There's something that I just cannot understand and get my head around. There are transgender women out there, who consider themselves women, yet are OK with having a penis. This blog isn't to debate the merits of women who are OK with having penises; rather, it's to try to understand. There is often vicious debate back and forth between so-called TG and so-called TS women on this issue. I'm a woman. No, you're not. Yes, I am. Well, you're cool with a penis, so you're not. Yes, I am, that doesn't define me. Ad infinitum. Pointless bickering.

There are one group of humans who I think we all can agree are women... cisgender women. Women who came out of the womb with a vagina. The fact that it is possible for a TG woman to be OK with having a penis must mean there is at least one cisgender woman out there who would be OK with this condition as well. I hope the cisgender women who would be OK with having penises can help me understand this. Because for the life of me, I cannot. My own experience clouds my subjectivity on this issue.

I'd ask that trans folk refrain from commenting on this, because I've heard y'all's opinions a thousand times over, and none of it has added any clarity for me. Frankly, any comments that even hint of argument on this issue from trans people, I'll delete. This is my blog. Deal with it.

So, to my natural-born female readers, and I know you are out there, I ask you this:

If you had a penis, and you had the financial and logistical means to get rid of it, would you? Or would you be OK with living as a woman with a penis?

Yes or no? If yes, why? If no, why? I look forward to your comments, anonymous or otherwise. Help me understand. Help me understand how a woman can possibly be fine with the fact that she has a penis.

The last time I was in a group of women who didn't "know," I didn't do so well. I capitulated and told them I was trans, so I didn't have to deal with all the "do they know? am I getting read?" thoughts that kept running through my mind. This past Sunday, my friend Gail texted me in the afternoon and asked if I'd like to come to this thing with a group of around 20-or-so people to listen to live music. I was happy to be invited... Gail is the first new friend I've made in the course of transition. I looked forward to seeing her and seeing what I had learned from my last cup of fail when it came to meeting new people.

I was pretty nervous as I approached the door... "What are you doing? You've never been good in situations where you don't know people. You don't like these kind of things. Everyone is going to read you. You should have backed out of this." I told myself to get a grip and HTFU. I told myself that when people meet me and talk to me, they like me. And if worse came to worse, there was Guinness. :)

I'm not going to bore the pants off everyone with all the minutia of the evening, but as it turned out, I thought I did pretty well. I didn't feel the need to blurt out my "secret" to anyone, didn't feel fake or that I was pretending to be someone I wasn't, didn't sense that anyone read me. 'Twas a fun night... I sat around with a bunch of women and we talked about Kegels, about how men never talk about anything, about websites to meet platonic girlfriends, about music, about how one should always keep salsa in the car in case you encounter a hot guy carrying a bag of chips, and how to get out of sex when you're trying to get pregnant, but hubby doesn't understand the concept of "I'm not ovulating." I kept quiet and just smiled during that last topic. ;) I chatted with one woman in particular quite a bit, and when I was leaving, she said that the 3 of us ought to get together sometime. Turned out to be a great night. I'm so glad I went.

I'm slowly but surely getting more comfortable with myself. Getting better at winning the mental battles that one fights with herself when she is presented with new situations. Wow, that sounded overly dramatic and self-indulgent. Sheesh. Get over yourself, Faline. Let's try that again.

I had a nice evening out with some friends. Very cool.

My transition has gone quickly. It's only been 400-and-change days since I first stepped into Martha's office. My original timeline had me possibly going full-time the winter of 2011-12. I ended up taking that step over a year earlier than I thought I might. SRS, following that timeline, likely would have been in 2013. Weeeelll, as it turns out, in keeping with the pace of the rest of my transition, I'll be having surgery with Dr. Brassard in early November. I looked at him, McGinn, and Leis. Long story short, his results are spoken of to be spectacular, the aftercare is unparalleled, he does not recommend prior hair removal, and the total cost will end up being about $1000 less than the other two. Easiest decision I ever made.

