Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One down, two to go

I managed to make one of the phone calls I needed to make this afternoon. I decided to try the easiest one first, and it worked out fine, just as I knew it would.

I was running terribly late this morning, so I drove to work today, rather than taking the bus as I usually do. On the drive home, I would have at least an uninterrupted half-hour, so I decided early in the day that I would use the time constructively for the call to the laser clinic. Once I left the office and got on the road, it took me until about halfway home before I summoned the courage to press all the buttons to make the call. Once the receptionist answered, I just told her what I needed to tell her, and what I wanted to have done, and she was the kind and funny person I have always known her to be.

All my stress and worry was for nothing, just as I knew it was. It was simply a question of getting my heart to listen to my head. Whether or not it actually did, or whether my head just ended up overruling my heart, I'm not sure, but the outcome was positive, and I can continue to move forward.

So my next task is to call the voice therapist's office and make an appointment. I think I'll need to do that during normal business hours, so maybe I can do that either tomorrow or Friday.

My final task, contacting the plastic surgeon, is a bit more involved. I've got to take a series of photographs of myself and send them in with my contact form. I had asked J to help, but the hurdles in the way won't be easy to clear. It's probably time for "plan b", though I'm not sure what that plan is just yet.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A nice day

I went to C & E's for the day. The order of the day was hanging out and eating, and celebrating the holiday in relaxed style, the ideal way to celebrate any holiday.

A couple of their daughters' daycare friends were also going to be there, along with their parents. Turns out they were the same people I met at Halloween. Neither of the fathers where there, but both the mothers were. I had very little interaction with either of them. We don't have a lot in common, so I think there's really very little to read into that.

It's been the first day since my laser treatment two Fridays ago that my skin has settled down enough to go out in femme-mode. I remarked to C before I left this evening that some days it seems to be something of a struggle to get motivated to change and get out the door, and other days I'm excited and looking forward to presenting my true self to those who care about me. On both kinds of days, though, I am almost always able to forget about who I am or how I'm presenting; I just am, and I am comfortable in my own skin. In the future, it can be like that all the time. I'll just be there, doing my own thing. That actually fills me with some hope; I'm able to see a bit of light at the end of this long, dark tunnel in which I'm travelling.

The other part of this evening was that, even though I didn't talk to the other women much, it was apparently no big deal to them who I am or what I do. This morning I had some horror stories going through my head about what would happen. Would they challenge me? Would I have to defend my existence? Parents of small children can be notoriously humorless and inflexible when it comes to what they allow their offspring to do and see, and out in the 'burbs of Houston, conservative ideals are king. I am most definitely not the kind of person that the typical conservative thinks about when they consider who they want their child to know. But these people seem to have already figured out that I'm no menace, and their children's seeing me won't harm them at all.

I got home this evening tired and happy. Things seem like they're really coming together.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The terror of being me

Always, it seems to go back to fear.

I have three phone calls I need to make today, or at least sometime soon, and I am petrified of making any of the three.

The first is to a local voice therapist, who I found through a friend of a friend, and who apparently works with many trans people. Based on experience alone, I'm sure she knows what she's doing, and surely she won't judge me. My voice is something that causes me continual anxiety when I'm in femme mode, and working with a voice therapist would help me sound better, and help ease my emotional stress. Wouldn't it? My what-if gland (I'm convinced I have this superfluous organ inside me) is spewing out the garbage. "What if you just can't do it?" "What if she laughs at you?" "What if you totally stink and it takes years?" All completely irrational. Completely. What is wrong with me?

The second is to a plastic surgeon in Chicago who does facial feminization procedures. I'll be driving through Chicago in early July, so it might be nice to use that opportunity to schedule an in-person consultation. This is a big step, and I can somewhat understand why I'm so upset about it. The time window is at least part of it; the time when I'll be there is fast approaching, and I don't like having to work on deadlines. And also what-if (dammit) he's not available on any of the days when I'll be there? The more I delay, of course, the more chance there is of that happening.

