Friday, March 29, 2013

My son - our lives in flashbacks

I left work early today.  It was Good Friday and there was not much going on ... except the usual twenty or so reports I am asked to do.  I was heading across town to pick up Timmy (my son) so we could go to dinner with Pam.

A feeling of uneasiness settled over me as I left the bus yard.  I don't know what exactly I thought was going to happen, but the short drive seemed ominously long.

I called him.  "Hey kiddo.  I'm almost there."

"Okay," he said.  "See you in a minute."

"Love you."  I didn't really expect a reply as I was just around the corner.

"Love you, too."


*** Winter of 1993 / 1994 ***

Timmy and I were home alone in our one bedroom apartment.  More than likely it was a weekend as Pam worked weekends.  I don't remember for sure, but I do know I was flopped in my chair channel surfing while my son played on the floor.

He was barely three and a half, but very sharp and intuitive.

At some point I stumbled across a show about a male to female transsexual whose family had rejected her because she came out and wanted to live as a woman.  It is the kind of show I generally do not watch because the media rarely portray transgender people accurately or in a kind light ... this show was no different, they slaughtered her for the few minutes I watched.  They made her out to be some loony man who just wanted to wear women's clothes ... but I watched enough to hear her say, "I won't get to see my daughter grow up, graduate ..."  She burst into tears.  "I won't see her get married, or my grandchildren ..."

Click ... I changed the channel, but the thought was planted in my head.

I went and sat in the bedroom and started to cry.  If I was going to pursue my transition I would lose my wife and my son ... and if by some miracle I didn't poor Timmy would be a target for all levels of ridicule and bullying throughout his school days.

He walked in.  "Why are you crying?"

I jumped.  "Because ..."  I heaved a sigh.  "Because I know I'm a woman, but can't be."

"Why can't you be a woman?"  His eyes were so comforting.

"Never mind, kiddo.  Everything is going to be alright."  I decided at that point that I had to wait before I could transition.


*** ***

Timmy jumped into the car and buckled up.  "How are you?"

"Alright.  How 'bout you?"  I put the car into drive and took a deep breath.

The drive to meet up with Pam would be about thirty minutes.  Surely I could find a way to discuss my situation in that time.

- We talked about his college classes
- We talked about Pam being stressed
- We talked about diet and nutrition
- We talked about my work

"On a different note ... "  My ability to segue smoothly disappeared at that moment.  "The last year ... the last few years ... the earrings and stuff.  You've never commented on how I dress ... wearing girly clothes.  Does it bother you?"

He looked perplexed.  "Dad ... you've always been this way.  Why would it bother me?"

"It is part of why I went back into therapy."  I think I was actually smiling at the time.  "My brain and body are in conflict.  For my entire life I've dealt with this.  I need to be feminine ...I don't think I am going to have any gender surgery, but I don't know ... ..."


*** Spring 1998 ***

I got out of bed when Pam left for work.  It was Saturday and I went downstairs to get online and dial-up AOL before the connection got too slow.  I visited my usual groups and made a few comments before searching for information about hormones, requirements and laws regarding treating or dealing with gender identity disorder or whatnot.

The search was taking a long time.

I liked our new apartment ... two bedrooms upstairs with a bathroom, the living room and kitchen downstairs with a half bathroom ... a toilet, a sink, a hairdryer and makeup.

Timmy was going to be asleep for a few hours ... it was Saturday, he always slept in.  I decided to get a little girly while I was researching how I could become the lady I always felt I was, even though I had no intentions of transitioning until my son graduated high school ,,, and he was barely in third grade.

"What are you doing?"

I about poked out my eye with the mascara brush.  "Just messing around with mom's makeup."

He stepped into the room.  "Why?"

"Because I like how it makes me feel."


*** ***

In hindsight it was very commonplace for Timmy to see me wearing a nightgown at night, or to wear one of Pam's more unisex tops around the apartment and other things that were very much along the feminine lines ... but I was now telling him.  "Does that bother you?" I asked.

"Whatever makes you happy."  He shrugged and smiled.

I think I almost ran off the road.

The three of us went to our favorite local Italian restaurant.  A friend of Pam's family owns the place and we have celebrated our anniversary there every year ... this year we're a couple weeks late, but what the heck.

After the obligatory conversation with the waitress (friend of the family) we all ordered the usual - spaghetti and meatballs, salad with ranch and a side order of meatballs ... and of course some fresh baked bread.

The bread showed up with no problem and moments later the main course ... but no salad.  No problem, we'll skip the salad.  But the family, and the waitress is so nice, they offered us dessert for free.  We all ordered cheesecake with chocolate ... but they only had one slice of cheesecake, so they brought an assortment of different desserts ... it was the best dinner I have had in a very long time.

