The Path – Musings of Transitioning

13 11 2010

I have never been one for just following the road well travelled. I have managed to do very well in life by holding a course until the need arises to change it…

My transitional journey is a lot like long distance sailing;

  • You know where you would like to go – generally.
  • You have the means to get there, but not directly.
  • You tack when the conditions require it.
  • The course is never in a straight line (it is never just a downwind run!).
  • You do not dictate the weather, wind or water – only how you set your sails.

If you have not been off cruising in a sailboat, you may miss some of what I am saying here (and you can skip forward). As I said, life is about the Journey.

I (we, including the wife I was married to) thought that our son was going to be born in New Zealand 15 years ago. I looked like the rugged tanned male mariner (I was told I was a hunk) when I was in those early thirties. We were sailing on a course for New Zealand when we changed the tack. Life goes on and we never did make it to New Zealand, although we tacked onto another cruising boat, then tacked again into a house; gathering flotsam and jetsam along the way until we could not move or breathe.

I cut the anchor after 14 years on the cruising boat, a lifestyle, my wife and my 10 year position as a stay at home dad. In truth, I went adrift as a castaway so that I could focus on something that had been brewing for a long time. I had set all the challenges I had with Gender since I was 9 or so away in the back of my mind. I now set my course to figuring out gender for me.

It is nearing 40 years since I first started trying to figure out why I felt different. And for those that have been on a similar journey, it is never entirely what you think it is going to be, is it?…

Most people, when they hear of sailing long distance on the ocean, they think;

  • Wow, I could be free to go wherever I want – and it would be free!
  • It is white sand beaches, sunsets, drinks on the deck and paradise; forever!
  • Perfect, leaving all the responsibilities behind in the receding view.
  • That you are in command and control.

Nothing is further from the truth. Cruising is 90% boredom with 5% shear terror and 5% of the dream. The bulk of the time you maintain the boat, spend time on passage, explore remote locations and look for supplies to repair and maintain your boat.

Being TG or transitioning is a lot like that as well. Just like cruising, when you start transitioning, you think that you will now finally get all that you want, that all will accept you, that it will be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns… and then there is the reality of transitioning while in society.

By and large, most everybody has problems and issues – in fact, they are so busy dealing with their problems and issues that they do not give a shit about yours. This is, as it should be. When you start taking hormones and transitioning, most people will not notice anything – they will see you always were (except that perhaps you grew long hair). Transitioning is not about you and society OR you fitting in – it is a personal journey on a path few take and less understand. Most of the people transitioning really don’t know why they are here*.

*OK – before I get ‘hate comments’ (and I have never had one), I am just trying to be realistic with others transitioning. The truths are simple…

  • For the vast majority of the population, gender is seen as fixed in concrete and unquestionable.
  • Your very actions of transgender challenge people as much as it would if you said you could defy gravity.
  • Most people have their own crisis going on – and they really don’t want any drama from you.
  • The path you follow is individual, unless you decide that the route of popular psychology and surgery is the correct answer.
  • There is no singular answer to the ‘why’ question. Move forward and stay to the path that you choose.

I even managed to get involved with women (sorry, I am only into women) along this journey in the past 5 years. Like the general population, they had their own take and involvement in my transition. Transitioning takes it toll on close interpersonal relationships. The very act of transitioning means that what would be taken for granted as ‘stable / fixed’ is not!

Oh – time out here. You though this was going to be just about transitioning? You can read about that in the hormones section if you want to know what happens to the body. The real ocean of uncertainty in transitioning is not why you are doing it OR what will happen OR where you end up as in the other gender. No, the real ocean is what will you do for intimate companionship. Transitioning will take you only 10% or less of your lifetime (I know of a woman who did M-F in one year, at age 60; that means the transition was only 1/60th of their life). The other 90% of the time you will still need to figure out relationships, just like you always have BUT from a perspective that is now different. Good luck, reading further will not give you the key or secret.

Intimate Relationships

One was a woman named Amy. You see her name in the title of this blog. Amy was the first who birth the name Sarah (and I still like the name). Amy also had her own agenda and wanted her own lesbian relationship with Sarah… except, I was not Sarah, a woman. I was, as I am now, a transitioning person. Amy wanted me to go all the way and that was never my destination.

There was another named Laura and she was able to be bonded to me in such a way that my soul felt ripped apart by that relationship. She wanted something else. In the time with her – I married her and divorced her.

