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

Christmas Past

TW: Trigger warning: Anxiety, suicidal/homicidal thoughts.

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This time of year nearly sends me over the edge. It’s not the season, per se. I don’t suppose it is for most of us who suffer anxiety, shame, guilt, grief, pain surrounding the holidays. There’s way more to it than that. It’s not even the materialism of the season. It’s those deep down memories, whether they be happy or sad that creep in and consume our very existence.

For some, it’s the fact that we’ve lost loved ones and can hardly bare to be reminded of their passing; barely contain the thought they’re no longer here to share such a festive time of year with us. That carries its own pain and sense of grief.

In my case, there are constant intruding thoughts that pound my brain and I can’t escape them. In the distant past I went to alcohol to numb them. I don’t take that route anymore. Now, I still have thoughts of homicide and suicide this time of year. I should express them and will when I go to group on Monday and then again on Tuesday when I see my therapist. You have to be careful how you relay these feelings of terror or you might wind up on the psyche unit. It’s the worst time of year for that, as anyone who’s spent time in the hospital over the holidays knows.

There was not much love in my house growing up. My sister and I fought constantly in what’s referred to as the trickle-down effect. Our father, a miserable bastard, treated our mother like shit; she hated me and I beat my only sibling, my sister, up. Believe the family dog paid his dues too. Two days ago, B, little sis, and I got together and it wasn’t pretty. It was supposed to be, we both thought. It’s the second time she’s reached out to meet me alone and I think I know why we don’t do it more often. We wound up ‘reminiscing’ about our fucked up childhood(s).

The most instrumental observation we shared was we never saw any expression of love or endearment shared between our parents. Not a kiss on the cheek or a hug; no holding hands or an ‘I love you’ ever seen or heard. My therapist claims that means we were raised without love. I’m thinking she’s right.

So, I have trouble with trust, intimacy, and a slew of problems most of my trans brothers and psychiatric patient friends share. Christmas night, 1973, I was hauled off in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. There were no local units for people freaking out then. It turned out to be a panic attack. There wasn’t much known about them back then, either.

My father got drunk, threatened to kill us all with his deer hunting rifle and my mother insisted she would take B and I to a motel to get away from him. When I swore I wasn’t going ANYWHERE with her I ran to a friend’s house to stay overnight to get away from my idiot parents and that night my friend’s father made me give him a blow job downstairs while his wife and my friend were upstairs watching T.V. Merry Christmas, Sam.

Believe in God; don’t believe. Something’s kept me going all these years. I thank God for my partner, G, non-biological family members, friends, therapies, etc. Without you I literally would not be here. For anyone having difficulty during this time of year, I reach out to you and I’m a hugger. I am sending you virtual hugs. You know I believe in angels and miracles and I’m shooting up a prayer for each and every one of you. For my trans brothers and sisters, I send you the best because I’ve saved the best for last.

 

 

Posted in Homocide, Panic Attacks, Suicide, Trigger Warning | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Dead Name

What is this blog about? Me? You? Is it a discussion, in fact? I can tell you what it isn’t. I’m not selling anything. Not even myself. I don’t offer a window into what is trans, even. It isn’t about grammar, spelling or syntax. It’s not based in hard, cold, evidence. You can’t call it creative non- fiction. Is it considered memoir? Who knows? It’s from my brain. My heart. I laugh and cry when I write it. I write it for me. I don’t have much of an idea of who I’m writing to. As much as I want to know you, I’m fairly certain the discussion I have when I write these posts is perhaps, with myself.

I’ll use words like shit and asshole. Fuck. Mother fucker. Cock and cock sucker. But one thing you’ll not ever see me do is dead name a trans person. What, you say? You don’t use names. Only initials. Oh, well. This one time I’ll dead name someone. Me. My dead name is Janis. When I was little I was shy beyond words and I gave my name as Janisin. I made a face, if you picture a very shy one and my chin dug into my right shoulder and gave a goofy smile. My mother chastised me for this. “Your name isn’t Janisin,” she’d bite. “It’s Janis!”

