I am swimming at the gym tonight

My ex invited me to join her for a swim at the rec center before we meet for dinner tonight. This will be my first swim indoors. Jamie said she would meet me in the locker room. I hmmed. She said, oh right. So the choice is the men’s locker room or the family locker room. I will opt for the family locker room as long as it isn’t occupied. Men’s will be default. Tho part of me wonders if I should just get it over with, use the men’s knowing Jamie is next door as moral support. And see how it goes. I will keep you posted.

A side note: a couple months ago, I was doing a fitness class at a private gym in town. The owners wife approached me after a class, fumbling for words (I was obviously her first trans interaction), she told me she wants this to be my second home and wondered if she could support me in anyway to feel more comfortable. How awesome is that!! WE discussed locker rooms as that was the only angst I felt. Nick her husband and the leader of my classes did great, whenever separating the class by gender he put me with the other guys. But I still hadn’t used the shower. I rushed home to shower and get to work on time. It was $500/mth for the classes so after a month I stopped. Never did use the locker rooms but loved the support I felt!! If I join a gym, I will go there vs the rec center.

Becoming

Work

I had two interesting experiences the other day. 1) A female client said to me “you probably won’t understand this because your not a woman…”. On the one hand, I internally smiled as you can imagine. On the other hand I wanted to say “well actually, I have lived 48 yrs as a woman so have a pretty good idea”. I chose to revel in my passing and by my response let her know that I understood what she was feeling. 2) I at times will touch a clients hand or back when they are getting emotional and it feels like an appropriate supportive response. I was working with a male client the other day and I did this. It made me realize a male therapist touching a man in a supportive manner like this is taken very differently than a woman therapist doing the same. I need to alter some habitual ways of working with certain people.

Personal

I have been having the oddest feeling of late: the desire to be a parent and the feeling like I would finally be a good one. I am hoping it is fleeting because I am not sure I would want to do it alone and I am not ready to let go of my freedom to a partnership. But it is almost a visceral craving like in my 30’s when my biological alarm clock was going off. I would be a really good dad. And I would like that experience of supporting another being grow into their unique selves. I saw a dad and son walking from the lake near my house back to their car after a morning of fishing. The son was maybe 6. Such a strong feeling, a bond unlike any other.

Spiritual

I am planning a trip to Africa sometime between January and April of 2016. I committed to myself many years ago that by the time I turn 50 I will do a trek across the Sahara. It will be a little after the 50 yr mark but that is ok.The original plan was from Mauritania to Egypt. Somewhere in Chad, there is a monastery that has been in silence for over 100 yrs. Somewhere near there is where Christ did his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. For those unfamiliar, this was a place that many people of many faiths came together for introspection as well as exchange of spiritual thought/experience/philosophy, and greatly informed Christ’s ultimate teachings. My dream is to recreate this for myself.  Due to all the political unrest this isn’t safe to do the trek as I wanted so I am settling for an 8 day trek from Morocco. My goal is now to have my own experience as well as to connect with a guide willing to work with me in  the future. I want to recreate a shorter version of Christ’s 40 days and 40 nights where people of all spiritual backgrounds, including atheists (as my sense is they still have some sense of spirituality) come together to share and contemplate. I am feeling this deep calling – feeling like the world needs more peaceful meeting of our diverse spiritual beliefs and experiences. I have a bias too that in so doing, we will recognize the thread that runs thru each, uniting us. And hopefully help to heal some of the major rifts between the religions. I was once visiting a cousin of mine who was a monk in a Greek Orthodox monastery. I had a shaven head. One of the parishioners asked me what religion I am. I guess something about me made me appear not Christian. I responded “I am of all religions”. I still feel that.

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.

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.

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.

Relieved

I did it. Yesterday we had the meeting. Everyone was great, I feel welcome and accepted. What a huge relief. The therapist I work the most closely with, the whole pronoun thing is completely not registering. So I will be doing a lot of correcting.

I will say it was stressful. I came home last night and slept long and hard. My body was decompressing and the calm I felt about the whole thing today is so good to feel.

I wish that all LGBTQA people could experience the acceptance and support I have thru this whole process. Yes there have been some challenges but workable and not detrimental to me or our relationship. This is so not the experience of many. I am committed to doing what I can to make our world a more accepting place.

More relieved

I met with my boss today. The conversation went very well. We therapists are an interesting group – I am usually really good at reading people. I totally couldn’t read my bosses reaction. He maintained a calm, flat and accepting demeanor. I did feel supported and not judged. He was honest that he personally has not dealt with this situation before and is happy to support me in whatever way he can. Turns out tomorrow we have a clinical staff meeting, so we decided to start with the clinical team and go from there. Actually this is what I had in my head to do and it was synchronistic to have the meeting scheduled. So I will out myself to all the therapists, interns and whatever psychiatrist(s) are working. A bit nerve wracking but I am ready as well. To be out and to be clear/transparent!

I appreciate everyone’s input on pronouns. I did tell my boss my preference (they, them and their) and also acknowledged the complexity given the flow of clients and staff. But my feeling is, if the clinical staff is doing it, everyone else will follow suit. If not then we will need to extend the reach of who I am out to. And getting misgendered as “he” will not be the end of my world.

In all, I do feel relieved and I am grateful for the incredible support I have in you, my readers and friends and family. I really get the struggles so many of us go thru without support of our loved ones. I do not think I could do this if the support wasn’t there. So thanks you everyone – I am so very grateful!

On a side note, it has been a really intense couple weeks. I started teaching last week at one of the Universities down the mountain from me. My adrenals are probably working overtime, and to top the anxiety off I had a 2 day training to become an accredited clinical supervisor (part 1 of the process). Transitioning, living authentically, inside and out, has been an incredible game changer. I find myself “manning up” in situations I would otherwise have collapsed inside from anxiety. This has given me the strength and courage to push beyond my comfort zone in social arenas where my comfort zone has been very tight and rigid. It is an awesome feeling to expand and grow into a wholer fuller stronger me. Wow! I do feel incredibly blessed. The road is hard, but such has been the way of this lifetime. The rewards are incredible and I continue to work towards finding ways to support others who are struggling and not as fortunate as I… sharing somehow the wealth.

Thanks again for all the support along the way.

Oh and another side note: my dad told me about an article he read in the Post about a trans kid who recently committed suicide after parents first did that religious … what is it called when the church therapy thing tries to get the gay or now trans out of you. Completely dishonoring and abusive system. They did that and then disowned their child when that didn’t work. Then suicide… anyways a story we hear all too often. But my dad said something along the lines of “makes me wonder what me and your mother can do to support kids that don’t have parental support”. I just love my family. So I told them about the local PFLAG and hope they will take action. Does anyone else know of national or local organizations where my parents might volunteer?

So much!

Almost relieved

So I am at work today and I had seen a client who right after me saw the psych nurse PNP. The PNP came into the office and sat down on the chair next to my desk and said “OK I just gotta just put this out there. [client name] kept calling you he while we were talking…..”. I think I had a moment of going blank cuz I do not recall what she said, I just knew it is time. Time to out myself. And I had a moment of panic. And I also knew it was time and it is ok. So I smiled at her and said “I wasn’t planning on coming out right now but I guess it is time. (pause), So I said I am transitioning and half the time people think I am a guy and half the time a female. I am ok with it.” PNP said “so do you prefer he?” I said I actually prefer they, them, their but know that will be complicated here.” Another therapist was there as well. They both almost simultaneously said that’s cool. That was it. Simple relatively quick and completely uneventful. The PNP got up and left. My co-therapist and I smiled and went back to our work. After it was done I felt a bit elated. Then as I am driving home I am thinking “Hmmmm, that was two people out of the whole clinical staff. What is it going to feel like when I get back Thursday? Are they going to out me to everyone else or will they have registered the comment about outing myself before I was quite ready”. I realized I didn’t really care. It was such a relief to have it out there. I know people are curious/confused by me. I am ok with that and here is the thing, I haven’t changed my name or gender marker. So all the legal documentation I do needs to have the name on my license. So that name is on everything I write. And my direct supervisor introduced me as she to everyone. But before he introduced me, actually I introduced myself as I got there first. I am fairly certain they saw me as male because when supervisor arrived that is when he said “she”. The confusion on there faces was evident, but well concealed. Everyone has been great so I am not too worried about it. But it does feel like I need to tell my supervisor now so he doesn’t hear it thru the grapevine. And I slept on this last night, maybe it is time to request everyone refers to me by a specific pronoun as clients tend to follow the lead of the staff. This way it is clear and everyone is in the same place. Is it too much, I ask, to request to be referred to as “they” or should I break down and go for the binary’s he? It is a conundrum. Any feedback is welcome.

Reflections on coming out or not or maybe when…

I have been applying for part time jobs to complement my private practice. I keep debating internally around coming out. I ask: Is it necessary? Will it potentially make me not get an offer? Will it enhance the chances of getting an offer?

I realize I just want to be seen as a human being where gender doesn’t matter one way or the other. As a gay person I do not come out, though it has also been pretty obvious if anyone has a gaydar that I am gay. I want to be able to treat my gender queerness the same. And then there is HR and the birth name that has not yet been changed and all my diplomas in that name. That will automatically out me to HR. I don’t want to be hidden about it and am sure when I get settled in the job (which has been offered to me) I will come out. I feel it is important for those of us who are comfortable and able to come safely out to do so – this is the only way for people to get familiar and comfortable vs demonizing us. I take that seriously.

Same with a party I went to this weekend – my sisters 50th Bday. I have known some of her friends for 30 years and they don’t know unless my sister has told them. I did get into a fairly deep conversation with ne of her friends who I had not yet met and told her I am trans.

So the reality is I am really ok coming out and being open about who I am – it is just a question of when. I am curious your thoughts on this, readers of my blog.