Ode To My Truck

About two years ago I wrote this post about what vehicle to buy next.   While this subject is probably not directly related to gender for many people, it is actually something that I have given a lot of thought to in regards to my gender expression.  A couple of weeks ago my quest to find my next ride came to an end.  I had mostly decided that I wanted to get a small SUV like a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Outback.  I never drove the RAV-4 but both the Honda and the Outback had scored very high on their test drives.  Candace is also looking for a new vehicle and has been pretty sure for a couple years that she would either get another Honda Pilot or a Toyota Highlander.  After testing the Honda and being disappointed in it we needed to go look at the Highlander.  At this point I had mostly decided to get an Outback in green with all wheel drive.

This was going to be my next car:

subaru

I like the color, it’s small agile size, muscular lines and incredible intelligence.  This car practically can drive itself it’s that smart.  Not the manliest vehicle, for sure, but still a handsome driver in my opinion.

I’ve been driving this truck since 2007 and have loved it:

avalanche

This time around I wanted something smaller with a hatchback and all wheel or 4 wheel drive.  I wanted something rugged and masculine looking that didn’t make me look like a little old lady.  I was pretty happy with my decision to get the Outback, even though it’s not super masculine.  I’ve had an affinity for them since they first came out in the 1980s.

Basically, there have been four vehicles that I’ve always wanted to own.  They are the Ford Mustang (owned a black 2004 Anniversary model for about two years.  It was fun to drive), the Toyota Celica (no longer being produced), the Toyota 4Runner and the Subaru Outback.  I was on the edge of owning another one of my dream cars but I wasn’t really very excited for some reason.  One night I was outside with my dog and my eye caught sight of my old faithful truck sitting in the driveway.  Suddenly I realized that I wasn’t ready to not have a truck anymore.  When I went back inside I pulled up the Toyota dealer’s website to check out their used inventory so I could see what options they had on the lot.  I had basically ruled out buying a 4Runner because of the cost.  They were more than I wanted to spend and usually when I found them used they had over 100k miles on them.  I didn’t want something that old.  But, I got lured into looking closer at the 4Runner because they had a used one with 47k miles within my price range.  When we went to look at the Highlander for Candace I was going to take a look at it.

Well, I loved it.  It was grey with black leather interior and looked very handsome parked up on the curb.  The fact that the salesman had to drive it off the curb for me to test drive only made me like it more.  I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t drive as stiff as I’d imagined that it would and had a very comfortable ride, while still delivering a truck-like feel.  The interior was very handsome and comfortable.  When we came back from the test drive I parked it in front of what I thought was a new blue truck.  Candace commented on how pretty it was.  Yes, it’s very pretty but I don’t want to pay for a new one.  The salesman informed us that it was used and opened it up for us to look at.  A couple of years younger and with only 17k miles on it, a little spiffier interior and a really beautiful blue color, a few features the older one didn’t have that I had wanted and we started to make a deal.  Ultimately I drove that blue 4Runner home that night and we did the paperwork the next day while Candace ordered her new Highlander in red (Ooh la la Rouge, to be exact!  Where do they come up with these names?).

Here’s my new baby:

4runner

So far I’m happy with my decision.  This is not my favorite model year of the 4runner to be honest but it is actually the nicest as far as the interior features they’ve ever made.  I don’t intend to do any off-roading, which this is very capable of doing, but it’s nice to know I can.  In some ways I actually liked the older grey model better because it looked a little less pretty and a bit more rugged.  I definitely wouldn’t have been worried about getting it dirty or scratched.  I’ve always liked this blue that Toyota puts on some of its cars though, so I’m really pleased with that.  The interior is very handsome in black leather and I definitely feel like a cool dude driving around in it.  We took it on a week long trip to visit family a few days after we got it and it performed very well and handled all of our cargo as well as keeping the dog comfy on the long trip.

