Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two Months Post Transition

I apologize for cutting my blog short so abruptly. A recruiter called, and I needed to take the call.

My how time flies! It's hard to believe that tomorrow will mark the two-month anniversary of transitioning at work. My coworkers are still avoiding pronoun usage for the most part. My friend yesterday used a different tactic to correct her mistake immediately. She quickly claimed that she referred to the wrong referrent, "She. My mistake. Of course [male employee in previous reference, let's just say 'Bob'], didn't [X]. Sophie did. She..." I have to say that was an impressive recovery.

The dog watching is over. Debbie came back from Hawaii, and brought me a beautiful pink wrap with blue flowers on it, and a pink clip to hold it on. Because it's cool, it's the ideal thing to wear puttering around a hot apartment. I was wearing it as a shawl, when I heard someone say from the side, "It's 90 degrees outside, and she's wearing a blanket."

I turned to a smartly dressed older man and replied, "It's 90 degrees outside. In here the air conditioner works overtime."

After he chatted with the BA's he came to see, I asked my friend who he was. She gave me his name and told me he was one of our major customers. (She actually told me his role). I'm sure I was glowing a little bit from that.

Last night was the last in a series of Blues Swing dancing. We spent the first part of the class reiterating the routine we learned last week and learned a new routine off the swivels. It consisted of a Texas Tommy Turn, followed by an inside turn into a promenade, and a couple of different ways that the lead can pulse the promenade.

After lessons, I practiced making eye contact by waiting to catch a free lead's eye for just a couple of seconds and then sliding my eye off them in a gesture of mock humility, with a slight smile to my lips. My regulars picked up and danced with me, and one of my regular dance friends who hasn't ever asked me to the floor came over to dance with me as well, apologizing for taking so long in order to get a quick drink because of the heat. When Sgt Nick was dancing with me later, he commented, "Are you learning Salsa" and later, "Nice swingout."

"Really? Is that what that was?"

"That's what I was trying to get you to do the first time," he said referring to the first night I danced 5 months ago. "You've come a long way."

The routine of makeup in the morning is something I can't imagine myself not doing when going to work. I enjoy feeling pretty, yet professional in the office and just can't imagine de-transitioning to wearing slacks and no makeup--no eyeliner, shadow, foundation to cover the beard, or lipstick. To work? Ugh!

It's nice to hear the "How are you, Ma'am?" at the front gate and the "Have a good day, Miss Hawes," that follows after checking my ID.

The heat, while broken, is still somewhat intense, and someone asked me if I put my hair in a comb. That would be the ideal thing for the dance floor when the sweat starts to stream off my back, and cutting my hair back would be rather drastic. I'll get a cheap comb at WalMart next time I go to see the hairdresser to touch up my roots, and see if I can get her to show me how to put it up with a comb and be able to do it myself.

I can see why a lot of people seem to disappear once they transition. It really has nothing to do with cutting connections to online friends. It has more to do with being more social, having more responsibilities and activities to do, because most of the fear is gone. One activity quite often leads to more activities until you have very little time left to keep in touch with the online community. Perhaps, that's why you've seen fewer and fewer of my blog entries. Instead of being relegated to spending so much time at home as Sophie, I have more venues open to me in my community.

But I don't see myself disappearing completely. I do so enjoy recapping my events and feelings and sharing them with others. It's therapeutic at the least, and helpful at the most. I do need solitude from the outside from time to time, and on those days, when nothing's going on except getting some more "me-time" (funny how the definition has changed), you'll find me taking notes.

Work calls and I need to respond.

Hugs and God Bless,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dancing, Cornhole, Pride Festival and Swimming

It has been an incredidbly engaging weekend. It began with Swing Dancing lessons on Thursday and ended with swimming with people from my church who live 10 minutes away.

Thursday evening, I enjoyed the last lesson in Jim and Sam's Eastern Swing series. It was an opportunity for me to fine tune what Jim has been teaching me on the floor after class. We played with the Sweetheart and Hammerlock, and took a group picture, knowing the sweat was making a mess of my hair. I chatted with Lindsay a while, and Rose invited me to a party she was throwing at her parents' place on Friday.

When I arrived at Rose's place I Friday, I had stopped by home to dress a little more comfortable, since it was jeans day and she had mentioned that she might have dancing. That meant that as a minimum, I did at least need to change int a skirt. I had also stopped by and picked up a house-warming 4-pack of strawberry daquiri wine cooler. As I walked to her front door with the grocery bag in hand, I noticed a sign in the front garden that read, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, Joshua..." I rang the doorbell, and when Rose answered, I said, "Hi, Rose. I brought wine coolers." To which she replied, "We don't have alcohol in this house."

"Ok. I'll just take these back to the car."

She introduced me to other guests that had arrived, a couple from her church and someone she knew from school. The name of the church curiously didn't have the denomination on it. "We leave off the Baptist," because it usually causes problems she said. She took us on a tour of her carpeted basement, which was fabulously remodeled into a living space, complete with pool table, foosball table and a bathroom with a shower. It was impressive. That evening I got to try out the Kentucky game corn hole on a custom board (we lost by one point), and danced with Jim a couple of times as he danced with several of us.

I soon had to tell them at 11 PM that I had to leave because I had a long drive to help out at Pride in Lexington from 11 in the morning to 7 in the evening. I tried to leave it blank which pride, but naturally, someone asked, "Which Pride?"

"LGBT Pride," I answered, and decided to just get it all out there, since the cat was out of the bag. "I am helping with the TransKentucky booth."

Rose offered to walk me to my car and gave me a hug at the door.

The next two days also saw me out until 11 PM. First, was Lexington Pride Fair, where I met so many interesting people and answered numerous questions and had great conversations.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thank You for Being a Friend

The weight of the action I filed yesterday is just weighing me down. I miss my apartment, and I have to banish thoughts of dangling ropes and punching the accelerator from my mind. I was thinking of just posting a blog entry with one word in the title, echoed in the content--"blah."

