Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hello World Part 1 : Halloween

It's Halloween in America and it's a party!  All Hallow's Eve (or Halloween) has become one of the biggest adult party days in the USA.  I remember trick or treating as kid and enjoying that aspect of Halloween but I have only been to Halloween parties or worn costumes as an adult for the last couple of years.  This year Halloween falls on a Wednesday and the previous Saturday is when most of the parties happened.  For the second year in a row I went with my boyfriend Mitch to the Carolina Meeting Place Halloween party in Raleigh.  A year ago this was our first party attended together and since we did meet through this Yahoo group, it was a special event for us as well as the final celebration of our first anniversary.  Now we are working on year 2! :)  Last year I went as cougar and he was my "tamer" (yes I am older than him and yes he has tamed me quite well) and this year we went as pirates with me as his wench.  As always, we spent the night in the hotel where the party is held and it was great to see and party with all our friends from the group and as always, new people showed up and it's great meeting new people, cd/tg and others.  My good new friend from communication class, Donna, even stopped by after a local support group meeting and this was her first time attending a party downtown.  A good friend from Facebook and Vanity Club sister, Jessica Ann, came up from South Carolina with her tg girlfriend/roommate and they had a blast at the party and a club dowtown afterwards so I think they will become regulars to the CMP parties now. 

Halloween has an important and interesting history to me and one that is fairly recent.  In 2008 I moved to my current home in this city from the trailer in the country and began recovering from my hard drug addiction and a very messed up period in my life.  I began to realize that I could not hide the female inside me any longer and in order to have any sanity in my life I was going to have to move forward and progress towards what would eventually become my transition from male to female.  The first step in that progress was something I never, ever wanted to do and that is come out so that I could be free to be myself.  The first person I had to come out to was my wife because we lived in the same house and I could not go on hiding myself from her, mainly because I could not stand to be so limited anymore.  The coming out process will not be complete until I tell my parents at the end of this year but its beginnings do revolve around the Halloween holiday.

In 2008 I did not have any plan for coming out and spent all the time I could working on my look and even got several makeovers which gave me a chance to get out, interact with others and make some friends.  The next three pictures show a little of how my own look evolved from 2008 to 2010, even though I had better pictures from 2008 and 2009 taken after makeovers.  My new career afforded me the freedom and time to travel around during weekdays and of course I relished every minute I had when my wife would leave on some weekends so that I could spend time at home as myself or go hang out with friends at their homes.  I did not feel confident enough then to go out in public at all except driving to and from places and that in itself was exciting and a little scary at the time.  By the time 2009 got here I needed a plan to come out to my wife.  Really I needed the courage but first I needed a plan.  The plan I came up with was to come out to her on Halloween and to do so by getting "dressed" in my little guest home here.  When she came over for the night to hang out and watch tv, as she usually did around 8PM then, I would "surprise" her with my new look.  I talked to a Lot of people online about the situation, getting their opinions and listening to others' experiences.  Some told me I could Never tell her and I knew that was not going to work, I had had enough of the secrecy.  Some told me to just do it but to dress and do makeup in such a way so that it looked like I had never done it before.  I did not have my look perfected anywhere close to where I thought it needed to be but she could tell it was not my first time putting together a full female look.  Some told me this was not a bad idea but I really needed to sit her down first and have a discussion, not have her shocked by walking in on me and seeing a female me sitting there.

          November 2008                                                October 2009

Of the three ideas the latter certainly made the most sense but how in the world would I ever be able to tell my wife about myself.  Just opening my mouth and starting a conversation like that is the hardest part and ultimately I chickened out and Halloween 2009 passed by with that opportunity lost.  Of course I could have done that anytime, I was just using Halloween as a catalyst or excuse, but I am a chronic procrastinator.  That was especially true back then and getting high all the time on pot and hiding from my problems was something I was very adept at.  I am so glad I gave that stuff up this year, finally.  2010 arrived and I decided to tell her as soon as I could but before I knew it, it was the end of summer and Halloween was again approaching.  So I started the process by doing something that always works in these situations (Not), throwing out hints.  I managed to tell her that I wanted to be Kim Kardashian for Halloween or perhaps Khloe Kardashian.  She knew I loved the reality television shows about the Kardashians (even though she hates them) and Khloe gets kidded a lot about being a "tranny" because she is tall, bigger boned and has a deeper voice than her sisters.  To my surprise she didn't freak out but she did wonder why I wanted dress up for Halloween when we had never celebrated it before.  I think it was August when I first brought it up and over the next few weeks I kept mentioning Halloween and it brought up a few discussions such as her telling me I didn't have the hair for it and I told her I could always get a wig.  She seemed to be ok with that idea and that's a good thing because I already had about 7 wigs.  The more I mentioned it the more confidence I got that I could pull it off and that she would not freak out on me.  Deep down my greatest fear about coming out to her in any way really was that it would somehow get back to my parents.  I had lived in the shadow of  Mt. Everest all my life and I still had no idea that I could Ever climb that ominous mountain, which was and is my greatest fear.     {as stated in previous posts, Mt. Everest is my descriptive term for coming out to my parents}

                                                      May 2010

October 2010 arrived and I decided that I was not simply going to dress up at home and let my wife see my female side, that would be downplaying the importance of who I really am by making a show of how much "being Tammy" means to me.  I still intended to "dress" for her that night but I knew I needed to have a deeper conversation with her first.  One cloudy Sunday afternoon in mid October we loaded the dogs into the truck and rode the 30 miles of country roads to the tiny town that she was born in.  I take her there occasionally to visit the graves of her parents and family members.  Its usually a time when she is very relaxed and in a good mood.  On the way back I still had not opened my mouth to start "The conversation" so I took a detour farther into the country and she was feeling good so we decided to ride awhile.  That's pretty country up there, northeast of where I live, with lots of big farmland and forests and very few houses scattered along the roads.  There is not much traffic, if any, and its as relaxing and quite a spot as I can easily drive to from here.  At some point, miraculously, I opened my mouth and said "There is something I have to tell you about myself..."  What I said afterwards was a blur  but I remember starting with childhood experiences and worked my way up to the point of the present and told her that I was crossdressing at the house when she was not home and that I wanted to continue that and do it even when she was home and even go out during the day and at night. 

Her reaction initially was much better than I had imagined it would be.  We had a discussion but it didn't get too deep and not at all negative and one thing that really surprised me was that she didn't know already.  I thought she would at least be suspicious because of certain things she had probably seen on my compuer screen or found around the house.  Turns out she was about as oblivious as I am about certain things and told me she really had no idea.  A testimony to the how intimate we were at the time is that she had not noticed that I was shaving my legs and body and had been regularly for a couple of years.  I thought she had certainly noticed that, and other things, and just not said anything about them but apparently she had not.  The morning following our conversation she awoke and was in a bad mood and seemed mad about the whole situation.  Whenever she is unhappy about something I always hear about it in the morning.  We had quite a few more conversations over the next days and weeks as I tried to explain myself to her best I could and also negotiate some kind of rights to express myself freely at home and go out occasionally as myself.  I don't know why I deferred to her for such "rights" as our intimate relations consisted of oral sex only 3 or 4 times a year maximum, she did not work or bring any money into the home and was not even that active in cooking or cleaning.  Besides all that we jsut weren't very close and didn't get along very well.  Its about the same way now with her except that the limited intimacy stopped completely when I came out to her, so the last time we ever had any contact in that way was August of 2010. 

From that point on I was honest with her about myself except for one thing.  She kept asking me about men and kept saying that since I saw myself as a woman didn't I want to date/have sex with men?  I consistently lied and told her no but when she asked me about other women I told her no also, the truth.  I guess she thought I was going to be asexual and with no social/dating life going forward but she kept asking so she was not satisfied with my answers or could sense I was not being truthful.  In part 2 of this story I will address how her and I have evolved over the ensuing couple of years and how all the truth finally came out.  Part 2 will also go into how in 2011 she became comfortable around me at home presenting female and began to, I believe, accept me as woman and even encouraged me to live my life as my true self full time and come out to my parents.  She is the one that eventually planted the seeds that Mt. Everest could be conquered!  But getting back to 2010, she was not close to being ready to seeing me in female form yet.  I agreed not to dress female for her that year and also agreed not to dress at the house when she was there until the end of the year.  After the first of the year I was going to dress as I wanted in the little guest house, whether she came around me or not, and go out when I wanted to but I was still not going to leave her alone at home at night, definitely not overnight.  She had a great fear of staying somewhere alone that I will address in Part 2 and I do not think she ever had to do it before. 

                                                  Halloween 2010

So I celebrated Halloween 2010 by driving up to Raleigh and meeting my friend Laura (pictured on my right)who had agreed to let me come to her house in the morning and get dressed and then we went to Crabtree Mall shopping for the afternoon.  This was my first big time out in public in a normal situation.  I had driven to people's homes, been at small house house parties and been in a couple of convenient stores before but this was a shopping mall on a Saturday and it was Very crowded.  We met another friend, Jessica there and she had begun to live full time earlier that year so she was out all the time.  Laura is someone that some of comes and goes from the scene but she had no fear of going out.  I have not been very good friends with her but I will always remember her for helping me out on that big day.  I got sort of a weird vibe from her before I changed back and left that day that maybe she wanted more from our friendship than just hanging out and so I never again took her up on her offer of going over there, dressing and going shopping again.  She didn't say anything overt so I may have been wrong and just being leery from past experiences.  That is a feeling I got from a some cd's, especially during that time when I was new and perhaps naive and vulnerable, and I used to say that I never a crossdresser that didn't want to sleep with me.  Since then I have met many more good members of the community that have never approached me in that way and I don't say that anymore.  I think initially I was running into people who might take advantage of me as someone who was looking for friends to help me develop my look etc.  That was something that I was not into but I didn't hold it personally against anyone, except the few that were rude or overt with it, and I never had that problem or feeling with Jessica (pictured on my left).

                           2010: Tammy World meets the real world.

I was so nervous walking into the mall that I was shaking a little and all that may have affected my presentation a little bit, at least at first.  I also realized I was wearing too short of a dress for this type of thing, not so much that it was distasteful but I realized that I did not want people looking at me and I was not that good yet at blending in.  All that aside, being out in public was one of the best feelings I remembered having and once the initial nerves wore off I had a deep feeling of calm, knew I was on the right track and that this was how I was supposed to be.  Even in the short dress and getting some looks (perhaps generated by the people I was with also), I felt less like an alien than I felt in my everday role as a guy and this was something I wanted to do again, and soon and often.  The clerks in the stores treated me like a normal person and I do not remember if I was called ma'am or not or whether I passed but at least no one called me sir. As usual, detransforming at the end of the day was depressing and I drove home, had supper with my wife and had a boring night at the house.  After this experience on Halloween 2010 one thing was for sure.  The cat was out of the bag and you could not keep this girl down on the farm anymore.  I had never felt better about myself and even though I laid low for awhile, as per my agreement with my wife, I was soon going to come out into the world and in a big way.  Stay tuned for part 2...2011.

