Sunday, April 6, 2014

In Re: Straight Man plays Transwoman

Since apparently every trans person in required to have an opinion, and there is also apparently only one correct one, a couple of things to say. In "Dallas Buyers Club," Jared Leto plays a transwoman in the movie. This is "wrong," I'm told, for many reasons.
Honestly, I don't care. No, really. For many reasons! One, I don't know how the role evolved, what the intent of the producers was, or the actor. Two, no tranperson even tried out for the part, so what, they should have been required to go out and find one? Three, the incessant lecturing of the transadvocacy people, rather than conversations, doesn't do any good. Four, who plays what does nothing to my own sense of myself. What, "oh no, a guy played someone somewhat like me, I'm worth less than I thought," am I supposed to think that? That seems to be one of the points being made, on behalf of the "trans community," which always wants to speak for me.
Well, no. And getting myself worked into a lather over it is a waste of my time. I have far, far better things to do with it. I've said it many times, but I'm a parent, a volunteer, I'm a good employee, I help people lose weight in my own small part, keep score for numerous high school contests, and lots of other things. Trans comes far down on that list. Oh yes, it's part of who I am, but it's not something I'm proud of; it just is. I hope my just being me, and interacting with people daily, can show people what a transperson is. I think it's a much better way to do so than lecturing about why someone getting a movie role is unfair.
This is an unpopular stance. I'm *supposed* to be upset about it. But I'm not. And when this blows over, there will be another thing I'm supposed to be angry and upset and organizing petitions for. Sorry, I'm done with it. Transadvocacy has taken it's turn towards lecture, be angry, declaring any out-of-step thought as phobia, bigotry, and discrimination, and generally a lot of shouting. I'm out. I'll be over here, living my life (which was what it was all about, being able to live my life without hating myself), and hopefully being a good example. And having a far better time doing it, I suspect.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Perception and Anger

Reference Liz's blog again.

It's pretty sad when someone has only their anger to sustain them.  Did I not say, in my previous post, that Kosilek has won the case, and the appeal?  Therefore Kosilek gets the surgery?

If it is medically necessary, in Kosilek's case, by this decision and it's appeal, then Kosilek legally has the right to receive it. 

Why yes, I did.  But faux moral outrage (there's that phrase again, funny how that keeps coming up) tends to blind a person to what's actually being said, and only hear what they want to hear.

It's about perception, Liz.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Legal is one thing, public opinion is another.  It would seem, despite your insistence that my aim is to dismantle the Constitution and throw the United States back into the dark ages (uh oh, that sounds like outrage), that I did indeed agree with you.  See above, and the previous post that I quoted.  I haven't said it is illegal, at all.  Rather, it's about perception.

Lets look at a few things that are legal, shall we?

One, the previously mentioned O.J. Simpson case.  He did not commit murder, legally.  Has that mattered since the day he was found not guilty?  Not a bit.  He was outcast, regardless of that verdict.  No one cared that he was not guilty.  It was the perception of what occurred that mattered.

Two, the Affordable Care Act.  Entirely legal, since it was passed by Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court.  Nevertheless, the last poll I looked at, 59% of those polled said its a "bad law," by the poll's question.  Again, it's legal.  That doesn't matter to a majority of the country, plus or minus 3 percentage points, certainly.  Their perception of the law is that it's bad, in spite of everything that's being said for it's good.  My opinion on it doesn't matter here, either, it's how it is being seen.

Three, NSA data gathering.  Legal again.  Affirmed by many challenges and rulings.  Yet it seems to have ticked off numerous other countries around the world, and not a few citizens of the U.S., as well.  But it's legal!  That didn't stop Mr. Snowden, though; he's hailed as bringing to light quite an outrageous chain of events by many.  Is the law all that matters here, too?  Or is the public perception here to be dismissed?

Perception.  It can make things far more miserable for someone, or a group, than having the law on one's side.

None of what I say, of course, matters.  You want to be angry.  You are angry at the world, angry at anyone who disagrees with you and your moral position.  I'm sure you'll tell me that I'm fake, "faux,"  and have internalized transphobia again or something, so you can feel smug and superior.  You'll rail at me, or someone else who doesn't accept you and your positions absolutely, no doubt publicly, and think you've scored points.  But you'll still be angry.  

Anger is an awfully consuming emotion.  It's sad to see someone so driven by it, and unable to let it go.  There's a whole world out there, just waiting to have you.  But you'll choose the insular world where everyone you keep handy agrees with you, and you can be angry with everything that's outside it, I have no doubt.  And everyone outside moves further and further away, until there's only you, all alone.  

Go ahead, be angry with me for saying that.  You can even have the last, triumphant, vitriolic word over at your place.  Because I'm moving away, too.  One less person to rail against.  You win!  

Or have you, really?

A Shrill Transsexual Harpy Responds

Someone's had some things to say about and to me, after misrepresenting things that I have said, and has decided to take it personal on her own blog, which can be found at this location.  My response to her follows.  LizMarie's blog will be quoted in blue below.

A federal judge upheld the right of a transgender inmate to receive gender confirmation surgery at the expense of the state. As usual, a particular crowd of transgender voices arise at this “outrage”, about how the “community” brings “shame” upon ourselves because some of us supported this decision. Since I cannot post my unfettered thoughts elsewhere, where these harpies gather like shrill ravens shouting down anyone who disagrees with them, I’ll post my thoughts here. What follows is what I would have addressed to these irrational, illogical, constitutional defying shrill voices of faux moral outrage had I been allowed to say it where it should have been said.

Well, right off the bat, I seem to have hit a nerve.  Name calling right at the beginning of a long diatribe never bodes well.  Let's review my position, before we go any further, for those new to the discussion.  One Michelle Kosilek, convicted of murdering their own spouse, has sued the state of Massachusetts, as an inmate sentenced to life without parole, to have state-funded sex reassignment surgery.  The suit was successful, and reaffirmed on appeal.  I have taken no position on whether this is medically necessary or not, I haven't the slightest idea about Kosilek's medical history.  Rather, I have asked if this is really what the Transgender Community ("the Community," from now on) wants to support, as many of them are, as a means to getting this covered by health insurance and government-funded insurance.  I think that's a bad idea, since backing  a convicted killer, whether their case has merit or not, does not, in my opinion, project a very good image of the Community, and gives the impression that whatever it takes to get what we want, we'll do, including building off of the tragedy of someone being dead to put this person in prison in the first place, to enable the lawsuit. 

Some of you seem to hold the notion that prison should be cruel and unusual punishment, despite a clear constitutional prohibition against the same.
Some of you seem to want to pick and choose what the government is allowed to call “medically necessary”.
Some of you seem to want to deny that the AMA and APA have stated that GCS can be “medically necessary” in specific cases.
Some of you seem to want to deny the long standing legal finding that anyone in prison is thus a ward of the state and the state is therefore mandatorily obligated to provide “medically necessary” health care, because the state has removed the opportunity for the individual to do so themselves.
Given the above, the decision of the judge follows in clear black and white logic.
Some of you seem to not give a damn about the US constitution, two hundred years of legal precedents, the advancement of modern medicine, and the formal recognition by the scientific community that being transgender is a medical condition.

I haven't, but that won't stop you.  I've specifically avoided saying anything about whether or not this person should receive any such service.  I agree that it's a medical condition.  I don't know how I couldn't, given my own history.  Nor have I said anything about the legalities, due process, precedents, or the Constitution.  Precedents do certainly seem to be on your mind, though.

Here’s a hint – if GCS is medically optional for this prisoner, it is medically optional for every single one of you too. If it is medically optional for this prisoner, and not covered, then it should legally not be covered for you either.

 Actually, since I'm not an inmate of a correctional facility, the case is quite irrelevant to me, since whether and service for SRS for me is between me, my doctors, and my medical insurance provider, and what their policy states.  It's legal for them to either cover, or not cover, the procedure, and for, in my case, my employer, as the owner of the policy, to decide whether or not it is included in the policy they are buying.  I'm just glad that it was covered.  Again, nowhere have I said whether it's necessary or optional, but that just gets in the way of a good rant, doesn't it?

I don’t care of you like or dislike this human being. I certainly don’t. I think what she did was reprehensible. But you cannot play the selective game with medically necessary treatment without also establishing legal precedent that it is therefore selective for everyone else,  including you.

I hadn't commented on this before, but I will now.  No, Liz, it has nothing to do with whether insurance covers me, or you.  It is only about whether an inmate in a prison in the state of Massachusetts can receive a medical procedure and have it paid for by the state.  This is what you fail to see.  You seem to think that this will set a precedent for every other possible case.  How?  One, it involves state funds, in one state.  This will do nothing to affect anyone covered by private insurance.  Two, it is for a ward of the state, under the care of the state.  Again, that does not affect those that are not wards of the state.  This is a very narrow decision, that would have to be stretched two different ways, to private insurance, to the general public, in order for this to affect people outside this narrow window.

Is it medically necessary for this person to receive this procedure?  I don't know; I said before that I don't know Kosilek's history.  And that's the thing.  Nor do you, unless you are somehow privy to their medical case history.  I said before, I do agree that it's a medical condition.  If it is medically necessary, in Kosilek's case, by this decision and it's appeal, then Kosilek legally has the right to receive it.  You certainly want it to be.

There is a word for the short-sighted thinking you present and that word is hypocrisy. I would suggest you reconsider the legal and logical ramifications of your short sighted position, but I know better than that. That’s simply impossible for those motivated by such hypocrisy. Your quasi-moral outrage appears to be more important to you than consistency of legal application of the law in light of the AMA’s position on transsexual surgical health care. Your faux moral outrage defies facts and logic before the law but you’d rather “feel good” about your faux moral outrage than have consistent and fair legal precedents.

I am hardly hypocritical in my stance in regard to Community support for convicted murderers.  My opinion on that has not changed since day one of the Kosilek case.  Short sighted?  Actually, no, I'm looking quite a bit further down the line.  I'm looking at what this can do to others' opinions of the Community.  What it can do to support of the Community, when they see a Community backing a convicted killer's case, legal or not, just on the small hope that it might get them something, too.  Hypocrisy?  Hardly.  You don't care how this looks.  Your moral outrage here, is it because of people not supporting a legal decision?  Just off the top of my head, I recall the criminal case of O.J. Simpson.  That was a legally rendered verdict of not guilty.  Did you have an opinion there?  Was it, like it or not, that this is what was legally decided, therefore it must be?  What you have failed to see, time and again, is how supporting a convicted killer appears to the rest of the general public.  You don't care that it might just come back to bite you; this could erode support for your trans brothers and sisters, all so you can get your own piece of the action. 

I've actually listened to people about this, Liz.  People being who they are, and assuming since you're trans, you must have an opinion about every trans subject, were bringing it up with me at my favorite local eating establishment, back when the first decision was made, before the appeal, and it was appearing on news pages all over the web.  They honestly couldn't figure out how people were behind this person.  "How could people like you want that person to get that?" was actually asked of me, by one.  Basically the same question, in nicer terms, was put to me several times.  How should I have answered, Liz?  They obviously already have an opinion of the Community.  They have an opinion of the Community position on it.  People think it is abhorrent to support a murderer.  There is no positive spin to it, in the general public's eye.  That won't stop you, though. 

And yes, a Community can choose whom or what they will support.  Yes, it's legal.  I do not dispute that, nor have I previously.  Just because it's legal doesn't mean they have to appear to support the person behind the case.  Referring back to Mr. Simpson, he was legally found not guilty, but didn't seem to get much support after that.  Why is that?  Could it be that, despite being found not being guilty, no one wanted to be associated with a person that was morally reprehensible?  Was that fair?  Yet here we have another person that is morally reprehensible, you've said so yourself.  Yet you are willing to set that aside, and would have the community set that aside, so that you can have that chance of stretching a legal ruling about a prisoner and state-funded medical coverage to somehow legally include everyone.  I am not, because it does no one any favors when trying to convince people that yes, indeed, this is something that should be seen as medical.  All this does is irritate people and bring into question what the Community is thinking.
And yet some of you wonder why we have so much trouble getting insurance coverage for GCS for the rest of us? Go look in the mirror. You are why so many of us have such trouble. YOU  are the problem! You! Because as soon as you argue that this procedure is not medically necessary for Michelle Kosilek, you have argued that it is not medically necessary for you either. If you, as a layman, call into question the diagnosis of medical professionals in one case, you have created the legal basis for a layman to question that diagnosis in every other case.

