In The Face Of Tragedy

How many days do we find ourselves mired in the drama of our lives? All those little things which seem so important at the moment we lose sight of the world outside? I know I am guilty of this.

So much happens, all the wonderful and horrible things we see, read, and hear. They seem so removed from our own lives, it is as if they happen on another planet. Yet they are not, we are not, as distant as we might like to believe. Even in the moments of our deepest isolation there is a thread which connects us. We are human, someone’s mother, sister, daughter. We are someone’s friend, coworker, boss, employee. We are surrounded by relationships both discreet and overt.

We might not know anyone who has been affected by tragedy directly, but still we share in their grief and loss. We might never know what they have learned through personal experience, yet it is all too easy to brush against the specter of mortality and in that moment understand the briefest instant of what they will live with for the rest of their lives. It is this understanding, that what we catch a fleeting glimpse of, has become their reality, which overwhelms us and takes our natural desire to be empathetic beyond our ability to understand.

We watch the news, we listen to the interviews and we hope and pray we never find ourselves or loved ones in such a situation. Yet we must also acknowledge the possibility exists.

But such an acknowledgement is not to surrender to fear or inaction. We cannot stop living our lives, nor should we wish to do so. Life is too precious to squander on maybes or might have beens. To hide ourselves away is the greater crime for then all we have to offer is wasted.

Believe It Or Not, Your Not Alone

I have had a busy day, but in a good way, mostly getting the house opened for the day as the weather has been great. Also doing some much needed Spring cleaning though goodness knows I am so far behind I’ll probably still be working when it’s time to do the Fall cleaning!

Despite wanting to pull my hair out at times, over all, things are going well and I have a positive outlook for the future. After so long of moving through a fog of doubt, it is an amazing feeling to leave all of that behind for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, I still have have my moody times, but thankfully they are aren’t as deep as even a short time ago. It really is like having a weight lifted off of me. I have more energy and I look forward to what the day will bring. Now, I want to hold onto this with both hands and never let go.

I did want to speak to some things which can and has caused some problems. The reason is because I know there are others who are dealing with the same things and I want them to know they are not alone…

For one, even though I know full well I am presenting as male, (as much as I am able these days), it still stings when I am addressed by someone using male pronouns. I know it may seem like it doesn’t make sense, but just because I do something I have to doesn’t mean I want to. I want so much to be seen and addressed as who I know myself to be, but it can’t be that way yet. The one saving grace is the internet and this blog. In the different chat rooms, forums, and blogs I visit, everyone is interacting with me as female and it means so much to me I cannot put it fully into words.

Another issue is with my physical appearance, mostly in seeing my reflection which forces me to confront what I know everyone else sees. To over come this, I make a point of either concentrating on some small detail or action, (which makes shaving possible), or else I just unfocus my eyes to the point I’m just a burry blob.

And then there is the big one right now which is my voice. This is my own fault, I simply haven’t practiced as much as I need to. It’s sort of like exercising, it’s not something I want to do, but I need to and I have to motivate myself to just quit making excuses and do it.

Of course there is the whole issue of having to keep so much private, of not being able to be open and honest with friends and family, really the whole world. It can be so difficult knowing you can’t just walk out the door looking the way you know you should. Not to mention the whole mannerism problem. There is a constant feeling of wrongness to interacting with people in a way which is consistent with your appearance but totally at odds with how you feel and see yourself. Personally, I wouldn’t care if I came across as gay, or overly feminine, except I know it would cause me some real, potentially dangerous, issues, especially at work. It’s disgusting there are some truly intolerant people in this world, people for whom using violence is an acceptable response to things they disagree with. Unfortunately, this is a reality some of us have to live with and it brings into sharp focus the dangers of being seen as “different.”

I know how difficult these things and more, can be. I have been there, I have and am living it every single day. I understand how difficult it is to remember what happens today is not the way it will always be. Things have changed many times and they will do so many more before we are through. It may be cliche, but I’ll ay it anyway, keep your eyes on the goal, whatever it might be. Try to keep moving, even if it is with the smallest of steps. You will get there. I will get there. We will get there.

The “A Series Of Questions” Project By L. Weingarten

copyright by L. Weingarten

copyright by L. Weingarten

 

 (Note: All photographs are copyright by L. Weingarten, used with permission.)

 

 

Not being out full time, I have been fortune to not have many personal questions asked, though I have had a few from those I have come out  to. I do know that, as time passes, I am more and more likely to have opportunities where I will be confronted and questioned. Admittedly, this is something I’m not looking forward to, I doubt even taking the time to explain myself to someone is likely to change their thoughts and opinions.

Then again, over the same time period Trans* people will be gaining visibility. It is possible some small about of education will begin to take root and those who seek to be more open minded and accepting will understand some things simply shouldn’t be asked out of common decency, if for no other reason. I’m not holding my breath though…

 

Copyright L. Weingarten

 copyright by L. Weingarten

 

What brought this to mind was seeing a photography project by L. Weingarten titled “A Series Of Questions” and can be seen here: Questions.

 

The project statement reads as follows;

“This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people.

Many documentary photographic projects that deal with trans issues exploit the genders of their subjects, pointing to an “otherness” or inappropriately exoticizing their bodies. A Series of Questions seeks instead to make visible the transphobia and gender-baiting that can become part of everyday interactions and lives, forming a fuller picture of the various lived experiences. In so doing, this work contrasts with the dehumanizing approaches that predominate the images made of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people, which often focus solely on their gender or trans status, or use them to further a specific point about social construction and gender.

The subjects hold signs depicting questions that each has had posed to them personally— some by strangers, others by loved ones, friends, or colleagues. Presented on white wooden boards, the questions are turned on the viewer, shifting the dynamics under which they were originally asked, and prompting the viewer to cast a reflective, self-critical eye upon themself, revealing how invasive this frame of reference can be.

As a greater number of subjects and questions are accumulated, a relentless conversation of questioning emerges. Attention is directed not on the backgrounds of the transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, or gender-variant subjects, but on the dynamics at work in these conversations. I am interested in uncovering the typology of these questions, discovering what categories of questions emerge as the script of power dynamics and interrogation is flipped.”

 

 Copyright L. Weingarten

copyright by L. Weingarten

Looking through these photos, I was struck as much by the expressions of the subjects as I was by the questions themselves. I see determination, defiance, and yes, pain. No one can fully understand someones experiences in this life, but as the saying goes; the eyes are the windows to the soul and in these pictures you see why.

Keeping My Head Held High and My Eyes Looking Forward.

Sorry for getting this done so late, I had some work I needed to finish before I could sit down and write anything. I did manage to reply to all the comments I got today, so it’s all good.

Now…

Yesterday left me disappointed, but putting it aside and getting some sleep has helped to put things back into perspective. This is nothing more than a bump in the road, I’ll work through it. In fact, this might be a blessing as it forces me to take a slower path, now having at least until June before I can consider taking any time to travel to the nearest major city which has the support I need. I’m not sure just how I will go about this, I am going to be doing more research and contacting at least one national support group I know that has a headquarters in said city. I do wish I lived closer, but wish in one hand… Anyway, this is workable, it is just going to take time and planning.

As for that doctor.. I am going to see him only for non trans medical care and frankly, I’m not even going to mention this last appointment to him again. It’s his loss as far as I’m concerned. Speaking of which, I started my antidepressant today (FLUoxetine) and I hope it works for me. As I understand, it might be a few weeks before there is enough in my system to have a noticeable affect. I only wish I had had the sense to do this years ago…

No matter what, I am keeping my head held high and my eyes looking forward.

Remembering To Count To Ten…

It turned out to be  a good thing I decided to wait to post anything. I have had a chance to clam down, and though I am still upset, I am able to think a little more clearly.

I saw my doctor today and it went about as well as I feared it would. He is willing to treat me for depression on the recommendation of my therapist and has started me on a low dose antidepressant which I will have filled tomorrow. As for the other issues… well, it didn’t go well at all. At least he was honest enough in telling me he isn’t willing to participate because he has no experience working with hormones in a transgender patient and he has no idea of what to do or what the effects might be. I told him I have information I can share if he wants it. He was politely dismissive. He would “take a look” but it was clear from his tone he really doesn’t want to. He also said he didn’t even know any doctors who might do “this sort of thing” and didn’t know where to start.

Another issue which made me want to scream was his insistence on getting my T levels, as taking care of that and starting the antidepressants might “alleviate my other issues.”

Really?

No. Really?

This was after I explained the whole “transgender” thing more than once, but I swear, it went in one ear and out the other.

So from here on, I will use him to treat my blood pressure and even the depression in as far as I can trust him, but anything else is a no go. I am happy to help educate someone who is willing to listen and learn, but I refuse to waste my time and breath on someone who just doesn’t want to know.

So, I am back to square one on the physical transition front. I still haven’t found one ounce of support anywhere within 200 miles. Even the nearest online support group is all but dead with only a handful of messages since Thanksgiving of last year.

Well, at least I think I have a chance to finally get the depression under control and I am thankful for that small blessing. Of course, that’s assuming this doctor isn’t going to come up with some other crack pot idea to “cure” me…. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Thoughts On A Thursday Evening

Today has, for the most part, been one of the better ones. I had the chance to work through some things during my shift last night and so there is a sense of a weight having been lifted. One would think this leaves little to ponder on a Thursday evening, but alas you would be mistaken.

I had to run to the store for few things and doing so is a source of anxiety, though I can usually get in and out without too many issues… until some helpful soul asks, “can I help you, sir?” or a teller automatically finishes with a “have a nice day… sir.”

I understand, every time I walk out the door I am presenting as male, which is my decision for many reasons, but doing so is getting more difficult. More painful. It gets to the point some days I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I just want to hide. I often wonder if it’s wrong to want to peel off my skin to reveal the real Kira trapped underneath.

I watch the people around me and think how lucky they are to simply be who they are. Of course they have no understanding of what their freedom means. Funny, I’m not jealous of them, male or female, I wish I could share in such a simple joy myself.

I guess I have always had these feelings, I know they have been more intense since I first came out, but now I feel them almost constantly and I wonder if it isn’t because I  am hoping I can begin HRT soon. Really, I’m not sure how I will react if I am told it isn’t possible… I don’t even want to think of it, but I am pragmatic enough to know the possibility exists.

This leads my thoughts to considering some of the things I will still have to do to be able to present the way I want, which is going to include some additional clothing items, mainly to give me a more feminine figure which I won’t gain from hormones alone thanks to having gone through the wrong puberty. The good news on that front is I can buy the things I need and stay within a reasonable budget.

So, something positive to offset the negative.

One way or another I am going to make it through this in one piece, even f it kills me.

Recognizing The Emotional Child

There are so many elements to this crazy thing we call transition, there is the mental shift where we strive to shake off years or decades of falsehood and of course the physical transformation which so many undergo. However there is another part which seems to be less a focus of discussion and that is an emotional transformation.

I cannot speak for anyone other than myself in this, but I have come to realize, in many ways, I have remained an emotional child. There came the point in which I found myself shutting down in many areas as a way to survive and emotionally was one of the first.

This isn’t something you come to realize on your own, it takes having it pointed out by some outside source. What it was really doesn’t matter when you stop and think about it. It is all in taking a moment and accepting the truth about yourself.

As a result I have found myself having to take responsibility for myself emotionally.

There is another, very important, aspect to this… I needed to, and I have, apologized to A, even though as of this moment she doesn’t fully understand what it is I am asking forgiveness for.

I sit here and I am amazed our relationship has lasted as long as it has. Indeed, I wonder if the issue of my gender had not come when it did, if we would still be together now. I think it is a testament to A that she has stuck with me when doing so had to have been more difficult than I can imagine.

I’m not saying these things as a way of punishing myself, though I have done so before. Nor am I seeking affirmation of just how horrible a person I am, though I have also done so many times. No. I am saying the simply because it is the truth. In my relationships I have been like a black hole, drawing in all of the emotion and energy from those around me in an effort to gain those things I found myself lacking or at least thinking I lacked.

I don’t how long it is going be before I can overcome this and finally stand on my own and be a true partner in my relationships but it is something I am going to do. I deserve it and so do those I care about and who care about me. I have taken the first step in owning my part in this, now I must make the effort to continue on, no one else can do it for me.

Time to put on my big girl pants and get on with living.

Continuing The Quest

I wrote another post I hope to have up soon. I am waiting to get permission to use some copyrighted photographs, so as I hear back I’ll get it up. I think you’ll find it interesting.

