Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scraping the walls of my psyche. Or not.

Hi loyal reader (or maybe readers) I never intended to take a break, but I did. For the last several months I've been busy with other things in life (caregiving, having surgery, traveling) and I found that every time I thought of catching up with the blog, I just didn't want to. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that, but it's the truth.  So I just let myself not want to. Did you need to see another post on all the hair that he is growing? Did you need to see another one talking about my identity? Did you need to see another one talking about how weird everything is? Or how normal it's becoming? Exactly. I've pretty much covered the basics. And I guess I just needed a break from processing. Am I escaping? Possibly.  I've noticed that I'm sort of actually actively avoiding thinking about the whole topic.  Or maybe it's just that I come most of the good out and the continued posts were just short of scraping the walls of my psyche. And that kind of hurts. Anyhow, I've never been a person of few words so I'm sure I will post again soon.  But I just call this a resting point.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Here hair, there hair, everywhere a hair hair

Photo by BotheredByBees
Just a quick note on hair.  I know I've written about this before but I can't help myself. But really it's about living with an adult adolescent. So remember adolescence? It's that thing that happened when your body became – you know, an adult body. Now imagine if you were living with someone who
was watching your body all the time. That must be what it's like to be A.  I mean it's totally different because watching an adolescent's body is kind of creepy, unless you happen to be a fellow adolescent.  anyhow I don't feel like going on today and frankly I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this blog but I  just wanted to say it's weird. I mean I wake up and look at his chin and there is new hair. And then I look at his chest and there's new hair. It's just bizarre to live with someone whose body is changing like it is. It's not bad. In fact most of it is good because you know – men have hair. It's just different.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Should I come out??

Photo by sonofabike via Flickr
I've been laying low on the blog a little bit. That's not because I'm not into blogging. But I sort of reached transition overload. You know? When people ask me, "Hey! Whachu been up to and my response is my partner's transition... " I know it's time to take a break. Besides, R. (now A.) is in a good place. He had his surgery, is sporting new muscles along with body hair (if T didn't make your voice change and add hair I'd be on it) and is generally happier. So it's kind of been my turn to you know, quietly freak out a little, not necessarily put on my I'm-supportive-no-matter-what-face and just be. Those of you who know me also know that I've had my own health issues. Without getting into it, I had a little scare that made me think: hmmm. I need to focus on my own bad self for awhile. So that's what's going on. And frankly, processing is tiring. Like it would be easier with scotch, except I'm not drinking now.

And notice I'm giving more details? (Yes, I'm fully aware that if someone for some reason wanted to ID me, they could).  I'm just about ready to come out and be public. And guess what? I'm thinking most people will be like, eh. Oh, that's cool but no biggie.
So should I come out? Does it matter?

Friday, April 5, 2013

That thing between your legs

As soon as I tell you that my partner's transitioning I know exactly what you're thinking: You are thinking Dick. You know --  Cock, penis, junk -- whatever you call the thing that dangles between most dudes legs. Because in the world we live in the thing that's the thing that separates men from women. Right? 

Photo by Mid-Century Pretty via of Flickr
And you want to ask, right? Sometimes you do. But guess what? It may be rude, but I don't really want to talk about it. It isn't my place. And really, I don't really want to talk to most people about their sexual organs. (There are some with whom I have had in-depth discussions but the operative word here is "most." 

I know that most dudes have penises and most women have vaginas. Right? And that's just fine. Do we really need to discuss it? 

It reminds me of the days long ago: there was a time when I would come out to people and they'd ask, hey, like how do you do it? What kind of sex do you have? Seriously. Now they don't. Because guess what? Being gay is ordinary. Boring, even. 

And as Chaz Bono and many others have said, it's about what's between your ears and not what's between your legs. Trust me, once you live with a trans person, you get this. R is a dude. Plain and simple. Maybe he's a special dude -- an FTM dude. But trust me. He thinks like a dude. He acts like a dude. He talks like a dude. And now he's starting to look like one too. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Reflections on a bigot I loved

I wrote this for a class. But I thought it would be appropriate here since bigotry is obviously a major theme here. (It's only sort of fictional)
He misses the old days. You know the days. Fewer people. People knew each other, who watched out for each other. People knew people. They took care of each other. Life was simpler. Maybe not easier, but simpler.