I’ve become a bit obsessed with my 4Runner and the vehicle in general since obtaining it.  I watch YouTube videos and look at photos online, read the wiki page about it and generally obsess over it.  I wanted to look back at the history of the truck because I was having trouble remembering when it was that I first saw one.  I remember the experience well, just not the year.  My ex and I had been invited to help one of our friends do something called a “Loon Watch” in Northern Minnesota.  The Loon is the state bird of Minnesota and every year the DNR gets citizens to volunteer to count them.  They assign each volunteer a lake (they have 10,000 of them, ya know?) to go to on a specified day and count how many loons you see on the lake then report back to the DNR your results.  So we had met our friend who had brought another friend to join us.  Her friend (can’t remember her name) had just bought a brand new Toyota 4Runner and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever laid my eyes on.

This is what it looked like:

87-4runner

It was basically a small pick up but the top could come off and it had a back seat.  I drooled over that truck all weekend.  The next day we woke up at the crack of dawn and launched our two canoes into the first of several lakes we would need to traverse to find our assigned lake.  After several hours and a couple really scary portages across swampy muck filled terrain we finally arrived at our tiny little lake.  There were no loons anywhere to be found on that lake (which was more like the size of a small pond).  The trip was a grand adventure though and I’ll never forget it or the cool truck I met.  I’m still not sure on the year, but it had to be around 1988 or 89.

While the 1st and 2nd generation 4runners are still my favorites of the 4runner family, the current, 5th generation, is probably my next favorite.  Sometimes I look at the truck sitting in my driveway and can’t believe that I finally have my own 4runner after all of those years of admiring them on the roads.  Candace’s mom always names her vehicles and she’s got us starting to do it as well.  I used to call my Avalanche Megatron because it’s kind of a transformer truck, similar to how the old 4Runners could morph into a convertible.  When Candace asked me what I was going to name my new truck I immediately told her it’s name is Sapphire.  Then I told her that we should call her new Highlander Ruby, which she liked a lot.  Hopefully they’re both going to be beautiful jewels that we will enjoy for many years to come.

Just for fun, this is the picture I’ve put on my computer’s home screen, to further prove my incessant obsession with my new truck.

old-blue

Now that truck is ready to climb some rocks and ravines.  I think this could make me want to take up the hobby of off-roading.

Thanks for indulging me my obsession.

On a personal note, I have put in motion the pieces I need in order to change my gender on my driver’s license and passport.  I’ll write a post about all  of that once it’s completed.

Carry on!

Note: If you happen to be interested in learning about the Minnesota Loon Watch here is a link to the DNR site: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/loon_survey.html

Also the loon has a very unusual, beautiful call.  You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ENNzjy8QjU

Note 2:  It occurs to me that, though I named this piece “Ode To My Truck”, I really didn’t talk about my old truck much.  Suffice it to say that I still love it and I didn’t trade it in, so it’s still sitting in my driveway.  I drove it last night for a couple hours and it felt like a nice old broken in pair of Levi’s.  I need to keep it until we sell our camper or at least move it to a sales lot somewhere.  After that, I guess I’ll have to sell my truck and that will be a very sad day for me.  I’m a little bit in love with it, though not obsessed.  It’s probably the coolest vehicle I’ve ever owned.  Of course, that’s my opinion only.  Perhaps I should have called the piece “Ode to My Love Affair with Vehicles.”

 

My Little Advocate

I have a friend who’s 8 year old daughter is famous for saying whatever pops into her little mind with reckless abandon.  This little girl scares the crap out of me.  For a couple of years now she has looked at me strangely but not said a word.  Her mother knows that I’m terrified of what might pop out of her mouth and finds it pretty amusing.  I must admit that it’s fairly funny that I would be so nervous around an eight year old.  Lately she’s taken to telling me that I’m gross and weird.  I’m gross because a few weeks ago her dad and I took a bite out of some gourmet dog treats to see how they tasted.  (Not bad, actually.)  She told us both that we were gross for the rest of the night.  She likes to remind me about it every time she sees me now.  And now, for some reason, I’m weird.  I think she likes me, but I’m not really sure.  She brought me a bouquet of lollipops when I had my surgery and proceeded to eat a couple of them before she left.  Still, she looks at me like she’s trying to figure me out, but says nothing.  The tension has been building between us for quite a while now.

