Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Just a Crazy Cool Weekend!

What a wild weekend. I knew Monday I would have to go to the doctor's so I was just going to lay low this weekend instead of giving my parents more worries. But Tina mentioned a consignment shopping spree and the chance to meet her very cool friend, Lisa. I was still on the fence when Tina also mentioned the idea to Sylvia, who immediately decided to go. At that point my resistance was flattering, and my mind was completely made up when Leslie also confirmed she could go. I had mentioned the trip as a possibility at the beginning of the week, and she confirmed she could make it. Leslie, Tina, and Sylvia, some of my very best transgender friends, all in one place, other than a meeting! And a chance to meet Lisa! And, shopping on the cheap! Irresistible.

Leaving was stressful. I let Mom and Dad know I was shopping in Lexington for the day, but left in boy mode. I took care of my wardrobe change and all the necessary makeup on the road. Its always a little hectic, as it extends travel time tremendously, and you never know how well the makeup came out until you get out and check a full size mirror somewhere. Adding to my unease, I had decided to wear a mini skirt, strappy top, and 4 inch heels. I was going to be far from inconspicuous. But I had not been shopping, or got to wear anything fun for a while, so I really wanted a chance to do something a little flashy.

We all decided to car pool, so we met at the building where our support group meetings convene. Leslie was not yet with us. So at the time it was me, Sylvia, Tina, and Lisa. After hugs all around, and introductions where they were required, we decided to grab lunch at Logan's. The conversation was light and humorous. Everyone had a good time. The staff was courteous and most patrons barely gave us a second glance.

After lunch we went to this spectacular consignment place Tina recommended. And wow, I can't begin to tell how wonderful this place was. At first, I had a hard time deciding what I needed, but eventually I was loaded down with cool clothes to take to the changing room. A pretty black and blue floral, a lilac halter, a denim skirt, a lacy top and a green little strappy top. While I was in the fitting room, one of the store attendants slipped yet another floral dress in for me to try on. This turned out to be one of my favorite items in the store.

I ended up liking everything and decided to take it all home, because the prices were spectacular. Tina and Sylvia had great luck too and we all left very happy with our purchases. Leslie met us there, and it was so nice to see her again. She had to shop in boy mode and she was obviously not at ease. I still wish she could have found something to take home, but I know how awkward it can be, shopping as a boy. I considered staying by her and letting it look like she was shopping for me, instead of for herself. But I decided that probably wouldn't be comfortable for her either. She lives in Lexington, and if someone she knew came in, its hard to say which rumor would be worse. That someone just saw her buying girl's clothes at a consignment place, or that someone saw her buying clothes for an odd looking transgender girl at a consignment shop. Its one of those Scylla and Charybdis kinda moments. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. So I gave her room to shop in peace. :P

Afterward we went to Payless to look at shoes. I did my best not to notice anything, because I was already over budget for the day. And I did manage to leave without spending more. Sylvia found a very cool bag, and Tina got some cute little sandals that suit her to a tee.

After this stop Leslie returned home to her family. I'm still thrilled that her wife decided to approve the trip. The rest of us stopped into Quizno's for a drink before hitting TJ Maxx. I tried not to buy anything, but found a sun hat almost exactly liKe I have been wanting for ages. Also got some pink shades and a few undies.

When we finished there, it was too late in the day for more shopping so we all went to Common Grounds. It is a Lexington coffee shop with lots of atmosphere. It is a 2 story building that is furnished more like a run down house inside than anything else. The work of local artists adorns the walls, and local bands play some nights. The whole place has a rough charm, a warm, worn in feeling too it. It made a very relaxing place to end the day with a fun conversation over coffee.

In the end, I drove everyone back to their cars, we took some group photos on the parking lot and we all said our good byes amidst another pleasant conversation. All in all, it was an amazing day with time among cherished friends, and an opportunity to express myself, loosen up and just be me. I so cherish all my friends. They have just changed my life. A little understanding and nurturing can mean a lot coming from an isolated past like mine.

Mom and Dad never questioned me about my day, and we remain on good terms. My doctor's visit Monday went off without a hitch as well. Mom and Dad never challenged that decision either. It is nice to no that at least some times I can do what I need to do without my family situation becoming unbearable as a result.

Friday, I get more laser. I feel I am making excellent progress in transition. I am becoming more comfortable with my body as the gradual changes continue. Less unwanted hair to deal with, softer skin, and my measurements drift slowly more feminine, almost imperceptibly from week to week. With the changes, comes a new sense of self worth, and a new confidence. In the past I've been very introverted, somber, and wanted most of all to be left alone. Now I find myself happiest among my friends, and loving to socialize now that I can just be myself. I'm happier with myself than I have ever been.

I'm attaching a couple of photos as well. The top one is a group photo from the shopping trip. The bottom one is me in one of the outfits I bought on the trip. I took it while I was in Lexington again Sunday for my physical. There was a little park beside the road and I decided it would be nice to get a few photos. And no, I did not wear that hat to the clinic! But you have to admit its okay for the park. :P

Friday, July 24, 2009

Identity, Serenity, Felicity

I'm at a point where it feels like things are really starting to come together. My thoughts about the pace of my transition shift from moment to moment. This morning I woke up in a pesimistic mood and decided I wasn't sure my new hormone regimen was working at all, with lots of my physical traits in the mirror bringing me grief. But then I snapped out of it and started thinking back over how far I have come, and forcing myself to be objective. Its very clear everything is still moving in a positive direction, just at a slow, oft times invisible pace. Like the opening of a bloom perhaps. Most days I am incredibly proud of my progress, and today I am doing my best to hold that thought and be happy with myself.

I'm also making mental progress with another little problem that arose over vacation. People here have mostly been kind to me and let me slowly change my presentation without much friction. But on vacation, I got a lot of unwanted attention and I have become aware of how odd my male presentation is at this point. The result has been a sudden bout with shyness upon returning home.

I keep thinking everyone secretly thinks I'm a freak. As a result I find myself self conscious of my voice. In conversations with some people, I try to sound more masculine again. Also I find myself nervous and blushing a lot, and often unable to make eye contact in conversation. But over the past few days I have made very real progress with regaining my confidence. Still its odd. I don't pass yet, but already I feel more confident, and more secure when I can socialize as myself. Still I am at peace, because I know this is a transitional moment in my life, a situation I know I must weather to get where I need to be.

Things are going smoother with my family. People are still polite at work. I've been living exclusively in a male mode for over a month. But this week, I have lots of refreshing opportunities to change that. I'll be shopping with Leslie, Tina, and Sylvia tomorrow. Then Monday I have my first general physical exam with a physician who knows I am transgender. Then, Friday, its back to Tennessee for more laser hair removal.

I look forward to all these opportunities, but at the same time I'm nervous. Things have settled into normalcy, and now I feel I am again, rocking the boat. The travel will worry my parents. Then Friday, when I come back with scorched beard, which will eventually fall out and leave me smooth faced again, it could change my situation at work for the worse. Already, people clearly know something is happening with me. I get odd looks everywhere I go in boy mode. Yesterday I ate out with Mom and Dad for their anniversary. The waitress called dad sir, and mom, ma'am, at least 5 times each over the course of our dinner. I never got a title, and at least once, got a hessitant pause from her, at a point when she would have otherwise used a title. My guess is that she couldn't decide which title would be offensive to me in my current situation. I was honored not to be called sir. I hate the word. But, at the same time there is a little fear that my transparency will cause me problems.

Still, I can handle the consequences so far, and I have an exciting week ahead with lots to enjoy, and lots to forward my transition. I feel happy. I feel serene. The worries about future consequences are there, but so far it is all worth it.

Friday, July 17, 2009

An awkward moment from an awkward life.

Seems I've used the word awkward often lately. And I suppose its because it is so often fitting in my current situation. I want to live as the woman I know I am, but my body is not yet ready. My situation requires I keep the male act up, but my brain is racing ahead and the act is breaking down. WIth my head in the clouds, my pride demanding that people see me as female, my situation dictating that I play at being male, and my body caught hopelessly in between, it is a confusing time. And, yes, an awkward time.

Like for instance, on vacation, my family pulled into an RV park along the way. It had been a long day with 10 hours cramped up in a truck for a cross country drive. As soon as the wheels stopped turning I hopped out to stretch my legs, so happy for a chance to move around. Mom also hopped out immediately, but went into the camper. The men stayed in the truck to get everything parked just right, so we could have level living quarters for the night. So, it was only me outside.

I was standing there with my blue and gold macaw parrot, Kupo, on my shoulder, surveying the scene. It wasn't crowded, but just a few sites away we did have neighbors. 3 identical trailers, and 3 matching white trucks with the logo of a communication company on the side of each. Apparently the company was using RVs to house workers for a setup job somewhere in the area.

At one of the trucks was a man. Even at a distance, he was obviously striking. Tall, lean and muscular, with sandy blonde hair and a rugged face. He was pacing around in worn jeans and a tee, talking on a cell phone. I found myself desperately wanting him to notice me. In my situation, that is unbelievably stupid, but all I really wanted was just a look from him.

As always I was wearing one loose, thin, knit tee, an oversized button up shirt over top, and giant jeans. Its a garb that you could obscure practically any body shape under, assuming it is worn correctly. But I found myself stretching, with my back arched, hands gathering the fabric of the layered shirts at the small of my back and around the waist to reveal a little shape. There was a little distance between us, and I just wanted a glance. I wanted to feel like I was worth a glance, not like I was some weird scarecrow looking boy.

He looked over for jsut a second, but we never made eye contact or anything. Then he says loudly on his phone. "This lady here has a huge parrot! You should see it, its just sitting on her shoulder chillin'." Or something like that. I felt so proud. I think I remember blushing. I sat down on the picnic table at our camp site for a moment, no longer looking in the direction of our neighbor, then I heard someone approaching, and turned to see he was coming toward me.

For a moment I was terrified. What would happen when he got here and noticed at closer range that he was definitely not looking at a genetic girl, but rather, someone he would perceive as a scrawny looking boy in baggy clothes. I was feeling very tense. But then he was there.

Up close, he was even more handsome. So rugged, with tribal style tattoos, a hard body and chiseled face. But it was pointless to think about him romantically, sitting there in boy mode. I just smiled, and greeted him as he approached. He might have been a little surprised when he got close enough to figure it out, but if so he covered well. He was completely polite and we talked about Kupo for a moment, then he went back to his own site.

There was some laughter from the worker's trailers a few minutes later. I suppose I will never know whether it was in response to an anecdote about a crazy parrot carrying girl who turned out to be a strange bearded, apparently male, creature. Probably not, but who knows?

In a word? Yes! Awkward!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Family Disonance: Vacation

I am back now from family vacation with Mom and Dad to the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Much as I feared and anticipated the trip, I come away with mixed feelings. It was trying and emotional to travel with my family at this awkward point in my transition. But it was an opportunity to connect, and I think that despite some emotional moments, it was a positive experience for all three of us.

The trip there was four days on the road, stopping each night at a different campground. Mom was looking away, with tears in her eyes often. And I had to live with the sad understanding that she was spending her whole vacation upset to tears by my appearance, actions and manner of speech. My dad also seemed down. I tried to keep a positive attitude, but by the time we arrived, I was starting to feel that I was ruining everything for everyone. Mom and I rode often looking out our respective windows to hide the tears.

When we arrived in the park I thought things would get better. But everything is so far apart in such open country that it mostly turned out to be another 4 days sitting in a truck with people who seemed depressed just to hear me talk. Mostly dad managed to stay positive once we got out into nature, but there were still moments I upset him. Mom was even worse.

Making matters more complicated, they had invited my uncle along. He is a nice enough guy, but his being there complicated things farther. It meant I had to share a room. It meant that I had to layer shirts no matter where I was, to hide the slight changes occurring with my chest; even relaxing around camp or driving. Also it meant all of us had to carefully conceal our emotions most of the time, and that discussing anything private was impossible.

It also meant more opportunities for me to inadvertently embarrass my parents. Anything I did or said, that looked or sounded to feminine, often merited extra sad expressions or even tears from either parent.

By the third night at our main camp, I was having a hard time keeping a positive mood. One night after Dad and Mom argued, I was thinking about how much I contributed to the moods that caused it. Suddenly everything seemed hopeless and it all felt like my fault. At dinner I started crying and couldn't stop. So I ate in a corner trying to keep the tears hidden. But mom noticed and asked if I was alright. I said no.

At that point I was completely unable to stop crying. After having to prepare my convertible dinette/bed in front of everyone, crying the whole time, I went to bed with everyone else still trying to talk and carry on as normal. I took my clothes off under the cover, like every night on the road. Then rolled over on my side. But it turned out my quilt had shifted, revealing most of my back. I think everyone saw a few girly angles before I noticed what was happening and managed to discretely cover up. Dad hurriedly left the room, walking very loudly. He only does that when he is upset, and so I was left to wonder if it was because of my little slip up with the quilt

I lay there feeling embarrassed, ashamed, and just wishing so much I could have some privacy to cry, to change clothes, to sleep, to just be myself. A few minutes later mom came by with a big oversized tee shirt for me. She was very sweet about the whole thing. I still cried myself to sleep, but I was feeling a lot better after her surprising show of understanding. It felt like like she had suddenly understood what difficult circumstances I was in, and how hard I was trying to stay positive and make it a good trip.

The following morning, I got up, closed myself up in the RVs master bedroom and bath, to finally do my hair properly for the first time since leaving home. I just needed something to do to cheer me up. When I stepped back out, I fully expected Mom to be angry, but instead she gave me this warm smile, and said "You know I love you, don't you?" and hugged me.

From that point on we both just tried to enjoy our trip, and things felt less hopeless. There were still some hard moments for my parents. Several times someone would see me and my parrot together at a distance and say "Look at that parrot, on her shoulder!" And I got a few odd looks on the trail and in shops and restaurants with the parents present. At one trail, there were people standing less than 15 feet away talking in a normal volume about whether I was a man or a woman.

There were positive times with Dad too. We both love landscape and nature photography, and when we were out chasing sunrises and antelope, everything felt like old times. It always makes me happy to spend time outdoors with dad. He is probably more respectful of, and more inspired by nature than anyone I have ever met. And I love taking part in those moments when he can be outside in the natural world doing the things he loves to do. I only wish we could have spent more time hiking around with our cameras.

I do think we all managed to enjoy most of the trip, and that my parents are each coming to terms with my transition in their own way. To me, family is precious, and I really want to maintain a positive relationship with my Mom and Dad. I feel this vacation was a positive step toward that. And there were times when we were all happy that I will always cherish.

I got some great photos of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons too! But that might be another blog. Or at least a post on flickr. :P

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Introducing, Me!

Last weekend, I had an experience I have day dreamed about most of my life. Finally, I got to meet one of my school era friends, as myself! I used to always day dream I could be instantly transformed to a girl, and I would interact with my friends and they would still be okay with me, and after just a little awkwardness, we would still all be friends.

In reality it has not been nearly as simple as my day dream. In life, transition is never accomplished through a painless, instantaneous process for starters. And I'll probably never become the beautiful, radiant creature I was in my old day dreams. Unlike the supportive friends in my daydreams, most of my old school friends have been totally unsupportive. When I first confessed my little secret, many of the friendships felt strained. When I actually started to loosen up and be myself a bit, many of them began to distance themselves from me. By the time I began transition, most of the strained friendships had been shattered.

But there is one exception. My best friend from my school days. The first time I came out, he was the one friend who reacted with curiosity. He was the one friend who looked at it objectively, and told me that looking back, it explained a lot and that to him it made sense.

We have not communicated a lot lately. He has a very full family life, demanding job, and a very long commute. Though we have not had very much time to chat, and have not seen each other in person for several years, his acceptance has always been such a positive factor in my transition.

Last weekend, an opportunity finally came to visit. He has recently moved to a closer town, and it happened to be the town my pharmacy is in. While I was out picking up my medication, I sent him a text message asking if he had time for a visit, and he invited me on over. To that I replied that I would need a little time to get back into guy mode. And in response he messaged back, "Come as you wish." So after a brief exchange to make completely sure I was interpreting that correctly, I drove over still dressed for my pharmacy visit.

I was so nervous. I just wanted so much to be accepted for who I truly am. I needed desperately to be taken seriously. I sat in the driveway checking my hair and makeup a few moments. Looking in the mirror just made everything scarier though. All the physical problems I stress over were so glaringly discernible. But no amount of wishing could make it easier.

I knocked on the door, held my breath and waited for the moment when one of my old friends would finally meet me in my true gender role. My heart was beating fast. I struggled to maintain an outer calm to mask the inner fear. When he opened the door, I did my best to smile and look calm.

But after we had talked a moment, we both became more comfortable, and it was like old times again. Eventually his wife and adorable little son woke from napping and joined us. The fear started to subside, and I was in my element, chatting and joking away.

After a wonderful evening, I said my goodbyes. It had been magnificent. His wife was very nice to me and made me feel right at home. And his son is such a cute little guy! Nearly two and just full of energy. It was a pleasure getting to finally meet them both.

On the drive home, I was feeling very warm and content. And then it occurred to me, I am starting to live my dreams. At least, the more realistic parts of them. For the first time, I really had been able to present the way I want, and act naturally around one of my oldest and dearest friends.

Like so many dreams, when it actually comes true it feels a lot different than the make-believe version. It is just so pleasant and natural. As healthy and normal as breathing. Much like the other aspects of transition I have experienced, the reality is scarier and less fanciful than the dream. Yet it feels so wonderful, in a very real and beautiful way, to intricate to ever accurately dream up.