Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Quick Hello - Rated PG-13 for Mild Gore

Hello friends!

(WARNING: some of this might be a little gross.  If you are squeamish, proceed with caution!)

I know that I have been incredibly delinquent of late, but I can explain!  Umm, okay, it is a pretty terrible explanation, honestly.  Let us just say that I have been lazy.  Between recovery and healing, keeping up with my school work, and a full time job; I have somehow let the blog slip.  Mea culpa!

Things in the Katgirl universe are slinking right along, though.  I am finally getting back to "full strength" after a longer than expected recovery.  I will not go into much detail about the surgery or our experiences traveling to and from Mexico this time around, as I do not think I could fit it all in before I collapse for the evening.  I will share more about it though, soon.  I also promise, promise, promise to share some pictures soon!

I will share that, unfortunately, while our stay in Guadalajara was quite wonderful; the aftermath brought some rather icky consequences.  The surgeries went well, generally, and I am pleased with the results so far.  The bad news, though, was that somewhere between entering the O.R. and returning to Texas, I contracted an MRSA in my left breast.

About two weeks after we got home, my lovely wife had to rush me to the ER one fateful Wednesday evening, because the swelling and pain in my left breast had become too much to bear.  In truth, I should have had it checked out about a week before I did.  The ER was able to do very little for me.  They were as helpful as the could possibly be; they performed an ultrasound and determined that there was significant fluid build up in the breast "pocket," and they prescribed some happy pills and referred me to a surgeon for follow up.

The surgeon recommended by the ER was not the right kind of surgeon, so a few days after our late night trip; I found myself on Google searching boob doctors.  I was lucky enough to stumble across a surgeon very close by who just happened to have an opening that very day (and who happened to take our insurance!!).  He took one look at my boob, noted the angry red colors that had only that morning started decorating my incision site, and announced that I had an infection.  He prescribed an antibiotic regimen, said we would probably have to operate once the infection calmed down, and sent me away to let the next round of pills do their work.  They had less time to do their job than we hoped, though.

The very next day after my doctor visit, I returned home from work (yes, I went back to work as soon as we got home from Mexico... just 10 days after my 6 hour surgery) feeling like crap and began to change into my pajamas.  As I was slipping out of my bra, I noticed that the material was a little wet where it was covering my incision.  I next felt an odd "trickle" running down my belly.  The fluid that had been building up around my implant was now leaking out of my incision site.  I called the surgeon and was back in to see him the very next day, and back in surgery the day after that.

He was able to clean out the pocket and re-insert the implant (he had warned there was a chance I might lose it... YIKES!), and later confirmed that I did have an MRSA, which meant that I spent the following two weeks sporting a drainage system and the following four weeks taking pills that made me sick.  Thankfully, though, everything cleared up in the end, and I am finally starting to feel somewhat normal.

So, yes, in my entire adult life, prior to transition, I visited a doctor maybe six times.  I had never once had any kind of procedure... operation or otherwise.  Since September, I have been in surgery twice and worked on by four different surgeons. It has been such a fun fall season!

Oh, and I am also happy to report that everyone we dealt with throughout this whole infection episode has been completely courteous, respectful and super-duper nice... I could not be more pleased about that.

Okay, next time, actual MTF surgery stuff... I promise!

Bye for now, and many, many hugs.


Monday, September 17, 2012

See the World From Both Sides Now

What is there to say?  I am in tears.  My longtime readers will remember my tragic experiences of coming out and attempting to transition with my previous employer.  And what you read about my experiences was greatly summarized and diluted, because at the time; I was in fear of losing my job.  Yes, my previous employer monitored my personal life with the specific intent of finding cause to terminate me.  I would not be surprised if they are still monitoring me just out of the spiteful shrewish nature of the people who were tasked with “handling” me.  All I can say to you if you are still out there is: hi… hope you’re having a great life.  Boy, you sure taught me a lesson!

My previous employer, among other things, compelled me to provide all of the logistics of how to manage my transition (as I was the expert – I have reason to believe the people who laid out that expectation never even opened my painstakingly prepared “plan”).  I was asked how I would dress, what restrooms I expected to use, how my employer was supposed to handle it “when” other people in the office had a problem with me and “if” they decided to benevolently support my transition.  In short, I was asked to defend my right to have a job.  I was “asked” to segregate myself from all external contact with fellow employees; I had to remove people from my “friends lists” on all of my personal social network accounts.  I even had to relocate this blog (I was actually “asked” to stop writing, if you can believe that).  Of course, it took very little time for my “handlers” to figure out that I had just moved elsewhere, but there was little they could do as I had obeyed “the letter of the law.”  Still, I knew they were watching.

