Friday, December 19, 2008

Face Trans-plants

The first US face transplant occurred earlier this week. I was on the road at a vendor so I caught this and a few related stories via the radio. One interesting interview came up discussing the psychological impact of obtaining a new face. She wouldn't look like the donor, but she also wouldn't look like her old self...she'd be more of a blend of the two. They pondered how the recipient of the new face would deal with her new identity.

Sound familiar?

I've seen a few FFS patients struggle with the identity issue following FFS...and, I've seen some people totally embrace their new face. I wouldn't call this "identity absorption factor" a measure of how T we are, but maybe it deals with how far each of us has either prepared, witnessed ahead of time, or thought about what we are going through.

I mean, look at it on a larger scale...by the book, I needed to see my therapist for at least 3 months before she would prescribe hormones. I "needed" to live part-time in order to get used to going full-time, and of course, I needed to live full-time for a year before having SRS. I also needed 2 letters from certified therapists/psychologists in order to obtain SRS.

But for FFS, all I needed was enough money to pay for the surgery. There was no letter, no amount of time spent living full-time or part-time...just money.

Am I one for gatekeepers? No. I don't think therapists should be considered gatekeepers, but more like keymasters. They are there to help us open the doors ahead of us, not hold us back. They should be there to help transitioners ensure they are prepared for what lies ahead and how to deal with all of the motions and emotions that comes with transition. I'm not proposing we have therapists issue letters approving FFS for transitioners, but it would be nice if FFS surgeons did ensure their patients had at least discussed the psychological issues of FFS with someone. Sure, most people totally love their face after FFS, but there are still some that struggle with their new identity.

When I first woke up from FFS, one of the first things I did was to feel my new forehead...because I really wanted to confirm that the male brow ridge was finally gone. My face would no longer look male, but would now appear female.

Out of everything I have gone through, I would say that FFS has been the most life changing. Our faces really help say so much about who we are in terms of how other people see us and how that perception helps us to interact in the world.

I'd say one of the harder things I had to deal with on FFS was how many people thought I didn't need it or didn't need it on certain features...that I looked fine. Some of the people who pondered my actions probably didn't know what to expect with the results with some trying to sort of talk me out of that procedure.

Claire, an old friend, recently visited San Francisco and just happened to have old photos of myself that were shared with a few residents of the Cocoon House. It's an ugly reminder of just how bad things were back then. Yeah, FFS drastically improved the quality of my life and I'm totally glad I had the procedures that were performed. (On a side note, I recently heard that Dr. O will be retiring in about 2 years.)

Some of the same issues came up for the face transplant recipient. Was it OK for the patient to have life threatening surgery just for quality of life? It's really interesting listening to the justification for the face transplant surgery. Here is a quote from one of the interviews on the ABC link:

"Even though we say it is only for quality of life, for someone with severe facial deformity it is almost impossible to live your life as we all do."


Hmmmmm.....

For those that say the face transplant recipient shouldn't risk the surgery, perhaps they should ask themselves how they themselves would live the rest of their life without a nose or most of the middle of their face, not be able to breath through anything resembling a mouth, or to not have lower eyelids. They simply cannot imagine what this woman has gone through. If she decided to partake in this surgery, I say good for her. I hope she has the support of her family, and access to the psychological resources to deal with this trying, yet exciting time of her life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

0 for 2

I play fantasy football. I have now, for like 15 years. It's fun since I can watch other games besides the Packers and still root for different players. I also enjoy the social aspect of the draft, when you can pick who you want on your team, and also rib others for their selections.

For probably every season I have played, I have always had a Packer player on my team...even back to the beginning when I grabbed this young pup named Brett Favre.

When I watched Brett play on Sunday, there was still the same sporty vigor ever present, but you could tell he is still feeling the slow tolling of age. I enjoyed watching the game with my friend, especially since she has season tickets 3 rows from the field. It was too bad, though, that while I was up buying garlic fries, that the Jets marched down the field and Brett eventually scored a rare rushing touchdown. Other than that, though, the Jets, and Brett, didn't have that good a day.

In my fantasy league, I just had to win one of my doubleheader games to move into the playoffs. Losing both games would also almost definitely spell any chance I had at walking away with not only money, but bragging rights with the girls and guys in my league.

And, of course, I went 0 for 2.

It's probably best, though, as I got very lucky this season. My total points were well below the other teams with the same record, and my points against were far below anyone else in the league. Seriously, I got very lucky.

For the past few weeks, I have known that two other things were coming, one of which was my mom obtaining the latest test results on her cancer today.

I had also heard rumors over the past week or two that job layoffs were expected. When I analyzed the conference room schedule for this week, I found an alarming amount of rooms booked by building admins for a good portion of today with the simple title of "Training".

Thus, my odds were on today. I just hoped that I didn't go 0 for 2.

My mom called me right before I headed off to work. The prognosis...partial remission and they were continuing her treatments, with the planned procedure to take place in February. Good news. Well, better than hearing the current treatments weren't working.

On to work.

Once I arrived, I walked past the meeting room where the "training" was supposed to be occurring, and it looked awkwardly conspicuous. After I made it to my desk, my boss says that he walked by the meeting rooms I noticed, and that HR was in there talking to people.

Sure enough, layoffs were in full swing.

Yesterday, my boss indicated that our group was being taken to lunch today. I wasn't sure if was because our schedules are sporadic the next few weeks with the holidays, or because of the layoffs, but either way, it was a free lunch.

Once seated at the restaurant, he said our group was fine, but others were still being notified. While I breathed a sigh of relief, I also have issues with survivor guilt. I've already had to shake hands with one guy who sat right near me who was released. He seemed like a nice guy, and it's unfortunate it happened to him.

Last night when I went to bed, I worried if I would have trouble sleeping due to what was expected today. Luckily, I was tired enough that it really didn't matter.

I've gotten some decent marks over the past year on a few different projects, so, while I wasn't too worried about work, there was still the possibility in the back of my mind that I would have to deal with it on some scale or another. And, I mean, I'm just waiting for the day when someone has a huge issue with working with a transsexual...but so far, that just hasn't happened. Sure, people have told me that they weren't sure about working with me, but afterward, they gave me excellent marks...and obviously felt comfortable enough to tell me their feelings.

There has been some of the same emotions with my mom. Obviously they wouldn't tell us that everything was fine and she was free to just go back to her regular living. She still has treatments, and the procedure in February, and a long way to go before she is considered cancer free. She is still managing through her treatments, though, and trying to keep a positive attitude.

Thus, for today, I went 2 for 2, on a bunt-single and a double, enough to keep me in the lineup for the games to come.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2008

This Thursday is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's an annual event every November 20th where we honor those that have been killed over the past year due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

Gwen Smith used to run the primary vigil in San Francisco, but her activity has declined over the past few years. Worldwide activity still continues though, as evidenced at transgenderdor.org.

A friend of mine sent me a note about Stanford activites being planned for this Thursday. I know that Oakland and San Jose both have activities planned for this Thursday, while San Francisco is planning a Friday service. The Stanford activities work better for myself, so I'll be heading there to honor those that have fallen victim the past year.

Below are the Stanford activities:

I wanted to invite you to a "Year Ten" Day of Remembrance vigil we're organizing on the Stanford Campus. The vigil is scheduled to take place at the Papa New Guinea Sculpture Garden on campus on Thursday 730p, and there will be a mostly-student discussion taking place at the LGBT-CRC right before at 6p. We'll then walk over after the discussion (across the street) for the vigil.

The LGBT-CRC is on the Stanford Campus, and is on the second floor of the Firetruck house (433 Santa Teresa, Stanford, CA 94305).

This email is the first in a weeklong series to raise awareness about trans issues and the trans community. If you are interested in learning more, please come to our informal dinner discussion this Thursday 6pm at the LGBT center.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=36027283177

Since Thursday is Transgender Remembrance Day, as well as the 10th anniversary of Rita Hester, we will be having a vigil at 7:30 meeting at the LGBT center (http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=36027283177)

Please forward widely to help us raise awareness and create a more understanding and safe space at Stanford for trans members of our community.

This campaign was organized with help from the Emma Goldman Society for Queer Liberation.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

2am

There is something serene about driving across a bay bridge at 2 in the morning. The roads and bridges, built more for the heavy daytime traffic, become darkened dance floors lit by the spare sparkle of a passing headlight.

The cities of the bay exist in a luminescent line around the horizon, reflecting present day technology against the eternal waves below and the effervescent sky above. These roads, where solar navigation requires concentration, and aggravation and congestion run rampant, turn crowded chaos into perches of a beautiful, tranquil distant canvas.

And with light music playing, I almost didn't want the drive home to end, less the tired feeling of my eyes, of course.

I've always felt this internal peace at night. I don't know what it is. Perhaps I don't feel as alone when the sun is down. Sure, there are fewer people awake at that hour, but, of the people that are awake, I know there can be this common desolation that keeps us from being entirely alone.

