Around the Bend…

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity for me; someone who generally is not too active on a regular basis. Friday I attended the Trans Health Conference sans cane. Hung with my close bud, B, and managed both physically and emotionally.

Saturday morning, G, and I geared up for another day downtown via the train. I have gotten to love that dear train ride. Yet I was wiped before I’d had my first cup of coffee. I was also extremely psyched. I was going to be in trans space two days in a row. Two wonderfully marvelous days to be me. Off we went.

Sunday rolled around and there had been a snafu at the van dealership and we couldn’t get the van for our UU Fellowship to participate in Pride, as we call it here. So G. and I figured we’d go to church, get some lunch afterward and maybe take a walk later. At 7:20 a.m. I got a notification a group was headed to the parade in a couple cars. I was game.

While I focused on preparing for my trip downtown– it takes a bit of arranging when you have physical difficulties– I pretty much glazed over the news report about a shooting in Orlando. I wasn’t insensitive or being stupid, I just wasn’t tuned in. Didn’t read about it online, see the coverage. Nothing.

This year I drove my friend P’s car in the parade. We had a blast! Handed out the 342 buttons I’d made with our churches “motto,” Standing on the Side of Love. Everything went without a proverbial hitch. The weather cooperated. GPS got us off the expressway and back on again missing miles of back-up. YAY for us.

It wasn’t until I had come home, peeled my damp clothes off and grabbed a shower that I learned of the massacre of so many of my community/family members and their grieving relatives. “It’s a shame what happened in Orlando,” I said. “Know any of the details?”

“The shooting took place in a Gay Bar called Pulse,” said G. I froze. I shook. The lump in my throat turned from anger to sadness and back to anger again. I briefly talked to P, who is family. “Did you hear the latest count?” he asked. “50,” was the answer. Goose bumps covered me.

Tomorrow back downtown. For a Candlelight Vigil for so many members of our community and their families. We are all a family. If I lost sight of that, for whatever reasons in the past, I’m now in touch more than ever with the depth of this loss. It’s my loss. It’s all our loss. Gay or not gay.

 

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Posted in Family, massacre, Orlando, Pride, sadness, UU Fellowship | Tagged | 12 Comments

Baby Bird

Like a little bird. How I see myself these days. In a way, I hope it won’t last because of the vulnerability factor. At the same time, it’s a reminder I have lots of growing ahead. Mental health issues sometimes plague transgender people but, as in any demographic, there are those who have the benefit of not having nightmares each night. Many who, by chance or science, don’t take a cocktail of pills to keep themselves on track.

What my life has been, the particular hell I’ve weathered, makes me who I am. It doesn’t behoove me to drool over what might have been. As difficult as it is, I am trying to live in the present moment. Therapy is at the forefront of each thought, dredging up stuff I’d love to keep buried yet don’t dare, because it’ll bite me in the ass a different day when I’m not watching.

My gender therapist confronted me the Thursday before I signed into the hospital. She said, “Sam, you’ve got to make a choice! You can’t be both man and woman!” And, “I’m certainly glad you’re not having surgery any time soon!” This, in response to my confusion over my not wanting to give up some female traits and possibly adopt some not-so-hot male ones. Then the session was up. In the end, I felt injured. Frightened. Disgusted.

At age twenty-four, I was seduced by my female therapist. We carried on a secret, sleazy, sexual affair that lasted two years. This followed my discharge from the unit where the initial seduction had taken place. The experience was mind blowing and devastating. My trust in therapists became stronger over the years and I’d met and worked with some fantastic women. L was to be my last. My adventure toward transformation as trans male had begun. And I sought a little back up.

That relationship with L came to an abrupt halt last week and before I knew it, a new therapist was in the picture. It’s protocol the social worker on the unit hook you up with someone prior to discharge.  Not really sure I need or even want a therapist, I’ve entered into a relationship with T. I could tell from our first visit together she takes no shit. She gave homework, was sure I was willing to work hard and listen. Before I left, she said, “I know you were interviewing me. Did I get the job?” I’m relieved the answer was ‘yes.’

I’d like to say I could hold my own in the wide, weird, world of my transition. At this juncture, my allergy to T and my fear of top surgery, I’m convinced God is challenging me. Here you are, Sam. You will be asked to transform emotionally and spiritually without promise of any physical change. I had hoped to join my over-forty “crowd”; the guys I meet on FB who seem to me to have achieved ninety per cent of their medical transition. They seem really happy.

