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. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013


It actually went better than I could ever expect. I'll blog more later or tomorrow. Thanks for all the support. Now it's official... and we will be coming out. Out. OUT. They did ask why tell? Why make such a big deal about it? I can't quite answer but for me it's about being authentic. That to me is so important to me. More important than anything in my life.

Not yet

For those of you who are wondering if we told my folks yet, we haven't. No time seems right. But it will happen. Probably today. Not looking forward to it. Wish me peace and truth!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nature vs. Nurture

When I'm feeling really Big and Generous I know that this is something R has to do. I don't personally get it on a gut level, but I can see that being born into the wrong body has caused angst his whole life. And now? He gets to deal with it. It's pretty amazing, actually. What a gift, right? And frankly, it makes a lot of sense. He's always been a he. Just in a girl's body. It's really making me rethink the whole nature/nurture thing. Things that I thought were socialized into guys seem to be implanted in the brain. I honestly think there's a biological basis for this condition. It's like somewhere along the line, wires got crossed. The brain was male, the body, female. I didn't think that before, but now I do. If you meet transgendered people, they always say the same thing -- that they were born knowing they were in the wrong body. Maybe one day scientists will figure it out. And before I get hate mail (or hate male) I'm not trying to cure anything -- just understand it. When I'm not feeling Big and Generous? Well, I just wish I could live in that part of myself all the time. But I don't.

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/ vi Flickr