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16 Months (Past One Year) Post Opt (WooooHooo)

Lisa: a beautiful being

Lisa: a beautiful being

In my last post I thought I was ready and able to start writing again, since the loss of my precious beloved Lisa.  I guess I wasn’t all that ready.  This is coming up on nine months since she passed away and the grieving and loss is just as intense as it was then.  I am a bit stronger, I do have times now where I am enjoying life and times where I feel good and feel like I have my feet firmly on the ground and accomplishing things and proud of it.  It is like waves in the ocean (huge ones):  there are times when I’m struggling to get air and being tossed around like being inside a clothes dryer and there are times that I’m peacefully, calmly and confidently floating on top.

I had promised to write two other posts, one on the ways that Lisa has come to me and is present in my life and the other about handling grief and the process that I’m going through.  I have started both of those posts, but have not been able to finish – partly because of the continuing intensity of this grief.  Someone told me that the intensity of grief is a testament to the greatness of the love shared.  I firmly hold that as true.  Lisa and I had an intense love and life together.  It’s the type of love that as a teenager I had dreamed about, the kind one finds only in novels and great plays.  But it happened – it happened to us.  Terms like twin flame and soul mates don’t come close…

Leaving flowers at Lisa's memorial

Leaving flowers at Lisa’s memorial

It is a week to my 16th anniversary (and the day before my anniversary will be 9 months since Lisa passed away ….).  As a result, my 1 year anniversary of my SRS and becoming who I am inside now on the outside, was a pretty hard day with vivid memories of Lisa and I sharing the hospital room and her being constantly by my side plus all the times in Chonburi getting out and around.

Since the last post, I’m now dilating only once a week – I picked Sunday nights.  There were times when I missed a week and didn’t have any issues or problems the next time I dilated.  Some people I know only dilate only once a month.  I might go to that after my 2nd year anniversary but don’t think that would be a good idea right now.

I’ve traveled to the mainland twice this year already and will make another trip in Dec.   I think it’s important to visit Lisa’s and my family more often then we did before, especially after her passing.  During the first trip I held life celebrations for Lisa with everyone and together we scattered some of her ashes in places that were very special to her.  The second trip was just to be together with them, revisit some of these place but also to reminisce and just be together, as a family.  My trip in Dec will be along the same lines.  Although, this will be the first time back in Minnesota during their winter – not sure how smart of an idea this is, but the grand kids have been remembering me and I want to be there more often for them.

On the way to the airport when I was leaving Minneapolis to come home the last time – I got rear ended on the interstate.  I saw my doctor and she prescribed a month’s worth of therapeutic massages, twice a week!  I like this doctor!!  Those are wonderful, so relaxing and has helped my stiff neck and back that I had after the accident.  I have one more to go.  But I think I’ll come back once a month (on my own) from now on.  These really help reduce stress and relax the body.

Lisa and Mazie

Lisa and Mazie

Another major thing that happened is our (Lisa and my) cat Mazie passed away.  Mazie was a very affectionate and loving.  After Lisa passed away, Mazie would cuddle with me in bed and would always be on my lap when I got home.  It’s very interesting that Mazie came to us (appeared at our back lanai) after Lisa’s mother Mazel passed away.  Hence her name – Lisa named her after and in honor of her mother.  And now, Mazie passed away about 2 months after Lisa did.  She was here for Lisa!  This picture of Mazie on Lisa’s lap says it all.

Last week, a good friend of mine decided she is going to move to the mainland and would not be able to bring her cat along and asked me if I would take the cat (named Bella Marie).  Bella is 7 years old, a mix of Tobi and Siamese and is very loving as well.  At first I wasn’t sure I was ready.  Bella knew me from the times I would visit, so everything went exceptionally well when she was came to stay with me.  She is becoming just as affectionate as Mazie was – sitting on my lap and laying at foot of the bed at night, occasionally coming up and cuddling next to me.  And amazingly, she is toilet trained!  She is an indoor cat, so I don’t have the messes I had with Mazie trekking in all the dirt.  Bella is a huge help with my grief and loss of Lisa (and Mazie).  It’s great having her around the house.  Another loving being is now sharing the house with me!

I’m keeping myself busy – maybe a bit too busy.  For a couple of weeks I helped a good friend of mine with her business – spiced cacao.  I helped package, label, count and load everything up for a ‘Made in Maui’ huge event.  That was a lot of fun and met a lot of friends there.  She also took me out to a couple of Rotary outings, one was a Halloween party put on by a well known doctor here – that was awesome.