With most surgeons, you remain in the area for a while after surgery, but you stay in a hotel and need a friend there with you. After you have surgery with Dr. Brassard, you stay at Asclépiade, his house of convalescence. The place is staffed by people who know how to take care of you and teach you to take care of yourself, the food is taken care of (and quite good, I'm told), and you're there with 10-12 other women going through the same thing you are. Like a soroity, I'd suppose. Speaking of, I found a Google group for Brassard girls and requested membership in it. To say I'm excited about all this is an understatement! :)

I had sent my medical history and first letter off to them along with a picture. I don't quite get why they want a picture, but whatever. Two weeks went by sans (see? see what I did there? I used "sans." That's French, you know. I need to brush up on my French.) a response, so I finally emailed to ask if they had received my paperwork yet. I got this succinct email back: "Hi, Nearest date is November 7th 2011. Please confirm." I wasn't quite mentally prepared to hear that and had to read it a few times to let it sink in. Wow. This became just a little bit more real to me. I got a little choked up. I excitedly emailed a few of my girlfriends and we chatted for a little while.

I've never hated "it." Apathy has always been the best term to describe my feeling about what I currently have. I've never enjoyed using it in the ways that most who are born with one do. These days, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, the best way to describe how I feel is that it just feels *wrong.* Out of place. It's not supposed to be there. It doesn't fit with the rest of me. I'll get that taken care of in two hundred and sixty-one days. 261 seems like a big number, especially when you write it out in words. The last 400-and-change days have flown by. I'm certain the next 261 will as well.

I don't like to write about stuff like this because I don't care to be involved in it. But I saw something that truly bothered me today... I saw this post on T-Central titled "2nd Call for Transgender/Intersex/DSD/Cross-Dresser/Gender Variant/Gender Queer-Identified/First Nations/Non-Western Gender Survey Participants."  Do you see what term or descriptor is missing from this title?  Well, it's me. Or people like me. "Transsexual" is missing from the title.  It's a call to a survey by a Dr. Tarynn Witten, on the aging of the population in question. When I read the accompanying article, here is what is says about "transsexual:"

research survey aimed at understanding how individuals with non-traditional gender identities (transgender, transsexual, cross-dresser, trans-queer, gender queer, gender variant, intersex, DSD, First Nations and other non-Western gender identities)

Um, hello? "Transsexual" is not a gender identity. Transsexualism is a medical problem. Female is a gender identity. I am a transsexual due to the conflict between my gender identity and my body. It doesn't make any sense to refer to transsexualism as being a gender identity. But I digress.

I can't deal with all of this overly-politically-correct bullshit. Especially when it puts me inside an umbrella... an umbrella I *do not* want to be under... the "transgender" umbrella. I'm not "transgender." I'm not confused about my gender, or who I am, or who I want to be. I'm not in between genders. I'm female. I've had to go into my son's preschool and fight to be allowed in the school. I am uprooting and changing my entire life out of the need to live genuinely. I face completely different issues and have a different perspective than a cross-dresser. If you want to cross-dress, great! Live in the way that makes you congruent and content. But we're not the same and I do not like when academics imply that we are.

The survey is looking to help the groups it mentions "prepare to address traditional later life challenges such as retirement, health care, money challenges, housing, caretaking and other later life problems." When I read this, it bothers me even more that transsexuals are marginalized in this article... as who do you think has the most problems with "later life challenges such as retirement, health care, money challenges, housing, caretaking and other later life problems" ?? Not crossdressers, or some of the other terms that I frankly don't know what they mean. By and large, the people who face these issues are transsexuals.

This sort of thing is an example of why I am going to get away from all this as soon as I'm able and live as myself... a woman. I will not live as the latest politically correct term du jour. But Dr. Witten doesn't care, you see. I'm not a part of her target demographic.

