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 fiancĂ©e 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  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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Randomized Thoughts on a Sunday Morn.

As much as I don't get along with my older brother, and detest Christmas, it's funny that one of the few warm memories of my brother is him opening presents on Christmas morning when we were maybe nine and ten.  I remember seeing him so totally absorbed in his task and so happy.  He hasn't had the happiest life as we were poor, and he was picked on even worse than I was as a kid, so moments of happiness were as rare for him as they were for me.  But that moment... the "magic of Christmas" held sway... and he was surrounded in Joy.  The Joy of a child at Christmas.

I sometimes wonder if his being picked on so much is what caused him to torture me so much as a kid.  Or was it the fact that he really just wasn't that smart.

In any case, I remember stopping my own Christmas ritual of unbridled avarice and watching him.  That image has stuck with me all these years, as much as the look he had on his face when he used to beat me up has.

Maybe that's the true meaning of the Holidays- that even someone like him can experience happiness. 

Lisa has been dead two months now.  I still cry for her every day.  Every G*damn day.  Someone recently called me obsessed with it.  I say everyone mourns their own way.  I wrote somewhere that as a former paramedic, I've seen Death.  I've watched friends die.  But nothing- NOTHING- has ever hit me this hard in my life.  Why?  So many reasons.  But mostly it comes down to this: she was my sister, she had it all, threw it away, and I really miss her.

I've always been fascinated by History.  Everything that the world is today has roots in the past.  Events build upon each other.  As for the world, so also for the individual.  By studying history, I sought to understand the "why" of the events of the world in which we live.

In particular, I've always been drawn to military history.  Grand battles and tactics, yes, but more so the stories of the individual soldiers.  What Strength carried them through all their hardships?  From where did this strength come?  The experiences of people in extraordinary, even insane circumstances, has always fascinated me.  If these people can survive the amazing challenges and survive...

How can I do less with my challenges, trifling as they are next to what they experienced?

I believe in Ghosts.  I believe in Spirits.  Don't judge me.

Gratuitous Picture

Tonight at my retail job is our "holiday meeting" where management tries to psyche us up for the upcoming Hell of the season.  It's the only all-store meeting they have all year.  During this meeting, I will receive my "10 year pin."  I have never felt more pathetic.

I may or may not see my parents at Thanksgiving.  Everyone has advised me NOT to tell them about being TG.  Yet they will grill me and Wife mercilessly about us not living together.  I am not looking forward to this.  The following day, I have to be at work at 6 AM.  before Dawn. 

I can't string together a cohesive thought right now.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Tactical Error

Last week, I stayed with Wife, Daughter, and my dog at MIL's place.


You see, MIL went to her youngest son's home to babysit his children as he and his wife were away at a conference.  So Wife invited me to stay there for the week.  I wanted to see her, my Daughter, and my dog, so I didn't think twice.  I went there. 

I see now, that doing so was a major mistake.


I loved getting back from work and hearing my daughter shout "Daddy!  Daddy! Daddy!"  I loved listening to her read. 

I even enjoyed getting my dog's snout in my face at 3 AM (her subtle way of saying "let me outside NOW!") 

It was almost like I never left... almost.

But I DID leave.  Involuntarily.  And I couldn't forget that.  Always in my mind was that I was there without MIL's knowledge.  That she would want me out.

But most important is how my daughter reacted.  She said "Daddy's back!" many times.  And I told her I was just visiting.  But she wasn't listening.

And now that visit is over.  MIL is back at her home.  I don't think Daughter realizes I'm out again.  So what will happen when she does? 


And THAT is where Wife and I made the big mistake.

Daughter needs stability, and my coming and going like that is NOT providing that stability.

So I won't be doing that again, as much as that hurts. 

There was another reason the week went... well, not so easily.  It was Me.  When I get back to my room at M's, I change into my femme clothes.  I am my true self.  I do the mundane things:  laundry, make my dinner, etc, as a woman.  I couldn't do that last week.  And it really really hurt.

The truth is that I've moved beyond that part of my life- the "Sophie only once in a while part."

So, obviously, Wife and I need to talk, and soon.  We have to tell Daughter WHY I'm no longer there.  The Whole Truth.

