A Note To The Small Minded

Honestly, willful ignorance if not down right stupidity offends me. Let me share a prime example from the York Daily Record…

Gender identity is not legal identity

 

Here is a cut and paste for those who don’t want to give this nonsense any page views…

 

Gender identity is not legal identity

Letter to the Editor
Updated: 05/10/2013 04:38:29 PM EDT

My morning routine just got a lot more complicated. Used to be juice or coffee or eggs or cereal. Now I have the burden of deciding what sex I choose to be. A young lady from Red Lion has decided she is now a he. And expects you to call her by a male name and be allowed to bring a female date to the prom. Naturally, the ACLU jumps in as this is the kind of nonsense that ups their memberships and donations.
Transgender individuals are a real phenomenon. But one fraught with complications. The teenage years are ones of maturing sexuality and hormone turmoil. And simply living as the opposite sex does not confer on you any new legal sexual status.
Apparently, in the liberal alternate universe, sex organs are no longer the deciding factor as to your sex. And woe to any group that tries to instill “normal” standards of conduct in a given situation.
Now, do I wear the business suit or that cute mini dress?
KENNETH E. IMAN
SPRINGETTSBURY TOWNSHIP

 

I’m not sure I can even begin to address this. It’s obvious this person has never spoken to a Trans* person let alone make any attempt to actually learn about the people and issues he so flippantly disparages, and so just makes assumptions and you know what they say about assuming? That’s right, it makes an “Ass of You and Me” and after reading this drivel, calling this guy and ass would be unkind to asses everywhere.

I understand not all people jump to conclusions, but sadly, it seems the majority of gender normative people just can’t get their brains around the fact, not everyone is just like them. They seem to want to insist being gender variant must be a choice, after all, it’s just about what clothes you wear, right? All anyone need do is look in the mirror to know what they are suppose to be, right? Penis equals male, vagina equals female, right? What could be more simple than that? I suppose as long as you live in a world, surrounded by like minded people, such a black and white, either / or makes sense. After all, everyone they know is basically just like themselves and they have no reason to think otherwise. Even if they happen to know someone who is gay and thus that human sexuality isn’t so simple, they can still point out that such people tend to fall neatly into the gender binary they are living in, so they must be correct.

I suppose I can understand, after all, the simpler they can make the world, the less they have o think for themselves.

The sad thing is, I could talk until I was blue in the face and it wouldn’t make an ounce of difference to someone like this. They are so arrogant and small minded there is no room to learn the world is more complicated than they care to admit. What’s more, there is room for all of us, no matter what differences there may be.

A Lesson Learned

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I know this is going to seem sudden. A few short days ago I couldn’t imagine writing this months from now, if ever. But I have learned there are things we cannot fully understand, even about ourselves.

Over the past weeks and months I felt a growing drive, a desire to go “full time”. The stress of trying maintain a dual life was simply becoming too much. I reached a point where I knew I was going to have to make a decision; either take the next step and watch my world come crashing down or surrender and return to living life as male.

I know there are those who will think me foolish but I chose the latter. I thought I understood what I was accepting in making this decision. I thought I knew the cost and I was willing to pay it to spare those close to me, at least as much as I could.

What I failed to understand is just how much has changed. I have said I am not the person I was… Such a naive understatement…
Not only am I not that person who went before, I am incapable of even connecting with that person. Not mentally, not emotionally. We share memories, a common past, but I have no doubt we are two different people…

There is no going back.

Ever.

When I wrote about my decision, I was determined to never post here again. I was going to purge my computer and clear out the closet. I was going to erase a year of my life. Later that day I hugged my children and told A I loved her. They didn’t understand but I knew. I didn’t expect to live to see my next birthday, never mind the end of the year. It wasn’t a matter of if but when. As I said, I knew the price I would pay. I went to sleep, exhausted. When I woke and got ready for work, I did so in full male mode for the first time in almost a year.

I spent the following eight hours and more trying to find the person I had been, the mask I had worn for so many years. They were beyond my grasp. I tried to push myself over a mental and emotional cliff only to find it doesn’t exist. It seems I have embraced these things and made peace with them without realizing what I had done. I have a mixture of surprise and relief at finally coming to this realization.

