Saturday, January 30, 2010

Songs That Inspire: What If?

Several blogs back, I blogged about the song "Defying Gravity", because I find it very uplifting and motivational. There are many other songs that carry meaning for me in my transition. I've decided to start sharing the songs that mean the most to me here.

The first song I absolutely must mention is "What If?" by Emilie Autumn. To me it expresses the emotions of feeling captive in a relationship ruled by guilt and unfair expectations.

I sing this song in the shower almost every day. Lately it has come to my attention when visiting friends, that I actually sing loud enough to be heard, so my parents have probably heard this hundreds of times. LOL!

What if
Written By: Emilie Autumn
Lyrics as heard by: Me :P

Here you sit in your high back chair.
I wonder how the view is from there?
I wouldn't know because I like to sit,
upon the floor, yes upon the floor.

If you like we can play a game.
Lets pretend that we are the same.
You will have to look much closer,
than you do, closer than you do.

I'm far too tired to stay here anymore,
and I don't care what you think anyway.
I think you were wrong about me.
Well what if you were, what if you were?

What if I'm a snow storm burning?
What if I'm a world un-turning?
What if I'm an ocean far too shallow, much to deep?

What if I'm the kindest demon,
something you may not believe in?
What if I'm a siren singing gentlemen to sleep?

I know you've got me figured out.
Tell me what I'm all about,
and I just might learn a thing or two,
maybe about you, maybe about you.

I'm at the end of your telescope,
but I won't change just to suit your vision.
I am bound by a fraying rope,
around my hands, tied around my hands.

You close your eyes when I say I'm breaking free,
and you put your hands over both your ears,
because you can not stand to believe I'm not,
the perfect girl you thought.

Well what have I got to lose.

What if I'm a weeping willow,
laughing teers upon my pillow?
What if I'm a socialite who wants to be alone?

What if I'm a toothless leopard?
What if I'm a sheep-less shepherd?
What if I'm an angel without wings to take me home?

You don't know me.
You never will, you never will.

I'm outside your picture frame,
and the glass is breaking now.

You won't see me.
You never will, you never will.
No, if you're never going to see.

What if I'm a crowded desert?
Too much pain with little pleasure?
What if I'm the nicest place, you never want to go?

What if I don't know who I am?
Will that keep us both from trying,
to find out? When you have,
be sure to let me know.

What if I'm a snow storm burning?
What if I'm a world un-turning?
What if I'm an ocean far too shallow, much to deep?

What if I'm the kindest demon,
something you may not believe in?
What if I'm a siren singing gentlemen to sleep?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Google Analytics

I think the majority of my readership are other transgender bloggers, so I have decided to do a quick write up on one of the most interesting technologies I have incorporated on blogger. Its fun. Its informative. Its free. It is Google Analytics.

Basically, you incorporate a little snippet of code into your web pages, and tracking information goes to Analytics every time someone visits pages that include the code. You can see how many page views your blog has for any calendar day. You can determine what site referred each visitor, and even what search terms were used if the visit was the result of a web search. You can determine what countries, and even which world cities your traffic comes from. It will graph your traffic volume day to day so that you can analyze trends visually. You can even get the length of each visit, and how many pages were opened. Also it is possible to examine the traffic to your individual content to see which blog entries were most popular.

My friend Leslie started mentioning analytics a few months back, and I was very curious. I thought it would probably be a lot of work to get started though, so I put off checking it out for a long time. It turns out it is very easy to start using it, and I regret waiting to try it.

Using it with is very simple. All you have to do is go to and walk through a simple sign up to enable analytics on your existing google account. During the process, it will ask for the domain you wish to track. This will be your blogger address. For instance mine is "shandy-alexis.".

Once you get that entered, it will present you with tracking code that must be added to the site. With blogger, generally your sites all use one template, so it only has to be added in one place.

Simply copy the tracking code presented on the analytics site (highlight everything in the code window then press CONTROL and C for PC users, COMMAND and C for Mac users.) Then go to your blogger dashboard. Click "Layout" in the tab bar across the top. Then click "Edit HTML" in the bar directly beneath the tabs. In the html window search for "/body". (Press CONTROL and F on a PC , or COMMAND and F on a Mac to search. In the search field enter "/body" and hit ENTER. ) It will find one instance. In the code window put the cursor just above the "/body". Hit enter to make a new line, then paste the code from Analytics. (CONTROL and V for PC users, COMMAND and V for Mac users.) Make sure the code looks right, then Click the Save button.

