Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle

“I love being a woman”.  How long will I continue to convince myself of this premise?  No, I love being myself.  Myself just happens to be a woman.  Let’s get it straight for the record shall we?  There, I said it.

 Without argument, I do love it when I wake up in the morning with an entire essay in my head.  Swirling clouds of thoughts materialize themselves as concrete and lucid entities that are clear as day.  I love it even more when I read an article a day later and realize I am not alone in my thoughts.  That love quickly fades to a sense of realization and this is where the writing begins……

In comparison to women who have lived their lives as women from day one, I haven’t been around on the planet for all that long to share in the “amazing” experience.  No.  I’ve been able to live my life from the perspective of a woman starting at the tender age of 45 years old.  Heck, by actuary statistics, I was well beyond the half way point of my lifespan when I came out of the gate.  I had some quick acclimatization to do and a lot to catch up on.

I got passed the, “Hey this is fun to play dress up with high heels and stockings and short skirts with revealing tops”.  Truth is, I got passed it before I even stepped foot outside the house as the real “me” that was locked in side.  I’m glad I did because being a woman in the western world I happen to find myself living in entails a stark and staunch realization of just what is in store when you happen to be born as one.  Even more fun is learning how you fit in when you are, like the person who enters the meeting at work 15 minutes late, suddenly viewed as “different” and “non-conformist”.  Why is everyone in the room looking at me and talking at me without saying anything to me? Hmmmmm.

This story is not about anyone elses opinions, or observations or thoughts.  I respect yours.  I listen and observe and interpolate yours within the cogwheels of my own mind.  I get that.  This is about my own observations.  I have been (note the facetiousness) “lucky” enough to get to experience the world as a woman by getting dropped into at right in the middle of my life.  This is akin to being dropped by parachute into a remote jungle in the Congo with just a brochure in your hand, which you had read before being thrown out of the plane.  “THIS DOES NOT LOOK LIKE WHAT I SAW WHEN I READ THE BROCHURE ABOUT BEING A WOMAN!”, I exclaim to thin air as I fall from 15,000 feet.

Here I am, interpreting what it is like to live my life as the person I have always been inside and having to now relate to the world as my true self.  I didn’t have the chance to acclimate over more than half a lifetime.  No, I jumped out of a plane.  You know when you see children and they seem to be wide-eyed and amazed at the smallest things we take for granted?  They can stare at an ant, or a cloud or a piece of spaghetti like it was the Holy Grail?  It’s new to them.  They are processing information that is bewilderingly new to them?  That’s what it’s like to be in the world, for me, as a woman.  Hey, it feels right to me, for the first time in my life, don’t get me wrong.  Still, it’s a bit of shock landing in the Congo Jungle and staring at what’s around me and then back down at my neatly printed one page brochure.

So here I am, in the jungle.  Now, things get interesting.  Not only am I seeing how the interactions between women work with each other but I am seeing how those interactions work between men and women…..from….. a woman’s perspective.  Some of it is affirming, like the ability for women to be able to cross-socialize in ways that men can not, and some of it is horribly annoying, like the ways that women are able to cross-socialize in ways that men do not.  That list goes on and on and on.  Is that woman staring me down because I’m the only one dressed in a business pant suit here?

I could start a thesis on what I have learned and observed from my perspectives in the short time I have been living my life in a woman’s world but I won’t bore you with that here.  No, my observations are taken from my hyper-aware state in this Congo Jungle realizing I am not like the other natives who inhabit it.  I am seen by many as a transgender woman.

It has been said that after bottom surgery, you know, where I make an “outy” an “inny”, that all of a sudden, my transition is over.  Sure.  “Waiter, can you drop a Rufi in my drink please and wake me up when the non-reality party is over?”.

No.  This is not going to happen.  Have your surgery and then have 10 more if you need to.  Looksism is everything.  If you don’t look the part as the majority of the world would have you  look “as a woman”, then all of a sudden you may find that all your self-proclaimed self-affirmations are about to crumble.

As a woman who has lived their lives from birth as a woman, the fun starts right away.  People are classified before they even have a chance to be seen for their significance.. 

“Hey, Joe!  Did you see that short, fat, ugly woman?”

”Oh, you mean the one who wrote the paper on interdimensional time travel?  Sure, I saw her the other day.  She needs to lose weight”.

Things get more fun when you are a transgender woman (men too, but remember, I’m writing my own thoughts.  You write your own essay…..because I want to read that too!).

All of a sudden as a transgender woman, not only do I have to worry about the whole looksism aspect by maintaining proper weight, dress, appearances, coiffured hair and primly done makeup but I have to do it because what happens if I am suddenly denigrated because I missed one of those finer points that all women seem to have to ascribe to at some level or another in their lives, then I add that to my list on top of being Transgender.