Where I am left is with the knowledge I have had all along, which I have spoken of without fully grasping what it truly means. I am the same person regardless of how I choose to present, of what name I am called by or what pronouns are used. Everything else is an annoyance, not a life stopping event.
Yes, I would rather be seen and accepted as who I truly am. I am more comfortable in my skin when I can be myself, but if I can’t do so twenty four seven, it changes nothing.

Finally understanding this has freed me from a weight I placed on myself. It frees me from the pressure which was driving me to be seen as myself by others, to have their approval and understanding when in truth it is my own approval and understanding I need.

I needed to do this one thing, something I was never able to do before…Love myself, warts and all.

I guess thinking so damn much can sometimes be a good thing!

With A Wimper

I am writing this not because I wish to but that I must. I know, when I am finished and this is posted, I will regret having done so, but it can join the host of greater regrets which weigh upon my heart.

I have been through much since I first began this blog. More than I could have imagined. Yet I know there are many women who have gone through the same and much worse, yet they have done what I know I cannot. They pushed through their darkest moments and reached for their dreams. Refusing to back down no matter how great the cost.

I have been told I am strong, brave, courageous. I am none of those things. I am a coward. Afraid to risk everything to be true to myself. If you want to look up to someone, look up to them, not me. I don’t deserve it.

As time has passed and this road has carried me further along, I began to fear where I would find myself.

That first night A asked me if I needed to be a “real” woman. I knew she meant going through surgery, I told her no and that is still true at this moment, but I also thought I would never want to go even part time outside of our home. I couldn’t imagine going out that door as a woman. Now I have been out and the desire to do so is growing. Not for holidays or special events, but every day. I know now what it means to be my true self, to be seen and accepted as the person I have always been and anything less is becoming more than I can stand.

I think I knew, deep in my heart, I would find myself at this point, facing this decision. To either except this truth about myself or to turn back and except what I know will be a pain filled, difficult life, but one with which I am familiar. This isn’t about self sacrifice. This is the cowards way.

They say the first time you give up is the hardest, it gets easier after that. It’s true. At one point or another I have given up on hopes, dreams, desires… everything, even life.

This is just one more.

I don’t know if I am going to continue to post or not. After this I doubt any one is going to care what I have to say and I can’t blame anyone for leaving. I really don’t know what I could ever say again that might matter…

Is The Cost Worth The Gain?

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This is an article which has come to my attention several times since it was published on Feb 1, 2013. I saw it was linked to again today and I again went an read it though I have done so more than once already.

The New York Times

 

For those who don’t want to follow the link, the title is, “Should I become a woman and risk causing pain to my wife and children?”

I think it is easy to see why this is a subject I would be interested in. Obviously I don’t know the person who wrote in seeking advice. I don’t know her situation, (I am however going to use female pronouns as it seems appropriate.)

Now one thing I will say is I would suggest speaking to a qualified professional before writing in to an advise column. The simple fact is a good therapist is better at helping to answer such questions because they will have a better understanding of the individual and her unique circumstances. While the advise the columnist gave wasn’t bad, he was at a disadvantage by not being able to give any specific advise but having to speak in only general terms with limited information. 

I of course am in an even worse position for giving advise, being neither a mental health professional, nor in knowing this writer or her circumstances and I am not going to embarrass myself trying. What I can do is to put this into terms regarding my own life, I find myself in a similar situation, and speak to the decisions I have made. I doubt she will ever read these words, but I cannot discount the possibility.

 

One thing I am not clear on is if she has come out to her wife and family yet. She does mention having her self diagnosis confirmed, from which I infer she has seen a therapist. She said she has started her transition, though there are no specifics given. Is she beginning her mental transition, physical? Is she dressing? Each of these things requires a different approach. She can begin her mental transition and still keep things n her head without causing disruption to those around her, not to mention keeping things as “normal” as possible at work.

She says she is in a “happy marriage”, is this without coming out to her wife, or afterward? If there is one thing I know it is this is a revelation which will stress a marriage to the max. Even when your spouse decides to stand by you, to give you her support, there is still so much which changes in the relationship. So much which must change. Constant, open and honest, communication is required. 

She says she haas a successful career. If she plans to fully transition, then she needs to find out what policies are for her workplace. She needs to learn about her state and local laws regarding discrimination, hiring, and firing due to gender expression specifically and LGBT in general. She also needs to be aware of how her fellow employees and clients regard LGBT issues. 

