Author Topic: I Shall Be Whole  (Read 556 times)

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Offline Entropic Variable

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I Shall Be Whole
« on: January 28, 2019, 08:58:50 pm »
01 – The Single Best Night of My Life (So Far)

by Entropic Variable [She, Her, Hers]


Somewhere in the back of my closet is a box of photo processing envelopes from college.  And in one of those stacks of envelopes is a photo of me at age 25 taken in the late autumn of 1989.  I'll be 55 this summer.

I’ll have to dig it up at some point, but I don’t have to see this picture to remember every detail about it.  It was taken in one of those moments that defines a clear before and after in my life, which means that it’s etched so deeply and vividly in my mind that everything about it will remain with me for the rest of my days.  Three decades later, I can even still clearly smell the soothing sweetness of the inexpensive floral perfume I wore when the photo was taken.  It was called “Navy," which I've always thought was kind of an odd name for a women's fragrance.  (After a quick web search I see that it’s still available.  Hmmm...maybe I’ll order some…)

The picture in question is a full body 3/4 profile shot of me taken by one of my friends at a small party I was having at my apartment.  I’m sitting very relaxed and confidently with my legs crossed and my chair turned sideways at my little dining table.  Next to me on the table is a small simple black purse (mine) and one of a number of rum and Diet Cokes with which I was able to successfully titrate anxiety suppression and inhibition moderation while still maintaining full control of my faculties.  On the wall behind me is an Indigo Girls poster, which speaks volumes about me and my sexual orientation if you happen to know who they are.

I look like the proverbial cat who not only ate the canary, but the hamster and the entire population of the aquarium as well.  Of all the pictures I’ve seen of myself over the years, I can never remember looking so completely happy, content, and satisfied.

My face is shaved completely smooth, as are my legs for the first time.  My own thick long wavy chestnut hair cascades over my shoulders and spills down my upper chest and back.  Women used to approach me all the time to find out what hair care products I used and to ask if they could run their fingers through it (think Michael Hutchence or Chris Cornell).

My lips and nails are dark red.  I’m wearing a bit of mascara, understated eyeliner, and tasteful smudges of shadow without foundation or anything else.  I’d actually pierced both of my ears several years prior to this during the pop culture gender fluidity of the mid-80s (think Boy George, George Michael, or Duran Duran), and I’m wearing 3" gold hoop earrings with one small puffy red heart charm dangling from each that I’d painted with the nail polish I was wearing, a small stack of jingly gold hoop bracelets, and a thin black cord choker with another puffy red heart pendant that I’d also painted with the nail polish I was wearing.  Matchy-matchy much?  Uhhh...yeah.  I've gotten over it.  I'm better now.

I’m wearing a simple women’s white tank under a casual cotton black jacket with the sleeves rolled up and pinned at the small of the back to make it more form fitting, a simple knee length black skirt, white pantyhose, and 2” black heels.

Beneath my jacket and tank I’m wearing my first bra containing two latex balloons that I’d filled with water instead of air for mass, shape, and movement.  I’d placed the knots in the balloons in the front of the cups to create the appearance of nipples which were occasionally noticeable when I moved and my jacket opened.  Somehow, magically, the particular combination of fabric layers and my improvised breast forms just happened to drape and come together to create the illusion of much more convincingly natural breasts and cleavage than I could have ever imagined or hoped for.  Everybody commented on how real they looked.  I’m sure that a huge part of the reason for this was because I went for a more demure and proportionally natural looking B-cup for my particular frame rather than something larger.

Between the index and right fingers of my right hand I’m holding up a freshly lit lightly lipstick stained Virginia Slims 120.  Please understand that I’m certainly not trying to promote smoking here, just simply stating my particular experience honestly, for whatever it may be worth.  Since I was a smoker prior to this, choosing to be accessorized in even this way felt really fun and playful at the time.  To say nothing of the fact that – all of the obvious and abundant health concerns aside – cigarette brands and styles and manner of smoking have all long been subtle and not so subtle expressions of gender.  At least for some, and at least much more commonly so in the previous millennium.

My entire ensemble, including clothes, shoes, purse, costume jewelry, makeup, and tiny perfume sample cost something like $60 at the local discount department store.  (I’ll be happy to share the story of the shopping trip itself another time if anyone is interested).  What I was hoping for was a mostly understated gestalt of gender cues that would convey at least a vague impression of an average young woman just home from an average office gig relaxing after an average day of work.  (Ah yes, the seductive fantasy of just being “average”…)

The pretense for all of this was a party I was having for friends prior to going to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I’ve often wondered how many other trans women have used the socially sanctioned gender play audience participation of this cult classic as safe cover for venturing out into the world in some semblance of their authentic selves for the first time.  Something tells me I wasn’t the first, nor will I be the last.

I had no expectations of passing and wasn’t worried about it given the context of the event, being and traveling with a group of good friends, some of whom would be crossdressing as well, and given that I was also very well known and liked on campus and expected to be widely recognized and playfully accepted as just another Rocky Horror participant.

But this was the first time that I’d ever completely crossdressed from head to toe, and it was also the first time that I’d ever deliberately tried to present myself outwardly as female in any kind of a social setting.  And as social settings go, this was huge – first the party at my place with seven others, then the film itself with hundreds of others, and finally a late night trip to the local 24 hour chain diner college student hangout where anything could happen.

It turned out to be the single best night of my life.

I heard “Oh my god!  Wow!  You look incredible!” several dozen times, two of my ostensibly heterosexual platonic female friends started to seriously hit on me for the first time, and three guys who I’d never met before hit on me.  Another long time good platonic male friend who worked for the student organization hosting the film pulled me up on stage in front of the screen for some crazy impromptu dirty dancing during the warm up music prior to the film starting, and we got an uproarious standing ovation.

