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A Son’s Perspective

Hi Everyone,

As many of you know that follow my blogs, I’ve talked about the support I’ve had from my kids and wife on my transition. Well, a while back I had asked my son if he would mind writing something from his own perspective on the news of me being transgender. He told me that he would not have a problem at all doing that. I explained that there are many views on this topic and I would like to share his view. So without me getting long winded I hand over the podium to my son Ryan. Continue reading

“Pregnant Man” – Who Should Care?

Note: this blog was in part inspired by Helen G’s blog Pregnant man is pregnant which I did reply to. I did use that reply as a basis for this post. But as usual I had more to say. 🙂

I watched the 20/20 episode on Thomas Beatie tonight (thank goodness for DVR) and I have to comment on some of the things that were discussed. First off, I’m glad that the baby does have parents that love and care for this child. I am disturbed by the lack of caring and hatred shown in some of the messages sent to Thomas and his family, wishing death to him and his family. HOW DARE THEY? Why do people insist on judging what they themselves do not understand? At least do your research before you dare to put any judgment on ANYONE. Continue reading

From the NY Times: The Sea Horse, Our Family Mascot

I just came across this article, which struck me both for the personal connection between writer and subject (as twins) and for the complete open-mindedness and lack of judgement in it.

My twin brother, Eli, is jealous of sea horses. They are the only animal species in which the male gives birth to the offspring. Male sea horses have brood pouches where the female deposits her eggs. The eggs then hatch in the father’s pouch, where the young continue to live until they are expelled into the ocean after strenuous labor that can last several days.

Eli is a transgender man, and lived the first 20 years of our lives as my fraternal twin sister. I have plenty of memories of my twin as a little girl, as Emma, not Eli. More often, though, my memories adjust to represent Eli as I know him now, as my brother.

I am fascinated to read of how the desire for biological children is quite uncoupled from gender identity. I hope that one day Eli will find happiness as a parent.

Read the full article here.

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

Children as a Weapon

Here is something I wrote on my personal blog, it is something I felt was important and needed to be shared here as well.

I have been thinking about children and transition again. I wrote about this before after I had read a blog post suggesting that not telling our children right away can be harmful to them. In the last week I have come across a few other things that have bothered me. For those who don’t know much about me, I have two young daughters, ages 2 and 4. To say that the topic of transition and children is one that is close to my heart is an understatement. I absolutely adore my girls, and I would do anything to protect them from anything I think would harm them. I am not over protective, but I am protective of them. They are part of the reason I left law enforcement, I want to be there for them. The other reason I left was because I could not go on being Mr. Macho anymore. Two years later, I came out and started transitioning.

Anyway, back on topic here before I veer off into a whole other topic. There were really two issues sets of circumstances that I read about. One involved a friend whose spouse insinuated that her being trans might be turning one of their children trans. The other situation involved some saying that they stopping transition, and putting it off until their children were grown. The reason being that their spouse and family said it would damage the children.

Both of these situations bring up some very strong feelings in me. In both of these situation, it feels to me that the children are being used against the transitioning spouse. Anyone of us who have children know how strong the parental protection instinct is. We want to protect our children, and we would never do anything to intentionally hurt our children. Our spouses and family know these feelings and emotions too. In some cases, they try and use these against us. After all, I doubt any of us would do anything to intentionally hurt our children. I know that I would not.

Why do family members do this? I think part of the reason is because of the strong emotional bond. The fear of losing our children. Many people hold off transition until late in life because of their children. I am in no way saying this is a bad choice. It is, however, not one that I can make. I have, in the short time since I came out and began transitioning, witnessed my children flourish even more. They are happier, more self confident, more loving, and just seem better adjusted. They do not yet know that I am trans, but they do know that I am happier and that I am more involved with them. I am no longer distant and depressed, I am now more fully engaged in life.

Some family members see children as a means to stop someone from transitioning. They fear losing the person they have known their whole life, they fear the transition process, they fear transsexuality, in short, they do not understand. I have heard time and time again how well children handle transition, especially when the non-trans parent is supportive. The difficulties arise when that spouse is negative and actively and outwardly resists the transition. In these cases, the non-trans spouse often tries to put the children between the trans spouse and transition. They use the children as a weapon against transition. The fear of the unknown can bring out the worst in some people.

