Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Visiting My Happy Place

I woke before dawn, as usual.  But this day I was not working my usual thirteen hour marathon between my two jobs.  No, today would be longer, but FAR more pleasant.

When the sun finally rose on Tuesday, July 23, 2013, the day was rainy and gray.  In the shower I shaved my legs and chest, and then, after getting out and changing blades, my face.  After a little more prep, I went out into the dreary dawn. 

My destination for the day was a familiar one; in fact one very dear to my heart.  I was going to Penn State University's main campus.  I do this many times a year, but this time... this time I'd be going as a Woman for the first time.

Why?  I saw it as an important step forward.  PSU is my "Happy Place"- the place I think of when I am depressed to try to cheer myself.  To be there as Sophie, to be there as the REAL me... priceless.  I'd been planning this for weeks.  As I was still crushed by the news of the previous Sunday, this would be exactly what I needed. 

Besides, I wouldn't be going alone.  I was going up to Amanda Richards' place for makeup, and she was accompanying me there.  She hadn't seen the campus since 1983 (she's an Iowa alum) and wanted to go.  And she offered to drive!

So in the early morning gloom, I headed toward Allentown.

On the road to the turnpike, I passed an electric sub-station with many transformers.  As I drove past it, a bird landed on the transformer and disappeared in a bright white flash and POP.

Feathers and yellow smoke.  Several crows were startled and flew away into the rainy morning sky.

A portent?

I arrived on time and filled with three diet cokes.  Amanda was there within a minute.  As I drove up, a mutual friend (we'll call her "Q") called me.  We were talking and it turns out that she and Amanda were in the same fraternity (different universities and times though.)  She asked if I'd mind if she stopped in during my session.  Sure!

I was half way done when Q arrived.  The discussion towards our Greek experiences, and colorful stories they were!

Later, Q sent me the following in a text (reprinted with her kind permission)

"I did find the juxtaposition between "frat-bonding" and all that getting made up kind of ironic and funny, thinking "oh, if they can only see us now.""

Soon enough I was ready and we were on the road.  Due to traffic, we were delayed here and there, and listened to Quadrophenia as we went. 

At one point we stopped for snacks at a "redneck" gas station and minimart.  I confidently strode across the parking lot.  Too confidently- Amanda said I was walking like a guy.  I received some looks, but no comments.

After a few hours, we arrived at Penn State.  I directed her the back way into town, through the fraternity areas.  Soon, we arrived at our first destination:  my fraternity house. (#1 on the map below.) 

(The map is by Penn State University, and is used without permission. No challenge is intended to the copyright status as it is used for educational purposes.)
(I added the arrows and blue text)

Amanda parked the car in the House parking lot.  There was a guy with two co-eds unloading his car and carrying things into the House.  He looked at me, and I smiled and said hello.  He looked away.  It occurred to me that I was a brother at the house before he was born.  I carried a yellow nylon mesh half shirt on which were my fraternity letters.  I used to wear it way back in the mid-80s when such things were in style.

At my Fraternity House

We were going to use my camera but it was dead.  Fortunately, Amanda brought hers.  And her camera is FAR better than mine!

I couldn't help but wonder what my brothers would think if they saw me.  They were for the most part a very rough group- very much into the guy thing.  I know that there were at least two gays in the house, both closeted, and maybe two others I wasn't sure about.  And of course, there was a TG: Me.  My fraternity has no national policy on LGBT issues, preferring to let the chapters decide.  My chapter has no policy on it.  I know that when I was an active, being proven gay was a one way ticket out the door.  I can only imagine the fate of a transperson.

Wearing my Letters

Amanda took a series of pictures from various angles.  Then we walked back around the building to the car.  The guy was still there, unloading his things.  He looked at me casually, then turned away.  For a moment, I thought of tossing him the shirt I carried, now twenty eight years old.  But I didn't.  I earned it, despite everything else.


 From there, we drove across campus to the Nittany Lion Shrine (#2), which was surrounded by blue tarp.  It was being renovated!  Re-landscaped!  No pictures there!  I was really disappointed as Lion pictures were one of the major reasons I wanted to make this pilgrimage. 

Cest La Vie

Oh well.  Amanda took some pictures from across the street and near the sign explaining what was happening. 

Sign Me Up?

We then hopped back in the car and drove across campus to our next destination:  Beaver Stadium.

We parked and I walked over to where the Paterno statue once stood.  Amanda took several pictures of me imitating the statue's pose, but really looked goofy (and fat) so I'm not posting them here.  Instead I posed at the spot.  (#3)

Joe was here.

And in front of the stadium.

#1 in my heart!

And more there.

Are you following me?

Then we drove back to campus, where we had dinner at one of my favorite places:  The Deli. (#4) The Deli has an immense beer selection, but neither of us had one.  After dinner, we went to a clothing store, the Family Clothesline (#5), where I bought some more Penn State tops (so you don't keep seeing the same one.)