Last night Candace and I had dinner with her and her little brother and parents to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  She was quiet and pensive all evening.  She’s eight going on fifteen and already has teenage mood swings.  Apparently she didn’t want to go to that restaurant, but we had made reservations weeks ahead so…too bad, sweetheart.  After dinner we all came back to my house to play games and hang out.  My basement is a party zone and I have a little disco light that I turned on.  She started telling me that it was stupid to have a disco ball in such a small space and that I was weird.  Ok kid.  Usually I just say, yep, I’m weird.  Yep, I’m dumb.  Whatever.

All night I was misgendered.  It was she and her from all of the adults when referring to me.  As they were all packing up to go home and her dad said something about me and referred to me as a she, my little eight year old friend put her hand on her hip and said, “Dad, it is not a she.  It’s a he now!  It used to be a she.”  Dad’s expression was priceless.  Her mom told her she was smarter than her dad (that’s true!).  Finally it was out!!  My little friend said what I should have said a long time ago.  And now I know that she knows and we’re good.  Thank you my little advocate for speaking up for me.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Happy New Year!

Why I’m not a Butch

A couple of my readers have asked me to explain how I came to the conclusion that I was actually a Trans Man and not a Butch woman.  I’ve tried to write this post several times now and I keep running into problems with it.  It’s a complex question to answer.  The first problem is that I really never embraced  the identity of Butch.  Most of my life I identified as a Dyke or simply as a Lesbian.  I knew some older Butch women who dressed like men and had Femme wives and to my young feminist mind that was just too much like heterosexuality for my taste and I was turned off by it.  I was even in a relationship with a Butch for about seven years and she very much wanted me to be her Femme.  I didn’t have it in me and we mostly just stayed together because we loved each other as friends and enjoyed the company.  My current partner is a feminine woman but she isn’t really into Butch women.  She really was looking for someone who’s also a little feminine with a Tomboy side, what she refers to as CatFemme (her own category that she made up based on a woman named Cat that she found attractive a long time ago).  I guess she thought she might be able to mold me into more of a Femme but that didn’t really work out for her.  Instead, I got more masculine as the years went on.

Also of note is that I really didn’t know anything about the T in LGBTQ until about 7 or 8 years ago.  I didn’t understand what it meant to be Transgender until I had a friend who was MTF and she spent a lot of time educating me.  What I realized from talking to her over a period of time was that we were a lot alike, except the opposite.  Where she had hated having a beard, I’ve always felt jealous of men for their beards.  I hated dresses and frilly things and she dreamed of being able to wear them.  Pretty much everything I hated about being female she coveted and everything she hated about being a guy were things that I had always secretly felt envious of.  One day she asked me to read some psychological website that listed symptoms of transgenderism.  I related to pretty much every thing on the list.  After, she asked me what I thought and I told her that it sounded a lot like me.  This is how I realized that I was Transgender.  At the time, I kind of shrugged it off and said that it didn’t change anything.

But I was in denial.  Everything had changed.  How I saw myself and my future changed.  How I looked at my past changed.  I started to question my sexuality and my relationship.  Was I ever really a Lesbian?  A period of intense introspection began where I read everything I could about being FTM and Butch.  I thought about trying to embrace being a Butch to satisfy my emerging masculinity in order to avoid transitioning and keep my relationship safe.  My friend said to me once that she thought living all those years as a Lesbian had actually kept me from realizing I was Trans sooner.  She was right.  What had actually happened was that identifying as a Lesbian only answered part of the question for me.  It identified who and what I was sexually attracted to.  Women.  I thought that was the end of the story but it was actually just the tip of the iceberg.  It didn’t answer a deeper question of why I always dreamed of being male and fantasized about a life as a man constantly.  It didn’t answer why I occasionally felt like me and my Lesbian friends were different somehow.  Why I couldn’t relate to them on some levels.  It didn’t answer why I was so against the idea of ever being a mother or why I was so disgusted when someone referred to me as my partner’s wife.

Back in those days I remember thinking that this was like an onion.  I would peel a layer away and digest it and then another layer and digest that.  I didn’t know how many layers I’d have to go through to get to the heart of the matter.  Really, the heart of the matter boiled down to one thing.  I had never in my whole life ever felt like I was really female.  From my earliest memory, I had wanted to be a boy.  If I could remember further back I’d probably be able to tell you that I actually thought I was a boy until someone told me otherwise.  Every instinct in my mind and body was to be a boy when I was a little kid.  It was the adults who stressed that I was a girl and should act and do differently that taught me that I wasn’t a boy.  They brainwashed me to go against my own natural instincts and thought processes.  So, as many trans people do, I made the best of it and did what I could to play along and keep the peace.  I made a lot of compromises.  Living as a Lesbian was a compromise, even though I didn’t think that at the time.  It was as close as I could get to where I needed to be in order to be happy.

So it should be pretty evident at this point that I was never a Lesbian and I was never a Butch.  I was born a Transgender Male.  I just didn’t know it until I was about 47 years old.  There’s no way I could have known about what I didn’t know existed.  Once I understood, though, everything made a whole lot more sense to me.  I spent a lot of time trying to decide whether I was a Butch or a Trans Man but, honestly, I think I was just in denial and trying to find a way around transitioning.  The bottom line is that Butch’s are women.  They are happy being women and being seen as women.  They are masculine women.  Their gender expression is masculine and sometimes very male appearing, but they are women and do not wish to change that.  Trans Men do not want to be seen as women and are not happy being forced to live as a woman.  This is the line in the sand as far as I’m concerned and for myself.  Lesbians are women and enjoy being women.  They might not love make up or dresses but they are still women and proud of it.  There are Butch women who elect to have Top Surgery to remove their breasts and some even take a little testosterone, but most do not want to transition fully to male.  They want to still live as women.  Masculine women.  Are some of them Transgender?  Possibly, but that is for them to decide.  I think there’s a fine line between Butch and FTM and the deciding factor is how you want the world to see you and how you see yourself.  Personally, I came to the conclusion that I was really male my entire life and that I’d been brainwashed into believing otherwise, so I was never really a Lesbian or a Butch.  I just got tired of hiding my masculine side as I got older and let it out more which made me appear Butch, even to myself.

This really is a complex issue and there is a lot of over-lap between the two identities at times.  What I wrote here is purely my opinion and reflects my own experiences.  I know that others will feel differently about this subject and that is their right.  I was asked how I came to the conclusion that I was Trans and not Butch and I have tried my best to answer that question as clearly and thoroughly as possible.  It is my hope that this helps someone figure out who they really are one day.

 

P.S. I want to say that I actually loved being a Lesbian in a lot of ways and it’s been really hard to let go of that identity.  It was hard to embrace it initially, but once I did, I found it to be a very enriching and enlightening experience.  I feel fortunate to have gotten to live those years as a Lesbian and get to know so many great women.  I was able to attend the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival twice in my younger days and still feel a deep appreciation for those experiences.  Lesbian culture is rich and diverse and delicious in so many ways and I truly miss it.  I often say that I was raised by Lesbians.  My own mother did a poor job of preparing me for “real” life and my circle of Lesbian friends from the 80s and 90s really taught me the skills I needed to survive and thrive in society.  They also gave me the space to be myself and never told me I had to be a certain way to be their friend.  They were my chosen family for a long time and I miss them.

 

 

The Deeper Side of Transition

When I started to transition from a butch lesbian to something on the male side of the spectrum I knew I needed to take things slowly.  I needed time to wrap my mind around exactly what I was doing and where I wanted to go with hormones, surgeries, name changes and the like.  I knew I needed time to wrap my mind around the idea of not being a lesbian anymore.  Of not being a sister and a daughter anymore.  Of being seen as male.  A white, heterosexual male.  I knew that the social side of transitioning was going to be the hardest part for me to navigate.  I wasn’t really sure I could handle it, or if my relationships could handle it.  In general, it’s been easier than I ever imagined.  But it’s also been tougher than I ever imagined too.  The person who’s given me the hardest time about everything is myself.  I get in my own way.  I’m not comfortable talking about my personal life to even my dearest friends.  I still feel like I’m walking around naked a lot of the time and everyone can see all of my flaws, scars and short-comings.  I still struggle with coming out to people, especially face-to-face, or even telling someone I changed my name.

