Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Goofy Smile

Last Saturday (April 21, 2012) was another Renaissance meeting, and another Laptop Lounge.  Another chance to be me.  The Real me.

As has been the norm lately, I worked in the morning, then went to the motel, shaved, then went to True Colors for my makeup.

You've read all this before if you've been following this blog for any length of time.

You've also read about when I go to dinner with my friends at Cafe Winberie, which I also did.

Then to Renaissance, then to Laptop.

Fairly routine by now- my Sophie night out.  My once a month.

So why write about it?

Well, because of how I felt.

I live for these times when I can go out.  Usually I am in a good mood, if feeling a little anxious.  After all, getting caught would cause major issues. 

Saturday, well it felt different.

First off, I had a new outfit.  I bought the top from JC Penny and the skirt from eBay.  I loved how they look together.  I wore a necklace I bought an eternity ago (I forget where) for the first time.

And after I was ready, I looked in the mirror.  I saw this:

And I started smiling.

I saw a Woman reflected back- a Woman at ease with herself.  A Woman in a cute outfit ready for a night out.  And I am that Woman.

You see, part of the burden has lifted.  I know when I'm telling my wife about Sophie.  I know that the lies will stop.  Getting caught held much less fear.

I couldn't stop smiling.  I don't think I ever looked better.  I felt feminine and I felt beautiful. 

And that carried through the whole night.  I had a goofy smile all night.  At dinner, at Ren, and at Laptop, I felt so natural.  I was in a skirt, wearing wedges, a bra, hoop earrings, and was fully made up... and felt no Fear.

I was proud to be a Woman- proud to be Sophie.

I was in the clouds all night.  Oh to still be there!

As always, the night ended, and it was back to drab.  The Pink hangover.  My life as it is. 

Soon, I will tell my wife.  And for good or ill, that life will never be the same.

I am practicing what I will say with my therapist.  It's going to be hard.  I have backup plans ready in case I'm thrown out (as I expect.) 

I live in the Gray area between genders and I always will, even after transition.  I accept that.  And I accept myself.  Hopefully others will as well.

I couldn't stop smiling.

Tears are sure to follow soon.  Hard, nasty times.  But last Saturday, I was Happy and Feminine.

I'm going to try to carry that with me when... it all happens.  Remember why I'm doing this.  Why I need to do this.

I need it for that Goofy Smile.  To BE.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I guess we as a world must be in love with statistics, because they pop up everywhere these days. 50% of marriages end in divorce. 1% of US Citizens hold 42% of the wealth, while the bottom 80% have 8% of the wealth. Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend Trident for their patients that chew gum. Babe Ruth hit .342 which meant he got a hit just 34% of the time.


That’s a meaningful statistic to me. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide.  So, think of that.  Four out of ten.  Considering that only 4% of people in the US even consider suicide.  That's CONSIDER. 

And Transpeople are at 41% Attempted.

So, why am I bringing up this amazingly depressing statistic?  Am I going to rail against those that cause transgender pain?  Howl at the proverbial moon about the injustices?  Attica Attica?
I am the 41%.
I tried.  Failed too (obviously, unless you're reading this on an Ouija board or you're the kid from "Sixth Sense.")
For me, the plan was rat poison.  Figured it would be quick enough and no one could stop it.  I was going to park in Valley Forge Park, near where I live, take the poison and let nature take its course.  This was October 1990.  My finacee and I just broke up after she cheated on me and I was SURE my life was over and that NO ONE cared or would miss me.  The poison was in my car and I was ready.
Then I broke my hand (hitting a concrete wall,) and had to go to the hospital.  I admitted to the nurse I was suicidal.  Four paramedics blocked the exit and I was asked if I would voluntarily go to the psych ward.  Like I had a choice.
Before you go commenting stuff like "How could you be so selfish?" and "How could you do that to your daughter?",  spare me.  Heard it all, ok?  This isn't THAT discussion.
It's now 22 years later.  Have I thought about it since?  I'd be lying if I said "no."
In 22 years, the following have happened to me:  I have met hundreds of people.  I married.  I had a daughter.  I've saved three lives (one car accident, one heart attack, and one choking victim).  I realized who I truly am, and Sophie Lynne blossomed.
So.  It's fair to say that if I died that rainy fall night in 1990, there are four people who would not be alive today.  And who knows how my presence has affected the people I have met and with whom I've worked.  Paging George Bailey!
So why now?  Why am I writing about it?  Because the other day I had a casual thought.
"The next time I try suicide, I'll use a straight razor down my carotid.  Quick, easy, no chance of coming back.  Quick bleed out."
That scared the living hell out of me. 
Within minutes I had left messages with my therapist and my psychiatrist (who prescribes my depression meds.)  Hell, I even told my wife- and as readers of this blog know, I'm not in the habit of telling her anything.  Didn't tell anyone else though, not my parent, not my "Big Sister", no one... until now.
After all, it's no one's business, right?
So why AM I writing about it?  Am I looking for sympathy?  Pity?  No and NO. 
Look at the picture above.  THAT is the face of the 41%.  I am one of them. 
So now you know one.  Perhaps you ARE one.  This TG thing isn't a game.  We don't do this for fun.  It destroys us. 

