Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Full Time

Today, March 25, 2013, I begin living full time as a woman.

I announced it to my "male side" friends on Facebook last night, and received many nice comments.

To those friends who are just discovering this blog, Welcome!  If you want the basics of Sophie (like "why did you choose that name?) then please read my entry Codex Sophie, linked here.  I also made a series of videos as voice practice.


As I said, I announced last night.  Veteran readers know that today at my job, management is informing the staff.  Also, today I leave for the Keystone Conference. 

Last night was rather busy.  I stayed up past midnight, then couldn't sleep.  Why?

Nerves?

No.

I was crying so hard.

I was crying because I really wish Lisa had lived to see this day.  Yes, her loss still affects me that strongly. 



Today is a New Dawn.  I'm scared out of my mind, but finally at peace.


 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Telling Daughter

Less than a week until I am Full time as Sophie, and there remained only one person who NEEDED to be told.

My six year old Daughter.

Wife has been pushing off this necessary disclosure for some time.  MIL never wants Daughter to be told.  But, after talking about it several times, Wife and I agreed not only that she NEEDS to be told before I go FT, but also on a date and time.

Friday, March 21, 2014.  

The day was busy.  I went to the Mazzoni Center to pick up a refill on my meds.  Linda Lewis came along.  Then, we went to my old employer, the Penn State Great Valley Library, to check out an iPad.  Yes, I will make a video at the Keystone Conference.  Then, after a quick lunch, we went to my storage site and pulled out some dresses for the conference as well. 

Then, back to the house for a little while for some rest. 

We met for dinner at 6:15 at Daughter's favorite restaurant, a place in Phoenixville, PA called Pat's Pizza

Wife and Daughter split a small pizza.  I ordered a large pizza steak, to eat half and take the rest home for dinner tomorrow. 

Proud Father


Dinner was uneventful, really.  Wife and I spoke in code about the impending revelation.  Wife didn't like the idea of telling her, but for the sake of our daughter, she wanted it to go well.

The sun was beginning to set, so we decided to go to the local park to do the talk.  The original plan was to go to Valley Forge Park, but it closes at sunset.  So Reeves Park it was!

We drove around until I arrived at a gazebo.  It was empty.  There, I sat Daughter on a bench, and Wife sat beside her.

Gazebo, Reeves park.  Right after the Talk
I started by telling her that I loved her very much, that Mommy loved her very much, and that this would never change.  I then told her there are boys and girls, but sometimes, so very rarely, someone comes along who isn't one or the other.  That Some are born boys, but were meant to be girls, and some girls were supposed to be born boys.

That it happens so seldom, but every once in a while, but it happens- that someone is born different.  And that Daddy is one of those people.  That daddy was born a boy, but was supposed to be a girl.

And that now, Daddy was becoming a the girl that she should've been all along.

Wife then mentioned that Daughter remember what she learned about butterflies.  "What are butterflies before they're butterflies?"

Daughter smiled and said "First they are caterpillars, then they become a chrysalis, then they become butterflies."

She learned that the first day of kindergarten.

I smiled.  "Well, daddy is in chrysalis now.  And soon I'll become a girl."

She understood that.

I reinforced that I would always be her daddy, always love her, and always be there for her, even if we live apart.  And that it was necessary for us to live apart during this process, as it was very painful for all involved.  (I really wanted to tell her the truth- that her grandmother threw me out of the house for being trans, but Wife and I agreed that this wasn't the time.)

"So when are you coming home, daddy?"

"I don't know.  It's not up to me."

"Who is it up to?"

....

"Time will tell.  Things are changing.  Someday we may live together again, but probably not.  But I'll always be there for you, my little girl.  Daddy will always be here, no matter if I'm a boy or a girl."

"So when you're a girl, when will you turn back into a boy?"

"I'll never be a boy again.  I'll be a girl forever."

She understood that.  I pointed out that my nails will be getting longer to make it easier to tickle her.  She beamed "I have lots of nail polish!" she said.  Wife laughed.

"Now you're in trouble," she said, looking at me.

I asked Daughter if she had any other questions.  She didn't.  And we went to the ice cream place she loves, which had just reopened for the season.

I dropped them off at Pat's, and then drove back to the place I'm staying.  there I told my housemates about the night, and drank some wine.

Lunch the Following Day

The next day Wife related the following exchange to me.

Apparently, when they got home, Daughter said to MIL "Grammy, daddy is turning into a girl!'

MIL said "Daddy is a boy and will always be a boy."

And so the battle is joined.  At stake, my daughter.

If I lose, I lose her, and I lose her to Lies and Hatred.

I must win.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Six Months Without Lisa Empanada

Today, March 16, 2013, marks six months since Lisa Empanada killed herself.

Six
Long
Months.

The Text

 Time is supposed to heal wounds.  It's supposed to make things like Remembering a lot less painful. 

A day doesn't pass that I don't think of her.  I see something and I wish I could tell her about it, knowing she'd laugh. 

I miss her laughter.

I would love to get her advice as the days count down to my going full time.  What would she think of my strategy?  What would she have said when I saw my mum?

What would she say about the outfit I'm wearing right now?

I still expect to see a text from her.  Or new pictures of her with her beloved daughters.  With her soul-mate Sandy.  Or even with me.

I miss the sound of her voice.  I miss talking to her on the phone.  Endless texts.  Hugging her when I saw her. 

I miss her jokes.  I miss her puns.  I miss her groaning from my jokes and puns.

SCC 2013: The Last Time I saw her Alive

Lisa thought she was doing us all a favor.  Especially Sandy.  She was so very wrong.  She couldn't have hurt us more if she tried.

All the deception.  The broken promises.  And we who loved her are left to pick up the pieces of our lives.


Where would Lisa be today had she lived?  Useless speculation really.  I'd like to think that this very night she'd be out with Sandy, enjoying the night.  That by now, Tom would be completely in the past.  That I'd be following her advice on my own imminent transition to full time womanhood.

I'd like to think she would be proud of me.  As I was of her.  My Sister.

But her last act... no one could be proud of the devastation that she wrought on us all.

I am still angry at her for doing what she did.  If you look at the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief, Anger is the second stage of mourning.  I bypassed the "bargaining" stage... how does one bargain with Death after all, after it has happened?

The fourth stage is depression, and I dealt with that for quite some time.  It almost took me as well.  I almost joined her.

The fifth stage is Acceptance.  I'm not there yet.  I wonder if I ever will be.


People come and go in life.  That's a fact that anyone over the age of twelve understands that.  Some people leave their mark and move on.  Other stay in your life for a long time.  Family.  Loved ones.  The Closest of Friends.  Their influence changes your life.

We all meet so few of those.

And when one takes herself away... I can't comprehend it.

Someday, I may forgive her.  Someday, my heart will heal.  But not today.  Not now.  It's just too soon.

I still think of her every day.  I still cry for her.  I Still miss her, every day.

And I will always Love you my Sister.  Time will never change that.



Photo courtesy Lisa Empanada-Newell Memorial Page


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Showtime: Reading a Sweaty Letter

On Monday, March 10, 2013, I read my letter to the management of the bookstore where I work.

The day before, I went to Gettysburg with Linda Lewis, so I was really tired.  Yet, I couldn't sleep that night due to nerves.  I kept waking up.  In my dreams, I was chasing ghosts alongside superheroes in a town of very tall dorms. 

Paging Dr. Freud!

Tell me more about your Childhood


In any case, when dawn broke I showered and had a glass of milk for breakfast.  I read through the letter a couple more times, then left for work in the early morning light.

I arrived at work, and texted my "Big Sister" Mel the same thing I text her each time I'm about to do a major step like this:  "Showtime."  I then walked across the parking lot to the store.

I hoped I'd be able to read my letter right away.  Nope.  The managers were discussing something in the manager meeting, and I was told to do the Opening Cash Room Procedure by myself for the first time.  And of course, my mind blanked as to what to do.

Go figure, I had something else on my mind.

In any case, one of the managers kindly came to the cash room and gave me a clue, then it all came back to me.  My hands were shaking. 

I was finishing my duties when the HR guy from the head office in New York arrived to join the regional HR person who was already there.  He'd taken the train down just to be there for me.  And believe me, I was grateful.  He has helped five people through transition on the job in the Chain, and is the HRC contact person.  I finished what I needed to do when I was paged to the break room, where the managers' meeting had reconvened.

The letter was folded in my pocket.  It was damp from sweat. 

Why was I nervous?  HR was behind me, right?  But I was baring my soul... my greatest Secret.  I would be metaphorically naked in front of them- defenseless. 

The Regional HR person introduced the idea as "very good news" and a "happy day in the life of one of the staff."  And she was right.  She framed it perfectly.  Then all eyes turned to me.  I pulled the letter from my pocket and said "I wrote down what I wanted to say."  There was a nervous chuckle from management.

And so I began.  As a former teacher, I'm a practiced public speaker.  Having read through the piece several times, and practiced it, I read it clearly; pausing for emphasis when I felt it necessary. 

My voice only cracked a few times as I fought for control. 

I looked around as I spoke.  One of the managers was smiling ear to ear (she'd suspected that I was at least a crossdresser).  Another watched in stunned silence- eyes wide and jaw dropped.  The rest did their best professional detachment look. 

And then I was finished reading.

An eternity of silence that maybe lasted two heartbeats.

Then discussion began.  As did the smiles.  Everyone was so very supportive.  I was drenched with sweat.


The head manager mentioned several times that "within these walls is a safe zone" where I could feel comfortable being myself.

That he looks forward to working with Sophie.

The wave of adrenaline passed.  I was shaking and exhausted.  All I wanted to do was lay down to take a nap.  But the store was about to open, and I had seven more long hours of work ahead of me.  Some of the managers hugged me, congratulated me, and wished me the best.

Do you have a member card?


During the day, some of the managers asked me questions about the usual things- the questions all my Trans-readers all know so well.  "What does it feel like?"  "Why the name Sophie?" "How do you know-really?"  Several of the managers asked about this blog, which I mentioned during the Q&A after my letter. 

If any of you are reading this, welcome to the Blog!  I hope that what I write helps you understand, if only a little.  For the background of Me and the other questions, I refer you to my Codex Sophie entry which defines terms and answers basic background questions that my elite 93 subscribers already know (and two of these are new!  Welcome to you as well!)

I felt welcomed- comfortable- and very warm.  I was so happy.  The meeting couldn't have realistically gone better than it did.  The rest of the day dragged by as the store was a little slow.

That night, Linda Lewis and Mel took me out to Shangrila to celebrate.  I had General Tso's chicken and several glasses of wine.  After all, I didn't drive!  At the end of dinner, I decided to chew on one of those black peppers that came in the dish.  Big mistake!

So a day that began with nervous sweat ended with me pouring sweat and chugging little half-and-half cups to quell the fire pit that was my tongue.

The next day at work I was there before sunrise as usual, slightly hungover, but it was business as usual for a Tuesday.  Another day closer to the end of my life as Lance and the beginning of my real life as a Woman.  As Sophie.  For Good or for Ill, that's where my life is headed.

In my letter, I wrote that "I have waited 43 years for this day and never thought it would happen, but it is finally happening, and I feel like my life is finally just beginning."  And it is.  How this life will be shaped is up to me, and my Wife, as we navigate the obstacles ahead.

It seems that one of those obstacles was a Phantom, and that Work will be a haven. 

I am Thankful.

In front of a random bookstore, April 2013




 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Message to the Messenger

I know that someone from Wife's family reads this blog.

And reports to her.

That's fine.  Please continue.

So long as you report the truth.


Unpopular in Certain Circles


Here's the thing, dear readers.  As I've said several times, the main reason I write this blog is to organize everything in my head.  Part therapy- part Trapper Keeper.

And if you get that reference, you're as old as I am.

But I write for other reasons as well.  Let's face it- I enjoy writing.  And it is my hope that through baring my soul as I do... and I do... that someone in a similar situation may find solace in that they are NOT alone.

Not alone facing the Pain and the Darkness.

It's my hope that a cisgender person reading this might, just might, understand what it means to be born the way I am.  What it means to be trans.  What it means to be born different, and what it means to transition.

I would hope that said member of Wife's family reads this for what it is, not through a lens of Religion or prejudice.  What I write is truth.  Yes, I change some details here and there.  I change names to obfuscate identities for privacy sake.  But aside from that it All comes straight from the heart.

Is that what you report?

Or is it all through the prism of whatever you want her to hear?

I really don't know.

If you are whom I think you are, then you've known me 22 years.  I you know how much I love my Wife.  Can you imagine how much this tears me apart?  How it hurts her as well?

Please- keep reading my blog.  Learn from it.  Not through a haze of whatever you read it as. Not through a prism of religion or whatever,  But for what it is.

My story.

My Truth.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Letter to Management

The following is the [Book store] legal-department-approved letter that I will read to the management staff of my job on Monday, March 10 at 8 AM.  

On Tuesday, March 25, management will begin informing staff, and this letter will be posted on the break room bulletin board, and information regarding being TG will be made available.

On Monday, March 31, 2013, I will report to work as Sophie for the first time.

And now, the letter:

..........................................................................................
To my fellow coworkers

I must share the news about a major personal decision that will affect my appearance at work.  My doctors have diagnosed me with Gender Dysphoria (GD), a medical condition in which psychological gender is not in alignment with biological sex.  I am transgendered, which means I was born into the wrong gender.

As can be imagined, this decision was not made lightly.  Since I was four years old, my mind and spirit have identified as female.  I have struggled with this all of my life, causing an emotional and mental pain with which I could no longer live. I needed to find a way to find peace in this world.   I tried for about four years prior to 2012 to live a dual-gendered existence, but it was coming at too great a psychological cost.  Make no mistake, GD can be a fatal condition, as 41% of those afflicted attempt suicide, and an alarming number succeed, including one of my closest friends.

In February 2009, I made the decision to deal with my problem head-on, and started seeing someone professionally that was experienced in these matters. After exhausting all other options, I actively began the process of transitioning from male to female in December 2012.   The process takes a number of years to complete, but the progress I have made to date has allowed me the ability to now start coming to work in my true gender: female. 

Throughout the transition, I will continue to maintain the high performance standards that our company and I have upheld.  Post transition, it is my expectation that I will continue to excel at my position and maintain the good working relationships that I currently have within the company, my fellow booksellers, and with our customers. I have discussed my transition with ***********, Regional HR director, and she has assured me of the company’s support.

I recognize that this decision might impact coworkers and our customers. As a valued employee at [Book store], I want to make sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible for the customers, company, and fellow employees.  The [Book store] commitment to professional development of a diverse workforce including gender identity as outlined in our Diversity policy provides a great foundation for communicating my successful gender transition to the rest of the company.

[Book store] HR have developed a plan to communicate my gender transition to our employees.  I am positive that we can accomplish a quick and effective transition.  It is imperative that we unify our message and information to assure the staff that we have a plan of action and that all involved are committed to a successful transition. Office gossip or inappropriate discussions about my personal situation, as it is medical in nature, will serve to greatly undermine plans that have been developed, waste staff time and energy, and affect the performance on the floor.  

I understand that there will be an adjustment period for everyone, but I would appreciate when you see me calling me by chosen name of Sophie, and then using the proper pronouns like “she” and “her” in conversation. Ongoing, I am working on raising the pitch of my voice through professional voice therapy. 
Please feel free to follow-up with me.  I am an open book and willing to answer any and all appropriate questions you may have.  I’ll close by saying, that I have waited 43 years for this day and never thought it would happen, but it is finally happening, and I feel like my life is finally just beginning.  I hope you understand, and I appreciate your help.


Thank you in advance

Sincerely,

**********

AKA Sophie ********

Ready for Work!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Darkness

Several months ago, my Sister Lisa Empanada committed suicide.  The following piece was written maybe a week later, as my mind spun deeper into the Darkness.

It's not a long piece.  I never finished it, as I just couldn't.

With Lisa at her Affirmation party, August 2013

I contemplated erasing this piece, after all I don't publish most of what I write.  But I decided to keep this.  I am publishing it so people can see what suicidal thought looks like.  These are the thoughts that echo through the head.  I'd bet that these thoughts sound quite familiar to other suicide "survivors" out there.

People wonder what Lisa was thinking about that final day.  Well, she and I discussed the Darkness many times.  I can say with some certainty that it sounded a LOT like this.

At SCC, Sept 2013.  The last night I saw her alive.

And so, for those reasons I post this.  If you hear things like this being expressed by a loved one, it's a major red flag.  Get them help.  NO ONE can pull out of this alone.  Period.

Get them help or you may lose them as we all lost Lisa.



I must also say that I no longer feel this way.  Thanks to the help of caring people and of my therapist, I managed to pull away from the Darkness, and LIVE.

After all, I made promises.  Promises that I'd live to be the Woman I am destined to be.  I promised Lisa.

So.  Here it is: completely unedited.

***********************************************************************

I am totally worthless.

I have no value.  I could die tonight and no one would know or care. I would lay dead for days before anyone would notice.

What am I anyway?  I'm a freak.  No one cares about the freak. 

Let's face it.  I've failed at everything in my life.  I've failed as a man.  I've failed as a woman.  I've failed as a husband and a father.  I fail as a friend.  I can't find a real job, and can barely hold the ones I have.

I always say the wrong things.  I piss people off.  I do the wrong things.  hell, I chose teaching and where has that gotten me?  I work retail for fucks sake.  I'm poor.  Broke.  And broken.


What's the point anyway?  Who am I helping by staying here?  no one.  I'm a burden on all who are stuck knowing me.  Nothing but a dead weight dragging everyone down.

There's no point.  No point in being alive when i Know what follows.  And Lisa is waiting for me there.  We can explore the afterlife together, laughing into eternity.

I would be long gone before anyone even knows.  I could be at peace, away from all the pain.  Wife would be revieved.  No more Sophie to worry about or to be embarrassed about.  No explaining to daughter needed.  Both would forget soon enough and be happy.

no one needs me.  So I don't need me.  I dont need pain.  All i need is for it all to end.