Day 26) Do you feel comfortable answering questions about being trans if say your teacher/friend/stranger asked you?
When people I know who knew me before or already know of my past ask me questions, I'm very open. Also if people ask me via my blog and such, I'm also open to it. However when strangers ask me questions, I am first of all upset because it's none of their business but also, I don't really want to talk about these issues much anymore. They're a thing of the past for me.
My family doctor has been very supportive since I came out but since he did not have experience with HRT, I ended up with another doctor who I see more often for HRT maintenance. All is well with both of them. I've seen a few different doctors for various reasons over the past couple years and never really had any problems.
Day 24) Who is your favorite LGBT actor/musician/director/artist etc and why?
Well I had to look thru lists of LGBT actors/actresses before I came up with someone. I guess it would be Lady GaGa. For one thing, I love her music and also she has a definite don't care attitude expressing her belief that you should live your life....because it's YOUR life. I love it.
I think the main negative stereotype is that trans people are mentally ill. Most who believe this just can't wrap their heads around the idea that anyone could feel a different gender than the one they're born with. The reality is there are many different perspectives about everything in life. Just because one person doesn't fit what a majority of other people fit into, doesn't mean they're mentally ill.
Day 22) Do you feel being trans holds you back from your career choice?
Not at all. Although I am definitely a minority as a female in my career path of Software Development. Add modeling to that and if you didn't know about my trans background, I am kind of an enigma. A nerdy/geeky software developing model is pretty unusual ;)
Cisgender is such a huge label. Trying to say that all people who are not trans are in one category just doesn't sit right with me. I've met too many of these people who have different views to try to group them all together. It's not us and them. We all are human beings.
Day 20) Do you want to be a parent why or why not?
I've struggled with this off and on my whole life. I can see that being a parent is a lifestyle in its own and a totally different path than not being a parent. At this point in time, I don't see myself going down that path. My boyfriend is older and doesn't think it would be fair to any children we could have and frankly, if I can't get pregnant, I'm just not interested.
Day 19) If your religious how do your views effect being trans if your not religious what about your family religions?
I grew up Evangelical Christian and before officially coming out, I had to come to terms with the fact that I no longer fit in with my parent's beliefs. As I transitioned, my eyes were opened to the world and the many unique individuals within it. I came to the conclusion that there couldn't be only one right way to live your life with so many unique individuals and cultures and upbringings.
Nowadays I consider myself Unitarian; that is I believe we all have our paths to God, the universe, or whatever you believe in.
Day 18) How do you feel about the trans laws where you live?
My state has some good laws in place but in a lot of cases, more important than laws , are how people treat you. Some places may not have laws in place but people treat you well whereas others may have laws and yet they still dont treat you well. When I came out, I really didn't have any issues where people in everyday interactions treated me wrongly or violently or anything like that.
I may have just been lucky though as others have and do have problems but this still seems to be one of the most liberal places you can live.
Gosh I have a whole playlist of Trans-related songs that mean something to me. Watch any of my special videos and you'll come across the main ones. I also suppose these aren't really 'rock' haha.
-- Defying Gravity - For me this song is symbolic in many ways. Transition is a long and painful process that most wont ever have to go through. In some ways, it may seem like you are defying laws of nature, defying your past, defying those around you who say you can't do it. For me it was all of those things.
-- The Real Me - This is actually a religious song but it translates very well for transition. Before transition and even during it, a lot of people won't see the real you. Even when transition is somewhat over, some people will refuse to see the real you. Yet there will always be those who see you for who you are.
-- She's a butterfly - Transitioning from caterpillar to butterfly. Especially significant for MTF. I imagine that FTM dont want to be compared to a butterfly but I could be wrong ;) My adopted mom said I really blossomed at one point and she refers to this song.
-- Reflection - This one for me was more of a song before transition. It was looking in the mirror and seeing a boy when I knew i was a girl...and knowing that not only was the mirror not showing the right reflection but nobody else was seeing it either.
Day 15) How have you embraced your trans identity?
Well I think in a lot of ways, I am over it. I'm post-op and post-transition and I'm just living now. This blog helps me reconnect with the community and share my experiences with others without letting it impact my everyday life.
Day 14 - What are some of your passing tips or things you do to pass?
- Voice is huge. I saw a voice therapist within the first few months of transition and without that, passing for me would have been much more difficult - Getting real hair growing and stopping the wig really helped too - HRT was a huge factor of course - Confidence is prob one of the #1 factors however, next to voice. When you know you're a woman and it doesnt matter whether you pass or not and you just ARE.....people dont look twice at you....vs if you feel guilty and wary, that really is given off in your mannerisms and such - Makeup was a huge thing for me in passing...just minimal makeup but something. Nowadays I dont need it in certain cases but still prefer to present myself with a minimal look when leaving the house
I've never had issues in the women's bathroom, thankfully. I remember being pre-op and worrying about the sound my pee made when it hit the water lol. I don't think most people even pay attention to that though.
Day 12) What are you doing to stay healthy for transitioning mentally and physically?
