Learning

The other day I began training a new therapist at my county job. Here is how [name] introduced [name].

“Hi, I am [name] and prefer no pronouns to reflect my androgynous nature”. Just like that. I could not have fathomed doing this, obviously, as it took me a while to come out at work. But I so appreciate the direct non-issue approach. I wonder did [name] do this with everyone upon meeting them or specifically with me as it appeared [name] knew my trans status.

As I get more comfortable with transitioning and find myself letting go of distrust and fear of others reactions, I think I will try this approach at my next opportunity.

When will you be done transitoning?

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question. Every time I am at a loss. The word transitioning does in itself imply a process, a starting point and an end point and time to get from one poin to the next:
from Webster’s dictionary:

1 a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : change
b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2 a : a musical modulation
b : a musical passage leading from one section of a piece to another
3 : an abrupt change in energy state or level (as of an atomic nucleus or a molecule) usually accompanied by loss or gain of a single quantum of energy

I relate more to the 3rd definition of an abrupt change which has more of an immediacy or nowness to it.

My feeling is the minute I chose to embody my true self, I transitioned. The rest, all that followed in learning, growing and integrating, and moving through the struggles, are just the natural unfolding evolution we all experience if we are on a path of personal growth and spiritual evolution.

A person is a person the minute they are conceived. The rest is development and growth.

I believe what people are asking around when will I be done is really about what physical changes still need to happen – surgeries, facial hair, muscle mass…. to indicate some sense of being fully formed. So when I tell people, as I do, that I am done, I wonder am I being disingenuous somehow. Again for me, I transitioned the moment I chose to fully embody my innate nature. And I am waiting for my beard to grow in and as I work out, I am waiting for my body to build muscle mass and look more like how I experience myself to be. In this sense, I am not yet done. But again these are just aspects of growth and development, they do not define the truth of being who I am – transitioning from my afab self to a trans-masculine self – is immediate upon choosing to embrace and embody who I am.

As I sit here, contemplating this writing, I reflect on myself, what has changed and what has not. I have said a million times that I am still me at my core just more so. This still holds true. I am now more at ease with myself as the stigma of being gender non-conforming has resolved as I allow myself to be the gender queer, trans-masculine self that I am. How I dress has changed a bit, as I wear more button down shirts to work. I now truly dress in business casual. (A friend once joked with me around my sense of business casual which was truly more casual, hang out clothes). I still wear the same jeans I have always worn (carhart and dicky’s). And in truth, I would likely have always dressed this way if I didn’t have those double d’s to contend with and “hide”. Now that I do not, I can comfortably dress as I am. My hair is changing – leg hair darkening and growing more on thighs, pubic and arm pits when once it was so little. That little strip of hair at the navel is starting. Sideburns and small patches under the chin.
My dysphoria is greatly relieved, my anxiety almost totally gone, my confidence stronger.

And as I write all this I continue to know the evolution does not make the person. I am right here, right now. I transitioned the minute I chose to embody my true self. Yes I want more facial hair and muscle mass, but those things do not define me, do not make me the gender queer, trans-masculine person that I am. The choice to be and fully embody and embrace my gender queer, trans-masculine self is the transition.

And I cant help but feel that when I say this, the people who are asking now believe that the changes are done. I wont visibly change anymore. I know that I don’t owe anyone an explanation. They can interpret my answer as they will. But I cannot help but think about the impact or implications on clients in particular. Should I grow a full beard and choose not to shave someday – will this be a betrayal of sorts. “But you said you were done… I thought that meant you wouldn’t change anymore” I imagine them thinking or saying. It is a double entendre of sorts. And maybe in the end it wont matter, just as a baby grows before us, we often miss some of the changes as they occur so consistently and subtly moment to moment, perhaps my continued growth will be the same to those who see me regularly and be less impactful and less taken as a betrayal.

Time will tell.

Thing – reposted from Raising Orlandos blog

I was touched by this blog post so much I feel the need to share: Thanks Raising Orlando for sharing this.