                                           Y'all come back now, ya hear.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Surprise

It's October here in Carolina and the temperatures have been very pleasant, with most nights getting down into the 40's and highs in the 70's during the day.  Most of the days are like today, sunny skies with a few clouds and these are good days for our electric bills as I am not running air conditioning or heat.  One of the rainy days was Monday as it rained on and off all day but still with pleasant temperatures.  I got up Monday and walked the dogs between rain showers then got ready to drive to Durham for my therapy appointment.  This was a big meeting for me because it was a chance to finally go over the coming out letter to my parents I had hammered out in 40 minutes the week before.  She actually liked the letter and thought it was really well done.  She told me sometimes the best work is done in an inspired flash rather than being too deliberate in working something up, sort of like I have found out from my blogging so far.  She also asked me if she could share this with other patients and since it was written anonymously I said sure.  I'm going to now make some revisions from the first draft and add a couple of key points I had left out like the need to change my name etc.  I meet with her again on the 29th of this month and also I am excited to report that I did make an appointment with my original therapist for November 14 and I am anxious to update my progress with her as well as go over my letter before calling it a final draft.  For the rest of this year at least I want to see both therapists and then in January I will see how things turn out and re evaluate my needs there.

After leaving my therapist office I went to lunch by myself then decided to brave the rain and go to the NC State Fair for awhile.  Being a rainy Monday, the fair was not very crowded and I found a free park pretty close to the gate, getting there about 3 pm.  This was my first time ever going to the fair alone and it is an annual 10 day event that draws a total of over a million people usually.  My boyfriend would have taken me but it would have taken up an entire day for us to go up there and back last weekend and I did want to take my (ex) wife as it has been a longstanding tradition for us to go together, but she will hardly go anywhere with me now.  I might not have gone but it was a fun thing to do and I drove right past it on the way home from Durham anyway.  There was one item I wanted to buy there, at the Egyptian booth, a small model pyramid that is made in Egypt.  They may bring me luck! I bought the first one in 2010 and within a couple of weeks came out to my wife, opening the door for my transition to eventually begin. In 2011 I bought another one and that same week started taking herbal hormones and soon after that I started hair removal and called my first therapist (something I had dreaded doing for a long time but knew I needed).  So this week, in 2012 I bought my third pyramid and I'm hoping it brings me luck in making my final steps of coming out to my parents and going full time.  Now I have a little simulation of the pyramids of Giza set up on my bar and I have read that on December 3,2012 there will be a planetary alignment with the Giza pyramids that only happens every 2,737 years.  Whether or not that is true or if there is any significance to it or not I don't know, but I do like having my little pyramids and great things are happening in my life at least, here in 2012.

Being at the fair, even alone, was a blast and during the rain showers I looked at all the exhibits in the buildings.  I don't know if anyone read me or not but I was treated like a lady all day, everyone called me ma'am and some of the game vendors called me over saying "come on play this game young lady", which made me feel good because I am not that young, lol.  I didn't play any games or ride any rides, I just did a lot of walking around and looking at everything and I do enjoy seeing all the exhibits, even the agricultural demonstrations and animals.  I ran into one trans friend there who has recently started living full time.  She walked right by me and didn't notice me in one of the indoor exhibit buildings.  She was pushing her (ex) wife, who is disabled, around in a wheelchair, was looking straight ahead.  I had never seen her without a wig (except in a few pictures on Facebook) but I thought, hey I know her, and doubled back to say hi.  We spoke for a few minutes and I got to meet her ex, which was nice because we had talked about meeting each other with our wives for quite some time, even back before she seperated from hers but mine would never go for it.  They had tickets to a music show that night and it was time for me to have supper and then leave.  I wanted to get back to my car, which was parked along one the roads leading to the fair, before dark.  A woman walking alone down a dark street like that can be vulnerable so part of my new life is having to watch out for myself.  Before leaving I stopped at one of the booths and ate a ham biscuit and french fries and earlier I had eaten some home made ice cream, all yummy fair food that is not good for you but I could have done worse :)

Tuesday I rode up to Greensboro with Donna for class and I really enjoy these times.  She actually wanted me to share my letter to my parents with her and I did.  She has a unique perspective being somewhat close to their age, a parent, and also transgendered.  I sent her a copy of the letter by email and she sent me back a lot of suggestions, some of which I will use.  She had made major revisions but I want to keep most of the original and keep it in my own thoughts and words, although a couple of the ideas might be helpful from an older parents' perspective and I will likely include them.  Ideas such as my condition is not their fault and emphasizing my love for them, which I had stated in my letter.  We always get treated like ladies when we go out to dinner after class and she says she doesn't always get that with other people she goes to group meetings with.  I think I may be a good influence/role model for her to in some ways.  She does not get out much except to meetings and now this class, but I hope this experience will be liberating enough to her that she will now get out more, even during the day and even if it's going with me shopping or to lunch etc.  Her wife has influenced her movements to a great extent and possibly by example I am showing her that that does not have to be the case.  They have had a long and good marriage though and she wants to keep it that way so compromises are definitely in order.  I have not heard back from her on this but she did want to watch the presidential debate, ahead of the U.S. elections,  with her wife after getting home Tuesday and usually her wife wants her to change back into male clothing when she gets home.  She was running late on time and I suggested to her why not just go sit and watch it en femme, maybe her wife will figure out she won't bite and some progress will be made.  Considering that's what she Wanted to do, I hope it worked out.