I’ve been fortunate though.  The hormones have changed my looks gradually, lowered my voice to a definite male timbre, and top surgery seemed to seal the deal of helping me look like the man I’ve always felt like inside.  Before top surgery, I probably was perceived as male about 70% of the time and could still use a women’s washroom without too much fear.  I had started to work towards using the men’s but still didn’t feel like I could go in there safely 100% of the time.  Post top surgery, something magical happened and I was suddenly thrust over into the male side of the spectrum and it became clear to me very quickly that I was now seen primarily (98%) as male to the general public.  Generally, I’m happy with this turn of events, but it happened so suddenly that I wasn’t quite prepared for all of the repercussions this would foist on me and my family.  Now I am Candace’s husband, even though we’re not married, and I am my brother’s brother, and Candace’s mom’s son-in-law.  I don’t know if I could manage to pull off a non-binary transition now if I wanted to.  Luckily, I don’t want that but it’s still a little uncomfortable and strange for people to refer to me as someone’s brother or husband.  There’s a part of me that feels like I should be ok with this and it should feel natural.  Sometimes it does feel natural, but mostly it feels strange.  I’ve gotten totally comfortable with being referred to as sir and he/him by strangers but the titles still throw me.  I think it’s just a matter of getting used to it and will take time.  My brother also has to get used to this, and thankfully, has been very gracious about it so far.  He stumbles sometimes, but so do I.  I still avoid telling people I’m his brother by saying that he is MY brother and leaving my gender up to them to decide.

Basically, though, I’m really enjoying being a guy in public.  I went shopping at a jewelry store yesterday and it was really cool that everyone assumed I was shopping for my wife.  When I made my purchase, another man and I had a fun interchange about being good husbands.  Living the role of man, husband and brother in the real world is feeling like it fits much better than woman, wife, and sister ever did.  I feel freer in a lot of ways.  Socially, with the exception of a few people, I’m out to everyone.  It’s still awkward at times and we all have some adjustments to make, but I would consider this transition a success at this point.

Transitioning is funny though because we can’t always count on how the hormones or a surgery will effect how we’re perceived.  Just like a teenager, we can have a sudden growth spurt or physical change.  You could wake up one day and realize that you’re losing your hair at a much faster pace than expected.  Or your beard could suddenly sprout like a lumber jack.  If we’re not prepared socially for these changes it can really play havoc with our progress and mental space.  Whenever we inject a hormone we have to be prepared for whatever side effect it gives us and often, we think we are prepared until it does something unexpected.  In this case, the physical transition moves faster than our mental and social transition and causes a lot of problems.  Sometimes it’s more than we can handle at the moment and we have to make the heart breaking decision to stop our transition, temporarily or permanently.  I can’t say that I started hormones willing to take all of the possible side effects no matter what.  As time has progressed though, I’ve become willing to take them all no matter what.  I don’t relish the idea of becoming a bald guy, but I accept that it could happen.  I’ve seen my hairline recede quite a bit in the past couple of years and I know that my hair is thinner than it used to be up top.  Baldness is creeping up on me and I know it.  I don’t expect to go completely bald, but I do expect to lose quite a bit of hair.

Another, deeper, side to transitioning is erasure of our pasts.  Now that I look male, people make a lot of assumptions about my past that just aren’t true.  I did not have all of the opportunities handed to me that I would have if I’d been born with male genitalia.  I was not raised as a boy.  I never was a Boy Scout.  I never played Little League or any male sport growing up.  I grew up queer, a Tom Boy, a lesbian and I had to fight and prove myself every inch of the way to get where I am today.  I played girl’s softball and was a Girl Scout growing up.  All of that is forgotten now and definitely does not seem to fit with my current persona.  This can be very disturbing and upsetting if we’re not prepared for it.  Personally, I don’t care that much and I never really liked being a “female role model” anyway, so it’s sort of a relief.  I know my history and that’s what matters to me.  No one ever handed me anything and I’ve had to work my butt off to get what I have and I don’t care who knows that about me.  Others, though, could find this to be very upsetting and it’s something to keep in mind.

Balancing the emotional and physical sides of the transition process is tricky and not for the faint of heart.  There are a lot of days where I still wonder if I can handle all of this and even whether I want to.  There are days when I wonder if I made the right decisions along the way.  But then I think about the option of going back to living as a butch lesbian and I know that I could never do that again.  So, it’s onward I go as there is no turning back for me at this point in time.  What the future brings is anybody’s guess, but I know I will handle it to the best of my ability.

Double Agent

To most unsuspecting strangers I am just any other middle aged white man.  Candace and I are just any other middle class straight white couple.  Since the election concluded I have been painfully aware of the implications, both positive and negative, of our outer facade.  I’ve mentioned to Candace several times about my fears of hate filled bigots hurting us because I’m trans and she just laughs at me because she sees me as “safe”.  I don’t feel safe.  But what if they find out I’m trans, I ask?  You’re a man now.  They won’t care, she answers.  You’re like them.

NO!  I’m not like them!

I’m not straight.  Candace isn’t straight.  I’m a transgender man with a lesbian history.  I am part of the LGBTQ+++ community.  I don’t want to be grouped in with all the other middle aged white guys out there, many of whom may have voted opposite of me.

I think about changing my gender markers before it’s illegal to do so in order to protect myself and to further insulate myself from prejudice.

I think about Candace and I getting married legally now while we still have a chance as a same sex couple.  Just because we probably won’t be able to in the future.  I feel confident that after my gender is changed legally, said marriage would continue to be safe.

I tell Candace my thoughts and she says, “but what about Beth and Jane’s marriage?  It isn’t going to be protected.”  Ugg.  She’s right.  How can we get married knowing that we’ll probably be safe when our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters won’t be so lucky.

Then I think, maybe I should just keep my gender female on my papers and we should just be out and proud as lesbian/queer/trans people.  I don’t see Candace doing that.  I don’t really see myself doing that.

I’ve even thought about detransitioning, as if that is even an option for me at this point.  I can’t go backwards.  No way I could do it.

I think about going stealth as much as possible.  This is very hard to do in this information age we live in, let alone the small community we live in.

Then I realize I’m being self centered and selfish.  I probably am pretty safe.  I’m mostly invisible to most people.  Just a middle aged white guy.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

So that leads me to wondering how I can make it clear that I’m not just any old white guy?  I’m not really interested in putting bumper stickers on my car or pinning safety pins to my clothes.  I wonder a lot how other progressive white guys feel about all of this.  Do they wrestle with how the world perceives them?  I doubt it.  I think a lot of them get angry that women don’t trust them or see them as a possible threat when they know they aren’t.  Sorry guys, your anger is misdirected.  Get angry at the other white guys who have made women fear and mistrust you for good reason.

Which leads to my only conclusion.  I have to lead by example and speak out against discrimination of any kind.  I can’t wear a sign on my back that says, “I’m not a bigot or a rapist and I love my LGBTQ sisters and brothers.”  I’ve thought about getting a shirt made that says, “I’m not like other white guys.”  I have to admit that it really makes me sad that when I meet a lesbian these days they look at me like I’m the enemy.  I want to say to them, “Hey, I used to be a lesbian too.  I’m not like the other ones.”   But I can’t.  Instead, I let them carry the heavy package for me and show me how strong they are because I know they’re proud of that and then I sincerely thank them for the help.

At the moment I’m still angry about the election and pretty scared about what will be coming in the next four years in this country.  I feel pulled between wanting to protect myself and my family and fighting for what is right and putting myself on the line.  I don’t want to be a casualty of this war, but I don’t want to sit idly by and do nothing either.  I intend to fight, but I also want to protect myself and my loved ones and I don’t want anything I do to endanger them.  I have a pretty healthy dose of paranoia running through my veins at the moment too and wonder if just writing this blog post could come back to haunt me even though I keep it pretty anonymous.  I’m not naive enough to think they couldn’t find out who I am if they wanted to.

I’m really wrestling with whether to change my gender markers and whether this will help or hinder me and our cause in the coming years.  Overall, I think it’s necessary.  It was on my agenda already as part of this year’s goals.  I suppose I shouldn’t let the election interfere with that.  I’m still trans even if my markers are changed.  I’m not safe and I certainly don’t feel safe.  I can only imagine what other people who aren’t as safe as I am are feeling right now.  I want to wrap them all in a blanket of white protective light and insulate them from the harsh realities that lurk outside.  In the meantime, I will continue living my double agent life as an enemy in the enemy camp and keep my eyes and ears open.  Be safe out there!  Stay strong!

Heading into the Storm

storm

I didn’t stay up all night watching the election results.  Around 11pm I pretty much knew Trump would win and decided to head to bed feeling defeated and angry.  Apparently, Mother Nature was also feeling pretty nasty this morning because I awoke to a cloudy, stormy day.  How appropriate, I thought, as I made my morning coffee.  All day I’ve been trying to make sense of what has transpired in my country and in this election.  It’s obvious to me that people here were willing to over look a lot of personal flaws and deplorable misconduct in order to get the change that they seem so desperate to see in their government.  I was not one of those people.  Yes, I want change.  Positive change.  I didn’t truly think that Clinton would give us the change we need, but I also didn’t think she would set us back 50 years in our cultural evolution either.  I felt confident that she would not lead us down a road of mass destruction like I feel Trump is itching to do.

But, the people have spoken and like it or not, no matter how distasteful and disgusting, he will be our next president.  Now it’s time to figure out what’s next and how to handle the new regime that will be taking over the White House in just a few months.  I look at the actual numbers of the results so far and I see hope there.  Clinton actually won the majority vote.  In my simple mind that should be enough, but it isn’t.  But that means to me that more than half of our population is not aligned with Trump and his agenda.  On top of that, I personally know many people who voted for Trump who are not misogynist, racist, homophobic, xenophobes either, so I would estimate that at least half of the Trump votes came from sensible people who are just so achingly hungry for change that they saw no alternative but to vote for him.  This gives me hope.  The majority of the population of my country do not hate me and what I believe in.  We do disagree about many things, but that doesn’t make us enemies.

I do agree with the Trump people on one thing.  This country needs profound political change.  I would have preferred to see the kind of changes that Bernie Sanders was pushing for (still is pushing for, by the way).  Things are definitely going to change.  How is yet to be seen.  This defeat does not leave me feeling defeated though.  It emboldens me to be stronger and braver and to speak my mind more about the things that are important to me.  It emboldens me to live my life fully out there with no apologies.  It emboldens me to stand up for my rights and those of others and not let the bullies win again and again.  I hope others will join me and not let this election sink our ship in this storm we’re heading into.  Now is the time to come together for what we believe and make our voice heard and start our own revolution of sorts.  More than half of the country voted against Trump.  MORE THAN HALF!!!!!  Let that sink in for a moment.  We are NOT in the minority here.  We have strength in solidarity and shared purpose.  Do NOT let hate and fear win.  Fight on!  This war is just beginning.

Exhausted

Lately I feel so exhausted from dealing with my life.  I live very close to where I grew up and went to college so there are a lot of people around here that have known me a long time.  In some cases, they’ve known me most of my life.  Most of these people I do not consider friends, but acquaintances from the past.  Yet, I find myself hiding from these people and constantly worried that I’m going to bump into someone that I used to know every day.  Last month, two women I went to high school with decided to have lunch at the restaurant that is two doors down from where I work and they called my shop and asked to speak to me.  I told my employee to take a message.  The message was that they were two doors down and would like to see me.  Great, I thought, just what I wanted to do, go have lunch with two people I used to know 35 years ago who were never really good friends to begin with.  I hid in my office and didn’t go.  My mind went to thoughts that they just wanted to lurk and poke at the trans “friend” from high school to fulfill their own curiosity about me and my transition.  I couldn’t deal with that and the questions they might ask.  One of the women is very direct and I was pretty sure she would try to dig into what I consider private space in my head and I just didn’t feel like being probed.  I know they’re hurt and disappointed but seriously, I was at WORK people!!  If you want to have lunch with me why can’t you try to arrange that ahead of time and not surprise me at my place of business and sort of ambush me into eating pizza with you to satisfy your own curiosity.  No thanks.  This all happened while my brother was in the hospital and that particular day I was only there for a short while before I had to head to the city to go see him and I had a lot to do.  I should have called them and told them I couldn’t take the time to meet but I know those two and they would have pushed me to take 5 minutes (which would have turned into an hour) with them and I just couldn’t do it.  This stuff happens to me quite a bit.  I never know when one of my employees is going to show up in my office and tell me that so and so from high school or college is in the store and wants to see me.  Immediately my blood pressure sky rockets and my palms get sweaty.  I have to steel myself to walk out there and greet them with a smile and act nonchalant about their unplanned and unwelcome visit.  I guess they figure it’s ok to just pop into someone’s work place to say hi.  Personally, I’d call first and make sure it’s ok to pop in because I don’t like being surprised like that.  Anyway, I know people don’t mean any harm but it unnerves me and annoys me and makes work more stressful than it has to be.

My mind tries to work out a solution to this problem.  Every day I fantasize about moving to some place where people don’t know me and starting a new life with a fresh start.  It’s such a strong desire in me lately that it’s actually causing some depression.  I feel like my new self as Shawn is always butting up against Dawn’s past and it’s kind of pissing Shawn off.  It happens all of the time.  I went to the dentist the other day.  They have my new name but the last time I was there I didn’t pass as well as I do now so I was nervous about how they would treat me.  It was fine but the hygienist started out using female pronouns and ended up using male for me at the end.  Why did she switch?  I never said anything about the pronouns either way.  Which leads me to the other question bouncing around in my head these days.  When and how do you decide to disclose that your gender has changed?  Legally, I still have that F on all my records.  I keep dragging my feet about changing it.  It’s the last little step I need to take.

I can’t move though for too many reasons, at least not now.  Maybe in the future we can relocate but it’s just not possible at the moment.  So I think about how I can give Shawn a fresh start without physically moving to a new place.  I could get all new doctors.  I can’t use a different daycare place for my dog though.  I guess those people, since I see them every day, really do need to be told what’s going on with me.  The other day Candace told me that they use she and he pronouns for me and don’t know which one is right anymore.  Did she help me out and tell them for me?  Nope.  So I’ll have to do that.  I could move my business I guess.  I have thought about it many times.  I’ve thought about separating the two major aspects of the business and moving the part I take care of on my own to an undisclosed private location that only my employees know about so that these so-called friends can’t just pop in on me.  The thought of doing all of that is exhausting.  The thought of continuing to go to work and worry about impromptu visitors is exhausting.  The thought of having to disclose to the doggie daycare workers that I’ve transitioned is exhausting.  I don’t want to deal with any of it.  If I were single and unencumbered I would just move and start fresh.  That’s what I want to do and what feels the most refreshing to my spirit.  But I can’t.  I have too many obligations here and Candace can’t so easily just up and move her business.  I’ve even thought about moving to a new area and keeping my business here but coming back once a week to get and return work and take care of any situations that I need to be here to handle.

Like it or not, I guess the bottom line is that I have to buck up and deal with my life.  I can’t run away from it even though every fiber of my being wants me to.  I chose to transition here and now in this place and time and I have to learn to be proud of my transition instead of ashamed or timid about it.  I need to get my gender changed on my IDs and push people, including Candace, to use the proper pronouns for me.  When people refer to me as she it hurts me now in more ways than one.  Yes, it grates on my nerves and frustrates me but it also confuses other people and outs me as trans.  A side note about when strangers realize I’m trans is that they no longer see me as male and revert to female pronouns and honorifics.  Come on people!!!  Do I really look like a ma’am and do I look like I want to be called ma’am?  NO!  I have to try to get that to stop.  In the mean time, I really wish I could just take a really long nap because just thinking about doing all of that has already exhausted me.  All this really does make it clear to me why so many people live stealth and are so concerned with “passing”.  It’s a huge pain in the arse to constantly have to worry about being outed or explain your transition to strangers and acquaintances. It just adds another draining layer on top of a life that is already challenging enough and who needs that?  No one.