Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's "her's"

I've been living as woman for two years now, two really good years. I was and still am one of the lucky few. I have gone through this transition without losing anything or anyone. My life is truly better in all aspects.

My wife is still here, my relationship with my kids is stronger and better then ever before. My work is busier now then before my transition.

Everywhere I go, I'm not just treated as a woman but I'm perceived as one.  I am one.

So why this post?  Because there are still a few friends and acquaintances who still misgender me.  They don't do it on purpose and they do correct themselves or stumble through an apology of some sort. But, they still slip.  I try not to correct them, I try not to hear it, I try to let it go by.

But I do hear it, it does bother me.  After all this time it still triggers the dysphoria all over again. Is my hair a mess, maybe I shouldn't wear this outfit anymore, did my voice slip.  Or worse, maybe I'm kidding myself about passing, is everyone else just being nice?

As I wrote at the start of this post, I am one of the lucky few.  Everything about my life is better.  I just need to find a way to let those few 'his' and "he's" go and not let them trip me up. In the mean time I'm going to go return this shirt and fix my hair.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trying to be happy, like everyone else.

I read this from Helen Boyd's blog yesterday and I don't know how to say it any better so I'm going to repost it here without permission, sorry Helen.

There are some “people who think we’re mutants and horrible people,” said Margolies, who is executive director of the National LGBT Cancer Network in New York City. “But we’re just regular people struggling to do good in the world.”
This shouldn’t be a very difficult thing to explain, yet I find it is, time after time. The assumption that LGBTQ people – and especially trans people and their partners – are somehow living lives that are intentionally perverse is one that I find even welcoming liberals sometimes express.
We are not trying to be “out there”. We are trying to be happy, like everyone else.

There really is nothing more to say.    

Friday, May 11, 2012

The future is mine to choose

So where do I go from here?  For the first time on this path I feel like the future is mine to choose.  For a little more then a year now it felt more like E was choosing my path forward.  My body and mind were going to go where the E wanted to take them.  Now it feels like the future is where I decide to go.

I do have some big decisions to make and I just wanted to spend some time talking them out.

FFS, the one I worried the most about two years ago.  I was certain I'd never pass without it, but here I am two years later passing every day.  Now I am not so certain what to do about this one.  I'm almost certain I'll get the trachea shave as every time I look in the mirror it pops out like a sore thumb and more then any other part it bugs me.  I'm also thinking of a nose job.  I think the nose is still Rick's nose and I'd like Dana to get her own.  I think both of these things are worth the pain and cost.

SRS, 'The big one'.  This IS the big one.  I know there are a lot of us who see this as the whole point of transitioning.  Physically changing your body to match your gender.  And, I totally get that but I'm not sure it's right for me.

First, let me say I'm a big chicken, pain is not my thing and I don't do well even thinking about it.  Even blood work is an issue!

Then there's M.  It's not that M would have an issue with it.  It's not that she would miss it. (Well she might, but I'll let her talk about that...) We'll still have fun either way.  We'll still live our lifes together with or without it.  But I don't have to explain anything with her.  She knows who I am and how I got here.  It's not like I'm going to go on a date and have to explain the extra bits.  I imagine I'll go the rest of my life only having to explain the bits to a few nurses and a doctor or two.

I know this completes the transition, but I'm treated as a woman every where I go.  I'm sure a few people figure it out along the way but even the ones that do still treat me as a woman.  And those that do figure it out, aren't looking up my skirt to confirm their suspicions.  M treats me as her partner, K as her best friend, and the boys still see me as Dad!  So what does SRS accomplish for me?

When I look at this in terms of cost and reward, what does the money, and the pain of SRS get me?  For me I don't think it's the right answer.  So that means I'll have to get an O instead.  I can't stay on this level of E and S forever.  The risks are too high and the cost will add up.  So I'll opt for an O.

Then there's the issue of stealth.  I'm also aware most of us transition into a stealth or semi stealth mode.  Where only a few close friends or partners know of our past.  But even here things aren't so clear cut for me.  First, I own my own business.  A huge advantage because I am the HR department and I really only had one person to clear my transition with.  But, there are families relying on me for their income.  I can't just disappear.   I can't just quit my job, sell my house and move on to anther city where no one knows my name.  My employees, customers, and coworkers all know my past.  Every city I travel to, every TV station I visit, hears the news of that past long before I get there.  My neighbors, my friends, the people in Safeway all know me and know that past.

Changing any of that is not possible.  I can't just get a new job.  I can't move to a new city.  I won't leave my friends in a cloud of smoke.  There are too many people counting on me showing up tomorrow and none of them care if I show up as Dana, in fact some would be disappointed if I did go back to being Rick,

Everyone in my life, everyone who is going to be in my life will know of my past.  It's going to be this way for a while, a few years at least.

So that's my path next year.  I'll go for the trachea shave, I'll get an 'O', skip the SRS, and live my life with my past in the picture.  I'll hope for the best and tell my last brother the news.  I'll wake up every day as a woman and live the day as she is supposed too.  I'll honor my responsibilities to my family, my employees, and my customers.  I'll work and live as Dana and be happier then Rick ever thought possible.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Since this is a journal of my path through this transition, I thought I'd give a quick update of my journey so far.

Where I'm at now :

First and foremost I'm no longer worried about where this will all lead to.  I have a pretty good idea where the path goes from here and I'm excited to get there now. 

M and I are happy, very happy.  She's retired now and spends her time chasing me throughout the country as I go about my travels. 

Work is good, busier then ever.  Everyone I work with has accepted me and supports me where ever I go.  It was just a year ago I'd worry about how every new city would react to me.  But now I hardly even broach the subject.  My transition is certainly not a secret and I still get the occasional question but it's with respect and with an open mind. 

Everyone, but one, in my life has been told and just about everyone has been OK with it all.  The only person I have not told is my little brother.  I've pushed this off because he lives across the country from me and has some very strict religious views that I'm worried would prevent him from understanding.

I pass reasonably well. I'm sure people can figure it out if they try.  But, for the most part no one is looking so no one sees anything out of place.  I'm ma'am every where I go and I haven't heard a 'Sir' or a 'Rick' in forever now.  Friends and coworkers still slip up and miss a pronoun or two every once in awhile but it's not done maliciously so we just let it go.  They know it slip, and I know it's just a slip, so why make a big deal about it.  

My transition itself is still in progress, E has done wonders to my mind and my body.  But as work has taken me all over the country over the last six months, my laser treatments have not kept up.  I need to get that back on track.  I still need to get my trachea shave scheduled, and I need to find the time to start working on the big one.  Yup, that big one.

Where I was :

I still look back on my transition and I'm astonished on how little I've lost.  So many others in our community have lost so much, yet I have lost so little.  A friend, maybe two, has drifted away, but the ones that stayed are closer then before.  Our family is intact and stronger then ever.

Before the E, every morning was hard.  How do I get out of bed and face the day?   I haven't struggled with that since I started taking E.  My mood swings are back to normal, and M seems very happy about this.  The everyday gloom of my life before E is completely gone.  I'm starting to have a hard time remembering that load and the burden the struggles added to my life.

I was so worried about where this transition would take me and who and what I would become, and now those worries seem so distant and without cause.

Where I'm going :

I'm moving forward slowly but with direction.  The drive that pushed me my entire life to do more, and live more as Dana has suddenly come to a halt.

Before E, I would continually push the envelope of what Dana could do.  I'd push M to her breaking point, push the limits of society and those around me to and past acceptable.  Always taking what I was given and then asking for more.

But now that drive has stopped.  For the first time in my life as I look around and see where I'm at, see how the world sees me, feel how I'm treated, and see how I treat myself, I am happy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

... Dana's a her, not a him. She's your new sister!

It took a year but I finally told my brother.  I've been working in Denver now for the last few months and as luck would have it he happens to live here.  I've managed to avoid telling him the news up until now.  I had plans on telling him when I first started working in Denver, but it was right at Xmas time and M didn't want to add that kind of stress to the holidays so I let it drop.  Then work got crazy and the days got long and I just didn't do it.

That is until M posted on facebook that's she's off to Denver to see her 'sweetie'.  As I read it on her facebook page I thought that maybe my brother doesn't really keep up with facebook and won't see it.  Nope, I was wrong, an hour later he commented that we should drop by for dinner while we're in Denver.

So now the gig is up and I'm going to have to explain this one.  Up until now I've told family and close friends in person.  I'm not a big fan of hiding behind an email or a phone call for this kinda of news.  It just seems that news this big should be delivered in person.  But this time around I really had no choice.  It's been so long since I've been Rick I just couldn't go back, and just showing up as Dana would be a little bit of a shock to say the least.  K volunteered to just go knock on his door and tell him.  But I not sure how that conversation would go...

'Hi, I'm K.  I work with your sister Dana and I just wanted to let you know she has some big news.  .... Of course you have a sister, Oh wait, you know her as your brother Rick. ....  Me, I told you, I'm K, Dana's best friend.  I'm just out here visiting her, him to you, and I thought I'd drop by and tell you he's 'her' now.  Congrats by the way, you're the first born son now.  .... No, I just told you Rick is Dana and Dana's a her, not a him. She's your new sister!  .... No, you don't have an older brother anymore I just told you that.'

Well you get the idea, it's just something you have to do on your own.  And, actually it went well.  It had been awhile since I've had to tell anyone so my delivery was a bit rusty but I remembered all the key points. 

We had dinner with his whole family a few days later and that was nice.  He has four girls ranging from 10 to 18 and he was good enough to introduce Dana to his whole family without hesitating.  M spent some time with them before I got a chance to head out to visit, and they said that helped a lot.  She was able to answer some very personal questions in a safe environment and they got a chance to read her blog.  I've found people consistently take their cues from her.  If she's happy and relaxed about all of this then they relax.  If she is open and honest, they feel comfortable asking questions and spend the time to become comfortable with me.

So in the end, one of my two brothers know now and he's OK with it.  Shocked, a little off balance, and not sure of the new rules, but OK.  He's shared the news with his family and we've spent some time with them. 

One more brother to go, and then that's it, everyone will be in the know.  I've saved the hardest for last I'm afraid.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why does she stay?

A blog post caught my eye the other day.  More or less the author asked why some women stay and some women leave when their partners transition.  And as I can’t speak for other couples I’ll try and speak for us.  So why does M choose to stay?  She married a man, she married Rick, and now I am neither.  I’m Dana and while I may not be a woman in the classical definition, I am most definitely not a man anymore.  This is reason enough for her to go.  But she doesn’t. 
The roles in our marriage are fluid at best and become confused in many situations.  She handles these situations with grace and humor, and she stays.  My personality is still changing and the person she sleeps next to is different every month.  Yet, she still stays.  She has to explain to countless people,  including her family, my family, friends, and coworkers that she’s married to a woman now.  She has to answer questions never asked of others.  Yet, she does this with patience and pride.  She never complains and she keeps moving forward.  And she stays.
We have a good life.  We have two great kids, we have a lifetime of memories, and we still enjoy each other.  She makes me happy, and I strive to make her happy. We still laugh with each other and sometimes we cry with each other.  But other couples in this same situation have these same attributes in their marriage and yet they break apart.  But she stays.
M has made me happy every day for the last 30 years.  And still makes me happy every day.  But, beyond that happiness she has chosen to give me the gift of a lifetime.  In one year’s time she has taken away the piece deep inside of me that has caused grief and confusion my entire life.  She looked at me and said ‘I want you to be happy’.  She knew what that meant; she knew the sacrifices she’d be making. Neither of us knew what lied ahead but each of us knew it was big, life changing, and a one way trip.  Why?  Why would she offer this to me?  Why would she give this gift to me, at such a high cost to herself?
I’ve also been good to her.  She’s the most important thing in my life and I still worry each day I’m not doing enough to keep her happy.  I’m not talking about the happy that money buys, not the cars, or the house, or the travel.  I’m talking about the happy of a smile, a thought, a touch, the gift of attention  I am there when the world looks dark and bleak, I am there with a touch, a hug, an ear.  I’m her best friend always, every day, no exceptions. 
But that is not why she stays while others go.
She knew of my struggles years ago.  She has lived with them almost as long as I have.  She knows the pain and confusion the struggles bring to both her and to me.  She never signed up for this, but neither did I, I would not wish this type of pain on my worst enemy.  She has worked hard over the years to learn how to live with them, as did I.  In many ways she progressed down this path side by side with me.  There were times when she did not understand, or couldn’t cope.  And, there were times when I did not understand the pain I was causing her and I couldn’t cope.  But we both worked through those times, we worked through them together.
We worked hard to be happy together, but that is not why she stays and others go.
I wondered if I had told her of my struggles late in life, and surprised her with all of this.  If after 30 years of this I had said I was unhappy and had been my entire life, would she be able to handle it.  Would she have left then?  She says ‘no’ she would not have been able to handle it, but she would have stayed.  Why?
Even though I knew the answer already, I asked her today why she stays.  Why live this life with me, why share this pain, why embrace the world together? 
She just said ‘because I love you’.
As I do her.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

