Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Things That Scare Me

Things have been going quite well, and for the first time in my life, I actually believe that I will accomplish my lifelong goal of living full time in my correct gender.  That is exciting, but I know I have a long road ahead.  I know that I am likely to face some real challenges (am already facing a few), and that scares me.  Here are some of the fears I have been thinking about lately:

My work life:  I have taken the first steps in communicating my intentions at work.  Theoretically, I work for an “evolved organization” that embraces diversity and makes a very big deal of its work with the LGBT community… in Europe.  The fact is a company’s non-discrimination and equal opportunity policies are only as good as the people who enforce them.  I worry about those people, and about all the other creative ways they might choose to “resolve” the situation I create.  And of course assuming I keep my job, there’s the reality of dealing with old colleagues as a (perceived) new person.

My family:  I have never had a close relationship with my family.  Still the idea that they may shun me forever is scary, and it hurts.  I don’t know why.  I have all the love and support I could ever dream of, and yet, I really want my family to accept me.

Public Life:  It’s more of an annoyance than a fear, but it really bothers me that I can be out and about wearing makeup and carrying a purse, and am never “mistaken” for a woman.  It’s somewhat fascinating, if entirely maddening, what combination of signals and non-verbal queues it requires to cause someone to assume your gender.  I’m afraid I haven’t yet figured that out.

And the biggie… Restrooms: Other than in gay bars, I haven’t yet had to navigate this particularly delicate situation, but I am only a couple weeks away from being there.  I’ve been in normal society before, but not long enough that I couldn’t “hold it” till I got home.  At the end of June, I will be spending the better part of the day away form home (and in “normal” society). I am attending my first group session in the morning and have a regular session following.  Both are in the same place and far enough from home that I won’t have an out.  I am going to have to deal with the restroom situation, and that frightens me more than about anything else I have faced.  I could really use some advice on this one.

So, what are your fears?  If you have dealt with it, how have you handled this whole restroom thing?  I’d love to read your thoughts.

Take care,


  1. Hello Kate,

    Holy Hannah, things that scare me? I know it sound the terrible cliché but spiders. Topping the list right there. Those things strike a primeval fear in me that I can't fully explain. Wanna see me running from a room screaming in fear? Yeah, that's it right there.

    Bathrooms. Oh my. I was so worried about those early on. And then it happened. I got politely challenged/questioned a couple times in or around bathrooms until one day a small child screamed at the top of his longs "Daddy, there's a LADY in here!!!"

    I though I was going to drop dead right there. Yeah, you read that right. "Daddy, there's a LADY in here!!!" I was in the men's room. Two other times within that week I got questioned coming out of men's rooms someplace else, and then finally one of the librarians, who even knew my story, pulled me aside and politely said "I'm going to have to ask you to stop using the men's room, we're starting to get complaints."

    I got slightly panicked and said "I can't go to the bathroom while I'm at the library anymore?"

    She looked confused and said "Of course not, why would you think that? We'd just all prefer it if you used the right bathroom and stay out of the men's room. I know it's a silly antiquated rule, and I know for some women it's symbolic, like burning one's bra to use whatever damn bathroom they please, but we try not to make our patrons uncomfortable, so please, could you just use the ladies room like the rest of us?"

    I was, to say the least, stunned. My lawyer had been making an unholy mess of my name change, I wasn't anywhere near ready for surgery at that point, and because I still had my old ID, I was terrified I'd offend or upset someone. So out of respect, I was waiting until I could get my paperwork resolved.

    "Problem" was that even still wearing what of my old clothes still fit, I couldn't pass as a guy for blood or money. I was never mistaken for a man if I read what you meant above correctly. It was, to say the least, a wholly and completely surreal turning point in my life I'd never imagined would happen. I did the only logical thing at that point, I started using the correct bathroom for my gender and never looked back.