That's it! You are ready to start tracking stats. It compiles statistics at the end of the calendar day, so you will have to wait one day to start getting information out of analytics. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Never Was A Cornflake Girl

My little corner of the internet is fairly sheltered. I follow a few bloggers, and a few bloggers follow me. Mostly we all get along. We are not all the same, but we really don't expect each other to be alike. Sometimes we disagree, but the debates generally stay civil. Even if tempers do flare, things never digress into childish bickering. Lately though, several posts on other blogs, by authors who are more widely connected, have shown me that the general transgender web community is not always this pleasant.

I refer mostly to the divide that seems to be forming between some transexuals and certain transgender activists. In this post, I have no intention of taking sides. I think this is counter productive. My point instead, is to simply ask, why can we not get along?

It seems that there are several points of contention. The one I have been hearing longest relates to some cross dressers and non-transitioning transgender people balking against a perception of a hierarchy in the trans community, with tiers based on progress in transition. I do think to some extent this hierarchy does exist, and I agree that this is wrong. I can definitely understand how it leaves some people feeling bitter.

Transition is not something for every person with any form of gender dysphoria to aspire to. It is a difficult path, with serious risks and sacrifices, both social and physical all along the way. If you are someone who needs it, you are not any more or less of a person because of where you are on that path. It is all a matter of time.

Then there are those who will never elect to walk this path. Many are transgender in the classic sense. By this I mean that they know in their heart that their mind's gender does not match their biological sex, but for their own reasons they decide not to physically transition.

With many, it is because of family reasons. They put the feelings of their loved ones first, and stay closeted to varying degrees. This does not make someone less of a woman in my eyes. I think for the most part, as women we do have a nurturing instinct, and putting the needs of someone you love ahead of your own wants, even if it means giving up something as important as your public gender identity is a huge sacrifice. My heart goes out to these girls, and their strength just amazes me.

With others, it is because of health concerns. This is not a shortcoming. Many feel the same discomfort with the male aspects of their body that I feel with mine. However, they think past that, prioritize and conclude that the physical discomfort is not worth the risks of transition. They instead make peace with their bodies. Some will elect to transition to a limited extent, and other will not undergo a physical transition at all. Some will boldly elect to live as their true mental gender without undergoing physical transition. I think weighing the options and choosing what you think you need, instead of blindly following your hearts desire takes strength. It is not right to look down on these girls. They are just on a different road.

Beyond all that, there are a plethora of other reasons not to transition. There are cross dressers, ambigender people, and many others who fall into the current definition of transgender. Some have flashes of gender dysphoria. Some feel caught between genders. Some just do not like the social constraints of gender and want to live outside of this. Some people like the thrill and challenge of dressing to pass. These people are progressive thinkers, wanting to live life on their own terms. They do not want pigeon holed, they just want to be free to be themselves. This shows independence and intelligence.

In short, there are many types of transgender people out there. Being post-op full time transexual is not the pinnacle for all trans people to aspire to. It is one of many possible paths.

Another point of contention, are non-transitioning transgender people who think their path is the only right path. I see the notion sometimes, that any of us who see ourselves as women instead of as being between gender are basically delusional. Some extend this argument to include a notion that transition as an unnecessary path best avoided by everyone. Proponents of this concept generally argue that transexual women like me are just desperate creatures, who can't see the big picture and learn to accept ourselves physically and think outside the gender binary.

My impression is that this whole idea comes from non-transitioning people who are frustrated by the perceived hierarchy laid out in the the first point of contention. I think more than anything, it is a statement made to bring post-op transexuals who seem arrogant and clique-ish down a notch.

I can also say with absolute certainty that the whole idea is wrong. I am a pre-op transexual, and transitioning is the best decision I have ever made. I do see well past the gender binary, but I feel that my place on the gender spectrum does lean very heavily to one side. Despite what my genetics and biology say, I am wired female.

For me, a lot of that extends into physical. Before I was old enough to know the differences in male and female genitalia, I already knew that what I had did not seem right. At puberty, the things my body did felt like a betrayal. I still can barely touch my adam's apple. My stomach actually tightens when I do.

I also know trans-men who experienced exactly the reverse through puberty.

