So I had my first electrolysis appointment this morning.  I put some numbing cream on the area, covered it up with Press n' Seal, and set out.  It was snowing a lot, and the normally 40 minute drive took about 1:15.  As I was driving over, I looked at myself in the mirror, with the wrap on my face, with the heavy beard, thought about all this pain, money, driving, and I felt really depressed/emotional... how am I going to do this... how am I going to climb this mountain?  It was kind of a tough ride.

Got to the appointment, laid down, and the first few pricks... you want the picture of non-relaxation?  'Twas me.  Maureen had to stop and tell me to relax a little more, breath, etc.  I tried to relax, tried to breath, and she got me chatting a little bit.  It got 100% better after that.  To the point where the half-hour actually flew by.  There were a few pricks that hurt quite a bit, but most of them just felt like little pinpricks.  We finished up, and I thought to myself, "I can do this."  I felt much better.  Going forward, I'll do an hour at a time.  With my schedule, an hour a week is all I can really manage... let alone afford.  :)

I noted as I was driving home, how happy I was.  Total contrast from the trip over there.  Happy that I've always wanted to do this, and now I am.  Happy that I had about a square-inch of clear skin on my cheek.  Happy that I am working hard to become myself.  Happy that there are such wonderful providers out there like Maureen... a true ally of our community.

It is going to be a long and expensive process, make no mistake about it.  But I will get through it.  I will get to the top of the mountain.

When I was in high school and college and it came time to study for an exam, I always got to a point where I said to myself, "you know what?  I know this stuff.  Looking at these materials for another minute isn't going to help.  I'm done.  I'm ready.  Bring it on."  I've spent countless hours reading blogs, reading sample coming-out letters, letters to family, to coworkers, to friends, to children.  Reading about the effects of hormones, reading about the real-life ramifications about being transsexual.  Countless hours thinking about it, rehearsing conversations with people, visualizing my life as a successful woman.  All towards making my decision.  Now that I've made my decision, bring it on.

Now am thinking about timelines for telling people.  Lately it really bothers me when I am around my friends.  Whereas in the past, I've unknowlingly acted; put up this facade around them, now I am aware that I am acting.  And I don't like it.  I'm working on a letter that I plan to send to 30 or so of my friends shortly after I start hormones.  I am excited to send it.  To be certain, there will be some negative reaction, but I will be able to be authentic around my friends.  Once I've told my friends, then it will be time to turn to family.  Then STBX and kids.  Lastly, work, but not until I am very very close to going full-time, like, when going full-time is imminent.

At first I wondered, since I won't be going full-time for well over a year, if it is too soon to tell people.  I don't think so.  I think this will give people a chance to react, adapt, and hopefully accept.  And this amount of time will help "usher in" the real me, gradually.  I think people have a better chance of accepting if they see incremental changes over a period of time.  And also, I won't have to spend the next year-and-a-half making excuses for why my hair is longer, why I am wearing this or that, why my nails are painted, and what are those things under my shirt?

This is going to be good.  There will be some hard times ahead.  But I am confident that it's going to be good.

Told another person yesterday... my 5th so far... a good friend of mine who I've not seen in a while... she and I had a little flirtation about a year ago, that nothing came of.  I've always considered her to be a great, great person.  I can sum up her response with this quote...

"I think it's great that you've realized who you really are and can start to be comfortable with yourself. I can't even imagine what you've been going through... trying to figure out who you are, telling the first person, working on accepting yourself. I'm here to support you if you want to talk about anything... really.. anything. Don't be afraid to talk to me."

Yeah, she was someone who I thought wouldn't freak out on me, but when I got this back, it blew me away.  We're getting together next weekend... she is a newlywed, so between that, and my stuff, we'll have lots to chat about.  Looking forward to that.  :)

The positive reactions when I've been out, the positive reactions from people I've told, the awkwardness I feel around friends, just make me want to keep telling people.  It is so freeing.  I spend most of my time these days rehearsing conversations with friends, family, work.

