Every Day Carry, or My Favorite Things

I’ve never been one to carry a purse, but nevertheless, I fill my pockets every day with essentials that I need to get me through the day.  There are basic things that I carry every day no matter what and then there are a few items I might add depending on the situation I’m going into.

My basics include a pocket knife, a flashlight, lip balm, a pill container and my wallet.  I might add a handkerchief and/or a pen.

Let’s look at these items and why I carry them:

My pocket knife is a Buck 290 Rush in blue aluminum.

buck knife

I noticed that the new models of this knife don’t have the serrated section near the handle like mine does.  Personally, I find this feature very handy for cutting through thick rope or cardboard and wouldn’t own one without it.  This knife has an ASAP opener that flips the blade open very quickly and locks it into place.  I think of it as both a tool and a self defense weapon.  My knife has come in handy more times than I can remember for a multitude of tasks.  It has opened Christmas and birthday presents, boxes, cut rope, apples, steaks, fixed watch bands, made holes in belts, sliced cheese, opened many a package and is always in high demand wherever I go.

My flashlight:

flashlight

I carry the Nebo CSI Edge 50.  It’s small, very bright at 50 lumens and is a tactical light for self defense.  The rounded edges on the lamp end are very sharp and can be used to collect skin/dna (and cause considerable pain) in case of an attack.

Again, this little flashlight comes in handy almost every day.  If I drop something in a dark area it’s there to find the lost object.  Can’t read something, the light helps a lot.  Getting my mail in the dark.  Keeping an eye on the dog in the dark.  This is both a tool and a weapon under the right circumstances.  It will blind someone momentarily if I point it at them and I already mentioned the sharp edges around the light head.  Also for under $10 it’s a great little light.

Carmex Lip Balm.

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I’m addicted to this stuff and always have one in my pocket.  Haven’t had chapped lips since I was a kid.

Pill bottle.

pill box

I used to keep this on my keys but I’ve simplified my key ring and now carry it in my pocket.  I keep ibuprofen, anxiety meds, benadryl, immodium, whatever I might need in it.  The benadryl comes in handy when I eat out with my brother who has weird allergies and people are always asking me if I have something for a headache.  Yep, I do.

Speaking of keys, here is my cool and flexible key system I’ve been using for several years now.

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The Nite Ize S-Biner Key Rack is an awesome system for your keys.  The little S-biners can be color coded and easily snap off so you can give a key to the shop or put it on a different ring, exchange keys around if you have multiple cars in your household, etc.  Very flexible.  And the big hook at the top easily clips onto a belt loop or a case strap for easy stowage.  I’ve gotten down to just carrying three keys around these days (car, home and work) but with multiple cars at our house I can easily switch the car keys out depending on what I’m driving that day.  I opt not to put this in my pocket most days because of the bulk, but it has been known to end up there on occasion.

My wallet is nothing special.  Just a bi fold leather wallet, either black or brown.  I wear them out usually within a year or two so I just buy another $20 wallet when I need one.  So far I haven’t found a favorite wallet, but I am on the lookout for one.

I rarely carry a handkerchief, but when I do it’s a white cotton one.  I bought a pack of 10 at Men’s Warehouse a while back and they will probably last me a lifetime.  When I wear a suit I always put one in my pocket.  I keep one in my briefcase just in case I can’t find a kleenex and need something.  I really should carry one daily because they could come in  handy for a lot more than blowing my nose, but I’m just not in the habit of it yet.

My pen of choice to carry on my person is the Zebra 701.

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It’s very sturdy because it’s made of steel, writes well, and once again, can be used for self defense and also to break a car window in a pinch.  It’s not quite as good in the window breaking department as a tactical pen like this one:

tactical pen

but it’s a lot cheaper, lighter and won’t get confiscated by TSA at the airport.  Speaking of airports, I never carry my knife or flashlight through security because they WILL take them away from me.  Usually I leave them home, but if I want to have them with me I will pack them in my checked luggage.

The last thing I want to mention is my watch.  I have a pretty serious watch fetish so I own quite a few different ones.  Up until recently, I’ve not spent much money on watches, usually opting for a Timex instead of a more expensive brand.  I’m moving away from the cheaper watches though, because they are made of brass and once the plating wears off of them the bare brass tends to give me an itchy rash and I can no longer wear the watch.  Before my wedding I wanted to get a nice dress watch to wear with my tuxedo.  Being small in stature and bone structure I needed a watch that didn’t have a huge face.  This is fairly hard to find these days as the trend is towards super huge watches.  Those just look stupid on my wrist and are uncomfortable.  Seiko makes quite a few watches for men with smaller bezels and they’re actually quite affordable compared to other brands, especially if you purchase through Amazon.  I ended up buying two watches.

