Tag Archive | Transition

Authenticity and “Passing”

I originally wrote most of this as a comment to another blog I follow. But I realized it’s useful and wanted others to have the chance to consider this as well.

I really really dislike the term “passing” but I’m going to use it here because so many people in the community understand it. I prefer to think of it as just acceptance of who I am.

One of the things about “passing” seems to be a lack of effort. And I don’t mean that in the way some people might think. In fact, perhaps I mean it the opposite way.

When we’re unsure of ourselves, when we’re not authentically ourselves (which I agree is hard!), we start to “act”, and our role in society becomes performance art rather than just who we are.

But the funny thing is that people seem to be able to detect performance art versus authenticity. Maybe we try to hard. Maybe we make subtle mistakes or maybe we’re acting so hard that we don’t make mistakes. Maybe we “act” too hard and it sends signals to others.

I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that as I acquired personal inner peace, as I began to simply “be me” as opposed to someone society thought I should be, my issues with “passing” vanished.

Yeah, I admit I’ve had medical help along the way as an MtF trans woman but that help, while it definitely helped, wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle for me.

It was when I finally found a way to “be me” that I stopped acting. And almost as soon as I stopped acting, I stopped getting misgendered, etc. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. I know that hormones need time to work. I know that there are other aspects. But regardless of all those things, it does seem to me that “passing” includes being authentic, just “being you” rather than a construct.

NOTE: Part of finding that inner peace, for me at least, did come from surgery. Once I completed GCS, then I began to finally, for the first time in my life, begin to feel positive about my own body. So surgery played a role there too, but only a role.

Mental Delusions and White MTF Late Life Transitioners

Over and over again, I encounter late life transitioners who are absolutely desperate to hold onto their conservative and Republican credentials. This tells me they’ve not really started to transition yet because if they had, if they had been out among other women and learned and seen what other women put up with from the right wing Neanderthal mouth breathers in the GOP, they either could not be Republicans or they have hearts of ice and stone filled with hate for their fellow human beings.

The GOP has lied about everything it touches. The GOP courted KKK votes in the south beginning with Richard Nixon, via the “Southern Strategy” as created by his campaign adviser, Kevin Phillips. This article is from 1970 from the New York Times where they interviewed Kevin Phillips to understand how he won the South. Now either all those hateful white supremacist George Wallace style voters all, down to the last man, woman, and child, suddenly had a conversion and began supporting civil rights for people of color… OR they were attracted to the GOP via a series of code words and phrases that signaled white supremacy and dismissal of the black man. Which seems more reasonable to you? Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

And this was not a one time thing either. Lee Atwater, in the middle 1980s, had his interview where he explained how they stopped saying “N*****, n*****, n*****!” and instead resorted to using code phrases like desegregation, forced busing, welfare bums, etc. Atwater was so upset with what he did with his life that he begged forgiveness on his death bed in the early 1990s for being a racist. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

Another of Nixon’s men, John Erlichman, said this also: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

Even further, in 2005, Ken Mehlman, then RNC chairman, publicly apologized to the NAACP for the GOP’s long history of racist attacks against people of color, and for using people of color to induce fear in ignorant white voters. This is public information yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

The GOP has never once balanced a budget on budget cuts as they claim. The budget being balanced in the 1990s was a compromise of budget cuts in some areas, and substantial tax increases in other areas, including on the highest bracket income earners. But you won’t hear Newt Gingrich or Republicans admit that. Republican states are among the poorest in the USA with the states taking the most federal handouts being Republican 9 times out of 10. On the other end, blue states (Democrat controlled) pay more to Washington than they take back. So who’s the real deadbeats here? Sam Brownback’s Kansas application of libertarian right wing nonsense now has the state running deficits of incredible proportions for such a small and relatively poor state. Even other Republicans in Kansas want to reject that nonsense now. Likewise, Scott Walker has done no favors to Wisconsin or its residents, cutting the state university budget by $450 million just so he can spend $400 million on a new sports stadium. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

