Thursday, October 30, 2014

10-30-2014 Entry: Dealing with the Pain of a 4 Year Old

Despite this morning’s rocky start with being late and forgetting my phone in the car, I’d like set my irritation aside and talk a bit about what happened yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was my third appointment with my new therapist and for the first time we really started engaging on a deeper level. The first two appointments centered more around me filling her in on what’s going on in my life generally, but yesterday was a bit different. Instead of looking completely at the external components of my life, we started delving more into the interior experiences I was having, specifically my emotional responses to the outside events.
I have been, for lack of a better term, rather melancholic since my wife made her “you are moving too quickly” comment the night I came out to my mother. Without realizing it, my reaction to her statement activated a deep seeded and long running emotional trigger. After working with the therapist and looking over a paper handout she sent me home with, I was finally able to fully realize the dysfunction I was having. Although it is difficult to explain, I’m going to try my best to put into words what exactly my reaction triggered.
When I was a young child (around 4 or 5) my parents got divorced and my father moved out of our house a little before he moved out of state. During this period of time I was very confused and disturbed that (from my perception) the love of my father was leaving me and the need I had for his presence and love was being denied. Because I was a child and because it was never addressed in a therapeutic way, I internalized my father’s absence and his “taking away” of his love as a result of my own inadequacies. I, for lack of a better description, felt that I had done something wrong and this was why I didn’t deserve his love anymore. From what I now understand about how the ego builds a defense system against emotional trauma (it’s for the sake of survival) I can say for certain that the childish ego I had at the time decided it would be best to not deal with that pain, so it tried to avoid it. Fast forward to age 29 and the ego was still trying to avoid feeling that pain about my father leaving. When my wife stated that she felt I was moving too quickly I felt as though the love and support she’d been giving me after coming out to my mother was taken away. Wife’s love being taken away = reversion back to the same idiosyncrasy of trying to avoid the pain of my father “taking away” his love from me.
You see, her reaction activated the same old habit in me of believing that I’d done something wrong and that was why I didn’t deserve love. This created a myriad of dysfunctions all surrounding my decision to transition and caused me to fall into a rather deep and pervasive state of depression (culminating in my calling in sick and staying at home in bed).
So what to do? I had figured out why I was feeling so down, but how to fix it? Well, the handout she gave me after our session indicated that the only way to overcome the activation of childhood trauma was to stop avoiding it (via the ego’s defense mechanisms) and to just allow yourself to experience the emotional pain. This manifested in me, for probably the very first time, just allowing myself to be completely overwhelmed by the emotional pain of a 4 year old. It’s difficult to describe, but I literally felt my 4 year old self come to the forefront of my mind and wallow in the confusion, anger, and sadness about my father leaving. Instead of trying to console this 4 year old self I just let it be, I just let if feel out all of the emotions and pains that it needed to process. I, of course, cried quite heavily as I allowed these powerfully painful emotions to surge through my body. This went on for some time (probably a good 20 minutes) until it eventually subsided, leaving me feeling amazing. I no longer felt a deep sense of inadequacy, and for the first time in a good long while, I felt truly liberated from my pain. I no longer needed to feel like I’d done something wrong or that there was something wrong with me. I no longer needed to believe that I was the reason my father’s love went away and that meant I no longer needed to keep repeating the same cycle of pain and defense mechanisms.
My wife being temporarily unsupportive didn’t have to mean that I’d done something wrong or that I wasn’t worthy of love. Her reaction didn’t have to create anything in me, let alone a complete breakdown in my own psychological stability. Because I no longer needed to try to avoid an old pain that had never been completely dealt with, there was no need to activate the same old defense mechanism as a reaction to her. She was not my father leaving me as a child, so that reaction/defense mechanism was not only unnecessary but was actually rather inappropriate.
Maybe this doesn’t make any sense to anyone else but I can say today that I feel better than I did before. Although I don’t believe I’m cured of all my emotional ailments, I do believe this was a positive breakthrough that will have long lasting effects on my marriage and my life as a whole. It has also alleviated a great deal of my anxiety about my decision to transition (which, from my last post was obvious that I was having severe doubts about everything).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

10-29-2014 Entry: To Be or Not To Be?

Lately I’ve been finding myself wondering if this is something I really want to do (transitioning). I’m not sure if the appeal of how “easy” it would be to just stay Robert is getting to me or if I’m legitimately second guessing myself. I definitely think that just deciding to be Robert the man would be so much simpler and would certainly make most of the other people in my life happy, but would it make me happy? Could I ever be happy as a male? I know inside that I’m a female, I’ve known that for as long as I can remember, but do I really need to become one physically to be happy? I guess I’m just wondering if it’s worth all the trouble it’s bound to create for me. Perhaps the fear is creeping in through a back door and undermining my resolve.
Yesterday the desire to get out of bed and face the world was so absent that I decided to call in sick to work. I wasn’t sick, not with anything that I should have taken the day off for, yet I felt the need to be home and alone instead of out in public. I really just wanted to sleep all day, not because I was physically tired, but because I’ve been feeling emotionally wiped out. Maybe I am moving too quickly, as my wife suggested, with all of this.  A person can’t exactly reinvent themselves overnight, not without putting large amounts of stress on the system as a whole. Sigh. I think my confusion is getting worse as the days go by. Who am I? Am I Robert or am I Emma? My logical brain tells me that I’m both of them, but how can that be? Doesn’t one of them have to win out in the end? How can I be one of them without intrinsically denying the other? Robert doesn’t want to wear nail polish and makeup because he’s afraid of the consequences of those actions. Emma demands to be let out, to see the world and experience it regardless of what others think.
I’m starting to feel a bit like I have multiple personalities. I have one who wishes everything would just stay the same, and I have one that wants everything to be different. How can two energies with such differing desires exist in me at the same time? I feel like the tarot card displaying a two-horse chariot where each horse is trying to run in opposite directions while their driver stands in the middle uncertain of what to do or how to remedy the opposing forces.
I want to be a girl physically, but I also want to feel sure of myself and my place in society, in my job, and in my marriage. It seems like those two desires mutually exclude one another. I need to find a way to make the best of both desires, to find a happy medium; to find the balance between the yin and yang. I know I can have both things, I just need to find a way of looking at all of this that facilitates that, and that’s where I’m stuck.
My practice in Buddhism tells me that neither the Robert or Emma ego are real because both are conditioned results of a conditioned mind, but if neither one is real then does that mean my desire to transition is misplaced? If I’m seeking to live an enlightened life where my happiness comes from within, not without, then shouldn’t I just accept my sex and not make efforts to create happiness through external/conditional means (transtioning)?
I just want to be happy and free. More than anything else, I want to be happy and free to express myself as I see fit. Will transitioning to Emma give me either of those things? I want to say yes, but the fear compels me to second guess that answer.
Hopefully my therapist can help me work through some of these things so I don’t feel so drained, worried, and depressed.
-Emma

Monday, October 27, 2014

10-27-2014 Entry: Progress and Regression


The past few days have been rather interesting, to say the least. There have been some improvements and some regressions too. I’ll begin with the improvements first:

I was brave enough on Saturday to go to a get together with friends (including a person I hadn’t met before) while wearing my nail polish and makeup. It was both initially nerve wracking and really amazing. My wife actually helped me with my makeup (both helping put it on and giving me tips on how to do it). She was very helpful and was very supportive. While I definitely felt a little like a member of KISS, it was really liberating to wear the makeup out in public and to overcome the initial fear of how I’d be perceived. The new person I met didn’t say anything and didn’t seem to be too perturbed by my appearance either. I could tell that she was a bit confused at first but clearly not enough to ask what was going on. I can’t say for sure, but I don’t know that the host of the party said anything to her about me beforehand. Regardless, I went the whole night without having too much anxiety about it.

Another development is that my wife is starting to use my new name with greater frequency. She’s figured out that calling me Emma when I’m in a crabby mood is a quick fix to making me feel better about life, but beyond that she’s even started correcting herself when she mistakenly calls me Robert. It’s both amazing to hear her refer to me as Emma and kind of strange. She’s called me Robert for so many years it’s a bit hard to get used to hearing the new name or immediately reacting to being called Emma (feel a bit like a puppy who has a new name and doesn’t realize when its name is being called). This change came about after a conversation we had about my decision to come out publicly on my Facebook. While it was intense and I had to apologize for not really consulting with her about it before creating the post, we made some really good headway.