It's a good thing that I'm a hairy beast... that's kind of a built-in safeguard against moving too fast.  I had my third full-face treatment the other night.  I have mostly dark, coarse hair on my very fair skin, so it is working well so far on the non-greys.  The greys, I am starting electro for next weekend.

And the voice.  I won't transition until the vast, vast majority of this beard is gone, and I have developed at least a gender-neutral voice.  I am starting "Voice Therapy For Persons In Transition" as they call it at GW, the first week in February.

Had my first appointment with my endo last week.  Went well... the one thing that kind of sucks, is that I developed a clot in my calf after having Achilles tendon repair surgery on the same leg, back in March of this year.  The surgery, and the fact that I smoked (please note the past tense here), is what caused the clot.  But, to be on the safe side, not only do I have to get the usual battery of blood tests, but I also have to go to a hematologist to rule out a blood clotting disorder, which means another blood test and more delays, etc.  I've wanted to go on hormones for at least 10 years, so what's another two weeks?  But still.

So things are happening.  Sometimes it feels like a snail's pace, sometimes it feels like breakneck speed.

P.S.  I think it will be good when I am no longer counting how many people I've told.  :)

I see this phrase bandied about here and there... and I wonder what it means. Are there thought patterns, ways of thinking, that are exclusive to women? I was out one time with some friends, and one of the guys was talking about this party he was going to have. He said, "we want as much labia there as possible," and high-fives were exchanged. My thought was, "what a f*****g pig." I guess that's more how a typical woman thinks... but then again, I'm sure are men out there who would think the same thing.

I'm a woman. Do I think like a woman? I dunno. I think like..... me.

so... I was on this PE early this morning, ended up in chat, and this one woman was talking about killing herself. parents kicked her out, everyone has ostracized her, she has 2 kids, is engaged, got fired from her job, she's the breadwinner, etc. every option we were suggesting to her, was met with a roadblock. "I have no way to get there," "I can't, I can't, I can't..." "no one will help"

I looked at her profile, saw where she lived, did some googling... found some social services place on the net-web near her and sent her the link to it... she protested "they don't help with housing," and a few other things, I cut/pasted the piece from their site saying that they do help with housing... then it was like some light went on. she said she was going to call them in the morning for help. I told her to report back to us.  She reported back later in the day, that they offered some help, and it sounded like she was in a better place.

so yay. maybe she will have some hope now.

It occured to me, that Mike (not my male name, but we're using it here) probably wouldn't have helped her.  Mike isn't all that helpful.  He probably would have rolled his eyes, thought something like, "sheesh, this person won't help herself... why should I?" and gone on with his business.  But Faline helped her.  I helped her.  That's a pretty good feeling, and it reinforces the fact that I am going in the right direction.  I've always rued the fact that I wasn't a more helpful/kind person.  I always wanted to be, but I just wasn't.  When I go back and read this post from my blog, it all kind of adds up.

Last night at the support group meeting someone asked how to handle situations such as when you're out, and someone gives you a really wide-eyed look, or says something not-so-nice.  One of the members of the group said that she, in essence, fights fire with fire, says things like, "oh, so you have a problem with people from Kentucky?"  (I guess she is from Kentucky??)

I think this is terrible advice, and I said so.  Get threatened, and be antagonistic back.  Yeah, really smart.  Nothing like exacerbating the situation.  (I was a little more diplomatic about it in the meeting)

My advice?  Just smile.  Give them a big smile.  Not a sarcastic smile, a genuine one.  The first time I was out en femme, I was in JCPenney, and a couple approached.  I got read.  The woman kind of gasped, and I just looked her straight in the eye and smiled.  She got this sheepish, almost embarrassed look on her face.  Then I looked at the guy she was with and smiled at him.  He gave me this almost knowing nod... I wondered for a moment, if he was one of us.  And on we then went, about our business.

So, just smile.  Turn the other cheek, so to speak.  Advice from the inexperienced woman in the group.  Yes, it's simplistic, and there are of course times when "just a smile" won't cut it.  But, it's certainly preferable than jabbing back, I think.

I think this is going to be a frustrating time for a while.  I can't go out as me, without tremendous effort, and I don't really want to go out as anyone other than me.  I have a bunch of great friends, and I cannot be myself around them, and I hate that.  I hate feeling fake.  The stuff I've realized over the past few days, means these past few days have been among the most important of my life.

And there is only one (non TG) person with whom I feel comfortable sharing.  I've told four people actually, but there is only one person who I feel like I can fully trust, and that "gets it."  I was at lunch the other day with one of the people I told and was talking about what I'd wear for swim training... and she said something like, "I know.  You want to wear a little tiny string bikini.."  No!  I don't.  I just want to wear a swimsuit like any other woman would wear.  She doesn't get it.  Another friend I told, actually told someone else.  WTF?? I can't trust her anymore.  I don't even want to talk to her about it.  And the fourth person, is freaked out.

I don't feel like hanging out with my friends.  One of the things I dislike most, are fake people.  And that's what I am right now... fake.

I'd really love to tell everyone... "this is me.  I'm Faline.  I'm a woman."  and those who couldn't handle it, I'd lose, and (hopefully) others, I wouldn't... but at least I could be myself.  Who knows, someday I might completely flip out, and do that.

I remember in my 20s, I didn't do all that well with women, and my mom asked me, "what is it with you?  do you dislike women?"  or something like that.  And I even remember thinking then, no, it is that I am jealous of them.  And that is how I feel now.  Jealous.  I had a less-than-good relationship with my sister while she was in her teens, and it was because I was jealous of her.  Jealous that she was turning into a woman, and I was not.

I really wonder how I will make it through the coming months.  I don't mean I'm going to do something stupid... nothing like that... more that I just wonder what the hell I am going to do with myself while I wait for things that take time, to happen.

I feel like I want to withdraw, to go away for a while, to disappear and re-emerge.  Tonight I spent sitting in front of the computer with a few glasses of wine.  Accomplished nothing... did nothing.  I can't keep doing this every night.  Today I ate breakfast with the kids, and had nothing else to eat all day.  This won't scale.

this is what happens when I have 5 glasses of wine and get depressed... I ramble.

I have an appointment with an endo this coming Tuesday, and I didn't realize you were supposed to dress for it.  Martha recommended that I do, which I am excited about... this will be the first interaction I've had with non-TG people who will only be seeing Faline.  Martha showed me my letter, and it referred to "Ms. K*****" throughout the letter, and used "she" and "her," and it felt right, and it felt comfortable.  "Mr." feels neither right nor comfortable to me anymore.

In our last session, Martha had stepped in and "corrected" me, changing the word "if" to "when," when I had said "if I end up transitioning..."  (going full-time) and I asked her what she meant by that.  She asked me if her saying that made me uncomfortable.  I told her it did, at first, but it forced me to think more about it.  Anyway, she said that she thinks I am going to end up going full-time.  And I agree with her.  I wasn't really swayed by her opinion per se, but I knew deep-down, that was what she meant, and her saying that, along with some comments on another website, really forced me to think about this; think about why I wasn't accepting it.  I think it was more because of perceived barriers... financial, family, friends... none of which are reasons to prevent going forward.

I've been thinking in different ways... visualizing being successful... visualizing conversations with friends and family... visualizing my successful life as a woman.  Whereas before, when I thought about this, I thought in terms of barriers.  Make no mistake about it, this isn't going to be a walk in the park.  There are difficult times ahead.  But that knowledge is not going to prevent me from going forward.

I've done lots and lots of thinking over the past few days... and this is what I know...

  • I want to go full-time at some point. 
  • I think I will, in fact, go full-time at some point.
  • I am not the type to sit on this type of thing. I go with it, and I move on.
So, this is a rough timeline for how the next couple of years might go for me...

Next 3-4 months... make sure that hormones are compatible with the rest of me.  See if I feel better, more complete.  Finish first round of facial laser hair removal, start electrolysis to get the greys.  Start spending (a lot) more time as me.  If I could afford it, I'd probably look into E3000... but I just don't have the money.

Summer 2010...
find a way to fit voice lessons at GW into my schedule.  I think the voice is as important as beard removal.

Other things I'll be working on kind of on an ongoing basis... telling other people, working with my therapist and/or other professionals to introduce this to the kids... starting to tell family... etc.  Oh, and lose weight!! I was 155 in high school, ballooned to 205 after getting married, got down to 158 about three years ago, now am around 172.

Winter 2010...
or once I've learned how to develop at least a gender-neutral voice, which will probably push this out a little bit... spend the majority of my time outside of work, and outside of kids' time, as me.  Including time with non-trans friends.  I'll need to find out who is "with me" on this.

Winter 2011...
go full-time.  I'm not done paying alimony until 9/1/11, and I need to ensure that I stay at my current job until then.  I hope to transition at my current job, but you never know.  And who knows, maybe ENDA will have passed by then.  :)

Then find a way to afford SRS.

So, there you go.  There is a really rough timeline.  It might be optimistic... I'm sure it will change a bit, or a lot, as the case may be, but it's important to have a framework in my mind for what I want to accomplish over the next couple of years.

I'm a woman.  There is no point in denying it anymore.  I am going to be successful.  I am not afraid.  I am going to come out of it with the two things that are most important to me: 1) being myself, and 2) a great relationship with my kids.  Anything else is gravy.

My first time out as me in public was last weekend.  Was such a good experience that I decided that I was ready to go again, this weekend.  I put a note in my (non-TG) blog about it, hoping that one of my friends who "knows" might ask to come along.  One of my really good friends, a relatively new friend, offered to come.  She and I really *click* on a platonic level, and she was the one that I was hoping might come.

So I got all dolled up, she came over and we had a glass of wine first, and the somewhat surprising thing was that we were both totally comfortable.  She said shortly after she came in, that I "looked beautiful."  I don't quite know about that, but it was nice to hear nonetheless.  I guess I shouldn't have been, but I continue to keep being surprised by things.  I keep waiting to have some sort of weird feeling, or get really weird reactions from people, or totally freak someone out, but it hasn't happened yet, which is good.  It will happen at some point, make no mistake about it, and I will deal with it as it comes.

Anyway, we went to the outlets... went to Banana Republic where she helped me find a cute top.  I definitely need to shop with GGs more often.  I keep waiting to get wide-eyed stares from people... hasn't happened yet.  Didn't happen last night.  The top my friend picked out, was something I wouldn't have picked myself.  But it looked really cute on.  I have so much to learn when it comes to clothes, etc.  Then we went down to 9 West, and my friend got two pairs of boots.  I could have easily bought a bunch of stuff there myself, but I don't really need any shoes right now, and I have to watch my money.

Then the next "first" was using the women's restroom.  The outlets were pretty much deserted at that point, it was a little past closing time, so it was more or less safe.  I'm not sure I'd be comfortable using the women's room when it is crowded.  Anyway... peeing sitting down.  Hmm, what to say about that.  All I can say is that it's the only time I've laughed to myself when I've used the restroom.  :)

Next "first" was going to Friday's after that for dinner.  Still not getting any stares from people (that I noticed anyway)... the hostess said said something like "hello, ladies" when we came in, which felt nice.  The overly-peppy waiter (think Brian from Chotchkie's) sat down right next to me when he first came to the table.  Once I opened my mouth, the jig was up, but he just kept on being his overly-peppy self.  As we sat there eating and chatting... what I was noticing, was that I didn't feel like Faline, or (insert male name here)... I just felt like I was being myself,  I wasn't acting feminine, or masculine, I was just acting like me.  So what I learned, is that I am totally comfortable and normal going out in public with close friends, and presenting as a woman, and I totally enjoy it.  But, I didn't learn anything further about "who" the real me is.  I still suspect I was holding back in terms of mannerisms, etc.
So, there you go.  Two chicks going out shopping and to dinner.  Normalcy.  Good stuff.

I have my appointment with the endo scheduled for two weeks from yesterday.  Pretty exciting.  I told my best GG friend and she was happy for me.  It still seems a little surreal at times that I am actually and finally doing this, after years of wanting it.  I wonder what I am going to do when it comes to swim training, in around 9 or 10 months.  It's weird... lately when I've gone to the pool, the past 2 or 3 times, I've wanted to put a towel over my chest or something.

At therapy yesterday, I said something like "well, if I decide to transition..." and my therapist said "you mean when you decide to transition..."  I definitely need to ask her what she meant by that.  I was chatting with my laser-ist at the last appointment and said something like, "... I'm not sure what I will end up doing," and she kind of laughed and said, "oh, I know what the script is going to be for you!"  In a nice way.  And I know what she meant by that.  That's kind of hard to get my head around. It's a fait d'accompli that I'm going to end up transitioning? The only thing that holds me back from agreeing with that, are my 4 and 2-year old kids. It's really hard to do something that is going to have such an impact on their life. And let's face it, it probably isn't going to make their lives any easier.  It makes me feel selfish at times.

Both of these people have seen and helped probably many, many transgender people... my therapist, over 500.  I wonder if they know me better than I know myself?  There have been so many (mostly mental) changes in me in the past four months... mostly because I've started accepting myself.  I still have a lot to learn, though, as I go down this path.

So ever since the night I went up to the GIG in Baltimore as Faline, I've always wanted to go out shopping or whatever as her. There was always something in the way... bad time of day, too much beard shadow, my face looks too fat, yada yada yada. So I had a free night tonight and decided to dress up, and if I was comfortable with the way I looked, go shop.

So I got dressed up... and I wasn't all *that* comfortable with the way I looked... but... I thought to myself, you know, sometime you have to do this.  You have to go, and see what it feels like.  What's the worst that could happen?  Some stranger snickers at you?  So off I went.  Strangely, I didn't feel all that nervous driving over.  Got there, went into Lord & Taylor... and it wasn't exhilarating, or exciting, or scary, or anything I thought it might be.  It felt... normal.

It was just nice to leisurely poke through clothes, try on bracelets, try on coats, without getting weird looks from people.  And the surprising part to me, was that I didn't get weird looks.  Which I am still pretty surprised at.  Well, I got one or two, maybe.  But no eyes-popping-out-of-the-head looks.  To me, it is very obvious that I am not a genetic female.  I didn't venture into the dressing rooms... not because of fear, but because I didn't really find anything that I thought I might buy.  Gotta watch my money.  And also, this trip wasn't about "clothes" per se... it was about going out in public as I perceive that I want, and seeing how it felt.  I did find one coat at Lord & Taylor that I really liked... but it cost something like $160.  Can't afford that.

I kept my head up, looked people in the eye, smiled, and acted like I belonged there.  Which I do, of course, but you know what I mean.  Women smile... they keep their heads up... I walked confidently and casually.  I'm actually pretty proud of myself.

Then I headed down to JCPenney and found a cute bracelet.  Went over to a register and the guy says, "Sorry ma'am, we're not open, you can go over to that one."  Totally normal... just what I had hoped for.  Treated me like anyone else.  I did find a few things at JCP that I wanted to try on, so I did.  I liked one of the tops, but didn't get it... this purple sequiny ruched sleeveless top, but I don't know where I would wear it.  I might go back and get it, though... one of my GG friends has mentioned going into DC together sometime.  That'd be fun.

Was going to go to one more store, but decided that this was a great first experience, and that I would call it a night.

What I found with this... as I am finding with everything as I keep exploring, is that it's not the big deal I make it out to be in my head.  My therapist always says "you know, people might surprise you!" when I fret about how someone might react to this, or that.  I keep getting consistently surprised... in a good way.

N.B.: When I say it felt "normal," this is not the same as meh... whatever.  I'm really happy with how things went.  The fact that it felt normal to me, makes me really happy.


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When I transitioned, there just weren't too many blogs out there written by straight, transitioned women. Well, here's one.

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