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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Gay in the BSA? Sure. How About Trans Boys?

GayBSA

Well, what do you know? The Boy Scouts are finally coming to their sense in light of intense public pressure to grudgingly accept homosexuals into their ranks. Not that they always didn’t have gay scouts, but felt that the best way to have young men build stout moral character is to make them hide their real identity or be tossed out on their keister. It does make me wonder though, will this eventually lead to the acceptance of trans scouts?

Let me qualify that a little bit. I don’t really think trans girls want to be Boy Scouts. They would much rather be Girl Scouts, and the GSA has demonstrated compassionate progressive thinking in this area and already moved ahead. I mean trans boys. Where on an ideological level, this makes absolute sense as being the right thing to do. On a purely practical level, however, there are some issues that should probably be discussed.

I’ll be honest, if I had a daughter who identified as my son, I don’t know how excited I would be to have them join the scouts. The reason is simple and really pretty sexist if you think about it. Trans boys still have girl parts. It doesn’t make them any less male, or less capable of handling themselves, or prevent them in any way whatsoever of becoming model scouts who rise to the level of  Eagle or that Order of the Arrow business I never paid much attention to. True, getting the ‘writing your name in snow’ merit badge would be a bit trickier, but I have no doubt they would find a way. It’s pure and simple that I would worry about putting someone with girl parts into a group of pre and pubescent young men.

As some of you might know, I was a scout myself. I was always challenging myself by pushing toward things that would make me more manly. For the most part though, I hated it. I usually skipped meetings unless they were a mandatory pre-camping trip pow-wow. The camping I loved, but only if my dad was along. When he wasn’t, I usually didn’t go, but on those times I did anyway, I really hated it. On camping trips, there was little to no supervision. Generally we would arrive at the camp site just after dark, and instead of setting up, everyone would run into the woods like batshit crazy wildebeests to play ‘commando’ while my dad and I set up and started a fire and the actual Scoutmaster sat on the cooler and drank beer. When my dad didn’t come, it was pretty much the same, except we would end up sleeping in half set up tents, shivering for the lack of fire. In short, no real supervision.

Outside of the campsite, there was even less. On the few hikes I took with the boys, once we were out of sight, the cigarettes and smuggled liquor came out, as well as ideas to raid and sabotage other campsites. This wasn’t exactly the ‘little altar boy’ image most people have in mind. On one occasion, one of the older boys pontificated on the terrible things that happened to “narcs” I understood was aimed in my direction. I wasn’t going to say a damn thing. I didn’t need the attention. Getting to the point, my personal experience was that boys in this age range immediately devolve to a ‘Lord of the Flies’ social structure within moments of entering the woods without an adult. If a trans boy was present, I would have been gravely concerned that it was only a matter of time before the discussion broke out that he was “really a girl”.

For the record, nothing bad ever happened to me on any of these trips. Yes, my Scoutmaster, who also ran the Northern Lights two week long canoe excursions, was brought up on pedophilia charges, but I never had cause for concern. I was uncomfortable in the all male environment to be sure, and know I would have been even more so if it were perceived I was female, and that is without a vagina. I can’t imagine having to go through that when questions eventually came up as to why I didn’t use the urinal like everyone else.

This is a tough topic for me and I’m hoping for some good feedback and would love it if any trans men could weigh in. On one hand I feel like I’m being almost anti-trans for even taking this position, but I also have concerns for individual safety when I think someone might be at risk. The line on this is blurry for me. Fortunately I have zero say in this matter anyway, and I highly doubt the BSA is going to be knocking down my door to have me make the call. Still, I would like to define my own position for the sake of it. Thoughts?

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Going Tribal

Cute Design I Won't Be Getting 'Tramp Stamped' With

“They haven’t learned yet to stick with their own tribe” At a TDoR planning meeting we had back in October, one of our highly accomplished matriarchs was explaining how some of the younger trans folk she tries to help out end up getting themselves into trouble. She has much wisdom to pass on and I try to drink of it whenever I get the opportunity. Anyway, as usual, it got me thinking about things. I should probably start her story at the beginning.

It’s not exactly breaking news that trans* people often end up as the target of various levels of abuse. Some are screamed at while leaving Wegmans, and others are tortured and killed. So far I’ve been lucky and just the subject of awkward obvious stares from men who were poked in the ribs by their partner and casually turn around to “look for gum” in the checkout lane. Someone at work did tell me recently that, “you know people are laughing and making fun of you behind you back and all..”, which I kind of assumed, but now less comfortable about since it’s been confirmed. My friend was talking about a very particular kind of incidence.

“Some of these young trans like to head over to the straight bars and get a little attention. I get it, it feels good to be wanted, but then they end up in the car of some guy who really isn’t happy when he finds out what she has down there. They get screamed at, sometimes beaten up, and end up slinking back to the Underground (a gay bar) to regroup. They never learn though, because they are off doing the same thing the next Friday night. They haven’t learned to stick with their own tribe.” That was pretty much her story. No groundbreaking revelations this time, but the whole ‘tribe’ thing struck me.

First off, can we be considered to be a tribe by any stretch of the word? While there are national trans groups such as Chloe’s Pink Essence, I don’t think any of them really qualifies for the designation. We are bound by our trans-ness and desire for equal rights, but apart from that, we are a pretty diverse group. I don’t think she was talking about that though. I think she meant on the local level, which is really where anything that calls itself a tribe belongs. Still though, is this true?

If we look at just trans*, we do have a small, cohesive group here in Buffalo spread over 3 or 4 organizations separated by mission. Many local trans people belong to one or more of these, but it must be acknowledged that a significant portion of the population has eschewed any type of group affiliation due to a variety of reasons. Some have belonged and moved on, some simply aren’t interested in socializing, and I’m sure there are many more who are unaware that these groups even exist. We are working on that last one. I suppose these folks are my tribe. I really like everyone and I do feel a connection that probably started as a trans thing, but morphed into friendship, but is this really a tribe?

In the strict definition of things, probably not so much. Tribes generally, but not always, have strong leadership, cultures, norms, history, a list of prohibitive behaviors, and tend to form for their own protection or to compete with other tribes. The real kicker, and the point she was trying to get to I believe, is that tribe members associate primarily with their own. The first are kind of true in an abstract sort of way, but the last one is problematic.

While we have this bond and all, we all came into the tribe with most of our affiliations from outside still intact. I think it’s rare indeed to have any blood ties, or even shared experiences prior to transition. Most of us maintain close relations with our families, friends, co-workers, and sometimes spouses. There isn’t much intra-tribal romance going on, at least that I’m aware of anyway. I can only think of 2 instances I know of, and last I heard, one of them didn’t work out. As an aside, it’s a question for a later date as to whether trans people often find each other attractive in “that” way or not. It’s hard for me to say not currently having that kind of interest in anyone.

I don’t think my friend was wrong in terms of looking out for each other’s safety and traveling the treacherous straight bar scene in packs. I don’t think, however, that it’s reasonable to only stick with one’s own tribe, if such really exists. We come together for friendship, understanding, and advancing our mutual goals and interests, but at the end of the day, we are too few and too diverse to fully sustain each other’s needs in all ways.

And no, I won’t be getting the cute design in the pic tattooed on my lower back, thank you.

Well, It Finally Happened

Cougar

Well, it finally happened and it was better than I expected. Like how cryptic I’m being? I was at Wal-Mart the other shopping for new bulbs for a lava lamp. It’s probably the very last thing you would expect me to be shopping for, but such is my life. I was also looking for oregano pills, which they didn’t have. Apparently most people like their oregano sprinkled into pasta sauce or over anything someone is trying to make taste like pizza instead of encapsulated in a time release gel. People are weird, what can I say? Um, just to set expectations here, if you just poured yourself a glass of wine to enjoy the rest of this yarn, prepare to be impressively underwhelmed.

I was poking around the lava lamp section, which is something they surprisingly have, and I noticed a young man edging closer for a better view. This I am used to – people love to be extra subtle in checking me out to figure out what they are looking at. My favorite is the “turn around to look for something quick” where their eyes instead play over my face, followed by my chest. Sometimes the order is in reverse, but same difference. Then he spoke. That I’m not used to at all. Women will stop me from time to time to say they like my necklace or to ask me if I know where they keep the Manwich sauce, which I never know, nor does anyone who works there. Men usually look through me and wave to their enthusiastic, but invisible, buddy Dave.

“I think your dress is really pretty” Holy shit, a compliment! I stammered out a thank you and attempted to get away. I told you, I’m not used to this kind of thing and wasn’t sure what to think. Before I could, he added that he really liked my coat as well, and tacked on that he thought my whole look was very pretty. This time he got a big smile and a “That is so sweet! Thank you!”, and yes, I meant it. I made a quick bee line for the hosiery section, where I was betting he wouldn’t follow me. Men are never over there for some reason, perhaps because the temptation to buy pantyhose will get too strong or something. I was afraid of where the conversation was going to go next and I was woefully unprepared for it. What if he was going to ask me which pair of ear-muffs looked better, and it was really some kind of code I didn’t know about? Or worse, I did know!