  2. Part II...

    But it was weird. It was hard, but so unlike what I'd thought would happen. But my whole journey was like that. I was terrified of coming out, friends and family were relieved. I spoke in general terms to give them time to wrap their mind around what I was hinting at, they were talking about who the best surgeons were, and when was I going to go? I was terrified of being seen as a mockery, they were so thankful I wasn't being a mockery anymore. I was worried they were going to freak out on me and I'd lose them, they were worried I was going to push them away. My sister, finally after a few months burst into tears and said I'm not ready to lose you, I can't lose you. You see she'd already lost someone to transition. Not because my sister had a problem but because her friend did. I sat and talked with her a bit, found out what her concerns were, and put them to rest right there in a way that was so me, and had he laughing and crying tears of happiness. I'd forgotten that her friend, someone she grew up with, went to school with, had known for years and years became as she put it "A Gender and Pronoun Nazi and didn't want me to ever, ever mention our shared history for fear of outing her as someone who 'used to be' male." I'd forgotten that she'd had to go through that, so I took her in my arms and whispered "Hey, now none of that, you know I have one simple rule. You can call me anything but late for diner, cause you know how that upsets me when I miss good food." I'd been saying that for years, for "forever" as my sister put it. It was just the right note, and we talked a little more and she promised to try to remember to use my name, not the old one, and use the right pronouns and such. I told her not to worry about it, I've had a lifetime to deal with this, give yourself permission to take your time and adjust. She expressed concerns about sharing history and talking to other people and having it come out that I used to be her brother. She wasn't sure if she even could edit all the years of memories and she didn't want to give them or me up. I simply said that memories are vital to our hearts, minds, relationships, and lives, and if she's sharing a memory and uses my old name or pronouns, so what. That was who I was trying so hard to be at the time. No need for editing. So we parted that night to go to our own homes (we were at yet another siblings house) and she gave me a long, strong hug, looked into my eyes and said "I have an amazing sister! I love you Samantha" I put an expression of mock horror on my face and said "Oh God, what did I do wrong?" Seeing her confusion I pushed on with a wry smile and said "I only get called Samantha when I've done something wrong? You call Elizabeth Liz, and Sandra, Sandy, did I do something wrong that you didn't want to call me Sam?" Finally it clicked into place and she started laughing.

  3. Part III...

    Two weeks later we were all standing in the kitchen trying to decide what to do about dinner. Lynne and I were facing each other and Sandy was facing my brother-in-law Bill. They were at odds with each other and Lynne started stepping between them making faces at them trying to break the tension and I innocently said "You're a better woman than I" referring of course to getting between Sandy and Bill. Without skipping a beat she fired back "Of course I am, I've had more practice than you have." Sandy hollered "Lynnie" and then the room got really, really quiet as both Sandy and Bill looked utterly horrified and frozen in fear. I looked at Lynn and said, what did you do? Did you pass gas and missed it or something? I looked at Sandy and said, "What? What did she do wrong, I must have missed something?" Sandy sputtered "but what she said..." I looked at her and said, damn, I'm getting slow in my old age, did I miss something?" Of course Sandy's missing the looks between Lynn and I, because we both knew where this was going and were fixing to have some fun with it. Sandy said "but she said she's had more practice than you?" Lynn said quickly "But I have" catching my eye and I knocked it right out of the park with "Of course she has, I've not yet embraced my inner Goddess that way she has. She was just stating a fact. I think she's awesome! And in my own defense I'm catching up fast. But I don't understand, you've never had a problem with these kinds of conversations before, how many times has poor Bill had to leave the room because three randy women and three bottles of wine make him nervous. Or are you just trying to avoid making a decision about dinner?"

    We have fun, and life settled down, and in, and went right on, and if anything we're all closer than we've ever been before, and of course I'm way, way, way more fun that I ever was before because I'm not trying to be someone I wasn't.

    The secret my dear isn't trying to be mistaken for a woman. As Yoda might say, it is because you try that you fail. There is not try, only DO! The hardest part I've found for most women along a similar path isn't in embracing the future, it's letting go of the past, or at least putting it into a healthy perspective so to speak. As your title says, "Living For The First Time, Again" Or as Garth Brooks sings: "This learning to live again, is killing me..."

    Very similar concepts. All journeys can be scary if we let them. Be it learning to ride a bike, or live as your authentic self after a lifetime of being someone else, it's not (for most people at least) a simple thing. But the secret is doing it, not looking at yourself through everyone else's expectations and assumptions. If you spend all your time worried about never being mistaken for a a woman, I promise, you will not be. Not because of anyone else, but because of yourself.

    A Zen Koan I'm partial to is:

    "Put no distance between you and where you are."