Given everything that happened (and this is not even including the changes in day to day relationships), it should be pretty obvious just how litigious of a person I am not.  The truth is, as is probably true of most women like me, I just wanted to be able to live my life in harmony with how I felt inside.  I had no interest in stirring the pot, in making a federal case, or of pushing the boundaries of gender law.  I just wanted to live.  So, I quit.  I started with a new company barely three weeks later (I am not stupid) for the same salary, better benefits, and far less responsibility.  And I repeat… boy, they sure taught me a lesson.

Fast forward six or so months to present day.  I told my boss a few weeks ago why he was giving me vacation at the beginning of September.  If you have been living under a rock for the last six months, you may not know that I just completed FFS and a few other procedures to facilitate my transition.  I told him that I was transitioning to female, that everywhere outside of work, I had been living as Kate for a very long time, and that the surgery I was about to have would make permanent my transition.  His response?  He started walking through the things we would need to take care of – changing my email account, my badge, my name plate, etc.  His one comment was that “if you’ve managed to perform like you have so far while going through all of that, it has nothing but good things to suggest about your future.  I have only ever known one you, and I support you 100%.”

Two days later, I met with HR.  I had only met this woman one time before.  Upon entering her office, the first thing she said was “I have never dealt with anything like this before.  You are a first for me.”  I heard a similar statement from my previous “HR” rep right before being raked over the coals for several weeks.  But what she said next set the tone for everything that has happened since: “But I have been doing a little research.”  She proceeded to ask me how my name would be spelled, whether I knew when the legal changes would be final, and what she could do to help me.  She stated her plan, asked if I could review the communications she was putting together to make sure I was comfortable with them, and proceeded to engage in an entirely cordial conversation about a whole slew of completely other things.  I was never asked what I would wear or what restroom I would be using.  

The communication she sent to our executive team, which was then cascaded throughout the organization, stated in very plain terms what was happening, what was expected of everyone (that I would be treated with respect, that correct names and pronouns would be used in reference to me, and that I would be using the appropriate facilities for my gender, etc.).  With the exception of my employee records (which understandably cannot be changed until the legal changes occur), the company actually updated everything from my email address to the nameplate on my office with my correct name.  All this happened while I was off lying around in Mexico.

I returned to work today.  You will not believe what happened.  As I entered the building, I passed a coworker.  She looked at me, smiling, and said… “Good morning.”  A short time later, I passed another colleague as I walked to my office.  Readers, you will not believe what he said.  He said… “Good morning,” and then proceeded to talk about operations with me for a few seconds.  I next passed one of the most religious people I have met there, and what she said to me was… it was just… um well… you be the judge.  She said “Good morning.”  Before I made it to my desk, I passed her a second time.  We laughed at the coincidence.  

What followed over the next two or so hours was a string of coworkers and office neighbors stopping by to welcome me back and to chat about my surgery, or to catch me up on what happened while I was out.  I heard everything from, “Wow, you look great,” to “How did it go?”  And regarding emails received bearing my new account name; you will not believe the responses I got.  I heard everything from… a response to my email, to… a “welcome back” and response to my email.  The horror!

Two of our directors in sales stopped by my desk to welcome me back… what nerve!  One even had the audacity to suggest I should take it easy and not overdo it so soon after surgery.  Can you imagine?

My boss sent me an email.  It said, “Welcome back.”  And that HR person: she sent me two notes today.  She actually had the gall to ask how I was doing and to echo the director’s admonition not to over exert myself.  Unbelievable.

I was stopped by security on my way out.  She wanted to tell me how proud she was for me, and what an awesome thing I was doing.  Can you believe that?

Seriously, I could not be more touched or more impressed by my company and its people.  One might almost think they value people and understand what is truly important in a business… results.

To my former employer: Boy, you sure taught me a lesson!

And those tears?  They are tears of joy.

Happy Monday, Friends!  Next time, I will fill you in on the surgery experience.
Peace and hippy talk,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Not In A Shy Way - The Way Is Mine

How did I get here?  How did I ever make it to this point in my life?  Just two nights from tonight, I will be lying in a hospital bed thinking ahead to the morning.  I will be facing the biggest step I have ever taken toward living my own truth.  There are so many thoughts flowing through my mind tonight, so many dreams, so many feelings looking for expression; and I am not sure how to put any of them into words.