The Republican Party in 2015 introduced over 110 anti-LGBT bills in states and the US Congress. Zero were introduced by Democrats. The Republican party introduced in states and the US Congress over 200 anti-LGBT bills so far in 2016. Zero were introduced by Democrats. The GOP just passed the most anti-LGBT party platform in its history, calling for the repeal of marriage equality, for open discrimination against transgender people, and for reparative therapy to be used on LGBT people, both children and any adults committed for being LGBT, despite the fact that no major medical organization considers being gay or trans as a mental health issue anymore. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

That same party platform carries open unscientific lies, claiming children in LGBT households are more prone to drug use, criminal behavior, and mental health issues, yet the scientifically proven truth is exactly the opposite. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

Over and over again, I get the impression that older white MTF transitioner believe that this is just about their body. Take the hormones, get surgery if needed, and you’re ok, right? WRONG! If you are a woman, you need to learn about women’s experiences. You need to get out and make friends with cisgender women. You need to understand how often we get raped. You will rapidly find that you suddenly have more friends who’ve been raped than you ever openly knew before in your entire life, because male privilege was hiding that from you. You will discover that women get treated as sex objects whether we want this or not. You will find men talking over you and getting angry if you try to interrupt to take back the floor. You will find men looking at you, not as a human being, but as a piece of meat to be evaluated to be fucked or raped.

And once you begin to understand what it is to be a woman in today’s society, you begin to understand that your worst enemy are conservative white men – exactly the group you were part of before. You begin to grasp that, as an older white male, you were part of a sick, twisted, ugly privileged self-centered group of people who want the entire universe to revolve around them. You, as a trans woman, begin to relate directly to the crap that your friends of color, both trans and cis, are experiencing, and all the crap that goes with that. You begin to understand that suddenly you’re worth less in the marketplace, just because you are a woman, and if you fight back about it, you’ll get fired.

So what I see, every god damned time I encounter a “fresh off the boat” brand new older white MTF transitioner is someone who thinks they can somehow, magically remain a part of that privileged, self-centered, lying brigade of white men who think they deserve to control everything.

I got news for you, honey. You’re a woman now and in their eyes, you ain’t shit. So get with the program and start educating yourself. Make lots of cisgender female friends then listen to them! Listen to their health care issues, how white male doctors dismiss issues that those same doctors would take seriously with a white male. Listen to them as they try to tell you that Old White Guys™ want to control their vaginas. Listen to them as they try to explain how hard it is to raise kids when the father is a deadbeat and the social safety nets have been torn to shreds by Old White Guys™. Listen to them as they tell you how Old White Guys™ talk over them or dismiss their ideas, then turn around and agree when a man says the exact same thing you did just a few minutes before.

And once you start to listen, once you start to learn, unless your head is so far up your ignorant ass that you’re already dead from suffocation, you will start to open your mind and realize that the biggest enemy you have, right now, today, in 2016 are Republicans. I wish that was not the case, but that’s the truth. Maybe someday the GOP will decide to focus on liberty and “live and let live” as they did once a long, long time ago.

But that day is not today and that year is not this year. If you are a transgender woman and you’re voting Republican, you’re still trying to hide behind your white male privilege. And I can guarantee you one thing – eventually they will turn on you too.

Looking Back at 2015

The year 2015 will be a pretty important year for me in numerous respects. A lot happened and I learned a lot along the way. 2015 was the first year I lived as myself full time. My legal paperwork was done in September 2014 and I was full time thereafter, no looking back.

In January of 2015, I decided to make things happen and stop waiting for them to happen. I have one life to live and I decided I wasn’t sacrificing that life for my spouse’s retirement, especially since she no longer plans to be with me. So I cashed out one of my IRAs and put that money to work.

In February I scurried about getting paperwork submitted for my passport, which I paid extra for “express” handling and I got it just a few weeks later. My name, photo, and a nice big “F” in the gender box made me smile. March became a waiting game, basically waiting for April, and also further realigning myself at work as my colleagues continued to become accustomed to my new presentation.

I underwent FFS in April with Dr. Cardenas, in Guadalajara, Mexico, where I also met the amazing Anne Kelley. We shared a particularly powerful moment during both our recoveries that was bonding, and was a revelation. It was about Anne so if people want to know the details, they should ask her, but for me it was emotionally powerful to see someone coming to terms with themselves in such a beautiful and loving manner.