God, I believe, loves the baby bird. The sparrow. If he can love me as much as he loves the sparrow, that makes me happy. He loves me, not as well as the baby bird, but far more. As the bird’s mother would not deliberately drop her young, God didn’t bring me this far to drop me on my head. So, I’ll keep plugging and have faith in my blessings I will continue to learn and ultimately fly.

 

 

Posted in Dignity, Gratititude, Hope, Mental health, Pride, Progression, Psych Hospitalization, PTSD, Therapy | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Weathering the Front

Winds whipped. Gusts beyond 60 miles per hour. Trees– tall, majestic– ripped like carrots from a backyard garden. Frozen tundra came to mind. Spaghetti-strewn wires adorned darkened, bare streets. Teeth chattered. Windows rattled. Ordinarily I’d sleep through it all. Not this time. Jolted, I crouched low anticipating disaster. It never came.

Hardly at once. Open the door. Inhale deeply till your lungs burst. No time for mindfulness. Fight or flight. Remain curious. Face facts. Good old transition. Wild, wide, knowing. Why did it bite so hard? Tearing at my flesh literally. Came out to declare: “I can’t very well go back in the closet!” A bit on the defensive side.  Who am I kidding? Give me an inch, I’ll take a mile. Let me at that fucking closet, Bitch.

Look at me. Can’t tell I’m mental. Bipolar? No way. Can’t envision me trans. Don’t ask how I’m doing ’cause you’ll get an earful. Wanna hear about the cream I’m applying for the next two weeks to my labia? That T might have caused a fungal infection. You’ve suspended T? No way! It was so important to you. Thank Goddess you have two therapists, you blink. You shake your head as I walk away. Poor, dear thing, she/he could have made something of themselves if not for…

Limbo? Maybe. Thanks to A.A. I’m strong. “God don’t make no junk!” Irritated. Bold. Stand in front of the mirror and repeat, I AM NOT A VICTIM! Scared shitless of being transgender. What the fuck? Who wants to die? Anyone gets in your face turn and ask, ‘What skeletons are in YOUR closet?’ Yeah, that’ll work. BTW, I quit group. Questions fly. Happy and proud. Nothing can touch me. Proverbial chime rings. Session’s up. Drive home. Start again the next day.

Grateful to my caring, kind, loving partner, G. We’ll celebrate seventeen years together next month. To God. Friends become family. For texts. Facebook blogs and groups. Doing IT all yet not on my own. Who do I remind every day to be kewl, collected? Gotta walk in these shoes, Bro. No other way. I look back and see, think, feel a small kid. Lost. Unafraid. Lonely. Angry. Frustrated. It’s all me. What’s the saying?  ‘Everything that’s happened in this life has made me what I’ve become.’ All right. I’m good with that.

 

 

 

Posted in Celebration, Community, Connection, FTM, Hope, Hope, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Mental health, Progression, Reality, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Half the Battle

At the last span of the dreaded whopping head cold spreading what seems the nation. It couldn’t have come at a better time. There hasn’t been a bunch of focus on the events of the past week. Till now. While I graciously (wildly) accepted the hard copy of the prescription for T last Tuesday, it’s been lost in the red tape insurance company vortex. Hobbled five blocks from the train station in the rain with my partner, G, an umbrella and cane to make the 1:20 p.m. appointment at the medical center. Figure that’s how I caught the cold.

We walked slowly back to the station, rode home and made a bee line for the pharmacy. Although cautioned by my practitioner the likelihood of the script being filled with insurance monies was practically nil, I held hope. Screech! Sorry, prior authorization required. I could tell the guy behind the counter cared. By his look. We know one another from my frequent visits filling my scripts for psyche meds. Plus, it wasn’t for estrogen, after all. He couldn’t know I’d been forewarned the companies “hesitate” to fill prescriptions for T when the patient is female.

There are many more awkward, sensitive, trifling and ungodly acts occurring in the world and the result of my T being held up fits narrowly within its structure. There is, however, the surprise appointment availability of receiving a top surgery consult with the plastic surgeon for next week. Less apt to jump up and down over this, for various reasons, I find I’m more complacent than anything. When I came out to myself as trans, I turned to food as comfort and in the nine month period to now I’ve put on twenty hefty pounds. Getting my BMI back to normal and raising money for the procedure has me putting breaks on like crazy where all is concerned.

Missed a gender therapy appointment due to silly cold and an intake with a prospective couples’ therapist. My hair, which is buzzed yet styled, is mercilessly weighing on my brain. Like I said, there is so much more to worry about than having crappy hair. Having good thoughts of being physically well enough to attend my weekly meeting of J.W. tomorrow. And attend the new group  in which I’ve enrolled, scheduled Wednesdays for the following twelve weeks, entitled: Managing Strong Emotions. Getting there, is half the battle, or so I’m told.