The last one, and this one just makes me laugh at how stupid and irrational all this is, is to the laser clinic which did my facial laser work. I'd like to have my legs and bottom done. To do that, however, I will have to take my panties off in front of a stranger, which has never filled me with joy. Add to that the fact that I am still male-bodied, and I have long since thrown away all my boy underwear. On the other hand, I have been treated with nothing but respect and friendliness when I have called and when I have been there. And I'm sure that they treat lots of people with all kinds of reasons for having these procedures done.

I'm sitting here shaking my head at how irrational and foolish all this is. I have just outlined most of the fears I have about each call I need to make. And yet my hands are still quivering, and the tears are still rolling down my cheeks. I just don't understand.

Friday, May 15, 2009

End of an era?

Or maybe just the end of my course of treatment. I just got home from my fourth and final laser hair treatment for that awful facial hair. Some interesting changes this time; we went over the trouble spots twice, with two different settings. It was kind of hardcore, but if it works, I guess I can't complain too much. For the second pass, my skin was still basically in shock from the first pass, so it wasn't really that bad. My trouble spots are exactly where I expected them to be: my upper lip (ouchie!), my chin right along my jawline, and my "soul patch". The rest of it took no time at all. Bzzt, bzzt, bzzt, bzzt, almost as fast as saying it out loud. The appointment took maybe half an hour, where the first one took a shade over an hour.

Now of course my heavy abuse of aloe gel has already begun, though with the little hair I had left, it doesn't seem like the recovery will take all that long. I certainly won't be able to look like a non-mutant enough to go femme today, so dinner at C & E's this evening will just have to be in dude-mode. We'll be rocking out with Rock Band anyway, so it'll be better not to get my cute girlie clothes all sweaty.

The clinic where I've been going is having a pretty awesome special right now, and it seems like they've lowered their prices in general, so I'm strongly considering getting my legs and bottom done. No girl should have a forest on her legs like I do. I mean, eww. I use an epilator on them now, and it works ok, but it's a time-consuming hassle, and I don't necessarily do the greatest job. And maybe the laser will help get rid of the little red dots I have all over my legs, which just plops hundreds of tiny little cherries all over the top of the sundae of my body-image anxiety.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mission accomplished!

I had my coming-out talk with my coworker today. We were originally going to talk yesterday, but the whole day just ended up weird, so we postponed until today.

It couldn't have gone better. I knew everything would go fine, and he reacted almost exactly like I expected. He had a couple of innocuous questions, which I was more than happy to answer. He offered a few suggestions regarding coming out to a couple of the other people in our group, which I didn't expect. But we ended up having a nice long conversation, and we left everything on a really good note. I have an ally at work now! Yaay me!

We did talk about the one thing that I did want to discuss with him, the managers of our group and their possible reaction to me. His guesses confirmed my own: I'm going to be fired instantly. There are a few things I can hope for, but I'm not really going to hold my breath for any of them.

On a personal note, the coming-out talk is starting to become a non-event for me. No, that's not quite the right wording... it's not nearly the stress-bomb event that it used to be. This morning, I had a few butterflies as I was getting to work, but they went away fairly quickly. Once we got out to walk to lunch (a good 8 or 9 blocks), it took me a few blocks to jump into what I had to say. So it's not completely stress-free, and I don't expect that it ever will be, but it's getting much easier.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Work: The Final Frontier

Tomorrow should be an interesting day. I've set up a lunch with one of my coworkers to talk about some of the goings-on in my office, and mentioned that I have some "personal stuff" going on that could become much more challenging as a result. I'm planning on coming out to him, so he's probably in for quite a bit more than he has any idea right now. The cool part about him is that if you're on his good side (which I'm pretty sure I am), he's one of the coolest, most laid back, live-and-let-live people you're likely to meet. We're close to the same age, and we've had some similar professional experiences, and I think we "get" each other.