Well even post-transition, I still see my doctor fairly regularly to check blood levels and such. I also see a dermatologist yearly and try to get a physical examination at least every two years. My naturopath physician has me on a few different herbs and vitamins that I take regularly and for the last year or so, I've been exercising and eating very healthy.
Mentally and emotionally, I'd say I write a lot, I live for my passions, I love those around me, and I try to share my joy and sorrows with those who are close to me.
When I had dysphoria, I usually managed it by writing about it or talking about it. Many a poem was written back before transition as I struggled with the inner turmoil within myself. When I came out, transition was all I wanted to talk about and now that I look back on that, it was helpful in processing any dysphoria I experienced.
Nowadays, I don't find myself with a lot of dysphoria. I think the only real piece of envy left when it comes to other women is long hair and mine will most likely be where I want it to be in the next two years. So I suppose the whole process works. =)
Day 10 - What are some of your fears in regards to being trans?
I suppose the number one worry is that I'll be treated differently because I'm trans. Nowadays, I just want to be seen and treated like the woman I am, nothing more, nothing less. I don't want to be seen as 'special' or 'different'. I just want to blend in and live my life. And thus far, I have.
When I first came out however, I had many other worries. Transition in a society where it's not understood, let alone accepted, brings many fears. Fears of losing one's employment, of losing one's family, and even of losing one's life. Thankfully, the only one I had to worry about was losing some family but my livelihood, living space, and employment stayed by me. Some are not so lucky.
Day 9: What is something positive about being trans?
There are many negative things when it comes to being trans and in fact, most of us often wish we had never been born as such and instead just been born as the correct sex/gender in the first place. That being said, it does provide a special perspective of the world that most other people will never experience. I think it also means we appreciate a lot of the little things that other people take for granted.
Day 8: How do you deal with being read mis-genderd in the beginning of transitioning by people?
I suppose when I first started, I was timid. When someone misgendered me (mostly over the phone), I tended to frown and most often cry afterward. At some point, I started speaking up and correcting people, especially over the phone and when my voice got better, I worried about it less and less anyway.
Later on in transition, especially at work, if people did it by accident, I just let it slide. Sometimes you can tell when someone doesn't mean to be hurtful, they may just have an old image of you in their head and they may not be referring to you directly or they could be talking about you in the third person.
Nowadays, I'm pretty comfortable that I can brush such things off if they happen. People often misgender everyone around them on accident and at some point you start to realize that's all that's really happening and you try not to get offended. ;)
For most of my life, I looked up to my Dad. He was my role model and hero in a lot of ways. He was patient, kind, friendly, cheerful most of the time, and tried to hold to what he believed was his moral code. Since transitioning, a lot of my views have changed and in some ways, my Dad holding to those same views and beliefs that I looked up to him for, now disappoint me. Yet I can still find positive things in some of the qualities I am frustrated with as well.
For example, my brother and I agree that Dad lets Mom get her way and/or push him around too much. Of course there are compromises to be made in any relationship but we think he may compromise his own happiness a little too much. That being said, it's this type of behavior that reminds me of his general loving approach to others. He always approached us children in a loving way, even when disciplining. He did have a temper and when he lost it with us, he always apologized later. When I had girlfriends in the past, even when nobody else in the family liked or approved of them, he still approached them in a loving way. He was also never too man enough to stop giving us hugs. I miss him a lot.
In my first job out of college, I met a man who I took a liking to. He approached situations much differently than my other coworkers. He was an atheist and even though he knew I had very fundamental christian beliefs, he respected them and we often argued different points. At one point he changed my belief forever that atheists have no morals. I tell people now, one of the most moral men I've known is an atheist. Now that my own beliefs are not quite where they used to be, I can appreciate him even more.
My brother is an actor, an artist really. He lives for new chances to play characters in productions that allow him to express himself in ways he could not otherwise do. It's very obvious to me that acting is his passion and though he works a thankless job, in his free time, he's constantly looking for his next chance to follow his passion. He's lived this passion since he was very young. I remember in middle school, he and his friends would make videos that often would get played for the whole school. This type of activity continued through high school and after graduation as well.
Sadly, my family did not really understand what it meant to be an artist. My parents constantly pushed him to move towards college graduation and a 9-5 job of some sort, knowing it would provide the same stability they experience in their own lives. In some ways, their intentions were good; they merely wanted a good life for him in the only way they knew possible. On the other hand, I grew up following in their footsteps, going to college, getting a good job, getting married, and buying a house. I look back on how much he must have been compared to me in a negative light and I feel guilty. I'm sure they said things like 'why can't you be more like your older brother?' in their heads if not aloud.
This caused my brother to struggle over the years. I never understood it until I came out and found myself in the same light (or dimmer) as he was all of those years. I have to admire his strength for being able to continue in an environment where everything he did was always wrong. Mind you, I'm not saying he never did anything wrong, we all make mistakes, but he was overly criticized. And now he's still following his dreams. He's accomplished so much in the last couple years and I've been so very proud to be a part of his life and to call him brother.
