Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reading Revelations

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. (KJV Revelations 6:1)

Some things seems pre-ordained.

We ALL know that, as mortals, someday we will die.  We all know that we will be taxed by a government.  We know that Republicans will hate a black president.  We know that trans-people will be senselessly murdered.

I also knew that my parents would reject me as a Woman.

I mean after all, I've mentioned how they treated me growing up.  Dad being ultra-macho Army and all.  I never give them a chance.

After all, I'm always right.  Right?


Don't answer then.  Fine.  Be that way. 

*cue Lucy* "I know when I've been insulted!  I know when I've been insulted!"

Casual for a night

In any case, telling them was my next big step.  I decided that I'd write a letter so I could have my points exactly as I wanted them.  After all, as an Educator, I'm used to public speaking.  I'm no Donna Rose, but I'm actually fairly good.

So.  I wrote a letter.  Trashed it.  Tried again.  Trashed it.  Tried 14 times.  Full trash can (as I write first drafts on paper.)  Finally, I had a piece I liked.  So I sent it to friends, my Vanity Club sisters, therapy group, etc to evaluate.  I incorporated many changes. 

Recently, Dr. Cerise Richards challenged me to post this letter to help others,  so it follows.  I give permission for girls wanting to use it or piece of it to do so, just not for publication, where I reserve all rights.

So.  Here it is.


Dear Mom and Dad,

Wife and I are here today to tell you exactly why we are no longer living under the same roof.  As I have maintained many times, the fault is not hers in any way.  The issue is complex, which is why I’m reading this to you instead of just speaking.  I wanted to get it right.  Wife knows all of what I am about to tell you, and has known for nearly two years. 

There is something I have to tell you about myself.  While this is serious, I am NOT dying, nor am I intending to do so.  I have been hiding from and or dealing with this problem since I was four, and I really did not understand it.  I am sure you have realized that I have had problems and even though I have tried to maintain a steady face on the surface, something has never been quite right with me.  As you know, I’ve been in therapy for 13 years.  You also know about my hospitalization back in 1990.  For the past five years, I’ve been seeing a specialist to get a handle on my issue and of get a better understanding of myself.  You may have noticed some changes in me this year. I feel better, both in general and about myself, than I have at any time in my life. 

 The medical term for this condition is called Gender Dysphoria and it is basically the condition of being transgender.  What this really means is that, though biologically I was born male, my brain and my own sense of being is that of a female. This is not the same as being a cross-dresser, drag queen, female impersonator or being a gay male. Inside I have always felt as though I was female and I never knew what to do about it.  For years, I sought therapy and psychological counseling in order to get a better understanding of myself and find a way to sort out my problems.  I wanted to feel normal and achieve some happiness and success in my life.  Being transgender has been extremely difficult to accept, and over the years I have ignored it, denied it, and fought with God over it, and only now has fully accepted that I am transgender.

This is a physical condition, not a mental one: one I share with nearly 700,000 people in the US.  There are many theories as to how it happens, but it’s clear it occurred in-utero, and there’s nothing ANYONE could do to prevent it.  This has nothing to do with how I was raised, my diet… anything.  I was BORN this way.  41%  of people with this attempt suicide as it’s a very painful way to live. 

Through my therapy I began working with a team of medical professionals to help me through my situation.  There is no cure for this, and the only treatment for being transgender is to make a gender transition.  This is not a choice; it is something that I have to do in order to survive.  I have been treated by a therapist for five years and also, saw a second therapist for a second opinion.  I am also under the treatment of an experienced physician.  I have been on hormone therapy since December 2012, and that has brought about an amazing change to my mental state.  It has allowed me to feel “right” inside for the first time ever, and given me hope that one day I can live a peaceful and happy life.  The medication has brought about some physical changes and that will continue. 

This may seem sudden and impulsive, but in actuality, it is not. I have been doing many activities as a woman over the last five years including attending the local King of Prussia transgender support group once a month, shopping and eating out regularly, and helping others who are on this path.  I have spent the last five years building an emotional support network, and have many close friends in the transgender community.  I also write a monthly column for a website and have a blog with thousands of readers.

Wife’s mom suspected something was “odd” and found out about this on her own.  She never discussed any of this with me, but acted on her own fears and prejudices.  Her solution was to throw me out her house.  That is why Wife and I live apart.  Wife has been more supportive then I could ever dream, but in the end, she doesn’t wish to be married to a woman.  That is why she didn’t move out with me. 

Daughter doesn’t know yet, but will in the near future.  Wife and I are committed to us both being actively in her life, and being the best parents we can as a team.  Daughter deserves a parent who is at peace with themselves. She deserves my best, and I intend to give that to her, always.

I will always be the same person inside. I hope you will agree with me that at heart I am a good person.  All I want is to feel at peace and to have a chance to reach my full potential in life.  I will always be your child and I love both of you very much.  The reality is, mentally I have always been your daughter, not your son, and I hope you will be able to accept me.  All I am doing is making physical changes to help me become on the outside the person I am on the inside and be accepted. I will always be here for both of you to help take care of you.  

I realize finding this out is very painful for you right now, and believe me I have always tried to avoid facing this about myself mainly for this very reason.  The last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt you, but in order to have any chance at a happy and fulfilling life, I have to make this change.  I know that this is going to take some time and I ask that you be patient with me, and I will be patient with you.  The person whom you named Lance resides within me. Lance’s hopes, fears, memories, loves, aspirations all remain a part of me. I have chosen the path of my happiness.  I do not apologize to anyone for making my life a better one. I know that some people will never understand how such a thing could happen and will react in utter disbelief. Some people take steps to live in denial. I, however, choose not to do so. I am the author of my life. No one else has the right to attempt to form my life in the image they would have it be. And my life is not based on lies. My life is based on love and care, for my family, for my friends, for those that deserve my love.

I ask for your understanding, acceptance, and love.  I am passing through a very difficult time, and have already lost so much.  It will get harder, both for me and for you, but in time it will get better.  No matter what, I will continue forward.  I finally have a chance at happiness and peace in my life.  I’d love rather have you see me reach my full potential and that peace. 