I wrote something and decided it was a long, self-indulgent piece of tripe.  I'll summarize:

  • It's been a while since I've so much as been on a date.  Like, almost 3 1/2 years.
  • I get pretty damn lonely at times.
  • There's not much of an end in sight, at least not until after surgery.
  • It sucks.
  • I know my transition so far has been smooth, as far as these things go.  I try to remain cognizant of that when I get down or have a moment.
  • It's helpful in those moments to let the tears out.
  • I have to believe it will happen someday, even if it is difficult to envision right now.
That's all.

That said, I truly do hope that everyone who is partnered up had a nice Valentine's Day with their S.O.s. and hopefully next year at this time I'll be writing a different blog.

I wrote about a week ago about a meeting I had at my son's preschool, from which I had been banned. Not going to rehash it all here, it's in the other posts, but I've been nervous all week, hoping that the school administration would agree to my compromise. Sharlene, the head of the school, had said that she was going to call me "early this week" after she had spoken with the school owners. Monday came and went, as did Tuesday. I was pretty much in full freakout mode this morning and finally emailed her to touch base.

Heard back from her that evening (last night) and she said that the conversation "went well," and that she wanted to talk to me about the details. I allowed myself a small sigh of relief but as we know, the devil is in the details. I called over there this morning and I'm glad to say that all is well. The owners agreed to my proposal and I'm happy to say that I will be one of the proud parents at "Spring Sing" in a few weeks. And all the other classroom parties that parents come to.

I did compromise in that I offered to have my Dad come in for their Fathers' Day Celebration, and I agreed not to take on a role in the classroom where it's just me, such as reading a book to the class. Is this perfect? No. Am I being treated exactly like every other parent? No. But as I've said before, this is about my son and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best result for him. I'm very pleased with how I handled this. I put my anger aside and did the right thing for G. I don't have to disrupt him. I don't have to bring more stress into my ex's already stressful life. I've taught the school administration something about transsexual people and will continue to silently teach through the example I set.

I would not have been capable of this a couple of years ago... emotion would have got the best of me. I've talked about how these days I am more at peace. These sorts of things prove to me that I truly am. This year, I've cried every time that I dropped him off at school. I'll probably cry again next time, but for a different reason.

accept. embrace. live. There's a lot in that title. I'm past the accept part. I'm stuck somewhere between embrace and live. Clearly, I still have a lot of work ahead of me.

I went to a gathering tonight with a bunch of friends that I've known for a few years, most of whom I see once every couple months or so. I'm trying to figure out why I felt so uncomfortable in a roomful of friends. It certainly wasn't because of anything anyone said or did, save the occasional pronoun slip-up. Everyone was completely friendly, kind, all that good stuff. I have less in common with them than I once did... these were all triathlon friends who I trained and raced with. Life has been consumed with transition for the past year-and-a-half, so I've not trained, and I'm not sure if I'll get back into it again.

I'm also realizing that I'm not comfortable being the transsexual in the room. At least when everyone knows. It'll be nice when I just feel like a "normal" person and conversations aren't exclusively about transition. Bleh. I'm not there yet, much to my chagrin. I felt very quiet and withdrawn tonight, almost invisible. Was talking with a friend and his new girlfriend, whom I hadn't met before. As we're talking, he uses the wrong pronoun, which resulted in a very crinkled forehead on the new girlfriend. I guess she hadn't figured it out, before that, anyway. That sucked. I watched the other women socializing, dancing, carrying on the way women do, and I don't fit in that way with this group. I know many of them will read this post, and I hope they know it isn't because of them; they've been nothing but supportive. Anyway, I'm not quite comfortable enough with myself just yet to let go completely. I wish I was there, but I'm not. Much of it is because of my voice. Besides, I've never been too good at parties. One on one or small groups is more my comfort zone.

So I caught up with everyone I wanted to catch up with, and retreated to the couch. I sat down next to a woman I didn't know. I was trying to think of something to say to her (um, how about "Hi, I'm Faline," you idiot!?!) when a guy yelled something across the room at me, pointing and using the wrong pronoun. I doubt many in the room noticed. But I did, of course, and was mortified. That was the point when I decided I needed to go. On the drive home I wondered when my life would feel normal again. Someday...

