Friday, November 28, 2014

11-28-2014 Entry: Thanksgiving With My Mom


So it has been a few days since I last wrote on here and that’s mostly because I have been on a mini vacation while my mom is visiting so there hasn’t been much opportunity to write. My last entry discussed the anxiety and worry I was feeling about my mother’s arrival and whether or not she would be willing to accompany me to my therapy appointment on Tuesday. The good news is that my mother did decide to come with me to talk to my therapist. The bad news is that she is having a much harder time accepting my decision to transition than I suspected. While she is still willing to love me and to continue to have me in her life, she is very confused, concerned and even quite angry about me coming out.

She revealed during our discussion that the news I gave her several weeks ago caused a great deal of suffering in her afterwards, so much so that even her close friends noticed a dramatic change in her demeanor and attitude. Fortunately those friends happen to be a lesbian couple who have tried very hard to be there for her and to help her understand that what she is experiencing is somewhat normal for a parent of an unexpected LGBT child. Despite that effort, my mother is really having a difficult time with everything and her struggle became quite apparent during the therapy session. The height of her discomfort and unease manifested when my therapist broached the subject of me changing my name and the pronouns I expect people to use when referring to me. The overwhelmed expression she had at the mention of my new name Emma was painful to behold and made me feel sorry for the pain I am putting her through. If I didn’t feel such a deep and persistent desire to make my transition her pained expression might have been enough to drive me right back into the closet.

I think, however, that before the session ended we made somewhat of a breakthrough in her resistance to accept me as her daughter instead of as her son. My therapist explained to my mother that people like me who come to understand that they are transgender are at an extremely high risk of suicide, most especially if they decide not to transition despite their desire to. When I confirmed this observation by admitting that suicide has been on my mind a great deal lately and there have been several occasions recently where I seriously considered taking my own life (believing it would be easier than dealing with the ramifications of transition), something changed in my mother. I think the thought of me killing myself really put things into perspective for her because after this admission she started acting a bit differently. I believe that instead of her feeling frustration, confusion, and anger with me, her perception shifted to something more like empathy and love. By admitting to her that I’d been thinking about killing myself rather than putting her, my wife, and our respective families through the awkward and difficult transition process, she finally understood how much this really meant to me, and her doubts that this was just a phase began to fade.

I’m certain that her mind, which has been reeling ever since I came out to her, was finally grounded in a bit of harsh reality as she considered what her life would be like without me. I know that this occurred to her, at least in part, because she became extremely emotional and admitted to both me and my therapist that she didn’t know that she’d be able to survive if I decided to take the easy way out (because that is ultimately what it would be, the easy way out). While I am sad that such a stark admission was necessary to really drive home to my mother that this is something I must do, I am pleased with the results. I know that she still has a great deal to process as my transition continues but I have noticed a difference in her since that session. When she first arrived she seemed rigidly unwilling to even begin to accept that I was transgender (her reaction to my painted toenails on the first night was rather indicative of her initial feelings because she became visibly disturbed at the sight of them and angrily told me I should put some socks on to cover them up) but after the session her tolerance of my decision seemed to grow. Instead of being angry at my painted toenails and asking that I cover them up as if they were shameful (which they are not!), she has since ignored them; instead of suggesting that I cut my hair, she’s asked me how long I intend to grow it out. Instead of becoming visibly upset at any mention or insinuation of my transition she has appeared to be much more calm.

Rationally, I understand that these improvements are quite small and are far from the acceptance she is going to have to come to if I ever hope to be 100% open and honest with her, but the fact that she is insistent that she wants me to be part of her life and that she still loves me gives me hope. I knew it would be horribly difficult for her and I can only begin to imagine what it will be like for my father or other parts of my family, but I am happy with my decision to come out to her.

For any out there who are not out of the closet to their friends and family I want to say this: It probably won’t be easy, and it certainly won’t be all sunshine and sparkle-ponies, but you will find no greater freedom from your fear than to face it head on. I cannot promise that your family and friends will be as accepting as mine have been so far, but you will never truly regret your decision to come out. We only get to live this life once and there is no greater treasure or achievement to be had than to be true to yourself. It might sound overly morbid but one day you are going to die; there is no escaping that fact, we all eventually pass away. The only thing you can do about that fact is to live your life to the fullest before that day, because once it happens, there is no coming back. If you want to wear nail polish and eye shadow and sequin skirts (like I do) then go out and do it, and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it! It is your life, not theirs, and their judgments are more a reflection of their own fears than anything negative about you.