Exactly.  You wonder why it's so hard for people to get coverage for SRS.  It's my fault.  Mmm-hmm.  But wait a minute, I haven't questioned the diagnosis, because I don't know how that was made, I've already said that.  Perhaps you might want to look in that mirror.  It's all about getting that coverage, isn't it?  Back the person, then.  Tell people how the chain of events that started with someone killing their spouse, is going to help you get coverage now, too!  See how much support you get from them, for your GCS coverage.  If you, and the Community, are willing to use this example, this very one here, as the reason everyone should have coverage, then I believe it is you and the Community that are the ones making it more difficult for everyone else.  I'm not having a problem looking into that mirror.  How is it when you look in it?

There is no such thing as a "legal basis" for such a diagnosis, despite your argument here.  A medical diagnosis is made by a medical doctor, no one else.  That diagnosis may be entered as evidence in a legal case.  A judge decides the legality.

So the next time a trans brother or sister wonders aloud why getting coverage for GCS is such a legal mess, please have the courage to stand up and say, “Me! Me! I’m the one who screwed you over, for my faux moral outrage! You’re welcome!” But I’ll bet not one of you has the guts to stand up and take responsibility for what you represent. Not one.

I'm already standing up, LizMarie.  I am quite comfortable with myself, and what I see from others tells me what they think of your position.  Faux moral outrage, indeed.  I seem to detect a large amount of that, rising from your blog.  Your motives are quite clear.  Spin the spin machine, never mind what this person has done, and get yourself what you want.

But please, keep calling me names, if it makes you feel better.  I won't be the one whose still stomping up and down, desperately trying to get people's attention, and not understanding why they keep moving farther and farther away.  Perhaps it's all of that moral outrage that's hitting them in the face.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Homecoming Queen

There's a new homecoming queen in California.  She's 16, she's outgoing and gregarious.  Oh, and she's transgendered.  This has been made to be quite an achievement, and in some ways, it is.  Now, I'm not going to mention her name or show her picture, for reasons that should be clear in a moment.  Besides, this is the Internet, you can find those things easily enough.

This is a fairly unique occasion, a transgendered girl being elected homecoming queen.  (I'm going to call her "the queen" here in this post, because I don't want to use her name.)  I can find only one other that has been elected, while doing a fairly cursory search.  And it's quite a celebration for "the cause."  The cause, you say?  Transgender acceptance, tolerance, all those things.  As you may have guessed, I'm about to take issue with that.

Here's a 16 year old girl, with a rather uncommon problem that she's dealing with.  One that is well known, though, in general.  For whatever reason, she's nominated for homecoming queen, and she goes ahead with it.  Lots of girls would, it would be quite something to be elected homecoming queen.  So we're not so far out of the ordinary yet.

And then she wins!  Congratulations, sincerely, to her.  Only one is chosen each year at a school, so this is something special.  This is great.  Until...

Someone, somewhere in her life decided that this was a great thing to share with the world.  The news media got wind of it, through someone contacting them, or through the grapevine.  The school, even if they didn't contact the media, had no trouble welcoming them to the school and interviewing the queen.  The queen obliged, too; wouldn't you like all the attention?  I'd probably be happy and want to share how I felt about it, too.  She was happy to be an example, how she did this for so many others around the nation.  Another student said how they thought it was cool that they allowed (emphasis mine) her to run, and that it's a really good thing.  Hmm.

So we have this girl, elected queen, and how fantastic it is that these people were so cool to allow such a thing.  Um, OK.  Then the story was picked up.  It made the news.  It was carried to the national news.  Transgender activists and bloggers hailed this as progress, articles were published about the great stride that this was. It made... the Internet.

You can see where we're headed now, can't you?  What happens to virtually every news story on the Internet?  Oh, the comments section!  I'm not a fan of the comments section, and try to stay away from them, because it could be a story about really cute puppies and the comments would degenerate into political mudslinging and insults and "Oh yeah??" one-upsmanship.  Turning loose the Internet Comment Brigade on this girl, well, you can imagine what followed.  I'm not about to excuse these people, they're reprehensible, nasty people, who need to hide behind anonymity to express vile opinions and try to hurt people.  I have no respect for them.  That being said...

