Standing on the outside looking in ~ a TDoR post

It’s been suggested to me that this would be an appropriate post to cross-post from my blog. For those unfamiliar with great Australian rock bands, the title is a Cold Chisel lyric.

Somehow I let this slip by (TD0R is Nov 20) despite the fact that I read some related posts from other bloggers. Given how much I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon (transgender or GID) this year, I wanted to acknowledge the day. This year I think that some people who are transgender have taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. And it’s going to sound ridiculously simple in my head as I type it, but here goes: We don’t need to understand something to accept it. Continue reading

To My Family and friends

Dear Family,

I wanted to take a few minutes and fill you in on some important information about some changes that will be made in the near future. I will change in some ways, but I will always be the same person. These steps I’m taking are very important for me. I do wish there was an easier way to move forward, but I have not found a better way. I have come to terms with this after careful research, analysis and professional guidance. I don’t take this lightly, I’m more informed then I ever was, and feel stronger than ever that I’m going in the right direction.

If you’re wondering what this is all about. I have Gender Dysphoria (DSM IV code is 302.85 or GID) I am a transsexual. In short. Since I was 5 years old, I have known that I was special and that there was something different about me. I always felt I was a girl, but my body did not match what I felt.

Because of the sex marker on my birth certificate I had to behave a certain way, feel a certain way, be a certain way. Since I was little I always was mindful of the mundane thing we all take for granted. How I stood. How I sat. What I wear. I’ve always been mindful of my interactions with others, and that I was not to femm. I just wanted to blend in to society. Which I did! GID has been crippling at times and I needed to stop fighting this and take action.

What does all this mean?

Well first off it will mean a lot of changes down the road for me and some adjustments at home. I’m working with therapist on the GID issues and have been in a semi-active transition the last 10 years. My first major goal is to live fulltime as a women. I have been making some advancement in that area and expect to start living fulltime within the next 2 years. I have been on hormones for over a year now and have had changes that are becoming noticeable (In the website links, I list a few sites that cover many of the changes you can expect). Some of the changes I make in the future may seen drastic, but I’m taking all this very serious and am under professional supervision. Eventually I will also change my name to Michelle. This will involve a lot of legal paperwork to change the drivers license, birth certificate, exc.. But it will be a necessary thing for me to do to live fulltime.

You may ask why I am doing this now. Well I guess I didn’t have the courage and understanding I have now to face this head on. As a child I never knew that there was anything that would ever help. I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, but I lived with it. I dealt with it daily. Until I was about 30 I thought there was not much I could do about all this. I always thought that all this would go away. But what I found as I got older it became more of a burden in my life. 10 years ago I started to learn about the research studies and finding many transgender friends I began to see a rainbow lighting the sky for my future. But still, I didn’t have the courage then to go fulltime. I do now! I know that this will never go away and I know what I need to do to be the best person I can be to my family and I. Transition!

I know that to some of you, this may have be a shock. But rest assured, I given this VERY careful thought. I have also talked with Vicky and the kids a lot the last few years about it and I currently have their support. I’m sure that you may questions for me. I will answer any question that you may have, so feel free to ask.

In closing, I’d just like to I’d like to quote a good friend of mine: Abigail Jensen

“In my experience, sacrifice of my own truth only leads to pain for everyone … not just me, but everyone. There is unquestionably much pain that comes with transitioning, but it is the pain of stripping away the illusion of who we are not, to find the truth of who we are. Painful as that might be, finding and living our truth (whether that includes transitioning only you can decide) offers the only chance that we and those we love can grow to know the truth about ourselves. And only by knowing ourselves can we, and they, find the peace, love and joy we all deserve and desire.

