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 22, 2015

The Person That Became Christen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Freeze Frame

Many transgender individuals seem to take pictures of themselves for a number of reasons. While many who are outside the community (and within as well) might often consider it as a form of narcissism, fetishism or something else, it is often much more than that. Although not exclusively a rule, I see the general trend that those individuals who have felt trapped in having to play an acting role in the play of their own lives tend to take pictures for reasons other than narcissism . 

It's a way to capture the woman inside them and to have that with them for when they have to revert to playing their acting role in the gender they do not identify with. It gives one something to hold onto, ephemeral and intangible as it may be. It is a way to ask for critiquing among peers as they try to find and hone their true identity for the first time. It is a memory and a window back to a short period of happiness in having been able to express as one truly identifies and a picture can carry with it, the strength to make it through until the next time when one can express as their true selves. 

It seems that those who begin to live full time as their true gender tend to rely less on "selfies" as they integrate in the greater world. Even the entire act of getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror and seeing the person they truly are in reflection back just becomes, for many, routine as the comfortability in one's self transfers to more meaningful and wonderful adventures in the larger realm of life. 

Everyone who will comment on this will comment from their own perspective and it is a perspective that may one day change as we grow and mature. I, personally, have found that growth and pictures, except to capture moments in life, are no longer about moments needed to hang on tenuously to an identity that was once hidden. It is an amazing and wonderful transformation to behold. While it is not a superlative in any way, it is just as, if not more meaningful in the calm quiescence that envelops one as they finally feel comfortable in their own life and in their own skin.  It is truly the most amazing feeling to behold and one that only a person who has dealt with in repressing their true identity can truly understand and appreciate.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

It Started with a Smile

I was going to get my hair done next week but a look in the mirror yesterday morning convinced me that I was starting to look like Diana Ross. That evening I found myself sitting in the chair getting my hair done when one of the hair stylists passed by several times, her eyes intently glued on me. She had done this the last time I was in too and now it was just getting me a bit weirded out.
You probably know where I'm going with this already and, yes, when someone is really intently staring at me I tend to wonder if they are trying to figure me out. Afterwards, when my coiffure du'jour was completed, she came by and apologized saying, "I hope you don't mind but every time you come in here I just can't get over how well made up you are; your skin is amazing and you are just so beautiful". Well that just surprised me as I was not expecting anything like that.
I thanked her and before I knew it my hair stylist and two others had joined in the conversation. It was a cackle now of four women, with the last customer having left much earlier, just chatting, clucking, cackling and laughing as we clustered in a corner of the shop. Soon enough we were talking about relationships, husbands, sex, food, child birth and all things female. At some point we got into hormones, a subject I didn't instigate, and then the conversation made a left turn into menopause, peri-menopause, hormones and hot flashes. I was invited to share my thoughts on how to deal with those hot flashes and hormonal mood swings.
After spending over an hour of cackling, we called it a night. My hair stylist gave me a warm hug and I left her with a plate of my Greek Cookies. She softly said to me, "You know, they have no idea whatsoever". She had a grin from ear to ear as she said it. She was elated for me. She knew I was comfortable, that I was happy and in my element as who I am. "That's just our little secret", she quipped as we parted ways. I've never been so sure about anything in my life as I am now. The day is coming when no one need ever know and it will be coming soon.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Swimming For My Life

I shudder at times when I look back on my blog, at my writings and my posts from years ago.  It's like a different person was writing, a different person was living, a different person was seeing.  How do I begin this entry?  Where do I start?  There are so many things that have changed in my life that it's like the person who wrote, who lived just a few short years before, was someone else... someone else who saw the world through blinders, through rose colored glasses and who swam through life in the shallow waters of some swimming pool.  Now the woman staring back in the mirror is swimming for her life in deeper waters of the the blue Atlantic toward the distant shore of lands at the edge of a limitless horizon.

Those still happily playing in the shallow end of the pool, surrounded by the safety of the ladders and the lifeguards can scarcely perceive that the swim I am making is one for my life now.  I'm not drowning but I cannot stop where I am now.  The tides and currents have taken me too far from a shore that I can never return to in the same way.  And if I did make the effort to return, I would find that it was a vastly different place, that I didn't fit in, that I couldn't live the lie of my life having seen what truth to myself lay beyond.  I would surely drown to stand on those shores again and would prefer to drown at sea instead. I can only struggle to find my way to a shore that is slowly coming into focus as I push in darkness through the mighty waves of an oft angry and at best an indifferent sea.

Far to sea now, I swim for my life to reach the other shore

The days of excitement and longing to be able to present as my authentic self for a few short hours on some random weekend day, of being able to shed the male facade and don an authentic self for moments in a lifetime of hiding, those days are gone..  they have been replaced with the quiescence of a soul coming finally to be at rest and to feel whole as a human, as a person, as a woman.  The world around me reflects a silent and affirming resound in agreement to my affirmations and drives me to push on.

As I journey forth through these deep waters, far from land, those who still swim in the pool can scarcely understand the trials I face.  I say this not in a derogatory way but rather as one of perspective.  How can one really see, really understand another's perspective if they are not living it, not experiencing the emotions of that person?  They will see only with reference to what they know, what they understand. Even I, I could not perceive that I would feel as I have come to feel, to love as I have come to love, to fear as I have come to fear, and to grow as I have come to grow.  To try to explain the all of what one feels in a gender transition is like a physicist explaining quantum physics to a lay person.  Sure, some of the concepts will be understandable but at some point, without having the foundation for complete understanding, much will be lost, much will not be visualizable.