Posted in FTM, Gratititude, Hope, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Mental health, Reality | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

T and T

Yesterday, my good friend, R, reminded me softly to be patient. There’s an issue for me between taking testosterone and having stage three chronic kidney disease. They don’t mix. Part of me is moving quickly and didn’t look at facts from day one. At the beginning of this journey I was convinced I wanted no part of either testosterone or top surgery. In ten months, all that has changed. All of it.

In denial still, I tell myself on the twenty-third of this month, my PA-C will prescribe low dose T in gel form and I’ll be fine. Just a squirt here and there and my sanity will return, as though it were ever there in the first place. This will match that. Gratefully I’ll endure the puberty of a fourteen year old boy and get on with life each step closer to top surgery. It’s all a process; no magic here.

So it goes. No one has said I can’t have T. But, I had to Google things and slipped into the deepest depression I’ve felt in eight years. Called in the troops. Besides G, there are several non-biological family members, therapists and friends with whom I’d shared the good news  (following the January twenty-seventh appointment) where I’d learned T would be an option. They all came forward with hugs and love.

Disappointment doesn’t come easily. Of all my years in a twelve step program it took nearly half those years to learn to live a day at a time. Some don’t get it; I thought I’d be one of those people. I’m grateful, humble, etc., and honestly mean it. My bottom was bare bones; not just scary but creepy. There’s talk around the rooms of losing family and cars and homes. And minds. I was a fucked up person and  won’t go into details.

Back in the world, on track,  having the tools to perform, exist, subside, I want to live. Inside, I’m who I am with or without physical changes  I didn’t know I’d want or need. It’s up to me to garner as much strength as possible, with as many avenues open, to push like I were weight training or skiing down a mountain. Perhaps begin on a bunny slope and take it from there.

 

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Color Blind

When prompted to write about my favorite color and why I chose that particular color, my inclination was to write about more than one. Not because I was being feisty. To me, there isn’t just one. Like me, there is a spectrum of color so vast and broad, picking just one felt awkward and narrow. Colors of an actual rainbow; that of the LGBT flag. Colors of the subtly striped blue-pink-white-pink-blue trans flag that I’ve newly adopted as my own.

Colors of a vibrant sunset and of the shirts that line my closet. Polo shirts. Ones I no longer am inspired to wear, shirts that reveal my breasts. Purples, oranges and pinks. My choice of shirts now and have been, I suppose, all along, loose button downs; baggy to cover what I don’t want seen. The shirts I buy at the Goodwill are all men’s shirts, of course, and ninety-five percent happen to be some shade of blue. Odd.

My striped socks are rainbow colors. The flowery, pink undergarments go completely against my notion of what a masculine person ‘should’ wear. A past rebellion of an early non-conformist, I wear what I want, always have and always will. A fellow colleague wrote to the prompt from a male point of view, his view specifically. It went something like this: because I’m male I choose the colors, if in fact they’re colors, black and white. It was noted white is the absence of color.

Monday I took part in a bio-social-psyche intake at the LGBT clinic. It’s a necessary form to be filled out prior to being administered hrt. I fielded questions from my social worker as in, how would you describe your gender and sexual orientation and what do you see as plus/minus sides of receiving hormone replacement therapy. As in choosing a color, I leaned toward more than one answer. The form was not complicated and I did my best not to make it so. Not given actual choices, I answered like I was taking a test with multiple choice segments.

Gender queer and queer for the first two. Check. The questions that followed were reminiscent of those presented on the consent form given me by my P.A. on Wednesday. Other necessary inquiries, about plus and minus sides of taking hrt, i.e., male pattern baldness, drop in voice and  other side effects that are permanent,  required more depth. Suddenly, I was at home, swimming in a sea of color and bursting with genuine emotion.

My soul will be whole, I said. My hormones, physical state and mind would meet for the first time since puberty. When PMS set in. When the hospitalizations began. The suicide attempts made. When the breasts’ growth and menses took over my life and I imploded. No puberty blockers to be had, I suffered till I was fifty with the worst symptoms imaginable. Psychosis, requiring over thirty inpatient stays at psychiatric institutions. One time, as an adolescent, for five months straight. Powerful medications from the age of seventeen.  Not one practitioner in the field put together I had my period every time I was admitted.

