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My Wife, Bob

My Wife, Bob

I often wonder sometimes how I would have reacted if the shoe was on the other foot – that being, that, if one night, my wife would have come to bed, got under the sheets and surprised me wearing Men’s Briefs and genitalia to compliment them. Could I be ok with that, if it were me?

Lets take it a step further and add in Male hormones, a boy hair cut, facial hair and she would now like YOU to address her, as “him” – a “man” named Bob.

I have talked with hundreds of M2F cross dressers and transsexuals, and one of the things that I find that most (but not all) have overwhelmingly in common, is that they identify as heterosexual, or Trans-Lesbian. I wonder how any of these people (or anyone, for that matter) would feel if their wife came home and said, “I think I am man”.

If you’re Transgendered, try to imagine for one second that your not. Now imagine your beautiful wife that you fell in love with – and all her femininity that balances your masculinity, is now being offset by her’s. Think about your first company picnic, where you bring your wife and all your co-workers and even your boss is first exposed to your “spouse”, Bob. Could you deal with having to be forced to appear as a homosexual Gay man?
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The power of friendship

I’ve been thinking about the subject of friendship and transition for a while now, but recent events and a few other blogs on the subject of friends that I’ve read in the last couple of weeks prompted me to write my own blog about it.

Early on in my therapy sessions, probably a year and a half ago, my therapist suggested that I should look for an on-line support group of some kind for people with trans issues, as there’s nothing anywhere near my area.  I ended up on CD.com, which was cool for quite a while, meeting on-line with many other people like me.  I connected with several other trans-girls there and eventually met with Teresa last year.  It turned out that we had a lot of interests in common besides the trans issues and we went to a couple of big events together, a civil war reenactment, and the big yearly airshow in Oshkosh, WI.  She went “Teresa-fied” as she called it, and I went in “dis-guy-ze”.  I learned a lot about confidence from watching her just be herself, and the best part was that no-one that we walked past or dealt with got weirded out about either of us.  No confrontations!   It got me to thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could do that also, and maybe it would even work out ok.  Fear has a way of slowing down the whole process of transition, so I wasn’t in any hurry to confront my own fears, but I now knew that it was possible.

Teresa was already in the process of attempting to sell her house in Traverse City, MI (an entire story by itself) and was looking into other places to move to, and my house was empty 4-5 days a week with me living at work so I figured “what the heck, she wants to get out of Traverse City, I have an empty house with 2 bedrooms, maybe she’d be interested in living there for a while until she figures out where she wants to go.”  So I asked, she thought it was a good idea and, in November of 07, we moved her stuff with a really big U-haul truck to my house, about 300 miles away.

It’s interesting how a person can slowly build up their courage when they have an example to follow.   For me, that’s Teresa.  She’s out there every day, just being herself, not having any problems with other people, just doing the stuff that people do, except she’s Teresa about 95 % of the time.

For those of you who’ve been following my 360 blog or hers, you’ve read about our various exploits together, with me pushing the gender envelope further and further until I could finally go out and be Amber in public.  At this point, I’m almost full time when I’m home (work is a different issue, LOL) and I intend to be full time, no exceptions, at home within the next couple weeks.   I’m waiting for my background check to come back to the courthouse so I can get my court date set for my legal name change, hopefully soon.  I’ve faced most of my transition fears, such as going to the bank, and the biggie, the bathroom, last weekend.  That’ll be part of my next blog, “the chronicles of Amber”.  The McDonalds bathroom full of women was a particular highlight of the weekend, talk about anus clenching adventures!  LOL

Anyway, back to the subject, friendship.   Never underestimate the value and power of friendship!  Come out of your shell and connect to some other people if you haven’t yet.  Find someone that you can talk to about your shared trans-issues, but also, shared non trans interests.  Hang out together, go share some anus clenching adventures of your own!  Start living again!  (and, no, I’m not talking about anything sexual, mine doesn’t work anyway.)

I can tell you that I know that I would not be where I am now in my transition if it were not for friendship!  Of that, I have no doubt!