I'm alone and as the song goes, "I ain't got nobody..." and all the rest of the words that follow. It feels like I've lost all meaning to my existence.

But do I really have nobody? Just because I don't have a "romantic interest" doesn't mean that I am completely alone (I can feel the therapy in this blog already). After dance lessons, I was invited to a house party by Rose (I had to ask her name) which conflicted with a support meeting tonight that I doubted anybody would attend anyway. She wrote her name and address in my book, letting me know that she was inviting other people there, not just Swing dancers.

I also chatted with Lindsay for a little while before she was dragged off to the dance floor, who asked how I was doing. It seems "Everone knows [my] name," as the theme from Cheers goes, yet I am struggling to catch up, and quite a few people are comfortable with me.

I also got a call from Lisa, who I met a few weeks ago when I was going through my rebellious phase, who called to see how I was doing since she hadn't heard from me in a while. She's got pneumonia, and is on some serious antibiotics. I keep struggling to remember her partner's name-Roselyn-who seems to also be a very good friend.

As I was writing this, I noticed an invitation in my email for a swim and cookout party on July 4th at a church member's house.

While the legal cutting of a long relation seems like the end of the world and that I'll always be alone, it's not a rational conclusion--unless I dwell on it.

I am surrounded by good people--people I have met in various situations, just by taking the opportunities to get out and accepting invitations to try new things with them and, consequently, meet new people.

The tempation to escape and crawl away into a corner in my home, would then be the worst possible thing I could do. I need to keep doing what I've been doing.

I'm not sure what the meaning in my life is, but I am beginning to feel it's just being a friend to anyone I encounter who needs one, which brings the theme to Golden Girls to my head, "Thank you for being a friend."

Hugs and God Bless,

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Just Sophie"

I had an incredibly frustrating day yesterday. I left work an hour early to attempt to make the drive from Fort Knox to Louisville in order to file our divorce petition. I had planned it so that I should get there at 4 PM, 30 minutes before the office closed on their 8:30 to 4:30 PM schedule.

Utilizing directions from Google, I went straight up Dixie Highway to Interstate 264. As I approached my exit for Interstate 64 (where I needed to go East for less than a half mile), the road signs announced a specific detour to take because of construction. That detour took me in the opposite direction across the state line into Indiana via the freeway, a good 20 minutes out of my way.

Once I finally got to the court building (where I had to drop off my pepper spray with the guard), I headed upstairs to the second floor to find the Family Court, which was in suite two-hundred something according to the website.

As I finished an entire circuit of the floor, I asked a gentleman coming out of the administrative office where the Family Court was. He directed me across a ped-way linking the building I was in to another building. Once I crossed and stepped up to the office listing, I saw my destination downstairs in what looked like a driver's license office.

I was not feeling too good about this process as it was. In fact, it depressed me, and it still does. After about two minutes of waiting, the clerk asked if he could help me.

"Is there where I file a Petition for a Divorce?" I asked.

"We stop taking petitions after 4," he replied. As I looked at my watch, I noticed it was 4:07. "Besides, you probably don't have all the right forms. Do you have this one?" he said holding up a 5 x 7 form. "It's watermarked and needs to be typed."

I politely took the form from him, asked where a typewriter was, and after having to ask where the on switch was, proceeded to fill out the form. When I was done, I left grumbling loud enough to hear, "I hate this city," spelling out the day's reasons.

I couldn't believe I took an hour off work, drove an hour in the heat, to have absolutely nothing done. I decided to stop by for a drink before I headed back to take care of the dogs.

While I was sitting there, the bartendress who had apparently just gotten off struck up a conversation with me. Soon, I heard my name: "Sophie?"

I turned to see an older gentleman with pink eyes starting at me. "Have you heard from Carrie?," he said. I told him a little, and once I heard his name was Sedge, I told him more. It seems that he hadn't heard from Carrie since January. Carrie had asked me a couple months ago to let him know he was okay, and so I passed the information on.

Sugar, the bartendress sitting next to me, told me how she had honestly told Carrie that she felt that she looked more like a woman than a man when asked (not surprising, since this happened in a lesbian club). Carrie had apparently not taken that so well. To me, she looks and behaves more male-like, more in tune with her gender identity.

When I explained to Sugar that I and Carrie had to learn that different people pick up different gender clues, she told me, "You're just Sophie." Not sure what she meant by that, she started asking questions about my transition and orientation, about my early childhood, etc.

Needless to say, when I finished my drink I headed back to my coworker's house to take care of the pups, and that didn't go so well, as the ID tag popped open, sending one pup running and the other dog going down the long step. Eventually, I managed to get things back under control and settled for the night.

I called in to work to explain that my personal legal errand wasn't finished yet, and got the court when it opened. The petition's been filed, and I can sense the resulting depression trying to kick in. If it wasn't for the fact that I had transitioned already, I don't know that I could handle it. On the other hand, the transitioning is also partially responsible for the divorce.

I can see that I'm out of time. Maybe dance lessons will raise my spirits tonight.

Hugs and God Bless,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Lifted Veil

Mallory rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. "You don't know what
you're talking about."

-- Chloe Neill, Some Girls Bite

I've started pondering, trying to get a grasp on exactly what the difference that makes me feel so free now, and at all the time I just felt so joyful when I got to socialize as female.

I've used the metaphor of a dam in earlier blogs, and while a good model, doesn't support the ease with which we feel relieved and comforted when allowed to change our perspective.

The metaphor that I've been thinking of is that rationalizing away our feelings, forcing ourselves to experience the world in a certain way because we were to afraid and ashamed of the possible results, is more like a veil that we gently lowered over our face.