You have many questions, and will continue to have them.  I will do my best to answer them for you.
A heartbeat.   Two.
My mum leaned forward in her chair and said  "You are our child. We love you. This changes nothing."
My dad stood and said "Yes, we love you"

That was the first time in my 47 years that my dad said that he loved me.
Let THAT sink in.  I still am.
I got hugs from mum AND dad.  I was and still am stunned.  Then the questions began.  They actually had more questions for Wife than for me.  Then my mum decided to lecture me to get along better with my brother, forgiveness, etc.  Even my dad was "Doesn't he have enough on his plate?"
Maybe thirty minutes later, Wife and I were on the road.  My next stop was to meet my older brother.  I will call him the non-random designation OB
(Does anyone actually follow these links?)
I met him at TGI Fridays at the Coventry Mall in Pottstown.  He'd grown a beard with gray streaks, and wore a cap to cover his receded hairline.
We discussed other matters, then I told him straight out.  He laughed at me and said he couldn't wait to tell his friends.  I reminded him that I swore him to secrecy.  I showed him pictures.  He laughed some more.  Eventually I tired of the laughter, paid the bill for us both and left.
Do I amuse you?
My mum called me later and said he'd called her and said that he told me he "had my back" and "supported me 100%."  He never said any such thing, and I told her.  Some patterns never end.  He lies to them to make himself look good and me look bad. 
So.  it's been two days.  I received an email from my parents saying they "want their say."  I replied that I will give them that... but my decision was made for me long ago.
Next step...
Coming out at Work.
PS:  Tonight is New Years Eve 2013.  I will be at the Raven with Sandy Empanada, Linda Lewis and many many others.  Goodbye 2013.  I won't miss you.
Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Last Call

I wrote this to a dear friend some time ago.   He has a vested interest in this sort of story.  In any case, I dreamed about this again the other night, so I secured his permission to post this.  Here it is, unedited.

This is a true story.

Back in late 1989, I was living at my parents. My teaching career was already ending (different story), when the rescue squad received a call for a house fire: Victims trapped. This was in the nearby village of Parker Ford. Many of the houses there go back to colonial times, and in any case, it's up the road a bit from Spring City.

By the time we arrived, the house was fully involved, with flames shooting from all windows and through the roof. It was a colonial stone structure, 3 stories high, and in the distant past had been an inn. As with all colonial homes, it was a stone shell with all wooden interiors.

We were first on the scene and were pulling on our air packs when we started to hear the screaming. At one of the third floor windows were silhouetted a woman and a daughter, 5 years old. Both were screaming. We could barely see them through the smoke and flames, but we could hear them calling to us, screaming for help.

We jogged toward the fire (in all that gear running is impossible) and tried to enter the house. The heat was so intense, our gear started to melt. This fire was not natural. We literally couldn't get through the door. The heat currents pushed us away. We tried a few times.

More equipment arrived. We looked up at the window and urged them to jump. They couldn't get to the window. There was one last piercing scream and a huge crash as the floors collapsed upon each other like dominoes. Then all we could hear were the flames and the sirens and shouted orders.

Myself and the three others from my truck stood staring up at the window, air packs still on, when one of the packs began ringing, indicating it was short on air.

I don't have to tell you the smell. Burning human bodies have a distinctive smell. Almost sweet. Once you smell it, you never forget it. I'm sure you smelled it that day.

The fire took several hours to extinguish. I was among those who went in to find the bodies. They weren't hard to find. The daughter was burnt to a crisp. 100% blackened charcoal. She fell apart as we tried to put her in a body bag. The mother was almost the same, except for a 1"x 1/2 " patch of cold white skin on her inner thigh. She also fell to pieces.

Fire marshal determined that it was arson. The woman lived there with her boyfriend, who owned the house (passed down through generations) and their daughter. He made her angry somehow, and she decided to torch the house with kerosene. The guess is that she set the fire, then heard her daughter on the top floor and went to get her. The flames on the old wood spread too fast, trapping them both.

That was my last rescue squad call. I still have my partially melted helmet which has streaks of black from that fire- from their bodies. It still smells faintly of their deaths after over 23 years.

23 years later, I still hear their screams.

We were volunteers.

My Helmet.  Undusted for all these years.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Last Saturday was a snowstorm here in PA.  It wasn't as big as predicted, but still many events were cancelled.  Specifically, the potluck dinner that was being held by TCPA,  which I was going to attend.

I don't attend many TCPA events, as Harrisburg is a bit of a drive.  But Sandy Empanada was going to be there.  As was Ally, all the way from Richmond, Virginia.  I really wanted to see my friends; I even took off work to do so.  So, after a few quick phone calls and texts, Ally agreed to meet me in Baltimore so we could see Sandy and hang out.  I was to pick up Hayden in Harrisburg and head south.

And so I did.  I moved my appointment with Amanda Richards forward by an hour.  Snow began to fall as I drove to Allentown.  Amanda tried some different things with my makeup which I liked a lot. 

Ready to Roll!

As I drove to Harrisburg, the snow intensified.  I was an hour late getting Hayden.  And so I was an hour late getting to Baltimore.  I told Sandy I'd be there by three.  Hayden said it would be four.  Apparently, I operate on "Sophie Time" as I'm always late.  Even with starting an hour earlier, I was still late.  Story of my life.

Baltimore was only getting rain, and it rained hard.  Ally arrived at three and waited at Sandy's.  After stopping there and catching up for a bit, Hayden and Sandy went to fix a few things so Ally and I went to the nearby Angle Inn. 

With the beautiful Ally at the Angle Inn

There we were clocked and heard some rude comments by a group of fat older guys at a table.  One of them looked like a lemon with his bright yellow University of Michigan sweater and yellow Michigan hat.  Ally and I both wore sparkly Santa hats courtesy of Hayden.  The group remarked on them as well.  We smiled, toasted to Lisa, then to Sandy, and talked about here we are in our lives.  We had two drinks, then headed out into the rain to go back to Sandy's. 

I'm always short on funds.  But I wanted to give my friends Christmas gifts.  So for Sandy, I had a photo of our group at the Raven party printed and bought a frame. 

My Gift to Sandy, displayed.

For Hayden, a framed pic of me from the same event.  Hayden loves having pics of his friends.  For Ally, a gift card from Macys.  I know that none of them were much, but they were from my heart.