Not getting nearly as much coverage now is her reaction to these comments, and the other things she has received via mail, email, and text messages.  Oh, the stories are out there, but not as many.  There's a tearful YouTube video that the queen posted, in which she talks about how she's always judged, wonders if it's worth it, if she should just go back to being a boy and miserable, so people will leave her alone.  This is not what the article writers and news want to report, though.  This won't get the coverage, I'm guessing, that the "great stride" did.

So what are the motives here?  Was there a reason a 16 year old girl was put in an extremely bright spotlight, by people who essentially had nothing to lose?  Yes, there were.  "The cause" is one of them.  There must be progress!  See how our acceptance has grown!  The school wanted to show how really keen and groovy they were, it seems, to the world, for what they did for the queen.  They certainly were more than happy to accommodate the news people being there.  The news people definitely would love such a story, anything controversial sells well and generates interest.

What happens to her?  This 16 year old girl, who was treated to a fantastic high point, and pulled down to miserable low almost instantly, where does she go now?  She's not even out of high school yet, and her picture, name, and the name of her high school are all over the Internet.  It really wouldn't be hard for someone with a real axe to grind to find her now, would it?  And she will forever, forever be the Transgendered Homecoming Queen.  What about five years from now?  Ten?  Fifteen?  She applies for college, she gets interviewed for a job, she meets someone interesting and that person is also interested.  What's becoming more and more common in those situations these days?  Putting a person's name into Google and seeing what comes back.  And there's the Transgendered Homecoming Queen, with a convenient picture.

Ratings?  The cause?  We're really awesome?  They all got what they wanted from this girl, those people who had nothing to lose.  Who looked out for her?  In a week or so, most of the people will have forgotten about the queen, thinking it was a really nice, or what a great story, and that will be that, to them.  They don't have to live with it.  She does, forever.  What are the chances that the queen will ever have a vaguely "normal" life?

Hail progress.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Being Transgendered, the Internet, and You

Hi, I’m bringing the blog back to life today, with some words for those “just starting out” people under the transgender umbrella. Again, if this doesn’t apply to you, feel free to get together over in the corner and see how many digits of pi you can all calculate with each other by the time I’m finished.

Now, if my guess is right, you’re looking around on the internet for information and things about how you’re feeling. Maybe you’re unsure, and these feelings are new to you. Or perhaps you’ve felt like your gender is wrong for years and years. It doesn’t matter; I’ll bet you’re nervous, fearful, uncertain, or maybe all or none of the above. Only you know for sure how you feel. And if you’re not sure how you feel, it’s awfully hard to tell other people how you feel. Keep that in mind.

So what are you going to find on the internet? Hopefully, this! But other than my own, highly opinionated through my own experience, writings, you’re going to find a lot. You’ll find everything you need to know about how to do whatever you’re interested in. Do you like to crossdress? You’ll find all the best ideas on how to achieve whatever look fits however you feel at the moment, regardless of gender. Or maybe you feel that there’s no other way out than to fix what is wrong with your body through surgery. Simple enough. I’ve written a blog about that myself, with how I made it through all of that. And there are plenty more things to read about it, from any perspective you can think of. Perhaps you know you fit somewhere under that big umbrella “transgender,” but you just don’t know where yet. That’s OK, too. Everyone that’s been where you are has felt like this, hard as it is to believe. I had trouble with that myself, too. It turns out that while everyone doesn’t feel exactly the same (no one ever can feel the same as you), there are an awful lot of similarities. That just can’t be coincidental, can it?

Which brings me to support. The internet is going to give you everything you need on the whats and hows and wheres of what you want: fashion, customs, rules, surgeons, shopping, you name it, it’s there. But we all need more than that. Well, there are support websites, too. And this is where you must begin to get wary.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been following support websites, to see what they have to offer. I myself never availed myself of a support website during my own transition; we’ll get to why in a bit. I started by looking at one, and that’s remained my primary focus, but after seeing what goes on at the one, I decided I should look at some more, too. What I have found, in my opinion, is appalling.