    Let yourself live, be, flow, and be present. Be yourself. Don't make the mistake I've seen so many people make and worry about "presenting as" but instead just be. And watch. And Listen. And open yourself up to the new world, the new life you have, and leave the old one in the past. Give yourself permission to go grab a fruit smoothie in the mall, sit off to the side, and watch, and listen and be a sponge to everything around you. How other women move, talk, listen, walk, sit, drink, eat, whatever. Don't itemize and try to cram facts into your head, just say to yourself that you're just letting it all in, you're absorbing it like a sponge, and somewhere inside it will all make sense. But whatever you to, don't over think it.

  4. Part IIII...

    Because that's what I did with restrooms, I over thought things. Oh and makeup. Me, I don't do makeup really except for really light touches. Unless you're going someplace important, on a date, to the theater, or something like that, most women these days don't really use much. Think I'm kidding? Look around you, ask, again, be a sponge. Makeup draws attention to you. Worse still, because you're new to everything, it can, and often does, send the wrong note. Want a quick inexpensive secret to being seen as more female? Exfoliate, moisturize, a little bit of tinted or clear lip gloss, make sure to keep your eyebrows properly groomed and SMILE. SIMLE from your heart, let your heartlight shine. Soften your gaze, let there be a smile in your eyes, not an "I think I can take you" look. You'd be amazed what that can do for you. And relax. You'll be amazed what relaxing can do for you! Don't go looking for trouble and you won't find it.

    Did you know that dogs, common, ordinary canus dosmesticus can SMELL fear? It's something they can actually smell, like you would smell the scent of a rose. Smelling fear, makes dogs more aggressive, and LESS fearful, it makes them feel powerful. All animals can.

    Even the hairless, upright, apes. Yes, humans. They are not quite aware of it at the same level, and they certainly will not admit to it, but they CAN smell it, and they DO react to it exactly the same way dogs, or bears, or whatever does. It's a dead giveaway that there's something hinkey going on or worse. You're just going to the bathroom to relive yourself, not over throw a third world country. Don't be afraid, because if you let yourself be fearful, you will out yourself because people smell the fear and have to give a look and figure out what's going on. And that my dear is when you're done.

    We all want our family to accept us, it's part of the whole social context that is an outgrowth of our distant history as a tribal/clanish society, which in turn is derived from the primitive pack mentality. It's our hind brain being terrified of the unknown, our fear of being alone. Because after all if your family doesn't accept you, no one will. At least somewhere deep in our hindbrain that's how it all seems. And that is where the trouble starts. You have to let go of the fear, because again, if they can smell it, they KNOW that even you know deep down your doing something wrong. Worse, you're doing something different, you're breaking out of the box and transgressing freedom. Which is where it all goes wonky. Do you remember The Bene Gesserit Littainy against Fear from DUNE?

    "I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain."

    Go with the Goddess little one, let her support, protect and guide you, and when you are afraid, remember the Littainy against Fear. It really does work. Give yourself permission to live, be, and grow on your own terms and your own time frame. You will get there if you do. You'll get to the point, or something close to it, like I did where people will joke "You were NEVER a guy, you just played one, badly, on TV." Which in my case is a reference to the fact that I used to get mistaken for Commander Riker from NCC1701-D. I only wish I was joking.

    Some old before and after pictures are at:


    You'll see what I mean.

  5. Oh my goodness, Samantha! I thought I was the wordy one! :) I'm joking. Thank you SO much for your comment. And I have to note just how amazing is this cosmic consciousness.

    I don't work much in revelations or epiphanies, but I do have the occasional moment of clarity. Today was one of those. It is just so fascinating that only hours later I would read exactly the reality of my experience in your comments. I realized this morning that I wasn't "presenting as" anything. I was.

    I did not wear any makeup today. Oh, and to your point, my daytime makeup is subtle to the point of almost unnoticeable. My wife usually has to ask whether I have put any on. I did not wear it. I "presented" as I usually do. But... I felt myself. I embraced my inner self and let her shine.

    The result was a very pleasant day. There was nothing earth shattering, but I felt different... better. I think that manifested in some of the conversations I enjoyed with the salespeople at one of the stores where my wife and I were shopping for purses. I felt so natural, and I really felt like I was treated naturally. It was nice.

    Thank you for reading. I will be sure to check out your link.

    Take care,


All comments are welcome. Amusing and entertaining comments are appreciated. Informative and educational comments are encouraged.

Kind and respectful comments are expected.