Monday, May 31, 2004

Flying Home from GP Weekend

Pulled from my written journal

I’m on a plane back to San Francisco now, thus indicating an end to our GP weekend. It was an enjoyable weekend hanging out with everyone, even considering it rained a significant portion of it. I guess I am also very lucky to be in the situation I am in. I’ve been able to personally meet a large number of other T’s around my age via GP, probably doubling the number of Gen Xers I know here in the Bay Area. I’m lucky that we can sit around and talk about a lot of stuff and not have to worry about rejection since we all understand what one another is going through. A lot of the girls that came to Chicago for the GP weekend don’t really have any T friends around their age to hang out with, nor many T friends going through some of the same parts of their journey. I got a lot of big hugs when I said my good-byes last night and this morning. I know quite a few people that had a wonderful time being able to discuss a lot of different issues and see a lot of successful people that have transitioned. Even myself, I was able to talk to Laura about her SRS and how things went for her. She’s an incredibly smart and funny woman, even if I did pick on her a little about a few funny instances.

Like I said, I was able to get to know some of the girls a little better. Quiet Meg finally started opening up to us by Saturday night. She’d never really applied any makeup and was interested in having us show her a few things about applying it. Jaded and Becca figured they would watch as well, whenever Laura and I got around to doing the mini-makeover, that is. Sunday afternoon, we decided to get out when the weather finally decided to cooperate with us. I also told a lot of them that I wanted to get my ears pierced in Chicago since I was past my 3 months of FFS. We walked along the Magnificent Mile and finally found a Claire’s in the Water Tower Place. Becca said she wanted to get her ears pierced as well, so she followed me in the ear piercing ritual. (Note: I do not recommend anyone that is not full time getting their ears pierced simply because they don’t want to give anyone any clues in their transition.) A very kind girl name Romi had me select my earrings and fill out the necessary paperwork. I selected the July birthstone, Ruby, for my studs to be worn continuously for the first 6 weeks. She marked the spots on my ears and had everyone else make sure they were even. She inserted the studs into the device, placed it on my ears, then squeezed as the stud pin ripped through my ear lob and through to the other side. Sure, it hurt a bit, but it was easily tolerable. If electrolysis pain right under the nose is a 10, then this was a 1. Becca followed with silver ball studs.

After finally being pierced, we went downstairs to Marshall Field’s to find some decent makeup for Meg. We helped her pick out some good liquid foundation and powder at Prescriptives. They do a pretty good job of color matching and they were very helpful in matching colors for her even though she was in boy mode. We had a little help at MAC finding her lipstick and a liner pencil, then picked up some of the cheap necessary basics at Walgreens on the way back to the hotel. (By the way, we had excellent service and a wonderful stay at Hotel Allegro in downtown Chicago.) We set her up with some brushes, blush, eye liner pencil, and eye shadows. After eating out with Makenna, Laura, Becca, and Meg at a pretty decent Thai restaurant, we had Meg’s little makeover. She turned out pretty decent, but I think she might have been a little disappointed that she didn’t look more feminine. She has some great features to work with including some great hair. She just needs to take care of some electro mainly on the upper lip. That will help her out the most in the short term. After her makeover, she headed home since she had to work today. The rest of us tried to manage a night out, but it didn’t go quite as planned. Anyway, we still went to bed pretty late (2:30am) with Laura setting her alarm to go off at 4:30am. Youch! That was pretty early this morning. An hour later, I was saying my good-byes to Laura. We had a wonderful time this weekend and got along really well. It was hard to say good-bye. Becca, who crashed in our room, and I got up around 10 to start getting ready. We grabbed a fast breakfast/lunch nearby at a Dunkin Donuts combo place, then said good-bye to the rest of the group. After finishing up my makeup, I checked out then said my good-byes to Becca. I walked half a block north toward the Blue Line back to O’Hare and looked back at Becca who’d walked a half block south to the parking garage that held her car. My weekend was ending – my trip to Chicago was basically over. My own sadness crept over me and I began to tear up. I hate to say good-bye. Suddenly, my phone rang. It was Becca. The garage her car was in was closed and they wouldn’t be open until tomorrow. Crap. She told me to get going to make my flight, but I told her to give Nova and Juri a call to see if they could help. Nova and Juri are two girls living together in a great relationship in Missouri. They met just over a year ago and seem to have found their love in one another. I sorta envy their relationship and hope one day I find a person to share my life with – T or not. I talked with Juri a bit last night and realized both of us grew up near one another. She had her SRS after waiting about 8 years between full time and having the surgery. I don’t know how she was able to manage so long as a pre-op, but the nice thing about waiting was that she met Nova when she was having her SRS. Anyway, Becca called me as I was checking in my luggage to tell me she’d been able to get her car out with Nova and Juri’s help, which I was happy to hear.

For the Chicago trip, I took along my little book of pictures that shows the journey of the girl and the disappearing journey of the boy. Things started out pretty ugly on the girl side, and it took me quite a while before things started to look decent. I took the pictures along because some of the girls are just starting and they might get intimidated by some of us who are full time. I can remember the beginning of my journey and thinking I could never get to where I am now. But I have, and I still have a little ways to go.

One funny thing that a few of us mentioned was the way we came across on our GP forum postings and the way we appeared in real life. Someone noted that Makenna came across just like her posts, and I had to agree. She was very bubbly and energetic. In fact, most people came across very similar to the way they post on-line. Laura told me I came off a lot different than the way I posted in that I wasn’t as serious as she thought I’d be. She said she’d noticed that I did joke around a bit, but didn’t realize I was that much of a goofball. Yep, I’m a goofball. I like being able to laugh about a lot of different things.

Juri also said I seemed more laid back than my postings. Hmmm….I wonder if I come across too serious sometimes. Perhaps I do on that forum, but I intentionally hold myself back sometimes so I don’t clutter it with useless comedic banter.