Pretty/Handsome and A Little East Of Reality

I first came across the rumor of a TV show (based on GID) called ‘Pretty/Handsome’ buried in the comments section of the excellent ‘Being T’ (Thanks, Bitsy!). I was intrigued, but heard no more about it until yesterday when I was checking out the personal blogs of some other ‘Being T’ commenters and found Chosha, who had watched the pilot episode and reviewed it, and added some interesting thoughts and observations of her own on the topic of transgender:

In the end what I know for sure is that I don’t understand the hatred some people feel/show towards transgendered people. Even if you don’t understand it, even if it freaks you out a little, why does that translate into painting ‘die freaks’ on their house? (That’s what happened in the show.) ‘Freaky’ often just means ‘something I would never do’ or ‘something I don’t understand’ and that isn’t enough reason to hate on someone. It just isn’t.

I encourage you to go check out Chosha’s blog. I love how she’s taken up the challenge of educating herself on a topic in which, at first glance, she has no personal involvement.

And she’s a fan of the Riftgirl too! Yay!!

iPhone: It Brought Out The Muse, & Me

I like to stare out windows for hours at a time – I always have ever since I was a young child.

Here at my door is where I find inspiration looking at the same things I have many times before. The scene never fails to inspire me as it first did when I looked out, many years ago.

I use to muse for hours in the mirror at night too – trying to see the reflection of “something”. I never understood this and other day dream fascinations.

After many years, I finally understand what I have been looking for…

… a way home.

Yesterday when I took the photo above with my iPhone, I was thinking back to when I use to stand here at this door, and wish that I were a girl – Now, I am.

As of May 21st 2008, I became a fully Post-Operative, fully functional “woman” when I completed my Genital Reassignment Surgery with Dr. Suporn in Chonburi Thailand.

That’s right, I am a Transsexual. I was also born with a Chromosomal variation condition called Klinefelter’s Syndrome or (KS), aka: 47 XXY male.

There are many variations of Klinefelter’s Syndrome.
My KS variant is: “47 XXY Mosaic.

My Room – 2 Months Post-Op

On the surface, this picture may not be special, but it really speaks a lot about where I am at right now, being 2 Months Post-op from FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) that I under went from Dr. Suporn in Chonburi Thailand.

Here, I sit at my PC at night – Blogging, chatting or emailing online to friends, etc… anything to pass the time. It gets hard to sleep some nights. There is a lot of tightness in the scalp and temples. My head really itches everywhere, especially where they grafted in new hair (See photo notes).

This is my room – at least the clean part I am going to let any of you see right now. {giggles}

(Photo Above) Behind me is a long cork board filled with mementos from friends and people touched by my efforts from PinkEssence and my Blogs online. Thanks everyone who took the time – you’ve touched my life too. *sigh*
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Transgender Access to Health Care

I want to start off by just apologizing for being a little haphazard in my posting here. I am hoping to get on a more regular posting schedule. I have had a lot of different things going on, and I have had a lot that I have wanted to write about but little time to do it. I do appreciate those who have stopped by to see what is going on here, and I look forward to writing more and engaging in some discussions of the topics and issues.

I just got off the Town-Hall conference call with Donna Rose, Jamison Green, and Becky Allison. I thought it was a good start, and I hope there can be more opportunities for our community to come together like this. I think one of the major benefits of calls like this is the breaking down of economic barriers. Today’s topic was essentially health care, and underlying the need for coverage is the need to break down economic barriers. Far too many in our community are unemployed or underemployed. For many, making the journey to a conference may not be possible for economic reasons. Calls such as this will help those members of the community to be able to reach out and interact with the Transgender community at large. I think this will also be of value to those who may live where there is no trans community to speak of. 

Now on to the topic. I think most of us have heard about the AMA resolution in June and the WPATH statement in July. These were both significant statements. I would like to start with the AMA statement, which was actually three statements related to removing barriers to careremoving insurance barriers, and removing financial barriers. The one thing that struck me was the repeated use of GID throughout the statements. They did, however, reference GID as a medical condition, and referenced not only the DSM but also the ICD. Now, I was not familiar with the ICD until this evening. I would appreciate information about it if anyone knows a little more about it, and how GID is treated in the ICD. I think that it is positive that the AMA referred to GID as a medical condition as opposed to a mental disorder. I am curious about how this statement in conjunction with the WPATH statement and other papers could serve to help legitimize our need for treatment if GID were removed from the DSM.