Since the acceptance of my own path, I, and numerous others of the same heritage, share an ability to see beyond what others may see. In the past three and a half years I have been playing women's sports...ever since I recovered from SRS...I have met a number of women who push the gender boundary of male and female. I've met a few that often times are seen as men, even though they are still quite female. Are they still going through their own acceptance, or is this state between the genders who they are, or who they prefer to be? I don't know.

But, I now know that some of my inclinations are true.

I met one woman a few years ago. We played a few games together and I saw her a few times over the years. When I saw her Saturday night at an almost exclusively female event, she was no longer she.

His face was more masculine. Gone was the slight female hair cut. The proud straggles of hair growing from his chin were enough to announce his manhood to me. As I recognized him, I told him he was looking rather buff as I squeezed his bicep.

I still wasn't sure what his status was, but after he left our little smattering of teammates, I asked a friend. She said he was now going by a new name and that he was now going by "him" instead of "her".

I quickly caught up with him and gave him the affirmation that a lot of T's look for from friends.

It was kinda cute...he said he had to be himself. I so just wanted to pick him up and give him a big hug, but doing so probably would have hurt my back considering how buffed he is now.

But, really, I know I would have liked people to just affirm my situation and then basically go on with their lives. No big special deal, right? Just use the right name and pronouns, and be understanding.

Some might say I should tell him my own journey, but, in this case, does it really matter?

Most of our common friends and teammates seemed OK with all of it, although some might have hidden the news for a while...which is understandable in a way since it's really none of our business what he does in his life.

I ate brunch with a few of my teammates on Sunday, and we briefly talked about him. They all seemed OK with it, and, to be honest, I'm sure a few of them kinda saw the same thing I saw in him. It almost makes me debate whether or not to come out to my own teammates. I wonder how many of them would ever suspect my own prior journey.

I also wonder if I should come out to them as a courtesy and respect as teammates, and most importantly, as their friend. I have talked at numerous colleges now, and often times, people would want to know the past of their friends that have transitioned, mainly because they feel as friends, it would be something friends would share. The part I worry about are the students that don't raise their hands as to if they would want to know or not. I wonder if it bothers them, or if they just aren't paying attention in class.

I'm talking at a high school tomorrow morning, and now that Prop 8 likely won't be dominating the conversation, perhaps I'll be able to delve further into the mind of the non-trans to see what they are thinking.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I had such hope

I had the beginning of a really incredible blog entry started last night as I watched the election results come in showing Obama's overwhelming win. Tears started to well up in my eyes.

I watched Senator John McCain's very classy, very graceful concession speech. I watched Fox News somehow jump on the Obama bandwagon and go from being the Conservative Right, to healing somewhere in the middle. They saw America speak and they recognized the change ahead. I then watched Obama give basically an acceptance speech to the thousands of people that already knew the outcome before the day had started. Change was at hand.

And then.

Well, and then, I saw the results starting to pour in for Proposition 8...the Proposition that legislates hate...making gay people second class citizens. When I first saw the numbers, Proposition 8 was passing 53-47. I stayed up way too late last night watching the percentage of precincts increase up to nearly 50%.

I've been sick the past two days, and although I should have been at home getting some rest, I've been at work because of my heavily weighted portion of the project's schedule. And, perhaps because I am a little out of it, the fire within me feels...well, it feels like shit.

I thought we stood not on the verge of change, but that we saw the sun set on a time of segregation...of separatism...of inequality. And, yet, we haven't.

Proposition 8 passed 52% - 48% (95% of precincts are reporting). And if you look at the breakdown of the exit polls, it wasn't the white people, or Asian people, nor most of the Latino people that voted for Proposition 8. What percentage of people voted in favor of Proposition 8?

Black people.

I thought they had a dream. I thought we all had a dream. I thought, they, out of all the colors of our skins, would understand this election more than any other.

I was wrong.

I won't be cliche and say that I'm not a racist...but I believe in equality for all, no matter the color of our skins, the inabilities we face, the sexual orientations we have, the genders we are, or any other item that makes each of us unique.

I voted for Obama, not because he is Black, not because he is from Illinois, nor because he is married and has children. I voted for him because I thought he was the right candidate to be in office.

California had the chance to not only lead the way of change, but stand proud and say, "We are all equal. We can all have a dream."

But we didn't. We said that it is ok to discriminate based on sexual orientation. That separate, but equal, is still OK.

And it wasn't just California, it was Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida, not to mention the numerous states that have already legislated against gay people and gay people seeking to adopt children or have children via either artificial means.

The one sliver of hope I have, though, is in the youth of our nation. Those under 30 were overwhelmingly against Proposition 8...the only age bracket with a majority of people against the proposition. And they are the ones that can finally take this nation forward.

So, today, we may still live in a land of separatism, but we stand strong with the hope that one day, all of our dreams may come true.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Plausible Acceptance

It seems like every year when I get a flu shot and the nurse prepares to stick me with a needle, I get the usual line:

"You must work out."

"Yup."

There's no denying it, I do work out. Probably not as much as they may think, but the muscles are bigger than most women. That's just the way it is.

Plausible acceptance is what I call it now...saying "yes" to whatever their assumption is, unless that assumption isn't true, of course.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Please vote No on 8

The election is next week, and lately, it seems like more focus has been on Proposition 8 than anything else here in California. Proposition 8 was added to the ballot earlier this year, and is the usual strategy for the Religious Right.

What is the usual strategy?

Well, lately they have used gay marriage and a number of other hot issues to get Conservative voters out to the polls in order to get more of their own voters out. I believe it is one of the major strategies that helped Bush win both of his elections. Here in California, they are also using Proposition 4, which makes it mandatory for a parent to be notified before a girl under 18 can have an abortion. In principle, it sounds good, but what it doesn't cover is if the parent does not agree with the abortion or is abusive, which could lead a girl to get a back alley abortion if the Proposition passes. This is the third time it has been presented to California voters.

Proposition 8, though, redefines marriage as that between only one man and one woman. I say "redefines" because earlier this year, the California Supreme Court decided that the prior Proposition 22 was unconstitutional since it did not treat all Californians with the same rights...and that same sex marriages would be considered valid. Proposition 22 passed with 61% of the votes in 2000. Hopefully public opinion has changed a bit in the past 8 years, and to be honest, I think it has. It shows dramatically in the polls where things have been running pretty even for the past few months, with both sides pulling slightly ahead at different times. The airwaves have been flooded with commercials for both sides the past month.

Even on the LGBT panels I have participated in lately, Prop 8 has been a hot topic. Luckily, we have a gay minister active in one of our panel groups that has been a great resource. There are a lot of myths about gay marriage and marriage in general, and he has been able to dispel many of them on the panels we have attended. Prop 8 has been so hot, though, that many of our panels have not had the usual transgender focus that I've seen in the past. I don't mind, as the Prop 8 topic definitely deserves the attention.



Even a few coworkers have really gotten into the "No on 8" motion. One of them is a good friend who has treated me with a lot of respect the past few years before and after my transition. His sister in law is a lesbian, but honestly, I've never seen a straight guy with so much determination, and so much frustration with people that want to legislate discrimination into law.

That's pretty much what Proposition 8 is all about...preventing same sex marriages. What's so surprising is if you substituted "interracial marriage" for "same sex marriage" you see the same rhetoric used what...some 70 years ago to keep different races from marrying one another. What's even more surprising is there are still a lot of people that believe interracial marriage is wrong.

And, of course, if you watch the "Yes on 8" commercials, you see the version of fear and hate they are using to push their agenda. They almost believe that the world will end if Proposition 8 doesn't pass. Of course, we say some of the same things if it does pass.

Same sex marriage became legal back in June, and seriously, the world hasn't ended. There has been no Armageddon. No fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. No rivers and seas boiling. No dead rising from the grave. No human sacrifices. No mass hysteria. No dogs and cats living together. (Hmm...wait a sec.)

Seriously, though, if you listen to the Yes on 8ers, it's a lot of the same stuff.

"It will ruin the sanctity of marriage."

"It protects our children from being taught about gay marriage."

They also like to state that marriage is about a man and a woman for the purpose of raising children. So, if two people get married, and one of them can't have kids, does that mean their marriage is invalid?



There are too many flaws in their reasons, and basically it comes down to their religious belief and not accepting same sex marriages. What really bugs me is when I see people say they have "homosexual friends," and that they still won't be voting against Prop 8 because their "homosexual friends" will still have the same benefits as a civil union. It's amazing that it all comes down to the word "marriage". (I know I have run into a number of people that want to remove any article of marriage from the government and just let everyone have civil unions.) But, by making us "separate, but equal," means gay and lesbian people are being marginalized...that we are second class citizens...similar to how segregation existed after the Civil War until the Civil Rights movement eliminated it.