To close off this entry, I was finding my way from the Blue Line train to the terminals to check in at O’Hare. On the last escalator up to the check in, I noticed a sign at the very top that simply said “Up” with an arrow above it. As I rode the escalator up, I thought, “Duh. Who would post such a stupid sign like that?” But then I realized that the sign wasn’t for those riding the escalator, it was for those already on that level.

There’s a sign at the top of the escalator I’m riding now. It’s for those that have made it to the top of that last escalator, whatever it may be for each of us. It’s also there for those that are riding all of the other escalators it takes to get there. That sign says “LIVE” and there are an endless amount of gates to depart from to a place called “the rest of my life.” Pssst…pass it on.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

GenderPeace'n out in Chicago

Pulled from the pages of my written journal

Actually, it’s early into Sunday morning, but I’ll keep this entry on Saturday. I’ve spent the past day with some of the girls off of GenderPeace; well, the ones that were able to make it. I wish we could all gather in one location just to be able to say hi in person, but we all have financial or other constraints that prevent us from traveling around the world.

After arriving at O’Hare yesterday afternoon, I rode the Blue Line to downtown, where our hotel was located. It’s too bad more cities don’t have mass transit like this.

Anyway, I met Becca downstairs and we kinda just sat around until more people showed up. A lot of us eventually ended up in Nova and Juri’s suite. We then went for some deep dish pizza down the street. Ya gotta eat deep dish while in Chicago, right?

Let’s see, I’ve met a ton of people: Becca, Laura, Makenna, Juri, Nova, Meg, Jessica, Crista & Beth, Sarah (who is the only person I’d actually met before), Jaded, Jade, Taylor, Rebecca, Jennifer, Tina, Artemisia, Shoshanna, and Amy from AmyNews.

This morning, I was off for a run in the drizzle. I ran along Wacker Drive (what a name, huh?) to the lakefront. I ran along there for a while before turning back right past the fountain that’s in the intro to the Married with Children TV show. There was a Memorial Day Parade downtown, so there were a number of buses with military personnel in them. During my entire run, I never had any whistles, cat calls, or heckling. Either they were very well behaved, or I did not come across as distinctly female. Catching glimpses of myself in the passing windows, I think it’s the latter.

Because of the drizzle, we moved our scheduled picnic inside. Three of us walked down to McDonalds to grab some burgers to eat with the rest of the food that Artemisia brought along since we obviously weren't about to barbeque inside.

Tonight, we were off to the Blue Man Group. We rode the Red Line up there and caught a fairly entertaining show. We ate dinner afterward, and then caught an amateur drag show before heading back to the hotel.

Me and a Blue Man

Oh yeah, circus girl - Jayne - made it in midday today. She showed us some of her handstand and juggling skills. We actually did a little juggling together where she would steal the balls from me, then I would steal them back. I’m a total amateur juggler, but I do OK considering I don’t really juggle much. She’s quite skilled. Tonight, she was doing her pole hanging trick.

Most of us are full time, but there are a few that are on their way. It’s sorta strange looking back at where they are and when I was at a similar stage. As Laura said, “our journeys are the same, but yet they are so different.”

Friday, May 28, 2004

To stand or not to stand

Pulled from the pages of my written journal

Last week, I had a rug thrown over my head. Well, I thought I did. Amber and I were with Claire in the city and headed to dinner. As we stepped out of Amber’s car, Claire hears some of her coworkers yell her name from across the street. Claire asked us to hold on for a minute before crossing the street to the restaurant so we didn’t have to deal with them. At first I thought Claire didn’t want to be seen with us since her coworkers don’t know that she’s T, but she says it’s because one of the guys is a dickhead. Either way, it made me wonder about the decision to be functionally stealth – where no one basically knows. I left one closet, why go back into another? But if you think about it, it’s not a new closet, but a new world. It made me think, “Do I really want to be labeled a T all of my life? Does it matter what others think of me as long as I am treated equal and respected as a person? Can I ‘disappear?’ Do I want to ‘disappear’?”

I mean, right now, obviously all of my friends and coworkers know about my journey because....well.....I did it right in front of their faces. Will I always be the boy who became a “girl?” Will they always see that remnant of who I used to be to them? Will I always be the boy in a dress? Where do I go? What do I do? Is it important for me that my friends not know my past so that it doesn’t influence what they say and do around me? Does it matter? At this point in my life, I really don’t care, as long as I’m not disrespected.

So, anyway, I’m on another flight – this one to Chicago. It’s a small vacation to hang out with some friends from this one Generation X and Y TS forum.

I just finished watching the in-flight movie, Welcome to Mooseport. It was a cute little movie, and one of the friendlier movies that Gene Hackman has been in for a while. After the movie, I had to go. They had three or four movies on this flight, and at least three of them all finished about the same time. With that unfortunate timing, there was a line for the lavatories. Once into the lavatory, I did the usual wipe-down of the seat, and there was a bit of yuckiness in the back. OK, so when I run into not so clean single stall bathrooms, the debate then becomes whether or not to stand. I mean, I still have about 8+ months that it will still be there – why not use it? The bad part, though, is that the person after me could think that I was the one that left the messy seat. So, yes, I stood in the lavatory. Hey, it’s one of the perks for now, OK? When I’m at home, I usually sit, unless I’m in a rush of some sort. I’ve found, though, that it’s easier to get a more comfortable tuck from the sitting position. OK, so when I am in a public restroom, though, I always sit, no matter what. But if it’s a gross seat in a private setting, I’ll definitely reserve the right to stand. Well, for a little while longer, that is.