Being Sophie is the most dangerous thing I've done in my life, and I used to run into burning buildings as a member of a Rescue Squad. 

The irony that I wanted to die in late October, and was Reborn (as Sophie) in late October years later is not lost on me.

I am Lucky.  I know I have people who care.  I had doctors I could call.  I know I have a Future as a Woman, hard as it will be, and I WANT that future. 

 And I want to see my daughter graduate college.  And I want to see the Phillies win the World Series again. Still haven't seen Australia.  And my book isn't published.  And I want to know what it's like to blend in as a woman.  And many many more things.

You're stuck with me.

Just so you have it:  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter, Pesach and Hope

I just read Donna Rose's blog and she discusses Easter.

Easter is the spring Holy day which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.  It is the holiest day of the Christian calendar.  After all everyone is born (Christmas) but how many are resurrected?

Easter usually arrives around the same time as Pesach, or Passover. This celebrates the Jewish people being released from their bondage in Egypt.  The celebrations include the Seder.  Their freedom gave them Hope as a people.

That said, I'm going to focus on Easter.  I don't want to discuss the Biblical meaning, etc.  I'll leave that to the theologians. 

To me, Easter is about Rebirth and Hope.

Taken by Lady Ellen, Good Friday 2010

As Christ was "reborn," so is the world in the spring (It's spring here in the US.)  The world awakens and the plants and trees live again.  Rebirth.  Renewal. 

Fundamentalist Christians say they are "born again."  But isn't it true that I, as a trans-person, was born again when I accepted that I am a woman inside?  That which was, a person in denial and deep pain, fell away.  He was replaced by someone searching and growing.  Still in pain, yes but knowing the source. 

I was able to find help and guidance, both from a therapist and from the community.  I have a "big sister" who helps guide me past pitfalls (or she tries, anyway.  I'm stubborn.).  My therapist doesn't sugar coat things either.  She says there are many things I must do to determine where the path will lead, and she's right.

Many times and in many ways it's been said- this is a very hard path I'm walking.  No one in their right mind would walk it.  It's not like I have a choice, really. 

Taken by Lady Ellen, Good Friday 2010

At the Keystone Conference a week ago, Amanda Simpson discussed, in her keynote address, about being true to yourself.  I am not very good at that.  Most people see me as a guy.  They don't know about Sophie.  I live the lie.  I lie to my wife and family.  To my parents.  I am not true.

One of the people I respect the most in this world has said to me several times that she doesn't respect me because I lie to my wife.  I think about that every day, and it hurts.  I am not true.

I look in the mirror and most of the time I see a middle aged guy.  Not the woman I know that I am.  I am not true.

Taken by Lady Ellen, Good Friday 2010

Yet it is Spring, and it is Easter.

Is there hope?

I can look in the mirror and see past the male shell and see Sophie.  That brings me Hope.  I read about Donna's successes and find Hope. Several of my friends came out to their families this past week and were accepted warmly.  That makes me very happy and brings me Hope- Hope that I may find the same acceptance when my time comes. 

As Christ was resurrected, so can we all be.  I can be True to myself.  This is my Hope.  Sometimes it's all I have. 

I will sometime in the near future tell my wife.  I need this truth.  I need to know what course my life will take.  This is a rite of passage for transpeople- a necessary part of being True to ourselves. 

Perhaps with this truth will come respect- from my friends... and from myself.

May this Holiday bring you Hope and the promise of better times for us all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Keystone 2012 Vignettes

The Keystone Conference was last weekend. I'm guessing if you read my blog you already know that as I keep talking about it. Well it's done now.

If you want a "blow by blow" look at the conference, you can read my column at TG Forum. (Membership required, but it's free).

Here I just want to put down some of things I saw and felt while they're still fresh in my mind. Caveat: I am on cough medicine as the cold I was fighting off all week finally caught me when I came home. So my brain is a little sluggish. More than usual that is.