My point is that if you do not need physical transition, do not assume the rest of us are misguided. Consider that maybe our issues or priorities are just different. Maybe some people have chosen transition who would have been better served by some other path, but do not assume that all of us need enlightened.

In short it seems to me that on both sides of this debate, there are people who think their path is the only path, who want to look down on everyone else. Lets please all keep in mind that many cis-gender people who feel justified in judging all of us. We all know how frustrating that discrimination is, and how upsetting it is to have close minded people assume to know our own thoughts and needs better than we do ourselves. So does it makes sense for factions in our own little community to divide into two schools of thought and make a little microcosm of societal prejudice? I don't think it does.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Layout Change

There are so many serious things I would like to write about but in so many instances I'm not quite sure what I want to say. Maybe I'll get to address a few things before the weekend. As for now, I'm only here to mention the temporary layout change. I'm just tired of the colors I chose, and I can't stand that photo of me anymore! Partly it is that I'm not entirely sure I want a huge photo of me at the top of every page. But mainly it is just that I have changed so much since that time.

So for now, a nice, clean, white layout. From there, who knows.

Hopefully I'll be writing something of more substance very soon.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just stuff.

Healing nicely from my laser appintment last Friday. I almost look human again, and I'm hopeful that the results will be nice after shedding. Ears are doing well after the piercing, with no redness or soreness left as the third week closes.

Work is going okay. A bit nervous and insecure because I look odd after laser, but everyone has been okay with me, and the awkward phase of it is almost over!

At home, things are great. There were no fights after my Lexington trip, and though, my gender is not an open topic, we are all getting along well in every other regard. I feel a lot less stressed, as a result.

My TRIA came in last night and I did a test patch. It feels mild, but it does have that distinctive laser sensation. I have hopes that it actually lives up to its claims. I will publish a multi part video review of the unit. I'll start on the first installment soon.

Guess that is it for now!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Note To Self: Curb Flirty Behavior at Awkward Times

Last week, a couple I often hang out with invited me to dinner at a mexican restaurant one town over. I love Mexican food and enjoy good company, so I accepted. It was the day after my haircut, so my hair was looking pretty nice. It was the end of the day, so many hours since my last shave. The resulting look was pretty peculiar at best; androgynous in a very unflattering way. Given the circumstances, boy mode was the only real option, but as usual, I wasn't quite pulling it off.

When the waiter came to the table he turned out to be very handsome, and having cute guys perceive me as male is always vexing. Normally I would have been really frustrated that I was sitting here with facial hair and baggy men's clothes, and just let him overlook me. Instead a part of me basically somehow forgot I was looking pretty weird, and I found myself wanting his attention. While he was at the table I found myself letting my over shirt slip off from one side, and leaning in a way that elevated that shoulder. When my hair got in my eyes as I browsed the menu, simply pushing my bangs back would not do. Instead I found myself correcting the problem with a dramatic hair flip and a flourish.

He started taking orders with the couple across the booth from me. "For you madame?", "For you sir?"

Then, he turns and as he starts his sentence he gets his first direct look at me. "For youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...?"

Maybe it was only in my mind. But it seemed, he dragged that "you" out for multiple seconds as he tried to figure out what title it was safe to give me, or if it was best left alone. What made it really funny, is that the stalled sentence was a question. There is that tendency toward the end of a question to let your voice rise. As he stalled on this syllable, his voice just went higher and higher until it reached a comedic pitch. "For youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...?"

In the end, he must have decided using no title was safest. I suddenly felt very embarrassed as I snapped to my senses and realized how ridiculous I was being. I'm sure the staff got a good laugh out of the whole thing later. But then, I did as well. So there!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Season's End

I'm so sorry to bombard everyone with so much sad content. Recent events just reminded me of this very dreary piece I wrote a few years back.

Season's End

Today the wind is flexing its strength,

reminding me how small and insignificant I am.

It roars through the trees whipping them,

tearing away their brown autumn leaves,

setting in motion a fierce arial dance.

The last dance of fall.

When it finishes with its marionettes,

the wind will cast its play things aside to rot and die.

It tears away my warmth as easily as the leaves,

leaving behind a cold emptiness.

Watching the leaves spinning away I can almost imagine my soul

dancing with them on the tumult.