I knew nothing about vocal training at that time, so I was instantly read as phenotypically male by the three guys who liked the visual I presented and approached me.  All three encounters ended with good-natured friendly conversation, and none were threatening in any way, although the last said to me:  “You’re certainly convincing, but you’re kind of an ugly woman.”  While I certainly didn’t have any illusions about being strikingly beautiful in the classical sense, I’m sure that he was saying this more to save face and to protect his ego than to be hurtful.  At the time I just shrugged and laughed and wished him a good night.  Ironically, his comment about being "convincing" made me feel so good that I was able to largely ignore the second part.  Especially since he had, after all, gone out of his way to approach me.

I’ve thought about it many times over the years and I believe the reason why I received all of the unexpected interest, flirting, and compliments I did was simply because of the fact that the way I presented myself to others at least roughly coincided with who I was and am on the inside.  I was simply infinitely more congruent than I’d ever been before, if only for the span of that evening.  As a result, I was truly happy in a much deeper way than I usually was, and everyone around me picked up on this and responded to my sudden burst of positive energy in kind.  Even despite the fact that I was light years from having access to all of the tools that would have allowed me to best present myself as my authentic female self (no HRT, electrolysis, vocal training, etc.).  It’s just another example of getting back the energy you put out there in the world.

After lots of delicious greasy late night food easily tolerated by the metabolism of a 20-something and hours of endorphin stimulating shared laughter, my friends and I made our way back to our respective homes and hugged goodnight one by one.  Lying in bed naked and alone in the quietest hours of the morning just before sunrise and feeling at least slightly less imperfect than I usually did after the evening that was, I relished the bare hairless sensitivity of my legs caressing the sheets as the final floral notes of my delightful cheap perfume evaporated from my hair and skin and found their way to my nose and deep into my fondest memory.

Just a few years prior to this night it’d first dawned on me that I was a girl raised in a boy’s body who’d become a woman stranded in a man’s body.  But for the first time since I began to wrap my head around this inexplicable conundrum of existence, I truly felt the weight of the reality of my life and accepted it completely like a person treading water at the base of a towering dam as it bursts.  My mind reeled with possibilities and my heart ached simultaneously with both profound joy and ravenous longing.



To be continued.


"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

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Offline Alaskan Danielle

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2019, 09:20:21 pm »
@Entropic Variable
Dear Entropic Variable
After I gave you my Official Welcome message yesterday and also my admonition to introduce yourself here on the Introductions Forums that will permit many other members on the Forums to be aware of your arrival I am very happy to see your post here this evening.

Thank you for posting your informative and detailed treatise regarding your transition journey.
You are definitely making us all want to take you up on your final sentence ....  "To be continued."

Along with others that have read this Introductions Posting of yours, I will be eagerly looking for your future postings around the various threads around the Forums.

Thanks again for your post.
Hugs,
Danielle
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 12:08:40 pm by Alaskan Danielle »

Online V M

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 12:04:33 pm »
Hi Entropic Variable  :icon_wave:

Welcome to Susan's Place  :)  Glad to have you here, join on in the fun

Hugs

V M
The main things to remember in life are Love, Kindness, Understanding and Respect - Always make forward progress

Superficial fanny kissing friends are a dime a dozen, a TRUE FRIEND however is PRICELESS

 
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Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 06:37:01 pm »
@Entropic Variable
Dear Entropic Variable
After I gave you my Official Welcome message yesterday and also my admonition to introduce yourself here on the Introductions Forums that will permit many other members on the Forums to be aware of your arrival I am very happy to see your post here this evening.

Thank you for posting your informative and detailed treatise regarding your transition journey.
You are definitely making us all want to take you up on your final sentence ....  "To be continued."

Along with others that have read this Introductions Posting of yours, I will be eagerly looking for your future postings around the various threads around the Forums.

Thanks again for your post.
Hugs,
Danielle



Thank you very much Danielle for your warm welcome, gentle admonition, and patience with my love of the language and nuance.

:)

~EV~



Hi Entropic Variable  :icon_wave:

Welcome to Susan's Place  :)  Glad to have you here, join on in the fun

Hugs

V M


Thank you very much V M!  :) I have to confess that I'm definitely intrigued by the concept of Female Clint Eastwood-ness...

:)

~EV~


"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 07:03:16 pm »
02 – Hope Seems More Than Reasonable

by Entropic Variable [She, Her, Hers]


I’m an artist and writer who only does personal and freelance projects that interest me – many of which have been and are pro bono – so my creative work unfortunately doesn’t entirely support my raging addictions to living indoors and eating regularly.  As a result, I’ve had a number of different “daytime gigs” to pay the bills over the years, and my most recent was a temporary position that ended in December, at which point I became a free agent in the realm of regular economy gathering exercises once more.

A couple of weeks into my job search I came across a listing for a position with a politically progressive national non-profit organization.  The work role as defined was virtually identical to my previous temporary position, which I loved and thoroughly enjoyed.  And as a life long progressive who fully supports the mission and goals of this particular organization, the thought of working in support of them was enormously appealing to me.

I applied immediately, got a phone interview within a few days, a face-to-face interview one week after that, and an hour and a half after my face-to-face interview I got a call with a verbal job offer, which I of course gladly accepted.  Two days later, I received emails with an attached official offer letter, benefit manual, policy manual, and links to enter information to complete my pre-hire background check, HR on-boarding information, and to electronically acknowledge my understanding and acceptance of all workplace policies.