Support, at least how I see it, is to help you reach your own decisions about what is right for you. Now before I get into what I find so ugly about them, let me be clear: that support can be found. However, it is not easy, for the reasons I am about to describe.

On the whole, support websites are populated by people looking to find help. You will find no lack of it. What you’re going to hear, though, is a lot of people telling you to do what is right for them. There will be plenty of making themselves sound right, as well. They will cite their training, who they know, how much they know, and they’ll let you know that you can be part of the crowd, too! Just do what we do, and you too can be part of the happy family!

It sounds terrific, doesn’t it? Until you think about it. What family? These are people, the vast majority of whom know nothing about you, other than what you’ve told them, and they think they know you well enough to call you family? Let’s face it, you’re words on a screen to them. They don’t know you, your situation, your fears, your family, your life. But they’ll tell you they know what’s best. You will find people that have become so enamored with this online family that, only three days after a major surgery, while still under a doctor’s care, that they are asking the people on a website if a symptom is normal. Never mind that most of the people on a support website have not had the surgical procedure they are asking about, and most never will. Never mind that they are in a hospital, where a nurse is as near as the push of a button. Never mind that they have the surgeon that performed the procedure checking them daily, if not more often. They are asking the website. And the website has answers! Not “ask your doctor,” either. They “know!” How?? They can’t. But they know what they want to be correct, and that’s what they will tell you. Is it actually right? How can you know?

Think about it. Which would you rather have? Would you like to be helped to reach your decision, based on what you know, and how you feel, and what you’re able to learn about yourself, and make what you dream a reality, and know that you did it? Or would you like a bunch of people to tell you what to do? You’ll find the latter in great supply on the internet. You’re reading someone’s advice right now. There’s more to advice than how it’s taken, though, it also matters in how it’s given. I’m not giving you this advice to make up for my own insecurities, which is what I believe you find on most of these websites. I’ve done plenty of work on myself, with the help of therapists, real live support groups, and myself. Yes, your own self has to be willing to do the heavy lifting here. And I will never, ever be “done,” whatever that means. I am still to this day figuring out myself, and what’s the best thing for me. No, why I’m writing this is that I hope that it will give you something to think about, and that you, the reader, finds some truth in it. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t; I do hope you do. I don’t know you, in all likelihood. I would just like you to perhaps see the beginning of a way to get to where you need to go.

The internet, as I’ve said, is a great resource for what and how and where. For things, and for people. Please, don’t get me wrong. There is good support to be found on the internet. You can make friends through the internet. But you make friends with in the same way you make any other friend. You get to know each other, there is give and take, you learn to trust each other. You know how it works. Is that going to happen easily, though, on a website where hundreds of messages are posted daily? Read what you’re seeing with a critical eye; think about why a person is telling you what they are saying, if you don’t know them at all? You’ll have to find the support, it won’t just come to you.

The internet can answer a lot of questions. But there’s one that it never will be able to answer. Why. Because it can’t. Why do you feel how you feel? I don’t know. I wish I could tell you, but only you can answer that. Don’t let anyone else try to tell you how you feel, either. Your feelings are your feelings. They are not anyone else’s. They are important to you; they are a big part of you! They help make you who you are. Let’s get one big question out there; if you’ve read this far, something I’ve said has made an impression. Who is the best person to decide what is right for you? You are.

Work with the people around you. I know, I really do know, how hard it is to say anything to anyone. If you’ve gotten to where you’re reading this post, you probably have to talk to someone. Those people are there for you. You have your friends, your family, and the people you work with. There is someone out there who you trust more than anyone else. They are there for you. And there are the people you don’t even know yet. Do you have a therapist? Do you need one? What about other people like you? They must be out there; you’ve seen them on TV, on the internet, you’ve read about them. They’re there. If you don’t know where to turn, check the phone listings for “First Call for Help,” or something similar, for your state. I know my own state, Minnesota, has several such numbers to call, and so do the surrounding ones. You don’t even have to tell them your name. You can block your caller ID, too, if it makes you more comfortable. But they know where the therapists are, they know about support groups, they have resources at their disposal that you don’t even know about. They are there for you.

