Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Just Had to Say Hello

Oh my gosh!  I cannot believe it has been so long since I put up a post!  The last couple weeks have been pretty busy with a little princess turning ten, a family vacation, and the normal rigamarole of daily life.  I would pretend that time has been too short, but in truth the normality of it all has somewhat diverted my attentions, and I have in all honesty not had the motivation to write.  That is not to say there have not been ample opportunities or ample ideas, but truthfully, I sometimes worry that the subjects that emanate from my heart may be little more than whining.  And really, what business have I to whine about anything?

Still, I hate to stay away so long.  I will try to get back to work soon, but in the mean time, I hope this update finds everyone well.  I am hanging in there.  Each day is a new adventure, a new set of challenges, and a new chance for growth.  I am happy, and I am loved... and I am told I am also pretty cute. [wink]  What more can a girl want?

Take care my lovelies!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cucina di Kate

I tried to make a pie on Saturday.  It looked really pretty, and the flavor was excellent.  Unfortunately, the contents were more like peach soup than pie filling.  On Sunday, following the ill-fated pie adventure, I baked bread entirely from scratch.  The bread turned out wonderfully (if we can forgive a little blow-out on the side, I learned later that I should have let the formed loaf rise for a little while before I put the bread in the oven).  Baking is so amazing.  I would not suggest that it is easy; time and patience are a must, and your hands get messy.  And if you are like me, so does everything else – clumsiness and flour are not an ideal combination!

I am discovering that some of the most amazing tastes are possible with just a handful of ingredients.  A loaf of bread requires, yeast, flour, salt, sugar, and water.  A pie crust includes flour, salt, shortening, and water; pie filling adds only three more ingredients (I will add a fourth next time – I think I learned why I got soup).  More fascinating still, from a menu of just a few ingredients, there are literally thousands of possible recipes depending how you combine, process, and prepare the components.  The only requirements are time and devotion – a little patience is also helpful.

With a handful of ingredients, patience, devotion, and time, literally anything is possible.  Sound familiar?

I am a good cook, but for years I avoided baking.  It was scary; so regimented and complex.  There were steps that had to be followed and measurements that had to be made.  External conditions – things I did not control – like altitude and humidity could reduce the most perfect preparation to failure.  It felt more like chemistry than art, and I never liked science class.  As scary as it once seemed, though, I have discovered that I love baking. 

There are steps involved, and it does require patience; but the results – even the unexpected ones – can be amazing and wonderful.  By giving my time, my devotion to the process, and then stepping back and letting the ingredients and nature take over; I allow for great things to happen.  The key is that I do not control the outcome.  Like so many things in life, I am part of the dance, but there are countless other elements with which I must share credit (or blame) for the ultimate creation.  Sometimes, those elements become bread, and sometimes those elements turn into peach soup.  But no matter the end result, there is always something to learn and something to share.

Baking is a beautiful metaphor for life… and for transition.

My Baking Projects - aren't they just adorable?

Take care!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Strength Through Peace of Mind

When I was a child, I was freakishly shy.  I was also unreasonably afraid of being a disappointment.  I had a deep and unhealthy need for validation and approval.  I remember a particular winter afternoon from my childhood on the farm, when my one-two punch of personality disorders led to an outcome I have repeated often in my life.  I failed to live.

My parents (a.k.a. Santa Claus) gave my sister and I snow skis for Christmas.  They were actually more like steel snow shoes, wide and stubby – made more as children’s toys than sports gear.  My sister was anxious to “hit the slopes,” so my parents bundled us up, took us out into our hilly back yard, and set us upon our skis.  The slope of the hill was gentle, the snow soft.  I fell almost immediately – I giggled. 

What looked like joy was in fact a defense mechanism.  I did not know how to ski, and I was deathly afraid that my inability would disappoint my parents, or worse that they and my sister would laugh at me for falling.  So, I giggled.  I sat on that gentle slope, half buried in the soft snow, giggling.  My sister also began to giggle, and then she fell.  Before long everyone was laughing uncontrollably.  We never actually made it down the hill.  There are pictures of the brief moment when my sister and I were successfully standing on our skis.  We appeared to be laughing.  I was terrified and embarrassed.  I never again put on those skis.