As I have reflected over the last few days on the events that have led to this summit, I cannot help to think about the people who have been a part of the journey.  I am so, so blessed.  Making this pilgrimage is a nearly impossible undertaking; indeed, without the support of many wonderful people, I could never have hoped to make it this far.  I used to wish that I could have made the change sooner; that I never would have had to live in the prison of myself.  I used to lament my past.

As I looked this weekend at all of the people I love so much, I realized just how misguided those thoughts were.  I worship every moment of the life I have lived.  I relish every experience I have enjoyed, encountered, and endured (well, not the electrolysis.  I’m sorry Heidi, but that just plain sucks); because it was through each of those moments that I found each of you.

Trudi, Lisa, Kim, Tambra, Jen, J.T., Angela, Donna, Parker, Dee, Tawana, Tara, Sam, Henry, Paul, Jase, Michael; you are more than friends.  You have been the family I needed, and I hope we will always be together and always be family and always be friends.  Your support has been the bedrock of my / our transition and the source of great joy.  If one day, I can be there for you in even close to the capacity you all have been there for me; I will count myself lucky.  And Trudi and LIsa: I would be remiss if I did not add a special thank you to you two for being who you are, for allowing all of us space in your hearts and in your home.  Together, you are godfather and mother hen to us all... I won't tell who is whom. :)

Kendra, Jessica, Julie; what can I write that could ever express how important you are to me?  Julie, you have been a great friend, and your support has meant the world.  Kendra and Jessica, you girls are my everything.  I want you to know that no matter what may happen, no matter where we all go; you will always be my daughters, and you will always be first in my heart.  You have given me so much, and I look forward to you both growing into confident and happy women who get everything from life that you truly want and deserve.  I love you both so much.

And most importantly, Jamie: I would never have believed that one person could be so much to me.  You have stood strong and have unflinchingly believed in me and believed in our future, even when I had given up.  You held me up when all I thought I wanted was to lie down.  You were my footprints in the sand.  You have carried me when I could not or would not carry myself.  You belligerently showed me hope when all I saw was gray sky.  If we live another thousand years, I can never be all the things you have been to me in just a few.  But for as long as we live from this day forward, I will be living for you… for us.  It was not my strength that got us here; it was yours.  I love you.  And I will keep on loving you forever and ever on.

We are two days from history.  We are two days from a new chapter – the next great installment.  I will not hope to hurry those days away.  Life has taught me that every day is a day to celebrate, and a memory to be made.  And how lucky am I to have already amassed such amazing reflections?  And how lucky am I to have such a wonderful and loving group of friends and family with whom to share an entirely new set of memories?

And boobs... an entirely new set of boobs.

I would like to thank the academy... and to my manager and producers...

See you all on the other side!

Peace and chopsticks,
Katherine Lynn DeLong

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Political Rant

I avoid politics much the way I avoid news media.  I don't like people who think I should accept what they say without scrutiny.  I don't like being lied to (grammar apology).  I tried to watch Clint Eastwood's contribution to the RNC.  I got to the part when he implied culpability by the Obama administration for the fact that there are 23 million unemployed in America.  I don't know if that's a real number, or just a fancy statistical amalgamation.  I suspect the latter.

Allow me to pause.  I am not an Obama fan.  I am not a democrat.  I do not think he is any better for this country or for my needs than any other president I have witnessed (why else is it still "illegal" for my wonderful friends to wed?).  I also know better than to fall for yet another pack of lies.  I would agree he didn't fix it, but can you really expect me to believe that he caused it?  Come on.  And as for how you plan to fix it...

Seriously?  You whine about the abuses of government, about overspending, about medicare fraud, and welfare dependency.  You complain that 23 million people are unemployed.  You claim we need to start over.  And what is the cure?  What is your master plan?

Fill the nation with even more unwanted children and keep the families who actually want to be from becoming.

That is right, stop abortion and gay marriage, and with a simple praise jesus you wipe out the welfare problem, unemployment, national debt, AND the piteous lack of state sponsored school prayer.  Yup, by filling the country with accidental infants, smiting those nasty queers, and throwing in a couple new tax breaks for your cronies, you've solved all our problems.

Break out the bubbly boys.