You see, as I mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas.  I won't elaborate on the reasons: family, working retail and service industry, etc.  And it has nothing to do with Anger Management...

But the biggest part is that I HATE getting gifts (I Love giving them, though.)  I never feel worthy of them.  What did I do to deserve them?

Yes, I know deserve has little to do with it.  And I know it is my long-entrenched lack of self-worth kicking me in the butt.  I mean I appreciate that people think enough of me to get me gifts, and they ARE appreciated... well, I'll drop it.

Sandy LOVES Christmas.  She decorates the house beautifully and wraps her gifts with style. 

Lisa loved Christmas too.

This will be Sandy's first Christmas without her.  I can't even contemplate that level of pain, nor the level of strength required to live through it.

Sandy was ready for us.  Her house was beautifully decorated in red and gold to match the décor.  She decorated in a Butterfly motif as Lisa loved butterflies.  Butterflies were everywhere.  I was reminded of the part of The Hobbit where Bilbo climbs above the canopy of trees in Mirkwood and sees a sea of butterflies.

...he saw all round him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundreds of butterflies. I expect they were a kind of ‘purple emperor,’ a butterfly that loves the tops of oak-woods, but these were not purple at all, they were a dark dark velvety black without any markings to be seen.
He looked at the ‘black emperors’ for a long time, and enjoyed the feel of the breeze in his hair and on his face...

Sandy took great care in wrapping her gifts.  Each person had at least one plastic butterfly adorning a ribboned package.  It was a shame to have to disturb the beautiful work.  Hayden also brought beautifully wrapped gifts.  Ally didn't wrap anything.  She was generously paying for dinner that night.

 My friends were so generous to me; I felt inadequate.  I was overwhelmed by their generosity. 

Two years ago, Sandy gave Lisa a necklace bearing Lisa's name.  Lisa treasured it:  it was her first gift as a Woman. 

This year, Sandy gave me a necklace like Lisa's: a Sophie necklace.  Hanging from the script silver letters was a delicate butterfly.  It brought tears to my eyes.

Earlier I wrote that I'm no fan of Christmas.  But on this night, I felt the Christmas spirit.  I was happy with my friends.  And I desperately missed Lisa.  But while I felt her absence keenly, I was comforted that we, her friends, were there for Sandy.  And Sandy was there for us.

I changed for the night, and touched up my makeup.  I wore a black dress rather low cut.  It showed off my breasts very nicely.  When I wore the prosthetic, I loved looking down and seeing the breasts and cleavage, and thinking how wonderful it would be if they were truly my own.  Now I look down... and they ARE my own. 

In a conversation recently, my dear friend Ally spoke of the moment I will finally see Sophie in the mirror.  She spoke of seeing Ally in the mirror the first time.  Someday soon, I WILL see Sophie in the mirror with no gimmicks, no pads, no wig.  And someday, God willing, I will stand naked before a mirror and see a Woman physically as well as mentally.  Someday.

But I digress.  Must be that pesky Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come...

We went through the cold heavy rain to the Mount Vernon Stable for dinner again.  And it was wonderful.  The service was amazing as was the company.  I drove, so I had to be good.  I had one glass of wine at the restaurant, and later, one drink at our next destination:  Club Hippo.  There I sand karaoke again, but this time the song was new to me:  Santa Baby.  They didn't post the words, so sometimes I had to improvise.  A video was shot of this using an iPad I brought.  A very cute woman did this for me.  She kept turning the iPad while filming though, but that wasn't as annoying as my singing. 

Hayden, Sandy, Ally, Me at Mt. Vernon Stable

From there I went to the dance floor, then the group went to the nearby Grand Central.  This was a much bigger place, with a tin roof and magnificent wooden bar.  There I drank diet coke while Ally caught up with old friends and everyone else danced.  I sat quietly alone, but was fine with that.  I thought about Who and what I am.  What will the coming new year bring?  That's a topic for later, though.

I brought everyone back to Sandy's safely.  We sat up for a while talking, then we all retired for the night.

The next day I drove Hayden back to Baltimore, then I went to work.  Forty minutes late, and in drab.

It was a Wonderful weekend.  As much as I love TCPA, I think that the trip to Baltimore was better for me than the Pot Luck would've been.  The snow drove me south to my friends, and my friends lifted my spirits.  They showed me what I was missing all these Christmas seasons.

I mentioned how my family was a reason that the season was so bad for me.  Well, as I move forward with my life, and with my transition, I have learned that those I hold close to me are my family.  Lisa was my sister.  And my friends who Know and accept me as my True Self are those that will see me through this.  The road will be hard, but my New Family will be with me, as I will be there for them.

Within days after Christmas, I will travel south with Wife to Delaware.  I will read a letter to my parents that reveals to them that they actually have a daughter.  And then the Fallout.  Of course, I'll write about it.

Whether you celebrate or not, may the Season bring you Joy and Peace, and may 2014 bring you Magic.

My Parent's Daughter

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Four Clocks

Thursday, December 5, 2013 was a cold day.  I decided to call off of my second job.  Why?

Well, I wanted to put on my face and be ready for the night.  You see, that night was group therapy, and it was our Holiday party.

Holiday because we have several faiths in the group, and we aren't assholes.

Of course, I can't discuss what went on during the meeting, but I can say that as a "secret Santa" gift, I received a book of Taoist readings that I had my eye on at the store.  Some people don't like Lao Tzu, but I say wisdom is wisdom.

After that, a bunch of us went to Ruby Tuesdays and hung out a bit.  It was a LOT of fun. 

Ready for the Night.

After that, I decided to go to Thursday Night T-Girls.  There I saw Kalina Isato and many others.  I had a mellow time, and was home before too late.  I wanted to get some sleep as I had a big day coming...


Friday December 6th was a rainy, miserable day here in southeast PA.  But that's ok.  I had plans that were all but weatherproof.

Retail during Christmas is very rough.  That's putting it mildly.

As a gift from my male self, I decided to have a full Sophie day.  I started with makeup at Amanda Richards place: True Colors.  I wanted to go to lunch while wearing my suit.

