Monday, September 17, 2012

Blogging about....blogging, friends, passing..

I've had this blog going for a little over 4 months now and I have also been reading other blogs so I think I am learning a few things about what it takes to make this work.  I am also open to ideas and constructive criticism from readers so if any of y'all have any ideas, suggestions etc. please drop me a line or include them in the comments here.  Comments should now be open to anyone and I really love hearing for you.  One thing I am curious about is how y'all like the font size (it seems larger than most blogs) and color, backgrounds etc.  I also learned on my last entry that I can include pictures within the text and that is something I will do as much as possible but not necessarily every time.  Its been encouraging to get so many views in such a short time and even quite a few followers and believe me this thing is just getting going so definitely stay tuned, I hope to make this blog better and better.

I think the biggest things I have learned so far is that blogs are better written off the cuff and not being such a planned, calculated effort.  All of my entries have been written that way but the same day I wrote my last post I wrote another and intended to wait a week and then add it.  I know some bloggers speak of writing several posts ahead of time or working on several at the time then posting them when they are ready.  Well, I have to admit having a problem reading my own material and if I plan it too much or edit too much I am just never satisfied with it.  Honestly, last week I planned to just edit my pre written post for spelling and grammar and post it and I could never bring myself to re read it.  Then this weekend I had a router problem and lost computer access and today I sat down to edit and post that pre written entry and when I started reading it I just hated it, didn't make it through 2 paragraphs.  It seems the best thing I can do right now is write a post, immediately go through it with spell check and give it a quick read for grammar errors and post it.  I am not saying they will be error free and English teachers reading this could probably tear it apart but it is a blog: its raw, from the heart and off the cuff.  I think that is the best spirit of a blog, like when people live blog an event.  It's happening, its now and its posted. 

One other thing I had set a hard goal of posting one entry per week and while I do intend to post a general average of one post a week, I don't think its best to stick to that as a hard rule.  My posting is going to be limited by my time availability (which is good now but could change), creative inspiration and interesting events to blog about.  Right now the biggest limiting factor is my creative inspiration and I might go longer than a week without any real inspiration or be inspired to post a couple of entries or more in a short period of time.  I think this will be a better blog if I don't feel confined to any particular schedule and have a little more creative licence.  Bear with me on that because this will be a very active blog.


So I wanted to mention a couple of online friends this week and the first one is Lucy from Taunton, England.  She has been inspirational to me going as far back as last year and she is also one that had advised me to keep my blog entries regular, like one a week.  While I don't know if the once a week schedule will work to the letter for me, the regularity and activity level of the blog is something she definitely advised me on and I think will work well here.  There are a lot of blogs online and I speak mainly about transition blogs, that will go weeks or even months between posts and they tend to lose people's interests.  I realize a lot of things happen and we are talking about people that are by definition going through major changes in their lives so I see how that can happen, however I do not intend to let that happen here.  Tammy World is always turning and there always should be something to write about.  If I feel I need to take a break for awhile for whatever reason, I will just announce I am taking a break and not leave people hanging.  So Lucy is someone I admire a lot and she is in many ways at about the same level of transition as I am.  I think it was about the same time last spring or so that we were both coming to the realization that in order to go on with life and have any meaning or peace with ourselves we Had to transition.  Changing one's gender/sex is not something someone should do because they want to or because they think it would be cool, fun, or nicer on the other side.  You do it because you hit a wall and Need to transition, as my therapist says, to survive.  So because Lucy lives in the UK and the medical system is completely different over there she is having to take steps in a different order to get to the same place.  This summer she transitioned to full time female and legally changed her name and had to come out and transition on a job she already had for several years.  Now that she is full time she is waiting for the system to allow her begin hormone therapy, and all they have done so far is evaluate her to make she isn't delusional.  That is causing hardships in some ways but hopefully when she can get medical treatment the state will pick up all or most of the bill, and this can be really nice for those that cannot afford it.  Lucy has mentioned me and this blog on her website/blog and has a link for this blog there.  Her SO (female significant other ) also has a blog and it is very interesting seeing things from a partner's perspective.  Here is a link for Lucy's website and Amanda's blogger site and I am positive anyone reading this will want to check out those sites and follow them as well.  She has given me permission to mention her here so I may include updates that happen in her transition here from time to time as well.

The other ts I wanted to mention in this post is my good friend Pam and she lives in the USA out west.  She does not have a blog to link to but I intend to post a lot here over time about her transition and she supports that as a way of sharing and giving back.  Those are my main reasons for doing this blog anyway and I am happy to report on Pam because she has really been an inspiration to me I think is a good example of when your bell is rung, as they say, and you are going to have to transition in order to maintain sanity and survive, you just go for it full steam ahead.  We are the same age even though she considers me her little sister because she is like 10 months older than me.  We ran into each other on a forum site last fall and she was in therapy at the time and I think I was just getting up the nerve to reach out to a therapist.  Every step of the way she has been about one step ahead of me and believe me she sets a good example because she has just gone for it on every step of her transition so far and not let fear or life circumstances hold her back in any way.  It's never easy and she has gone through a lot of pain and some turmoil but she has not let any of that hold her back or slow her down.  I am having to really put up an effort to keep up with her but believe me Pam ,it helps me a lot having you there and being my big sister.  In the last couple of months she has sold her house, separated from her wife of many years, come out at work and is two weeks from today she will be in Guadalajara, Mexico for FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) with Dr. Lazaro Cardenas.

It is a bold move to go to another country or anywhere really for medical procedures, especially something like facial surgery.  This doctor has an excellent reputation however, and there are several others on the forum site that have had outstanding results down there and I even know one girl local to me that has been there.  I really wish I could go down there with her because one person can stay free with another patient and I would let that doctor do the minor FFS that I want eventually and that is a hairline advancement and brow lift.  Those are 2 soft tissue procedures and I don't think I am really up for any major bone work surgery.  Luckily I have been blessed with fairly feminine features although I know I could benefit from some of those procedures.  They do involve quite a recovery time and Pam is ready for it and all that is also quite expensive.  This is a tough woman and she will make it through just fine, this is the type of example that she sets for those of us who feel the need for facial surgery in order to be comfortable in a full time role.  What she is doing is also quite expensive and had she not been able to sell her home in just a few short months, getting close to what she wanted for it, doing this now may not have been possible.  I think Pam would still have found a way but it would be more of a hardship.  The 2 relatively minor procedures I want could be done down there for just around $3,000 I believe but most will spend well over $20,000 there for full FFS.  This doctor does good work from all reports we get here and similar procedures in the USA can easily run twice as much.  So Pam will have this surgery right at her birthday (making her a year older and again my Big sister) and then return home for a few weeks recovery time, then back to her career job that she has held for years as a new person with her name legally changed.  She has not been going out in society as female as long as I have and its still relatively new to me even, so this will be a big adjustment for her but she is just the person to do it.  She has been determined and moved ahead boldly and with no fear on everything so far and that's why I know she will be fine.  I plan to include a lot about her progress so my readers can follow someone who is taking a slightly different path to transition and because I really feel that her life can serve as an inspiration and example to others as it has been to me. 


Out shopping in my hometown...

The other topic I wanted to cover today was the topic of the lost blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago and wanted to rework and that is the phenomenon I have begun experiencing and that is being read as female and called ma'am in public when when I am not presenting female or fully female.  It is fascinating to me and I am sure as time goes on this will evolve even more and I will post more on it.  Basically I have never had any trouble being called sir when I am out and about presenting female and this goes back a couple of years when I first started venturing out outside the community and into the "real world."  Part of that may have been because I did not really go out until I had developed decent skills with makeup  and dressing, I had good mannerisms and at least a gender neutral if not yet passable voice.  I will not say I never get "read" or "clocked" as I am sure I do but I do present myself with confidence and in a very female way.  In fact the only time in all my times out that I have been called sir when wearing wig, makeup, and the whole nine yards was at a LGBT club this spring.  The place that I first went because people there are supposed to be so accepting and supportive is the very place some drunk bumped into me and said, "excuse me ma'am, I mean sir".  He had it right the first time but perhaps he read me as a drag queen and many of them identify as male and don't care to be called ma'am.  Either way that same night the club was crowded with gay males and I noticed even genetic females at the bar were having trouble with the bartenders getting served as was I.  I was treated fairly rudely by a couple of the bartenders so that experience has sort of soured me on going to those clubs. They have become boring anyway and the only reason I would ever want to go is to socialize with friends that are there.  The night I am speaking of I had met a couple of friends there but they were both there with dates and left earlier than I did.  I should have left then too, I do have a boyfriend and am not looking for a man.  I jsut had not been there long and wanted a couple more drinks.  Even if I was looking for a man a gay bar is the last place a trans woman should go to find one and a friend told me that back in 2008 when I first went there.

So except for that anomaly I never had trouble being called sir or treated like a guy when out no matter how people may read me.  I have friends that are full time and get called sir all the time so I know I am doing something right but I consider myself a work in progress and I still want to improve every aspect of my presentation until maybe one day no one will ever know I was not born female, if that day ever arrives.  So, this spring after letting my hair grow out since Christmas I started going out more and more with a more androgynous presentation some of the time.  Last winter, except when absolutely necessary, I pretty much stopped wearing any male clothes when out.  Even most of the times I do have to present male, like when I go see or go out with my parents, I wear female clothes that do not readily look like female clothes at least as far as I know.  Basically this is female jeans that are not flashy or obvious and shirts like polo shirts for women and shoes like white female tennis shoes with no obvious marks on them.  I had been moving toward wearing similar things even further back than that but when 2012 arrived I left behind anything male that I did not feel was essential and pushing my limits more and more on that as time went on.  It has been sort of an evolution since then and by spring I was starting to incorporate more and more makeup into my everyday look and wearing more obvious female clothes when not having to work or see my parents or the rare old friend.  The last regular old friend was dropped by spring anyway and at home I have been pretty much female all the time all year and all the time since spring. 

At my home...August 2, 2012

So what all this is leading up to is how I was/am perceived by the general public when presenting myself in this more androgynous or neither female nor male state.  I started going to therapy In December pretty much male except for female jeans and tennis shoes and kept adding something each time as my hair also grew out until in June my therapist said I was passable.  She may have been being generous but I think I was close anyway.  I did go to a party at her house a  couple of months into therapy looking my best and she was impressed by my presentation then.  It's just something I wanted to evolve into, a transition instead of a transformation and it has been my life project in 2012.  I think in May about the time I started hormones I left any pretense of a male presentation behind, again unless it was absolutely necessary.  In all this time since I started that presentation I have only been called sir twice and that was once by a store clerk back in May who called me sir then corrected it to ma'am, and once by a man walking by me in a crowded place.  The real phenomenon I wanted to discuss here was being called ma'am when I am in that less than total female presentation with no make up ,or possibly androgynous presentation.

This first started happening to me this spring and it happened a few times before I even started HRT.  I was feminizing with my natural hormones, growing my hair and having electrolysis but the first few times this happened it caught me off guard but also made my day.  It was one day in March I was walking my dogs with my ex (I am now calling her ex even though we are legally married and live together, subject of another blog post) and my neighbor saw me walk by out of the corner of his eye and called me by my wife's name.  He turned to me fully and corrected himself but all I said to him was "hi" and walked inside.  He spoke to my ex when she walked by a minute later and apologized to her for it but in actuality he had made my day.  Another time that stands out from that same time frame was being called ma'am at a drive through window.  I think that was the second public incident except for my neighbor but the amazing thing about that time was that I had not shaved in a couple days in preparation for electrolysis.  I know my facial hair was not as noticeable by then because of hair removal but again that made my day as well as fascinated me.  This started happening more and more all through spring and summer but it did not and does not happen all the time.  It just happens more and more often as time goes by.  This summer it started happening a lot and I remember telling my ex as we were going through a drive through a drive through window about a man giving away free newspapers and signing up people for subscriptions that called me ma'am as I walked into a grocery store.  That time I had even been wearing male shorts and had not yet shaved but he said "ma'am can I offer you a newspaper".  As I told her about it the clerk at the drive through handed me our food and said "thank you ma'am."  Was it the hormones, electrolysis, hair, shirt I had on or possibly a combination?  Guys would be offended but I was liking it :)  A couple of weeks ago we went through a drive through window with my dogs and I was not using my female voice at all.  I made the order and the clerk said "please pull forward sir" but when I got to the window she called me ma'am twice, and this was another day I had on a female t shirt but had not shaved and was earing no makeup.

