Monday, February 22, 2010

My Journey

Original Video removed. See the update here

Friday, February 19, 2010

Halfsie Month

Well wow it's already been half a month since I went "full time". This last week I went back to work and it went very well. Most everyone at work has seen me in person now....some are comfortable, some are getting there, and others may never be comfortable. That aside, things are just returning to normal....and it feels good. My voice still wavers at work but I'm working on that and I got ma'amed by 3 different agents on the phone today. Some might say "well they knew your name was a feminine name" but even that aside, even though they knew that in the past, they still sir'ed me so I feel really good about that.

Now the next part of transition: Divorce. It's going to be hard....my wife and I are really trying to wrap up our finances and start filing paperwork and she's still having a really hard time with it. That will get filed in April hopefully so it wont be official for at least 90 days although I suspect until the house sells, it might not be done till then.

Then I get to move into an apartment as well and I plan on moving closer to work so that'll help with my schedule. For now I've switched to 11am - 7:30pm to allow for more time in the morning to get ready. =) Now I can get up at 8:30am instead of 2:30am and still no traffic either way. hehe. Once a week or so I'll have to do the 5am - 1:30pm though to allow for afternoon appointments such as voice, counseling, and laser.

I met with my doctor this month and he upped my dosage to 4mg/day. I hope to see more results in my body.....have already begun to see breast buds sprout so that's good. My estrogen levels were already pretty high....it's seriously like my body is like "YES! GIVE ME THAT ESTROGEN!" hehehe.

Sara, the Admin Assistant at work, has become my shopping buddy which is great! =) She helps me be frugal and guilts me into NOT spending so that's good becuase I need that, especially right now while I'm trying to get finances in order for the divorce. =) Thanks Sara for being so accepting, supportive, and just treating me like one of the girls. And I know you don't like it but *hugs*!!!!! hehehehe

Anyways, this is just a quick note...I know I've mostly recorded video logs lately so figured I'd get a quick text blog post out tonight.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Girl Nobody Knew

The story or testimony of this enormous life change continues to be rewritten as time goes by. This is actually the third iteration and once again I'm finding myself rewriting it from start to finish instead of merely sprucing up the previous version.

I guess I'll start by stating the facts of the present. I am a female trapped inside the body of a genetically born male. Just as anybody else who is female, whether they were born that way or not, I want to be seen as a woman by everyone around me. This means if you see me or pictures of me from here on out, I will be dressed in an appropriately feminine manner. It also means I wish to be addressed using female pronouns (her, she, hers) and by a more feminine name which I have legally already changed. If you see me or talk to me you might also notice a change in my voice for similar reasons. On the day of posting this story, I am finally officially living as a woman all the time, at home, at work, everywhere.

Transgender individuals have been around for a long time but you used to never hear much about them. I don't believe the number of transgender people has increased but more that society has started to become more accepting of us, whether that's from medical research, education, or just plain open acceptance. Thus, it has become safer for us to "come out" and actually do something about our problem instead of living in misery. A plethora of research has shown that this is most likely genetic. It's theorized that in the womb, different hormones (female, in my case) can flood the brain, compared to ones that act on the rest of the developing baby’s body (male). So it is possible to end up with a brain that’s been arranged for a female, within a body of a baby male.

In a lot of cases, the transgender individual realizes at a young age that something is horribly wrong with their gender. Sometimes it isn't until puberty, when those around them are developing in one way and they themselves are developing in the opposite way. Sometimes crossdressing can occur in childhood and adulthood. There seems to be a definite peace in being more perceived as the appropriate gender as they are feeling. In other cases, such as my own, it is not so obvious to the individual, what is wrong. The problem can get buried and ignored, at least for a time.

To the human eye, growing up I was a regular boy. I'll admit, I was a bit feminine in my looks and more emotional than most boys but for the most part, just a boy. I think I internalized any problems I felt about my gender. I embraced that I was a boy genetically so that's how I should learn how to live. I didn't know what else to do, I just knew I loved my parents and knew their expectations of me. If you ask my parents about me as a small boy, they will probably tell you I was gentle and loving...but still a boy.

In 4th grade, I very clearly remembering telling a female friend of mine that I wanted to be a girl. It's only a small memory but the very first of its kind. As I went through puberty, I embraced it with enthusiasm. I knew the changes would make me more of a man and I thought that's what I was supposed to be. My feminine looks and emotional mind were a huge concern for me though. I can remember countless times where somebody mistook me as a girl and I felt so ashamed and embarrassed. I found myself avoiding anything feminine or even unisex when it came to clothing and accessories. I had overwhelming fears of buying something that was remotely feminine and having somebody notice and expose me. I often let my hair grow long and somebody would jokingly tell me that I looked like a girl and I would race off to the barber shop. A couple times I even tried to look "tougher" by getting a "Flat top" haircut. When we moved to Washington and did not know of any barbers in the area, my mother took us to a salon to get our haircuts. I was horrified when the lady put my head back and prepared to wash my hair. I told her i just needed a haircut, that was all. I think I was afraid they were going to do some girly salon techniques to my hair. I worked out some, trying to tone muscle, off and on through the years but never was able to keep at it. For the most part, I learned to hold my emotions in (especially crying) although I did end up writing a lot of poetry and that served as an avenue for my emotions.

