Funny how things change.

I recall early in my transition, where every "new" thing was met with an ecstatic-sounding blog entry. I went to the MALL!!! I used the restroom!!! I got a PEDICURE!!! All, of course, are huge things at the time. Last night I did another new thing, one that truly is a big deal and says lots about how far I've come in the less than 2 years that I've been transitioning. But I'm neither overusing exclamation points nor writing a celebratory blog entry about it... the feeling is more one of quiet satisfaction.

For the first time last night, I put myself out there as just another woman in a social setting. My first book club meeting. There were 6 other women there; it's a non-fiction book club. I can't get into fiction, so when I found this on Meetup, I figured it'd be a good way to start putting myself out there. Which, if you follow this blog, you know that I desperately need to.

It was a nice evening. Just a group of mostly middle-aged women sitting around, having wine, talking about our book and such. I can't remember the last time I've been out on a weeknight for something social. It's been months and months. I thought I acquitted myself well; talked as much as anyone, save the one overly chatty person who seems to be in every group, and I threw in some humor here and there. I feel like I ought to have more to say about this, since in the context of my transition, it's an important milestone... but I don't. Probably because it felt normal. We're definitely getting into the "live." portion of my blog title.

Ain't normal grand?

So, this poll on T-Central. In case you missed it, in the past week-and-change, T-Central has featured posts by:

  • a misogynist who has stated that he likes neither women nor transsexuals.  I suspect 95% of the people on T-Central fall into one or both of those groups.
  • a natal female radical feminist trans-hater who uses a sham "blog policy" to delete any and all comments that she doesn't agree with, and makes it clear that she doesn't respect those who disagree with her.
And now they're complaining about the level of animosity on the site?  And recommending a "penalty box" as their preferred option?  Geez, T-Central is going to end up like Pam's House Blend, with the "Left Sidebar of Shame."  I don't know if I want any part of a site that singles people out in such a manner, I suppose designed to shame those who "cause trouble" into changing their behavior.  If someone causes that much trouble, just remove them.  That's what I do over at PE.  We certainly don't have a "Wall of Shame."

I wouldn't have made a post out of this, but they turned off comments.  So my comment is here.

Not your finest hour, ladies.  Sorry.  I'm not with you on this one.  I am abstaining.

The local incumbent for our county Board of Supervisors is a right-wing extremist who has referred to people like me using "it." He hates homosexuals, hates trans people, hates immigrants, hates Muslims, on and on. Basically, if you're not a white male, you're out of luck. He's been entrenched on the Board for years, mostly out of apathy and/or ignorance of the populace. Anyway, last night I took a gander at his opponents' Facebook page and they had posted a request for people to come out and help in the next days' primary; help in the form of canvassing neighborhoods to remind supporters of the primary.

I'm not a politically-involved person. Have never even donated to a political candidate, let alone spend a Saturday afternoon walking around in 110-degree heat index weather for a candidate. Anyway, I thought this might be a great opportunity to help get this bigot out of office. As well as meet some new people and use my voice a lot. So I called up the campaign manager and ended up spending about 3 1/2 hours today wandering around my town, knocking on 50 or so doors, with about 2/3 of the people home.

There was nary a strange look, nothing. The trans thing was 100% not an issue. One woman even told me that she thought I was her niece at first. People invited me in, offered me water, chatted. I think I did well in terms of the real reason I was out there, which was the election. I think we got maybe 10-15 more votes because of little ol' me. In a county primary where there are maybe 175 ballots cast total with a winning margin of thirty votes, 10 votes or even 5 are huge. I was smiley and friendly and did the campaign proud. Oh, and we won! I got a lovely call from the campaign manager thanking me for my help and letting me know that they'd be calling me again. Which I welcome.

After today, I can officially let go any worries about getting looks, getting clocked. And none too late, as I have my first book club meeting this week. I'm completely confident with my voice and my appearance. Got home today and felt so good about helping. Today was a microcosm of the reason I transitioned... to be me... a me who is at ease with strangers, smiling, happy, and doing good for something bigger than herself.

The person I've always wanted to be, knew I could be, and am.

OK. My ex-wife seems intent on driving me absolutely batty, so I need to write about something that will: a) put a smile on my face and b) use as few brain cells as possible. So please excuse me if this post sounds like it has come straight out of the PINK FOG.

I went shopping this evening for some birthday presents for my kids. About 8 months ago, my son saw a picture of a truck with a conveyor-belt loading thing in the Richard Scarry book I was reading him. I loved Richard Scarry when I was little. Anyway, he decided that he simply must have this truck. I've looked and looked, and been asked 10 times if I found his truck yet, but alas, no truck. I was in luck tonight, as the toy store at the mall actually had one! It cost $60, but I had no choice in the matter. They didn't have anything that I thought my daughter would like, so I decided to go shop for some work clothes. Meh.

I tried on a couple things and they looked hideous. I felt fat. On the bright side, they might have enhanced my ability to be seen as myself, as two of the skirts made me look pregnant. But, I am not pregnant, and I don't care to adorn myself in clothes which make me look like I am.

So I soldiered on. I grabbed a couple other outfits off the rack, and was walking past the "hip" section, the section which just might be a tad out of my age range, and I saw this peasant dress. It just kind of reached out as I walked by and smacked me.  So so cute.  Split neckline, little tassled ties, ruffled hem, sleeve length that looked like it might work on me.  So cute, and so not appropriate for work. Too short, too bohemian, too fun. Oh, and too expensive. But, I figured what the hell, I'll grab it and try it on for fun.

I tried it on, and it looked adorable!  Too adorable.  Quite a bit shorter than other stuff I have but not inappropriately short.  Cute-short.  I put it back on the rack, though, as I was there for work clothes.  I wandered around for about 15 more minutes and the little voice in my head talked to me about my dress.  Whoops.  Um, I mean that dress.  Not my dress.  Hmm, maybe you could wear it to work in the Fall with thick brown tights and boots.  You might be able to get away with it, you know.  So it is kind of for work, really.  Ooh ooh ooh.  You know that mustard-colored bag your sister got you for your birthday?  It would go perfectly with this dress.  If you think about it, it'd be a sin *not* to get it.  You never find anything with patterns that you like.  In fact, you were thinking this morning how boring your work clothes are.  Yeah, I think you ought to get it.

You know the rest of the story, of course.  I even changed into it after I bought it and did a little more shopping.  So it ended up being a productive shopping trip.  Although I need to get a little better at rebutting that little voice in my head.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Kids... Kids are accepting.  They don't know how to judge unless they're taught how to judge.  They don't know about shame or shamefulness unless it's taught to them.  Any 1-5 year old gleefully running around the house naked shows you that.  My children's attitude towards my transition showed me that.  Lately, after a few months of full-time and close to a year full-time outside of work, I am seeing how they learn to judge, to hide, that certain things aren't right.  What gets scary is when I see reflections of those attitudes in my children.

Last night I was having yet another short conversation with my kids about my change, trying to keep them comfortable and grounded with it.  S., my almost-6-year old, then told me about the Fathers' Day cards they made at school, and told me how she wasn't allowed to draw me "as a girl" so she had to "hide color," meaning she had to hide the fact from the teacher that she was drawing a girl. Also on the card, I could see "Mommy" erased, and replaced with "Daddy." "Guidance" from her teacher, no doubt.  Wonderful.  So now, I not only have to fight the "being different is OK" battle with the general public, I also have to fight it with my children's schoolteacher.  And I certainly won't be backed up by my ex-wife.  She didn't back me up when I was booted from G.'s, preschool.  So, I'll have a polite conversation with the school sometime this week about the issue.

As for my ex-wife, she's said negative things about my transition to the children... I'm not so sure if she's said negative things about me per se, moreso how the transition affects her negatively.  And how it's ok if they miss a night with me here and there.  Of course, the children take away that my transition is a sad thing, a bad thing, a thing that we wish wasn't happening.  And that time with their other mom is not important.  I'm starting to see those attitudes reflected in things they say to me.  Little things, like my 3-year old randomly saying "I am angry that you are changing into a girl!!" A 3-year old learns that from someone. Children are accepting but also easily manipulated.  It's a little frightening.  You need to vent about my transition?  Vent to your friends.  Vent to your family.  Vent to your "friends" from church.  Hell, vent to me.  But don't vent to a 3 and a 5-year old.  You know better than that, H.  You're not that stupid.  You are passive-aggressively manipulating the children for your own good, *not* theirs.

None of this ought to surprise me.  I mean, I am breaking society's biggest taboo.  Transsexual people by and large are not accepted, are misunderstood, are judged.  If I somehow thought that we'd just fly through this period surrounded by transition cheerleaders, that places me smack in the middle of downtown Fantasyland. Reality sucks.

All I can really do is keep loving my children, keep making them feel secure when they're with me.  I can have conversations here and there with schoolteachers, with preschool administrators, with ex-wives, but at the end of the day, they're going to do what they're going to do and there's a limited impact I can have on attitudes of adults.  So I must keep the focus on S and G. I have no choice but to believe that if I keep loving them, keep being a good parent, keep teaching them that differences are OK, that this will all be good. Thoughts to the contrary are too much to bear.

I haven't worked much at all on my voice.  I downloaded that Kathe Perez program and did it for about a week, but being disciplined isn't one of my strongest qualities. I went to a couple lessons at the voice clinic at GWU, but that interfered with work too much, so I had to bag it.  So, like everything else with my transition, I decided that I'd figure it out when the time came.  The voice has gotten better over time, just through using it, through training myself to talk "up" instead of down in my throat.  But, I've always thought of my voice as the voice of a rather pathetic-sounding male; at least, that's what it has sounded like when I've heard it.  It never causes me problems, never causes me to be clocked, but I never understood why.  My therapist told me that I wasn't hearing what she was, that the whole package, the enunciation, pitch fluctuation, gestures, etc., says female.  I dunno.  I didn't see it.

Annnnnnnyway, the other night I called a friend, a trans friend, and got her voice message.  After I hung up, I decided to record one of my own; I've been using the robotic-sounding pre-recorded greeting that AT&T provides for quite some time now.  So I recorded my little message.  Cringing in anticipation of the certain assault on my ears which was to follow, I hit the pound key to play it back to see how bad it sounded...

... and Oh. My. God.  What I heard, telling me that Faline wasn't able to come to the phone, and could you please leave a message, and thanks, bye!!! was some woman's voice.  This was not my voice.  It did not resemble the voice that I hear when I talk.  Is this what other people hear?  Wow.  I played it again.  And again.  And again.  I could not believe this was my voice.  I recorded it a second time with a little more inflection to see if this was just a fluke, and whaddya know, it sounded even better.

For the rest of the evening, I sat around the house and talked to the walls, the pictures, any inanimate object which would listen.  I had quite a captive audience.  I felt so excited, like Dory in Finding Nemo when she remembered P. Sherman's address and repeated it over, and over, and over.  All I wanted to do was talk and talk and talk.  So that's what I did.  Now that I have some confidence when it comes to my voice, hopefully that will help with meeting new people and making friends.  At this point, my transition is mostly about confidence.

I don't really feel like writing this, but I ought to. Got back from an extended weekend trip to visit family with the kids. Had a really nice time, crazy busy, saw virtually all of my extended family, turned 40, got earrings, scarves, some jewelry, and the kids got presents for their upcoming birthdays as well, got flat tire on way home, Mr. Nice Policeman changed the tire for me, kids took it in stride. I was up there for 5 nights and I checked my email twice. I didn't miss the computer one bit. This trip reminded me what it was like to actually be around people.

I've been situationally depressed at home; the night before my trip I only made it through 15 minutes of electrolysis because I was crying so much. It seems to bring out my feelings... it was a rough night. My electrologist told me she thought I needed to talk to someone. When I dropped the kids off with their other Mom last night, I had another one of my crying sessions afterwards. Now it's back to my boring life after a great weekend. I got home, unpacked, got onto T-Central after a couple hours, and couldn't bring myself to click on any blogs. I've seen and read them all before and nothing held any interest for me. What I think and hope I've gotten through my head is that being on the computer is making things worse for me, not better. I have little right now outside of my kids, family who is far away, and a couple friends with whom I talk to fairly regularly, also far away. Outside of that, I have no life, and that's my fault. Sitting in front of a computer will not change that.

The network guy at work has this sign on his door. I've been walking by it for months and was always a bit afraid of the words on it. Seems appropriate to close this entry with it.


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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.

Here is my comment policy.



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