And, oh by the way, I am sick and fucking tired of this attack on religion bullshit.  This god responding "I am not allowed in school" nonsense.  Because the constitution provides adequate protections for people of all (and no) faiths to coexist without persecution, and because "We the People" do not recognize an official state religion; that does not mean your god is under attack.  That does not mean your religion is being persecuted.  At most it means you are being prevented from persecuting others.  It seems awfully pathetic of a god, that the lack of school board endorsement would keep him from entering a building.  No one has suggested that your god is not allowed in school.  We have simply stated, as is consistent with our constitutional mandate, that we will not force your god on anyone through official endorsement, i.e. state sponsored worship.  Grow up.

I believe in limited government.  I believe that "limited government" means that people stay out of my shit.  In return, I believe I should stay out of other people's shit.  I do not believe in welfare, corporate or otherwise.  I have had to survive on my own under circumstances that would cause most to surrender.  I won't ask you to walk a mile in my shoes; I don't believe you could even put them on.  You question my resolve while I live despite your condemnations.  You may be louder, but I will always be stronger.  I believe in two things: live, and let live.

When a government's aim is to legislate morality and perpetuate it's own necessity; that government is wrong for the people.

This nonsensical rant is brought to you by 100 proof Vodka, dark cherry Fresca, and HuluPlus clips.

And saltines.

I like those.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Six Times Three Makes Female Me

Or something like that.

Hello friends.  No big speeches tonight, no soap box, no rousing battle cries, not even a specific opinion about anything: that leaves me very little to discuss I am afraid.

I wanted only to share that I am just eighteen days away from the single most significant event to date in my transition (get it... six times three? I knew you would).  In sixteen days, I am getting on a plane with my partner and flying to Mexico.  In eighteen days, I will undergo several surgical procedures, stopping just short of "the big one," that will affect a permanent shift from male to female.  In about twenty five days, I will return to the United States (I hope) in an entirely new form... a bruised and battered form, no doubt; but a form that will be more closely me than any I have ever before embodied.  The thought brings tears to my eyes (or is that the fan blowing in my face?).

This is the last house Kyle will ever live in.  This is the last job Kyle will ever have. It is the last time I will ever look in the mirror and be reminded, even if only for a moment, that things are not completely right (well... we'll overlook that one, little thing).  When I step onto that plane, it will be the last time Kyle will ever stand on U.S. soil.  

When I finally get my college diploma (twenty years late... shut up), the name of that graduate - of that soon to be psychologist (or environmental activist, or art critic... the jury is still out) will be Katherine Lynn DeLong.  The next time I buy a house - or rent a mobile home, I guess I cannot get too far ahead of myself - Katherine Lynn DeLong will sign the mortgage agreement.  The next time I buy a car, Katherine Lynn DeLong will sign the loan papers.  The next time I send a Christmas card, it will legally be signed by Katherine Lynn DeLong.  Okay, that would be the first time I have sent a Christmas card, but you know what?  This year, I just might.

Wow.  43.7 years.  43.7 years in the wrong body.  In the U.S., the average prisoner serving a life sentence spends only 29 years in jail.  I have more than served my time.  I think I deserve a little happiness.  I think we all deserve a little happiness, and maybe, just maybe a little peace as well.

I love you all, 
Good night.

Kat Girl

Friday, July 27, 2012

LGBT Me: Your Everyday is My Secret Life

I invest a significant amount of the space on this blog to my life as a trans woman.  Indeed, I invest a significant amount of my life dealing with issues of being a trans woman.  I think this in some ways overshadows the fact that I am also gay.  You may split hairs if you like, people often do.  Yes, I am genetically of the male sex, and that fact makes my relationship with a woman “perfectly normal.”  Thank you Doctor Ruth.  The truth is, whether you think of me as male or female (I greatly appreciate if you would NOT think of me as male, but I do not control your brain… yet), I am still gay… or some clever version on the spectrum.  I am attracted, somewhat equally, to both men and women.  And because I have acted at various times in my life on both of those attractions, considering me gay is technically accurate.

More importantly, that I am (regardless of my birth sex) a woman, and because I am legally married to a woman, I am gay.  Yes, we were legally married BY the state of Texas.  We found a tiny loophole… well… not tiny.  As a gay person, it has been impossible to overlook all of the recent discussions about the rights of gay people, of what constitutes equality under the law, and on what basis the law of the land should exist.  I find the discussion, and the vast majority of the arguments in the debate repugnant, honestly, and I would like very much not to have to think about it anymore.  The thing is, we cannot stop thinking about it.  It is not possible.  The reality struck me especially firmly this morning in the course of a casual conversation with a coworker.