I got this one for my wedding and to wear for nicer occasions:

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Seiko SNE124 Dress Watch

And this one for every day wear:

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Seiko SKX007 Diver’s Watch

I also have a Timex that I change bands around on for really casual fun wear:

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Timex Expedition Indiglo

These are my main watches that I wear and I really like all of them a lot.  The Seiko Diver watch is probably the manliest thing I own.  It’s heavy and a little too bulky but I love it and I love the way it looks on my wrist.  It makes me feel very masculine when I wear it.

As you can tell, I try to get more than one usage out of most of the things I carry around with me on a daily basis.  Multi functionality and portability are important to me.  I like things with clips so stuff isn’t rattling around and pooling at the bottom of my pockets, creating uncomfortable and ugly bulges.  My knife and flashlight both clip onto my pants pocket.  When I carry the pen, it clips on as well or goes in my shirt or jacket pocket.  I clip my keys to either my belt loop or my briefcase.  I don’t carry change around in my pockets often and usually dump it somewhere as soon as I can.  I don’t like a lot of stuff in my pockets and hate making noise when I walk.

I read something the other day that asked “if you were a car what kind of car would you be?”  My first thought was that I’d be a classic muscle car (in my dreams of course), but after thinking about it more realistically, I realized I would probably be exactly the vehicle that I currently drive: a Toyota 4Runner.  It’s dressy enough to take out on the town but capable of getting you out of any predicament you might find yourself in.  I like to be handy and prepared for anything.  My everyday carry items come in handy every day and often help others as well.  This is how I like to live my life.  Ready for any adventure that comes my way and prepared for the unexpected.

 

 

 

Tied the Knot!

Soooooo…….

It’s been a while.

Sorry about that, but I’ve been crazy busy with life stuff and just haven’t had the energy to sit down and write lately.  So here’s a little catch up post to let you know what’s been so much more important than writing my blog.

Back at the beginning of the year, Candace and I decided to get married.  Our 20th anniversary was coming up in July of this year and we thought about how to celebrate that milestone.  With the new president taking office and things being somewhat unknown we thought it might be the right time to get married and almost did a really quick impromptu ceremony on a friend’s property.  But then we decided F*** that!  We’re not letting that a$$hole make us do anything we don’t want to do and we re-thought the whole wedding thing.  We decided that we wanted to go all out and shoot for the moon with this wedding.  White dress, tuxedos, big reception, dj, the whole nine yards.  And we did.  So for the last seven months we’ve been planning our wedding.  We had a blast!  It was a ton of work and an even bigger ton of money, but it was also a labor of love (double entendre intended!).

And then Candace decided that we needed an extra bedroom for all of the house guests that she was expecting to stay with us so sometime in late April/early May work was started on our house to finish off not one, but three, unfinished areas of our home and a multitude of needed repairs that we’ve been putting off.  For two months we had strange construction guys in our house starting at 7am.  Every. Day.  Except Sunday.  Everyone that lives here felt the impact of the work being done.  The dog, the cat and both of us lost a lot of sleep, time at work, and peace and quiet while the work was going on.  To say it created chaos in our home is an understatement.  Adding to that, we were up late many nights working on our wedding plans.  Also, Candace had three surgeries during this time frame and couldn’t drive herself any where for about a month.

I won’t bore you with all of the details, but I will tell you that everything got done on schedule and the wedding went off without a hitch.  Hooray!

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Here we are celebrating with a cool drink together after the ceremony.

End of story, right?  Not really.  That’s just sort of the surface story.  The story any one from outside looking in would see.  I’m only going to talk about what all this meant for me, so this is a one sided story.  I can’t speak for Candace.  For me, this was all HUGE!!!!  HUGEMONGOUSLY HUGE!!!!  I know, getting married is a big deal for everyone.  I know.  I’m not just anyone, ok?  Well, first of all, I never thought it would happen for me and I really never thought in my wildest dreams that I could actually be the GROOM in a wedding.  In fact, up until the last week before the wedding I was still having a hard time referring to myself as the groom.  Second, only a couple of years ago, I was pretty sure that my relationship was doomed to fail and I was trying to figure out what Plan B was going to be.  A lot has changed since then to bring us to this point.  And thirdly, this was like a huge coming out party for me because a LOT of people who came to our wedding, including a couple of folks who were in it, had not seen me since I started to transition.  Some didn’t even know that I had transitioned at all.  And the icing on the cake was the fact that I have serious performance anxiety and I wasn’t at all sure I could stand up there in front of 80 people, in my transgender glory, and marry the woman I love without having a full blown panic attack.