The policy manual was close to 100 pages due to the sensitive and confidential nature of the work, and over the next few days I faithfully did my due diligence and read it thoroughly.  After plowing through page after page of boilerplate legalese full of lengthy hyper specific qualitative phrases designed to cover every possible contingency of exposure or conflict, I was delighted to discover that there was an entire section specifically devoted to stringent non-discrimination and non-harassment protections for transgendered employees.  The policies outlined seemed to provide everything that anyone pre, in progress, or post transition could possibly want from an employer.  I wasn’t even consciously considering this when I applied for the position (although perhaps I was on a subconscious level), given that my first priority was simply to find a new regular income.  But there it was in wonderfully supportive explicit detail.

I then reviewed the information on the employer subsidized health coverage and did searches for providers and benefits available for transsexual patients and discovered that at the very least, HRT and SRS are covered with the appropriate protocols and referrals.  What was interesting and frustrating was that for the health insurance I’ll have with my new employer, it’s easy to use their web utility to search for providers, services, and medications for conditions like “hypertension” or “diabetes,” but “gender” and “sex” return 0 results.  I had to do some significant digging, but was able to find the confirmations I was looking for if I searched elsewhere online for their transsexual patient services policy statement and entered exact names of gender issues specialists in network provider searches.

The wonderful thing though is that even if I was cisgendered, I’d still be be very excited to start this new position.  It’ll be so much more than just another “daytime gig” for me.  Given the nature of the work and the services it provides, every day will be life well lived, and unless something unexpected happens, I can easily envision myself growing with the organization and gladly making work for it a very meaningful career.

So one week ago today, it suddenly struck me that I was about to have access to both the work culture and health insurance resources to finally, finally, finally begin the process of transition.

I was fully ready and absolutely committed to beginning my transition in the early spring of 1993 when I was 29 years old, and I’ve never once been in denial about who I was or am since the evening discussed in my previous installment when I was 25.  Several times over the last 30+ years I thought that I might be moving into the place that I have every reason to believe I’m coming to now.  For me, it’s never been a question of absolute acceptance or motivation.  The inability to begin my transition has always been due to practical financial reality as the result of a combination of pre-ACA health insurance issues, plain old bad luck, living in a largely aesthetically illiterate culture that doesn’t reasonably compensate creative skills outside of advertising (which my personal sense of ethics prohibits me from participating in), as well as the Great Recession and aftermath.

Yesterday I received my copy of my clean background report, which was the last pre-hire administrative task that needed to be completed before my accepted job offer would be formalized, and today I received an email confirmation of this from my new work group leader.  My training starts on Monday, my new health benefits will start on April 1st (with any luck at all the particular date is in no way significant), and I will have completed my probationary training and initial performance evaluation at the beginning of May.  If my evaluation is at least satisfactory (although my goal is of course something much higher), I intend to come out to my supervisors and HR verbally and in writing prior to presenting myself in my authentic gender at work for the first time, and to request the appropriate name and identity updates to my record and security credentials, which I expect will be very straightforward per the employee policy manual.

Last Thursday, I spoke with a Patient Services Coordinator for an established and very well known clinic that specializes in evaluating and treating transsexuals, and was added to their intake waiting list.  According to what she told me, it sounds like I should be able to get in to begin my intake evaluation in late April to early June.

My goal at this point is to be completely out and living full time as my authentic female self beginning on my 55th birthday in mid-June.  Over the next 5 1/2 months I plan to spend all of my free time doing research on the practical aspects of personal trans aesthetics, acquiring body forms, makeup, clothing, etc., making changes to my diet and exercise, and working on vocal training.

In case it wasn’t obvious from my previous installment, I tend to be rather thorough, detail-oriented, and I’m also a recovering perfectionist.  All of which can of course be both good and bad.  The years have taught me to know when to tell myself “this is as good as it can be for now, and that’s OK” and to let things go.  But I’ll also never stop believing that that things can always be improved, although I’ve also learned to temper this with patience.  Present day me will at least be able to find this balance much better than 29 year old me would have, and this is one of the positive trade-offs for beginning this part of my journey now.

Could something go horribly wrong here?  Of course it could.  Things can always go horribly wrong at any time.  But despite all of the setbacks I’ve lived through over the years, I’m still a perennial optimist, because I’ve always believed very, very strongly that the alternative is a pointless dead end.  I’ve had family members demonstrate this through their negative example repeatedly, and I’ve always been determined to never fall into any of the traps that they have.

In terms of my new job, I’m completely confident in my personal skill set and experience, couldn’t possibly be more motivated to give everything I’ve got to my training, believe in and completely support the work I’ll be doing, and know that I love doing the type of work I’ll be doing based on recent experience.  Additionally, my application and interviews were very enthusiastically embraced, I’ve had great interactions with the leaders I’ve interviewed and connected with so far, and the organization itself has a long and outstanding reputation for ethics, fairness, and compassion.  So hope seems more than reasonable to me under the circumstances, and transitioning in this work culture and position feels intuitively as safe and supportive as it could possibly be.

Over the last seven days, I’ve felt constantly overwhelmed in the best possible way.  Even though I’ve had time off while I’m waiting for my new job to start I’ve gotten up early every morning because I’ve been so excited to start each day and to learn something new.  I’ve cried so many tears of joy watching dozens of MTF transition slide shows and vlogs, as well as dozens of makeup and vocal training tutorials.  I’ve shopped online for everything from body forms to perfume atomizer bottles to health care practitioners, and of course throughout all of my searches I kept repeatedly getting results for Susan’s Place forum pages, which is what brought me here and why you’re reading this.


To be continued.


"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2019, 06:03:45 pm »
03 – Staying in the World

by Entropic Variable [She, Her, Hers]


I was first completely ready and fully committed to beginning my transition in 1993 when I was 28 (not 29 as stated in my last; sorry for my error).  I underwent a full psychological evaluation that resulted in an unequivocal recommendation to pursue all available transition therapies as the only viable solution to my uncomplicated and clear gender dysphoria.