I’ve also been elected to the board of  Maui Pride.  For me this is a huge honor.  I’ll be helping with their events and planning.  They have monthly hikes, monthly dine outs, special events, etc.  Their largest event, the Maui Pride Fair, raises enough money to be able to hand out a dozen or so scholarships to LGBT students here.  They also help other organization on island with their fundraisers like “Woman helping Woman” and the AIDS foundation.

Through on of their events – a dine out – I met a wonderful couple.  A couple of weeks later I get an invite to their wedding!  It was beautiful.  They are both chefs and you can just imagine the festivities and food afterwords.  Well, last week was a birthday of a mutual friend, I was invited over to their house.  There were five of us women and we had a wonderful time.  It is so great to be accepted by them and to enjoy their company.  Now, I’ve been invited to share Thanksgiving with them.  What an honor!

Ok, on to transition and what’s it’s like for me at 16 months.  Again, so much has been eclipsed by Lisa’s passing, followed by the loss of Mazie our cat and also all three topical fish (basically every living thing in our house except me!).  It was just one thing after another.  Then that was followed by losing a number of precious items, like the ring from Lisa’s finger (that I took off of her in the hospital after she passed away).  So it’s been pretty tough.

It is nice only dilating once a week – that takes off a huge burden.  My breasts have been sore now and then, just like they were when a growth spurt occurred – and they have grown a bit more.  I had one scare however.  I had my first mammogram and they called me back to get an ultrasound.  It turns out I had a swollen lymph node and not to be worried.  However, this does point out how important it is to be checked.

So, a bit of TMI  (too much information) – stop here if you don’t want TMI ….

Everything ‘down below’ has healed well and functioning perfectly.  As a young boy I could never understand my mother when she always told me to clean myself very well down there.  What was there to clean any more then any other part of my body?  Well … things are sure different now and I now understand what she was referring to!  There are so many folds and creases down there that it’s a lot harder to clean.  I’m not sure what they call that white stuff that forms in the creases but it does not smell good.  Twice I asked my doctor and she showed me yet another crease or fold I didn’t know about, where this hid …. I’ve got ’em all now.

Big news is that I had my very first orgasm.  It was a small one, but it was one none the less!  A lot of trans*women have experienced their first orgasm at around 4 or 5 months post opt. But I had urinary problems when I came home from Chonburi and then a urinary infection back home that took months to clear up. A couple of months after that, the love of my life, my spouse Lisa passed away (she is a nurse and was with me in Chonburi for my operation).   I had a dream where Lisa came to me.  She wanted so much to give me my first one.  So, in a way she did.  Just like Lisa, an orgasm’s effects lasts for days after – sort of a glow – just like Lisa always had.  This is just one of many ways Lisa has been showing up – but that is for another post, perhaps another blog site.

So there were lots of factors contributing to not being able to orgasm when others had.  But, it finally happened.  Just wish my beloved Lisa would have physically been here with me ….. miss her so terribly much …

Those who are post opt and have not yet had an orgasm,  you need to be patient – it took me a year. And ‘yes’ to what most others have posted about this – it is different, both physically and mentally.  As a male we were used to ‘forcing’ it, powering through and everything was very focused (mentally and physically).  This is not the case now.  It’s now more about letting go, feeling the entire body, not being focused at all.  Instead being patient, not forcing anything, being open and sensing ‘all’ your feelings.  Here is an accurate but somewhat strange comparison:  for those of you that have had SRS surgery, it’s like the first time you had to urinate (usually they make you do this before you can leave the hospital).  You find out really quick that you can not do it the way you did as a male – you can ‘not’ force it out.  You have be patient, relax, no stress or strain and allow it to flow.  I’m glad I have transitioned.

Well, in the interests of getting this finished and posted, I’m going to finish here.  I can include more details in the next post.  Wishing everyone happy holidays!

With Aloha,

Sifan

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10 Months Post-Op

Posted on
Sifan 7/10/2015

Sifan 7/10/2015

I’m not sure what to say, accept that I feel I need to post something.  Today marks 10 months since my SRS and birth into the physical reality of who I am.  Yesterday however, was the 3 month anniversary of when my beloved Lisa passed away.  This post will primarily cover transition.

The entirety of these past three months have been spent in grief, morning and loss.  People say I’m doing better, but it feels even worse than at first.  Nothing in my entire life has been this hard.  This is one of the reasons I could not post until now.  Not sure I’m ready to post now either but I feel I should.