Photo by canorus via Flickr
Not the way it’s becoming now. Where gays get are everywhere and women leave their children. And worse. Where people who were born men become women and women become men. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. Not the way God meant it to be.

He stares straight ahead, sitting on the couch, his belly big, his milky blue eyes staring at the TV. We were watching the news, me and grandpa. My special sweet grandpa who used to take me camping and throw me over his shoulders and carry me around like a sack of potatoes. I loved that game. I knew it was old. A sack of potatoes like he was back in Russia. I imagined him in peasant pants and knickers, selling potatoes, even if he never did. But it was my exotic projection. My grandfather with a smooth chest and a quick smile. My grandpa who I have known in my heart was born old with bristly gray hair. Because he seems perfect that way.

But now, he is sitting there, busting my illusion. He is just like those men on the TV. He’s just as bad, just as crazy. I like to forget this part of him. Because you can’t argue with it.

He knows I’m gay and said he didn’t care. But now he talks about the way gays are ruining the country and I feel a clenching in my belly. He looks at me. His eyes right on mine so intense I turn away. He’s almost spitting, he’s so mad.

“But I thought you were OK,” I want to say, “about me.” But I don't. Just stare straight ahead.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stop discriminating and let people choose their own bathrooms!

So now that the transition is well under way and I've had a requisite number of crisis (I reserve the right to have more, by the way) I'm really noticing how transgender folks are increasingly showing up in the news. I guess now that it's no longer cool to discriminate against gays (more than half the country blatantly discriminatory law? (Yes they amended it but it's still awful.)
Photo by scot2342 via Flickr
favors gay marriage) it's now time to focus on a less powerful (they think) and less organized enemy: transgender folks. I'm not transgender (obviously) but since my partner is, I have a personal stake in this fight. So I ask, what the hell are Arizona legislators thinking with this

Wait: I know. Find new enemies. Target them. Make people think about someone of the wrong gender seeing their junk (sorry because I think it's mostly young men who worry about such things) and voila, like you no longer have to worry about silly things like how the economy is going to hell.

What are they going to do? Make us all drop our pants to prove we're the "correct" gender? Who else did that? Oh, yes, it was the Nazi's. Only way to prove men were NOT Jewish? Make them show their penises. If they were circumcised it was off to the death camps. Literally.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Now we can marry...oh the irony

I just have to post one more thing. Like every queer person (and probably most people in the United States) have been following the back to back Supreme Court cases dealing with gay marriage. I don't need to weigh in on this except for to state the obvious: it's about time. But I just wanted to say how ironic I think it is that now that R has transitioned (well it's actually a process) he will soon legally become male. And guess what? We will legally be able to get married pretty much anywhere. It seems radically unfair that is to women we couldn't marry but now we can. We're still the same people. We still deserve the same rights. I hope the court will get this one right.

Top surgery and beyond

It's been nearly a month since I posted. And I can tell you the reason I haven't posted hasn't been because life has been boring. Quite the opposite. So much has happened it's almost impossible to catch up. So obviously I'm not going to take you through every nuance.  But I will give you the one big highlight: since I last wrote, R  had top surgery.

Yep. It happened.

I have so many mixed feelings about this that I don't even know where to begin. I feel like I should be writing something meaningful but it's almost too close to the bone. You know what I mean? No pun intended.

On the one hand I'm very excited for him. It's actually kind of a relief that he's never expressed any hesitance about going through with the surgery. If it were me, I would feel very mixed. I mean it is surgery. But it's altering your basic architecture.

And yes–I get it. That's the whole point. I'm actually really proud and impressed with R. He did it. It was brave. It was courageous. And it was actually extremely self-loving. And God knows, we all need to give ourselves love.