It’s not the only thing she did that caused me to hate my ‘given’ name; my ‘real’ name. She drew out the ‘s’ like a snake would when they’d hiss, especially when she was pissed. Janisssss, I’d hear and I loathed it. I hated it because I was a boy and it was a girl’s name. “Were you named after Janis Joplin?” People sometimes ventured. No. “Janis Ian?” No. I always thought Mother picked my name and felt a twinge when, recently, I learned it was Dad’s name for me. I really love my dad.

He shortened it to Jan Pan when I was in elementary school and I’d been grateful. When I was old enough I made an attempt to change my first name to Jan. Mother still calls me Janis. My younger sister, of four years, said she asked Mother why she insisted on using Janis and Mother replied, “Because I like the name.” So much for respecting me. Generally, with her, I choose my battles. Believe it or not, no matter how much the hair stands on the back of my neck when I’m dead named, I have other more pressing issues to confront her with. Dead naming takes a back seat.

My therapist, L, says I have the right to request/require people to use my chosen name, Sam. I say,”Well, Sam is my pen name.” When I change my gender markers and name on official documents I will use Jan on my records. I sat next to a boy in home room and he was one of twins. His brother’s name was Jerry and his name was Jan. I always thought that was so cool. When I grew up I’d change my name, ‘in the books,’ I told myself, to Jan. Lose the ‘IS’ forever. And I’d never be dead named again.

Posted in Dead Naming, Gender Markers, Reality, support, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

“Calling All Angels”

To me, the trans men that meet in my group each week are angels. Plain and simple. We are all there to learn, to express and grow as humans and we have each other’s back. Not a word that’s spoken there is taken for granted. Not a glance goes by unnoticed. Eye contact is tough, no matter who we are, and sharing of this capacity deserves recognition. I have utmost respect for the dignity of each man I am in the room with. They are my brothers.

This week was the second week I made the journey to the city alone. Things went as planned. Only thing is, I am always early no matter where I go. Must have something to do with driving that school bus all those years. Can’t say I’m real comfortable sitting around with nothing to do. I don’t own a smart phone or tablet so I feel I look foolish and close my eyes and pretend I’m sleeping. It’s not that I’m bored. I simply have nothing in my hands to glare at like every other person riding the train, waiting in a lobby, etc. I’ve decided I will write longhand next time I’m alone.

Today was the final meeting of the year of our writing group J. W. Because the prompts were especially moving, I’ve decided to share one and my written reaction to it. I have a tendency to shorten the prompts so I can begin writing with what I call quickness. I don’t think for the ten minutes we’re granted to answer each prompt. I plow through them with little attention to actual detail. It’s freeing.

“One Thing I can Do To Promote Peace.”

“I write from a place of love for myself and others. As long as I am honest and forthright, my positive energy can’t help but spread and create union and connection with all the people of the world.”

“My best way of reaching out, for now, is my blog. I have intention. To open dialogue about transitioning from female to male. To educate folks about a populace so misunderstood and mostly feared.”

“If I could present in a language, address a universal ignorance, the masses would join and less violence would occur. ‘Calling All Angels’. Words, perhaps the title of a song, I heard on my way in this morning.”

“Believing in angels and having been the ‘recipient’ of miracles leaves me no doubt I, and many others, have something to offer the planet–its people–in the way of peace. I used to think the opposite; that I, as a writer, had nothing to say that hadn’t already been said. I don’t feel that way anymore.”

Next week, G will be joining me on the ride to the city to attend a support group for partners and allies of trans men and/or women. It’ll be nice to have company and someone to share with during the trip. I sure do miss my dear friend, R. She not only served as companion, she built my morale each step of the way.