I think I will be creating separate posts to cover the main things I’m going through and experiencing.  Those include the continuing transition (or perhaps it’s post transition now), the grief and loss of my spouse and what I’m going through and what is helping and the many ways that Lisa is showing up and making herself felt.  This last one is quite amazing.  Lisa is being felt by many and I have heard from a lot of people.  This has been an immense relief and comfort to me.

It does not relieve the grief and pain of loss.  After all these years of cuddling every night, all night long – my body experiences this loss so terribly.  But my spirit knows Lisa is with me and I experience her constantly.  These two things continue along at the same time – loss/grief and comfort.

Of course Lisa’s passing has completely eclipsed my transition.  I am very grateful that during this period of memorials, life celebrations and lots of public exposure that no one has ‘clocked’ me, no ‘he’ nor ‘him’ or sideways glances or inappropriate comments or remarks.  Actually I haven’t had anything like that for more than 1/2 a year now.  I’m not sure if that is because of looking more like a woman, acting more like a woman or because of my confidence in being who I am.  I think it’s all in the latter – confidence.  I’m not even thinking about whether I look like a woman or will I be ‘passing’ ok today, etc.   Thanks to my dearest Lisa, I have a confidence now that carries across.

As far as post op recovery is concerned:  wow, they are right – looking back, 6 months was the magical time!  As I stated in an earlier post, it almost happened overnight, the night before my 6 month anniversary.  I no longer used the seat cushion, the remaining pain went away, dilation was much easier, and on and on.

Since then, I have even ridden a bicycle!  Now that was something that the thought of before would send very unpleasant shivers up and down me.

I had a granulation between my labia on my right side that used to bleed now and then back in the months after I got home.  I was very concerned and was going to have my doctor here remove it.  The advice from Chonburi was to just leave it alone.  But I wondered what would become of it:  would it remain as a protrusion?  Would it fall off?  Would it just go back in?  Well now I have the answer – it goes back in.  It’s gone and everything looks good there.

However, my doctor noticed something else – it looked like a ‘Y’ shaped frenulum split my clitoris in half!  Sent off a picture to Chonburi and they said ‘oh oh – that needs a revision’.  Ouch.  The clitoris has ‘legs’ that come down inside the inner labia on a woman.  Apparently those legs are along the inner sides of the inner labia instead of underneath.  These are sensate, but not to the point of pain or it being a problem.  My doctor here said that unless they were effecting me, to not worry about it at all.  She also said to look at it this way:  I have ‘extra’ sensate areas – be glad !!  So, I have a normal clitoris, clitoral hood, frenulum etc., then directly below the frenulum I have these two longish bumps on each side between the upper inner labia that are also as sensate as the clitoris.  I’m happy with that!

For dilation, I’m now down to once every 3 days.  I am on the largest dilator, have been since before the 6 month mark.  I don’t have any problems, no pain and it’s been easy and fast to get to depth.  I will wait for another 2 months (my 1 year anniversary) before I cut down to once a week as recommended for that time and then for the rest of my life.  Trying to figure out what day I’ll do my dilations on when I get to once a week – hummm – Mondays? – nay, those are bad enough ….

I have finally stopped shaving the upper 1/2 of my face!  The electrolysis has progressed far enough along that she now cleans up anything from about midway from my chin to my lower lip and up, then has started on my jaw line and chin and below.  There is nothing to shave above that!  At last – this is soooo good.  However, hair is still growing on my chest and stomach and that is starting to really bother me.  It has slowed down and others have said that it will eventually stop given about 2 years or more of HRT.  But I’m starting to think I might have her do electrolysis there next if this continues.

I’m also having electrolysis on my eye brows and finding that very very helpful.  She applies a topical to numb the area – it’s still a bit more painful than other places but it’s a huge difference in how I look and I don’t have to pluck anymore.  What a relief.

One of the concerns I had recently was how to shave my back.  Lisa used to do that for me – in the hard places to reach, but now ….  Turns out at my doctor’s office they now have waxing and massage.  So I signed up for a waxing for my back, my ears and my nose.  Yes, nose!!  I was pleasantly surprised!  They use a topical to numb the inside of the nose and it really (for me) was not painful at all.  So this will become part of a tri-monthly routine for me now.