May was recovery. Let me tell you right now that FFS was far worse and harder in terms of recovery than my GCS, which came later in 2015. FFS was so worth it, but it was a bear in terms of recovery for the first few weeks. I’m happy with my appearance though and I’ve gotten compliments on it, and most importantly, it helped me to stop seeing “him” in the mirror anymore.

June was more waiting and continued recover. Friends and I began planning for Ren Fest in November. We always try to plan several months in advance to give people time to plan for a specific weekend. There were also details to complete, medical tests and exams before my GCS surgery, all of which had to be submitted to Dr. Chettawut’s staff in Bangkok before I even left.

July came and a good friend, Ashley Wilson headed to Thailand ahead of me by about two weeks. I did get to see her while I was there later, before she flew back to the US. And after seeing her, it was my turn. I awoke from GCS and really wasn’t in much pain at all, mainly just uncomfortable. They kept me pretty well controlled with pain meds and such. And my dear, dear friend, Julie Jeznach, had traveled to Thailand with me and was there to visit while I was in the hospital and to help me with my recovery for the three weeks afterwards. We had a lot of fun for the month we were there. I over stressed myself once, got scolded for it, then spent a day and a half recovering from it. Fortunately, no permanent damage. And I learned the tedium and the joys of dilating! And yet we saw things, ate fascinating food, met people, and Julie got to see the Tiger Temple!

In mid-August we flew back home. It seemed almost surreal, Julie and I going our separate ways. I also know that Thailand had been good for Julie too. Good food, regular exercise, walking (for us both as little as I could do) all contributed to Bangkok being a positive experience for us. But then it was over. I rested another week then returned to work while working from home. Working from home was a blessing. As circumstances turned out, and as the changes on our team at work developed, it would arise that I wouldn’t need to actually go back into the office until some time in January, 2016. The rest of 2015 was 100% from home, which gave me time to adapt to my dilation schedule, take breaks as needed, etc. Often my work day the rest of the year went past 6 pm, but that included time for breaks and medical necessities throughout the day as well.

September and October were much the same, except the reminder and the ongoing lesson that I don’t really have family anymore.  I know there are some who might disagree, but being ignored, having things said behind your back, pretending you don’t exist on important family days (birthdays and holiday), does not constitute “love” except in some sort of deranged “religious” mind. I won’t comment further about that except that their behavior reveals a lot more about them than it does about anything else.

Out of that comes a lesson, for me at least. We’re repeatedly told to remove toxic people from our lives. I subscribe to that idea, but implementing it in practice is complicated and is often a process, not a single decision. It’s a process because our hearts don’t always listen to what our heads tell us, and vice-versa. In this case, my head knows I don’t have family and I need to let go and treat them like I treated my father, someone to whom I was biologically related but who are anything except family, based on their behavior. But the heart takes time to let go, often not wanting to accept what the mind otherwise knows to be true.

The last few years have been that process for me and I think I hit rock bottom and was finally able to put this behind me in December of 2015. And no, there was no danger of self harm, just a great sadness and listlessness as my heart realized what my mind has been telling me for a number of years now – you have no blood family.

I also began an online dating experiment in autumn of 2015, and discovered that clearly stating that I am a post-op transgender woman, up front, is a sure way to not get responses from anyone except thoughtless men, who in turn blocked me when they did find out, or from identity thieves, whom I seem to be getting better at identifying, especially since some of them are so pathetic. Out of nearly 400 messages received thus far, only 4 read my profile and realized I was trans, and only 2 of those were really interested in some sort of friendship or relationship. Unfortunately, both of them were very far away and both they and I were looking for someone closer.

November was fun, with time at Ren Fest spent with my friend Elizabeth and myself both dressed up in garish costumes. But I think I want to modify mine more for next year. Maybe replace the heavy leather shoulder pauldrons with fur ones and a few other changes. There were also minor outings, manicure and pedicure, buying some new clothes, and otherwise enjoying myself.

November blended into December, and for the most part, I ignored the Christmas season. Dwelling on it too much was painful. And my mind and heart had to work that out in their own way, as I described earlier.