I have had a few very emotional moments this week and a few crying spells, mostly related to my reading of the book True Selves:Understanding Transsexualism--For Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals, by Mildred Brown and Chloe Ann Rounsley. This book was recommended to me by my original therapist, mainly for my parents to read, and my second therapist recommends it as well. I thought I needed to read it before presenting it to them in a month or two.  Reading this book, particularly the parts about childhood and teen years, has dredged up some long buried memories for me that are painful to revisit. This led to my short, sort of sad blog entry earlier this week that had been written during the end of a crying spell. So far I think the book will be good for my mom to read. It uses a lot of different examples of therapy patients and I understand them all and many of them I can directly relate to in my life, even though there are some really painful memories I have tried not to revisit. I am now over halfway through reading it and have gotten to the part about transition, which I can relate to right now.

Speaking of the US elections, the October surprise is defined by Wikipedia as a news event that has the potential to influence an election and is usually released in October, one month before the presidential election.  I don't think there will an October surprise this year but personally I will be glad when the election is over.  Politics have become very negative and divisive in this country (this is probably the case everywhere) and I will vote this year because I can, but nothing seems to change too much no matter who is elected.  My personal October surprise is this.  I know I have revealed my addictions to hard drugs, some in the 80's and early 90's and then for a 10 year period ending in 2007.  When I was 16, I began to smoke marijuana and smoked it almost daily all the way up until this year.  I remember telling someone in high school that I didn't party, I had problems.  That pretty much defined my use of this substance as a way to numb, forget and put aside the pain I have experienced over the years from gender dysphoria, a bad marriage etc.  Certain passages from the book I am reading really bring some of those very early memories when I was a teenager trying to deal with feeling like an alien in this world.  When I was a child I could always retreat into a fantasy world and even though I was different and somewhat outcast from other children, my loving family kept me fairly happy overall.  When I was a teenager I did not fit in anywhere and much of my family was older people and died off.  The only people I hung out with were other pot smokers who tended to be outcasts, all with their own set of unique problems.  Nobody talked much about their problems, we were all there to forget them and have as good a time as possible getting high and embracing any distraction we could find. 

Socially that pattern continued into my adult life.  I pretty much had the same friends from high school, in dwindling numbers, until this year when I only had one left.  I made the decision to finally grow up and stop smoking that stuff this year and have not bought any since last Christmas, but having saved some for "emergencies" I was left with a supply of it coming into 2012.  I was upfront with my therapist about this and even my doctor when I first saw him and they didn't seem too concerned about it, other than my therapist reminding me that any smoking was unhealthy.  I knew I was stopping so I didn't really see it as a problem anymore either.  My thinking was going in that my supply would be exhausted before I started hormones (knew that would be in spring) but because I kept cutting back it lasted all the way into August for my birthday and I actually smoked a small amount and for the last time on the blue moon night of August 31, 2012. 

I wanted to wait until at least a month had gone by before revealing this here to make sure I could stop and get it out of my system.  Doing something habitually for 31 years, especially when it was a huge crutch and mask for my problems, made me unsure of how it would go without it.  It has gone Splendidly and I have not missed it one bit, in fact for almost a year I haven't really gotten much out of it.  I just did it out of habit and this year because it was there.  Now it's gone, kaput, no more and the Best thing is I don't need that stuff anymore and don't even want it.  Not buying it this year has freed money up for my transition expenses so far and allowed me to save some money as well.  I am a little bit proud of myself for quitting because I never thought I would and before I knew I could/would transition I did not even want to.  It was one of the only ways I could deal with life but now I have proved to myself that I can deal with life as it is.  It does help that I now feel much better about myself and my lifelong low self esteem is gone.  I am actually enjoying living and most importantly, I have hope for the future.  Being in love, truly for the first time has helped also and I do want to credit my boyfriend for giving me strength, love and understanding me better than anyone else ever has as well as being my best friend and perhaps the only quality friend I have ever had.  I think I now have all the tools in place to build my life and even though I look back occasionally and feel pain I had buried and glossed over, and still have some pain now not being complete, that light at the end of the tunnel is shining brightly and I am moving toward it in a Straight line.  Not looking down and not looking back, I am free at last, free at last!!

                           Y'all come back now, ya hear!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


My Life has been so painful I cannot describe it in words.  I know it is a pain that many of you have shared/can relate to.  I am just sooo thankful that my journey has finally brought me to this point where I can see light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.  I am just grateful for nights like tonight when I can cry and let go of the pain that I have held inside me for so so long.  I will be so happy when my journey to womanhood is finally complete but I am very happy now most of the time really.  Sometimes I look back into the empty space that has been my long life for so long and I revisit the pain that I always remember having.  Things are better now and they will get better and hope gives me the will power to go on and I have soo much hope now and I am very thankful to have made it through the darkest of times so that I have one more chance at life.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Anniversary Update Almost

This week (10/10/2012) contained my one year anniversary with my boyfriend. We went out for the first time one month earlier but on this date a year we decided to have an exclusive, monogamous relationship and I have to admit it has worked out wonderfully and it's been a great year together. This is the first time I have had a relationship that has been about total honesty, trust and dedication and we do love each other, so on those levels it is really special. We both have very complicated situations in our marriages and lives so the future is hard to predict but at least we are looking to the future and this gives me great hope.  In the card he attached to the (beautifully awesome, fabulous) lavender roses he had delivered on Wednesday he mentions looking forward to the future together no matter if its mountains or valleys and that together we can overcome them all. That is so sweet and so pertinent and really it shows just a little bit of why this man is so special to me. Perfect to me is a better word, special understates the fact but oh well, let's just say we are in love and I have never been so happy in a relationship. 

We had a great weekend at a nice suite in Raleigh, NC last week and he is coming to visit me at my home this weekend. I'm going to fix him a home cooked meal of fried pork chops and macaroni and cheese, not the best meal for 2 people watching their calories but we do get to splurge sometimes. He is on an exercise program and I am known for having more energy than him or almost anyone I know but that could be changing so I will have to stay on point. Last weekend we went out to a nice Italian meal then came back to enjoy a romantic evening in our suite, which included a nice big balcony and a jacuzzi hot tub. We sat on the balcony with cocktails talking until it got chilly, then came inside to take a few pictures and then it was quite late, about 1 am, when he talked me into getting in the jacuzzi with him. This was a first for me on a couple of levels but I have to admit I really enjoyed it and being able to get completely natural with him and relax in that spa was quite liberating, I want to do it again :) I managed to get him to stay up late with me this time, until 5 am, and as usual not long after the sun came up I woke up but I laid in bed while he slept a couple more hours. We were a little tired the next day but it wasn't too bad and we went to a nice Japanese lunch then to my favorite shopping mall. The mall was as crowded as it is at Christmas season, probably due to the cool rainy day, but we enjoyed walking around and shopping a bit and mainly just spending more quality time together out and about. Then we had a light supper and parted ways about 6 pm; he drove north to his work in Virginia and I drove east to my home a little melancholy but not in tears, at least, this time. We stayed in touch via phone and text all week as usual and I am so looking forward to having him over tomorrow night. The flowers on Wednesday's anniversary really brightened up the week as they brighten up my room right now :)  Below is a picture of Mitchell and I from our totally awesome pre-anniversary date last weekend.


Monday (10/15/2012) will begin my sixth month of HRT and on that day I will be driving up to Durham (part of the Triangle metropolitan area with Raleigh) for a therapist appointment, possibly lunch with a friend, then I think I will head over to the NC State Fair for a couple hours. Last year I went with Mitchell and he has offered to take me this year but I really don't want to make a day of it this year or waste a day together with him driving up there and back so I will probably go by myself for the first time. There is an item I want to buy there that I don't think I can get anywhere else and while there I can enjoy some walking around and some fair food, then come on home. I probably wouldn't make the drive if I wasn't in the area anyway and passing right by the fairgrounds. 
I continue to get called ma'am when not fully presenting female, not all the time but pretty often now. I have come up with a new name for this mode as I don't like the term male mode. I will now refer to this as "uncomfortable mode".  One day last week beat everything I have heard yet.  I was at the drive through window of the bank, actually one lane over from the window and I sent a check and a couple of deposit slips to the teller along with my obviously male ID with a picture from several years ago and my male name on it.  I had changed one of the deposit slips and accidentally sent the original out as well.  The teller came on the speaker and said "Ma'am, I have a question about this slip."  I replied in my best female voice and told him (male teller) to disregard that one and we completed the business.  I don't know what he was thinking but it's getting a little bit harder to present as male out here and that thrills me to no end.
Physical changes from the hormones are still coming along slowly but surely. Body hair growth has slowed quite a bit, especially on the arms and legs. It's still there and grows, just slower and you really can't see it as much so it's not as thick. Muscle mass loss is coming along nicely and I can see significant changes there. I also notice a loss of strength but that goes with the territory and I certainly look more female in short sleeves, as the biggest place I have noticed muscle loss is in my arms. I also notice my legs are more strained when running with with my dogs but the walking we always do is no problem. Breast growth is finally starting to amount to something. When my breasts first started growing this spring I stopped wearing my breast forms and started using the little "chicken fillet" enhancers that add a half cup size or so. So I went from a full B profile to a small A and over the summer that got closer to a full A. Now even those seem to be too big to fit in my bras so most of the time I have stopped wearing them. So my profile under clothes has gone back to a small A but it is all natural and growing and I do hope to reach a full A in the next couple of months or so.  When I need a fuller profile I can always wear my enhancers with a larger bra for certain outfits or looks.

Everyone warns of weight gain from hormones and I have experienced a weight gain fluctuating from 8-10 pounds since starting in May.  My appetite has definitely increased and I think my metabolism may have slowed a bit.  What this really amounts to is a "second puberty" and we all remember how our appetites were during puberty. It is going to take more self control and more exercises to stay fit now, I can see that. Now it's just a matter of getting the discipline to do it and starting to eat more like a fit woman, which means smaller portions. That adjustment is not coming easy with the increased appetite. As far as the fat redistribution and some new fat distribution in this case, most of that has been positive. My butt has gotten a little bigger and some has gone to my hip area but the third area of gain I do not like. My therapist had warned I could get a belly but it would be lower, like in the mid section and not a full belly or beer belly like I used to have a few years ago before losing weight initially. It seems I am getting some degree of "love handles" and I have to figure out an exercise for reducing those but at least it's a female form of fat, lol.  My overall shape is still pretty good and my sizes haven't gone up. I am still wearing size 8 pants and 8-10 pounds gain is not tragic but I do need to consider that losing some muscle mass should mean some weight loss so the weight gain from fat may be more than it appears. I have gotten my beer consumption down to an average of less than three beers a night and considering I drink a low calorie, low alcohol light beer that is not too bad.  Before i started HRT it was down to 4 beers a night from much higher levels in the past.  Then I felt so good when I started hormones I let myself have a couple more much of the time but now I have about got it to a level where its not a big calorie gain and most nights I don't even feel any effects, much better than in the past.  Overall, I am super happy with the results from HRT now and any negatives can be offset by me getting more discipline. The biggest and best change is still psychological and feeling like myself on the inside has for the most part ended years of internal strife that has been so detrimental to my life up until now.


Followers of this blog will know that that big issue/dilemma right now is telling my parents that I am going to transition.  I think I am finally almost ready to do that, or almost prepared to do it anyway.  I don't think I will ever be ready to finish climbing what I describe as "Mt. Everest".  I did finish preparing my letter to them the other night.  What I had been putting off for over 4 months I did in about 40 minutes.  All it took was a moment of inspiration and getting over the mental block to do it.  This is so ironic but the very next day after I finished the letter my original therapist, the one who had encouraged me to write the letter and provided me with the template to do it back in spring, called me to reschedule our "lost" appointment that was cancelled a couple months ago.  Well, her office called and I have tried them back a couple of times including just a minute ago and am getting the answering machine.  I think she is phasing out this part of her career or is still very busy and may be short on a receptionist now, but I am going to keep trying until I can reschedule the appointment.  I just think its too ironic that less than 16 hours after I finish the letter on my computer they called me.  It could be the fate I am having this year, where everything is falling into place perfectly, and maybe it means she reads my blog too because I did post about it last week.  Anyway, I am meeting with my second therapist Monday to review this letter and anxiously await seeing my original therapist to catch up and go over it with her also.

My voice and communication class is going well and this week was nice in that we went over short term and long term goals.  The picture at the top of this post is me demonstrating "self referential touching" from the Female Non Verbal Behavior checklist.  The only bad part of the class is that the program is being cut back due to budget cuts and our instructor will be leaving in a week or two.  The good side of that is that the director of the speech department at the university will be taking over the program.  This week he met with me and the graduate student that is assigned to work with me and went over the initial evaluation as well as doing some voice tests with me on the computer showing the pitch and resonance.  This is nice, getting instant feedback and he kept encouraging me to raise the pitch more and I did get it into female levels over 175 Hz.   My average pitch was testing at 163- 168 Hz and that is in the gender neutral range of 150-175Hz, almost female.  He looked me over in the beginning and said that I appear female 9without my wig) and that my hands were not a give away like many trans patients he has worked with.  Large hands are something that cannot be changed in any way and I am lucky my hands are small enough to be "passable".  He said with a female appearance and mannerisms often even with a neutral voice I will often be read as female.  I think that's what happens now most often out here in the real world.  I think that with a good female voice I can pass, not just pass as in walking through a mall, dealing with a clerk or ordering food in a restaurant, but truly pass as in being able to work with people and relate on a day to day basis and not be read as less than female at birth.  That is my goal anyway and I think that I am almost there. 

We all have friends, real life and or online, that are very supportive and usually tell us what we want to hear or what will make us feel good.  I love each and every one of my friends and appreciate all of them and their support.  I am not used to having many friends so having so many in the trans/tg community is very nice even though most of them are far away or in state that I don't see often.  I have a couple of friends that, even though they mean well, give me wacky advice and I have about learned to try not to take it to heart.  There is one friend I correspond with some on Facebook that I have met in person a couple of times and she is a full time trans woman who has not fully transitioned and lives a couple states away.  She is known to me as someone who can be quite blunt and tell it like it is while also being very supportive.  A year or more before I started transitioning she would send me messages starting a conversation by saying "have you started hormones yet?"  Now her usual initial message is "are you full time yet?" or sometimes "have you told your parents yet?"  She has been telling me the whole time that my mom already knows and I am sure she is right, to an extent anyway.  I am sure mom knows some things and has noticed some changes but what she does not know and will not until I tell her is that I am going to live full time as a woman and transition, like fairly soon.  She doesn't expect that anymore than she expects the Spanish Inquisition. 

So, I have been putting pictures on Facebook with my natural hair and have been getting more "likes" and comments on those than I ever have on other pictures.  I think Facebook is much more "real" than any of the other social sites I am on.  Flickr is often a fantasy land where people live out lives they do not in real life or maybe you see just a part of them, you don't always see the real deal.  This is a part of Facebook also, I think you just don't see as many seriously closeted people there because they don't join Facebook for fear of being outed.  Every once in awhile one will slip by and I will get messages asking me for naked pictures or such and then I "unfriend" them, blocking them.  So my friend hit me up the other day and said she saw I was using my real hair.  I said I was sometimes yes, and she said that it was almost long enough.  I have friends who started living full time with shorter hair so I know I Could do it.  Everything to me seems almost ready to take the plunge into living full time but not quite yet and I do hold myself to a high standard and have a high level of expectation.  Maybe that is not being realistic but the stage I am getting into now is often referred to as the awkward phase of mid transition.  It's hard to exist and be accepted as man or woman in this stage.  I certainly feel much more comfortable on the female side and honestly if it wasn't for my parents situation I would take the plunge tomorrow.  I am almost there and I can feel it, so once I take the take last steps up the mountain I know I will be ready for life as my true self in the peaceful valley on the other side.

                         "Y'all come back now, ya hear!"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mountains and Roller Coasters

Therapy has taken a new turn for me as we come into this fall season.  All my goals are falling into place except one, my biggest hurdle/goal and I still have until the end of the year to achieve it.  Of course that goal is coming out to my parents and that is the primary focus of my therapy now and I will mention that I have added another therapist to my "team of medical professionals."  Back in mid July, I had a very busy week with a total of 5 doctors' appointments between my father and I and so I rescheduled my therapist' appointment that week.  I was thinking it could be put off until the following week but the secretary set an appointment for three weeks into the future.  When it came time for that appointment I received a call the day before cancelling it.  No attempt was made by the therapist' office to reschedule so I waited a few weeks and called back to schedule another one.  As I called I was driving to Raleigh for an electrolysis appointment and they asked me if I could come in in one hour.  Since I could not, the appointment was scheduled again for three weeks into the future.  Once again the day before the appointment I got a call cancelling it.  I have never heard back from the office and I have not contacted them, although I do intend to see that therapist again.  I sent that therapist a link to this blog although I do not know if she ever reads it or even opened the email, but Therapist if you are reading this email please have the office call and schedule me an appointment.  I would like to see you and let you see the progress I am making.

In the meantime I contacted another therapist in the same area that I talked to once at the beginning of the year.  She is out of my insurance network so I have to pay out of pocket for the office visits, no copay.  There is a good chance my insurance company will reimburse me for some of the cost and I have had 2 appointments in the last 3 weeks already so next time I will fill out the paperwork and submit it for reimbursement.  It was always my intention to see 2 therapists before coming out to my parents anyway, even though I didn't feel like I personally needed it after being in therapy awhile.  This way I will have a little more credibility with them on the Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis so they won't think it was just a rogue diagnosis.  This second therapist is a PHD also and hopefully that will carry a little more weight with them.  So, things are going very good with Therapist B as I will call her but I do consider Therapist A a friend and actually do want to be seen by her again.  I have heard from several other friends, personal and on Facebook, that Therapist A has been sort of elusive lately and I know she has a lot going on besides just her practice.  I am not alone in feeling a little neglected and in some ways my personal situation is reaching a crisis again so I need a little more personal attention right now.  Things are going well in therapy now and actually this situation is a positive in that I was always reluctant to go back to Therapist B in addition to A because I did not want any feelings hurt.  However, I have learned this year that I need to be more in control of my own destiny and be my own best advocate and not let what others' think matter so much.

Therapist A once mentioned to me that I could see another therapist for a "second opinion" if I wanted to and that she had other patients that had done that and told her they tended to talk about the same things.  That is my experience so far with Therapist B, it's the same thing only different.  I think this new therapist is going to hold me a little more accountable to achieving my goals and push me a little harder on the things (thing) I find most difficult and maybe I need that right now.  She also allowed me to send her rather detailed email before coming in that pretty much explained what has been going on with me, my situation and my dilemma.  I this this helped jump start the process and while some time is spent each session just getting to know me and making sense of Tammy World, we are also focusing heavily on my expedition up Mt. Everest (coming out to my parents).  She has compared this situation to a roller coaster.  We tend to feel a lot of fear and anticipation on the way up but once we reach the top and begin to ride down there is a great relief.  Of course the ride down the roller coaster can be quite scary but at least the dread and anticipation are behind us.  I think she liked my comparison with Mt. Everest as well and I told her that now I am closer to the peak I feel the oxygen is low and I am growing weary and weak.  Some delusions and hallucinations may be setting in and sometimes I feel as if I am not going to make it.  I told her what I told an online friend jokingly recently,  that I might just go ahead and change my name and live full time and even go off to Canada or somewhere after a time for surgery and Never tell them.  Somehow hide everything from them for the rest of their lives and they would see me changing more and more and never know exactly why.  Mom would probably just go on as if everything is the same except maybe making a snide comment sometimes.  The therapist surprised me and said Yes I could actually do that but then she asked me if I thought that was being authentic and that she thinks one of the reasons I do feel compelled to tell them is to remove the last vestige of dishonesty from my life.