My breasts have grown a bit more – I’m a 42B and filling that in pretty solidly now.  I’m glad I did not get breast augmentation when I was in Chonburi – as they had recommended against it and said I would fill out a bit more.  I did and am very happy with what I have.  Mine are ‘on the sides’ a bit, so when I put on a bra I have to pull or tuck them in (and get ‘side’ control bra’s).  This makes them look a lot better as well.  One thing I learned the hard way however – a mosquito bite just under the bra band in the middle of my back is the very worst thing to have!!!  Can’t reach it plus the bra rubs it raw.  ACK !!!!

Finally, my hair is just below my shoulders and slightly wavy along the sides.  I love how it is styled and layered.  Just right.  Ya, I still have high spots on each side of my forehead and therefore have bangs that cover them.  I wish I could use other styles but I do like this one.  I’ve had my hair up and also in a ponytail – always wanted to do that.  I didn’t think I had that much of a ponytail until I caught a reflection in a cornered mirror – wow, it was nice and long – a ‘real’ ponytail at last!  Now if I could just get more hair to cover those high spots ….

I’m settling on a style!  I’m mostly wearing mid to long skirts with tank tops (here in Hawaii) along with cork wedge sandals (1.5 -> 2″) and almost always earrings and a necklace, sometimes a bracelet as well.  I don’t like pants but will wear jeans when I have to (like going to the summit or taking hikes).

Well, here you have it – my first post about transition after Lisa passed away.  Finally, I was able to write.  Hopefully shortly I will write about how Lisa has been showing up to me and others plus a post about grief/loss and coping.

With much aloha,

Sifan

Fullness and Freedom: Re-Embracing Form as the Expression of the Formless

Posted on
Fullness and Freedom: Re-Embracing Form as the Expression of the Formless

This is a great post dealing with awakening and what is sometimes called ‘Zen sickness’. It puts balance back into awareness and life.

Words from the Wind

By Adam J. Pearson

life

Welcome to the Now

What do you experience here and now? If there’s one thing you know beyond all doubt, it’s that right here, right now, you’re aware. A universe of colour, form, sound,  touch, fragrance, and taste is flowing through your consciousness, leaving no traces. Right here, right now, your formless awareness is filled with forms. Colours and shapes and sensations are dancing through this awake space that is aware of them here and now. The screen on which you read these words is glowing. A steady heartbeat thumps in your chest. Without you having to think about it, your chest rises and falls with the incoming and outgoing of your breath. In. Out. In. Out.

As you bring your attention into your inner body, you can feel a tingling sensations in your hands and feet, the aliveness within. You can feel the fabric of your clothes rubbing against your skin when…

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My beloved Lisa has Passed Away

Beloved Lisa

Beloved Lisa

It is with such great sorrow that I’m writing this post.

Friday, April 10th sometime in the night/early morning, Lisa passed away in her sleep from a heart attack.  She had always said she wanted to die in her sleep, being cuddled by me.  She got her wish.

The night before, when she went back to take her shower, she asked me if I was coming to bed too.  When I said yes, she exclaimed “Yayayayayay, I can’t wait for cuddles tonight”!

We were so very close, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We tightly cuddled each other every night for the entire time we have been together.  I’m also a very light sleeper and am awakened by almost any sound or her movement.  So I can confirm that Lisa passed away very peacefully and quite.  It was at 6:20 that her body rolled over onto me that I knew something was wrong.

I gave mouth to mouth, called EMC and gave CPR until they came.  But she had passed away a while before she rolled onto me.

Sifan & Lisa at Chonburi

Such a beautiful, strong and powerful person.  She had so many daemons from her past that she was fighting.  She had overcome the last one just the week before and her awakening and life was starting to blossom.  These struggles are what gave Lisa these powerful abilities to see clearly, to forgive and at the same time to speak her truth without excuses.   Everyone saw a very kind and loving person.

So many people have commented on the huge difference she has made in their lives.  More than a thousand people have posted or left comments for her.  A typical post says they never shed tears for the people in their life that has passed – but here is a woman they have never met in person and they are balling their hearts out for Lisa.  Lisa has that kind of effect …

As is the case almost all of the time – Lisa aspired to be what she was  – but never saw that she was actually there.  She was the person she was trying to be.  I had told her this many times, tried to point out the love others had for her and the respect they held for her.  Again, part of her childhood conditioning, derived from some horrible events in her childhood prevented her from accepting herself and these comments were not understood.

Just weeks ago, the little girl inside her that was traumatized way back then, was finally able to leave her dark cave and instead inhabit a beautiful bright girls room filled with dolls and toys and happy colors.  Lisa’s deepest parts had finally been rescued.  She related this to me a number of times along with a joy of moving past probably the most intense part of her life.

