Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Auld Scots Mum

During transition, there are many Markers.  Milestones.  Events that mark the difference between what came before and what happened after.

Such events as December 10, 2012... when I first started HRT.  Or when I told my Wife about Sophie. Or when I was told I was being thrown out of MIL's house.  The day I met my "Big Sister" Mel was another.  SCC.  All of the Keystone Conferences.  September 16, 2013: Lisa's death.

These events take on special significance when going through a life changing event such as Transition. After all, my life has been essentially burnt to the ground.  I am rebuilding.  My challenge is to rebuild it such that I keep my Daughter in my life, as well as those who mean the world to me.  Such as Wife, Mel, Sandy, Linda, Ally, Hayden... more than I can name (and don't feel slighted if I didn't name you- you know who you are.)

Enroute to Delaware

Last Saturday was a significant day for me.

I drove down to southern Delaware tom see my my Auld Scots Mum.  That would be my mother for those of you who don't speak Scots Gaelic.  I came out to my parents recently, and both pledged support.  I've already written my thoughts on that, for those new to this blog.

In any case, I wanted her to meet her new daughter, but how to do it?  Well, one of the mother- daughter activities I missed out on was shopping.  So I invited mum out for lunch and a day of shopping.  After all, I needed to get some work clothes for the end of March when I go full time as a woman.  She agreed, and we set a date.

Last Saturday, February 22, was that day.

I woke before dawn.  I'd previously asked my roomie, the incomparable Linda Lewis, if she would help me with my makeup.  You see, I'd asked my friends on facialbook how I should dress for this, and while I'm received many conflicting answers about wardrobe, one message was clear- subtle makeup.

I'm getting much better on makeup, but this event was too important for me to screw it up, so Linda said she'd do it for me.  So after showering and shaving, I put on the day's outfit.  I wore a dark pink top with jeans and flats.  Very little jewelry.  I didn't want to shove my femininity in her face.

Linda's makeup was perfect for the occasion (she IS a professional after all- she used to work in Hollywood, and will entertain the idea of doing YOUR makeup if you're local to her... usual fees apply of course).  So, after a false start, I was on my way south.

To Rehoboth Beach, where I was to meet Mum at Ruby Tuesdays.

I arrived EXACTLY on time at 11:30 am (a minor miracle, as I'm usually late.)  I was first to arrive, so I secured a table for two, and ordered us both a glass of Romulan Ale to make the session pass more smoothly.  (Actually it was Pinot Grigio, but whatever.)  Mum arrived and was VERY pleased that I had ordered that drink.  We hugged, and she sat down.

I told her I was nervous and anxious.  She asked me why.  I said that I really wanted her approval.  She said "You look beautiful, dear."

I blushed and smiled.

Now, a lot of what we discussed is private, and will remain so.  Family Business and such.  But I can talk about a few things as they are trans related.

She'd told me in advance that she had some questions for me.  She said she and my dad had some sleepless nights thinking about this, and that they were worried for my safety.  This built up to a question about something I read to them in the letter where I told them I was trans.  (And that is an ugly, yet grammatically correct, sentence.)

In essence she asked "You're facing a life where people will discriminate against you, insult you, possible be violent towards you, so how can you say you're finally at PEACE?"

I looked at her, and, doing my best not to raise my voice for emphasis (a bad habit of mine) I said "It's simple.  All that you say is true.  But compared to all the pain of my life so far, knowing I can live honestly as myself brings me peace."

I don't expect her to understand that.  Hell, it's difficult for any cisgender person to comprehend.  How can I put something so hard to express into words?  

Words are my Life.  I've spent more time with them than with anything else in my world.  Yet for all this, I STILL can't express the Pain to people who simply don't get it.  I KNOW it's a difficult concept.  If it were easy, I could describe it.  It isn't.

In the end I broke it down to the basest element.  "Live daughter or dead son?"

She understood that.

Especially since I brought Lisa into the conversation as an example.

Mum also told me a story of her youth that she'd never shared with me.  I felt closer to her than ever before.  In fact, Saturday was the best time I've had with her in maybe forty years.  Seriously.

After lunch, we went shopping at the nearby Outlets.  She criticized my walk.  I told her I was working on it.