Both those people had their own strong agenda, and their own baggage. I started to think that transitioning was far less messed up than what ‘normal’ people were in relationships. I dated an angry lesbian army major (who had never cooked or cleaned for herself in her life), a woman (m-f), a crazy Filipino woman who had lesbian issues from her teenage past and a few others. I could not seem to find anyone ‘normal’ and I figured that it was all due to my own transitioning, my own ‘abnormality’ – although by now at near 4 years on hormones, I was feeling pretty normal!

So what was left for me? Guys? Um, no – I was a good guy who fucked around and I knew what guys were capable of. Besides that, they had nothing that interested me – they were hairy, had no shape, no breasts and an outy AND I did not want another relationship with some weird expectations. I have great close friends as guys, but I had no image of myself being in an intimate relationship with them.

I then did my best Tom Hanks in Castaway. I isolated myself long enough that I came up with the answer. As much as I loved being with people, I could no longer be in an intimate relationships. I would become a sheeple (sheep people) and live out the time enjoying relationships that worked. I did have some great long-term friendships, a set of great relationships at work and by and large got along great with everyone including my X (the one I had the son with) and my son. I guess, I just gave up and said that I was done with the freakyness of relationships.

And I was done… then

Along came a woman who I had not expected. One that allows me to be as I am – David+. That allows me to be the transitioning, integrated person without any expectations of any kind. Who revels in my womanliness and enjoys the maleness of my past. It is now nearing 6 months together and I love her more every day. The relationship is not crazy like the fireworks of the past (with many of those fireworks going off on the ground) – it is the steady smooth coal fire of a forge.

See, in transitioning, I refused to throw out what was good about me and still connected with maleness. I always considered the femaleness as added to me – not as in a trade. Perhaps I do not have the journey right for transition – I have always been about balance in my life… and I sought balance within myself of the male and female. I do not always look like a woman, although I have nice breasts! – nor entirely as a male, though I still have the outy.

Me on the right

I sailed off the map. I knew where male was and I thought that I knew where female was – I am somewhere else in both body and mind. Just like the sailing when I never made it to New Zealand, in transition I never made it to being entirely a woman. How do I feel about it?

Plot your own journey. You do not need to follow the path that only leads to one of two destinations. Keep an open mind and find peace within that mind and you will, like in Castaway, come to the crossroads where you can see that you really have a limitless horizon.

And about me, this early morning (I started writing at 0400)?

There is a beautiful woman, Jules, up in my loft still asleep; and we are getting married next spring. I have found a warm, accepting family with this woman. As for a sailboat, my third cruising boat (the smallest) is out in the carport, being rebuilt. Fair winds and safe shores to all who are transitioning. Sarah xox.





Losses – Coming Out as TransGender

11 11 2009

rememberance day crossKind of an odd day… and I have been reflecting on this for sometime now, here it is coming all together. I have avoided personal writing, for my own reasons – I have also satisfied my urges for personal writing by keeping them as drafts, here. This is article is a bit more personal.

Today is Remembrance Day. Have you forgotten what that is – or are you reflecting on it as an American, wondering what it really means?

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Armistice Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of World War I on that date in 1918 (major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice). The day was specifically dedicated by King George V, on 7 November 1919, to the observance of members of the armed forces who were killed during war.

Oddly enough, I found myself playing Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2, today. I reflected on what it means for people to lose others. We have losses nearly every day, a Policeman was killed in Seattle, some die in a plane crash, another with swine flu – many in vehicle accidents; the highest killer of all people under 25.

military cemetery

I had buried all my grandparents by 18 (carried the caskets of 3 of them). My father and biological mother (I cast her ashes in the Cromarty Firth in Scotland on a sunny November day) are both dead. All that is left for me of immediate older family is my mother who no longer remembers who I am or anything of my childhood – she was the last to know the child who was David (I think that is the first time I have ever mentioned that name!). I left my country, left behind friends and family more than 20 years ago now. Ad to that the experience I have had as a Wilderness E.M.T. and I think I know something about loss.

I lived with my father for nearly a year, back in Canada, as he wound down and died of cancer. I held his hand, with me crying when he died – and took out my stethoscope to hear his last rasping breaths and weak heartbeat cease.

Losses. “Becoming” (if that is what this is – but it is how others see it) transgender, incurs losses.

I came out first, publically, in March of 2007. I thought that I would start to come out publically after I had resumed the hormone treatments in Feb 2007 and had started body hair removal in Dec 2006. Physical changes and personal encouragement from supporters brought me ‘out’.

Before I tell you any stories – here is the data I offer… Of all the people (family, friends, coworkers), who knew / know you, that you tell when ‘coming out’, here are the results I observed:

50% will disappear, fading over a little time (or not) and they will drop right off the radar.

Of the remaining 50%:

75% will react based on beliefs, judgment and experiences that you never knew they had, and the relationship will be changed significantly from what it was. Sometimes this is for the better though.

25% will remain and they will accept you pretty much as you are.

What that means is that about 1 in 8 will still see you as they nearly always saw you. Then 3 in 8 will treat you differently and may hold some concept of who you are – they may also hold judgment and bias that will manifest itself in weird ways. Those other remaining 4 in 8 – they will drop you right away, or disappear quickly, being unable to come to terms with their loss of you as a person in their life.

Now the stories – first the positive, then some losses.

G: He was – and still is – my best friend. He knew that I had been on hormones back in my late 20’s. We had traveled together, camped, skinny dipped together. I told him about the hormones and breasts 6 years ago – and he had seen them when swimming with me. When he was first told about me transitioning, he reacted like I was kidding – like I was trying to say I was going to start cross dressing. It has taken over 2 years for him to refer to me as Sarah to others, he still calls me David to my face (and that is ok). He still struggles a bit with me as female – mostly because he thought that I would become another person. I think he thought that I would become a woman who knew nothing of what I had in my head and who never saw what my eyes have seen. He now seems to understand that we can still talk and play with Land Rovers. He is in the 1 in 8.

C: Thank God, I am working with / for and incredible women who is my direct supervisor with the company I work for and a person I am glad to call friend. She never batted an eye (although she does stare at my chest sometimes). She is the only person I interact on a daily basis with that I can make gender comments to. Like when we were in Safeway and I said “If I give to breast cancer I also have to give to prostate cancer – I can get both!”. She is always about the performance of the individual, not the gender – and she is quick to point out that the ‘innies’ get a harder shake of it. I remember when I told her (I then sent her this blog)… she said, so are you like a cross dresser on the weekend? Standing there, wearing a womans jacket, I took it off and said “I am wearing all women’s clothing, and have been – have you not noticed the make-up and everything else”? I have 7 ear piercings, long hair and breasts… yet, she met me as David and still sees me as ‘him’. C has never ‘betrayed’ me, never slighted me with a careless comment. The relationship is what I wanted – unchanged. I do not want to be Sarah to her.

DragQueenN: He is in the 3 of 8 category. N is a great friend, who became a better friend after I told him. It did change one thing – he still, no matter how much I explain it to him, wants to see me “in drag”. What that means, is that he wants me to look like some kind of performance drag queen! Sorry N. He is nice though (and he is gay) and has treated me great as a woman when we go out – he is the one guy I like going out to dinner with. His Thanksgiving dinners are as the family that I do not have.

The other 50% – who dropped off

J: G told J before I could talk to him. Now he has been a great friend, what else can you call a person who will help you drywall and insulate in your garage, live on your boat (and help pay for it), help you through a divorce?… the list goes on. I never got another email from him. I have seen him on three occasions in the past 2+ years at social Land Rover events and he treats me like I have an infection, that is contagious, in a cloud 20′ around me. WTF? 

J is the most glaring example of the 50% that fall off, but he is joined by

L: Who I at one time considered a soul mate and more, was the daughter of lesbians and feigned understanding and support until the truth caught her up – the lie that she held. L suffered from the Peter Syndrome – in private, she was all about support, but in public and with people she knew (in any way), I found that she did not even mention our relationship, about living with me or who I was. In the end, even with her here, I found that she would introduce me as a friend, David, while loving Sarah. L denied knowing me publically.

A: She is really in the 25%, but there was a wake of losses that my closest confidant, friend, lover and so much more affected because she was more than willing to share ‘who I was’. She told old coworkers and other acquaintances. She also told her conservative family before she had even worked out what was really happening – let alone how to talk about it. Not once was I there to share my truth. The mother of A was also able to fake support and understanding, for a short time, until I found out that she had portrayed me as a freak to all she knew (and she is the matriarch of the extended family) and her daughter as someone trying to ‘rescue me’. This is where I really learned the term “frienemy”. Honestly, those that have gone – the losses – the real loss is theirs. I gained knowing who are true friends to my being.