The reason Proposition 8 is so important, though, is that California does end up setting precedence for much of the future of the US. When things change, they usually change in California first...and they know that. That's why they are putting forth such a huge effort to remove legal same sex marriages. And I mean, the effort is so huge that this proposition has basically move from a state decision to a national decision...to possibly even a global decision. The future of same sex marriages for the next 30-50 years could be determined on Tuesday.

So, on Tuesday, please vote. And if you live in California, please vote No on 8. And if you know anyone in California, please ask them to vote No on 8, as well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Karaoke

This past weekend, our softball team took home the championship trophy. Afterward, a lot of us decided to celebrate at a local bar.

This season, I was a half-timer, meaning I split the season with another girl, so we were basically called upon when needed. She's a lefty, and I'm a righty, and we can both pummel the ball to our own sides of the field.

I was usually available to play most weeks, but once in awhile, I wasn't available, and would mention it so we could schedule which weeks the two of us would show up. Of course, we also had male substitutes that played, too.

When I hurt my knee earlier this year, I mentioned to the team that I wouldn't be there for awhile. One of the substitute guys replied to me that he was torn...that he'll get to play since they need a few extra people to play, but the girl he has a crush on won't be there.

Now, if I read it right, he was saying he had a crush on me since I wasn't going to be there, but I really wasn't sure, so I responded to him asking which girl. He then says that perhaps his email wasn't clear, and that he had a crush on me.

OK, whoa.

This guy is pretty cute. He's about 5'9, in very nice shape, and 10 years my younger. (What is up with all the young people?)

The team gathered the previous weekend after a long day in a tournament. We got on the subject of music and a variety of different songs, and my fondness for alternative songs from the 90's...one of which was Mr. Jones.

So, this weekend, they have Karaoke going on and he wants me to pick a song to sing if he sings Mr. Jones.

"You did like Mr. Jones, right?"

So, I pick out a song that I like, not realizing how hard it would be to sing it, and sing it well, nor that it's not a really fun fun song to sing and have others sing along with you.

So, let's call him K. K says he'll actually go up and sing first.

And he does.

And he actually sang fairly well, and really got into the song.

And, well, I have to admit I was super turned on that he was kinda singing that song for me.

But he's my teammate!!!

...and if I come out to him, well, I could possibly kiss good-bye ever playing softball around this neck of the woods.

Sigh.

I already know that he likes me, for some reason or another. He's kinda known for being a partier, but he's getting close to 30 and you can see that he's no longer a kid. He seems pretty mature, and I haven't really seen him act immature or anything.

So, I get up there to sing, and things just did not feel right. A few chords into this difficult song to sing I start getting super paranoid and kinda freak out. The heart races and everything starts moving in slow motion...so I stop singing. I tell the karaoke dude that I am going to stop and kindly put the microphone back on the stand.

The karaoke guy is very kind and tells people that I was forced to do it and was super drunk...which I wasn't.

When I get back to my teammates, they ask what happened. I tell them I felt a bit off, the song was different than the one I am used to, and made up some other lame excuses. Seriously, though, what was I going to tell them?

"Well, you see, I'm a transsexual, and although I can speak with a fairly decent female voice, getting in front of a bunch of non-T people to sing really freaked me out since I can't really sing that well with a female voice and I was afraid all of you would hear me sound like a guy or something..."

But, I didn't say that, of course.

They said I didn't sound that bad, and that they could barely hear me...so some of it was probably just in my head, but I already know that. Most of it was caused by my own paranoia.

So, what went from a super cool version of Mr. Jones ended with my sorry ass up on stage chickening out. Maybe K won't be so into me now, and I don't have to ever worry about coming out to him.

Sigh.

The Missing Link

I saw this in my usual Google search today and my initial reaction was "Wow".

Transsexual Study Reveals Genetic Link
(and another.)

Seriously. Wow.

Part of me wants to celebrate at the validation, but a part of me is also cautious.

The part that celebrates the validation sees family, friends, and coworkers that can look at these results and perhaps not think that transgender people are mentally incapacitated...that we aren't freaks...that this isn't a choice...and that it's not a lifestyle decision.

"Hey, baby, see my androgen receptor genes....that's just the way I am. Get the fuck over it and treat me with a little respect!!!"

Sorry. Built up rage, ya know?

The cautious part wonders what this means for the long term. Will there be a test for this, prognosis of some sort, and treatments? If an embryo or fetus is tested for androgen receptor length, and given a high likelihood of being born transgender, is there something done while the mother is still pregnant? Do we correct this? Is the pregnancy aborted? Or do we deal with it down the line when the child may or may not develop further along the female gender identity? It kinda brings up the whole Gattaca thing again, something a number of people have cautiously reviewed as our knowledge of genetics moves further and further into the terabytes of data from one single strand of DNA.

And then there is the whole idea of being personally tested. If the results ring true, then it's something to pass around for even further validation.

"See? I'm not so crazy after all, huh? Looks like I made the best decision after all."

But, it has been hypothesized that transsexualism is not due to one explicit reason. Many consider that there are a variety of reasons that cause transsexualism. So, what happens if the personal test shows negative for the androgen receptor genes? Does this invalidate my own journey?

The testing, though, only provides a partial correlation. Genetic males with no gender identity issues show the longer receptors 50% of the time, while transsexual women have the markers 55% of the time. It shows a correlation, but it also shows that more testing is needed to find other areas of interest.

It is highly likely that there could be multiple genetic reasons for transsexualism, as well as multiple non-genetic reasons. And what we term transsexualism could be covering numerous genetic differences. Genetics and statistics are interesting. If something either is or isn't, it becomes a matter of statistical logic. Some people state that transsexualism is prevalent in approximately 1 out of every 1000-2000 people. It's interesting that multiples of 2 move in such order...1/2, 1/4, 1/8...up to 1/1024, 1/2048. This is around the powers of 8-9 range when we reach 1000-2000. What if there were 8 or 9 genetic markers that ended up leading to genetic gender identities opposite the X and Y in our genes. Of course, if it were so limited, then you'd see a higher percentage than 55% mentioned in the report, but it still lends a strong possibility that genetics can be possible for transsexualism.

As I brought up before, I'm participating in Kaiser's genetic research, but I wonder if they will ever tackle such an issue.

Part of me wants to know, and part of me doesn't. I seriously would love to see that I do have the longer androgen receptor genes. But, if I didn't have them, would it cause me to ponder my own validation, even though I feel very secure being me? For now though, it will be interesting to keep an eye on their research to see what else they dig up.

My bet is this is only the tip of the genetic iceberg.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Procrastination

I've been meaning to move the old stuff on my AOL website over to this blog, but just hadn't sat down to do it. Now I read on the AOL Hometown site that it will no longer be functioning as of October 31st...which gives me two weeks to move everything over.

Sigh...as if work hasn't been killing my spare time as it is.

So, if old entries start inundating the blog readers, I'm sorry....in advance.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tranny

My car has one.

What were you thinking? ...that I'd use a derogatory term here in my own blog? Get out!!! Me? No way.

I see the word, and I hear the word, and you know, it really doesn't bother me. But every time I see the word pop up on mass emails, I know there is going to be trouble.

Take for instance, a recent email splash for Trannyfest in San Francisco (November 7th and 8th). A few responses came up disputing the usage of the word "tranny" since it was considered derogatory.

I've heard non-T people use the word, and yeah, it does feel a little derogatory. Some of these people have been my friends and I try to tell them that the term is considered bad by many trans-people...and that I simply use T. A lot of them start using T as well.

But, really, is the word "tranny" a bad word? What does it connote? I found the following on urbandictionary.com...which is not the greatest source of information, but it can provide a clue as to the social implications of commonly used current words.

tranny

An extremely offensive term for a transsexual man or woman, or any of the transgendered community.

On the same level as "nigger", and "cunt" for most people, though, like "dyke", some of the transgendered community are trying to reclaim the word, without much success.

"So your girlfriend's a tranny?" "... Please don't say that... She's a woman, just like you are."


The definition happens to hit the nail on the head. I do see some transgender people use the word "tranny" but I also see a large population of T's that simply hate that the word exists. It brings with it the stereotype of what a transgender person can be, and I suppose that is the fear that many T's deal with. They are trying to lose that image.

When I raced in high school, college, and beyond, there were always people asking me how much I jogged a week.

"I don't jog, I run," was often my response. I didn't want to be considered a jogger, because I didn't jog, I ran. There was a big difference between joggers and runners. Joggers were considered slackers compared to runners. And, well, joggers jogged, and runners ran.

But is there a difference between tranny and the rest of the politically correct transgender names? If you do a google search of "tranny", most everything on the front page is considered derogatory or porn in nature. Granted, it's not as bad if I type in "shemale", but then again, most people don't say "shemale"...they say "tranny"...and they don't know that the word is considered very offensive by the transgender community...especially when spoken by someone who is not transgender.

So, I don't care if people say the word or not, but if I am called a "tranny" or I hear people say the word "tranny", I will be sure to tell them that it is considered derogatory and that a better option is "T".

