Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Place For All Dogs

Somewhere in a distant, peaceful meadow, there is a time and a place for dogs.  All of them.

I saw Jumper last night.  She passed away last year but I often think of her and last night I saw her again, in a dream.  I was in the country in this dream, possibly at the place we used to live.  Or a place with many similarities.  The road was a wide meadow, or there was a wide meadow beside the road.  Along that meadow I ran.  I was on an errand and was running into town.  Why drive when you can run, right?  In the vast, winding meadow
the dogs could run with me.

Town was several miles away and Buddy and Nightingale were running alongside me in the tall, course grass.  They would run to the sides and get ahead of me, as the dogs are apt to do, and at once point I lost track of Buddy.  I was worried about it for a time but kept running.  Maybe he'd gone home. Nightingale was there, looking back at me periodically and leading the way.

As I began to get into town I lost track of her also and considered turning back to find the dogs.  I decided to push forward into the little town to go to the store and run my errand.  I'd catch up with them on my way back home.

In the center of town I passed a group of stores but the store I wanted to visit was a little farther, a couple of blocks away.  People were scattered about and there were cars, but I am not sure that anyone was driving them.  Maybe others were walking or running like me.

I found the store I wanted to patronize and I went in.  It was somewhat like a country store but more of a convenience store.  People were lined up at the cash register and I had to pass them in the line to get to the items I wanted to purchase.  I believe I was looking for mascara, of all things, but while passing the candy isle I began to think about buying something sweet.  Towards the end of the line was a woman with both hands full of all sorts of things.  There was space between her and the last person in line and as I went by her I had to pass very closely between her and one of the aisles, as she took up a lot of space with all her items.  She made some sort of snide remark to me as I passed by.

After that I decided to give up on looking for the mascara and forgo buying candy.  Maybe I just wanted to hurry back outside to get my dogs so I left the store.  I was still on the streets of the small town and as I proceeded to walk back home I did not see the dogs anywhere.  I was worried and I believe I was just walking, not running, as the dogs were not with me.  I thought of Buddy and where he'd gotten off to along this journey and wondered if Nightingale would show up to walk home with me.  

Next I was in a strip of meadow alongside some brick, country ranch homes.  I had a sense that my dogs were with me but I couldn't see them.  Rabbits were everywhere, jumping around in the grass.  I looked up and Joan was walking in the grass ahead of me.  I had the feeling of knowing that Nightingale was there with us but just out of sight, probably chasing some poor rabbit.

Then Jumper and Buddy walked up to me.  Yes, Jumper had now joined us and she looked wet, tired and dirty.  She was panting and smiling.  I can always tell when my dogs are happy and smiling.  Jumper showing up like that was a common sight from our days in the country, as she would be a mess when returning from a run in the fields and meadows.  She was often wet from taking a dip in the pond.

Jumper lay down and I began to pet her wet belly.  "Look Joan," I called out.  "Jumper is here!"  Joan looked back and though I was right there with her, and Jumper was wagging her tail, Joan could not see her.  I didn't see Buddy or Nightingale either at that point.  Next thing I knew I was alone in my bed this morning, waking up.


I awoke form that dream with sort of a bad feeling.  Tears came to my eyes.  Nightingale came down the hall, shaking her ears, and laid on the floor next to my bed.  This is unusual behavior for her as she will usually sleep until I get up, but I took it as a sign that she wanted to go out.  As I let the dogs outside, into the fenced in back yard, I asked them if they'd seen Jumper.

Earlier this week I had another dream about dogs.  This dream was much more disturbing to me although it was hardly a nightmare.  The bad feeling I had after this morning's dream quickly faded and, though it was eerie, it was replaced by a good feeling about the visit with Jumper.  Still, I am left in a melancholy mood as I contemplate the meaning of these dreams.

In this other dream I was in a room with people, some I knew from years past, and there was another dog with me.  This new dog appeared to be a brown bulldog, medium sized like my others.  This dog was super friendly, as all my dogs have been, and was sitting on the couch beside me in this crowded room. My dogs are not usually allowed on the furniture.  There was a man there that I had worked with on occasion and I remember telling him that I'd gotten this dog when Buddy passed away.

I also told the man that Buddy passed away when he was 12 years old.  After talking with him I took the new dog and went outside, where Joan was waiting.  I didn't see Nightingale in the dream but sensed that she was around. 