On that level, he's actually been a role model for me. I'm typically female in respect to needs. Like a lot of girls, I was also raised to put other people's needs before my own. I don't always do them mind you. In fact, I think it can actually make one quite selfish. But I'm learning at my late age to put my needs first. It's actually healthy.

And that means that I get to react to the surgery. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about it, but it hasn't been all positive. I feel like a bit of a traitor for writing this here. But I'm going to do it anyhow in deference to the fact that I've said I would tell the truth. Let's just say it's been difficult. It's not that I'm so into breasts that I can't live without them (although certainly I would want to.) I think it's more about being with someone who is essentially altering who they are. And yes–I know that R  is simply becoming who he is on the inside. In other words, he's always been a man. He's just had the great misfortune (and I mean that sincerely) of having been born into a female body.

But I'm still allowed to react, right?  (I'm telling myself this) This is where I'm having difficulty. Because intellectually, I absolutely love what he's doing. I admire it and I respect it, as I said before.  But it's major. I guess the whole top surgery thing–well that's the point of no return. His voice seems to get lower every day. His muscles grow. And his beard gets thicker. And then there is the hair.  and actually I don't mind any of these changes. Some of them I actually like.  But I have to tell you it's really weird to watch this transformation.

 But I will save that for another day–look forward to the post titled, living with a grown adolescent.

So  if anyone is still reading, thanks for the support. I really appreciate it.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Photo by pennstatenews
I always thought transitioning was about changing genders—shifting from being a woman to being a man (or vice versa).

But that's the thing. It's not. Not for the person transitioning, anyhow. For R transitioning means he is shifting from being in the body of a woman to being in the body of a man.

The transitioning person is not really the one transitioning. I mean, he is. But he's not.  R is re-shaping his body (through medical intervention) so that it matches his true gender. He's coming into his own. He finally will be able to slip into the body that fits. Imagine what it's like to go around life wearing the wrong suit of clothing, being trapped in it. I haven't experienced it, but I imagine it would feel like being stuck inside some constricting costume with a false body and head. Claustrophobic.

He's getting to embody himself.  (Forgive me if this is obvious but it's still new to me.)

The transition? The change? The shift? That comes for everyone else. Because everyone outside of R has known him as a woman (even if that's never what he was). He's changing physically. And the rest of the world—those who know him—must shift our thinking. We need to transition our thinking and  adjust to this new manifestation of this human.

And hell, I won't beat around the bush. That's hard. That's fucking hard. Because gender is so hard-coded into us (everyone points out that it's the first thing we humans learn about their offspring: boy or girl). So finding out that someone doesn't fit the mold quite as we expected forces us look inside and question ourselves. Maybe that's why people are so threatened, but they needn't be. The questions are important and the answers are fascinating.

What is gender? What makes me a woman? What makes you a man? And why is it important? Why do we care about gender? The answers, of course, could fill volumes (sorry I don't have many answers; just questions).

So the shift really is up to everyone else. R does not have to shift at all. He's already there. We just have to catch up.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scratchy face

Well, I'll admit that this time I don't have a lot to say about this. But R is starting to get whiskers. I bought him a shaver for Valentine's day. I did a lot of research on Amazon and picked what I thought was the best one. I don't know if he appreciated it or not. Don't worry. I also got a more romantic present. Anyhow, it's just a little scratchy. I told him that to start passing, he had to shave because women have soft fuzz on their faces but guys don't. (I read that on a transman's blog. I'd give him credit but I can't remember which one.) Anyhow, I find it kind of sexy, which surprises me. But I definitely like him clean-shaven, at least for now.

Photo by Leveretdreaming via Flickr

Saturday, February 23, 2013

When she was a boy

(I wrote this as an exercise for a class. It's fictional but true in a fictional way.)

When she was a boy she had feet that could fly. They were her wings, her feet clad in boys shoes, sturdy and tight, her chemistry set at home. The other boys – they all knew she was a boy. She imagined herself a fisherman or a fireman or an astronaut.

