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Category Archives: Musing

Ride’s Not Over Yet

CometOK, my last post was really all about schilling for a worthy endeavor, but the spike in my traffic reminded me that I seem to have maintained a readership in spite of going silent for a few months. Huh. Well, that’s a surprise. Here I thought everyone was here for the jokes or seeing what crazy way ol’ Michelle managed to publically humiliate herself this week. Therein lies the rub. The huge cascade of interesting things that had been happening to me for almost two straight years has finally become a trickle of molasses in January. Or this year, I guess March. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Not the weather; I haven’t gotten that pathetic just yet.

Somehow, in spite of my best efforts to remain in Neverland (the good one, not the one with the evil Peter Pan from ‘Once Upon a Time’ who is somehow related to 43 other fables), I went and kind of grew up. Ugh. I hate even saying the words! A few years ago, before I took my first Estrodial or Spiro, before I ventured out in daylight to anywhere but Belles or Spectrum meetings, a post-operative trans woman said to the table of transsexuals and cross-dressers, “It’s feels good to be in the right body, but it’s also depressing.” I asked her what she meant and she just held it out as a certainty without really explaining. Because of that, I chalked it up to bullshit. I mean who can’t explain their own experiences? Apparently she couldn’t, but it didn’t make it any less true.

The early days of self-discovery are so exciting. You don’t know what’s going to happen, what you are going to be doing, what the consequences will be, and what you will be at the end of it. Every single day is a roller coaster of exhilaration of crossing a new inch stone and mortal terror of discovery and repercussions. Every tiny step of it is something you just could not have imagined a few years, or even a few months prior. A trip to the grocery store becomes a major achievement, not to mention hitting the Allentown Art Festival or Taste of Buffalo, surrounded by thousands, some of whom you are bound to know, and wondering if you will be recognized, outed and have your secret self thrust into the spotlight of harsh judgment or warming embrace. Every outfit is a dare, a new expression of your personality. Every intervention: hormones, electrolysis, laser and surgery becomes a new high, a new heady plateau in rarified atmosphere, closer to the golden glow of achieving the nirvana of self-realization. Scraped, bloody, humiliated, and filled with the holy spirit of feminine righteousness, we clamber to the peak. I am woman, hear me roar.

That was all really freaking awesome and all, but after enough roaring to necessitate a trip to the corner for some Ludens, the rest of life has to go and continue. Because I was lucky enough to keep my job through transition, and living situation, it’s basically the same life I’m continuing from before transition, except with more hassles. I still have to get my little guy to school every day and pick him up, do the grocery shopping, write the same performance reviews, and attend the same staff meetings. I still take out the garbage every Wednesday, snow blow the driveway, mow the lawn, and help my mom with her taxes. The difference is that it now takes me longer to get ready for work, I’m still dilating three times a day, and the supply list of shit I need every day is considerably longer. It’s all very routine, mundane, and not worth of being mentioned, even though I just filled your eyes with it all and made you wonder if you should just unsubscribe to this already. Seriously, don’t though. I’ll know, and make it a point to write some knockout material just to piss you off.

I miss the excitement. The uncertainty. Doing things that could radically change my future and lead to dizzying heights and soul crushing lows. This is a good thing. I lived through transition and the world didn’t end. It didn’t break me, or even really come close. OK, yeah, I had some dreary, weepy days in there over the past year, but I’m going to conveniently blame hormones on that, evidence or none. I had a little rest, and now it’s time to climb some new mountains.

Am I still going to maintain this blog and share my experiences? In the words of Tina Fey in one of her minor roles, “you betcha!” What I can add to the body of knowledge regarding transition is probably more limited, though I’ll still write trans posts. I’ll also be vectoring into other areas as I see fit, and promise to try to keep up the funny schtick as much as possible. All the transition knowledge I have to share is conveniently accessible if you access the ‘Topics’ tab up at the top where you can find my blathering on almost any topic, or will once I get around to updating the damn thing. Ride’s not over yet.

PS – The picture, in case are wondering, is in homage to one of the greatest trans blogs ever written, “I Hate Roller Coasters”, by my sister, Becky Kent. This one’s for you sis. 🙂

PPS – Um, just so we are clear, Becky is still with us and doing incredibly well. Her blog is gone, hence the homage, but seriously, she’s fine and if I can ever convince her to do a guest post, I’ll prove it.

Is Trans Activism Even Useful?

transactiveYou know those crappy dreams where you are back in school? Being part of the transgender community often makes me feel exactly like that. It’s not really all that bad and way better than those dreams where you really have to pee and finally find a toilet only to wake up in a mad panic, sometimes in warm dampish pajamas. By the back in school analogy, I’m talking about college, but not where there is a big exam you didn’t know about because you blew off the last 4 classes to sleep in Lockwood library. I mean the near constant cajoling to get off your fat tuckus and get involved already.

Being part of an often misunderstood minority, there is an inevitable call to activism if you choose to become affiliated with any type of support or advocacy organization. Counter to my lifelong resistance to joining anything unless intending to destroy it from within, I found myself showing up to the local group, Spectrum, and raising my hand to volunteer a lot. This too was counter to my philosophy of personal responsibility by having other people who would probably do it better raise theirs first. It really worked out better for all of us that way. For some reason by changing or affirming or confirming my gender, I felt the need to make changes in this area as well. Out of nowhere I went decades without ever knowing who the state senator for my district was, and now I find myself arduously working to really make him hate me. Why? Why am I doing this?

From the very moment I stepped into a room where other trans people happened to be, there has been a nearly incessant call to arms. We must fight the good fight. We must force change. We must guarantee the rights and equality for ever single trans person, as well as a chicken in every pot and a sock in every shoe. I quickly agreed, castigating my old lazy ass apathetic self. The stories of grave injustice, persecution and downright craptacular treatment were too much. Batgirl wouldn’t stand by and put up with this shit, and neither would I. It wasn’t long before I realized that this was a little more than pestering curmudgeonly old Mike Ranzenhoffer with pissy emails and unrequited entreaties to call me back (you think he would pick up just once, but no). People were organizing things, making long smelly bus rides to Albany, forging deep collaborative ties with other support groups to achieve political might, and so on. People get overwhelmed when faced with something that looks more like a full time job, or even career.

It’s easy to see why the question of ‘why’ will pop up on an increasingly frequent basis. Really… why? Even if GENDA passes, it really won’t be much more difficult to fire me, decline to hire me, refuse to rent to me, or even provide inept medical care if they happen to hate the trans folk. They will just find different reasons that are legally sound and easy to back up. In fact, it seems likely that I will face more opposition on account of the perception that I’m receiving some form of special treatment through legal protection. You know how it is in this country. God forbid anyone has anything they don’t, even if they don’t need it or want it. It’s like an child stuffed to the gills getting the raw end of dividing an oddly numbered bag of M&Ms with another who is near starving. So why bother trying to tackle the impossible?

The why is actually very easy. Even if any type of legislative solution turns out to be a paper tiger at best, it is the fight for that tiger that generates awareness. It’s the action of trying that creates the real value in making change. Most people are and will remain blissfully unaware the law as it is, or what it will be, but they will hear of the efforts to make change. Resistance to our existence, aside from some notable exceptions, has far more to do with ignorance than understanding what we are and opposing us anyway. The legislation, when it passes, is unlikely to truly protect anyone. The knowledge and awareness, however, is what changes hearts and minds. This is what will put us on equal ground with everyone else. If I get a new job in the future, it won’t be because GENDA tells them they can’t immediately disqualify me, but because my being transgender will not be a factor in their hiring decision. All the legislation will do is benchmark where we stand with the population in general.

As for the overwhelming enormity of it all, after time I realized people, myself included, will do what they can. There will be super stars out there who make every event, organize rallies, and muster the troops to glorious battle. The rest of us will follow when we can, contribute when we can, make calls when we can, or even scribble our little blogs in hopes that some cisgender readers wander over and leave with an expanded perspective. I didn’t realize in college that ‘getting involved’ didn’t necessarily mean joining every club and leading a bloody coup against the student council or hiding at home doing nothing, so I hid. The trumpeters never said that just showing up, and not even every time, can also make a difference. It’s not go big or go home, but a simple entreaty not to hide there.

PS – you can also just click the link and give Ranzenhoffer a hard time for opposing GENDA. Love ya bunches if you do. 🙂

PPS – On an unrelated topic… I just drifted back to find that my last post was ‘Freshly Pressed’ by WordPress. As a result, lots and lots of people came by and the number of people who subscribe to my posts pretty much doubled. Holy shit. It’s like going on stage to allegedly present to just a few people and having the curtain lift to a massive auditorium. Seriously, holy shit. Not going to lie; got a little touch of the old performance anxiety, so here comes the part where I babble for a few about how I know today was not my best effort, but I promise to grease up my elbows and crank out some kind of masterwork after they finally coax me out from under the bed. Why didn’t I poach a more clever picture? Really, swear I’ve done better in the past, and if you check out my grand and nearly comprehensive list of topics (dammit, I knew I should have updated that thing more often, but still it’s most of them I think), you might find something worth reading. Stop panicking Michelle. Seriously, stop it. It’s just a blog. The bar is set really low. You can do this. Just breathe.

Love to all and thank you!!!!!

The Sureality of Being Trans. Really, For Real.

Really for RealIt may just be me, nutty old Michelle and her crazy ideas again, but being transgender seems to lend a certain plasticity to the whole notion of “reality”. I am actually kind of wondering if it really is just me, so please feel free to speak up on the subject, or alternatively, call the men in the white suits and big net to haul me away in a cartoon van. That’s OK by the way, so long as I get to run the asylum. My point, however, is that it occurs to me that a lack of clarity and strong sense of fluidity about something so basic as gender may make a person somewhat fluid about the nature of existence as well. Put your existential hats on girls and boys, time to take a ride.

I started thinking about this after someone at work campaigned, quite successfully, to be the go to person on an effort I was managing. I promised her that she would get right of first refusal on this, which wasn’t hard because in my experience someone begging for the opportunity to do work that others might find unreasonably difficult makes choosing them a no brainer. When I said yes, she asked, “Really for real?”. I must have given a look because she explained, “If you say really for real, I’ll know it’s true.” I complied without hesitation. It occurred to me after that simply by stating my intention, I codified a reality for her she could take to the bank where without there would have been a nagging sense of uncertainty. I liked that because it felt like I carved out a pocket of reality, gave it a rule unique to that environment only, and obeyed it as much as I do gravity. The whole thing was entirely a fabrication, made up, and even after I took shit for it later, refused to reconsider.

As a child all of reality seemed extremely malleable to me. Having moments of understanding that I was a girl will do this to a person, especially as the doom of puberty approaches. I devoured everything I could get on fantasy poking into the “real” world, attempted magic, levitation through yoga, and even to control the weather through extreme concentration on cloud banks. In spite of some minor successes easily attributable to random chance, I became reasonably certain I was barking up the wrong tree. It was fairly disheartening, even though I retained the ability to vector my mind off to an alternate reality at any given moment through complex dissociation. My dismay, coupled by the incontrovertible yet nonsensical understanding that I wasn’t the gender I was presenting, led me in another direction.

By midway through college I had abandoned religion all together, stopped reading comic books, and considered myself a burgeoning hardcore skeptic. If the world could be codified in hard, fast, and inflexible terms, “really for real”, there would be a sense or pattern I could always bank on. I could walk through the woods of the Pacific northwest with no fear of encountering bigfoot. I could swim the Loch Ness without a single concern about Nessie biting my feet off. God, fairies, ghosts, and devils were all figments of the imagination; the stuff of children and adults who insisted on living in Neverland. I could also not, in any logical sense, be a girl. I buried it all in the same landfill along with psychics, UFOs, and anything unexplained.

The real piss of this was that the whole girl thing kept digging its way out and started walking around, proud as punch, on the surface. Heavy machinery and miles thick capstones of lead and concrete worked for a bit, but only that. The other stuff stayed buried where it was, but I was forced to rethink reality once again, and concluded that there was a certain liquidity to my gender. I was clearly both at once, sometimes the pool tilting and the contents gathering to one end or another. I thought this made me more of a complete person and went with it for as long as I could. Of course this was doomed as well.

Flashing forward to nearly the present, as this story is waxing kind of long, I came to find that the pool really only had that one end, and a funhouse mirror that made things seem otherwise. Appearances aside, the male side was the fabrication all along, like a mall Easter Bunny on the job too long and forgetting that it was just a suit. Early on in the old ‘gender assessment’ process, I told Dr. M that the whole thing was really a pretty big mindfuck. He liked that enough to write it down, even though I didn’t think it was really all that clever. It came as no big surprise when one of the creators of “The Matrix” came out as transgender.

Going through transition, reality once again has taken on the elasticity and malleable qualities it had when I was a child. The existence of a higher power and afterlife are back to unknowns instead of a hard no. Maybe some people did have a tenuous mental connection to things unknown and not all were malicious hucksters attempting to bilk the credulous by providing false hope. Perhaps the qualitative evidence of transexualism is more than sufficient to declare it a firm part of objective reality while the quantitative evidence slowly trickled in.

Just as the actions I took after accepting “really for real” as a truism validated it, so do my actions and those of people like me validate the reality of transexualism. Declarations of falsehood on either count change nothing whatsoever. Honestly, it’s nice to have this back.

As a final note of clarity, so none of this is misconstrued, I am in no way making the case that being transgender is a contrived condition, or exists only in the subjective minds of certain people. The intent was to explore the effect that being transgender has on their perception of the world all together; if it sways anyone other than myself to or from a ‘2+2=4’ outlook to a more flexible “sometimes ‘Y’ is a vowel, sometimes not” one. Questioning your sense of what is remains highly recommended.

Still Casting “Michael’s” Shadow

ShadowI never really had the words for it before, but at times I am aware that everywhere I go that is familiar, I still cast Michael’s shadow. I hadn’t conceptualized it really before coming across the idea in Jenny Boylan’s new book, Stuck In the Middle With You. She is apparently very earth conscious and chooses to repurpose old song titles rather than stick them in some landfill to take up premium space needed for all those fricking little ‘K’ cups of coffee. Anyway, I liked the notion and decided to do some repurposing myself rather than endanger miners who would otherwise trudge deep into the bowels of the earth to retrieve shiny new ideas.

I think the overall notion, for those of us who aren’t so quick on our toes, is that no matter what changes you make, the shadow you cast is going to be the same for everyone who knew the old version. The reason it came up was in a discussion of why trans people may be best served by skipping town to a new city to start over once transition is initiated. I’m not going to lie, the concept is very attractive. Let’s talk about this for a bit, shall we?

The shadow casting is pretty much inevitable. People who knew me well as Michael probably still think of me that way for the most part, and view me now as some strange alteration of the goofy, eccentric, good time Charlie they spent so many years getting to know. Suddenly there is a goofy, eccentric, good time Charlene in his place. What the hell man? It’s like installing Window’s 8 on your PC. Yeah, sure, it’s probably better than Vista and the same damn thing under the hood, but what’s with all the extra little app accessories? And where the fuck did the ‘Start’ button go? This new you is great and all, but we were really used to the old one, so if you could be more like that please, it would be really super.

The group I manage and I went for lunch a bit back and we took a little extra time to play some darts as time permitted. While I encourage people to speak freely, sometimes it takes a little extra effort and a different environment to really have everyone loosen up. On this occasion, one of them admitted that they missed ‘Mike’ sometimes. I should have been offended, but wasn’t because I’ve always assumed this kind of sentiment can’t be avoided. Besides, not anything I haven’t heard on the home front more than once. I pushed back a little and said I was still the exact same person, just in a slightly different package. “Yeah… kind of.”