I don’t know if there is an answer to preventing such reactions. Education is certainly a start. There are several resources about children and transition, such as:

http://www.colage.org/programs/trans/kot-resource-guide.pdf

http://community.pflag.org/NETCOMMUNITY/Page.aspx?pid=413&srcid=380

I think that any person who is contemplating transition, and who has children needs to be prepared. There are going to be enough fears about losing “you” and those may end up being projected onto your children. Be prepared to talk about the effect it will have on your children. My spouse asked me how I thought it would affect our children. I told her that I believed it would make them better more accepting people. That they would understand diversity more fully and learn to judge people not for how they appear, but for who they are. Not transitioning would have meant years of depression for me, and this would have not only taken its toll on me, but it would have had a negative affect on my children as well. Our children don’t care how we look, they love us for who we are. Why not let them see more of who we are.

The Courage to be Me

Here is something I wrote on my personal blog. I thought I would share it here as well, a few of my thoughts on transition and courage. I believe, as a community, we display unparalleled courage and conviction. It is part of what carries us through, and it is this community that helps prop us up when we feel our courage falter.

The idea of courage was one that haunted me for many years. For years and years, I longed to transition, but always felt that I did not have the courage to go through with it. When I heard of or saw post transition trans-women, I would think to my self that I wished I had they courage that they did. I fretted about courage while navigating a pretty successful career in law enforcement. One moment, I was chasing down known violent criminals, putting my life at the risk, and that night I would fall asleep ashamed for not having the courage to be me. I spent many years trying to reconcile these two seemingly opposing expressions of courage.

When the time came to transition, when I reached the point where I had to make a decision, I realized that it was not a lack of courage that kept me from transitioning. I had the courage to do it, to make the change, and yet I was still afraid. It was not society that I was afraid of, not my employer, but rather I was afraid of losing those close to me. I was concerned about what they would think. All my life, I had repeated a cycle of living up to the expectations of others, all the while failing to live up to my own expectation. It was not courage that I lacked, but rather I denied my own ability to stand up for myself, to put my needs before the expectations of others.

This was not an easy leap to make. While I appeared outwardly self confident, inside I was constantly worried about what others thought about me. Not only wondering if what I was doing was good enough, but fearful that someone would see through me, see that I was not what I presented as, see that I was trans. I was worried about passing as male, even during the years when I had all the physical and social attributes that made passing seem easy. It was the inability to reconcile my outward appearance with my inner identity that forced me to try and live up the the expectations that my outer shell created for me in society. Family, social, and career pressures. The kind of pressures that pushed me into a career in law enforcement.

Eventually, I left law enforcement. This was the first real move that brought me one step closer to transition. This was a kind of watershed moment for me. No other time in my life had I stood up for my self so fervently. I faced a lot of questioning and second guessing about my decision to leave law enforcement. But, this was the first decision that I truly owned. It was my choice. No one else made it for me, in fact, it went against the expectations I spent so many years living up to. It was a display of courage, a moment of self acceptance, a moment where I put myself before the outside pressures. I stood up to people I have never stood up to, in ways that shocked and surprised people. This change was not unlike the transition I am now going through, it strained relationships, some relationships that took a year or two to rebuild, relationships that I am still rebuilding. In many ways, transition in and of itself may set this rebuilding process back a few years, or it may help others to understand more clearly the decisions I made in the past. I believe it will shed light on who I am, why I did what I did, why I was the person that I was, it will explain me more fully to those I know. For almost everyone I know, it was really be the first time that I am truly able to be me. 

Does it take courage to make this step, to begin the journey of transition, to see it through to the point where one is living a life that is more true and genuine that they lived before. You bet it takes courage. The courage, though, is not necessarily the courage to face the world in a new gender role, though that is difficult, the courage is the ability to look deep inside yourself and be one-hundred percent true to yourself. The courage to cast aside the real and perceived expectations of those around you, and put your needs before the needs of their expectations. Going out in the world in a new gender role is certainly a process that creates fear and apprehension, but at this point, I am more afraid of living the rest of my life in my assigned gender role. Now, I can fall asleep happy that I am being true to myself, I no longer have to fret about my perceived lack of courage. I found my courage. We all have it in us. Have you found yours?