I realize this now, more and more, when people comment on my posts on Facebook and I realize that they missed the point of what I was trying to say, focusing instead on some ephemeral or topical aspect.  A few people "get it" and are able to read between the lines and their comments hit home to me against the chatter of the trivial and of the trite.  This is what I need;  I need the perspective offered by these people, by these comments.  I have also been surprised pleasantly when someone will read one of my comments to their post, a post with a sub-meaning to it that most who comment do not get.  I'll see their post and offer a comment that provokes a response of, "Wow!  You got it.  You understand me!".  And I do.  I do understand the struggles, the emotion, the second level that is hidden beneath the veneer of smiles.  I understand it all now in ways I never did before.

This is not fun.  This is not dress up time.  This is not about looking beautiful.  Yes, a woman perhaps enjoys fun and dressing up and looking as attractive as she can but life is so much more.  This is about identity, about being able to interact with a world in a way that is harmonious to me, as myself, as a woman.  this is about the feeling of knowing the world feels comfortable with me as that person, as a woman.  This is about the struggle of loss of a spouse who is now your best friend and sister.  This is about not having a "center" to my life as I once did.  Now my center is replaced with the amazing love of my girlfriends, the added realm of a boyfriend, the experiences of a public presence in my talks and speeches at schools, churches and at the state house, and in the love and admiration I receive from people I have never physically met but who have found my story, my words, my offering of a virtual hug a help in some small and meaningful way.


I may be swimming for my life at sea now but I cannot turn back for there is nothing to turn back to.  That person is dead and the person who once stood in the shallow end of the pool was but a facade of a human being who played out her life trying to please everyone else by acting out the role of the disguise she wore as a man.  No one believed her then and she spent much of her life alone and to herself because she found estrangement in being such a paradox of a human being.  No.  She swims now in azure yet also tempestuous seas, guided by the hands of those who help hold her when she feels she can swim no farther.  She is a woman who is more than grateful for the support they provide because without that support, that gift of love, there were times that she said silently to herself, quietly so that no one knew and no one would have heard, that she would take her life and drown.  There are still times that she stops swimming, treads water and looks wistfully toward that horizon and thinks for a moment of giving up, of letting the sea swallow her and end this struggle.  But then there is always a hand that seems to reach out to grasp her, as if knowing she had been too silent, too quiet of late, that something might be wrong.  And it is that hand that reaches out and holds me, touches me when I feel I can swim no further, that tells me that she can make it; that I can make it.  The other shore is clearly visible and I can see that there are many who are eagerly helping me to make this journey and who are also standing on that now not so distant shore awaiting for my arrival. Thank You to all who have and continue to help me in ways you perhaps could never imagine.  The meaning of my life's journey is made clear by the love you gift to me, for without it, I would swim alone only to land one day upon an empty, lonely and desolate shore at the far side.

To stand one day, the journey completed.....but is it ever?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Next Stop Willoughby

Have you ever had a dream that seemed so vivid, so real, that it was something you found you would remember for years to come?  They don't happen for me that often but this most recent of dreams was an incredibly relevant analog to the choices, the decisions and the changes and the challenges in my own life that I have been facing.  It was a simple dream but one which I believe will resonate with many.  Perhaps my dream was a manifestation of an old Twilight Zone Episode that resounds strongly with me each time I randomly happen to see it.  In any event, this is how it went.....

I was on a train traveling to another city.  The day was bright and sunny and the scenery outside my window was whipping past my window as I looked around the coach from the comfortable window seat I was in.  The idyllic Currier and Ives scene was not to last as I suddenly had a premonition.  In that moment I saw the future.  There was to be a huge train wreck.  The train that I was on would make it's next station stop and then, after departing the station and getting up to speed, would derail into a tangled mass of metal in the surrounding woods.  Everyone who was on board the train at that point would die.

In a panic I looked around me at the nearly full coach and began to race from person to person to warn them of the impending doom they faced if they did not get off the train at the next stop. Each person I told responded in disbelief or simply laughed at me.  Many went on to tell me about their own lives and their own stories and so each person became real to me and not simply just another passenger.  I came to feel connected to them in their stories they told me....which made it all the worse to know that they would all die in a short time.

Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone", episode is:  "A Stop at Willoughby"   - Synopsis:  Tired of his miserable job and wife, a businessman starts dreaming on the train each night, about an old, idyllic town called Willoughby. Soon he has to know whether the town is real and fancies the thought of seeking refuge there.

 The train slowed and came into the last station it would ever stop at.  The conductor called for all who were getting off to make their way to the doorway.  I recall in my dream that I ran to the front of the car and looked down the steps of the coach through the open door at the station below.  Then I turned my head back to the coach filled with the soon to be doomed passengers.  The conductor, standing on the platform now, beckoned me to get off but I stood frozen, unable to move.

If I disembarked from the train, I would save myself but I would have to forever live with the fact that these people who I had come to know on the train would die,  If I stayed on the train then I would die but would not have to feel like I was a failure to save them.  I tried to but could not decide.  In that moment of back and forth indecision as to whether I should live or die, I found myself suddenly awake, eyes open.  I had not made the decision.  I couldn't.

I discussed this overly vivid, technicolor dream with several of my close girlfriends and the meaning, spoken independently by each but in unison was the same.  The train was my journey through this life.  The passengers were the people I had come to know and love.  The decision was whether I transition to live to my life truly and authentically, potentially hurting those around me or to lose them from my life altogether.  If I did choose to disembark from the train, choose to transition, then I would face their loss.  If I chose to stay on board the train I would not lose them but I would die a little inside each day.  In reality, that death would be the death of the authentic me but the guilt of hurting others in so doing would be gone.

I know that we all face choices in life and that some of  those choices we make will affect others around us.  In reality, my own choices have brought me far greater love, friendship and acceptance than what I have lost. I went from being a two dimensional character play acting a role in the theater of my life to becoming someone who exudes her happiness in ways that allow me to give to others.....ways that I could never have been able to give before.

Each one of us will face similar situations, similar choices that may make us wonder whether or not we will be able to live with the decision and the potential losses we may face.   But we must also realize that with one door closing, another opens and that door can lead on to amazing things which we cannot yet perceive, not yet see.  We can do more for others if we can find peace and contentment alive then we could if we chose the alternative. This is my stop.  I'm stepping off the train and stepping through the door into a world that I am finding fits just perfectly for me and one which others who surround and support me help affirm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Connecting The Dots

Again, it has been a while since I have posted on here.  A lot has been happening around and within me.  Living now full time as a woman publicly has brought a sense of peace and contentment to me internally in ways I have never felt before internally.

No matter what hardships I may incur as a result of this life change, it is a decision I could never regret.  To have such a personal sense of peace like no other is at once reaffirming and calming.  There is no way that anyone who is not transgender could understand the feeling of dysphoria in not being able to live authentically to their own sense of self.  Likewise, there was no way I could have known how comfortable it was for those born into a gender that fits from birth.....until now.  Now I understand what I was feeling before; the anxiety, the withdrawal from society, the angst and pensiveness.  The lack of comfortability in others who felt ill at ease with me as a person playing the male role has been replaced with the world relating comfortably with me now as a woman.  I understand it now because now, finally, I am finding peace and contentment like no other I have ever experienced.

And now we enter a new chapter in the pages of my life, a story which can only be told as it is written.  It is a story which only will reveal its true ending when my life has.

More and more, as I explore the "all" of who I am, I have come to accept what I have thought all along of myself but was too afraid to admit.  It was something I harbored throughout my marriage, avoided, obfuscated through life's many diversions.  It was something I only recently have allowed myself to admit truly to myself.  It is the fact that I am a heterosexual woman. 

Truth be told, I am not comfortable at all with the parts I was born with.  When I was eight years old, my mother caught me, a pair of scissors in hand, ready to cut the "thing" off.  I didn't know then what girls had but what I did know was that something felt very wrong at the core of who I was from a young age....questioning "it" at ages much earlier than 8 years old.  Truth be told again that as a heterosexual woman, I need to have that alignment of body with mind before I would ever consider materializing this fact in deed. 

The contentment I feel as a woman societally has now become one which is painted with a new-found angst of knowing what must come next in order for me to fully feel complete.  It's nothing new.  I knew at some level that my physicality was amiss from as early as age 5 that I can recollect.

The dots are being connected, one-by-one and the picture of who I am in sum total can be seen now in the pages of my own book.  There is just one more chapter which must be written for it to be complete.  The thoughts of a surgical intervention to bring closure to this book are now no longer merely thoughts.  They are written in the pages ahead.   When this chapter finishes, it will be the start of a new book....and the beginning of a new adventure.

Monday, June 8, 2015

At The Intersection: Where Feminists and Transgender Women Meet.

With the recent "coming out" of Caitlyn Jenner, there has been an explosion in the media from many angles as a response.  One of the most poignant of those has been the intersection between the feminists and transgender women.  A polarization between these two groups has manifested and coalesced into article after article appearing in the media by feminists as to what it means to be a woman.  The ideology of womanhood itself is at question and is under scrutiny and challenge as the very core of womanhood is at once rethought, reshaped and redefined in the eyes of many.

At the core of the argument by feminists arises the conception that many transgender women are stereotyping the construct of femininity into the very thing they, themselves have been trying to break away from.  Caitlyn Jenner's comments in her interview with Diane Sawyer revealed several remarks in which she proudly announced that she would finally be able to wear her nail polish freely now as a woman. The response to that by one feminist article was that "nail polish does not a woman make".

In a world where women are still striving to be recognized as individuals and equals with men and not objectified or sexualized by stereotypical preconceptions that are often ascribed to women by what had been a patriarchal social rule, the conflict arises.  Transgender women who seem to jump willingly into the overtly feminine box and who sport makeup, high heels and frilly dresses create distress for those natal born women who find imprisonment and confinement in the same.  And while there will always be the overtly feminine transwomen who subscribe to the highly feminine stereotype, there are also equally, a distinct number of transgender women who do NOT. 

What does it mean, then, to be a woman?  With the recent sociological shifts as transgender women become more and more mainstream in the news and media, women born biologically as women have begun to question their own identity and what it means to be a woman at its very core. I personally see femininity not as an objectifying box of stereotypes  It has, for me, nothing to do with the hair, the makeup, the clothes, the high heels or the frilly dresses.  It has, in my honest opinion, everything to do for me at least, with how I socialize in the world, how the world socializes with me and how I feel comfortable in so doing. 

Could I have socialized and been integrated into the female folds living as a male still?  I tried that for 45 years and for me, the answer turned out to be a resounding "NO!" because we still do, as a society, make initial determinations as to how we will be interpreted, treated and acknowledged in our interactions based upon our perceived gender.  A lack of uncomfortability in my feeling free to present the aura of who I am truthfully was additionally shielded behind the barrier of the physicality of the male perception I engendered. 

So we could ask then if I was "giving in" to achieve the very stereotypes which feminist women are trying to break away from at a base sociological level?  To be quite honest, I do see both sides of the argument here with both the feminist striving to break down the differentiating walls of gender and the transgender women who strive to achieve something more of the perception they hold as their own conception of what it is to them of being "female". 

In the end, what we truly are is simply human and that each of us, whether biologically born male or female, will exhibit a range of behaviorisms and socializations which will ultimately be ascribed to boxes we have come to sociologically define as "male" or "female".  Some will choose to walk their path in life without physically modifying their outward "shell" while others will come to find that they only will feel comfortable societally by ascribing the physical manifestation of the gender they exude from within externally.

Let me give an example of just how complex this truly all is....

Understand that in the human race, there are those who are born as male, or as female or genetically as some variant in between.  There is a range.  This is a medical fact.    This range we will call our line which extends left and right as our "X" axis.

We then have the concept of sexuality..... who we are attracted to.... Some are attracted to men and some to women and some to both.  Here again we have another range that extends from one side to the other.  We will call this continuum, this line, as our "Y" axis.

Now we have the concept of gender.  There are some who feel inside that they fit in better to the world interacting as male, some as female and some as neither one nor the other specifically (gender queer).  They may exhibit highly "female" or highly "male" traits as defined through the ages in our human societal box.  This is also a range in a line that extends far to either one way or the other. This line is also a continuum and we will call this our "Z" axis.

Now for each and every person on this planet, there is going to be a point where they fall on the biological "X" axis, another point where they fall on the sexuality "Y" axis and yet another where they will fall on the gender identification "Z" axis.  Now go ahead and overlay each of the X,Y and Z lines at the points where each has identified .  Do this for each and every person on the planet.  For each person, each will have a different point exactly where they lie on each line and where those lines intersect each other will each and every time and for everyone..... be different and unique.

This is the complexity of what it truly means to be a human.  The take-away from this essay is simply to understand that we are all sentient human beings, conscious of who we are inside and aware.  It is our choice of how we determine and how we wish to fit into the world around us.  In no way should we consider that any one person or group of individuals who strive for their own personal freedoms in so living their life as they see fit be something to be interfered with or hindered by another.  And in the same light, we must also strive to break down the walls of preconception of what it means to be male or female.  We should simply be striving to applaud and revel in the joy of the uniqueness to what we each bring to the table of the colorful and amazing collective of what we call this, the human experience.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Opportunities and Inclusions

Life has really ramped up lately for me.  It seems, in fact, that my life has taken a route of it's own and is driving me forward rather than the other way around.  I find myself amidst opportunities which are either presenting themselves by chance or through others who are offering them to me and I find myself surrounded more and more, by supportive women who have made a huge positive impact in my life as a woman.  Let me expand just a little on these and put them all in the context of what is transpiring and what it perhaps means.

Opportunities:  In the past year alone, I have been asked to co-chair the state chapter of a nationally recognized support organization, PFLAG and to help in the efforts to bring about support to families, parents and children who either are or who support someone who is GLBT.  Being able to make a difference through regular meetings we host or in the many speaking engagements I find myself a part of at both schools and churches is such a positive experience to me personally.  It lightens my heart to be able to give of my own experiences and to lend an ear to help others as I can.  If I can help one person, one child from having to deal with the decades of repression I faced for myself, and to avoid the potential destruction of their own life in the process, then it becomes worth every minute of my own time.

I continue to be an active member on the steering committee of TransGender New Hampshire and hope to continue to be a part of some of the amazing positive changes this group has helped to realize within the state for equality and human rights.  Having the chance last year to speak before the state representatives and to receive such warm feedback through personal interactions with many of them later was one of the highlights of my entire year.  So many had never really met and spoken with someone who is transgender and they told me how much they learned through our presentations that day.  That day meant a LOT to me... more than may be imaginable.  Being asked after the presentation by several of the representatives to consider being backed by them and to run for an open seat as a state representative was just such an affirming and uplifting experience, not only as a person but as an accepted woman.

Inclusions:  This year has been a huge one for me personally as a woman.  Somehow I seem to have unknowingly "arrived" as a woman in the greater world.  I know who I have always been my entire life but it was well hidden behind the charade and the act I played in a theatrical presentation I gave for the benefit of everyone else.  Allowing myself to "be myself" and to drop the pretenses that were never really convincing in playing a male were the harbinger of something wondrous that occurred in my life. I began to find in this past year that I have made so many wonderful cis-gender (non-trans) women friends and to find myself within in an ever growing and interconnected circle of sisters who have reached out to me and accepted me as one of their own.  It was not something I asked for or pushed my way into but rather it was something which evolved of it's own as part of due course in the maturation of my life as a woman.

I cannot tell you how incredibly wonderful it is to be a part of such a circle.  It is, at once, both affirming to my inner self as much as it is a blessing to be able to share with others in ways I never could relate to in playing a male.  It is now that I find myself able to listen and console, share and express, in ways I always yearned to and never found myself able to as a male....not because I couldn't but because men either just didn't understand how to relate or simply were not interested or able to communicate with me on the level I needed.  The relationships have been amazing with my women friends and a night out with them to share stories about life and love, of hopes and dreams, and of tears and sadness are aspects which not even the best of therapists could match in comparison.  I've had more women reach out to offer their support and kindness in this past year, then I have in my entire life ever.  Although we may come and go our separate ways at times, we never seem to forget each other and we are always there as just an email or phone call away.

In all honesty, I can't think of many things better about being a woman than the interconnectedness which women share with each other. Even amidst a maelstrom of turbulence, both familial and relational, this gift is a shining light of connectedness to something much larger that I am only now just beginning to understand and behold.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Since I've been on Hormone Replacement.....

It is approaching the one year mark now on hormone replacement.  Simply put, that means that I've chemically reduced my male hormones and, in replacement, have introduced a female hormone regimen to replicate that of most natal women.  The action of doing this was NOT to suddenly transform me magically into a woman.  Heck no.  I've been easily moving through society now and seen as a woman for a long time prior to my ever starting hormones.  It wasn't solely for just obtaining breasts either (even though I realize that seems to be a major aspect or even, for some, a wishful fantasy). No, breasts are another thing to deal with that require yet another piece of restrictive clothing to retain them in their place.  Ok, well they are nice in filling out my outfits so I guess, overall,  it's a wash.

No, the reason I started on hormone replacement was to see how they would affect me mentally and if they would quell the disparity that I have always felt between mind and body.  Being a computer engineer, I could not, over the 49 years of my life, quantify this feeling that somehow, something was chemically off up in that little brain of mine.  And not being able to quantify that variance simply meant that it must be illogical and therefore should be ignored.  My adage used to be on MANY an occasion, "Ignore the problem, it WILL go away".

49 years and the problem didn't go away.  The variance I felt, the anger, the constant Thunderdome battle in my mind and the feeling of being disconnected from the world just became too much.  I felt like I was communing with the world talking through a tin can connected by a string.  My life seemed scarcely connected and mostly muffled as if I was in a fog.   I couldn't quantify it but I knew that I had to reach for this because my ability to function on this planet was being strained thin.  It was like having to listen to someone scratching their nails across the proverbial chalkboard in my head all day and all night year after year.  None of this seemed logical nor did it seem to be quantifiable but I did know one thing.  THIS SUCKED.

SCREW IT!  I had to make the leap and test the theory.  Sometimes experimentation through empirical analysis is the only means to test something out.  Simply put, in science, sometimes one just has to mix those chemicals together and see what happens.....  (I think that was how Silly Putty was invented as an industrial accident).  Heck.... I might end up with something better.....or not.  I had to try.

So now it's almost a year in and here's what's going on upstairs in my head (besides the little voices telling me to kill all my plants....):

Seriously.... Here's the itemized list (to date) of what's going on.  It's subtle but it's quantifiable (finally!) and it feels AWESOME:

CALMNESS.  I really feel much more "in sync" with my own sense of self.  This one is hard to explain but I feel very connected now with myself and with the world as a woman.  I used to have a lot of frustration and anger and these emotions, perhaps more typically male, have been hugely softened up and replaced with a more level and even keeled temperament.  I really, really like this.....

WHERE THE HELL DID I PUT....:  Since being on hormones I feel like my linguistics skills, my artistic senses and ability to learn (painting, writing, learning the piano) all have gone way up.  It's like my left brain is now connected to my right brain and I'm using both halves more effectively.  I seem to be able to multi-task much better and jump back and forth within conversations that then deviate to sub-conversations and topics and then, after ten minutes of side conversations circle back to the main one, connect and close the loop.  Awesome!  On the other hand, I feel I am more scatterbrained and find I am putting something down and then five minutes later trying to figure out where I put the thing I just put down.  that part gets frustrating but, as I am constantly told by natal women, appears to be normal.  Wonderful.

SENSE OF SMELL:  My sense of smell has been amped up a notch or three.  My olfactories are doing double duty now and I'm partaking of many more scents and picking up more subtle nuances in smells that are just a treasure to behold when they occur.

MY OWN SCENT:  This is probably weird but my spouse noticed that I no longer have what she termed as a "guy smell".  She didn't mean the basic sweat smell and so that was confusing to me.  I had no idea what the heck she was talking about until I then started noticing that I was picking up a scent on guys that was unique to their being.  She was right.  Guys have a certain smell which women don't.  She told me that it had been a turn on for her and that she missed it.  I can't say that the smell I noticed on other guys did a thing for me one way or the other.  Just interesting to note I found.  Moving on.....

EMOTIONS:  Holy Canoli!  This is the freaking best part.  I know many women who are happy to be free postmenopausally from their wild emotional swings but for someone who seemed to be "flatlining" their emotions as they plodded through life, this was like 1965 as if someone just came in the house and replaced my black and white television with COLOR.  Whoa.....  This one was showstopping.  I liked it.  If I happen to be watching something sad, blam, I'm crying.  If I see something touching in a movie, WHAM, I'm crying.  If I think about just some event in the past that happened that was sad, there goes the waterworks.   But I am also finding that I laugh more, connect more with others and feel empathic to their emotions.  I can sense what they are thinking and feeling and their emotions become mine.  This is weird stuff but it's really like having a high-speed internet connection to connect with the world instead of the tin can and the string.    There is one emotional experience that I have NO FREAKING CLUE about.  I've told women about this and they just tell me "Welcome to our world".  This is the one where I find myself Laughing AND crying at the same time.  What the $*^% is that?  How did that happen?  Whatever.  It's awesome and I love it.  I also love NOT being angry internally or externally anymore the way I always felt inside.  Good Deal!

STRENGTH:  Here's one area where I lost out BIG TIME.  My muscles have really diminished in the past year.  Granted I was never anything more than a glorified string bean but seriously, I can barely find the stamina and strength to do many of the things I used to.  Mostly it's in my upper body and arms.  I helped a friend recently to move her stuff to a new place and I was cursing to myself how hard it was in comparison to before.  Heck, I've had to start in on push-ups so that I could maintain enough strength to use my 47 pound draw Compound Hunting Bow.  Wonderful.

I'M COLD !!!:   I AM COLD ALL THE TIME NOW.  Apparently this seems to have something to do with less caloric heat generation due to the fact that I have less muscle and less strength (see above).  Whatever.  I'll just go buy more pretty sweaters to wear.  Fantastic.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION:  Saving this one for last.  A lot of folks seem to think that hormones change a person's sexual orientation.  Baloney.  I'm not buying it.  No... what hormones seem to do is allow one to be more comfortable with themselves and, in so becoming, re-examine the personal barriers they may have put up about their own sexuality.  I'll be very honest with you here.  I've always seen women as friends and partners but not as sexual partners.  I think when I was dating back in my 20's, a lot of women figured that out early on the relationship.....that I was a better friend than typical male partner.  My own spouse had not dated much so she hadn't a lot to go on when she met me.  I was just the wonderfully caring and empathetic best friend for never in the decades that followed, ever became much more than that from an intimate standpoint. Trust me, in order for me to ever have had intimate relations, it required me to be pretty damn drunk to the point that I could envision that I was the woman.  That worked for a while but not for very long.  Screw it.  I gave up dealing with the incongruity of the plumbing a long time ago and found a ton of other things in my life to concentrate on besides sex.  Now, here I am at age 49 and pushing 50 shortly, looking at the same issues I felt back then.  Remember how I said my mantra was "Ignore the problem it will go away!" ? Yeah... well that doesn't work either.  Now as a woman I am facing this again.  I'd tried to pay no attention to that personal problem behind the curtain and now the curtain has been lifted.  What fun.  Now I have to deal with the problem and fix it.

Enough ramblings.... I am pretty sure I missed a few points but if I have, I will come back and add them to this posting at  some later check back once in a while..... In the meantime, this ride is great and being able to understand how men see their world hormonally and contrasting that with how women see the world hormonally is a trip like no other.  There ARE differences but I can't say one is better than the other.  It's just very, very, very subtly different in ways that are only tangible if one has had the opportunity to have seen and experienced and lived in both the male and female realms.  I'm much happier on this side of the fence though, thank you very much..... but it has been an eye-opening and affirming experience that has finally, at least from a personal level, become "quantifiable" and that's enough proof for me to continue my life as my true self as a woman.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Having Your Cake and Eating it Too

Transitioning genders, contrary to what some may believe, is NOT a choice.  When it comes right down to it, why would anyone choose to upset the entirety of their lives in so doing?  So then if I am saying this is NOT a choice, then why do it?  Well, the reason is really as starkly simple as it is is because the choice NOT to transition would result in greater pain and in many cases, as in my own, a likely slow, cancerous demise and a spiraling dance downwards until death.

I would never choose to see my spouse watching her husband "die" before her eyes as the vision of "he" becomes slowly and steadily "she".  I would not willingly wish to risk my job, my friends, and the potential loss of acceptance by those around me simply to fulfill some fantastic notion or desire.  I would not choose in an often hidden yet silently misogynistic society still known in many circles as "a man's world" to "become" a woman and to struggle for equal recognition, pay and status where I already enjoyed that "privilege".  I would not choose to submit myself to over 150 hours of an electrified hot needle painfully being inserted into every one of the hair follicles in my face just to remove that hair so that I would be able to have an outward image that would allow me to not face the potential ridicule in not doing so.  I would not choose to spend the tens of thousands of dollars and time invested in achieving this just for fun. 

What I did choose is to live my life truthfully to my own sense of self.  I have chosen to allow who I have always been in spirit to flourish in being.  This has nothing to do with something just so trivial as the presentation and the clothes.  Truth be told, the media standards which dictate how a woman should look, how thin she should be and how much makeup she should wear is a huge box that no one, not even most women, want to subscribe to. Shaving legs and pantyhose are a pain. Bras suck but bouncing breasts are just annoying.... so bras become a lesser evil born of necessity....besides, not wearing one can prompt quite a few unwanted stares which personally I would just rather avoid altogether.

