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13 Month Summary

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It20140706_192518 feels good to be past the one year mark.  From what I hear from my trans friends that are going through or have been through transition, most of the emotional changes and a majority of the physical ones are now over and things stabilize.  That’s how I feel right now too.  Of course time will tell – I’ll have to revisit this one year from now …

The biggest challenge I have yet is my weight.  I’ve lost about 30 pounds since I’ve started.  I have to lose another 6 but I would like to lose 11 more pounds.  That gives me a leeway for the surgery requirement.  It’s very strange that when I was 30 pounds heavier, I did not feel fat at all and it was sooo easy to lose weight.  Now, I feel fat, I have a little belly,  even though I’m 30 pounds less.  I do have a smaller frame.  It is now very hard to lose pounds – I no longer care that I’m losing weight in the wrong places (my breasts are getting smaller etc.), I just want those pounds gone!

The countdown is on!  Today is 60 days away from GRS (surgery).  Like I’ve responded to those who have been asking recently – I’m ‘not’ looking forward to the surgery – I’m looking forward to about 3 weeks ‘after’ the surgery  when I’m recovered enough to start my new life in earnest.  Even then I won’t be at anything near running speed.  But at least I hope to have my head above the water by then.

One of the women at work caught me in the kitchen and asked me a couple of questions today. First she complimented me on how much I have changed and that I actually look much younger! She asked me what it feels like now. I told her ‘normal’ and that before and for most of my life I felt like I had to conform to what was expected of a male and that I could not just be me. I said that now it’s mostly a feeling of freedom – I can just be myself. I also said that I’m in a unique position to be able to experience the differences between male and female and it is huge. But we didn’t have time to go into that much further.  Maybe I’ll enter a post just on that sometime in the future.

Lisa and I took a beautiful ride on the sw shore of Maui around to Kaupo today. I felt ‘extra’ feminine for some reason. Was a great day to be a woman. Lisa had to go pretty bad so when we got to the top of our favorite hill back there, we parked and walked up and just down the other side – enough so that no one would see. She went first – I gave her some napkins to clean up. Then it was my turn – she asked if I wanted some napkins before she remembered I still had boy parts down there. We laughed about it. She said she had forgotten that I wasn’t physically a woman down there yet and said she actually had visualized me having a vagina! I guess she is truly seeing me as a woman now!

A very good friend of mine from back in my college days got back in touch with me recently.  He had some very good questions and I thought I would share my responses.  These are questions I get asked now and then and perhaps this will help others understand trans* people better.

The first was a comment about memories and the person I was.  For some people, they morn the loss of the ‘former’ me.  My response:

That was a great time we had back then, I also have many wonderful memories.  Those memories along with all of my past don’t and should not go away – they are a part of me.  It took my ex-wife a while to understand that as well.  This does not negate nor dismiss those.  It can be hard to understand, but I was ‘this’ person I am now – back then – and all through my life.  What and who you knew ‘as’ me – the ‘me’ of today – was all along.  What is changing is ‘presentation’.  The latest science on this (both medical and psychological) define these as completely separate: birth sex, gender, presentation and preference (as in partner).  A person can be any combination within these – one does not pre-dispose any other (trans* people have the same ratios of hetro, gay, bi, etc. as the normative cis population).  Of those, latest research shows that only presentation is societal – the rest a person is born with (there is a lot of false beliefs out there claiming nonsense).

I was ‘trained’ to be a man – I think I did a pretty good job of it.  Society back then did not allow for anyone like me – it was just an impossibility back then.  Like so many things in my youth, I learned to adjust and to live with it.  Like many other trans*, I over reached in order to prove I was who society said I was supposed to be.  Don’t get me wrong here – I am very grateful for what was, including being married and fathering two wonderful men.

It took a long time to unravel from all of that.  I started almost 10 years ago.  But it actually started even longer ago when I became a professional instructor and then director of the international technical training for the corporation I worked for back then.  I was much more effective than both genders in that trade.  My style and philosophy of training matched that of a female.  That was 20 some years ago and laid the groundwork – the crack in the dam.

Can you imagine your entire life – knowing something is different, that you do not match who everyone (parents, school, friends – everyone) says you are and not knowing why.  I knew I didn’t fit in and was not quite like the other guys.  I also knew I matched more closely to the girls I knew.  But I also knew that physically I was a boy.  There was life long confusion and dysphoria.

This is such a relief now – it explains so much for me and as they say – it hits the nail right on the head.  I am very happy now – this is a huge load off the shoulders.  This may sound strange, but one of the largest dysphoric situations was being addressed/treated/spoken to as a male – especially in public situations.  To be mistaken like that was hard.  That’s not who I am.  By changing my gender presentation to be consistent with who I am, makes all the difference.  The standard explanation (which is totally wrong however, but it does put this into perspective) is to image you wake up in the morning as female but with all your memories, responses, actions, beliefs etc. remaining male – and worse – no one believes you.  You are relegated to live your life from this point on as a woman.  Well, reverse that and that is me – only without the explicit knowledge of what underlies this until recently.  So, ya – like 1000 times better now!  Not just happiness but quality of life, spirituality, knowing and accepting myself – and the list goes on.

A lot of people have mentioned that my ex-wife and myself had one of the most wonderful marriages and they just can not understand how this could have ended:

Hummm, how can I say this ….. I’ve had a lot of people say the same thing about my ex-wife and my relationship.  It was a wonderful and great period of my life.  I’m very grateful and celebrate what we had.  Like all relationships there were wrinkles and cracks under the surface that were not visible to anyone else.  Perhaps the saying “the bigger they are the harder they fall” has some bearing here – not sure.  Two things I can say:  there’s a lot more to the story and we are both in a better place today then if we tried to stay together.  In no way does this negate my ex-wife’s and my life together – I cherish those times and memories and am very glad I was given that time and experience.

Regarding societies stereotypes:

As you can imagine, this is a very difficult and highly personal thing.  I too had to overcome a lifetime of misconceptions and stereotypes and then to embrace who I am knowing that the majority of the world still carries those.  Not exactly the cup of tea I needed … but we are dealt a hand and are committed to play it.  If nothing else, this should attest to the seriousness of this and speak for the determination to transition.  Even in spite of these, it is that important and necessary!

Lisa came along at the right time and not only accepted who I was but embraced it.  This is difficult for her as she does not see herself as lesbian, however, society now does.  You can imagine the confusion  However – one nice thing about being older (and hopefully wiser) – one sees through that and instead embraces their true selves.  After all, is she really a lesbian?  Her preference is for males, her love is for me, regardless of gender.  And does this make my ex-wife a lesbian?  After all I was born this way, therefore I was a woman all along ……  You can see the difficulty with our current language and the assumptions inherent within !  As a society, we need to start transcending this transphobic misogyny and get real.

Keeping pictures of the ‘former’ me from the past:

As for pictures of Steph (I admit – even I talk about Steph in the 3rd person) – I’m glad you are keeping those – that is so nice!  Let me re-emphasize:  who I am now – I always was: as Steph and now as Sifan.  I’m proud of my life and celebrate ‘all’ of it.  I’m not out to deny any of it – it all goes into the ‘me’ that is here and now.  That is the one part of that analogy that is so wrong (“imagine tomorrow you woke up as a woman”) – this is not a bad thing – nor something I regret – nor was living my life as a man all those years.  It just simple ‘is’ and it is my life’s story.  Would I have rather been born cis (same birth sex as gender) – of course!  Given that I’m trans – would I have rather transitioned back then – of course!  But this is my life and even with this, it is a wonderful life.  Now, it’s just that much more wonderful !

I’m hoping this helps others (trans* and friends of trans) understand just a bit better.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

1 Year Summary !

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And what a year this has been!

So much happened just this last month.  Lisa and I got married (or here in Maui we say we just got Maui’d) and my GRS surgery is scheduled and paid for.

I have just added a separate post including pictures and a transcript of our ceremony.  It was a fantastic Hawaiian beach wedding.  As you can see in this picture of Lisa and me – we are soooo happy!  It was the perfect day, we had 12 guests, beautiful morning at the beach, wonderful spot and we had brunch at the Grand Wailea.  The hula band even played a special song so the two of us could have our wedding dance!  The Hawaiian ceremony was full of symbolism and meaning.  I have always dreamed of being the bride at a wedding (well, one of the brides …).  So this was very special for me.

We were wearing so many flowers – I’m barely visible from under them!  Both of us had haku leis (crown lei on our heads) and we wore two leis around our necks (one for our outfit the other to exchange during the ceremony).  I also wore a kupu’u lei on my wrist and one on my ankle.  To top it all off I had a cascading bouquet that I carried (which my friend from work almost continuously had to hold for me during the ceremony – I hope ‘he’ didn’t mind!).

The other major event this month was getting the surgery date confirmed.  We sent in the full amount to pay for the surgery, the hotel and spending money as we live there for one month.  We have our plane reserved too.  Lisa got us in first class on JAL on the way home.  I’ll need that as sitting for that length of time is going to be hard.  The extra room and comfort will be very welcome right about then.  I’m glad that this surgeon keeps his GRS patients for a month.  I will feet better and  be more able to survive that trip home from Thailand!  Plus, if there are any problems, they will more than likely show up before then and they will be able to take care of me.

GRS Surgery Schedule “SK” is confirmed! (Red means confirmed)

We just received the official wedding certificate, so Lisa was able to change her name on her drivers license and social security.  Next we will be going to the passport office and getting that changed for both of us (I had not changed mine yet).

The one last BIG thing I need to do – is lose weight – like 15 pounds – by Sept.  I was talking about this at work and the women all agreed – it’s so much easier for men to lose weight.  All they have to do is skip desert and they are 5 pounds lighter the next day.  For me (and judging by the other women at work – this is the same for all woman) not only is it hard to lose any weight what so ever, but when we do lose weight it’s where we want to keep it (like the breasts)!  The other day I had one egg and a piece of celery for breakfast, a small bowl of noddle soup for lunch and one egg and a piece of toast bread for supper.  I lost, oh, maybe, a whomping .1 of a pound!  Before my transition (well first of all I would have been on my death bed with only that to eat) I would have lost 2 or 4 pounds doing something like that.  One of the woman at work remarked:  “Ya, you ‘are’ a woman.   See, see what’s it like!!”

Who would have guessed – a hair dryer is ‘not’ for drying your hair – silly men:  I added a few more entries in my differences page.

Last month I posted about being passable and my comfort level in being out in public.  This was the first time my family (brother and sister and significant others) have seen me since I started transition.  I was worried how I would be accepted.  I was happy with the warm reception I received from my sister and her friend when I picked them up from the airport.  The hardest time is when I met them at their resort to go swimming.  I wore a two piece, the bottom being a swim skirt.  Because of my shape, a two piece is the only way I can get everything to fit properly.  I think this might have been a bit much for them at first.  As the day wore on, everyone seemed to be more comfortable.  The last day my brother and wife were here we went out to what is probably the best most Hawaiian restaurant here on Maui.  I wore my long black dress – the one I wore way back when I surprised Lisa when she returned home.

My sister and her friend stayed for an extra week.  For me, one of the highlights of their visit was taking them out snorkeling and then going out shopping for clothes.  This was the first time I ever went shopping with my sister – as her sister!  It was precious!  Something I will remember.  We would find clothes for each other, critic, advise and just had fun.

Every trans* person knows that kids (being uninhibited) will be the ones to challenge you.  On our wedding day, Lisa and I took the elevator to get to the brunch.  A mother and her two little girls were in the elevator and rode down to our floor.  Just as the door opened and Lisa and I were getting out, the little girl asks if I’m a woman.  Without batting an eye I answered I was.  She seemed to accept that and continued to chat away!  I impressed myself by the fact that this didn’t bother me in the least.

But, you can imagine my trepidation a week ago when I had to teach astronomy to around 210 3rd graders.  Only one student sort of kind of asked in a roundabout way if I was a women.  Other than that I had a couple of strange looks and heads tipped to the side as they first sat down.  To teach 3rd graders, I put together a high energy talk with lots of enthusiasm and great pictures that illustrate events from stellar births in the Orion Nebula to massive supper novas and the mighty explosions in space.  Once I start, gender is the furthest thing in their minds.  Success to me is measured in how many hugs and high fives I get.  By that measure, this year was awesome – even though this was my first time as a woman teaching this class.  I even had one student from a different class come back during break to ask me additional questions.

Changes this month:  except for a few confirmations of being a woman (see above “see, see what’s it like!”) not too much has changed.  Lisa and others told me my face has changed some more and people have noticed I have curves.  I’ve had a few comments on my weight loss progress too.  My breasts have not been sore for a while, but just these last two night a bit of soreness has come back.

Oh, breaking news ….. there is a military coup in Thailand.  We’ll watch that closely.  For now things still look do’able.  We are changing our return flight to a bit earlier however.

Now to gt back to concentrating on losing weight ….

With Aloha,

Sifan

11 Month Summary

With the wedding happening in 11 days and how busy we are getting ready, you would think I’d be late on my 11 month posting, especially since I was late on the previous ones ….  Who knows how these things work – certainly not me!

If you are reading this before May 5th (2014), check back after then – I am waiting till then to post a picture from our wedding here.

Where to start ….  I’m on my second dress for the wedding (wrote about this in previous posts).  The first one was hand tailored but the material turned out to be way more “champagne” than ivory and from the weight I lost, was now too large.  In the last post I mentioned the white holoku (Hawaiian) style dress I purchased instead.  The problem with this dress is that I was still to ‘large’ ….  So I’ve been eating less and eating right plus walking around the block at work 2 to 4 times each night (we are on a mountain – a block here is has an elevation gain/loss of over 60 feet).

I talked with my doctor about losing weight as well, since I will need to lose tonnage before surgery later this fall too.  I told her about how losing weight had changed since HRT.  A lot of  ‘weight’ (fat actually …) has moved around as I went from a typical male distribution to female – but none went ‘away’ – ack.  There are the obvious ones:  stomach went down to the buttocks and up to the breasts, arm muscle mass reduced (not by much – they had me lifting heavy systems at work – side note here:  I was helping one of the guys here lift an extremely heavy (probably over 300 #) disk array unit back into the rack.  He got very red in the face and almost could not make it.  At one point I was holding the majority of the weight as he tried to get a better position.  The next day I find out he blew out his knee and pulled an arm muscle doing that.  For me, it was heavy, but do’able.  I don’t exactly want to be known for this and I think the guys are a bit embarrassed ….

There was also a weight shift I didn’t expect:  stomach ‘plumpness’ moved up!  Below the belly-button I’m fairly flat now – it has moved up to just above the belly-button to just below the rib cage.  And of course in losing weight, this is the ‘last’ place that seems to go away.  Everything else loses weight first – like my breasts – grrrrrrr.  So after all these months getting to an ‘ok’ size, now they are shrinking -ack.  My doctor said:  “welcome to womanhood”!

Just in case my efforts at losing weight before the wedding do not pan out (especially now that I have this beautiful dress) – I bought a corset.  Oh boy.  Well, the dress fits perfectly now and the other good news is that I actually can still breathe (sort of).  I have found that it enforces the rules of posture quite well indeed!  I can still put on my wedding sandals as well as the rest of my clothes – but I do have to be mindful of how I’m moving – wheeeee!  And yes, as Lisa pulled tightly on the strings in back, I had to hang on to something to keep from being pulled over.  Ahhh, the joys of being a woman…

The other big news is that not only have I decided on a date for my GRS surgery but the clinic has accepted me.  I will be having my surgery in mid September with Dr. Suporn in Thailand.   It has taken me a long time and a lot of research to come to this point.  I wrote an entire post just on how I chose him (Choosing a Surgeon).

Summarizing my transition at 11 months:  other than weight moving around and losing bust-line, everything is ‘normal’ – exactly what and how I want to feel – normal – but as a woman!  I had described this in a previous post (Ah – ‘Nothing’ at last …).

My partner noted a couple other changes recently as well.  She says my face has changed yet again – more feminine.  Also my waist is coming in giving me more of the appearance of curves.

At this point in my transition, my ideas surrounding being ‘passable’ are changing.  I’m along the lines of “that is their assumption – no biggie”.  This turned out to be a much larger topic than I thought, so I cut this out and created yet another post (On Being Passable).

Well, now to go back to dreaming of my wedding, the gown, the flowers and leis, the beach and most of all, my Kealoha (beloved) ….

With much Aloha,

Sifan

 

On Being Passable

As I started this transition, a lot of time and energy (and worry) went into being “passable” as a woman.  I’ve read and heard a lot of debate on this, mostly about being yourself and what others think does not matter.  And while that is true, when one is on the beginning part of transition looking forward this is a huge concern.  It has only been after HRT’s effects have had time to take hold, that I was able to be comfortable enough to be able to let down my guard and be able to perhaps see the larger picture where these statements are true.

It’s only in the last couple of months, where coincidentally I’m ‘passable’ enough, that now ‘passing’ is not that important and I can say things like “it does not matter what others think” or “what/who is important is you”.  Perhaps the better way of putting this is: “what is important is what you think”.  This changes as you go through a transition, this means wanting to be passable at the start is just as valid as seeing that it does not matter after you are through.

Lately (I’m starting month 12 as I write this), most of the places I go, people I see or ‘massively public’ areas I’m in, I am not noticing any side looks, comments or raised eyebrows.  Now, I have had to be ‘up in front’ at public events a number of times recently, giving a talk on astronomy, manning a booth at the astronomy open house (1500 people came through), teaching astronomy at a local school (320 students), etc., and have never experienced problems or issues.

At this point in my transition, my ideas surrounding being ‘passable’ are changing.  I’m now along the lines of “that is their assumption – no biggie”.  Yes, I am who I am and I’m the happiest I have ever been in my life.  Everything matches, especially my gender and my gender expression.  And for the most part, that is reflected back to me from society.  Now, I do not believe that I am fully ‘passable’ – not by a long shot.  But enough of the ‘clues’ are present that people seem to assume I’m female and treat me as such.  Even those that hear me first (my voice has a long way to go) and use the wrong pronoun usually will look a bit embarrassed once they see me.

But the real difference is that I no longer mind.  The ‘sting’ is gone.  I’ve had women tell me that they have been called ‘sir’.  I’m sort of at the point I guess – people make mistakes in this area – but more important I know who I am and this does not challenge that, nor does it in any way negate it.

Transitioning is a scary and potentially dangerous thing to do.  It is fraught with high stress and anxiety, especially when starting.  Being concerned with passing when you start is not only ok – it could be necessary.  Yes, some transsexuals will never be able to pass.  Taken at a ‘healthy’ level, this fear can be helpful and prevent potentially dangerous situations.

This is a long winded way of trying to say it’s ok to want to be able to pass.  Perhaps, like me, that was a phase (not completely through it  – maybe at some level I’ll never be).

As the months pass and I settle into my true being, more and more of these things that back then were paramount are now starting to seem trivial.  They are not – it’s just that my journey is now a bit more “down the road”.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

Choosing a Surgeon

I have finally chosen the doctor and clinic for my GRS  (gender re-affirmation surgery).  I will have my surgery in mid September.

In order to qualify for GRS (some call it ‘bottom’ surgery), a transsexual person needs to have:

  • Signed letter by a therapist stating you are indeed a transsexual and that surgery is required, plus that you do not have any other psychological disorders that would prohibit or complicate this
  • Documentation showing that you have lived at least one year totally and completely in the chosen gender (this is called the RLE – real life experience)
  • Medical documentation that you are fit and can ‘live’ through a 7 hour procedure.

It has been difficult to choose a surgeon/clinic for my GRS.

Basically, from everyone I have talked to, emailed, read blogs, etc. that have personally been through GRS plus reading many different clinic web sites and information – it came down to three:  Dr. Bassard in Canada, Dr Bowers in California and Dr. Suporn in Thailand.  Anyone that had been to any of these three had raving reviews for their doctor and would go to them again.  Everything put these three at being precisely equal as well.  This made the decision all that much harder.

Dr Suporn’s method is not the standard method for GRS.  It is not the ‘inversion’ method and it results in most everything being ‘reused’.  This results in most of the same areas being sensate that a natal female has.  One of the women I talked to stated that this was a very high importance to her and Dr. Suporn came through.  She stated that other doctors would not guarantee the result would be orgasmic, however Dr. Suporn did (however she would have to pay the airfare to come back for corrective surgery – but he would guarantee it and the corrective surgery would be paid by him).

Two other factors also helped in choosing Dr. Suporn.  As my GP doctor stated:  “go with who has the most experience” and that is Dr. Suporn by a long shot.  His fees are lower as well.  I’ll be able to get both the GRS and a breast augmentation for the same price as the GRS alone here in the states (and that includes the travel expenses and the hotels).  They also keep you longer.  I will be staying in Thailand for 30 days, verses the two weeks with the others.

Dr. Bowers is herself a transsexual, having had the surgery from one of the pioneering doctors in this field and going on to study from him and eventually take over his clinic when he retired.   It was hard not to choose her.

I’ve had glowing reviews from people I know that went to Dr. Bassard’s clinic in Montreal.  My sons and grandsons live in Minnesota and I would have been able to stop over on my way back, breaking up the journey and being able to recuperate closer to the clinic.

But in the end, it was a letter from a friend that went to Dr. Suporn that finally allowed me to decide.  The different technique, the additional sensate tissues and layers, the more ‘normal’ appearance and the additional comfort that Thailand affords, all added up to make it the winning ticket!

Of course there are other things that I now have to take care of:

  • Airline tickets that cross the international date line (the flight is 21 hours, plus crossing the date line – so exactly which day do I actually land?  The tickets give the time of landing but not the date – ack)
  • Getting my passport updated, in time.  I already had turned this in only to have it returned stating that I used the wrong form and please attach a letter from my doctor, which I had and they did not return!
  • Getting a visitor visa for Thailand.  Their consulate here is on a different island, so I may have to fly over there just to get this.
  • Transferring a large amount of money overseas – governments don’t like that – smells of terrorism.  So lots of red tape plus a lot of intermediate banks that all want to charge a fee.
  • Cardiac stress tests (like why do I want to stress that?  Does not sound nice at all) and other medical tests.
  • My partner (will be my spouse a week from now) is coming with and will have to deal with all the name changing and especially passport and visa issues.

I’ll keep posting as this progresses.

With much Aloha,

Sifan

10 Month Summary

sifan 2Once again I’m late posting ….

We traveled to southern California again.  This time for the memorial and ash scattering ceremony.  Met some of the friends we made before – was great to see them again and made new friends too.  We also took a road trip up to Oregon and visited her family on the way back.  So much driving and it rained almost the entire time!  The house is coming along: new windows, doors, ready for painting, kitchen is looking great, etc.  It should be ready to be listed next month, so we might be going back again.

We chose the Kahuna for our wedding, chose the beach location and visited the florist to pick out our haku (head lei), kupe’e (wrist and ankle lei) and neck lei.  We had fun putting our ceremony together and designing our announcements (we took a picture of a flower in our yard as the background), printing and sending them out.  I bought a Hawaiian style wedding dress, white with white embossed flowers.  My sandals and some of my undergarments have arrived as well.  It’s exciting – only 5 weeks away!

I chose the surgeon that I will go to for my operations.  It will be in Thailand.  The requirements are the same as here – everyone follows the Harry Benjamin WPATH rules.  I sent in all my letters and materials and have been accepted.  The next step is to send a portion of the fee to reserve a date.  I’m hoping for sometime this fall.  One last thing I have to accomplish is to lose another 20 pounds (which I should do for the wedding anyway)!

Changes this month seem small compared to all the other months.  Breasts are still sore, bottom is a bit larger (more curvy) but now it’s soft compared to before.  I hope that when I lose the rest of the weight that my curves will show more.

Lately there seems to be a lot more in the national news about transgender.  More and more professionals, athletes and personalities are coming out very publicly.  More states are adding transgender to their protected lists.  Today was the Transgender Day of Visibility – worldwide.  Geena Rocero (famous model) chose today to come out.  I love this quote from her TED talk:  “I was not born a boy, I was assigned boy at birth. Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to our culture and society moving forward in the way we treat — and talk about — transgender individuals.”  She is talking about being assigned a ‘boy’ gender along with a natal sex of male (boy/man/girl/woman=gender, male/female=natal sex).  The difference she is referring to is the difference between natal sex and gender and that they are separate.  There are those of us where natal sex and gender do not match.  It’s great to see all this in the media.  I hope people are listening and will start to understand.  This is ‘not’ a choice (who would ever chose something this painful) – we are born this way and have to deal with it every moment of our lives.

With much aloha,

Sifan

 

9 Month Summary

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sifan with skirt…. I think I’ve given birth to something! (What?  Don’t you think that’s a good way to start off the 9 month summary?)  I’m a bit late in posting this – it’s now almost 1/2 way through the 10th month.  So I’ll bring you up to date (the 10 month summary might be shorter)

Engaged!  This is my biggest news!  It was more a matter of ordering and waiting for the engagement rings and then finding the right circumstances.  We both ordered rings for each other but because of the uncertainty of when each would arrive and therefore when to officially propose, it was a bit awkward to know when to propose to each other.  My partner solved that problem.  She unexpected asked if I would like to go out to eat at this restaurant we had talked about but never tried.  We do not go out to eat that often and this surprised me (usually I’m the one twisting her arm to go out).  Well, she drove right past the place with the excuse that we were a bit early for our reservation and suggested we sit at a bench at one of the beaches close by.  We sat on a hill overlooking Polo beach.  We were just talking when I felt something being pushed against my leg.  I was almost going to complain to her about poking me when I looked down and noticed she was pushing a present to me!  It was a cloth clutch for carrying jewelry on trips (separate compartments to keep everything from tangling horribly).  I had been looking for one, so this was a nice surprise.  But then she said “open it and look inside” – there in a pouch was an engagement ring!  I had wondered if I would cry when she proposed to me – now I know – I did!  It was so beautiful and in such a perfect place and setting.  Then it was my turn:  so in one graceful motion, I pulled out her engagement ring, slid off the bench onto one knee and proposed to her.  It’s now official – we are engaged.  Oh, the restaurant – it was wonderful – shared the best wine – Greek cuisine – and had heart shaped chocolates from the shop next door!

The wedding day has been confirmed: May 4th, 2014.  I’m excited to be doing the wedding planning.  I have the officiate confirmed (Rev Kimo), it will be a Hawaiian ceremony.  We have decided on our flowers, the main outline of our ceremony (on the beach of course) and have formally submitted our marriage applications to the State.  I bought another dress – the other one was just a bit too much for a beach wedding.  My ‘sista’ at work sews and will tailor this if needed.  So far, with a little more weight loss, it should fit fine.  This one is a beautiful white dress with embossed white flowers.  It is a type of Hawaiian holoku dress.  It is prefect for Hawaii and for the beach.  I’ll be wearing a haku (head crown) and kupe’e (wrist and ankle) leis and a neck lei all of baby white orchids and Hawaiian ferns.  I found some white satin sandals that I have yet to buy.  I still have to decide on earrings, necklace and a cascading bouquet.  We are making our own invitations and will be printing and sending them out shortly.

We traveled back to southern California again – cleaning up and getting that house ready for market.  My partner had a number of ‘estate executor’ duties – lot’s of people to see and business to take care of.  We rented a large dumpster and before we left, we had it 1/2 filled.  Lots of moving furniture and hauling things around – just like when I helped move the data center here – lifting all that weight is building up the wrong muscles … don’t exactly want large upper arms!  Like our plane trip before, I’m getting used to being ‘massively’ out in public, I have a lot more confidence and am much more at ease in public, in airports, on the plane or just traveling in general.  I can look back and see how scared and uneasy I was before.  We’ll laugh about how it was at first (easy to do now – but oh boy, back then).

I’ve been expanding my wardrobe again (but of course, this woman loves to shop!).  I bought more shoes: very nice sandals, wedges and white comfortable flats.  My partner, my therapist, my ‘sista’ at work plus a number of others have been admiring my legs and twisting my arm to get shorts – short shorts, short skirts, etc.  Very seldom have I worn shorts before.  So I gave in – I bought short short jeans and also a skirt.  My partner loved the jeans and insisted I get a couple more – so I bought an even shorter one.  I do admit, I look better that I thought I would.  I also found this beautiful white print tank top.  It has a matching shorts and a hoodie.  I’m wearing the skirt, the tank top and my new sandals in the picture above.  Oh and just today my swimsuit bottoms came in: black skirted/ruched bikini bottoms.  I can’t wait to get to the beach this weekend – we are going to check out White Rock beach where we are going to have our wedding.

For valentines day I went around the house taking pictures of flowers, a Buddha statue, etc., then came up with romantic sayings for each one, printed these out (about 1/2 dozen) and then ‘hid’ them around the house for my partner to find (under her keyboard, in the fridge, next to her pillow, inside her book at the page she was reading …).  We had little ‘squeals’ all day long!  I had saved one for when we went out and snuck it into her menu.  Valentines day is my favorite of all the celebrations in a year.

I record and webcast our monthly astronomy talks.  At last months talk, a good friend of mine (he runs the local amateur astronomy club) came up as usual to say hi and chat.  We usually hug, but this time he turned and kissed me on the cheek!!!  He is awesome and I guess I’ve come a long way.  But I do understand why women complain about men having stubbly 5 o’clock shadows…..  Also the director of astronomy made a special trip to the back of the room where I was with the equipment just to give me a huge hug and make sure I was doing ok.  He has helped immensely in making my work transition go smoothly. What a guy, wow!

