Sunday, June 29, 2008

My coming-out letter

I've been debating whether to post the coming-out letter I read to my mom, and I finally decided that yes, it could be helpful to somebody else who's in the same situation, or could just be of interest to, well, somebody. So here it is:

Dear Mom,

This is probably the most difficult letter I'll ever have to write, and likely the most difficult letter you'll ever have to read.

You've probably noticed my increasing unhappiness over the past few years. I've been dealing with it for a very long time, even before I really knew what was going on. I couldn't relate to other people, and I just couldn't get excited or feel anything really intense. I often wondered just what was wrong with me, that I couldn't feel much of those kinds of feelings - was I just not wired for that? It was just this feeling of deadness inside, and it came and went. When it came, I just weathered the feelings, or complete lack of feelings, and tried my best to go on with my life. I didn't really attribute it to anything.

Over the past few years, those feelings have started coming on with more regularity, and started getting more intense. Now, that's basically the way I feel all the time; I'm emotionally paralyzed, and nothing has any lasting appeal. I can't get motivated to do anything - look for jobs, clean my house, wash my clothes, sometimes even feed and clean myself.

Not to worry, though, because I know what the problem is, and I also know what needs to be done to fix it.

Deep breath.

I am transgendered. That means that when the doctor called out "it's a boy" and everybody cheered, he didn't get it quite right. I have the normal boy parts, and have physically matured as a man, but that's not what is in my heart and my soul. Inside, I'm a girl. I have no choice in the matter but to feel this way; I just know that's what I am, and moreover, what I need to become. The clinical term for what I feel is Gender Dysphoria, and the name for the condition which I face is Gender Identity Disorder.

This is something which is in no way anyone's fault. It's not yours and dad's fault, for something you think you should have done, or should have not done, as I was growing up. Nor is it the fault of anybody I've known, or anything I've done. There has been research into the reason why this occurs, and there is some possible physical basis for it, which I can discuss with you at another time, if you like. The plain truth of the matter is that nobody really knows exactly why this happens. Knowing the exact reason would not make this any easier for me to tell, and would probably not make it any easier for you to hear.

So that feeling of disconnection and unhappiness, is my soul's attempt to say "hey, listen up! You're not as you should be!" This is not a new feeling; I've been trying to deal with this for many, many years. It started back when I was in high school, after I started going through puberty. I wasn't quite sure why I felt that disconnection, but it was present even back then. A few years after I came back home from being away at college, it started coming back a little bit, and it was starting to become more definite, and it started to become a bit more of a struggle to maintain my male identity. Right around 1999 or 2000, I finally was able to put a name to what I was feeling, though at the time I thought I was a cross-dresser. <ex-gf> knew about my feelings, as I understood them at the time, and accepted me and encouraged me to do what I needed to do to be comfortable with myself. As the years went on, however, I realized that my feelings were much stronger, and eventually figured out that it wasn't just something I needed to do occasionally, it was something that I am, all the time. I finally realized, probably about 2004, what I was really feeling, and what I needed to do. Since then, it has just been a struggle to keep going day after day. When I spent all those months unemployed, thoughts of suicide kept popping into my head. It would be much easier, I reasoned, if I didn't have to deal with this, and it was just over. I never got even close to doing anything about it, but those thoughts came often.

I gave being a man an honest try, but it's become very clear to me that I can't live like that and be happy. Moreover, I can't live an honest life like that - I'm not being honest to myself, and I'm not being honest to anybody else.

When I said that I'm a girl, I also said that it's what I need to become. The only kind of therapy which has lasting benefits for gender identity problems like mine, is a transition to living as the opposite gender. This will involve some medical intervention, including hormone treatment and possibly some surgical procedures, and counseling.

I want to assure you that I will not suddenly change into this completely different person. The changes I will undergo will be gradual, and will also not change the person I am on the inside. Under hormone replacement, I will basically go through a second puberty - that of a teenage girl. I'll probably become a lot more emotional, and my body will move fat around and I will develop breasts. I will lose muscle mass, and my body hair will become lighter, and (hopefully!) more sparse. I will need to undergo hair removal on my face, because last I checked, most girls don't have a 5 o'clock shadow.

There are also some surgical procedures available, which include plastic surgery on the face to give a more feminine appearance, and breast augmentation if the hormone treatments do not give a satisfactory result, and also a couple different kinds of genital surgery. At this point, I'm not sure what kinds of surgery I will want or need; there is no prescribed or required set of procedures, and any that I think I might want can be decided later on.

The point of all these changes is so that my heart and soul can at last feel comfortable about the skin they're moving around in. Unfortunately it's not possible to change the mind to match the body, so this is the only path I can follow.

I know this is a lot to take in at one time, but I hope that you can get some inkling of what I'm going through, from my words here. I want to help you understand this however I can; you can ask me any questions you want, whenever you need to.

I will forever be your child, boy or girl, and nothing can possibly change the fact that I love you very much, and take great strength from your love and support. I will need that love and support during the changes I will soon face.

Love,

Me


My sister is the next one in the family who I want to come out to, but getting to a private face-to-face conversation with her is pretty difficult these days. I think I've got a plan, but it'll take a few weeks to get things set up. I'm also not sure whether I should prepare something along these same lines for that encounter; I knew I wouldn't be able to hold it together with my mom, but my sister is quite a different person, and I think she's much more open to differences. I think I'll probably be a lot less anxious, and should be able to actually speak in coherent sentences, and hopefully not blubber too badly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great story

Here's an excellent story I found, which gives a great analogy as to what my life is like:

"Shoes", by Heather Rose Brown

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where's the 'angst' tag when you need it?

I went over to my folks' yesterday to talk with my mom a little bit, and in retrospect I probably shouldn't have. She's having a lot of trouble just getting to the point where she wants to ask questions, or find out anything about what's going on with me. She also can't talk to anybody else about it, because I guess that would be something like her admitting that it's a real thing.

I'm feeling terribly alone right now. It feels like my mom has gone away from me, and I miss her. I can't really go talk to her about it, because it'll just upset her more, and probably upset me more too. This whole thing just stinks.

I took a sick day from work today, because I just couldn't handle having to face people or try to do anything constructive. I may try some constructive things later today, but right now I just don't care one bit.

Song for today: Dash Berlin - "Till the Sky Falls Down"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Names

Just a small piece of adminstrivia, since I'm up at such an ungodly hour this morning (don't ask).

Up to now, I've been making an effort to not include people's names, other than my own chosen name, into my posts. I don't know various people's thoughts and feelings about having their own names, or the names of their children, splashed all over the internet, so in the interest of not upsetting anyone or putting anyone in an uncomfortable situation, I've opted to go for the safe option. No names, other than my own, posted here or in the comments. And I think that should also include my boring-guy-name too, just since I'm thinking about it.

So let's try to keep it safe out there, kids. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's the little things

A couple tiny little moments happened on my latest outing, that just made my month. Some dialogue between me and the girl half of the couple I visited as we were eating (cheesesteaks, yum!):

Me: May I have a napkin?
Her (tongue firmly planted in cheek): No.
She gets up to get a napkin
Me (carrying it further): Please? Please? I'll be your best friend...?
Her: You already are.

Wow.

Next, a comment by their oldest daughter (the three-and-a-half year old I've mentioned):

Her: You're Trinity, and you're a girl... and I'm a girl too!

It's the little details that make things special. And I just have to give myself a little hug as I remember these moments, because last night was very special for me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two steps forward...

It seems like I took a step backward yesterday. After my last couple outings, which seemed to go pretty well, I was just feeling foolish, and wondering why I would ever think I could do something like this. I spent most of the evening crying my eyes out, and ended up going to bed very early (like 8:30), and slept for about 11 hours. It did help a little bit, but it's just very frustrating that days like this come around.

So I'm moving on to second-guessing-land. I'll probably spend a lot of time over the next couple days wondering if what I'm doing is right, and what I should do. The crazy part of all this is what (I think) triggered this whole episode... I was thinking about what my friends' oldest daughter was saying. I know, she's all of three and a half, and she doesn't know much about much, but she just didn't want to hear that I was this different person last Wednesday. Not that I am a different person, but you know what I mean. I was using a different name, and presenting an apparently different gender, but I sounded the same, and above the neck I looked fundamentally the same... I don't know. I guess maybe I'm at a difficult part - nothing's changed, really, and I'm just starting to try to put my real self out there.

I'm babbling. I don't know if I'm making any sense here, even to myself. But maybe this will help me figure out just what I'm feeling.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Once more

I'm about to go out to my friends' for dinner, again as Miss Trinity. I'm feeling slightly less anxiety than I did last time, but still plenty. At least my dress is a little easier to handle this time; only a single layer. We're going to work on doing makeup tonight, so that should be fun.

Hmmm. Just a short post today, I guess.

My, look at the time. Here goes nothing...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We have photos... sort of

I finally got everything set up for the actual documentation part of my project, in a way that's not terribly obtrusive to my house, and is also simple to maintain. I got out to the photo shop to pick up some film, and took my first photos today. I'm doing them on film mainly because I have easy access to film cameras, my film camera has all the features I want and none that I don't, and I want things to be simple and fast. Film seems to be plenty more archival than data - no "oh no, the hard drive with all my pictures just crashed!" These pictures will have to be around for at least a couple years, and I can always have them scanned again (or even scan them myself, if my film scanner stops misbehaving). There is also the whole resolution thing, but that is very, very secondary. I'm bracketing in half-stops, so I'll go through 5 rolls of film about every 2 months. It's an expense, but I'm not complaining about it; at least it'll get me exposing some film.

I'll have some photos to post in a few weeks. Hooray! The documentation project is underway!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

First night out

My best friends in the entire world invited me over for dinner tonight, and suggested that I might come as Trinity. So I thought, no time like the present. I have to have that first time out, and I would rather it would be with people who know me and love me, rather than with people who don't know me, and may not love me. I also knew it would probably not be a smashing success, as my beard shadow is pretty dark, and I haven't done any training on my voice yet. My presentation was likely to, in a word, suck. And as one of my favorite bloggers has said many times, "don't be afraid to suck".

So I did it. I picked a more challenging outfit than I probably should have for my first time (including corset and heels, with a few layers in there so that things stayed in place... :) ), but it all ended up fine. After about 7 hours, the corset is starting to get a bit uncomfortable, and I'm probably not the best smelling girl of all time right now, but I'm glad I did it. They were gracious, and loving, and complimentary, and made an honest effort to figure out the names and pronouns, and were just generally the awesome people I have always known them to be.

My only misstep for the evening turned out to be not a big deal. I managed to leave the house all dolled up, running low on gas in the car. I definitely didn't want to get out of the car in broad daylight on the way there, so I thought I would wait until dark, on the way home, and take care of it then. I passed several stations on the way, which all seemed a bit too crowded. The last one before I made the turn onto my street was empty, so I pulled in, fuelled up, and went on my way, just another girl taking care of one of her car's necessities.

Oh, and since I taunted everybody by mentioning dinner, I should taunt everyone further with the menu. We made a chicken pot-pie. I brought the pastry and the chicken stock, and they supplied the rest of the ingredients, and we worked together to make an excellent meal. I have some sitting in the refrigerator right now, so later on while I'm enjoying the lovely food from the evening, I'll also get to enjoy the memory of my first night out.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wow!

Today was a big day. I came out to my mom today.

I had originally intended to do it yesterday, and after my errands, I went over to my folks', and I just couldn't do it. My dad was there, and I'm not really ready to talk to him; he's just such an enigma when it comes to things like this. It just wasn't the right time, or the right situation. I left, feeling worse than I have in a long time, and came home and cried my eyes out. Tomorrow for sure, I told myself.

So tomorrow comes (that's today, for those who are following along), and I got about ready to walk out the door to go over to the folks'. I called, she was unavailable, she called back, and I told her that we needed to have a conversation about something pretty important, and that it would probably be difficult. She came over, and I started reading her the letter I had written. I was crying the entire time. Two typewritten pages take a long time to read when you can't speak too well from being choked up, and also when you can't see all that well from the tears in your eyes. I knew there would be a bunch of tears, but it was me who spent the whole time crying, and she was the one who was comforting and supportive. I half expected it to be the other way around, for some reason. After all, I've come out to several people already, and it's gotten easier every time I've had that conversation. For her part, she said she wasn't really all that surprised, and the thing she was most sorry about was that I've had to face this for so long by myself. She also said that she was more upset about the sorry state of my apartment (which, yes, is quite tragic) than about what I told her. Levity is always good in tense situations like that.

So, wow. My mom totally rules. She surprised me, and made me really happy that she's my mom. So I guess, hey mom, it's a girl!