That dream was so disturbing to me that I still get a bad feeling about it.  You see, Buddy is 12 years old right now.  Joan is no longer here with the dogs and me, although we all get together fairly often for picnics and such.  I know I am dreaming about the past when Joan is in my dreams, especially when I'm in the country with all the dogs.  My fear is that I am dreaming of the future also with premonitions of more of the dogs passing.

I'm sure these dreams have an origin in my anxiety about my dogs, especially Buddy, growing old.  For years I've had nightmares about something happening to him.  When we lived in the country there were many close calls, often involving cars on the winding, country lane, that would send chills down my spine.  We built a fence and usually kept the dogs in it when we were not walking but sometimes they would get out and run free. 

I have to admit to also letting them out to run free sometimes, as a car passing on the road in front of the house was only an occasional thing.  There were other dangers nearby but I didn't always worry about them when the dogs gave me that look that said "I need to run free for awhile."

A two lane highway where a car would zip by every minute or two was not far away.  Danger lurked in the fields and woods behind the house.  We always feared other animals that could be a threat to our precious pets, like wild dogs, but never saw anything like that out there.  Deer, groundhogs, rabbits, mice, rats, ducks, geese, feral cats and squirrels were among the abundant wildlife in our little area but these animals were not as much a threat to our dogs as the dogs were to them. 

Once I ran into the woods following the yelps of my Buddy, obviously in distress.  I found him with his right front paw caught in a small, leg hold animal trap.  I was so afraid he'd broken his leg but when I freed him he ran home.  Buddy was always getting into some mischief when we lived in the country.

Jumper is now back in those meadows and fields, Running Again.  I know this and I know that is where Buddy will return when he eventually leaves.  He is in great health, we walk a couple of miles a day and the vet says he should have some good years ahead of him.  I'm looking forward to a lot more time with my Buddy.  Since the first day he showed up at our trailer, hot and panting from running on a summer's day, he has been in my heart. 

For the first couple of weeks he stayed with us he slept on the porch and I picked ticks off of him.  He was half wild but over time allowed me to get close.  Buddy still can't picked up without a fight, a big one, but he has become domesticated along the way.  He's even been citified in the last few years since we moved from the country into town.  The name Buddy means friend and he is my best friend.  Nightingale is my love dog and my girl.


So yes, in my dreams I sometimes miss Joan, miss Jumper, miss living in the country.  I don't miss the way I used to feel or that I used to have to get numb, when not working, to cope with the strange discomfort within me.  Now that I can be myself life is much, much better, I will have to admit.  But there was some good in my past and I've always had a good heart.  It brought me these wonderful animals and a relationship or two that, although they changed dramatically, helped make my life complete.

I've always picked up strays, as my mother tells it.  Buddy and Nightingale were strays, appearing out of the blue and needing loving homes.  Joan, I believe, was a stray also but in a way perhaps it was I that was the stray.  Either way you look at it, I took the part of providing care and a warm home to all of my strays.  That is sort of what my parents did to me when they adopted me.  Giving a home to a stray always seems to work out wonderfully, in my life.

Joan is still being taken care of, even though she isn't in my home anymore.  I have to believe that.  We saw each other a couple days ago and we reminisced about the time we spent in the country.  A simpler time when the dogs, and a need to not be alone,  were the things that brought us together.  She talks now of wanting to get another trailer in the country.  This time she would be living alone and, while I feel badly about that, it's the way it has to be.

Still, I am going to keep an eye on her, make sure she is taken care of.  Others in my life will have to just understand that.  I don't abandon people and I don't abandon my dogs.  She will be moving back to my town soon, to a small apartment not to a country trailer.  We will be able to take walks together in the park with the dogs.


I am thinking that we all have a place in life.  We all end up where we are for a reason.  Whether we have found it yet or not, we all have a home out there waiting for us.  Somewhere in a peaceful,rolling, green meadow there is home that will be there forever.  It is quiet, beautiful and it is a place for all dogs.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transgender Life, at 50

They say life begins at 50.  Yesterday was the day that I turned 50 years old, so I am going to take that saying to heart.  Women do not have to share their age but I have decided to just own it, not hide from it.  Since I missed the boat at 39, I suppose I could just keep saying I am 49 but I learned from my friend Donna to not hide your age, be proud of it.  She turned 76 this summer and doesn't mind telling people, as she knows that inspires them.  Some people say I inspire them, so if anything knowing that you can transition at any age and it's never too late can be an inspiration.

In my transgender social life I have met and made friends with people with ages ranging from their 20's to 70's but the majority of them are close to my age.  Something about turning 40, or 50, seems to trigger a response in many of us who have struggled with their gender all of their lives but never transitioned.  Back in the days when we were young, information about transgender people was not widely known.   Most of us did not know how to get treatment, transition etc., although I have a friend that transitioned in the 1970's, so it was possible.  Those who did were rare and they were pioneers.  Before things like the internet came out many of us thought that we were the only ones or did not really know what to do about how we felt inside.  Today we are everywhere, including the cover of Time magazine.
When I first got on the internet, around 20 years ago, I started reading about transition.  My two conclusions were that I was too old (I was ~30) and that this is something that would not be possible due to my family and where I lived.  Oh, to have been born in California or New York to some open minded family and to have started as a teenager.  I am going to say that soon I did find out that it was possible for people my age, and older, to transition but at that time I knew it was something I could never do while my parents were alive.  Later I would find out how wrong that conclusion was.

In the past I had thought that transsexuals were diagnosed at a young age by their doctors and their sex was changed.  When I was a teenager I heard about "sex change operations" and told a few people I was going to get one.  Though the idea really appealed to me, I wasn't really serious because I had no clue how to go about it or that it was even possible for me. 

Times have changed and we seem to be coming out of the woodwork now.  I even met a new friend recently who I knew many years ago.  She is my age and is now starting gender therapy to begin transition after keeping herself a secret her whole life.  This is so typical!  We knew each other way back when but neither of us knew the other was trans.  Hiding it and suppressing expression of your true self was the way of things back then.  She has been doing hormones on her own for awhile but is just starting out as far as learning to present herself to the world.

In some ways that is where I was 10 years ago.  I turned 40 and found myself in poor health, depressed, with drug problems and an unhappy marriage.  I went to a doctor and he put me on blood pressure and anxiety meds.  They gave me an MRI because I was having massive headaches and believed I had a brain tumor.  I didn't tell him about my drug use (cocaine and marijuana) or that I drank too much almost every day. 

Ultimately they couldn't find anything seriously wrong with me but I was convinced that I was dying.  I'd been feeling that way since my teenage years and honestly I didn't want to live much longer.  I didn't have the nerve to kill myself but I kept plugging away at it by using a drug that made me feel like I was having a stroke or heart attack each time I did it.  Feeling like I had nothing to lose and trying to find some light at the end of the tunnel, I decided to finally quit hiding who I was inside. 

I went out and bought my own wig for the first time, some makeup and female clothes.  Making slow progress while hiding everything from my wife, I began my journey to get from point A to point B.  My first point B was getting out of the house and into the world as my true self and it took a few years to get there.  I wanted to take hormones but I was scared that people would notice changes in me and that would give me away.  I still did not see a way to come of the closet but I was working towards finding one.

As I have discussed in previous posts, in 2010 I came out to my wife.  I was 46 years old and a year later I began gender therapy.  As my journey has progressed I have felt better and better.  Transition has been a real life saver for me.  I quit hard drugs not long after buying that first wig and now the only thing I do is drink socially.  The headaches went away, I stopped taking anxiety and blood pressure medication and I don't think I'm dying.  The big development of my transition is that I actually want to live now and have something to live for.

The post directly preceding this one (MTF Transition Begins, The Magical year in Pictures) documents the beginning phase of my transition.  I started at 47 and turned 48 three months after beginning hormone replacement therapy.  Now I am 50 years old (shudders) and in about a month I will have GRS.  That "sex change operation" is finally going to happen for me and just thinking about that has always put a smile on my face. 

All those years of feeling like an alien, never completely fitting in and being very uncomfortable within myself, are behind me now.  I am so glad to have come to a time in my life when I can be at ease with who I am.  That feeling has made this journey the most worthwhile thing I have ever done.  Being an optimist I am going to believe that I will live to be (at least) 100, so I will say that the second half of my life is going to be even better than the first.  In a way I will be living proof that life does begin at 50.


Since I mention "Transgender Life" I may as well define it, in case you were wondering.  As for the significance of the number 50, now you know.

What is transgender? 

Transgender: A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth. Transgender is a broad term and is good for non-transgender people to use. “Trans” is shorthand for “transgender.”

Transsexual:  An older term that originated in the medical and psychological communities. Still preferred by some people who have permanently changed - or seek to change - their bodies through medical interventions (including but not limited to hormones and/or surgeries). Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella term. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers. If preferred, use as an adjective: transsexual woman or transsexual man.