Finally, I wanted to talk about one more person I look up to, my adopted mother. She turns 60 this month and has had quite the life. She grew up in a time period where being gay was more frowned upon than not and being transsexual was completely ghastly. She did all of the things she was expected to do as a 'boy' and then a 'man' by getting married and having children and providing for them. There were times growing up where she considered transition and decided against it because the world was not ready for it and neither were her children. She struggled with people who took advantage of her and didn't allow her to even consider what her true passions were, let alone strive for them.
When she finally came out and transitioned in her late 50s, her wife divorced her and her biological children pushed her away. Because of her age and health issues, her transition has had to be one accomplished without the power of estrogen and up until recently she has only been able to consider minimal surgical corrections as well. In a lot of ways because of the way 50 years of her life were led, she has to go through a lot of emotional growth. She has also had issues financially for the past few years. Yet even with all of these things going against her, she has still been able to stand up and say "I am a woman" everyday. I've always looked up to her for that because I know that if I had been able to wait and transitioned at a much later time in my life, it would have been so much more difficult. So I'm definitely proud of her.
Day 6: Who was the first person you told about being trans?
Early on when I was crossdressing, before I'd realized transition was in my future, the first person I told about the feelings I felt and the fact that I was dressing as a woman sometimes was ironically a close pastor friend.
He actually sat down with me and my wife and listened to what I had to say and then tried to relate to what I was feeling as much as he could. Instead of telling me what was right or wrong in his eyes, he suggested another way of approaching the issue at the time. I remember feeling amazed about that meeting especially when comparing it to other horrendous meetings with other men from the same church.
Later on I was even more amazed when the same pastor friend continued his friendship during my transition. It seems he had experience with so-called friends judging him when his own wife divorced him in the past. Because of that, he understood that there is always another side to every story and judging others is never the answer. To this day, we don't hang out often but we have on occasion. I'm grateful for his continued friendship.
Day 5: Are you active in the trans community or LGBT community?
Yes, in my own way. Since I live a life of stealth womanhood, I'm not out and proud persay but I do maintain this blog via my alias, Debra. I also attend one of the local support groups once in a while. It's not much but being able to tell my story seems to help others, even if it's not an everyday part of my life.
Day 4: How did your family take it when you came out/ if you are not out why aren’t you?
Well as many readers know already, when I came out my parents didn't take it so well. Because of that and as time went by, we've officially become estranged with no real timeline for ever reconnecting. My sister lives with them and seems to have taken the same route as them in how to handle my transition.
As for my brother, it took him some time but I think after he saw how positive my life became when I transitioned, he started to understand and he's been very supportive since. My aunt and uncle are also supportive.
That being said, since coming out, I've accumulated many 'family members of choice' and I'm very thankful for all of them as well as close friends.
Yes of course. I've been outed before I was ready, I've outed myself when I was ready, and I've been semi-outed off and on since transition was behind me. Some of the times were appropriate, other times seemed to upset me very much.
There have been times recently where I thought my life would be over if I was ever outed. I live a happy life of stealth nowadays and I enjoy the fact that nobody knows and that the issue or subject never really comes up anymore. That being said, I think I've come to a point of understanding that if there was such an 'outing', my life would go on. Sure things could change and yet a lot of things probably wouldn't. I and everyone else involved would go on with their lives.
Still I definitely prefer to live in a world where people do not need to know about my drastically different past.
Day 2: How did you choose your name, and what names were you thinking about using and why?
When I first started experimenting with crossdressing, my ex came up with a random name and I went with that for the first few months as an alias online. When I finally decided I needed to transition, I felt like I needed a name that was a little more close to home and so I came up with my legal name by using part of my old name and adding an ending that made it more femininely appropriate.
Finally, after I had GCS, I realized I wanted better anonymity so I came up with a more random and more generic name to use online for this blog. And that's where I'm at now with Debra Mckenzie.
I came across the 30 day challenge recently and then the trans 30 day challenge and thought it may be helpful for some readers if I went through it for the month of March. Even though transition is pretty much over for me, this may be a good way to resurrect some of my past for others in similar situations to gain insight on. I may not be right on time with days and such but I'll do my best.
Day 1: When did you realize the term trans* referred to you?
Well there are a few different answers to this for me so I'll bullet them out:
- When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I told a close female friend of mine that I wished I was a girl. It's something I remember saying and yet I never let my mind or heart take it anywhere. It got buried along with many other tiny events like this growing up. To listen to more about that, see my Autotransography .
- I somehow have the date of February 21, 2009 in my mind for when I stumbled upon a web comic that involved a boy being accidentally transformed into a girl. Reading that comic triggered something inside of me, things buried from years past. I couldn't get enough of it and yet I didn't understand why it grasped my attention so fiercely. At the same time, a part of me couldn't understand why the boy in the comic was trying so hard to be transformed back into a boy. This eventually led to experimentation with crossdressing, some attempts at reparative therapy, and a lot of research and soul searching on my part.
- Mid-July of the same year, I had what you might call a revelation. That was probably a turning point in my life as I went from innocently exploring crossdressing to realizing I might indeed be transsexual. Battling depression and religion over the next month or so, I was finally able to push forward and transition.
So I guess all of those things had an element of when I realized I was trans.