Friday, October 29, 2010

No Finite Answers

I have always felt that chemical engineering was one of the best backgrounds for a business career, because both the classwork and the required thesis teach you one very important lesson: There are no finite answers to many questions.
-- Jack Welch, Jack

As I complete 6 months post transition, I realize that the last couple of weeks and the weeks to come hold memorable events. From wearing purple on October 20, an invitation-only prescreening of "She Was My Brother" on Wednesday, and engaging group therapy discussion yesterday to dressing out for Halloween today, getting my picture taken at a local studio in costume with a friend, a Halloween music festival at my church tomorrow and hosting trick-or-treaters Sunday evening.

My thesis for my Master's degree was more about trying to find emerging patterns in the presence of uncertainty. What I learned is that the patterns that are learned are not always true patterns, though they seem to hold true for a time. It is the things we have not experienced yet that hold the key to finding true patterns. We must always be ready to adjust our patterns when they no longer fit new information.

Looking at the photos I had taken today, and walking through my FaceBook photos to the earliest photos I kept of myself prior to starting hormone replacement therapy 2 1/2 years ago, and I am amazed. Laying the latest photo to a crossdressing photo from the Summer of 2007 looks like two completely different people. The neck muscles are greatly toned, the cheeks and dimples are more refined. My natural hair just feathers in and looks a whole lot better than my wig did.

I was filled with so much uncertainty, yet I was certain that I would never pass as a woman. The testosterone had belatedly shaped in ways that I could never recover from: large neck, shoulders and arms; a chin and nose line that didn't seem to be feminine in the slightest; a bushy unibrow and a persistent beard; and a bald spot forming on my crown.

Somehow, someway, I started drawing stares and comments today; but that's only because people admired my costume.

Wednesday night, I took advantage of theater night to slip into my purple dress, and apply evening makeup that I hadn't tried for months. It was an invitation-only event to certain members of the LGBT community to experience a drama based on two Victorian anthropologists experiences with a Lhamana (two-spirit person of the Zuni tribe in New Mexico).

Loosely based on these historical facts, the play was 90 minutes without intermission, and cast transgender people in a good light. After the performance, the Playwright answered questions from the audience. Miraculously, the real Me'wha, whom the character Lhamana was based on, eventually traveled to Washington, D.C., where she passed as a natal woman with everyone she met. The presisdent of the U.S, just remarked, "They sure do grow them tall out there." At 5 foot 10 to 11 inches, I have found a hero in Me'Wha.

At the support group meeting, I realized a couple of things. First, I can never forgive my father for trying to toughen me into a boy. I still love him, but he owns that sin not me. From what I knew about him before, and what I found out later about his own battles with trying to be a man, he should have tried to get to know me better, to understand me, instead of rough-housing, yelling and trying to get a testosterone rise out of me. When I did eventually respond, not only the physical pain, but the emotional pain of being forced to act in ways I felt uncomfortable left emotional scars. I harbor no ill will, even though he's been passed away for almost 12 years; but he owns that hurt, and not me. I also know that it's okay if I never forgive him. It's not always healthy to completely forgive and absolve someone of the pain that they have inflicted.

The second thing I took away from the support group meeting is that it is quite possible that my ex-wife will never forgive me for the betrayal that she feels that I am guilty of. It is her right to be unforgiving of me, as much as it is my right to be unforgiving of my father. I have no right to demand that she forgive me for my actions as she sees them, and, consequently, I shouldn't be compelled to try to force her forgiveness by making her see the "light." It's her right to withhold forgiveness, and I'm okay with that.

I had so much more I wanted to squeeze in here, but after a long chat with a friend in Texas, for whom I mistook deep friendship signals for romantic interest, I have decided that this is enough to ponder and digest.

Hugs and God Bless,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tired of the BS

I filed for divorce June 24, 2010, after agreeing to a peaceful settlement and going step by step through the settlement agreement--twice.

After 60 days, after the 23rd of August, I notarized the agreement and mailed it to my spouse, who didn't like what we agreed on. Taking into account her demanded changes, I notarized the new copy and waited to mail it to her when I got to Salt Lake City. It's now a month after that, I have been sending child support and agreed upon expenses since August, and because my pay dates have changed to the 5th and 20th from the 1st and 15th, she accuses me of not sending enough, "pushing it out," and she hasn't signed the paperwork yet, because she wants "to get a lawyer to look it over."