Like most veils, we could see the world differently, but it often didn't make sense. Many times, the fabric of the veil blinded us to things that we could have and would have noticed if the light reflected off the object hadn't been occluded. We see the world, while at the same time we miss the world.

My male facade was like that veil, gently lowered oh so long ago. It enabled me to ignore things that weren't supposed to attract my attention, like the blinders sometimes attached to a cart horse to keep it from being distracted.

But it did not hide everything. It did not make me interested in the "other" things that I could see. I was often bored, seeing little of anything that I liked, until I lifted the veil just slightly.

A light-weight piece of cloth suspended over the face became easy to get used to, and eventually it was annoying. I knew there were things I could catch a glimpse of, only to have them washed out in white.

The veil kept me from experiencing life in the feminine, in the creative, in the interconnected wonder of life right in front of me. The flimsy piece of material might as well have been a high-security lock on my spiritual growth, until...

I began to lift my veil a crack from time to time, so I could experience the world around me without it being filtered by my facade. But the veil would insist on falling back in place.

Soon, I decided to only wear the veil where I was expected to wear the veil, yet it was still pinned to my hair, ready to drop back in place.

I feel as if the veil has been lifted and packed away. I feel myself more clearly through my unfiltered experiences with others.

Now, I can be truly honest. Now I can be fully at one with myself and my spritual connection to the divine. Now, I can truly have integrity.

Like being able to walk without pain after having been almost numbed by the pain, I feel the joy in normal living.

Dance lessons last night were just the ticket. I had a slight cramp in my calf and another moving knot in my thigh, but since I could walk without limping finally, I returned to Blues Swing Dance lessons. We had a few really good moves that we learned, and I had a little trouble learning to transition from a turn directly into switches. But it was absolute fun, and I'm feeling better. The dance class was downstairs and full, so by the time we were done, many of us were drenched in sweat. I didn't stay long after, because of that, just finishing my drink and leaving.

I am looking forward to dance lessons tomorrow.

Today, after work, I plan to file the divorce petition. It's not something that I am looking forward to, but we do need to free each other before either of us winds up doing something regretful.

I'll start passively job-hunting soon. Maybe I can get a job closer to my children or at least pays well enough for me to pay plane fares.

Hugs and God Bless,

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My New Life

It was raining when I woke the next evening, the fourth day of my new
life, tucked beneath the ancient quilt that covered my bed.

-- Chloe Neill, Some Girls Bite

It's been a week since I began puppy sitting for my coworker. I was all cuddled up under the quilt, when--for the first time--they barked to get my attention. As I got up, and peeked at the clock behind the various things I had covering it, I noticed it was 5:30 in the morning. My alarm on my phone was set to go off in half an hour.

When I arrived at the child gate holding the pups in the kitchen, I noticed both gray snauzers were standing there with their noses almost rubbing the gate. The fact that they barked when they were ready to go out is a signal that they are settling more into my presence, since that is their normal behavior, yet hadn't been done since Aunt Sophie took over.

So in my night shirt, I fixed the leash to Shasta, took Duchess in my arms and proceeded out of the apartment. Of course, Shasta bolted out the door, only to be stopped by the leash. Duchess and I had to navigate the maze under the stairs that Shasta had created with the leash.

Since I had time, I let them take their time after I put Duchess down. Eventually, she returned to me, eager and trying to jump into my arms, which is her signal that she's ready to go inside.

Once inside, after unleashing Shasta and refilling the empty water bowl, I noticed I had 15 more minutes before my alarm went off, so after washing my feet off, I crawled on top of the covers, lay 3/4 on my stomach with my left leg stretched over my right and dozed until my alarm went off.

Not having to take the pups out gave me a little extra time to shower, shave, dress and do my hair and makeup. Just a normal day getting ready for work.

Being a little low in the gas tank, I stopped to fill up at the station on the corner, and noticed I couldn't find my glasses. After driving back to the apartment and not finding them there, I noticed they had fallen by the driver's seat next to the door.

It's been almost two months since I went full time. The co-worker for whom I am watching her pups has never been clued into my old life. I thought at one time that I was going to have to tell her, but that bullet has been dodged for now. I show up for work in a skirt most days, feeling perfectly comfortable in them, and less comfortable in slacks. There have been absolutely no issues at work about my transition, and the only people who seem to regularly get the pronoun wrong before immediately fixing it are the few people who were "in-the-know."

One of those people has just left for another job in Minnesota. I took Anil to pick up his car after work at the private airport terminal, and we shared a farewell dinner at O'Charley's afterward. Even though my makeup had certainly been mostly absorbed by then and I had tied my hair back in an impromptu pony tail with my bang loosely covering my right eye, people still unerringly referred to me as Ma'am--and in a town that I considered very conservative and redneck. I had forgotten to be afraid.

I had support duty last week, which required using the telephone to contact customers and help debug their issues. I reached one person, saying "This is Sophie with the XXX helpdesk calling for XXX." To my dismay, I was sir'ed practically to death. When I called the mobile number for the actual person I was trying to contact and instead said, "This is Sophia XXX with the helpdesk," I was mollified with ma'ams.

My leg is feeling better. It's got a couple of knots left--one on the right side of the thigh and one in the calf, but I am able now to walk without a limp. I miss dancing lessons, so I'll be headed back tonight after I make sure the pups have their potty walk, water and food.

This is the hardest part of all: I have the divorce paperwork notarized. We both agree it's in our best interest to have this done as soon as possible. Since I have to file it in Louisville and I'm staying in Elizabethtown right now, the best thing to do is to just leave work an hour and a half early tomorrow to file before the office closes at 4:30. The fact that I am able to type what I just did without crying is maybe a sign that I'm finally ready to do it.