Now, of course, if they are talking about their car's transmission, I might feel a bit embarrassed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

$21.79

Last night, sometime between when the Sandman visits and when the Tooth Fairy deposits her change, amongst the myriad of magical electronic transactions, twenty-one dollars and seventy-nine cents were moved from my paycheck to my 401k loan.

My current loan balance: $0

Finally, my FFS is paid off, and thus, I no longer owe any money toward transition. My body now belongs to me.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

She is obviously post-op!

I will admit it, I do watch a little reality TV, and I have been watching Survivor since Day 1. Last week, CBS aired their latest episode of Survivor: Gabon. I had the DVR going, so the entire episode was recorded. It wasn't until I was scanning through the menu on my TV that I saw the title of the episode:

"She is obviously post-op!"


What? No way.

OK, so, I usually look through the cast to see if they have put any transgender people in Survivor, and I had not heard any news about any of them being transgender, so then I thought, someone must be thinking that Crystal, the Olympic gold medalist, is a transsexual. The woman is like 6'2" and built quite well.

I pulled up Google and did a brief search to see if anything about the title was mentioned in the episode, and I only found one little blurb on someone's blog about the very openly gay Charlie saying the title line to someone else.

I watched the episode and never saw anything, then scanned through it again, but, alas, I could not find any mention of the title in the actual episode.

The only thing I can figure is that either the line was removed in last minute editing, but the title, since it is usually in the system well in advance of two weeks for TV schedules, was unedited. That, or perhaps the East Coast got a different version than the West Coast based on viewer reaction or something. My bet is that it was removed in some last minute editing due to the conservative nature the TV execs and certain stations like to enforce.

For the record, Crystal is not post-op. She's just a very tall athletic woman. Sheesh...she's had a child, for goodness sake.

To be honest, though, I don't really know how to react to this one. My assumption is that a gay man made the reference to her being post-op. This is where trans-education has made someone smart enough to look like an idiot. He may be aware of trans-issues, but the social correctness of his hypothetical statement makes him look very ignorant.

I'm just hoping we get to see Crystal and Charlie in close quarters sometime soon (as they are on opposite sides right now), so he CAN make a comment and then have the living snot beat out of him by Crystal. Or, at least, maybe it can happen in a nice friendly manner. Of course, if it wasn't rough and tumble, then they probably won't show it in the first place.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Keeping your nose clean

This will not be a fun entry.

Last week, I caught a news article about the body of a transgender woman found in a river near Sacramento. It's obviously a grim tale, and they are now treating her death as suspicious. When we hear about the body of a transgender person being found, we almost assume that foul play has been involved.

Earlier this week, I caught a report about a pedestrian being run down in San Francisco by someone driving a Jag. Today, they are stating that the person driving the Jag is transgender and tonight I saw her on TV being brought before the judge. It appears she either passed out or fell asleep at the wheel when she killed the pedestrian, who was just picking up some items for the restaurant that he worked at. It's tragic that the pedestrian was killed, and unfortunate that the transgender woman will likely go back to prison. She already has prior convictions on a number of items, and was told not to drive.

And now, tonight, they are reporting that the decomposed body of a young man was found in the Santa Cruz mountains near San Jose. When you hear about the body of a woman being found, you usually realize it was a sexual crime, but with the body of a man being found, you wonder what happened. They say he was wearing very distinct clothing and a very unique ring, the details of which will likely be released later this week in the hopes of identifying him.

I just hope they don't say he is a transgender woman.

Through all of these stories, there is a common theme. Keep your nose out of trouble. Sure, people shouldn't be killing people for being transgender, but, let's face it, there are a lot of men out there that will kill you if they think you are female, only to later realize you were born male...especially if they have had sex with you. Not all men will act violently in this manner, but there are some. I'm not going to debate the issue of when to tell a person with whom you are romantically involved, but staying off the streets...out of prostitution...can help prevent the time when some insecure guy decides to take out his sexual insecurities on your skull.

I know that drugs, alchohol, video games...etc. can provide that escape from the reality of living in the wrong body, but it needs to be done in moderation. Try to keep your nose clean, out of prison, and focused on goals to get you where you need to be. Sure, it is easier said than done, but transition is quite possible for almost anyone...as long as they address their priorities and stay focused.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Homework

A lot of people mention it, but you rarely see it. Sure, there was a study on the brains of transsexuals and there have been other transsexual related studies such as regret and so forth, but not many studies have been done in general.

Of course, one of the general hurdles of any study involving medical histories is the privacy of all of it, with the grandest hurdle finding anyone that will fund a study on transsexuals.

My health care provider, Kaiser, though, is undertaking a huge research study on genetics. This article from last year outlined the initial study, and earlier this year they sent out questionnaires for potential participants. I received the questionnaire and recently got another notice that they'll be sending out the packet for me to either donate blood or a buccal swab (recent press release on topic).

It's an interesting study, and although there are always privacy risks (not to mention dealing with having the stupid Y chromosome pop up for a female), I think the benefits of the huge database for the future of health care outweigh the potential negative effects of any data being used for evil purposes. Kaiser has treated me well, and I figure this helps give back to the general medical community...especially when they are potentially using some of the stuff we do at my company.

Perhaps one day, Kaiser can string together some of the genetic analysis of their transgender patients and find something that helps in our care. Yes, I know there are the downsides of spotting genetic markers on people...and having false positives, or positive negatives...but you never know what they might find to lend either favorable validity or care.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A good run

She did well...and that's not considering her background. Isis, the transgender woman on America's Next Top Model made it all the way to the top 10...but was booted tonight after the photo shoot.

She had some really good strengths. She could walk the walk and she had the sass, but at times, she just lacked a bit of confidence...but a lot of that was what most transgender women deal with...and in this case, she was dealing with it in front of the TV audience.

I bet if they hadn't been in the water, she wouldn't have been booted. You see, they had the models in the water wearing skin colored swim suits while only shooting their eyes above the water. Isis just had trouble any time they put her in a swim suit because she was afraid "things" would pop out.

I can totally relate to a lot of the issues she was probably dealing with...on the transgender side, but not with the various issues of competing against a lot of very pretty women. I couldn't actually imagine having to deal with that.

She should be very proud of how far she made it and how much she was hopefully able to educate those that watch the show.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Brunch in the Castro

I had brunch in the Castro this past weekend. When I was walking back to my car, I noticed this mannequin in the window of one of the many "video stores" of the Castro. Actually, I saw the window display, walked several more steps, then realized what I saw, and went back to snap this photo.

Someone actually put a transgender mannequin out. I have no idea if the mannequin was designed to be transgender, or if they simply placed a penis in the underwear of a female mannequin. (Would it actually be called a womannequin?)

There are a number of "video stores" in the Castro, and a lot of them actually have what would be considered "shemale porn". I know this because my recent date (not for brunch) was an hour late, and I dipped in and out of many Castro shops to kill time. I know people might think "Kara, why are you going in the video porn stores"...well, as it happened, my date was back on Labor Day, so most shops in the Castro were closed, thank you very much.

So, yeah, I'm actually trying the dating thing. I joined one of the local online dating sites and have had a little success. The hard part is I have been super busy with sports and a ton of stuff going on at work, that it's hard to get out and meet new people.

Oh, and I got a new phone. Yes, I succumbed and bought the new iPhone (which I used to take the picture above)...and I have to say, I am totally addicted to it...the phone, not the picture. I still need to load a little music on it, but I love having access to the internet, maps, real time football scores, and even a little black jack game I downloaded to kill time. Perhaps that will help keep me out of the video porn stores in the future.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

How it all ends

Everything ends. It’s such a grim statement, but, unfortunately, it’s the honest truth. I suppose if you look at things relatively, though, some things never end.

The river will always flow, the ocean will always spray, the earth will always spin, the sun will always shine...at least they most likely will in our lifetimes.

I’m flying home today. In the flight from San Francisco to LA and then on to Oz, I’ve spent the past few hours reading Randy Pausch’s book The Last Lecture. Randy Pausch delivered his Last Lecture at Carnegie Melon almost a year ago, and if you haven’t seen the video by now or at least heard about all of it, it’s really worth taking a glimpse. In this case, I actually recommend watching the movie first before reading the book. I just realized this, but, believe it or not, I’ve always wanted to say that AND actually mean it.

Anyway, while having seen the Last Lecture from last year, I knew I had to get the book when I saw it in the store. I don’t read many books. I know, I’m bad...I should read more. But out of those books I have read, I’ve read some good ones. And, hell, if someone ever asks me what was the last book I read, I’ll be able to say “The Last Lecture”.

A good portion of the book was already presented at the actual lecture, but there is enough new material that it actually gives you some of the back story and post-lecture information to make it a really good read.

There were times when I was reading the book where I just plain started to cry. Sometimes I had to put the book down and stop reading just due to the overload. The domino effect, the stuffed animals, the happy stories, the feel good situations. And as I approached the ending, I really didn’t want it all to end. I already know the ending...Randy died in July. The book was finished earlier this year.