I am particularly appreciative of this paragraph:

“The Lost Thing may or may not be a Thing. It may or may not be lost. It seems that the Lost Thing’s main problem is that it evades categorisation. It doesn’t fit, and its appearance and behaviour have no easy point of reference. By the end of the story, it’s possible that the human who found it is actually the one who is lost. The paradox is that the human has become so immersed in bureaucracy and routine that he doesn’t really notice ‘Lost Things’ anymore.”

to read the whole post go to: https://raisingorlando.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/thing/

The effect of voice

I had an interesting check in with a client about the impact my transition is having, if any, on our work together. She said she doesn’t really think about it anymore but that in the beginning it was my voice that really was the most difficult. She was of course used to my soft feminine easily meditative voice. As it deepened and was really all over the place and not under my control at all – she said it felt harsh. She was reminded when her two boys were going thru adolescence and their voices changed. She said she often needed to remind them about their volume and tone. This was good to hear as I do believe some of the conflicts I have had personally since transitioning have been due to the change of my voice and my early inability to modulate it. That and embodying a stronger male presence which my cl struggled to find words for , but said I was more heavy energetically. As we discussed this, she compared me to another healer I sent her to who is very neutral energetically and fairy-like. Grounded and yet really light. I am more dense and always have been energetically compared to this person – more earthy groundedness. More human. Interesting as I have struggled so much with my humanity.

Anyways, the reflections are interesting. And the stuff about my voice was particularly good to hear. I am just over a year on T and feel like I finally have control over my voice. I am able to guide my clients into meditation more easily as I learn how to use the softer tones of my deeper voice. I notice the difference talking and I must admit, it is easier to listen to myself. I can also sing again which is huge. More range and easier to deepen into the more baritone sounds. And I notice when I get more emotional about something, there is once again an ease and non-edginess to my voice. The harshness is gone. It is still low but the thing that was getting me into trouble feels eased. I say it was getting me into trouble because my uncontrolled changing voice combined with T created an intensity in me that people did find harsh and hard to adjust to – particularly when I got emotional in my personal life. My voice and my energy feel more balanced.

Now if only the facial hair would grow thicker in more areas than the side burns. Cl again shared that her oldest boy was around 24 by the time he got a full beard, and her younger son’s beard is spotty (a little here a little there) at 20 or 21. So I have time. My brothers were no help in sharing with me their beard growth process. I guess when it has been 25 yrs plus the minutia of things like this are not what we remember.

Here is to unfolding balance as I settle in to the myriad changes.

I am legal

Woo whoo!! I am now legally Sky and my drivers license has M. Such a long and arduous process. And am I remembering everything?Diplomas, professional licenses, someone reminded me to tell the post master otherwise I might not get mail – would never have thought of that one. Debating on the birth certificate. I am curious what others have done. And does it matter? is this one essential for reasons I am not thinking of?

Gender marker was a tough one for me. I did decide to change it should the day come that I can actually grow a beard – or my fantasied sexy 5 o’clock shadow. It will likely make traveling easier. But I still don’t feel wholly male identified.

Its like what I told one of the psychiatrists I work with recently. We were with a client and the psych ended a sentence early something like “Sky will be your therapist so check in with….” and she faded off not finishing the sentence. She just couldn’t get “them” out. We talked after, and I said think of it this way as she struggled with the grammar – “when you say them in reference to me you are acknowledging my dual nature, as I identify as two-spirited”. Something about this seemed to have registered. We’ll see.

I just wish that there was a non-binary gender marker for all those legal documents. As male feels as false to me as female does.