One of the big criticisms I hear coming from the hetero-community is the notion that any sign of affection between gay people is “throwing our sexuality in people’s faces.”  Do not panic, I have no plan to start whipping out research data or statistics; I intend only to speak from personal experiences.  If you choose to criticize my lack of a scientific approach, that is your right.  I spend enough time on that crap doing schoolwork – I write here for catharsis, not scholarly recognition.  And now back to our featured program.  Another sweeping generalization that just goads me is this rhetoric about how our rights are somehow trampling the rights of decent (christian) Americans.

I walked into my place of work this morning at the same time as a coworker who sits near me.  We are friendly, but we have never had a conversation.  That changed this morning, briefly, when we exchanged casual pleasantries and a little small talk, which led to her discussing an anecdote involving her husband.  The complete ease with which her marital status was revealed and the underlying assumption that this was a completely normal and acceptable part of life completely set me back.  I tried to envision so casually referring to my partner in a similar way with someone I knew equally as little about as she about me.  The thought is unfathomable.

That is not to say I am ashamed, or that I have any particular hang ups about who I am; it is just a very different reality.  A straight person can discuss her marriage, her relationships, and even her relationship adversities without any thought of how it may impact someone’s views of her.  Imagine knowing that revealing details about your relationship to someone you just met could lead to awkwardness, or worse, to mistreatment or discrimination… or worse still, to some physical danger.  People in mixed race relationships, I am sure also share this reality – or at least once did.  For a straight person, this thought must be completely foreign, but for those of my readers who are straight; try for a moment to imagine living in that reality.

This is not a matter of being concerned about how people see me, or about whether or not I am liked; this is a concern for how people will affect my life based on their beliefs.  That is a real problem.  So, I ask, who's rights are really being marginalized here, and who is truly “throwing their sexuality in people’s faces?”  I have to watch opposite sex couples engage in public displays of affection almost every day.  I listen to heterosexual people discuss their relationships every day.  And on top of it all, I also have to listen to those same individuals discuss whether or not they believe they should bestow some gift of equality upon people like me, as if the right is theirs to grant in the first place.

I have done a lot of thinking about this whole equality question, and I have decided to start a different campaign – a campaign that is laughable and ridiculous, but a campaign that by its very ridiculousness highlights the absurdity of this whole debate.  I think the federal government should pass a constitutional amendment eradicating legal recognition of married status on the grounds that it is a discriminatory practice founded on religious doctrine, which by definition cannot be recognized or endorsed by the government.

If legal marriage is not equally applicable to all American citizens, it should be applicable to none.  And that is enough of my rambling for one evening.

Please remember to tip your bartenders and waitresses.  Thank you and good night!

Peace and Smooches,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What the Hell?

So, why am I getting a steady stream of SPAM comments all of a sudden?  I hear nothing from anyone except for fucking bots... excuse my language.  I have pretty much had it with this whole "cyber" experience.  So frustrating.

Is anyone else seeing this issue?  Is anyone out there?


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trans-Vacational Paradox

Fair warning: I just completed and submitted a ten page English Lit paper, so there is no foretelling the outcome of this post.  I am beyond loopy.

We just returned from a pseudo-family vacation trip to Branson, Missouri, the (as I have dubbed it) Knock-Off Capital of the Midwest.  It was not an entirely bad trip.  But pack two women, a precocious ten (going on twenty seven) year old girl, and a behaviorally challenged puberty riddled fourteen year old boy into a single hotel room for several days, and you may just unlock the mystery behind the disappearance of the Mayan empire.  You at least have the basis of an excellent murder mystery novel, but we will avoid those stories for today.  I would mention that if you ever need to feel humble, try spending an extended period of time in close proximity to someone who’s only predictable trait is that he will consistently do exactly what you tell him not to do.  That will knock you down a peg or two (and convince you that military schools might just have their merits)!

The trip was not without some very pleasant moments and was generally a good one.  We saw some really great shows, took a very interesting tour (more on this in a moment), ate awesome food, and saw some new and beautiful sites.  We also saw some very authentic human unpleasantness.  Peace and pleasant human interaction are never a guarantee in my situation, of course, but when one is a trans woman surrounded by red necks, blue hair, and bible churches; discomfort and discord take on feud-like proportions!  There is no question that I was well behind enemy lines at the very least.  I know that some of you are saying to yourself, (or possibly out loud, there’s no telling with this bunch) “well she put herself in that situation... what did she expect?”  