I don't envy Wife's position Tuesday night.  6 year olds aren't known to keep secrets.  So she will tell her grandmother "Daddy was here!"  And she would take it out on Wife. 

My mood plummeted during the week.  It was around Wednesday that I began to realize my mistake, and the usual old subconscious voice kicked into gear. 

"Loser!  Idiot! How stupid can you be?  How much more do you want to hurt your Daughter?"  And so on.

Cue tailspin.

My mood was at rock bottom by Friday, when I received a pleasant surprise.  My friend Rachael from Baltimore was coming up for a post GCS checkup, and with her was fellow VC sister and blogger Tammy Matthews from North Carolina!  I'd never met her in person, but we'd been facialbook friends, etc, forever.

After they finished their respective appointments, I met them for lunch at Rock Bottom.  I was in drab.  After lunch, they went off to explore the King of Prussia Mall and I went back to M's place to change.  I was meeting Angela Gardner (of Laptop Lounge and TG Forum) for drinks and to talk a little business and I NEEDED to be me after a week of NOT expressing as a woman. 

That's when Rachael called and asked what I was doing.  I'd just finished with my makeup.  So I invited them to M's, and from there all three of us went to meet Angela at the Black Powder Tavern.  We all had a wonderful time.  I drove, since I know the roads here and they don't.

While at the bar, Tammy lamented not having had a cheesesteak while here.  So, Angela recommended a nearby place for a cheesesteak, and I told her about how to order a cheesesteak properly.  In fact, I even called them, imitating her accent! (Badly)

Before ordering, Rachael, Tammy and I went to McKenzies as well.  Tammy wanted to add to her collection of Facialbook check-ins.  Oh, and to try their beer, as it's a brewpub.

Tammy, Me, Rachael at McKenzies

Then we did the cheesesteak thing.

And so both she and Rachael had proper cheesesteaks: provolone wit' on an Amoroso roll.  As God intended it!  ;) 

Oh, for you non- Philly people, that means a cheesesteak having provolone cheese and fried onions.

In any case, they enjoyed their cheesesteaks and hit the road south.  And I hung around at M's. 

The next night was Raven 17: one of Jen Bryant's mega parties!  Lisa's widow Sandy and her daughter Tiffany were going to be there, as well as many others, so I wanted to go!  And so I did.  Besides, there was something I needed to do there as well.

Also, my friend Jane said I could room with her and her wife. 

It was a special event, and I wanted to look special, so I went to see Amanda Richards at True Colors.  She did her usual amazing job.  Sandy asked me to wear something of Lisa's, so I wore a top that was hers, and her butterfly ring.  I also wore the memorial necklace. 

I drove to New Hope through the darkness, looking for deer as it's rutting season, and they jump out of nowhere.

Me on the Red Carpet

I arrived in time for the Red Carpet photo session, which I'd never attended.  I was thrilled to get my picture taken with Jen Bryant, with Sandy and Tiffany, and with several others, including my gorgeous friend Victoria.  Someone gave Sandy a plate that had Lisa's face etched into it.

With Victoria

After the pictures, I met a woman who had never been out before- ever: Maureen.  She was very nice and I introduced her to a few people.  She looked wonderful and she was so happy she glowed!

Then it was time for dinner!

Jake, Sandy, Tiffany, Hayden, Me

I sat with Sandy, Tiffany, Hayden, Sandy's uncle Jake, and another girl: Jamie.  She was very nice.  We had a corner table with windows on two sides.  On the table were flowers addressed to Jen Bryant.  It was the best table in the house, and management assumed that she would sit there.  But we did.  I wonder if Jen had something to do with that.  When Jen was eventually seated elsewhere, I brought the flowers to her.

Jamie and I

A week before was Sandy's birthday.  So I decided that it should be celebrated.  I told the waiter it was her birthday that night.  When Sandy went for a smoke, I told the rest of the table.  they fanned out and told the rest of the dining room.

See, that night, Sandy was like a celebrity.  Everyone knew who she was, and everyone wanted to pay their respects and give their condolences.  She had to know that would happen, and yet she came to the Raven yesterday.  She is an amazingly strong woman.