Got that out of my system. On to the next question: When did you come to realize you were gender queer? Probably since I was a toddler. Not an uncommon reply. There was a blur and I continued to swirl in color. This time murky like waters stirred form a wicked storm. I was twenty-one. I researched and met with a transsexual therapist somewhere in Allentown. It was the early eighties. Before the completion of the intake, I was dismissed as having too many emotional problems to continue treatment. I was sent home and lived my life in the closet until April, 2015.  There’s no looking back, once I’ve gone through the hoops placed before me. I’ve picked up the ball dropped so long ago.

 

 

Posted in Celebration, Hope, Hormone Replacement Therapy | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

It Snowed.

Leave it to millions that will chronicle Jonas’ impact…

For the past nine months I’ve been focused, in not so much a conscious way, yet not super subconscious either, on my physical self. Take my wrinkles, for example. Many times weekly, perhaps daily, I mention I have wrinkles. Although I don’t think I’m complaining about having them, I clearly seem obsessed. Folks tell me not to worry because I look fine, wrinkles and all.

Not seeking attention, I simply find myself almost fascinated by them. It’s not that I never noticed them before, they just are glaring to me. They’re deep, some of them, and I run my fingers over them. To borrow from a wise and astute woman, “My wrinkles are the trophies I possess for having lived a long and glorious life.” Or something to that effect. So, yes, I have oodles of trophies, I suppose.

When I see an older person who has, say, aged well, I compare my face to theirs. Guided by a twelve step program to only ‘compare myself to myself,’ I realize I’m breaking a rule of sorts. It’s not with sadness or disdain or any form of self-deprecation I do this. I just do it. I say, that’s what I will look like when I’m their age and I’m done with it. Or am I? Next person I see with wrinkles lining their face like a road map, there I am repeating the same words. Time and again.

One of the reasons I say I’m not put off by aging is I have a family member, female, an octogenarian, who reminds me constantly to ‘not get old.’ People joke: It’s better than the alternative. This woman means it; stands behind her words. She regards aging as a curse. It’s a sentence of sorts and she wants no part of it. Granted, she now has physical ailments that accompany being in an eighty-something body. Yet, this began when she reached age fifty when she was basically robust and had nary a wrinkle to speak of.

If you haven’t guessed, I am celebrating a birthday in less than a week. I pray I’m not in denial. That I look forward to growing old. There are enough aches and pains to remind me I’m no spring chicken; I walk with a limp, many times using my cane for balance. My skin sags and the places I’m overweight aren’t flattering. My memory is certainly not as keen as it could be. My great nieces and nephews are growing taller by the minute reminding me time is flying by.

Not cursed. Proud. Grateful. For having weathered the years with triumph and dignity. Fought hard to survive and this face, this body, are an example. In my teens I suffered so, literally fearing I’d not live to see age twenty. Here I am blowing my own horn.  Playing not taps but reveille. If I had cause to march I would. At least I’d hobble along or ride in a van taking in all the parade would offer.

 

 

Posted in Aging, Celebration, Dignity, Gratititude, Hope, Mental health, Pride, Progression, Reality | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Trans or Bi Gender

Not certain whether folks will care that I don’t want to be ‘fully’ male. The word bi freaks people out. Or the use of it. Remember the time  I attempted to fit into the lesbian community as bisexual in the mid-nineties without much success.  I was married to a man at the time. Non-gay people were as non-supportive. Many/most in the circles I traveled showed disdain and mistrust. The women’s community saw bi folk as traitors and the straight world figured since we were bi we’d fuck anything that moved.

At present, nine months after my glorious discovery I’m able to let my masculine self emerge, I find I’m leaning in many different directions. Sure, wave the wand and I’d be a guy. But would that be me, really? Aren’t there so many aspects that remain undoubtedly feminine? No and yes. Men, their behaviors, some of them, are a complete turn off to me. For example, a man doesn’t necessarily ask you to move if you happen to be in his way. He might just stand there and stare until you move. Also, would I give up my inherent tendency to giggle and touch peoples’ arms as I empathize or try to make a point? Forget not being able to hug on a whim.

At group on Monday we shared with one another what it’s like to have sex as trans men.  We received after group, those of us interested, sheets on talking before sex and in bed. Such a welcome and unknown possibility to me. Honestly, till I met my therapist, L, and became a member of the C. C. group, it didn’t occur to me to ask and be asked to share wants, desires and dislikes with my partner.

Excited, I carefully tucked my sheets into the inner pocket of my jacket and headed back to the train with a spring in my step. You can do this, I thought. It’ll be new and different and maybe FUN. Then, fear set in. The thought of making love in my new capacity flooded me. Sex has embarrassed me. Taking about it, watching it on film, doing it. Doesn’t help, the childhood sexual abuse thrown in.