You know what?  You are right.  I did put myself in that situation.  I have repeatedly put myself in that situation, and I will continue to put myself in that situation; because I do not believe I should have to voluntarily segregate myself from mainstream society in order to secure my own rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Further, I repeatedly put myself in that situation, because more often than not, the result is positive.  Indeed, even on this trip, I enjoyed a few very positive (or at least not negative) interactions.  The unfortunate truth, though, is that this time the odds played out on the side of the negative.

Between angry onlookers, blatant oglers, and disrespectful hotel staff; I got the very distinct impression that there a lot of people in Branson who do not believe I deserve to enjoy any of the rights I mentioned above.  Possibly the worst offense was my very first interaction in Branson at the front desk of a Baymont Hotel (who, by the way, will be hearing exactly what I thought of my experience there), which started out very pleasantly.  The gentleman (and I use that term sarcastically) behind the desk was exceedingly friendly and joked smilingly with both my partner and I right up to the moment he looked at my ID (and the incriminating “M”).  In an instant, his entire demeanor changed.  The smile quickly disappeared from his face, he stopped making eye contact, and his voice affected what I can only compare to a growl as he as hurriedly as possible completed his dealings with me and turned away.  From that point, the worst encounters were little more than angry or baffled stares from overstuffed redneck men and angry old ladies, the latter of which I am used to... old women are the worst and most blatant offenders when it comes to human sensitivity... and you can quote me on that.

This is the screwy part.  Aside from the first night there, every negative encounter happened during the day when I was out and about (and sweating my ass off... sorry... glowing my ass off), and every experience was either with passers by or other patrons in establishments we visited.  The worst were restaurant visits, during which I spent my entire lunch being stared at from every direction.  I will say that with the exception of the hotel dude, every other “employee” I encountered in the businesses of Branson was perfectly courteous, even when an ID check was involved... so that was good.  What makes this interesting is that when we dressed up and fixed up to go out at night, whether to a show or a restaurant, I was treated with the utmost respect and courtesy.  Every interaction from friendly conversation to flirtatious banter was a positive one.  That was good.  But the whole experience really made me think.

What a strange paradox it is that in the space of a few hours and with a simple change of clothing, I can go from vile specter to lovely patron (and in some cases, "hit on" material).  I worry about that.  What if it never changes?  What if those awkward moments continue to happen?  I am about to spend an entire barrel full of money to fix most of the remaining features that “call me out,” but I will always be a tall girl with broad shoulders... a beautiful and sexy one, for sure, but the fact is I will always stand out.  What if in always standing out, the added attention continues to cast doubt?  Am I being foolish to even try to correct my non-feminine features?  I know what some of you are saying to yourselves (and at least one of you out loud, you know who you are): “So what?!  Fuck them all.  Be proud of who you are.”  

Thank you for that, and you know, most of the time that is easy enough.  One thing many of you know about me is that I look at all things with a certain amount of skepticism.  I never fully relinquish doubts.  It is one of the things that made me a pretty crappy christian (never mind the whole divorced gay transgender thing).  This trait has honestly served me well over the years, and I frankly consider it a strength.  I bring this up, because I want to assure everyone that I am not changing course, and I am not considering backing out.  It is important to me, though, to continue to recognize what is going on in my head.  And over the last week, I have worried a little about what will come after surgery.

There is only one way to find out of course, so anchors away boys!

Remind me next time to tell you about the “Sixty Six Million Dollar Man’s Problem: Nature,” Or, “Why should I move off this flood plain? You fix it.”  

Also, I have to tell you about a hilarious battle of wits between a ten year old girl and a zipline tour guide.  Spoiler alert: girls rule!

Peace friends,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Trans Woman Down: MIA or Something

I know that I start a lot of posts this way (sorry), but I apologize for my prolonged absences from this blog.  I vowed to myself that I was not going to be one of those transwomen who flooded the blogosphere with melodramatic crap all through transition only to disappear once I had it all figured out.  I figured on continuing the melodramatic crap indefinitely.  Okay, I promised myself that I would be there to support others, and yet, I gradually fade from the blog anyway.  The catch is, I do not have anything figured out yet... so nyah! =P

Seriously though, things are moving along.  I am still struggling emotionally, I will not deny that; but please allow me to rationalize for a moment (shut up, this is my blog, and I can have any delusions I like).  My entire world is upside down.  Certainly, I am making the changes and beginning to live the life I always dreamed I might, but it is all a futures game right now.  Lately, my weeks consist of pain and bills.  If I am not spending my free time playing Frankenstein’s monster meets Pinhead, I am frantically scrambling to finish schoolwork, or trying to maintain a household (something I have utterly failed at since taking on a new job, and school, and electrolysis, and doctors, and... well, you get the idea): all on the promise of eventually being whole.  And can I just say this?  For all you nuts and zealots out there who think this is a choice: I challenge you to sit for just five minutes of an electrolysis session (something I endure an average of three to four hours weekly), and then try to tell me that anyone anywhere would choose that.  Sorry, I digress.

