RSS Feed

Category Archives: About

Update from the Coast

Winter Ocean

It’s a foggy rainy winter day:  the ocean waves are noisy and pounding, the sand is once again back covering the bedrock of the beach.  Some flowers are just starting to bloom – amazing!  Fireplace is on and Bella, my cat, is cuddled and cozy on my lap – putting up with my typing, but occasionally demanding attention.

It is Thanksgiving, in a bit I will be preparing a dish to bring with me to the community dinner and celebration.  Tomorrow I’ll be joining my neighbors in another celebration next door.  I still have to figure out what I’m going to cook for that.

I just got home from up in Portland where I was attending the TDOR events (Transgender Day Of Remembrance).  We have come so far, but yet suffer so much – this is the highest number of murders yet in a single year.  It’s so sad.  One of the speakers, a very shy and private person, said she was out and active precisely because of the political climate now – that of all periods in history, this is so critically important – ‘now’.  She is right, not just for transgender, but for so many others as well.

Tree across snowy road in the high Cascades

As usual, I went the opposite direction on my way home (intentionally, in order to explore this beautiful land).  And as usual, I wound up high in the Cascade mountains, this time almost got stuck in the snow and had to backtrack almost 50 miles before I could cut back across.  I love these adventures and the raw nature that I’m experiencing!

So, where am I in my transition?  Am I still in transition?  Wow, good question!

Some say we are always in transition.  Hummm.  I guess that depends on what you mean.  I see myself growing, especially spiritually.  The changes now are those paths that would be followed regardless of physically and psychologically transgender related issues.  That would be a whole new post!

For the most part, I view myself as having transitioned to a woman or more precisely to a female (was born a woman).  Even during my drive across the country and staying in out-of-the-way places, I was never miss-gendered.  Which I consider somewhat remarkable given I traveled through some very conservative territories.

There are still some dysphoric moments:  my hair will be wet or blown and my face will look to masculine, a combination of clothes might make me look not feminine enough and there are times in a public place that I just have this feeling, uncomfortable and want to leave.  But a lot of my women friends feel this way at times as well.

 

Winter Blooms

There was a phase I went through where I felt I had to be overly feminine, perhaps out of a fear of not passing or perhaps that finally I’ve transitioned and had a lot to catch up on.  Lisa would call that ‘fru fru’!  I do miss being able to wear all the colorful flowery outfits in Hawaii.  It’s quite drab here on the coast compared to there.  Being here has certainly helped in grounding me fashion wise.  However, I do love to find a ‘fancy’ event so that I can dress up a bit!

Three year update – post transition (this section meant for those in transition or about to start):

Everything has settled down.  About a half year ago my Estrogen levels were way up, so my doctor cut me back by 25%.  I’m on Estradiol patches which I think are great!  I apply only twice a week, so very little maintenance compared to nightly rubbing gel on my thighs.  I don’t like shots and oral pills are not good for your liver – so this is the best solution for me.

I found (as many other sisters have) that I only need to dilate about twice a month.  Better still, I have regained the depth that the doctor measured right after the operation.  And … now and then I measured a greater depth.  I still use the ‘big’ dilator given me at the clinic.  I have had no issues with the exception of experiencing ‘Merlin’s Sword’ syndrome twice (didn’t use enough lube and it gets stuck).  If you’re dilating and this happens to you: take a deep breadth and ‘slowly’ twist and extract.  Not a biggie.

Another huge change a half year ago – I had a follicle transplant.  Today, those hairs are about 2 inches long!  Very soon I’ll be able to have them incorporated into a style and colored as well.  But already, it has made a huge difference in how my face looks.  This was the cause of a lot of additional dysphoria.  It’s so nice to get beyond that.

It took me awhile to determine if this was true:  I do have a roughly monthly cycle of bloating for about a week then a day of using the restroom almost every half hour!  This is also coupled with being more sensual and sensitive.  At first I thought maybe I drank too much coffee or something!  So I decided to keep track and yup, not quite monthly.  I wonder if others that have transitioned MtF have noticed anything like this?

Life beyond transition – yes, this was a lifesaver and was the second most important thing in my life (first was Lisa and oh do I wish she was still alive).

With much aloha,

Sifan

Advertisements

Starting my Life on the Oregon Coast

Posted on

Teaching at the Community College

I’ve been giving astronomy talks and presentations here in Oregon since I moved here last year.  This plus so many other activities have allowed me to make connections with lots of wonderful people here.

Last week I finished teaching the last course at the community college here.  It was a 2 hour talk about the up coming eclipse.  The head of the college introduced me by saying that once the community here found out I was an astronomer that everyone has been taking full advantage of me!  In the room were the fire chief, a talk radio host, news paper editor, city manager and a couple of other community leaders that have already had me at their meetings or on the radio or news paper!  They all had a good giggle!  Oh, and also the head of our Coronado Shores club where I live – they had me give 2 talks already as well.