My first experience being a trans patient in a hospital

I didn’t realize until the paramedics arrived late sunday night/Monday morning, why I waited 3 hours to call. There are the normal reasons, money… am I overreacting….I took a hike and a bike ride this morning this cant possibly be a heart attack…? I did finally call after calling my dad around midnight to talk about what it felt like when he had a heart attack years ago. My symptoms were spot on and exactly what I was worried was happening. (In retrospect I ask myself can anyone overreact with those symptoms and that level of chest pain and inability to breathe – probably not). I had all the classic symptoms (for men): severe chest pain and pressure making it difficult to breathe ( I was gasping and moaning in bed for 2 hrs before I took my body seriously), radiating pain into my arm, pain/ tightness/weird sensation up into my neck and jaw ( more wmen experience this it seems), light headed…. So when the paramedics came and began their assessment and then began putting the EKG probes on my chest, I realized, I am afraid of how they are going to treat me. So as the probes began to be placed I realized they are gonna see the scars, I may as well just be up front. So I told them I am transitioning and had a double mastectomy last year in June. There was not even a momentary blip as everyone registered this. Phew. They got me hooked up and in the ambulance and the paramedic who stayed in back with me asked respectfully what pronouns I prefer. He asked how far along I am in my transition – which I never quite know how to answer and is likely a good topic for another blog post – I told him I started T a little over a year ago and did surgery. He is very compassionate throughout the drive and when we finally got to the ER, I realized later, he filled in the staff that I was M-F trans. People were calling me he (even tho I requested they… choose your battles!!) which is better than she – even tho my insurance card etc still had my birth name ( come on 2 weeks!!!!). Everyone was great. I had a couple lesbian nurses who were very supportive. I stayed 12 hrs and left with a diagnosis of acute pericarditis and NSAIDs. My mom picked me up and as is her norm, forgot my name half the time and never thought about referring to me as they. One of my lesbian nurses seemed confused by this. My story is it made her wonder how much I have come out to my mom and how does she then refer to me so as to not potentially out me. I should have in retrospect told her of my moms delayed integration (this would have been good for the nurse and my mom). I didn’t as we were about to leave. 13 hrs later I got home, and slept 6 when the NSAIDs were wearing off and the pain was bad. Took my stuff (I added a left over Percocet from when I was having issues with my back – cuz did I mention the upper back pain I was having right behind my heart slightly above). Then I eventually fell back asleep and woke at 11. Within an hour the pain was rising. I am supposed to take my meds every 8 hrs, so I was 2 hrs early (twice) and they take 2 hours to take full effect. Long story short, I go back to the ER, my wonderful neighbor took me, and the positive tx continued. I did not need to come out again. It appeared to be in my record. There were only a couple who she’d me and quite honestly it didn’t matter. Both cardiac docs I worked with asked about the T how much I am on etc.. Both assured me what was going on was not related to the T (that would come in the form of a clot moving through to my heart). More workups, my EKG was more irregular and my heart enzymes spiked – indicating a “cardiac event”. Part of me loves that “a cardiac event”… anther part of me wonders what the hell does that mean?! Is it a heart attack or an event? Is there a difference, if so what is it? I panicked a bit as they began the process of admitting me. More tests, echocardiogram also done the first visit, EKGs, blood work… until everything began stabilizing again – oh and nitro! I hate the side effects. Calms everything down in the chest for sure but leaves me with a wicked migraine. Meds were reviewed and added to, another anti-inflammatory used for gout and other conditions. Nothing intravenous this time, just testing how the new regime will do by letting me take orally what I will actually take home with me. Worked like a charm. Official diagnosis “acute pericarditis”. I was release today around noon.

So not only am I going to live but I survived the hospital as everyone treated me very respectfully, zero negativity or ignoring or refusal to treat me because I am trans. Phew relief!!

Once again I feel blessed to live where I live, to be treated like a “normal” human being, to be respected and supported. I continue to pray for this for all gender nonconforming people. We all deserve it no matter where we live or how we present!! And now I am going to bed. I am exhausted.