Meanwhile, on my mind is the bed I am going to have to buy for when my children come to visit. I won't have much time to purchase it and have it delivered before they arrive for a week. I do so miss them.

Hugs and God Bless,


Monday, June 21, 2010

Seizing Your Transition

I just read three excellent back-to-back blogs and the theme of each, respectively, was:
  1. Seize every minute available to you (Carpe Diem).
  2. No time left "to work on transitioning."
  3. Transitioning may not be what you expect.

I can't say I worked on transitioning. The only work I actually did was to try to understand it and the risks I was going to take. I probably did more work trying to keep from transitioning because of those risks.

Instead of working on tranitioning, I increasingly took advantage of opportunities to experiment, to try things out, and to ease the road in front of me when I did not feel like going back. I reveled in each change, and was frustrated under certain circumstances, and I took the next opportunity to correct the frustrating scenarios. My transition has been a series of "why-not?" experiences. I pushed myself out the door more and more frequently to live as a woman for longer periods of time.

Transitioning between jobs, I viewed as a negative opportunity. The prospect of losing my work credentials based on personality and performance was enough to make me veto that route. But I made the conscious decision to be, as I felt it, "free."

Even when I was by myself at home between jobs, I seized the moment to be "Sophie;" even though the moments were only on the duration of a few hours. We are all free to spend moments as ourselves, even if it's in our own minds.

Transitioning is more an act of setting yourself free than a job.

Since I went full time outside of work for six months before transitioning on the job, working on my presentation skills, I did have encounters with people who felt that women were only good for one thing, and I had to fight for my dignity in those cases.

Unlike Jamie, I do get asked quite frequently what I do for a living. And I did find it a little inconvenient talking to the person from Vietnam doing my nails, who asked things like, "Is your husband bigger than you," and "You're married to a man, right? Does he know you're here?" which made conversation rather difficult for me, since my wife is definitely female.

One of the things that helps is that I am in a profession that accepts intelligent, degreed women--software development. I know that as a woman, men subconsciously grade you on how feminine you present, and I enjoy taking the requisite time to doll up. Yes, I do have to play with the double entendres that are sometimes spoken around me, but I ply my wares in those instances by playing hard to get or turning their double entendre into an embarrassing moment.

Even when you go full time, the fear of not passing still crops its head up from time to time. I know I pass by the way people treat me and my image in the mirror after a shower. It's a female image, with only one thing out of place that I don't look at anyway.

I am expected to be not only pretty but more social as well. It doesn't hurt that some people consider me a genius to boot.

As far as sexual attraction is concerned, I can honestly believe someone when she says that lesbian relationships are not what she has been lead to believe and prefers relationships with men. Right now, however, from where I'm sitting, I am finding the reverse to be true. Like other heterosexual trans women, she does not quite understand how someone can identify as female and be attracted to women. She doesn't believe that another woman would willingly have a lesbian relationship with someone who was born with male parts. But when that someone turns out to be a bisexual woman, and a little on the dominant side, the potential for a relationship exists, because they (and maybe you) are more interested in the person behind the body.

What I would have difficulty believing, though, is someone who claims to be a male-bodied woman, refuses hormones, prefers women and prefers them submissive. Maybe these people do exist, but the traits seem by far too male to be anything other than female impersonators. Lord knows, I've seen my share of dominating male types.

Hugs and God Bless,


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Descending the Stairs

We took a right, descended a flight of stairs, and followed Ethan through another hallway to a set of antique wooden doors.

-- Chloe Neill, Some Girls Bite
My leg is still hurting. At least the acute pain is gone, but I seem to be living on 650 mg acetaminophen tablets.

It's also a small world. Through the door to my church walked two people, Ruth and Margery, who I know from dance classes at Jim Porter's for the Inter-generational Choir. I asked another person if it was her first time or a member I hadn't met, and she replied that she was just someone I hadn't met and was there for my "talk," on Easter Sunday.

It's Father's Day for most today, but I see it as my youngest daughter's birthday. She turned six today, and I miss her. I called after church to wish her "Happy Birthday," and she returned my call to say, "Happy Father's Day."

To be honest, I am really amazed at the woman in the mirror. The reinforcing image almost completely erases the moments of gender doubt. It is only in moments when I am with someone much more feminine physically that I begin to feel confusion. But seeing a women in the mirror calms me. Even remembering that image helps. It wasn't that long ago that I felt a greater doubt, when feeling more androgynous, I would see something more masculine in the mirror.

As I was leaving the church, Gail was coming in. As I stopped to tell her good morning, she lifted my hand to kiss my knuckles for the second time this month, which sent a shiver down my spine that continued for at least 15 minutes. She told me that she was looking for me last night at the Kentuckiana Pride performance at a group I used to attend. She wasn't the only one. I also returned a call last night to Barb and Shirley, explaining that I was an hour away and wouldn't be able to watch Taylor Dane with them for that reason. Gail strongly suggested that I go next year.

Perhaps I will. I don't know. I miss my children, I don't make enough money to take a vacation or pay for their plane fare and as a contractor, I don't earn vacation pay. The current contract goes to the end of the fiscal year, September 30, a scant 3 1/2 months away. That means August 1, I enter the passive job market, where I update my online resume and start responding to recruiter's offers.

That's about all the news.

Hugs and God Bless,

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Yesterday was a long day. There was a team meeting at the church for the Chalice Night Team that started at 5 PM. Thinking it would only last until 6, it actually stretched on until 7 PM.

My next stop was to drive to the nearest Walmart and pick up some kind of chewy dog treat. One of the pups I was watching would have to submit to the leash in order to chew on the treat. After the chase outside and around the apatment, there was no way I was going to let her out without a line connected to myself.