Other trans women are full of tales of guys approaching them or hitting on them or whatever. I’m not real sure how to tell the difference to be perfectly honest. Since that kind of thing never, ever happens to me, I’ve had to assume that either they were full of shit, or much prettier than I am. I was good with either reason as it allowed me to go about hither and dither without ever worrying that I was going to have to brave such a situation. If this lone incident represents the frequency rate, I should be just fine for the next couple of years or so.

I’m not going to lie. It felt pretty fricking fantastic! I beamed all the way back to my car, especially since my continuous backward glances indicated he was not following me or anything. I got in, again gratified that he wasn’t crouched in hiding between the cars or in my backseat. It kept me in such a good mood for the rest of the day that I was able to muster the energy to make my famous chicken parm for my ex (I really have to find another term for her as this isn’t exactly accurate), even though I had no good sleep the night before and just wanted to curl up in a chair.

While the whole little tiny encounter made me feel really good, I had to ruminate on why it gave me a slice of panic as well. I concluded that it was because I had no idea what he wanted. In my years in living amongst the men folk, I’ve been under the impression that the only reason they approach women is because they are interested and hoping something, you know, somethin’ somethin’, will come of it. I have trouble wrapping my brain around that situation. He was maybe all of 25, or could have even had a fake ID indicating that he reached the advanced age needed to rent a car. What would his interest be in a 40ish trans woman buying lava lamp bulbs? Yes, I was very pleased with my outfit that day, but still. I suppose the remote possibility exists that he didn’t read me and thought he was doing some cougar hunting.

How do cis women handle these situations? If for some god unknown reason he asked me out, it was going to be a big fat no. I am still technically married and scruffy young men really are not my thing at all. I really need to be prepared in case this ever happens again because I really don’t want to make someone feel like shit for being really sweet to me. At the end of the day, it was a positive experience. Someone not obligated to do so told me I looked pretty. I am so going to wear that outfit more often.

Yes Please, May We Have Another? My Take On The Guardian Kerfluffle

hate

A brouhaha recent broke out across the pond in jolly old England when an article in The Guardian went and got nasty. This was surprising because in all my interactions with the Brittish, I’ve never encountered outright nastiness. A good friend who emigrated from there a few years back was kind enough to post a nifty guide that explained what it actually meant when Brits toss out a seemingly innocuous phrase. It did tell me how often she had recently told me to fuck off and die, and I was delighted with the skill she employed to frequently insult me while leaving me beaming with gracious affect.

What is now being commonly referred to as the great Moore/Burchill Kerfuffle escaped me completely until my sister Becky took the time to patiently explain the whole thing. She’s over in Scotland now, so there is a good chance she was peppering the explanation with barbs calling me an ignorant twat, but it’s true, I missed the ball this story. To boil it all down for you, because chances are you already know, Julie Burchill, a RadFem type lesbian, put up a piece employing the typical RadFem Anti-Trans taskforce language. Mature stuff like demeaning name calling, attempting to reduce the trans condition to ridiculous analogies, and the usual heap of logical fallacies. Personally, I’m so glad she did this.

Suzanne Moore chose to follow this up with a bit about free speech using the same logic as an uncommonly literate KKK Grand Whizzer is likely to spew out. Again, I’m loving it. This may seem strange, but think about it for a moment. Instead of the usual tactic of riling each other up with trans hate speech over at their RadFem hub, they chose to take the national stage with it. They actually managed to delude themselves that the rancorous bile they were spewing has some kind of common appeal to the masses. I imagine Burchill typing away with a big old shit eating grin and imagining the Guardian readership nodding their heads in agreement thinking, “Grrrr! I hate those fucking trannies!” A beautifully timed miscalculation.

As expected, it got a nice big response. A big negative response, and not just from the tiny smattering of trans folks spread over the globe either. Women, men, feminists (the real kind who focus their energy on advancing and empowering women instead of giving a niche minority a hard time), straight and gay alike. It was immediately blamed of course on the juggernaut raw power of the Pink Press. Um, yeah… I explained recently how the US presidential election was about national character instead of the economy. When one of the most conservative democracies votes to maybe stop treating subsets of the citizenry like shit, it’s a good barometer that world attitudes are changing and that employing contrived caricatures is no longer the cool way to try to bully anyone.

So, to Burchill, Moore, and the rest of the anti-trans element in RadFem, please, keep it coming! I’m very happy to toss you all the rope you need, or provide a nice shiny shovel to dig and dig until the tops of your heads are no longer even bumps in the scenery. I look forward to many colorful and imaginative insults, huge gaps in logic, and of course the hallmark of great writing, tons and tons of exclamation points with a few words in all caps to drive the point home. You just have to love it when problems take care of themselves.

Trans-Etiquette? So, What’s That Look Like Anyway?

transgender_awareness_gel_bracelets_by_caspianseamonster-d4gnx2u

Remember that whole business back in the 80’s, for those of you who remember the 80’s that is, where people liked to get one ear pierced and one side was decidedly “the gay side”? If it ever was a real thing – a way for gay people to identify each other in a secret code kind of way – it probably didn’t last long simply due to the prevalence of the knowledge making the use as a covert message impractical at best. As an aside, I will say that the one earring thing was a whole lot better than those big ass table leg sized pegs people are piercing themselves with now. Anyway, I think the trans community needs something like that.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spotted someone I was sure was trans and realized I had no idea what the etiquette is in that situation. My temptation is always to go right up to them and say ‘hey’ and all. There are a few things stopping me from this. The first is that I might be dead wrong, and how embarrassing would that be? Not necessarily for me, but I’d hate to totally ruin some woman’s day by accusing her of being a tranny when she’s not.  Introducing crippling appearance based anxiety in people is really not my thing. Second, where I’m very open about myself, I have to stop and consider that whoever I may approach may not be and find having to talk to me publicly and draw attention to themselves mortifying. Especially if I lead in with, “So, you pitching a tent when you woke this morning, sister?” I would never say that, but still not good.Finally, is being trans enough of a conversation starter between two strangers?

I’m going to address these out of order as per my usual confusing way of doing things. I think the strangers reason simply doesn’t wash. People go right up to complete strangers all the time if they think there is a common bond, no matter how superficial. This happened to me all the time in the Air Force. Every time I wore my Buffalo Bills sweatshirt to the BX, invariably someone would rush over and either explain excitedly that they were from Buffalo or felt the need to console me on some ancient history Super Bowl loss. We would then compare where we grew up specifically and narrow down to degree of separation. I don’t see any reason why trans folks can’t do this. The population is small enough where we are bound to know some people in common. Meeting Buffalo exiles in Virginia made me feel less lonely, and so does meeting other trans.

Avoiding making a cisgender woman cry is a fairly compelling reason. I think there are ways around this though. No one has to go and ask someone if they are trans, but it can’t hurt to engage in a friendly bullshit conversation to see if they willingly reveal themselves. If they are not trans, it clearly won’t come up. I suppose there is always the danger that she’ll intuit that you came up to her out of the blue because you might believe a connection exists stronger than the fact you are both buying Cracklin’ Oat Bran and the implied desire for regularity improvement. If you have to do this, try to pick something that someone would expect to be approached with but not creeped out by. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but please don’t ask her when she is due or you are really looking down the double barrel of wrong.

The not outing other trans folk is a pretty strong prohibition. While some of us don’t mind having someone with a similar story wander over to compare notes, others would much prefer to go about their day assuming they are never being read, even by one of their own tribe. This is something we really have to expect because any one of us can fall into that category in the future, or simply depending what side of the bed they woke up. Now, I shoved my bed right up against the wall to avoid this, but not everyone has the luxury. The problem is that there is no convenient way to tell the difference between a clearly impassable trans and one who simply thinks she is. Yes, yes, I know some of you are going to feel compelled to tell me you are 100% and never, ever read and that’s really wonderful for you. It is.

I still wonder if trans etiquette can be improved upon from the current model of pretending we are all fooling each other. I’m not saying we go super overt like wearing “Ask Me About My Genitals!” tee shirts, but something subtle, yet recognizable only to each other. From here we need to take the conversation off line, or all the cis people who wander over are going to be texting each other, “if u c some 1 w/ a pink n blu bracelet, they r TRANS!!!”, before we know it and ruin the whole gambit. Let’s think on this and discuss. Honestly, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little real world secret society type solidarity?

9 Reasons Transgender Isn’t a Choice

transgender_no_entry

Would you believe even today, widespread belief exists that people actively choose a homosexual lifestyle or gender transition? Of the former, there is plenty of dialog, so I’m not going to bother going there. Trans people face this level of malarkey just as frequently, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to put together a few talking points. This shouldn’t be too hard, because seriously, who in the world would do this if they didn’t have to? Yes, I’m going to focus on the MtF side of things for the moment, but I would love to encourage any trans guys to weigh in with their reasons.

1. Lookie-Lou’s: I suppose there are a few odd ducks out there who don’t mind a smidge making their way through the mall gauntlet of “what the hell are you supposed to be anyway?” stares. Yes, yes, we all like to claim it doesn’t bother us, but really, wouldn’t you be way more comfortable ordering the venti frappachino knowing for sure no one was going to holler at you  when the time came to send it on to its final destination? This is why we are willing to go through hellacious expensive procedures to achieve the maximum level of passability. If it didn’t suck, many less would bother.

2. Ka-Ching!: Yes, there are many other expensive ailments out there that can leave you a financial ruin. Many of them, however, include a significant chance you aren’t going to make it and therefore not have to worry about the bills rolling in. If you do make it, heaven help you. No one ever accuses ol’ Uncle Barney of developing that tumor just to be different or to fuck with the family a little bit because the personal and monetary cost is just too prohibitive. Yeah, pretty much the same thing here, which is why only the well heeled and trans populations are willing to pay for complex plastic surgery.

3. Effective Habits of Highly Unsuccessful People: The vast majority of the population wants to do well and achieve some measure of success whether it be in the service industry or the board room. People go back to school, work extra hard, kiss much ass, and read books with titles much like that of the title of this reason. The day you start showing up in a dress, pay close attention to the crane installing a glass ceiling measured to be right about your height. That’s if they keep you of course. In many instances you are looking at dozens of uncomfortable job interviews where they politely try to figure out if this is a joke or not.

4. You Got Some ‘Splainin’ To Do: You know what sucks worse than telling people you have a terminal illness? Telling people you are trans. With the former you get that sympathetic look and maybe a gratifying tear or two. With us it’s more of a deer in the headlights kind of thing as they struggle to comprehend and react. Sometimes the reaction is really bad. Sometimes it starts good, but then turns bad after they had a chance to think about it. While the telling itself is enough of a deterrent to dissuade anyone, the not knowing if the relationship exists or not is the icing on the cake. In a world where no one gives bad news unless they absolutely have to, this falls well within the field of unavoidable.

5. Have You Heard?: The number one reason people give for not doing something that they really want to is, “I would love to, but I really don’t want to have to hear about it.”. People hate hearing about it, and do anything they can to avoid it. On the flip side, it’s a highly effective means of controlling what someone else does. When you transition, you will hear about it. A lot. People think that in making you constantly hear about it, you might “come to your senses” or realize what you are doing is not worth the business you are getting as a result. It changes nothing of course, but dear lord how they try. For that reason alone, no one would do this.

6. Reasonable Alternatives Denied: When faced with having to do something insanely difficult, people often try to scare up some reasonable alternatives to save themselves the pain. By the time we transition, we have typically gone though the whole gamut and are left with the last final option other than suicide, which 47% opt to try. People often like to approach us, usually under the auspices of #5, to see if they can fix this issue real quick. Have you thought about just “doing this” on the weekends? What about therapy? Can’t you just be happy with what you have and make the best of it? Yes thank you, I never thought of these things I’ve been doing for decades in that light before. If I’m spending my lunch hour shopping for another goddamn pair of pantyhose because a dog put a run in them, I’ve pretty much exhausted all other options.

7. Congratulations! Your Travel Arrangements Have Been Downgraded: Looking for ways to make the world a harder, scarier place where you have less rights, options, and safety? Be a woman! Want to work harder for less pay and less respect with fewer prospects? Be a woman! MtF transition is like rising from your comfy reclining seat in first class, poking the flight attendant, and asking for the middle seat way back by the rear bathroom. As someone who has flown enough to win treasured Platinum status, I can say for certain that I’ve never, ever seen this happen.

8. Campbell’s Soup For One: By and large, it’s a very prevalent part of the human condition to want to partner up. Security, love, shared times, and even sex. Sure there are problems, but the rewards are incentive enough to keep this kind of business going for the foreseeable future. If you ever want to see a big group of lonely single people, simply go to a transgender support meeting. People into women generally prefer the variety that came that way out of the box. “Oh, reconditioned? Yeah, I’ll pass.” Sure, there are tranny chasers out there, but I think there are more of us than them, and many appear to have specialized interests that often make us uncomfortable. No one buys the lifetime membership to the Lonely Hearts Club unless there is no other choice.

9. De Pain Boss, De Pain: Take one of your nose or beard hairs and pluck it out with tweezers. Fun, yes? Now imagine the same thing with electricity 70 to 100 thousand times over the course of a year and a half. Then imagine the prospect of doing the same thing downstairs on any skin that is going to be on the inside (some nice surgeons spare you this and will cauterize it for you). I think even the most adamant ‘Choicer’ out there would have to pause on this one. Going once, sure, but going back again and again and again knowing exactly what kind of torture you are in for? Even the most hearty masochist would give this a pass.

Well, I was going to do ten, but you know, nine is way cooler and I don’t feel like I’m aping Dave Letterman’s schtick.  If you have more, feel free to add in the comments!

Half Way Though the First Year!

waitingroom

Today marks my six month mark since going to full time transition. Well, allegedly anyway; who knows when I will actually post this. In any case, I thought it worthwhile to look back on the previous half year to celebrate this major milestone in my “Real Life Test”. I hate that term by the way. I don’t really look at is as a test, but simply a start date of my authentic living thereafter. The only reason the year marker means anything is that it is a requirement for surgery. Tranny probation so to speak.

To anyone who is keeping track, six months ago, back in July, the good people I work with found my blog. I wrote about this of course, in a post cleverly titled ‘So, It Looks Like They Found My Blog’. Actually some of them found it around the beginning of June or something, leading to over a full month of paranoia as my radar was pinging through the roof. It was good to know that my equipment was functioning correctly. It was always a possible part of my plan, by the way, that this would happen. I just didn’t expect it would be kept secret for a good month making me wonder.

The suckiest part in all that was the 3 days I worked still in male mode after everyone knew and I knew they knew. That was bad, but terrible was the fact that I no longer felt comfortable making jaunts into the men’s room. My solution was to dehydrate myself all day and run over to Wal-Mart at lunch and use the bathroom there. Good times, good times. After that though it all got much better, with the one hardest being walking in here that first day. In the car I steeled myself by saying, “this is something you will never, ever have to do again”, and it worked. Six months later, I never even think about it anymore.

Without question, the biggest relief I’ve felt, and actually continue to feel even now, is being just one gender. I had no idea how much waffling between myself and male mode was sucking the life out of me. Things are simply just easier now. Um, kind of. I still miss being able to roll out of bed and nip out to the store in less than 5 minutes and all, but that is pretty much it. My boy clothes are all gone. Again, kind of – they are in garbage bags in the garage awaiting the next AmVets pickup, but same thing. I’ve never had occasion to open one since I put them down there last summer. The only male clothes still in my room are a bag of my dad’s I simply couldn’t part with because they still smell like him.

Challenges for the next 6 months? Nothing in terms of everyday living. I’m good now and could never, ever even contemplate going back for anything. I do have my fairly ridiculous set of New Year’s goals, but those are all about personal improvement more than anything. I know I have my surgery in there, but I consider that the easy one. I’ve been mentally and emotionally prepared for a while, so now it’s just going through the wickets until I wake up in the recovery room. What a sweet day that will be!

To any of you contemplating this journey, a few small words of advice. Real stuff too; not my usual Little Miss Wise-Ass shit this time. Numero uno: listen to all the advice you can, but don’t necessarily follow any of it. Everyone is going to speak to their own experience with the expectation that yours will be the same, and seriously, when is that ever true? Kind of puts a damper on any other advice I have, doesn’t it? It’s OK, it is supposed to. Anyone who tells you, “here is what you have to do” is just as likely as not to be completely wrong about it for your situation.

The advice I have that is most likely to apply is to wait until you are really ready to do anything, but once you are, don’t hesitate. Pushing yourself before you are prepared can give you crippling anxiety. Wait too long because you think it will get easier, you are likely to find both that it won’t, and that every day becomes harder to bear. Try your best to be very considerate of those around you, especially spouses, children, and immediate family. Whether they accept you immediately, damn you for all time, or somewhere in between, you will never go wrong making it as easy on them as possible. Chances are you had decades to get mentally used to the idea, and they have a whole lot of catching up to do without the benefit of being inside your head for the panoramic view.

Finally, be good to yourself. No matter how easy it goes or how hard, it’s a mentally challenging time to say the least. Do what you need to in order to get through it. You can work off that extra piece of cake that makes you feel better right now, so don’t beat yourself up about it. I’m not saying go and get yourself a heroin habit or start picking bar fights with hipsters or anything. If you allow yourself reasonable things, it’s all OK. Don’t worry, coming out the other side is faster than you think and you can deal with it then. So, sally forth, my brave little Vikings, your world awaits you.

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