But it's getting a little frightening in how our managers are dealing with us. One of the most positive people on my team was written up today - put on a "performance improvement plan", in fact - for his supposed negativity. But it gets even better. Normally, those things last for a few months, and are done - if you've improved, then it's over and everything goes away. This one, he said, is to last for the remainder of his employment, no matter how long he's there. It sounds a lot like the old "double secret probation". A concerning thought.

So then there's me. I've already had my own performance plan, for similarly silly and irrelevant reasons, and made it through ok. The bomb that I'll be dropping on them some months from now, though, might set many more bad things in motion. I've corresponded with HR about their pathetic equal-employment policy, which is, in their words, all that's required by law. That's to say, nary a mention of any LGBT people. And now that my management has started acting in a reactionary and purely punitive way, I don't hold much hope for my continued employment once my particular bomb is dropped.

There are a couple things that I feel like I should do. First is to talk to the individual members of my team, and see what kind of support they're prepared to offer. My feeling is that most of the team will be supportive; a few might be a little weird, but I think things will generally be ok there. I don't know what that will do for me in terms of management reaction, but it will ease my mind, and make it more comfortable for me to simply do my day-to-day work. Second is to sit down in front of the HR director and tell her what's going on. Unfortunately, based on some communication some others on my team have had with our HR department, I have about as much hope for that as I do with my direct manager. And from one of the earlier correspondences I had with HR, they "would like to think" that the company won't discriminate against me. They'd like to think, would they? As the saying goes, put a wish in one hand and poo in the other, and see which fills up first.

So if you're getting the idea that I'm a bit angry about this, you'd be spot on. There's not a thing I'll be able to do about it, other than hope they're not a bunch of complete jerks. And based on past (and present) performance, I've got a better chance of hoping that gravity suddenly reverses itself.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Writer's block?

I've been struggling to make a new post, both since it's been too long since my previous, and since I have something to say. I just can't seem to make the words go down in the text box. But as the old saying goes, if at first you don't succeed...

Lately, I've been wondering if it isn't time to make a bold move forward with my transition. I can't say that I'm entirely happy with the idea - quite the contrary, it scares me to death. But at the same time, it's something that I want to do and have wanted to do for a long time, and it has been in my plan (such as it is) from the very beginning. I am speaking about surgeries. And in particular, I am speaking about genital surgeries.

I don't make a huge secret that I am opposed to SRS for myself; it's too big a surgery, and I don't feel like I need to be so radically modified. My dysphoria seems to be mostly social, rather than physical.1 The other side is that there are vast benefits to getting rid of some of those parts. I'll no longer need to take spironolactone, and the headaches and nausea and cost and endless trips to the restroom associated with it will be things of the past. It will also place me in a more natural hormonal state - a blank slate, if you will - so that the estradiol will be able to do its work without having to fight the effects of whatever residual testosterone is still floating around my body. It should reduce my libido, which does nothing but make me feel ashamed of myself. It will also help me feel a little more comfortable with my body shape.

So everything in the preceding paragraph says that it's the logical and correct step to take. Logic, though, is not soothing my shaking hands or flip-flopping tummy. Correctness is not easing the tears that are streaming down my face. I'm scared to death of what it means. There can be no going back. When I think about my transition in general terms, I don't want to go back, even from this awful middle point where I am now. But I could. I could if I had to. Cutting parts of me off, though, that's a threshold through which I may only pass once. No do-overs. No oopses. Done, over, period.

There are a million what-ifs that immediately spring to mind. There are not nearly as many "oh, it'll be so cool..." thoughts which are coming. They can't possibly overbalance all the what-ifs. I've said many times before that the what-if game only serves to delay, and never helps. But knowing that in my head, and feeling that in my heart are two completely different things, and I'm having a really tough time with it.

1 Thank you Helen and Betty Boyd for that bit of phrasing. It fits me well too. :)