It was all of these trials that forged Lisa.  What you experienced in Lisa is a triumph of life succeeding where others would have drowned.  Her beauty, her personality, her insights and talents to write, to create videos and help others find their path, are all attributed to her struggles.  These are what forged her and allowed her to give us light.

Her intensity for awakening was so inspiring.  Her ‘Sharing Joy’ video is probably the most open and free expression of her spirit and of her awakened self.  When she first crossed that gateless gate – this is how she was  – for days.  She is so precious ….

More of Lisa’s work can be found at her YouTube site “One Spaciousness” and her WordPress site “One Spaciousness” and her FaceBook pages.

Lisa smelling the roses

Lisa smelling the roses

My love, my kealoha, your presence is felt, your love surrounds me.  I know you are at peace and are what you strived for – at one with the nothingness, which is everything.  I feel her surrounding me, others have stated the same for them.  She is here, everywhere.  And that is something, along with her life and being, that I am in celebration of.

Something Lisa always said and I also felt and would echo back to her:  “I love you more than I loved you yesterday.  And yesterday I had loved you the very most I ever could.  How can our love keep growing, growing beyond what I ever thought possible, growing beyond what I thought was the most I could ever love.  Yet here I am – I did it again!”

There are so many memories I want to try to get down on virtual paper – I will post those over on my blog “Sifan’s Journey”.  But here’s one:  every time I come home – every time – I would stand on the lower step into our house, close my eyes and pucker my lips.  Lisa would come out and kiss me, then we would come into the house and hug.   Every time ….  I am still doing that and can feel her especially during those moments now.

Lisa and Sifan as Easter bunnies in SL

Lisa and Sifan as Easter bunnies in SL

We actually met on Second Life, a virtual world that connects people from all over the world.  We still ‘played’ together there.  That allowed her to express her creativity in many beautiful builds that I will maintain and everyone can enjoy.  She was able to express her inner child and work out her issues here too.

My dearest Keahlo, I love you sooo deeply.  I miss your physical touch so intensely…  In what ever you are going through right now, don’t be scared, be assured I am here, loving you forever and giving you comfort in what ways I can.  You have heard me tell you “I am here” so many times – and you know I am and you have taken comfort and relief from that.  Please hear me now my love, I am here, always will be.  And I know and feel you as well.

Forever cuddles my love – forever …..

With the greatest love (and cuddles) ever,

Your kealoha, Sifan

Sifan’s Vagina Monologue

The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues

A couple of months ago I was fortunate to be able to see a local production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ here on Maui.  I was invited to come along with six other woman.  It was a quit the experience.  A lot of bonding, a lot of laughing, some crying. but everyone came away with a deeper sense of what it means to be a woman and a sense of ‘owning’ this important part of ourselves.

For me it was an initiation of sorts.  It allowed me to be proud of who and what I am.  It got me in touch with myself – much deeper appreciation of a vital part of myself that was missing for the majority of my life.

One of the monologues had to do with a transsexual woman’s experience.  It was read by a good friend of mine who is a trans-woman like me.  At one point she declared:  “I payed for my Vagina!”  Well, all the way home that night, my mind came up with verse after verse of a monologue that I would have given.  I decided I should put the virtual ink to virtual paper and post this.

I had to pay for my Vagina
(The Voice of a Transsexual Vagina)

I was born a woman without a vagina.  I have had to deal with the confusion, societies stereotypes and misunderstandings for most of my life – like more than 60 years.

From the very start, my first memories are of knowing that I was supposed to be ‘smooth’ down there.  I didn’t know what smooth was supposed to look like until many years later when my baby sister was born.

Early trauma involving my mother and then school had triggered my subconscious into protection mode.  It felt the misunderstandings, the stereotypes and the hatred that society had towards me so it convinced my conscious mind that I wasn’t a woman.

Me convincing me by achieving ‘manly’ goals to prove it:  technical mountain climbing, small plane pilot, long mountain treks, marriage, children and grandchildren, even starting a high risk business.

Who and what am I?  How could I be a woman without a Vagina?  Where is my authentic self and what is it?

But my body knew even if my head did not.  Waking up after surgery, at the birth of my Vagina – I had a visceral feeling that I was now back to how I ‘used to be’.  After surgery, somehow these sensations were ‘known’ and ‘normal’ to my body and I was at peace.  Before, it was a constant irritation and cause of deep dysphoria.