Today was a good day. I:

  • sent my first letter and application off to Dr. Brassard.
  • got in an 100-minute fast walk on the treadmill.
  • got my annual review at work, it was very good and they noted some of the positive changes they've seen in me over the past couple months.  (Code phrase was "as of late, Faline has...")
  • went out with a good friend with whom I had a bit of a cold spell, and it was great to spend time with her again.  We decided to do it every month.
  • solved a problem at work that has had us flummoxed for close to 8 months.
  • found out that a close family friend got engaged.
  • while at the bar with my friend, got hit on by a cisgender lesbian who didn't read me.  She bought me a shot and tried to get me to go to karaoke with her.  Haha.  Singing?  Not so much.  ;)
Actually, it was a great day!  That's all.

"Hi, Sharlene. I'm Faline." And so it was that I found myself in the office of the woman who banned me from my son's preschool.

My ex-wife had indicated that he wouldn't be going there next year due to cost, so after I was banned, I decided it was in my son's best interest to keep quiet for this school year. Although it goes against my nature. I saw no good that could come to him by me raising a fuss and pulling him out after had had already started. And he wouldn't be going there in 2011-12, so I felt as OK as I could with it. In the time since I wrote the post I linked to above, I have worked through that anger, and didn't care to dredge it up again.

Well, guess what. H. called me up yesterday and asked me my thoughts on G. attending this school again. "Absolutely not," I said. "I do not want my son attending school in a place where I am not welcome." We went back and forth for a while and I told her that I'd need to get back to her on it, as I needed time to think. "Well, the deadline for applying is tomorrow." Thanks. Thanks for that. Thanks for painting me into a corner.

I thought about it and decided there's no way that I would allow this. I felt my anger rising as I drafted an email to H. explaining why I would not support him re-enrolling, and if she did register him there against my wishes, I would make a loud fuss about it. It felt awful. Decided to sleep on it. I woke up this morning and there was something holding me back from sending the email. I didn't feel like I had done everything I could to avoid this. Maybe, just maybe, I could salvage something out of this train wreck. Perhaps I could keep him there at a place he loves, keep me happy, keep the school administration happy, and pave the way for the next parent like me. So I respectfully emailed Sharlene this morning and requested a meeting in the spirit of cooperation, in person, to see if we might come to an agreement/understanding that would make everyone comfortable with G. returning for another year. I've gotten past the anger I felt back in October when this all happened, and now it was time to put the past in the past and work towards the future.

I was heartened to hear back from her very quickly that she'd be happy to meet with me. We scheduled a meeting for 2 PM. I'd characterize it as a productive and congenial meeting, at times friendly. I felt like we were both making an effort to understand where the other was coming from. I kept things on my son and what's best for him. I did tell her that a place where I'm not welcome isn't the best place for my son, and she somewhat surprisingly agreed with me. After that I tried to work towards what I kept referring to as our common goal of keeping G. at the school next year. I ending up suggesting that I'd be OK with just coming to classroom parties, eschewing things where I'd be "front and center." Pretty much exactly what I did when my daughter attended this school.

Ideal? No. But there are times to wave the blue, white, and pink flag, and this was not one of them. This isn't about my "rights" as a transsexual, as a woman, or even as a parent. It's about what's best for my son, period. What is best, given all the variables, is for him to stay at this school, a school he loves and has a good curriculum, while allowing both of his parents to come and support him. He has enough disruption in his young life so far, being a child of divorce with a transitioning parent. I owe it to him to compromise where it's reasonable. Pulling him out of this school if we can work it out would be cutting off my nose to spite my face, *if* they allow me there. If they don't, he is out of there, do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

I felt like I got her buy-in on my suggestion. The owners of the school are away this week, and we won't know for sure until she has spoken with them, but I think things are going in a good direction. She said she'd speak with them, and give me a call next week. More later...


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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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