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?