I have trouble with death. I always have.

I used to be a huge ER fan. Yes, the TV show on NBC. My favorite characters were Dr. Greene and Dr. Carter. When it was announced that Anthony Edwards was leaving the show and they would be killing off his character via a brain tumor, I had a hard time with it. In fact, I have never seen his last episode. I don’t know if I can make it through the show without having issues. Of course, that show aired back in like 2002 when I was dealing with my own transition related anxieties. I don’t know if I could make it through it now, or if it would just bring up old memories.

And as I neared the end of The Last Lecture, I really just wanted to put the book down and not dig up any issues of someone’s dying lecture...especially the touching messages he left his wife and his young kids.

But then it made me realize...my mom isn’t too far from Randy’s position. Her cancer hasn’t reached the metastasized stated that Randy’s reached...and she’s still in the fighting mode rather than the terminal stage, but she is forced to face the inevitable end sooner rather later.

Everything ends. Everything begins, too. And in between the beginning and the end, we live. It’s not obsessing over the ending, I suppose. But, in certain cases, people have the opportunity to say good bye in their own way.

If I died today, I have no message to anyone. My legacy is only written here in this blog and in the 4 or 5 journals I wrote from 1988 until I started writing online in 2003. And even then, I hid most of the T thoughts that wrecked my mind...so, it’s only half the story. I have no message to my parents, my sister, my nephews, or my friends.

My only message is in how I have lived my life. Randy did a great job in presenting his last lecture, and a wonderful job (along with a ghost writer) of putting together the finishing touches in something he likely wouldn’t have been able to present in the actual lecture due to time constraints and the emotional duress of very personal statements to his family. He says good bye on his own terms, and while he would have preferred to stick around a lot longer, he was able to leave a message to all.

And that message? While the theme of his message is that we all have dreams and if we want to fulfill those dreams, it just takes hard effort and determination to make them happen, the main message is how to lead and live your life. Even Randy mentions that he wants his children to do what they want to do...he doesn’t want to force them into something they may not want to do.

But that’s it...live YOUR life.

I had no idea how to end an entry entitled "How it all ends". I’ve written a few things out, but they don’t really sound right. And then I thought, as I sit in my parent’s home finishing this entry, that I’m glad to see my mom...and I’m glad I finished Randy’s book...because it makes every moment with her seem that much more special.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

America's Next Top Model....

...actually could be Isis.

I was a little late in getting home from softball, but I was able to catch the last half of the show. OK, I'll admit, I haven't caught many episodes of this show before, but I have seen a few.

They mentioned the transgender stuff early on, but they kept it fairly general. A few of the girls claimed to be of the "small town" variety and "you'd get shot" for walking around like that...in reference to Isis. She's got her allies, though. A few of the girls have their own various backgrounds, and I suppose you can't understand others until you've understood yourself. We'll get to know the girls over the next few months, but from what I saw, Isis has a decent shot...even with the cards stacked against her.

On a real positive note, though, the judges have been exposed to all of the LGBT stuff before. Two of the judges are gay, and Tyra has always had a positive spin on transgender women previously on her talk show. And, of course, they are the ones that put Isis on the show in the first place.

Isis looks pretty decent, is tall and skinny, and doesn't have many male features with her face. Of course, many of the male features that she does have are present on a lot of the top models anyway, so that part doesn't really matter. She could definitely use some voice work because that's about her only male feature.

She has her work cut out for her, but she has potential. A lot of potential. She just needs to be true to herself and try not to let the bad ones ones affect her. They showed some of the girls already picking on her, but I think they have enough girls on the show that are secure with themselves, that Isis will have her allies.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

My electrologist had a business adventure this weekend which prevented her from keeping our usual appointments. Last weekend, however, she did offer to get me in on Sunday. I called her yesterday, and she was able to get me in this morning. Yeah, I guess that makes me evil for making her work on a holiday. She was able to get me in for 3 hours, with a break about halfway through. We folded TGSF newsletters during her coffee break and completed them afterward.

You better work, covergirl, work it girl!

Last week, Mark was a little more active than normal. He tends to be more social than most engineers, and very observant. He likes to stop by and converse about topics like football, politics, .....my long hair:

“Do you run every day?” Mark asks.

“Well, I play and I have dance class twice a week.”

Mark’s eyes lit up. “Dance class???”

Another coworker chimes in “Pretty soon he’ll be walking and dancing around like one of the girls.”

Mark has to throw in one of his comments by stating “He already has the hair.”

“Hey...w h a t e v e r!” as I laughed it off.

Do a twirl on the runway...supermodel of the world!

While asking my boss a question one day, I made notice that he was wearing a very unique new shirt. Him and another coworker then took notice of my rather bland midwestern style. They said I needed to go with something different and take a little risk. I guess they didn’t spot the bra I was wearing.

Speaking of my boy clothes, I was walking on my work-campus when I noticed that my shoe was rattling. That’s strange. I got back to my desk and further inspected my shoe. It appears that one of the back portions of the sole has worn through the bottom portion and exposed the inner air pocket. A rock found its way up in to that cavity and was rattling around. I haven’t bought many new men’s clothes because I’m aiming to transition early next year. I need to stretch the physical condition of my current clothes out in the meantime and hope that they last. The pants have a few holes trying to form in the back area right near the pockets, the shoes are obviously falling apart, and I have a few dress shirts that have worn out the edge of the cuff section. I think I can stretch another 4-5 months out of all of them. I figure the last thing I am going to buy is a pair of shoe laces to replace the one I recently broke (it’s tied in a knot currently).

Wet your lips and make love to the camera!

Mark, my boss, and I are walking back from a meeting when somehow we got on the topic of me always following the rules.

One of them quips “You’re a character right out of Dilbert.”

I provoke “Which one? The short bald guy?”

“Yeah, Wally, the short bald guy!” my boss says.

Mark of course, doesn’t let it stop there and chimes in, “I was thinking the long haired woman.”

“Mark has to give me his weekly crap,” I say to my boss in a manner suggesting Mark is just giving me his usual schmidt.

Mark amusingly responds, “Yep, just when I think I’m running out of material you do something new.”

Sashay, Shante’

On my way to the cafeteria this past Friday, Mark is walking in at the same time. He asks me if I am eating at the cafeteria which I interpret as “would you stay here and eat lunch with me so I don’t look like a doofus eating lunch alone.” I tell him sure.

We sit down for lunch, and another coworker that I don’t know sits down at the table with Mark and I. We get on the subject of a coworker getting married, who just happens to be a guy with long hair. I ask Mark if he gives him any crap about his hair. Mark says, “No," and this is where things got interesting.

The guy who sat down with us says to Mark, “Mark, you can’t make comments like that. HR has a policy against that type of stuff.”

I just met the guy, and already I like him.

Mark responds with “They weren’t sexual comments. You’re always making comments like that,” referring to me.

He’s right, I do make some comments, but they are usually of a different nature. I don’t root for the 49ers or Raiders, so I take some slack rooting for midwest teams like the Packers and Rams. I just happen to give a lot of that slack back. It’s all meant as jocular humor and friendly banter. Anyway, I found it humorous that this guy stated what I can’t really enforce. Am I supposed to walk in to HR and say, “Hey, this guy keeps thinking I am a girl.”

I told Courtney this story and she said I should tell him or my superiors about his comments. I, however, remembered Courtney telling me about an incidence she had occur at work a number of weeks back. A bunch of her coworkers were discussing an article that was out that day about a TS in prison that sued to have the state pay for it all. I guess a coworker came up to her later that same day and asked her if she was ‘flipping.’ I asked her if she reported him to HR, but she said no since she didn’t want to cause any trouble. I feel the same way about reporting anything to HR...why clue them in to a situation I’m not comfortable sharing with them at this time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

America's Next Top Model could be....

...a transsexual.

Yup. It looks like Tyra Banks has really come through this time, putting a transsexual in the mix for a shot at America's Next Top Model.

She's in for a possible rough ride, as people in any type of competition can really show their sharp nails in some manner or another.

...and, she has enough stacked against her to start with. She's pre-op, which means she may have a few outfits that won't be easy to wear. That, and girls can get nasty when they need to.

If we're simply going by looks though, she's got a lot going for her. As I've said in the past, though, models are a combination of looks and sass...hopefully she has both.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The odds

I wish I could turn my T-dar off.

OK, maybe not.

I’ve mentioned it before, but there is this almost instant bond between many T’s. It’s a life connection that exists between similar souls. Sure, we come in all different flavors, but there is something...like two ships lost at sea in a turbulent storm...that can cause many of us to hold on tight to each other.

This past Friday, my company decided that I needed to assist a colleague in Chicago this week. Sure, there is a technical aspect to this, but I almost feel like I am babysitting.

Babysitting.

At least they pay me well...and I won’t have to change diapers. Well, I hope not, at least.

Eastward travel, though, makes it difficult to get in and get out fast...so, I’m flying in today for work on Wednesday and Thursday, before flying back home Thursday evening.

OK, I’ll admit it...I’m a big people watcher. As I was in line to check in my suitcase, I saw a woman. She had nice calves. Too nice. She looked nice, and I doubt I would have seen the other signs had I not seen her calves.

Yeah, she was T. Wide shoulders, brow ridge, no hips, no femme waist, although she had a decent figure that no one would likely suspect. I thought I saw a little 5 o’clock shadow, too. I forgot to look for the apple, but there were too many other indicators. I don’t think anyone else around her knew as there were a number of guys chatting her up...which wasn’t surprising with the short dress she had on.

If I see one T, I wouldn’t typically expect to see another out in the “plain world”. The odds, you know.

Further down the terminal, though, I spot this punk rock girl. She was short and had spiky hair. She looked good, but something caught my eye. I wasn’t sure exactly, but certain facial features just set off the radar. I think what really did it for me was her jaw bone. Yeah, yeah, I know there are plenty of women with strong jaw bones, but her’s was just a bit too strong.

OK, so how can there be two other T’s in my terminal. The odds, remember?

Hmm...well, let’s think. It’s Tuesday.

Tuesday.

The day before Wednesday. The day after Monday.

Monday.

Oh wait.

Dr. O has most of his consults on Monday. Both of the girls looked great, outside a little facial work, which likely would have taken them off my radar. Hmm...maybe they were here to see Dr. O yesterday and were just heading home today. That’s gotta be it.

Well, anyway, they both looked great, and I’m sure no one else even noticed what I noticed.

Open ocean. Sunny skies. Three ships pass.

And everything seemed OK.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

56 MPH

So, I have a friend who has season tickets to the 49ers, which just happened to have their practice open to the public this morning. So, at 9am, we were there to watch all the boys strut their stuff. It was a bit too early for me, but I managed through all of it, especially with a lot of really big athletes.

My friend also invited me along to the softball league's day at the Giants game. When we arrived, my friend talks me into seeing how fast we can throw. We get in line with a few kids at the section with the radar gun. You get three pitches. My friend, who has a really strong arm, but hurt it pretty seriously last year, manages a 47 MPH fast ball. I think she can throw faster.

I get up to the little mound and take a wind up. Back in my 20's, I think the fastest I threw was about 67 miles per hour. I figured I'd still be kinda close to that, but I only unleashed a 56 miles per hour fastball. The amazing thing is I thought it was moving way faster than what it read out on the radar gun, but you know, I'm not surprised that I throw a lot slower. I'm older, and weaker without the testosterone.

Of course, both of these events were on opposite sides of the Bay Area, which gave me a lot of time to listen to the radio this weekend.

I listened to a bit of KCBS this weekend with all of the driving. One interview (The almost 6-minute interview is in the bottom right of this page)involved San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty in a discussion about HRC's dinner in San Francisco last night and the snubbing by many pro-gay/pro-united ENDA big wigs. I believe there was even a transgender protest of the HRC dinner.

As I was driving to the baseball game, I heard there had been a fatal shooting at a Unitarian Universalist church in the Midwest. The UU are known for being very LGBT friendly, and I wondered, when I heard this, if the shooter did this because of who we are. It was a somber reminder that there are plenty of people out there that hate us for what we stand for...hate us for being ourselves...hate us for simply being.

I mean, just the other day, I was playing on my coed softball team when the son of the girlfriend of one of our players makes a remark in our dugout about the opposing team's 3rd baseman wearing pink socks.

"That's gay!"

"What's wrong with being gay?" I ask.

"That's nasty."

The boy is about 11.

"I'm gay."

"Ha ha...you mean, like happy?"

"No, I'm gay."

"Oh....that's nasty."

He didn't say it in a joking manner. I mean, this kid expressed some serious hate and disgust at anyone being gay."

After he left the dugout, and his mom's boyfriend re-entered the dugout, I told him, "Dude, you're little man is a serious homophobe."

"Yeah, E, he's a big homophobe. If he's gonna grow up in the Bay Area, he's going to see a lot of gay people...so he better get used to it," a non-gay teammate says.

I love my teammates.

Monday, July 21, 2008

High School Reunion

Things actually went better than I expected.

Sure, there were wrong pronouns and perhaps a slip or two of the old name, but my old classmates did well. Most everyone came up to say hi and a number of them told me I seemed a lot happier and more comfortable as me now. A few also said I was really brave.

I told them it wasn’t bravery...it was survival. I don’t think I would have made it much longer without transitioning, or I would have gone bonkers.

It’s kinda weird, as time has gone by, I’ve built up this little tolerance to stuff. I used to stare out that peephole in my door to make sure no one was outside. Then I would take a few steps out to see if anyone was around between my door and the garage. And of course, once I started going out more, I looked at the people around to see who was staring at me. Gradually, I just stated settling into who I am, and just going wherever I wanted and doing whatever I wanted to do. Sure, there was that lingering question in my mind of “can they tell”, but even that question stops ringing so loud.

So, I brought along three dresses, two of which were new. One was a low cut little black dress. Another was a more conservative black dress that still fit me rather well. The third was this amazing blue dress that had it all...low cut, eye grabbing, and, yet, very tasteful. I modeled all three for my mom to help me decide, and although she thought the low cut black one was best, I still wasn't sure I wanted to show that much cleavage. I told her it was labeled as dressy casual, and both of us thought the blue one would be way too much. I eventually decided on the conservative black dress.

My high school reunion activities kicked off with an evening dinner. I had a hair, mani, and pedi appointment in the afternoon. Whenever I go to anyone other than my usual hair stylist, I usually get a question or two...especially if they are brave enough to ask or if they see my scar. One woman in the past commented about how I had really thick hair on the side and less dense on the top...part of the male hair pattern that started to kick in before I really started losing hair. I suppose my sides will always be thicker than on top, but when you look at it, I just have a lot of hair around the sides.

This time, she didn’t ask. And I didn’t supply anything. I just enjoyed her doing my hair. And she was doing a great job of straightening it. I’m betting they underestimated the job required to straighten my hair, because soon I had two other people pulling on my head getting my hair straight. Yeah, I guess it is pretty long right now.

Anyway, the hair styling was followed up with a pedicure and my first ever manicure. Yeah, I’d never had my fingernails done before.

OK, OK...I have this weird claustrophobia with fingernail polish on my nails. I can tolerate it for a while, but soon it just starts to bug me...and I can literally feel it on there.

The price tag for all of that was under $70. My jaw almost dropped. I guess I am so used to California prices.

My parents still live fairly close to where I went to high school, but I decided to get a hotel room since we'd all be out fairly late...and I could simply get ready there. On my walk from the hotel to the dinner, I got a phone call from Laci about something. I don't actually remember the reason why she called me, but I told her I was about to walk into my high school reunion.

...and, yes, I was a little nervous.

As I turned the corner down the stairs, I saw my old classmates. I hung on the phone with Laci a little longer before finally saying goodbye and heading to the sign in table.

I had a few people come up to say hi to me as I was signing in. One was the girl I kinda dated in high school.

After saying a few hello’s, we grabbed some food and sat down as our organizers started the evening off. They started with the general stuff, then passed the microphone around for everyone to say what they have been doing or where they are. Not everyone had to, of course.

When the microphone made it to me, I stood up and said, “Hi. My name is Kara...” and rattled off what line of work I was in now and briefly about what I had been up to lately…and then passed the microphone on.

When I sat down, one of my best friends from high school taps me on the shoulder and says hi. He’s been a lifelong military man since high school…fighting in both Gulf Wars. It was actually a very warm smile. I had previously contacted him a few years ago about my journey, and although he mentioned that it was important for me to do what I needed to do, he also said he didn’t agree with it. But now, that he saw me face to face, things seemed different...as though that fear of the unknown was gone, and, perhaps it was the best thing for me.

The rest of the night was similar. I had two older friends on the wrestling team who both went to state my junior year, their senior year. I saw them at the 10 year reunion and had emailed with one of them a while back. He was fine with it, and mentioned it again at the dinner. Both were still very cool with stuff, and I caught up with their lives. Yeah, they had a lot of stuff going on in high school, and they didn’t follow all of the rules, but deep down they were good guys…and I looked up to them.

...and I still do.

Of course, once the alcohol was flowing, I had more people say hi and be a little more outgoing. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was everyone had seen others come up to me. Who knows? One guy in the organizing committee was one of the first to say hi to me actually mentioned later on that I “seemed to be a very popular girl tonight” and that it was hard to get spare time with me.

OK, yes, I did make it around to say hi to people, but if I didn’t get the warm and fuzzy feeling, I didn’t approach.

And, of course, when I first stepped foot in the bathroom, I was worried. A few women were in there, but things went well, and one woman actually asked me if shopping was more fun now.

“Of course,” I said (but shopping is still a pain…trying to find clothes that fit – with the shoulder, chest size, waist, and boobs to consider).