Now comes the point at which she speaks of cost.

Again, no specifics, but she says there is going to be pain to her family. I am sorry to say, she has no idea. This is the one thing I can speak of from personal experience. It is going to hurt those she loves. There is no getting around this fact. The hardest thing she is going to face is the guilt she will feel for being the cause of that pain.

And then we come to the final piece to this puzzle. 

She says she has three children and she worries about how this will affect them. I know this all too well. I too have three children, and I worry about the same thing.

She doesn’t give the ages of her children and that is the key to how to handle sharing this information with them. If they are older, late teens or easily twenties, then simply setting them down and explaining things might be best. If they are young… well then things become complicated. Also, she doesn’t say if there are other issues at play such as Autism. Not having any information makes it pretty much impossible to talk about effective ways of talking with them about this. Not only are the guidelines vague at best, they are different given the ages of the children involved. I know for me, I have an 13 autistic child, an 11 year old, and a 5 year old. I have spent considerable time and effort into trying to gauge how they view these things, how much they know about them, and how developed their comprehension is. Each of them is a unique individual and each require a different approach.

Every one faces a different situation in regards to transitioning and no one can tell you what is the best path to follow. I know there are other women out there who had no choice but to transition in a way which has destroyed their marriages and estranged their children, it is a terrible cost but one which simply could not be avoided. Then there are those like myself who have and will fight every second to spare our loved ones, but even this path is not without its cost.

The writer put her question into terms of what is ethical. I don’t know if this was the right way way to discuss this issue. I think many would read that article and say the only correct answer was one of self sacrifice. I don’t see it in such a way. It really comes down to a matter of life or death. Yes, it really is that stark, that serious. There are those who can keep their heads above water long enough to give those around them the chance to adjust, to become old enough to make their own decisions. To wait until they no longer need worry about careers, or even a marriage. There are others who are drowning, who cannot do any other thing but what they must in order to survive. So what then is ethical? To live a lie or to accept death? What would ultimately cause your loved ones the most pain?

The final part of this is a question of happiness. As pointed out in the answer, there is already a level of happiness in the questioners life, but under these things is a deeper, more profound, and personal sense of sadness. I don’t know if transitioning is the answer to this personal issue, for some it is and others it is not. That is something to be spoken of with a personal therapist. I don’t know if this can be reduced to a yes or no, right or wrong answer, maybe in the end all we can is our best as we see it at this moment and hope we made the best decisions we could… and that those who are hurt will one day be able to forgive us.

Even A Mountain Can Be Reduced To Sand

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Writing is an interesting thing. Like any form of art, each person who sees it brings with them a unique experience and understanding, each takes away something unique as well. It doesn’t matter what the original intent of the artist was, what piece of thought or wisdom she tries to share, each of us will find something different which will stay with us even when it was never even considered. Of all the millions, indeed trillions, of words which have ever been written, the vision they share is, by their very nature, a very personal thing. I sometimes know what I hope to share, sometimes I am as confused as a child, lost in the flow of thought and emotion. I have been told what I write here is important, that my words have meaning and purpose. Maybe this is true, I do not know. I have never had an opportunity to speak directly with anyone who reads this blog, though maybe one day I will. Maybe, one day, I will have a chance to look into the eyes of someone who has read these things and had felt an impact, no matter how small, on their lives. Maybe I will die without ever experiencing such a moment. Either way, I will have spoken. My voice, as small as it may be, has been heard. As a writer, I can ask for nothing more.

I tell you these things because I’m not sure how what I type next is going to be taken by anyone who may take the time to read this post. It may be you will see here a pattern, an ongoing cycle which has dominated this blog from the beginning. Maybe you will read this and, taking a moment, look at the pictures I have posted and see the woman sitting at her computer, typing away with determination. Maybe, like me, you see nothing but your reflection in the glass… a reflection which cannot bring the reality into alignment with the dream.

You see, over the last few days I have lost something, some small faith in myself.

A recurring theme here is my uncertainty I am expressing myself correctly. As I said, each of us bring to this conversation our own unique experiences and thus a unique way of seeing things, even those things which to one might seem as black and white as words on a page. This is as true now as it has ever been.

I am at a loss to explain how I have been feeling, this combination of doubt and stomach churning fear. These emotions which send shock waves of ice through me from head to toe. To be sitting here and almost being physically ill.

