for fear of creating "an environment contrary to the expectations of the majority of the parent community."

I'm very glad, Shar, that you hope you have not offended me. That warms my little perverted transsexual heart. I feel much better now about your statement that the other parents likely have different values than I do. And infinitely much better about you referring to me as a "transsexual male," or referring to my situation as being based in "gender-sexuality" (???). I understand and appreciate, Shar, that in the past, "there have been occasions where the children’s daily routine has been disrupted due to behavior issues associated with their parents." Rest assured, Shar, that the children will not have to be subjected with the behavior associated with transsexualism. I must admit that I don't quite understand what the "behavior" is, but between friends, we'll let that one slide. We are friends, right, Shar?

I also appreciate your admission of the fact that you "do not pretend to know the difficulties that you may face or the challenges that lay ahead" with our alternative family situation. Your concern means so so much to me, Shar. As your friend, I would love to educate you. One big reason we face challenges, the biggest, in fact, is because there are a lot of ignorant bigots like you out there... whoopsie!!! My bad. Between friends, why don't you let that one slide as well. "I hope I have not offended you." ;)

Allow me to rephrase, mon amie. Children are the most accepting creatures on the planet. This acceptance begins to erode when adults, who are threatened by things they do not understand, and worse yet, make no effort to understand, make value judgments about people they've never met and know next to nothing about. It is at that point that parental and/or school influence take over, the children grow up, and the cycle continues. I would have thought as the vastly-experienced preschool administrator you are, that you would understand this, Shar.

Of course... as a vastly-experienced preschool administrator, you also realize that some parents would call the school, and demand the removal of the offending parent, or her student. Taking a stand against this would cause the school to lose money, wouldn't it, Shar? Those conservative Republican parents, living in of one of the richest locales in the country, probably wouldn't understand it, Shar. They'd be threatened by me, Shar. And you know that. This is much easier. Your school is a private, for-profit enterprise, and that must be protected. You're a great businesswoman, Shar.

I promise to do my part to protect your business, my dear friend. When people ask, I promise to evangelize on your behalf, Shar. I will tell any and all who ask that this school is a place where your children will be safe from the different values that I possess, values that will surely corrupt them. I will be certain to tell them that your school in no way teaches children that differences are OK; that the students will be protected from such dangerous thoughts. And should they ask for proof, I will simply show them your emails. I cherish the emails you have sent me, Shar. With my help, you may even be able to raise tuition, Shar! Indeed, you *are* a great businesswoman. I think it will warm prospective parents' hearts to read this letter and hope that someday they too, will share the congenial relationship that you and I are blessed with.

Finally, Shar, even if I did have a choice in the matter, I'd never pull my son from your school! What better place for my son. What better place than the loving, caring, supportive-of-those-who-are-similar environment that you foster, as the head of the school.


P.S. Let's do lunch soon, girlfriend!! I bet you're very curious about what kind of food transsexuals eat.


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When I transitioned, there just weren't too many blogs out there written by straight, transitioned women. Well, here's one.

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