Shortly after that, my insurance company denied my claims, dropped me, and my gender identity disorder was added to all insurance databases as a preexisting condition.  The ACA eventually removed these barriers to coverage, but other financial and family considerations dominated the picture for me by this point, and more time came and went.

How do you continue to live in the world when you’re painfully aware that you’re completely gender dysphoric and are a perfect candidate for transition but lack the financial and social support to do so?  That’s the problem I’ve been living with and working through every day for the last 26 years.  Thoughts of suicide were frequent, especially for the first seven years or so, and recurred every now and then after that, although with progressively less frequency and intensity.

The thing that’s always pulled me back from the brink every time I contemplated leaving was my fundamental belief that my life – no matter how obviously imperfect – is a gift, and it would be the height of arrogance and selfishness to throw it away.  I’ve always believed that the only true meaning and value in our existence results from how we care for one another, and if I have anything at all to offer the world around me, then for as long as I draw breath it will be my obligation to offer it.  Under the circumstances, it would have been all too easy to allow myself to fall into the traps of anger and self-pity, and as I mentioned previously, I knew from personal experience with family members what happens when you allow yourself to do this, and I was determined to not let this happen to me.

Gender dysphoria is a disability, and is philosophically no different than any other disability you care to name.  And it is the basic human right of anyone with any disability to be able to receive any treatment that would allow them to reduce or eliminate their disability.  But at the same time, this doesn’t mean that you have to let any disability define you to the exclusion of recognizing and making the best possible use of all your other gifts.

These were the realizations that I repeatedly focused on to maintain the delicate and difficult balance of staying in the world.

Three other things have gotten me through to now.

First, I learned to fully embrace and make the best possible use of my native Introversion.

In addition to art, in college I studied psychology and especially the personality theories of Carl Jung, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, and David Keirsey, and this background gave me an invaluable framework for making sense of myself and those around me.  These intellectual tools in no way did anything to eliminate the pain of my gender dysphoria, but they at least gave me the ability to feel completely grounded in the rest of myself, which went a long way towards helping me to cope with my difficult situation and to continue to function as best as I could.

Jung described Introversion as a persistent preference to focus on the internal world of ideas, whereas he described Extraversion (Jungian spelling) as a persistent preference to focus on the external world of experiences.  Contrary to many commonly held cultural beliefs and prejudices, neither is theorized as being superior or “healthier” than the other overall, although each preference will of course likely perform better in different situations.  Like gender and sexuality, this aspect of personality exists very much a spectrum, and my focus has always fallen deeply into the Introversion end of the range.

Introverts are energetically drained in social situations, and recharged when they are by themselves in the company of their thoughts.  Conversely, Extraverts are energetically drained when alone, and recharged when they are with others and experiencing the world around them.

As a transgendered Introvert, I believe that I was even more energetically drained by social situations in the physical world than I would have been were I cisgendered.  But when I was alone, as I frequently was, I had the huge advantage of experiencing healing solitude rather than painful loneliness.  And Jung’s concepts of social orientation – which were well confirmed by my own observations of others – assured me that being an Introvert was just naturally who I was, and should not in any way be interpreted as dysfunctional.

Second, I found an outlet for gender coherence and social connection perfectly suited to my Introversion, and you’re experiencing it as you read this.

In 2000 I got my first home computer with private internet access, which allowed me to have text based communication with others as my authentic female self.  I participated in and lead several discussion forums and published quite a few essays and short stories on a variety of topics and themes, many focusing on social issues, LGBTQ self-acceptance, as well as sexual politics and ethics.  (None of this content is connected to my user name here.)  As a result of my work I’ve also made many online friends with whom I’ve exchanged thousands of emails over the years.  And there have only been a few times that my gender authenticity was questioned, and only then fleetingly and apologetically by homophobic male readers who’d clearly developed crushes on me.  (I should add that I’ve never represented myself as anything other than lesbian, which is my true and exclusive sexual orientation.)

My online interactions have been profoundly affirming and liberating, and have provided me with a sense of purpose and meaning that has been enormously helpful to maintaining my self-esteem.  Were I to get hit by a bus tomorrow I’d die incomplete, but I’d be content to know that at least I did have an authentic voice in the world, no matter how brief, and that it made some difference, no matter how small.

And third, I deliberately refused to have the complications of romantic relationships.  And yes, I do realize that this is unusual, and completely understand why many of us are unable to avoid these complications.

Prior to first committing to making the transition that I need to make 26 years ago, I was involved in several romantic relationships that were each wonderful in their own way.  But I’ve since found a simplicity and a clarity in solitude that I’m comfortable and completely at peace with, which has removed any sense of urgency for me to be in a relationship.  I’ve also found that I’ve been able to meet my intimacy needs platonically, both online and with friendships in the physical world that I’ve had for many years.

And in my current incomplete state I’ve of course also always known that any intimate relationship I might be tempted to pursue (and there have been a few) would be entered into under false pretenses that would not be fair in any way to either the woman I was getting involved with or to myself.

Once I’m out to the world and living as my coherent self, if romance finds me I will certainly be grateful.  But if it doesn’t, I’ll still be just as grateful to simply be the most complete version of myself I can be.  On balance, I don’t believe that being in a relationship or being alone is necessarily better than the other for me.  And at this point, I’m just happy to leave myself open to the possibility of anything and look forward to seeing where this journey takes me. 


To be continued.


« Last Edit: February 02, 2019, 09:23:17 pm by Entropic Variable »
"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Ann W

Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2019, 08:33:46 pm »

Somewhere in the back of my closet is a box of photo processing envelopes from college.  And in one of those stacks of envelopes is a photo of me at age 25 taken in the late autumn of 1989.  I'll be 55 this summer.


You are writing one of the most painfully lovely and eloquent narratives I have ever read in this genre. It's too much to read in one sitting. I am overwhelmed.

Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2019, 10:00:03 am »
You are writing one of the most painfully lovely and eloquent narratives I have ever read in this genre. It's too much to read in one sitting. I am overwhelmed.


You're very kind; thank you Ann!  :)


"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline Emma1017

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2019, 12:57:56 pm »
Dear EV:

I am so happy for you that you have found a path out the emotional jungle of the last 26 years+ that has ensnared you.

It is so remarkable how we all have so many parallels inter meshed with our own unique experiences.  If you are trans, you know personal pain but you also find the way to push on.  We are a determined bunch.

I wish you the best in your progress and enjoy every positive experience you encounter on your path.  You deserve it.


Best regards,

Emma

Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2019, 12:15:44 pm »
Dear EV:

I am so happy for you that you have found a path out the emotional jungle of the last 26 years+ that has ensnared you.

It is so remarkable how we all have so many parallels inter meshed with our own unique experiences.  If you are trans, you know personal pain but you also find the way to push on.  We are a determined bunch.

I wish you the best in your progress and enjoy every positive experience you encounter on your path.  You deserve it.


Best regards,

Emma


Thank you so much Emma!  :)

I'm sending Lots and Lots of Good Energy your way for continued success on your journey!  One step at a time, and I know that we're both going to get there!  :)  :)  ;)

eHug



I’ve just completed my second week at my new job (please see “02 – Hope Seems More Than Reasonable” above), and I absolutely love it.  The organization’s culture, the work, and my new colleagues all feel like excellent fits for my personal interests, experience, and especially my anticipated start to my social gender transition.  I feel incredibly fortunate and very excited to be doing what I’m doing and to be where I am.  Even my new commute has been easy!

The only thing that I’m dealing with right now is that my new job involves a steep learning curve involving absorbing and getting up to speed on some rather complex IT systems that I am tasked with using.  I’m definitely getting there, but the process is taking almost all of my energy right now, and as a result I’m finding that I currently have limited time to update my introduction thread at the moment.  I am very much looking forward to doing so however, and will as often as I'm able to.

Getting grounded in my new career is of course the first and most important step to becoming whole.  If you’re following this thread, thank you for your understanding and patience with me.  I do have much more to tell.

"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2019, 12:42:43 pm »
04 – The Most Painful Words I’ve Ever Heard

by Entropic Variable [She, Her, Hers]


“It’s OK.  You don’t have to wait with me.  Please just go ahead and go.  I’ll call you when I get home.”

As soon as the words had left my mouth I watched my mom get up quickly from the boarding gate seat next to me and walk away steadily down the airport concourse until she dissolved in the crowd.  She never looked back.  I wondered if it was the last time I would ever see her.  I believed that in all likelihood it probably was.  I was in shock.

I was about to board a plane home following a very intense seven days.  It was Spring Break week of 1993 just prior to first seeking evaluation and treatment for gender reassignment, and I’d travelled 1,500 miles to come out to my mom in person.  She was 53 at the time, just a little younger than I am now.  I was 28.

My parents had divorced nine years prior to this, and I had become increasingly estranged from my father but remained in weekly phone contact with my mother.  I’d always felt very close to her, and their divorce hadn’t changed that.  My parents’ relationship was incredibly psychologically toxic, and one of the many dysfunctional outcomes was that I’d always disproportionately seen my mother as my defender and confidant for as long as I could remember.  (I should probably clarify that I am completely convinced that my family of origin issues have absolutely nothing to do with my gender dysphoria, especially since I believe all of these issues to be long resolved without any change whatsoever to my sense of being profoundly transgendered.)

Within two years of getting divorced, my mom had moved across the country and was in a new committed relationship with a man she’d previously dated briefly in her late teens.  He just happened to be living where she was and they ran into each other at a bar one night after work.  Her old high school flame turned out to be a wonderful match for her in so many ways, their relationship blossomed very quickly, and for the first time in my life I could see that she was truly in love and very happy, and I was delighted for her.

At the time of my coming out visit, my relationship with my mom’s partner was friendly and decidedly positive but not nearly as intimate as that of an immediate family member, so I only discussed my gender dysphoria and the treatment I was seeking with her.  My mom had taken the week off and he hadn’t, so all of our discussions took place during the day when we were alone.  He knew that I was visiting because I had something important to discuss with her, but he didn’t know what, didn’t ask, and my mom didn’t tell him while I was staying with them.

I came out to my mom on the first day we were alone as simply and as directly as I could.  She was horrified.  All of the private conversations we had for the rest of the week were focused on me attempting to help her manage her anxiety by doing the best I could to explain everything I knew from firsthand experience and had read about gender dysphoria and transitioning.

The negativity of her reactions surprised and didn’t surprise me.  My hunch was that she was going to take the news very badly at first, but that within a few days she would begrudgingly begin to understand and accept the reality of who I am and what I needed to do to feel whole.  But unfortunately, things didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped.

When the three of us were together she did her best to pretend that everything was fine, and I just followed her lead and did my best to have lighthearted small talk with her and her partner, which was actually not that hard to do given his generally easy-going and warm demeanor.  After they’d gone to bed I’d walk to an all night diner a few blocks from their house and attempt to scribble down and sort out the raging tempest of feelings I was experiencing for hours and hours in my journal.

I’d found a copy of “In Search of Eve – Transsexual Rites of Passage” by Anne Bolin (1988) at the library and thought that it might serve as a good reference for her, since I imagined that she would have a multitude of questions, and since my mom has always been someone who absorbs the written word much more readily than the spoken word.  I attempted to order a copy but was having difficulty getting it via my local bookstore (remember, this was pre-internet), so I ended up photocopying the whole thing, putting it in a 3 ring binder, and giving it to her.  Whether she ever read it or not, I don’t know.  I suspect that she didn’t and just threw it out as soon as I’d left.

I now realize that there were many reasons for my mother’s great difficulty with being able to accept the reality of who I am, but the most important one became heart-wrenchingly clear when she drove me to the airport at the end of my visit.  She told me that she was very worried that her partner wouldn’t be able to accept me, and that if it came down to a choice between giving up her relationship with him or giving up her relationship with me, she would have no choice but to give up her relationship with me.

These were and are the most painful words I’ve ever heard, because at that time in my life I felt closer to my mom than anyone I’d ever known.  I trusted her completely, and had never once ever questioned that absolute trust until that moment.  And then it was suddenly gone forever.

We arrived at the airport, parked, checked in, walked to the departure gate, and sat down in unbroken silence.  After a few minutes I couldn’t take it anymore and quietly stated that she didn’t have to wait with me and I’d call her once I’d made it home.

The flight back was the only time I ever drank on an airplane, and I did so heavily.

Once I’d made it back to my apartment (thankfully without needing to drive), I unpacked and eventually screwed up the courage to dial my mom’s number to find out if it’d be the last time that I’d ever speak with her.  I was trembling with tears streaming down my face as the line connected and her phone started to ring.  She picked up right away and sounded surprisingly cheerful:  “Hello.”

“Hi.  Just wanted you to know that I made it home OK.”

“That’s great Sweetheart.  Here, [my mom’s partner’s name] wants to talk to you.”

“Hey!  Listen, your mom told me everything, and I want you to know that it doesn’t change how I feel about you or your mom.  I’m actually relieved…I was afraid that maybe someone [meaning me] was dying!  It must have been hell for you Babe…”  (“Babe” was his generationally sexist and awkward way of addressing me as female, and was in his case quite touching and kind under the circumstances.)

The rest of the call was brief and a blur.  I’d heard all that I needed to know that I would still continue to have at least some kind of a relationship with my mother, even with all of the complications that I realized it would now entail.

I hung up and sobbed and sobbed.

Eventually I got up, drew a hot bath, and spontaneously decided to shave not only my legs, but my arms and torso as well for the first time.  And as I looked down at the results of my efforts with the most misshapen parts of my anatomy hidden between my thighs, I found the eye of the hurricane in the week, and especially the day, that had been.


To be continued.


"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline KimOct

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2019, 09:06:54 pm »
Extremely well told, thank you for sharing.  As a parent I am shocked by your Mom's choice even though it appears to not have come down to that ( we will see as you continue ) but I cannot imagine telling my child I would choose a romantic partner over them.  I was literally shaking my head as I typed the previous sentence.

So sorry you experienced that.  Thank you for your story.
The first transphobe you have to conquer is yourself

Offline Linde

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2019, 11:14:06 pm »
Extremely well told, thank you for sharing.  As a parent I am shocked by your Mom's choice even though it appears to not have come down to that ( we will see as you continue ) but I cannot imagine telling my child I would choose a romantic partner over them.  I was literally shaking my head as I typed the previous sentence.

So sorry you experienced that.  Thank you for your story.
i had the same feeling you had, when I read this sentence.

  For me the biggest fear of coming out was about how my son would react.  He took it with ease, but I would have stopped any transitions if he would not have wanted a woman as his father!

I also feel sorry about this experience of you, Entropic Variable!
02/22/2019 bi-lateral orchiectomy







Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2019, 09:24:56 am »
Extremely well told, thank you for sharing.  As a parent I am shocked by your Mom's choice even though it appears to not have come down to that ( we will see as you continue ) but I cannot imagine telling my child I would choose a romantic partner over them.  I was literally shaking my head as I typed the previous sentence.

So sorry you experienced that.  Thank you for your story.


Thank you very much Kim.

Could you reply with a link to your experiences with coming out to family please?  (Apologies; I'm not being lazy, my forum time is just very short right now.)



i had the same feeling you [KimOct] had, when I read this sentence.

  For me the biggest fear of coming out was about how my son would react.  He took it with ease, but I would have stopped any transitions if he would not have wanted a woman as his father!

I also feel sorry about this experience of you, Entropic Variable!


Thank you very much Dietlind.

I'm so glad and happy for you that your son is able to accept your reality.  I hope that you can find joy and take pride in the fact that you played a substantial part in shaping his values and openness.  His goodness and kindness are wonderful reflections of who you are.  :)

The support of family is obviously a huge blessing to anyone negotiating the extremely difficult path to social gender transition.  But I also strongly believe that if you don't have it, you still absolutely owe it to yourself, to your family, and to the world around you to explore, decide, and move forward with the most complete expression of your true self possible.  I believe that attempting to live up to external expectations based in ignorance and fear leaves a transgendered person even worse off and less able to function socially than if s/he were "only" dealing with being transgendered.

Children are of course an especially difficult case, and I am thankful that I do not have these hurdles to face.  So it goes without saying that I have absolutely no experience or frame of reference to advise anyone on how to best negotiate these relationships, nor would I ever attempt to do so.

But I do have a deep sense of empathy and ethics, and my fundamental belief in the idea of authenticity as the foundation for any healthy and loving relationship remains unchanged, even in the case of children.  As a former philosophy professor of mine was fond of saying:  "It's just as simple and complex as that."

And Best Wishes on your upcoming procedure!  I'm excited for you!
:) :) :)


About this installment of my story...

My coming out experience with my mom was very hard for me to write about, and I still have the aftermath to discuss.  However, I decided that I needed to share it for two reasons.

First, as I continue to prepare for my social transition, I felt that I needed to be mindful of this old wound to avoid letting it become a distraction as I move forward, and there is no better way for me to unflinchingly do this than to write about it.  I know from previous experience that old wounds have a way of diverting attention to themselves and draining productive energy when you least expect it if you don't confront them directly.