There are many costs that had to be paid:

My Vagina cost me over $20,000 and a trip to the other side of the world.

It is going to cost me almost as much and two years for electrolysis and other procedures to correct what testosterone and puberty has done to my body.  Some of those things can not be changed.

It cost me a month of pain:  5 hours of surgery, 7 days in a hospital and 23 days in a hotel next to the clinic to give birth to my Vagina  Some of this was the most severe pain of my life.

Four months of blood and fluid loss, of intense contractions as my Vagina healed.

A loss of everything I had before:  some friends, part of my family, a great job and a dream house on one of the 10,000 Minnesota lakes.

Other transsexuals have lost their lives to suicide or have been murdered because some people cannot deal with our authenticity, our truth.

My trans*Sisters – OUR sisters – live with this reality daily.

Our Vagina is an integral part of my ‘our bodies.  It is vitally important to be in connection with and ‘own’ our Vaginas.

All my life, my body knew this even though my head did not.  I paid for my Vagina with gender dysphoria.

Puberty robbed my body of many essential feminine traits.

I am still ‘paying’ for my Vagina ….

Memo to my Former Self (3 of 3: to my 58 yr old self)

This is the third in my series “Memos to my Former Self”.  The first was to my 7 year old self. The second was to my teenage self.  This one is a letter to my older self, when I was 58 and on the cusp of finding out my truth.

I recently read a book (“Letters For My Sisters, Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. Published by Transgress Press”) compiled with stories that trans* people wrote to their younger selves.  They were asked “what would you say to your former self” and “to what age”?


Steph at 58 yrs old

Steph at 58 yrs old

Aloha Steph!  Yup, I’m from Hawaii.

I see you finally settled on being a professional instructor, traveled the world (many many times over).  Wow, very impressive.  You’ve accomplished a lot! I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of what you have done with your life.

Oh yes, I know, lots of hard work and some catastrophes on the way.  Like being director of global technical training for 12 years and then having that company be acquired and the entire training division cut and you out of a job ….  But look, you got back in and are training again and are still traveling – although not internationally any more.  But lets face it you were gone overseas almost 1 week out of 5 and were getting really tired of that.

Boy, you sure have changed your name a lot.  As a young boy everyone called you Steven.  Then later in high school you were Steve.  When you were a director of training you proudly called yourself Stephen (Stefan).  And now your are going with Steph.  You will shortly find out why.  I know your most favorite name in the world is ‘Stephanie’.  I’ll come back to that.

Your two sons are married and they each have bought their own houses and have moved out.  Wow, who would have known that in this economic climate you would have had to have them live with you for so long, even after they were married.  You have given them a great start in life.

Steph about 50yrs old

Steph about 50yrs old

A lot has happened to you as of late: kids moving out, getting laid off from a job you held for 36 years, the agony of looking for a job for a half year and for the last 2 years you are back as a technical instructor. Add to this your wife’s depression and every night being on suicide watch is really putting a huge drain on you.  I know.  This is a hard part of your life.  You just want to be happy and enjoy life.  Hate to tell you this, it’s about to get worse.  In the next year you will lose almost everything …

You have reached a crossroads in life and you know it!  Well at least you have inklings of it at this point.  I know you have a lot of pressures on you right now, from many different sources and angles.  One of those is something your subconscious had buried long long ago – and now it’s coming back to consciousness.

 You know what I’m talking about – but you don’t know to what extent this will lead you.  You have just had a number of ‘interesting’ coincidences that are seeming to lead you into this.  At work for example, the owners wife came into your office, shut the door, and confided in you – things that she would only tell another close girlfriend.  You have also confided with your female co-instructor  that inside, you feel as a woman.

A couple of months ago, you were asked to go into SecondLife, a virtual world, create an avatar and investigate the feasibility of using that as a remote/distance training platform.  And what did you do?  You created a female avatar for yourself.  Yes, I know that your method, style and philosophy of training would best be matched this way.  The students experience would be congruent.

But what happened next was a surprise for you huh?  You found that being in as a woman was natural and a freeing experience, whereas, those times you were in as a male avatar, you found you were role playing and did not like that one bit.

You know all these things are leading up to something.  Even the sequence of your nicknames points to this.  You have recently had a couple of moments where you took time to think carefully about this and to mentally give yourself permission to continue.  You will look back on these times and call them “your bathtub moments”.

Steph, these are real.  You have had a trauma long ago when you were a small child.  This caused your subconscious to deeply bury this truth about yourself.  This was ok – it protected you and allowed you to achieve so much in your life.  That’s a good thing Steph!  However, that protection is not needed any longer.  You have raised your children, your wife is pushing you out and seems to need independence.  All these things are coming together that allow you to start to drop all the protections you have and start to see who you really are.

At this point you see yourself as a woman surrounded by and protected by this male called Steph.  You have even named the woman inside ‘Sifan’ after the name that was given you in Beijing which you also used as your  avatar name.  This is a good start.

Do yourself a favor – look up ‘transsexual’…  Read stories of those that have transitioned.  See therapists that are knowledgeable in this area.  This would save you a couple of years my friend!

Talk to your sister.  She understands you and will be a huge help to you.  Yes, I know you have already confided in her.  But continue, she will be such a huge help for you in the coming storm.

Be careful but look for and seek out support.  You will desperately need that – but be careful who you trust.  This can be dangerous.

I already mentioned that you are going to lose almost everything in this next year.  It’s a pretty bleak and dark storm.  But storms pass and this one will as well.  Some pretty awesome things lay ahead.  You get married again, you move to Hawaii and you find a job at an observatory – your life long ambition!

Most importantly, you will become your true authentic self.  Your deep secret will come to life and you will become – completely – who you deep down know you are:  a woman.

You see, I know – because I am that woman:  I AM SIFAN…

Sending you love and fortitude for the journey before you,

… your not so far in the future self:  Sifan

PS:  I kept our middle name as Stephenie  (yes, ‘en’ as a nod to us)

Memo to my Former Self (2 of 3: to my 15 yr old self)

This is the second in my series “Memos to my Former Self”.  The first was to my 7 year old self. This one is a letter to my teenage high school self.  I plan on writing a third one to my older self, when I was 57 when I was just on the cusp of finding out my truth.

I recently read a book (“Letters For My Sisters, Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. Published by Transgress Press”) compiled with stories that trans* people wrote to their younger selves.  They were asked “what would you say to your former self” and “to what age”?


Steve: High School years

Steve: High School years

Heh Steve!  Hold up a minute. Ya, I know you just finished ROTC drill team practice and need to get ready for the dance tonight.  Kathy is a wonderful gal, you and her make a beautiful couple.  I know you are going to have fun tonight!

Oh, I’ll get around to that – I think you will quickly figure out how I know these things.  Let’s just say I’m not your average older woman and that we have everything in common …

Look, I know you are having a tough time right now.  Yesterday you were downtown walking up main street.  You looked a bit grim, very unusual for you huh?  You really really want the next 5 years to pass by with the snap of your fingers.  Guess what?  I’m proud of you for wishing that!  I know, seems strange that I would agree with you huh?  But what you don’t see is what underlies all of that.  Wishing this is your way of coping.  The alternative – quitting life – is not something you would ever consider, right?  Trust me, I very glad and proud of you for that.

This may seem like a strange thing to say, but I know that it is hard for you to be out in public, walking downtown or even the dance tonight.  At least tonight it will be dark and only Kathy will be noticing you, or at least that is what you hope.

It’s been difficult growing up, right?  Sort of conflicting a number of times.  Part of you was glad you finally started to shave but another part, deep down, was horrified.  Ya, I know you only felt the conflict and could not understand where it came from.

And Kathy – isn’t it wonderful to have a steady at last?  It’s not like you don’t have girl friends.  Seems like every single girl you meet is your friend.  But none (except Kathy) ever see you as anything other than, well, another one of their girl friends.  In fact, they would tell you things they would only tell their girl friends – and they would never ever tell a ‘boy’!

I know this made you feel very special.  And it should.  I also know that you have never doubted your maleness even in light of this.  Or in light of seeing how much different all the other boys are from you.  And it’s not just the normal differences between one individual and another.  We are talking ‘all’ the boys.  Not only that, you are disgusted with the attitudes of grown men, especially when it revolves around women.  People you looked up to and thought were great men and even your role models have this distorted view – objectifying them, seeing them as second rate and sexualizing them.  And oh my god, even priests (pun intended)!

Of course you don’t understand the men but do understand the women very well.  You have a lot in common with them.  That is why they come to you, as another one of their girl friends and also why they do not date you.  Same sex dating is a pretty big no-no right?  Yes, I know, you believe you are a man, but try to understand that from their perspective, you ‘know’ (and feel) to much.