I am Emma, the transwoman extraordinaire, and I want you to know that you are loved. No matter who you are, where you come from, how you live your life, or what anyone has tried to convince you of, you are loved, by both me and by the source of all life. We are all in this together, so let’s break the rules and push the boundaries, because that’s what we came here to do… to live!

Monday, November 24, 2014

11-24-2014 Entry: Thoughts About Mom Coming to Visit

Okay, so today is sort of a big deal for me. As of 6:45pm tonight, my mother will be in Minnesota and will be seeing me for the first time since I came out to her over the phone. Under partial direction from my therapist I elected to come out to my mother before she came to visit me (as opposed to coming out to her in person once she arrived) so that she could have some time to digest what I told her. We have spoken twice since that painful and difficult conversation, but things haven’t been quite the same. I think for the most part my mother is probably in denial about all of it because she has yet to mention it at all to me. Because I want for her to acknowledge my decision to transition and not live in denial (out of sight out of mind, right?) I have elected to leave my toenail polish on. Perhaps this seems silly or trivial to some but I believe it sends a subtle and non-aggressive message that things are going to be different. I can guarantee that she will notice the nail polish and I can also guarantee that she will likely say something about it. While this terrifies me to no end (I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it right now) I know it’s something I have to do because it will spurn conversation that needs to be had.
My mother’s unwillingness to discuss my decision to transition up to this point has been somewhat concerning for me. It feels like there’s an elephant in the room every time we speak and that is a completely new experience for me. We have always been rather close and pretty open with one another, never really fighting or having many disagreements. By leaving the toenail polish on I’m hoping it will prompt her to broach the subject so that I don’t have to. Additionally I hope that it excites whatever her thoughts are about the situation enough that when I ask if she’d like to accompany me to my therapy session tomorrow morning, she will agree to come.
Overall, I have to say that I’m quite worried about how the next 8 days are going to go. Never before has she come to visit me under such circumstances and I fear that things may get a bit ugly between us. I have no intention to start a confrontation with her about my decision to come out as trans, but I’m not going to back down either. I suspect she will either try to convince me that I’m making a mistake or won’t take me seriously, and both of those possibilities are rather frightening, especially considering the fact that we will be stuck in close proximity with one another for 8 long days. If things get off to a bad start how will we come back from that? How will I stand tall and be strong if the woman I’ve known, loved, and depended on for my entire life decides she cannot accept me as her daughter instead of her son? What if she tries to convince me that I’m wrong or making a mistake? Can I really handle that?
I wish I had the answers but only time will provide those for me. I don’t really have anything else to add right now because I’m feeling rather overwhelmed at the moment. I pray that I have the strength and resolve to survive what the next few days holds for me. Maybe it will go really well, right? One can only hope.
 
-Emma

Thursday, November 20, 2014

11-20-2014 Entry: Transgender Day of Remembrance


So today is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honestly just depresses the crap out of me. It is unbelievable to me that so many people have been killed over the last year just because they were transgender. This honestly shouldn’t even be a thing (Day of Remembrance) because no one should be killed just for expressing their correct gender. The only way I can see this getting any better is by bringing transgenderism out into the public eye. When people are forced to see something that’s been previously marginalized they have no option but to begin to accept it. Perhaps I will never amount to anything more than just a typical transwoman, but if I gain any level of notoriety for who and what I am, I promise to all of those transgender people out there, that I will make as much noise as I possibly can. If i ever make it through this transition I promise to make this blog into a memoir, one that can be shared with the world, and hopefully one that opens the eyes of many more people to the gravity of being Transgender.

Okay, that’s enough soap-boxing on my part. In memory of those who’ve passed because of their gender expression I’m going to shun the danger of being open about who and what I am, and will continue chronicling my journey to becoming a woman.

Yesterday’s post talked about some of the awkwardness and uncomfortable feelings I had during a happy hour with some close friends. I did end up discussing this event with my therapist and she helped me understand what exactly it was that I was feeling so uncomfortable with. I left out a detail in my account of the event that is important to bring up now. There was a 4th person at this happy hour event that I had not met previously. From what I can tell this person was very accepting and friendly about me being transgender because she didn’t appear to bat an eye at me being called Emma or she/her. Despite this wonderful attitude it was the presence of this unknown person that had created the anxiety and uncomfortable emotions about the social situation. Up until this point me coming out has been completely in my control. I have had total say over how, when, and to whom I revealed my true nature… until this person. This was the first person who found out about me being trans from someone other than me.