And second, I thought that sharing the most difficult part of my story might help others who've had similar experiences to know that they not only aren't alone, but that it is possible to move past profound social loss.

"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline Linde

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2019, 10:30:05 am »



I'm so glad and happy for you that your son is able to accept your reality.  I hope that you can find joy and take pride in the fact that you played a substantial part in shaping his values and openness.  His goodness and kindness are wonderful reflections of who you are.  :)
  Thank you so much for this delightful compliment!  My marriage collapsed because of my transition, and my 33 year old son is the only family I have left.  We were always pretty close, and that was the reason that I was so scared that I might lose him.  We are still very close, and like to talk about all kinds of car stuff, like we always did!
Quote

And Best Wishes on your upcoming procedure!  I'm excited for you![/color] :) :) :)
Thank you very much, I start to get a little scared now, bcause I never attended an orchiectomy during my medical carrier, and have only a vague idea what to expect.  I think it will be pretty bloody, bcause the area down there has a very good blood supply.  But I am mostly concerned about the pain, because I am kind of a wimp in regards to pain!

02/22/2019 bi-lateral orchiectomy







Offline KimOct

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #15 on: February 17, 2019, 11:04:11 am »
EV - I will include my experiences in the next couple of days regarding my coming out experiences - not this moment  - just woke up and in a fog.

Linde - Don't be worried - I have had many procedures done.  An orchie is uncomfortable but the pain is very manageable.  It is more of a nuisance pain rather than a severe one.  You will be fine.

I only try to set reasonable expectations.  Some people claim an orchie is nothing.  That is an exaggeration but it is not terrible at all.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would put an orchie around a 4.  Just my opinion.
The first transphobe you have to conquer is yourself

Offline Linde

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2019, 11:40:31 am »
EV - I will include my experiences in the next couple of days regarding my coming out experiences - not this moment  - just woke up and in a fog.

Linde - Don't be worried - I have had many procedures done.  An orchie is uncomfortable but the pain is very manageable.  It is more of a nuisance pain rather than a severe one.  You will be fine.

I only try to set reasonable expectations.  Some people claim an orchie is nothing.  That is an exaggeration but it is not terrible at all.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I would put an orchie around a 4.  Just my opinion.
Thanks for the heads up Kim. I had quite some cutting done on my body (the worst I did to myself, I did cut my right thumb of, but it got put back on again).
But in reality, I prefer to be on the handle side of the scalpel, rather than on the blade side!
02/22/2019 bi-lateral orchiectomy







Offline KimOct

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2019, 09:52:53 pm »

Thank you very much Kim.

Could you reply with a link to your experiences with coming out to family please?  (Apologies; I'm not being lazy, my forum time is just very short right now.)


I never posted about my coming out - it wasn't nearly as dramatic as I expected it to be.  I was terrified and cried the first few times I did it.  I told my Mom first and then my best friend - I cried both times.  It was very tough to finally share my secret after hiding it for 55 years.  My Mom cracked me up unintentionally.  She said why didn't you tell me years ago - Yeah right.  I remember when she caught me stealing my grandmother's false eyelashes around the age of 12 and had a sit down talk with me and embarrassed the hell out of me.  I really don't think she would have been OK with it back then.  But times change and 40 years later she says she would have been fine.  In 1972 I really doubt it. I probably would have been in some kind of messed up therapy.

My friend was of course surprised but fine.  My daughter was third.  That was tough but she told me right away - Dad I love you no matter what (she was 24 at the time) but said that she would need a little time to get used to it.  She has been totally good with it.  My other two kids are non verbal autistic so no issue with them, I wish they were doing well enough that they could be opinionated.

Probably the worst one is my 'other mother'  her son was murdered - yes murdered as in shot when we were 22.  We were best friends and his mother and I have leaned on each other ever since.  She still prefers to call me Mike and she is the one person that I let do it.  I represent a kind of connection to her lost son and if she prefers to think of me as the guy her son was close to I am not going to take that away from her.

My ex wife is terrible and she and her sister still call me Mike but who cares.

After that everyone has been mostly surprised but nobody has rejected me.  At least not friends or family.  A few acquaintances choose not to speak to me anymore but whatever.

For me the biggest thing about coming out was the fear beforehand.  I was terrified but it went much better than I thought.
The first transphobe you have to conquer is yourself

Offline Entropic Variable

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2019, 09:56:53 am »
Thank you so much for this delightful compliment!


Well deserved Linde.  :)


My marriage collapsed because of my transition,


I’m very sorry to hear that Linde.  But I hope that you and your wife have found or will find peace with all of the changes you’ve both been through, and I also hope that you and your wife can look back and focus more and more on celebrating with gratitude the time you had together rather than on the pain of your mutual loss.


and my 33 year old son is the only family I have left.  We were always pretty close, and that was the reason that I was so scared that I might lose him.  We are still very close, and like to talk about all kinds of car stuff, like we always did!


That’s fantastic Linde, and again, I’m absolutely delighted for you both!  :)  :)  :)


Thank you very much, I start to get a little scared now, because I never attended an orchiectomy during my medical carrier, and have only a vague idea what to expect.  I think it will be pretty bloody, because the area down there has a very good blood supply.  But I am mostly concerned about the pain, because I am kind of a wimp in regards to pain!


At least it’s relatively noninvasive compared to something like a knee or open abdominal or thoracic procedure, and of course you get to look forward to all of the benefits.  :)  It’s amazing how two little lumps of tissue can have such wide-ranging effects on absolutely everything else in our bodies, and it’s very fortunate that they are as easy to access as they are for someone who wants to remove them.  (Compare it to what our brothers who need an oophorectomy have to go through.)