There’s that word again?  Hey, what if I had my surgery?  I’m a complete woman now, right?  I don’t think so.  You end up, in this world, being labeled just like anyone else and if you don’t “seamlessly blend in” stealthily as a woman, then you become the lucky winner of yet another box! 

“Hey, Joe!  Did you see that short, fat, ugly transgender woman?”

”Yeah, I did!  She just invented interdimensional time travel”.

True story.  I was in a local watering hole once and sipping on a wine as I whined with several of my girlfriends.  Across the bar was a woman and three guys.  This was early on in my transition and while this doesn’t happen much, if at all anymore, on that night it did.

This woman was staring at me intently and trying to pick up clues, like she was trying to solve a mystery.  She just wanted to be sure before she proclaimed that “Colonel Mustard did the murder in the parlor with the candlestick!”   After what seemed like forever, but in reality was probably only a few moments, she turned to one of her cohorts and spoke softly but distinctly in a way that I was tuned into at that point in my hyper-aware state.   She clearly stated, “THAT’S A TRANSGENDER WOMAN!”  She then paused and added on immediately after, this qualifier, ‘”BUT SHE LOOKS REALLY, REALLY GOOD”.

BANG!  Classified.  Put into a box and then told I look pretty good for someone in that box.  I’m not a woman in her mind.  I’m a trans woman.

This sucks.

So how much energy does a transgender woman have to employ to ensure that they don’t have to fall into the box marked “OTHER”? I certainly don't have to but there are societal consequences for not so doing.

What happens if I am in bed with a guy and he notices I have something, that looks just a little off.  Great, I have a vagina but my body shape is slightly off or some anatomical feature just doesn’t map to the standard production run model of this vehicular auto-body called “woman”?

I see so many trans women doing so much to change such seemingly small aspects of their body, moving fat around, having ribs removed, all to achieve that spanking fresh, out-of-the-box, generic pine scented car air freshener look.  FUCK IT.

If I have to compete with natal women, I’ll buy a dog and go it alone.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many guys on dating sites have said how amazing I am, that I am smart, intelligent, witty, and inventive.  They say that they don’t know anyone who seemed to achieve or do what I have all in one package.  Oh, yeah, but you are transgender so you have a nice life and take care.  Buh-bye now.  Fuck That Too.

So I have two choices.  I can keep on being me and do as I see fit.  I can dress and look and be who I am without caring what others think and in so doing be admired from afar by the majority of the world OR I can work tirelessly to blend in seamlessly by conforming to this new box I find myself in, reshaping my body, reshaping my entire character so that even my true self as a woman is now imprisoned in a brand new shiny box with boobs…….and maybe, just maybe if I do all of that, find a sense of normalcy, contentment and true love as the woman I am……which doesn’t exist anyway, transgender or not.  As Guns N' Roses would say, "Welcome to the Jungle".

Sunday, July 17, 2016

I am Woman

I am a woman

I am a work in progress

I accept who I am

I do not require acceptance or validation from anyone.

I care about you as much as you will do the same in return.

No one person completes me.  I complete myself.  You may, however, complement my life.  I will, in kind, complement the life that is yours

I am loyal and devoted to the same extent that you are to me.

I will always add to your life in like kind if you add to mine.

If you attempt to coerce, force or take from me, you are a manipulator.  I will not budge.  I will battle you on the ground upon which you stand for the right to be who I am.

I will always listen to you.  I will always hear your words and your opinions.

I will decide for myself.  You may be a part of that decision but you cannot decide for me.  Do not try.

I do not take *hit from anyone.  *hit is best used as fertilizer.  Put it on a farm.

I do not take pleasure in power or control.  I take pleasure in unifying love and connecting all people

I believe uniqueness is a gift we each share.  Those who do not revel in its splendors and appreciate its worth are abject fools with narrow minds.  I have no place for you in my life.

I have an infinite amount of love to give.  Accept it if you will but do not abuse the gift I give.

Do not bargain with love.  I will accept none for which strings and conditions are attached.

I will make mistakes

I will hold myself accountable when I do

I will listen, learn and understand from the mistakes I make

I will grow as a person from having made those mistakes.

Like a fine wine.  I will only improve with age.

I am myself.

I am a woman.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Journey

Of friends I have many
Of soulmates; rarely true
They are friends along a journey
To places I never knew

I never wanted to take this trip
But of choices I had so few
The one I chose not to take
Leaves me writing this to you.

Careful not to turn your head!
Looking back you will often cry
For what once was can never yet be
The past is where one dies.

So in perpetual motion I maintain
One step ahead of the past
One step ahead of the memories of what was
Whisps of peace that rarely last.

I tire of the distractions
The things I do each day
But necessary they truly are
Demons of darkness held at bay

Standing in the shower
Tears mixing with the rain
Feeling lost within the droplets
As sadness goes down the drain.

In silence, in the darkness
When I lay in bed alone
In sleepless dreams they come again
And live within my home.

With morning sun I shake them off
They vaporize as morning dew
Another day where they are held at bay
They will return at night anew

So I count all of my blessings
And realize my wants are still a dream
Of something that is oft rarely found
And leave them buried and unseen

-Christen Bustani

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Stereotyping of Transgender Women Continues

There's still a lot wrong with our greater society when transgender women are viewed as having been "men".

Watch this video and then read on.

As friend of mine pointed out, the woman in the stripes was in disbelief of these beautiful women (as she stated), that they "were" at one time "guys". The problem here is that the general public still views trans women as having "changed" their identity.....that they were once guys and now they are women. Sorry, it doesn't work like that. Transgender women were always women but the ideology is lost because it's not "graspable" tangibly by the greater masses of our cis-gender population. Those who are not able to experience first hand what it is to be transgender can not understand the gravity of the error being made when they say that a transgender woman "was a guy". For most if not all, transition was just a changing of the outer packaging. The "guy" everyone saw was just an actor in a theatre of their own life.

Second point. Although a television show such as this has the capability to bring about yet another immersive experience into the lives of transgender individuals, it also could be utilizing media standards to promulgate stereotypes of transgender women who do not represent our mainstream population. Of course our mainstream population of transgender women would make for a very, very dull show because the majority of transgender women are NOT supermodels and do NOT vie for attention in any way more than any other cis-woman would. In other words, the average transgender woman is just a woman and being just ordinary is not fodder for a network television show.

To the credit of Whoopi Goldberg, and this is what I took from the segment, she did provide a heartfelt dialog to the audience to show that she really is a person that seems to be on our side, that is making a wonderful attempt at trying to understand us as an ally would!

In summation..... if it is the intent of the media to create television programming that is focused on the transgender community, they why not have programming that lauds transgender women who have contributed in their accomplishments to society?

Short segments focusing on the achievements of transgender women as professionals in our society could be an interesting premise to a series that would aim to relate accomplishments rather than exhibitionism. The viewers would see that we are scientists, engineers, writers, pilots, astronomers, physicists and a plethora of other occupations. They would see that we are achievers and see the contributions of our work in our modern society. Wouldn't that be a show to behold, and perhaps......just perhaps, it might inspire another generation of individuals, trans or not, to spark the same sort of fire in their own lives. Think about it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

On the Eve of a Birthday

In a few short hours, I will have completed a journey of life that has taken me 51 times around our nearest star. Although we as humans mark this journey at the visceral level by the delimiter of time, it is much more a celebration of life itself and all it entails. For me it has been: 
51 years of sunrises and joys and 51 years of sunsets and sadness; of those who have walked into my life and of those who are no longer with me on this world, relegated now to the cavernous vaults of my memories. 51 years of learning and discovering; with each year bringing more understanding and at the same time, an even greater realization of what is yet to be understood.
51 years of friendships made. 51 Years of people who have walked with me in my life. Some have walked but a mile and many have marched miles more; yet each person who has walked with me has imparted me with gifts that shall ever be a part of my being.
But what of this past year? What is it that I am thankful for since the last 20th of May? This has been for me, an amazing year of discovery, of change and accomplishments. I have reached farther than I ever have in this past year and found that I was supported by those around me, buoyed up by their belief in me and bolstered in my strength through theirs in me. The admonitions I oft held for myself melted into oblivion through what love and support I have found
This has been the year that has further solidified my sense of self, of being. Understanding and accepting that I have always been a woman at heart and a woman in my soul has manifested and blossomed physically, spiritually and sensually through those around me. I have had the privilege to begin to feel as the woman I am, in ways I had only conjectured I might feel in years past. The feelings are amazing and indescribable in their intangibility yet they are such a core to myself as I truly am as a woman. 
I have been blessed to find myself in the company of those who bring spark to my life in ways where the fires of my adventurous soul had, in recent years, diminished and dwindled to but glowing embers of hope. I held onto that hope such that I might regain that spirit and to begin adventures anew. A nomad I am at heart, but relegated to the mundane I have been, taking care of business which had to be taken care of; taking care of people who needed my presence in lieu of emptiness in their own lives as they struggled in my family to struggle in their own lives this past year. I am feeling hopeful that the ensuing year will bring new adventures with special people in my life this year who hold similar vision.
The coming year shall bring many changes as my journey starts to accelerate forward. I have held back on the brakes of a roaring engine for far too long now. It is time to let go and to experience all that life has to offer me as a woman. Who will be on this journey with me? My arms remain outstretched and open to accept all into my life who wish to share it....because life without sharing is but simply self existence. Be with me, if you wish to walk the most unique of paths, as I share what amazing discoveries are found in the year ahead. My life is better because of you; you who walk with me; you who are part of what makes my birthday very happy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Christen's Testimony: The Story of My Life

The following is a presentation I gave at our local Baptist Church on Tuesday, May 10, 2016.  This was read to our church community group which meets regularly together.  It was emotionally moving to some and informative to all.  Where ignorance is removed and replaced with knowledge, hatred can not so easily take root.  Special Thanks to Kelly Lepley, an extraordinary woman who graciously provided some inspirational passages which became part of this presentation.  -Enjoy


I’ve had the opportunity to stand before the entire house of representatives at our State House.  I’ve stood up before 350 students and faculty to speak and to share.  I’ve had WMUR and WBIN television stand before me with cameras rolling as I shared with them.  But in all honesty, these were trivial in comparison to what I feel in sharing this with you all tonight.  Perhaps it is my fear of the one thing happening, that thing we are asked by God not to do, and that is to judge others.  It has taken me many decades of my life to come to where I sit before you here this evening.  It has taken me as many decades to finally feel at peace and to finally, and for the first time in my life, feel happiness and joy in simply being able to live life truthfully to my own sense of self.

I am about to present you with something that has been with me for an entire lifetime. This is not something that has only come up recently. From the time I was a pre-school child until this very day what I will tell you about now has been present for me and has overshadowed every single moment of my life.

As I look backward at the various stages and days of my life until now; I see a life lived with more guilt and depression than most could possibly imagine. I blamed myself, not knowing the true reasons that caused this to occur.
So, to begin at the beginning…

Arriving here at this point in my life has not been easy.  I knew from my earliest memories as a small child that I felt different from others.  I didn’t have the words back then to relate the difference, nor could I see that how I felt that I saw myself was very different from about age 4 and 5.

I would often be complemented by strangers as being a cute little girl.  It was my head of curly hair that my mother rather liked about me that caused the confusion.

Growing up, I always felt more comfortable in socializing with the little girls in school.  I found their manner of play and of conversation on par with my own.  We were able to talk about all the things that girls like to talk to about and we were able to connect on a very social level and in play in a way that boys could and generally did not. 

None of what I am saying would seem to be a problem except for the fact that I was born, at least from what was known medically in the mid 1960’s, as a boy.

I would quietly lie in bed at night hoping that when I woke up, I would discover that everything had been corrected. I prayed for hours, asking God to fix what was broken.   When that never happened, I asked God why he had done this to me and asked him to take my life in the night so that I would not have to deal with this any longer.  I did not want to disappoint my parents and those around me and so, upon waking each day, I did what I was expected to do and tried to become what I was expected to become.

My feelings were not quantifiable and I argued with myself for years and years that they were therefore illogical and tried to dismiss them Later, in my twenties, that same frustration of trying to live my life to the expectations of others and the fear of shame in letting anyone know of how I fully felt inside for fear of their disapproval and disappointment led me nearly to take my own life in two separate suicide attempts.  I resolved to try again and continue my life forward.

I did my best to be a good actor! I did as many male things as I could over the remaining years. I participated in a few sports but found that I was happiest in such endeavors as hiking and sailing and loathed any male team sports.  I found solace in individual activities which removed me from any gender specific environment and from people.  Such pastimes as camping and hiking allowed me solace and a chance to be at one and alone in the woods, with just myself and God around me as I summitted mountains and paddled my kayak in pristine and quiet lakes in solitude alone.

From the outside looking in, I suspect one would have thought I lived the good life. In many ways I did. However, in many others, this was not the case. They say, never judge a book by its cover. Well, in my case, everyone was just seeing the cover. Inside was something much different. No one knew the internal struggle, nor the pain I have lived with most of my life, including my own family. Deep inside, I was hurting but could not tell anyone out of fear of rejection.

Growing up, I recall many trips to the doctors office and to urologists.  I was young at the time and didn’t understand many of the tests that were being performed on me.  It wasn’t until I got into high school and the whole locker room situation that I began to realize that I was just not built physically like any of the other boys and so I was made fun of.  I avoided such places after that, too embarrassed to say anything to anyone and often suffered being bullied by other kids.  On one occasion, I was carried off by a goodly number of the football team and tied up with hockey tape to a light post on Memorial Drive along the Charles River in Cambridge, MA and left there.  Eventually, and after some considerable time, a passing motorist kindly stopped in busy traffic to free me from my entrapment.