At the Deli

Then we walked down College Avenue, enjoying the sunshine.  No one gave me a second look that I noticed.  Amanda asked some questions about the sights, and we both admired some of the scenery.  ;)

We stopped at Moyer's Jewelers (#6).  I wanted a new pendant, and I wanted it to be a silver Nittany Lion.  My online research showed that this place had one at a good price.

From there, to my favorite bar while I was a student:  Zenos (#7).  This place has an amazing beer selection.  Here we both had a drink.  I encouraged Amanda to check out the writing on the bathroom walls, which were usually pretty good.  More on that later.

At Zenos.

From there, we went to our last stop: the only bar I never entered either as an undergrad or any time... until then.  Chumleys (#8) is an LGBT bar.  We walked in, and it was far smaller than I always imagined.  There was a transman behind the bar who was so very nice, but I misgendered him.  (If you're reading this, I'm really sorry!)

I had a few drinks there to celebrate the day, and the fact that I was REALLY there- I was at Penn State as MYSELF for the first time!

After a while, we slowly walked back to the car and headed back to Allentown.  As always, the trip back seemed far longer.  On the way, Amanda introduced me to band she knew well, but I'd never heard of:  Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers.  They're a Pittsburgh band, and were straight ahead good time bar rock. 

We arrived at her studio, where I cleaned up and changed.  From there I went home.  I arrived at 1 AM:  twenty hours after waking.  I was SO tired!

But what a day it was!  I was glowing!  I walked around and no one cared about my being transgender.  I was at peace in my Happy place in Happy Valley.  This was the first time here.  there will be many more, God willing.

I mentioned the graffiti in Zenos.  I'd never been in the Ladies room there before, and I'm happy to report that the graffiti there is just as fun as in the men's room (which I never intend to see again.)  One piece stood out, so I took a picture with my dying phone camera. 


The words are perfect for who I am now and where I'm going. 

I hope all of my readers (especially the Super 70!) have a place as special to them as Penn State is to me, and may your thoughts of it bring you comfort.

May it shine a light on you.

Candid near the Lion Shrine


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Glow Sticks on the Stairs

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It was a very good day.  Especially when compared to the day that followed.  Since I've written about the events of that day already, I can now write about this Happy Time.

It was a Third Saturday, and that meant Renaissance and Laptop Lounge

I had the day off from both jobs, so I moved my appointment with Amanda to an earlier time.  Why was I getting my makeup done?

Simple.  I'd be meeting someone for the first time. Some background is necessary.  The first "civilian" I told about being trans was a coworker I've been calling "E."  I wrote briefly about that HERE.  I told her and a few months later she moved to Turkey.  We've discussed some of my life as Sophie via text and email, but, to date, she'd never seen me AS Sophie.

Oh, she'd seen me dressed as a woman at various parties (including one in her honor), but that was my "drab self in Drag", not Sophie.  Not the True Woman.

Ready for the Night


First I had another obligation.

I was asked by Dr. Michelle Angello to sit for interviews with students in one of her Gender Studies classes.  I was happy to be of service.  I arrived at 4:15 at the offices where we hold Renaissance.  The first interview was with a pair of people, one a masters student, the other a doctoral candidate.  They weren't prepared with questions as they'd just been told about this exercise upon arrival.  So, being me, I decided to mess with them a bit.  Eventually, the doctoral candidate said "Sarcasm is your armor, isn't it?" 

I smiled and said "Very good!  Nice observation!"  Then I started answering their questions.

I interviewed with three others, all of whom had very intelligent questions.  I gave all of the students my business card, which has this blog address on it.  Perhaps they are even reading this.  Or not. 

After the interviews, I went to ShangriLa, where I met my "Big Sister" Mel.  We shared a drink before E showed up... late.  She didn't even blink and we hugged.  It felt completely natural... at least to me.  I don't know how she felt.  While E met Mel before under different circumstances, I introduced Mel to her as my "Big sister, which means the one whose supposed to talk some sense into me." 

"That's a losing battle," Mel said.

"Impossible task" said E.

We hung out there for twenty more minutes, then E and I left for dinner at McKenzies, while Mel declined our invitation to join us and went home.  McKenzies was close by, and we were the first of our group to arrive.  Eventually there were six of us:  Myself, E, Katie, Amy (from my support group), and Victoria.  Also joining us was Monique, a genetic girl whom Victoria knows.  She was beautiful and lots of fun.  She also doesn't wish her picture posted on the Internet.

LtoR: Katie, Victoria, Sophie, E, Monique, Amy

Dinner was wonderful and the conversation was lively. 

After dinner, we went into the bar area, where there was a woman playing acoustic guitar.  I remained standing as the others sat, as my back was bothering me.  Immediately, three women at the end of the square bar started staring, pointing, and whispering.  A couple across the bar also kept stealing looks and doing their best NOT to look at me while they spoke.  A guy came in, sat at the other end of the bar, stared for a full minute, then took a picture of me. 

E asked how I could tolerate being an object of derision (especially since she's seen my male side anger).  I told her "If I'm going to live my life as a transwoman who DOESN'T blend in, then this is something I need to be able to take and laugh at."

We then went to Winberies for Laptop Lounge, where I changed into denim shorts.  There I introduced E to so many people.  She left at midnight.

In Shorts (Pic courtesy Angela's Laptop Lounge)

She told me later that she had a great time.  And that she was happy to have finally met me.

After she left, I fell into conversation with an admirer.  He was a nice enough guy, and was quite respectful.  I didn't send any signals saying I was interested, and he assumed nothing. 

The night ended as it always does.  This time my friend Amy offered the use of her room at the Hampton Inn clean up and change.  I drove her through the rainy night down Route 202 to find...

The Hotel was dark.  Power outage.

Amy and I walked in to find two hotel employees with tiny flashlights and glow sticks.  They handed us one of each and we walked up the stairs to the fourth floor.

The Glow stick

I showered by the light of the tiny light.  By the time I was finished, Amy was fast asleep, having not slept the night before.  So I took the glow stick and slowly walked down the four flights of steps in the humid darkness. 

I left the glow stick by the door so others could use it, and drove home in the rain...

Not knowing that in less than nine hours, my life would be turned upside down.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

She Decided.

My Wife decided after over a week of thinking.

I was going to write about how fun my weekend was.  I really had an amazing day on Saturday, filled with new people, old friends and new experiences.

Happy on Saturday

But then Sunday happened.

I'll still write about Saturday someday, but Sunday was more... well... it was rough.

The Sunday after a weekend out as Sophie has always been brutal, and not just due to the "Pink Hangover."  Wife has always been very vindictive and makes me "pay" for going out with extra chores and often extra "motivation."  Like drill sergeant style. 

It started Sunday morning. Mother in law (MIL) lost it on me while Wife was at church with daughter. Seems that no matter what I do, she's unhappy or downright furious (kind of like how the Republicans regard President Obama.)  Then Wife came home and MIL bitched at her. As I was working on things in the back of the house, I didn't hear exactly what was said, but it was something about me being "lazy" and "never does ANY work."  W started bawling, and MIL left to go babysitting. 

Yes, someone put THAT witch in charge of their kids.

Then Wife lost it on me.  MIL wanted me to continue weeding in a copse of trees on the property.  It was already over 90 degrees outside, and my back was still a little sore from the night's escapades (wearing heels.) 

I told her that I'd go outside and work until I dropped dead from the heat as "that would make your life so much easier, right?"  I was very angry and frustrated at this point.

The weeding.  I'm not kidding- this really is it!

I went outside in the 90+ weather to do more weeding. I worked until I was ready to pass out and my back hurt VERY badly (maybe 45 minutes.)  This was the second time I'd worked on this job, and I still wasn't a third finished.  There were SO many weeds!  And so many thorn bushes!

I came back in, limping, bleeding from many tiny cuts, and absolutely soaked in sweat.

"Done yet?" Wife said with a bitter tone.

I just glared at her and took a cold shower. It was 90 minutes until I had to go to work.

After the shower, I laid on the couch in one of our rooms to watch Phillies and rest my back. Wife came in to bitch that the massive weeding job wasn't finished. I told her I was going to leave the room as I'd had enough. So I went to the bedroom, turned on the floor fan and lay on the bed, trying to cool down.  She followed me and and sat on the bed. 

I looked at her.  She looked back, her face red.  Then her lip trembled.

She started to cry.

She'd used this tactic many times in the past.  She cried and I was supposed to forgive her, cave in, and do what she wanted.  But I'd become immune to it.  It was always just a tactic.  Especially on a Sunday.

She cried and said "I'm so sorry.  I can't live with this.  I can't live with you if you get the operation.  I just can't."

She told me she wasn't going to move out with me- that she wanted to stay in that hellhole with her mother.  And that "she could never live with a woman."

She never wanted to see me as Sophie- ever.  Ever.

"I know you can't help it.  I know it's a physical thing not mental.  I know you don't want this.  But all I want is my husband.  I want my husband- not a woman."

That's when I started crying.

I told her I didn't blame her for her decision.  How could I, really?  I told her that I understood.  And she hugged me, and we both sobbed.

After we cried a while, we pulled ourselves together and talked a bit. Discussed options.

Option 1:

If we get the loan, we still get the house together.  This removes my daughter from MIL's toxic influence and provides her security.  Said house should be affordable by Wife without any monetary input from me.  I stay in the house until the changes reach a point that she finds intolerable.  Then I move out.  Perhaps during that time, take in a boarder to assist with the mortgage.   After moving out, divorce proceedings begin.

Option 2:

I move out ASAP.  Divorce proceedings begin.  She stays at her mother's with my Daughter.

Option 3:

I move out after thoroughly researching places, etc.  Divorce proceedings begin. She stays at her mother's with my Daughter.

She asked when I intend to transition.  I said it was at least a year away- probably three.  She said "Ok, we have some time then."

I've been Sophie now for four and a half years since my "re-awakening."  I've done a lot of research on being transgender, and I've read a LOT of life stories.  While they tend to follow a pattern, there are usually variations on the pattern.  Like different musicians interpreting the same piece of music.

And usually, the wife leaving is part of the pattern.  Almost a rite of passage.  I read somewhere that only 3% of marriages survive a spouse transitioning.

And now it's my turn.

I've received many comments on Facebook, where I gave a brief description of events.  People have been so kind.  I've also received many texts, emails, and messages.  Many are from those who have already walked this path and survived.  They offer wisdom and encouragement.  Still others are from those who will never endure this particular brand of hell, but send their support.

Some are from "admirers" who smell blood in the water and think I'll be an easy score.  Think again.

I planned for this to happen- for her to reject me.  I expected it to happen.  Perhaps part of me even Wanted it to happen.  But none of that...


Makes it hurt less.

And it hurts.  It really does.

I keep crying.

Just Like a Woman.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I have a Confession.  I'm a Fraud.

First some background, and a warning- this one gets deep.

In my last blog entry, I revealed that I told my Wife that I was transitioning.  Since that time, I've received so many wonderful comments and messages of support. 

I quote:

"Thank you for sharing your life for us and for being as bold as you are in charging forward in the world."  Karin July1992

"You are one of the reasons why I keep going, why I am determined to stay on the road that I know will only cross my path again and again every time I purge and turn my back on it... [cut]
It will be nerve wrecking for me as it will be my first time out interacting with others as Emma. I will keep your strength in mind. I will remind myself of how you went through the same struggles and how you managed to tackle the obstacles."   Emma Rose Claybourne

These are comments on the above cited entry, but I've received similar ones on Facebook and privately as well.

And I Really appreciate them! 

Some more background:  I'm a former paramedic.  From 1984 through 1990, I was a member of a volunteer Ambulance and a volunteer Rescue Squad.  I've crawled into wrecked cars and run into burning buildings.

Even more background:  Growing up, I learned how to fight for several reasons.  One was that I was tired of being picked on.  Second was that I had (and still have) a VERY big mouth.  And third, fighting was a way of proving my manhood to all and sundry and suppressing my feminine side.  Hmmm does that sound familiar?  (I've discussed it before.)  Got my ass beat a lot too.

Now let's define some terms.  All according to the Oxford Dictionary.  And I quote:

  • the ability to do something that frightens one:she called on all her courage to face the ordeal
  • strength in the face of pain or grief:he fought his illness with great courage
  • courageous behavior or character.
  • wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain:he was convicted of fraud prosecutions for social security frauds
  • a person or thing intended to deceive others, typically by unjustifiably claiming or being credited with accomplishments or qualities:mediums exposed as tricksters and frauds

Courage is strapping on a gun and wearing a badge as a Police officer. Working as a professional firefighter. Carrying a weapon into combat. Teaching children despite vocal opposition to same.  Protesting Injustices in the face of organized opposition that is determined to silence you.

Having shown examples, provided background and defined terms, I again say: I'm a Fraud.

Fraud, Fake, Charlatan, Phony?


For all of my words, for all the encouragement, for all I've done...

of my

I'm so scared of the future that I want to cower and hide in a corner somewhere.  I want to pull the covers over my head and wish it would all go away. 

Pray for the Thunder and the Rain to quietly pass me by.

  • an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat:

So for all the kind words, for all the support, how can someone labeled as Courageous, so brave, Boldly Going and all that, be so f**king Afraid?

Of what am I afraid? 

I'm afraid of being a Woman in a Man's world.  And worse, not even being a natal a woman- a Transwoman: an object of derision, irrational hatred, scorn, prejudice. 

I'm afraid of losing my marriage, my Daughter, my job, everything.

I'm afraid of crying Alone, of dying Alone.

But most of all, I'm afraid to live one more day as a male.  Of living this Lie.

Yes, I ran into burning buildings.  Yes, I am transitioning.  Yes, I fought people far bigger than me, especially when they were picking on someone defenseless. 

Yes, I told my Wife about who I am, what I am, and what I intend to do.

Courage?  Bravery?  Bull. 


These things needed to be done.  There were no other choices in the matter. 

People may have been trapped in those buildings, and I had the training and gear to possibly save them.  Those being picked upon needed a defender.  "If not me, then who?"

I can no longer live as a male.

Is doing what is Necessary being courageous, or just survival?

Can NOT doing what is Necessary be deemed cowardice?

Is being Afraid showing Cowardice?

Some would argue that to NOT be afraid of Transition would be Insanity.  I'd agree.  Still others argue that Transition itself is insanity.

So is my Fear the logical emotion in this situation, Mr. Spock?

Can Logic even be applied to a situation where every rational person would argue against these actions? 

Well, not every person.  Medical professionals are beginning to understand the need.  Mental health professionals work with people coping with this Pain every day.  And my fellow Transpersons?  They understand the rationality of transition... its inevitability... its Necessity.

So, I guess my argument comes down to this:  Is it Courage or Necessity to Live as one Needs to Live?  Is it bravery to be true to oneself, or is it necessity?

I can't answer that for you, dear reader.

I can't answer it for myself.

Perhaps Necessity begets Courage? 

I wanted to end this entry with an inspiring quote, perhaps from Shakespeare, so I went searching for one.

I found this page.  And on it I found a quote from some guy named Marion.

Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway.   John Wayne.

I guess the discussion goes on...



Monday, July 15, 2013

I Told Her I'm Transitioning

Last Friday night was brutal.

I told my Wife that I am planning to Transition. 

I mentioned this on Facebook, but here's the whole story.

The day started simply enough.  I went to get my hair trimmed at Donna's in Edison, NJ.  The night before, I told Wife that I was going to keep it long.  She asked why, and I told her so I wouldn't have to wear a wig my whole life.  She glared at me.

Then I went to the King of Prussia mall for some lunch.  There I connected with my friend Jen L and we went to visit our friend Erica who just had GCS.

By the time I made it home, Wife was in a pissy mood.  As usual.  So I had dinner, and left.  She asked where I was going, and I told her my storage unit.  Which I did very briefly, then went to my "Big Sister" Mel's place to hang out for a bit, and seek her council.  I was there for a couple of hours, then reconnected with Jen and a mutual friend at Winberies.  By that point, I was in a very down mood.  I'd been stewing on the events of the previous two weeks, among other things.

L to R:  Jen L, Hayden, Me at Winberies in June 2013

The restaurant closed and I went home.  Wife was already in bed, doing a crossword puzzle.  She glared at me as I came in.  "And where were you?"

I stripped down for bed and lay next to her.  I told her exactly where I'd been. 

The past week had been rough.  I'd been getting hammered by her and her mother the whole time.  I mentioned on FB that the previous weekend I lost it on Wife in a store (I didn't write about it in this blog as I wanted something more positive.)  So where last week I lashed out in anger, this week I had a whole different, unplanned reaction:

I started crying uncontrollably. 

All the frustration of the situation- of the night- hit me at once.

I curled up in a fetal position and cried and told her "I'm in so much pain!"  Repeated that several times.  She asked what was wrong.

I told her that I was so scared.  That when I told her about being TG over a year ago, and told her I didn't know where this would end up, that was correct at the time, that I was telling the truth.  But that had changed.  I'd started hormones with her approval, as it possibly may have stopped the inexorable march of the Gender Dysphoria.  It didn't.

Contemplating the Future

I told her again I loved her and didn't want to lose her, but that the pain was too much I was "probably going to transition."

And she started crying.  She said "I know that no one would want this.  I know that you don't want this.  You can't help it."  She repeated that quietly. 

We talked about the possible mortgage, and I told her that I'd understand if she didn't want me around.  I also told her about Spouse support groups.  She still wasn't having any of it.

"This is too much.  Too big" she said.  She repeated that several times.

I kept crying.  I never stopped.

We hugged.  I turned out the light. 

And since then... nothing.  I'm letting her wrap her head around it.

And I'm still scared.  Still have a roof over my head.  For now.

Since I posted this information on Facebook last Saturday, many have posted their good wishes and their thoughts, for which I am eternally grateful.

I took a Major and Necessary step, and did it ever hurt.  But now Wife Knows.  She knows where I am going and now we find out if she's joining me on the journey.

I am under no Illusions.  So very few marriages survive this.  At best, I can hope to manage the Crash, and hope that no one will be permanently hurt.  

"Plan for the worst- hope for the best."  Old paramedic saying. 

Plans are in place awaiting her decision.  Now it's just the waiting.  The Hardest Part.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

From the Vaults of my Drab blog!

For a few years I kept a drab blog as well as the Myspace one.  I rarely posted to it, and in fact I forgot about it.

I just found it again.  The last entry was November 11,2009 and it was about Halloween.

My first anniversary as Sophie.  But written in such a way as people who know my drab side would expect.  It regurgitated some of the lies and cover stories I told friends and coworkers about that Halloween.

For comparison, HERE is a link to my Sophie blog from that time (back in the Myspace days.)

So, your homework is to read both, compare and contrast.  Essay due tomorrow morning at the beginning of class. 


Ok, so here we have a drab blog dated November 11, 2009 titled Halloween 2009, 2 Parties and Breasts.  I've added some pictures from that time that didn't appear originally, but the text is exactly as it was, unedited (Except for names are changed to protect identities.)


Last year, I dressed as Lois Lane for Halloween and I remember asking "How will I top this?"

So I thought.  And I said to myself " well I did that in a week.  I have a year.  What could I do in that time?"

So I determined in early November 08 that I would do drag again for Halloween 09.  I consulted with my friend Josh Kilmer Purcell and he gave one BIG tip: keep notes of the whole process and see if it's a book.

And so I did.

I sought out crossdressers and transvestites.  I learned that they are people like me.  90% are heterosexual.  They just have this...Need... to dress like they do.  For this they need to hide or they'll lose their jobs as airline pilots, engineers, or whatever.  I have met many soldiers- some of whom are Special forces.

All of these "gurls" couldn't be nicer.  Fun folks.

And I learned from them.  I learned for a whole year.

Then as Halloween came close, my friend and colleague E again helped me with wardrobe.  My friend D did my eyebrows (REALLY thin, but oh well, they worked.)

I went to a specialist in transgender makeup.  Had my butt padded and some great looking breast prosthetics.  Illusion complete.  OMG- I didn't see myself in the mirror anymore!

So looking like some blonde floozy I went to where I work where jaws dropped and people laughed.  One customer hit on me.  From there to M's party.  Some people didn't recognize me.  Others laughed.  But I had FUN!  Lots of fun!

Halloween night was the Henri David party in Philly.  As I had all the pads, and an outfit ready, I would do drag again.  However this time I would do it among all the tg gurls I'd met all year.  Amanda, the amazing makeup person would be staying with me (for free as payment for her services doing makeup these two nights).  Another gurl would be there too.  Oh, both are hetero family men in case you're wondering.

This party was surreal.  So many amazing costumes.  So many people wanted my picture.  It wouldn't be an exxageration to say I had maybe 500 pictures taken of me in costume.  My t-gurl friends were very supportive and fun as always.

So 3 AM, and my feet are throbbing.  I'm waiting for the shower so I can remove the heavy makeup.  Did I top last year?  YES.  And I made some amazing new friends.  So now what?  Dump them and move on?  NO.  These are friends, and they helped me.  I can't wait to hear their reactions to my party performance.

So how do I top THIS next year?  I already know.

I'm taking my daughter xx Trick or Treating for the first time, dressed as her daddy.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sisterhood, Southern Comfort, 'Sorted Stuff

I had a really lousy weekend.  So lousy, I'm not going to talk about it. 

Instead, I want to write about something POSITIVE.  In fact, multiple things.  A veritable cornucopia of Good stuff.  In no particular order.

Last week, I posted an entry about my friend Linda Lewis.  In response, many people contacted her and sent her much needed funds.  The good news is that it REALLY helped, and not only is she very grateful, but so am I.  The bad news is that she's not out of the woods yet, so if you can spare a dollar, she could use the help.

You see, that's one of the things I love about our community- we really DO stick together.  We help each other.  Not all of us do, to be sure, but enough do.  I've been asked in my drab life why I'm friends with transpeople (I get asked this a LOT at my retail job, where many transpeople come in and we talk.)  I always say "They're fantastic people, and I'm honored that they are my friends."  Sometimes that response gets an eye-roll from the questioner. 

But it's true!  We are a diverse group, but we share one major commonality- we understand the pain that we all share- and in this case familiarity does NOT breed contempt, it breeds Understanding and Compassion.

I've Got Her Back

Here's another example, and this one is purposefully vague.

I received a text, followed by a call at my retail job first thing yesterday morning.  It was from someone I know from Harrisburg who has had some major issues with her soon to be ex-wife.  I mean Severe issues.  She has been reading my posts here and on Facebook (specifically about this past weekend) and was alarmed enough to call.  Her point was that my situation is identical to hers two years ago, before it all went to Hell for her.  There are some differences in the situations (such as family composition) but from what she described, she was dead on.

And she felt strongly enough about it to call and talk about it.  For which I am grateful.

I've said it many times here and on my TG Forum column- we know each others' deepest secret.  How can that not bond us? 

I was in the Greek system in college.  Yes, I was in a fraternity.  There was a lot of talk about "Brotherhood" in fraternities (and of "sisterhood" in sororities) and occasionally it was true.  But let's face it- how many of my brothers have really kept in touch?  We exchange the occasional Facebook thing, thats about it.  I've heard that there are some people who were in Houses together that are inseparable, and in fact I know a few.  But nothing, NOTHING, like the way I see my Sisters stick together.  We help each other, laugh with each other, and cry with each other.

Sometimes we let each other down as well.  Happens in any relationship.  Any family.  But we keep going.  "We who are alive and remain."

Speaking of Sisters, there are MANY who I know only online.  There are people whom I know through Flickr (like the beautiful Alexandra!) or multiple platforms  (Linda Lewis, Cisop Sixpence: a GG, Ana Christina Garcia) that I really want to meet someday in person. 

And one place to meet these people is at the Southern Comfort Conference.   It's the largest TG conference in the USA... and I'm going this year!  Yes, I'll be in Atlanta in early September, attending sessions (like Donna Rose's on blogging) doing fun stuff, and haunting the bar.  Drinking soft drinks of course.   And while I'm at it, I have a bridge in New Jersey to sell you.   I hope to meet many of my faithful 70 there!  There are so many women who have inspired me who attend this conference- I just hope I don't react like a moronic fan girl!

And while I'm on the topic of meeting people, I recently had lunch with my dear friend Jen.  She went full time at work, etc, a couple of months ago.  She arrived wearing a wonderful casual outfit and khaki skirt.  I was in drab and really jealous.  We talked about how her transition is going, and about my last time out.  She's very fun and VERY smart.

I mentioned to her that my last time out, I didn't wear a corset, pads of any kind, or forms.  It was just me in a dress.  And no one vomited.  Or said I looked fat. 

No Pads, Artificial Sweeteners, Additives or Preservatives.

She said that it's a natural step to take- accepting your body as it is... just like every other woman.  I'm going to keep losing weight (or trying anyway) but just the idea that I'm at a point that I CAN appear feminine-ish without any pads, etc.  I keep thinking about that.  After four and a half years of growing, learning, listening... I'm really becoming the person I never dared dream I could be:

A Woman. 

A Female of the Species.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Surreal Send off

Some nights are routine. 

Not this one.

Saturday, June 29th was...




I guessed it would be odd.  But never guessed HOW odd.

I had the following plans for the night:  JoAnn Roberts Memorial Celebration (dress code; "tasteful") at 8PM, then go to the closing of Blue Pacific.

By closing I mean CLOSED.  For good.  Bye bye.  Fat Lady sang.

It was a rough week.  Work was busy.  Other real life stuff kept getting in the way of telling Wife about transition.  Mostly her mom (MIL). 

Saturday was a blessing.  I left work early to go to Amanda Richards for makeup.  I wanted to look my best for the Memorial.  I was her only client of the day, as she was also attending the event, and needed to get herself ready.

We chatted as always and listened to a live Bruce Springsteen CD I brought for her.  Eventually, I was ready for the night!  I wore an LBD and pumps with no corset or padding of any kind.  Not even breast forms.  All just Sophie.  It was 95 degrees out so I was glad of that!

Tasteful Enough?

The drive back into the area was uneventful, but I was way early for the Memorial.  I called Lorraine of Occasional Woman and asked if she wanted to join me for dinner at ShangriLa, and she agreed to meet me at 6 PM.  But it was 5 PM at that time.  What to do?

I know!  Push back my boundaries!

I pulled into the parking lot of Morton's Steak House, and went into the bar area.  The valet and hostess both said "Good evening Miss!"  Yay!

I say at the bar and ordered a Pinot Grigio.  Eventually, I was included in the conversation with the older couple at the bar.  When I arrived, the guy was bragging about his Ferrari COLLECTION!  As a group we all talked baseball and travelling to the UK.

I still have no idea how one led to the other.

Bartender was kind enough to take this for me

In any case, I had a wonderful time there, doing something I have always wanted to do (go into a VERY fancy restaurant as a woman), and no one cared who I was.   Very empowering!

I arrived at ShangriLa on time, and waited at the bar.  Lorraine joined me and we had a wonderful time there as well.

At 7:45, we went to the Memorial. 

It was wonderful, and out of respect for the family, I will not detail it here.

At 10 PM I drove over to Blue Pacific, parked and walked in.  Once again, I was the only transperson in the room, but that was fine.  Most of the booze was gone as was most of the beer.  And there was a birthday party in full swing in the bar- maybe sixty people were there and most were at least tipsy.

The Liquor selection when I arrived

I asked for a beer and was told there wasn't much left.  I said 'whatever you have" and received a Belgian beer.  Quite a good one too!

At that time, Andrew (the owner) came into the bar carrying a large cake.  Everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to a pretty woman who was blushing like crazy.  I sang along.  After she blew out the candles, a blond woman approached me.  She was drunk.

"Oh my God- you are SO beautiful!  So wonderful!" 

"Thank you!  You're beautiful as well!" I said. 

"Is it true?"

"Yes, you are very beautiful!"  (And she was.)

"No I mean about you being, you know."

I looked at her quizzically. 

"You know, you were born a guy?" she said.

I laughed.  "Yes, but now I'm a woman.'

"You are sooooo brave!  You are so wonderful!"

And with that she introduced me to her sister: the birthday girl, her Mother (who was at that moment behind the bar) and her father, who looked very uncomfortable, especially as more transwomen were now entering the bar from the Memorial.  The Blonde (henceforth designated by the random letter K) said he's very open minded. 

LtoR:  K, her mom, Angela, Me, Victoria, Kristyn

She asked the usual questions.  I doubt she remembers any of the discussion though.  I bought another beer.  The LAST beer.  From K's mom.  Then it got weird.  That's when people started dancing on the bar.

And so did I.  Why not?  I'd never done it before.  I kicked off my heels, handed my camera to Victoria, and hopped up.  Started dancing and promptly bashed my head against the ceiling.  The girls on the bar seemed happy I joined them.  Other people started sticking dollar bills in my shaper.

That's "Exotic Dancer" to you

We all danced until the end of the song.  Then I hopped down and back into my heels... just in time for the Bar soda gun fight.  Andrew and the other bartender were spraying each other and everyone within range with the bar guns.  I managed to escape, but Kristyn took a full shot in the face.  Bye bye makeup!

Then Andrew and the other bartended stripped off their soaked shirts.  And they are both CUT!  Very muscular.  The GGs went wild cheering, as did many of the TGs.  They then lined up all remaining bottles on the bar, and I went behind the bar to pour myself a soda.  (I used to bartend in my day.) 

Andrew said take whatever I wanted, so I took the last bottle behind the bar: Macallan 18yr old Scotch.  And yes, I shared.  Then people started taking more pics.  A Latino guy came behind me and tried to feel me up.  I peeled off his fingers, inflicting more pain than needed, but, Cest la Vie.

That's when I noticed K and Victoria removing the fish from the other wall, behind the sushi bar.

Grand Theft Fish

So I went over to help, and was given a Blue Fish.  One Fish, Two Fish, Dead Fish, Blue Fish.

More spraying.  More Bar Dancing.  But I stayed in the restaurant area hanging out with new friends and old. 

Eventually, the time came for me to leave.  I went over to a thoroughly drunk Andrew to thank him and say good night.  He hugged me tightly. 

"Thank you for all of your support, Sophie.  Seriously thank you."  And we hugged for maybe thirty seconds.  My dress became soaked with whatever liquid he was coated by... and I didn't care. 

Andrew's wife was taking pictures.  She wanted one of the two of us.  I asked permission to kiss his cheek and she smiled.  So she has a picture of Me kissing his cheek. 

As I left, I encountered K outside and said goodbye.  I gave her one of my business cards, but I doubt she'll contact me.  that's fine.  As long as she fondly remembers the night she spent with a bunch of friendly TG women, and smiles.

Captain, this lifeboat is a bit small...

I'll miss Blue Pacific.  There will always be Hellos, goodbyes, and fare thee wells.  But Life is what happens between them.  And during my times at Blue Pacific I made many friends and grew a lot as a person and a Woman.

Times that were:




Now our paths diverge. 

Fare thee well, Andrew.  I hope we meet again.

Request for Help

People who read this column tend to know my viewpoint on Politics: Liberal.

And no, this column isn't about politics.  Not really.  Not how you think.

I'm a Liberal because I think we were put on this planet to help each other.  I became a Teacher for that reason.  I was a Paramedic for that reason.  I fight against the Randian GOP for that reason.

People who read this column also know that I don't have many Friends.  Never have.  Maybe because I define it differently than many people.  I know I defined it elsewhere in the blog, but I don't feel like looking for it to link it.  I have many people whom I like and with whom I am friendly.  Some will be Friends soon, I hope. 

A Friend knows my Heart.  My mind.  And I defend my friends.  Often more than they wish. 

My point is coming.  Stick with me.

On June 29, Linda Lewis posted the following on Facebook:

This post is the hardest post I have written .... I am asking for help from my friends and admirers here. I am nearly broke. I am about to lose my apartment at the end of July. I have no where to go because my parents will not allow me to stay with them as long as I continue transitioning. I have filed a new claim for Emergency Unemployment Compensation, but I won't know if my claim will go through in time until I receive notice through the post, and by then it could be too late. I am asking if you could help with a donation of $10 or $20 USD from my friends and admirers, it could be enough to help me pay my rent and utility bills for the month of August. I have 188 friends in my list, but I know there are more of you who know me. Please help me...as I have helped so many of you before.

Most people in the TG community know Linda.  Many, including myself, are/were inspired by her.  We communicated over the years, and I was always  was impressed that she answered my Questions with patience and real desire to help.  The idea that this Woman who had done so much in the community would answer some lowly newbie's emails... made a deep impression.

Linda 2013

In the past few months, I've gotten to know Linda far better.  We communicate regularly, and we discuss our transitions, our families, life.  I have come to know her, and she, me.

She is my Friend.

I encouraged her to write the above post on FB.  She is a Proud Woman.  She needs help, and didn't want to ask for it.  She is Unemployed...

And why is that?  Simple.  She is Transgender.  Despite Years of experience in her field, and many marketable skills, she, like many of us, can't find a job.  She'd saved a lot for transition, and watched that dissolve as her unemployment continued and the weeks stretched to months. 

She finally told her parents about her True Self, and her father promptly and harshly disowned her. 

Here's my Point.

MANY of Us need a helping hand occasionally.  And MANY of us extend that hand without thought of reward.  We do that because we Know how it feels to Need... and to be helped.

Linda Lewis extended her hand to many, many of us.  Now she needs Our help.  Not just mine- as my resources are as limited as hers.  Ours.

Some of us will turn our backs to her.  Some of us can offer nothing but prayers.  Still others will Ridicule her and accuse her of Poor Planning and mooching.  (Yes, someone has done this!)

But Some of us will help.

And by helping Her, we help ourselves. 

So many of us NEED help, are too proud to ask.  Some Do ask.  Linda didn't ask me to write this.  In fact, I'm sure she'll be quite embarrassed that I'm writing it. 

That's fine.  She can bring that up with me at her convenience.  See my definition of "Friend" above.

I wouldn't do this for just anyone.  I wouldn't write this much about a random person requesting it.  That's not how I work, usually. 

But I'M asking for your help.  I'm asking you to help my Friend.  I'm asking you to help Linda Lewis. 

If you can spare even a dollar, it helps.  And I will be very grateful.

Contact her via Private mail HERE for details on how to help.

And Thank You.  Really.  THANK YOU for helping one of our own.

Linda 1986