She admitted that she needed to go talk to a therapist to help her with coping with the changes and asked that I help her find one. While she admitted that she was worried about not being “ready to be gay” and expressed some fears about not knowing what Emma was going to be like, we were able to talk through some of that and I believe that she was ultimately comforted when I explained to her that she’d been married to Emma all along. I explained that I have always been Emma on the inside and that the main difference now was that I wanted to look and sound like her too. After that she seemed to feel quite a bit better and from that point on (this was Friday evening) she started calling me Emma (as described above).

Now to the regressive parts. I have not spoken to my mother again since coming out to her last week, which has been difficult for me. I can’t help but wonder how she is processing the news I gave her. My therapist talked about how the processing for a parent can get to be a bit ugly in the early stages, and I can’t help but imagine what those are looking like. I’m sure my mother is gravitating somewhere between denial and anger. I tried to open up the lines of communication yesterday by broaching an unrelated subject (our mutual love of the Green Bay Packers) via text and found myself spiraling into levels of anger and self-loathing when she did not respond. She did ultimately respond much later after I’d gone to bed, but for the several hours before that, I found myself in an almost inconsolably foul-tempered mood (I don’t think it helped that the Packers were losing to a team they should have easily defeated). This indicated to me that while my initial melancholy over my mother’s reaction to my honesty had faded over the weekend, it was not completely gone.

The worst part was that this came up after another regression had been plaguing me all day. My wife and I went to see her family yesterday (Sunday) for our nephew’s 5th birthday party. While it was good to see them, I couldn’t help but feel discouraged about the prospects of them eventually knowing about Emma. Because they live in a small town and carry on lives of relative simplicity, I couldn’t help but realize how hard it was going to be for them to understand what I’m going through and therefore, also not understand what Sarah is going through. As I watched my 2 nephews and 2 nieces run around the house playing in lives of childish bliss, I had to wonder what they would think of me in the days to come. Would they eventually call me Aunt Emma instead of Uncle Robert? Would they be able to understand why their uncle suddenly started looking like and dressing like a woman? Would my father-in-law, a rugged outdoorsy type of cisgendered male, be able to comprehend that his son-in-law was really a he-she? Would he be able to accept me as Emma?

I think because of my own issues with my father (and his lack of presence in my life) I feel a strong desire to be accepted and loved by my father-in-law. I guess I’m just afraid that my wife’s family, in their small-town world, won’t know how to react to my transition and might ultimately decide they can’t accept my desire to be a woman. I’m afraid they won’t want their children to be exposed to the transgender world and won’t want me to come around anymore. This thought discourages me greatly because my family not understanding is really a negligible thing because I almost never see any of them. My wife’s family, on the other hand, is much closer and we see them much more frequently, so that could create an even bigger rift in our lives and marriage. I don’t want my wife to have to be ashamed of her spouse because her family doesn’t understand.

Again I wish this could just be simpler. I wish I could just wake up in the morning and be a physical woman and no one even question it at all. It’s no wonder I waited so many years to deal with all of this; it’s such a huge mess of complicated emotions and social expectations. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m strong enough to go through the trials ahead of me. Will I survive them? Will my marriage survive them? What will I be when I get to the other side? How much different will my life be compared to how it is now? I know I just need to take things on day at a time, but I sort of wish I had a better idea of where everything was heading so I could mentally prepare.

Friday, October 24, 2014

10-24-2014 Entry #2: How I Feel Reflected Perfectly in a Song


"The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I'm the [King].

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good [boy] you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know!

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!

I don't care
What they're going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all!

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me; I'm free!

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on!

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway! "
-Disney's Frozen, Idina Menzel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk

10-24-2014 Entry: Coming Out to My Mother

Well the depression has kicked in full tilt this morning. Last night, after getting home from work, I made the decision to come out to my mother. As I expected, the news was both shocking and unwelcome to her. I knew going into it that she was going to have a hard time digesting the information but when she reacted just as I expected her to, it really made me rather sad. I don’t know what I would have wanted from her given that so much of the shame I’ve felt about my transgender nature was a result of her parenting. I don’t want to blame her or be mad at her because I don’t see how that will be productive towards my future, but I can’t help but feel hurt and alone by her reaction. It makes me feel sick and ashamed to be what I am when I think about how she reacted and how shocked and confused she was. I just want this to be easy, I just want to be accepted for what I am, is that so much to ask?
I’ve been priding myself lately on how I haven’t felt sad and haven’t thought about suicide at all, and now I can’t help but think about it. it would be so much easier to just give up completely than to face the mess I have ahead of me. I want to be strong and say that it doesn’t bother me what anyone else thinks, but that’s a lie, obviously. I do care what they think, especially my mother. I just don’t know what to do.
What makes all of it a million times worse is that a little after I talked to my mom my wife told me that she felt like I was moving too fast by telling my friends on facebook and by telling my mom. That was like a dagger in the heart when she said that. The only thing that was keeping me from completely losing my composure after telling my mother was the support and love my wife was giving me, and then without warning she just took it all away, leaving me feeling so alone and afraid and ashamed. I hate everyone and everything, especially myself. If only I could just make this all go away, if only I could just be a boy and be happy as that.
I want to be proud, and I want to be strong, and I want to be able to stand up to everyone and say that I’m Emma and not feel like a freak, but right now I just don’t know how to do that. All I can do right now is cry and pray to god to take all this pain away. Maybe this time he will actually answer.

 ............
(several minutes of crying later:)

No, you know what, fuck that. Fuck praying to God to take it all away. I refuse to quit, I refuse to let my mother or my wife tell me what I can or can’t be. I refuse to feel ashamed of what and who I am. They can all go to hell if they don’t like it. I am Emma and I like to wear nail polish, and makeup. I like to dress like and look like a girl. I want to be a woman and I am going to be one no matter what anyone else thinks of me. I’d rather be alone and proud than surrounded by “loved ones” feeling ashamed of myself. Fuck that, and fuck them if they don’t like it. I don’t need any of them, not really. No point in squandering an honest life for the sake of others, not when we all die alone anyways. There is only one person I can rely on 100% and that’s myself. Everyone else is either coming along with me, or getting left behind. I don’t care if that’s selfish, it’s about damn time I started caring about myself and my happiness anyways.
 
I am Emma, the don’t give a fuck if you like me or not transwoman extraordinaire.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

10-23-2014 Entry #2: Coming Out Publicly on Facebook


So after writing the entry this morning I decided that the time had come for me to be bold and to stop hiding who and what I am from my network of friends. Because of this, I decided that I was going to come out publicly on Facebook (with the exception of my family and in-laws) as being transgender. Writing the status update was rather nerve wracking and took a long time, but the response I’ve gotten from my friends has just been astounding. I have yet to have anyone say anything negative, and almost all of those who’ve responded (even some that I really didn’t expect to be supportive) have been very kind and loving towards me. So many of them are accepting me as Emma without reservation and without confusion. As far as I can tell, I haven’t lost any friends yet (I expect some will decide they don’t want to associate with me, particularly some of my Mormon friends). The world really is a different place, even from just 10 years ago. At the age of 19 I would have never dreamed that I’d find love and support from so many despite being a transwoman.

I cannot express enough how wonderful it’s been to know that there are people out there who will accept me no matter what gender I am. I feel blessed and I really hope that one day I can return the good karma to others like myself. I doubt many will ever really care about my story, but if I’m given the opportunity to serve as role model for other transgender people I fully intend to take it. The world needs to know that there are so many of us, hiding and wishing we could just come out to be who we are and I plan on showing the world that I’m not afraid to be a “gender outlaw” as Kate Barnstein says.

I am Emma, and the walls of this closet are starting to crumble as I become more and more proud of who and what I am.

10-23-2014 Entry: Making Positive Headway at Home


Setting my frustrations with work aside for the moment (God I cannot wait until the paralegal on her two week vacation gets back on Monday, I’m really sick of dealing with all the bullshit work she usually handles), I am pleased to report that things are finally going pretty well with my wife and I. Yesterday I met with my therapist for the second time and had a really good session where we actually talked at length about my wife and I’s relationship and she asked me some very poignant questions about her comfort level. I say they are poignant because they really drove the issues to a place that gave me the courage to confront my wife about them. Specifically the question was raised as to whether or not my wife would be okay living as a lesbian, a question which I posed to my wife later that day. While I didn’t get a very direct answer out of her regarding that specific question it opened up some dialogue that needed to happen such as:

What happens if we buy a house together and she decides that she can’t handle me being a woman?