There are things I have not shared here, things I thought too private, things which could out me if the wrong person read it, things I just didn’t have the words to explain. Some of these have been frustrations, some fears, some have been simple opinions. Some though, have been my deepest thoughts, my darkest fears. Those things I just don’t have a way of expressing, not to you, not to A, and not even to myself. They are shapeless blots of darkness, unformed and ethereal, yet all too real none the less.

One example is something I have tried, and failed to explain properly to those who know me personally. It is my appearance. What you see in my pictures is not how I present on a day to day basis. In fact, if you knew me years ago, I look much the same. It is rare for me to even wear a wig, I never wear makeup except for special occasions and as for how I dress… Well, it is pretty much jeans and sweatshirts or T-shirts depending on the weather. I have had it pointed out, time and again, this is nothing. After all, many women dress the same. Many don’t wear makeup and they are right. What I haven’t made clear is the difference this has for me, how doing the same now as I did before has a deeper meaning for me personally. How putting on the same clothes now as I did in years past, how having my hair the same, how going about my day being seen as I have always been is crushing me, little by little, more each day.

I have tried to explain how it isn’t the clothing its self, but what they represent. It isn’t my hair style, but how I see myself. None of this is something most people even think about. Most people don’t see an old, favorite shirt and have it bring them doubts and fears because it represents someone they no longer associate with who they are now. They don’t pick up a pair of pants and see in it a lifetime of self denial and pain. I do.

I have lost count of how many times I have been told I think of and worry about stuff no one else even notices. That I make too much of things, that what consumes my mind has no importance. If I were like those around me I would say they were right. But I’m not. For me, the things I handle in everyday life, the things I do, the things I see, they all have stings attached. They all have a deeper meaning. So much of the day to day is a constant reminder of what was, what can no longer be, at least not in my heart. They are relics of a by gone age. Yet I cannot cast them aside. They have a reason and purpose in my life still, and will do so for the foreseeable future. I hate them, yet I need them. I despise them, yet I use them, not because I want to but because I need to.

Day after day after day, I am hammered by a past I cannot hope to escape. I am weighed down by the reminders of who I was, who I am still expected to be.

All of this things, big and small, noticed or not, are another strand in a web I cannot break.

So there comes times like these. When I sit alone and feel the unrelenting weight of a life I can no longer embrace. Knowing there is nothing I can do at the moment to change the course I am on, only able to hope for a future time when things will change.

But hope can sustain a person for only so long before they stumble and fall. Before the weight they carry becomes too much and they are left wondering if it is worth all of the pain and effort. If it wouldn’t be easier to just give up, to surrender the fight and return to a life which, while difficult and painful in its own right, is an easier path than the one you are currently on.

Given enough time, even a mountain can be reduced to a pile of sand.

That is what I  face. A never ending assault by an ocean of expectations. Wave after wave, storm after storm. At some point something is going to break and I fear it will be me.

Rest In Peace

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There are times when I wish it was easier to express emotions through writing. I know of course this is something which is done every day… great writers seem to invoke a powerful response with just a few well chosen words, but I am not one of them. There are times such as this when I struggle to find the words to express even the smallest part of what I am feeling.

I have spoken of reaching a “low” point. Clearly this does little to express the depth of my thoughts and emotions during some points in my day to day efforts to deal with with things. Maybe I am deliberately glossing over things, trying to make light of what is really something more serious than I am willing to admit even to myself. Then again, there are times I simply don’t want to burden others with my problems. I seem to cause enough problems without deliberately adding to them.

But this once, I would like to try and share some of my thoughts, some of these emotions that have me here, typing all of these words while there are tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart, because, maybe, just maybe, there is someone else who is feeling the same, having the same thoughts, who could use knowing they are not alone in this moment.

I was luck enough to have someone to talk to last night when this was hardest to deal with alone. A friend who was willing to lend me an ear to listen, an arm to lean on when I needed it more than I wanted to admit. I know not everyone has someone like that and I cannot tell you how thankful I am that I do,

More and more, as the days have passed, I have found my thoughts turning to what it would mean to be able to live openly. To be able to go about my day, doing the most mundane of things as myself, being accepted… or just ignored. To walk down the street, to go shopping, to just sitting at the computer without thought of hiding. To be able to simply breath without thinking.  It isn’t about “passing” because such things simply don’t matter any more. 

Last night these thoughts suddenly flared into facing a fear I have managed to sidestep to this point, to down play because I wanted to convince myself it didn’t matter. But it does.

I realized I was afraid of dying without having lived as myself. Of having who I was truly was for ever lost behind a name carved on a piece of rock that wasn’t “my” name. Who would look at it an know the truth it concealed? Who would remember the woman I was? 

I don’t know how to explain what I feel when faced with this possibility. The understanding that one simple twist of fate could erase me in a blink.

There has been so much discussion, so much anger and argument over the issue of “privilege”. So many harsh words exchanged over nothing more than words. Pointless puffs of air no one will remember. Well, this is what privilege looks like… It is knowing if you die, it will be your name on a piece of rock. Your name in the paper. Your name people will remember and speak of. It will be you people think of with love, with fondness, with anger and spite. It will be you as expressed by such a simple thing that will encompass a life lived.

I may never have that.   

Starting A Conversation

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There is an ongoing conversation I am having in regards to a post I read yesterday. It can be found here: Don’t Call Me “Cisgirl”. 

I think this is a very good opportunity to open a dialogue in the hopes of furthering understanding between Trans* and non trans people. From this conversation, though still in it’s initial stages, I can see where there is a very real difference in the way people are viewing what is being said. Indeed, it has become obvious to me that we are not just coming at this from different directions, but from worlds of experience and understanding.

I think for myself, when I first responded to this post, I did so from certain assumptions which have caused some misunderstanding. It is quite possible this is just a fault of my own, that I simply am not a very good spokeswoman in these matters, but I can’t help but feel that much of this arises from what we think others should know in regards to own viewpoints and this is true for both sides.

I hope there will be those who will take the time to read the exchange in the comments and let me know what mistakes I may have made and how I can explain things better. 

 

I hope that if nothing else is accomplished, then I can gain a better understanding of the issues that concern all women and through that understanding, become a better advocate for women, Trans” and non Trans alike.

Perspective

 

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Today has been one of those days when I wish I could just go to bed, pull the covers over my head and forget the whole thing happened.

However, I can’t do that no matter how much I might want to and honestly, it doesn’t accomplish anything. 

 

I know from personal experience how easy it is to become so wrapped up in the little things, especially when many of them seem to be negative, that we lose site of the bigger picture. In fact I fell into this trap myself again today, but unlike times past, it just took gaining some perspective to realize that others are dealing with issues much bigger, much more immediate, much more life threatening and I doubt they would appreciate or even understand someone throwing a pity party over what is really a lot of pointless crap.

Part of this comes from reading the words of others who are dealing with things I have been fortunate to avoid to this point. The loss of a marriage, of friends and family. The loss of a job or a place to live. Then there is the greatest loss of all, the loss of life.

In the face of such things, I find I can face my own little issues with a clearer perspective. 

The Easy Way Or The Right Way

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this today or wait until tomorrow, but either way I needed to get my thoughts down.

There are times in our lives when we must make a decision. We can choose to take the easy way out or we can do what we must, what is right for ourselves and those we care most about.
I have faced two of these decisions over the past days and today as well. The first was to go out and face the world as myself, as I truly am without apology. The second was to talk to my oldest son about what I had done and why.
The first really wasn’t a choice. I did what I did not because I wanted to but because I reached a point in my life where I couldn’t do anything else.
The second was a choice. I thought to take the easy way out and in doing so I was dishonest and unfair to someone who deserves better from me.
Today I did what I could to correct that mistake.
I showed him the pictures I had taken and told him I had gone to my therapy session as he saw me. He asked me why and I tried to explain because it was part of who I am. He couldn’t really understand, so after some thinking I explained it in terms of superheroes who have a secret identity and that seeing me as I stood there, as he has always known me, that is my secret identity. But just like Superman, what he saw in the pictures was my true identity. It didn’t make complete sense to him but now he gets the basic idea. I think this may be the beginning of understanding… at least I hope so.

I told A about what happened when she got home, explaining that I hadn’t felt right excluding him. I don’t want him to learn the truth one day and feel as though I had lied to him.

There are going to be more difficult decisions in my future, I know this. I also know that trying to take the easy way out will only lead to more suffering than doing the right thing to begin with. I have an entire life time as an example.