I am behind Kelley Winters’ efforts, my only concern being that we have another avenue by which can can continue to gain the medical treatments necessary to transition. I know some have argued that they do not want to be medicalized. To those I would argue, how can one justify medical treatment in the absence of a medical condition. I want to be medicalized, I just don’t want to be pathologized. I believe that part of our process towards equal health coverage is strengthening the medical need and the recognition of GID in the medical community as a medical condition.

I rather liked the fact the the WPATH statement included things such as chest reconstruction and FFS. As Jamison mentioned, chest reconstruction is the only surgery that many FTM’s want at this time, and for many of them, this surgery is very validating for their gender presentation. The WPATH statement acknowledges that the path to transition is about more than GRS. There are other surgeries and procedures, which some consider cosmetic, that go a long way towards helping to affirm ones gender identity and help make a transition more successful and less emotionally painful (I think anyone who has been through laser or electrolysis knows these don’t reduce physical pain!). 

I think one of the most powerful things in this statement was the AMA’s statement of dispelling the myth that treatments, procedures, and surgeries for trans people are cosmetic or experimental. For us, these procedures are necessary for us to be able to live a life that is more genuine and more true to who we really are. These procedures reduce the emotional stress that can cause so many other health problems. When it comes to insurance companies arguing about cost, I have a few examples of my own situation. Prior to coming out and beginning transition, I smoked almost a pack of cigarettes a day and I was borderline high cholesterol. Within days of coming out, I quit smoking. I stopped cold turkey, now that I was on the road to being me, I didn’t need that crutch. I also changed my eating habits and reduced my stress levels significantly. I was no longer eating the bad foods we eat when we stress eat, fast food, high fat foods, high cholesterol food, you know that stuff that tastes so good but is horrible for you. Since then, my cholesterol is half of what it was before. Not smoking and reduced stress are also significant. Essentially, I likely saved my insurance company easily hundreds of thousands of dollars by transitioning. I greatly reduced my risk of heart attack and stroke, reduced my need for cholesterol and blood pressure reducing medications, slashed my cancer risk each year that goes by, and greatly reduced the potential costs if depression were to lead to suicide or suicide attempts and the related hospitalizations. You tell me, which is better. I think I would take the road of paying for therapy for a few years, GRS and a few other procedures, and HRT. Over my lifetime I bet that it will cost them a lot less then the bypasses and other procedures I was headed towards! 

Another thing I did take away from this was the need for education. Educating our employers, the insurance companies, and the insurance brokers that our companies deal with. There were several stories of brokers discouraging Trans benefits, or pricing them too high to be affordable. I worked in the insurance industry for a brief period of time, and when you are a smaller company, you have little or no ground to negotiate when it comes to benefits. It all comes down to what can I and my employees afford, and what do we have to give up this year. The education has to start with the insurance companies and the larger companies that have the negotiating power. If every company listed in the Fortune 500 index said we want full coverage for out trans employees, I am sure that the insurance companies would take notice.

I find it interesting that many insurance companies offer full benefits to their trans employees, and yet make it difficult and expensive for other companies to provide the same benefits. I wonder about the concept of creating an index that would measure and rate insurance companies not only on the benefits they provide their own employees, but also on how they make the same benefits available to subscribers. Imagine being self employed and having to shop for health insurance with trans benefits, I am sure that is impossible, and if possible prohibitively expensive. 

We need insurance companies to recognize trans benefits as a fundamental part of any group or individual plan. Spread over a sizable group, the costs are negligible. I believe one study showed that it was pennies per premium. I will find that presentation and post it later, I think it was from an Out & Equal conference. If this is part of every policy, cost would not be an issue, and we would finally have equal access to health insurance and the procedures that we need. 

I look forward to future calls, and the discussions and actions that they will generate. There are a few things out there that are dividing some of us, we need to concentrate on many of the things that bring us together. We will always have differing opinions on how to tackle a particular issue, but I think we need to respect the diversity of opinions in this community. We are an educated community, and we need to realize that there is more than one way to approach an issue. Good night to everyone, and hope to talk about some of this more.