Is it better then to run, run away? A few decades ago, 9 out 10 psychiatrists would agree that yes, it is much better and routinely recommended it. They went so far as to urge parents to essentially fake the death of the transitioning parent because this would be easier on the children. Holy shit, can you believe this? Can you imagine believing you lost a parent at a young age only to find out years and years later that your beloved mommy is now a guy named Chuck out on the west coast? We think some of the challenges we face now are difficult but it seems we don’t know the half of it.

Today things are different, and it is very possible for families to move and start fresh without having to traumatize little Willard by telling him daddy is going to die, or nipped out for a pack of smokes and never returned. Under the auspices of that paradigm, doesn’t it seem attractive to move on out to Sheboygan and interact daily with people who never knew you any other way? It is attractive. Very attractive. No more accidental “Mike’s” in awkward, crowded places. No more old stories, or far worse, pictures popping up all the time from the old days. I’m certainly familiar with all of this. I get called “Mike” or have male pronouns accidentally used often enough, and the company has at least 3 different banners up around the building extolling the employee base where I’ve been immortalized with a bald head and whiskers. I could complain, but I find it kind of amusing to be honest.

This one doesn’t have a clear answer that I’m going to try to convince you with. It really depends on you and where you are in your life. If it makes sense and is way more comfortable to move on out, then by all means do that. If what you have built locally is important enough or you feel a tie to your area and opportunity exists to thrive, then that is just fine as well. Remember, you transitioned because you were so inexpressibly uncomfortable with your gender expression. It only makes sense to be where you are most comfortable as well. There will be challenges either way, and it’s up to you to see which ones are those most worth taking on.

For the time being, I’m fine casting my old shadow, even when it means an uncomfortable moment here and there, or even being outed to a confused group of visiting Germans. My friendships, family, and the value I hold in regards to where I am remains the same, even if my shadow casts a bumpier profile. If the time comes to move, I’ll enjoy the benefits of starting fresh and be OK with that. As the old saying goes, wherever I go, there I am, shadow and all.

Ever Feel Like the Elephant In the Room?

Elephant GirlYou ever just kind of feel like there is an elephant in the room and that it’s probably you? Living in full time transition, it’s a feeling you tend to get a lot. A whole lot. You can often fool yourself and pretend it’s not there, but then all of a sudden someone refers to you as ‘he’ in a meeting, by accident, and the room grows deathly silent with all eyes focused intently on anything outside your immediate area. Nice, right? Let’s talk about that for a minute.

We’ve kind of skirted around this area before, but now I think it’s time to get the elephant right in the cross-hairs of our double barreled bazooka-joe sized shotgun. I’m now almost 10 months into full time female life, and for the most part, it’s pretty comfortable. Aside from an occasional slip up here and there from a momentarily distracted friend, family member, or colleague, I feel that I’m pretty much blending most of the time. Yes, I do still get called ‘sir’ on the phone frequently, even after identifying myself as Michelle, but I politely correct their mistake, and to date I haven’t gotten any push back on this. Actually it’s kind of fun to listen to their awkward fumbling apologies, especially when they called to sell me on something. Just once I’d love it if they kept it real, “Oh?… Fuck. Yeah, I’m just going to hang up now because we both know there is not a chance in holy hell that you are going to return that pledge envelope to the Whiskey Dick Foundation for the Turgidly Challenged. Buh-bye, um, “ma’am”.”

Again, the vast majority of the time I sit there completely unaware of anything being weird. Suddenly, often for no reason at all, I’m hyper-aware that I’m presenting as female. This shouldn’t even be a thing because I do that full time and all, but out of nowhere I realize that I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of my most frequent nightmare for 30 some years. Rank fear sweat blisters onto my skin, the stinky stuff that no amount of Secret is going to handle. “Shit… they don’t think of me as Michelle at all, do they? I’m just ‘Mike in a dress’ to these people who are too fucking polite to start cracking wise in my direction.” Of course no one says anything, or even seems like they notice that I’ve come down with a full blown case of the heebie-jeebies. At those times, and only those times, I wish the world was just a little less PC and we were back in the 70’s when they would have called me ‘Tinkerbell’ or something and guffawed until I slunk away.

The good news is that this is becoming increasingly rarer and I care less and less what anyone might be secretly thinking. I do still get the sneaking suspicion that they have unkind thoughts, and worse, that they have managed to link them up in some kind of mental chat session I’m not privy to and having a good old time at my expense. By the way, I’m not the only one that has that, right? That when speaking to a group you are not addressing a gathering of individuals, but some kind of conjoined group mind that makes any illusion of one-on-one connection hopelessly impossible? No? That’s just great. Thanks. Be that as it may, I’m now content and hardly worry of this anymore. There are much worse things than elephants.

A Bout of Baron Von Funkhausen

Moody

I’ve come to notice that one of the fun little effects of hormone treatment is something I like to call Baron von Funkhausen syndrome. Yes, it’s a whimsical little way to dress up what amounts to a sense of profound dreariness and depression that seems to pop up out of nowhere, last for a few days, and then quickly evaporate. No, no, you can’t say, “I think that’s only you Michelle”. I’ve talked to enough other people who have the same thing from time to time. Yeah, I’m still not quite used to that.

I’ve noticed it almost always begins upon waking up. I mean sure, nobody likes to roll out of bed at 5 in the morning, especially in the winter, and more so when one sleeps with the heat turned way down low and the ceiling fan on high. Like my mom I’ve become an ice box sleeper, but that moment between throwing the covers off and grabbing my robe before I turn blue is not the most pleasant part of my day. Most days this is fine. I either go down and exercise, or drink tea as I bang out my constant stream of drivel feeling just positively chipper. On these day though, ugh. I end up hitting the snooze 8 times, each time necessitating the rush from my bed to the other side of the room, which leaves me 50 shades of grumpus by the time 6:00 rolls around and it’s time to wake up the boy. It only gets worse from there.

I’ve tried to figure out what exactly bring this sort of thing on. Tiff with my ex the night before? A particularly shitty day of work? The precursor stage of a dilly of a cold? The fact that it has been exactly 25 days since the last time this ferkakta thing happened? That last one seems little bit more on the money. The problem is that during these few days I generally feel like a cats ass in a full tub and really don’t feel like writing anything down. When it finally lifts, I’m so happy to be rid of it, I like to pretend it never happened so I don’t have to think about it. I really should start to though so I can plan ahead and stock up on Swiss Cake Rolls and Cool Ranch Doritos. I know, I’m trying to get off the Big Mama train again, but a few days a month can be planned in.

I have to be honest, it kind of baffles me why this happens. Yes, we are operating on a different set of primary hormones now, so of course we expect changes. The hormonal fluctuations, however, should be static if the intake is a steady line. A monthly type cycle simply doesn’t make sense without the organs present that drive extra production at different times. It might just be the appearance of a cycle that is in fact driven by external sources, which is really why I need to start tracking this. It occurred to that it might be the presence of my ex going though her cycles and pairing to her emotional state at the time. This makes sense because my mood has always taken on the color of my surroundings. It may also be that my brain has always been primed to be more affected by estrogen in different cycles all along, and now I’ve simply got the right juice flowing through it. This is all pure conjecture of course, excepting for the fact that this keeps happening and never did before.

Although now I know enough to just wait it out and it will pass, some things do help. Getting out of the house is always a good start because it’s hard to be Miss Mopey on a beautiful sunshine day. Not always so easy though to get the energy, and winter in Buffalo makes it all the more likely that brushing off the car on a 10 degree day in a snow shower will simply blow it all up into a full depression. The one sure fire thing, temporarily anyway, is to listen to ‘Call Me Maybe’ in my car and sing along like ditzy doofus on my way to work. Like a charm every time. If you see me rolling into the parking lot belting out Carley Rae Jepson, rest assured it’s probably a bad day to be asking me about the cover sheets on my TPS reports.

The Path

Lehigh_Memory_Trail_2_w220

I’m sure by the title you all think this is going to be a big metaphorical post about the path of transition and all the schmaltzy self reflection that comes with that. No, I’m talking about a very real path that goes through the heart of Williamsville NY. It used to be a rail line, but the village re-purposed it as some sort of memorial lane, but left the old rail station in place to confuse the message. I like to drive over there during lunch on especially nice days in spring and fall and take a little walk. The last warm day in November was gorgeous, so I did just that, and let me tell you, it was spectacular.

Well, that’s about it in terms of actual path. It’s pretty and all, and I enjoy it, but seriously, it’s just a strip of asphalt with a bunch of trees and shit alongside. If you got sucked in because you are a hard core path aficionado or old rail line enthusiast well, stick around and see if you have a secret ‘transgender schmaltzy self-reflection’ fancier hidden in there as well.

This was my first visit to my secret path since going full time. As usual, my secret was out because it was overrun by stroller moms and mid-day dog walkers, not to mention a maintenance crew hacking away at some detritus around a tree. We all ignored each other, which was nice because the last time I was down this way I could not imagine that would ever be the case. The last time had been in the spring, and I was still in full blown male mode. Ironically, I felt way more self conscious last time, wearily walking along in jeans and brown shoes, though made for a woman, sufficiently androgynous to pass undetected.

We had a warm spell in April and I wanted to check out the signs of spring. It’s my favorite time of year and my gardening bug was starting to wake up and urge me into the dirt with promises of bountiful harvests I would invariably lose interest in by August. I had the song ‘Here’s Where the Story Ends’ stuck in my head, and during my walk I wrote of a post about it, just as I did this one. I was also seriously freaking out inside, but not so anyone could really tell. The planning process with HR seemed to be dragging on interminably. I was so anxious for it to be over, hardly being able to stand the thought of one more day of presenting myself as something I’m not. At the same time I had low expectations for T Day. I had great faith in my group, but equally great faith in people’s ability to surprise the hell out of me for good or for bad. I also expected a lot more public negativity and wondered if my path walking days were done. Still, the female life I was maintaining was proving far friendlier than I thought, so there was hope. I resolved not to come back unless I was doing so as a woman. Much better outlook than the year before.

Last November we had a warm spell like this one and I headed to my path. The trees were about bare and I spent the time imagining it all covered with bitter winter snows; impassable with a hostile barrenness. I was a wreck. My ex had been through a huge health crisis that nearly killed her and I was still suffering the aftershocks of debilitating anxiety attacks. My body was still adjusting to the hormonal changes and the feeling of wrongness was intensifying. Rumors of massive layoffs were emerging and I felt my position compromised. I was out to HR with a working plan of transitioning at the start of the year. This suddenly seemed like a terrible idea and I planned to duck for cover and see if I survived. Still, someone knew, and if it was decided this was too much trouble to deal with, I could be gone. I thought about what the path would look like in the spring, but it was too hard to see past the winter. I couldn’t imagine feeling safe coming as a woman.

In the spring of last year I wandered the path overwhelmed. I suddenly knew myself again, but no one else did except for my ex. The very idea of what lay before me was too enormous to contemplate. I had just found the Belles, and had no connections there yet; only tales of grim outcomes. My dad had just passed away, I knew my marriage was over, and I had very low expectations as to both keeping my job and the reactions of my family and friends. I was numb. I felt trapped, and backed into a corner, betrayed by an accident of birth I could no longer ignore. I looked back with such great longing the last time I had walked that same path a strong, fit man, ascending in career and prospects, in a happy marriage, with my son on my back. It was hard to imagine ever feeling that good again.

So here I am now. I didn’t make it though unscathed by any means, but far, far better off than I ever expected to be and I’ll take that any day. Plus I’m now me, and things are somehow much easier to face that way. I have no idea what to expect next time I’m down there. It will probably be that first really nice day in April as the tulips and daffodils are pushing up from the thawing earth. Everything may have changed, or everything may remain exactly the same. Somehow I doubt the predictability of either outcome, but I’ll be there and happy for it.

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