Websites

Here are a few sites that will provide plenty of information.
Dr. Anne Lawrence’s resource website
Understanding gender Dysphoria
International Foundation for Gender Education
Gender Identity Research and Education Society
Crissy Wild’s Medical Links

Transition at work, the dilemma

I know that most of the readers here have their own issues with transition at work, one of the more tricky parts of transition.  My particular situation is a bit complicated.  As most of you know, I came out to my boss around the middle of June, and he was supportive of my issues.  I told him at that time that I would eventually tell everyone else that works there, the other 5 employees.  And, as you know, I did tell them toward the end of July.   Now, everyone at work knows about me and I’ve been relaxing a lot more and not trying to hide the transition developments at work, they all seem to be OK with it so far, but they haven’t actually seen Amber fully yet.  After my appearance at the theater and the resulting fallout, I’ve been a bit more cautious about pushing my transition at work.  The problem is that our customers don’t know about me, and if the reaction from one of the workers at the theater is any indication, some of them would not want me to come to their place of business as Amber.  The other problem is that our business depends on the relationship with our accounts, they can go to another company like ours any time the want to, there’s plenty of competition for the business.   So, if I cost us an account because of my transition freaking out the owner of the business, the company I work for loses money.  Not good for my job.  The boss says that he’s supportive of me and my transition, but if it affects his business, the bottom line becomes more important than my transition, or my job, probably.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

If I transition at a natural pace, as my body changes, people see it and deal with it.   Of course, that takes just short of forever.   If I just start showing up at the accounts presenting as I would choose to do, I risk damaging the company’s income, and thus, my job.   I think about this a lot when I’m working at a place that I go to enough that they recognize me, how am I going to deal with things like going to the ladies room at the place, when they knew me from before the change?  That may be the biggest issue, even if my new appearance doesn’t freak them out.  I haven’t come up with a workable solution to all this yet, short of getting a different job where I can start as Amber, and that’s really impractical and unlikely at this point in time!  What’s a middle aged girl to do?

Mercedes Allen responds to accusations of scaremongering

On a post to her personal blog, and cross-posted to Bilerico and Transadvocate, Mercedes Allen reflects on the responses to her original Uh-oh post, including several that have been reported here and elsewhere.

I and others have been accused of scaremongering in the ongoing debate(s) surrounding this issue. Dr. Forstein has some excellent points for us to examine. Some of the other aspects and debates, though, I still stand behind.

Mercedes goes on to respond directly to Henry Hall’s comments:

Henry Hall accuses me of scaremongering with regard to my concerns about removing any diagnosis of GID from the DSM, without some better model to replace it…
…I am not fearmongering: I am saying, don’t cut the trapeze rope until we know that the next bar is within reach.

She also acknowledges the importance of Dr. Marshall Forstein’s statement by saying:

I can admit that my own personal panic led me to overlook the fact that the DSM itself does not recommend treatment. I was wrong and my inexperience got the better of me. This is not a small point, and we need to take some comfort in that. Scaremongering? Perhaps, though not intentionally.

Read Mercedes’ thoughtful and comprehensive response here.

Educating the World – Person to Person

I had a rather cool experience recently which showed me how small the world is – and how the right approach can cause people to be accepting even when you don’t expect it. My friend Abby suggested I share it with you all.

It all started one day at work – I was at lunch with my boss, co-worker G. and my trusty retirement-age volunteer worker D.

G. was talking about practicing guitar with his Tucson-based death metal band the night before and his musical history and aspirations. After some time, D. said to G. “You don’t happen to know a musician called something Blackstone, do you?”

G: “No, I don’t think so…”
D: “I forget his first name… something beginning with B…”
Me: “Bruce, perhaps?”
D: “That might be it. Yes, because the interesting thing about him was that he was in the paper recently…”
Me: “Oh, yes – I know him.”
D: “Yes, the paper wrote about him – he came out as a cross-dresser. So, how do you know him?”
Me: “Um… oh, the paper my husband worked for wrote an article about the band he is in…”
D: “Maybe that was the article!”
Me: “Oh, no… you read the recent one about the IFGE conference. The other one was back last year some time.”
D: “Oh, okay. Anyway, he does wonderful cabinetry. He did our whole kitchen. Very nice guy.”
Me: “Yes, he is.”