Never thought this would make me so excited

In the state of Colorado the process to change your name is a pain in the ass. 4 steps to complete this are:

1) Get two sets of finger prints and send them to FBI and CBI for background check reports
2) Wait… when the reports arrive about 4 months later (FBI) go to court to file the motion – you will be given a form to bring to the newspaper for notice of intent
3) Bring notice of intent to local paper to be published 3 x over a 21 day period of time – They will send me something when this is complete
4) I bring the paper from newspaper showing it was published into the court again and hopefully get granted approval to change name.

I just completed steps one and 2 – and three is in process. Newspaper has it and it should be published with the next run.

The feeling of elation I had when the FBI report finally arrived was so unexpected. I think it is being one step closer to having everything in alignment to be me. The judge today was incredibly respectful, calling me sir throughout. When I asked if he would wave the public notice he read the statute and then said he couldn’t – oh well. I tried.

I am half way there. In roughly one month I will legally be Sky. Now I need to figure out what I want to do about the gender marker. A transman I met recently said he did name and gender simultaneously, by, at the end, asking the judge if he would change the gender marker. Seems like changing them at the same time makes sense. I think primarily of traveling and the reduced hassle, but even work related should I ever get another job job outside of my private practice.

If anyone has experience with this and thoughts they want to share I am really open!!

Repost of: Handle with care or what to do when someone you know comes out as trans

This was just so well said, I had to repost it!

https://katcarpita.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/handle-with-care-or-what-to-do-when-someone-you-know-comes-out-as-transgender/comment-page-1/#comment-1910

Bathroom reflections

Do any of you have those moments where you go to the bathroom and have moments of realization? Its like the time in the bathroom offers a break or window of reflection. I was at a training not long ago on Trauma and MDMA and they made reference to this as well. Client goes to the bathroom and has a major breakthrough. Anyways, I was at work and went to the bathroom the other day at work, and I was just hit with this sense of normalcy. Mind you my normal is not a normal normal, like my baseline of normalcy is different than many people I know. But that isn’t the point. Transitioning has been a whirlwind in many ways of change and settling into. My internal or personal changes are subtle and some of the outward changes… I am not sure they are noticed much by others. Sometimes I miss having an intimate partner in my life to share my revelations (as in things I am reveling in) – the first time I shaved, the fuzz growing around my navel… But here I was in the bathroom and I felt normal. I have this expectation that transitioning is going to be this big deal, that people are going to react and struggle, … maybe it is my easy going nature or my gender queerness vs adamancy about being seen as male specifically. I don’t know. But it is easy. I feel normal. Other than the conflict early on with a friend and coworker people have treated me well and like this is no big deal. I am seen for who I am vs some abomination of genderness. So sitting there in the bathroom feeling the normalcy of it all I felt myself relax even deeper into me and it felt good. I felt good. In many ways this transition is just an extension of the life I have always lived as a butch lesbian. In some ways it feels easier now, better, simply because I get to be more authentic. I gave myself the permission I needed to be me and my world is honoring me in that. WOW! How odd to feel less angst about being trans than being butch.

I am not sure how coherent this post is.. thinking out loud.

A side note, in a film I showed my class a man who was born with an unclear gender (looks male but has undeveloped male genitals) when confronted by circling M or F on a form, he circles both = MORF. Gotta love it. This is what I am going to begin doing.

Gender: Psychological Perspectives Psy3050

This is the class I am teaching at MSU. We are in the midst of studying the development of sex ie. chromosomes and hormones. Tomorrow we are going to look at divergences from the norm – which interestingly occur as frequently as someone with red hair or twins (not considered abnormalities in science). I am showing this very well done film: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/me-my-sex-and-i/ to my class tomorrow. It has conjured up all sorts of thoughts for me and frustrations with our present system of sex and gender. Whenever we use one side of a spectrum, or one of many potentials, as the norm (ie. male, white, heterosexual, Christian…) we have problems. I am shocked by how science today still uses this as the foundation for studies to understand human nature, gender, sexuality, health…. I find myself fantasizing about a world in which variance from the “norm” is normalized and welcomed as a normal healthy expression of human potential.