At one point, when I was very young, I had this overwhelming fear that I would wake up one morning and have female breasts. I was deathly afraid of this, imagining everyone seeing me and laughing. I look back on that now and realize that it was just another fear of being exposed for who I really am.....and at the time, all I knew is that my body was male. In high school, I remember letting a female friend paint my finger nails and for some reason I went to school the next day without removing the polish. I remember countless people giving me weird looks or asking me why my nails were painted and I was very quick to answer that "she made me do it". Even with that excuse though, I made sure that my friend removed the polish that night and never did it again. Another time, that same female friend dressed up a male friend of mine in a dress with makeup and took his picture. I clearly remember feelings of jealousy when hearing about this experience....what I wouldn't have given to have been in his place that night. In the last year, I've talked to him about this and he admitted to only allowing her to dress him up like that because he had romantic feelings for her.

Another thing I distinctly remember is the decision to start looking at girls and being more obvious about it. Male friends I knew would always be looking through female friends' girly magazines just to oogle at the models in them and I would always decline. At some point I realized that if I didn't learn this behavior and put it on just right, they would all think I was gay. And so I began looking through those magazines and also making sure my friends knew when I was noticing a girl by making remarks such as "She's hot" while pointing them out.
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Growing up, I always found myself immersed in something...books, computer games, software development, even girls. I was always focused on something and I guess it helped me not have to deal with the turmoil going on inside of me. Since I started transition and understanding myself, I've found that I no longer have the desire to get so fully immersed in other worlds because I'm finally happy to live my own life. Instead of staying at home, I'd rather be out hanging out with people. It's quite surprising.

I started reaching out to other girls at age 5, in Kindergarten. It's pretty natural for boys to reach out to girls but usually there are phases of 'cooties'...I never had such a phase. I think I reached out to other girls because I subconsciously realized something was amiss in my own body and I could relate much better to girls. I had a good many friends that were girls, growing up but I also reached out romantically....I clearly saw the relationship between my mother and father and knew that I was supposed to model that. When I finally did find a girl that would actually date me in college, I think she knew something was different about me and that I was in denial. That relationship didn't last but a year or two after, I met my wife, a very special and caring woman. Our relationship from the start was of close friendship. We've both spoken to other married couples about their relationship with their spouse and they were always amazed at the bond we had. I tend to believe that we were so close because at the heart, I really am a woman.

I was raised a conservative Christian and was always told my whole life that being homosexual (and by proxy, transsexual) was wrong. I never questioned it. In fact, I now believe that I never even allowed myself to even look at other guys or think of them in this way. Similar to my feminine desires, it was forbidden to be attracted to men so I never even let myself try. In the same way, whenever I heard about transsexuals I went along with what everyone else said, "Why were they not satisfied with what God gave them?".

I remember buying lingerie for my wife constantly. She'd usually wear it for me once and then it would disappear into the closet. For some reason, there came a time where I found myself dressing up in her lingerie. She knew about it but was never comfortable with it. I didn't understand why I had that desire but it was always just a short period of time in the bedroom, never lasting longer than a few minutes. I wasn't supposed to be dressing up in clothes meant for women...I was a man. That probably only happened a couple times in 4 years of marriage. One or two of those times, I had been drinking and my wife came home and found me garbed as such, to her dismay. On another note, I never really wanted sex quite as much as she did. At some point in our marriage, I began imagining in my head that I was the woman during sex and suddenly it worked.

Well the year 2009 held quite a bit of discovery on my part. It was about March that I happened upon a webcomic which had a plotline involving a boy being accidentally transformed into a girl. While reading this comic, something inside myself snapped and I would never be the same. Take note that webcomics don't usually cause people to suddenly have desires to change their gender. Instead, something I'd been hiding my whole life started to rise from the pits of my soul, where I had banished them since I was very young. Something started happening inside me, the wheels started turning and I was quite thoughtful for a week or so. On the weekend, I went to a church men's retreat and as I always had in the past, I felt very out of place but this time, even more so than usual.

I came home that weekend ready to test these new feelings out. I wasn't sure what they were exactly but I knew what I wanted to try. I suggested to my wife that she dress me up in a dress and makeup and do my hair like a girl's. She looked at me quizzically but went along with the whole thing. I'm sure she must have thought that it was like the other few times where I had dressed in her lingerie. When everything was done, I looked into the mirror and what happened is virtually indescribable. I like to imagine an enormous dam at the top of a waterfall, holding back a raging river. Imagine me reading that webcomic as a crack in the dam and the moment I looked into that mirror and saw a glimpse of my whole true self in it's right form, the crack in the dam split open until the whole dam collapsed and the raging river rushed down the waterfall. Adrenaline raced through my veins, a thousand butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and finally, the most serene calm, like a still glass lake. This sense of peace and completeness was like nothing I had ever felt in my 28 years of living on this earth. But this was only the beginning of my discovery.