The Character of Nature

Upon waking Saturday morning I learned that my Uncle Charles had passed on at 1 AM. He had been struggling with lung cancer for months, so it wasn't unexpected news. I had not seen him since childhood, but it was still very sad to learn of his death. He was only 58, and was a wonderful person.

From childhood, I do remember that he was always smiling and had this energetic twinkle in his eyes. He loved being around people and always kept conversations lively with his unique sense of humor. After a stint in the military, he had settled into a career in the mines. It is very harsh work, hard for me to even imagine, but many of the men here have chosen this path for generations. The shifts are long, and spent thousands of feet underground, toiling by artificial light. The possibility of cave ins or human error causing an accident are always there. On my job, if you are not careful, you can lose data. In his a moment's inattention in the wrong situation could cost your life by electrocution or heavy machinery accidents.

Like so many though, he wanted to provide for his family the best way he could. For his son and wife, he chose this difficult line of work and struggled underground, perhaps wrecking his lungs and contributing to the lung cancer that took his life.

In retirement he was an avid gardener. In harvest season he would load up most of his yield and travel around to neighbors in need with gifts of fresh produce. He especially loved to take care of the elderly I am told. Although I was not there, I imagine these visits involved lots of cheery conversation and that he brightened many lonely days.

I never visited in the hospital, because I think in my current state. Mom's family is very conservative and I would probably have only offended people. I am told though, that he fought hard through his illness, but never complained, and that in the end he had told everyone he was ready and knew it was his time.

It seems so unfair that someone can work so selflessly through life, and keep a smile through almost everything, then be cut down so suddenly.

Thinking about that one life in detail, it seems an incomprehensible tragedy. Then there is Haiti also this week. Many thousands of lives just as special and important suddenly cut short. Children. Fathers. Mothers. Dreams. Ambitions. Smiles. Loves. Gone in an instant. The random nature of it and the scale, it's just more than my mind can grasp.

Saturday was my laser day, and I decided I would go. I never told Mom and Dad where I was going, and let them assume I was going to work. I just did not want to stress them at such a time. The day felt dreary as I kept thinking about how harsh and cruel the world can sometimes seem.

The new laser place though, is in a very pleasant mall, and I had lots of time to look around before the appointment. I fed the ducks playing on the frozen pond, and had a wonderful fish dinner in a charming little restaurant. All around people were smiling, laughing and happy.

After lunch I was sitting on the lip of a fountain, listening to the water cascade across its tiers. Outside the ducks continued to play on the ice in their cute waddling gate. Around me, the shoppers passed in chatty, happy little groups. Sitting there surrounded by so many comforting sights and sounds the world did not seem such a harsh place. Even the feeling of the smooth cold tile under my hands seemed a blessing.

Certainly the world is more than I can understand sometimes, but it not a cold, random godless place. As certainly as it would be impossible for a single cell organism to ever have enough DNA mutations to become a plant by coincidence, much less, a complex creature like those marvelous ducks, this world is governed by a creator, and not by random chance.

I realized, sitting there, that all we can do is relish every simple pleasure, try to have whatever tiny positive impact we can on those around us, and reach for our dreams with the time we have.

To me, those do not seem unfair terms. I'm quite grateful for the opportunity.

As time for my appointment came, I stood and tossed a coin into the fountain. I closed my eyes a moment searching for a wish. Nothing grand in the end. Only that my parents could understand and accept me.

With a new serenity, I set out, reaching again for my dreams.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Earring Update

8 tonight will make precisely 2 weeks since I had my ears pierced on New Years Eve, and I am still as thrilled with the decision as I was that day. The initial exhilaration of doing something different is gone, but I'm always going to think of this as a milestone event. Despite being overdressed, and having nowhere to go at that time of evening except a crowded Wal-Mart, I walked proudly to the counter, requested my ears pierced, shopped an hour as I waited and finally left wearing earrings, like I have always wished i could. Even better, everyone was incredibly nice to me; employees and other customers as well.

In fall of 2007, my first outing presenting as my true gender was also at a Wal-Mart. I was so nervous I was sweating. So nervous, I couldn't slow my steps. My only goal had been to go into the store, look around and leave, without needing to talk to anyone. What I managed was a quick power walk through the main aisles that block around the store, and I was an absolute nervous wreck, every muscle taught through the entire experience. I went home physically sore.

When I think about how far I have come since that time, in terms of knowledge, strength, self awareness. Even in terms of physical transition and pass-ability, it is just hard to believe. At that point in time it was hard to imagine ever being where I am now. The ability to just get out and be myself, without terror or being constantly self conscious seemed out of reach. At that point, I couldn't have walked through a register. Now, I can request something as personal and interactive as ear piercing without a twinge of worry.

I think the simple act of getting my ears pierced symbolizes that personal growth well. It does feel like a rite of passage. :)

My ears are healing very well. The piercings are barely sensitive at all now, and under the studs, there is plenty evidence of healing. All the swelling and pinkish coloration is gone, and there is no pain or itching. In 4 more weeks, I'll be able to take the starter studs out and begin to wear any earrings I choose. For now, I have no other earrings, but I'll certainly find an inexpensive way to expand my options soon. I am a bit emotionally attached to these little CZ studs though. I think I will file down the posts and try to find normal looking backs for them and a box. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snip Snip!

On this blog, a title like that could mean most anything. In this instance though, I am only referring to an innocent little hair cut. My stylist always does such a great job! I think she absolutely must have figured out I am trans. If a guy walked in with randomly flat ironed hair and asked for a trim and a color, I think you would probably just flat iron it back to some semblance of what it was before he walked in. For me though, without even asking, she'll poof the back and style my bangs prettily. You can't see how cool the back is in the photos though.

I never go this far styling my hair for work, so the days when I take a little break and head to the salon, are my days when I depart the very farthest form the male norm while still working as a male.

Thank you S, for the great dye job and killer styling. I'm so happy! =)

Without all the gray roots, I feel so much more confident about going to laser Friday.

A Laser, Of A Different Sort. (TRIA)

Recently, I posted that I'm about to try a new laser provider. Today, I am a bit nervous about yet another laser decision.

For several months, I have been seeing TRIA lasers on QVC, and wondering whether they are legitimate. I've started to research several times, but I always get sidetracked. After my last post, Jamiegottagun dropped a comment, mentioning that she was considering that as a possible laser solution at some point. Well, Jamie has always seemed to me a no nonsense kind of girl, and not the type to fall for goofy infomercials, so I decided it probably was worth looking into.

For me, this is not something I hope to be a magic bullet, to completely remove every unwanted hair on my entire body. Basically all I want is something that will permanently reduce my leg and arm hair to more tolerable levels, and clear a few other areas that are a bit problematic for me. To do that at a skin spa with commercial laser would cost thousands. So an alternative at $630 sounds intriguing.

I do think, after looking around online that this is a legitimate product. Most negative reviews seem to come from either unrealistic expectations, impatience, or those trying to use it on hair types it doesn't even claim to work on. It is FDA approved to advertise for permanent hair reduction, which is reassuring. Plus, its rare to see gimmicky, completely non-functional products in this price range. Most people trying to sell something like that, pick a much lower price point, to pull in customers, knowing that most won't bother to hassle with the return process to recoup the loss.

Sold direct through TRIA, this laser has a 1 year warranty, and a 90 day return policy. QVC sells them and has a 30 day no questions asked policy about any returns. They generally don't bother carrying non-functioanl products in this price range.

Also, there are occasional intelligent reviews, where someone bothers to state their hair type and skin tone are both in the right range, who report pretty spectacular results. Better than I need in many instances.

So, ny new hair removal strategy? Skin Solutions in LExington can do my face, and I'll try taking care of everything form the neck down myself, with TRIA. My hope is that between my hormone regimens gradual reduction and TRIA, that I can make my legs and arms more managable and eliminate most of the other hair on my body. After 8 months of TRIA, I'll switch back to epilating to yank out remaining hair, in hopes that the gradual plucking damaged, combined with hormones, will leave me with very little hair requiring electrolysis.

By the end of this year, maybe I'll be mostly hair free, and be in a good situation for switching to electrolysis for the remaining resistant facial hair and other remaining hair that is in places awkward enough to concern me.

I just put the order in today so lots of new laser things will be happening over the next couple of weeks. I feel pretty bad about the cost, but the alternative is so much more. If I can get worthwhile results out of this little device, its going to make my whole transition so much cheaper.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Oh no! Another Laser Blog!

I've not been to laser since early October, but many parts of my face and neck are still nearly clear. I've never felt this good about the way I look.