I am not sure how, but I recognized early how limited by my fears I could be, and I knew that I had to fix that.  I approached the problem in the only way I could conceive.  I began forcing myself to do things that scared me.  Early in my school career, I entered a string program learning the violin, which forced me to appear in front of people.  When I mastered that (appearing in front of people… not the violin), I began competing in solo competitions, exposing myself even further.  Later on in school, I joined the choir and then a show choir (oh yeah… I was a stud), and eventually began performing both in string ensembles and singing groups at events outside of school. 

When I entered high school, I was a seasoned performer, but my fear of speaking to people was still overwhelming.  Theater was out of the question due to my commitment to music (the practices overlapped), so I joined Junior Achievement and Toastmasters.  I took public speaking classes.  I did door to door sales.  I once volunteered to act as a raffle ticket “hawker” at an art fair dinner, which forced me to aggressively sell to dinner attendees.  No one ever told me to do these things.  I simply knew that I had to prove I could.  I repeatedly and almost compulsively forced myself into situations of which I was terrified, pushed myself to do uncomfortable things, and made myself excel in every one.

What I am beginning to realize is that I solved only part of my problem.  I made myself successful, but I never learned to take satisfaction from my accomplishments.  I never learned to recognize my own self-worth, but instead continued to use my accomplishments as a way to seek other people’s approval and praise.  My fears diminished, but my unhealthy need for validation and approval never healed.

I am now trying to change my life for the better.  For the first time, I am trying to embrace the parts of me that I have always hidden for fear of the rejection they might breed.  I am learning to like who I really am, but I am also learning that old habits die hard.  I have approached transition the same way I approached my childhood fears, and I am getting the same result.  I keep pushing myself into uncomfortable situations whether or not I feel ready to deal with the ramifications.  I keep telling myself that I need to deal with all of this sooner rather than later, that I cannot wait until I have achieved a comfort level… that I cannot achieve a comfort level until I have faced down the demons of fear and discomfort.  I am behaving like “a man on a mission” rather than a woman loving herself.  This is exactly how I formed the false person who ruled the first four decades of my life, and I have been feeling the same sense of frustration over my lack of “results.”

Finally, though, I think I am realizing that I cannot build a better house the same way I built the faulty one.  Maybe I need to stop pushing myself into the world and looking to the world for the acceptance and validation that I have not given myself.  Maybe I need to stop forcing myself into transition time lines, and start letting myself flow toward my own womanhood.  I have to find the peace inside of me and let that flow out.  The fact is I am already a woman.  I have always been a woman.  The outer manifestation of that will come in its own time, and when that time comes, the transition will flow naturally.  Until then, I need to let it be (thank you John, Paul, George, and Ringo).

Above all, I need to remember that I do not need to prove anything to anyone, including myself.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!
Take care,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Emotional Woman

I have always been an emotional person, but lately my feelings are getting the better of me.  I can deal with tears for no apparent reason, but I am bothered by the sense of irrationality that accompanies – or maybe drives – my recent emotional roller coaster.  I do not like feeling irrational.

Last night was an excellent example of one of these silly upheavals.  I was supposed to accompany my wife to a work function.  It was not the kind of event that I enjoy, and worse, because it was a work function that carried potential crossover to my own company; I was going to have to attend as a boy and play the role of good husband.  I cannot say I was excited about any of that.  Regardless, I made the necessary arrangements, got my workout in an hour early so I had time to get ready, and even pressed a shirt for the occasion.  I spent the whole day psyching myself up for this event.

This whole thing would probably have been insignificant if not for the fact that I was (and am) still upset with myself for chickening out of a similar event a couple weeks ago.  My wife was working with the fire department at the local Independence Day celebration and had wanted me to join her.  I did not, because I was completely freaked out by the idea of meeting people she worked with and by the assumptions they might make about me.  I ended up sitting at home while she went to the event and watched the fireworks without me.  I felt terribly, and I promised myself that I would not let those fears get the better of me again.

Everything went according to plan, and I finished getting ready a full hour ahead of schedule.  I had just started to work on putting a light dinner together when I received a text message from my wife.  The event started an hour earlier than she thought, and she was struggling to leave work in time to stick to our plan.  She asked me what I wanted to do.  She suggested that she could stay at work and go straight to the gathering on her way home, meaning I would not have to attend; or she offered to pick me up anyway and arrive fashionably late.  I told her that it did not matter to me.  I was crying.