The Suit

I love this suit.  I bought it on eBay and had it tailored by Lorraine Anderson at Occasional Woman. It feels SO good and makes me feel feminine and confident.  Good thing too, as it was going to be an interesting day.

My first plan was to go into the city and have lunch with Kalina, but that had to change as I ran so late. (Sorry Kalina!)   So instead, I decided to have lunch at Seasons 52 in King of Prussia. I sat at the bar and had a glass of wine.  I smiled.  I looked as good as I could, and I felt so wonderfully feminine.

Makeup by Amanda Richards

Across the bar from me were two African American women, both of whom were beautiful and around my age.  I ordered a salad, and as I ate it, they finished their lunches.  I wasn't paying attention when one came behind me.

"Excuse me" she said.

I turned.

"I just wanted to say that I think you look so beautiful," she said, smiling warmly.  I thanked her and said she did as well.

But I knew... she'd figured out I was born male.  She'd "clocked" me (in TG jargon.)  BUT... she'd also given me a compliment!  So that balanced out.

From there, I went to the King of Prussia mall.  I wanted tights.  As I walked through the mall, head held high, shoulders back, I encountered a guy, maybe 18, pulling a cart with a couple of full trash cans on it.  He was a mall employee. 

He looked me up and down and said "You look like a f*ckin' faggot!"

I glared at him, eye to eye as I walked by, but said nothing. 

Clocked Twice.

The salesperson at Express was very helpful, and I soon stood in line with two pairs of black tights.  Maybe twenty feet away at one of the registers was a younger couple- twenty somethings. 

Due to an old injury when I was a paramedic, I have a little hearing loss.  As a consequence, I learned to read lips.  Those folks didn't know that.

Him:  "I think the next person in line is a guy in a skirt."
Her (turns to look):  I think you're right."
Him:  "Who does he think he's kidding?"
She answered but her back was to me, so I couldn't read her lips.  He nodded.

Clocked Thrice.

I paid for the tights and left, still smiling.

At the same place where I saw the trash can guy, I encountered a group of girls in their early teens.  One of them was a VERY overweight African American girl.  She looked at me and burst out laughing loudly.  She bent over laughing, pointing at me. 

The Bad part of me thought of several things I could've said to her that would scar her for life.  But I ignored her as well.

Clocked the Fourth.

(Did you know nothing follows "thrice?"  Sophie's Random Trivia for the day.)

I left the mall.  I admit I was a little rattled...

To answer that guy's question:  I'm not fooling anyone.  I am a Transgender woman.  I'm working with what I have.  This is the face I have to work with, for better or worse.  Someday, God willing, I'll get some work done (donations cheerfully accepted) but until then, this is it.

And I'm ok with that.  I AM a woman, despite those who would point and laugh.  And I will go through this world with my head held high.

So in the end, I really don't care if I'm clocked.  I assume I always am.

But the fact is:  I went into the mall DURING CHRISTMAS, alone, and didn't think twice.  I didn't care who I would see (in fact I saw a former co-worker, but she didn't recognize me nor did she acknowledge me.)

I remember a time when just walking into the mall caused me to almost hyperventilate. 

I went home.  I read a bit.  Adjusted my makeup to a little more night-time.  Changed.

And then I went out for dinner at the Black Powder Tavern.  I sat at the bar, and enjoyed a glass of wine, and ate, yes, another salad.

I'm trying to be a good girl.

Cheers!  Picture by Kristyn King

After a little while, my dear friend Kristyn arrived.  She is president of Renaissance.  We drank and talked about ways to improve outreach to closeted and new TGs.  We came up with a few ideas.

After dinner, I went over to McKenzies for a while.  Then I went home.  I'd had a full day, and I was exhausted.  But I was VERY happy.

I'd spent ALL of my paycheck for the week, but it was worth it.  This was my Christmas gift to me- a final gift from He to She.  A final farewell Kiss before dying.

Because he IS dying.

I decided that I will go Full Time as a woman in Late March.  When I leave work the night before I depart for the Keystone Conference, that will be the last time I wear Male clothes.  He will cease to exist; forever replaced by the Woman I truly am.

There are plans to be made; difficult conversations to be had.  There will be many, many tears.  It is always that way with Death.

But as with all Departures, there is also celebration.  Just as we celebrated Lisa's life after she passed, so shall I celebrate and remember my old life.  Then, I will turn my eyes forward.

He will always be a part of me, but Sophie is the Truth of my existence.  And SHE will live out her days in Peace.

Blessed Peace.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Anniversary of...

Yesterday started gray and dark.  Right around the dawn, the snow began falling, covering many icy spots on the roads.  By the time I left for an early appointment at 7:30, the traffic people were saying that there were already over fifty accidents!

But the snow couldn't muffle my mood.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 marked one full year since I took the fateful blue pill and white pill and began HRT.

Hormone Replacement Therapy.  The process in which male hormones are neutralized and replaced artificially by female hormones.  Said female hormones begin the process of, well, feminization.  In other words, the process by which a male body becomes a female... to a point.

A year ago, my body was completely male.  Now, it's on it's way to being as feminine as it can be without surgery.

I've seen some dramatic changes.

1) Breasts.  Yes, I now have them.  And I love them.  Seriously, they're a dream come true!  Sensitivity wise, compared to the male chest, it's like a Whisper to a Scream.  For many, breasts are the symbol of femininity.  Having them is a Joy.

2) Softer skin.  It took time, but the softer skin and reduced hair on my arms, etc, is welcome.  Very welcome.

3) I'm told that my face has softened.  And I think it has.

4) Most important, is the sense of Peace I now feel.  The anger has faded.  I am moving forward in my life.  I feel Alive for the first time in my life.  And I can't tell you how that feels.

Despite all the losses I've had this year, I am Alive.  I Live.

Lisa didn't live to see Womanhood.  I will.

I will do it for her.  I will do it for all those who couldn't.  I will do it for Myself.

But most of all, I will do it for my Daughter.  She deserves a Parent who can fully engage, which I could never do as a male.  As a Woman, I can be the Parent she deserves.

December 2013

And I'm so very glad that all of you are joining me on my Journey.

Thank you!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Thanksgiving 2013 has come and gone.

Wife and I compromised on the holiday.  As I was forbidden from being at MIL's house for Christmas, Wife agreed to go to my parent's for Thanksgiving.

I didn't want to do this, but it's only fair that they see Daughter sometimes, right?

So.  There was a Nor'easter coming toward Delaware (where my parents live) which may have flooded their street.  As in several feet deep. So they warned me that their place may be inaccessible. That meant alternate plans. My initial alternate plan was to tell Wife to go eat with her family while I fended for myself.  I'd been blessed with a couple of dinner invitations.

Wife said no. We were going to have Thanksgiving TOGETHER as a family, even if it meant eating Chinese take out.

Pass the white meat, General Tso!

In any case,  the storm turned, the flooding avoided, so Wednesday afternoon Wife, Daughter, dog and myself slowly made our way south to my parents' house in southern Delaware.

View from Pier

We stopped for dinner just north of Rehoboth.  Wife and Daughter had Wendys and I had Popeyes.  Monumental I know, but I love Popeyes and we don't have them up my way.  The service always sucks and the chicken has to be so very bad for me but it's soooooooo goooood!

We arrived at my parents after dark.  Greetings exchanged.  The first of MANY comments about my hair.  They did NOT, however, ask about my home situation.  I'm glad.  And a bit surprised.

I sweated the entire rainy night, as my parents keep the house at 80 degrees.

The next day was freezing cold.  Wife, Daughter and I went first to Rehoboth Beach, so Daughter could collect shells on the wind blown beach.  That didn't last long as it was so damn cold.  We then went to Bethany Beach briefly.  Then back to the house. 

Rehoboth Beach

Daughter and my dad took a walk.  I took a nap. 

Dinner was quite good.  We stayed for a little after, and we hit the road.  After all, I had to be at work at 6 AM the next day.

An hour after we left, my dad had a minor heart attack.  He's fine, but it made me think about a few things.

I wrote about a few of them in my TG Forum column that I did the next day.

So what will happen when I tell him my Truth?

About that.  I'm going down after Christmas.  I'm writing a letter, which I will read to them to keep on task.  And here's good news:  Wife said she'll come with me on this trip.  That's wonderful!

More wonderful is that MIL is going away for Christmas, so I'll see my family that day.  A prayer answered!

So went the holiday.  In the end, aside from the medical bit, it went better than expected. 

Now it's the retail slog to Christmas.

And I'm the Grinch.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Oldest Friend

I don't have many long-time friends. 

Like many people, most of my childhood and high school friends have drifted away, either due to time, geography, or mortality.  I can count on one hand the friends I've kept since High School.

One of them is visiting this week.  I'll call him DrD.  I've been friends with DrD since kindergarten.  So that's... um... *counts on fingers and toes* 42 years. 

And growing up, he was my best friend.  Sometimes my ONLY friend.  In high school, we started playing wargames like Squad Leader and, in 1978, discovered a game called Dungeons and Dragons.  We played that ALL the time until 1983, when work consumed all my free time.

He went to Penn State.  I visited him there while I was a student at Drexel, and that wonderful experience was one of the main reasons I transferred to PSU.

When I transferred up, we hung around a lot.  I joined his D&D group.  We drank together a lot and had some amazing times.

He graduated in 1988, and went to grad school for microbiology.  I still had a semester at PSU before student teaching.  Being at PSU without DrD there just wasn't the same. 

Me at PSU, July 2013

Eventually, DrD earned his doctorate in Microbiology, and he used it to homebrew.  He won many, many awards.  He continued in school because his fiancée was completing her masters.  And when they married, I read at their wedding.  (Her brother was Best Man.)

As his wife finished her degree, he earned a SECOND doctorate... in dentistry.

How many people get TWO doctorates?

Then they divorced.  She married a plumber.

He spent some time teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, then accepted a position as dentist in Arizona with the Government... working with an impoverished Native American Nation.  That was 2005.  We've seen each other pretty much once a year since. 

This year, I told R about my Truth.  Now DrD is in PA for the holiday.  He's here with his new-ish girlfriend, whom I've never met.   And I want to tell him my Truth in person.  We have history.  He's earned it.

We were supposed to meet up Monday, but he had to attend a family function.  So instead I hung out with my dear friend Jen Lehman. 

Tuesday night was rainy, windy, and quite cold.  A Nor'Easter was hitting us full force.  DrD arrived at Rock Bottom before me.  We usually drink there when he returns home.  Hopefully my "luck" of  outing myself to people there would continue.

They were sitting at a table near the back eating the remainder of an appetizer sampler.  DrD introduced me to his lady friend.  She's a nurse and was very pleasant.  We toasted with Sambuca to absent friends.  In specific, to two mutual friends who passed.  I also toasted to Lisa Empanada.

I then listened as he told me about meeting his lady friend on Match.com.  About their first date.  I told her some college stories about DrD, which she enjoyed.  I ordered wings as well, and we all ate them as well.  DrD asked me about what had happened between Wife and I.  I told him, I'd get to it.  We toasted again, this time with McAllen scotch.

I told DrD that the reason behind the separation would shock him.  He doubted it.  So we bet the check.

As before, I produced a Sophie card and set it down in front of him, face down.  I kept my hand on it, saying "I want to start by saying that I don't need your approval for this.  I'd appreciate your understanding, though."  I also swore him to silence. Then I took my hand off the card.

He turned over the card, and looked at it.  His expression didn't change.  He showed it to his lady friend.

"That's me," I said.  "I'm transgender."

I then told him the story.  Knowing at four years old.  What it means.  The Pain.  The Darkness.  Lisa.  And being thrown out.   

He asked some good questions.  His expression never changed.  And No, he isn't a good poker player.  He then looked me in the eye and asked "Are you happier?"  I said "Yes.  I'm finally finding Peace."

See, DrD has seen me raging.  He has seen me drunk, sad, everything.  But he's never seen me at peace.  He said many times over the years that he didn't understand what demons were driving me. 

Now he Knew.

He extended his hand to me across the table.  "We've known each other many years.  If you're happy, you have my support."  And we shook hands.

I answered a few more questions and sold him some pictures.  Then he asked for the check and paid it.