Still, I have decided to try something different. My current laser operator is only open Monday through Friday, and keeps very short office areas on Fridays. Because of this, I have had to take personal days to take care of my laser treatments so far, making it hard to go as often as I should.

This week, as I was contemplating calling my old laser place, my heart kept telling me I should instead check out a laser treatment spa many of my friends in Lexington were using. I couldn't shake this feeling that I needed to switch, and I put off the call for a while to think about it. When I finally did call the current place, the phone was on auto-attendant and the mail box was full. At that point, I decided I should just trust my intuition and try the other place.

I called and found they were very pleasant, and offered a variety of advantages over the operator I see now. They do Saturday appointments, are an hour closer, and cheaper as well. I'll be able to go every 6-8 week instead of once every 3 months, since I don't have to use personal days. Hopefully this will make it a little faster to get the results I need.

Still I'm nervous about switching. Its hard leaving when something was working. This will be a new operator, who will probably want to start at safe, low settings and work back up to something more effective. Also, it will be a different technology. To this point, I have been using IPL, intense pulsed light. At the new place, I'll be receiving actual laser treatments. IPL is actually very easy on the skin, and has even helped my complexion. I don't think laser has the positive skin effects, and that, I'm going to miss. I also don't know which is more effective on light skin with dark, deep rooted hair. Another concern is that I will be switching from a licensed dermatologist, to someone who's training is a lot shorter and more specific.

I'm excited, and a little nervous. I hope this continues to be effective, and that my skin handles it well. But I think I am making the right decision. The price is better, I'll have better scheduling options, and the opportunity to go much more often. Plus, its in a town where I actually know people. That is always nice. Others are getting great results, so we'll see. My fingers are crossed.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Do I Ask So Much?

I had a magnificent New Year's. Thursday through Saturday were just such wonderful times that they felt surreal. I find myself wishing I had written about it while that dream-like quality still lingered. Instead though, I find myself isolated and upset, trying to recount the best few days I have had in quite a long time. Mom hurt my feelings this morning, and I upset her. Now resentment, anger, fear and guilt taint my mood. I do not wish to hurt anyone. All I want to do is take this precious little drop of time that is life, and try to make it happy. I want to be myself. I don't want my life to be like tip toeing through a mine field, never knowing when some small step or innocent movement will trigger an emotional explosion. I want to be free to run, to dance, to live openly. Why can't people accept me for who I am, instead of being so upset by every little thing I do?

As I said, New Year's Eve and the following day were spectacular. Lisa was kind enough to invite me and several of my friends to her house for a New Year's get together. I decided to ring in the new year in style, so instead of wearing jeans, I decided to go with a scarlet red, cowl neck, sweater dress. After I got ready for the party, I ran out to take care of one of my New Year's resolutions. I had decided a while back that this was the day I was going to pierce my ears. We needed a few party supplies, so I chose Wal-Mart for the piercing job. I thought about changing back into something more casual for the trip, but my friends assured me that I looked great and that everything would be okay.

I decided just to wear the dress. Finally getting my ears pierced is symbolic for me, and it felt as momentous as a Hollywood Awards ceremony. The dress was fine.

I was nervous as I arrived at Wal-Mart. Usually I have friends around when I am in public these days, and walking in to Wal-Mart alone conjured memories from less passable times in my past. Being decidedly overdressed, and in bright red no less, added to the awkward feeling. But everything went smoothly. Actually, many of the men in the store gave me, obviously appraising looks, and none of the women got that annoyed look that says "look at that gaudy, ridiculously dressed tranny. " Instead I just got quick, subtle up and down look, with no obvious emotion behind the eyes.

When I got to the jewelry counter and asked about piercing, the very polite clerk informed me that the girl who does piercing had just stepped away for lunch. It turns out she meant that very literally, as as she was barely outside of the jewelry area. So close in fact, that she over heard us. She turned and explained that she would be back in about an hour if I would care to come back, then asked whether the piercing was for me, and I said that it was. I left wondering "Hmm, did she identify me as a cross dressed male and decide the piercing must be for someone else, or do I just look to old to still need pierced, so that she instead thought I must be bringing a child?" It actually turned out to be the latter, but I had an hour to wonder before I found out. LOL!

