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, December 23, 2014

A Christmas Message

As the days grow shorter and darker and yet another holiday season unfolds upon me, I find it difficult at times to keep my own mind's thoughts, recollections and memories from many a dark place. A lifetime's worth of memories, both good and bad, happy and sad, seem to rush to the foreground in my mind's eye and take center stage at this time of year.  I know, as well, that this is true for many of us.

I'd like to focus, instead, in the light of the positive on the many things I have to be thankful for.  I am thankful for those who actively share in my life. 

You.... are the friends who reach out to me to console and to listen when I need it. 
You.... are the people in my life who recognize when things aren't going right when I've uttered no words.  You.... are the ones who know how to cheer me up and get me out of a funk when I need it most yet speak it least.
You....are the ones who recognize my life of seemingly endless hobbies and endeavors as diversions from having to deal with pain.
You....are the ones who bring me back out of my shell when I turn inwardly, slink away and recede from life.

At a time of year of both past challenges and new ones which bear down upon me even as I type these words, I am thankful for the kind hearts who have opened up theirs to console mine.  I am thankful for having a warm home, a means of support and food on the table.  I am thankful for having the ability to share and help others when the opportunity arises to do so.  I am thankful for the bright memories, which the dark ones must never be allowed to overshadow.

May the myriad of twinkling lights strung up during this darkest of seasons provide a beacon of warmth, hope, happiness and contentment to us all...  and to serve as an iconic glowing testament to the light which surrounds us all..... even in the throes of seemingly deepest darkness.

Wishing you all peace, health, love and contentment in your lives as well.

Cheers,

Christen

Sunday, November 16, 2014

In Restless Minds Awake

The closest analog I can find to my life is like that of a person who finds themselves orbiting precariously around a black hole.....just beyond the event horizon. The event horizon is that imaginary line where, once crossed, there is no escape. The odd thing about the event horizon is that from the perspective of one who crosses it, they never realize they did even though everyone outside will see they have crossed an invisible point of no return. I've realized that I have crossed that event horizon only by those around me who have witnessed my passage through it. Now, as I am drawn inexorably toward the point of singularity at the center of the black hole, so do I find myself drawn by tidal forces beyond my control towards a singularity of self. There is no escape from destiny.
 
Too much of Pandora's box has been opened and I have come to see the woman inside that box as simply a reflection of what was my hidden self.

Too much has transpired now that has changed not only my play in the game, but also that of everyone around me who have made their own moves on that large chessboard of life.  Each piece has found its match in the others move and, as pieces come off the board from both sides, so too does it become clear how much has changed; and how exposed I am now.

Unable to hide behind the pawns of my own life, I find the excuses, the useless and futile moves to be in short number now.  The queen is exposed and she is finding herself more and more alone on the board with nothing to obfuscate her from view.

It is no wonder that I have difficulty sleeping a lot of the time.  There are now so many decisions and choices to be made, because to not make them at this point will only find me languishing midway between worlds and without an authentic life of any kind. 

"In restless minds awake
Thoughts I cannot shake

From a soporific state
Of answers there are few
Fears that won't abate
When life is thrust anew"


-Christen

But perhaps a poem by Allen Steble (probably not known by many) says it best: Choices

           by, Allen Steble


We all have a choice
to live a lie
or be ourselves
to laugh and cry
or to follow someone else
to look up and smile
or bow down and frown
to walk the whole mile
or take off our crown
We have a choice
to shout out loud
or chant a whisper
to fly through the clouds
or to be blown like paper
to conquer our fear
or hide in the shadow
to the wise words hear
or be thrown out the window
We all have a choice
to climb our highest mountain
or fall into our deepest hole
to drink from life's fountain
or live life like a troubled soul


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Road Less Travelled By

Life is funny sometimes.  You know the saying I'm sure.... "Life happens while we make other plans"?  Well, it seems like even the best laid sorts of plans have a way of developing a life and direction of their own. Have you ever tried to put a plan together only to find that somewhere along the way your plan grew legs and  decided it might be more fun to take YOU on ride?  The great poet Robert Frost will probably come back to life just to torture me for rearranging his famous words, once penned, when I say....

"I took the road less travelled by..... NOW WHERE THE HELL AM I?"

Well, I do know where I am.  I just wasn't so sure I was going to get here so fast.

I'm referring to life now and the fact that whether or not this is to my schedule I am now full time as a woman.  I never declared it or held up a banner.  As Dr. Seuss'es Grinch would say,

"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then Christen thought of something she hadn't before."

I never kept the woman I am from becoming.  She was already here. It turns out there are a LOT of pieces that were very feminine about me and I don't mean visually.  It's movement, vocal intonations, inflections and speech patterns, gesticulations and mannerisms.... all of these things used to be packaged into what at best appeared to be a not so macho looking, slight of frame, endoskeleton with a male moniker.

It wasn't convincing to anyone back then but it sure as heck works with the new outer packaging now.

So I'm here.  Everyone else seems to think so.  It's always Ms, or Ma'am when I go out, even if I don't put on any makeup and just wear non-gender-specific clothes.  It's not amazing or fantastic or glamorous or anything like that in being a woman.

It just is.

I'm comfortable.  I'm comfortable with myself.  Others find more comfort around me because I am comfortable with myself.  I'm having social experiences with the world as a woman and being  interpreted by others very affirmatively as a woman.  There's some positive to it, some negative but nothing overwhelmingly striking which puts living in one gender better than the otherTo be quite honest, it's more of a pain in the neck being a woman.

There's time involved with makeup and hair.  The lower stratification in society that by default women hold and which I am experiencing.  Ask me how many times I get weird looks when I start talking shop in a Home Depot, decide to talk about electrical wiring or drywall installation or how I do my own mechanical repairs around the house.

But the wonderful things are yet there too!  They are in the interactions and the friendships that women share with each other in connected ways.  They are the emotions I now feel that I never did before... the laughing and the crying and the ability to feel like I never did my whole life.  Estrogen is a pretty amazing thing in subtle yet not so subtle ways for that.  Sure, I've got some breast growth going.  It's a pain... literally.  I can't sleep on my stomach any more and don't even think of giving me a bear hug.  They are very sensitive.  Having to wear a bra now when I work out is yet another piece of clothing to deal with and bras generally suck I find.  It goes with the territory and it does give some great curves to my dresses so... I'll keep em.

I'm finding that the adventures are really just beginning.  I'm experiencing what it's like to have guy's asking me out.  I've got some really, really wonderful cis-women (genetically born as women) friends that are some of the closest friends I have ever had.  It's wonderful now being one of the gals and it's like at age 49, I'm just beginning to wake up from a coma I've been in my whole life and starting, finally, to feel alive and to LIVE.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fitting Into My Genes: Who is Christen?

I know I post a lot on here regarding being transgender and transitioning and all of that, but I haven't told you much of anything about "me", the person.  I know this won't interest everyone, and I will attest firmly that I am NOT writing this to impress anyone or to show some sort of prowess.  Far from it.  I simply want to add some dimension to this "two dimensional characterization" that it is easy to be swallowed up within in a blog whose motivation has been in discussion of all things transgender for me.

My life is much more.  Being transgender....no.... being a woman who had to play the act of a guy for 45 years is simply one small facet of my life.  My life is much more.  It is a culmination thus far of an array of adventures and accomplishments that mesh together in some unique and personal way to paint an entire collage, an entire painting of who I am.  We each have our own unique collages of our lives and I love to learn about the amazing facets that make up the lives of others who graciously share with me.

This is my collage.  These are some of the things I love and have done in life.... in no specific order....

Astronomy and Astrophotography: Telescopic observations of all things heavenly

Meteorology:  I keep a weather station and have been known to enjoy following weather and climate realms.

Model Railroading:  I once had a huge empire with custom built and airbrush painted locomotives.

Life Guard:  Somewhere along the line I picked up life saving skills and lifeguard certification

Electronics: When I'm bored, I build gadgets from electronic components.  My favorite project was a device that could be used to listen to the sounds of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Scuba Diving:  Certified diver and have been on two shark dives and a "wall dive" (think the movie "Abyss")

Sailing:  Captain of our high school sailing team, won the cup for the school, taught sailing to many including several blind individuals, accredited for heavy weather sailing and sailed boats up to 28 feet in length.

Hiking:  Many mountains in places from New Hampshire to Alaska to Iceland and all over.

Photography: Outdoors, wildlife and scenic compositions, some unique.  Have done developing of B&W film.

Kayaking:  I love being outdoors on the water....period.  I find it so relaxing.

Camping and Backpacking:  Ask me about the stories.... there may be need for a glass of wine.

Water-skiing:  I can't do any stunts but I was fine enjoying the ride when I did.

Downhill skiing and cross country skiing.  I prefer the latter now because of cost but used to love skiing the double-black diamond trails and the moguls.

Snowshoeing and ice skating:  I love both of these as well!

Travel:  I like obscure places.  Disneyworld?  Las Vegas?  Boring to me.  I have so many weird stories from odd places like Labrador, Iceland, Alaska, the Carribean.... just ask.

Writing and Poetry:  I love both but my creativity seems to spark when I feel depressed or down.

Cooking and Baking:  I love both and I love trying to create many different dishes from around the world.
Music:  I'm teaching myself to play the Synthesizer and having a blast.

Advocacy:  I'm working with several groups to help further human and civil rights and to act as an ear to many others in the community who need to vent and just talk with a friend.

Home Remodeling:  I taught myself how to build a room, do the drywall, insulation, ceilings, floors, electrical outlet wiring and overhead lighting wiring.  My second project was a walk-in cedar closet built from nothing.  Then it was rebuilding the outdoor deck.

Wildlife rehabilitation:  I was lucky enough to come across a days old baby Robin which I nursed and then physically taught hunting skills to after release (she kept coming back to me for lessons).  I also volunteered many moons ago at Boston's Museum of Science to take care of all of their animals including a wonderful old owl name Spooky and a VERY big Boa constrictor.

Automotive:  I used to do my automotive work and tune-ups back in the day when one used such items as a "strobe gun" to do timings.  (I'm getting old)

Woodworking and Metalworking:  I have pieces of my history locked into the creations once made

Makeup Artistry:  It's no lie. I love being able to create a look, an attitude, an emotion through the pallette of colors, light and shadow that is makeup.  I find it relaxing and creative (when I have the time)

Dancing and Karaoke:  I love them both... and my singing voice and confidence on stage has improved.

Being a Pain in the Ass:  I get BORED VERY EASILY and apparently have an IQ of 135-140... which doesn't mean a thing in my book because the measure of a person is in their heart and their heart alone.  Still, if I am bored, I cause mischief and trouble.

I still have a lot I would like to do....and hope yet to add to this adventure of life.  Me transitioning to a woman?  That's small stuff compared to the big picture of what the world has to offer.  I'm glad to be a part of it and to have so many friends and loved ones to share this adventure with.  You all rock!

-Namaste!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Marking Another Milestone

The progression of my life as a woman has taken a path of its own now.  Trying to play the act of a male has become a fast-fading memory.  It is with ease that the aura of who I am effuses like a flower blossoming in the new day's sun.  Apparent, it has become, that my life as a male was a stress filled torrent of play-acting an uncomfortable and discomforting role as someone I was not but for the benefit of others and to maintain the perception of the male effigy. To be sure, he is still here, but he was never a "he" but for the manifestation created for others.  She, is me, and she is all that others see.  It is not just in the visual but in what emanates and resonates from my soul.....and it is clearly heard by others and decried by their own volition that I am woman.

I've made another huge step and decided to divest myself of my hairpiece and to have my natural hair, which I have been growing out for some time, softened, shaped and styled.  I'm uncertain as to how I will wear it going forward and shall be experimenting over the next few months with flat irons and curling irons to see what I can create.  This is a whole new chapter for me and being able to use my natural hair is like a freedom I could not have felt until I tried.  Many times, it felt as if I was hiding beneath a synthetic hat which symbolically separated and delineated my male persona from my female persona.  In reality, the male persona had died an ignominious death long ago.  It took, however, until this moment when I mentally shed that mental separation of the male and female vision I held, that I would here-to-fore only be me....my one self... as a woman going forward.

This is me.... This is real....This is my life going forward

There is much,  much more going on than I can write of here.... not yet.   There exists at once both happiness and hope and there exists simultaneously a realm of sadness and loss.  The dichotomy has, at times, been seemingly too much to bear.  It is with the love and strength of the close friends I have in this world, that I have been able to share, lean on and derive so much love and support that I hope, will be enough to see my through this whirlwind of life to the other side.  You are all very much appreciated.




Thursday, October 30, 2014

WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO BE A FEMALE?

I hear it asked a lot.... mostly by people who are not dealing with Gender Identity Dysphoria. I should clarify it a little, since I do hear or see the reference in passing on multiple occasions.... It's the verb "want" as in "why someone would want to be a female". I see the vernacular a lot and I really do believe that from the vantage of one who is not dealing with GID, understanding the difference between "want" and "am" are really almost impossible to extrapolate out or differentiate.

The "am" part is not visible to anyone else but the person dealing with the GID....so it looks to everyone else like "want". When I speak of "am" - I speak to the fact that I am a woman. I happened to inhabit a body that is male. Without meeting me or having known me, it is another impossibility to see that either. It would make perfect sense if you did. you would have seen prior, a person who looked effeminately male by body design and features and who acted, emoted, talked, behaved and in all respects exuded typical female qualities which other, natal women had, and continued to express of me.

I didn't want to change anything. I didn't want to transition. I just didn't want to suffer living a life that was like a 45 year acting role as a character I never was and as a character, in the guise of a male, who was oddly looked at, perceived and misconstrued as all sorts of things she wasn't...... "Oh, he might just be gay", "He has a very effeminate way about him", "He isn't like most guys". Sure, I could and did shrug it off, but I lived, associated and had relations with fellow human beings as a guy and I had no idea how to relate after four decades. It was always alien.

The great experiment as living as my true self only verified for me and was resounded in chorus by so many others, so many natal women who never knew me before as anything but the woman I am....and that I was, to them, a woman. There is no want to live my life as a woman....far from it. I just realized I had to live my life as who I already was my whole life.

Believe me, it is so much easier to relate to the world in a way that relates back to me without contest or question and to experience kinship with others in ways that I finally just feel like I have, after 49 years being gone away, just arrived to the comfort of home. I'm home...... That's it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Road Ahead

I saw my therapist yesterday.  It seems I see her between every six months and a year.  I unloaded a LOT on her. Like a soap opera where you miss a half season and then tune in only to be inundated with a whole new set of issues, so this session was yesterday.  There have been some huge changes: a lot of personal growth, some major paradigm shifts in my own sense of being as a woman and some discussions about what lays ahead.

The occasional thoughts of even considering the notion of going "back" to being who I was is so completely ludicrous in perspective from where I am now.  Realizing I was a person playing an actor in my own "play of life" and being completely miserable at both intense and subtle levels throughout the past 45 or so years has been a revelation only visible from where I stand as a woman now.

As if a puzzle assembled incorrectly, so the pieces are falling into place to see the entire picture of the puzzle of my life manifest before me now.  At this point, it is simply a matter of time to put all of the pieces into place before the last one is inserted and, like a light switch being flipped, the minutia of the paperwork will be completed and it will be done.

There is no fanfare in what I do, no congratulatory which can be offered that I would accept.  It simply remains that I will be able, as I am finding I am now, to live what remaining time I may have on this Earth as the person I knew as a child I always felt, behaved, socialized, and emoted as.  Those who knew me in this world prior saw a person that was always very different and detached from the gender she was assigned at birth.  The years of ostracization, exclusion, differential feelings and emotive responses, being isolated, singled out, bullied and wrongly labelled as something and someone I was not are being replaced with a confident, outspoken, contented and happy woman.  Just being able to feel that makes up for anything else that could be thrown at me as I chart my own course forward.  If I am not truthful to my own sense of self, then how can I extend that without hypocrisy unto others in my life?

The adventure continues.  I have several new frontiers I am finding myself crossing into right now...uncharted territory to be sure yet also realms and experiences which are so very affirming yet again in who I am.  I still, at times, can't believe just how comfortable this all is.  It's like I just started to live my life authentically to myself nearly a half century into it.  I have very little idea, at this point, what tomorrow will feel like, but if it's anything like what I am feeling inside now, I'm ready for it.  Bring it on.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Panic Room

We all have those mornings where we wake up, after a long stretch of horrible sleep nights, to a day of clarity and calmness, feeling refreshed and anew.  Those moments, as we all know, do not last very long and become consumed by the minutiae and general stresses of reality and life.  When they do happen however, they can be an opportunity to see what has been plainly hidden in sight all along, yet unseen.  Today was just one of a handful of those days.

I've been very stressed lately.  I haven't been fully forthcoming of the level of that stress to anyone and, instead, have been denying it's existence to myself.  Apparently, the adage I oft quip and only half believe, "IGNORE THE PROBLEM, IT WILL GO AWAY" was my downfall that would catch up from behind my back and consume me.

It was this past Saturday Evening that J and I were out to a local T-Bones Steak House.  The restaurant was packed to the gills and the wait for a table was told to us to be a half hour or more although the bar had plenty of open seating.  In an unusually refreshing twist, J motioned that we take the seating at the bar.  It was only unusual, to be sure, in the days past when I perhaps didn't blend in as well as I do now.  Five months on Estrogen, an increased sense of confidence and a more self-assured sense living my life as a woman has had profound effects both physically and mentally, and was visible outwardly to those around me.

We talked about a number of things that evening, as girlfriends do.  These were not the conversations nor the topics we shared years ago as a married couple but now as two friends would.  It was delightfully refreshing and affirming to be living and relating in ways I have always felt inside but was never able to materialize to the world, but at the same time, there was a gnawing sense of loss which I was feeling in the gut of my stomach that night.  There has been a huge paradigm shift in how we are both now separately living our lives together.  It was something that I thought a single alcoholic drink with my meal might quell.  It did not.... as I was soon to become aware.

The next morning, Sunday, I awoke feeling restless and mentally clouded and agitated.  I couldn't put my finger on it at that moment but I knew something was going to be very ominously off with my day.  I could not have imagined what was to come.  We went for a 20 mile bicycle ride together that day and when I returned home, that ominous gloomy feeling took hold and my stomach went into knots.  Within moments of feeling the tension and nausea in my stomach, I began to feel skips in my heartbeat.  I panicked.  Was I having a heart attack?  I took my blood pressure and found it wildly off and that little "broken heart" symbol indicating an arrhythmia.

I felt overwhelmed in those next few moments and hours.  For reasons beyond the obvious physical ones, I broke down and cried in waves that I had only experienced years ago as a teenager when I was going through puberty and seeing my body change in ways that left me not wanting to live any longer.  This time around, I was feeling waves of sadness, loss, guilt, fear, emptiness and loneliness all at once.  I didn't see the signs but I was truly having a panic attack (although I didn't know it at the time) .....one that lasted well into the next morning leaving me feeling like I had been run over by a truck.  I barely slept that night and called my doctor early the next morning, who graciously squeezed me into her busy schedule and saw me two hours later.

Everything looked normal but to be sure, I was ordered to have a stress test to check my heart function.  I showed up at noon the next day at the Concord Hospital  and was hooked up to an EKG machine and another machine that provided a real-time ultrasound picture of my heart beating.  I was a bit at unease, checking in with my male name.  With each person I met, I would give them only my last name so that when they would look up my record, I could immediately surmise for myself by the surprise in their reaction that I was not (to them) a woman.  The techs who came in also tried not to show their surprise although I could tell that what they were seeing was contradictory to what they had envisioned when they read my name before stepping into the room.

I took the situation I was in and turned it to to a more positive atmosphere to deal with the stress, ultimately commanding the room in the way that those who know me, know I do... and suddenly it became a very jovial and connected atmosphere between all of us.  I was asked to wear an open johnny in front so that the electrodes could be hooked up and hanging off freely.  The two women there had no problems whatsoever but the one male tech, who had been trying to rationalize me off as a lanky, lean and effeminate yet still-in-his-mind-male computer scientist as we engaged in a number of "guy topics" prior to the doctors showing up.  The quandary was that when I was not looking, he seemed to be curiously focused  on my well-past-an-A-cup breasts and very visibly puzzled.

The stress test went well.  It went better than I had expected.  I was told by the techs that this would be a tough test and that the levels of difficulty would increase to the point that only those who were in excellent shape, the young and the athletes, could manage in the latter stages.  Not only did I get up to and through the steepest of the high-speed inclines but I kept on going well past, all while simultaneously having a conversation while jogging up this endless mountain.  Ultimately, they told ME that it was OK to stop whenever I wanted to.  I turned to the doctor and and looked at her as I was jogging a 5 mph pace up a 30 degree incline, "I can do this all day.  You call it."  She smiled and we had a little bit of a back and forth as we argued over who should call an end to this.  "What time do you go home?", I asked.  She pushed the button.

It turns out that my heart is in very good shape for someone who is almost a half-century old.  All the numbers looked excellent and, after that workout, I found the stress that apparently was the culprit ahold of me these past few days, gone.  I told the three individuals in the room with me at the time that I was surprised that I passed with flying colors.  I mentioned to them that I had an overnight  "Go Bag" packed in the car in case I was admitted to the hospital for some dire issue they might find.  That brought some chuckles to them and a relief for me.

Coming back full circle to THIS morning, where this story all started.  I woke up after having one of the best night's sleep in weeks.  My blood pressure and pulse checked out fantastic and I couldn't find a skip in my heart on the several trials I made.  I know that they could come back at any time and I thought back that morning to memories long past of my childhood and realized that I have been having these events off and on my whole life.  I had just lost track and sense of recall after these now seemingly countless years,  I recalled at that instant, those times as a teenager going through male puberty, going to bed so stressed out with my life changing in ways that betrayed my inner sense of identity and hoping to God that I would die in my sleep.  I recalled at that moment, a memory that I had long thought forgotten, of hearing my heart miss a beat, or two or sometimes three.  I felt, in those seconds that felt like an eternity lieing in the stillness of a darkened room in my bed, that I would die.  And I deftly recall that when my heart seemed to start again, that I began to cry in disappointment until I fell asleep.  That's a memory that I had forgotten until this past week but which came back in this renewed form now.

This morning, when I awoke, it was as if I had slept for a year.  I awoke for the first time in weeks, literally weeks, feeling refreshed and with a mental clarity I had not felt I possessed in some time.  The foggy mind which seemed to pervade me through these past few panic-attack stricken days was gone.  I am sure I have figured this all out.  It just took me a trip to the hospital to be convinced that it was not simply a physical issue but, rather, a combination of things that led me to this point.

I'm realizing at times how terrified I really am.  As much as J has lost a husband and gained a sister, so I have lost a wife and gained a sister just the same.  It's an "out of control" sensation that has me feeling my life has gotten ahead of me....that I have started this train rolling and, when I am not aware of it, all is fine.  That moment that I sense that I am moving and how far I have come gives rise to me looking ahead and realizing where I must be going.  It's terrifying as much as it is amazing and spectacular.  I feel very whole as a woman, in a way that is completely unexplainable without having a personal frame of reference as I have had for the first 45 years of my life.  Yet, although I feel whole, there are so many times that I feel utterly alone.  I don't mean the type of lonesomeness that requires a girlfriend or a boyfriend.  No.  This is a type of loneliness within a sense of one's own self.  I am the master of my own ship and I sail it forward....yet it is my ship unto myself.  Although others may see it, may come aboard for a time, they have not sailed with me for life;  have not experienced the emotions, scars and the thoughts which I alone bear.  Sometimes I just become perceptive of that fact, that I am sailing forward on my own, and it overpowers me, as it did in a huge way for me now.

My identity; who I am as a person, is clear to me.....and in ways that it never was for so many long years.  That frightens me as much as it begs me to leap forward.    How often do we spend our entire lives trying to please others, to be what others want, need, desire or expect us to be? My mother lost her own sense of individuality and identity in being the person my dad needed her to be. I have known countless women who have struggled with losing themselves to their responsibilities, their relationships, their family at the loss and sacrifice of their own sense of self. I see, in renewed clarity this morning, the life my mom never lived because she lived for us. I see her struggle through my own eyes as I come to realize, after 49 years on this planet, that I am only just now coming to find my own identity and my own sense of unique self. Why does it have to take a lifetime for some to come to this point and to break free? I think the answer is simple. "We are the ones who attempt to live our own lives through the sacrifices we make to give to others, to our families and to our loved ones". Unfortunately, in the long term, this leads to regret. My mother, who knew I was transgender, knew I was transitioning as a woman and had seen me in pictures as a woman, was always my staunch supporter. She always knew from my early years that I was not an average boy. In one of the last sentences my mother remarked to me, she said, "I wanted YOU to have a good life. I'm very proud of who you've become". Unfortunately she never "became" herself. Never let your identity become a shadow of someone else's life. It will be a day of silently apathetic regret to come to the end of one's life and know one has not fully lived.


“But I have lived, and have not lived in vain: My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire, And my frame perish even in conquering pain; But there is that within me which shall tire Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire; Something unearthly, which they deem not of, Like the remember'd tone of a mute lyre, Shall on their soften'd spirits sink, and move In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.”
― Lord Byron


I'm OK.  I'm better than OK.  I'm going to be alright.  I had turned my back, ignoring what was ahead of my ship sailing forward on this sea and continued to look instead behind me at where I had been.  In so doing, I was hit by a wave unseen and of immense size across the bow.  The damage was minimal and the wave has passed.  An eerily quiet calmness fills in around me on a still sea now in its wake.  There is much yet to explore on my voyage.  The sail, luffing in the quiescence of still air after this storm, fills once again with the breath of life.  She is under sail and moving again, into waters unknown and adventures yet unseen.  May the friends she chooses as her crew be there for her as she is for them.  Even the captain of her own boat sometimes needs guidance.














Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dominoes

I was up early this past Sunday morning.  I haven't been sleeping all that well through most nights, my mind racing with so many thoughts, emotions and fears.  The sun was shining brightly on this early September Morning, and with the passage during the night of a strong cold front, fall was now unofficially here.  I ambled over to the kitchen and soon found myself standing over the sink as I washed and scoured the dishes, pots and pans that lay there from the night's dinner before.

As I stood in silence, with the only other sound being that of the water running from the faucet, a vision of my mom in that moment arose.  There were many times that, as a child, I would awaken early on a weekend to find her in the kitchen doing the same thing as I was doing now.  I would ask her, "Why are you up so early doing dishes?".

Her response to me was always the same.  "This is my time to myself."

I understood, in the moment I was in now, just what she meant when she said it then.

So many changes have been happening recently that it has been hard to process the now seemingly fathomless depths of water which I find myself swimming upon.  My initial intention was not to transition fully.  The idea was that I would find myself able to balance my male and female lives as two separate entities and to successfully manage my own 23 year relationship with my spouse.  I was wrong on all accounts.

Without hormonal or surgical intervention, I found that in allowing the person I was inside to have freedom, that she quickly became the dominant.  There was no "guy" to be lost.  He was never there.  From the earliest age, as early as 5 years old, I recall my feelings of being more aligned as a girl.  It was more than feelings.  It was everything from socialization, to emotive responses, to conversational mannerisms and topics. I had only served to repress that inner spirit for four and half decades in a trivial and Swiss-Cheese like fashion where the holes were always there that others would question my"manliness" against.  I was like one of those towns you see in the old western movies.  You know, the ones where the buildings are all just facades made to look like whole buildings but which have no structure behind their two dimensional cardboard like cut-out appearance.

My spouse has realized this.  She has realized in observing the years that she spent with me that I have always acted, behaved and emoted as a woman.  I just happened to be a woman who appeared (only semi-convincingly and usually with a raised eyebrow from many) as a man.  She started watching other men and how they related, treated, talked and loved their spouses.  I was more like a 23 year long girlfriend in contrast.  I was her best friend but I was never a husband in the traditional sense.  I didn't even realize for all these years that I wasn't anything but a husband, and she felt the same way.  She didn't date much before marrying me and I didn't either so we really had no reference points.  We just knew we loved (and still love) each other very much and that we quickly became each others best friends.  That was enough to get married and we thought nothing more of it.

While we still love each other very much, this is very much not a marriage in any traditional sense.  It never really was, as much as we both thought for years that it was.  The realization and the self-awareness of this fact has left us both in a quandary as to what we both want and what we both need out of it.  It set into motion, the string of dominoes which have now started tumbling, one by one as each action brings a responding reaction upon the next, in a sequence which really now cannot be stopped.  Truth be told, the sequence of events was set into place from the earliest years of my life, having only been placed into a stasis of treading water for so many personally stressful decades.  Truth be told, I am only just now beginning to find a personal sense of internal happiness, but it is coming with a price of the unraveling of a life built around a facade.

I do not know how this game will play out, nor do either of us, but I do know that with the changes that are ensuing around me, it makes very little sense to try to salvage "the male" who never existed.  We both now know him as a facade and neither of us can continue to pretend for any longer.  Staying in this middle ground is not an option.  Maintaining what always has been a poor excuse of a male image is not an option.  Living in the middle trying to balance a male and female image is not an option because there is no male other than the facade and the stress of trying to bounce between two separate lives has become too much to bear.  I have only one other place to go......