Children and Transition

This is a blog entry from my personal blog.  Lori had suggested I cross post this entry here. I am glad that she suggested that, it has been some time since I posted here. Thanks for the suggestion Lori, and the wonderful comments. 

I felt compelled to write about a topic that is rather close to my heart, children and transition. I was reading a blog on Yahoo 360 by a friend from the 360 community, Stephanie, see it here. I must admit that I had a very defensive reaction to this posting when I first read it. I hold nothing against Stephanie, I just feel the need to assert my view on this topic. In her blog, she basically questions the decision to withhold information from children during transition, stating that,”There should be no secrets in a family.” 

   Before going much further, I feel that I should give a little background on myself. I came out almost five months ago to my spouse, and I have two young children, both under the age of 6. When I came out, I knew that it was only going to lead to one place for me, and that was transition. For me there is no middle ground. I cannot live part time in one role and work in the other. I have lived my whole life knowing where I was supposed to be, and, since figuring out that transition was possible, I have known that transition was something I needed to do. Yes, I tried to avoid it, through love and other means, but those paths led me to the place I am at now. 

    Now that I am beginning my transition, I have to manage the flow of information about my transition to avoid it getting to the wrong people at the wrong time. Only a very few people know right now, and those are the people who I trust, and who I know will absolutely keep my confidence about what I am going through. There are others who I feel similarly about, but I am still working up the courage to tell them. Others, I feel, will spread the information faster the Paul Revere on a midnight horse-ride. 

     Now for children and the blog post I am referring to. Stephanie is right that children are extremely perceptive. They can sense when something isn’t right or when someone is keeping a secret. I have witnessed the power of children’s perceptions and how they can sense emotions and feelings. One of the most powerful ways I experienced this was on Sept. 11, 2001. I went to my sister-in-laws house that morning on my way to work. My niece, who had just turned one, came up to me right away, and instead of just giving me a quick hug and going about playing, she gave me a long tight hug. This was not just a happy to see you hug, this was one where I could feel that she knew I was upset, and she just held on until I thanked her and told her I felt better now. I was not crying at the time, but I was upset, and she sensed this and did the only thing she knew she could do to try and help. 

    When transitioning with children, we have the added burden of trying to determine the right time to tell our children. Depending on our family situation, their ages, spousal situations, and a myriad of other factors, the “right time” or “best time” to tell your children carry vary greatly from one person to the next. For many of us, if our personal and professional lives intertwine to some extent. Children tend to be pretty honest, and trying to get children, especially young children, to keep secrets can be extremely difficult if not utterly impossible. If information gets out to the wrong people at the wrong time, it can damage personal relationship, work environments, family relations, or other sensitive areas of transition. 

   Do I think that it is good to keep secrets in a family? No, I don’t. I love my children dearly, and I am very honest with them. However, I have not yet begun to tell them about who I really am. My clothes hang in my closet right along side my boy clothes, but they don’t question it. I have also seen no negative effects from my “hiding” the fact that I am transitioning and going out in girl mode once a week. In fact, since I came out and began my transition, my children have become more loving, more affectionate, and more confident. It seems that my being happier and more content has carried over to their own personal sense of well being. Because I am more confident with myself, they are no longer affected by my hiding my true self and the struggle that accompanied it. 

    I think that this brings me to a point that has come up a few times for me recently. That point being about what is the right way to approach any part of transition. Simply put, there is no right way. There is no right time frame, no right hormone regimen, no right surgeon, no right path to transition. There is only your path towards becoming your true self. I appreciate hearing from others about what has worked for them, why they liked a particular physician, why they chose to do things the way they did it, or their general philosophy on transition, but we must remember that we all have to do what is comfortable and right for ourselves. The journey of transition is about discovering yourself through your own personal journey. We are fortunate to have a diverse community with many stories of transition, let’s continue to share those stories, and not judge those who take a different path. I could never spend the rest of my life living as Kathryn but working as a male, yet there are those who can. I do not judge them. We have a community because we need support in a society that judges us and does not understand us, let us not judge each other and let us continue to give each other the support we all need to make what ever transition we choose to make.

I must be crazy!

That’s what keeps cycling through my thoughts as I get deeper into the “trans land of no return”. In the last few weeks there’s been a series of small but significant things that I’ve done for, or with, my transition progress that I can’t “take back”. Things like telling my boss about my GID and that I’m taking certain drugs to deal with it, or showing Amber to my daughter (finally), or this morning, telling my boss that I’m going to have to tell my co-workers about me pretty soon because my changes are starting to get more noticable.

Scandalizing the neighbors with my “dual appearance” out in the yard seems to be a non-issue for me now. The first couple times I went outside as Amber had me thinking I was nuts, but, “I got better”

I had some serious “I must be completely crazy!” thoughts after my last laser treatment, it was really painful!

Sometimes, when I look in the mirror at my changing body and face, I can’t help thinking “what the hell am I doing ?” Last weekend, I was looking at Amber in the mirror and I had that ” Oh my God, I’m actually doing this, I gotta be crazy!” moment.

Last Tuesday, I filed the paperwork at the county court house for my official, legal change of name and all the way through the process I just kept thinking “I must be crazy!”

I really knew that I’m crazy when I went to get fingerprinted at the State Police post for the necessary background check required by the state of Michigan for a legal change of name. The officer was built like a linebacker and had an attitude, especially after looking at the copy of the the paperwork and reading where you have to list your reason for wanting to change your name. He was professional about it though, I’ll give him that much. This guy probably has twice as much mass as I have, and none of it was fat, from what I could see. Can you say “intimidating”? Yes, to put myself through that, I must be nuts!

Fear has a strange effect on the mind, especially fear of the unknown mixed with fear of the bad things that you do know about. It tends to make me think I’m completely crazy for starting, and more importantly, continuing transition. And yet, through all this, I keep going down the path of transition. When I get really freaked out by it, I pull myself back to reality (is this really reality?) by reminding myself that I’ve been wanting this for 30 years! Doing it IS different from wanting to do it, much more intense!

To be honest, up to this point, I really haven’t had many of those bad experiences that other people have with their family, friends, and work. My divorce was tied to this, but she had been cheating on me for 4 years. Yes, I must be crazy for putting up with that for so long. I was dumb, I kept hoping things would change. Anyway, up to this point, that’s the worst thing that’s happened because of my transition. I’m sure there’s more to come, I’m not full time yet, and going full time tends to change things, when it becomes real to everyone around you.
Yes, I’m pretty sure I’m completely crazy!

Oh ya, almost forgot, I just HAD to shave my legs this evening before I could go to the grocery store wearing shorts. How crazy is that?

Review: “My Secret Female Body” on BBC America

Having reviewed “Transvestite Wives” earlier, I felt it was only fair to give a similar treatment to “My Secret Female Body”, another in the ‘Reveals’ series that premiered on BBC America on June 22, 2008.

This documentary focused on a twenty two year old transman, Danny. From the BBC America web site:

Born as Katie, Danny has been living as a man for four years and has had male hormone injections every two weeks for a year. Now, at 22, Danny undergoes a dramatic surgical transformation, which physically changes his body from female to male. This documentary sees Danny embark on the first stage of this irreversible procedure – a double mastectomy, followed by complicated penis surgery.

Like “Transvestite Wives”, Danny has an amazingly supportive girlfriend who loves him in his pre-op body, and is fully behind him in his decision to undergo SRS. We also get to hear from Danny’s mother (“I had a wonderful daughter, and now I have a wonderful and happier son”), sister and best friend who talk frankly about their initial misgivings and current acceptance. There’s very little discussion of social intolerance – just a couple of anecdotes about altercations “down the pub”.