The point - is it any wonder that I am a little down?  I am putting my body through hell, I am almost always in pain, and I am spending a fortune for the privilege.  Yes, it will all be worth it soon; but some days, it is just a little hard to “keep my chin up,” especially when my chin is swollen to roughly the size of Rhode Island.  I am not asking for understanding per se; I am asking that we do not further burden the situation with a lot of feel good crap, because, well... right now, it does not feel very good.  Just let me make it through the next couple months.  The big show happens on September 7.  I fully expect to be in pain to that point, and to experience a whole new level of misery for a couple months after that.  But then... then, my friends... look out!

In recent news, school is going well; but it is also a driving factor in my absence here.  I am currently turning out a few thousand words per week in school work; writing blog posts after all that is just a little too much.  I have made the physical transition (well, ninety percent of it) at work.  I still need to have the big talk, but that will come soon enough.  Until then, I have the satisfaction of not perpetuating any illusions.  Oh, and did I mention that I have a surgery date?  How could I have neglected that?  I have booked three fourths of the procedures for September 7.  Yes, I did.  I am a little bit excited about that.

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well.  Take care!

Peace and love,Kate

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Family and the Trans Woman

I have been thinking a lot about this (I think a lot about a lot of things, some would suggest I think about things too much).  Here is why it hurts, and here is what is missing.

In every life there are relationships.  There are a few distinct types of relationships that are important for a person's mental health.  In a startlingly excellent book on the subject of belonging, Joseph Myers writes about some of these.  He breaks relationships (or perhaps it was friendships… it has been a long time since I read the book) into four types – public, social, personal, and intimate.  Again, forgive my lapse if this is not completely accurate, but his descriptions essentially are as follows.  Public relationships are those in which you may know each other’s names but little more.  Social relationships are the types you build at social events.  Personal relationships are ones in which you share slightly more detailed information about yourself - the ones in which you might talk about your problems, and the intimate relationships are “naked and unashamed.”  Simple enough?  Myers suggests that one of the most important relationships for personal well being is the social relationship, because those are where you reinforce your positive self-image.  I will link the work at the end of the post if you are interested.  If you want a deeper explanation (and a better understanding of why I agree with him), go read it.

I think there are other distinctions that are important, though, and I am only recently learning this.  Relationships can be defined in terms of depth of information sharing, but I think longevity is another important element.  This is where family comes into play.  In our lives, there are people we have known for "a while," and there are people we have known “forever.”  Generally, those people we have known "forever" are family.  I can interpret a relationship in many ways.  I can say that my relationship with someone is intimate, but what is that when my common experience with that person is limited to just “a while” in my life?  Are not the most intimate of intimate relationships those ones in which your mutual memory has no conscious beginning?  Are those not the people who truly know you, and whom you truly know?

So, our tightest, strongest, and most intricate bond is with those people with whom we have been close “forever.”  Set your emotions aside and think about it.  Is it not true that there are people in your life with whom you share more commonality and history than those people whom you have chosen to call intimate?  I am not faulting the self-proclaimed intimate relationship; I am simply suggesting that there are some relationships in which the intimacy is not chosen but instinctive.  Those are the people who truly know you.  They get you.

But that is the problem for a trans-woman.  Many of us have lived a lifetime with those relationships only to arrive at some point to the revelation that those people who have always known us, those people with whom we have always shared the most naturally, do not, in fact, know us at all.  In a single sentence, an entire history – an entire common existence is unraveled.  Suddenly, we have no instinctively, naturally, unrestrained intimate relationship at all.  Place the blame where you like; I do not believe there is one.  The people, our families, on the other end of that sentence learn suddenly that everything they thought they knew is not.  We suddenly face the fact that we are a stranger to the people we have known “forever.”

It is enough to make a girl cry.  And the people who used to share those tears no longer exist in her world.

It is a train of thought, people.  I am not proofreading or editing; I apologize if it is sloppy… you got an update, so there.