I suffer from what is called Gender Dysphoria, and the title ascribed to me is a transsexual. It means that I am one of those people that you might hear say “I am a woman trapped in the body of a man”.  Well, Let me just say that I was never a woman trapped in a man’s body.  That is absolute nonsense to me.  This is the body that God gave me, odd as it is not being fully male or fully female.   I would hope that you would disconnect me from those grotesque caricatures we all too often see on shows like Jerry Springer and the like. They represent an extreme fringe and only serve to create an incorrect view of the nature of this problem. The symptoms of Gender Dysphoria  exists, by known statistics, in about 1% of the population.

About five years ago, at age 45, I had a nervous breakdown and a complete collapse.

I spent a considerable amount of time studying “Gender Dysphoria,” seeking answers to what I was living with. Endocrinologists, medical doctors and psychologists and other experts in these fields who gave me insight as to why I was suffering. In short, I was told this was biological in nature, and nothing could be done to change it.  The results all point to a diagnosis of gender dysphoria.  There was clear evidence that I exhibited medicially all the signs and symptoms of a diagnosis that was most definitely, “transsexual”.

It was not until within the past few years that I learned from my sister that my mother had taken a drug known as DES before and during her pregnancy with me.  I had read many stories and seen much correlative evidence of developmental issues prenataly in boys when mothers took this drug.  As it was a concentrated form of estrogen, it, for me, had profound effects on both physical development of the body and mental development of the brain and it’s measurable effects helped solidify the variance I had felt internally all my life and had fought for years inside.

Popular belief outside of the medical community holds that people with “Gender Dysphoria” are “Gender Confused.” This is far from the truth. No one would choose to undergo a drastic change, being “Confused.” We are born with it and is inherent with us from our earliest recollection.

Within weeks of beginning hormone treatments, the anxiety I lived with most of my adult life began to fade. Never before, had I felt such comfort. The feeling of dysphoria was no longer there. The war going on inside my brain was subsiding to the point of tranquility. No amount of therapy, suppression or mind altering games, was able to provide such a relief.  This had been the only thing that did give me relief.

Being transgender has absolutely nothing to do with being gay or lesbian or anything sexual.  It is not about sex or having sex.  It is all about identity; who I am inside and how I relate to the world around me and how the world around me relates to me in return.  It is not pleasurable or fun.  It is likely one of the most difficult struggles one can face in a world that is only today, just beginning to understand.

I would like to share with you,  Paul's admonition in Galatians 5.  In reading it, none of my circumstances fit anywhere on the scale of what is right or wrong. My realization of self does not equate to sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, drunkenness, or orgies.

If anything, as a result of seeking my true self, I am all about the manifestations of the spirit that Paul lists. As a reminder they were; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The more I strive to understand this world through the study of the sciences, the more I am amazed at the diversity of God’s work.   I look up at the stars at night, realizing that although they are all moving away from each other through space at great speeds, and, realizing that they all emanated from a point of creation so many years ago….. I realize in that moment that science can not explain the vastness of the entirety of God’s plan.  Scientists agree that our universe began from a single point of matter that exploded with great force but it cannot explain how that single point of matter came to existence.  It can not explain how something became from nothing.  Science does not deny the existence of God.  If anything, it helps us understand the magnificence of God and that we are, even with our greatest minds and greatest scientific instruments, to be able to only scratch the surface and to see behind the curtain only so far.  It leaves us, and me, with greater respect for His work and creation.

Similarly, as science breaks into the study of humans in being able to look at how we are made up by our DNA and our Chromosomes, it has become known to those who strive to understand, that we are more complex as humans than could have been ever imagined.  Our DNA and our Chromosomes tell a story that paints us as children of God in the greatest pallet of colors imaginable.  Our genetics tell a story that helps us and me to understand that I am not a mistake but a child created, as each of us are, as God intended.  I take what makes me different and, rather than hiding from the world in shame, come forth proudly as a person who perhaps received what I now consider as a gift….a gift to see into two worlds, of man and of woman, and to realize that we are all much more than the shell of the body we occupy.  I realize that the diversity inherent in my creation can only define a God who brings a plethora of colors to a world that would have none without Him.

Last week, I was honored at Plymouth State University to accept an award at the graduation ceremony for the work I have done to legislate before the Plymouth Selectboard, that all people have self worth and do not deserve to be ostracized or discriminated against within the town of Plymouth.  I have the honor of being invited to dine with the president of the university tomorrow night as a celebration of the work I have done to create a more inclusive town that discriminates against no one, including those who are transgender.  I never expected or wanted such an honor.  I simply felt in my heart of hearts that we are all children of God and that no person should feel shunned.  Jesus accepted and loved everyone, even the sinners…..and we are all sinners in some fashion.  It was my calling in life to take what unique gifts had been bestowed upon me at my birth to help others who might find themselves being repressed in our communities simply for who they are, much as Mary Magdalen, who was set to be stoned publicly for her actions. 