So, what am I saying with all of this? Well, in my opinion, the best support you can find is with real people. You’ll make new friends, always a good thing, you’ll find people with things in common, and you’ll begin to learn new things about yourself. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see where you’re headed. I think, if you do work with good, real people, and not with strangers on the internet, it’s a pretty good bet that you’ll find your way.

But only you know what’s best for you.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The View From One Year

So, here I am, one year later. One year from the big day. How has it been? Do you feel any different? Was it worth it? Are you happy now? These are some, but by no means all, of the questions that I’ve been asked in the last 365-odd days. Anniversaries have a way of making a person reflective, contemplative, able to see things with a new perspective, or through the lens of experience. Some of the questions are easy to answer, and some are not. And some defy answering at all!

Well, it’s easy to pick one to start with: how do I feel? I feel good! This has been a year like no other, that’s for sure. I set a goal for myself, a major goal, and I succeeded at it. It’s not necessarily the goal you were thinking, either. I’ll be coming back to that. I’m in a good place right now, and it’s simply because I’m just living the life the way I had dreamed of for so long. The craziness of the “transitional” years is behind me, and I can set my own requirements for what needs to be done, where I’m going is up to me. It’s a great feeling to be once again on my own terms.

There’s a large set of conditions that have to be met in order to qualify for Gender Reassignment Surgery (or GRS). Most of them can’t be met in a few days or a week, and a lot of time is occupied by fulfilling those. Not to mention legal issues, insurance questions and foul-ups, appointments to get to, and many other things. All of that is at an end! Everything is back in my own hands. I have felt a great sense of relief for quite a while now, just because of the simple fact that I’m through with that.

But is it different? Yes, of course it is. As I said, I’m living the way I’ve dreamed, finally. One’s self-esteem can’t help but get a large boost from that. Being able to do that, especially after hating the way things were for so long, does wonders for your emotions. It really is different! My outlook on life has improved so much, and I can’t imagine, sometimes, why I didn’t do this before I did. You’ve no idea, unless you’ve been where I’ve been yourself, what this does for you.

I think you can tell that it was worth it, too. Obviously, from what I’ve already said, it was. And I would definitely do it all again, if I had to. (Please, though, don’t make me.) Everyone has something they want to change about themselves. Some people have huge things, others have minor ones. I believe I can say that you will find doing something about those things is worth the effort. For most of you, it won’t take a huge effort, or it won’t seem like a huge effort once it’s done. For me, the thing that required the most will to do was actually deciding to go ahead and do it. It’s like the pebble that starts the avalanche. Once you’ve decided, you’re doing what you wanted to do, and what’s difficult about that? It’s getting over what holds you back that makes reaching what you want so difficult.

That goal I mentioned? Well, yes, at first it was this surgery that happened one year ago. In getting there, however, I realized that I’d already met my goal. The major one, anyway. I was already doing what I wanted to be doing, and that’s living my life, and showing the world, how it should be. It’s hard to see that, sometimes. Especially when you’re not done with what you set out to do! The surgery was the icing on the cake. It completed how I wanted my body. Again, another boost to the self-esteem. The real difference, though, had already been made, and it was in my head.

Don’t get me wrong, the whole experience in Colorado was huge. In a way, it was sort of a confirmation of everything I had done before. I remember everything in vivid detail. For most observers, that’s the defining moment. In some ways, they’re correct. It does mark an end to the major changes that have been made. It’s the end of the line. But, and it’s a big but, it doesn’t make a difference to the person you already are. The biggest changes happen inside your head. I’m going to address myself to those in line for, and those that are considering, this procedure. You, the person that you are, are not going to change when you have this done. If you don’t like who you are, the person that you’ve become in the time leading up to it, then GRS won’t change that. GRS is not a magic wand that will “cure” you. What is commonly called a “sex change” addresses the whole person, and not just your anatomy. You will be changing much more than that, and you can’t have one without the other. You’re not going to be a better person simply by having your genitals rearranged. I can’t stress that enough. Take your time, work on who you are, be the person you’ve always wanted to be, first. You’ll know when you’re ready, believe me.

If, on the other hand, you do like who you are, and where you are, and what you are, then you will feel all the better when you go through with it. I am genuinely happy that I did have GRS done. It gives me a sense of completeness, of correctness, and comfort in my body that cannot be matched by anything else. It really is the icing on the cake! I’m much the better person now, inside and out.

It was a wonderful experience, and I met some truly great people while I was there. I also met one person that did not live up to expectations, but the others are the ones I remember. I would like to thank Andrea, Karla, Robin, Janet, and Ann for making all of my experience a remarkable and truly memorable one. They’re just the people that I met there. My sister and my mother were there with me, too. I wouldn’t have wanted to be there without them. They all made what would have been a procedure that would have helped me be at peace with myself, become a special life-changing event. I can never thank them enough!

So, am I happy? Why, yes. Yes I am.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To My Mother, on Mothers' Day

Dear Mom,

There are no words to properly express the love, admiration, care, and all the other feelings I have for you, or the depths to which those feelings reach. But I'm going to give it a try, and hope that what I write can give you some idea of how I feel.

One day out of a year does not give us enough time to honor our mothers; every one of us has one, and I don't think we think enough about what ours did for each of us. Who was the person most responsible for who we are today? Who was the one that taught you the most basic things in life? Who showed you what really matters; not what you can learn from a book, or a teacher, or your friends? Who was always providing a living example of how to be, act, express yourself, and live?

Your mother was, of course. Every mother does these things, whether they know it or not. Oh, some aren't very good, of course; some fail spectacularly. There are plenty of examples of that in this world. Most moms, we know, are very, very good at what they do. And chances are that being a mother is not all that they do. That they are able to be mothers, along with their being wives, teachers, friends, athletes, CEOs, and everything else, not to mention combinations of all these things, is nothing short of miraculous! But they
do, and they do it so well, you don't even realize it. How many of us take it for granted what mom did for us, and still does for us? Even for those of us whose mothers are gone, she's still with you, with the memories and examples she gave us; she gave you those intangible things so that you would know what to do even when she was no longer there.

How I see mothers is, naturally, because of my own mom. My mom has been teaching me what I need to know since the day I was born. To this day, I still realize things that came from her, though I didn't know that until I thought about it. And it's true, I have taken her for granted at times. Foolishly, too, for there is no one else in this world that I shouldn't do so. There is no person in this world like you, Mom, and I'm so happy to have you that I don't know what I'd do without you.

I've put my mom through so much in my lifetime. There were times in the past when we definitely did not see eye to eye, to say it nicely. I'm not going to go into those here; you know them, too, Mom, and I'm glad we're through and past them. But there's one period, quite recently, and it's been the defining time of my life up until now, that I'd like to go into further.

Yes, it's that whole gender change thing. I don't know what went through your head when I first told you what was coming, although I do know I could have done that better. I know you were not happy, and angry. And sad. And hurt. And many other emotions and thoughts. In many ways, I let you down. It took a long time for you to get through what you were feeling. I knew this would affect us profoundly; after all, I wasn't doing this to only myself, but to every person I knew. I dreaded telling you. When I did, I knew that many people who go through what I did lose their parents forever. That didn't happen, though I don't know how close it came to being. Things were very shaky, at least that's how I saw it, for the better part of a year.

But then, for Christmas, you gave me a necklace. A simple chain, with a silver heart hanging from it. No other gift you have given me has ever meant so much to me. It showed me that you still loved me, even after everything, and that while you may not have been happy with where I was going, you could accept it. I have never loved you more than at that moment. Just thinking about it as I write it now, moves me to tears. I have rarely removed my necklace since that day; it means too much to me to not wear it, and show it, and be proud of it. For even though the people that see it may not know what it means (and I hope they do, now), I know, and you know. I always want your heart near my heart!

Finally, being a parent now myself, I can only hope to live up to the example you gave to me. I have certainly had moments where I had to think fast, and just relied on what I know you would do. I know it will only get more challenging as my son gets older. How I face those challenges will be because of you. I can only hope to make you as proud of me as I am of you.

I love you, Mom. I can't say it enough, or how much. But I thank you every day, not just Mothers' Day. And I wanted everyone to know that. Now the whole world can see it.

And I just wanted you to know, too.