Each year at the end of May, I go down to Lihikai grade school for one day to teach basic astronomy to 8 classes of 3rd graders totaling about 250 children.  I was asked to do it again this year but felt I had better tell them about my transition and keep everything above board.  I offered to find them someone else who was enthusiastic and would do a great job.  This is the reply: “Good Morning! Thank you for giving me the heads up about this matter. Spoke to my principal this morning about your email. He is fine with it. We know that you are a professional and will carry yourself in a professional manner in the classroom. We have no problem with you coming! 🙂 The love that you have for astronomy is so special and valuable in educating the young minds of our students. We are looking forward to seeing you again in May! I will send more information about the day as they become available. Hope the rest of your week is great! Take care! Sincerely,”

I have started electrolysis at last.  I go once a week for one hour. I have heard so many people talk about their experiences, some very scary, some ok.  My laser treatment did take out some of the hair – but mostly it turned the rest white, which of course laser can not help (my hair was quite dark).  So I had no choice but to have electrolysis on the rest.  One good thing from the laser treatment is that the white hair is hardly noticeable and I can go without shaving for a couple of days.  So, in hindsight, if I would have known this, would I still have had the laser treatment – hummm – too close to call but I think so.  It is very important to have a good technician for electrolysis however.  I see a technician that is independent – not connected to a large organization.  I have heard lots about how organizations set policies on how much, how fast etc and this usually translates to either having hair grow back or having scars.  The person I go to will adjust the settings for the different skin areas and sensitivities.  She is well trained and good.  Mostly it feels like someone is ‘pulling’ on my face hairs (some describe it as a mild bee sting – it does not feel even that bad).  She uses a topical medication to numb the area – so no injections.  I barely feel the electrolysis needle going in, then a bit of a pull sensation as the current is applied and I usually do not feel anything when she pulls the follicle out.  For me, the hardest (and most sensitive) area is just under the nose.  She will only do a few at a time up there, then pull somewhere else, then come back … etc.  Now everyone is different, but perhaps if you were thinking of electrolysis this might help you.

My breasts are growing again, still have growing pains/tenderness now and then.  They are very firm now.  My partner even noticed the growth and said something to me.  They are also ‘bouncing’ a lot more – she commented on that too.  My only concern is that they are wide apart (wide cleavage).  I read this one web site where they had a questionnaire about your bra fitting and issues you had, then recommended the style and size of bra you should wear.  So, I need ‘side’ control: bras with wide side panels that contour and shape my breasts back to the front.

Other physical changes of note include my face changing again (it’s not as round), more noticeable curves (finally getting a waist and my bottom is a bit larger…).  My hair is longer, I love the little flip down by my shoulders.  I’ve had three stylings now and my hair is slowly taking shape.  My partner is jealous of my hair – it’s fine, straight and behaves well when styled.

Internally I have a lot more confidence in myself.  People that have known me before have made comments on pictures I’ve shared, about how much more relaxed and comfortable I seem, that I have a glow now.  I agree – life for me is very different than before.  I am at ease with everything.  Everything is what it is supposed to be for me now.  My day to day feelings, wishes, thoughts, conversations, the way I communicate and the way others see and treat me, are all how they are supposed to be.  Everything matches: my emotions, sensitivities, view of myself, perceptions of others and of myself – all congruent with who I am.  I’m slowly getting to the point where it doesn’t matter what others think – I’m getting my own confidence and liking how my body is starting to look.  I’m starting to accept.  Yes, there are things I want to change – but I see that what I would like is possible and within grasp.  It’s not a dream any more – it is real and becoming better each day.  Every now and then I see an old picture of myself.  He was a handsome guy.  But, I feel as if I never knew him or, that he was someone I knew long ago.  It’s very strange.  I am so different than that person.  Yes, I was inside that person but the layers that were worn in order to present as him are now very foreign to me.  It is very freeing to have this reaction …

Oh, and there have also been comments made about me being a bit emotional or too sensitive – comments about my estrogen levels.  Of course I don’t know what they are talking about …!

Last big bit of news is that I’ve finally made a decision as to which doctor/clinic I will have my SRS at.  I have chosen Dr. Suporn in Thailand.  My therapist has signed my letter authorizing my surgery and I’ll will be submitting that plus the medical questionnaire to his office later this week.  I’m look at scheduling this around late Sept. this year.

With much aloha,

Sifan