I want to scream. I want to shout. I want to hit something. I just want to go to bed and forget about it. I definitely don't want to talk to her anymore.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

Something was going on inside me, something I refused to look at until the weekend our older daughter, Laura, came home from college. When we went to visit her dad in the hospital, she got behind the wheel and I slipped into the passenger seat with a sigh of relief. 
-- Linda Weltner, No Place Like Home

There's something about that moment, when after a period of time in which what you feared would happen never did, that brings a sense of relief. We don't usually notice the anxiety until it's gone. In fact, the loss of old anxieties can in some ways prepare you to deal with new ones. There's that moment before we get wound up in the new set of stressors that we can just breathe, if only for a moment.

I felt in between, neither male nor female, before I started hormone replacement thereapy. While my anatomy seemed to indicate boy, I knew I wasn't really like the other anatomical boys running around. There propensity for pecking orders and dominance was something I could never understand.

I also knew I wasn't a girl, at least I couldn't see myself chattering about babies, clothes, makeup and playing house. But living as a boy, I was always curious what it would be like on the other side.

In a way, I was lucky. I did fairly well as a man, even though I found the whole concept of man as difficult to wear as a lead suit. I tried body building and just couldn't maintain interest for long in any kind of involvement in team sports. I closed up around guys, and made very few friends.

I did well. Even though I had a difficulty adjusting to my genital in my adolescent years and beyond, I lasted until my 40's, before I began to just not be able to function as male anymore. I knew I wasn't male. And my toying with the idea of being a woman finally began to emerge as a possibility.

Did I have any clue then that I would feel much more comfortable being a woman? No. Did I know the amount of discomfort and how dysfunctional my social skills were? Well, a little. But it didn't erase the fact that I felt  like I was a blank slate as far as gender identity was concerned. I didn't know if I was a man or a woman at 42 years old.

After some experimentation taking on a female persona, I found my social dysfunction starting to ebb. I began to worry less in the new persona, and as the anxiety of looking like a crazy fool were dispelled by the people who came to know me, their expectations of me as female fueled a new spiritual growth and I began to more fully identify and feel comfortable in a female persona. My inner woman had been starved, while my inner man had failed to thrive.

The conflicts this opened became intense, since I was married and had two young children. Fervent prayers and begging for signs seemed to always point in one direction. My male days were coming to an end. Of course, this was not good news to my wife, who saw my energies become more selfish and pushing me to keep going one step farther. The mental shift happened rather abruptly, as I finally accepted what I was and what I had to do, being accelerated by hormones and being in the presence of people who saw me as a woman. My mind settled in on the fact that, whatever it was before, it was now female.

So I am simply transgender, right? Actually, no. You see, this whole time, since I hit puberty, I couldn't ejaculate unless I let go of the male image I was forcing on myself until I allowed myself to feel a female image. The sex of my brain was hooked up to imaginary female parts. I thought that was not significant enough to spend the money on SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery) and as I became more comfortable, it became easier to transition socially and then finally at work. And I began to fall in love as a woman.

It became predominant in my mind that I can't love someone the way I am with male parts. I want to love them with female parts, no matter where they lie on the gender spectrum, and I realized that I have always felt that way.

But having now worked for two employers, both very accepting, I have lost one of my primary fears--that I would be unemployed. And through my church, I lost another--that I would be unaccepted. And finally, I lost the fear that I would be unloved, and now for the first time in my life, I feel comfortably alone and not lonely, though I will not reject love if it shadows my door.

So I can breathe a sigh of relief, even knowing there are some things that still need tending to. My iron count is high and my doctor is, hopefully, scheduling a phlebotomy. I need to see a financial manager to severely deplete my retirement savings to pay for the SRS and the plane ticket to get there in a few months. I am having severe premenstrual sysmptoms like clockwork every 28 days, including nausea, dizziness and lower abdominal cramps that keep me in bed all day, even though I shouldn't have a uterus to cramp. But I remember telling my wife before I started hormones that I seemed to have a monthly cycle, and called it a male period (I never asked another man if they suffered the same thing).

But yet, my total anxiety is low, even though I have old bills still to pay.

Home is the place where you feel comfortable being yourself. Perhaps, I have finally found home.

Hugs and God Bless,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TSA's Response

I received a response from the TSA today; however, they completely dodged my question about their proposed SecureFlight system supposed to roll out on November 1:

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) policy for screening transgender travelers.

TSA develops requirements and policies for the security of the Nation's transportation systems. The primary purpose of passenger screening is to prevent or deter the introduction of deadly or dangerous items into an airport secured area or onboard an aircraft. TSA policies and procedures focus on ensuring that all passengers are treated with respect and courtesy and every Federal screener receives training on professional conduct. In addition, TSA's Office of Civil Rights and Liberties ensures that TSA screens all traveling persons equally, without regard to a person's race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender.

Passengers may be directed for additional screening if the information on their identification (ID) does not match their appearance; if the name on their boarding pass does not match a valid, Government-issued ID; if their clothing is loose fitting or large enough to hide prohibited items; or if the Transportation Security Officer (TSO) cannot reasonably determine that clothing is free of any detectable threats. Passenger may also be chosen for additional screening on a random basis.

Passengers may wear whatever clothing they choose when approaching the screening checkpoint, but enhanced security measures require that all passengers remove outer coats and jackets for x-ray before proceeding through metal detectors. Passengers that alarm the metal detector will be required to undergo additional screening. Passengers directed for additional screening may undergo hand-wand screening and/or pat-down inspections. Passengers may request the screening be performed in a private screening area at anytime. TSOs are instructed to honor a passenger's request.

If additional screening is merited, the transgender passenger will receive screening by a TSO of the same gender as what the passenger presents himself or herself to be. If a passenger chooses to have additional screening done in a private screening area, a traveling companion is permitted to accompany the passenger during the private screening. If the passenger refuses additional screening, they will be denied access to the secured area.

For more information on the screening process, we recommend that you visit our "For Travelers" section located on our website at This information is updated periodically.

Thank you for contacting us.

TSA Contact Center

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Flight Restrictions Specifying Gender

I sent the following question to the Trasportation Security Administration today:

How are full time transgender people supposed to specify their gender when flying?

Most states still have very restrictive regulations, requiring costly sexual reassignment surgery prior to changing the gender marker.

It is also a WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) requirement that if the individual elects surgery, and more don't than do, the person electing the surgery must live full time in the new gender role prior to the surgery.

As a transgender woman, living full time in my preferred gender, I need to know what to report as my gender when I book my flight to get surgery, to travel across country on business or for job interviews outside my current state.

My gender is female. My driver's license is marked male. I should not have to present as male just to take a plane ride.

On behalf of myself and my fellow transgender human beings,

Sophia Hawes

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Puzzling Reactions

My memories of the previous night were jumbled but clear enough to understand, from Evening's last frantic phone call to being ordered away by the Queen of the Mists, the discovery of the hope chest, and my bargain with Tybalt. It was the Queen's reaction that puzzled me the most. Evening's death was a mystery and a tragedy, but there was an answer waiting there for me to find it; the existence of the hope chest told me that, if nothing else. The Queen's response to her death was another matter. I could have understood shock, sorrow, or even anger at the messenger.
-- Seanan McGuire, Rosemary and Rue

It was bound to happen. I was warned by several of my friends who went before, but I still find it hard to believe. When I first transitioned in Louisville 5 months ago, I shifted rapidly to all skirts and more femme, even though I was planning to half-and-half between skirts and slacks.

As I looked in the mirror today, after putting on my forest green button-up blouse draped over my jeans in preparation for going to The Paper Moon tonight, I noticed I was settling for less femme for going out clubbing. I haven't been to this lesbian club, yet, so I don't know what the moderately femme expectation is. I know I'm dressed not too differently from the majority of femme lesbians in Louisville or Fort Worth. I am bringing my dress and makeup along, just in case the wardrobe expectations are a little higher. It's supposed to be eclectic dance night on Saturdays, so it seems like the ideal time for me to introduce myself.

The other significant change in my attitude is that I'm not lonely. I'm open to love, but I'm not craving a companion, craving someone to hold me and touch me as I did almost the entire time I was in Louisville. I'm home, I'm alone, and I'm fine. Perhaps, it was the anxiety combined with the hormones that left me aching for someone's lap or shoulder. Perhaps, it was the fear of ultimate rejection that made me look in people's eyes for romance. Perhaps it's because people are so friendly here.

I seem to have reached a point where I'm comfortable just being me.

There is, however, one thing remaining that makes me feel uncomfortable: feeling like I have the wrong genitalia for a relationship. Whether it's with a woman or a man, I want to love them with a woman's parts and not a man's.

That being said, I have a tentative surgery date now set for May 11, which is 7 months and 2 days away, having arranged to send my deposit to the office in Thailand. My next steps are to arrange to have retirement funds rolled over into an IRA, so I can book my flight to Bangkok. The cost right now is 1,020 US dollars. Then comes getting my passport and visa, if necessary.

Monday afternoon, I have a visit with the person who is to be my primary physician in Salt Lake City. I found her through my insurance, and called the family health clinic which is her office. I spoke with the receptionist, and because I want to see the doctor to check my iron levels, she started asking if I wanted a referral to an endocrynologist. I told her about the endo I was seeing in Louisville, and when she asked why I was seeing her, she asked and I told her why. She assured me that I was not the first person of my type with her, but I might be with the doctor she assigned me to. She also asked if I was wanting the doctor to handle my hormone treatments.

In the end, I was scheduled for a physical Monday afternoon. I was asked if I wanted to have an internist do it, or a regular doctor. I decided I wanted a regular doctor to do it, at least for now.

Hugs and God Bless,

Friday, October 8, 2010


Better remember how to put everything back how we found it!
-- Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

As I found the end of the line and began to lie down in black in front of the LDS offices last night with thousands of other people on a chill night, I reflected on the events that had brought me to this point.

I got an email from Peter on Wednesday, reflecting on how well our conversation after church went. He went on to state as "just a gay man," he felt concern for the hatred directed at fellow human beings--a hatred that was designed to infectiously poison the soul, honestly felt by some to be salvation, completely ignorant of what scientific research has shown us to be true.

Doesn't the book of revelation state that there will be false prophets, who will turn the people's hearts against the teachings of the one known as Christ. Is it a coincidence, therefore, that the leadership of the Mormon church are known by its clergy as prophets? Is it also a coincidence that they are teaching that people cannot trust how they are created and can evolve beyond homosexuality? But psychologists agree that self-repression is only a temporary cure and can lead to inability to grow spiritually.

Peter's email told me that a rally was being organized to protest the ignorance spouted by the LDS prophets. We were to meet at the park across the street from the temple grounds about 7 PM.

When I finally got to the location, I had to park up a hill on State Street, where I had difficulty parallel parking the car and wound up leaving it on the curb. As I walked down State Street toward S. Temple Street, I joined a lesbian couple walking down the hill, introducing myself in our short journey together.

We parted ways at the park, where I looked for Peter, moving closer to the center of the immense crowd of thousands to more clearly here what the speaker was saying. We were there, gay, straight, lesbian, transgender, and of all faiths to send a clear message to gay LDS youth: that they are loved and supported in the very heart of South Lake City, home of the LDS Church. Instructions were given out, the police were thanked for their support, and we crossed the street to the temple to lie head-to-toe, the chill wind blowing.

Many people began to walk around us, some carrying signs, while passer-by honked there horns in support, sending up cheers from the human chain.

Eventually a second ring formed, but as people began to have to move for fear of hypothermia, the first ring joined the second. After about 30 minutes, we heard someone loudly proclaiming thank you, the ring dismantled and many people remained talking, deciding where to spend the rest of the night. I went back to my car, and unable to hold my bladder in the icy cold winds, I had to make a call of nature by the right rear tire.

As I drove home, I saw the hundreds of people still milling around the temple and let my GPS navigation system on my cell phone take me home, refelecting on the fact that I have indeed found the LGBT culture in Salt Lake City, and it's alive and vibrant. I am looking forward to getting to know many of these people over the years I will be here.

To the gay and trans youth: Know that you are loved, and don't forget to be proud of how God made you.

Hugs and God Bless,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Outings Rethought

As soon as I saw them in the lobby, I realized my mistake. They were looking at their watches, holding hands, then looking at their watches again. Their glance up at me was quick, perfunctory, and when I got into the car and sat in the back like their sullen teenage daughter I could see that this was not an outing I should be on.
-- Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs

I had made plans to find a local lesbian club to better integrate into the community. It was to be my next step to building my support safety net--but I changed my mind.

I am alone, but not lonely. I don't have a craving to have someone right now (although I did have a craving for sticky sweet chicken when I gave myself my estrogen shot yesterday). I need to get in touch with the trans community here, but I'm procrastinating--and maybe that's best.

I have been stealth for two weeks now. If anyone at work besides the human resource department knows I was not born female, they haven't even dropped a hint. I'm just the new girl. And I have already shown in this last week that I can program as creatively and and efficiently as the guys. I finished my task for the two-week period plus two more. I literally ran out of things to do.

Robin gave me 2 boxes of soup, a mug to heat it in and a crock pot, simply because she first wanted to apologize for some mood she thought she was projecting and then just to make space in her own pantry. She had even loaned me 5 unsolicited dollars to have enough gas until payday on Friday. Fortunately, I didn't need to use her money and returned it Friday once I was had my last check from my last job. We have become office buddies and lunch partners as we walk each day to the cafeteria for a salad.

Filling up Friday morning, I went inside the 7-11 to get a breakfast item as I usually do when an older male clerk suddenly took over the register from a younger woman as I walked up to the register. I was dressed for the first time for work in jeans and a subdued black and white top, my long sleeved shawl on top; so I was surprised when he brightend up, started telling me how I made his day and told me I had such a beautiful smile. When he tried to run my debit card, the pump locked the transaction out, forcing me to hang up the fuel pump.

Back inside, as I walked up to the register, with a big smile, he asked to see my smile again. Handing me my receipt, he made sure to lingeringly hold his hand on me, and told me to come again. I told him, "Probably in a couple of weeks."

"You promise?" he asked, as he gently let me have my hand back.

At work, one of my team members accepted a promotion, and we all went to lunch to celebrate at The Bohemian, a German restaurant not too far from my apartment. I, of course, wound up settling for the Reuben sandwich with garlic fries. We had a couple sides of hugs onion rings served with a thousand-island like dressing.

Yesterday, I was just sleeping in lethargically, until I gave myself my hormone shot. My stomach started to turm right away. As I was contemplating a mood change in the next few minutes, I began thinking of orange chicken, like you might have at a Chinese buffet. Those thoughts plagued me for several hours until I finally stopped by Panda Express on the way home to get my sticky sweet chicken.

Meanwhile, I got a new Android phone at Verizon, cancelling my AT&T service, since AT&T had pushed a Windows Mobile Update that killed my phone. Now I'm on a new phone with a new OS and a new carrier, but my number's the same.

My next stop was Ross superstore. I missed Ross when I was in Kentucky. I have always gotten really gret clothes at Ross for incredibly cheap prices, even though I have to browse the racks for what few items are in my taste and size. I settled for two long burlap-like skirts, one a size 14 in brown and the other a size 12 in black to replace the two torn silk skirts, one of which was torn in a small conference room by the tray for a dry-erase board. I also picked up two button-up business blouses to replace the blouse that started to lose its sleeve during my interview. One of the blouses is a lime green and the other is forest green. They both accentuated my figure really well and looked fantastic with the skirts. The total cost for two business mix-and-match outfits was 51 dollars before tax.

Back home, I copied important contact information to my new phone, let everyone know I was reachable again and had and hour-and-a-half phone call with my youngest daughter, killing both of our phones.

This morning, I sat with Peter during church, listening to an author tell about writing "the perfect story," followed by beautiful music and storytelling performed live in our church by Irish singer, songwriter and storyteller Celia. The music was incredible, and her stories rapturous. She was still entertaining the children when I left to come home.

Please be sure to thank Amy, who guilted me into writing this week's entry, because she told other people that it's an example of a great way blogs can be used to keep in touch with friends who have moved and was handing out the URL.

Hugs and God Bless,