Photo by wallyg via Flickr
Sometimes she was a pilot who could climb into a cockpit and soar above the world. When she was a boy, she was not a sister. She was not a daughter. She was a sailor. She was a cop. She was a construction worker who drove huge trucks that crunched over gravel and picked up impossible loads.

When she was a boy she was kind and smiled toothy grins. She caught spiders and bugs and burned wings under magnified glass.

When she was a boy, they told her she was a girl. They put her in pink dresses with lace and beads that she picked off in church. They made her sit still with her legs together, her knobby knees scraped and accustomed to shorts and high speeds.

And she knew in her heart that she would not grow up to be this other thing. But she really didn't think about it. She thought of the sun in her face. She thought of the tricks she would play on her sisters – like any big sister. Because she knew she was a boy.

"Mom – I can't wear that. I'm a boy." And her mother would look sideways at this child and her contrariness. She would stare and ponder because no one ever told her about little girls that grow to be boys and men.

"You're a girl and that's that."

And she would go off crying. But then her dad would come in to give her a fishing rod and she knew that he knew that she really was a boy.

When she was a boy, when it was late at night and she couldn't sleep, she knew the truth: that she would grow up. She wished every night and yet she knew that her body would betray her further. And eventually it did.

But now she is grown. Her parents are long gone. The memories of them telling her what she wasn't when she knew she was, long erased. And she looked at himself in the mirror and saw the betrayal. The body of a woman.

But that was all about to change. And soon, she would be a man. The man she was meant to be. And people would no longer doubt her. And they would no longer say she grew up as a girl who was a boy. They would just know she when she was a boy she was a boy. And now she was a man. A real man.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A long overdue marriage

I see his body shift. I see it remolding itself before me. I am living with a gray-haired (although he dyes it like I do) adolescent. And it’s exciting and scary. And real.

Photo via Flickr by brizzle born and bred

But the irony is that while his body is changing—that can’t be denied (I’m the one shooting him up with man-juice every week) he’s not really changing at all.

He’s always been a man—inside. Now he is simply becoming whole. He’s uniting his outsides with his insides. In essence, he is marrying himself.

It should be perfect, to see a human growing into himself, occupying all that he is. He is finding his Nirvana. And it is perfect. I love watching him slipping into himself, one body part at a time.

And I also feel loss because I’m losing the thing he was—even though I know now it was a false front. Some changes I’m loving. Others, I fear. What will it be like when he has no breasts? When his face is rough and scratch? When is forehead is broad with masculinity?

I guess that’s the irony: as he finds his place in the world, mine comes untethered. It is forcing me to think about all these essential questions: who am I? Who am I when I’m with him? What makes a woman? What makes a man?

I’ve always been drawn to the deeper questions. But now I must face them head on. And it’s disconcerting and scary and exciting. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Yes, I suppose I'm a failed lesbian

Photo via Flickr by by joshbousel
So now that we're more out, when I tell most friends—gay and straight—they inevitably ask me one important, compelling question: will you still be a lesbian? I laugh because I'm asked it so much and it's so obvious and because, well, I don't have an answer. have no idea. R tells me yes, I will still be a lesbian. I tell him that who cares? I've never been a particularly good lesbian. I mean, I've always insisted I was bisexual, even if it's true that I haven't been in a relationship with a man since college and even then, I knew I would prefer to be with a woman. He keeps saying, but I'm a transman. I keep saying, transman or bio-born man, you're still a man. You'll look like a man. You'll act like a man. In fact, you already act like man. You are a man. Right? So if I'm with a man and I'm a woman, I guess that makes me, like, straight or at least a failed lesbian. Yup. D'ja hear about the lesbian who finally found the woman of her dreams and it turned out she was a man? OK, it's not funny without some politically incorrect reference, but you get the point.

So on a serious note, does it matter? I keep telling myself that at this stage in my life, who really cares what people think? Seriously, I've never been one of those women who completely identifies with being a lesbian. Don't get me wrong. I'm out and I know that's how the world labels me. But internally, I've always just felt like me. My friends come in every flavor and I like it like that. So far, no one in my life has said or even hinted at cutting me off. It would surprise me if they did. That did, incidentally, happen when I came out as gay. But I was much younger and it was a totally different era.