 

 

Posted in Connection, Friendship, support, Trans group, Transmen, Transwomen, Uncategorized, Writing/Groups | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Living Authentically

Without question, I could overuse the word ‘connection.’ It sounds nice as it escapes my lips.  It’s a feeling, not in the mind, but gut. My brain is mobbed with thoughts. None intrusive. Bonding thoughts. Like the way glue affixes to wood. My groups, my church family–even my biological family–are with me.

A while back, J. B., the Director of Lifespan Faith Development at our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, invited me to share a story about living my truth. At the podium in front of our congregation. Okay, so there weren’t umpteen people staring me down but I was confident.

I’d come out to the congregation previously during a sharing of what’s referred to as ‘Joys and Sorrows’ in our order of service. I was so thrilled one day I could hardly contain myself and I gave it up. “I am transgender,” I said. Folks actually clapped when I said, “I’ve never been so happy in my life as I am right now.”

I wrote a few paragraphs and ran them by J.B. On the third draft, we both felt my description of Sam being Sam passed muster. Other than reading it over a bunch of times and changing the font so I could read it without stuttering, I felt good to go. Unlike the first time  I’d read my piece from 2013’s anthology, I did not shake as I read.

I’d called my little vignette: “My Authentic Self,” and shared away. I made eye contact. I told myself I was being brave. Part of me felt responsible to educate. When I’d stood during another time of Joys and Sorrows and announced proudly I’d located a group for trans masculine individuals, people questioned G after service. I would put those questions in context.

It began as such: “Now that I am transitioning emotionally, I am more confident than ever yet still afraid. I want folks to know being transgender is not a choice. I’ve come out as a trans masculine person, which in many cases, can be seen by the individual as a man trapped in a woman’s body.”

I continued, “I’ve come to accept all  that is me. The physical female parts–though it’s tough–and the emotional male parts, which is easier. Each person is made of both. If I could wave a wand I would transition physically without a second thought. I’ve emerged from a brutal closet and have been living authentically for mere months.”

When finished, I noticed everyone  once again clapping. Walking down the aisle back to my seat, I could feel my face a little red, like I was beaming. At coffee hour, following the service, friends hugged me and many shook my hand. A man I’d never met took my hand in both of his and thanked me for being so honest. I’d achieved my effort to inform. I’d given my authentic self and didn’t flinch a bit while doing so.

 

Posted in Community, Connection, Family, Friendship, FTM, Hope | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Feeling Honored

Finally, I am getting over myself. So many strands of my personality creep in and I become annoying at best, and at its ultimate worst, stifling. My nearly non-existent self esteem causes me to judge, ridicule and throw away my peace. Unfortunately, at times, at someone else’s cost. It’s a learning curve.

I wanted to camp out at the Center last night. Never to leave. To surround myself with the hearts and souls of the men who spoke. To absolutely sense with every part of my being, their sharing. The triumphs. The foibles. Part of me felt my  talking would take away from another’s; someone in my group may have had a more important issue and needed to speak more that I did. Assured I was not, I spoke about a tiny piece of my journey.

Out of respect for my brothers, I will not post here any portion or content of the shares. Suffice it to say I’ve never felt more welcomed in a group situation as I did last night. I felt appreciated. As I’ve felt out of place since I discovered my true self as a trans masculine individual– being older, living in the ‘burbs, lacking physical support (groups in my area)– it’s mostly a matter of self doubt that takes me to those places. I need to be strong on my own two feet.

People in the city aren’t like me and that’s okay. Many don’t smile much or expect me to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when they’ve performed a service or let me in line while boarding the train. I guess it’s the way I was raised. Somehow it keeps me in touch with humanity. Riding the train makes me happy. I’ve etched out a direct route from the station to Mazzoni, which is about a half block away.  The guys in my group are like family. I feel they’ll be waiting for me.  Next week I’ll traverse the city alone. Yet, I won’t be lonely.

 

 

 

Posted in Community, Connection, Family, Friendship, FTM, Hope, Trans group | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments