Monday, September 27, 2004

Going Home

The airport terminal is far from brisk. In fact, it almost seems as dead as a retirement home. Except for the occasional announcement and the view out the terminal windows, you’d never know that it was operating.

Two days ago, though, I competed for the women’s alumni in an NCAA sporting event. I know I’m not the first, but I did finally compete. I met my friends and fellow alums Friday night to chill at a local bar - enjoying free sodas from the male bartenders - one of the perks.

After arriving at the event site, I checked in with my old coach, now the assistant athletic director. She confirmed that I was competing for the women’s alumni team and said that the current coach made the call. I later thanked him at the team picnic.

Before the event began, though, I was worried that I would feel like an outsider in the event - like I didn’t belong, but once it began, I felt quite comfortable...felt like this was where I did belong. Although I didn’t provide a superstar performance, I wasn’t horrible either - in fact, we’ll just call my performance average, although not too many 34 year old women likely could have performed as well.

Anyway, we partied with a few other alumni that night, although I’m clueless if they knew or not. I, of course, didn’t ask or tell them either, though. One of the brothers of an alum was also there, and he later introduced himself, started chatting with me, and asked why I was so quiet (I’m usually not). I don’t know if he was trying to hit on me or not, but he was about to turn 24 on he was a bit too young no matter what.

We recognized another person as we skipped around to a few bars (no dancing available at any of the ones we visited). After a few had said their “hello’s”, I walk up to him as Tracy is standing by his side. She introduces him, who I already know, of course. Playing along, I say, “Oh really?” in a half-valley girl, half-blonde way. I introduce myself as Kara and ask him if he remembers or recognizes me. He asks me for my name again and says that I look familiar, especially my big dark eyes. “Hah!!!” I thought, “What a player.”

He still can’t place me, so I step in and tell him I changed my name.

“Why,” he asks, “are you in the witness protection program?”

OK, I’m really starting to crack up and Tracy is still there enjoying the conversation. Then I tell him I used to be - male nickname - at which point his jaw drops and his eyes light up. (I should start taking pictures or something.)




“This is who I am.” He nods and says, “OK” - and life went on. Tracy just smiled and said, “I wanted to see where the conversation was going to go.”

Most people were pretty cool the entire time, with pronouns being the biggest problem.

I drove to my parent’s place yesterday, while also saying hi to my aunt and grandmother. Pronouns were again a huge issue, but I let them slide. I know they are super supportive, but they are just having a hard time breaking past the 33+ years of knowing me as a male. I think correcting people makes them seem uncomfortable - and I just hope that they can correct themselves over time. Dad and I watched a shootout between the Packers and Colts, hopefully spending a little time trying to rebuild the bond.

One of the best lines of the weekend, though, belonged to a fellow alum. In response to a question if I wanted any alcohol, I said, “No thanks - I don’t drink.”

My friend pops up and says, “You still don’t drink? I guess some things just don’t change.”

Yeah, I guess so.

I'm now somewhere between Denver and the Bay Area

I swear, the person sitting next to me on this flight is really a jack rabbit stuck in the body of a man. Luckily, he’s talking to the woman across the aisle and not me. Unfortunately, his rabbitism prevented me from sleeping any further. It’s almost like a continuous rock climber - those who insist on pulling on the seat in front of them as they exit or enter the aisle of their seat - on the side of my chair.

Anyway, I just had a 3.5+ hour layover in Denver which allowed myself and Becca, who lives in the area, over two hours to converse over a late lunch. We’d met in Chicago several months ago, when a number of us from a T forum got together. Like many of us, she hasn’t had it easy, but she’s making her way through several of the initial items involved with her transition. She’s starting out right around the age I started, so hopefully, in a few years, she can reach a point where she, too, moves on in her life. In fact, she may be able to reach it before finishing. She’s at a point where she’s figured out what she wants to do, and is going to school to move into a new career. I’m jealous, frankly, simply because I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.

As we chatted, we both enjoyed a Turkey Pesto sandwich with a side of Caesar Salad at a nice little French Bistro outside the security area. When it was time for me to go, Becca looked down at the security area and says, “I’ve got one word to say. Moo.”

As I walked back and forth through the roped off areas, she was right, I felt like cattle. I think jack-rabbit-boy got in the wrong freakin' line.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Pulled from the pages of my written journal

As I write this entry, I’m sitting around a gazebo in a small town I used to live in. It’s amazing that I lived over a fifth of my life here. And now, here I sit again. It’s eerily strange.

The sky is slightly blue, with a definite layer of humidity still hanging around into the latter part of September. I hear birds, and bugs, and too many vehicles without proper muffler systems. Half of these cars probably wouldn’t even pass smog testing in California. And the bugs...I don’t remember hearing the bugs in California. I do remember the way the front of my car used to look after driving down the freeway on a summer night. The layer of dead bugs used to be incredibly thick, even a good car wash wouldn’t be enough.

Now, I feel a light sprinkle softly sounding on these pages and the ground around me. I wonder - could I return here? Could I live here again? When Rachel #5 and I recently chatted about old street corners, she said she had a hard time revisiting them. To me, it’s not necessarily the physical aspect of revisiting places I once lived, but more the psychological aspect (which was similar to what Rachel was expressing to me). Although I told people that I’d still be the same person, I’m not. I’ve changed - grown, to be more precise - shedding the layers around my true essence...something that was at the core of who I always was. Revisiting aspects of who I wasn’t and having people associate with me now as who I was - I don’t know - it’s sort of unfulfilling to me. I know people try to honor my change, but sometimes that history of who I was still plays a key role in their interaction with me. And yet, why do I come back? Why do I hold onto the connection? Is it the core person reaching out for friendship? Unfortunately, the reach, or perhaps the attempt, is affected by bias, discrimination, and fear.

As I wrote those last words, some old coworkers walked by on their way to lunch. Only one person recognized me as they strolled by, with him asking the others, “You know who that is, don’t you?” I heard one of them softly ask him, “Who is that?” A few were shocked - to say the least, but they put that aside to spend a little time eating lunch with me. There were a few casually curious questions, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all - well, maybe a little nervous at first. They also tend to use my old nickname - because it unfortunately still works - but which I prefer not to be called. Oh well.

After flying into the Midwest last night, I hung out in a mall (finding this awesome little navy blue hoodie that I’ve been searching well as browsing some nice clothes and jackets in Nordstrom’s) to kill a little time before catching up with three old friends. Eleven years ago, I lived with three guys when I found a job out of college. I had attended college with two of them, and one of them went to high school with the fourth. So, at that time, it was the four of us living in a small town working as engineers right out of college. Joe had already been there a year, and Jamie had been around for about 8 months when Craig and I moved in. We had a fun time - although we did keep the place looking pretty good for four young people. All three of them ended up marrying a local girl and having children. Joe and Craig both moved on to a larger city while Jamie stayed put. They average their 2.3 children now and live in very nice houses with well paying jobs. They are everything that men in their mid-30’s are supposed to be. I’m glad I found myself, though - sparing the destruction of a possible family. And yet, I wonder if the family instinct, particularly the children aspect of it, will ever kick in. Psychologically, I still feel very young, yet still fairly mature.

Craig mentioned that he had escaped from “bath night” by hanging out with the group. He dreaded the two-hour torture of washing his son and daughter. I asked how it took two hours to wash two kids, and he said that his daughter had to take a shower and take all of her kitchen toys in there - and she made him shower, too. And then he had to apply this lotion on her, which left grease spots on the walls whenever she bounced off of them. He absolutely dreaded “bath night” as it ate up his own free time - time he needed to unwind and relax from a stressful job. All of them liked having some time free from the family and job stress, but yet, they wouldn’t trade anything to give up what they have. They say they dread certain parts of it, but one day they’ll look back and reminisce about all of it. We all move forward, though, pausing to look back at times just as a reminder of where we’ve been.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Weathering the Times

My organizational group at work had a sectional picnic/BBQ on Friday, so I was only at work for a couple of hours...probably more than a lot of them, though. Only a few of my group actually knew me before going full time, so most of the people only know me as Kara. The few that did know me "before" are pretty cool, so it was a total non-issue with the group. Since our smaller group has now been moved to more of an engineering group, the larger group is primarily male. I’ve worked with some of them lately trying to solve some major problems, so I have been able to get to know them a little. I have no idea if they know or not, and if they do know, I don’t know if they care or not. The most important thing, though, is that I really can’t do anything anyway, so why even worry about all of it?

I did take off late into the afternoon, though, to have my roots straightened to match the rest of my hair. (If only I could have my sexuality straightened out as well.) This hair straightening stuff though is going to be too expensive for me to maintain. Besides, it’s not really fully straightening it, but more like taking the super frizz curl out of it. I guess I need to come up with another option sometime over the next 5 months.