I’m finally able to take it easy.  Except that I’m putting together what I need for the eclipse.  I bought a Nikon camera, telescope interfaces and accessories and software to automate both the telescope and the camera.  I’ve been out during the day with all the equipment testing out the setup.  My goal is to setup at the beach cabana here with the camera/telescope/computer and have a large screen monitor so everyone can watch at once (and not have to look through the telescope).  It’s coming along.  There are a few more pieces I need – just waiting for my next paycheck…

Oh – reminds me – I found this awesome astronomy dress – call ‘MoonStruck’.  It’s a maxi, dark with stars/moon/nebulas!  The last talk I gave (at the community college) I wore my star dress (knee length, glows in the dark …).  This will be a nice complement!  Got to do something unique for these talks – hate to wear the same thing everywhere …. (!!).

The biggest accomplishment for me was getting the final mortgage taken care of on the house here.  I now have a reverse mortgage so I am covered for the rest of my life.  There are no payments (I have to keep insurance and taxes up to day) and I can draw out the excess equity when I need (the equity earns >6% interest if I leave it in).  I’m not sure why – but this was a ‘huge’ relief for me.  I think I have a greater need for security than I realize…

Oh, you should see all the little things I’ve placed around the house and the garden.  In anticipation of the grandkids visiting, I’ve created little nooks out and around – some with little faeries, some with glowing colored stones, artwork and wind blown things – all match into the landscape so that one has to look for them and hopefully be delighted when found!  (Ok, grandkids was only an excuse …!!)  I remember Aunt Mae and her house in upper Michigan.  She had so many special places around her house.   Also, Lisa (and I) would create these intimate nooks in SecondLife.  These were very peaceful places to visit (as an avatar) and held meaning and beauty.  I have preserved all of those and go there often.  I am finding that my time in the virtual worlds have allowed me to find and cultivate more of my spirit than I had thought.  And now, I’m able to actualize these – not because I’m duplicating anything, but because this is me.  If anything that last statement is hindsight – it’s realizing after the fact that ‘oh, we did this in SL…’.

One other interesting correlation to SL:  Lisa had created a beautifully artistic tray and perfume bottles (and makeup) for a dressing table in SecondLife.  She even created a jeweled powder case.  After I finally moved here to Oregon and unpacked everything – including a dressing table we had in storage in Carlsbad – there it is – a try filled with beautiful colored perfume bottles in many shapes, a jeweled powder case and much more.  I just wish she was here to enjoy this with me!

I’ve been out and about on beaches, mountains tops, kayaking lakes and hiking out cliff edges …  Also posted pictures of sea lions and birds right from my deck here.  I am sooo glad I chose this location.  It really encompasses so many of the things my soul/spirit needs!  The people here are awesome.  I go to a woman’s breakfast, then we have a woman’s coffee and then there is a dine out.  This is in addition to picnics and potlucks.

I have a number of good friends now as well.  I meet my new good friends on Wends and Thurs mornings for “Life between Lives” and “Socrates Cafe”.  We go out after for lunch which usually winds up taking 5 hours!  I have a friend in Corvallis that will call me and we’ll get together for hiking or kayaking and another friend that will get together with me to go see plays and events at the Newport cultural center.  There are a couple of people up in Portland and also in Seattle that have been twisting my arm to come up and stay with them.  The neighbors on both sides of me are single women, and we will get together at each others house or go to events together.  So, I’m plugged in, it’s keeping me quite busy – ha, no time left for work!!

Oh, but the grief.  Yes …  It’s so very strange, there are times when I feel Lisa so so close, within me, and I feel comfort and bliss with her walking with me.  Then there are times when loss completely overcomes me and I’ll lay in bed crying for hours.  It’s been more of the former and less of the latter lately.  But the roller coaster continues.  I’ll never know.  Sometimes things trigger it – other times those same triggers are actually comforting as I am so very grateful to have spent these years with Lisa.  I just never know what a trigger might do to me.

An interesting thing happened a couple of weeks ago at one of the ‘Life between Lives” sessions.  One of the women there said she needed to talk to me after.  She said her ‘guides’ (she channels) had a very important message for me.  She said it was from a spouse that had passed away.  She said I was supposed to drink plenty of fluids – that (Lisa) was impeded from coming through to me because of this and that she would be able to communicate with me if I did.  This was interesting because a week or so prior to this, both my doctor and my electrologist had just told me the same thing!  Well, two days later, after drinking a lot of fluids, just before bed when I was very relaxed and calm – I had a nice ‘chat’ with Lisa!!!  In all the time since she passed away, I have never felt so serene and calm as that night and the following day.  Parts were even blissful!  I noticed that there was an intensity that night, that made it hard to maintain.  I’m still ‘pondering’ that (as Lisa would say…).
With Aloha,
Sifan

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

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

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 (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

 

 

 

Memo to my Former Self (1 of 3: to my 8 yr old self)

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”?

I think this is brilliant and thought I would give it a go.  But I had a hard time determining the age that I would sent it too.  The best I could do was come up with was three different times of my life that I would have sent a letter to.  This is the first of those three.  I’m sending this to myself when I was in early grade school – about 8 or 9 years of age.