Now I joke that the world will see me as just another boring straight person. Sigh. It will probably be weird when we start passing.  When we hold hands publicly, which we do now, nobody will look at us twice. Of course, they don't really do that now. But that's because we live in a gay friendly place where most people really don't care.

But I can't wait for those heterosexual privileges to reign down on me. Where do I pick up the card? I know you get a toaster for being a lesbian. What do you get for being straight?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why they name kids at birth...

This is a post for those who actually know who I am (which I assume is most of you) and keep asking, so like, what the hell is is name? And you're tired of me glaring back and saying, hey, it's complicated.

We had chosen a name. Actually HE had chosen his OWN name. It began with R. Thus, the R reference (ok, not that clever but it works). But he didn't like the way I said it. I guess there was a little unintentional disdain. But you know, when your girlfriend becomes your boyfriend, it's complicated and of course, there are some hard feelings and I think I'm allowed a tad of disdain along the way. But honestly, I think he's reading too much into my tone. I think it sounded funky because R is a little like ARRRR... or like you know, a Pirate Name.. like ARRRRHHHH.

Photo via Flickr by by Earl - What I Saw 2.0

But there were other problems with the name that I won't go into lest I reveal it. So that name is probably out.

Then he was going to masculinize the name he goes by. I thought that was great. I even suggested it. But then I started using it and that felt wrong too (OK before you misinterpret this, this is NOT all about me. It's HIS name, but since I'm the one who will be using it the most, how I say it is apparently important.) But his given name was too associated with being, you know, a chick.

So I suggested a new name the other night. And he said, wow, that's the name I always wanted, but you told me you didn't like it. I was like, I did? I must have. But we were going through lists and lists of names.

There were days when we'd be in the car and we'd go through a laundry list of dude names. How about Joe? NO. NOT JOE. OK, so how about Sam. Sam? What? No. Sam was the boyfriend of his best friend from high school who broke her heart and turned out to a low-class embezzler (not even for a lot of money). Well, you can see where I'm going with this. Every name had something attached to it.

This is why parents name their kids AT BIRTH. Because they can't talk back and say, really? You're naming me, Henry? Also, even if they could talk back, at birth they know no Henry's yet (assuming that they do not, upon entering the world, remember that in a past life a dude named Henry owed them a lot of money and had toxically bad breath).

So choosing a name is tough. Anyhow, I had no recollection of hating this name that the other night (Valentine's if you must know) sounded so great. So  that's probably going to be what we're going for. I'll let you know when I can.

And then, you know what? I've never liked my name. So maybe I'll change it too. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Coming out… again: the story

So the weekend began with me freaking out, as I’ve been doing for weeks. I guess it doesn’t matter how old I am. They’re my parents.

So a day went by. There were no openings. We went to Argo (great movie by the way) then came home and watched Flight (not as great) and then it was night. I went to bed chastising myself, wishing I had a Xanex to sleep.

The main mistake was telling everyone we were going to come out. So everyone was asking how it went. It didn't. It didn't go. God damn it didn't go. I felt a bit like a failure.

View from the Getty
a sparkling day
When the next day they told us they wanted to take us to the Getty Museum, how could I refuse? I’ve always wanted to go. I thought, OK, I’ll do it later. After the museum. But then we were sitting at the table in this incredible restaurant. It was one of those rare glorious LA days. Chilly (for LA) and crystal clear. When I grow up, the smog was so thick and hazy you couldn’t see the surrounding hills and achy lungs after hard play were the norm.

So there we are in this spectacular restaurant. Tables are sparsely set apart. Views from every angle are stunning. I look out and see the stone buildings cutting against the blue sky, houses and then the ocean – the metropolis. Around us, we could hear the gentle clatter of lunch hour and the din of conversation in English, French, Spanish – you name it. There we were, sitting on top of the world. And I knew then it had to be then. There was never going to be a perfect moment. I was never going to feel OK. I was always going to feel like I was a kid again, telling them for the first time that I um, yeah, had a girlfriend.