The relationships with women in intimacy have been most challenging. Beyond being TG, there has been other complications (like other relationships), but the “TG thing” always has a large bearing. I no longer know what is truth – honesty. There always seemed to be some kind of deception when all that I offered was the bearing of an innermost past that I buried for 30 years behind facial hair and outdoor leadership skills teaching. Being TG and transitioning is hard in intimacy, few relationships of this kind survive the transition phase.

Honestly, the most damage to relationships has been caused by others telling my “TG story” to friends that we both know together. Once you share “the secret” (because that is what it is to everyone you talk to), they will want to tell others; I promise you that.

So, the best way to share your coming out is organize yourself, figure out who, when, where and what you want to say – and in what order. After that, it will change your life, just like your transition will.

I have no regrets after more than 3 years of coming out. I look forward to the continuing journey.





The Little t in GLBT or LGBT

26 08 2008

That T at the end of GLBT (or LGBT) is for transgender. The other three letters stand for sexual orientation, but the last letter – the letter T is little or silent in most groups.

The goal for many M2F as well as F2M transgenders; transexuals is to become passable – then invisible. Ultimately, they disappear after their two to five year journey of transformation. Even if they have not taken the final step of SRS (Sex Reassessment Surgery), they can have their sex on identification papers changed to match with how they are presenting and living.

A well written article from another writer covers it here – By John Avarosis in:

Transgender News – How Did the T Get in LGBT

{In simpler times we were all gay. But then the word “gay” started to mean “gay men” more than women, so we switched to the more inclusive “gay and lesbian.” Bisexuals, who were only part-time gays, insisted that we add them too, so we did (not without some protest), and by the early 1990s we were the lesbian, gay and bisexual, or LGB community. Sometime in the late ’90s, a few gay rights groups and activists started using a new acronym, LGBT — adding T for transgender/transsexual. And that’s when today’s trouble started.}

Depending on the history told, the term GLBT came about; as each sub group was added, another letter was added after the general catch-all term- “Gay”. The current LGBT is a ranking of a dangerous internal group sexism – The gay community begrudges the lesbian community for muscling their way over the ‘boys’; bisexuals are treated as wanna-be, part time, half hearted gays (and lesbians) and the transgender community is welcomed as neither gay nor lesbian by either of those two groups, misunderstood by the sexual bisexual explorers and generally segregated at any and all at LGBT group activities.

The confusion continues when an M2F is with a women Or an F2M is with a man) – they are not ‘normal’ according to society and they are not accepted as lesbians (or gay) in those communities. I do not want to beat this horse into the ground – and the ultimate responsibility for information lies in the hands of the transgendered within the GLBT groups. Like the ‘issues’ the gays and lesbians have to over come, information needs to be offered and then, understanding comes from the majority – the experiences of the gay community with the body of society are paralleled with the transgender community and the GLBT community.

What makes the T portion unique is both for what it is and what it is not. It is a subject that has varying degrees of meaning, from cross dressing to gender bending to post-op transexual. It is also a unique departure from the other three (GLB) because it is not about sexual orientation.

The T portion of the LGBT community has two duties:

One, to continue, in a public sense, to be vocal and united. That means, not dissappearing after your own personal journey is over.

Two, to bring awareness that the assessment of gender is broad reaching, universal and effects everyone else.





Gender – lite; making more sense of S.O., gender and the community

24 08 2008

Here is Gender Lite – Making sense of it for the non-gender challenged! I always like seeing the words challenged or issue as they relate to gender; none of which could be further from truth. This will also contain a few of my own personal opinions…

SEX – Sexual Orientation – S.O.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation

First. Lets separate SEX from this. Do you all know what sexxual (or sexyual) attraction is? Well, I am going to give you some new – but very old terms. Terms such as Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual; and then we had to have Lesbian and Gay because they did not want to just be labeled homosexual; all of these are labels that wrap up the gender of both individual with their sexual orientation.The result with these now popular lables has been to define gender while defining sexual orientation. Let’s take a look at some other labels that are a bit older – and more useful.