While I am not mad at my friends for having (evidently) filled this new acquaintance in on me, this was the first time that I met someone who was aware of my “secret” without my prior knowledge. Because I am still so (painfully) masculine in my appearance, I haven’t had to experience this level of visibility before, and so found myself caught off guard and subsequently filled with a great deal of doubt. In essence, the defense mechanisms that had previously prevented me from even acknowledging my transgender nature were inadvertently activated and part of their programming manifests as self-doubt; hence me wondering if I was even trans at all. For any out there who may read this who are still in the closet, or partially in the closet like I am, I want to both warn and encourage you about this experience. It is important to understand that while you may wish and hope to have complete control over how, when, and to whom you come out to, you will inevitably lose that control, but that is not a bad thing. Chances are there will be a point when you are outed just by your change in appearance (if you take HRT) and it is important to understand that it is part of the process. The key thing to remember is that it is okay to feel uncomfortable and to be afraid/doubtful. It would probably be concerning if you weren’t afraid or doubtful in some way. What you must remember is that every uncomfortable experience you have is ultimately making you a stronger person.

I am now much more prepared for the time when someone figures out I am trans without me telling them. Because I have experienced this discomfort now, I have the time and ability to come to terms with it and build up a resistance to its debilitating effect later on when it is truly important to be strong. Think of it like this: When you lift weights, it will feel a bit uncomfortable, but because of that discomfort you are building stronger muscles, so the next time you lift weights the same routine will be less uncomfortable. By allowing and accepting events that make you feel uncomfortable after you come out, you build a stronger tolerance to those events and will be less effected by them as you continue on your journey.

No matter what, we must all remember (me most especially) that we cannot be afraid to be ourselves. Yes, the dangers are real. Yes, hundreds of people were murdered over the last year for being what we are, but we don’t have to be so afraid that we never allow ourselves to live. Fear is a requirement for bravery, so I encourage all my fellow Trans people to acknowledge, accept and set aside that fear so that you may be brave. If not for me, or for yourself, then for all those who were killed in the name of transphobia and bigotry.

-Emma

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

11-19-2014 Entry: Love Languages and Self-Doubt


There are many things to write about today. The first regards my marriage and the state of our relationship. Over the weekend my wife and I had a pretty colossal breakdown and almost got to the point of just calling the whole thing off. I don’t really want to go into too many details but the good news is that we seem to have recovered from the argument and are making headway in the right direction (once you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go besides up, right?). Last week my therapist gave me a book to read called “The 5 Love Languages” which I found to be a very enlightening read. For anyone out there who is married or in a long term relationship, I strongly advise both you and your spouse/partner read this book (I advise taking the test at the end of the book prior to reading it). You will likely save countless days/years of struggle by learning each other’s “love language.”

Both my wife and I read the entire book over the last week and it has already had a pretty profound effect not only on our relationship as a whole, but how each of us looks at one another. Because of the book I now understand why the years of my efforts to show love to my wife had little effect and why years of her efforts had little effect on me. You see, each of us was speaking our own “love language” at the other and neither of us were really understanding that communication, which was resulting in both of us feeling relatively dissatisfied with our relationship (me especially). It’s hard to explain without having read the book but my wife feels most loved when I do two primary things, 1. Give her gifts and 2. Do acts of service (chores/favors). I feel most loved when she does two primary things, 1. Verbally expresses her love and admiration/appreciation for me and 2. Touches me physically (get your mind out of the gutter, I don’t mean just sex; things like holding hands, cuddling, loving caresses).

The problem that’s arisen over the last 6 years is that I was only verbally expressing my love/admiration/appreciation to her and trying to give her physical affection, while she was only doing acts of service (chores/cooking) for me and giving me presents. Under that scenario neither one of us was having our needs for love met. Sure we were both trying to express love to one another, but because I was speaking Chinese (figuratively) and she was speaking French, neither of us understood that, and as a result both of our “love tanks” (like a gas tank) were on empty; hence the constant fighting and frustration.

Fast forward to the last week (overlooking the colossal breakdown on Saturday) and both of us have been making efforts to speak the other’s love language. I have been giving her presents and doing chores/favors for her, and she has been much more affectionate and verbally kind/supportive. It’s only a start and it will likely take some time before each of us is proficient in the other’s language, but I believe we have made some really good progress and I already feel more love for her than I have in a long time.