So to wrap this post up I want to touch on the experiences of being called ma'am that trip me out the most, but in a good way.  This is when, usually out with my parents and trying to present male that I still get called ma'am.  I don't think they have noticed it yet and it has not happened too many times but it has been happening since summer and there have a few such incidents recently.  One day a couple weeks ago I was out with my dad and went to the post office.  I stood in line to get some stamps and he talked to someone in the lobby he knew.  Yes we do run into people they know.  I don't know many people here and that goes back a long time maybe by design but at one time my parents knew a Lot of people in town. Today as people have aged and died out, not so many but some.  I was waiting in line and the postal clerks were being very polite to everyone they were dealing with, calling everyone ma'am and sir and being very nice.  Even when out with my dad I have gotten to the point I really hate to be called sir ( it is actually one reason I practically shut down and stopped seeing many people for work), so I braced myself to hear it when called up.  I had on no ear rings, hair combed back behind my ears and wearing jeans and my polo shirt and the clerk got to me and said "yes ma'am how can I help you".  On the way out he called me neither ma'am nor sir so I don't know exactly what his final impression was.  I sometimes wonder if my breast development is starting to become too obvious in these shirts and when I really try to hide it now I wear my old male polo shirts that fit a little bigger and are a little thicker, even though I hate to wear them and all I have is 2 left.  After leaving the post office we went to a car wash and the attendant came up to the window initially calling me ma'am but not loudly, I don't think dad heard, and he said "thank you sir" as he told us to pull through, but dad had talked to him and I will hope he was talking to him. This is happening a Lot now even with them.  Saturday my mom had taken me to Wal Mart and parked close to the front in a handicap park while I ran in to pick up a cart full of drinks.  Pushing it out the door, the door lady came up behind me and said "ma'am can I see your receipt".  I thanked her with my female voice and walked out and I don't know what her final perception of me was.

So this is what is going on in Tammy World these days.  It seems I am having an increasingly hard time passing male even though without makeup or obvious female clothes or trying to make my hair look female I still don't completely see it.  I see changes but I still too much of my old self to believe it.  There must be subtle cues involved in how people read someone as male or female and this is the subject of fascination for me. I am sure electrolysis and hormones as well as longer hair are the main causes but especially on the hormones part just what is it that is getting me read, at least initially, as female.  Is it facial changes, breast lumps in my shirt, skin changes, just what is it?  I am not unhappy about it at all and every time it happens it makes my day.  The less female I am trying to look the more it makes my day when I do get called ma'am.  I still get called sir plenty in this mode, probably still most of the time when I am trying to look more male but it may be getting close to a 50/50 tipping point.  I hope to be at 100% one day and get to a point I can just walk out wearing whatever, not shaving and no makeup and Expect to be treated like a lady.  On a final thought I had to run out to Wal Mart Saturday night when I was not expecting to go out.  I was already wearing a ladies t shirt and shorts and colorful tennis shoes.  All I did was put on a bra, a little 5 minutes of makeup and fluff up and spray my hair (a trick I learned from a gg last week that is helping me control it) and headed out.  Not only was I called ma'am I don't think the clerks knew and I went to 4 stores I felt so confident.  I may have been read as trans but people really don't look for that here in this small city.  I did not look my best but I looked ok and looking around Wal Mart I actually think I looked better than most of the women there, no offense Wal Mart shoppers.  At least I blended in and at the end of the day that is may main goal when going out most of the time, to just blend in and be accepted as any other normal female.  Tammy World is becoming a more amenable place all the time.

                                          Ya'll come back now, ya hear?