These define WHO you are attracted to, in a specific way AND they do not define your gender!

Gynephilia (Gynophilia)
Gynephilia (or gynophilia) (From Greek gunē, “women,” + -philia, “love”) is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult females.

Androphilia
Androphilia (from Greek andro-, “male,” + -philia, “love”) is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult males.

Bisexuality is the unique term – it describes neither person’s gender and may be used openly by both men and women.

There are two main reasons why these terms have been used: to describe either the age or the sex/gender of the object of an individuals sexual orientation. Neither of these terms define the gender of the person who is defined by the definition, but rather, the object of their affection.

Simply you are attracted to either adult males and/or females (or none or both). If you fall outside of this, that is not where I can go.

Why go to the trouble of simplifying Sexual Orientation? Because, even in the GLBT community, there is a decided bit of prejudice against anything outside the “dyed in the wool” Lesbian or Gay labels. If you are a bisexual woman, you better say you are lesbian when you are surrounded by lesbians – otherwise, you might be rejected as indecisive or half hearted (and there will certainly be judgement).

And God help you with lesbian group (whom you most identify with) if you are a Bisexual woman (you had children with a man, right?) and you have chosen the partner to be a pre-op TG M2F – don’t they have a special group for you two? I mean, even with HRC, there is no movement to eliminate prejudice and judgement within the community – all work is placed on gaining acceptance of the community. Additionally, as of late, the HRC has left behind the transgender community in their quest to satisfy legislation against sexual orientation discrimination, solely.

More about the HRC here

A bit to ponder on about sexism – could you possibly be in LGBT and be sexist?? The next You Tube brings to light HRC’s departure to the transgender community – thank you Grishno for being so vocal.

Sexism is discrimination against people based on their sex or gender. Sexism can refer to three subtly different beliefs or attitudes:

  • The belief that one sex is superior to the other.
  • The belief that men and women are very different and that this should be strongly reflected in society, language, the right to have sex, and the law.
  • It can also refer to simple hatred of men (misandry) or women (misogyny).

Make sure that if you are a supporter of the GLBT / LGBT communitythat you do not practice sexism or reverse sexism while preaching the desire of acceptance and tolerance!

Gender – Pink or Blue or ?

Pink Blue

Pink Blue

Now the gender part. Why separate out the gender from sexual orientation? Well, if you are a M2F (male to female transgender) and you are attracted to a women – you can see that the labels of sexual orientation move around so much as to be dizzying.

For many people, the labels of Boy / Girl – Male / Female and Man / Women work well. Yet, in Homosexual relationships, it is not uncommon for partners to refer to each other as wife or husband; a gender label outside of the male / male or female / female relationship model.

Andro/Gyne labels – boy, male, man – girl, female, women…. should the labels for (fe)male include clothes and jobs? Should your hair length be a factor? Is it as simple as your gender is defined by just an XX or XY (that most people are never in a position to see)?

Darwin used labels well. He would see what the connections were when few others could see them. Perhaps we need a bit more Darwinian terminology…

Gyne butchias gynophilic — Andro transgio gynophilic — Gyne preandrophilic transgio fafafinian

Hmmm, those seem a bit complex – extra points if you can figure out the last one! Perhaps the simple thing to do here – and the most human;is to ask the person you don’t know about. If gender seems ‘ambiguous’ ask the person about it. Most people who are in any sort of gender position other than the simplest views of male / female, have explored within themselves as to what is gender.

Sorry – I really did not answer the gender questions for you. I will say this – gender is more than just XX / XY and whether or not you have a penis or vagina.

That stern looking women wearing a flannel shirt may be doing so for one of so many different options – examples include; a TG who is wanting to continue life more masculine, or a Butch, or a women who likes wearing her husbands clothes, or ? Ask when you don’t know. The greatest duty we have is to explain ourselves to others, in an open, honest way – when asked – no matter how we present. The greatest duty of those who do not understand – is to learn.

In tribal times, the reason you fought the neighbouring tribe was because you did not understand them – you thought they were hunting too close – that they believed something you did not understand – that they looked or acted different. All reasons that we attacked one another.

I am Sarah, a biological male who looks like a women who lives with a women and our children. I drive a car, walk upright with two legs, think, love, work. I like the label gender transformer – I have been reshaped with hormones; and yet I remain myself in so many ways. I don’t have a gender issue; do you?