Steven: 7 Year old me

Steven: 7 Year old me

Hi Steven, it’s ok.  I know I must look ancient to you but please don’t be afraid.  I’m not one of those adults that tell you what to do or believe a child should be seen and not heard.  I know how tired you are of always being second tier: adults, older kids, bullies.

Your parents don’t give you credit for what you accomplish.  I know all you want is some recognition for your hard work. You just want to have some say in your life and some control over yourself, your life and your future.  I know…

And yet – look at yourself – one can see in your eyes how proud you are of yourself and of your determination.  Remember this, these are powerful tools that you have and that will get your through life.  And I’m sorry to say: you will need to remember this.

I have some great news and perhaps some scary and unbelievable news – about you and your future!

You know how every body in school picks on Billy, calls him names, thinks he’s slow and stupid and retarded?  You hate that.  You’ve seen how smart he is.  He just has a problem in front of people he does not know well.  But no one gives him credit, they just ridicule him and call him names.  Worse yet, you saw how his other friends attempted to stick up for him and then they got ridiculed and shunned.  I know this has kept you quite and that you held back from supporting him in public.  I know you feel bad about that too.

I’m not going to tell you that you should have stood up for him.  I know that you have something you are hiding that would make it even worse for you if anyone knew.  Surprised?  Yes, I knew you would be.  I’m sorry to say, that even at your very young age, trauma has forced your secret so deep that it will take many many years to reconnect to it.

I know you are scared, you saw how people treat Joey, calling him names like sissy and queer just because everyone thinks he acts like a girl and likes the other boys.  And I know you have some things in common with him.  And yes, I know you like girls not boys.  In fact you can’t understand boys and why they are the way they are.  They are so different than you – right?  And I know you are having problems understanding why you are so different.

You have spent a lot of time thinking about this, right?  A part of you knows you are more like all the girls around you then the boys.  Yes, I know, you ‘know’ you are a boy and just have these ‘extra’ abilities and sensitivities.  And that’s ok.  It really is ok.

I can see how all the kids at school would treat you and the very difficult time you would have if they knew.  And you have already seen what would happen from watching how they treat Billy and Joey and others.  You need to be protected and that is what your unconsciousness has done for you – buried this deeply.  And that is ok too.

You believe fitting in and doing what everyone tells you to do and achieving will make you successful.  And you know from watching others that doing this puts you ahead and in front of everyone else.  You have seen how competitive grade school is and know that success is not on the play ground or being the most popular with the kids.  You see the larger picture – it’s the adults and later life you are getting ready for.

Well, you are right!  But everything has a price.  Your price is burying something so deep that it will take 50 years before you find it and solve it.

Steve: at puberty

Steve: at puberty

This is ok too.  Everything has a give and take.  This will haunt you, you will not fully understand why or what it is.  There will be many times when life will give you huge clues, but you will simply ‘file them away’ only later to look back and finally put the pieces together.  Such is life I’m afraid.

Yes, it’s going to be hard.  There will be times you wish you could just skip forward 5 years – get past the awful times.  At least you will never think of calling it quits.  You are tough that way.

Please, take time to look back at your accomplishments and awards.  You need to know that you are accomplishing some really big and cool things.  I know they seem like nothing, like everyone else and that you feel you are not at all special – you are constantly being told this by your teachers, your parents and family and even the other kids.  But really, as you grow up, remember this:  take time to look back and assess your spectacular achievements – they really are wonderful accomplishments you know.  And you need to know that.

You have a wonderful enjoyment of life.  Your nature is to be happy.  This is going to serve you very well.  You love nature and many times you will go to her to help sooth yourself and solve the issues life throws at you.  Believe me, you have all the ‘tools’ you need and then some…

Let me give you a small peek at the rest of your life.  There are many hard times – much harder then what you are experiencing right now.  But you accomplish so much.  You will find and experience some of the most beautiful and joyous moments anyone could wish for.  The last job you have before retiring will be a dream come true for you.

Steven - about 7

Steven – about 7

You will have a family, grand-kids too.  They will be an awesome part of your life.  But, when you solve your deep secret, you will cause them great pain and will have to leave them.  The jury is still out if they will ever reconcile.  Like I said, everything has a price.  I’m sorry to tell you this.

I’m not going to comment on good or bad.  Life just is.  Things that seem bad usually turn out much much better – although it takes time before that happens.  You will always be happy and content with life.  You will continue to achieve and to enjoy life.

Solving your deep secret will free you – in ways you just can not imagine.  Yes, I know I have not told you what that is.  I’m sorry, but if I did, so much of your life would be different.  I really do wish you could figure it out now, at your age.  Yes, your life would be easier in some ways, but you would miss so many of life’s struggles and these struggles are what will shape you into a wonderful person that you will become.  Unfortunately, these hard times really are necessary.

With so much love and admiration,

… your future self