I have seen one too many friends “stoned” for their attempts to live their lives truthfully to themselves simply because they were called outcasts for so doing.  Jobs, friends and families lost, many in isolation and reduced to poverty and many, many people, some who I have known personally and called friends, taking their own lives in suicides.  The statistics show that over 40% of those who are transgender will attempt suicide, the highest percentage of any group.  I myself would not be sitting here to speak with you today had I not sought out professional medical help to understand the how’s and why’s of the way I was born and to take steps to live life truthfully to my own sense of self.  I came frighteningly close to feeling ashamed and worthless as a human being, not worthy to be a part of this world.

I believe in love and I believe there is much more to our lives than our limited minds can comprehend.  But the one thing I do know is that the path towards God can not be achieved without accepting Jesus Christ in our lives and that we must live our lives with an open heart, an open mind and with love that extends without exception for all.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Time has Arrived

The path to glory is paved in humility.
The path to enlightenment is strewn with obstacles we must overcome.
The path to truth is in accepting first that we have lied.
The path ahead to me is clear.

That path that had been ever shrouded in swirling mists and endless fog.....
That fog has cleared and the light shines from beyond, striking my eyes with such lucid clarity of presence, with such brilliance, that it is without doubt where the path I take beckons if I stay the course of truth.

The story of my life is one which, like everyone's, started the moment I was born.  For some, like myself, the journey was one that I forced to fit the mold that everyone else set forth for me to fill.  Truth be told, I did this for so many many decades. 

To live one's life as others would see and wish you to is to suffocate in a sea of expectations and an ocean of despair and depression.

My sojourn in life has taken me on a path unlike one I would ever have expected.  The paths I have found myself on were thrust upon me by realizations and acceptances of things which forever, in my life existed, but which I ignored and locked away within the recesses of my mind.  I did this in exchange to adopt a life which was not mine.  I did this to live a life for the benefit of everyone else.  I lied.

I find myself at the crossroads to yet another divergence in the paths and choices I will make.  These choices are less choices than they are simply the actualization in deed of what has been manifesting and occurring in my life, and the conscious choice to not shun or shy away from that which has been shown to me, and that which I have felt as being truly and deeply core to my inner sense of being and of self.

The path ahead to me is clear.  If it had ever been shrouded in swirling mists and fog, they have cleared and the light shines from beyond, striking my eyes with such lucid clarity of presence that it is without doubt where I must go.

My love for those who have shared my life continues.  The person who I have shared 23 years of my life is now my sister.  I have come to let myself go and to realize that my true inner sense of self is as I am today as a woman.  Those who would meet me as I am today would testify, after coming to know me, in no other way.  Those who might not are but relics from a time when I allowed for others to rule my identity and my life.  My life is my own.  It is not anyone elses.  It is not a bargaining chip and I will not be held victim or hostage to the tyrannies which I realize others might inflict upon me for my baring the truth of my inner soul and self.

I have come to allow myself the freedom in life to understand that my identity, my attractions and my love is as a woman.  I am, as a woman, attracted to the character and the nature of things different from the core of my personality, of what defines me.  I am attracted to the masculine and not the feminine. I am attracted to what compliments me, finding greater wholeness in my so doing.  I have passions and desires where I had thought, for decades, that I had none.  Thoughts of being asexual, of not being interested in sex, was a fabrication of a reason for my lack of desire because I was not truly attracted to the female realm.  I denied myself because I am at odds with the plumbing, off the median norm as it may be, as a male.

It is time for me to change my name and my gender marker legally.
It is time for me to align my body with my mind in all ways.
It is time for me to live and to love completely and truthfully.
it is time for me to feel my life, to feel my love, as a woman.
....In all ways
....In wholeness

I've had to hold on to my legal name and gender marker to not break the engine that has powered my life to this point.  Having lived full time inwardly as a woman my entire life and outwardly to the world as a woman now for over two years is more than enough time to know that this is right.

There is no glamor in what I do or in who I am.
There is no bravery in the steps I take to actualize the person who has lived inside for so long.
There is only a sense of belonging to self, belonging to this world.
There is only a sense of contentment to sigh a breath of relief in lying no longer.