So, what can I write for today? Well, I have continued on my quest for information I can present to my doctor and I think I found a resource which will be very helpful. Actually, it was A who found this site,

Transgendered – Soul International

Scrolling down the page, you’ll find located on the left had side, a link to their Transition page. Again scrolling down you will find the following paragraphs; Do You Need To Find A Doctor, Questions To Ask When You Call A New Doctor, and just what I was looking for, Do You Need To Educate Your Doctor? Which includes a number of useful links to pdf files I can print out and take with me with

Protocols for Hormonal Reassignment of Gender” being the main one.

This isn’t everything I need but it is a great place to start.

Falling Into Place…

Just returned from having a quiet dinner with A. It was so nice to just sit and relax without the kids for just a little while… though we did eat too much!

So, had my therapy session this morning which went well. We did talk about how things have gone for past two weeks, which all things considered haven’t been as bad as they could have. We talked about my worries about the future and how I feel as if I am walking a high wire, trying to keep things low key enough so as not to affect my job while still giving myself enough room to continue finding my path.

We also discussed my upcoming doctors appointment. This lead to a lengthy discussion regarding my depression and by the end the diagnosis is I suffer from major depression. As I told her, I was diagnosed pretty much the same twenty plus years ago, and I guess these things don’t just go away with time, they need to be dealt with… I just wish I hadn’t been so darn stubborn for so long thinking I could deal with things myself… which I never really could. She also wrote a letter to the doctor with her recommendation of going on medication, which was nice. She has also offered to work with him in my ongoing care. I’ll just need to get the paperwork together.

I spoke to both the therapist and A about how I cannot bring myself to regret making this decision. I know it is going to complicate things, just as I know this is something I cannot undo once it is done, yet I cannot imagine doing anything else. In a way this is disconcerting, this being so certain… I remember only one other time something felt this right. As if another piece of a puzzle fell into place of its own accord and fit perfectly and it was when I was standing in front of that mirror, seeing myself for the first time… real and authentic.

When An Apple A Day Isn’t Enough

One week… that is when I will have my appointment with our family doctor. I am a little nervous. For one this is a male doctor, which I could deal with when we were talking about general medical issues such as my BP. I’m just not sure how comfortable I am going to be discussing my being trans. I already feel so self conscience when trying to explain myself when I am not presenting properly, and the few times have been with women.

I have never been comfortable with males and I sure haven’t found myself in a deeply personal discussion with one. Avoided doing so as a matter of fact. Well, there is nothing I can do but grin and bear it. He has been my primary care doctor for almost twenty years now and he knows my medical history inside and out, so he can better advise me as to what I will and will not be able to do.

I guess the daunting part at the moment is knowing I am going to have to explain my situation from the beginning, answer a lot of questions and hope I make sense enough he doesn’t think I’m delusional… Too bad I couldn’t just give him a link to this blog and let him read it all for himself… Doesn’t work that way though… Sigh.

Anyway, I’m looking for a guide of what to tell your doctor and I really haven’t found what I’m looking for. Just a list of the basics. Most of what I have found at this point is either out of date or geared for those in the UK and dealing with their health system. I’m sure I’ll find what I’m looking for and I have a week to find it.

While it is important to discuss my care as a Transgender person, it is not the only issue which will need to be addressed. The other, depression, is every bit as central to my care going forward. Interestingly, I see this as a less stressful item of discussion which I think in many ways speaks to the stigma attached to the Trans* label. Just over the past few decades I have watched as the topic of depression and mental health have become more mainstream to the point we see regular advertisements  on the television, in magazines and online. I certainly find the prospect of talking about my struggles with this to be much less of an issue that I have ever found when talking about gender. I suppose it is in part because it is something which is understood to affect people regardless of how they look or think of themselves and so I know I am not going to be judged for talking about seeing myself as one thing when I look like another. It isn’t as obvious or i your face as how I present myself.

The difficult part for me will be making clear how much of a problem this is and has been in my life at a time when I am not in the throws of a major downturn. I have too often thought I would be seen as complaining for no good reason, even though I know such isn’t the case.

Everyone wants to be seen as “normal”, as well adjusted and self reliant without having to ask for help even when such an attitude leads to more problems than simply acknowledging we need help ever could.

I think this is enough musing for one day, time to get some work done!