[…]
I did cut my right thumb off, but it got put back on again.
[…]


OUCH!  PLEASE don’t do that again.   :o


I never posted about my coming out -


Wow – thank you very much for sharing your coming out experiences here Kim!  (And to you and to anyone else reading this – please never feel like you’re “hijacking” my thread; I absolutely welcome and would be grateful for anything anyone wants to share here.)


it wasn't nearly as dramatic as I expected it to be.  I was terrified and cried the first few times I did it.  I told my Mom first and then my best friend - I cried both times.  It was very tough to finally share my secret after hiding it for 55 years.  My Mom cracked me up unintentionally.  She said why didn't you tell me years ago - Yeah right.


I’m so glad and happy for you that coming out went so much better with your mom than with mine!  :)


I remember when she caught me stealing my grandmother's false eyelashes around the age of 12 and had a sit down talk with me and embarrassed the hell out of me.  I really don't think she would have been OK with it back then.


I’d love to hear more about this story if you’d care to share it.  Sounds pretty intense though, and I’d certainly understand if you’d prefer not to.


But times change and 40 years later she says she would have been fine.  In 1972 I really doubt it. I probably would have been in some kind of messed up therapy.


It’s amazing how far society, psychology, and medicine have come during our lifetimes Kim.  I’m delighted for all of our sisters and brothers who can meaningfully begin their transitions in their teens and 20’s, but I agree that finding the support and resources to do so when we were that age were all but nonexistent.  We had to wait for the world to catch up to us.  But rather than focusing on what could have been, I choose to focus on all of the advances that those who came before us made possible for us to take advantage of.


My friend was of course surprised but fine.  My daughter was third.  That was tough but she told me right away - Dad I love you no matter what (she was 24 at the time) but said that she would need a little time to get used to it.  She has been totally good with it.


Fantastic!  :)  :)  :)

And I’ll echo what I said to Linde – your daughter’s kindness and openness are a wonderful reflection of who you are as her parent, and you have every reason to be very proud of your part in giving her these beautiful gifts.  Not only have you benefitted from them, but so will the rest of the world.  :)

How are things with your friend and daughter now?



My other two kids are non verbal autistic so no issue with them, I wish they were doing well enough that they could be opinionated.


As if you didn’t already have enough on your plate…your strength amazes me Kim!

I hope that your children are getting all of the resources and care that they need to be in a peaceful place in the world.
 


Probably the worst one is my 'other mother'  her son was murdered - yes murdered as in shot when we were 22.  We were best friends and his mother and I have leaned on each other ever since.  She still prefers to call me Mike and she is the one person that I let do it.  I represent a kind of connection to her lost son and if she prefers to think of me as the guy her son was close to I am not going to take that away from her.


Again, as if you didn’t already have enough on your plate…!

Sincerest condolences on your loss Kim.  My heart goes out to you and to your friend’s mother.  I so wish that there were some meaningful words of comfort I could offer, but in this situation there are obviously none for something so profoundly unfair.

At the very least, to me your friend’s tragic story is another painfully poignant reminder that it can all be over at any time, so we need to make the most of every day and be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be.

As for your incredibly accommodating identity consideration in your friend’s mother’s case – one of the things that never ceases to amaze and move me deeply about transgendered people is their seemingly almost universal capacity to put the needs of others ahead of their own, even when it’s to their detriment.  For whatever it may be worth, my instincts tell me that you’re being too generous, but I course completely respect that this your decision to make and I’m certainly not in any way judging you here.



My ex wife is terrible and she and her sister still call me Mike but who cares.


Based on what I’ve read elsewhere, I take it that your marriage ended for reasons other than your being transgendered?

In any event, I’m truly sorry that your ex-wife and her sister feel the need to be so petty and unkind, and good for you that it sounds like you refuse to let them hurt you.  Willful premeditated ugliness is never worth your energy.



After that everyone has been mostly surprised but nobody has rejected me.  At least not friends or family.  A few acquaintances choose not to speak to me anymore but whatever.


Your experiences with acquaintances aside, I’m so glad to hear that, and I’m so delighted for you Kim!  :)  :)  :)

During a group training exercise at work yesterday I was asked to complete the phrase “Family is…”, and my response was “anyone who truly knows and accepts me for who I am and loves me.”

Has it gotten to the point yet with anyone in your social circle where relating to them as your authentic self is just routine/taken for granted/no big deal?  And if so, how long did it take for you and them to get to that place?



For me the biggest thing about coming out was the fear beforehand.  I was terrified but it went much better than I thought.


I think that the anticipation of being rejected and then finding the courage to come out despite this fear is the first step in the process of breaking down and banishing internalized transphobia.

As a very wise woman once said:
  “The first transphobe you have to conquer is yourself.”  :)

"It's chaos.  Be kind." – Michelle McNamara, American freelance writer (1970-2016)

My Story

Offline Linde

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Re: I Shall Be Whole
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2019, 10:29:36 am »



In any event, I’m truly sorry that your ex-wife and her sister feel the need to be so petty and unkind, and good for you that it sounds like you refuse to let them hurt you.  Willful premeditated ugliness is never worth your energy.[/color]


Thank you for you compliments!

I don't know what is worse , to have the sisters of your ex to be unkind or scolding you for doing women things they feel are not good?
The two sisters of my ex never abandoned me, but stuck with me and did let go of my ex for a while!

Anyway, I am still very close with them and their families, but have to listen to lectures like: why did you die your hair, that is to much work and expensive over time!  Or, why do you want to let your hair grow longer, do you have any idea how much work that is!  You look just fine with your short hair!

They are in good relations with my ex again, and my ex and I are friends now, too (and she also lectures me what it means to be the woman she feels I should be).
Sometime, I feel like a little kid who gets scolded and lectured by every adult woman close to me, how I should be as a woman!  I know that they all mean well, but I still feel like a kid once in a while.  On the other hand, I probably can blame it on them if a fail?
02/22/2019 bi-lateral orchiectomy