I had a lot of emotions and anxiety around the actual ceremony.  I had no reservations whatsoever about marrying Candace.  I knew I wanted to do that.  And I wasn’t worried about the reception at all.  I just wanted to get through the ceremony without freaking out.  I started meditating every day.  I watched tons of wedding ceremonies on YouTube to try and desensitize myself.  It worked quite well.  When I first started watching them tears would stream down my face as the bride walked down the aisle.  I would become a blubbering fool at the sight of a bride.  But eventually, it started getting easier and I cried less and less until I could watch them and not really have any strong emotions.  Excellent!  I also started making myself do things that scare me a little bit and pushed my anxiety limits some.  That helped too.  I did past life clearings and energy work to clear out old negative and stuck emotions.  Sounds like hocus pocus, right?  Well, maybe it is, but I gradually started to feel stronger and more confident in myself to stand up there.  I worried less about what anyone thought about me and more about focusing on staying in the moment during the ceremony.  I knew that the key was to control my mind and emotions and I did everything I knew to get my head in the right place.

And then a funny thing happened.   I realized that the groom usually gives a speech at the reception and I actually wanted to do it.  Now, you should know that, besides heights, public speaking is probably my biggest fear in life.  And I actually WANTED to give a speech!  Who am I??  Candace even told me I didn’t have to do it because she knows how I feel about speaking in public.  I wrote a great speech and read it to Candace.  She was blown away and told me not to change a thing.  I printed a copy of it and put it away until the day of our wedding.  I had planned to practice delivering the speech, but never found the time or energy to do it.  We also never practiced our first dance like we had intended.  Oh well.

This last bit is going to sound crazy to a lot (all?) of you.  On top of all this other craziness, I’ve been doing a program called Automatic Intuition to learn to give intuitive readings for myself and others.  Part of the training entails developing relationships with your Guardian Angel and Spirit Guides.  Whether you believe in this stuff or not is really unimportant.  I often carry on conversations with my Guides while I drive because it’s usually the only peace and quiet I get in my day.  I always ask them to use my voice to communicate with me.  One day, about a week before the Big Day, I was chatting with Peter, my main Guide, and suddenly I started speaking in a very thick Irish accent.  I asked if this was a different entity that I was speaking to than normal and he said it was.  I named this Guide Ian.  Ian talked to me at great length about how I had been a warrior in past lives and he wanted me to know how strong and brave I really am.  He really pumped me up.  He talked about me being a King and I was claiming my Queen.  Incidentally, I refer to Candace as my Queen quite a bit in real life.  I joke that I am her Jester.  But Ian was really trying hard to convince me that I was a King and a great soldier, not a lowly Jester.  His speeches riled me up and made me feel strong and powerful.

I know what you’re thinking.  Poor Lesboi/Shawn has really fallen off his rocker and has some screws loose.  Maybe you’re right.  Truly, it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that Ian and the other Guides made me feel strong and safe and I got through that ceremony feeling like a King, feeling confident and not giving one damn what anyone in the audience thought of me.  When it came time for my speech I stood up and delivered it like a BOSS and got a standing ovation from the crowd.  I danced with my new wife/Queen with reckless abandon and had an amazing evening.  Whenever I felt even the slightest bit shaky or nervous I listened inside my head to hear Ian shout, “YOU ARE A KING!!!!”  I just smiled and carried on.  The result was that everyone treated me great, with love and respect, and I think we all had a memorable evening.  If anyone had a problem with me I never picked up on it at all.

For me, the wedding was so much more than just a wedding.  Yes, I married my beautiful bride and we celebrated our love and devotion to each other.  But even more than that, I stood in front of all of those people as my true self, proud and strong, and celebrated the journey I’ve been on for the past 55 years of my life to get me to this moment.  Every bump in the road, hill and valley, had led me to standing in front of these people in all my transgender glory finally able to claim my bride, my Queen, and feel like a King, a Conqueror.  I had won the war and I claimed my Victory.

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We finally were able to steal a couple minutes at the end of the night to get a picture in our photobooth.

Girl “Friends”

I think about my childhood a lot.  I don’t really mean to, but it seems to be something that a lot of trans people talk about.  When did you know you were really a ___________ (pick a gender)?  This question always takes me back to my earliest memories and no where in there do I think I knew that I was anything other than different.  I’m not even sure if I knew that.  I just knew that what I wanted was at odds with what the authority figures in my life wanted.  I grew up in the dark ages, before the internet and reality tv.  No one knew anything about being transgender and no one ever said anything positive about gay people.  All of this was way too taboo and exotic.  My small town upbringing did not prepare me to live 30 years as a lesbian who is now living as a man.  I was ignorant about all of this stuff growing up and so was everyone I knew, even the authorities in my life.  How could I have known I was transgender at 4 years old?  I knew that I liked boy stuff and wanted to be like my brother and uncles.

