I read Halle's latest post yesterday, and it brought to mind something I've wanted to write about for a little while. Before I started hormone replacement therapy, I had to have some extra blood tests done, due to the fact that I had a blood clot at one point in the recent past. So I saw a hematologist, and explained to him that I was transitioning. He had never met someone like me before. He was genuinely interested, friendly, and I could tell that he wanted to ask me a few questions but was hesitant to, out of respect. I remember him smiling a lot. I told him to ask whatever he wanted, and we talked for a little bit. I left the appointment, and as I walked out of the building, "awwww, he was so nice... " popped into my head.

Wait, what?!!

I'd never had a thought like that about a man before. For my whole life, I've been attracted to women. Never walked down the street and saw a guy that I thought was cute. Not once. Never came away from a conversation with a guy thinking that I was looking forward to the next time I saw him. It was a strange feeling to have this "warm fuzzy" after a short conversation with this doctor. It keeps happening and doesn't feel strange anymore. This guy I keep seeing in line at Starbucks in the morning has the best smile. He's tall, and cute, and I'm sure that if I talked to him, I would be nervous. I find myself going to the same cashier at Trader Joe's, even when his line is longer. And he noticed! The 3rd time I was in his line, he said something like, "I guess there must be something you really like about Trader Joe's." I think he was trying to flirt with me? I responded with something stupid and likely incoherent about food, to which he recommended the Korean ribs.

As far as women go, it feels totally different now. I have many intelligent, fun, and attractive friends, and I'm not attracted to any of them. I've not met a woman that I've been attracted to on a romantic level in almost two-and-a-half years. At the moment, I feel like I'm a straight woman. I don't know if I am or not, but I suppose it doesn't matter. What I am curious about, though, is this. How does one's sexual preference just change? It's happening to me, and I cannot explain why. It seems that if I had been bisexual all this time without realizing it, at least once in my life, wouldn't I have met at least one male that I thought was cute, or was attracted to? I'm not finding it at all unsettling, it's more a curiosity.

I don't know what to tag this post with... nothing seems appropriate. I feel like the post itself is all over the place, which does seem appropriate. My first few posts in this blog seem pretty scatterbrained, so it's fitting that my first post on this topic is all over the place.

Anyway, I need to run. I'm fresh out of Korean ribs. Yummy.

Calie's latest post on T-Central is titled "Respect." There's been precious little of that in Blogistan this week.

I've read many of the blogs, comments, over-generalizations, people taking things personally that weren't intended personally, diatribes, opinions, drivel, and ad hominem attacks in the shitstorm that was the trans blogosphere for the past few days. I'm not going to write anything about the question of who is or is not transsexual, pre-ops or post-ops or non-ops or can't-ops or apathetic-about-ops or won't-ops. There's as much chance of me influencing anyone's opinion, if that was something I cared about, as there is me waking up to discover that I'm pregnant. So it would basically be talking just to hear myself talk, which describes 90% of the words that have been bandied about this week. I've read the same long-winded comment and blog post eleventy billion times this week. And for what? This topic will die down and everyone will go back to what they were doing.

When I am ready, I am going to get as far away from trans politics and the trans community as I can. Assimilate into society and live quietly. And none of this crap will matter to me any more than it does to any other woman. I'll find people who need help, and quietly help. That will be the extent of it. My goal is to get to a place where this is all irrelevant. If my self-concept in 2 or 3 years still includes the term "transsexual," I will have failed. I read a quote somewhere this week saying that transsexualism should be a revolving door. Hear, hear. Once I am through the revolving door, I will not look back.

Respect *that*.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. Picturesque. I was standing next to a river. This enormous "thing" approached in the river. It wasn't a boat... I had never seen anything like it before and I was intrigued. As it approached, I jumped into the river, to check it out. Once I got in the river with the "thing," it became clear to me that this was, in fact, just a boat. But it was a big, loud boat, seemingly different than your garden variety boat. I held onto the boat and rode along with it for a little while. It was actually kind of fun, to ride along with this big, strong boat. But after a little while, I realized just how fast the boat and the current were. Too fast. And this boat was just another boat. Just a big, loud boat. I noticed that I was getting too far away from where I wanted to be and that I didn't get off soon, it might be very difficult to get back. So I let go of the boat and swam to shore. I found my way to some country store, called someone, they came and picked me up and we went home.