We went to Lane Bryant, New York and Company, and a couple of other places.  I had a budget to follow, but mum didn't care.  She kept handing things over the dressing room door "Try this Sophie!"

Yes, she called me Sophie.

"I cannae have you looking like something the cat dragged in, can I?" she said.  She insisted on items that were more feminine.


She paid for everything.

I mean everything!  She even bought me a necklace of a butterfly wing, as I mentioned that Lisa saw them as her symbol.

So, mum spoiled her daughter rotten!

We hung out for quite some time.  As the sun began to set, I took my leave, as I had a long drive back to PA, and I was up very early that morning.  But before I left, I took a picture.

Mum's face obscured to preserve her anonymity

Then it was back to Pennsylvania, dodging potholes the whole way.

When I arrived back at the house, Linda was waiting, ready to go.  I changed, adjusted my makeup to night, and we went out to celebrate the day.

Looks like a video still!  The Blue top is new.

What a day it was!  So affirming!

I'm still digesting what this means to me.  Did mum always want a daughter?  Did she have fun?  How will our relationship develop?  What about my dad?  My older brother?


So many questions- so few answers.

Only one thing is certain:  one month from today, Lance will have stepped into history, and I will be Full Time as a woman.

Finally.  A Woman.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coming Attractions

Right now, I'm still working two jobs.  It seems I have a lot happening, but all in the future.  So I'll go over those things.

This Saturday, February 22, I will head to southern Delaware.  There my mum will meet her daughter for the first time.  I solicited advice on what to wear on Facialbook.  I received advice ranging from jeans and a simple top to a nice dress.  Thanks to everyone for caring enough to reply!

Should I wear this for that first meeting?  Too much?

We will be meeting for lunch, then going shopping at the outlets down there.  We will both be alone, as Wife still doesn't want to see me as Sophie, and my dad isn't ready either.  I don't blame them, but eventually if they wish to see me, then they will need to see Sophie.

Today I was going to come out to my head manager. The regional HR person came down from NYC, and we talked.

Ok, so as it turns out, they have guidelines and procedures for this. This is a good thing.  The point man for this sort of thing is the company's HRC liaison.  

The procedure is that I need to write a letter to store management, and have it vetted by the corporate legal team. The store management team gets the letter on March 10. I have elected to read the letter to them, so they can hear my voice, and I can see their reactions.

I'm still on target for Full Time as a woman on Tuesday, March 25. My first day at work as Sophie is March 31, 2014.

On March 25, I leave for Harrisburg for the Keystone Conference.  I will be giving a seminar at 9 AM on Thursday, March 27.  I will be doing a bit on Writing again, but it will be different from previous years.  If nothing else, it will be loud, and have plenty of bad puns.  Perhaps you'll join me there?

When I return to my life after Keystone, my male self will be a part of the past.  

Putting Things Behind Me

So it seems I have a Lot to which I can look forward.  And don't worry, I'll write about it all.  After all, it's what I do.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, if you ever wanted to hear my voice, I made a series of YouTube videos.  You can see the first one HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014



I am fortunate to have two jobs.  So many people can't find even one.  For over two years, I've worked seventy hour weeks.

No more.

My retail job gave me a promotion to Head Cashier, which is a full time position.  As it is full time, it means I get benefits.  No extra hours, as I was working full time hours anyway, but it does mean that when others get their hours cut, I won't.

Full Time... Soon...

Benefits.  So many people don't get them any more.  Corporations don't feel like paying for them.  Some conservatives don't see why a company making gobs of money should have to pay benefits.  They don't care how loyal the employee is, nor do they care how hard that employee works to make the business succeed.  They care only that someone at one time took a risk with their money and deserve a reward- no one else does.

Fortunately, my retail job doesn't subscribe to that.

So what do these benefits get me?  Retirement savings for one.  But it's the health insurance that is the reason I took the job.  The insurance covers GCS.

Gender Confirmation Surgery may actually be within my reach.  A Dream I never dared touch.

But that's over a year away.  A lot can happen in a year.  If life has taught me anything, it is that.

Change happens.

Oh, and tomorrow I tell my Head manager I'm a woman.  This will be... interesting.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The past few weeks have been one storm after another.

Snow, Ice, then Snow again.

Front lawn the other day

Cold rain and snow.

The last storm knocked out our power for four days.  One of the nights, Linda Lewis and I stayed with my good friend Kristyn.  (If you've forgotten, Linda lives at the boarding house with me.)  Wife and daughter lost power as well, and stayed with friends, but I wasn't invited as MIL was with them.  I was allowed to take my dog to Kristyn's that night, and also to check in on her other nights.  So i got a lot of puppy time.

Kitchen by candlelight

I haven't been out and about in nearly two weeks and I'm getting cabin fever.  And guess what folks, we have a foot of snow on the way tonight.  Yippee.

I hope we don't lose power again.  Without power, we don't have heat.  The last time, we made a fire in the fireplace stove.  Growing up, we had a wood stove in our house as the only heat source.  My parents had my brother and I feeding this fire, and, over the years, I became rather adept at it.  So soon we had a roaring fire.  I also learned that Duraflame logs throw heat like crazy!  And that is good.  Especially since it's been single digit temperatures these days.  Stone cold!

I've been still dressed as me when not at work, just without makeup.  So it's not like I've been totally cut off.  I wear a bra to bed these days, as I was told it will help with the development of the shape of my breasts.  And when I'm home, I wear female clothing.  yes I mentioned this in my last entry as well, so you're not experiencing deja vu.

Or are you?

And, as stated before, I've only practiced makeup once in this whole time.

Makeup Practice

I'm so tired of being cold.  Spring and summer will be so much easier.  Hopefully by summer I will have saved enough to afford an apartment of my own.

See that's the other reason I haven't been going out as much.  Going out costs money, and I need to save, save, SAVE.  For an apartment.  For surgeries.

So tonight we prepare for another major storm.  Hopefully we won't lose power, but one never knows.  last night, I bought a case of six Duraflame logs, some other firewood, and two gallons of milk, just in case.

And maybe I'll do my makeup tomorrow if we have power.  Just for practice.  I need all the practice I can get, after all.

And it's fun.

Stay warm!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Girl Talk

A couple of weekends ago, I went out.

Shocking, I know.

But in this case, there were some new things that happened.

I worked all day, raced back to the house to change and put on my face.  I was invited to a birthday dinner for my friend Amy.  I'd be there with my "Big Sister" Mel, my dear friend Victoria, and my dear friend Linda Lewis.  Others were invited, but didn't come.  In fact, neither did Amy.  A family emergency called her away.  So it was just the four of us going to an Asian restaurant in Blue Bell, PA, called Lai Lai Garden.

As I thought this was going to be a party type celebration, I put on a party type dress- one of the ones I inherited from Lisa.  Then the text from Victoria arrived- it was going to be casual.  Well, I didn't feel like changing.


The skirt on this dress is rather short, so as can be imagined, I attracted some attention.

Also, Mel and Victoria (who is full time) made sure to remark about their disapproval about my selection.  They are right- it ISN'T appropriate for a 47 year old woman.  But... so what?  It was supposed to be a celebration.

In any case, I drew a LOT of looks from people in the restaurant.  I'll get back to this.

What are you looking at?

The dinner was superb, and afterward, Victoria, Linda, and I went to McKenzie's for a quick drink. (Mel declined as she had a long day.)  The bar was rather crowded, but the three of us found seats.  Near us in the bar were many guys, some of which kept looking over at us.  They mumbled to each other, so reading their lips was difficult.  But at least once they were talking about our little trio.

Victoria then went home, as she also had a long day.  Linda and I went to Black Powder Tavern.  Still pretty routine, right?

As we left McKenzie's, we were stopped by a blonde who'd been seated near us.  I'll call her Carla.  She said she worked at McKenzie's and she thought we were beautiful.  She asked us to request her table next time she came in.  Carla was completely sloshed.

Anyway, so Linda and I sat at the corner of the bar.  To our left, perpendicular to us, was a beautiful blonde wearing a black and white print dress.  I mean she was stunning!  After maybe two minutes, Carla and the guy she was with came into McKenzie's.  She was barely standing. As they walked by, the guy ran his hand across my back.  I was quite surprised.  They sat far down the bar.

And not very happy.  I don't like being touched by guys I don't know at all.  So I seethed for a couple of minutes.

Linda and I at Black Powder.  Picture by Amy

The blonde then commented about how drunk Carla was.  We all laughed.  She introduced herself as Amy.  She'd been at a work function at a local high end restaurant where one of the very rich, older clients made a pass at her in front of his wife.  She was clearly upset.

She works as an office manager for a small financial services company, where she is the only woman.  She is a model specializing in romance novel covers, and showed us some of her cover shots.

The three of us were chatting a while when Amy excused herself to go to the ladies room.  She came back and spoke to Carla's companion.  That's when I noticed Carla wasn't there.  She was in the ladies room- vomiting. 

So then Amy returned and we talked more.  In fact the three of us spoke until the bar closed, and we all left.  It was a wonderful night.

So what was the big deal?  Simple.  This model would NEVER have spoken to me as a guy.  But she shared her life with Linda and I as fellow women.  She even spoke to us about intimate topics.

Girl Talk.

Did she know we were trans?  Oh I'm sure she did.  But that didn't matter: she spoke to us as women.  Linda pointed out that she treated us as we treated her; as Equals. 

It was so very affirming to be "included" in a conversation as an equal- as a Woman. 

Due to the major snow and ice storm, that was last time I was out and about as Sophie.  I dress every night and did some makeup practice one night, but due to the four day power outage and lack of funds (paid my storage fees, Keystone Conference registration and other bills), I haven't been out again.  And it may not be until Friday before I can go out. 

Practice: Daytime Makeup

But that's fine.  At home, I am Me.  I am dressed as the woman I am, even if I don't wear makeup.

I really enjoyed speaking to Amy, as another woman.

I hope to have many other experiences and conversations like this.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reindeer Games

My childhood was probably not so different from most of my readers.  I knew I was different- and I figured out why by the time I was four.  So like many of my readers, I carried my secret for most of my life.

But growing up as a boy, there were certain rites of passage, especially at recess.  Like Dodgeball, kickball, baseball, and football.  Oh, and the various full contact versions of Tag.

The idea on the playground or the streets of the neighborhood was simple- to prove you're a man- not some queer or worse: a girl.  No fear.  No pain.  Dish it out.  Take it.  "Don't be a pussy."  There was a definite pecking order.

I know for some who have met me, the idea that I was once short and slight is really odd.  But I graduated high school 5'6" tall and 118 pounds.  I was an undersized child, and puberty hit me very late.  I graduated college in 1989 at my current height of 6'1" and 136 pounds.  Yes, I was quite skinny.  It wasn't until well into the 1990's that I started gaining weight, mostly from working out and drinking beer.  I began to look rather formidable.  Not too good for a future woman.

Too tall?  Too heavy?

But back on the playground, I was chosen absolutely last for every game.  I was a runt- small and uncoordinated.  About the only games I had any talent were dodgeball and baseball.  In dodgeball, I'd gotten used to ducking my brother's punches and thrown objects, and the rocks of the older neighborhood boys.  A rubber ball?  Piece of cake.  Baseball I can't explain.  I couldn't catch or run, but I could always hit.  I rarely struck out or flied out.  It was the only reason I stayed with little league for three summers- I liked hitting.  I was still the last chosen though.

Digression:  it wasn't until college that I was chosen first for something.  My fraternity had a drinking contest which involved two teams chosen playground style.  the contest involved finishing a pony keg of beer and a fifth of tequila.  We called it the "Mexicali Blues." I was chosen first on my team (and second overall) due to my amazing capacity for drinking hard liquor.  I can't tell you how good I felt being chosen first for something.

None of this should be surprising to anyone who grew up a boy.  That's the way Males were socialized when I was growing up, and I'll bet it's the way it was a hundred years before and is still today.  We are taught to be tough- be Men.  Anything feminine is to be rejected and shunned.  In fact, even associating with girls was frowned upon until puberty hits.  Then, if you didn't have sisters you have absolutely no idea how to deal with those scary and oh so alien creatures.