So when it was time for dessert, I saw the waiter coming with the cake, trying to light the candle.  Sandy didn't see him, as her back was to the kitchen area.  I stood and projecting my voice as best I could, said that we had a special guest and it was her birthday.  I asked them all to join in singing Happy Birthday.  And they did.  

Happy Birthday Sandy!

So many feminine people- so many deep voices.  The juxtaposition was not lost on me.  Sandy turned 35 shades of red.  She swore vengeance.  I'm sure she'll forget.

After dinner was drinks and dancing until the wee hours.  Above the dance floor were several TV screens which showed pictures from the night before.  At the end of the loop was a picture of Lisa, and the words "RIP Lisa.  We miss you."  

Of course, cameras were everywhere.

Sophie Photo bomb!

Eventually, I had enough for the night, and Jane, her wife, and I went to Wawa.  Then back to the room, where I quickly fell asleep.  Wearing my makeup.  Again.

The next morning, I readjusted my makeup and headed out.  First I stopped over at the Raven.  It was a beautiful late autumn morning.  I selected a suitable tree, and did the errand I promised for Sandy.  With me, I had a small bag of Lisa's ashes.  I spread some of them at the base of the tree, so part of Lisa would always be at the Raven.  And her ashes would nurture the tree. 

I stopped again at the Wawa for some diet coke and Gatorade.  Outside, at the intersection, was a Penn State girl collecting for Thon.  To keep warm, she practiced cheerleading routines.  I donated.  And I thought about how she takes being a woman for granted- it just IS for her.  I envy her.

I drove back to M's and showered.  The weekend was over.  I spent that night at MIL's with Wife, daughter and dog, but not Monday night.  But by then the damage had been done though.

It's now Friday.  I haven't heard of the fallout yet, but I will today.  Lesson learned.

This path is not going to get any easier.  I have to balance my Truth with what is best for my daughter.  In our last conversation, Lisa said that the only way to be a good parent to Daughter was to first be true to myself.  Only she never said How.  Finding that out is my major challenge.  I'm determined to give my Daughter the best life possible- better by far than mine. 

To date, I have failed to do so in many ways.

That said, I've done more for her than my father ever did, emotionally.  He never said he loved me.  I tell her that every day I see her. 

Her father is a Woman.  Maybe, just maybe, that will help.


Monday, November 11, 2013

A Challenge

yA Conversation on Facebook messenger November 5th between myself and tmy cousin Anne.  Unedited except for the italics, which I did to separate speakers. 

Anne: Gonna ask a few questions that may same daft.1.Is there a "halfway house",where people who are transitioning can stay til they have living accomadayion sorted out?Is there Social workers or workers who support people who are transitiong ,to advise on benefits,work rights,help with any physical or mental illness?I sthere in deed a charitable organisation in your area who help transitioning people a safe haven until life gets normalised?

 Me: No, yes, no. We're on our own.

Anne:  Well just maybe you and your sisters got together and form a charity that could raise enough funds to get accomadation..lets face it ,every one of you have skills,there may be lawyers ,doctors amongst you,fund raiser,maybe you lot should be the faces of Erin Brokowhatsit.I am sure you lot could create a safe haven ,raise enough fund seventually to employ transitiong people to run the place..
Create Sophies Place.or Lisa Haven,you get the picture,grab the world by the baws..
There must be plenty of powerful transitioning people out there and you have the brains and beauty for it

Me:  Most of the powerful tgs are stealth or not transitioning as we become unemployable outcasts

Anne: Stealth?gradual?In my opinion there is nowt more powerful than a bunch of pissed off people.If the world will not protect ,support or employ you ,then ,its time to start by looking out for yourselves,creating a safer environment for you all,physically and mentally.It only takes one or two of the brave to bring the have Jenny Boyland ,think who else?

Me: My friend Donna Rose, Mara Keisling, Former SEAL Kristin Beck...

I live in a country ruled by fanatics. I can be legally murdered. I'm broke and all but homeless, and my transition is stalled. I'm useless.

Anne: STOP that ,you are not useless,stop bringing yourself down Sophie Lynne,if you were here I would be giving you a good talking to!Given the pop of the US they are not all fanatics,there are, I agree what would be quite a few.Now you can either decide to throw your arms up in the air and say it is all hopeless or you can get back up on those shapely pins and get back to babysteps.Now you have named a few transitioning people,think if you had a magic wand and you could do something for every transitioning people in your state ,what would that be?What is it you all crave when going through transitioning.....

Now you listen to me young middle age lady,[daughter] is your daughter too,would you really want to be part of the MIL Christmas in her house ,I think not,time for Sophie to spin a wonderful Christmas for her and her daughter...don't be sad be inspired,create new magic for you both..this is new beginnings Sophie,the traditions that you are so familiar with ,while being with the MIL and [wife], they belong with [birth name],who has disappeared...its now Sophies time with all the new Thanksgiving and Christmas trim.Same for us ,no Mum this year or at Hogmany so we are also coming up with a new Christmas and New hold my hand and one foot in front of the other.x


Anne just beat cancer, and doesn't take well to Pity Parties.  She is a Scotswoman after all!


Let's first answer her question.

"What is it [we] all crave when going through transitioning."

Well, there's always the funding aspect that so many of us direly need.  But more important are our basic human rights.  We are denied them in many places here in the US and worldwide.

So, in a sentence, I'd say this: 

All We want is to have the same rights as Rich White Protestant Straight Cisgender males have.  No more, no less. 

Cisgender women don't even have these yet, but let's shoot for the Gold, shall we?

Now of course, some of the privileged, etc, males will complain that we want "special" rights.  Well, that by wanting what they have, THEY have said special rights.  Not very fair, right?

How do we do this?  Well, one person can't do it alone.  VERY few people have enough money to change an entire culture's perception (but the Koch Brothers are trying.)

If one voice is drowned out, we try two.  Not enough?  Four.  Eight.  Sixteen.  Get the idea?  We organize.

There are already MANY organizations out there who fight for our rights.  NCTE comes to mind immediately.

What am I prepared to do?  What CAN I do?

Let's look at FACTS, not opinions.

1) I work 70 hour weeks for less than $21K a year.  So large donations, etc, are out.  Even if I save every penny of my pay, I wouldn't be able to afford any surgeries until 2050. 

2) Pennsylvania, the state where I live, has NO laws protecting me as a Transgender personOpinion time: As I wrote to Anne, I can legally be murdered ("Tranny Rage defense" anyone?)  And that assumes the police even FIND the perpetrator, as many really don't bust their humps looking for people who kill a TG.  After all, we're just freaks to them, so we had it coming, right?

3) As long as right wing radicals and fundamentalists run the GOP, we will NOT have significant change.  And they run things in Pennsylvania.  They also currently have the US House of Representatives by the neck.

4) I am still not a Full Time woman, as my employers do not know I am TG.  To date, neither does my family, nor many of my friends of my "drab" self.

5) I am pretty much tethered to the Philadelphia area.  This is where my daughter lives, and I want to be in her life. 

So.  With those current parameters, I ask again:  What am I prepared to do?  What CAN I do?

Prepared?  Anything I CAN do given the above issues.  So that leaves us with CAN.

And therein lies the problem. 

It's not like I'm a famous activist who people will pay to speak at places.  Hell, my TG speaking experience has ALL been for free!  (I have given seminars at the Keystone Conference.)  Y'know for that matter, it's not like I get invited to speak for FREE...

My time is VERY limited, so travelling into the city to volunteer on a regular basis is problematic.  Donations?  See above.

Seems all I have is my writing.  Like here- on this blog.  Do I want to transform this blog, my personal space, into a platform on which I rage about the lack of TG rights?  Well, I could start an all-politics blog...

I don't have any answers.  All I know that there is a Need.  And my cousin's challenge.

What am I prepared to do? 

What CAN I do?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


This past Thursday was Halloween.

As my grizzled veteran readers (all 79 of you) know, my femme self "re-emerged" on Halloween Night.  Halloween 2008, to be exact. 

That means Sophie is Five.

Does that mean it's time for kindergarten?

Earlier in the day of Friday, October 31, 2008 the Phillies had a parade down Broad Street in Philly to celebrate their World Series Victory.  I worked.  And pondered last minute adjustments to my outfit.  I wondered what my wife would think.  What would my co-workers say?

October 31, 2008 was a scant four days before the voters of the USA rejected the Republican agenda as personified in their candidates Palin and McCain.  I stood in the rain for several hours to vote for Senator Obama, and what was I thinking about?  I night out wearing a long plaid skirt and a  black sweater filled out with home-made bird seed breasts.  The fate of the United States hung in the balance as I tried to re-suppress the tidal wave of emotion that was released Halloween night.

So.  Five years. 

Then: Deep denial and suppression of my truth.  A comfortable set of rooms with my Wife and infant daughter.  A habit of heavy drinking and fits of complete fury.  Overweight and uncertain of where my life was headed as I still couldn't find a job with my brand new Masters degree.  My shrinking circle of friends were mostly from my work place.

Now:  Acceptance of who and what I am: A Woman.  A Transgender.  I have been thrown out of that house and now barely see my six year old daughter.  I am calmer, if sadder.  My drinking demon has been pretty much tamed, thanks to a DUI, and I've lost a LOT of weight.  And I still haven't found a permanent job using that Masters degree.  I have met some of the most amazing people in my life, and lost the one of those friends who was closest to me.

Five years is longer than most people spend in college.  It's longer than many marriages.  So many things can change in five years.  So much has changed for me in far less.  However, I'll restrict the scope of this piece to the past year (since my last "birthday.")

The past year was dominated by four events:  One welcomed, one amazing, one inevitable, and two tragic.

In the past year, I began my transition in earnest when I finally began HRT.  I started slowly, but picked up speed within a few months.  The first thing I realized was a sense of relief- that I was finally on my way.  That there was NO coming back from this once the hormones started kicking in.  Then I felt a calm.  The hormones calmed the fires of rage inside me, replacing it with a sublime mix of new emotions- a new palette if you will.  I learned to cry for the first time in my life.  I started on pills, but quickly moved to injections every ten days.  It's better for my battered liver.

Slowly, I started to show physical effects from HRT.  My breasts budded and grew.  My arm hair all but vanished.  And eventually my skin began to soften as well.  Some say my facial features have softened as well. 

October 2012, pre- HRT

So can you see any changes?  (October 2013)

My hair is growing out nicely, and the thin spots are filling in a bit due to finasteride.  I also now have shaped eyebrows.

How am I "getting away" with it all?  Well due to the "inevitable" event.  In July, I told my wife of my intention to transition.  At the end of August, her mother threw me out of the house.  I was very lucky that I had long planned for this, and, due to a friend's generosity I have a roof over my head.

Now, when I go back to my room, I change into femme clothes.  I am myself far more often.  I go out occasionally during the week and I am becoming quite comfortable doing it.

It hasn't been without issues.  I only see Wife and daughter a couple of times a week, and my dog even less.  I have been banned from MIL's house when she is there.  This means I will not be there on Thanksgiving day or Christmas Eve... or Christmas morning to see my daughter open gifts.

That Hurts.

But, as I said, my ejection was inevitable.  Wife doesn't even want to see me as a woman.  And I am now physically becoming one.  Slowly, yes, but inevitably.

Transition isn't easy.  Often, we as Transpeople become close to others who are around where we are, and we "buddy up."  We promise to see our transitions through together- to give each other strength, hope, encouragement, and to be there for the inevitable set backs.  It's an amazing bond; stronger, I believe, than that of "Blood brothers."  We become Sisters.

In June, my Sister Lisa Empanada came out to her family.  Her family decided to throw her a party.  And I was invited.  After all, we were transition buddies.

The party was Amazing.  It was transformative.  Even months later, I realize how profoundly that weekend changed me.  I saw the Power of a Family's Love, which is something I had never seen nor experienced before in my life.  And suddenly I craved it.  I told Lisa this and she laughed. 

"You are part of MY family" she said, smiling, and we hugged.  Tears streamed down my face.

Family. Something I never had, but never realized how much I needed.  Yes, Wife and Daughter are my family, but it's a network of two and really the relationship was built on a lie: the Lie that I was male.  Lisa brought me into HER family, who are an incredible group of people.

Me, Lisa, and Ally on that Amazing Day

Which leads me to the Tragic parts of this past year.  And if you read this blog with any frequency, you already know what they were.