I nudged R under the table. I gave him a look. He nodded. We’ve both wanted to tell them. And we haven’t. But we knew it has to happen. Trust me. We’d discussed it many times with everyone, including our therapist. They had to know. If we weren’t close with them, it’d be different. But we were and our relationship is important.

I won’t put quotes around what I said because I didn’t tape it (sorry D&B, but as tempted as I was to chronicle it all, it was more important to connect.)

So mom and dad, I have something that I need to tell you. It might be a little shocking. I'm sure you're not expecting it. And the last thing I would ever want to do is damage our relationship. I feel we've gotten so much closer, especially in the last year. And I want to tell you how much you mean to me (cue tears feeling eyes because that is what happens.) I'm looking at my mother. She's a little wide-eyed. Clearly she’s wondering what the hell I’m about to say. My dad is just looking at me. It's not a very loud restaurant and at this point, I am totally focused. So we thought of not telling you except that it's really important to us that you know and we don't want to keep secrets. By now, I'm sure my mom is thinking, what the hell are they going to tell us? I know I've built it up. But I know that once we give them the news, they won’t really hear much else.

Then I turned to R. We’d talked about how we were going to tell them. We’d even practiced. I didn’t want to bungle it like I did so many years before. So I was to make the introduction and then he’d actually tell them. It was, after all, about him.

(As an aside feels good to be going back to the male pronoun. It makes my head swim trying to remember when she's female and when to use mail. I guess it's all male from now on then.) So R starts talking. He’s now done it a number of times and I recognize the story. He is truthful and eloquent. And brave. Have I mentioned how brave he is? He is. So brave, showing himself like that. To me that is true bravery. He starts by telling them that as a little kid, he never felt like he was in the right body. It's a weird thing to tell someone. But it’s the truth. And we decided that we wanted to be honest. We needed to be honest.

I don't remember everything he said, but he basically said he now had the opportunity to have his body and brain match. And he’s taking it.

I feel him. His energy is strong. He's almost beaming. This is how he is now, all the time. It's so weird that well I'm going through all this stress, he's happier than he's ever been.

We pause. My dad reacts. “I don’t care in the least,” he says, leaning back in his chair. I see he means it. I worry it’s because he doesn’t understand. But then I think, these are not the same people I came out to nearly 30 years ago. I’m not the same person, for that matter. Life has changed. We love each other. We’ve been through a lot. My mom looks off in the distance, as if trying to figure it out. Maybe she’s thinking of what she’ll say. Maybe she doesn’t know what to think.

It’s an odd concept. But I don’t feel any anger. I take a bite of my salad. Suddenly I’m voracious.

Nothing we tell them will make them stop loving us. That’s what my mom says and then I really want to cry. Because I really thought they might kick us out of their lives. I just didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to give them the space to react however they would, though. When I came out to them, I didn’t give them that space. I was young. It was a different time. There was no gay marriage – no talk of it even.

My dad pointed out that R had always dressed like a guy and was sort of the man in our relationship. It’s true. Funny, because it had always bothered me that we didn’t fit this new age ideal of total equality. But it’s true. R is far more masculine. And over the years, being with him, I’ve found that I’ve toned down my masculine side. But I’ll save that for another post.

He did ask why we needed to tell them, why we needed to tell anyone. And I've been thinking about this ever since. I think the answer is simple: to be authentic. To be truthful. To live a life that has meaning, one has to be open. That's just my philosophy.

Suddenly I feel like I have so much to say. I feel released. The bottom didn’t drop out. My family did not forsake me. We finished our lunch. We walked to some exhibits. It was hard to focus but it was reassuring, like nothing had really changed. When I looked out at the view, I felt free and expansive as the ocean beyond.

After that, telling everyone else seemed easier. What a release.

I know there will be fallout. I know that there will be issues about pronouns and treatments and us. But right now, I feel strong and released. I will be blogging more. I already have a list of topics.