Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Importance of Support

Donelle was not post-op. I personally believe that someone going through the transition process needs to have close contact with support psychologists. The argument of community support presupposes that counselors are available and being used. But unfortunately, just having counselors is not enough. Having a supportive family environment lends to the emotional stability and the groups that I mentioned in my previous post are creating allo-families for their members.

When it comes time for surgery, before the counselor writes that letter of approval, she needs to do her best to make sure that all the co-morbid conditions have been addressed, and that the patient has learned how to deal with the issues in a healthy way. I met one girl in Thailand who didn't seem at all ready, really seemed to lack compassion for others and everything was all about her, that everyone should do the same things she did.

All of the post-op women I have met have issues, but none require seeking continuing psychotherapy, with the exception of the one I just mentioned. What they need is to exchange experiences with other people in the trans community. What they need is family.

There are some who after surgery want to hang on to the trans label for the rest of their lives--and that is a personal decision that should be honored. I don't consider myself transsexual anymore; I consider myself an ally who has been there. Unfortunately, I had to label myself as a "post-operative transsexual woman" when reporting a Ross store manager to corporate over an incident that happened last weekend in order to be completely honest. He has been disciplined, but I don't know the extent of the discipline and whether it was satisfactory or not.

After standing up, reporting him, contacting the local trans activists and encouraging a boycott, I had an emotional meltdown on Tuesday. I began to fear that all other people saw was a man in a dress and I was deceiving myself to think otherwise. I reached out to my friends, 2 natal women and a long time crossdresser. First was my best friend and then a woman I know in the complex while we were hanging out at the pool. Finally, Deborah came over as usual, and I was completely over the meltdown, since she has only ever pictured me as a woman.

I didn't turn to Deborah first, because trans hurt. Trans was the source of pain. I turned to my women friends that accept me as one of them first. I needed to feel beautiful again, and they helped.

Then, yesterday, I started cramping. I didn't have an estrogen injection and thought it very ironic that the android app for menstrual cycles said it was the day I was supposed to ovulate. Meanwhile, the support staff from Dr. Suporn has been suggesting that my cramps are psychosomatic.

I had never heard of anyone cramping every two weeks before and I decided to look it up on Google. What I found is that 1 in 5 women suffer from ovulation cramping that lasts anywhere from a few minutes to one day. I was dearly hoping that it would last only a few minutes. But what I didn't understand was how I could be having ovulation pains when I don't have ovaries. And what I found was interesting. The pain is usually caused by the fallopian tubes contracting after the egg was released, that it is possible for women to have cramps if they have only had an oopherectomy (the ovaries removed). The pain was finally gone this morning.

So I have learned 3 things:
  • My psychosomatic condition is pretty accurate with regards to things I don't know about.
  • The frequency of my cramping is not driven by estrogen levels in the bloodstream, but is on a hard-wired clock, occurring every other Wednesday.
  • The intensity of the cramping, on the other hand, seems to be positively correlated to the amount of estrogen in the blood.
I am on a temporary overdose of estrogen. A couple of weeks ago, my estradiol count was 748 on a scale that only goes up to 500, because I was still taking bi-weekly injections after surgery. I am now waiting until a full 4 weeks between injections, and letting the estrogen starve slowly out.

But today is my birthday, and I haven't figured out what I want to do yet. So far, I'm just hanging out.

Hugs and God Bless,

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Tragic Loss

The number one danger to the transsexual, transgender and intersex communities is ourselves.

This morning, my companion got a call that a member of the community was dead and went to go visit her room-mate. Deborah Dean is the founding director of Engendered Species in Salt Lake City, Utah. The room-mate had found her friend, Donielle, dead from a gunshot wound inflicted to the head when she returned home yesterday morning.

The reason I am telling you this story is that I don't want it repeated.

Many people here in Salt Lake City will miss Donielle. She was active in the Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus and Republican Party. She was also an active member of Engendered Species, a local support group founded by Deborah. She was going to host the group's 4th of July party tomorrow at her place. Instead, the community has been left shocked.

Only she knew the real reason why she made this tragic decision. As many of us realize at some point in our life, once we start letting ourselves free, it is like an addiction. We can't get enough. Just like alcoholics, it is an addiction that is hard-wired into our brains. Unlike alcoholics, however, the real danger lies not in giving in to that desire, but suppressing it. A caged lion, once it has tasted the open air has an addiction for freedom. How so can we not let ourselves become whole-spirited people contributing to make the world a better place? The giving in to the addiction of the journey is an edifying experience that makes us stronger. It's an addiction to being healthy.

Donielle also lost her job. Losing one's employment brings with it many stresses, such as the struggle to pay the bills and the loss of one's identity. As people in transition we must transcend these and work together. At one point when I was laid off, a friend who was still in the closet suggested I submit my resume to her place of work, and I ultimately did—but after she had temporarily moved to another state. Building and using a social network, we can help keep our sisters and brothers employed, and housed in between jobs. We can pass the torch from one to another to keep our home-fires burning.

There were many who have given her support, and that support has kept her with us longer than it would have been had it not occurred.

I am so proud of Transcenders Global Social Support Network, Wasatch Trangender Front and Engendered Species for what they are doing in the community.

I am seeing both TGSSN and WTF coming alive in their memberships with people posting what's on their minds and getting immediate support. Keep doing it. By helping others over the rough spots, you are building each other up and developing friendships that will last a lifetime.

If you have something that you need to say, please keep sharing. And if you feel moved by what someone else has posted, please keep responding.

This is our community, and I am so proud of it.

In a couple of weeks, I plan to start serious discussions in the Salt Lake City area of how we can reach out to find and support others in our community who need it.

Hugs and God Bless,
Sophia Jean Hawes

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Youtube Videostar

Are you a Java Developer with at least two years experience? Are you looking for a great company to ply your skills? wants you. Act now, because positions are limited.

The day after I returned to work, Tuesday, the 21st, there was a message in my inbox looking for Java developers to help with a video for recruiting. After thinking about it, I replied, not knowing if I would be granted any lines at all; but knowing that I did my part. You can never succeed without trying.

So that Wednesday, the day I had originally planned to return to work,  I did my makeup and hair to the best of my ability and showed up for the shoot between 11 am and 12 pm. We were given some example lines to stir what we wanted to talk about, and I let everyone else be taken off one-by-one until I was the last one to have a turn. I had listened to the people coming out, learned that the video was expected to be extemporaneous and had worked out what I wanted to talk about before I went in, inflections and all.

When they came for me, they announced that they had "saved the best for last." I put my paper down with the bullet points on it, and stepped on the pieces of the tape outlined on the floor while they adjusted the camera. Then I was asked to talk about Java as a unified experience. Like modeling, I was told to stand in a certain location, hold my head at certain angle and look in a certain spot. After each retake because my focus drifted, I would involuntarily back off the markers and had to be prompted to step back on. Once I did that line, I was asked if there was anything else I wanted to add. I looked at my paper, and we repeated the process again for my next two lines. When we were done, I went out on a team lunch celebrating a recent release.

On Wednesday, I heard a voice pass my cubicle, saying "Good Job on the Widea, Sophia." At least, I thought they said "Widea." My coworker asked me if I had heard my director tell me I did a good job on the video. I couldn't figure what he meant. So I did a Google video search for "overstock java" and was floored when I watched it. Not only was I in it, I was featured.

The next day I was flying high as a kite, despite experiencing menarche in the morning (I almost totally freaked out at that); that is, until some rather deprecatory comments were posted that moved me to tears. Once I had composed myself enough to at least leave, one of my coworkers responded by posting a defense and lambasting the cruelty. Another coworker, the one that made and posted the video, disabled commenting on it. That is total acceptance.

In addition, the CEO of the company would have had to approve the video. Overall, this can't hurt my chances at a shot at a promotion in the next few months.

Hugs and God Bless,
Sophie Jean