We hugged and they disappeared into the wet night.  I drank down another glass of water, and left myself.  I was suddenly exhausted.

The next day, both of us hung-over, we traded texts.  He was still ok with it.

As I type this, he's on his way back to Arizona.  Assuming his pace of visits doesn't change (one per year) he will never see me as a guy again.

Next time he flies this way, he will meet the REAL me.

And for this, I am grateful.

I've taken another step on this Path.  I WILL live to be a Woman: in life as I am in Soul.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The "WhatsIt" Blues

I love the Blues

Y'know, the form of music. 

People either Love the Blues or hate them.  Usually not too much in between.  Some people pretend to like them, but never really listened.

Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet band. 

It's all about your own experiences.  I think most TGs can really relate to the Blues- the Pain, the Emotion...

Anyway, The Blues.  I'll get back to this.

Albert Collins with George Thorogood.  Live Aid, 1985

Last Saturday, November 16, 2013, I went out for my usual third weekend activities: Renaissance and Angela's Laptop Lounge. 

I know... "Why, Sophie, Why?  Why are you discussing this yet again?"

Well, read on!

Seriously.  No, don't click away to that site full of Kitten pictures...

 Anyway, I needed some fun times.  It was the two month anniversary of Lisa's death.

I'm beginning to find my feet again after the One-Two punch of late August through September.  Thanks to everyone whose kind words and actions through these dark times are responsible for me being... well, Alive. 

In any case, I wanted to have a day of just Fun.  So, to relax, I went up to True Colors to have Amanda Richards do my makeup.  That's always a lot of fun and very relaxing.  I had a great time there as usual, and Amanda worked wonders.

Relaxed and Happy

I wore one of the dresses I inherited from Lisa.  It is a lot more colorful than my usual, but it was fun to wear!  Also I loved the way the top was cut to accentuate my breasts. 

Too Much?

So, I was ready for the Night.  I quickly stopped back at the house to drop off some things and pick up something I'd forgotten.  Then... dinner.  But where?  Hmmm

I decided to go to Shangrila, but I needed money first, so I stopped at a Wawa to use the ATM.  A twenty-something guy held the door for me, smiling... I think he clocked me.  I didn't care.  Shoulders back, chest out, walk with confidence like the Woman I am! 

I sat at the bar and had a nice dinner.  A guy I knew came in, and we shared a drink.  It was a fun, mellow time.  Then it was off to Renaissance!

This month's meeting was a "Swap Meet."  The idea was to bring old stuff to sell or give away.  I forgot to bring anything.  Oops!  But others did, so that was good.  And as a bonus, Maureen was there.  Remember her? Her first time out was the weekend before at the Raven.  And now she was attending her first Support Meeting!  Tammy was also there, who I'd met the month before this. 

The meeting went well.  We had a moment of Silence to commemorate the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance.  I said a silent prayer.

After the meeting, it was off to Laptop Lounge.  This time it was held in a new venue:  Baxter's.  I knew the place well, as I used to go there quite a bit in drab.  It's in a strip mall, has great wings, ok everything else, but a nice dark wood bar. 

And they do Live Music... which no one expected that night, especially Angela.  There was a Blues Band there...  Russ Lambert and his Shakedancer Band.

Russ Lambert and the Shakedancer band

It turns out I'd met Russ Lambert at one of my drab jobs.  He was bragging about his band and how great he was at the blues harp.  I was like "yeah right."  But I walked into Baxter's and there he was, playing up a storm!  And DAMN he was great!

There were maybe fifteen people in the bar, mostly in their fifties, watching the show. 

Many of them turned to watch as, one by one, Transwomen entered the bar and walked past the band toward the back, where the room Angela reserved waited.  I bought a drink and watched the band, and my hips started gyrating.  In drab, I never danced.  My dancing embarrassed me.  But as a Woman... well let's just say I'm less inhibited.  I love swinging and rolling my hips as I lose myself in music.

Photographer took an unflattering pic of me dancing  ;)
Pic courtesy Angela's Laptop Lounge (modified to obscure a face)

And lose myself I did.  I was totally entranced by the song.  I'm sure I made an ass of myself, and I didn't care.  When the song ended, I cheered, and Russ acknowledged myself and the other Tgirls who applauded.  He then kicked into another song. 

Dance!  Groove!  Oh I was in heaven!  Maybe about fifty Tgirls in the room at this point, most enjoying the band.

Song ended; the band readied for another, and Russ said "This one goes out to all the ladies and Whatsits out there!"  *sound of record being scratched as needle is yanked off*  And they started to play.  But none of the Tgirls were dancing.  Me included.  No, we were all glaring at him.  I seethed.  Congratulations, Jerk, you just pissed off two thirds of your audience!

The song ended, as did the set.  Angela went over to him as he put his microphone back in the stand.  She wanted to negotiate sharing the night- half an hour of dance music, half an hour for the band.  Russ agreed.  Then he turned to me.

I told him I loved his music, but I didn't appreciate the insult.  He looked puzzled.

"We're human beings, not 'Whatsits.'  And we were all loving the music until you insulted us.  Well done- you alienated most of the room!"

He looked horrified.  "Did I say that?" he said.  Both Angela and I nodded.

"I'm so so sorry.  How can.. I mean... really, I'm sorry..."

"Just apologize.  We're people.  That's all.  And we have feelings too."

And at the beginning of his next set, he DID apologize. 

At the end of the band's night, Russ came to the bar, where I was seated, and bought me a drink.  (I got a diet coke.)  We talked about music for a bit, then he went into the back room to socialize with our group.  I understand he stayed until closing and had a wonderful time.

Maybe I'm wrong, but THAT is the way to apologize.  He apologized publicly, admitted his ignorance, then worked to learn about us.  So Russ Lambert and the Shakedancer Band has a new rabid fan... and the Music never Stopped

So I had a WONDERFUL night.  I was comfortable in my skin, and saw so many wonderful friends, like Charlotte, Jade, Jane, Danielle, oh I could go on and on. 

I know a LOT about the Darkness, and one thing I know for sure is that it Thrives on isolation.  And I was allowing it to feed on me.  I'm trying to get out a bit more, even if it's just to walk around the mall or something.  Being out forces me to work on my walk, my mannerisms, my voice... Everything.  Seeing friends reminds me that I am NOT alone.  They remind me that maybe, just maybe, I am worthy of Oxygen and Occupying Space on this plane.