Amber called while I was sitting in the chair (almost falling asleep at some times), and since I was near where she was shopping at the time I finished, we hung out for a while as she shopped for a gift, as well as some new clothes. She’s so tiny (especially for being a T), that she can wear these totally awesome little outfits. I’d call her a word that starts with a B and rhymes with “itch,” but she’s too nice a person to do that to.

Last night was Hayward’s Pride. It was one block long. In fact, it probably could have been less than that if things were a little more crowded together. I was there with the other TGSF outreach chair to assist in handing out information. Unfortunately, the high pressure system we had over the Bay Area moved out and was replaced by a low pressure system that ushered in coastal winds and lower temperatures, almost making it feel like winter. (Yup, I’m a weather nerd...and I heard, “OK, Miss Weathergirl” a few times.)

Anyway, there were a few of the usuals, as well as one girl who is fairly young (in the MTF sense of the word) and just starting out on transition. I couldn’t imagine being back in that type of situation, but at least she has the opportunity to talk to a few others around her age. I didn’t really have anyone around my age when I first started out...well, no one that I had access to talk to, but I did find some over time. And now, with different transgender and transsexual forums all around the internet, one can actually find a variety of friends with some of the same interests.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Down Under

I walked into the porn store tonight, and after the guy asked, “Can I help you ma’am?”, I responded with, “Yes, I’m looking for a magazine with up-close pictures of vaginas."

So, why was I in a porn store looking for a magazine with up-close pictures of vaginas? Well, I wanted to take a look at some of the different varieties that are out there...and there are definitely a variety. I have SRS approaching and I’d like to have a reference as to how they approximately look. I haven’t really seen one up close and personal...with the lights on, that is. Plus, Amber has pictures of her SRS results on her website, so I kinda wanted to compare things. It's too bad I won’t be able to see her labiaplasty results before I have my own SRS. I’ve seen another friend’s labiaplasty results, but Amber is a lot closer to my frame and size.

The guy helping me, though, leads me to the magazine racks and says that some of the “girls for girls” magazines will probably have what I am looking for. He almost seems nervous or awkward with what I’m sure is a rare appearance of a woman in his shop. He hands me a Playboy version to view, which even I know is not going to have much in the way of vagina shots. Playboy is more into boobs and being pretty than showing vaginas. Some would call them tame.

So, next I moved on to a Hustler version of “girls for girls” which was much better, but I found the best pictures in a magazine called “Just Girls” which I had never even heard of. It appears to be a UK magazine. Hooray for the Brits!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Managing Change

Yesterday, I was in an internal training class.  It was called “Managing Personal Change and Transition.”  Hmmm...right up my alley, right?  Actually, it dealt with personal change at work due to the “layoffs” and the organizational shake-up. Let’s face it, most of us live for some amount of routine in our lives, yet we also hope for a little bit of change...just enough to make each day different.

Drastically changing things, though, causes a lot of people to feel quite uncomfortable. Trust me, I know. Perhaps I was able to really connect with the seminar simply because of my own change, but I know quite a few people that found the two hour training to be quite boring. Many of the things we learned though, could be applied to people either going thru transition, or to the loved ones of those in that same transition. I think this course would really benefit anyone who has a friend or family member going thru transition.

The motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” came up a few times during the training. These are obviously people with a rigid way of thinking. One always needs to be looking at different and better approaches to a variety of things. That’s how we grow. I suppose some of it comes down to perspective.

For instance, some people would say that I was successful as a guy and that there was no indication that I was unhappy or had these transgender issues. If I’m not broke, why fix me, right? Well, I was broken...people just couldn’t see it. They grew used to seeing me broken and thought that’s how I always was. I lived for 30 years with barely a relationship to my name. I was progressing in my job, but I wasn’t happy. I was able to function in society...but to a bare minimum without people thinking I was too withdrawn, and I was hurting inside. I was simply a bike without inflated tires. Sure, you could ride me, but you wouldn’t get anywhere fast and without much effort.