At what price happiness

I've lived with these struggles for almost 50 years now, and except for the last two I've hid them from everyone.  I've hid them from the world, from my friends, from my family, from co-workers and customers.   I hid these struggles from everyone because of fear.  Fear of losing my income, fear of losing friends, fear of losing my family.  Fear of not being able to face the world.  It's only the last two years that I've faced that fear and exposed myself to the outside world.  Over the last two years I've slowly taken the facade down. Everyday I show more of me to the world.  I'm finally there.  I'm finally where who I am matches what people see.

But at what price do I hide myself again.  At what price do I retreat and hide.  Would I return to the shell if my family could not cope with the struggles.  If I lost my job?   What if my friends slowly moved away?   At what point are my employees future worth more then the sunshine of being me. 

I've worked hard the last few months building something I'm actually quite proud of.  It's taken everything I've had to finish it.  I've pushed my employees and co-workers harder then I ever had before.  I've pushed up to and past the breaking point for some, myself included. I've let friendships and family take a back seat to finishing this job.  I've worked through every weekend, missed seeing the sun for weeks at a time.  I've built this.  Yes, others have helped.  Yes, they have worked hard and they are tired too.  But at the end of the day it's my project.  It's my hard work, my vision, my drive that has made this happen.

It's time to unwrap the project and show the world what we have built.  The whole team should be and is proud of what they have built these last few months.  Yet, I've made the tactical decision to not be there.   I'm aware that not everyone is tolerant of who I am,  not everyone will be able to look past me to see my work.  I'm aware that my presence hurts the chances of success.

I've decide to hid from the world on this.  I've decided that the value of my co workers pride is worth more.  I've decided that the everyone's financial success is worth more.  I've decided that the chance of an early retirement, however small, is worth more. 

But worth more then what?  What price am I paying for this decision.  One week away, I'll be in some other city and 'in hiding' for a single week.  How small is that price?  I'll trade a week on the beach for the success of my team, my project, and my finances. It's hard, if not impossible, to argue with the logic of this decision.

But then why does it hurt so badly.

Is my ego so large that I can't skip the spotlight for one lousy week.  Can I not swallow my pride just this once for the good of everyone and everything.  

It's retreating into the shell again.  I'll still be Dana, I'll still feel the sunshine on my face.  But there is no mistaking the fact that I'm am hiding the truth of who I am.  Fear is what is driving me back into this shell.  The fear of failure, the fear of not seeing the project succeed.  But mostly the fear of looking into a strangers eye and knowing they can't understand.  That fear of seeing the moment they 'get it'.  The fear of what follows that moment.

People tell me how brave I am to do this, to come out to the world and be myself.  How brave I am to face this head on.  But i'm not brave, not even in the least.  I'm on this path only because it's easier then any other. When faced with the choice of standing tall and accepting what ever comes or retreating back into that shell to protect myself from that fear,  I still choose to hide.   That is not courage.

In a few days I will get on that plane and head east.  I'll know why.

It just hurts.