Yes, I chose to live my life authentically to my inner sense of self.  I knew who I was internally as a very young child.  I never said I "wanted to be a girl" at those early ages.  Heck, I just knew that I was me, not thinking of the concepts of "boy" and of "girl".  I just enjoyed having friends that I found were closest in personality to me.....and that just so happened to be that they were the girls.  The variances between who I was on the outside and how I emoted, related, socialized and acted were just so atypical of almost all the boys that it became obvious to them before I ever admitted it to myself.   I, in fact, denied who I was inside for over four decades just to live a life that was expected of me and for others.

Forty five years is a long time to live your life playing an acting role for the benefit of others.  I had done it all and achieved all I had wanted in this world that would normatively be called "The American Dream".  I achieved all that and realized that my fight to have it and find happiness brought me no closer to it.  The reason became clear that I was avoiding the ultimate problem and issue at heart of finding happiness within my own sense of self.  And because I was not happy with myself playing the actin role of a male, I was not able to give others the best of my own self.  I LANGUISHED as a human being.

As a woman, I find myself for the first time in my entire life, truly happy internally with who I am.  I am outwardly content and I profess my contentment of self in my actions and outward personality towards others.  Of course when one is happy with one's self and opens one's self up, others respond equally.  I have made more wonderful and amazing friends as a woman than I EVER had as the strangely odd and introverted man who really didn't act like one.  It's like finding that the mass of puzzle pieces laid out on a table have just suddenly come together.  I couldn't see what the finished picture of my own puzzle was until I started to put those pieces together.  As a woman, I am my own completed puzzle and the picture of that finished puzzle stares me back in the face as the world does for me as a woman.

Yet still, this "coming of being" as the woman I am is not without pain.  Just today my spouse related to me how sad it was in having to see her husband going away only to be replaced by a woman who still had the characteristics of her husband.  And it was just tonight that I broke down in tears for the pain I knew it caused her and for the permanent changes it has made within our own relationship.  While we love each other as much as ever, it is not the same now and there has been much we have lost in as much as we have gained as friends and close sisters.  It was tonight that I broke down in tears and cried my eyes out murmuring "I wish I could have my old life back!".

My spouse, who was with me at the time thoughtfully replied back, "But you were so unhappy inside before.  I can see how much happier you are now.  There is no way you could go back".  That was a very astute, very honest and very selfless thing to say.... and it was the truth.  You can't live with someone for over two decades and NOT know when they are unhappy or when they are happy. She saw in me, as a woman, that I WAS happy and content for the first time in the many years that she has known me. Still, the loss of what we once had reminded me that in life for all of us, we can rarely ever have "Have Our Cake and Eat it too" for whatever we choose in life, there are always consequences.  The choice I had in deciding to transition was simply remembering the adage, "To thine own self be true".  To live a life otherwise is to lie not only to oneself but to all around us.  I chose and will always choose to live life honestly and with honor and respect to both myself and to others around me.  I don't believe anyone could argue with that ideology.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Winter's Wonderland

"Winter's Wonderland"

The beauty of a winter's snow is fine
When days of sun and play ensue
Yet this season's deluge doth not imbue
A bucolic serenity within my mind.

Of forty days and forty nights
Of ice and snow that never ends
For those who visit, it serves a fright
Of snow so deep and roofs which bend.

With a stoical sigh and a stolid look
With rake and hammer I climb up high
Ascending the roof for reasons why
Clearing a way for reindeer that fly.

Yet none shall need cleared a landing pad
For Santa's schedule is so very well planned
His visit came before all the snow we've had
Now on a tropical beach is he in sun and sand.

And while I make ice cubes of glaciers on high
Watching them plummet with pleasure and glee
I listen for the birds and hear not a cry
In their migration next fall will likely be me.

-Christen Bustani

This was written after having spent the better part of yesterday morning trying to clear snow and ice off my roof.  This winter has been enough to cause many to really feel defeated.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Over and Underwhelmed

With so many things going on in my life both personal and familial, it has been a trying time for quite a long period of late.  Redefining the very existence of one's relationship with one's spouse because of being transgender has proven to be more emotionally difficult for us both.  It's funny, because in some ways our relationship is stronger than it ever was but in others, it is as if whole segments are now gone.  While there is mourning at the virtual death of the husband that was, there is a new relationship as sisters and friends.  It is a conflagration of conflicting emotions which we both harbor within our hearts and it is proving to be a difficult realm for us both.

Familial ties and stresses for us both in our respective families has begun to test our mettle and endurance to be there for others while we both find ourselves silently struggling within with our own issues.  It is for this reason, that the first part of the title of this blog entry exists.  I, and we, are overwhelmed right now within our own struggling issues to come to grips with the facade of the man who no longer is and the woman who has replaced him.  It is the fact that we both are the sole providers to assist with family where no other bothers to step in.  It is the feeling of need and responsibility to handle all of these things, to be able to put aside our own struggles and emotions to be consistently strong to handle our aging parents that makes this an exceptionally challenging time for us both independently and together.  It is.... OVERWHELMING.

At the same time that I personally feel overwhelmed, I am finding myself in the same instant, being UNDERWHELMED.  It's perhaps hard to explain but I can certainly try.  It has to do with my personality and who I am as a person.  I tend, generally, to get bored easily.  I'm not very good at maintaining a routine lifestyles that is defined by the borders of a daily ritual repeated day after day and week after week.  While necessary, I still find myself continually trapped within the mazework of minutiae that makes up the majority of humanities daily existence.  While work is a necessity, I'm not happy nor am I content to simply spend my life in trivial pursuits and activities simply to amuse my time.  I get bored with going out to eat or to the movies or to a store for some shopping.  It's just too quintessentially quiescent.  It gets just too boring for me.

Apparently I have a relatively high IQ that is in the range of 135-145.  I don't know what being a supposed person of "Very superior intelligence" in the top 10% means, but I do know that the mundane and the regular just bores me to death.  If I am not constantly finding myself in a stimulating environment or occupying myself with some sort of stimulative activity, I become bored.  If the boredom continues, I become more and more depressed to a point where it really does become problematic for me in my life.  Feeling trapped in so many ways doesn't help matters either.   This is probably why I am always doing, building or learning something.  My latest forays are into music and painting but my other passions are never left behind.  They simply await for me to become bored with whatever I am currently doing as I skip back and forth between them.

I would venture to say that I am most like the little child, with wide eyes, who sees something for the first time; something which we might consider run-of-the-mill.  Their amazement and wonder are childlike emotional stimulants that I thrive on and find that I desperately need to keep my sanity in check, my life stable, and my sense of happiness and balance in order.  My being transgender is simply not in the equation when it comes to who I am and what I want out of my life as a person.  That doesn't even come into this equation, although it was a speed bump and an interruption in the linearity of my life's flow.

I was pondering why my love for travel is so great, to explore places and meet people.  I was pondering why it is that some people are content with the mundane and the routine; why they don't need to travel; why they are relatively content with their lives in the limited circle they work and live within.  I was pondering why I am never content, never happy - unless I am moving both mentally and physically, moving and doing something new all the time.  True, I used to travel partially because it was as escape from the mundane and the routine, a way to keep myself occupied so that I did not think constantly of the gender dysphoria I felt for so many years.  But now..... But now with the gender dysphoria pretty much squelched into oblivion I am finding that same urge and lust to explore coming back with a vengeance.  The "running away" component is gone for the most part now and so I am finding myself free once again to focus on the true spirit of nature that is my mind and my soul.

To top all of this off, I am finding myself, more and more, to be something perhaps of an oddity in this world.  I know I'm unique because each one of us is, but more so, I am finding myself to be unique in so many odd categories and ways... in interests and in desires.  I know, for instance, that I am a passionate person who has emotion and empathy and love in my heart, but also find that I don't harbor the sexual passion that men and women generally find with each other.  Perhaps I've never really experienced it the way I have longed to as a woman....thoughts and intense feelings of incongruity which had left me feeling so very alone inside my own body as someone who had to live her life as someone she was not....someone she had to play as a role for everyone else.  Someone who cursed the fact knowing she could never bear a child and experience something that has left a hole in her heart and soul.  It's so very odd that instead, I seem then to lust for adventure and explorations, for learning and achieving, for meeting and knowing people, for listening and sharing, for compassion and caring, but not needing nor wanting of lust and longing.  Perhaps I just simply haven't yet fully lived as the woman who was hidden to everyone yet who had always been within their plain sight.

There are so many times that I feel like I am at once an integral part of this world in the ways that I touch others in their lives, but also at the same time feel as though I am very different and very apart from it....and that causes a feeling of loneliness that I am this way.  Truth be told, there are more than a few days where I have considered ending this ride early....but when I think of such finality, I immediately think of the wonderful friends I have and of the people in my life who may not be able to walk with me, but who are there to give me shelter and to guide me along my way.  I think of the seemingly miniscule differences I am making in this world and find a smile forming in the comments and unsolicited remarks so many will email , text, comment or message me.  I can't do this alone.

I seem to have a very unique path before me in my life and I am not always sure that I have the strength to walk it on my own.  None of us knows the exact time we will cease to exist on this Earth, but I do know that I have telescopic vision of a long journey still yet ahead.  Yet the further into my life I travel, the further distant my goals and dreams seems to lie.  It is human nature perhaps for all, or perhaps for some who are not content with the mundane and the routine but there I times that I wish I could be happy with just that.  What I do know is that I have many miles to go before I sleep and many personal promises to long as I don't stand still long enough for the darkness to catch up to me....and ....if I just keep moving. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Musical Interlude: Learning To Play the Piano.

In my spare time, I've been teaching myself how to play the Piano.  Having no formal lessons except for my patience and my purchase of this beautiful keyboard from Goodwill for six dollars, I've been able to accomplish something that brings me great pleasure when the house is empty, the mind is addled and the evening's are late....sometimes very late.

You likely know all of these tunes.... although you may not recognize the names....

Hit the "pause" button in the "Melodic Musings" box on the right to halt any background music which may autostart.


Humoresque by Antonín Dvořák

The Entertainer

Fur Elise:

Hungarian Dance Number 5:

Mozart's, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Amazing Grace:

Csikos Post:

 Music and the arts bring me great pleasure to my soul and counterbalance my love of the sciences in a symbiotic and connective way that is hard to describe.  I will never be a concert pianist, but I am enjoying what little I am learning to be able to experience yet another wonderful gift of music.