“Ma’am” fallout

Earlier this week, I blogged about getting my first intentional ma’am from a sandwich maker at the local Subway.  The interesting thing is that I wasn’t trying to “pass” at the time.  If you’re interested, you could read about it on my 360 blog, including a picture of me wearing what I wore into the Subway, I had Teresa take the picture when I got home.  (We live in the same house.)

Anyway, this isn’t about that, it’s about the after-effects of it.  It was a simple thing and I got a big kick out of it, after all I was just on my way to a service call on what was supposed to be my day off.  (I gotta tell the boss that he’s cutting into my “girl” time.)   After I left the Subway, I kept looking in the mirror trying to figure out what she saw that caused her to call me ma’am.  The incident kinda freaked me out after a while, I was thinking “have I changed that much already?”

That was just one of the things going through my mind, I had an emotional surge when it occoured to me that she was looking right at me when she said it, and that I actually could be gendered as female.   That’s always been one of my fears, not being able to pass.  It held me up for a long time, and here I passed without even trying!  Very strange!

It must have hit me pretty deep, because when I was doing my service call at a multiplex cinema and had to go to the bathroom, it was a tough decision to go into the men’s room.   I actually felt like I didn’t belong there.   Now lately, I’ve been wearing a hat so no one sees the lack of hair on the top of my head, it’s not very female.

It seems like it was a defining moment for me, it’s really hard to go back to “guy” mode after that, I’m still struggling with it.  I know that my fears have kept me sitting on the “gender fence” for a while now, it’s really getting to be time to move!   The biggest problem I have with that is that I’m so unprepared, having taken a different path to get here.  I’ve never been a public “cross-dresser”, I started HRT with no “public exposure” experience.  Maybe it’s time to get out of my comfort zone.

How did your first real ma’am affect you?  Did it make you crazy and frustrated like it did me?

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

Sunshine go away today

Mom’s response to my letter to my aunt:

Listen Marcus,

Don’t ever presume to know how I am feeling because you never will and never can!!!!!!!

I remain,
Your Mother

I am truly going to miss the “person I thought I knew”.

So, I wrote a long letter to mom last night but don’t think I will send it because it seems the more honest I am the more trouble it seems to cause. This is an uncomfortable place to be stuck in.

The words I heard the night I was forced to out myself to my parents still ring in my ears from time to time. They were very specific words that one doesn’t forget when they seem to be directed at you. Words like disgusting, sinful, evil, satan, ridiculous, impossible are words that can come back to haunt a person. Until I hear something dispelling those feelings what else am I to presume? This is a question that surrounds my very existence. At what point will I no longer hear the words that hurt me so much? I hear them when I am awake. They invade my dreams at night. I cannot escape them. I am a tortured soul caught between self-acceptance and self-loathing.

(sigh)

Family Ties (that bind)

My aunt sent me this e-mail/link today. The link is for a “recovered” transsexual whom I agreed to meet with almost 2 years ago as my family was struggling to accept my being transgender. They thought if this person could be saved then I could be saved as well.

http://www.leaderu.com/stonewall/pages/jerry_l.html

Here is my response to my aunt and a glimpse into what struggles I face from a family point-of-view.

While I have met with and heard Jerry’s amazing story firsthand it does not mean that he and I are on similar wave lengths. Yes, many trans people share a very similar story, but along the way there are instances where the individual story line takes a different path from what others may go through. I respect what Jerry went through & even respect that much more the fact he realized what was best for him before it, perhaps, could have been too late for him to recover. Our stories may be similar in some ways, but, it is very different in others.
 
Sure, while I was first attempting to deal with my feelings I thought that sex was the only way to express the woman in me. And for a few years I did things that I am not proud of to try and express those feelings outwardly towards men. Thankfully I managed to survive a few instances that could have turned ugly, and I now know that I was acting out in an un-healthy and, unnecessary manner. Many never get a chance to learn that lesson. Many lives get cut short because they put themselves in the dangerous position of thinking sex is the answer. I have been lucky to learn that lesson before it was too late for me. Sex doesn’t equal respect.
 