First, I lost a mentor to cancer in June.  JoAnn Roberts taught me a lot, and opened up this world and path.  God took her far too early.  But she died naturally.

My Sister Lisa killed herself three days after my birthday: on September 16, 2013.

She tore herself away from her Family... from her soul mate, Sandy.  I've never personally seen any crueler act.

I've written a lot about this already.  I fear I will write a lot more as time goes forward.  I still think of Lisa almost constantly.  I wonder what she would say in certain situations.  What would she say to me now that I am so deeply depressed by her passing (among other things.)  Would she tell me to put on my big girl panties and keep going?  Probably. 

No matter what, I will never hear her voice again.  We will never laugh together again.  Never finish each other's thoughts. 

I have the four leaf clover necklace I gave her those many months ago.  And I have some of her ashes in a memorial pendant.  And I carry her Memory.  The Memory of my "Transition buddy."  My Sister.

Now, it's November.  I still work two jobs.  I'm still on HRT.  I'm still growing as a Woman.  But I'm in my lowest place in years.  I'm essentially homeless.  Essentially broke.  Sundered from my daughter.  The Darkness calls for me to follow Lisa into the Light. 

And if I don't have my Daughter, what tethers me to this plane?

Well, I made promises.  I promised Lisa that I would transition for the both of us.  That I would finish what We started. 

And by giving my Daughter life, I promised to be around for her- whether I can see her or not.

The Darkness is Strong.  Lisa and I spoke of it in depth, and it took her.  Maybe someday soon I will write EXACTLY how I feel in its grip.  As a signpost for others?  A warning?  Or maybe just to get it out of my system.

October 2013.  Picture Courtesy Angela's Laptop Lounge

Five years as Sophie.  In the end, I never dreamed I'd be where I am.  I am on hormones and racing toward being a woman full time.  I've grown breasts.  I have gained some confidence.  I still have a long way to go. 

Lisa is Gone, but I am not going through this alone.  I have one of the top gender therapists in the world helping me: Dr. Maureen Osborne.  I am lucky to have my "Big Sister" Mel, without whom I wouldn't be where I am today.  Arguably, without them, I may have given up the Dream of Womanhood and fallen to the Darkness.

I have my sisters in my Support group, whose names I will not list for privacy reasons, but they know who they are.

The Newell family, Lisa's relatives, have opened their hearts and lives to me.  Sandy, Krissie, Tiffany and all the others- I couldn't survive the loss without following the example of your courage.  You ARE my family, just as Lisa said.

M, who has generously taken me in and told me I can stay as long as needed.  She insisted actually.  Without her, I'd be on the street.  I can't describe how grateful I am for her.

I have my sisters in Vanity Club, who have been extremely helpful.  I am still so humbled to have met and become friends with women like Ana Christina Garcia, Dee Gregory,  and so many

I have Dear friends nearby like Jennifer L, Hayden, Jane, Jone, Kristie, Erica, Rachael, and Kristyn, and so many others in Renaissance.  Ally Raymond is a Godsend!

Friends far away as well.  The Amazing Linda Lewis is one of the finest people I've ever known, and she's been generous with her friendship and advice.  And I'm so very happy that life is finally going her way.  Olivia, Stephanie, Jennell... so many wonderful sisters.  Michelle and Deb, whom I've known for decades and who accept me.  And my Scots family led by my cousin Anne.

I have some close friends I've never met, as I know them from Second Life:  Cisop, Mad Kitty, Plato, Zonker, and so many others, especially at Callahans.

Add to that the 79 of you who subscribe to this little mess of a blog.

All those names I listed for a reason.  All lend me their strength when mine fails, as it has lately.  And by typing them all out, I remind myself that they (and you) ARE there.  And if I fall to the Darkness, my departure would ripple through them all.  Not like Lisa's did, no far from.  But enough.  I hate the idea of hurting my loved ones... and I have seen what Lisa did to us all.  To Sandy.  To me.

The people in my Life are responsible for my being who I am today.  They are responsible for my being on this path to my Dream. 

To Womanhood.

A True Life.

My Life.

May the Good Lord Shine a Light on You All!

Halloween Night 2013.  Five years old... and doing my own Makeup