After I left Walmart, I stopped by my place to pick up a couple of things for my next two outfits, and during the drive, I got a phone call from Texas asking me to order cheesesticks to be delivered. If that chaos wasn't enough, by the time I finished the hour and a half drive to my coworker's apartment to take care of the dogs, I discovered I had lost her keys. So at 9 PM, tears in my eyes from the absolute chaos of things, I drove back to my place to hunt for the missing keys. No such luck.

I called Harold, who had dropped my friend off at the airport, praying he had her other set of keys. He did. So I drove across the border into Indiana to pick them up. What a sweet man!

So by about 11:30 PM, I had finally unlocked the door to my friend's apartment to take her puppies for a walk. The younger one, the one who took off on me yesterday figured out what I was up to fairly easily when I held the 20 foot leash in my left hand and the chicken jerky in the right. She hesitated, holding back, until the older dog just came and took it.

I got another piece, let her have it, and when she started to chew, I snapped the leash to her harness, and we went for a walk, anywhere she wanted to go, with a few exceptions. And in the morning, her resistance to the leash was also fairly weak.

There's a metaphor or two in here, and it or they have something to do with transitioning. See if you can find it.

Hugs and God Bless,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"There's Been a Name Change"

"There's been a name change," I said to the receptionist at the doctor's office when I checked in, wearing my black blouse with the flat beads sewn into the top and a skirt that I had picked out for my work day.

Yesterday morning started out rather horrible. The night before, I had slept on an air mattress at my coworker's house so that the dogs I was to watch as she went on vacation could get used to me. Having become used to sleeping on my sofa, my hip and thigh began to hurt as I tried to adjust position as normally do between sleep cycles. At one point, my friend's boyfriend closed my door at her request because the dogs seemed to have no end to their barks.

Her friend had bought us both dinner at the local clubhouse, where the waitress had accidentally spilled my water all over my blouse. The food was good, though. I had a cheese steak sandwhich with regular fries and Harold presented a chip to my lips to taste--an action that I considered a little inappropriate under the circumstances.

He stayed the night, and I slept in another room on the air mattress upon which I must have pulled a muscle on my tender side while attempting to flip from side to side. In the morning, Harold knocked on my door to wake me at the hour I had requested and I got up in my nightshirt to help walk the snauzers who were so obedient.

Once back inside, I showered and dressed for work, noting which things I had failed to pack, and eventually left for work, after Harold, but before my friend, who came bouncing out with wet hair and a bra. I told her I'd see her at work and began the short drive into the office.

As I pressed on the accelerator, a pain went shooting up my thigh. Sometimes, it was in the thigh, and sometimes in the hip. It was excruciating. I tried driving with my left foot for awhile, but that was too dificult, and the pain did not completely subside.

The last time my hip hurt so bad like this, after attempting a heat pad for a couple of days, I had found that an ice pack made the pain go away. So I limped into the McDonald's just off the base too pick up a hot/cold pack, some zip lock bags and a kitchen towel to form a temporary ice pack.

Once I got into work, I was alternating the cold and hot treatment. Neither seemed to work. Rather, they seemed to induce more pain. I got up and walked the hallway, which seemed to work, but I could tell that was not going to last for long.

Finally, I called my doctor to try to get in and avoid the emergency fee. They had a little trouble pulling my record up when I called, as I eventually explained that I had changed my name and didn't know if it had been updated by the system. She said there was an availability at 3 PM, and I took it.

At 12:30 PM, I gave up the fight to be productive and asked one of my friends for more painkillers. It took me about 30 minutes of stretching to get into the car for my hour drive up to the doctor's office, and as I drove I figured that the pain would probably end by the time I got there.

Unsurprised, I discovered I was right. My right leg felt fine, but when I tried to stand on it, I almost fell down. It was a weird, almost numb sensation. I could only stub walk my way in the door and into the elevator, occasionally grabbing a wall to re-orient my balance.

When I checked in, I explained to the receptionist that I had changed my name. She just asked if I had an insurance card with the new name and updated the system before pulling up my record.

Eventually, I was called in. My weight read 202 lbs, and I was so disheartened. It seems I'll never leave that zone. Temperature was normal, and she led me to my room where I waited for the doctor to show up after she updated my chart.

When the doctor arrived, we discovered that the most sensitive spot to her touch was in my upper right buttock. Somehow, that muscle, when strained, was pulling or pinching my sciatic nerve. As she prescribed a cortisone shot, which she was to give me in a few minutes, and a prescription for muscle relaxant, I also told her about my quandary with the estradiol.

I explained that my endocrynologist would prescribe the pill form, and gave me a prescription for the patch instead--which I couldn't afford. Since my prescription for the pill was about to run out, could she write a new prescription for the equivalent dosage in the pill that I was prescribed in the patch? No problem. After my shot, as I picked up the paper, the first thing I noticed was that she had indeed changed my name, except the responsible party was listed as 'Robert.' But just below that the box for sex had an 'F' in it! And stamped in red ink in the top right corner, it stated:

"Please schedule:
  • "Colonoscopy
  • "Mammogram
  • "Pap Smear
  • "Diabetic Eye Check"
I teased the receptionist that they should probably schedule a prostate exam instead of a pap smear, since I'm not ready for it. I do need to schedule the others if the insurance will pay, but I want to wait until after my endocrynogist follow-up in early August to do so.

The cortisone worked well. By the time I got home to take care of the pets, it had begun to wear off a little. Just in time for one of them to take off around the corner and send me on a chase to find her. She wouldn't let me pick her up, and I had to eventually lead her back to the apartment by going down a steep hill, she was a little timid about.

Once inside, I couldn't corral her to the kitchen. I had issues at home to deal with, and had got the leash on her once, before I took it off because the phone rang. And from then on, she's been snipping at me when I try to put the leash on.