Transgender woman:  People who were assigned male at birth but identify and live as a woman may use this term to describe themselves. They may shorten to trans woman. (Note: trans woman, not "transwoman.") Some may also use MTF, an abbreviation for male-to-female. Some may prefer to simply be called women, without any modifier. It is best to ask which term an individual prefers.

The above definitions come from these two sites, good sources for all gender related definitions.

I think for myself I prefer the term trans woman.  This seems to give a distinction from those who are transgender but do not live full time as either gender, or live between genders.  Transsexual is worrisome to many because of its inclusion of the word "sexual" and is therefore often misunderstood and being used less as time goes on.  It is relevant, at least, as a medical term or distinction (within the trans community) between people who are physically (medially) transitioning and those who are not. 

Ultimately I just want to be referred to as a woman, because that is how I identify, where my journey is leading me and who I am.  I hope the saying that 50 is the new 30 is true.  No longer 40 something, I am a 50 year old woman.   Most people tell me I look younger than I am and many are surprised when I reveal my age, so I will take comfort in that.


Sunday, August 17, 2014


One aspect of the transgender phenomenon that may not be well known or understood by the general public, is the issue of attractions.  Who we are attracted to, who we were attracted to and how that sometimes changes is something we often talk about in our community. 

Male to female transgender women, especially those who do not transition at a young age, very often end up with female partners or wives while they are living as males.  It's also very common for these couples to have children.  Having a wife, female lover and/or children can add layers of difficulty to a transgender woman's transition and even affect the decision to come out.  The interesting dynamic we will examine here is how attractions can change.


Many trans women say that sometime after they begin taking hormones they become attracted to men for the first time in their lives.  Some do not report having this change until after undergoing gender reassignment surgery (GRS) and others remain solely attracted to females throughout transition and the rest of their lives.  These women often refer to themselves as trans lesbians, or simply lesbians, and some of them also become attracted to other transgender women.

The fascinating thing, to me, is the change in some trans women from being solely attracted to females to being attracted to males.  This isn't always an exclusive attraction and it is my thinking that most people are bisexual, at least to a degree if they are really honest with themselves.  The fact remains that many trans women become attracted to men for the first time at some point during transition.

A lot of us don't really experience any change but were attracted to males all along.  Some are like me in that they always felt attractions to males but never really acted on it, repressed it or possibly experimented at some point.  There are trans women who identified as gay before transition but, at least among those who transition as adults, they seem to be in the minority.

I remember telling my mother when I was in the first or second grades, that I wanted to marry my (male) best friend.  Of course there was nothing sexual about that.  I didn't even know what sex was all about at that point.  I believe that was saying what came natural to me, that I felt I should marry a man when I grew up.  Of course she wasn't very happy to hear this and I remember her telling me that this was "queer" and that I was not going to be that way.  In the early 1970's no one was talking about gay marriage.  I believe that I was thinking of marrying him as a female.

Puberty was a confusing and difficult time for me.  While I had inner feelings of being female from pre school age, I never figured out that being transgender was the cause of my life long depression until I began transition and started hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  Even when I first got on the internet, found out about transition and knew I wanted to do it I never equated all of the dark, morbid feelings I had inside with having a male body chemistry.  The change I experienced when I started HRT was an uplifting of my mood, feelings about myself shifting from negative to positive and an end to the chaos that had resided in my brain since I was a teenager.  My attractions, however, never changed.

All my life I've dealt with my attractions to males.  Repression might be a more apt description than dealt with, for the majority of my life.  As a late teen I had a couple of experimental episodes that I didn't follow through with and didn't feel good about.  I realize that I was under the influence of my parents expectations and societal pressure to not "be gay".  In spite of that, these experiences taught me that I wasn't really gay because it felt so wrong I couldn't really follow through with anything.  It wasn't just a guilty feeling afterwards.  It felt weird that I was being looked at as a male, although that is how I was living then and how I appeared.

The fact is I was also attracted to females although it was quite different.  Maybe it was because of my upbringing but I felt more comfortable romantically with females even though I didn't feel very comfortable in those relationships.  I think the real key was that I never felt comfortable at all.  Perhaps if I didn't have the specter of my upbringing I could have just as easily been with men before my transition but I didn't feel comfortable within myself so I doubt I would have been any happier.  Another thing about being with men when I wasn't presenting female is I that couldn't stand the guys looking at me as male or touching me.  In those very limited experiences I only wanted to pretend in my mind I was a woman and be with them passively.