A T friend has been discussing a little more of her upcoming SRS journey lately. It makes me ponder my own journey set for early next year. I try to imagine things after surgery to get an idea about how I will react, feel, think, live, breath, and be. How will I be? I know pants and underwear will fit a lot better. Yeah, I can still laugh about it, but at this time, it’s still hard to imagine actually being post-op. I’m going with my friend to help take care of her, as well as to hang out and keep her company. I asked her how she felt about all of it as we drove into the city last week. She said she hadn’t really thought about it, that is, until I asked her. For me, SRS is the only option to a fulfilling life. It’s too hard tucking all of the time. It’s also hard to be in a relationship with it. Yeah, I’m sure “chasers” and a few “lesbians” might like it, but it’s still not me, and it's a huge part of the GID. Plus, I’ll be able to stop taking the spironolactone at that time since there won’t be a need to block the testosterone anymore once the testes are gone. The bad part about all of this, though, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, is that it just becomes a vaginal opening. There’s no uterus, no ovaries, no tubes, - no girl - just an inverted boy part. Some girl, huh? Well, I’d rather be an inverted sorta-girl than have Junior. Since I still like girls a little more than boys, though, holding on to Junior is the only benefit in that case. But in the end, having SRS is the only way at getting rid of more of the GID.

It’s funny, but when I see myself in the mirror now, I’m much happier. It’s only been basically three months in a decent presentation, but in that short time I’ve reached an incredible peace with myself. The GID isn’t as “bang-bang-in-your-face” anymore. What’s even more amazing is looking back at old pictures. Yeah, that was my external appearance at the time, but, wow, I can’t imagine going back. I fit back into society now, I just want to fit back into having a life.

OK, well, we’re getting close to landing. It’s sort of a homecoming being back in the Midwest, but of course, I don’t know if the Midwest will ever be my home again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Three month-ish post-op FFS

A week ago today I was three months post-op FFS. So, here’s my report, albeit a little late.

The top of my head is still a bit numb, but I have about 20-30% feeling in the front along the hairline, fading to about zero percent feeling on the very top of my head. The bad part is that it itches itches itches….bad bad bad. The good part about the bad part is that I can feel most of what I’m itching, so it feels good to itch it. The hair is also growing out of the incision along the hair line, with the average length of the hairs being just under an inch (about 2cm).

The nose is still a bit stiff, but I can move it side to side a bit. The swelling in it continues to go down, except you can now see the one larger bump on the upper part of my nose. I can live with it, but it would have been nice if my nose ended up straight. It’s still going to have that loopy look to it.

The incision inside my mouth is still a bit stiff, but it’s loosening a little each day. The jaw and chin are still a bit lumpy, and sore to a firm touch in some areas. The trachea shave scar is still lumpy as well, including some of the tissue down along the route he had to move in order to shave the Adam’s Apple.

I have my three-month check up with Dr. O next week, so I’m supposed to pick up the particulars on everything he did to my face, as well as have him look at the overall recovery. He only gets to do this with the local girls since most everyone else lives too far away to travel here for just a check up. I think they really enjoy being able to see the results.

Oh yeah, I can sorta get my finger up into my nose now...not that anyone really wanted to know that. Fortunately and unfortunately, I have had a very runny nose the past couple of weeks…ever since the trip to Arizona. I haven’t really had to clean out any solid boogers, instead, I’ve had to blow my nose every couple of hours. My nose still starts running as soon as I hit any cool air. That part of it is really annoying, especially when I am caught without a tissue.

Moving from boogies to boobies, my breasts have been a bit tender lately. Hopefully that is a good indication they are growing again. I hope so.

Monday, May 24, 2004

To be or not to be

This past weekend was kind of a blur…2 hours of genital electro, comfort food, put my door back together, took a nap, then drove into the city to party with Delilah, Brandon, Sam, and a few other people. We had an awesome dinner at AsiaSF, then danced downstairs after the girls finished strutting their stuff along the bar upstairs. They have some incredible T waitresses there, most of which could move away from SF and totally disappear into the woodwork. Some of them could almost be models.

In an IM tonite, I was talking with another T about the “pill question.” I have asked several friends if they would take a pill that took away the GID and made them normal guys. Many T’s say no, but there are some that will truthfully answer that they would consider taking it just so that they could live a normal life even knowing that the person they become might not be the person that they currently are. I, myself, would seriously have considered taking such a pill before FFS, but since no such pill exists, I didn’t. If however, there were a pill that made you a genetic girl, I would have taken it long ago. In my discussion with the other T, though, I realized that I wouldn’t know if I would be the same person if I became a genetic girl or not. How could I be so blind to willingly debate getting rid of the GID and being a man, yet foolishly rush into being a GG who may or may not still be me. What makes one choice make me know I wouldn’t be me, and the other I would be? Anyway, it’s not something I can fully answer at this time, but the best answer I can think of is that inside I know I am a girl, and would do anything to fix the outside.

I read an email today from Chris Daley at the Transgender Law Center who said that Gwen Araujo’s mom, Sylvia Guerrero, has petitioned the state to change her transgender daughter’s name from Eddie to Gwen. She’s due to see the California Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon. Ugghhh…perhaps this will finally get the news anchors to start calling her Gwen.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Athletic Performance

Yesterday morning, Blonde Rachel calls me up to see if I am interested in doing an interview with NBC Channel 11. They called her, but she’s just started dating this guy and doesn’t really want to risk outing herself at this point. Anyway, the subject of the interview concerned the International Olympics Committee decision to allow transsexuals to compete as their new gender following SRS and two years of HRT.

So, Christien Kafton calls me up and we set up an interview around the lunch hour. I was able to talk them into filming slightly off our work campus so as not to garnish a large amount of attention, but with a TV van in the central campus on the lunch hour, plenty of people still saw it. Anyway, Christien was quite the gentleman, as well as quite handsome. We had a good little interview where we talked about what hormones do over time, my decrease in athletic performance because of the hormone's effects, and how this gives everyone the chance to reach for their dreams. He compared it to the same equality of gay marriages. Luckily for us, though, the IOC is a little more understanding than the rest of the homophobic religiously-influenced US of A.

After we wrapped up the interview he told me it would be on at 6pm. So, yeah, I taped it later that evening. I was on for about 5-10 seconds as I told him how my performances have gotten worse since being on HRT. He also had some female joggers discussing their opinions…some for, some against. I can see their point, but with enough scientific evidence, one can see just how even the playing field is. The only problem I see is with MTF’s that are super tall. I have no idea how the IOC is going to handle that one.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Something to laugh about

Today was my appointment to have the Hylaform Gel injected into my nasolabial folds (laugh lines). The plastic surgeon injected something into my cheeks to numb my upper lip area, and then he began injecting the gel. It’s a clear gel containing a purified form of hyaluronic acid, a naturally occurring sugar. It’s naturally found in the skin, cartilage, joints, and eyes of humans. In its natural state, it fills the space between collagen and elastin fibers, delivers nutrients, hydrates the skin by holding in water, and acts as a cushioning agent. In my case, though, he injected the gel just below the surface of the skin to temporarily add volume, thus filling the lines from inside out. I think the numbing shots were the worst part of the entire event, and I was numb for about an hour…and almost wishing I had my electrologist around. Afterward, I was a bit red, but only a touch swollen. Tonight, I can see the tiny areas where he injected the gel with the needle, but otherwise it looks great. I mean, I can still see the laugh lines, but they are far less prominent. From what I could tell, no one noticed the effects from the injected filler all day long. This material is only supposed to last about 12 weeks or so, but they have other options which last a lot longer, but are obviously a bit more expensive. In the long run, though, they are more cost effective for the time period. At this time, I will definitely consider the longer lasting ones.

I attended a meeting late this afternoon and had two people I’d known before FFS come up and introduce themselves to me. Neither of them recognized me. It’s kinda weird having people not know who you are when you know them. I could almost be pretty evil with it, but I’m not…or maybe I’ll save it for the right victim. Muahahaha…. Dangit, Amber is rubbing off on me. Or perhaps, I should stop telling people when they do that to me and just introduce myself to them as Kara. Some might never realize that the "boy" isn't there anymore.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Can I get a hall pass?

On Friday, I left work a bit early to visit E again at Cocoon. I was only able to chat with her briefly, but we chatted about what to expect during her recovery. I also asked her about her transition. We were the first transsexuals she had ever met. She’s in high school right now, and living full time in stealth. She was able to do that by switching schools. She plans her SRS just a month or two before me…all of that before she even turns 18. Lucky girl. Nice parents, too.

This morning, I spent 3 hours getting my brakes changed. It was my first time to an auto shop since going full time. Although it took quite a while, I was actually treated pretty good. I also spent a few hours at work tonight to make up for skipping out a bit early on Friday.

Speaking of my car, I took the door apart and pulled out my broken door handle. I called the parts department at the dealership and they wanted nearly $100 for it. I found it online for about $40, but I still need to order it. Because there weren’t that many made over the years, it’s difficult finding them in the area junkyards. I also asked the parts guy about a sun visor clip and he quoted me $10 for a $0.20 piece of plastic. Insane. My zapper was able to put the broken handle back together, but it’s usually pretty hard to keep plastic together once it’s broken. I might try it for a while just to see how it does.

The boy who was a girl who was a boy

This past week, David Reimer died. He actually took his own life. As a baby, his circumcision went horribly wrong, and the doctors recommended to his parents that they should raise him as a girl. This case received a lot of attention because David had a twin brother. This gave some psychologists the chance to study gender identity of a person born a boy but raised a girl, with a control sample in his twin brother. Early on, David felt uncomfortable as a girl and had difficulty when his body started developing along female lines under the influence of prescribed female hormones. Later on, he was told the truth and transitioned back to living as a man. He married and had stepchildren, but his life was still very difficult. His twin brother ended up killing himself a few years back, with David taking his life this past week. It goes to show that we know who we are at an early age, and even though we may be raised as one gender, our brain is the one that ultimately knows who we are.

On another morbid note, I watched the Nicholas Berg video this past week. I shouldn’t have. It was gruesome. This war is such a mess, and the way the administration is handling it is horrible. Many people, including myself, knew that going into Iraq was not worth the trouble, and that there would be nothing but death on both sides. The US has lost so much dignity in the eyes of the world’s nations with this latest prison scandal, and about the only way to salvage anything out of this is to elect anyone other than George Bush and his cronies. Who knows if that will happen or not, but for the world’s sake, I hope he is not back for another 4 years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Not a Good Day

Well, it’s not a bad day, but definitely not a good day. I woke up this morning after dreaming that I was back in my grandparent's house they had when I was a kid, and I was a kid again back in the 80’s. I was talking to my grandfather who died in the mid 80’s. I think I told him about who I was and what was going to happen to him over the next few years. We talked about some other stuff, but I can’t remember exactly what.

The reason I bring this up is that my grandfather made a very unusual comment when I was a kid. My mom and I were talking on the stairs in their house back in the mid 80’s, and my grandfather took a picture of the two of us there. He said we looked like twins. I wondered if he saw any inclination of who I was, but probably he was just making an innocent comment. Either way, I will always remember that moment.

I felt blah at work again today. I’ve been feeling tired, probably from too little sleep and the lingering cold I picked up from the hot/cold situations in San Antonio and Arizona.

I decided to visit the Cocoon House again and say hello to some of the visiting girls. S and P were still there, along with C this time, but all three were without the nose packing. We also visited with E who was so young and small. She was my height and so thin and petite. I’m extremely jealous, but I’m also happy that she is able to live her life from such a young age. I guess 16 extra years of testosterone has just caused my muscles to not give up. I doubt they will ever go away. I also think that the spiro isn’t working as well as it used to because it feels like the testosterone is flowing through my veins in a significant amount again. I don’t know what it is, but it is just this totally blah feeling.

Now usually I only like to write about my own experiences in here. I like to keep this journal as truthful and comprehensive as I can, but I don’t like talking about those that might get upset about the comments I might make.

So, Claire and I went to dinner. We argued. We talked. We disagreed. We agreed. She’s going through some tough times, and I wanted her to know that she’s still a dear friend of mine and I’m going to give it to her as honestly as I can. Transition is hard. It takes everything out of you, and more. It’s so hard focusing on the everyday stuff when GID is ping-ponging around in your brain. I know.

After dropping her off, I drove home. As I was getting out of my car and checking the mail, my handle to the driver’s side door breaks. So now it just flops there and I can’t open the door on that side. That means I need to either take it to the dealer, a shop, or buy the parts at the dealer and do it myself or have a shop do it. I also need to have my front brakes replaced and the transmission fluid changed sometime soon. My car is now 9 years old. I was hoping she would make it a few more years, but I can tell that she is starting to wear out. Hopefully, though, she’ll still be able to provide a few more years of service with the proper maintenance.

Hopefully tomorrow is better.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Junk Mail

Yeah, I received junk mail this past weekend that was addressed to Kara. They already found me. It was a J. Crew catalog, even though I don’t usually receive one, and I haven’t even finished changing everything over to my new name.

I was in to see my therapist today. First, I have to say that I have been feeling tired the past few days. It could be that I put in two decent runs this weekend and didn’t get enough sleep last night, or it could just be transition stuff wearing me down. Most likely it’s not getting enough sleep.

Anyway, we chatted about my trip to see Dr. Meltzer. I asked her about my concern over becoming a surgery junkie with FFS and the laugh line reduction. She gave me one of her good answers as usual, basically saying it’s OK to do what you need to do as long as you understand why you are doing it, and not just doing it to do it. At least that’s what I got out of it. I also told her I was very happy with my FFS results, even though I realized I wasn’t super pretty, although I do look feminine.

We also talked about the best response for people who still slip up on my name. For instance, this morning, Mike says, “Hey K…, blah blah blah?” I kinda jokingly respond, “It’s KARA!” I hear him say, “Oh yeah.” Anyway, she said to definitely keep it in a kind or humorous manner, and to not make too much of a deal about it.

I went over my philosophy of the previous interviews for my new manager, and she suggested I should have said that there was someone who was transgender in the office, instead of telling them I was TS, and see how they responded to that. Good advice.

We then skipped into my policy of basically being up front with people about my TS situation. I told her I was OK hanging out with T friends and non-T friends, as well as people who didn’t know I was TS. The way I figure it, if someone is going to have trouble with me then I don’t want to be around them anyway. She also suggested, though, that in the future if I meet someone, perhaps it might not be best to tell them right away, but let them get to know me as a normal girl before they know the past. Again, good advice.

I also told her about a little incidence this past weekend. After electro on Saturday, I decided to do a little shopping. I wasn’t wearing any makeup and was slightly swollen from electro. When I was trying some stuff on in the dressing room of a women’s clothing store, I heard the attendant say to someone else, “she, he, or whatever,” likely referring to me. My therapist said that people have the ability to be very caring, but they also have the ability to be very cruel. I think I talked about it before, where we get pissed at drivers on the freeway, but when it’s someone we know, we are much kinder. Most of my friends have been very kind and compassionate with my transition. They have learned a lot. Kathy, for instance, was able to point out to Diana that a guy they saw getting a makeover in the mall was probably transgender. They’ve done well with it, mainly because they are just very nice people. They have also become sensitized to my transition. I think as more people become sensitized to people who have transitioned, I think people will be less cruel to us. Well, at least I hope so. I realize there will always be insecure cruel hateful people, but I think the average person will now be able to see more about what we have to go through.

Anyway, she said I need to wait until 6 months after I have finished electrolysis to see how the skin looks, which can really help with my appearance. I told her I was starting to get close, having the face cleared in about 3 hours now, although I still have a lot of stuff stuck underneath the skin. She said I would also get the benefits of a couple more years on the hormones, which would continue to make drastic differences in both my face and the rest of my body. I hope so.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Mother's Day

I called my mom this afternoon to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day. She’s the best. I sent her some flowers, a card, and a framed picture of the two of us at the Cotillion when she visited in January. She’s always been there for me. I guess you could say I’ve been really lucky to have her. I wish all moms were like her.

On the down side, sometimes I wonder if all of this is worth it. Is the pain I was feeling before tackling transition any worse than the pain I feel now with society, old friends and family who have difficulty even talking to me, and my own internal pain knowing that I will never have a fairly normal life. I was looking around a website this morning that talked about those that have de-transitioned and why they did it. They said there were two main groups that de-transitioned…a younger group that went back to being a man for financial reasons and an older group that went back to living as a man because they were never physically able to get where they needed to be. It didn’t give a percentage of those that did de-transition, but I will bet that it’s fairly small. I have my finances in pretty good order so I don’t see that as a problem and I have a grasp on my physical condition, although I do have a few areas which I wish were responding a lot better to the hormones. I’m 33, though, and can only expect so much. I don’t plan on de-transitioning, but I like to look at what has affected others to ensure that I am always making the right decision. I listened early on to those that said, “If you can live without having to transition, do it, because transitioning totally sucks.” They’re right, but it can also lead to a very fulfilling life for those who were pretending to live a life that wasn’t them. I couldn't live as a man, but I think I am doing pretty good now. I know that people who knew me as a guy will always have trouble not seeing him, but I think I am giving them a run for their money. I’m trying as hard as I can for them to see the true me, even though she still needs a lot of help in the fashion, makeup, and general overall situation. I figure I will gain a lot of that in time.

I have a lot of friends that are TS and going through roughly some of the same stages of transition that I am going through now. I saw one of them get some advice from a previous survivor of GID that it’s good to start to meld back into regular society…to lead a new life without other TS around…and to basically move as a regular woman. Yeah, that advice is all fine and dandy, but I like my TS friends. They are good people, and I could care less if my regular friends meet them or not. Perhaps I am unique in that I care more about my friends that worrying about how others are going to react to them being unique. I mean, if one day I do find a man or woman to have a serious relationship with, I will obviously tell them my past. Because they probably won’t have known me before my transition, then they will only be able to see me as Kara even if shown my old self. It’s that whole first impression thing. Anyway, I tend to be one of those that is fairly truthful. People seem to respect that. Currently, I don’t mind people knowing I am TS, although I don’t run around shouting it out all of the time. I don’t know if I would want to be around people who aren’t cool with it. But what happens if I do move on with my life to a point where I have no close TS friends and no one around me knows of my past. Would I try to live this new life in the closet when I already spent so much time and effort to climb out of the last one? I don’t know. Perhaps I just need more experience under my belt, but hopefully I will always be able to say that I am who I am, and if people don’t like that, they can go elsewhere, because I need to be me.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Getting back into the swing of things

Do you ever have those weeks were you feel like you are so busy you never really get anything done? Yep, I had one of those this past week, except, well, perhaps I got a few things done.

On Tuesday, I was back to work. That afternoon, though, I had a consult with Dr. Beck in Dr. Brink’s office concerning laugh line reduction. Yeah, when I look at my face after FFS, it looks female, except for the lines around the mouth. I’ve had them for quite some time, and they scream “male” to me. Claire said they weren’t that bad, but I still see them, plus I feel like they also make me look old. I mean, I’m OK with the crow’s feet that pop up around the eyes and the wrinkles in my forehead, but the deep laugh lines really suck. I decided upon a filler that claims to last for 4 months, which doesn’t seem like that long if you think about it. If I like the look and am OK with all of it, I might go for the longer lasting filler at a later date. So, although he was ready to do the filler right then, I told him that I’d rather wait until the official 3 month mark after FFS surgery. Thus, I made an appointment for later this month.

That night, I went out to dinner with an old friend I’d met at some of my initial support group meetings, but who moved away a few years ago. We had dinner at one of the local Chinese restaurants, and although I’d eaten at this place a few times in the past, I don’t think I’ll be heading back since their hot and sour soup really sucked. Anyway, we talked about where each of us was. When she first met me, I was this little punk wearing a blonde wig and some funky clothes. Her and Blonde Rachel were kind enough to take me interactively out in public for my first time some 2.5 years ago. That seems so long ago. Although Blonde Rachel has been able to move forward with her transition and is now living her life post-SRS, my friend is in a very hard position. She’s around 50 and works for an all-Catholic boys school – in boy mode, obviously. Doh! She’s also having to deal with the family situation. It’s definitely pretty tough for her to go forward with her transition at this point without sacrificing a lot of the things that mean a great deal to her. I do not envy being in her shoes. So, kids, if you think you are transgender, try not to get a position at a Catholic school, OK?

On Wednesday night, I was off to the newly revamped Mid-Peninsula Support group meeting. I was asked to show up to try to get the group going again with some decent numbers. Roxy is doing a good job of trying to get it rolling again, but unfortunately, a hotel has been picked to hold the meeting. It’s in a decent location, but it’s just really hard for a newbie on their first time out to walk through the hotel lobby and up to a meeting room. The previous location of the meeting offered a very private setting, something not offered by the hotel.

I tried finding time after the support group meeting to write an entry in here about my thoughts on the following morning’s visit to the dentist, but I ran out of time doing laundry and preparing dinner before heading to bed.

So, I was a little scared heading to my dentist on Thursday morning. I wasn’t too scared, though, since I realized that the worst that would happen would be them telling me they wouldn’t work on me. The office receptionist is this nice Latina woman, who works for two dentists, both Chinese. I’ve only been a patient of the younger Chinese dentist, who shows great finesse around the teeth and gums. When I first moved out here, he took care of a few of the cavities I had. (My old dentist said that he used a less proactive approach to filling cavities since they weren’t causing me trouble at that time.) A year ago, though, I guess they had an emergency so they called in this white dude as the substitute dentist. He sucked. He was rough and his overall skill was pretty sad. They promised me after that time that I’d always get my dentist from then on. Good deal.

So, anyway, I walked into the office bright and early, the receptionist spots me, then her eyes kinda light up. I don’t remember her exact response, but she basically said she was cool with it and that everyone in the office would be cool with it as well. She said they had a few same sex couples that came there as well. Awesome! So, we chatted for a few minutes and she asked me a few questions about what I had done. Even the dentist assistant was pretty cool with it, as well as my dentist. The whole situation went really well, and I was made to feel quite comfortable there.

Thursday evening I went to the city to visit a T who contacted me that she was seeing Dr. O and would be in the Cocoon House for a while. I visited S and P in the front room. The girl in the back room was there with her mom and was having surgery that day, and the girl staying downstairs with her mom was having surgery on Friday. The girl downstairs was 17. Wow! Claire met me over at Cocoon and we all chatted for a while. We both kinda wanted to see the 17 year old before she had her surgery, but she never stopped in.

Claire and I walked up to Noe Valley for dinner. I tried a new pasta dish called Gemelli - Corkscrew pasta, grilled and smoked chicken, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, cream sauce. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, so I picked out a few, but otherwise it was pretty good.

I picked up dinner for my me and my electro last night at the usual restaurant, and for the first time post-FFS, Brandon the bartender was there. I caught a glimpse of him catching a glimpse at me as I walked to the area for to-go orders. Who knows if he recognized me or not, but someone else took care of my order…not him.

We spent an hour and a half on my face last night before my electro had to pick up an out of town client at the airport. I heard her voice over the phone and it sounded incredible. I waited around for a while because the pain killers still had me a little wobbly, so I met her when they came back. She was cute, and shorter than me, and not until the next morning did I finally realize she wasn’t a T. I ended up staying over since my usual evening residence wasn’t at home. This morning, we worked an hour on the face then spent an hour down below on the genitals…a first for me. Youch! That hurts! Well, it all hurts, but there is different pain in different areas being treated. This was more of a wincing pain. Last night, I kinda trimmed the hairs pretty short, but it appears that she likes them a bit shorter. I told her I’d try, but it’s pretty hard to get too close using buzzers. Perhaps I just need to shave on the Monday before and have her hit the ones that are long enough by that Saturday.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Walk Thru

Pulled from the pages of my written journal

I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting on my flight back to San Jose after visiting Dr. Meltzer’s office this morning. Yesterday, I flew in and had Robin pick me up. Robin is the driver for Dr. Meltzer’s office. She dropped me off at the hotel and explained where a few of the local places were. After checking in and taking a nap to let the temperature and sun go down a bit, I walked to the Greenbaum Surgery Center. It was all locked up, but a call to JoanB later that night had her explain that there was an entrance one could be buzzed into. I grabbed a bite to eat, then headed back to the air conditioning. I tried heading to bed a little early so I could get in a restful night of sleep before an early morning run, but Claire called again at 11. We chatted for a while until my phone started beeping at me because it was running out of juice. Anyway we talked for a while about the dynamics of some of our friendships.

Early this morning, I was up for a run, showered, ate breakfast down in the lobby, then walked to the surgery center again. Man, it was hot out there. Anyway, the kind receptionist at the center let me sneak upstairs to take a look around. I said hi to the station nurses (there were a ton there for the 24 beds they have, unless it was two shifts during changing time) and examined one of the empty rooms. They were pretty nice and spacious, had flat panel TV’s with internet access, showers in the bathroom, a small table and chairs, and supposedly a pull out bed, but I didn’t see it. The receptionist, Ellen, also told me to come back down and she’d walk me through the limited access areas. We went through admissions, the check-in room, then the staging area before surgery. That was about all she could show me, but said that the recovery room was around the other side and that I would be in there for about an hour and a half after surgery.

After the tour, Robin picked me up at the hotel to take me to Dr. Meltzer’s office for the consult. Inside the office, there were quite a few older taller TS. I guess if you play the percentages, most T’s are going to be taller and older than me, but not all. I was the last consult that morning since they’d been nice enough to squeeze me in on my return flight from the wedding in San Antonio. I didn’t mind. I read up on the upcoming summer movies and that the Olsen twins will be hitting their 18th birthday very, very soon – all in People magazine. I also wandered around the lobby looking at the artwork, and even took a picture of the entrance from inside…perhaps being a little inverted?

After a while, Cheryl took me into one of the examining rooms to go over my info. She briefly went over a few items then said that Dr. Meltzer would be in shortly. After a few minutes, they were both in. He remembered me from the previous weekend, and after looking through the file of my info, he asked me if I had any questions. I only asked him what the recommended time off from work was, and if I brought a picture of female genitalia that I liked, could he get close. He said he recommended about a month simply because the 4 dilations are hard to do while working. He said most people were ok at about 2 weeks (after they were discharged on the 9th day). He also said he could try to get close on the GG picture, but that if I saw something of his work that I liked, he could definitely do that. Then, I think we talked more about running than anything else. He’d run an 18-miler yesterday, at which point we talked about hydration units. I haven’t had to use one since moving from Missouri, but might have to take one when I return this summer with Amber. I also asked him if he considered SF instead of Scottsdale when moving away from Portland, but he said it was too expensive there. True.

So, after that, they left the room and had me put on a gown. A few minutes later, both of them came back in and they had me lay back in the examining chair. Dr. Meltzer had me put both of my feet up on the chair and spread my legs. He kinda gave ol' Junior a good tug and examined the available skin. I think we were still talking for most of the examination, and Cheryl had to interrupt us to get a yea or nay answer out of Dr. Meltzer on the need for a graft. Dr. Meltzer says, "Yeah, she'll do fine." Cool. From what I gather from friends who have had surgery with Dr. Meltzer, you lose about 1/2 an inch (about 12mm) in depth in going from the length of the penis to the depth of the vaginal cavity. I'm starting at about 5.75" (146mm) and will probably end up around 5.25" (133mm) when it comes to depth. That can handle most guys, although a good dilation schedule and extra scrotal skin can increase the depth. I would say that I have decent scrotal skin available, so I will plan on the 5.25" depth, but hope for more.

After the consult, I handed over $500 and scheduled my SRS for early next year. I might reschedule with Amber if/when she has her labiaplasty or if I can find another friend that’s going about the same time. My mom has mentioned going with me again, so I’ll need to check her schedule as well.

Robin and I talked as she drove me back to the airport, where I now sit waiting on my flight back. I asked her, though, how the driver position read in the classifieds. She said it was a surgeon’s office looking for a driver. She didn’t know why they would need a driver. She said when they told her that the office did sex change operations she was still more obsessed with why they needed a driver, until the news of what they had said finally sunk in.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Skirting the Question

Pulled from the pages of my written journal

I’m sitting on another flight, this one from San Antonio to Dallas, then on to Phoenix for my consult tomorrow with Dr. Meltzer. I had a great time here; dancing two nights and hanging out with some old college friends.

On my layover in Dallas, I said hi to Lauren who was so kind to drive to the airport to see me. We hung out for a bit catching up on what each of us was up to. I think she also wanted to see my FFS results in person. ;)

After arriving Friday evening, I caught a cab to our downtown hotel that sat right on the Riverwalk. I arrived about 6pm, made it downtown, checked in, freshened up, and still made it to their rehearsal dinner at 7pm. As I was walking down the street to the restaurant, I have two of my college friends cross right in front of me on a corner of the street. Now, Steve hasn’t seen me since last October, and Bob saw me on Super Bowl Sunday, but both had seen me in girl mode. Steve catches a glance at me as he walks by, but goes on about his conversation with Bob. I decide to follow them to see how long it takes for them to recognize me. I had spotted our restaurant right before they crossed my path, but they crossed to the other side of the street. They made it all the way to another restaurant where I hear them say that they think it’s the restaurant. Now, I should have just asked them which restaurant they were looking for, but instead, I just said that we had to go across the street to the other restaurant. They both recognized me at that point, and we all said hi. We hopped across the street and found the wedding party along with 2 other college friends who had gotten an early start on drinking. The other Steve walked up to say hi to the other guys then began to introduce himself to me. He’d never seen me in girl mode, so he really had no idea how I looked now. He says, “Hi, I’m Steve” and shakes my hand. I continue shaking his hand and say, “Hi Steve,” then smile. I keep shaking his hand and smiling until his eyeballs light up and he lets out a surprised “Oooohhhhhhhhh.” He was pretty amazed and even later told me he was wondering who the hot chick was walking in with the other guys. I then said hello to the bride and groom, and a few other friends as we sat down for some tex-mex. Steve continued to ask questions since he was a bit curious (and drunk), but I didn’t mind. He also told me that he was proud I was being me. He asked me when I knew and I told him I knew by age 7, but that I’d never known any different. He said his mom had known since age 6 that she was a lesbian, but hadn’t accepted it until he was in high school. I told him I never knew that and he said that he hadn’t told anyone until recently, but he was doing ok with it now.

After dinner, we decided to go dancing at a place on the Riverwalk called Polly Esthers. They had three floors dedicated to either the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s. We danced on the top floor where the other guys were interested in a bachelorette party, but also found the dance floor a little more spacious. Unfortunately, it was the 80’s floor, but the music wasn’t that bad. We danced from about 10 to 2am. I had a blast until my feet started hurting, at which time I crashed on a couch for the last 30 minutes. When the DJ said it was the last song, I had one guy come up to me and ask me if I wanted to dance. Up until that time, I’d mainly just danced in our little group of about 5 guys and 1 other girl. It was my first offer, but because my feet were hurting, I turned him down.

After dancing, a few of the group were hungry, so we found about the only thing open: Denny’s. We walked back to the hotel after putting away some food, then crashed in bed about 4am. It was only 2am for me, so it wasn’t that bad.

Lucky for us, Tracy, my hotel roomie, and I were in the room next to the exercising room. What a blast. About 8:30am, someone started riding the exercise bike….whirrrrrrrr…..whirrrrrrrrrr…..whirrrrrrrrrr. Then it stopped so I was back to sleep. The phone rang around 11 something and Tyler called with some items to talk about. After my phone died and I had returned to the room, the guys called and said they were off to lunch. We caught up with them shortly. After lunch and chilling out for a while, we were off to the wedding reception. I wore the Nine West dress and the Banana Republic cardigan. The outfit looked pretty decent, I think. After one of the best wedding meals I’d ever had, we were outside on the dance floor. Now, when I arrived Friday afternoon, it was pretty warm and muggy. Yuck! On Saturday, they had a cold front move through that left things pretty chilly. On the dance area, it was pretty chilly, so as soon as the music started, I was out dancing to stay warm. After a few songs, one of the Steve’s whispers to me that someone must have told the DJ that we were from Missouri, because he was playing all the backwoods 80’s crap. OK, he didn’t say exactly that, but close. I agreed, so I rambled over to the DJ to request Outkast. He says, “Which song? Hey Yeah?” I nod confirmation and give him a big thumbs up along with a warm smile. So, after that, he sorted changed his songs to a little more modern stuff, but still played a lot of the classics. The reception shut down about 11, and the party bus dropped us off at the hotel slightly before midnite. We freshened up then were off to find another dance club. Unfortunately, the one we did find wasn’t really happening, so we were off to find other entertainment. To keep a boring story short, we ended up in an Irish pub called Durty Nelly’s with an older Irishman named Don Johnston (yes, I had Miami Vice flashbacks) singing his dirty songs. At least they were funny. During his story telling songs, though, he’d incorporate people sitting right around him into the song. He asked where two ladies were from, and they said Pasadena. He ponders for a moment then asks, “Texas or California?” They say, “Texas.” Somehow, he wanders and starts on California. He asks them if they’d ever been to California or San Francisco. Then, and I quote, he says, “The girls wear their skirts so short in San Francisco you can see their balls.” At this point, I am standing with my 3 other friends no greater than about 2 meters from the piano playing Irishman. (If you look at the bottom right picture on this site, I would have been standing right about where the blonde woman under the flag is standing) I turn to my friends and say, “I should flash him”, then laugh. I’m not wearing a skirt, though, but just black slacks. After a few more chords, he looks at us and asks us where we’re from. Since we’re standing, I lean in and say very slowly, “S a n F r a n c i s c o,” then smile ear to ear. His eyes light up and he says, “San Francisco. I’m in trouble now.” He looks to the rest of the bar and says, “It’s ok though, they’re girls.” I wanted to whisper to him, “…but I used to be a guy,” but I didn’t since there were too many drunk Air Force guys in the bar. I think we crashed back at the hotel sometime around 2:30am.

On the whole issue of using T’s for jokes though, I mean, I can laugh at my situation and I know how messed up being TS can be, but we’re stuck with this Gender Identity thing and it sucks. Most everyone trivializes it because they don’t know someone that has gone through it. By knowing someone who has been through transition, it puts a perspective on things that many people will never know.

I got up this morning for a short run along the Riverwalk and around the Alamo. The Alamo is way smaller than they portray in the movies, although I haven’t seen the latest reincarnation. I showered and dressed then headed downstairs. Claire called when I was waiting on a taxi, and the two newlyweds came out of the hotel about the same time. After hanging up on Claire, I said my farewells to them, and off I went.

The only time I was sir’d the entire weekend was when I tried calling one of the hotels to see if they had a shuttle, the rest of the time I was majestically referred to as “ma’am.”