I am very comfortable as a woman and others around me in my life affirm this in ways I have never ever found as a so-called man.  I can't say that the station of a woman is a glamorous or wonderful thing, no matter what others may think.  A woman has many more challenges to face in this world, both socially and economically, than does a man.  This is not something I do for the fun of it.  This is not a whimsical choice.  This is a choice for my own survival to live authentically as myself for whatever years I have remaining on this Earth. The dominoes are falling one by one as my life steers a course whose chart had laid hidden in a vault for so many years.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

I don't really know how to start some of my posts sometimes, so perhaps I should just cut to the subject straight away and go from there....... So with that...."I've come to talk with you again"

I've been in something of a "dark place" of late, at least until recently.  There have been more than a handful of days that I wonder about why it is I bother to get up in the morning.  I shrug those thoughts off as I fight to dispel them over a cup of coffee and an array of busy-work to keep myself occupied.  It's hard to explain and a lot of it, I am quite sure, has much to do with the nature of who I am and the emotive states I entertain as part of the embodiment of who I am

"Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains"


I know that I am quite fortunate for many things and that in comparative terms, there are many who would simply scoff at what would appear topically to be a cry for attention.  But it's not that.  It's not a cry for attention at all.  It's something of a gnawing unrest combined with a deep and emotionally painful scar of emotions that simply will not subside, or at least did not until recently.

Because things feel a little bit "brighter" in my life now, I find it more amenable to discuss this.  I know that it is not uncommon to willingly try to hide a problem while one is battling it, and I am likely no exception to this general rule.  Truth be told, there were a few times that I managed to evoke some tangible inkling of what was rattling around in my head....

"But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence"

I should consider myself fortunate and lucky for what I have done, who I have touched in this life and in how others respect me as a person, a confidant and a friend.....but sometimes the weight of the seemingly unsolvable looms like an unseen black hole, sucking one in to the point that no light from outside can get in or be seen.  I don't feel at liberty to discuss here some of those dark elements but I will say that they are there, they are pervasive, like spectres hiding in shadow, lurking to take hold when an idle mind doth present itself.  Keep busy.... Find diversions, Keep moving and doing.  it's a short term strategy with the hopes that it will allow steps towards a longer term goal.

I've made some decisions.  I've had to.  Ending up in a position that is quasi-female, standing on the fulcrum of this teeter totter of gender, with male to one end and female to the other, is quite a difficult place to stay balanced forever.  I've got my reasons for being where I am.  To me they are valid and in the larger picture it is working.  I'm slowly moving along the see-saw towards the female end, attempting to hold the balance as I do.  I can't go back to living and playing the male role.... doing so would lead to an end I wish not to discuss here.  Things have happened in my life that, although I am greatly loved, am no longer the same person in a relationship I once knew.  It leaves a hole not only in this respect, but a gap as well in where I am in this ephemeral middle-ground of gender and my life.

It's decided.  Fate and time have decided my direction on a course I had to start down and where I stand now and look back at what has collapsed around me.  Turning my head to look forward, I see what possibilities exist and in so gazing forward,  I DO see as a positive.  I also look around me, where I stand in the middle, not looking back, not looking forward, and here see a wealth of love and support, opportunity and friendship standing beside me.  It helps pull me out of a funk when I consider what I do have and where I can yet still go.

It was a recent event that really turned my life around, in a huge way.  It may seem trivial to most, but I will share with you a video I compiled of this life event and perhaps you will understand what I speak of.  In this event, I saw a pure love and eyes which looked into mine and thanked me in such a moving and non-verbal way, that it has forever changed me in subtle and yet distinct ways.  This was an opportunity at something that I seized and gave my all and for sharing my heart and soul, I was shown that there is significance to the all of who I am.  There has ALWAYS been significance, but yet I had become blind, circling so close to the "black hole" of thoughts and dark emotions which had infiltrated my being.

"Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"

I won't describe the events behind my inner hidden hurt and feeling of darkness, but I will let you watch the video of the events which helped turn me around. In 28 days, I was touched by an angel of opportunity, that although perhaps seemingly small and insignificant, left me at its conclusion feeling on top of the world.  The event was a harbinger of how I must live my life going forward.... in seeking to help.... in seeking to promote love and unity... and in perhaps, in some small way, feeling that at the end of my life, I have made some sort of positive difference.  And in the process of doing this, I am and will find myself.....

I chose for this piece, a musical score, the composition of which, spoke to me when I first heard it, forming images with each passage, as if words within a book.  Truly, I find I have the ability to see music as images as if they were the written word....perhaps that is a gift I have....   And when I heard this piece, it was a heart-pouring event to simply stitch what tangible pieces I had gathered over these 28 days into something that would capture, something of what I saw and what I felt.  You may see it too.... in they eyes, in the body language.  It's there.  It's real.  It's tangible. It is the giving of love and of appreciation in its purest form.  I am committed to continuing forward that which I have been given as a gift.... until my last breath.  Enjoy..... and special thanks to "The Beatles"....

Follow the link to......

Monday, July 7, 2014

Affirmations: Point of No Return

An affirming day yesterday.  I "thought" I was in my guy mode with my natural hair and no makeup and just a  collared shirt and Jeans.  I was up in the White Mountains of NH playing "tourist" at the Flume Gorge.  Along the walking trip, there was a point where one could diverge through a small jumble of rocks that made for a tight, dark, one way passage through to the other side.  A mother and young daughter saw me turn around and signal to J to try it, but alas, this was not her cup of tea.  On my way through, I used a pocket LED flashlight to light my way and then turned around to help the little girl, just ahead of her mother, to find her way through the cavernous rock jumble.  The mother thanked me and reassured her daughter by telling her to "follow the nice lady with the flashlight".


The Flume Gorge and Walkway


Later, while taking close-up pictures of butterflies that were alighting on a wooden safety railing to catch some rest and some sun, one of a group of young girls stood mesmerized by how close I was to them.  I heard her say to one of her other young friends, "Look how close she is.  That lady is so lucky".




Butterflies Taking a Break in the Sun


Earlier that day, I was baffled about using the restroom situation at the gift shop and entrance station.  I didn't want to use the men's bathroom because of the weird looks often gleaned from the other guys when I do.  I didn't want to use the women's bathroom because of the reasoning that I was in my so-called guy mode and would freak some woman out in so doing.... so option three of utilizing the cover of a well placed boulder out in the woods was used.  Well, after being called by female pronouns on the whole trip,  I was pretty well assured that I was NOT passing as a guy even though I thought I was.  So I tried the women's bathroom for the first time in my no-makeup mode and, lo and behold, not a single problem was encountered.  Somewhere along the way, I've crossed over some invisible threshold in my transition, one which I was not fully aware of until yesterday.

In another series of affirmatives this weekend, I had several women strike up conversations with me, some quite lengthy, while out browsing in thrift stores. Topics ranged the gamut but in one particular encounter with a woman who was browsing as well, we ended up somehow talking about relationships and the nature of men.  In an instant, I suddenly realized that she was speaking to me as one woman to another.  Several other encounters with women in a variety of stores just really left me feeling great inside.  It wasn't only that I was blending in as a woman, but it was even more so in the appreciation of being able to enjoy the types of interactions which women randomly have socially with other women.... something that men seem almost never engage to engage in while out shopping.  And of course, the topics which women talk about can quickly become very deep and personal..... something I have very much come to appreciate in my life now as a woman.  All in all, I picked up some great dvd movies and a super-8 projector to compliment my older, 1948 silent 8 model as I continue to search out old movies and shows from a long-gone era.

Even with the positives, there are a few negatives that still seem to be thrown in.  But even with these "negative" events, there still seems to be some rays of sunshine.  Kids are absolutely amazing. While dining out with J a couple of days earlier at one of our favorite Chinese restaurants, the father of a family of 3 children and his spouse picked up on something about me that caught his interest. I was very well and respectably dressed and out in what I used to call my full female mode.  As he looked over his wife and at our table, I could see that he had his eyes on me and on the two of us. At some point, with his phone raised, I could see he was taking a picture as he whispered something to his wife. She seemed to care less in his observations and had no interest in continuing the discussion. Whether he saw me as transgender or whether he saw J and I as a lesbian couple is unknown to me and I'll never really know.  He then showed the picture he had taken, first to the son (age about 9) sitting nearest to him and he seemed completely uninterested. His daughter, about 12, turned to look at us and held no expression as she looked back to her dad. As she stared intently back at her dad, I could clearly hear her say to him,  "Don't be so mean dad... You're such a meany". WOW! Kids are just amazing...They come without prejudice and bigotry and they were quite a contradiction to this guy who seemed enamored and appalled with me simultaneously as the brain in his head seemed to be competing with the one in his pants. This little girl made my day.... 

All in all I'm finding that this transition is happening painlessly and invisibly as my life takes on a new course.  I never really was planning to transition and was trying to hold a "male" mode for when J needed it, but apparently that has failed miserably.  The world now sees and affirms me, more and more, as a woman, which is who I am and always felt I was inside.  I'm my own toughest customer to sell apparently, but I'm really beginning to realize that there is, at this point, no turning back on this journey and my destiny.  I just wish I had some directions because I feel like this vehicle I started is now driving itself.....

 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Growing up Transgender: Stepping into the Light

Sometimes we never fully appreciate the dysfunctionality of our families until we are much older.  By then, many years and decades of our lives have passed and we come to look back at our childhood with eyes anew, as if we were looking upon our lives as a different person than we were.  My very wise 17 year old nephew once said to me that we each live multiple lives over the course of our lifetime.  As we grow to learn about ourselves, we grow internally, both spiritually and intellectually.  Our desires, goals and perspectives evolve as we become ever more aware and self conscious of the lives we have lived, the lives around us we have touched or that have touched us in some way, and as we evolve within ourselves.

In looking back on my own childhood, I can sense it all anew from the perspective of having lived through it and grown into a person who has become self-aware of her own identity and the world around her.  I can eerily look back upon my youth and truly feel detached from the person I was, yet fully knowing I lived through what could only be termed as very dark days.  The darkness which pervaded the shadowy world that was my life did not seem so at the time, but then again, it has been said that we often do not see the forest for the trees.  For those who know only darkness, the concept of light is as foreign and alien a thing as any.  Having stepped into the light which age and wisdom have brought me over the years, I can look back now and realize just how dark those times were.

I grew up with an immediate family consisting of a mother, a father and a sister.  My mother was my best friend in the early years of my life and was always the one to provide me with the encouragement and support to go farther in my life and to strive for more.  She was the one who took the time to read every paper I wrote, type every paper I penned and to be an ally and confidant when I needed simply to talk. My father was much more the authoritarian.  While a good provider, he was a micromanager and layed out the law of the household.  While he worked a full time job, my mom was expected to work her part time job, take care of me after school, take care of the housework and ensure that dinner was ready when my father would arrive home.

My father's temper was the most fearsome thing and his arrogance and anger would oft show themselves for such simple things as dinner not being prepared on time to chores not having been completed by my mother.  Although I loved my parents, I grew to have a love/hate/fear relationship with my father.  His temper would often culminate in verbal assaults and occasionally physical ones involving my witnessing my mother being struck.  I would often hide in one of the lower cabinets in the den where the louvered slats allowed me to peer out while safe inside with the linens and towels.  Many of the physically abusive visual acts witnessed were ones I mentally blocked for years and decades,  It was only recently that I began to recount those memories as I first started to consciously document my life.

My sister was hardly ever around in my life.  She was 13 years the senior to me and by the time I was 5 years old, she was 18, graduating high school, entering college and out of the house.  I always wondered for many years why she used a different last name from that of our family's but was not to find out until many years later the true reason why.  When I questioned my mother as to why her name was different, the answer was always the same... that she was the rebel of the family and wanted to be unique.  There was nothing that could be farther from the truth.

It was decades later that I came to find out the true nature of my sister's variant last name.  Although I imagined in my mind that she may have been adopted, it turned out that she was the offspring of my mother in an earlier marriage which was hidden from me by them for many, many years.  My mother had married young, becoming involved with a man who was a tyrant and a wife beater.  Together they bore my sister and very shortly after her birth, she filed for divorce and left him.  Being fearful of her life and her safety, she fled to live with her sister out of state and took her daughter (my sister) with her.

Eventually my mom and my sister returned to Massachusetts where they settled in with my mother's mother.  While there, my mom started dating my father and because she so desperately wanted to have a family and a home life for my sister, they quickly married.  My father's mother, who lived next door to where my dad lived, was appalled that my father would marry someone who was a vagabond and a tramp because she had a daughter from a previous marriage.  She feared the neighborhood, family and relatives would find out and that it would reflect back poorly on her son.... my father.  She argued with my dad to send my sister to live with my mother's sister yet again so that this little "dirty secret" would be hidden from all.  My dad, surprisingly, and because he always wished to please his mother first, agreed.... and my sister was sent off to live with my mother's aunt out of state.

After about three months time, my sister, crying endlessly to come home, was finally allowed to come home to live with my mother and father.  She was instructed to never call my mother and father as mom and dad but rather as aunt and uncle and to use their first names.  Again, this was for the sake of my father's mother who maintained that it appeared shameful that her son married a woman who had a child from a prior marriage. Around me, my sister was only to use first names only and to not use aunt and uncle so as to confuse me as much so, although it was still confusing.  My sister, feeling as if she was the black sheep of the family, and rightly so, was quick to try to leave the house when she was of age and to seek her own life, free from this ruling and the tyranny of my father.

I was dealing with my gender dysphoria from an early age, as early as I can remember, perhaps age four and definitely by age 5.  Although I often looked to see if there was a correlation between the relationship which existed within the house between my mother and my father with me, I would come to find out later that it was not the triggering factor in who I would become.  That is a story for another time and yet another complex and well hidden piece in the family puzzle.

Early years in school were not a problem for me as I immediately took to the little girls in class and they to me, as a girl.  We talked, socialized and played together as little girls do.  I just never realized until much later in life that I was acting and behaving as female and thought I was just being a little boy, yet somehow feeling different from them when I was around the boys.  As the years passed and the girls and boys began to separate socially, I was no longer welcome in the girl's circle.  Not feeling comfortable being in the boys circle I started to pull away into my own worlds and the darkness which pervaded in the often hostile and physically violent home life began to encroach further, pulling me deeper and further down.

By age 10 I was already crossdressing and this became even more an occurrence when puberty started to kick in.  The more I was developing into a boy, the more I tried to be the girl I felt I was inside.  By age 13 I was becoming very proficient in makeup and style and would dress whenever I could get a chance at home to do so while my parents were out.  I hated living in a house where I feared my dad.  I despised developing into the man I felt I was not while at the same time feeling guilty that I could not live up to the expectations of being the man my parents wished me to be.  I despised God and cursed him each night for not allowing me to grow up as the person I knew I was inside and when that brought me nothing, asked him each night to take my life so that I would not have to wake up and live this nightmare any longer.

I found solace in my reading, in science fiction and fantasy where I could lose myself in realities of a world other than the tortuous one I lived my life in each day.  I read and studied sciences and literature and immersed myself in books and learning as a means to stave off the social inadequacy I felt in the world around me.  I became a loner and person who sought solitude and peace.  Weekends were something I looked forward to when my mom and dad would take me away to a small summer cottage in the lakes region of New Hampshire.  Here I could often be found taking long walks alone in the woods to lose myself for a few hours in the peaceful and non-judgmental world of nature and the outdoors.

By the time high school came around, I found myself having regular panic attacks that became violent enough to warrant medical attention.  So self conscious was I of my living in the wrong gender that in social situations and around the girls, I would find myself catatonic at times, unable to speak, dizzy and in a cold sweat.  Being called upon one time in English class caused me to have a racing heart and heart palpitations, a complete loss of feeling in my left arm and passing out on the floor in class.   They were all the symptoms of a heart attack yet it was, in actuality, a severe panic attack of the highest order.

These panic attacks of high school would last until age 45.  I managed to hide them from others by avoiding situations which would trigger them.  For years I thought that it was agoraphobia (fear of people and crowded places) that plagued me, but the reality of the diagnosis was yet to come at that point.  Meetings were affairs that I would avoid at work and if I had to attend, tried to find as low profile a position as was possible to achieve in such an intimate and closed situation.  I avoided restaurants and cafeterias where I found I was so nervous that I could not even make it through eating lunch without breaking down in panic.  Somehow I even hid this from my spouse, who did not even know I was dealing with this affliction all of these years.  I hid it that well and used avoidance scenarios that well.

The panic attacks and fear of social situations which devastated so many decades of my then introverted life came to a sudden end the day I accepted myself as a woman.  I remember the day well.  On most weekends during my marriage, I would spend my Saturday evening getting dressed and doing up my makeup at home.  My spouse might snap a few pictures as a keepsake reminder for me of the person I was able to materialize as fleetingly for these few hours each week.  On one occasion in 2009, fully dressed as the woman I am today, I broke down while standing in our kitchen.  With tears running down my cheeks, mascara and eye liner melting into the mess my face became, my spouse asked me what was wrong.  It was then that I admitted to her what I was failing to admit to myself, that this was more than playing dress-up.  In fact what I thought would satisfy my female energy simply by getting all decked out in female attire was doing nothing for me.  I needed more.  I didn't need or want to simply dress as female, I needed to live my life as the woman I am.  It was on that fateful night that I vowed to move forward with exploring my life as a woman and in the fall of 2009, I stepped foot for the first time outside, after decades of trying to keep my female self at home, and ventured out into the greater world.

Interestingly, my social anxieties immediately faded away into a distant memory as I naturally fell into a life I knew I was meant to live.  I knew I was the woman I had tried to deny simply through the realization of finding such ease with which I related to the world and socialized naturally as female.  It was obvious to me as it was to everyone in the greater world who would come to know me for they all saw and felt me as being female in heart and essence.  It was 2009 that I first found what it was really like to be happy inside.  It was 2009 that I finally started to live a life I wanted to and to not live my life for what I was expected by others to do and to be.  It was 2009 that I realized that for 44 years of my life I was miserable with a dark and dead soul and living in a state of low level omnipresent chronic depression and anxiety.  It was 2009 that I finally found myself free.

And like in the story of the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes on that day where he learned the true meaning of Christmas, so my own soul suddenly grew almost as suddenly in those weeks surrounding my meltdown and acceptance of who I am.  My fears disappeared and I came to find that I was not the introverted, frightened, panic stricken and socially awkward person I thought for all these years that I was. I was suddenly manifesting the woman that all these years I knew deep inside I was.  It was she who was finally free.  SHE was the socialite who loved to mingle and converse, to share ideas and thoughts and conversation, who was the life of the party and who loved life and her friends.  SHE found as great respect in getting to know others as they would come to find in her.  SHE realized she was blessed with life and love and with friends who cared.  SHE was no longer frightened to be in public settings but, instead, found that she actually sought them out.  Her fears of public speaking were replaced with her wants to command an audience and to share her life and her stories with others.  It was a transformation that she could not see until she stood where she stands now, illuminated and self-aware of where she is now because of where see she was so many years ago in those dark decades of her life before.  Sometimes she wonders what life would have been like if she had not lived through so many dark years, but then she realizes that it was those dark years that allowed her to appreciate more fully the light which illuminates and encompasses her now.  It is a light which shines clearly HER way forward; it is a light which is reflected back by the gift of those who love her as she loves them;  it is a light which permeates her innermost soul and brings song to where there was once only silence;  it is a light which is like no other, and which can barely with words be described, but for the first time in this woman's life, she is realizing happiness through contentment, and that is the best gift of all.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mirages of the Mind

Many times, people see us as they first came to know us.  An example of this happened today when I stopped in at my skincare aesthetician.  They first came to know me as male years ago when I first started going there for treatments.  I was known by my male name and the pronouns were always "he, Him, and His".  About a year ago I showed up in full on girl mode after announcing just prior that I was transgender.  There was no problem in pronoun switches to the feminine when I did show up in this manner and "She" and "Her" along with my name being used as Christen were the rule.

Today, I showed up in what I like to call my "twilight zone" mode.  It's a gender neutral sort of mode in which I wear no makeup and usually don just a women's polo shirt in either blues, or blacks and a pair of casual, relatively neutral women's jeans.  Interestingly, when I arrived for my appointment the pronouns were "He" and "His" and my name was right back to my male name.  I don't let this bother me one bit because I related a story to the two women I know who work there.   I explained to them that they really need not worry either way because they first came to know me as a male and unless I am explicitly managing to look ultra feminine, that they will continue to see me as male.  This is NOT unusual.

On the other end of the spectrum, I further explained to them that there are those who only first knew me as Christen and will maintain that name and the female pronouns even if I make an attempt to present more male.  Our mind's eye creates a perceived reality of what we see and this often usurps the actual reality of the person that stands before them.  I further related that those who only knew me as Christen are often shocked to find that I could have ever been anything but female all my life.  This in fact happened when several state representatives chatted me up after my visit to the state house and extolled that they could not have ever seen me as ever having been male.  Granted it was quite affirming, but it also stresses my point that I need to find tolerance for those whose mind's eye have become accustomed to what they have come to know from the past.  Change in one's perceived reality of a person into an actuality comes, but it can come slowly I find.

It was funny that I often find my own self doubt in how I am being perceived, yet it is always for naught.  On Saturday, I had just finished up a hike and was in my gender neutral form which my aestheticians see as me still being male.  Interestingly, I tend to follow their stance in how I THINK I appear but just as surprising is the fact that those who have never met me before make an immediate assumption that I am female.

It happened on that Saturday Afternoon that I found myself in a local thrift store wearing no makeup, my medium length curly hair, a generic gender neutral T-Shirt, some exercise pants and a pair of white sneakers.  No sooner was I convinced that I was being taken for male when someone who worked at the store, needing to pass by with some store goods, pronounced quite clearly "Excuse me ma'am".  This was followed up by other run-ins with staff and more female pronouns being used.  I'm typically a hard sell and offer myself as my own worst customer to try to convince so I took it at face value and, as always, remained skeptical.

I was out yesterday doing a little more thrift store shopping in another local venue I had never frequented before.  The shopkeeper and I entered into a casual discussion and at some point, he motioned that he wished to ask me a question.  I said that of course it would be alright.

He started out, "You look familiar!  I'm pretty sure I've seen you somewhere before...."

My mind raced in that moment and my self doubt that perhaps he knew Wonder Woman's Secret that she was once the mild mannered Clark Kent.  It is true that my mind tends to plot courses for all possible failures.... my "Kobiyashi Maru" Scenarios, but they never pan out in such a negative way.  This was to be no exception to that pattern.

"I don't know where you could know me from?", I offered.

"Well, you look familiar", he continued, pausing slightly and then blurting  out, "I know now.  You work at the Concord Hospital.  You're one of the women on the staff there that I know!"

"Wow!", I thought to myself as he continued relating his story.  That was very affirming I thought and my prognostication that I was about to have some secret past revealed was spun around completely and became an affirmation that I was a WOMAN he knew.

It is very interesting, in summation, as to how we are perceived by those who have known us in an earlier life and how we are oft very differently perceived by those who come to meet us in the moment, now, as we are.  Perhaps the most amazing mirage of all is the one we oft continue to see of ourselves when we peer into the mirror and still think we see staring back at us, the person we once physically were.  The visions of who we were remain transcendentally fixed and omnipresent in the mind's eye....but in reality are simply ghosts of the past which, with patience and the melting of memories with time, ultimately find their way fading into oblivion as we ourselves arise anew.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Through the Gateway: Promulgating Change

 I was looking back and reviewing the recent Laverne Cox cover on the upcoming issue of Time Magazine and in awe of this as a yet another marker of how far we have come in transgender issues within even the past year.  We are finding, as transgender individuals, increased visibility within the greater world from all that we are doing.... each and every one of us who proudly herald and proclaim our own sense of self.  The people we touch, whether it be one or one hundred thousand, makes little difference.... because together we ARE bringing light to where there was once only myth, fable and darkness. 

I see Laverne Cox as one of a select few individuals who are as I would call as "keystones" in a gateway to understanding.  She, like many of the popular transgender role models today, fit easily into the "gender binary box".  This is to say that they fit with physical characteristics into either a very male or very female box.  Many of our transgender role models today seem to fit nicely into the visually accepted male or female "box".  Society may not be ready, just yet, to break beyond this.  To me it is a bit disappointing to know that if a person does not possess all of the physical characteristics visually of the gender they know they feel inside, then the validity as perceived by the general world around us somehow and often suddenly comes into question.  I would, for instance, like to see a gender queer person on the cover of Time Magazine but I know the time is not quite right just now for that....but I guarantee that this day will come as society evolves to understand through the help of such "gateway" individuals.

These are thoughts which I have come to consider in my own travels upon the road of life thus far.  The looks and reactions, for instance, of a person who thought I was a natal woman until some moment when a tell tale sign lead them to a revelation of something much, much larger is just amazing.  It is a personal evolution that I witness, time and time again, with almost every person I meet.  It's that wide-eyed look and the look of amazement that I have somehow, in a wonderfully miraculous way, shattered their preconceptions and their misconceptions of a transgender person.

There are certain qualities which go beyond the physical which those who come to know me find to be so transcendent.  Perhaps it is in an open and affirming stance, a willingness to listen and an eagerness to take interest in knowing another and in lauding their own values and their own station in life that is perhaps helpful.

No matter what the recipe seems to be, my way of socializing does seem to be inherently innate.  To be transgender as well simply adds a whole new dimension to allow an individual who comes to know me as a genuine person to also come to realize that being transgender doesn't detract from who I am as a person.  If anything, the revelation of discovery that I am transgender, I have found,  just seems to add a whole new dimension of passive learning simply through their association with me.

That's a huge gift package NOT to use and it's one that I am finding to be an ice breaker of preconceived prejudices and stereotypes of what a transgender person is not and who we really are as people.  So.... I'm out as far and as much as people feel comfortable to want to know about me, within reason of course. I don't talk about plumbing and the physical arrangements, because if they do ask, my response will be that it is non-sequitur to our casual associative acquaintance, just as we do not ask our co-workers and casual friends such personal questions either;  But then I've never had the question of plumbing come up either....ever.  That possibility only exists in my own imagination to date thus far.

I recently was at a local watering hole on a Friday Night.  I often will show up there on those Friday's when they have live entertainment.  I arrived early and my friend, a GG woman, called to let me know she would not be there for another hour or more because of her attendance to her mother's care at home.  I made my self as comfortable as I could in a very crowded and very noisy bar as I sipped my glass of wine and exchanged pleasantries with the bar staff while having a sandwich for dinner.

There was only one open seat just to my left and the owner of the establishment came by and saw me sitting alone, relaxing and just chilling out, my seat swiveled outward onto the many occupied tables and beyond to the band that was playing in the far alcove.  He came right up and sat right down next to me.  We've known each other casually at that bar for years and we always exchanged in some level of small-talk to some degree.  Tonight though was different.  Since he is a pilot and I have work experience in the FAA and in meteorology, we were very quickly, over the din of the music, discussing weather patterns, bombogenesis of storms, relationships of weather to oceanic currents and thermal gradients and much more.

At some point, the conversation shifted and the owner mentioned how he has enjoyed talking to me over the years about such diverse subjects and that he considered me not only an intelligent and articulate individual, but also as he said, "a good person".   That was quite a compliment embedded within those few words.  I reaffirmed his sentiments and added that I considered myself to be a person of scientific principle; a person who felt that all things had quantifiable basis and that everything, if we looked deep enough, could be explained
I thanked him and added that I have always tried to understand the world around me and to explain it in logical means.  I further opened the door by stating that this included garnering an understanding of my own sense of self.  He took the crack in the door I provided and asked me politely if it would not be too much to chat about it sometime under quieter circumstances.  I of course said that I did not find it intrusive and that I respected him in his affirming response to me that he was simply trying to learn more.

I am cognizant of when a person is wanting to learn because of their desire to achieve the same sort of understanding I have to come to know for myself, about myself.  I also realize that the average person who is not gender variant by nature will have many more challenges, simply by virtue of their lack of perspective and an inability to grasp at the concept and fully materialize it.  I see this as an opportunity to be open and to dispel myth from mythology and to replace misconception with actualities.  It is not an opportunity nor a reason for me to say, "This is none of your business"....at least for me.  This is a huge opportunity for me to be able to integrate closely enough with others and to be able to weave in a level of comprehension and of learning that can, in small ways, make HUGE differences.  I see this as well within so many of us who are blessed as transgender and I can envision such an amazing potential.

"Passive learning, through a person's own ability to come to a conclusion, will trump each and every time the achievements which one may try to achieve through lecture, rhetoric and simply demanding.  Prove who you are as a person and most people will naturally come to see what is real and what they held prior to be an intangible illusion of myth and fear."

I believe we all have the ability to become advocates, like Laverne Cox, of our own worlds and the people who surround us in our own lives.  Whether it is one person or one hundred thousand, we each have the power together to achieve great strides in our society.  The gender continuum is an amazing thing and I am proud to know the many people in my life who take up their own place in residence upon any number of points along its infinite expanse in either direction.  We each bring our own uniqueness to the world and our own nuance of color to the mosaic of humanity.  If we only touch one life even in the process, we yet still touch many more in so doing.  One person touched by our journey is a messenger to many others and so we touch, indirectly, a plethora of people in each person in the process.

The gateway is opening and we are seeing the first well known notes of a yet unheard symphony of humanity just beginning to be played.  There is, yet to be heard, the full orchestral movement; the "tour de force"  yet to come.  But the gateway is open and people are beginning to see what once was behind the shrouded veil.  There is much more to come.....the music has only just started.