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....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Trip Report: Transgender New Hampshire Mini-Conference

I had the wonderful opportunity, on Saturday, April 23, to attend the Transgender New Hampshire, Mini-Conference in Plymouth, NH. Held on the grounds, of Plymouth State University, it was a free, day long event with a number of speakers and breakout sessions to discuss a variety of topics relevant to the transgender community.

Co-Sponsored by the NH Coalition for Transgender Equality, SAGE Center, and PSU Pride, the conference attendees also included a state representative and a legal representative from GLAD presenting the work they have been doing for the transgender community.

GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) is an organization, based in Boston, Massachusetts representing the transgender community as well. They are New England’s leading legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on
sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.

The theme for the day was: Educating the world about who we really are! And the sessions included: transgender people in the media, effective messaging campaigns, grass-roots educational efforts, self-care for activists, and moving forward in politically hostile times.

The event introduced me to a number of initiatives underway to bring about awareness and understanding to the transgender community in New Hampshire and in New England. Topics such as the bathroom bill were discussed, which was an initiative to allow for transgender individuals to be able to utilize restroom facilities aligned with their gender presentation. In New Hampshire, that bill did not pass, but plans were discussed in the conference surrounding initiatives to raise positive awareness for the next term in 2012.

At the conference, we were also able to meet a number of prominent individuals both within the transgender community and within the political and legal realms who are working to make some serious strides in our community. A forum panel and Q&A session were held, where we were able to discuss these initiatives and happenings and to question a variety of topics related to the transgender world.

Breakfast, Lunch and afternoon snacks were all provided at the conference free of charge as well. With an aggressive agenda, and a day filled with snow in the air and what amounted to two inches on the ground, it was welcome to be able to keep focused with the limited time we had to discuss so much. The end of the day brought out the yellow sticky post-it note pads as we went around the room to volunteer for a variety of initiatives that we could help with as take-aways from the meeting.

Some happenings which will be coming out of the meetings include:

Transgender house parties to openly invite other members of the community to be an active part of understanding who we are.

Regular, informal get-togethers at local coffee shops in and around a variety of areas in New Hampshire to talk about transgender related issues or just to talk about anything in warm, group setting.

Initiatives to connect the variety of groups in New England via a common Newsletter to tie all aspects of what we are all doing, together (guess who ended up with a part in the newsletter initiative!)

I also discussed the possibility of having one of the leads for GLAD potentially to come up from Boston to visit us at Tri-ESS at a future meeting, to discuss with us, what initiatives their organization is working on for us and to solicit our opinions and thoughts. He seemed very excited to have this opportunity and looks forward to this possibility becoming a reality at some point very soon for us so keep posted for updates on this!


To learn more of the initiatives underway presently, please do visit the following resources and find out what positive things are happening or planned as the transgender community moves forward in educating the world and helping bring equality to each of us as individuals.

GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) - http://www.glad.org/

TG-NH (Transgender New Hampshire) - http://tgnh.org/index.html
Also on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=275513116964

Remember too, that when we are out and about in the greater world and presenting as our female selves, that others are developing an opinion of us based upon our presentation. Keep in mind that passive education is something that each person takes away with them when they meet a transgender person. Initiation of positive change and the removal of negative stigma associated with the word “transgender” happens ONE PERSON AT A TIME. We each play a vital role in dispelling the myths of mis-information of who we are so be sure to keep this in mind each time one is out and about.

With Spring finally here, and the ability to trade in my boots for comfy shoes and sandals, I’ll be out and about making acquaintances and doing my part. Enjoy, be smart, be sensible in presentation and dress, and be yourselves.


Hugs, Health and Happiness,

Christen

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Transparency

It has seemingly finally happened. I am not sure how it is that I got here but it seems, for the most part, I am here. I've reached a point where I can be out in female form and not be interpreted as anything but as a woman. One may wonder how one might know when they have achieved this point. How is it possible to know, with any level of certainty, what anyone may be thinking or surmising of one when they are out enfemme?

The answer to the question is one which has been answered of late when I am out, by nothing more simple than by my voice. Interestingly, no one takes any note when I am out and quietly doing whatever it is I may be doing, whether it be shopping in the local BJ's Warehouse, to the supermarket, shopping in any number or type of stores or simply meandering in a public. The majority of this non-chalance, laissez-faire attitude by others is due in large part to my own care-free, casual and comfortable attitude. When one is comfortable with themselves, it is an aspect of one's aura which silently exudes from within, and which is silently perceived by others. There is no doubt in my mind as to this for when I first set out into the world, no matter how well I tried to pass, my superficial and overly-strained level of confidence in myself was always apparent to others.

Now it is my voice, however, that has been the determinant to be sure and to verify that I have been passing as a woman while out. On more than one occasion, I had opportunity to witness this first hand. In one case, just this past week, I was simply sitting in a restaurant with my spouse, Joanne. I had strategically chosen the only high table in the room, facing the bar and looking out over lower tables and booths. From our hawk's perch, Joanne and I noted casually that no one gave us more than equal casual glances, after which we blended in with the rest of the crowd. No one knew or suspected any variance what-so-ever. It was not until I got into a conversation with one of the staff's son, who we were introduced to that evening, that my voice fell out of pitch and somewhere into the male register. Joanne watched as heads which had before assessed me and categorized me in the female box, suddenly lifted and took note of the variance. Amazingly to me, after processing the variance, those same heads simply returned to what they had been doing prior as if nothing had happened.

In that moment I gave the patrons something to think about. It was a casual encounter for them with a gender variant person. Because I was dressed in a casual blouse, black slacks and low heeled shoes, there was really nothing to see except for what appeared, for all intensive purposes, to just be a well dressed woman out for dinner with her female friend. And because of this, and of the fact that the people we were engaging with were completely blase over this variance, they too were put at ease. People, I have noted, tend to draw their own assessments of a situation from what others around them assess the situation as. Because everyone who was interacting with me was comfortable with me, they were comfortable as well. The moment became a non-event, and a passive dunk into a new realm for the patrons in the restaurant that night.

My second event occurred at a local women's clothing store. While browsing the store, I was approached by a middle-aged sales woman who asked if I needed any help with anything. I responded, while standing at very close range with her that I did not at the moment but might want to try a few things on in a little bit. I watched as she suddenly noted the variance between the voice and the appearance and stuttered on her words for a moment. The sense I had was that she was surprised but pleasantly impressed with what just shocked her as she missed only a beat and then continued on, offering again that if I needed anything, to simply ask her.

It was most interesting that as I was trying on a top that I had selected, she did make a point to ask me if I needed anything or if she could get me another size. I said "no thank you" but did open the door of the changing room just then, and her expression seemed quite shocked really at what she saw. I certainly do like to maintain a humble and objective narration of the stories I do relate, but I will say unequivocally that her expression was one of amazement. She really kept saying how becoming the outfit I had on was and that it looked really great on me. I could very well tell, by her animation and expression, that she was really enjoying how well I was presenting, for she knew, and I knew that she knew, that I was a transgender woman.

At checkout time, it seems that both she and the cashier made it a point to engage me in further topical conversation about this and that. I'm quite sure, as was Joanne, that they were thoroughly enjoying this "something different / yet very cool" situation immensely.

So where is Christen at now in the spectrum of her gender?

A lot has happened since that first attempt at walking out the door for the first time in female form back in September of 2009.....

Interestingly, the tables appear to be turned completely around in many ways at this point in my life. When I am out as female, I am for the most part perceived as female. If I am out and around town, I dress casually and appropriately for my age. I wear sensible shoes and tops and jewelry appropriate to what every other woman would wear. As a result, I receive no other looks than what an ordinary woman would receive. It is true transparency and something I have been working at, tweaking and tuning, to try to get all the pieces just right.

Of even greater interest, with this turn of the tables, is how I am apparently no longer passing as male. Although I am not on any hormone replacement of any kind, I am no longer looking completely male. Joanne has noted that my demeanor and behavioral mannerisms as well, are no longer male but appears now to be a very natural female one. I was told by my therapist that this day would come (although I did not believe her).... that the structure I built as a child to live in a male world and to try to fit in, would start to develop holes, like a block of Swiss Cheese. The holes in that Swiss Cheese male persona continued to multiply until there was nothing left of the male persona. What has emerged is a person who is finally comfortable with herself and no longer playing the acting role she had been for 40+ years.

Those tables have turned and I am now questioned, in immutable and subtle ways, more often when I am out in my guy mode than when I am in my girl mode. It is simply this way because all of the pieces which make up who I am, fit more readily into the girl box than into the guy box... and society takes note of where one belongs... or doesn't.

So to sum it all up, I have arrived. Yes, I am sure that there will be days and times when things may be a bit off in my presentation and I may flutter away for a time, but overall I have arrived I feel that I am in the place that I felt I should have been in since my earliest memories as a young child. For my own soul, it is a peaceful place and one of comfort to finally begin to feel as if I am home after being away for a lifetime. I can not express, in words, what congruity is when one feels as if they are living the life they always should have, as who they are inside.

I feel like I am home...

I only ask that I be able, in this home, to stay......

Friday, April 8, 2011

Letter of Request...

To the higher powers above,

Please be advised that we have been receiving more than our fair share of shipments of 2x4's to be used in taking whacks in the lives of our combined families. Please consider spacing future shipments out over greater stretches of time as this would be more amenable to all.

Your humble employee,

Christen

**********************

Dear Christen,

We are dreadfully sorry for any pain caused by the over-shipment of 2X4 lumber! Our flunkies have been in contact with the shipping department.

I am very pleased to report that the diligent oversight by this committee has paid handsome dividends. But enough about us.

The aforementioned flunkies reported that the 2X4 shipment will terminate today! Commencing tomorrow, 4x4 lumber shall ship instead.

Kind regards,
The Grand High Supreme Exalted Executive Manglement Committee

*****************

Dear Higher Power Management,

Thank You for your rapid response regarding recent concerns surrounding over-shipment of 2x4 lumber to our families. It is with great concern and regret with which I must inform you that your substitution of 2x4's for 4x4' fence posts will not be considered an amenable solution to the quandary currently faced.

I have strongly considered that the additional mass and blunt force with which the application of such a fencepost could yield would potentially allow for the individual to remain comatose for a time sufficient to allow all subsequent deliveries of fence posts to be unnoticed. Although I have considered this possible benefit of being whacked upside the head with such a more massive piece of lumber, it is with deep regret that I will have to cancel my subscription entirely as a result.

Please be advised that I will not be needing any additional lumber and will henceforth be utilizing cans of Teflon spray in order to slide through life unscathed. I shall be forwarding a copy of this letter henceforth to DuPont for their consideration in this matter.

Regards,

Christen