I've felt a lot of stress lately about how I want to live my life going forward. Do I want to live loudly or live quietly? I much prefer the term "living quietly" to "living in stealth." I was asked to go to dinner with this politician recently. Despite the blog entry I wrote about that sparkly-picture thing, I still have huge reservations about it on a bunch of levels. My hits here have exploded in the past couple days due to an entry being reposted by a well-known activist. A friend warned me of "the calling," where one can get sucked into the trans community in a prominent role and these days, with the Internet, once your name is out there, you can't take it back. Forget about living a normal life, sister. My heart is not with the activist boat. It's just another way to live one's life. There's nothing that's necessarily elevated or noble about it... it's just another lifestyle.

The boat story above would be the cheesiest and most contrived analogy ever, if I had made it up for this blog... but I didn't... it was the dream I had last night. Often I'll have some strange dream and have no idea what to make of it. This one, not so much. My subconscious is speaking loud and clear.

Living quietly. As a "normal" person does. Don't most of us wish for that? I can't guarantee that I will ever live a normal life. But I can do things now that will guarantee that I won't... and I'd just assume not have any more crazy boat dreams for a while.

There is a support group for LGBT teens starting up in my county. The local paper had an article on it, and I was involved in a, um, let's say "discussion" on the online comments for the article. This comment from "Will Nilly" was aimed at me...

Teagee Baby…
A transgender woman? really? When did you have your first child? Was it a C-section or beaker?
Do you often go for laser hair removal over your lip and back? What about that lovely voice? Does it remind me of Betty White or Barry White?
The point is, you can wrap the outside all you want in clothes and make-up, cut and paste body parts but you are not and never were a woman.
I’m sure you are an awesome person, but you are a man by design.
Ta Ta…
Needless to say, I didn't respond as I'm not going to engage this Neanderthal any further. I don't know why I even commented in the first place. If I had responded, it would have been something like this... consider this quote from Julia Serano's Whipping Girl... (emphasis mine)
My femaleness is so intense that it has overpowered the trillions of lame-ass Y chromosomes that sheepishly hide inside the cells of my body. And my femininity is so relentless that it has survived over thirty years of male socialization and twenty years of testosterone poisoning...

... openly expressing one's femininity is not a sign of frivolousness, weakness, or passivity, it is a fucking badge of courage... trans women are fucking badass!

Incredibly empowering, no? Being a transsexual woman and living genuinely can be very empowering if you allow it to be. I'm too much woman for you to handle, Mr. Will Nilly. Don't attempt a battle of wits with me... you're not equipped for it.

I'm having a pretty good week.

Work is going very well... we had a production deployment on Friday. WARNING: Geek stuff ahead. We all get in a room, turn the system on, and troubleshoot/fix anything that comes up. There were a couple people in the room who were not aware I was transgender. We start the system, and immediately get an exception "Unable to find definition for element 'beans' in application-context.xml." Everyone gets this confused look on their face and they all start talking in high-pitched excited tones about what the problem might be. I jump in and say, "This is what the problem is. The system is trying to load the Spring beans definition and it needs to go to springframework.com to get it, but since this is a production box, port 80 is probably blocked for security. We need to open up the port or reference the DTD locally." I was met with some skepticism, so I told them, "Trust me, that's the problem. Go look at the ports." They did, and port 80 was blocked, and that was the problem. Six guys from India and one chick, and the chick solves the problem. Rather instantaneously, I might add. :)

I didn't cry at electrolysis this week, unlike last time. I've made a couple new cisgender friends. One of them is the barista at my Starbucks. The other is from online... I've never met her, but it's the kind of thing where you just *know* that you would or will end up being great friends. I'm doing well at getting back into the exercise habit, have walked an 40-60 mins every day on the treadmill 9 out of the last 10 days. I volunteered to help someone out at work on my off-hours with a technical problem he's been having... that person I used to be would NEVER have done that.