On the way home I told Pam about my conversation with Timmy.

"What did he say?" she asked.

"Whatever makes me happy ..."  I smiled

She looked at me, the love in her eyes was radiant.  "I'm proud of my son."

"Me, too."







Friday, March 15, 2013

Breakthrough

I don't talk about myself very well ... this is part of what makes therapy difficult for me.

Yesterday I saw Catherine (my therapist) for a typical visit ... a bit of this, a bit of that, a few stories and leaving hoping that I can actually put her advice to use and move forward with my transition.
Yesterday the conversation started off slow ... I hadn't asked Pam (my wife) about attending one of my sessions ... I hadn't spoken to the doctor or made an appointment to discuss hormones ... ... But then I started talking about the day before ... about the conversation with my wife about making an appointment with our doctor.  Eventually I talked about the other stories ... the kids on the bus, the cashier at the store.

I talked ... I really talked.

I felt at ease.  I was dressed in a pretty sky blue and lacy tank top, matching earrings and sandals ... yes, my women's sandals ... ... but I didn't just wear this to my counselor's office.  I wore the earrings to work and to the DMV, then I changed my top and my shoes (yes, a bit of a chicken shit because I should have done this prior to going to the DMV).

I had time before my appointment, so I went to a small and uncrowded liquor store ... which suddenly became a popular place, yet I felt at ease.  Nobody stared at me, nobody made rude comments to me ... I was just another girl in the store.  Even the cashier treated me like a lady ... and I did my best to talk a little ladylike.

This appointment was less like "I am a guy trying to become a woman" and was more like "I am a woman and getting comfortable with myself."  

We touched on the subject of my weight.  She asked if maybe I was using my weight as a way to hide myself ... "Ya think?" I replied.  "I figured that one out a while ago.  That's why I am trying to lose weight now ... to prove to my doctor that I am serious about this."

She told me I should ask Pam to join us in a session ... just to ensure Pam is alright and fully understands what is going on with me mentally and physically.  I promised I would.

Today I was talking to Maggie, my boss.  She and I are very close, and I confided in her last year that I was seriously pursuing my transition.  Today was just about business ... I had no intention of getting personal, but felt compelled to tell her where things were going.  Again, I felt so at ease and I so easily said, "It is very possible that I will be starting hormones very soon."

Maggie was very supportive.  We both agreed that a call or meeting with HR will be in my future.

It's almost like the genie has been let out of the bottle.  The next talk is with my doctor ... I'm nervous, but I know I can do it now.  I'm at a point where I want to do this and get it over with, even if the hormones do not start immediately, I want to get the subject out in the open.
So just when I though this was all the good news that I would have to share, I asked Pam if she would go to a counseling session with me ... she said "Sure.  Anything, as long as it makes you happy and as long as I don't lose you." 

I'm no longer inching along.  I'm not exactly running, but things are moving faster than I ever thought they would.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You're not getting rid of me

I know what you're thinking ... It's not Saturday and it hasn't been 3 weeks, how can I possibly have an update now??

Several things have happened since Monday and I just wanted to give a quick recap.  The first two stories I copied from a Facebook post, so if you've read them skip to story 3.


OK ... This really isn't a big deal, but I had a couple of cool situations the other day.

1 - The other day I had to drive an afternoon school bus route. The last run was special needs high school kids. All the kids and the teachers thought I was female because of my looks. Before I left, I needed to ask the kids to fasten their seat belts (darn voice) and one of the kids asked if I was a guy.

I wasn't going to lie and say yes, but it would be a round about way of outing myself if I said I was female, so I dodged the question. During the ride I overheard part of a conversation ... the boy who asked me my gender said to one of the girls, "I think she might be a guy. But we shouldn't judge her, some people are like that."

That was very accepting and tolerant ... but special needs kids tend to be more accepting than regular ed kids.

2 - I was grocery shopping (where I forgot honey and bread ... darn). After I paid the cashier asked, "Do you need help to the car, miss?" I was so flattered. I couldn't believe I was treated like a lady ... ...

Then I said, "No thank you." which left the poor guy looking totally bewildered (darn voice).

3 - I can either tell this as one story or break it up into several small stories ... ...

My wife, my son and I went to visit my mother in law at the home she is staying in.  On the way there Timmy (my son) and I talked a bit of Mixed Martial Arts.  Ironically he brought up Fallon Fox.

Who is Fallon Fox you ask?  She is the female fighter who very recently came out as a post op transsexual.  The conversation itself was not of interest except the fact that neither my wife nor my son could decide whether Fallon was a he or a she, then my wife giggled and jokingly said "It."

The comment itself did not offend me because I knew she was joking, but it did get me thinking.