My immediate assumption was that she did not want me to go, because she would be embarrassed to be seen with me in the presence of her work colleagues.  I knew this was irrational, but my mind was busy piecing together all the evidence that supported my conclusion anyway.  I felt rejected and unworthy: no longer a boy, but not yet a girl – just a thing that was unfit for human consumption.  Worse, knowing fully that I was being completely irrational and that I had no reason to doubt what she said (she always struggles to leave work), I still could not dissuade the heart break I was feeling.  In truth, I am still trying to get over it.  How terrible is that?

When she arrived home, I had stopped crying, but I was still visibly upset.  We discussed the whole thing while sharing a bath, I cried a little more, and she consoled and reassured me.  I know my fears were unfounded, and I know that I had no reason to be upset.  It was not a party I wanted to go to in the first place; I should have been happy that things worked out the way they did.  And I certainly should not still feel hurt by what is nothing more than my own overactive imagination.

So I must quote Avril Lavigne… “What the hell?”  Why did I react so badly?

Take care and much love,

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sunny Side Up

I am suffering an extreme lack of creativity this evening.  I should be out hobnobbing and rubbing elbows with other business types right now, but unforeseen circumstances led to my being stranded at home instead.  I would be upset by that, but because the event was semi-work related, the expectation was that I attend as a boy.  For that reason, I am not terribly upset that I got left at home.

The problem is that I should be taking advantage of this time to write, yet I cannot seem to muster the creativity to do that.  There are reasons for that I am sure.  I suppose under the circumstances my best course would be to order pizza, pour a drink, and just give in for the evening.


Now to await the delivery boy.  Peace to all, and to all a guten nacht!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reparative Theramalarkey

Sometimes I wonder why I subject myself to such nonsense.  Does my getting all pissed off about the idiocy of some people really serve a purpose (other than achieving that little extra push during cardio at the gym, of course)?  Does it really do me or anyone else any good that I sit here steaming over things like the fallacy of reparative therapy, or the “moral majority’s” belief that they must interfere with other people's lives for the sake of what is “good and decent?”  Does it really matter?

Of course it matters.

Given the attention this topic has received, my contribution to the discussion is nothing more than piling on.  Anything I have to say has already been said by hundreds of people much smarter and better versed than I.  For that reason I will refrain from offering analysis, but I will tell you what I think.  I just watched the most infuriating set of videos on YouTube (which I have intentionally NOT linked, as I would hate to contribute to any more proliferation of nonsense) in which a couple “Christian counselors” offered their take on how boys “become” transsexual, and how they “fix” that problem.

Can you believe that one of these nuts actually suggested that a boy being too close to his mother often causes transsexualism?  Yes, because a mother is “too enmeshed” with her son, the boy will want to wear panties and play with dolls.  That makes perfect sense.  And can you believe that curing that boy’s “sinful nature” is as simple as getting his father to play with him more?  Miraculous.  I think I might actually have cured myself just by watching the video!  I think I’ll go take up baseball or shoot a gun or something.

I have never had a close relationship with my mother.  In fact, I think the nicest thing she may ever have said to me was “I certainly hope you don’t turn out queer.”  So loving.  On the other hand, my father was a loving and supportive part of my life.  There were incidents, of course… trying to teach me to play baseball, spending the entire lesson yelling at me for throwing like a girl, and eventually giving up and having a Coke together… that kind of thing.  But to his dying die, I always knew that my dad loved me no matter what, and I always felt safe with (if somewhat afraid of) him.

So, maybe all these years, I have been cured and I just never realized it?  I wonder if that’s why I have dreams about football players – large, muscular, powerful football players in tight pants... tackling each other.  I must want to be an athlete.

Thanks Mom!  Thanks Dad!  Thanks Christian Coalition!  Thanks reparative therapy!

So, do you think Coach makes duffel bags?  I need somewhere to store my Gucci baseball glove and Prada cleats.