Look, sorry, but I can not spill all the beans. I will give you some hints to try to help.  You have had some trauma in your early childhood that resulted in your hiding a large piece of yourself very deeply.  Sad to say, it is going to take almost the rest of your life to figure it out.  But that is ok.

You have done so much already with your life.  So many accomplishments – but everyone just writes those off and I know it seems like you even have to hide those or never talk about them for fear of ridicule or worse, being accused of the dreaded bragging.  Your mother will brag about your other brothers and your sister, but only complains to others about you.  This is so unfair – you are so much better – especially when you know what your brothers have done.  Somehow they still are the apple of your mom’s eye.

Hang in there Steve – know inside that you are better than just ok – you are awesome – even though no one else will ever acknowledge that.  I’ll give you a small hint:  they are jealous.  I’m sorry to tell you, but this will continue like that for the rest of your life with them.  But trust me, later in life, not only will you confirm this, but others will tell you this too.

Steve: finally a happy face!  You were always so serious.

Steve: finally a happy face! You were always so serious.

You know how you always seem to need to accomplish things?  Sort of always feeling like you have to prove yourself?  Ya, I know, it’s a constant pressure.  You are always so serious, even your pictures show that.  Well, you know, all these things we just talked about contribute to this.  They all add up and compound the pressure to perform.  Unfortunately your deep dark secret is part of the cause of all of this.

That part about the girls seeing you as another girl friend?  And how disgusted you are about not just some but all other other boys?  Ya.  This has instilled in you a powerful drive to prove yourself from the very core of your being.

I commend you for picking and choosing honorable ways of proving yourself: the sciences, academically (not talking grades here, I know you have picked the toughest courses, way beyond what is expected and you are keeping your head above water) and emotionally.  Steve, you will find that it is very rare to combine feelings and sensitivities with both science and with being ‘manly’.  Your future partners (sorry to say, but yes, that is plural) will see this in you and tell you that was one of the main attractions they had for you.

Steve, these are all pointers to your true self.  Unfortunately, you will not figure this out for another 40 years.  In a strange way perhaps it is fortunate.  Right now, in the strict conservative society you live in, that society would destroy you, your life, your world would completely change and life would be very very tough indeed.  You will need to trust me on this.  Just keep these memories, these ‘pointers’.  They will come in handy later on in life.

For now, trust that you are on the right path.  Be the daring brave person you are.  Get out there and climb those cliffs (I mean this both figuratively and  literally – you are going to take huge risks in your life that you will succeed in and you are destined to be a technical mountain climber!).

Teenage Steve

Teenage Steve

You will start your own business, a high risk adventure that will last 8 years.  You and everyone involved will wind up far ahead in life and business because of what you start and do.  And you will get to fly a plane and almost get your private pilots license.  Your friends will invite you to come along with them to climb the cliffs by devils lake.  And that is before climbing hardware was used – you will learn how to tie ropes to form a safety belt and how to repeal with rope only!  You will be very daring and adventurous.  Some will say a bit too risky.  But you have calculated those risks – these are well chosen, well within your abilities.  You might not understand this, but you need to do these things.  You need to prove yourself, you always have. It has to do with your feelings of not fitting in as a boy, a man.

Oh and Kathy – what a gal!  You will have fond memories and attempt to find her later in life.  Unfortunately, the most you will find out is 5th hand information:  something about her living upstate, married, not very well off and not happy.  Sorry about that.  Your second love winds up as a medical doctor and lives in a very posh neighborhood, so I guess that balances things out.  You find others, some will break your heart, but you pick up and move on, even though you felt for sure “she was the one”.

A married Steve, about 25yrs old

A married Steve, about 25yrs old

Yes, you will get married (twice).  You will have two sons and you will have four wonderful grandsons.  Unfortunately, after they have left the house on their own, your deep secret will start to manifest and this will cause them a great amount of grief.  You will lose everything you had accomplished at that time: your marriage, your sons and their families, your job and your dream house on a northern lake, not to mention a lot of friends and other family.  The sad thing is that you will not even know why until years after.  That is when all the pieces will come together.

You will not be very happy with what you did to bring this on.  I’m not going to judge that one way or another.  It just is.  You will need to accept that and push on.

And there is good news after that:  you get married again, this time to another wonderful person and guess what?  You move to Hawaii and get the most awesome perfect job for you.  And even better, you finally figure out who and what you are, and you successfully change to be the authentic you.

Yes, you make it – in spades ….

Hang in there kiddo – those next 5 years you are wishing to pass will evaporate (maybe too fast).

… from your future self