So therein was the problem:  I was a girl inside.  I didn't WANT to get tackled on the asphalt playing tackle tag, or be beaned in the head playing dodgeball.  Never mind that whole "fighting" thing.  But non-participation was not an option.  if I didn't want to be mercilessly picked on (more than usual) then I had to play.

Women are socialized differently (duh) and this is one of the biggest disadvantages we as Transgenders face.  We don't get the education from our peers and prior generations.  I'd say that being a woman is more an art than a science, while being a man is more science than art.  A man's education is meant to toughen them against future trials and to above all be a MAN.

So now, decades later, I must learn what it takes females a lifetime to learn:  the Art of being a Woman.  For me, it's a crash course.  Some things I'll never know or experience, physical things like childbirth for example.  Nor will I ever experience what it means to be a teen girl, or be a woman in her 20s or 30s.  I can only be the best woman I can be.

It's one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced, second only to that of raising my Daughter.

I look forward to it.


Presenting at Keystone 2013.  Pic by Cassandra Storm

PS:  I will be presenting at the 2014 Keystone Conference.  I'll be doing the all new version of "Writing Transgender Fiction:  Releasing your Inner Person"  Thursday March 27th at 9:00 AM.  Come sit in, have a LOT of fun, and maybe learn a little something!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Vanity Club

So, I was selected to be a sister of the Vanity Club.  I was "pinned in" last September at SCC.

Yes, it's taken me THIS long to discuss this, as I wanted to get a feel for things before discussing it.

So... what is Vanity Club (VC)?

According to the website"We are a special and exclusive sorority whose members are all accomplished; exceptional Transwomen, each and every one being voted in by her fellow sisters. "

Ok, that's all well and good.  So what's it all about?

Well, to be considered for membership, a person has to be active in the TG Community, and do things for others.  So it's like a "service sorority" if you will.

So how did I get in?

Good question.

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

I've known about VC since before my re-awakening.  I found their website when I was researching TG Sites after reading Josh Kilmer Purcell's amazing book I am Not Myself These Days.  I found VC and was immediately fascinated.  A sorority for TG women?  As I am a fraternity member, the appeal was immediate.  But I never thought I'd ever could be a Sister.  I could never be that beautiful nor could I ever do so many things.

Vanity Club SCC Dinner Pic 2013.  See me?

Skip ahead over four years.  At the 2013 Keystone Conference, B'Ellana Duquesne approached me about VC.  I'd known her for a while, and by this time, I knew many VC sisters like Kristy Snow, Amanda Richards, Kimberly Huddle, and a few others.  Anyway, B'Ellana asked me if I was interested in becoming a Sister of Vanity Club.


She cited this blog, my TG Forum column, and my seminars at Keystone as reasons I would be considered.  And, apparently, I'd become a bit known in the local TG scene.

I thought about it... me?  A sister of VC?  I agreed very quickly.

I told my Sister Lisa Empanada about it and she laughed.  Called me a "snob."  She was definitely not a joiner, and she'd been asked several times to join VC.  It wasn't for her.  She teased me, but later said she was happy for me.

B'Ellana and I  just after "pinning me in" to VC

So.  Why did I join?  Well through VC I've now met many of the people who inspired me, most of them at SCC.  And they treated me as a peer.  Women like Ana Cristina Garcia, Linda Lewis, Laura Lenley, Stephanie Yates, and so many others.  For someone with self esteem issues like mine, that was so affirming.

With Steph Yates at SCC

Then there's the networking.  VC sisters come from all walks of life and are in many industries.  I've already learned some valuable things from them.  And contacts like these can never hurt.  After all, we share something very special- we are all TG in a way.  Some are still closeted, some are fully transitioned, and still others, like me, are somewhere in between.

With Ana Cristina Garcia at SCC

In the end, it's all about Helping others.  That's who I am, and that's what the Vanity Club is about as well.  I stand with a group of inspiring women, and perhaps, by being a member, I can do more good in this world.  That's my hope.  That's why I joined.  Not for the "prestige" or the picture sharing or even attending dinners at conventions... but for the better opportunities to Help.

Because THAT is Vanity Club.

With Linda Lewis at SCC 2013 Dinner