After lunch we dropped Timmy off, picked up our mail and headed home (somewhere in an earlier post I explained the complicated living arrangements).  Waiting for me in the mail was an invitation for my 30th high school class reunion.  For only $100.00 per person I could go spend an evening with people I disliked and who wouldn't give me the time of day for 4 years ... ... I don't think so.

Amongst the papers in the envelope is a form I can fill out about what I've been up to if I cannot attend ... and they ask that I attach a picture.  My wife said I should send a picture of me as Tiffanie ... I laughed because I was seriously considering that.

On the way home I rehashed the transgender fighter issue.  I explained the effects of estrogen on the body and basically stated that due to weight divisions there is not physical advantage for her having been born a male ... Then I asked my wife if she really thought Fallon was an it.

She said no, and asked why I asked.

I said I worried that she thought I was an it.

She asked if I wanted to have a sex change operation.

I said the only reason I would consider changing my genitalia would be if she left me, otherwise there is no logical reason for me to need that surgery.  There was a short, silent pause.  Then I said, "I want to make an appointment with the doctor to discuss the reason I'm in counseling.  I want to ask him if he'll start me on Spiro."  I didn't say the name, but explained what it was for.  I explained about the "different wiring" between male brains and female brains ... and that possibly if I lower the testosterone it might help with my anxiety and depression issues.

No some of you might be saying, "Hey, you said you had this talk last July or August."

Well yes ... yes I did.  But it was left in a strange state of limbo when it came to hormones.  She said she really didn't want me to take them while at the same time telling me that she would support anything I needed to do to be happy ... including surgery ... so ...

So She looked at me and said she loves me.  If I want to be a woman she still loves me.  If I take hormone she still loves me.

I about cried ... definitely teared up.

Then she said, "You're not getting rid of me.  We have a great relationship, and I love it.  I don't care if you're a woman, that's not going to make me leave you."

I told her about the friends I have on Facebook where the wife left because the husband came out or was transitioning.

 She seemed very sad about that, then said, "You're not getting rid of me that easily."


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Are you gay?

*** Spring 1979 ***

I went to a small town school.  It served kindergarten through 8th grade with a total student body of about 300 kids ... average class size about 35 ... my class was huge at 41 kids.  Given a moment I could probably remember everyone's name, but I will concentrate on 3 people ... Scott, Angel and Ron.  These three were my closest friends, although I would not call any of them a best friend.  I was still a loner most of the time and only tolerated others when they wanted to hang around with me.

8th grade was a very awkward year for me.  Most of the girls in the class were well into puberty with many of them learning how to flaunt their breasts and figure very early ... I was jealous.

My body had already begun growing hair on the chest, the stomach and the back ... I was devastated.  I cried as I realized my body was quickly moving away from the female image I always had.  It didn't help that the boys in the class were suddenly interested in talking about sex and how big their penis was getting.

Although I got along with everyone in the class, I was not part of a clique.  Often I found myself the target of ridicule and teasing.  I am fortunate to have inherited a quick wit and a razor sharp sarcasm from my family.  If things seemed to get too out of control I was able to fend off the attacks and put the person who started the verbal battle on defense.

Thus the reason I was a loner most of the time.

Throughout the school year I noticed, or possibly created a gap between me and my three friends.  Often I would hear them talking about some subject and decide to make myself scarce.  They would sometimes persist and involve me in their conversations about how they thrill themselves when they are alone.  At one point I decided just to play stupid in hopes they might leave me alone.

Nope!!  They decided to draw pictures.

I decided to make fun of their pictures.

Exasperated, they asked if I knew what they were talking about.  I said yes, I just didn't feel the need to discuss it with them, or anyone.

One day in late May, towards the end of the school year Scott caught up to me after school.  The other kids weren't close enough to hear us talk, but they were around.  I could tell by his body language that this wasn't going to be a normal conversation ... then he just said it, "Are you gay?"

"No."  I stared him in the eye for a moment.  "No, I don't think so.  Why?"

He shifted his weight side to side while mumbling a bit of gibberish about me not wanting to be part of the guys' conversations.

"What difference does it make?"  The comment was actually a continued response to the original question, but it also applied to his rambling.  In a brief moment of courage I didn't care what he thought, or what anyone else thought.  "People make a big deal of what everyone else does ... or doesn't like to do.  Why should anyone be judged because they like something or do things you don't like?"  I paused, I wanted to tell him about me ... I didn't have the words ... courage gone.

*** *** ***

Ironically I am friends on my other facebook account with one of those three.  I wonder what he will say when I tell the others on that account about me.  I would really like to track down the others, but then again we were never really that close.  Finding them might dig up some of the feelings and frustrations I've long since moved past.

Lately I've been reliving many events from the past ... which of course is a big Well DUH because if I'm reliving or remembering it has to be from the past ... anyway ...