At last, I have come to the conclusion, something could happen that went down for me when I first came out as a lesbian umpteen years ago. To not be sexual for an inordinate amount of time. Not wanting to go that route, not getting any younger, I feel the desire to re- immerse myself into the wondrous waves of sexual joy once again.

 

Posted in Childhood sexual abuse, Connection, FTM, Hope, Mental health, Sex | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Transgender: A Timely Topic

As the New Year begins, I find myself yearning to write. To gather thoughts, ideas, facts and revelations; to jot them down in any form imaginable. Mostly, I write my blog following a meeting of the trans masculine group I’m part of. Over the past month I’ve missed going to Center City two weeks in a row. Once due to overeating holiday foods and the second, because the chill factor was in the single digits.

This has caused me to pause and reflect a bit over my writings from other W.W.C. works and J.W. entries. Always amused and sometimes touched by what can come of a ten minute prompt, I become excited by the mere thought of writing–anything. An email, a note to a friend. Even comments on FB get me to thinking.

This year will be the year of Me. The year where I investigate and image my Self toward transformation. Yes, there’s always the question of “Will I or won’t I.” Have the surgery; take Testosterone. There are many other factors involved. It’s imperative I become as comfortable as possible in my own mind and skin. I’m a guy. Don’t wish to be a man. I’m masculine, yet see myself as bi-gender. A good deal to mull over.

My aim is to be on board with my thoughts and whatever changes my body may or may not take. It’s not important that I write about timely issues and publish the findings. Now. I could roughly come to conclusions on paper and share them with the world. Or not. I will blog and blog and, in doing so, effort toward knowledge and self-acceptance. To rant and vent. To curse and scream and holler. To unravel and then ravel again. To peel the layers of the onion so deep the reader’s eye might burn.

I am blessed. I say this repeatedly because I didn’t always feel blessed. I say it to remind myself to practice humility. To not exude charm and airs but tact and simplicity. To take part in life. To remember: without grief, gratitude, and circumstance, I/We are lacking.

 

 

Posted in Community, Connection, Friendship, FTM, Hope, New Year, Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing/Groups | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Self Progression

Last evening I watched Janet Mock on OWN T.V. She tells where she came from and embracing her ‘otherness’as a trans women/person in this challenging environment for transgender people everywhere. Janet shared her progression from her roots in Hawaii where she was mimicked and ridiculed by even her family members for being an effeminate boy growing up to her successful memoir. What I gleaned mostly from her session on the show was, no matter what, no matter who we are, we are growing and changing and finding our way till we die.

Change of any type has always been a sensitive issue for me. There is not a time I recall not being deathly afraid of where the other shoe would drop. I’d fight tooth and nail to prevent my tiny piece on the planet being altered. Some of this was due to trauma. I trusted no one. If I could control where and when things would happen in my universe, I felt protected. PTSD, as I’ve mentioned, does not own my path. The horrors of the past that kept me hovering in corners for so many years have been replaced by my own wholesomeness. There’s no need for control, in retrospect.

Life has become easier and, not fraught with drama and negativity, more enjoyable. I see my journey now as I transition with more body and scope. Embracing my progress has become enlightening as well as a challenge. Progress, each bit and step, I view as embarking on an adventure. My train, my rules, right? Well, not quite. The world’s sometimes invasive take on transgender issues must come into play. I don’t live in a vacuum. Friends I’ve had for a long time are challenged with my confrontation of me. I’m different and I’m not ever going to be the woman they knew when.

I’m glad of it. Progression doesn’t go backwards. I identify as male. Bottom line. I want to be on low dose T. I want top surgery. It’s who I am. There are ways to boldly move ahead and I will take them.  If one had the dough, the process would be speedier. That isn’t happening and it’s a good thing. If I were transformed ‘overnight’ I might even scare myself. Maybe not. I see myself in the mirror as the make I was always intended. Yet, I don’t want to make others so uncomfortable they’d shy away never to return.

As my good friend, B, related a movie quote this morning; “This isn’t a tickle fest.” Life shouldn’t be all shit and no fun. The quest needn’t kill our soul to be maintained or managed and as much as we desire or encourage, our yearnings as transgender people, can be pleasant even. At least that’s how I check in on my progress. If I’m disillusioned with the way things roll I talk about it. I make the necessary therapy sessions and open wide to all possibilities. Thrilled and proud to say I have an appointment with the transgender practitioner at the Center next month and an intake interview. All leading to getting a prescription for T. I’m determined to receive my share of the transition pie. I hope all who are following your basic lead make progress in any form that suits. Well wishes.

 

Posted in Family, Friendship, FTM, Mental health, Progression, PTSD, Trans Identity, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments