Monday, November 16, 2009

2 airports, 1 bathing suit, and a funeral

So it's been a while since I've been online, let alone having time to write a new blog post. As I said in my last blog post, my grandmother died last week...actually it's almost 2 weeks ago now. I was planning on going to the funeral and going as Debra.

My wife had suggested that I "buck up" and go as J***** but I just felt like that did not feel right to me. In talking about my transition, I had tended to talking about it like it hadn't started yet. I'd say to myself "I'll start my transition when I begin hormones" or "I'll start transition when I'm full time including at work". It hit me the other day that the truth is I have already begun transition...and it really started when I finally accepted the fact that this is who I am and that it's ok.

With that in mind, I've currently been living full time as Debra except at work. That means if I have to run an errand on the way home from work, I go home FIRST and go run the errand as Debra. Even stupid simple things, it just feels like what I need to be doing and it feels quite awkward to think of doing anything as J***** is still hard enough to be at work like this.

So the thought of going to the funeral as J***** was actually quite just felt so WRONG and foreign.

Although there are other logical reasons, such as the thought that if I showed my family that I could go places as J***** as I so chose (or as they needed me to be to be comfortable) then they would expect that all the time...not to mention, not take my transition seriously. My mother already feels like I'm just "dressing up" to get her attention. She still thinks it's a phase.

And of course going to the funeral itself was not the goal...the goal was to live authentically all the time...this included flying on the plane as Debra too. I had emailed my counselor asking if she would write a letter that I could use if I was questioned while passing through security at the airport. The letter simply explained that I was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder and that was why I was dressed the way I was and why my driver's license picture did not match with this attire.

When I met with my counselor to pick up the letter, she hadn't written it. She had called the TSA up and asked them about the exact procedures and the lady on the other end had informed her that if the picture did not match the person , they would most likely take me aside for questioning and possibly not let me on the plane at all. My counselor assumed that this would deter me and when she told me about her conversation, my heart fell. The thought of being forced to fly as J***** was overwhelmingly depressing and saddening. But I looked her in the eye and said I was still going to go as Debra so if she could write me the letter anyway, that'd be appreciated.

As with most round trip flights, I had the pleasure of passing through security twice. Both times, the man checking my license simply looked twice and let me pass, no extra questions. I didn't even have to use my letter! I was pleasantly surprised after having nightmares of being forced to remove my wig so they could see the picture matched or some sort of crazy antics. Maybe these guys see a number of transgender people pass through security that they did not question it or maybe my picture looked enough like me in the face, who knows. But I had no problems whatsoever and I'm very thankful for that.

After emailing my counselor and letting her know that things went well, she gave me a great compliment, saying that I was a very courageous woman. Even as I beamed at the compliment though, I felt like it was really misplaced. I didn't do this because I was brave or courageous...I did it because I felt like I HAD to....because it felt like the right thing to do, the ONLY thing to do.

At the Ontario airport, I stopped at a coffee shop while I waited for them to start boarding the plane that would take me home. I ordered a hot chocolate and the lady asked for my ID because I used my credit card. I showed it to her and she glanced at the picture and handed it back to me. She then said "I don't want to offend you or anything but you look completely gorgeous!" I must've blushed a deep red. She continued "You guys that do this make us girls look bad sometimes." She was completely complimenting me here, her tone was one of sincerity and admiration. I thanked her and almost walked away without my hot chocolate, lol.

Throughout the whole trip, I got ma'amed'd think it would get old but it really doesn't, LOL. Between the flight attendant saying "would you like anything to drink, ma'am?" and the lady who yelled out to me as I was walking away "Ma'am! forgot your purse!!!", it really still did not get old. =)

After arriving in Ontario airport, my uncle came and picked me up and he promptly picked my parents up at their hotel. I was very surprised and it was a bit awkward at first because my parents had not seen Debra before. I had assumed they would not want to hang out around me at all and would simply have to put up with me at the funeral itself. Well as it actually happened, they ended up hanging out with me, my aunt and uncle, and grandpa for most of the trip. I knew they were quite uncomfortable with how I was dressed but they were civil and didn't ignore me either. When we went to my grandmother's viewing, they even hugged me as I cried at the loss.

It was also interesting meeting up with family and friends. My aunt did a wonderful job introducing me as her "niece" and I beamed every time. Other times when she wasn't around, I introduced myself as my grandmother's granddaughter. At one point my dad was standing there and after I had introduced myself as such, the lady turned to my dad and said "Oh so she is your daughter?" and he awkwardly nodded. I was kind of amazed....of course my mother was across the room, she probably would have 'outed' me instead hah. Not that that really mattered so much to me, many of the friends and family knew and recognized me and some of them didn't even question why I was dressed like that. Maybe they assumed or maybe they had been informed prior to coming.

My aunt, uncle, and Grandpa were simply wonderful. They all referred to me as "she" or Debra most of the time and that felt good. Sure they lapsed into the male pronouns and using "J*****" before correcting themselves but they were trying and that was so much more than my parents or my other uncle did. (who actually introduced me to his friend as J***** when I was quite obviously dressed in a black dress and hose). At one point I said goodbye to my grandpa and he said "Take it easy, girl" and hugged and kissed me on the cheek. I felt warm and fuzzy inside. =)

All three nights, I went with my aunt and uncle in their jacuzzi as well. I had previously bought a one-piece swimsuit and tied my wig up so as not to get it wet. I of course am quite lacking still in the bust area so I wore my breast forms under the suit and I still have a tummy but other than that I didn't think i looked too bad in my swimsuit, it felt good. My aunt and uncle didn't bat an eye but the first night, my parents went in the jacuzzi with us. I'm sure the experience of seeing their "son" in a one-piece women's swimsuit was quite a new one for them.

Throughout the trip, I told myself that even as civil as my parents were acting, I could and would not expect them to be any different when they went home. I would surely be in for an unpleasant surprise if I assumed that any civility they offered me in company of family and the death of my grandmother...would extend back home. Sadly, I was very right about that. As soon as they got home, they both sent me long emails telling me why I was wrong and in sin and all the usual bs I'm so sick of hearing. So of course I'm still not allowed at their house nor invited to thanksgiving. It's probably wishful thinking to believe that they might be ok with me coming over for Christmas too, ah well.

Overall the trip was quite amazing. It was simply great to be able to spend a 4 day weekend as myself too. Coming back to work on Monday has been hard. I've been thinking more and more that I should start informing the CEO and HR manager at my work about what is going on....I'm impatient for the chance to fully go full time and shed what's left of my guy clothes and life. It makes my heart leap to think about! At this point in time though, I'm trying to take my counselor's suggestions in slowing down some. A lot has happened in the past month or two and I need to let things flow for a while. I would like to start on hormones and it might be good to let the hormones take effect for a few months before I begin working on my "letter to work" that will explain what I intend to do.


Teena said...

Wow, Debra! I almost cried when I read this. Not from the failures you discuss in it, but from the successes. It seems overwhelming to me how well it all went. You are tremendously blessed that God gave you such favor with so many in your family. And I have a very strong feeling that your parents will come around. Even in what appeared to be failure with them, I see many reasons to hope! Thank you for such a wonderfully inspiring post!



Melissa said...

Your parents may still come around, when ultimately they are faced with the inevitability of what you are doing. Right now they are clinging to the naive hope, that you will come to your senses. Give it time. Once the hormones and hair removal take effect, and they see the real woman emerge, they may change their minds. Don't discount the influence of other sympathetic relatives on them either. Now that you have outed yourself to the extended family, there will be discussions among them, and you may very well get some family support you didn't expect.

Congratulations and the best of luck to you, as you chart a new course through life!

Melissa XX

Jessica De Leon said...

You are so brave! I admire your courage in boarding the planes, spending time with your family and attending the funeral as yourself. I am also happy to see you back writing, I know how therapeutic blogging can be :).

Sophia Athena Farren said...

Well Debra, like I told you last night. The letter from your mom can't be all bad since she brought me up when referencing the Bible. Hehe :)

Shannon said...

i am glad to have you back. You'e been on my mind and in my heart all this time. What a bittersweet ordeal to go through. I am so thankful for the reception of your Aunt and Uncle and your Grandfather. That alone would have moved me to tears if not outright weeping. And I would weep, too, for the way your parents have reverted to your mother's way of thinking.

I expect that this is an Ingersoll week and I will have to wait to give you a Welcome Home, Girl hug. But, still my Sister... Welcome back to where you belong.

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