2015 ended and I was in a sense, relieved. It was over. Time marches on and 2016 is before us. I’m hoping to carve out time for at least one trip this year, perhaps back to Memphis. And maybe, if I can financially swing it, a trip elsewhere. We’ll see.

Choosing to be myself has had a cost, a saddening cost but one which I would still pay, because the alternative was no longer being able to live with myself. Despite rejection from those I’ve loved and to whom I’ve literally given my heart, my life, and even my finances for over thirty years, I still would make the same choice. My choice was to live and I am content with that choice, despite the costs.

Adjust Your Attitude

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ― Winston Churchill

The above is blatantly and starkly true. For years, I let the pessimist in me hold me back. Finally, reaching rock bottom, I reached out for help and found a therapist who helped me find the “glass half full” perspective on things. I’ve taken that initial learning and begun to apply that to more and more parts of my life. And I also learned to admit that I can’t do things alone, reaching out for help, and finding it. And finally, I learned to let go of those who didn’t want to support me instead of obsessing over losing them. I realized they had walked away from me, not the other way around, so I let them go. Yes, it hurt but once I made that admission, that they no longer wanted me in their lives, I was able to heal from that hurt.

This all comes down to “adjust your attitude”.

I see many trans folk each day saying “I can’t” or “Soandso won’t let me” and the only ones who, in my opinion, can legitimately say that are our trans youth. They are stuck with their parents and whether or not their parents accept them. But if you are an adult, you get to choose. And sometimes we have to accept that we cannot have our cake and eat it too.

When it became apparent that further fighting my inner self was going to kill me, I finally relented. I have people to whom I gave decades of my life, and literally hundreds of thousands of dollars from my total earnings who now openly despise me. But I knew that I had to be me and if they could not accept me, that was their loss.

By adjusting my attitude, by seeing the “glass half full” as often as I can, I’ve managed to move steadily forward. I’m accepted as myself anywhere in public (except occasionally around a few people I knew from before). I am full time. My legal name is now Cara, not David. I am still professionally valued and supported at work.

By realizing that nothing comes easily, by focusing on “baby steps” (thank you Paula Ult, Mia, Carolyn, and so many more for that advice!!), I have accomplished far more than I ever expected and now am on the verge of getting even more done.

All of this stems from a change in attitude. I stopped arguing with myself. I stopped accepting society’s definitions for many things and as I did so, I learned that science had already walked away from those cultural falsehoods as well. I stopped letting my rational mind limit me. I stopped letting other people define me and chose to define myself, listening to my heart, my intuition, my inner sense of self. And in doing these things, I have found personal peace.

So if there is one piece of advice I would give to each person who is unsure of themselves, it is this – adjust your attitude! I know this is not easy, but until you do, you will be just like I was – foundering in your own self-doubts and fears.

P.S. Enjoy the journey!! “Don’t be concerned about reaching your destination. Enjoy the journey and the destination will take care of itself.” Jenny Marie

An Unexpected But Perfect Gift

Two years ago in December, my mother passed away unexpectedly. She was in her late 70s but had COPD issues due to a lifetime of heavy smoking but otherwise members of our family tend to live well into our 80s and 90s. So mom’s passing was unexpected and I can honestly say that even at my age, I miss her greatly every single day.

Mom never had much. Abandoned by my father when we were still small children, plus health issues she had mid-life made life tough on our family but Mom kept us together. She raised us, loved us, and was thrilled as each of us grew to adulthood. But for herself she never had a lot. One thing she did have was free and clear ownership of her home from her early 50s onward.

It was a small home in a small town in eastern Ohio. It wasn’t worth a lot. She had little savings. Plus it took us two years to sell that house. Because of her financial situation, my guess at the value of the house, legal fees, funeral expenses, house maintenance while we waited for it to sell, etc., I didn’t expect to get much from my mother’s estate.

Anything would have helped, of course, but I expected a few thousand dollars total.

Before I go further, I’ve budgeted out about $15,000 for my trip to Thailand for my gender confirmation surgery. I’ve waited a lifetime for this and could wait a few more years as I saved the money.

So imagine my surprise when I was informed that I and my siblings would each be receiving approximately $16000 as our last gift from mom.

I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes today, looking heavenward, and repeating “Thank you, mom”. For even in death, her last gift to me turned out to be perfect.