She wound up sleeping in the living room last night. She did come to the entryway when I cracked the door. When I tried to leash her, she took off to the living room and squatted! Oh! I had to chase her back to the kitchen area, where I took advantage of the situation to move the child barricade so that she couldn't get back to the living room. She still wouldn't take the leash, and when she made for the kitchen for a drink, the barricade finally moved home. All this time, I'm telling her that she has to go on the leash outside because she ran away from me.

I'm due up at the church for a meeting at 5 PM tonight, so I'll undoubtedly have a mess to clean up before feeding them and working on the divorce paperwork. It may be a battle of the wills, but I will not take her outside without a leash again, especially when I have to limp after her.

Hugs and God Bless,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

New Passport Gender Guidelines

The State Department just released a statement yesterday ( about its new policy about the gender marker on passports being issued. It's huge news in the transgender community, and could be the first and largest domino in a chain to revise Draconian gender marker policies.

Until July 10, the policy for determining the gender marker on passports will have been that the passport holder must have a letter from a surgeon for SRS (sexual reassignment surgery) before applying the gender-appropriate marker. The only exception was that temporary passports could be issued for an overseas trip to have the surgery performed. According to WPATH standards, a person must be living full time in their target gender for at least a year before having surgery. The price for a reputable surgeon costs anywhere from 16,000 dollars to 22,0000 dollars for male to female and female to male is even more expensive. Because of the mandatory time in the gender role, the cost of the procedure, unfair insurance practices to deny coverage, and the fact that the surgery is too dangerous for some people to undergo, transitioning women in most states are forced to live full time with the stigma of their prior gender marked on their identification--which is used for employment, housing, credit, law enforcement--and discrimination.

But the new change in policy will change the impact of the gender marker problem. According to the state department:

Beginning June 10, when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender. The guidelines include detailed information about what information the certification must include. It is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required. Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance. A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can also be amended with the new gender.

What this means, is that a person in transition will be able to obtain a permanent identification that can be used in all the above locations without a gender marker that flags them for possible discrimination and instead carries a gender marker that reflects who they are.

Essentially, a lot of the power of the state id's to enforce the gender identification of a transgender person to their birth sex, has just been stripped. And hopefully, the social security administration and other states will be forced to follow suit.

I should mention that the new policy goes into effect 4 days before my birthday, and since I'm planning a little month-long trip to Thailand next July...

I see my endocrynologist for a follow up the first week of August. I should show her this and ask her for a certification for having "undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition."

Hugs and God Bless,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dancing the Blues

The Blues Swing lesson and dancing after last night was incredible. When I watched the instructors demonstrate what we were going to learn that night, I thought that I was going to fail so miserably out of my league. As they performed a jump into promenade and launched into pivots, my heart just dropped into my stomach.

Oh well, I thought. I'll just try my best. After 15 minutes of review, we were taken through some exercises to prepare us for the sultry walk in closed position forward and backward across the floor. Having been taught proper compression, and constrained to my tight skirt, it actually wasn't too terribly difficult to wait for the lead's legs to lead mine as he took me backward, and to be drawn by the void trying to keep compression on his right shoulder as he stepped backward, leading me forward.

We rotated fast through the class, so that I wound up dancing with several guys twice during the lesson. The promenade kick turn was manageable, and before I knew it, we were doing pivots, which I have to say seems more difficult for the leads. When we put the whole thing together, everything felt so perfectly right. I had done it! I hadn't embarassingly failed after all!

I got my dances from my usuals, but in double and triple dose this time. No one was embarassed to dance closed with me.

When I had left one dance partner on the dance floor, saw adorable Dan dodging around the crowd looking for a new partner, turned and walked toward my seat with my back toward him, he coyly came around my left side and sprang into my path putting his hand out for a dance with the cutest grin on his face.

Sly Jim had already led me through blues swing without telling me when he took me to the floor over the last few months, which became ever so obvious as he snagged me for the last dance after I changed my shoes to go home.

For the first time that night, during intermittent East Coast Swing, I not only nailed the double outside turn, but I also got that left knee up on the dip.

Tomorrow night is the second half of my weekly two-fer. Dan's teaching lesson number two of basic East Coast Swing. As I take the formal classes after so much floor time, I'm finding that it pays off in a smoother dance.

Tonight is for solitude. I have a few contacts to make to try to get two more greeters on the schedule, send out the hospitality reminder for this Sunday's team and maybe get past page 50 of Five Quarters of the Orange.

Hugs and God Bless,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


And she struck at me clumsily with one clawing hand, almost losing balance, stubbing at the path with her stick. I ran then, turning back only when I was well out of range, ducking down beside a stand of red currants, to watch her staggering toward the house, dragging her feet in great loops in the dirt behind

- Joanne Harris, Five Quarters of an Orange

Sometimes, somebody hurts so bad they lash out at the people they love, and when that happens repeatedly, the best thing to do is duck out of sight until they have enough room to let it out and cool off.

This morning, I checked my voice mail, expecting to hear more vituperous speech. Instead, I heard a rapid, "Good Night, God Bless You. I love" So I guess it's safe to come out of hiding now and give her a call tonight around bedtime.

Some people believe they have to suffer abusive relationships, feel they're worthy of the invectives and treatment stemming from the other person. Sometimes they take the punishment passively as a punching bag, while others jump in the fray, toe-to-toe, scream-for-scream.

How you deal with a situation that cannot be escaped depends on the individual situations and requires careful consideration. But if you can leave the abuse, then do so. Get away. No one deserves to be treated as something to heap insults on or as a punching bag.

Well-intentioned people do bad things, say bad things when they are hurting physically or emotionally and feel pressured to do something. If their pain is unacknowledged, the adrenaline running through their bloodstream can cause them to overreact in their effort to be understood. Words are often said that burn indelibly in another person's psyche, only to be thrown back out when they are hurting.