Peace and much hippy talk,

The book:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Trans-Log - Star Date 2012, May 29: Transition Mission

It is ironic, and just slightly annoying that I struggle so greatly to hit a stride.  It was only a matter of weeks ago when I felt completely isolated and stagnant, like my world and all the progress I had been enjoying had just suddenly stopped.  I felt that way largely because of the interruption in supporting activities (those things I need to do to complete my transition) caused by starting a new job, not to mention the stresses of the new job, of course.  The truth was many of the supporting activities had indeed stopped, including therapy and group sessions.

This was not by choice.  The combination of my newly limited schedule, the remote (to me) location of the therapy/group meetings, and the schedule limitations of the rest of the group drove a wedge that seems only to be resolved by my taking time off work.  I cannot do that for multiple reasons, most importantly because I need to conserve my time for a major milestone later this year… but I will get to that.  The irony I began to discuss is that while I so recently bemoaned my stagnation; I am now in it up to my eyeballs… so much so, that I am “stealing time” to make this update! (shh… don’t tell!)  I just cannot seem to do things in moderation.

So, what is new?  Since my last update, I have started an aggressive electrolysis campaign with the goal of being mostly complete by September, I have finally seen a doctor to get my hormones in check, I have reenrolled in college (again) to finish my degree, and I am still working an 8 to 5 schedule every Monday through Friday.  I have also managed to squeeze in a couple of counseling sessions, though not without major calendar upheaval.  There is bigger news… and a major consideration for my future.  Would you like me to fill you in?

Of course you would, why else would you be reading all this crap?!  You will recall that among my many laments is the fact that I started my new job as a boy – a fruity and fabulous boy, a boy with long hair, painted nails, and boobs – but a boy none the less.  This means that I have yet another “big reveal” to navigate at some point in the future.  With each passing week of employment, though, my confidence in the company’s position on such things has diminished.  Also, with each passing week, the imminence of that information forcibly coming out grows… I will explain that soon (getting anxious?). 

I had intentions of opening up.  I planned the conversation multiple times, but fate and ever-changing calendars prevented those conversations from occurring. I am not always one to ignore the cosmos, so after much consideration, I took the hint and made the decision not to divulge my situation until it was absolutely necessary.  Right or wrong, I need the income to continue on this path.  If that means continuing to get into costume every day until the milestones are complete, then so be it.  In the grand scheme, the price is small – especially in a state that does not value diversity, in an industry that is still largely white-male dominated, and in a position that is very much expendable. 

One important truth and (I think) a critical consideration is that I enjoy a distinct advantage on this journey – the advantage of affluence.  I did not start out this way.  As a young adult, I barely made enough to survive.  I cannot tell you how many months I had to choose between rent and food, how many times I walked to work until I could pay to fix my car, or how often the only reason I had dinner was the kindness of one of my good friends.  I worked hard for many years.  I scratched and clawed my way to this position.  I fought.  I sacrificed.  I put so many parts of my life on hold to accomplish what I have – family, friends, education… transition.  I would not suggest it is the right thing to do or that it is the right path for anyone else; but what I did has put me in a somewhat unique position to actually afford transition.  If that entire fight, all those years of climbing ends only in my ability to finally make a permanent transition, then it is worth it.  My view right now is that I need to “keep my eye on the prize,” no matter what that means for today.  And the “prize” may be just around the corner.

Yes, friends, I have made almost all of the necessary arrangements.  The only boxes still to check are an updated passport photo and plane tickets.  On September 7, 2012, (drum roll please) I will be undergoing about three quarters of the surgeries necessary to complete my transition – FFS, breast augmentation, and orchiectomy.  The only remaining operation will be vaginoplasty, which I will save for some future date.  With the help of my awesome and amazing partner, I have also started the wheels turning on the final legal name and gender change to be tackled immediately following surgery.  By the end of 2012, I will be able to clean the closet one last time, and I will never again have to pretend to be a boy.  Knowing that makes everything I hate about the present seem inconsequential.

The one remaining question is what will happen at work.  In a lot of ways, I am in a 2011 eddy.  I am still trying to answer the question whether I will transition in place, or abandon my position once the change is complete.  I do not yet know the answer to that question.  The decision would be easier if I loved what I do, but I do not love it.  I do not even particularly like it if we are being honest.  So that complicates matters on one hand, but simplifies things in other ways.  My only consideration is financial, so really the question will be whether I can affect the final transition and still maintain a happy lifestyle, regardless what I am doing to achieve that. 

The mystery continues, my friends.  The mystery continues.

Peace and love, my friends.