I was a flower girl in my cousin’s wedding when I was about 7 years old.  I had no idea what that meant until the day of the wedding and they put me in a little light blue dress and stood me next to my male cousin who was the ring bearer.  He was wearing a black tuxedo.  Suddenly the difference in us just smacked me in the face like a wet dishrag.  I wanted to wear that tuxedo and I was so jealous of him.  It was experiences like this that I can tell you about where I felt jealousy because the boys got to do or wear things that I wanted to do or wear.  But I couldn’t tell you why that was.

And then there are friendships.  Friendship, for me, was complicated.  From an early age (5 or 6?), I got crushes on girls.  But I was expected to play with girls and develop friendships with them and get crushes on boys.  I tried.  Really, I did.  I could play with a girl as long as we could do what I wanted, but if she wanted to do really girly things, like play Barbie where I had to be one of the girl dolls, I was out of there.  I could deal with being Ken, but not Barbie.  Luckily, there weren’t all that many kids around for me to play with when I was young.  I lived on a short street with big houses on it that a lot of old people lived in.  We did not live in a big house.  We lived in a tiny bungalow that belonged to one of the big houses.  There was a seedy apartment building up the street from my house that mostly had single people who could barely pay their bills.  The place reeked of cigarettes and booze.  I hated going in there, but my one friend lived there.  His name was Scott.  I liked Scott because he was a real boy’s boy and he made me feel like a boy when we hung out.  We did boy stuff, whatever that was, and I didn’t have to worry about being the Barbie with him.  Occasionally, my mom would force me to play with his little sister because I really shouldn’t be friends with Scott.  I guess the adults were worried that we would end up having sex or something.  I don’t know what they were worried about, but I hated playing with his little sister.  Usually I managed to wiggle myself out of it after just a few minutes of torture.  I remember, one day being over at his apartment and his grandmother was there.  She gave me the most hateful look I had ever seen anyone give me.  I had no idea why she hated me so much, but every time I saw her she looked at me that way.

Scott moved away after a few years and I really never saw him again.  I didn’t really have friends until middle school.  I met this girl in band class who was new to me.  She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen and I was immediately infatuated with her.  We became best friends and hung out together all the time.  We had sleep overs and participated in three-legged races and shit like that.  I would do anything I could to be near her.  This “friendship” of ours grew into a circle of girls who hung out together and did the sleep over thing and all that goes with it.  There was another girl in that group that I later developed a big crush on as well.  This circle of friends endured throughout high school and college, even though we all went different places.  Today, we are still friends and I’m out to all of them.

What I wonder about today is whether we were ever really friends and how different it would have been if I’d been born with a penis.  I mean, I was in love with two of them and what I really wanted wasn’t just friendship.  Of course, they had no idea how I felt at the time (or now, for that matter).  This was my big dark secret that I never told anyone.   I almost kissed one of them one time and I did tell her that I loved her, but you know, she just interpreted that as friendship love.  Life got really complicated when they were dating and going steady with boyfriends.  God that sucked.  I was so jealous of the boyfriends, yet I had to be nice to them and be happy for my “friend”.  I had crushes/feelings for these girls for a long time.  All through high school I was still obsessed with that original girl, even though she always had a handsome boyfriend.  And, to complicate things even more, I dated a couple of boys in high school on a semi serious basis.  It was, for me, way less serious than it probably seemed to my friends.  It was really just a cover for who I really was.  The boys I dated were nice guys that I liked as friends and had zero interest in as a romantic partner.  We never did anything more than kiss occasionally.

The fact that I’m still friends with my high school group is unusual and awkward now that I’m awake and knowledgeable about who and what I am.  Since they know I’m transitioning, I wonder whether they ever put pieces of our pasts together and truly understand why I was part of their group.  There’s a part of me that feels like I did something wrong all those years ago.  I know that I understood on some level, even back then, that I was not like them.  I feel like our friendships were built on a lie, or at least a falsehood.  It makes me feel like my whole life was built on a lie, like every relationship I had was false.  I was always just doing the best I could to pretend to really be a girl, but deep down I knew that I wasn’t.  I didn’t understand any of this at all, so I don’t blame myself.  And I don’t blame the world I grew up in either.  We were all navigating in the dark without a map or compass.  We were all ignorant.  Still, I wonder.  What do they think when they see me becoming my true self?  Do they realize that the thing that drew me to them was that I had a crush?  Do they wonder if we would have been friends if I’d been recognized as a boy?  Would we have dated?  I know for sure that I wouldn’t have been invited to the sleep overs.  And then I think that there was attraction on their part too, because, even in friendship, there is an attraction that brings people together.  I can honestly say that I did and do feel true friendship for these women and I cherish our long standing relationships.  I enjoy visiting with them and even like their husbands quite a bit.  Of the five women in my circle, I only had a crush on two of them.  One of them I don’t even really like at all, but the others do so we make nice with each other (it’s mutual).  I give this group of friends a lot of credit for helping me through my weird and awkward childhood and adolescent years.  They were my lifeline.  I don’t have any idea how I would have gotten through high school without them.  Still, I feel like I deceived them and that eats at me, even today.  I don’t still have those feelings for any of them and haven’t for a really long time.  At some point in high school I made a conscious decision to disengage from the notion of them as romantic partners.  It was too difficult to see them with their boyfriends and not even be able to tell them how I felt.  That’s probably when I started to date boys a little bit.