When all was said and done, I’d say I conversed with probably 90% of the attendees and had a crowd to talk to for most of the night.

I didn’t really have too many questions about transition, and if there were, they weren’t too personal. One person asked if my hair was real, and when I said it was, they seemed to just express a bit of jealousy. Of course, they saw it when it was straight and not with the full curl factor 10.

We had a school tour and picnic the following day, followed by adults-only at a local bar.

Word had made it around to some of the locals about the reunion (apparently some of them either didn’t know about it or didn’t worry about attending), so we had a few new faces the second night. One guy was from a few grades behind me, but looked hella older (which my sister says is from him doing too many drugs). His older brother showed up later (who I knew) and the little brother said things were cool. Well, apparently, the little brother only told him there was a surprise when he got there, so when I introduced myself, he asked, “When did this happen?” I always want to say something like, “yesterday,” but just say “a few years ago.”

Another classmate brought his 22 year old bisexual girlfriend who later came up to me and said there was “going to be a lot of hair pulling, titty squeezing, and ass grabbing.” I asked her to be gentle. She later came through on the ass grabbing during one of the pictures being taken.

Again, with the alcohol flowing, people seemed very friendly. I swear I started getting some mixed signals from some of the guys – but it’s really hard to say. I mean, I seriously wouldn’t expect anyone in my class to hit on me, especially since it is the middle of Oz and a lot of people couldn’t expect to confront that type of security in their sexual orientation in two nights.

Overall, I had a really good time. I even got to spend some time with the family…including dinner out for my birthday. It’s strange still – now that I look back – that I didn’t make a birthday wish. Perhaps I’ll make one tomorrow on my actual birthday, or just be glad that the whole high school reunion thing went so well.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

High School Reunion approaches

I have been looking around on the internet a little about other post-op / post-transition transsexuals that might have attended their high school reunions. Donna Rose has a little bit and I chatted with JoanB a little about her high school reunion a few years ago.

My mom offered to go with me as a chaperon in case anything happens, but I think we’re all adult enough to remain civilized through a night, I hope. We also have at least one classmate that is a cop, so he’ll hopefully be able to keep the peace (if he is there). And, from what I have heard from other cops, they see it all, so nothing should be a shock to him. I also have a few friends from high school that have expressed their support via online conversations...so I tend to feel OK about this coming weekend.

JoanB had some good advice for me over the past few weeks. When I got an email from our reunion organizers about our senior pictures on the name tag, I took her advice and asked that only my name be listed, and not my old picture. I’ve come out to a number of them over the past few years, and I know the reunion committee must know since it was an obvious topic. Also, when I helped track down a few classmates, I came out to them once I found them. Yes, there will obviously be some surprises, but I hope most of them will see how much happier I am now.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

That glimmer in their eye

Every once in a while, I meet a new transgender person that has read my journal or seen my old website. They are usually a friend of a friend of a friend, or so, but when I first meet them, they often have this little glimmer in their eye like, "Hey, I think I've seen you online."

It doesn't happen very often, but it does happen here and there. It's kinda funny, though, watching people try to place where they might have seen me before.

And yet, I know a few people in the area that show up here and there on the internet in all different types of news. Donna Rose and Cecilia Chung are everywhere. So is Mikayla, Aejaie Sellars, and Julia Serano.

The Friday night after the Trans March, I ate dinner with a number of people. As we sat down, one girl in our party points at me and says, "I think I saw your website. It was pretty good."

All I can say is thanks.

Claire mentioned before that her and a number of us all went through transition together, and we have this very close bond because of it. Sure, we run into a lot of others that transitioned either before or after us, but our group was sort of like a group that went through high school together.

I remember when a number of us had our intertwined lives blogged out for everyone to read. Claire, Amber, Anne.

None of them really post anymore, although Anne will throw something up once in a while.

We hung out a lot together.

I kinda miss that. I miss hanging out with my girls.

But we all moved on after high school and college. We found jobs. We found new friends. We found new lives. We found...ourselves.

But we still get together once in a while...like our own little class reunion.

I recently visited a recovering friend at Cocoon. I met Meghan and her close friend, Laci, at the Transgender Leadership Conference earlier this year. Both of them are from Southern California. Of course, I also ran into Charlotte and Carissa at Cocoon, as well. They are the latest class to be going through transition.

With this newer group of transitioners, I see another group of high schoolers filling the hallways. And when I run into them outside of the old school, I kinda feel like that school girl that never moved away.

There were a few others that showed up to see how the latest Dr. O patient was recovering. Charlotte had a few friends in tow and after the exchange of introductions, one of them mentioned he’d read my website before.

The old website was my pet when I was going through transition. I threw my heart into it and had fun putting it together with Dreamweaver and throwing in the little HTML that I knew. When transition no longer became my focus, I moved on to blogspot when I was able to emerge from my hibernation and finally explore the world as me.

Ironically, I ran into Kris Davidson on a flight back to San Francisco earlier this year. She was a photographer I ran across many years ago on craigslist that was looking to do a project on transgender people. When I saw her in the baggage claim area, I said hi. She said she saw me before we boarded and that she knew me from somewhere, but that she couldn’t quite place me (since I had since had FFS). We chatted briefly before each of us headed our own way.

I don’t remember exactly how I pulled up her pictures recently, but I ran across Kris Davidson’s flickr spread. She took a number of photos during my transition at a few different events. I won’t post the pictures here since she is an artist and has the copyright on them, but the links are posted below. I actually hadn’t seen any of them up until now, but wow, they bring back a lot of memories. All of these were prior to my going full time, so I still looked very male...and very awkward, but, they are, in essence, pictures from my high school yearbook.

Kris Davidson photos:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisdavidson/511379405/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisdavidson/508901610/

Monday, June 30, 2008

Rainbows abound

Twas the gay time of the year, and all of the big hairy guys were dressed in their finest emperor's magic robe.

Yup, it was Pride 2008 in San Francisco.

As usual, it started off with the Trans March Friday night. (Actually, I guess it kinda kicks off with the Frameline films that start prior to Pride Weekend.) I saw that Donna Rose was flying in to address the marchers (as well as talk at a number of other places on Friday). I sent her an email to give her a heads up on what she might expect in San Francisco as opposed to other areas of the US. From what I have seen, San Francisco has a very large genderqueer population, that is especially present at the Trans March. I told her it was kinda “gritty-hip”...in such a way that some of it can be in your face. She called me Thursday night and we chatted a bit, and walked along a little during the march. She was an extremely busy woman out here, though, so we only spoke briefly. She’s very good at taking in the grander picture, though, as you can see in her blog entry and amount of pictures. Perhaps it’s harder to appreciate what San Francisco has with Pride when you actually live here and see it all of the time.

The Dyke March was Saturday afternoon. While two of my good friends were discussing the future of their relationship, I hung out with the girl I went out with a few times late last year. I recognized one girl in the march, but couldn't quite place her. She saw me, as well, and started walking over. She was in the La Cage play that we did 5 years ago...AND she recognized me.

She said I didn’t look that different, and I guess she did see me in a few girl modes about 6 months before I went full time. I have to admit, though, I was very surprised that she recognized me. When you pay a guy $40,000 to look different, dammit, people shouldn’t recognize you. (Picture from pre-transition)

Sunday was the parade, and I have to say that I am kinda burned out on the parade, so I just chill in the booth crowds. A number of my lesbian friends rode their bikes with the Dykes on Bikes portion of the parade, so I caught up with them once they were finished riding. What do you think...could I be a dyke on a bike? I teased my friends and asked if people volunteered to ride “bitch” during the parade. I said I might try it next year.

I ended up working the TGSF margarita booth for a portion of the busy time of the day. My knee and feet were toast by the end of the weekend, though, so I headed home around 4pm. Overall, it was a nice, but busy, weekend.

Another good thing about the weekend was the trans-presence. The Trans March continues to be well attended. Mikayla Connell and Cecilia Chung have been very instrumental in current and previous SF Pride planning. TGSF and the Lou Sullivan Society (formerly FTMI) have had a margarita booth together for the past 2 years. And, of course, Donna Rose attended.

To have Donna Rose out here was awesome. To me, she has become the face of a united ENDA. When HRC went back on their word to make ENDA all inclusive, she quit the HRC board. There has been a lot of pressure put on HRC to get back on track, especially since they knew that the bill wouldn’t be signed by George Bush. It was the act of staying together...being united...that would have shown the validity of keeping the gender identity part in ENDA. I still have to admit I’m surprised at how many organizations didn’t fold like HRC, and even more surprised at the continual support for keeping it an inclusive ENDA.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My, what big hands you have

Over the past few months, I've noticed a few comments that make me want to go, "Well, duh, that's what happens when you're born male."

My teammate: "Your shoes look huge from up here."

Another: "You have pretty big feet."

Yet another teammate: "You have large hands."

...and last night's comment, "You have really wide fingernails."

"Yes I do.”

“I have big hands,” says my teammate as she holds her hand up to mine.