If I recall correctly before I agreed to meet with Jerry I laid out the proposition of my family needing to meet with my therapist as an equal payoff for me meeting with Jerry. Out of love for my family I agreed to meet with Jerry knowing full well you all would never offer on your own to meet with my therapist afterward. I now re-extend the offer for you all to meet with my therapist. You could do this with me there or without me there. It doesn’t matter either way. Meet with her and don’t even tell me about it if you choose. But one thing is for sure you all need to let go the idea of me and Jerry being similar to the point that I will wake up one day and feel the need to ask God for forgiveness. I did ask for forgiveness, but, it was not for being who I am. It was for being the shell of a person I used to be and for my actions while I was lost for the first 30 or so years in the vast ocean of life.
 
Until you can grasp the idea that most of my life was spent in a depression filled fog in which I was unable to express my feelings about what I was going through you will not be able to feel happy for me that I am now no longer living with that fear and depression. Depression is a powerful thing as you know and having been there I am very determined to not go back into that chasm again. I do still get down sometimes just like anybody else would but for reasons that aren’t so much about who I am but for who it is my family can’t accept. I have nephews that are told I am sick and that is why I don’t call them. I have a sister that is scared (I think) to reach out to me in fear of being rejected by the family for trying to understand my situation. I have three very beautiful cousins who are like my sisters that perhaps feel the same way. I have an aunt that tells me she serves an awesome god that loves all the creatures he creates but somehow fails to recognize that her awesome god made me this way for a reason. Unfortunately I have a mother who is stuck in the middle of watching her two oldest children fight like two kids on a playground that want the best seat on the swing set.

Since I have moved to Columbus I have accomplished things I only used to dream of doing. I enrolled in college (this time because I wanted to) and made the honor roll 2 terms in a row. I have been accepted into a program being sponsored by the United Way of Central Ohio that is training me, as a member of the GLBT community, in what it will take to one day be in a position to help those less fortunate than I am. I have found a job where I can be my self and not feel the fear of being rejected by co-workers because I may be different in the eyes of the customers I interact with on a daily basis. I am only one person, but, I am a face of the Ohio Historical Society. Everyday and at every special event OHS puts on I am trusted to be in a place, not where I can’t be seen, but, rather, in a place out front like any other trusted employee should be: greeting the public. Since December of 2007 I have been on the board of Trans Ohio. My duties have involved speaking at OSU and a few other places to show that I am just a person dealing with many of the issues facing everyone in today’s world. The minor difference being that I happen to be transgender, or, at least, minor in my mind, anyways.

For all I have put my family though I am truly sorry, but I refuse to accept all the responsibility for what has happened since I came out to my family. Why, you ask do I not accept all of it? The reason for that is due to the fact that from the day that I came out I have been told how wrought with sin I am. I’ve been told there is no possible way that I would be welcomed back into your homes if this is the path I am taking. I have been, basically, put in exile in (your) hopes of being saved from my destiny.

I understand you miss me, Aunt Lisa. I miss you too. We used to be so close. You are one of the reasons for the kind of person I am today and believe it or not there are still people who think I am a good, caring, understanding person who is always willing to listen to others in order to try and help them work out a problem they may be going through. I always wanted to tell you sooner than I did, and there is a reason I told you first. You were one that I trusted to understand what it was I was going through, and ultimately you are one that I hope can stand by my side as my Aunt, as a supporter, and as some one that loves me for who I am today. Not the person you thought I used to be. The values that I was taught by those closest to me while growing up remain with me to this day. For that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Just because I now live as the female I should have always been doesn’t make me any less of a person in my own eyes. In fact, the self respect I have gained by taking control of my autonomy tells me there is potential for great things in my future. Agreeing to disagree is a cop-out on all of our parts. Doing that does nothing to address the real issues at hand. I can no longer pretend to be Marcus for the sake of being semi-welcomed back into everyone’s lives. How would you have felt if I rejected you after confessing to me your eating disorder you struggled with years ago? I realized how difficult it must have been to tell me, and for you trusting me with that piece of you I felt that much closer to you. I felt that much more love for you. I didn’t get angry for you not telling me sooner. I chose to try and understand that side of you, and to love you as you were at that moment.

I’ll never stop loving my family, ever. But until we can all come to terms with me being transgender, until everyone stops feeling sorry for themselves and for me, and that I am so helplessly lost we may forever be stuck at the impasse of what it truly means to love some one unconditionally. Diversity, Love, Family, those words have more powerful a meaning when we actually take the time to comprehend what those words enable us to understand.

Sincerely,

Karen M. Patrick