Moving on to the second order of business, I’d like to talk about a happy hour I went to last night with one of my very close friends (who I work with) and her partner. This very close friend was the very first person I really confided in about being transgender (which, I believe prompted the dream that set all of this into motion) so both her and her partner are very aware of my situation and have been absolutely amazing with how kind and accepting they’ve been of me. Part of their kindness and acceptance manifests in the form of them using my new name (Emma) and using the gender appropriate she/her pronouns. Last night was no exception. We went to a bar nearby our work and had a girl’s happy hour that was quite fun, but something unexpected happened to me. Instead of my typical reaction to being called Emma or her/she, which is usually very positive, I almost felt… uncomfortable with it.

If I’m honest, I found it difficult to remember at times (I’m sure the vodka is partly to blame) that Emma meant me, or that when they were talking about me that it was okay or right for them to say her/she. I found myself mentally wanting to correct them when they said her/she because it felt so odd to be referred to like that. It was almost like an other-worldly experience.

I feel it is important to note here that I was not upset or angry about these events or their actions, I just felt really strangely about the whole thing. I think that because everyone I interact with on a regular basis still sees me as Robert the man, and not Emma the transwoman, that it was like being transported to a different world; a new world that was both unfamiliar and a bit intimidating. They were so kind and accepting of this new born identity that it  made me self-conscious and really shined a spotlight on the fact that I probably haven’t completely come to terms with my decision to transition. Despite wanting to be open about who I am and having burned down the majority of the closet I lived in for decades, I’m still pretty hidden from the world. I do not look like a female at all, and I do not wear my makeup/nail polish out in public except for on the weekends. For all intents and purposes I’m still in hiding merely by the fact that unless I’ve told someone directly, no one sees me for what I am. I’m still a guy in their eyes and understanding because I’m showing no visual evidence that I might be something else.

The worst part about all of this was the bus ride home after the happy hour. Thirty minutes of quiet self-reflection can sometimes be a very bad thing because during that bus ride everything had to be called into question. If I was feeling uneasy or uncomfortable being so openly Emma in front of my friends, then did that mean I wasn’t really trans? I think that every transgender person has that question constantly in their mind, and I’m finding myself to be no exception. Even though there is so much evidence that supports my decision to transition, I still can’t help but question the validity of my feelings and last night’s events only worsened the doubt.

Right now these are the questions going through my mind: Why did I feel so peculiar being openly referred to as Emma and her/she? Why wouldn’t that just be exciting like it has been in the past? When exactly do I stop being Robert and start being Emma? Am I only feeling this way because I still look so male and haven’t started hormones yet? Am I really ready to become Emma? Who is Emma, really? What will she/I be like?

I find myself disturbed by the fact that I felt awkward about the interactions I had with my friends. They were being so kind and loving and I really don’t want them to stop what they are doing, but when will it become comfortable for me? Will I ever be comfortable being Emma? If so, when will that time arrive?

I think it is fortunate that I have a therapy session today because I really want to talk about these things with my counselor. I need to know if this is something most TG experience or if it means something more significant.

Thanks for reading!

-Emma

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

11-18-2014 Entry: Pulling Back the Transgender Curtian

Two days from now will be Transgender Day of Remembrance, which I am sad to say that before this year, I knew nothing about. I just finished scrolling through the memorial page on http://tdor.info/about-2/ and I have to say my heart sinks for all of those transgender people who were killed because of who they were. I cannot lie that part of me is afraid to transition for this very reason. Why there would be people in this world who would purposely murder someone who didn’t fit the social norm of gender is beyond me and makes me sick to my stomach. I expect that before my life is over I may encounter someone like that, someone so filled with hatred and bigotry that they wish to do me harm because of my willingness to live as Emma. I have even considered obtaining a conceal and carry permit for when I finally start presenting as Emma 100% of the time, just to make sure that I have the capacity to defend myself should I be put into a situation like so many of the others who’ve been killed.
Yet, I find myself wanting to be open about who I am even more now. Fear tells me that I’m putting myself at risk or danger by being so openly transgender, but there is an anger inside of me that says I have to do it. I have to stand up and be Emma for the sake of all those who’ve died and all those who are too afraid to come out.
Our world needs to evolve faster, and the only way that is going to happen is if more of us are visible and more of us are willing to pull back the curtain for others to see what it’s really like. This requires a level of vulnerability that most are afraid of, and I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t among them, but I and refusing to let my fear get the best of me. I want the world, or at least as many people as I can touch, to understand what it’s like on this side of the fence. I want them to see the pain and worry and sorrow that can come with this gift. I call it a gift because that is what it is. I have been blessed with a gift that allows me to move beyond gender, to explore new levels of consciousness and identity that most cisgender people never get to.
I started writing this blog because I felt a need for therapeutic release of my emotions, thoughts, and worries, but now I’m beginning to think that this blog could be more than that. This blog could be a place where week after week, day after day I get to pull back the curtain to show the world what’s it’s like inside the heart and mind of a transgender person. To show them that we are all still humans, with fears, worries, hopes and dreams. I can show them that we aren’t freaks of nature that deserve to be berated, abused, and killed for who we are, but that we are a new stepping stone in the evolution of the human species and consciousness. Being transgender doesn’t have to be a malady, or a shame, or a crime against nature; It should be heralded as a gift, a blessing, an expansion of human evolution. We are moving beyond binary as a species and that can only mean greater exploration of unforeseen potentials. What could we do as a species if we weren’t so tied to this idea that a penis means you are a boy and that you have to do boy things? What could we accomplish if a vagina didn’t mean you were a girl and had to do girl things? Why not push the limits of gender and explore the potentials that live there?
I vow to stand up and be proud to be a transwoman. I vow to be strong for those who are weak and to stand in the light of day for those who are still in hiding. I vow to try to pave the way for others to be themselves so that they may find the joy and freedom that I have.
I am Emma, transwoman extraordinaire, and I’ll do my damnedest to make this world a better place for people like me.

Monday, November 17, 2014

11-17-2014 Entry: The Power of a Reflection

So, I’ve decided that I look completely tragic these days. My hair is growing out and is about as long as it has ever been, which is precisely long enough to look completely hideous, but not long enough at all to look feminine. I essentially just look like a messy haired guy who desperately needs a haircut. I swear, it’s becoming completely unmanageable and no matter what I do with it, I look completely absurd.
Okay, thank you for bearing with that mini-tirade. I think I’ve gotten the vapid depreciating vanity out of my system for the time being and we can move on to the recent developments. On Friday my wife and I were invited over to dinner at a friend’s house (one of my coworkers who is aware of my true nature) which was quite fun. The reason it was rather fun was because we had, for lack of a better term, a makeup party! This friend was so wonderful as to not only give me access to her vast stores of makeup (and she had quite a bit) but went so far as to actually give me a bit of a makeover/makeup tutorial. My wife has been helping me learn the somewhat difficult art of applying makeup, but Friday’s makeup party took it to a whole new level. Not only was I explained in detail the do’s and don’ts of applying makeup, but I was given the opportunity to try out different looks and styles. While I cannot say that I am a makeup expert by any stretch of the imagination, I now know ways to improve my appearance without making so many of the tragic rookie mistakes. More amazing than the fun we had, this friend was even so kind as to give me some of the makeup I tried out so that I can practice the same look again.
All-in-all, that evening sealed one thing firm in my mind and that is the belief that when my transition is complete, and I am able to present 24/7 as Emma, I have the potential to actually be an attractive woman. Perhaps that sounds overly vain or even silly to some, but I believe that the fear about post-transition appearances is something that plagues just about every transgender person, male or female. Often times it is exactly this fear that prevents so many people from making the decision to come out or to live a life true to themselves. I can attest firsthand just how powerful and influential this fear can be.
As I mentioned in previous posts, there was a time a few years ago where I got very close to realizing and fully acknowledging my transgender nature. Thanks to a cross-dressing Halloween party, I had decided, for the first time ever, that I wanted to openly try to cross-dress on a regular basis. I’d been spending a good deal of time looking at myself in the mirror with my witches wig and female clothes on, and imagining a life where I looked like a girl. Additionally, I’d also spent a good deal of time watching Eddie Izzard standups with my wife (which, for those who aren’t in the know, Eddie Izzard is a transvestite). If I would have been in a different place physically, I probably would have come to the full realization of WHY I wanted to cross-dress so much (the fact that I was a transwoman), but sadly that realization didn’t come. The fear of how I would look overwhelmed my self-inspection and drove away the hope that I felt about living a more feminine life. I became so discouraged about the way I looked in the mirror that I decided to shut my desire away and lock in deep down in my mind where it would stay for several more years.
I know that I am not alone in that experience. So many of my transgender peers experience similar situations, usually in private, where no one can see them. So many of them have been like me and have stood in front of the mirror wearing clothes of the opposite sex (or altering their appearance to emulate the opposite sex) feeling bad about themselves. They’ve stared at their reflection and felt ashamed of who they are and what they are feeling. They’ve wondered why they have such a peculiar desire to be the opposite sex and have felt the crushing fear rush in when they considered trying to be that opposite sex. Many of them never escape that place. Some of them even allow it to drive themselves to suicide. Why live a lie when there is no (perceived) way to live the truth?
Understanding that place of fear and self-doubt, it becomes apparent to both myself and hopefully any who might read this why this makeup party was so important to my transition. It was one of the first times I could look in the mirror, see a feminine reflection looking back at me, and not feel completely ugly and hopeless. It gave me a brief hint of the beauty I could one day call my own. It reassured me that Emma didn’t have to be the monster that I used to fear, but could be a kind and beautiful woman who was proud and confident in her identity.  And so, that is the lesson I learned this weekend; no matter how tragic my hair looks now, or how strange I look without facial hair (I shaved the goatee I’ve had for years the next day), everything will work out for me. I will be beautiful Emma, because beauty is more than just a reflection, it’s the result of self-love and confidence.
-Emma