My 5-year old daughter is now reading entire books to me at bedtime. I took them bowling last weekend and my 3-year old son was beating me after 4 frames, the little stinker. :) Make no mistake, I took to him the house by the time we got to the 10th frame. I printed out some pictures of me with them and put them up... finally got around to removing the pictures of the old me. It's time.

I'm having some friends, all of whom I've known for over 10 years, over for dinner tonight... my first time as a hostess! I've always wanted to be a hostess. :) I did food shopping this morning, had my hair up in a ponytail/headband, and looked pretty cute. Had the same friendly checkout woman who rang me up for 78 yogurts last week, and we had another nice conversation. I finished up and was backing out, and there was some guy walking behind me. I stopped and waved him on, whereupon he gave me a HUGE smile, and made a very grandiose "after you, ma'am," gesture. I love stuff like that. Love it.

I'm having a pretty good week. I'm typically not one who walks around feeling like there are bluebirds and butterflies circling her while Music Box Dancer plays in the background, but I kind of feel like that right now.

So this support site I help administer. One of its' functions is to show people what is possible. In terms of your life, your career, family, and also your appearance. And let's face it, as much as we poo-poo the superficiality of it at times, we transgender women spend a lot of time on things related to our appearance. Learning about clothes. Learning about makeup. Electrolysis. Facial feminization surgery. Laser hair removal. The list goes on and on. Anyway, as part of my role as an administrator, the owner of the site has asked me to provide some new pictures... "high quality - very feminine - something that says beauty, class, strength and leader. Hair, makeup, and outfit, a professional picture would be best."

Yikes! I'm still working on cute! Beauty? Class? Wait. I have class. Let's start over. Beauty? Strength? Leader? I can't pull that off!!! Then I started having all these moral quandries about sending the wrong message... that by getting by hair and makeup done, and having pictures taken, am I now perpetuating stereotypes? Am I now making my journey about my appearance, when in reality that's not such an important part of it? Am I showing off? The pictures I most enjoy and treasure, both my own and others, are pictures of trans women just living their lives... with their families, their kids, their friends. Not the glammed up pictures. And don't even get me started on the "Vanity Club." I am so NOT about that.

I emailed a few people I trusted and explained the situation, and my reservations, and they all pointed out in different ways, from different perspectives, that maybe this isn't the huge deal I am making it out to be. Maybe someone will look at my pictures, see where I started from, and see a possibility for herself. My sister correctly ascertained that I was a little intimidated by the "beauty, class, strength and leader" thing and suggested that it might be a very powerful thing for me to do. Another friend told me not to be afraid to sparkle... gave me this quote that she keeps...

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves; “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you NOT to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. WE ARE ALL MEANT TO SHINE, AS CHILDREN DO… it is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I felt much better about this after emailing with them about it. And let's face it... I'm 39 years old. I've not had the chance to go to prom, or be a bridesmaid, or a bride, get dressed up for a special evening, or even have a reason to shop for a special outfit. Or have my hair done other than for the reason that it's 60% grey. Why shouldn't I have the chance to experience this? Because I am afraid of how others might interpret it? The heck with that.

So in a couple weeks I have a friend coming to visit. We'll shop for something fabulous. Then a couple weeks after that, I have a hair appointment to get a "blow-out" (more good advice from Sis) and have my makeup done. It will all be tasteful and genuine and not over-the-top and it will be ME. Then I'm going to meet a photographer who told me that she had "lots of respect for the transgender experience, and that it would be an honor to photograph" me. And I will sparkle. And then I'm going out with some of my girlfriends. And we will sparkle. Because we are all meant to shine.

I wrote the above at work. This was the first song that came on the radio on the drive home. Seemed appropriate.

Although I hope I don't sparkle so much that I have fireworks shooting out of my boobs.

About 15 years ago, I thought I might be a transsexual. Someone or something I read pointed towards My Gender Workbook and Gender Outlaw, by Kate Borstein, as good resources to get started with. So I ordered the book and a week later eagerly started reading through them. I got maybe halfway through and found that I couldn't relate to any of it. I remember feeling rather frustrated.

Bornstein doesn't really consider herself anything. She talks about people who maintain the current system of gender as "gender defenders," and considers herself a "gender outlaw." I'm not going to talk too much about the books, because a) I don't remember them very well, and b) I'm not enough of an intellectual to challenge any of it. What I do know, is that her thesis, the idea that there is some genderless "promised land," wasn't appealing to me. At the time, I didn't know what I was, but I knew what I wasn't. I didn't feel anything like some amalgamation of male and female, or worse yet, genderless. I just had this unexplainable "thing." Oh, well, I thought. Guess I'm not a transsexual, I'm just some weirdo with this strange interest.

At that point, my ignorance of the subject being what it was, I stopped the exploration. After all, this was supposed to be *the* resource. I was told that these were *the* books to read. Of course, this doesn't go away, and I am not some weirdo, and here we are today. Since then, on the subject, I've read exactly half of one book, seen zero documentaries, zero movies, and haven't made it to a conference. They don't hold much interest for me. Paradoxical? No, not really. I'm not a gender outlaw. I don't seek to be different than anyone else for differences' sake. I'm just a woman. A woman with an interesting background and a different history. I'm not interested in tearing apart the social fabric, as Diana puts it. I am interested in getting through this period with my psyche and children intact and then quietly living my life.

The danger with books like Gender Outlaw being on the tips of people's tongues when it comes to gender identity is that people get the wrong idea. People like me, trying to figure themselves out. People such as cisgender people who fear that transsexuals' goal is upheaval of a "system," to use Bornstein's term, that has served humankind well for thousands of years. Maybe someday I'll write a book called Gender Defender, about women like me, for those who think they might be like us. Perhaps that would help educate both of the aforementioned groups.

A year ago, I referred to myself as a transgender woman. Now, I refer to myself as a transsexual woman. Ultimately, I'm not interested in being a T-anything. I'm interested in being a W.

I pass, or blend, or assimilate, or present, or whatever word it is that I'm supposed to use, well. I don't get clocked based on my appearance anymore. So you'd think that I'd be past fretting about it, no? Au contraire, ma soeur.

I had delivery guys coming over yesterday afternoon to deliver my New-Years-Cliche-Treadmill (NYCT). The guy called me to confirm the time and I tried my best voice, but on the phone, it's tough. They looked somewhat surprised when they saw me. I had a couch that I needed help moving. I offered to tip them extra, but they refused to move it. They said it was for insurance reasons, but of course I wondered if they had clocked me and that was the real reason they wouldn't help. Probably not, but I just can't help myself with these thoughts.

Then I had to make a grocery run. The checkout woman was around 60. She didn't read me. We chatted about our kids, about good things to put on a Coco Pop, and about the fact that she accidentally rang up 178 yogurts, when I only bought 7. I told her about the NYCT and she asked me if I watched what I ate. She then looked at me and said, "Well, of course you watch what you eat. Look at you, you're skinny." I am *not* skinny. I weigh 163. That's not skinny. I'd like to weigh 145. That'd be skinny for my frame. Anyway, it was such a nice little conversation. Loved it. Of course, as I walked away, the devil over my shoulder was telling me that it would have been different if she "knew."

Finally, I had dinner with a friend at this place called Jimmy's. Jimmy's is a well-known local watering hole/wing place. They have poker nights, football nights, etc. For whatever reason, when I first transitioned, I thought to myself, "Well, there's one place I'll never be able to go into again." Why I thought I'd never be able to go into this specific place anymore, I don't know. It's a very guy-ish place. Perhaps I feared being a trans woman in a space that caters to men.

I arrived at Jimmy's first and when I came in, one of the wait staff looked very hard at me, gave me the once-over, twice-over. And of course you know what went through my head.

"Omg. Goddamnit. I look cute today. How did she read me? You've got to be kidding me. Wow, I can't believe she read me from looking at me for five seconds. Damnit. Now I have to go to the bathroom and she's probably going to chase me down and ask me exactly what I think I'm doing in the ladies' room. I knew I shouldn't have come in here. Ugh."

I finished up in the ladies' room and came out. There was the waitress again. Uh oh, here it comes.

"Ha ha! You know who you look like? You look just like my friend Sophie. I couldn't imagine why Sophie was in here, that's why I looked at you so quizzically. Ha ha!!"

Ha ha, indeed. *exhale*

So then my friend comes in and sits down. She's not one that gets read, either. She looks great. Same waitress comes over and says to her, "ha! When you came in here, I knew that's who you were looking for." (me) My friend and I give each other these looks like, "what? because we're both trans?" At this point, I'm completely confused. I have no idea whether she read us, or not. It doesn't really matter, of course, she was nothing but nice to us the whole time. If I had to guess, I'd say that she didn't read us.

This is exhausting. I will be so glad when I get to a point where success or failure is not measured by "Did I get clocked?" The funny thing is, in all those interactions above, if I was a betting woman, I'd bet that no one clocked me all day. And look at all this mental energy I am expending.

Anyway, now I need to get my looks-skinny-but-isn't body downstairs on the NYCT and work off some of the wings, beer, and Beef-on-Weck that I consumed last night.

Oh, crap. Wings, beer, Beef-on-Weck. Girls don't order wings, beer, and Beef-on-Weck!! *That* must be how she read us.

Kidding, sort of. :)

It's been so negative here lately.  I something to perk me up.  So this blog entry is going to be about something superficial, my looks!  Here in Blogistan, we typically refrain from talking about these sorts of things, because we are only supposed to talk about deep, meaningful things, that make the reader pause and reflect.  Weeeeelllll, the heck with that for today.  I can be as superficial as anyone.  :)

For years and years, I could not fathom how I might ever achieve resembling a woman, let alone being an attractive, or a cute one.  When I started transitioning, my thought was that some day, I hoped that I ended up being cute.  I always thought I'd be pretty happy with that.

I had the courage today to post a picture of myself on Facebook with my hair up.  First one of those.  I was just running out to do some errands and my hair was *not* behaving, so I thought I'd try putting it in a ponytail... it's finally long enough that I can do a ponytail that's longer than, say, an inch.  I looked at myself in the mirror, and thought, "Huh.  You know what, I look pretty cute."  Anyway, I took the picture and put it on Facebook, and hoped one person would comment on it.  *I* thought I looked cute, which in theory is all that's supposed to matter, but I hoped someone would say something nice.  I had absolutely zero makeup on.  It's funny, I just went and looked at it, and thought, "Yikes.  At least put on a little lip gloss or something."  At any rate, I got back from my errands and as of this writing, 20 people liked and/or commented on it, and I'm pretty sure they were all genuine comments... my friends aren't ones to do the "Rah rah rah!!  You look GREAT!!!" thing, when you really don't.  That's not helpful.

I'm excited to see how this all turns out in a couple years.  Perhaps I'll even end up being pretty.  If I may pat myself on the back, and I will since this is my blog, I'm pretty cute.  I promise that next post, we'll be back into the over-the-top angst and self-analysis, and you, dear reader, can pause and reflect to your heart's content.  :P

Part of the thoughts I was having on that awful car ride home last night were about being taken seriously by people, being accepted as a woman, and the seemingly utter hopelessness of it all.  This morning when I got up, I just didn't feel like putting any effort at all into my appearance.  Tank top, long sweater, leggings, boots.  No makeup.  And the morning after electrolysis and laser, trust me, one needs copious makeup.  Hair back in headband.  Residue of yesterday's mascara under my eyes.  I truly didn't care.  I had a pretty productive day at work, but as mid-afternoon approached, I started feeling emotional and teary-eyed again, as the weekend loomed.

And then it happened.

I've been emailing back and forth the past couple days with my therapist about letters for GRS.  I suggested something, and she wrote me back to confirm that we'd take my approach.  The text of the email...

"Okay, Tim!!  Let's try that!  Take care!"



That name has not come up or been used in therapy for close to a year.  This is really bad.  If my own therapist, who is in the midst of writing letters recommending me for genital reassignment surgery, doesn't think of me as Faline, who will?  It's very troubling.  I don't need my own therapist to shatter my confidence.  I emailed back that it was "troubling," and I did get the "I'm sorry!!!" but I also got "I'm sorry I trouble you," in a very martyr-ish, passive-aggressive sort of way.  I really don't want to have to change therapists at this point, I really don't.

I so didn't need this today, of all days.  I went into the private bathroom at work and cried.  I looked in the mirror at this face and these clothes and I feel like a complete fucking joke, someone who is being patted on the head and placated by everyone around her, but not really being taken seriously.  It has not been a good 24 hours.  Right now I just want to run away, run far, far away, and hide.

I'm feeling pretty knocked down right now.  I think I will go home and piss the night away... drink a whiskey drink, drink a vodka drink, drink a lager drink, drink a cider drink... but I'll get up again.

One thing I've wondered about, going through transition, is how cisgender females will relate to me.  How will making new friends go?  I had a new experience a little over a week ago, at a gathering my friend had, where there were a few women there that I hadn't met before.  I felt uncomfortable standing in a group of women, feeling like I was pretending to be one of them.  I mentioned my kids, and feared being asked about a pregnancy.  I feared being asked about my spouse.  I feared my voice.  Fear fear fear.  It got to me and I couldn't deal with it, so I found an excuse to tell them that I was trans.  Most looked very surprised, one didn't.  I felt like I totally copped out.  I have to give myself a break on this... it's all so new.  I have no experience at this.  On the other hand, I don't like feeling like I am lying to people, or living a lie.  At this point, I'd rather people know that I was a transsexual.  At least I can be honest then.  I mean, what's the point of making a friendship that is based on a lie?  And what will happen to the friendship when the lie unravels... which it most certainly will.

Speaking of friends, I might have this new friend.  She's a woman that I've known for a little over a year.  We have a great rapport, and have shared quite a bit with each other.  I always thought we had the potential to be friends.  However, it wouldn't have been appropriate for us to socialize outside of the normal context in which we see each other.  Sorry to be so vague. And no, she's NOT my therapist.  Anyway, as things turned out, to hell with appropriateness, we ended up going out for a drink a couple weeks ago... which turned into a few drinks, dinner, and dessert.  We had a blast, crossed a bridge of sorts.  I was very excited that I had made a new friend... a new, real friend!  Wow, perhaps I *can* make new friends.  I will be OK!!  It's weird... I was almost giddy about it, like the way one might be giddy at the beginning of a romantic relationship.  Although there is absolutely nothing romantic on either one of our parts, nothing.  I was simply thrilled to have made a new friend.  Relationships with cisgender women are precious to women like me.

I saw her this evening in our typical context, and it was kind of back to feeling normal.  The way that she interacted with me felt like we really weren't friends after all.  I said something about going out again, and the response wasn't quite as enthusiastic as I might have hoped.  I felt like a child who was asking his or her parent, "Mommy, Mommy, can we go to (fill in the blank)?"  "Well, OK, we can."  That's exactly what it felt like.  I felt embarrassed for suggesting that we go out again.  Not so fast, missy. You're not really friends.  You're not anything special.  You have *NOT* made a new friend, I told myself.  When it was time to leave, I was absolutely devastated.  I cried harder and longer on the 45-minute drive home, than I can recall crying in a long time.  I started questioning everything again... why am I doing this, what is the point of all this, no one will ever be friends with me out of anything other than pity or curiosity, I am enduring all this physical pain for what?, people at work are polite to me only because they have to be, I won't be OK, the rest of my life is going to suck, and fleeting *very bad* thoughts, on and on and on.

I calmed down a little bit when I got home.  I am pretty certain that I overreacted tonight. Just the same, I think I am going to follow this person's lead with our friendship and see where it goes.  Just because someone doesn't jump up and down with clapping hands when you suggest going out, doesn't necessarily mean anything.  But, I was hoping for a little more.  I was hoping that this person might end up being a friend that I so want... a friend with whom I don't need to schedule things weeks in advance... a friend with whom conversations consist of things other than "catching up," a friend that I'm truly close with for no other reason then our intangible connection.

Whatever happens, I need to remember that this year is not necessarily going to be a microcosm of the rest of my life.  I need to keep some semblance of perspective on things.  I have to remember that I am just taking my first few tenuous steps on this journey.  I also need to find some ways to meet new people.  People who know nothing about my history.  Even if only for practice.


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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.

I can be reached via email at this address.

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