I could never pull that off anyway because of legal implications with my name, power of attorney and wills etc. but it has become a running joke or fantasy.  She made me realize that I was so happy and content in life Because I had removed so many lies in my life and within myself that I really Needed this to finally find fulfillment.  Since my last appointment 3 days ago I thought of and have considered the question, "Why?"  Why I have I been so repressed so much of my life?  Why have I always feared the female inside me so much?  Why I have tried so hard to hide much of my life from my parents, more than just gender issues?  Why is talking to them about the biggest thing in my life so difficult for me?  Why?  I intent to bring this up in 11 days in my next therapy appointment.  I think I know the answer, or part of it, but I want to find out for sure.  I will tell y'all that I was adapted as an infant and have actually always felt blessed and lucky to have found the loving home I fell into.  I never wanted to disappoint my parents, and to me they are my true parents and only parents, but everything I have ever tried to do has fallen well short of fully doing meeting their expectations.  Still I have managed to shield them from as much pain as possible and try to do good enough to at least make them somewhat happy, even if up until this point things have not worked out the way any of us would have wanted.  The therapist has reminded me that everyone wants to be normal and no one would would wish something like this on themselves, much less the ones they love.  I think I do see that now and I hope that my parents can as well when the time comes.

So basically I have reverted back to my original goal of coming out to my Mom after Christmas and before the end of the year, and I think this is ebst for everyone in order to enjoy the Holidays.  That is a fairly brief window of time but in all honesty I have always not only been a procrastinator but worked better under the pressure of a deadline.  I will get it done but I will wait till the last minute, on anything.  Mom will not be able to hold this in from my Dad so I know next We will have to tell him, I just want to tell her first even if it all happens in the same day.  My new therapist is wanting me to get prepared as soon as possible to tell them so if a window opens up or I somehow get the courage before then I can go ahead and do it;  have my goal and deadline but be prepared in my own mind at least.  She has also said that as a therapist, she cannot hold people accountable for what they do with their lives but she intends to hold me accountable to my goals in therapy.  In this case that means that by my next appointment in 11 days I need to have a letter written out with what I want to say to them and also bring a list of what I think possible questions or responses of my parents will be.  Therapist A gave me the idea of the letter and she wanted to write and hand them a letter, then have a discussion after they read it, but I am sort of uncomfortable with that scenario.  Therapist B is saying I can present them with a letter or not but it is a good idea for me to write it out in preparation.  I had intended a few years ago to see a therapist to help me come out to my wife.  I never did and it took me a year and half of wanting to/trying to actually do it and I was not even sure I could fully transition then.  I was prepared to lose her but I could not see past Mt. Everest off in the horizon, I just wanted to be able to live my life freely, if only part time.  I didn't really prepare well for talking with her, I just got her in a good mood on a country ride one day and said "There is something I have to tell you about myself...." and basically started talking about things from my childhood up till the present.  Talking to my Mom (parents) seems a much harder goal to achieve and much more is at stake so now I am enlisting all the help I can get.  Catching her in a good mood will be helpful too though, initially if not in the long run. 

                           Transgender Voice and Communication Group

So on a final note I am going to mention my Transgender Voice and Communication group I wrote about in my last post.  We really have not gotten to anything about learning a female voice yet but are spending time learning voice function exercises and are now working with resonance.  We have spent much time on the spoken language and non verbal communication part (which includes manner of speaking and mannerisms, but not voice) and I do great on those.  They have only found one thing I needed to learn/work on which is self referential touching.  This is basically pointing at one's self (in a feminine manner of course) during conversation.  I do the self touching in general ( playing with necklace, playing with hair etc.) naturally when speaking, as well as everything else on the Feminine Nonverbal Behavior Checklist.  One thing that I do quite naturally from the Feminine Spoken Language Checklist is use connectors between sentences which I have previously perceived as a problem when writing this blog because it results in "run on sentences" but now that I know it is a feminine language characteristic I may not edit my sentences as much for this but I guess in written language this may not be as acceptable even though it is a natural trait of mine and honestly I could make most of these paragraphs one continuous sentence but now I am just doing it to prove my point and to show you how it's done or "modelling" as one of the graduate students said I was doing in some of our skits in this week's class even though I was doing it to benefit the other student in the class with me and she is a great person too!

                                        After class with Donna 10/2/2012
                                        UNCG Gateway Research Center

The other student in class with me is named Donna and she is a bit older than me at 74 years young.  She is married and has three grown children and some grandchildren and did not actually come to terms with her gender situation until her mid to late 60's.  Because of family and obligations etc. she does not think she will ever fully transition or even live full time as a female but she has been on hormones for 4 years and goes to a lot of support groups meetings and so forth as well as take this class with me.  I am really lucky that Donna signed up for this course because not only does it mean I am not the only group member this semester but I am also very lucky to meet this new friend because she has offered to advise me going forward in my situation/dilemma with my parents.  We ride from Raleigh to Greensboro, NC every week now and this is about an hour and a half drive and add the fact that we try to leave an hour early to stop somewhere along the way and go shopping as well as stop for dinner on the way home, this gives us quite a bit of time to talk.  I really appreciate and take to heart all her advice and one thing she has told me to immediately do is to always tell my parents I love them and how appreciative I am to spend time with them which I have been doing every time I see them lately.  Hopefully this will strengthen my relationship with them and set the stage for what I have to tell them later this year.  I also have been making it a point to be the most positive person I can be around them (all the time really) and have pointed this out to Mom and she knows that historically I have been a very negative person.  The glass used to be half empty but now it is half full. Except for this sort of crisis I am going through as far as knowing I have to do something I never wanted to do or thought I would or could do, I am happier now than I remember being since I was a small child.  Now if I can just get up the nerve to climb the final steps up to the top of Mt. Everest I can see how fun or how scary it is to ride down the roller coaster. 

                           Y'all come back now, ya hear?