I arrived Wednesday morning after a therapist appointment. I was able to check in immediately, then went for some lunch at the bar: the Dog and Pony Pub. I did this in drab as I was really hungry. There were a few tgirls in the bar, and we spoke briefly. From there, I went for a pedicure. I admit, I love pedicures, but I'm still uncomfortable getting them in drab. There were five tgirls there and three were in drab like me, including my good friend Charlotte. All but me were getting acrylic nails put on. I stayed with my reliable Kiss Stick ons. After that, back to the hotel to change. Dinner was at Carraba's that night with twenty other girls. I had my makeup done by Amy from Just You in Las Vegas. Had a great time out, then went back to the bar. I didn't drink much as I wanted to be sharp for my seminar the next day.

Weds night

My seminar went well. I had eleven attendees and we had a good time (or so they tell me.) I love wearing my suit. I love teaching. After the seminar, I had some professional pics taken. It’ll be some time before I get them back I’ll post them on flickr when I do.

That night, we went to the casino. After dinner at the Final Cut (same fancy place I always go), I finally sat down to a game of blackjack as a woman. On a $5 table, I won $70. I was quite happy, as this is something I've always wanted to do.  No one at the table seemed to care who I was or how I was dressed.  Went back to the hotel and sang karaoke.  I suck at it, but I had fun.

Friday was bop around time.  I spoke to many people, including some people who follow this blog or my column.  I also ran into my "Big Sis," who came to the conference for a few days.  I found her in the bar, book open, as usual.  She was discussing baseball with a guy in from Boston on business.  As she is a New Yorker, the discussion was animated and fun.
Friday night's dress

Friday night dinner was at Cafe Fresco.  I sat across from an interesting couple of people I'd never met.  One was Lisa, an amazingly talented cartoonist who does TG political cartoons.  She said she'd send me one for inclusion in column and blog, but it hasn't happened yet.  That said, back at the bar that night I watched as she was hit on by an admirer.  He was an older guy, tall and well groomed,  and was flirting hard.  Her every move and reaction were feminine and i was just enraptured watching this "dance" between them.  She was perfect and I was jealous as hell.  I wish I could be that feminine.
Saturday I spent bumming about and writing my TG Forum column.  I had to change early for the gala, as my roomie's wife needed the room to change.  After that, I went up to Amanda Richard's room for my makeover.  I was way early, so I sat there with a couple people watching the newest version of Shakespeare's "Tempest" with Helen Mirren... with the sound down.  It looked really good. 
Eventually I made it down to the gala, having missed the cocktail reception.  In fact, I was lucky to have a seat saved for me!  To my regret, I saw that almost all of the people in my support group were there for the dinner and I couldn't sit with them.  This group is sponsored by my therapist.  The funny thing is, before that night most of them had never seen Sophie before as I usually go to the meetings directly from work.  So here was a great opportunity missed.  I was able to catch up with most of them later, but still...
The Gala Dress
After dinner and speeches and stuff, I ended up back at the pub.  Here I sat with Dr. Ousterhout, the pioneer of FFS.  I met him the previous year, and he's a hoot!  Our politics are polar opposite, but he is a dying breed as he's a republican willing to listen and debate civilly without resorting to talking points or name calling.  He is also open minded.  We discussed (along with Stacy Hack and Victoria):  politics of the Middle East, GOP primaries, current LGBT issues, and he told stories of his different experiences.  He started as a dentist!
Victoria, Me, Dr. Ousterhout

Saturday nights at Keystone are always bittersweet.  After several days purely as Sophie, the next day was the end.  I was bone tired, but didn't want to go back to being drab.  Each time I become Sophie, it is harder and harder to return to drab.  Someday I don't think I will.  My therapist is correct when she says that Sophie is a creature of "parties and events" and I need more experience of mundane day to day activities as a woman.  That was one of my missed objectives this year's conference: I wanted to go out shopping alone as Sophie.  I wanted to go downtown for lunch and try to blend in, or just be me.  Didn't happen.  So now I don't know when it will.
Since the end of the conference, I've read about two of my friends coming out to their families and others.  Both have encountered no issues yet- just acceptance.  I am jealous.  Someday it will be my turn...

Keystone is over.  I am sick as a dog.  I have a major "Pink Hangover."  And I face yet another crossroads.  Others found themselves last week.  Their journeys began.  My journey is still one of shadows and deception, but for four days it was open and genuine.  Spring is here- a time of renewal and life and change. 
Someday it will be my turn.