Will she still be attracted to me when I have long hair, wear makeup, and talk in a feminine voice?

How comfortable or uncomfortable would she be with me having GRS/SRS?

 

While her answers to these questions are hard to summarize here, the overall feeling of the conversation was a positive and loving one (compared to the almost hostile tone we had before) where she told me that a great deal of her anxiety was a result of my anxiety about things. Because I’ve been… almost warning her about how different things will be in order to see how she feels about it (and to make sure she is okay with it), I’ve created anxiety in her, not because things will be changing but because I was projecting some sort of need to be worried about those changes. She said that were I to just make the changes as I saw fit she would make adjustments and be more okay with everything, ultimately feeling less apprehensive. Sort of how small changes in everyday things eventually just become the new “normal” in a person’s life.

While I see some dangers of denial in this approach, I’m going to try to adopt it for the time being for both of our sakes. Instead of worrying about how she will react to a proposed change, I’ll just make the adjustment on my own and let the dust settle on its own. Maybe eventually the changes will become too much and we will be back to square one, but for the time being it seems like we’ve made some headway in the right direction.

The only part that was disappointing was the topic of SRS/GRS, which was somewhat expected. She asked me if that was something I was considering and admitted (again) that she would likely feel uncomfortable with me having “new bits” down there. I’m honestly hoping that GRS/SRS is something she can eventually wrap her head around because it is something I foresee wanting to have. I’m hoping that as I move into and through HRT, and become a physical woman in all the other regards, she will warm up to the idea. As it stands now, GRS/SRS is something we cannot reasonably expect to afford for many years, so I think there is plenty of time to allow her to adjust to the idea. I did express to her that it is something I want to consider, so she at least knows that I will likely want it eventually and can begin whatever process is required for her to be okay with that change. For now, I’m just going to let sleeping dogs lie.

Moving onto the subject of coming out to my mother, I’ve been considering waiting to tell her. It makes me a little sad to think about delaying that conversation further, though (we really should have had it when I was 14 and knew there was something wrong with the way puberty was going). Perhaps that means I really feel I should tell her sooner rather than later. I just don’t know what to do in that regard. I feel like once she knows, my burden to keep this secret will be greatly alleviated and that is very appealing to me. I’ve been carrying this around for so long I just want to shout it from the rooftops so everyone finally knows. I don’t want to keep it inside anymore. I am ready to become this, I’m ready for the transformation and to stop hiding who and what I am. Maybe I will tell her sooner rather than later after all. Maybe I’ll call her this weekend and tell her. Going to have to think about that one.

-Emma

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

10-22-2014 Entry: Evolving Beyond Binary


I think my confidence is beginning to outgrow my fear when it comes to my gender expression. I’ve been reading “My Gender Workbook” by Kate Barnstein and the more I delve into it, the more I realize that my reservations about my own expression of my true self are derived from a fear of loss of social status. On one hand I feel like social status is such an arbitrary and relative thing that I wonder why I’d even care if I lost that status, but at the same time I acknowledge that I place a good deal of importance on my social standing. Perhaps it is unfortunate for me that I was born a Caucasian male because I have been privileged (whether I deserved it or not) to be the quintessentially “perfect” gender in western society. I was above average height, with blonde hair, an above average IQ and access to higher education. As Robert I am a person who has very few closed doors in front of me and anything I’d like to be or do (except for becoming a woman, that, of course, is a big steal prison-esque door with the plaque reading “no-no” above it for the quintessentially perfect gender). As this white male I have access to higher pay, better chances of promotion, better chances of lenders being willing to borrow me money, better access to education and resources. As a transwoman so much of that “built-in” privilege that comes with being a white male almost immediately evaporates.

I won’t lie that as I’m considering my future and the transition I’m embarking on, I’m keeping in the back of my mind how this will affect me economically. I’m even going to wait until after the new year when raises/bonuses are determined at my job to reveal my true nature to my employer because I’m afraid that doing so beforehand will negatively effect my chances of receiving one or both of those. As Robert, white male paralegal extraordinaire, I stand a good chance of receiving one or both of those and sadly, the rate at which I will receive either or both of those is likely to be higher than my female coworkers (even despite the fact that many of them are more profitable to the firm than I am). As Emma, the transwoman paralegal freakshow, I’m almost certain I’d receive neither a bonus nor a raise, and that honestly makes me really sad.

 It makes me question the validity of gender in the vacuum of social power altogether. Why does being the “perfect” gender mean that you receive a greater share of the resources? Are we really still so closely related to primates that being the “Alpha Male” means so much to us and our hierarchy of power? In the primate world I understand the reasoning behind having an Alpha Male because it is a necessity of survival. Having an Alpha Male means safety and protection for the troop. It means order instead of chaos and it ensures the survival of the species (survival of the fittest in natural selection is a key component to continuing a species), but we’ve moved beyond that as humans. The survival of the human species is no longer dictated by passing along the genetics of the Alpha Male or by the protection granted from that Alpha Male. We don’t live in the woods, relying on our physical bodies to accumulate resources anymore, so why are we still keeping with the same old system of gender roles? Isn’t it time to evolve already?

Perhaps transgenderism is a step in evolution. We are no longer in need of the old binary system of male and female because our resources and survival as a species doesn’t rely on that structure anymore. Maybe the reason there seem to be more and more of us who are transgressing this binary system is because our collective consciousness is trying to express a different way of doing things, one where we are free to express ourselves as individuals instead of forcing ourselves into a necessary mechanism of evolution.

That’s how I’m going to try to think of this transition from now on. I am evolving beyond the old ways of thinking about gender and how it affects my survival. By becoming Emma I’m stepping further away from our old primate origins in the direction of a new type of human, one who can be both male and female. Many believe that God is the perfect harmony of masculine and feminine energies (I certainly believe that), so by transgressing the binary to accept and hold both masculine and feminine energies in ourselves, aren’t we stepping closer to the realm of God? Just a thought.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

10-21-2014 Entry: Circle of Friends Grows by One


 
I am happy to report that I’ve come out to another person I work with and the results were wonderful. I had a feeling that this person would be okay to tell, but she has really been quite amazing since I revealed my “secret” to her.  As I come out to more and more of my close friends and acquaintances I’m finding it a bit easier to let go of the fear I’ve had about this for so many years. I cannot discount how the world has changed from 15 years ago (one of my first realizations that I was moving in the wrong direction sex wise) so I can’t say that I would have received such open arms had I come out then, but part of me is wishing I would have done this sooner. With that being said I’m not going to let regrets cast a shadow over such a wonderful development in my life. I now have friends (PLURAL!!) at work who know about the real me, and that is doing wonders for my confidence. Having people who accept and support me makes this so much easier to handle, and I suspect it will make the official coming out process at work go more smoothly (when that time comes).
I find myself dwelling on that day more and more lately. Just as I also find myself dwelling on the conversation I’m going to eventually have to have with my mother. Both of these conversations are worrisome to consider, simply because of the consequences they can have on my life as a whole. I keep envisioning in my mind how they will go, what I will say, and how the others will react. It probably does me no good to focus so far into the future (steals away the present moment) but I can’t seem to help myself from doing it, especially as I lie in bed at night (/yawns, literally). I suspect that when all is said and done, I’ll look back and laugh about all the anxiety I felt about these conversations. Hopefully I’ll be able to look back and shake my head at how I worried for nothing because everything turned out for the best. I know deep down that it will turn out for the best no matter what the outcome is because I’ll be living a life true to myself.
Anyways, I go to see my new therapist for our first official session of counseling tomorrow, (last week was just the initial consultation) and I honestly cannot wait. I’m eager to see what she has to say after (hopefully) reading this blog/online journal and to get some time to talk openly about the things I’ve been thinking about/feeling. Because of her background professionally and personally with transgender issues, I’m anxious to know what she thinks about what I’ve written here and how it reflects on my level of transgenderness (yep, made that word up, you are welcome). I mean, I feel like I already know that I’m definitely a girl trapped in a male body, but having someone outside of me who knows a good deal about the phenomena actually confirm it to me feels important. I don’t know why. Perhaps that means I’m not as trans as I think I am, but I feel like my past record of bouncing around from one religion to the next means that I need some reassurances that I won’t just magically get over this. I don’t know how I could, honestly, not when it’s become an all-consuming obsession over the last few weeks but I still want the confirmation. I wonder if this is something other trans people experience. Do they seek a counselor to tell them, “Yes, you really are a female, my good man,” or is that just me?
Ultimately I suppose it doesn’t matter what anyone else’s opinion is (even a therapist’s) as long as I know it on my own, and I feel like I do know it. I just hope I know it more than I “knew” the book of Mormon was true (/shakes head in disappointment at former self). Actually, the more stories I come across of other transgendered people, the more my whole “religion of the week” phases seem to make sense. It seems that I am not alone in my efforts to find some sort of solidarity through organized religion in an effort to “overcome” my gender dysphoria. I guess hiding a part of one’s self from the world frequently manifests in feeling a need to have something outside of yourself come in and fill the gap. But like a round peg trying to fill in a square hole, “God” never could measure up nor could “he” ever take away the pain I felt inside.
Speaking of that pain, lately I’ve noticed it less, and I’ve been feeling less “incomplete” than I used to. In times past it was always there, even when I was generally happy. There was always this sense of sadness lurking below the surface and now, that sadness is MIA (most of the time. Sometimes it comes back when I become discouraged about how “manly” I look in the mirror). I can’t adequately express what a relief it is to have that sadness/pain mostly gone. I’m hopeful that one day soon, the wound I’ve been burying for years under denial, fear, and sadness will finally heal. I very much want that. I very much want to be free and to be me, the beautiful and amazing Emma.
 