I find myself buried in thought, graphically reliving many moments.  Many of these moments are hurtful, depressing, traumatizing times of my life ... like when our oldest son died at three months old.  Other events are happier times, or events where things were not so stressful.  The times that eat at me most ... the time that make me wonder how my life would be different are the times that I almost came out ... the times I almost transitioned ... the times I almost freed myself and lived, but didn't.

If I had transitioned when I was 16 ... 18 ... 20, I would not have married my wife, we would not have had the joy of raising a wonderful son.

If I had transitioned when I was 25 or 30 would I have been given the opportunities at work that I received as a man?  Would my wife have chosen to stay with me?  Would my son have been treated the same at school, pursued the same goals, become the same young man he is?

I don't know ...

My wife and I went shopping yesterday ... Home Depot, Lowes and Michael's.  I was ma'amed  several times (Yay), but the best was when we were checking out.  The cashier called us ladies (Yay), and even after doing the close inspection ... and even after I hoisted a 50 pound item from the cart so she could scan the tag on the bottom, she still said, "Have a good evening ladies."

So I feel a bit more confident today, but know I have a lot of work to do to truly be perceived as female.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Red light ... Green light

*** Spring 1972 ***

My brother, my sisters and I went to the local community church Sunday evening youth group.  A very fancy name for a bunch of teenagers and younger kids getting together to play.

The church was a converted house ... the garage was turned into the sanctuary and the bedrooms were the Sunday school "classrooms."  There was a nice sized yard for the church potlucks, and for the youth group to play different games ... this particular day the game was "red light ... green light."

Wait ... You've never heard of red light, green light?

It is actually pretty fun with the right sized group.  One person plays the "traffic light" and the rest of the group is the "traffic."  The group starts at the start line (duh) and waits for the traffic light to turn his (or her) back and say "Green light."  You can run, skip, walk, jump or make whatever movement toward the finish line you want until the traffic light turns and says, "Red light."  If the traffic light sees you move after he says red light you are sent back to the start line.  Whoever crosses the finishes line wins.

It was rather frustrating being a 7 year old playing amongst teenagers ... my 11 year old brother was the next youngest kid in the group.  We had fun, but whenever it came to anything remotely athletic I was so outmatched.  When green light was called and we all ran I couldn't come close to keeping up.  Likewise, when red light was called I couldn't stop as fast because I was running harder.  I got sent back to the start a lot.  I'm not going to go as far as to imply that they were picking on me, but it sure seemed like it sometimes.

After one particularly tiring and frustrating round I devised a strategy.  I went and sat on the ground at the start line on the edge of the play field.  When green light was called I scooted along the ground while others ran or walked.

Red light.  I put my elbows on my knees and rested my chin on my hands.

Green light - scoot.

Red light - rest.

All the others were yelling, laughing and completely ignoring me.  As they got sent to the start I kept scooting forward ... well, sideways if you want to be technical, but it was toward the goal ... and I was having a great time.

After quite a while I finally reached and touched the goal.  I shrieked with excitement ... I had finally won a game.

But, no I didn't.

The pastor's son was the traffic signal.  He looked at me and said, "You weren't playing."

"Yes I was."

"You cheated."  He wouldn't back down.  The sad thing is not one person, not even my brother and sisters backed me ... they didn't even tell me I had a good idea or any form of congratulations.

*** ***

My life of transition has been a game of red light ... green light.

Some times I ran toward the goal, sometimes I walked or crawled, but I would be noticed ... or I was afraid I would be noticed, and I sent myself back to the start.  Like in the game as a child, I never made it very far before returning to the beginning.

The last several years I've been sitting on the field watching my friends yell and laugh and have a good time as I scoot slowly along.  I know some may think I'm not really in the game, but I am having fun knowing I'm moving toward the goal.  The best part is I'm doing this virtually unnoticed ... and the goal is closer than ever before.

Unlike the game, at some point people will realize what I'm doing ... or I will tell them.  Either way, I will either have to get up and walk, or I will have to stop ... I will not be sent back to the start line again.

The dreaded ... or needed hormone talk with the doctor is in my near future.  That's when the scooting stops.  That's when people will realize something is changing, even if I don't tell them.

My wife confided with to me the other day that her therapist had an awkward reaction (not necessarily negative, but not supportive) when she told her about me transitioning.  Now I understand why she hasn't wanted to go to her counselor lately ... the counselor upset my wife because my wife loves and supports me.  I am happy and saddened at the same time.

I am blessed that she wants to stay with me.

I am saddened because my transitioning is causing her a hardship.

 On a side note ... We were in the DMV the other day.  While we were waiting in line we started discussing boots and fashion of the other women around the building.  I got a few strange looks as I was in sort of dude mode, but I didn't care.