Much of the focus is on the physical transformation. We see Danny’s doctor administering his testosterone shot, and discussing the bodily changes these have already brought about. We’re also there for Danny’s first consultation with the plastic surgeon who will be doing his top surgery. A note to sensitive viewers – although BBC America did blur out some visuals, probably to bring the show into line with American censorship guidelines, there’s still plenty of detail to the scenes in the operating theater and the descriptions used by the doctor made me squirm just a little.

When the surgical results are not as perfect as they could have been, the viewer is spared none of Danny’s anguish and emotional turmoil. At the end of the hour, we are left with the impression that there is no fairytale ending for Danny and his girlfriend – and yet Danny’s life is clearly a happier one even though he faces more procedures in the future. Just from watching his face as he listens to his friend discuss how his new phallus was fashioned from forearm grafts, we can tell what’s on the horizon for Danny…

This documentary is highly recommended for any FtM pre-op transsexual who is considering the next step. It doesn’t sugar-coat anything, but still manages to convery a message of hope.

For those of you with access to BBC America, this will be shown again as follows:

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM
Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 1:00 AM
Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 5:00 PM

“Transvestite Wives” will also be shown again on Sunday, July 13, 2008 at 6:00 PM, if you missed it the first time around.

I said, go away sunshine

Mom ended up asking me to send the letter, anyway, but, I had scrapped the original this morning, and ended up sending this instead.

Sorry, but I am not going to send that letter. But I will say this much….

The fact that (brother) and I are at odds is because of his actions and words he has directed at me. His saying he would have me arrested if I attended the family reunion last year. His calling me a liar, and a narcissist are other reasons why he and I are at odds. The fact I was told to not contact his kids is yet another reason. His actions and feelings towards me are not your responsibility. He’s a big boy and no one else can tell him what to do or how to think. You did a good job in raising us with the values we needed and then it was up to he and I on how to implement those values into our adult lives. I am in no way saying that I mastered all those values, either.

I never expected you to be June Cleaver or Carol Brady, but I do wish we could have been closer to the point we would have shared more with each other, emotionally speaking. All those times I went straight up to my room I wish I would have instead gone to sit by you and hold your hand and tell you that I loved you. I wish I would have told you how confused and depressed I was. You had a lot going on in your own world and I incorrectly assumed you didn’t need to hear my “feelings” because even to me those feelings were seriously enexplainable and I thought they would eventually go away. It is painfully clear to everyone now that those feelings stayed and continued to grow stronger.

There were signs of my struggles, perhaps. I spent a lot of time in isolation in my room. The nights I spent out on school nights. The days I missed completely or partially from school, especially my senior year. I barely graduated on time with a 2.0 GPA and if I hadn’t passed government class with a D- that year I wouldn’t have even graduated. It’s not your fault I abused alcohol and drugs to the point of being high almost all the time. Before or after family gatherings I would smoke pot so that I could make it through whatever thing we would have going on at the time. When I was maybe 16 or 17 I remember passing out drunk at the kitchen table with you & (step-dad) sitting there only to find you both gone when I woke up. My plate still sitting there. Sure, I was a good enough kid I guess, but, even the good ones make poor judements. Not everything is just “a kid being a kid”.

When (step-dad) and (brother) would go at it I would sit in my room crying my eyes out swearing that I would never allow what I said to get me in trouble like that. I refused to allow my speaking up to result in being whipped with the next limb off the tree. For pete’s sake I was nearly whipped just for sniffing too much. Bury my feelings is what I learned from those days, but, anything that gets buried so deep still has a good chance of rising to the surface eventually.

I will never again make the mistake of presuming how you may feel, Mom. From where I stand I have only assumed that you are not interested in anything I am doing here in Columbus because of the fact everything I do revolves around me being Karen M. Patrick.

Is the idea of me living as the person that gives my life purpose and meaning really so awful for you to not try and be happy for me? How I dream of the day that you and I can sit, hug and have a good cry with each other over all of what we have been through together, and seperately.

Mother nature is a mad scientist and I am merely the result of one of those experiments. My being the way I am today is not your fault, and I cannot say it clearly enough how you are not to blame for who or what it is I am. This may freak you out but as I get older I see more and more of you in me.

I love you mom,

Karen