So, I’m going to steal part of the seminar and list it here. It can be applied to a person in transition or to loved ones going through the changes:

Tips for Managing Your Own Personal Change
Realistically look at the situation and separate the myths (fears) from reality. 
Questions you can ask regarding accepting change:• To my knowledge, what exactly will change?
• Why might this change be needed?
• What are the problems that this change is designed to solve?
• What questions do I need answered?
• What are my concerns? How do I feel about it?
• How will I choose to deal with this change?
• How can I demonstrate support for this change?
• Overall, what will make the change go as smoothly as possible? 
General Stress-Busters:• Take time to rest and eat well
• Arrange a quiet time each day
• Exercise/take a walk - it can relieve pent-up feelings and stress 
A New Beginning Checklist:• Do I agree with the reasons for the change and understand why it is needed?
• Do I have a clear picture of the goals and objectives of this change?
• Do I know the steps and actions that are required to reach these goals?
• Can I support the change and commit to its accomplishment?
• Do I know what my specific role will be as a result of the changes?
• Can I identify the things that I might lose? Can I be okay with this?
• Can I list exactly what will be different for me? What will be the same?
• Have I found ways to honor and say good-bye to the past?
• Do I understand that it is normal to feel somewhat confused and uncertain in the middle of change?
• Do I have short-range goals that I know I can achieve?
• Am I looking for creative opportunities to contribute?
• Am I taking time to relax and emotionally regroup?
• Am I keeping a positive mental attitude or do I need an “attitude adjustment”?
• Am I planning to celebrate the “new beginnings and opportunities”?

Surprisingly, I also have trouble changing to some degree...perhaps I have my own little fear of the unknown. I placed an ad on a local forum as a woman looking for a woman. In that ad, I didn’t mention the T stuff at all. I received a number of responses from quite a few attractive and active women. The hard part, now, is connecting with them without feeling rejected at some point when they find out I am T. Do I want to speak with them on the phone...or will they be able to tell from my voice? Do I want to meet them for lunch ...or will they be able to tell from my appearance? I’m sorta afraid....afraid of rejection. Then why did I do it, right? Well, I’d like to sorta not be alone so much. Sure, I have friends and coworkers, but they can only provide so much of what a person has been missing for so much of her life....companionship. One day, I hope. One day.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Hey Doc, it hurts when I’m a man

Last night I had a dream that it was the night before SRS and I was talking with the doctor about to perform the operation...except it wasn’t Dr. Meltzer. Nope. It was Al Gore. Yep, former Vice President Al Gore. Except, well, he was a doctor...and I guess, well, that would make him Dr. Gore. I don’t know if it was my subconscious trying to be funny or what, but that’s probably not the best name for a doctor to have.

I also interviewed a potential new person for our group. Yep, despite the “layoffs” that happen here and there, we’re still hiring. So, using my therapist’s recommendation, I asked him near the end of the interview, “We have a transgender person working you think you’ll be OK working with a person like that?”

He says, “Oh yeah, I haven’t got a problem. You know that transgender kid that was killed in Newark? EDDIE was a neighbor of mine. HE was gay from the get go. I never had a problem with HIM. So, yeah, I would be OK.”

Although he meant well, he’s like a lot of other people that just don’t get it. Oh, don’t worry, I won’t let the male name and pronouns prevent me from choosing him, but I don’t think he was the right fit for our group based on his experience.

One of the funny things, though, is he asked, “Would I be working with you?” with a sorta half puppy-dog-look, half-”oh yeah”-look. He isn’t the first that’s asked me that. Engineers! *sigh*

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Time to do a little catching up.

Men are quite funny creatures. With the right motivation, they are almost dangerous. A week or two ago, I finally got around to getting a new phone. My current phone company threw a nice little incentive at me, so I figured it was time to upgrade. So, I’m in their store and the dude helping me is doing everything he can to get me the best deal. He’s asking me where I work and checking for any corporate deals. Then he’s asking me for the employer of my relatives and friends, and even diverging to another arm of the US military service in order to find something. I finally tell him that I don’t want him to get me or himself in trouble, and just go with no corporate deal. As he’s lining me up with the basic phone, he asks me if I want the next version up. I ask him how much more it is, and he says, “Eh, I’ll throw it in for free.” Cool. Now I have no idea if he does that for everyone, or only for the girls. Either way, it rocked.

The army of Kate’s

Another one of those Kate’s was in town visiting Dr. O, and a few of us from the forum decided to get together for dinner and conversation with the visiting friend. We met at a nice little restaurant in Noe Valley called Firefly. Rachel #5 suggested it, and it turned out to be a great choice. I’m not big on fish, but the Grilled Wild Salmon Filet with Corny Pearl Pasta, Sauteed Chard Chanterelle Mushrooms and Sauce Beurre Blanc was excellent. I even decided to enjoy dessert with the Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake With Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. It was all exquisite, and although it was a bit pricey, it was definitely worth it.