Over the next couple of months I experimented with crossdressing around the house. I also went to great lengths to try to understand why this felt so right, especially because it caused a lot of conflict in my marriage. I researched over the internet, opened up with friends and discussed it, and even saw a therapist from the church about it. I learned a lot during that time such as the difference between a crossdresser and a transsexual. A crossdresser was a man who felt the need to dress and look as a woman on a case by case basis but they still feel like they had a masculine side and have no intent or desire to fully transition into womanhood. A transsexual is somebody who feels like they were born into the wrong gender. Most of the time, they realize this from a young age. Because I hadn't necessarily realized this when I was young, I figured I must be a crossdresser. As the months went by though, I began to understand that there was deeper desires in my heart, deeper needs. Once I allowed those needs to surface and I understood that I was truly a woman born into a man's body, I became very afraid. I couldn't go through his horrific transition from man to woman! I would most certainly lose my wife and church, maybe my family, and maybe even my job! Not to mention the pain of laser hair removal and electrolysis, the possible various surgeries, and emotional despair. No, I would put this back into the box it came in, lock it away forever once again like I'd done for the last 28 years. And that's what I did....or at least tried to do.

The few people at my church that I had shared my struggles with supported me in my decision to fully suppress the desire and need. They claimed that God made me a man so that's what I should be. That was the belief I'd held to my whole life, after all. God doesn't make mistakes. Well my strength in suppression lasted about a week. When I saw the clothes and other accessories I had accumulated begin to get sold (via eBay), it started to hit me how permanent this decision was. I fell into a deep deep depression. My life in those days consisted of work, eat, and sleep. That's all. I think what it amounts to is that a feeling like this, even if you've successfully suppressed it and sealed it off for years, once it's open, you cannot go back to being ignorant of it.

After a few weeks of living like this, (if you can even call it living) I began to once again seek out physical, hard, solid evidence for a reason behind my need. I looked into intersex symptoms, had my testosterone tested, etc. It all still amounted to possibilities, nothing concrete. During this time, the conflict with my wife became worse. She succeeded in making me feel guilty, she didn't want to lose me, she just wanted her husband to stay a man. Our arguments often ended in me breaking down crying and wanting to end my life because I knew the pain I was causing her...I could feel it, see it in her eyes, hear it in her voice. It hurt my soul to know that I was causing her such anguish and yet on the other side of it was being unable to really be myself, a woman....how can you compromise that? It was such a difficult time that I began contemplating suicide. I told my wife about my desire to have never been born or to end it all and she began to worry. She told my parents that I was suicidal and my parents began to worry. I finally ended up telling both of them what was going on and they were very loving and accepting of my decision, if I chose to become their daughter instead of their son. I believe they were shocked but anything was better than having me dead.

Their acceptance actually kind of pushed me forward a little and my wife saw this and notified the guys at church about it. They called me up and met with me to talk with me about what I was thinking about doing to my body, to my life. They did this twice over the period of a week. Each time, they quoted scripture and raised their voices telling me why what I was planning to do was evil in God's eyes. I cried and cried and cried through the whole process. The first time, they knew I was suicidal and they wouldn't let me leave unless I promised I wouldn't hurt myself. The second time, they made me do no such thing and I went home with full intent to kill myself. I knew it was selfish but they had said I would become "unsaved" if I became a woman so I figured I would end it all while I was still "saved" in God's eyes. I didn't have the chance when I got home because my wife was in the garage so I went to bed and got up in the early morning, still with full intent to end it all. What little left in me that wanted to survive texted a few choice friends that knew about the situation. In the text, I said: "I'm sorry for being selfish but I can't take it anymore. God would rather have me dead than be a woman." I got into the truck, the garage firmly shut, and started the engine.

Right away, a friend called back. He had been up because of a pager call and he of course tried to convince me to stop what I was doing and I heard him getting into his car. I told him I was going to go through with it and that he would not get there in time. Shortly after I lost connection with him, my wife woke up and because of a bad feeling, she went downstairs, heard the engine running and immediately opened the garage. I was so frustrated and angry at the time that she had stopped what I was doing. It resulted in a visit to the emergency room and I committed myself voluntarily to the psych ward of the hospital because nothing was solved so I knew I would only try again.

In the hospital, I came out to the other patients there about my conundrum and surprisingly found them to be very accepting. It was a small realization among many that I would have to go through to find self acceptance. After leaving the hospital, I decided to start seeing a counselor that had experience in Gender Identity Disorder. At this point in time, I was completely convinced this is what I had, no matter how much my wife, family, or church would tell me that it didn't exist. It was a major conflict when I told my wife of my decision to see another counselor but I chose to push forward and do it anyway. I think my wife sensed that it was the beginning of the end of her husband as she knew him.

At this point in time, I believe that I was meant to be born a woman. Going back to the argument that God doesn't make mistakes, I'm not disputing that. God doesn't make mistakes but we do. Everybody does something wrong in their life at some point....usually much more than once. God allows this.....it's called Free will. But there are always consequences. I believe something happened in the womb when I was being made that allowed for this to happen. I'm just trying to set right what went wrong because of free will. I compare it to infertility treatments or cancer treatments....when you get sick, don't you try to get it fixed from what we know of medicine? Yet my family and previous church wanted me to deny there was a problem or live my life repressing myself. I will never understand that. Also because of my situation, I started to open my mind to the fact that if I can be born this way maybe homosexual people are born that way as well.

After the first session or two, my new counselor diagnosed me with Gender Identity Disorder (GID). I began to be less worried about why this was happening to me and started concentrating on setting it right. It was around the end of September or the beginning of October that I began dressing up again around the house. I also decided that I would paint my nails on the weekends because I couldn't do so and go to work without somebody wondering what was going on. I told my parents I would respect them and try to ease them into my new look by still coming over to their house dressed in guy clothes but with my nails painted. They did not like this however and immediately banned me from their house if I had nail polish on. I stuck to my guns and have not set foot inside their house since.

But because of their unwillingness to accept my compromise, I sped ahead in transition and began dressing as myself all of the time, outside of work, of course. I remember my first time at the grocery store. I had girl jeans and a v-neck t-shirt and my usual heels. As I walked into the store, a guy brushed past me and said "Excuse me, ma'am". Wow, what a feeling...before I even set foot in the store, I was being recognized for who I really was, a woman! Nowadays, I am fairly self confident most of the time. Most people either really don't know or are very courteous.

Around this time, I also began laser hair removal on my face. They say it feels like someone taking a rubber band and snapping it on your face. Well they lie. It hurts a whole lot more than that! It's more like a gun with five fiery needles shooting into your skin and they do that all over your face. Just one painful aspect of transition.

My church told me I could no longer take communion so I opted to stop attending at that church. I now attend at Everett UCC (http://www.everettucc.org ) where they know of my situation but know and accept me as myself.

In November, I went to a sperm storage facility and stored some in case I ever did want kids at a later date. The reason for this is because once you begin hormone replacement therapy, after anywhere between 3 to 6 months, you become sterile. So, in December, after 28 years of struggling to be a man....I began the biological journey of becoming a woman. I also began seeing a voice therapist to try to learn how to talk like a woman.

In January, I changed my name. I also was able to change my gender from Male to Female on my driver's license as well as on most documentation such as medical benefits, insurance, etc. Soon after, I came out to management at work and they were surprisingly very supportive and began helping me plan my transition at work. Now in February, I'll be taking the final step and living as a woman full time, including at work.

In the coming years, I do plan to have the surgery that will finish aligning my body with my correct gender. The surgery is very expensive and not covered by most insurance companies so I will have to save for it on my own. There are also other requirements before being allowed to go through with the surgery such as two letters from either psychologists (PhD) or doctors (MD) as well as what they call the Real Life Experience (RLE) or Real Life Test (RLT). This is a period of a year or so living as a woman all of the time.

It's been a long journey of revelations, hardship, pain, and tears and it has much more of the same to come. I cannot begin to describe how different life is now that I am able to be myself though. I am very thankful for the heaps of support I have received from friends, old and new, my church, and even my work. Thanks for making this girl feel welcome and loved.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Peaceful Validation

Hey everybody, just wanted to write up a quick little update.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get the ingredients for Carne Asada and Pico De Gallo. Nowadays, going to the grocery store is not really a big deal...I do it all of the time now but this time seemed especially validating.

First of all, I felt very pretty yesterday. I wore a new gray skirt I got on sale at Fashion bug with a new black ribbed short sleeved top and of course my black pumps. I felt very feminine and as I was walking into the grocery store, I found myself smiling because my voice teacher had said some people walk in high heels "like a man" but she had said that I am not one of those people. =)

Anyways, I started gathering up the many vegetables I would need for my recipes and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that an older guy had stopped and been looking at me....he wasn't smiling. I looked up and he went about his business. I moved along to the meat section and picked up some steak and as I was moving to the next area, the guy in front of me started to turn down an aisle and then stopped and looked back at me and smiled. I blushed and smiled back. Then someone who worked there, another guy, was walking past me and said "How are you doing, Miss?" and I smiled and said "good, thanks." =)

I got the last of my things and headed to checkout. The lady there commented on my top and said "You always wear such cute things!!". I couldn't help but smile again and said thank you. =) I chatted with her a little bit, told her I was making carne asada and she ended it out by handing me my receipt and saying "have a good day, Miss T*****". =)

Just a really good and validating experience and yet just a simple errand, no stress.