Much love here right now. =)
-Emma

Monday, October 20, 2014

10-20-2014 Entry: Living the Duality


And so I’m back to the world of being Robert the man. No more eyeliner, no eye shadow, no foundation, no nail polish, and no Emma.  I mean, sure, I’m still Emma but no one except for one friend at work knows that or calls me that. Everyone else still just sees Robert, the questionably effeminate paralegal and the only “male” paralegal at that. They use my name without a single thought. They refer to me as “he” and “him” without a single thought. I can’t blame them for their mistake, I mean how could they not make it when I was the one who introduced myself to them as Robert. Still, I find myself struggling with the duality of my current life and find it increasingly grating to hear them call me by my boy name or to refer to me as he/him. I just want to tell them. I just want to march into the HR woman’s office and tell her what’s going on, but I don’t feel like I can do that yet. Perhaps I’m silly to want some sort of external validation from my new therapist that this is actually what’s going on with me, but I’m honestly afraid to tell my work the truth until I can have a mental health professional there to back me up.

 Additionally, I want to discuss this topic with said therapist so I can better flesh out the idea and/or plan for doing it, especially given the religiously conservative world view of the HR woman at my work. I don’t think it is unreasonable for me to be concerned about how this person has openly discussed, on multiple occasions, the subject of God, prayer, the bible, and the “enemy” (satan) in my presence. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to be concerned that all 4 of the named partners at my firm are men over the age of 50, none of whom probably have much understanding or openness for the GLBTQ movement. Will they understand me? Will they let me be Emma the paralegal instead of Robert the paralegal? Sure, there is a law that says they can’t discriminate against me, but what’s to stop them from finding some other reason to can me? I suppose I have some safety just by virtue of the fact that these concerns are recorded here, on this blog, prior to me coming out to them. I’m not sure if they would be admissible in a court case, but maybe they might be. I hope it never comes to that.

Anyway, despite feeling uncomfortable with the duality of Robert/Emma, I am having a relatively good day. I got free breakfast this morning and every so often I catch a whiff of my perfume, which makes me smile. I’m becoming more brave about using my more feminized voice (I practiced it over the weekend; I still have a long way to go but it’s getting progressively easier/higher every day) and I feel less worried about beginning my transition. I know it’s what I want to do and I know it will go well because I’m in a state of peace and gentle allowance. I create my own experience and my experience is going to be filled with joy and love. =)

-Emma

Sunday, October 19, 2014

10-19-2014 Entry: Facing Fears One Eyeliner Stick at a TIme

This weekend so far has been pretty good. As we’ve done so many times before my wife and I have managed to come back from our distance and anger, and are resuming life as usual. I suppose I shouldn’t say life as usual, since there are small differences, like the midnight purple nail polish I’m wearing on my fingers and toes, and the recently added foundation, eyeliner, and eye shadow I’ve thrown into the mix today. These differences feel good to me, although I find myself having to hold back some from the exploration of those new additions.
The makeup for example is something that I wish I had more alone time to experiment with. I find myself longing for a long weekend where I can play with the new toys I have in my life and where no one will judge me or be affected by this play. I know that one day I’ll be out in the open for all the world to see and I’ll have to be comfortable with myself in the eyes of others, but having my wife suddenly come into the bathroom when I’m failing miserably to put on eyeliner is still jarring. Seeing the surprise on her face makes it all the worse. I know she isn’t mad at me or disappointed me or judging me for wanting to try eyeliner, but I feel ashamed in a way.
I feel ashamed because I want to be able to just own what I’m doing instead of feeling a need to hide it or conceal it. I want it to feel so comfortable and natural to me that I don’t care what other people think, and right now I just don’t feel that. I’m not ashamed that I want to wear eyeliner, eye shadow or foundation/concealer, I just want to feel pride in wearing it and wearing it well. I know that one day I’ll get to that place of being proud of my feminine appearance, but in order to do that I need practice. I need to be able to royally fuck up my eyeliner a few times (like I did today) so I know what not to do, and I need to experiment with what I like and don’t like. As of right now, I don’t feel like I have that opportunity. It’s likely all in my mind, but I know that I’d feel more comfortable doing it when my wife wasn’t around than having her see/watch me do it. I hope that reservation passes eventually.
I feel like I’m going through puberty again having to learn all the little tricks to the trade of being a certain gender. I did this as a boy, although it never really took and required great deal of concentration to keep it “masculine” enough for my guy friends (cannot count the number of times I was called a “fag” or “homo” by my teenage male friends when I didn’t play my part well enough. Now that I look back on it, it almost sickens me how quick they were to shame one another for any sign of femininity).
 I know not all girls wear makeup, but I want to be one who does. I want to learn how to use it to accentuate my features in ways I find appealing. I think I’d like it if I had someone there to help me, someone who’s willing to walk me through it and who’s also willing to giggle with me when I get it tragically wrong. I suspect my wife could be that person if she felt inclined to be (she was once already when I dressed up for haloween), but I don’t feel comfortable asking her for some reason. It’s probably because I’m already so worried about how she’s going to handle things that I don’t want to risk overexposing her to the changes I’m going through. I need to find a way to get over that.
Changing it up a bit, it is so strange to be in this place of joyfully doing the things I want and yearn to do, and also feeling afraid to do them. I have so much fear about all of this. I don’t want to be afraid and I want to face my fears, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t deeply ingrained in my psyche. I suppose the only way to really overcome them is to try to focus on why I’m doing these things to begin with. I find that when I look at my painted nails I feel a deep sense of happiness at finally being able to have painted nails. I feel a sense of peace and love, and even excitement. When I look in the mirror and see my face accentuated with the small amount of makeup I’m wearing, I feel a sense of home. I know that probably sounds weird, but I feel at home when I look more like a girl in my reflection. I begin to see the potential for the beautiful physical woman I could eventually be. It feels right and joyful and freeing to just let go and do these seemingly innocuous things. It makes me want to do them more, to explore them further and see how far I can take it, to see how womanlike I can become.
That’s all I want and that’s why I’m doing this. The fear can try to scare me away all it wants, but I’m not going to stop this time. I’ve come too far now to stop and to put this all away again. I don’t care if being myself means my wife leaves me, my mother and father disown me, or my “friends” stop liking me, I am Emma and I’m not going to give into the fear anymore. Society can have their rules and norms about gender if they want them but they are of no use to me; they never fit me anyway.
-Emma

Friday, October 17, 2014

10-17-2014 Entry: Smelling Like a Girl


Well today is going much better than yesterday. Shortly after writing my entry yesterday the lines of communication opened up again with my wife and we were able to resolve, for the most part, the issue we were having. In many ways it was my fault for trying to bring on too much change too quickly for my poor wife who is already struggling to wrap her head around me deciding to transition. After talking some I realized that she was highly upset about a conversation we’d had the day before about me possibly wanting to go back to grad school. While I still have every intention of doing so, or at least trying to do so, I should have chosen a better time/place to mention the new desire. While I will admit that my wife having a negative reaction to me wanting to better myself is a bad thing and she shouldn’t have reacted the way she did, I am willing to ease off the “let’s change our entire lives in the span of a month!!” campaign. I know that almost all of her reaction was more of a reflection of her own regrets and anxiety about how much her master’s degree cost than it was about not wanting me to better myself. I suspect another argument will be had in the future when I come back around to the subject, but I’m going to choose the timing a bit more carefully.

Switching gears up a bit, I decided to put on some of my wife’s perfume/body spray today instead of my men’s cologne and every few seconds I get a whiff of it, which makes me smile. I feel all girly. I might have to start doing that more often. With regards to my hair I’m happily noticing it getting longer. It still has a very long way to go, but i just love watching it change, knowing what it will eventually lead to. I used to hate long hair but I think this time I’m going to really like having the longer hair.

 This morning, as I walked through the skyway and observed the other women around me I couldn’t help but feel really happy about the prospect of one day being one of them. I look forward to having that long flowing hair and wearing makeup that makes me look beautiful. I can’t wait to have a female body and to be seen as a woman. Although I’m not ready to admit this to my wife, I think that I eventually want to have SRS too (probably after we have children). I want to look in the mirror when I’m getting out of the shower and see a tall and beautiful woman standing there, one who has all the right parts in all the right places.

I just hope that life works out for me and that I’m allowed to experience that. I hope that my job is understanding and I can stay there. I hope that my insurance covers the necessary hormones and possibly the eventual SRS too. Maybe I’m just dreaming but the world is getting better and better for trans people like me, so I’m filled with hope all the same.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

10-16-2014 Entry: Struggling to Keep it Together


Today has been pretty bad, which is tragic considering how good yesterday was. Yesterday I met the therapist I’ve signed up to see for the first time and it was a really good experience. She seemed like someone I’d feel quite comfortable talking with and even seems to share many of the understandings about how the mind works that I have. It felt good to talk to someone who would be able to help me deal with all the many emotions and thoughts I’ve been having lately.

This morning, however, was a completely different story. For reasons that seem indiscernible to me, my wife decided to start our morning off with an argument over something that seems so trivial and stupid to me. I’m inclined to believe it was just the tip of some unknown iceberg because I honestly can’t believe we are so at odds with one another that a phone charger/battery could really cause the two of us to descend into complete disarray. I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t the beginning of the end for us. it’s never been as bad as it has been lately and I’m starting to wonder if my life wouldn’t be easier without her in the picture.

I say that but the truth is my life would become so much more complicated without her. I wouldn’t even begin to know where I’d stay because I’m certain she wouldn’t be willing to move out of our apartment (even though she has close family just a few minutes away). I wouldn’t want to move back to Colorado either, not when I have such a good thing going at my job and with my new friends. I feel stuck. I just want to be happy and it’s so much easier to be happy when I’m alone or with friends/coworkers than it is when I’m around her. She’s so angry all the time that it’s almost impossible to be around her without getting sucked into her terrible attitude. I just want us to get along and be happy together, but more and more it seems like that can’t be.

Sigh, I don’t know what to do.

-Emma

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

10-14-2014 Entry: Spouse Issues, and Being Noticed at Work


Well it’s another day and with it comes a whole new set of interesting experiences and emotions. I’m finding myself having a hard time reconciling my strong desire to immediately begin the transition process and my need to keep things kind of slow for the sake of my marriage. I don’t feel like my wife is holding me back, but I do feel a bit like I’m holding myself back on her account… if that makes any sense. I’m starting to wish that I was just alone so that I could explore this part of myself without any concern about what she will think or feel about it, but I don’t really want to end my marriage. I am, however, having a hard time seeing how this is going to go or even really envisioning us staying together through all of this. I can’t foresee her really being okay with me being a full blown woman, not when I know she is attracted to men, so it’s hard for me to envision her being attracted to me as a woman. I want to believe that she can do it but part of me almost hopes that she can’t so that I can be free to be myself without needing to hold back for her.

I honestly don’t want to have these feelings or thoughts. I don’t want this to be complicated and difficult, I want to just be me and not have to worry about anything. Isn’t that what we all want? To just be ourselves without anyone being there to tell us we are wrong or not okay? It’s not like I’m killing anyone or breaking a law, I just want to eat, sleep, breath, and be the woman I’ve always been. I’ve been holding this back for so long on the account of others and what they expected of me/wanted from me, that I almost can’t stomach doing it anymore, not even for my wife.

I don’t want to torment her by being completely insensitive to her feelings, but does it even matter what I do or try to do to spare her when I’m certain she’s going to have a problem no matter what? I just want to be Emma. I want to walk like Emma, talk like Emma, and look like Emma. I want to start the transition like tomorrow and begin the long process of making the change. I want to explore this new identity and find out what she’s like. Sure, I’ll still be me for the most part, but so much of what “me” has consisted of over the last decade was a lie or a fa├žade that I don’t want to continue anymore.

I just don’t know what to do or how to feel right now other than vent on here and feel deep frustration.

Switching subjects a bit, one of my coworkers noticed and remarked on the changes I’ve made to my hairstyle, which really threw me for a loop. I’ve been deliberately styling my hair in a more feminine way (as feminine as one can get while having a man’s haircut) in order to get used to having longer hair (I still have a long way to go), so when she asked me about it I didn’t really know how to react. The only person I’ve come out to at work was next to me and noticed my stammering/confused response to the question and interjected that she thought it was because I was growing my hair out (which is true). I’m both flattered and also concerned that this coworker noticed the change. I’m flattered because she complimented how good it looked on me, but I’m concerned because if people are ALREADY noticing that I’m making changes, it’s going to be a lot harder for me to keep myself “closeted” in the future. I’m worried that people are going to start gossiping sooner than expected about me and my efforts to grow my hair out or to raise my natural voice range. Perhaps it will be a good thing in the long run, but for now it’s a bit worrisome.

Well I suppose I’d better cut this lunch break off and return to my job. Until later.


-Emma

Monday, October 13, 2014

10-13-2014 Entry: The Grief of a Spouse


So a bit after my last entry my wife and I sort of got into a tiff when our dog decided to puke on one of the blankets sitting on our couch. On the surface we were in conflict about what to do with the victimized blanket (she was doing laundry and there was a queue of sheets waiting to go into the wash already) but underneath the confrontation was a much more poignant issue. As I mentioned before I’ve noticed my wife harboring some levels of anger and resentment towards me for this transgender realization and it became quickly evident to me that her rather explosive outburst in anger was a result of this deeper resentment.

Immediately after the tiff we went into separate rooms and sort of cooled off for a little bit until my wife decided to come out and talk with me. She apologized for her angry outburst and said she didn’t know why she was angry with me. I, having puzzled through this already, told her that I knew why she was angry with me. I was completely open and said that she was angry with me because I’d ruined her life. Although that might be a rather dramatic description of her issue, I believe it’s relatively accurate. By deciding I can no longer hide who I am and by deciding to embark on the difficult and frightening adventure into physical womanhood, I was more or less ruining the life that she’d built with me. By changing my direction I stole away the future she’d been constructing in her mind by changing one of the most fundamental components to that future, her male husband.

At first she didn’t really respond but I could tell by her expression that I’d hit the nail on the head and after a few moments of thought she admitted that what I’d said was true. She admitted that by making this change I was ruining the life she’d imagined for herself and for us. She went on from there to finally admit, through teary eyes, that she was mad at me, even though she didn’t think I deserved her anger. She said that she knew it wasn’t really my fault or that I really had a choice in things but she couldn’t help but feel some anger with me. She also admitted that she wished things didn’t have to change and that I didn’t have to do this, but understood why I needed to. After that she opened up about a lot of the thoughts and worries that she’s been carrying around (which I won’t describe in detail for the sake of her privacy) and told me how she was feeling and what she was thinking.

It was difficult to stand there and listen to her because it broke my heart to hear how tormented she felt about everything. I knew she was suffering, but watching her cry as she struggled to find the words to describe what she thought, how she felt, and what she wanted, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Because I know that the best way to ease another person’s suffering is to merely allow them the room to be themselves without argument or contradiction, I stood silently for the majority of the conversation until she asked me to outline my timeline for the coming changes. I explained to her that it would take a few months before I was ready to go on hormones because I wanted to go to therapy for a while, and I wanted to grow my hair out some before I started the physical changes. After that it would take upwards of a year before any real significant changes would be noticeable (based off of what I’ve seen from the HRT videos on youtube it seems like the 1 year mark is when the changes become more pronounced).

From there we both came to the understanding that we both loved each other, that we both wanted things to work out between us and that we both wanted to stay together, but neither of us wanted the other person to be miserable either. I honestly believe this conversation was very fruitful and allowed my wife to release some of the anger and anxiety she is feeling. I hold no illusions that our struggles are over, but for the time being I’m happy to know that we are both on the same page with regards to our relationship. We both know that we want to try to make things work, but  if they can’t or won’t then there is no obligation to force something that cannot be. For now, I am content with that agreement.

 

Changing subjects a bit, I’m finding it surprisingly depressing to not have painted fingernails anymore (I removed the paint last night so I wouldn’t get strange looks at work). Every time I go to look at my fingernails with the happy expectation that they will be purple I’m slightly crushed that they are back to normal. I wish I could just wear them around and could feel that yet another part of me was a true reflection of what’s on the inside, but I guess I’ll have to wait for that day to come when things are better suited for it.

Well, that’s about all I have for today.

-Emma

Sunday, October 12, 2014

10-12-2014 Entry: Painted Fingernails at the Mall

This weekend has been interesting, as are all of my days recently. I find it both amusing and somewhat exhausting that everyday has both highs and lows. There are times where I find myself very happy with how things are progressing and how comfortable I’m beginning to feel in my new life as Emma, and then there are times when I feel completely sad about what it is doing to the other parts of my life. My wife is a paradox, and I believe she is experiencing a similar roller coaster as I am. In one breath she is very open and supportive of my interest in exploring this new self, and then at other moments she seems deeply perturbed by the changes that I am making. I describe them as changes because that is what they are.
I haven’t started hormones yet but I can feel myself changing, even just by the thoughts I am having and the things I am doing. I’m allowing myself to flow more naturally without trying to filter it through a masculine mask as I used to. This basically means that when I have a reaction to something that comes out effeminate, in the past I would either stop halfway through or I’d try to make up for the action by doing something more masculine immediately after. Now, not only am I not stopping the effeminate reaction, but I’m trying to embrace it or to own it completely. I reacted that way because it’s who I am and there is no need to try to hide it or to feel ashamed by it.
With that being said, it means that my wife is having to face the real me more and more, which means her denial (which is the stage I think she’s in) is constantly being challenged by the new reality. I have known her long enough to know that she’s feeling both sad and probably a bit angry at me for this somewhat new and radical change in behavior. I want so much for her to be happy with me and for our marriage to work out because I love her dearly. In her moments of acceptance and fostering of this new me, I am given hope that things will work out and that she will ultimately be able to accept Emma as her partner. In her moments of quiet discontent I am forced to face the very real fear that this transformation might break our marriage apart.
If I’m completely honest, which of course I should be given that this is a journal intended to help me through this change, this isn’t the first time I’ve been forced to choose between what I want and what other people expect from me. Honestly, it’s like a cycle that keeps repeating again and again, and for the very first time I think I finally understand why. It is because I have been living this double life for as long as I can remember. It began as a child when I wasn’t permitted to be who I really was. I was constantly being put into a place of having to react to the desires and expectations of other at the expense of my own inherent nature.
I don’t want to blame my mother, because I honestly don’t think she knew any better, but I can’t help but notice the disservice she did for me by forcing boyish things onto me. Perhaps it was out of fear that she did it, and perhaps she wasn’t even aware of that fear. Perhaps a part of her saw how naturally I accepted the “girly” side to life and she was fearful that it was the lack of a father figure that had created that in me. Perhaps she was afraid that she’d monopolized too much of my upbringing and that her constant feminine presence had rubbed off onto me, so in an effort to “masculinize” me she forced me into things I didn’t want, like, or feel a proclivity towards (like football).
What she ended up doing, most likely without knowing, was give me a fear to be my natural self. By forcing me to be in a masculine sport such as football when I wasn’t masculine and didn’t feel any desire to be masculine, I was forced to step outside of myself and try to project something I wasn’t. Peewee football practice is really an exercise in psychology whereby older men project and foster masculinity in young boys. They teach young boys to be tough and strong, and to favor aggression over passivity (token masculine traits). Perhaps “favor” is too passive of a word; aggression was more than favored, it was demanded and constantly ingrained into us during practice. Any show of passivity was a sign of weakness and weakness had to be pounded out like imperfections are pounded out of steel.
Under such conditions it is no wonder that I developed a split sense of self. The part of me that felt completely alien and uncomfortable was the part that was praised and positively reinforced. The part that felt natural and comfortable was constantly chastised and negatively reinforced. This went on for years, especially in high school. Act too girly and you would be called a “fag” or a “homo.” Express your feelings or allow your gender to be more fluid and you’d get made fun of (I am even guilty of doing this to others, one of whom eventually came out as gay. Needless to say I felt horrid about how I’d treated this person).
 Thankfully for me I was never a small kid (I was 5’10” at the age of 12) so I was never beat up or physically intimidated, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t picked on or made fun of because of my more passive and feminine personality. Being forced to play football and other sports meant that I was constantly in the presence of teenage boys, and hyper-masculinized pubescent boys can be downright cruel to anyone who shows weakness or femininity.
Worse than school was when I left and went home where I would be confronted by my step father who had more than his own fair share of issues with gender identity. While he had the capacity to be kind, compassionate, and caring, my stepfather prided himself on his machismo (he was Hispanic) and was constantly policing anything that didn’t fit the strictly masculine gender role. Coupling this authoritarian gender personality with my mother’s previously mentioned “fear” about my natural femininity was a disaster for my pubescent self. The days of my mother’s somewhat passive tolerance about my naturally feminine nature ended as my step father took a keen interest in “toughening me up” and “teaching me how to be a man.”
I know that puberty is difficult for everyone, but with that kind of environment at school and at home, mine was riddled with depression and a sense of being lost. I gravitated from religion to religion as I tried to find myself, but it was a hopeless endeavor. I didn’t know at the time that it was hopeless, but looking back at it now it’s clear to see that what I was really searching for was this inner woman that was always there. I felt lost because I was pretending to be something I wasn’t, and as my masculine hormones started to develop I was moving increasingly far away from how I felt on the inside. I wasn’t acutely aware of this at that time but hindsight is always 20/20 and now I can easily see where my problem was. If I’d been able to act like the girl I was at school or home, I might have discovered my gender dysphoria sooner and could have made efforts to accept who and what I was without suffering years of depression and anxiety.
Anyway, I think I’ve drifted some from relating the events and developments over this past weekend. On Friday night I decided to paint my fingernails so that they matched my toenails. Although the paint job is dreadful, I’ve really enjoyed having purple fingernails. It feels appropriately “girly” to me and I’m filled with a deep happiness, as if a long awaited desire has been fulfilled. In fact, I am deeply sad that I have to remove the paint soon in order to hide my true self for the coming week of work. I wish I could just keep it on and not have anyone say or think anything at work, but my fear overwhelms me into hiding who I am again. I promise myself, however, that I will not continue to hide for long and after going to the mall yesterday with my fingernails painted for the whole world to see, I’m becoming more comfortable just being myself.
With that being said, shopping for women’s clothing can be very stressful and frightening. It’s stressful because I’m forced again and again to recognize how unfeminine I appear physically, and it is frightening because I am the only “guy” actively looking at women’s clothing. I can tell from the looks that the nearby women are giving me that I’m being judged and analyzed, probably not in the greatest of lights. I know I shouldn’t care what they think because this is my life, not theirs, but I can’t help but feel extremely self-conscious as I’m holding up a dress to myself next to a mirror. I wish I could have been brave enough to try some of the clothes I liked on, but I guess I’ll have to save that for a later entry.
Well I think that’s enough for now.

-Emma

Friday, October 10, 2014

10-10-2014 Entry: Embarking on the Voice Feminization Journey


I feel alive, I feel refreshed, I feel like a new person! I just can’t get over how happy I am now that I’m not really hiding who I am anymore. Sure I’m not dressing in a skirt and blouse and might not be wearing makeup (yet) but I’ve stopped trying to appear male and am acting like my natural self. I’ve even started working on raising my voice, which so far has been pretty successful. I’m basically just trying to talk more from my throat and less from my chest and the results are immediately apparent. People are better able to understand what I’m saying and the more I practice it, the more naturally I can achieve the higher pitch. I’m not doing falsetto, because then I’d just sound like Mickey Mouse, but based on some videos I’ve watched of transwomen who’ve managed to change their voices, simply moving the voice up little by little until you can strengthen the muscles to use a different part of the vocal cords can be more than enough. Maybe I won’t have to do voice feminization surgery after all, but it is pretty early to know for sure.

As I wrote before, I’ve decided (with assistance of my wife) to adopt the new name of Emma. I really love this name and really feel like I could reasonably be an Emma. I haven’t decided if I’m going to keep my last name or if I’m going to adopt my wife’s maiden name (she doesn’t love our/my last name). Additionally, my new amazing friend who’s been helping me along with all of this is going to start calling me Emma, which makes me more happy than I can put into words. Finally, someone else will openly acknowledge the woman that I am. =D

All in all, I’d have to say that I’m feeling excellent today. My wife thinks it is adorable that I’m trying to raise my voice and even seems to appreciate how much easier it is for her to understand me. The fact that she is seemingly accepting me is a big milestone for me, because of all the people I’m the most afraid won’t accept me, she is at the top of that list. I am blessed to have a wonderful, loving and accepting partner.

In more recent news, I’ve decided that I’m going to paint my fingernails this weekend! I will likely only wear the polish for the duration of the weekend because I’m not ready to bring my job in on the loop of my transgender realization just yet. I feel like I’d like to talk with the gender therapist I’m scheduled to see for a few sessions before I come out at work. I probably don’t really NEED to do that, but I feel as though having the professional opinion of a therapist who specializes in transgender people would be a big plus on my side. If she concludes that I am as transgender as I believe I am (which I’m not sure how she couldn’t, but one never knows) then I will have a medical diagnosis that supports my desire to come out at work. I live in MN so there are fortunately laws preventing workplace discrimination based on gender identity, but I also live in a state where they don’t really need a reason to fire you (at-will employment) so every reassurance I can get on my side will help me avoid losing my job.

 I am quite concerned at how my employer will react to me coming out, not to mention my coworkers. I’m hoping that I can become valuable enough as an employee that they wouldn’t want to lose me and will work with me. In light of some advice I read on Tranifesto (a blog/webpage for transgender people) I plan on coming out directly to my boss and HR lady at the same time prior to coming out at work and prior to any significant physical changes. Ideally this would allow me and my employer to come to an agreement about how I’m going to come out to the rest of the company. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t revel in the idea of all that attention, especially when much of it might be negative, but it makes sense that an employer would rather be told and permitted to negotiate some rules or expectations about how everything goes down. Since I do work at a law firm, I’m hopeful that my lawyer bosses will be aware of the anti-discrimination laws (I will probably remind them) and will strive to not risk breaking them, but I won’t know for sure until I tell them.

Anyway, that’s about all I have for today’s entry. I’m going to keep practicing my more feminine voice to strengthen the muscles and make it feel more natural and I’m going to keep being who I am, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

 

Love, Emma.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

10-9-2014 Entry: And Her Name Was Emma.

Last night was both a movement in the right direction at home, and a bit of a setback. I guess we could say it was two steps forward, one step back. I confided in my wife that I felt as though I couldn’t really talk to her about the changes that were going on inside of me. I let her know that I was feeling apprehensive about how she would react to things and that I was rather afraid that she was ultimately going to decide to leave me.  This opened up some conversation where I was able to be a little more openly excited about my transgender transformation and my wife even offered a name for my consideration (which showed that she had been thinking about it as I’d asked her to a few days ago). That made my heart soar because her offering up a name meant that while much of her might still be in denial or unable to fully process the changes that I’m making and will make over the next few years, at least some part of her is accepting and embracing my decision to live a more authentic life. The name she came up with, and the name that I think I’m going to stick with is Emma.
Those were the two steps forward, more open communication and a visible sign that she is continuing to accept me. The step backwards happened a bit later when I started talking about and asking her about the kind of hairstyle I could pull off after I grow my hair out. This prompted her to admit (not necessarily for the first time) that she felt I was moving too quickly. She clarified that I probably wasn’t moving too quickly for me, but was a bit for her.
I’m not real sure how I feel about what she said. On one hand I can empathize completely because it was only two weeks ago that I was Robert, the lifelong male who might have been a bit effeminate but rarely if ever outwardly expressed a desire or proclivity for wanting to be a woman. Sure there were the random comments here or there over the years about how I wished I was a girl, or how envious I was about women’s clothing (because of how much variety there is and how much I wished I could wear it). There were even some instances when I exposed my desire to cross-dress or to appear like a woman, but they were always fleeting (refer back to AM Regrets Post) and eventually faded when I decided to lock that part of myself away again. But all in all, I can easily see how this sudden change has been a bit difficult for her to process.
On the other hand, I also feel a strong desire to disregard her reservations about this completely. Part of me doesn’t want to care what anyone thinks because it has been that exact mentality over the last 20 years that prevented me from being honest with myself to begin with. I feel that I’m at a point where it no longer matters to me how I’m perceived because if I don’t do this, if I don’t allow myself to be what I’ve always been on the inside, I’m going to end up killing myself. I know that sounds dramatic, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, I don’t want to die. I don’t want to embrace the sweet nothingness of oblivion. For the first time, I feel like I can finally feel whole, like I can finally stop pretending and just be me.
Needless to say, the road ahead isn’t going to be easy with my wife and it may even come to a dead end in the future. Maybe she will decide, once I’ve grown my hair out, and started taking hormones that she can’t be with me. As sad as that makes me, and as lonely as I would feel without my closest companion of the last 6 years, I don’t want the fear of that to stop me from doing what I feel to be right for myself. I love her, and I want to be with her and I believe that is possible, but I’m not going to go back to the way it was before, not for anyone. I think I’d rather be a woman, all alone in the world, than a pretend man with a million friends and a wife. I am Emma Thrumston and I refuse to disappear again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

10-8-2014 Entry: Just Doing What Makes Me Happy

I have to admit that this is probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to go through in my entire life. I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from deciding to come out as transgender because while it is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, it’s also one of the most rewarding (funny how that works with most things). I say this is difficult because it’s like I’m having an identity crisis. The identity that I used to hold up as “myself” has started to dissolve a bit over the last few days while a new and different identity has started to take its place. This new identity (that of being a woman) was inside of me all along, but was never given the time of day to show itself and now it is coming out more and more each day.
As I lay in bed last night, trying to find sleep I couldn’t help but watch a mini battle going on inside of my mind. There were two distinct parts of myself that were almost at war with one another. The first part was the fear. This was the part of me that was always too afraid to allow my whole self to be what we knew we were. This was the part of me that said it was better to just pretend the deeply feminine part of myself didn’t exist, that were I to allow it to flow out like it wanted to, I would be ridiculed and mocked. It convinced me for years on end that if I showed how much of a girl I was on the inside that I would regret it and that it was better to just try to be a boy than to risk the consequences of openly wanting to be a woman.
The second part was the repressed, yet blossoming female that’s been there all along. She was happy and joyful at finally being let out of her cage and wanted so much to soothe my fears about embracing and accepting her. She is the part of me that’s always felt right even when the world said it was wrong. She was the part that I felt most at home with inside of my mind and the part that was begging and pleading to be let out.
As I watched the two parts of myself quarrel I came to understand that over the years I had literally split myself into two people. One that I had to constantly prop up to the world in a never ending role-play, and one that I hid away and tried to ignore as if it wasn’t there. Finally and truly seeing what I’d done to myself, seeing the battle between two selves that I’d created made me realize that I could no longer continue with the divide and if I were to ever find peace, both halves would have to be merged together again.
You see, over the last 10 days or so, I’ve been trying to decide who I really am and what I really want. One half of me wants to stay the same (the fear half) and pretend this transgender realization didn’t happen. That half of me is extremely worried about all the time, work, and effort making a transition would entail, not to mention its almost crippling fear of being perceived as a freak of nature should we embark on that journey. That part of myself really doesn’t want to make any changes and is very worried and afraid. The other half of me wants to embark on our transformation immediately. It’s been repressed and suffocated for so long that it is desperate for some fresh air and for the chance to come out and see the world. This part of me knows that in the end, I will be so much happier as a person when I can finally be a female on the outside as well as the inside. This part of me wants to be happy and doesn’t care what anyone else will think about it and doesn’t care about any of the consequences of making the outward change.
As you can see, there is quite the rift between the two. So what to do? Well, I’ve decided that the only way to sooth the anxious and fearful part of myself while at the same time giving the new and excited part what it wants, is to move things along, but to do it slowly. To take small steps and to try on new ways of expressing myself. Instead of happily focusing on and fearfully worrying about all the parts that are way down the road (like HRT, voice changes, possibly SRS) I’m just going to do the things that make me happy (like painting my nails and acting like a girl) and not bite off more than I can chew. Instead of trying to plan everything out and trying to predict all the bends and curves of the road ahead, I’m just going to start walking in that direction, enjoying my time as I go. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like much of a revelation to anyone else, but it certainly feels like one to me.
I don’t have to worry about my deep voice right now because I can practice speaking in a higher pitched tone for a while to see what it is like (people actually have a much easier time hearing me when I do). I don’t have to worry about what kind of hairstyle I’m going to choose, I can simply allow my hair to grow naturally and find better ways of styling it as it gets longer. I don’t have to worry about how people are perceiving me as I start to make these changes, I only have to do the things that feel right and good to me. I can just be who I really am and slowly, progressively transform into the thing I want to be (wherever that ends up taking me). I can still be Robert the man while I allow Emma the woman to come out more often and not be ashamed of her.
Well, that’s all I have for now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

10-7-2014 afternoon entry: 1 million questions


I’m not sure I really intended to post more than one in the same day but in order to continue to process this journey I feel the need to write some more. It has been several hours since the last post and while most of my day has been dedicated to work, I haven’t been able to keep my mind from wandering to other things. Right now I’m feeling a bit down about things, probably more out of a hint of jealousy than anything else.

You see, I’ve recently come across another transwoman who is much further along on her journey to realizing her true gender (outwardly that is). She runs a youtube channel and a tumblr blog and updates rather frequently. Her earliest videos begin while she is only just barely beginning her transition all the way to the most recent updates about how she is recovering from her very recent bottom surgery.

Overall, my thoughts are very happy for her and when I see her pictures (and can see just how pretty she’s become compared to where she began) I feel inspired about the potentials of HRT. I can’t lie that her youtube video documenting (in pictures) the gradual changes that occurred over 91 weeks of HRT was in no small part the reason I decided that my previously held reservations about how attractive I could be as a woman were silly and shouldn’t stop me from pursuing the very deep desire to make the transition. With that being said, as I look at her most recent picture and gaze upon her very feminine beauty, I can’t help but feel sad about myself and my own lack of femininity. I look in the mirror and see a man’s face lined with facial hair staring back at me and can’t help but wish I could just pull a I dream of Jeannie moment and fold my arms, bow my head and magically transform into a beautiful woman like her.

Additionally, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll ever have as much luck as her given the fact that she began her hormones around the age of 19 and I’m already 10 years further along this male path than she was. I know that a lot of money and procedures are ahead of me if I decide to make the same transition that she did, and thinking about all the things I would have to do (laser hair removal, voice augmentation procedures, etc.) makes me feel uncertain about my future.

I wish that I could confide more in my wife about these things, but this has already been hard on her as it is and because of the sensitive nature of the subject, I’m trying hard not to overwhelm her with what will ultimately be an enormous change for her as well. I have signed up with therapist who I can talk to, but I don’t get to meet her until next Wednesday and I already have more thoughts/emotions than I know what to do with.

To give a picture of the kinds of thoughts that I’m having I’ll just list out all the questions buzzing through my mind so that anyone out there feeling something similar will know that they are not alone (sorry for the random order):

How am I going to tell my job that I want to become a woman? What will my coworkers think about me? How will they treat me? Will they accept me or will I be the joke of the office? I know that they can’t legally fire me for being transgender, but what if they do anyway? What kind of hairstyle will I be able to have? What if my hair grows out and I look really stupid instead of like a girl? How am I ever going to find women’s shoes that are going to fit my enormous man-feet? I know that it will be easier to pass as a female if I continue to lose weight, but how long should I wait to seriously consider going on HRT? Is my wife going to decide she can’t handle being with a woman and leave me even though she says she won’t? If she doesn’t, how will our relationship work once I’ve made the transition? What happens if I actually decide that I want to have GRS/SRS? How will our sex life change, or will it just end? What is my mother going to say? Will she understand? What about my father? What about my in-laws? What will I do if any of them disown me or stop talking to me? What if my in-laws take out their outrage on my wife too? Can I really ask her to go through that with me? What if at the end of it all, I’m not an attractive woman at all and just look like an effeminate dude? Will I regret my decision? Will I be able to afford everything that I need in order to transition? Should I start shaving my legs already? Will I have a “bulge” when I wear a skirt?

 

Lol, okay, sorry that last question made me giggle a little. Well, I’m feeling better than when I first started this post so I guess there is something to say for that. For any out there who might read this and feel similarly, please know you aren’t alone in what you are going through. We are all just humans, and we all worry more than we should.

10-7-2014 Journal Entry: AM Regrets


I’ve decided that I’m going to try to post here as frequently as I can in order to better process what I am going through and to give a better picture of what an awakening to one’s transgender nature can be like for anyone else who might be experiencing the same.

It has been 9 days since I fully realized and accepted that I am a woman on the inside and these last 9 days have been rather interesting. I say interesting but what I probably mean is difficult or trying. At times I feel elated at my newfound freedom, especially as I bring more and more of my close friends in on this secret I’ve been holding for so long, but at other times I feel down or confused. I also feel regret, regret that I didn’t say anything sooner. I have to wonder how much grief and depression I could have avoided if I’d only just told my parents when I was younger. I know these regrets are silly, since I’m not entirely sure I even REALLY knew I was transgender until just a few days ago. Sure I always felt like a girl and often times found myself very uncomfortable and unhappy in my role as a male, but as I mentioned in the previous post I had built such wonderful denial mechanisms that it never really occurred to me that something was truly out of place. I suppose you could say that I just accepted at face value that I was a boy, because what other way could I be?

This brings me to a memory that’s been haunting me a bit over the last few days. A few years ago I think I came very close to the realization that I was transgender but my fear overpowered me into shutting this away again. It was around Halloween, circa 2011, and I was planning on going to a Halloween party dressed as a woman. I bought a witch’s wig (black with purple and green streaks in it) and some women’s clothing that I could fit into (my wife helped me pick out a black sequin skirt and a pink/purple top). She helped me pick out some skin tone appropriate makeup and even assisted as I put it on. Before long I was a full blown woman (I even shaved quite a bit of body hair so no one would be able to tell). The party was good and I was elated as person after person mistook me for a woman. Usually they eventually figured out I was a male (most likely my voice gave it away), but for those brief moments when I was “passing” as a woman, I felt a deep sense of happiness. The party ended and we went home, but I was left with a feeling I didn’t quite understand at the time.

I wanted to dress up more and when I found myself alone at home, I even would, but as looked at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t help but notice how unattractive I felt as a woman. This literally broke my heart in half because I wanted nothing more than to be a pretty girl. That’s how I felt on the inside, but the outside didn’t seem to agree. So, with an amount of sadness and reluctance that I cannot express into words, I decided that I could never pass as an attractive female and put my clothes, wig, and desire to be a woman away.

It is hard for me to relate this story because I did more than put that inner woman away. I locked her up and hid her deep inside my mind, in a place I thought she would never escape from. Instead of embracing her for what she was and taking the steps to allow her to come out to see the world and express who she was, I just shut the door on her and hoped she would go away. I rationalized away my desires to wear women’s clothing and to put on makeup as just a weird passing phase. I convinced myself, yet again, that it wasn’t “normal” for a guy to want to be a girl and pretended it never happened.

This is just one of many moments in my past where I think I came close to understanding why I felt so different from everyone around me, but alas, I never did. I know it isn’t good to dwell too heavily on the past, because in the end, the past is in the past and nothing can be done about it. The only thing we can do with the past is learn from it, so that’s what I’m trying to do. This time I won’t lock away the feelings I have and I won’t shut this woman inside of my head away in a dark corner. I won’t pretend she isn’t there or that we aren’t one and the same. We are the same, I am her and I always have been, and embracing her is like putting two halves of a broken heart back together again. I love her, and as afraid as it makes me to be her, I know I can’t keep running away from who I am or how I feel.

I think that is enough for today. I hope you found my words to be something worth reading and considering. I will write more when I can.