You still work here?

As I was walking across campus on Thursday with my sun glasses on and just striding back to my desk, I see one of the guys from the noon-time sports walking towards me across the bridge. He only makes it out once in a while at noon, sorta like me the past year or so. As we approach one another, I kiddingly ask, “You still work here?” in reference to some of the latest “layoffs.” He stops and kinda stands there dumbfounded. I think I entertain him for a few more seconds until he realizes who I am. You know, I keep forgetting who I’ve been reintroduced to, and who I haven’t. At that point though, he starts smiling and saying, “amazing” a few times. He then says that he didn’t know who I was, and then when I asked him if he still worked here, he thought he would just play along for a little while. When I got back to my desk, I found he’d already left me a message apologizing for his conduct. I told him there was no need to apologize as he was reacting in a very positive manner.

Motivation, again

As I was doing a little grocery shopping yesterday, I picked up a few items I needed for breakfast the following morning. As I’m checking out, the guy is doing everything he can to find the special deal on the brand of cereal I’ve chosen. I finally have to tell the guy that there was no special even though he continues to think that it’s two for one.

Are you ready for some football?

Yep, it’s football season again. I have two fantasy football teams this with my family and friends, and the other through my old coworkers that we started up in ‘95. Getting thru the draft (I called in) was a little unbearable as numerous old coworkers were still calling me by my old name as well as using male pronouns. Luckily, I wasn’t able to hear it most of the time.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

FFS Checkup, Street corners, and the Army of Kates

I was in the city tonight for a checkup with Dr. O. He asked me how things were going. I said there was still areas of numbness on top of my head, the scar line inside my mouth was still tight, and that my chin had a bump that was sore to pressure. He said the scar inside my mouth would continue to loosen, but he wasn’t sure about my chin since he said he worked well above that area.

We also discussed noses. Actually, I mentioned it, but he said he didn’t want to talk about it until after a year of healing since it was still fairly stiff.

We did talk about a hairline revision on my temples. He said he could usually get about 1.5cm in the process, obviously an easier job the longer I waited while the skin stretched more. Looking at my hairline, I would say that the right side needs about 2cm, while the left needs an advancement of about 1.5cm. He said that he’d start with the higher one first since he’d have more skin to work with. Makes sense. He told me that I’d lose any sensation on the top of my head that I had recovered by now, and that I would have to start all over again. Fun…just what I want. Last time, he said it was hit or miss on if he would actually cut the nerve again. I think this time he told me the bad news so that I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I lost sensation entirely. He also said that he’d perform the procedure under local anesthesia. Hmmm…even more fun.

The price: $2,700

Well, at least it is cheaper than lipo and it will definitely get the job done.

After talking to Dr. O, Rachel #5 and I ate dinner at a nice little Mediterranean restaurant where we both ate $7 salads that probably cost only a buck to make. It was nice to chat for a while, though. As we talked about our careers and futures beyond SRS, Rachel, who’s finished with transition, said that she moved into a new career and a new city. She said that before she moved here, every street corner she saw around her place held a memory of living as a man. She didn’t want that any more. I don’t blame her. I’ve lived in a lot of different places in my life and although I lived in most of those places as a guy, I still think I could go back to them. The hard part is dealing with people who know you that just don’t get it, or the ones who totally see you as some type of freaking weirdo. I told her I might move on some day as well...but I'm almost tired of moving.

We also talked about growing older since she just recently turned 30. I mentioned my nasolabial fold injections and she asked me why I had them done. I told her they were my own street corners, and I didn’t like revisiting them. They reminded me too much of being a man.

Finally, I call Rachel “Rachel #5” because I know five TS “Rachels” in the Bay Area. In the land of online TS forums, though, the name Kate reigns supreme. Why is that, one may ask? Well, part of it could be Authentikate, while the other could be that there are an exuberant amount of transsexuals whose boy name starts with a “K” but they can’t find a good girlie “K” name other than Kate (and Kara, of course). On the forum, all of the Kate’s are known as the Army of Kates since they are gradually taking over the world, and thus, spreading the “transsexual agenda.” Surprisingly, though, I only know one TS Kate here in the Bay Area.