It is time now for me to live what remaining years I may have on this Earth truthfully to myself.  The prices we pay in life are highest when we do not take ownership of our own life and our own destiny.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Concept of Transgender: Making it Stick

Some of my estrogen patches have been remarkably devoid of their adhesive, sticking to my skin more like children's colorforms than as anything useful. I noted the lot numbers on the open packages and contacted Novartis, the manufacturer for my estrogen. I had to give my legal "Clark Kent" name and proceeded to describe the problem. After my explanation, she summarily told me that she would investigate this but that she would also have to escalate it to her manager because such a high dosage given to what they have on record of me being "male" would red flag it. 

She went on to read off a standard set of disclaimers and warnings required by the FDA to be read to prospective users of Estrogen.  She started off with the indications for which estrogen might be prescribed.  All of those reasons were for biological women. The precautionary warnings included all manners of womanly issue for which this might be prescribed and for all sorts of potential side effects on the female reproductive systems.

When she finished her short dissertation, I finally felt inside that I had had enough.  Between the "red flagging" of my estrogen because I was seen as male and between the list of warnings and the list of conditions for which estrogen might be indicated, none of which included a person who might be transgender, I had had enough.

I interrupted her while she was in the middle of a multi-minute non-stop ramble.

"Excuse me", I said.

She read a few more words off of her template and then paused.

"Oh, I'm sorry", she said.

I started in.  "I just want to make a quick note that your list of prescribed usages for estrogen is just a bit short sighted.  You missed one potential condition in that list".

"What was that?", she asked openly and inquisitively.

"You see", I started, "You failed to mention that the product might be used by transgender women who are transitioning.  You see, the person you are speaking with right now has been living full time as a woman for the past two years and I'm about to resolve the legalities behind my official name in a couple of months".

Without pause, she immediately replied with what appeared to be quite an honest, "CONGRATULATIONS!!"

I replied, thankfully but more subtly, with a "Thank You.  This was not a choice I made lightly and I realize all of the potential consequences which you read off to me.  At some point the FDA will likely include transgender women in that list.  But yes, I know the potential issues of using estrogen and my choice to use it did not come lightly,"

She seemed quite empathetic at this point in her remarks and questions to understand a bit more so I took the opportunity to talk with her about facts..... facts that being transgender is considered a medical condition in the DSM and that estimates of up to 0.3% of our United States population identify as transgender....a number estimated to comprise about 700,000 individuals.

I mentioned that my chosen name was Christen and she asked me if I would like to be called by that name.  I thanked her for offering and asked if she could enter that name as an alias for me.  She did.

She thanked me again, gave me a reference number to the call and told me that she was going to speak with her supervisor immediately.  My 7 to 10 day wait was interrupted not 15 minutes later with her calling me back, with a lilt of excited happiness in her voice, to tell me that I was being reimbursed for the cost of the entire lot....not a paltry sum of money either.

I am quite confident in my surmise that she wanted to get to know me more but was hesitant in her professional environment to do so.  Even still, she initiated some small chat after our business was concluded that was entirely "girl talk" and it was clear that she could have easily found comfort for an evening sharing a drink and a conversation together.

Evey exchange is an opportunity to bring about learning and to expand someone's horizon just a bit more.  Every time we do, the world becomes just a little bit smaller and a little more interconnected for each of us.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Reflection on the Movie, "The Danish Girl"

For those of you who may not have seen it yet, the recently released movie, "The Danish Girl" has stirred quite a few emotions and many comparatives to not only my own life as a transgender woman, but to many others like myself as well.  Although this movie was based upon a true story and took place in the 1920's, the commonalities of experiences between the main character and my own personal experiences resounds so closely and so similarly that it was emotionally unnerving to watch and to see what was almost like my own life flashing before me on the silver screen.

If you need to catch up and haven't heard of this movie then watch this trailer before reading further....

A friend remarked in a post that watching "The Danish Girl" was like looking in a mirror. It truly was, at least for me, a nearly spot on reflection of my own life. The timelines and the details may have been slightly different but the overall story was practically the same. My spouse had to watch as the person I played a role as disappeared inexorably.

Truth be told, there never was a person who had ever played a role as expected but, rather, had always been giving off non-ignorable hints that she was a woman. The mirror image at the time gave the impression that I was just sensitive, just different, just emotional and just unique in the gender role I play acted. Just as in the movie, she watched the joy as the person she knew became happier, more content and ever more real as a person than she had ever been.

At the same time as she took joy in seeing my happiness blossom, she had to watch as the person she thought she knew faded away into a shadow of memories and to lament the death of the person that was....rather, the facade of the person that was. The movie portrayed these perspectives from both sides, both people, so very well. For me, that was the most emotionally intense time because it really hit home to watch as they grappled with the concept of loving each other yet not being in love with each other. Intangible and as elusive as that variance may seem, it is the hardest struggle imaginable and one even more difficult perhaps than an actual death of a spouse....because that person is still alive, still caring, still there....but at the same time, is gone forever in plain sight.