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11-11-2014 Entry: Grocery Shopping While Wearing Makeup

Today is a good day. Yesterday was a horrible day, but part of recovering from a low is to forgive the past and move on. Allowing yourself to wallow too much in the past creates a great deal of suffering, just as worrying too much about the future will create anxiety (another form of suffering). So, as such, I am embracing today as another opportunity to live a life true to myself.
Since I didn’t post over the weekend, I think today would be a good day to talk about the successes and defeats I had over the last few days. On Saturday I was finally brave enough to wear my new makeup (purchased with my birthday money from the week before) out in public. I’ve worn my makeup out to a friend’s small social gathering (see my previous post), but there was no real risk of having to engage with the public during that outing. This time I put on my face knowing full well that we were going out to dinner at a restaurant and would be doing grocery shopping at, not one, but three separate stores. I’d like to say my makeup was perfectly applied, but that would certainly be a lie. If anything, my first real attempt without the assistance of my wife was nothing short of a disaster, but I decided to chalk the failure up to the learning curve. Practice makes perfect, right?
So, once I put on my new liquid foundation (I have the “fancy” Almay stuff that changes color to match your skin tone, which I just love BTW), my almost nude-colored lipstick, my eyeliner, some poorly applied mascara, and my new eye shadow, I was ready to face the world. My wife gave me a loving smile that one might give baby who had smeared pudding all over their face, and reassured me that it was a good “early attempt.” After that we left the apartment and my anxiety spiked a little as we passed by a few of our neighbors. To my relief (and disappointment) none of them took much notice of my wife and I, or my makeup. Once down to the car we decided it might be best to hit two of our three grocery stores before dinner since the restaurant was closest to the last store, and then we were off.
Our first stop was Whole Foods (because we are the yuppy, vegetarian, organic types), which was practically overrun with shoppers. Despite the packed store, I only noticed a small number of people giving me awkward looks or staring in confusion. At first, I tried to avoid eye contact with my fellow shoppers who seemed to notice something was off about me. I’ll admit that I felt a bit like a fish out of water and actually started regretting my decision to wear my makeup. This anxiety and regret came to a spearhead when we were finally at the checkout station and the guy (probably in his early 20’s) bagging our groceries did a very obvious double take at me. He even went so far as to stare at me with wide and confused eyes. I wish now, looking back at it, that I would have had the courage to look him straight in the eye, but I didn’t. Instead I stood there silently, feeling my skin crawl as I observed his almost horrified expression from the corner of my eye. Eventually he realized he was being rude and returned to bagging our groceries and avoiding any kind of eye contact. I’m certain he said something to the cashier he was working with after we stepped away, but I couldn’t make out what was said.
After we walked out of the store, my wife and I both lamented and laughed about the incident. Although I felt almost ashamed of myself for the way he’d stared at me, it made me feel a great deal better to know that my wife had noticed his poor reaction as well. From there we walked back to the car, deposited our first round of provisions, and then proceeded on foot to the second stop on our trip (the stores share a parking lot, for reference).
On the somewhat lengthy walk to the next store I made a decision about how I was going to proceed. I figured that because I’d already had one of the worst reactions I was expecting to get, that there was no further reason to feel ashamed of myself. In the next store, I decided, I would no longer try to avoid eye contact with people who noticed my makeup. On the contrary, I vowed (and succeeded) with keeping my chin up and looking each person in the eye as they mentally grappled with the appearance of a “man” wearing rather obvious makeup. The effect of this action was astounding. Instead of getting lingering stares and expressions of confusion or even revulsion, I was met with either a smile or a quick glance away. You see, my dear friends, people are less prone to openly judge and condemn a person who is confident in themselves. I chose to (pretend to) be confident in my decision to wear makeup in public, and as a result no one questioned or condemned me. Sure, several people still seemed a bit alarmed by my appearance, but my confident smile and body language caused them to fold under the social pressure.
The important lesson I learned, and I hope others will learn as well, is that your average stranger wants to avoid conflict at all costs. Additionally, most people are so insecure about themselves that when they are met with someone else who is (or at least appears to be) confident in themselves, they have no ground to stand on for condemnation or ridicule. Their will completely folds under the will of a perceived superior confidence level. I’m not talking about intimidation here; I wasn’t getting in their face or holding my arms out in a “do you dare to challenge me, mere mortal” kind of way. All I was doing was holding my head high, looking them in the eye, smiling at them, and not allowing any of them to see my insecurity about my appearance.
After this discovery everything went smoothly from then on. No one else dared to stare at me or give me a look of revulsion/horror. No one else dared to whisper to another after I passed by. Everyone either avoided eye contact (folding under the pressure of my superior confidence level) or treated me with respect and dignity. As such, I’ve decided that when future situations arise where I’m feeling insecure about my gender expression, instead of allowing myself to feel ashamed or vulnerable, I’m going to feign confidence, and I’m going to continue to feign confidence until I am ACTUALLY confident. You have to fake it till you make it, right?
Well, that’s all I have for this entry.
 
-Emma

Friday, November 7, 2014

11-7-2014 Entry: Trying to Find Meaning at Work and Messy Hair Situation


I find myself feeling slightly down this morning. I know a good deal of it has to do with the fact that I didn’t get much sleep last night thanks to a sickly dog, but there must be more to it than that. This blog/journal was intended to chronicle my journey through transitioning, but more and more it’s becoming an avenue to vent my emotional issues. Because of the nature of suffering from Gender Dysphoria it is hard to separate what sadness pertains to my lack of physical femininity and what sadness is just general mental health issues. I have been a rather depressed person for many years. I have gone to great efforts to become a positive person and to not allow my manic depression to negatively affect my life, but such efforts can become rather exhausting to maintain. I find that meditation helps and facilitates a happier outlook on life, but meditation can only do so much to fix the issues I have.

I think my sadness right now deals with the general dissatisfaction I feel with my career as a paralegal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate my job, and I certainly make decent money, but it’s not the kind of work I want to do. I want to have a larger effect on the world than just facilitating mega-corporations obtaining legal rights over their intellectual property. I want my life to have meaning, I want it to be filled with love and be uplifting to others. Perhaps it is vain of me to think it, but I can’t help but feel that my talents are wasted in this profession. I feel like there is so much more that I could do if I only had the opportunities to exercise the large brain I have locked away in my skull. I feel like if I could make a livable wage off my writing, I could be an excellent storyteller who gave the world not only something entertaining, but something that pushes the limits of what we see as entertaining. I feel like I could be an excellent therapist who could touch the lives of countless patients by helping them understand that their thoughts create their own reality and that simple shifts in them can have profound effects on their lives. I want to show the world that there isn’t one way of looking at it, and that by changing perspective you literally warp the world to become the new perception. I even can envision myself going into politics and trying to move our country in great directions, but alas, here I sit, pushing paper by filing patent applications for billion dollar companies. Where is the honor in that? Where is the upliftment in that?

It makes me want to just run away from all of it and flee to the Buddhist temples in the east and just give up on this life I live. At least then perhaps, I would find peace of mind from the troubling thoughts I have.

Anyway, I’ll stop my bellyaching now and give an update on my transition. I have continued to see my therapist and we are delving into a lot of issues I have that are both independent from and integral to my issues with gender dysphoria. I don’t wish to delve too deeply into what those are because they are rather painful and difficult to discuss, even with her. Suffice it to say that I am one of the countless numbers of victims who suffered from sexual abuse as a child. Thankfully my abuse wasn’t violent or overly dark, but the effects are still profound on the psyche of a child, and subsequently on the adult that child grows up to be. Aside from delving in the closet of painful skeletons, I have made some decent progress with some of my issues at work and with my wife. Learning that defense mechanisms are being activated to prevent myself from feeling and processing emotions from childhood has been liberating as I’ve been able to recognize a few aspects of my life being dramatically effected by those mechanisms. Much of my anger/frustration with my wife has dissipated because of these revelations.

As far as physical changes, the only thing to report is my hair growth (since I haven’t started HRT yet). My hair is getting longer and is reaching the point where I would normally get it cut, which means I’m about to enter unexplored territory with hair care and styling. I am somewhat frustrated with my hair because it is too short to be styled in any real feminine way, but is getting too long to be manageable with my previous styling efforts. The result is that my hair looks really awkward (at least to me). It’s getting long enough that it’s starting to curl at the ends, which I don’t really know how to deal with. Because I’ve never had hair longer than what it is now, I can’t really anticipate how it’s going to want to act. My mother has naturally curly hair (she has to straighten it), and my father has wavy hair (he has had long hair down below his shoulders for a long time), so it’s hard to say which direction it’s going to go. I think I’m just going to have to accept that my hair will look like a mess for a few months until it’s long enough to really know what to do with it.

As far as coming out, I have told another of my coworkers about being TG. He is an older gay man, so he was very accepting and interested to know more. He has offered to be supportive of me when the time comes for me to officially come out at work, which is good. Now I have three people on my side who can stand by me when that time comes. I am considering telling my direct supervisor as well in the coming days/weeks. I’m not sure why but I feel a desire for her to know the truth. Since she doesn’t really have authority over my work (except to train me and review it for quality), I feel like it might be good to come out to her before the CEO and HR (not to mention everyone else). I have to think about it though, and will likely test the waters with her to find out her general feelings about LGBT things before I decide.

For now, that’s all I really have. My doubts about myself are persisting as time goes on, but whenever I imagine myself post transition, the thought makes me extremely happy, so I’m using that as an indicator that my doubts are misplaced. I am Emma and I will be a beautiful woman, doubts or not.

 

-Emma

Monday, November 3, 2014

11-3-2014 Entry: Emma's First Birthday

So there hasn’t really been a whole lot to report the last few days. Things are going well at home. My wife and I haven’t been fighting (now, when she is angry I can usually detach from her anger without getting sucked into the whole “I must not be worthy of love” idiosyncrasy) and she’s even been really good about calling me Emma and using the pronoun “she” too. On Friday there was a pretty strong bought of depression that sent me spiraling down into a place where all I could do was go lay in bed and cry, but that was the last time I felt down. I cannot say for certain why I felt so depressed or why I got to the place of praying to God to just end my suffering, but I think a good deal of it had to do with the fact that I hadn’t spoken to my mother since the night I came out to her. I believe a good part of my depression around the subject dissipated when I spoke to her the next morning (Saturday) after she called me to sing me happy birthday. The conversation was pretty minimal and there was no further discussion about me being trans or wanting to be a female, but I was okay with that. I want my mother to have time to process things and I want her to continue to be in my life by seeing that, while I do wish to make a great many changes, I will still ultimately be the same child I’ve always been.
While I didn’t get too many presents for my birthday, I did get a good amount of cash which I used some of to buy some more makeup!! Yay Makeup!! My wife even helped me pick some of it out, which was great. It makes me really happy when she comes with me and helps me explore this part of myself. I bought some liquid foundation, which I believe is an essential component to adequately covering up 5 o’clock shadow. I also bought some near nude lip stick, some new eye shadow, and a couple more colors of nail polish (now my toes are teal instead of purple!!)
My hair is continuing to grow, which is funny that I’m noticing how fast it is growing, now that I’m actually paying attention. I’ve been giving my hair a great deal more attention lately, in fact, as I’ve tried to find better ways of taking care of it and styling it. It’s still pretty short and clearly in the “male” range of length, but every millimeter it grows brings me all the closer to finally being able to start presenting as  female. I haven’t started HRT yet, but I plan to ask my therapist during our next session about getting a letter of recommendation so I can find a doctor and get an Rx. I’m thinking that I’ll start HRT around the new year (assuming she writes me the letter). There are a few reasons that I’m wanting to delay it a bit:
  1. I want my hair to keep growing, and by time January rolls around I will have had about 4 months’ worth of growth. I want this because I’ve seen quite a few MtF transition videos and the ones who had longer hair to begin with, always ended up looking better by time they started presenting as female. In one video that I watched, the person cut their hair short after a month or two of HRT and it took a long time for them to recover (they had to wear a lot of wigs, which I don’t want to have to do).
  2. Financially speaking, we are currently trying to pay off our debt at an accelerated rate, which means the extra cost of the Rx’s would be harder to swing now. Also, I’m hopeful that I’ll get a raise and/or bonus at Christmas time that I can use towards my transition.
  3. It just seems like good timing with regards New Year’s resolutions, one that I can actually keep. I want my 2015 year to be the year I was brave enough to overcome fear and begin living a life more true to my heart.
 
Okay, well, that’s all I really have for today’s entry.
 
-Emma