And that might have been the end of it. Except that, of course, it wasn’t. On reflection, I sent this email to D. after he’d left for the day:

You might be amused by this video that a friend of ours made, interviewing Bruce right after he’d talked to the Arizona Daily Star reporter

D. only volunteers for us one day a week, and he didn’t return my email, so I was a little apprehensive going in to work the next Wednesday. As I was walking up from the parking lot, I saw him, and he stopped to wait for me to catch up. He had a broad grin on his face and the first thing he said to me was:

“Thank you for that video link you sent me with Bruce in it. We really enjoyed watching that one! Yup, that’s our Bruce!”

I felt so happy to have been a part of helping educate the straight, white middle-class neighborhoods of Northeast Tucson!

On hearing of the reaction of D. and his wife, Bruce said:

Thank you for letting me know about [D. and J.] They are repeat clients of mine and great people.

Since I am becoming more and more out, I realize that eventually the knowledge of who I really am will inevitably creep into my work life sometimes. This has caused me a little bit of concern because I am self employed and loss of income can be frightening … so far as I can tell there have been no consequences to my business by my being out. So , thank you for letting me know about [D. and J.] – it’s also good in that [they] are now far less likely to have a negative reaction to other trans people.

The message I hope to get across is that it is truly worth it to share your true selves and those of your friends with others, even if you think they may not be accepting. Their reaction will often depend upon your demeanor as you talk to them. I tried to be as matter-of-fact as I could be, presenting the fact that I knew “that side” of Bruce as perfectly normal and natural. Whether you are yourself transgendered, or a SOFFA, you have a role to play, large or small, in educating the rest of the world.

Another Humorous Moment in the Life of a Transsexual

I don’t know about you but I always smile to myself when people are surprised to learn that I am a transsexual. One of those moments happened this morning.

To keep my doctor (actually, she’s a nurse practitioner, but who’s quibbling?) happy, so she’ll continue to prescribe hormones for me, I needed to go to the local medical lab to have blood drawn to check my estrogen level. (I know, I know, there is no research to support the use of hormone levels to determine the optimum hormone regimen for a MTF transsexual (like me), but my insurance covers the cost of the tests and it keeps Carol, my NP, happy, so what the heck, I do them.) Also, when I saw her last month, she also did a complete physical exam. As part of that process, she also wanted to check my PSA (prostate specific antigen, a marker for prostate problems and, thus, a male only test). So, the order she wrote for my blood tests listed only 2 items: estradiol and PSA.

I knew before I went into the lab, which is mostly staffed by women, that there might be some questions about why I would need my PSA checked, especially when the only other test I needed was to check my estrogen levels, which, of course, is normally only done for females. I am fortunate that, in most situations, I am perceived as a woman, and not trans, so there was little chance that the people at the lab would figure out on their own how someone could possibly need both tests.

So, I dressed in my normal feminine way, grabbed my purse and headed to the lab. When my name was called, I handed the woman behind the desk my lab ID card and the test order. She looked at the order and kind of muttered, “Is this right?”

I said, “Yes, it is.”

She looked very confused and said something about having never seen “this” before, obviously referring to the odd combination of tests. She then picked up the phone, said, “I need to check this,” and began to dial.

At that point, I decided to relieve us both of any more confusion and said to her, “I’m a transsexual.”

Her only response was to say, “Oh,” and hang up the phone.

Hoping to be helpful, I then added, “So, I still have a prostate that needs to be checked.” I also agreed with her that the order asked for a pretty unusual set of tests. To her credit, she didn’t seem embarassed or disturbed by my revelation. Instead, she simply directed me back to the first open booth, and, since this is a small lab, came back and drew my blood with no further comment, other than to admire my bracelet.

It’s always interesting to see how people react when their assumptions about who I am are shattered by the news that I’m trans. Thankfully, in my experience, most people are simply surprised, and not disturbed, by that news, so it simply becomes one of those humorous moments in life when we get to see that things aren’t always what they seem to be. And, since I am trans, it also becomes a brief education in the fact that transsexuals exist and aren’t really any different from anyone else.

(Reposted from my personal blog.)