I escaped for a moment last night. It was hard, but it was worth it. While I escaped, someone showed me a little bit of pole dancing, which I have always wanted to try, and I made new friends in a place where people are often used and taken for granted. Yes, there was one person there who wanted to use me, but I easily deflected his attempts to get too close.

I'm a bit light on sleep today. Tonight is Lesson #2 in Blues Swing dancing at the Riverbend Winery and I'm looking forward to it. Last Thursday, Jim told me my dance is getting much smoother, and I felt a secret thrill. I have been trying to be an honest follow, and if my lead accidentally sends the wrong signal or fails to send one, I'll attempt to somehow incorporate the flawed instruction. Hopefully, this kind of "no mercy" will actually expand their own repoirtoire with mine, leaving them thinking to themselves, I didn't know I could do that and boosting their confidence and skills.

Then, when my glass is dry, I'll go home, call my daughters and tell them, "Good Night. God Bless You. I Love You."

Hugs and God Bless,

- Sophie

Monday, June 7, 2010


I didn't set out to found a new transgender support group, even though I have honestly thought one was needed; but sometimes destiny does lie where passion, talent and needs meet.

Friday was my third attempt at just being there for local transsexuals to meet in Louisville. Once again, I took my book to the same Heine Brothers Coffee shop, ordered my small coffee, picked out a comfy chair and began to read.

At about 8 PM, a man stepped up, asked if I was Sophie and introduced me to his girlfriend. As we began to chat, Nikki showed up and we had to move outside where we had more tables to put together. It was nice on the veranda, and after several false starts I finally detailed what I thought were the support needs for people who transition from one gender to another and which ones were not being met by local groups. I did seem to get consensus with my observations that therapist-moderated support group meetings and agenda-free get-togethers in various public places in the greater city were needed. We had also decided that we were going to spin off a new group to meet these needs. I tentatively suggested the name Transcenders, and it seems to have stuck.

The remaining hour passed quickly and soon it was time for us to head back to our individual homes. We gave each other hugs as we planned to help look for venues for the support group meeting and meet this coming Saturday for a Potluck Picnic in Iroquois Park.

Saturday, when I went to the store wearing only lip cream for makeup, I decided to go ahead and make the switch to the cheaper mineral powder foundation. It's too hot for Dermablend, and after 5 laser treatments, the thinner foundation looks more natural on my skin anyway.

That evening, I drove to Lexington to meet with TransKentucky. As we were breaking up to head out for dinner, I wound up in a conversation with the beautiful Ms. Shandy. I was enthralled with her appearance and speech, and it took everything I had in me to tear myself apart after at least a half hour to catch up with the rest of the crowd that was surely by now eating at a local restaurant.

My daughter called about halfway through my dinner, and I was so happy to talk to her, until she hung up with, "Good night, I hate you." It so broke my heart I couldn't eat one bite more. I had already told the waitress that I thought I didn't need a box, and so I had a bit of difficulty getting her attention because I had changed my mind. If there's anything I regret about transitioning, it's that my baby can be so callous.

Sunday morning found me serving coffee, because the person who was scheduled to do it had spent the last week with someone who had an emergency run to the hospital for an emergency bypass. In situations like that, I have no problem just going ahead and covering for them.

I was so exhausted after church, that I decided against going to the Monkey Wrench for Open Mic night and took a 2 hour nap instead that turned into a 3-hour nap. At least I was fresh and ready for laundry, and once I had everything in the washer and pulled out my book to read, I realized that I had left my reading glasses at home. I watched the last half hour of Kick-Ass playing on the laundromat screen, sucked into the unexpected drama at the end of the action film. The next half hour was just an incredible bore with some para-military movie playing that I didn't want to watch, until my laundry was done in the dryer.

When I got home, it was so stifling hot that I had to open the windows. I started the oven warming for dinner, grabbed a chair and took it outside to my porch. There, I was joined by my upstairs neighbour Kim and a couple of her friends, chilling before they headed off for karaoke. All the girl talk we shared was rather pleasant. At 9, I called my daughter, got the answering service and left a message. About 10 PM, I headed inside and soon had a call from my daughter, who once again broke my heart when she called, this time criticizing me as "the worst father in the world" and saying that I "don't love children."

Sometimes, this is just so hard to take. I don't think I can answer the phone in front of other people when she calls any more, because I don't want to ruin their moment by being reduced to tears.

When I got to work, I noticed an email from my counsellor saying that she had narrowed the venue for group therapy down to about two locations, had an evening time in mind already, and was just unsure what day to hold the meetings.

As my wife was telling me, we can't have everything. We have to sacrifice some things to have others. It seems so horrible, though, to be able to live at peace with myself, I have to sacrifice the love of my baby daughter.

Hugs and God Bless,

Friday, June 4, 2010

Time to Get Serious...

...about reducing my arm and shoulder size. If I can seriously tone my muscles in those two spots, they shouldn't scream male anymore. Hormones isn't doing it for me, so it's going to take a lot of work.

Muscle is hard to reduce. From Googling, it looks like I'm going to have to do the absolute reverse of what I did to bulk them up in the first place almost 20 years ago. Back then, I focused on the slow-twitch muscles with high weights, low reps, rest and calories, preferrably protein.

It's a lot more work going the other way, on the slow-twitch endurance muscles. I am going to have to get some light-weight dumbbells, do two sets of 80-100 reps every day with two minutes in between each set, avoid protein for 3-four hours after each workout, kicking off with sugar product and preferring carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit. Then I am going to have to add a daily cardiovascular boost, which will probably leave me starving. I am going to focus on how much better I will feel when I am lighter on my feet, and how I'll be able to reduce my blouse size to a 12-14 when I need one with sleeves.