And that, dear reader, means a LOT!

At Baxter's (pic courtesy Angela's Laptop Lounge, cropped by me)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Codex: Sophie (and Glossary)

This entry will be updated as needed.  It's sort of a resource for the Blog.  Here you'll find basic definitions of terms and who the people are that I reference most often.

A quick summary of my life as it is currently:

Who am I?

That's a deep question.  I am Sophie Lynne.  I am a pre-operative transgender woman.  I was born in September 1966.  I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Education, then many years later I earned a Masters degree in Education, also from Penn State.  I married in 1993, and currently am still married.  My daughter was born in 2007.  I work at a bookstore as a supervisor.  I am currently living in an apartment in S.E. Pa.  I went full time as a woman on March 25, 2014

What is a Transgender?
According to the American Psychological Association, transgender is:

an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else; gender expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice, or body characteristics. “Trans” is sometimes used as shorthand for “transgender.” While transgender is generally a good term to use, not everyone whose appearance or behavior is gender-nonconforming will identify as a transgender person. The ways that transgender people are talked about in popular culture, academia, and science are constantly changing, particularly as individuals’ awareness, knowledge, and openness about transgender people and their experiences grow.   Source

HERE is another good definition with some follow up questions.

When did you realize you were transgender?
I knew I was different when I was four- that I was in the wrong body.  I was 11 when a special ran on the local news called the "Transsexual Dilemma" and I was like- That's me!"  Of course, being in a very blue collar family in the 1970s I thought I was only one like me in the world.  I crossdressed for a while until I was about 16, then stopped.  I started again in 2008.  I realized that I needed to transition comparatively recently.

Like many TGs, I joined a fraternity in college. I also participated in hyper-masculine activities in an effort to bury my feminine feelings.

Frat boy???

Why did you choose to be Transgender?
I DIDN'T choose this.  I was born this way.  Being transgender is NOT a mental condition, it is a Physical condition. There are several theories as to how this happens:  a flood of estrogen in utero at the wrong time, faulty hormone receptors in the fetus... but in the end, no one really knows for sure.

Here's a VERY good dicussion on the current theories.

Why would someone CHOOSE to be TG?  Why would they choose a life of prejudice and hatred?  A life where they constantly feel the anguish of not being "Right"?  41% of TG people attempt suicide.  Compare that to 3% who attempt suicide in the non-trans population.  Our murder rate is much higher than the cisgender population as well.  It's a HARD life.  An expensive one.  And, in the end, a life of uncertainty and pain.  Yeah, definitely my first choice.  *rolls eyes*

Why did you stop in 1983?

I was ashamed.  I felt like a freak.  And I'm sure if I were caught, the punishment would've been VERY severe.  So I suppressed it for many, many years- doing my best to be the guy I was expected to be.  I wasn't very good at it.  Remember, this was before the internet, so I thought I was the only "freak" who had those feelings.

Why do I call myself Sophie?

I didn't start with this name.  In December of 2008, I went for my first makeover at Femme Fever in NY.  Karen, the proprietor, did the makeup and asked what name I was using.  I told her but said it was not set in stone.  She stepped back and looked at me, as the makeup was finished, but I hadn't seen myself yet.  She looked at me and said "I have a strong feeling your name is Sophie."  She then turned the chair around so I faced the mirror and said "Say hello to Sophie!"

My First Look at Sophie

I usually don't ignore strong feelings, so I kept the name.  I added the Lynne part as I liked the sound of it.  I have been told that I "own [my] name!"  Ok.  Thanks! 

Sophie is Greek for Wisdom, and I can use all the wisdom I can get.

Since becoming Sophie, I've researched famous Sophies in history.  By far, my favorite is Sophie Scholl. 

What's your male name?

Nice Try.  Are you trying to say I can't be called what I wish?  Or that my female name isn't legitimate?

Will you legally change your name to Sophie Lynne?

Probably not. I'll change it, but to something else, and keep Sophie Lynne as a Nom de Plume. That will help me have a modicum of privacy and allow me to be a bit more "stealth." Whether or not I keep my family name is also up for grabs. I may take my clan name. Or just make one up.

Are you gay?

I am attracted to Women.  I am not attracted to guys.  At all.  So,  I am considered a trans-lesbian. 

Sexuality is who you are attracted to.  Gender is who you ARE.  The two are independent of each other.

What does Christ have to say about Transgenders?

He had the last supper in the home of a TG.  Luke 22:10 says And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.  Back in Christ's day, Women carried water.  period.  Men did NOT do so.  Yet, this man did.  Why? The man was TG.  (I didn't make this up.  Google it!)

I think he's cool with us.  After all, why would God have made me this way if they weren't cool with it.  God doesn't make mistakes, right?

Have you had your surgery yet?

The normal answer to this would be something like "Why are you so interested in my genitals?"  I mean really, it's no one's business.  Calpernia Adams has a really wonderful video about questions like this one.   But for the sake of the blog, NO, I haven't had any surgeries yet. 

Dramatis Personae:
I use many pseudonyms for people in my life as I'm sure they don't want any publicity.  My favorite form of pseudonym is a random letter designation.  After Wife and daughter, they are in no particular order.  This list is FAR from complete.

Sophie Lynne:
Me.  Your humble hostess.  I am the youngest of two children, and I have an older brother. 

Me, November 2014

My wife is a couple of years younger than me.  We met in 1991 and married in 1993.  Like all couples, we've had our ups and downs.  I refer to her as "Wife" as a term of affection.  And she's cool with that.  She's the oldest of three children, and has two younger brothers.

My daughter was born in late 2007. 

Parents:  My parents are alive, and still married after 50 years.  I told them about Sophie on Saturday, December 28, 2013.  The initial reaction was positive, but I'm still cautious. Both parents have now met their daughter.

OB:  Older brother.  Used to always beat me up and blame me for everything he did.  My parents always believed him over me.  I told him about being Sophie and he laughed at me, then lied to my parents about it.  He met his sister on Christmas day 2014.

MIL: Mother in Law.  My wife's mother.  So right wing she thinks Rick Santorum is liberal.  Extremely intolerant of anyone who is not exactly like her.  Racist.  One insulted her Filipino daughter in law with a racial slur to her face.  For ten years, Wife and I lived in her house due to my inability to find a job that paid enough to move out.  I was thrown out of that house in late August of 2013 for being TG.

Mel:  My "Big Sister."  Mel transitioned in 2003.  She is an incredibly intelligent woman, and very plain spoken.  My therapist asked Mel to advise and mentor me, and we've become good friends.  I wouldn't be where I am today with out her candid, sometimes brutal, advice.  Mel is very good friends with Donna Rose, who was HER big sister.

Dr. Maureen Osborne:  My therapist.  One of the leading minds in TG therapy.  She's fantastic!  She was my "Big Sister's" therapist as well. 

Dr. Osborne (seated) receiving a gift at Transhealth, June 2013

Lisa Empanada:  My "transition buddy."  My Sister.  Aside from my Wife, she was my closest friend.  We could finish each other's sentences and often did.  She committed suicide on Monday, September 16, 2013.  Her death sent me into a tailspin from I've just started recovery.  I miss her very much.

Lisa Empanada

Hayden:  Hayden is a trans-man living in Baltimore.  I met him at Laptop Lounge back in February 2013, and really got to know him at Keystone 2013.  He is good people and I consider him family.

Elizabeth:  Elizabeth was the first non-TG I told about being Sophie.  My first time out on Halloween 2008, she helped me pick out an outfit.  (She didn't know then.)  She and I worked together at the time, but she was moving to Turkey with her boyfriend. I was SO nervous!  But she was extremely accepting.  For a while, she was the only one of my friends who knew.

Dave:  Dave was the first cis-gender male that I told about being TG.  We are former co-workers.  He currently lives in Turkey. 

M:  My coworker for several years.  She was among the first I told.  She's an unapologetic hippie from California, and her exploits could fill several books.  She is also VERY rich, and uses that money to help autistic children world wide.  She opened her home to me for nine months after MIL threw me out.

Jamie:  Another former co-worker, she now works in the publishing industry.  She is from Missouri and is an absolute delight!  She accepted me readily.

Linda Lewis:  One of my earliest inspirations, Linda is an amazing person.  Over time we started conversing on Facebook and became friends.  I met her at SCC.  She is an icon of the community, but more important, she is an amazing and down to Earth woman.  Linda is currently my room mate.  She's a BLAST to have around!

Linda Lewis, SCC 2013

Kimberly Huddle:  Another early inspiration.  Kim travels the country dressed as Kim for her drab job.  She lives in Texas, and, despite her folksy manner, is extremely sharp.  She's an amazing, beautiful woman and a great friend.  She has an amazing blog which inspired me to start this one.  Read it HERE.

Kim Huddle, on her second Philly visit.

Ally Raymond:  She's from Richmond, Va.  I met Ally at Lisa's affirmation party, and since then she's become an indispensable part of my life.  Tall, gorgeous, and so outspoken... she's a role model for transwomen!  At least I think so.

Ally and I in Baltimore

Amanda Richards:  Owner of True Colors Makeup Artistry.  A absolute genius with makeup and a very dear friend.

With Amanda Richards

Lorraine Anderson:  Owner of Occasional Woman.  She makes a lot of the clothes to fit over my difficult to fit body.  Such a fun, caring, and genuinely amazing person whom I'm proud to call friend!  She also writes for TG Forum.

Lorraine and her worst customer

Sandy Empanada: Lisa's Widow, and one of the strongest people I know.  She's simply amazing.  She, and Lisa's daughters Kristy and Tiffany, are family to me (as are the entire Newell family.)

Jake, Sandy Empanada, Tiffany Empanada, Hayden, me.  November 2013

DrD:  My oldest friend.  We met in kindergarten. He was Best Man in my wedding.  He is my best male friend.  I told him about my Truth, and he was supportive.  DrD holds two doctoral degrees, and is a fellow Penn Stater.  He is an amazing person, and I would die for him.

R:  My friend since 1980.  We graduated high school together.  US Army veteran and VMI graduate.  He was a groomsman in my wedding, as I was in his first wedding.  In his second, I was Best man.  When I came out to him, he cried, and swore to support me.  I have often said I would "take a bullet" for him.  And I continue to say that. 

A:  My friend since 1993.  I met her through her boyfriend of the time when he was in my D&D group.  She dumped him soon after, but we stayed in touch because we clicked.  She invited Wife and I to her wedding to her no-good husband (who abandoned her when her cancer relapsed.)  I told her about being TG right before moving out of MIL's house.


CD:  Short for Crossdresser

Cisgender:  The opposite of transgender.  A person whose body matches their gender identity.  In other words, almost the entire population of the planet.  More HERE.

Crossdresser:  A person who dresses as a woman.  Said person may or may not be transgender.  See HERE for more information.

"The Darkness":  My name for the pain and thoughts surrounding suicidal depression.

GCS:  Gender Confirmation Surgery. "Surgical procedures that some transgender people go through to obtain physical characteristics found in the opposite gender."  "The Operation."  Also known as "Sex change" and SRS. 

GG:  Genetic Girl.  A woman who was born female.

HRT:  Hormone Replacement Therapy.

"My Truth:" My term for the fact that I am a Woman, and Trans.

"The Pain":  My name for the suffering inflicted by being Transgender. 

"Pink Hangover": The feeling after a night, weekend, whatever, of being en femme and having to return to being a male.  This is a feeling of regretting being male and wishing the female time didn't have to end.

Second Life:  A Computer simulation game sorta thingee.  All content is made by users.  I have some amazing friends there, like MK, Cisop, Zonker, Plato and so many others!

SRS: "Sex Reassignment Surgery."  "Surgical procedures that some transgender people go through to obtain physical characteristics found in the opposite gender."  "The Operation."  Also known as "Sex change" and GCS. 

TG:  Short for Transgender

Transgender:  A person who dresses/lives as the gender opposite their birth.  See HERE for a better definition.

Transsexual:  Old term for someone who has completed GCS.

TS:  Short for Transsexual