I managed to spread out the party supply shopping for the hour. It was actually very pleasant. I ended up in every department in the store. No laughs, no stares. I think the most flattering moment was when I was looking for sparkling grape juice, and a guy came by and tried awkwardly to start a conversation with me, about how Wal-Mart always moves things and makes them hard to find. He was actually kind of cute too! :)

As I checked out with the groceries, I was in a huge line, but again, no one stared, laughed or hassled me in any way. The girl who rung up my groceries chatted away, asking me questions about the New Year's party, going by my outfit and the items I had in my cart. She was obviously very much at ease with me. As the greeter checked my receipt, she complimented me continually. "You look so pretty!" She said at least twice. Also she complimented my height and said she wished she could be tall.

After I got the groceries out, I went back just in time for my ear piercing. The lady certified for the work kept telling me she was surprised I had not had my ears pierced yet, and asked why I had waited so long. We chatted comfortably about the piercing and I picked out tiny silver and cubic zirconium studs. The other girl working the counter had now left for her break, so jewelry customers had to wait through the process. When I sat down for the actual piercing, I must have looked frightened. One of the ladies in line asked if I was scared and I admitted that I was a little bit. She was very reassuring. The clerk also explained that it wouldn't hurt very much. Still, even though I eppilate religiously, and have had 1000s of hair follicles fried out simultaneously with lasers, I waited nervously with my eyes closed as she lined up the piercing gun with marker spots she had placed on my lobes.

Everyone was right though. It was near painless. In a few moments, I was looking into the mirror at two sparkly little dot sized earrings. They looked lovely, and it felt momentous. Like a rite of passage.

Back in my car, driving to Lisa's, I thought over my hour long store visit and how far I had come in this year. I would have been terrified and self conscious, stepping to that counter back then. I would have assumed that no one would have wanted to have me at their counter, much less end up having to have enough contact to pierce my ears. Looking back now, it seems silly that I ever hated myself so much that I made assumptions like that, but I did. At that point I felt like a leper; some poor, unfortunate soul that know one would want around once they knew the truth.

Back at the party everyone congratulated me and complimented my cute little earrings. We chatted and dined right up until 2010 was 10 minutes away. Then we turned on the television to catch the ball drop in Times Square. I can't imagine a better way to ring in a New Year. I felt victorious. My physical transition will be a major part of 2010, but in 2009, there was an emotional metamorphosis. I transformed from a scared, shy, self loathing person, to a happy, sociable, confident woman. I realized suddenly, that the remaining facial hair is the only thing that robs me of the confidence I need to go full time.

Friday and Saturday were also very positive. I stayed in town and had a wonderful visit at Lisa's. Time with my friends always leaves me so happy. Everyone is so supportive, and the conversations are just amazing. Mostly we just got carried away with long chats and the hours flew by as we talked and laughed.

Saturday night I retunred home. This morning, Mom noticed the earrings and went on a tirade. "If you are a woman, I don't see why you need to flaunt it." "You are going to ruin everything for everyone, just to make yourself happy" "I see other young people trying to do things to make this world better, and all you are focused on is destroying yourself."

I told her that tiny cubic zirconium studs are not exactly flaunting anything. And that if another girl feels like carrying a red umbrella, or piercing her ears, or paying attention to her hair that the world is fine with it. I explained that I can not live my entire life pretending to be a man just to make things easier for her. The conversation was heated. I told her again, that I will transition, that it is not a matter open to debate. Then I left.

I cried driving, thinking of how hurt and worried she is. Just days ago we were happily exchanging the presents we bought for each other. Now she is all upset because I did something that most daughters have already done by their teens. I wish it were only the ear piercing. I would take them out, let it heal back and get on with my life. But the reason they can't deal with it, is because they do not see me as female. That is what is upsetting.

There is no sense in me backing down. The earrings are optional, but there are many much bigger things that must be done, which are not. Backing down on this will not save them from any of the pain that will come with watching me transition. Backing down would also make me look vulnerable. If I show evidence that I can be persuaded through guilt, then I'll have to contend with even more of it through my transition.

I'm proud of the earrings. For me, they symbolize the many social and presentation challenges I have overcome in the last two years. They are a milestone. If someone does not want me to wear them, they can pry them out of my cold dead lobes.

Tomorrow, will be my first day at work with them. After that, 6 weeks before things heal enough that I can wear them selectively instead of 24-7. In a bit, I'll drive home. I don't feel like talking to Mom, and looking at me will just upset her anyway. I'll probably just stay in my room...