Go see this movie if you have not.  If you are a transgender person, it may just help you to understand yourself a little bit more.  If you are not transgender, then you will be presented with an introduction to an understanding of the emotions, the journey of self discovery, the pain of hiding and the joy of feeling whole as a person as only a transgender person can see it.  You will not leave the theater without being changed, if even in the slightest of ways.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Person That Became Christen

Every child in town seemed to like me a lot...
But the person who lived inside my head did NOT!
I hated myself inside and it felt like such treason

Now, please don't ask why. I didn’t quite yet know the reason.
It could be my head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that I always felt fright.
But I think that the most likely reason to be
May have been that I was a woman inside you see.
Whatever the reason, my heart or my soul
I rued each day that I was not truly made whole,
Looking inside myself with that virtual frown,
I felt incomplete and that just brought me down
While everyone I knew seemed happier all around

I felt every other person was simply bequeathed
With a blissful congruity of their gender beneath
As they lived their lives plainly without being sheathed

“And they seem so happy!” I muttered in a way no one could hear
“I’m becoming a man in not many years!”
Then I thought in my head, my thoughts were just humming
“I MUST find some way to stop a man from becoming!”

For one day soon, I knew plainly without joy
I would awake one day finding no longer a boy.
And then! Oh, the Fear! Oh, the Fear!
Fear! Fear! Fear!
The one thing I was becoming! The FEAR!

And the more I thought of this, what was I to do?
The more I did think that I hadn’t a clue
Why for my childhood years I’ve pretended to be
Something I wasn’t at all and to myself so untrue!”

And then I had an idea. A wonderfully unmentionable idea!
"I know just what to do!” I thought to myself
I raided mom’s closet for a pass at her clothes
I’d been wanting to do this for… goodness who knows!
Dressed as a woman I felt as the girl
From the youngest of ages when my hair had such curls
I tried on some makeup and I perfected the look
Many years in the making and effort it took

And then one day when I had some time free
I was dressed at home as the woman I see
When suddenly and as quick as a flash,
My parents car drove up the driveway so fast
I changed just as quick as I could
Hiding my stash so no one would see,
When I heard the footsteps of mom coming in
I knew just then what trouble I was in!

My mom entered the house and came to my room
I was startled but careful not to let on a clue
My mom looked around, I thought it was clear
I had put everything away! There was nothing to fear!
My mom looked down and she saw a high heel
A sinking feeling came over me I truly did feel!

She stared at the heels and said. “Why?”

Why do you have high heels in your room? WHY?”

But, you know I was caught and I had no real tricks
I thought up a lie but I knew it wouldn’t stick

Why, dear mother”, I decided that I couldn’t quite lie
These are my own heels!” I openly decried.

My admonition to mom went over like lead
She scolded me in earnest with what I verbally said
And mom went off on me that she thought I was gay
And I told her I wasn’t but no more could I say
She told me to get rid of my stash of clothes that day

So I took all my clothes, I took them away
I drove to a dumpster that very same day
In my closet was nothing feminine left I must say
And to not wake up tomorrow was something I’d pray

And the one crumb of girl that was left inside me
Was buried away for no one to see.

And so for many years I pretended again to be,
Someone everyone else saw that I didn’t see
And the thoughts in my head that were constantly drumming
Of a man I was expected to be and becoming.

And then one day, many years from then
That spirit in my soul came back again.
I paused and I thought of my life lived in fear
Of being true to myself was never quite clear
I did hear that voice from deep and down low
The one from my soul and it began to grow.

Why this sound was the one I had years ago!
But it couldn’t be so! But it continued to grow!
I listened to the voice this time without fear.
It was the woman within and she was now so quite near!
I thought to myself with such surprise.
That I must be true to my very own eyes.

And so it was on that emotionally charged day
That I began a journey that would find me my way
To thine own self be true I knew I must say.

And what happened then? Well my life began in earnest I’d say
My contentment of self grew many times that day!

And then I stopped for a minute for I just didn’t know
I puzzled and puzzed: "How could it be so?"

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without hormones, surgeries nor lags"

I puzzled and puzzed till my puzzler was sore.
Then Christen thought of something she hadn't before.

Maybe transition, she thought, doesn't come in ways thought before
Maybe transition, perhaps, comes from something much more..."

And in that moment in which I saw a great sight
I knew in being true there was no longer that fright
And the life came from within and all finally felt right
Those around me truly affirmed and could see
The woman I was and now truly could be
And although it was others that affirmed this was right
It was the person within that had been shown to the light.
-With Apologies to Dr Seuss and rewritten by Christen Bustani