Monday, February 1, 2010

FAQ

NOTE: See the new Updated FAQ page

Summary:
Many people are born with birth defects. Some are realized and treated at birth while others are not so obvious. They can be hidden for so many years that they require enormous amounts of strength to finally overcome and begin treatment. Mine was as such. I believe I was born with the heart and mind of a baby girl inside the body of a baby boy. Growing up, I began to realize this little by little but the more I realized, the more I knew I had to try harder to be who my parents needed me to be. It wasn't what they said to me so much as their actions, emotions, relationships, and their beliefs.

I adapted well enough. I lived what most would call a full life. I graduated high school, went to college, and got married. But something wasn't right and there came a point where I couldn't ignore it anymore. I call this my awakening. It began by finding solace in crossdressing. It was peaceful. It felt right. And the more time I spent that way, the more I felt real, the more I felt like myself and by proxy, the less I wanted to go back to living as a man.

There was struggle. There were hurdles. Christian upbringing, biblical counselors, heterosexual wife, disowning parents. I did not make it through without scars. But I am still here today, able to stand before you as myself finally, a woman. And life has never been so good.

There are still hurdles to overcome. Some of them are out of my control while some are within mine and my generation's grasp. I hope someday that nobody will have to live trying to be somebody else, for fear of societal pressures or religious bigotry.


Note: If you have other questions, feel free to post them and I will do my best to keep this post updated.


Q: Are you gay?
A: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are 2 very different things. Sexual Orientation is who you're attracted TO. Gender Identity is who you ARE. Although I'm attracted to women, I don't consider myself a lesbian.

Q: Ok, are you attracted to men?
A: Yes. I grew up believing that for me to be attracted to men was wrong. So I never even allowed it to come to pass as even a fleeting thought in my head. After transition, I began opening myself up to the possibility and now I consider myself primarily oriented towards men.

Q: So you're attracted to men and women then?
A: Yes but I feel like I'm mostly heterosexual at this point in time.

Q: Does this mean you're a drag queen?
A: No. A drag queen is a gay man who dresses up as a woman usually for the purpose of entertainment. I am a transgender woman who is merely trying to set right what went wrong at birth by realigning my body to match my gender. It isn't an entertainment thing. It's who I am.

Q: What does transgender mean?
A: Wikipedia defines it as: the state of one's "gender identity" (self-identification as woman, man, or neither) not matching one's "assigned sex" (identification by others as male or female based on physical/genetic sex). There are other terms or labels for different kinds of transgender people as well: crossdressers, transsexuals, and transvestites.

Q: Are you a crossdresser then?
A: No. Essentially, a crossdresser is someone who feels the need to dress and act and be seen periodically as the sex/gender they were not born with. They usually do not hate their body, nor do they want to modify it. They usually find peace in dressing and it allows them to go back to being a man, when it's over, feeling much more refreshed. I started out crossdressing but it didn't take me long to figure out that I felt more like myself that way and that living as a man the rest of the time caused grief and pain. Note: Women can crossdress as men too so this applies similarly to them although it is much more accepted in society than men crossdressing.

Q: What's the difference between a crossdresser and a transsexual?
A: Here's the best way it's explained. When a crossdresser dresses as the gender they were not born into, they feel a sense of release and it allows them to go back to living as the gender they were born with. When a transsexual dresses as the gender they were not born into, they feel much grief in pain when going back to try to live as the gender they were born into.

Q: What's a transvestite?
A: Essentially another word for a crossdresser but not as preferred.

Q: Is this some kind of sex fetish thing?
A: Not for me. Some people have a fetish or get sexually aroused by dressing as the other sex but most transsexuals (myself included) just want to live the life they were meant to live. Hormones change a lot of sexual desires and there is always the possibility that after the final surgery, the ability to orgasm could be lost. This is a possible price to pay for being me.

Q: When did you first realize you were a girl inside?
A: I can remember a time in 4th grade when I told a female friend of mine that I wanted to be a girl.

Q: So growing up, you hid this desire/feeling from everyone?
A: Well, kind of. Most transsexuals know fairly young and they are constantly fighting against the feelings their whole youth. In my case, I knew something was wrong but instead of concentrating on the problem, I concentrated on what I was born with and tried to do the best I could, to be a boy and later, a man. Essentially I knew there was something wrong but I wouldn't let myself figure out what it was...I just locked it away.

Q: So why did you get married?
A: As I said before, I did not understand what was wrong so I tried to be the best man I could be, especially to try and make my parents proud. This was getting through high school and college, getting a good job, getting married, buying a house, and even working on having kids. Essentially when I began to figure out this was going on inside me, I told my wife right away and we have struggled with it together ever since.

Q: So do you have kids?
A: No, thankfully. My ex-wife and I tried for 2 years and God must've known this was going to happen and spared any kids we might've had, the pain of such a transition.

Q: What does your ex-wife think about this?
A: She was heartbroken, depressed, distraught, and many other things. She didn't understand how her husband that she'd known for 8 years could suddenly feel like a woman. She also believes it's morally wrong in God's eyes to transition because she believes that I wasn't born this way but that I was "brainwashed" or something else. She tried to compromise and understand to a degree but she reached her limit. We are now officially divorced as of June 9, 2010. She has a fiance now and I am very happy for her.

Q: What does your family think?
A: When I first told my mom and dad about this, I was on the verge of suicide. They seemed to be accepting of it knowing I wasn't able to live with myself any other way. Since then, they've come to the same opinion as my ex-wife, that I am delusional and selfish and therefore they refuse to speak to me or see me until I "change back" to being a man. A sad state of affairs.

My sister lives with my parents and has her own daughter. She claims that I cannot see her or her daughter because she doesn't want her daughter to be confused. Currently, her daughter (my niece) will be 3 in May 2011.

My brother at first needed some time to process it but lately has really been very understanding and loving. He's awesome!

My aunt (dad's sister) and uncle in California are very supportive, gotta love 'em! I haven't heard much from my uncle (mom's side) and aunt in Spokane except that they hope I realize this is "permanent".

My grandma most recently would not take a call claiming that she did not know anyone by the name of "Debra". The truth is, she knew very well and it was not a senile moment in the least. =(

My grandpa in California doesn't understand it and still calls me by my old name.


Q: So you were suicidal? Did you actually try to kill yourself?
A: Yes and yes. Last year, I was trying to figure out what to do about my situation because I knew transitioning would hurt my ex-wife and my family but I knew that not transitioning would make for a miserable life. This caused a lot of stress and grief and crying and a couple guys at church got wind of the decision I was contemplating and they decided to take it upon themselves to condemn my intentions by quoting scripture and telling me in raised voices every reason why transitioning was "wrong" in God's eyes. They told me I would lose my salvation or that maybe I had never been saved at all if I went forward with this. Using that thought, I decided to end it all because "God would rather have me dead and saved then be a woman and no longer be saved." Well my attempt failed and I went to the hospital for a few days. When I came out of the hospital, I decided to find a counselor that knew more about these gender issues I was experiencing.

Q: You keep saying transition. What are you talking about?
A: I'm talking about the transition from living as a male to living as a female...and everything involved.

Q: Have you seen or are you seeing a counselor?
A: Yes. I started out last year by seeing a counselor from my church. He helped me go through my past and find a lot of events in my life that I had buried and forgotten about. He did not, however, believe that there was such thing as "gender identity disorder" and he wouldn't ever go down the route of transition as a solution. After my suicide attempt, I sought out a counselor with experience in "Gender Identity" and she immediately diagnosed me with Gender Identity Disorder (GID). One thing she did make clear though was that she would help me and support me no matter what path I would choose. I am still seeing this counselor currently. (http://www.jalalicounseling.com )

Q: How does this process work exactly? Is there surgery or something?
A: It's a long and painful process with many parts. There's laser hair removal and/or electrolysis for permanently removing facial hair, there are estrogen hormones that will change your skin, breasts, hips, and face to be more feminine, there are also drugs that block testosterone, cosmetic facial surgeries to make your face look more feminine, and of course Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) otherwise known as Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) which transforms the genitals to correctly match your gender.

Q: Does taking estrogen make you shorter or your feet smaller?
A: No. Estrogen will not change the bone structure to be smaller. I am essentially stuck with a height of 5'10 and shoe size of 10-11 in women's. Some transgender women have mentioned slight height changes or changes in the size of their feet though so it seems a little bit may be in order.

Q: How does Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) work? Do they "cut off" your penis?
A: No they do not "cut off" your penis and that is actually a very rude and disrespectful way of referring to it. They actually remove the testicles and use the scrotum and penis to create the vagina and labia.

Q: Will you be able to have sex with a man after surgery?
A: Yes once everything is healed, the parts will all work accordingly and even doctors will not be able to tell the difference between it and a natal woman's vagina.

Q: Can anybody just go have this surgery or are their requirements?
A: There are some hefty life-changing requirements. They require 2 letters of approval from either PhD psychologists or MD doctors. They also require that you live as a woman all of the time for at minimum 1 year. It's also very expensive and most insurance plans do not cover it at the current time

Q: Will you have to take estrogen forever?
A: Yes. After GCS, the dosage goes down significantly but I will always need to take them for the rest of my life because my body does not naturally produce enough estrogen.

Q: Does estrogen make your voice higher?
A: No. Testosterone deepens the voice but once that voice has been deepened (such as in regular male puberty) it cannot be undone. Therefore male to female transsexuals have to completely relearn how to talk. It's not just about pitch either, it's also resonance, inflection, and even vocabulary. I saw a voice therapist to help me through this process (http://www.givevoice.com ).

Q: What does work think?
A: I came out to management fairly recently and they have been very supportive in helping me plan my transition at work. February 15, 2010 is when I began coming to work as Debra. As of February 4, I began taking some vacation and working from home. This allowed me to begin living as a woman full time on that date. On February 16, 2010, I began my days at work as Debra and it seems to have gone pretty smoothly. Whether people at work agree with my change or not, they are still respectful in using the right name and/or pronouns, at least as far as I have experienced in person.

Q: So how often have you been 'dressing' if you haven't been able to do so at work?
A: October 2009 is when I began my transition. I started out dressing as myself everyday after work (and on the weekends).

Q: Do you wear a wig?
A: I wore a wig for many months and did not want to have to do so when I transitioned at work. So, on February 4, 2010, I finally had my hair styled in a feminine manner and put the wig to rest. I've had my hair styled a few different ways since then as it has grown longer.

Q: Did you change your name legally?
A: Yes as of January 5, 2010, I am now legally Debra

Q: Did you change your gender legally?
A: Currently I have been able to change my gender from M to F on my driver's license as well as many other areas including Social Security. As far as I know, they will not let me change it for my birth certificate until I have GCS. Some states have different rules about the birth certificate.

Q: Are you still a Christian?
A: Yes. I no longer attend at the church that rejected me though. I now attend at Everett UCC (http://www.everettucc.org ) which I happened to have gone to when I was a kid. They know me now only as Debra and accept and love me the way I am. They also have a lot of outreach programs to love the community. It's inspiring. There are also many good answers about transgender christians at this site: http://www.transchristians.org

Q: Do you wear high heels?
A: Yes I love heels. =) I think it's primarily because I feel pretty wearing them. I get made fun of often by friends for it but I don't care. Recent developments have gotten me into wedged flipflops though. I've begun to see that heels with some outfits can look out of place and I'd rather blend in, most days. I've even been known to wear clogs or tennis shoes sometimes ;)

Q: Do you wear makeup?
A: Yes, it seems to be a needed part for my self confidence right now. I'm sure as I go along and look more and more like a woman, I will use less makeup. I no longer need to wear foundation on a daily basis but still plan to do so often.

Q: Are you actively seeking a new spouse?
A: I am currently dating around and getting my bearings. I never dated much as a man so it's a new experience for me in lots of ways.

Q: When do you plan to have GCS?
A: I have a date with Marci Bowers (http://www.marcibowers.com ) for March 15, 2011. I am very excited! I'm also getting a tracheal shave.

Q: What is a tracheal shave?
A: A tracheal shave is a surgery that involves shaving part of your adam's apple (the cartilage) off.

Q: How do you want people to address you?
A: My name, Debra and female pronouns (she, her, hers, etc).

Q: Are you going to have facial surgeries?
A: No, I am not planning on it. Most people tell me my face is pretty feminine already and I believe it's partially because of how low my testosterone level was before I even started hormone therapy. Still it could be a possibility in the future.

Q: Are you going to have breast augmentation surgery?
A: Well I'm actually hoping that HRT will help my breasts grow naturally enough to get at least close to a C-cup. If within 3 years of HRT, I am not at a C-cup, I will most likely look into surgical options.


Q: What is passing?
A: Passing is a short term meaning "passing as a female". In other words, being seen as a female by others.

Q: Do you pass?
A: I've been told by many that I pass and I have been in many situations where I felt like I passed as a woman well. Most of all though, I'm just happy and comfortable being who I was always meant to be. Despite that, there are still times even now when people can tell. I guess some people are more perceptive than others or something.

Q: Can you have kids?
A: Well if you mean can I become pregnant, no. I do not have a uterus so I cannot carry a baby to term. As for being a father, I did bank some sperm before I started hormones so in the future I could still "father" children if I so choose.

Q: Will you have a period after surgery?
A: No, I will never be able to menstruate.

Q: Why couldn't you have gone through Testosterone Therapy instead?
A: Although they might be the source of the problem in the womb, hormones are not the problem now, so much. Essentially the problem isn't that I didn't have enough testosterone in my system. The problem was that I knew that I was a woman inside. The hormone treatments don't CAUSE these feelings...the feelings are there because of who we are inside. The hormones instead are there to bring your body more closely aligned with your feelings of who you are.

I've actually heard horror stories of people in my position choosing to try testosterone therapy at the will of their families (usually) and instead of making things better, it made them worse. Instead of becoming more closely aligned with how you feel you are inside, the gap begins to widen. This tends to cause a lot MORE distress of course, instead of actually helping.


Q: How has your vision of self changed now that transition has a little time behind it?? Many people go into transition with a vision of self and then watch as their vision changes as transition progresses.
A: I’m not sure that my vision of self has changed since I started transition. I know that a lot of things have changed, even the clothes I wear has changed in some ways, but who I see myself as has not really changed.

Q: While coming out and living out that female (beautiful) woman you are, have you also come to an understanding like this about the fluidity and less rigidness of gender? I'm not just talking about identity, I'm talking about physically, spiritually, etc

A: I like to tell people that I’m not completely against the gender binary, as they call it. I was just born on the wrong side. That aside, I do understand other people do not feel completely male or completely female and feel like they’re somewhere in between or different at different times. I also have come to understand that it’s ok for me to do masculine things and still be a girl just as it would have been ok for me to do feminine things if I was a guy.

Q: You talked before about changing your id's. what about things like your high school dipolma and college degrees? can you change the name on those as well?

A: Yes I have changed my name on both High School and College transcripts and diplomas.

Q: When you have surgery, what will the physical changes actually be? Will the changes be mostly "below-the-belt" or will there be changes to your chest as well? Is there just one surgery or multiple small change surgeries?

A: There are many different surgeries that are available. There’s vaginoplasty/labiaplasty (below the belt as you referred to), breast augmentation, and feminine facial surgery. I am actually waiting 3 years for estrogen to grow my breasts naturally before I consider having breast augmentation. So I am actually only going in for the below-the-belt surgery and a tracheal shave, which is essentially minimizing the adam’s apple.

Q: How did you develop your female voice?

A: Well there are many tutorials, CDs, DVDs, Youtube videos out on the net that tell you how to develop a feminine voice. I tried a few of these and came to the conclusion that I needed professional help. I sought out a voice coach, Sandy Hirsch, and I saw her once a week for about 4 months and with her help I was able to learn how to speak more like a woman.

Q: Before you started your transition, did you think that you would become so pretty and feminine in such a short time?

A: Thanks for the compliment. I did not expect for things to change so rapidly. I mean I wanted them to but everything takes time but in some ways, things did happen very quickly.

Q: How long did it take for you to completely stop thinking of yourself as a guy?

A: This is an ongoiing process....I think living full time as a woman tends to start changing this and eventually you start dreaming as a girl too. It’s quite interesting. I’d say I consider myself a girl most of the time but once in a while I have a dysphoric moment where I feel trapped in a guy’s body and it does not feel good. Also I’ve still known to have the occasional dream where I am a guy or my past self.

Q: Which was harder? Coming out at work, or to your friends and family?

A: I’d have to say coming out to friends and family was probably harder....mostly because of how family took it. A lot of my family rejected me when I came out and that was and still is very hard. Also coming out to work was very much prepared ahead of time and I felt it was very well planned...not to mention I had already been living as a woman completely outside of work for 4 months beforehand.

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened to you when you first started going out as Debra?

A: It’s hard to say what the funniest thing was but one thing I found rather amusing was that so many people honestly didn’t know I wore a wig. When I got my hair styled, a number of people thought I had cut my hair! Another funny thing was being mistaken for my sister by both people at church and cousins at my grandmother’s funeral. It was quite cute.

Q: Besides fear ,What was the hardest thing to over come or get use to when you first started out as Debra?

A: I think the hardest thing to overcome was not having my family anymore. I was very close to my parents growing up and I even lived nearby when I got married. I spent a lot of time with my dad , weekly and even twice a week sometimes. So the hardest thing to overcome was not having them in my life anymore because they flat out disowned me....and frankly, I still haven’t quite overcome that.


Q: What was the hardest to unlearn?

A: I think the hardest thing was for me not to slouch...when sitting, when walking....sometimes I still do it but I’ve gotten better at walking with my head up and back straight.

Q: How did you decide on your name?

A: I actually searched for names that began with Jer to keep some familiarity and so people could use it as a transitional object and continue to call me Jer if they needed to.

Q: Silly question:-) how many stuffed animals do you have in your house right now?

A: 14

Q: Have you changed the legal side of the transition, (driver's lic, birth cert, etc) yet and how big of a process was that?

A: Yes I am legally female in every way except on my birth certificate. I have sent for my name change on my birth certificate so that I can get a passport which because of the new rules, I will be able to have set to female as well, but the gender on the BC won’t be changing until after surgery.

Q: What are your plans for the future, in general?

A: My plans are not extensive yet, over the next couple years, I’d like to finish up surgeries and the like and maybe do some traveling, preferably with a significant other. Otherwise, no real set in stone plans yet.


Q: What does it mean to be a woman?

A: There could be so many details to this answer but really it comes down to who you are. What does it mean for me that I’m a woman? How do I know I’m a woman? Because I just know that’s who I am. Everyone’s definition of “being” a woman could be different.

Q: Do you ever have to "de-transition" for any reason and if so why?

A: I have never felt the need to detransition. It has been suggested to me several times by family members for certain events and I just could not do it. On one hand, I hated the facade and on the other, I didn’t want anyone thinking that I could just detransition at the drop of a hat because someone felt uncomfortable...as if my transition was just this lifestyle choice that I could let go of for other people’s comfort.

Q: Have you ever considered being a writer?
A: It's kind of funny, I originally wanted to be an author of fantastic fiction back in elementary school. I used to write these crazy short stories back then. In my teenage years, my writing shifted to poetry which was used as a much needed outlet for my emotions but in high school I also did write a couple longer and more mature short stories.

Recently, I had an idea for a novel and I have been slowly putting it together. I have 4 chapters written so far but it is slow going and I am running out of plot. We'll see if it goes anywhere.

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