“So do I.”

We have the same size hands... and she’s the same height as me.

Interesting.

So, yeah, my typical response has become, “Yes I do.” I’ve come to learn that denying something that is actually true just makes it that more obvious that I’m trying to hide something. Thus, now it's more an agreement that I do have large feet, or large hands, or wide fingernails, or large shoulders, or big arms, or buff legs...because, well...I do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rush Hour 3

I was catching up on my Netflix list, lately, and had Rush Hour 3 at home. I will admit that I enjoyed the first two movies...they were entertaining. Yes, I was able to understand the words coming out of his mouth.

The movie was cruising along decently (I already had a few of the plots already figured out) until the main female character reveals her bald head underneath a wig. Chris Tucker’s character unfortunately then goes into this big gay-panic/transphobic rant about whether or not she is a man and has a package. While Jackie Chan’s character tells him she is a woman, Chris Tucker’s character continues to dance around as though his manhood is on the line. It was a total overreaction, but I guess they needed that to create what they hoped would be a humorous scene.

It’s too bad they couldn’t just have Jackie tell him that he’d still “jump her bones” even if she were a man because she was that hot, or have Chris say that it didn’t matter because she was all woman to him.

Anyway, it was mildly entertaining but gets a negative score for the transphobia scene and no counter-response.

Friday, June 20, 2008

2 hours after the 2 hour phone call

I was supposed to hang out with some friends in the afternoon / early evening at one of the local Gay Pride month activities this past Sunday. I was going to leave around the same time that I had my 2 hour phone conversation, so I arrived a little late.

We hung out a little longer. To be honest, it was both a long and short weekend...and I was mentally tired as our sports season drew to a close. OK, yes, I still have a very weak MCL, but I was able to get into the game in a consolation manner.

It's strange, every time I am not really looking for any type of romance it seems to hit.

The first was a cute woman. Her baggett (my term for a male fag hag or dyke tyke) whispered in my ear that she thought I was cute.

We ended up chatting for a while, but I just wasn't in dating mode at all. I just wanted to veg, and I guess that just didn't come off the right way. She had to leave shortly after then, and I probably should have given her my number. I know...stupid Kara.

After I found my friends, and we stood around there chatting, one of my friends whispered in my ear that some dude had been staring at me for like 10 minutes straight.

Sigh.

He finally approaches, and well, "he" was actually a she. By every indication, she needs to just accept transition and start living as a guy. Or, well, I dunno...she just came across as very masculine in a feminine way...which was kinda...meh, I don't know...but she just wasn't my type.

I dunno, I guess I'm just not really into super-masculine women that look like guys. Sure, if I met a nice FTM, I'd totally date them...but I dunno, dating an FTM is dating a guy...not a masculine woman.

Anyway, the hard part was trying to ditch her in nice way, which turned out to be harder than I thought it would be.

When I said something along the lines of hanging out with my lesbian friends and that I wasn't a lesbian, I probably should have just kept my mouth shut instead of telling her I was queer. My friends finally decided to head out and I left with them, without giving out my number when requested. Plus, she was more than an hour away, and that would not have been fun to deal with.

Right before lunch today, I got an email from a guy here at work who I had chatted with in the breakroom when I had my puppy...I mean, leg brace on. He was curious about my sports activities and asked me to lunch. So, after a few quick IM's to my consultant crew, I was off to have a very innocent lunch with a guy here at work.

We chatted for a while. He's actually from a place in Oz near where I went to high school. He even knew the name of the college I went to. I kept it pretty innocent, though, only talking about generic work stuff and personal history and sports. No T stuff and no personal dating stuff...like being queer or anything.

It was just an innocent lunch.

Yes, I will be worried if he takes it outside of work because I don't think he knows my history since he has only been here a year. I just don't want any of this to affect him working here...such that he might get all freaked out about the T stuff and leave or something.

Sigh.

Anyway, I've probably shot down 3 people this week. Hey, well, at least I found something I'm getting good at.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

2 hour phone call

(The following entries were delayed until Jodie and Julie finished their SRS trip.)

Two of my good friends, Jodie and Julie, had SRS earlier this week. I talked to one of them for 2 hours Sunday night...the night before her surgery.

She had a lot of last minute concerns. Unfortunately, I think a number of us try to keep these concerns out of our mind for a variety of reasons...to lessen the worrying, to keep the invalidating thoughts out of our mind, or because those thoughts simply weren't there until the reality of SRS finally hit.

I know I tried to stay busy...to keep my mind occupied with other stuff...in the few weeks before SRS. I also dwelt on the whole aspect of the surgery...the pluses and minuses of having SRS performed.

Some of Jodie's concerns dealt with her being an only child and no longer being able to bear children. She doesn't like girls, so, really, it would have been a difficult process anyway to meet a guy that would use Jodie's sperm instead of his in order to have children, let alone then find and pay for a surrogate mother.

Perhaps one of the hard parts of questioning things before any portion of transition is does that questioning actually imply non-validation. In fact, I think questioning each step ensures that you are making the right step...that you have weighed in on the consequences of transition.

I think she was also dealing with facing the final act, in a sense. It's sorta like a waterfall...you work your way up to this point in the river and then face an enormous drop-off. There's no going back, but there is a river ahead that can still be traveled.

Friday, June 06, 2008

20 years

I had my first high school reunion dream this past week. Yup, my 20 year high school reunion is coming up next month. Since transitioning, I've only run into one of my classmates...and that's because he was building my parents new home.

I've chatted with a few of them via email or IM, so most of them already know...well, those that stay in the loop on our alumni website are in the know, at least.

In my dream, though, I had 2 male classmates that were being semi-obnoxious about my situation. Sigh...hopefully none of that stuff happens at the actual reunion. Of course, I have no idea how any of them will react. Sure, there will likely be the wow-factor, but the worst part for me would likely be the damn pronoun stuff.

Believe it or not, I have one guy at work that is still using the damn male pronouns. He left a message on my phone the other day that ended with "Thanks, guy." I'm really getting annoyed whenever he does pop those into the conversation or meeting. They're small things, but still, it would be nice not having to deal with it. I don't want to blow it out of proportion by going to his boss or anything, but it would be nice if he would either use female pronouns, or just call me Kara instead of using pronouns. If he continues, I'll either have to send him a note or talk with his boss about it. I'm trying not to make a big deal about it, though, because I don't want it to be an issue in the work place. Fortunately, I don't have to deal with him on a regular basis.

Better than a puppy

OK, not really, but it's almost like having a puppy.

The first week that I wore that annoying knee immobilizer, I had a ton of people start casual conversations with me. Even after I moved away from it and on to my current knee brace (which is wearable underneath most of my clothes), people still chat me up about the knee and how I'm walking much better or much faster now.

The knee is getting better. I'd say I'm at 80%. There is no pain except when moving the knee in the wrong direction. Of course, that's been the case most of this entire time. It's still sore if I squat all of the way down and sometimes when I fully straighten the leg.

My physical therapist is this cute little lesbian with short hair. Why do they always have short hair? Bah!!! My orthopedic doctor is this really tall handsome dude. He's a cyclist and triathlete, and has obviously played a number of sports in his life. I was lucky to get him for my doctor as he seemed very knowledgeable about sports injuries AND he had worked with a number of female sports teams in the past...and he was super cute. I have follow up appointments with both of them, of course.

Monday, May 19, 2008

What happened to you?

The question of the day is brought to you by Motrin.

This was my view for a bit of today. As you can see, my knee is elevated and immobilized in the immobilizer.

"So, what happened to you?"

It was a common question, and I almost got tired of answering it, but when people see you hobbling around in this big contraption, they get really, really curious.

I am the Immobilizer. Resistance is futile. You will be immobilized!!!

Well, we had our first game of the season on Saturday, and unfortunately, my knee did something it wasn't supposed to do about a minute in. Yeah, just one minute into the fresh season, and I'm down for the count. KO. Call Mike Tyson, we have a new record...just don't let him bite my ear off.

By mid-day, I could see the questions coming about a mile ahead of time. I joked with one guy that I was going to start telling people I had wrestled with a lion (which was true in a sense), and if they thought I was in bad shape, they should check out the lion. Actually, the mascot of the team we played was a lion, so, in essence, I did tangle with a big cat.

At least I had a few people that were quite original with their comments.

"That looks like it hurts."

"Ouch."

"You look really casual today."

"You're getting too old to do that stuff."

Yeah, I know...I'm getting old. The body definitely can't do stuff it used to do, but I sure hope it can recover fairly soon. The ER doctor diagnosed me with a strained MCL yesterday morning. I'm headed to the orthopedics tomorrow for them to further evaluate me. The ER doctor said it was difficult to get a full prognosis with the pain I was still experiencing, but he didn't see too much give in one knee compared to the other. I guess I'll see how tomorrow goes, and hope it is just a strain. Either way, from what I saw online, surgery is usually not needed to repair an MCL.