Unfortunately, I thought my story started and ended with my physical attraction to girls, so when I finally kissed a girl my freshman year of college and declared myself a lesbian, I thought that was the end of the story.  It took 30 years for me to realize that that was just the tip of the iceberg.  Unraveling my past and discovering who I really am has been like peeling the layers of an onion.  It’s taken a long time to get to the core of my onion and I’m not entirely sure I’ve arrived there yet, but I’m pretty close.  Processing through my relationship with these women, some of which I’ve known since kindergarten, has been just a small part of it.  Small, but vitally important.

You’re a Super Hero

These days I’m pretty busy just living my life but I do take time everyday to reflect on where I came from and where I am now.  Most days I am in awe of the life I lead today compared to even a couple of years ago.  I’m here to tell you, if you doubt that you can flip your whole life upside down, inside out and survive it, that you absolutely can.  And, in fact, you will be a much better, happier person for doing it.  Your friends and family may fight you every inch of the way but at some point even they will admit that you are a better person now than you used to be.  Will it be hard?  Yes, of course.  Everything worth doing is hard.  Will it get worse before it gets better?  Yep, most likely it will.  Can you do it?  I have no doubt.

Why am I so confident in you?  Because I did it and I was just like you are right now.  Scared, terrified even.  Absolutely sure that I’d lose everyone and everything that meant anything to me.  Convinced that I’d have to live in my car and eat food from the dollar store to survive.  Afraid that no one would ever love me again and pretty sure that I’d never be taken seriously in my real gender.  I was the kind of person that would say, “well, that’s ok for other people but not for me”.  I have too much to lose.  I’m too this, too that.  Too old, too fat, too feminine looking, too dependent on my partner, too scared, too weak.  I didn’t think it would be worth all of the turmoil I’d have to put myself and my family through.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.

I’m not telling you to transition.  That’s your decision to make.  But I want you to know that you can do it.  You absolutely CAN do anything you want to do.  I did it and so can you.  I’m not special.

Well….

Actually, I am special.  And so are you.

You see, people like us, the misfits and maladjusted freaks of society are the most amazing people.  We’re superheros.  We grow up being taught that who we are is wrong and we get beaten down into submission until we can’t take it any longer.  I look at the general population now and I feel pity for them.  They don’t know what it’s like to grow up the way we did and have to pull ourselves out of the abyss and rise above our upbringing.  I am stronger than they will ever be because of what I’ve been through.  They whine and moan about their aches and pains and every day worries while we’re out here reinventing ourselves into the superheroes we were born to be.   Once you find your truth you are unstoppable.  Take your truth where it leads you and don’t let fear stop you.  Feel the fear but do it any way.  Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  Fear is a liar.  You’re not weak or worthless.  Quite the opposite.  You’re one of the strongest people on the planet and you are special in ways others can’t even imagine.  Whatever your deal is that makes you feel like a misfit, turn that shit around and make it your greatest strength.  Think of all of the crap you’ve had to deal with in life because you’re not like all of the sheep in the world.  You’re not a sheep.  You’re a fucking lion.  You’re a fucking superhero.  All that crap has made you stronger and stronger.  Your muscles are popping out every where from all the heavy lifting you’ve done in life.  Now put it to good use and start living your wildest dreams.  Be your own hero and I bet even the person closest to you that tells you this is crazy will thank you for it one day.

When Is Transition Over?

We read articles, blog posts and see videos where people talk about being fully transitioned or “post op”.  This gets me thinking.  What is it they mean by fully transitioned or post op?  It feels like people use those two terms interchangeably.    People talk about how things will be when they are done transitioning.  I hear folks talk about “once I’ve transitioned”.  What does all this mean?  How do they know they’re done transitioning?  Do we get a certificate that states that our transition is complete and there’s nothing left to do?  Who gets to decide this?  Doctors?  Society?  The government?  Ourselves?  People ask us if we’ve had “the operation” like that’s some kind of testament to whether we’re fully transitioned and, like-wise, when we talk about being post-op, we buy into that whole notion that it takes an operation to fully transition.

Transitions are as unique as finger prints.  No one walks exactly the same path or has the same experiences.  Not everyone has the same end point in mind when they begin to transition.  What one person might consider a complete transition another might consider only partial.  Many blog posts have been written about people who do not buy into the gender binary and what their transitions look like.  There is wide variety in what any of us, whether binary or not, consider that point where we’re done transitioning.  I’ve heard trans people who started transitioning 20 years ago state that they don’t feel done or that they don’t completely relate to the opposite gender as they were assigned at birth.  Some are adamant that they are no different than someone who was born and raised as their transitioned gender.

Personally, I don’t even like the word transition.  To me it is misleading.  It means that we’re going from one thing to another.  We’re not doing that, though.  We already are this thing that we’re supposedly transitioning towards.  It’s true that our bodies change and how society sees us and treats us changes, but who we are stays the same.  Because of the brainwashing that we received from birth it might take us quite a long time to realize who and what we really are but it doesn’t mean that we weren’t that person all along.  Sure, hormones can do some wonky things to our heads, especially at first, and make it seem like our personalities have changed, but what’s really happening is that our true self is coming out and we’re being allowed to let our personalities be free for the first time since we were little children.  I prefer the word align.  I feel like I’ve gone through an alignment internally and externally as a person.  My internal and external are in alignment.

The general population of cis-gender people see people like Kaitlyn Jenner in the news and they assume that we all go from being a hyper masculine dude to a hyper feminine woman (or vice versa) in the blink of an eye and that then we’re done transitioning.  This is a fairytale.  Even Jenner, with all of her money, will still continue to transition throughout the rest of her life.  Transition is so much more than just surgeries and hormones.  Those are the most talked about components, inside and outside of the trans community, but they are just the gas that makes the engine run and not even completely necessary for some people to transition.  The nuts and bolts of the transition engine is internal/emotional and social.  Why do we get surgeries and take hormones?  So we feel better in our bodies and to align our internal and external personas to both ourselves and the world.  They change the way we look and therefore how other people see us.  They change the way we see ourselves.  For me, personally, I wanted to experience having the body I felt I was supposed to have as well as be seen by the rest of the world as the person I have always known myself to be.  I could say that once those two goals were met that I was done transitioning.  But that’s not even close to true.  Even though strangers might see a man when they meet me, people that knew me before as a female often still see a female and want to treat me that way.  They are uncomfortable referring to me as he and him and using my correct name.  They say things like, “you’ll always be my old relationship (brother/sister/mother/father/etc) and old name to me.”   I won’t even go into how selfish and cruel this is to say to someone.  Let’s just suffice it to say that the social side of transition is often the hardest and most complicated portion of the journey.  And then, there’s our own emotional, internal world that battles over whether we’re really men or women after all and whether we’re “trans enough” and whether we’re performing our new gender correctly and worries about whether someone is going to be able to figure out that we weren’t born into the gender as we present and kick our ass or worse.  There are people who will crop up out of nowhere for the rest of our lives that didn’t know we transitioned or that we are forced to “out” ourselves to for a myriad of reasons (think doctors, lawyers, judges, employers, etc.)  We can never escape our past.

So, to me, transition never ends.  The human body is constantly transitioning, whether we want it to or not.  As we sit here reading this post our bodies are all in the process of transforming into something new.  Our viewpoints are changing constantly.  Our brain is always in the process of change and adaptation, learning new things, forgetting old things, building new pathways.  Society might see a man or a woman, but our mother will always see that baby girl or boy that they gave birth to and will struggle to honor our truth throughout the rest of her life.  Old employers, even if they got the memo that you changed your name and gender marker, will still mess up your information occasionally.  This is just life as a trans person.  Or life as a person.  How many of us are the same person at 40 that we were at 10, 15 or 20?  Hopefully none of us.  We’re all transitioning, some more dramatically than others, but we’re all doing it everyday, all day long.

As I sit here writing this post I ask myself this question.  When will I be done transitioning?  Technically, I am done.  Society sees me as a man.  I see a man in the mirror.  I’m happy with my surgery results.  I don’t plan on any more surgeries at the moment, but I’m open to the option in the future.  I like the facial and chest hair that hormones have given me, but I want more of it and I know that, with time, it will come.  My body is not done changing and it never will be until long after I’ve physically passed on.  Even after death our bodies continue to change.  We’re never static.  Nothing ever stays the same.  So, I can happily put on the clothes I feel best wearing every day and step out into the world as a man today, but I know that the transition process will continue throughout the rest of my life.  The only difference is that now I can live a more honest and open life and there isn’t anything besides maintaining my hormone levels left to do.  If this is what someone means by being fully transitioned than I guess I am at that point but I know that things will continue to change as I go throughout the rest of my life and there is more work to do.  And I’m ok with that.  I am in alignment, and that’s what matters.

One Year Post Top Surgery

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a year since my top surgery but it has.  At first, I was posting updates every few weeks but then I stopped updating about my results.  Why?  Well, because I had a very serious complication and I got pretty sick for a while and I didn’t want to share what was going on.  After a few weeks it was pretty obvious that my right nipple was infected and wasn’t going to heal like the other one.  I sent my surgeon pictures nearly daily of what it looked like, she ordered more antibiotics, and finally she asked me to drive back down to her so she could see it in real life.  She ended up cutting the dead nipple out of my chest and I spent about six weeks hooked up to a wound vac which sucked the infection out of the wound where my nipple used to be.  I continued on a regiment of different antibiotics during that time period and suffered from sever diarrhea from the drugs.  Through all of this she also had to open up some of my incision for drainage so my scar is jagged where that was done.

At the time all of this was happening I got fairly depressed.  I wasn’t so upset that I had lost a nipple but I was worried about my health and the experience of being attached to a machine 24 hours a day for six weeks made me feel miserable mentally.  At times, I wondered if I would ever heal and get back to my old life.  Never, though, did I regret the surgery or the surgeon I chose.  She did a fairly new procedure on me and I knew going into it that it had its risks.  I feel like my surgeon did everything in her power to help me get through this and went above and beyond what most would have done in this situation so I don’t hold her responsible at all and just chalk it up to shit that happens sometimes.

I’ve decided to share that experience here finally at this stage of the game.  I’m completely healed now from the surgery and the wound.  Now, instead of a nipple on my right chest I have a slightly sunken pink scar that looks a little like a nipple.  There never was any pain.  I’m happy to report that my left nipple is healthy and has excellent sensation.  The sensation is different than it was before surgery but it’s quite alive and thriving nonetheless.  My scars are starting to fade pretty well now and all in all I think my chest looks pretty good.

In a few weeks I will be heading back down to see my surgeon and she will do a scar revision on the nipple so that I can get a tattoo later on and make it look like the other, healthy one.  It won’t have sensation and won’t react like a normal nipple, but it should make the overall appearance much better.  I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous about doing any more surgical work to this area after the experience I had, but I trust that it will go much better this time.

While I am overall pleased with the look of my chest surgery I want to talk about something that I am not happy about and that bothers me greatly in regards to my chest.  I’ve heard a few people talk about this phenomenon but I don’t know how prevalent it is.  Along my scar line, where she made the incision, I feel a tightness and pulling internally that I find to be extremely annoying and uncomfortable.  If I stretch my chest muscles and under my arms it seems to help to loosen it up.   Massage seems to help it.  Rubbing, and even tapping on the scar seems to help.  But it’s still there every day and seems to feel worse when I wear a jacket or heavier shirt where the fabric pushes down on my skin.

I’ve talked to my surgeon about it in the past and she thought it would loosen up with time.  Maybe it has loosened up some, but it’s still pretty aggravating.   I’m going to talk to her about it again when I see her in April.  I don’t know if this will ever go away but I sure hope it does because it’s very uncomfortable.  I don’t want to be aware of my chest at all and this is almost as uncomfortable to me as binding or wearing a bra was.

Other than the discomfort, which I may just have to learn to live with, I have thoroughly enjoyed not having breasts and seeing myself with a flat chest.  It’s an amazing feeling to be able to wear a shirt and not have those pesky things protruding and getting in the way.  I love not having to hide them and just being able to throw on a t shirt in the morning.  I very unceremoniously dumped my old bras in the trash shortly after surgery and donated my old binders.  I’m thrilled to never need any of that again.  I’m seriously considering getting a tattoo across my chest to hide my scars at some point down the road.  I’m not sure what the tattoo will be at this point but once I decide and get it done I’ll make sure and let all of you know.

Why I Chose to Transition

First of all, I never thought I would have the guts to go through with a full transition over to living 100% as male.  It all seemed like a nice dream but not something I had the courage to undertake.  I was more likely to sky dive and that ain’t ever going to happen.  So what, exactly, was it that tipped the scale and made me decide to go for it?  I’m not sure it was one thing.  How much better and more alive I felt on T certainly played a big part.  A goal of living more authentically and truthfully also played a huge role.  But, honestly, I think it was a lot of little things that added up very gradually that eventually led me to living as male.

I’ve been counseling a friend who is questioning how to proceed in his transition and I’ve been telling him he needs to make a plan and get honest about what he wants to accomplish.  Yeah, that’s bullshit.  I mean, it’s a great idea, but most of the time even the best plans don’t work out and our reasons for doing things shift mid stream.  I kind of had a plan.  At the beginning, all I knew was I wanted to try a low dose of T and see if it made me feel better.  And boy did it.  I was at one of the lowest points of my life when I started taking it and practically overnight my outlook changed 180 degrees into the positive.  This, to me, was evidence that I was on the right track and should keep going.  Other than T, my wish list included getting a hysterectomy, changing my name, and having top surgery, in that order.  It was important to me to get the hysterectomy done while I still had a female name and gender presentation.  But I never honestly thought anyone would ever see me as male or treat me as such.  It just seemed like a big fantasy.  A foolish pipe dream.

Well let me tell you, I upped my low dose of T to a full dose about six months before I had top surgery and by the time my surgery was over I was firmly entrenched on the male side of the spectrum as far as how people perceived my gender.  It happened really suddenly and completely took me by surprise.  It was disconcerting, but inside I was elated.  Could this really be happening to me?  Are these people just humoring me and playing along with me?  Just a few months prior I had worn a binder and my most masculine outfit to go out to dinner and the waiter referred to us as ladies and called me ma’am.  I left feeling demoralized and defeated.  Obviously, I was failing at this whole transition thing.  I felt like giving up.  Instead, I scheduled my top surgery for the next possible date.  While I was away have my surgery I let my facial hair grow out some.  That seemed to do the trick along with not having boobs anymore.  Flat chest and facial hair = Male.  Now I rarely get called ma’am and they usually correct themselves after they look at me better.  Quite the opposite of what used to happen.

I can’t say that I actually had a plan or made any conscious decision to transition with the goal of living as male.  I stumbled blindly through this whole process and really had no idea where I’d end up or even where I wanted to end up.  I was actually hoping that I could be happy staying in the female zone with a more neutral exterior.  Nope.  When I was in that middle zone I was so uncomfortable I could barely stand to go out in public.  Every day was a challenge just to leave the house.  I couldn’t stand not knowing how people would perceive me and I had no answers for them either.  I dreaded the question, “Are you a man or a woman?”  I had no idea.  I was as confused as they were.  So, even though I applaud folks who relish the confusion of gender neutral and non-binary identities, I need to pick a side for my own sanity.  I need to fit into a clear category that I’m comfortable with.  While neither female nor male fits perfectly, male is the closest.  I’m very comfortable in the male role whereas the female role felt completely wrong to me in every way.

Another thing that made a big impact on my decision to go for it was that I was on the precipice of losing everything I cared about.  My life was about to implode and I really felt like I didn’t have anything to lose by going for it.  I figured that if I didn’t start to transition I was dead anyway and if I did start then at least I had a chance of surviving.  I can clearly see now, looking back with 20/20 vision, that my old self was dying.  Literally, dying.  I wasn’t physically ill, but I had no desire to go on the way I was.  My spirit was dying and I didn’t really care about much at all.  I had ruined my relationship and my business and, while it looked from the outside like I had a great life, everything was about to crumble.  So, when you’re practically dead anyway, what do you have to lose?  I was worried about losing my relationship but once I came to the realization that it was over anyway I knew I had nothing left to lose by going for it.  Starting T was the best thing I ever did for myself, my relationship and my life in general.  I don’t mean to make it sound like a magic bullet because it isn’t, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of my problems stemmed from my hormones being out of whack from menopause.  I should note here that my thyroid was also low and I started taking meds for that at the same time.  Together, the two hormones made a huge difference and I felt better than I had felt since before I started puberty.

All in all, I think this whole process has occurred over the past six years.  I’ve gone incredibly slow intentionally.  I needed the time to adjust to the changes and figure out what to do next.  I’ve had a lot of self doubt along the way and have questioned myself non stop.  Now that I’m on the other side of things though I can confidently tell you that this was the best thing that I ever did for myself.  I’m dramatically happier, less moody, less depressed, less anxious, a better person, more engaged in life and more optimistic than I’ve ever been.  My relationship has been through hell and we’ve come out the other side together somehow stronger than ever and are planning our wedding.  My business somehow survived despite my best efforts to destroy it and, while I wouldn’t say I’m rolling in dough, I actually showed a profit for the first time in a long time and things are pretty stable again.  I’m easier to get along with and I think people like me more now because I’m happier with myself.  I’m a lot less angry than I used to be.*  The only thing I’m really dissatisfied with is my gut.  The T has made all of my fat redistribute to my belly and I have a huge gut now.  I hate it!!  But, I’m working on it so it will get better.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to deal with one issue than a multitude of issues at one time.  Now that most everything else is taken care of I can focus a lot of my energy on my weight and physical health.  I’m looking forward to building up some nice muscular biceps and trimming down my waistline so I look good on my wedding day.

 

* One of the bad raps that Testosterone gets is that it can make people more aggressive and have anger issues.  This is definitely true.  I have noticed that I am quicker to anger and it boils up really fast inside me like a wild fire.  Before T, I was just dealing with a low grade constant feeling of being angry and pissed off on a daily basis.  After T, I’m pretty laid back but when I do get angry it happens fast and sudden.  Learning to control that impulse is a challenge that requires a lot of deep breaths and taking time to let it dissipate before I open my mouth to speak.  Just like a teenage boy has to learn to control his impulses, so do Trans Men when they start off on T, no matter their biological age.