Love you all, and good night!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hanging Out In Gay Bars

I am not the perfect woman.  It pains me to think I may be dashing your beliefs by admitting that.  Step down from the ledge; life is still worth living!  I am not the perfect woman.  I do not always have my hair “just so,” I do not always wear makeup, and I do not always have the perfect shoes to go with that outfit – unless you agree that tennis shoes are the perfect shoes.  That said, I am a woman, and over the last few months I have acknowledged that publicly… with mixed results.

Wait… wait!  Don’t leave.  I am not going to jump on the pronoun soapbox again.  I promise!

Before I finally came out, my wife and I (before I met her, just I) used to hang out at a particular gay bar and watch drag shows.  I would not say we were regulars, but we went often enough to have friends there and to be recognized by the bar staff and some of the performers.  I liked it there.  It felt safe.  We did not intentionally stop hanging out there, but life has been busy enough over the last few months that we haven’t had the opportunity to visit until just last weekend.

I did not realize how stressful day-to-day life had become until I walked into that familiar place, and all of the walls and protections and guards simply melted away.  In the way one realizes that a refrigerator had been running by the sudden stop of the motor; I realized how much stress I was carrying over “passing” by the fact that it suddenly did not matter.  There were no suspicious glances, no judgments, and no confusion.  In fact, our presence there was no more remarkable than anyone else’ presence.  The only emotion that could even come close to negative was the lack of interest I inspired in most of the men there (they are mostly gay, after all).  It was so refreshing.

It was nice to be in an environment where people treat you no differently because of how you are dressed or with whom you associate.  It was refreshing to hear compliments on my clothing that carried no hidden meaning (other than maybe the occasional “innuendo”… back off ladies, I am married).  It was nice to be in a place where people were okay with me as me, where there were no expectations other than that everyone should have fun.  And yes, it was nice to be in a place where everyone - and I mean EVERYONE – got their pronouns right.  Sorry, I had to mention it.

I know why I will probably always hang out in gay bars.  It is not because I am a lesbian; it is because I know where I will encounter good people.

Peace and love to you all,

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Making of a Trans Woman – Episode 4, Part 1: Introduction

It occurs to me that I seldom discuss my past on this blog.  Many of you have learned bits and pieces from family references in my posts, but I have never really shared any of my back-story in detail.  I am and work very diligently to remain a forward-looking person, but I recognize the value in reflection.  After all, those who forget history are destined to repeat it.

I am always fascinated by the similarities in experiences I encounter throughout the trans community.  It almost hints at a sort of cosmic consciousness that is shared by people like us.  There is certainly no absolute, and I have also read a number of stories that do not correspond to my experience.  Still, I think the frequency with which our similarities arise is notable, and I believe it points to something more than we may often consider.  I believe these similar patterns further solidify the case that transsexuality is a genetic condition. 

When one considers the whole of our experience, it is impossible to disregard the patterns.  For anyone to honestly suggest that such patterns could arise from environment and social conditioning, when those factors are infinitely diverse is ludicrous.  How without some underlying contributor could countless households, cultures, religions, and social structures produce the same result?  It does not happen.  To yield the similarities in experience, it would seem to this humble observer that a similar condition must exist.  It takes very little to see that environment cannot possibly be that link just considering the geographical diversity alone; that leaves little other than genetics to blame.

I have done exactly zero scholarly research to back up my assertions.  Everything I suggest here is based purely on the reading and informal research into transsexuality that I have done over the past twenty or so years.  I am not a scientist, nor do I play one on TV.  I once completed a science fair project in which I attempted to heat water using solar power.  I discovered that black Krylon paint, plastic tubing, and beer cans were a poor substitute for solar panels.  You should be impressed.  While I may not have done my homework on this subject, I know that a lot of other people have, and whether they agree with me or I agree with them; the premise remains the same.

In the interest of contributing to the body of evidence for those who actually would like to do the homework, I will occasionally add autobiographical perspective to my posts going forward.  This will also give me something to write about on slow news days.  Given the rather long-winded introduction, I will save the actual back-story for future posts.  You are welcome.  And remember, my prolific prose is one of my endearing traits… any other writer may simply have introduced her autobiography with “And now for something completely different.”

Cheers to you all, and enjoy this long Independence Day weekend.  Remember, a lot of brave men and women have died to insure that some people enjoy more freedom than others.  Still, we have more freedom than some, and for that we should be grateful.

Take care,