My routine will change in the following ways, starting tomorrow morning:
  • Up at 5:30 AM for weight-training for 15 minutes (2 sets of 80 each of bicep and tricep curls with low weights)
  • Out the door at 6 AM for jogging in good weather. Do trampoline exercises inside for inclement weather.
  • Fruit breakfast at 6:30 AM before hitting the shower and resuming my old routine.

Hopefully, that should do the trick.

Hugs and God Bless,


Note to a Younger Sophie

There seems to be a new trend and it seems to be therapeutic. I have seen a number of posts on the concept of "Note to a Younger Me," so I thought I would give it a try.

So now the trick is to pick which younger me. Which one or ones would listen to what I have to say? I might have to drop several notes along the way.

Let's start with Kindergarten. When the scene closes in, there's a little boy who decided to play hooky after recess instead of just going into the class room so that he can walk the board on the ground that the girls had just been led over by the teacher as a balance beam. He's a little scared, so he carries a stick he has picked up on the ground. Perhaps he reached down and picks up this note I would leave behind:

Dear Bobby,

I know how frightening it must be to have to be with the boys and not be allowed to do things with the girls anymore. There's no one in the bushes ready to jump out and beat you up. Carry the stick if it makes you more comfortable, but you won't need it. As you look into the trees and the blades of grass, be happy for who you are, and instead of running away and pretending to be tough to everyone, be really courageous and talk to your teacher. Tell her in private why you played hooky instead of keeping it a shameful secret.

Don't be afraid to like things, even if they were meant for girls. And you don't have to let people tell you how to feel. Your feelings are your greatest treasure, there's nothing wrong with them and you will come to find there are other people who have had similar feelings.

Don't be afraid to share your feelings. It's okay to not like things and to like others. Mommy and Daddy will love you no matter who you are and want to know what you are really feeling.

You have a heart for peace, love and joy. Don't let anybody take that away from you or encourage you to cover it up.

Love courageously and speak the truth. It is who you are and will be. You may not know it now, but there are going to be people watching you throughout your life, and they will take heart by the things you do, the examples you set, because they appreciate how different you are

But most of all, don't feel sorry for yourself too often, because you will inevitably cut yourself off from people who will come to love you. It is this act of sheilding yourself from others that will create an intense loneliness if unchecked.

And even if you do feel like a stranger in a strange land, in reality you are not alone. When you have difficulties trying to be a boy, knowing you should be a girl, help is really not that far away. Don't be afraid to tell someone. Mommy will listen. Your teacher will listen, and some people may not believe you. But you know the truth.

Be true to yourself.

Love from your future self,


Thursday, June 3, 2010


I saw something amazing happen this Sunday, and I'm hoping we can keep the energy going. Due to the miscommunication of who was going to greet and serve coffee, it seemed the very congregation of First Unitarian was welcoming everyone who walked through our doors. Not just one "Good Morning," and "Welcome," but countless. When someone entered, they were immediately included!

But the hospitality didn't stop there. When our ushers asked others to sit with the newcomers so they wouldn't feel alone, the members didn't hesitate in bestowing geniality.

I know a little of what our guests felt, because that atmosphere, that excitement, that radical hospitality to make people not only welcome, but valuable and includable is what sold me on the small congregation I attended in Fort Worth, Texas, a congregation that has had to start doing two services, because fellowship is not perfunctory, but a genuine expression of love.

My friend and other guests were overheard to say they "loved it!" And I loved that they loved it, and Sunday's congregation is responsible for their joy!

I may be a little bit selfish in my thoughts, but I would love to see this repeated every Sunday morning.

Now that I've seen that we have so many greeters who warmly greet from the heart, I'm hoping that this month coming up, many of them will sign up so that we can maintain a full staff.

True hospitality is not a chore, but a service that transforms both the giver and the receiver.

Contrast that with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and why they decided to oust Royal Lane Baptist Church of Dallas:

"I think where we need to draw the line is when ['practicing homosexuals'] are elected to a leadership position," said Leonardo Diaz, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista in Hitchcock, according to the BGCT.

-- Audrey Barrick,
In the same article, Audrey states the vision of Royal Lane:

Royal Lane Baptist Church describes itself as "an inclusive, multi-generational congregation" and "a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds."

The congregation affirms "the sacredness, dignity, and equality of every man, woman, and child and honor each individual’s freedom to worship God and to respond to his or her unique call to ministry and service."

Sam Hodges of the Dallas News reports,

Doug Washington, a Royal Lane deacon and BGCT executive board member, spoke against the resolution at the meeting in Northwest Dallas. He said the church has two gay deacons, and he praised them as outstanding leaders.

"To say something is wrong with them is to say God made a mistake," Washington said. "I can't buy into that."...

But he said Royal Lane, which has about 500 members, will not be threatened by losing BGCT affiliation.

"I think we're stronger than ever," Washington said.

The church also has been dropped by the Dallas Baptist Association. That group's board passed a resolution Monday, saying Royal Lane has "affirmed a doctrinal position regarding homosexual behavior that is not in harmony" with Baptist beliefs and practices as derived from the Bible.


Is it any wonder then that the Baptist congregation has lost a third of its membership? I would much rather attend a church where I was allowed inclusion than one where I was merely "welcomed."

I was just nominated this week to be a "loving steward" on the Chalice Night Team, to keep Chalice Night, a weekly religious and humanitarian education venue, going. I was nominated by the Membership Ministry Chair, who is one of the founders of Chalice Night, because, as greeting coordinator, I make an effort to make sure everyone who walks through the door of our church is included. Known as the "door lady," I am always holding the door open and trying to make personal comments and greet people by their names when I remember them. I have filled this role two Sundays a month and one extra time last Sunday because it was the 5th one for that month. It has been said that I should teach everyone, not just the greeters--but the whole congregation, how to greet.

And perhaps, now that I'm on the board of a vehicle where that can be done, I shall.

Hugs and God Bless,