The real sea change for me, at least sexually, when was when I was finally able to present myself as a woman (how I felt inside) and allowed myself to be with a man.  I've heard gay guys say when they were first with a man that it felt natural.  That never felt that way with me as a guy but it did when I could be a woman.  Something inside clicked, and any issue I had about attractions was solved. 

I finally felt comfortable with myself and felt comfortable being with someone I was attracted to.  Not too long after coming to terms with who I wanted to date, I met a man and fell in love.  I didn't think I was ready for any sort of relationship because I was not out, in sort of a weird stage of pre transition and still married.  It did work out and we've now been together almost three years. It's just been a fantastic experience for me and I'm so happy.

When I was talking to my therapist about coming out to my parents, the Big hurdle (Mount Everest) in my quest to transition, I asked her what I should tell my them about my sexuality.  I want to be truthful about everything from now on and the fact that I still maintained some attraction to females must make me bisexual, right?  The therapist then asked me if I ever saw myself in another relationship with a female.  The honest answer was no, I don't.  There, I had my answer.  Almost everybody has attractions to various people, even to both sexes, but if they don't act on them or its not part of their identity then that is something that can be kept private.

Some of my attraction to females is simply wanting to be that person or be like that person.  That is even more true now than ever before as I have gone from a point where I could see myself having some type of intimacy with a woman to a point that I don't think about it anymore.  So I guess I have undergone some form of change in my attractions since beginning transition.  For me, it has not been the total change of being attracted to the opposite sex for the first time, (for me as a woman, men are the opposite sex), but it is a slight change nonetheless.  Transition is all about change so I guess this is par for the course.


They say that when we transition, others in our lives have to transition too, in their own way.  One striking example of that is married heterosexual couples in which one of the partners undergoes gender transition.  Very few marriages withstand transition and many that do simply remain as friendships of two partners.  My marriage was basically a friendship since its inception so ending it made sense for both of us, although it is still very painful. 

For a marriage to weather a complete gender transition and still maintain its romantic nature, one of the partners must change their sexuality.  That has got to be a lot to ask of a spouse.  "Honey, I'm becoming a woman now, you are going to have to become a lesbian."  You can see why this very rarely works out. 

Then there is the trans woman who informs their spouse that they are now attracted to men.  That is sort of what happened in my case but the underlying feelings were always there, not just the transgender feelings but the attractions.  For many though, these feelings are new and come out of the blue when female hormones are introduced.  I think that must really play with your head for awhile.

Usually by the time someone reaches the point of transition they have gone through their self acceptance, their inner battles, their realization that they have to transition.  The denial, hiding and/or repression are behind them for the most part.  And then many get hit on the head by the attractions dilemma.  There seems to be so much confusion among so many trans people about who should they date, who do they want to date.

I met a trans girl the other day that told me she is pansexual.  She will date anyone, regardless of sex, gender etc.  Actually that is becoming fairly popular and it is a good way to be.  It certainly makes it easier to find a partner and accept your sexuality.  So many who undergo this phenomenal gender transition get caught up in the intricacies of who they are attracted to or who they will be attracted to in the future.  This is one of those things in which I believe you just have to go with your feelings.  And be prepared for them to change.....

Saturday, August 9, 2014

2012: MTF Transition Begins, The Magical Year in Pictures

2012 was the most magical year of my life and the beginning of my transition from male to female.  For a long time I'd looked to this year as something potentially special and a possible time for me to change my life.  As 2011 drew to a close it looked as if I was finally going to have the courage to pull things together and start the transition process.

When does transition begin?  Everyone has a different definition of it but for me I will say it was when I began HRT (hormone replacement therapy) on May 15, 2012.  In a greater sense it might be generally stated that the year 2012 was the beginning of my transition.  Before the end of 2011 I'd had my first session with a gender therapist and had my first attempt at facial hair removal, with a single laser session.  I came into the new year dedicated to change and committed to give this transition 100%.  For me that was easy because at this point I had gone way beyond wanting to transition, I needed it badly.

At the beginning of the year I was splitting my life maybe 50/50 between male and female presentations.  My last "male" haircut was at Thanksgiving 2011, so as the year progressed my hair appeared more and more "female".  By the time I started hormones I had evolved into a more androgynous presentation when I couldn't fully be myself, Tammy. 

I was still invoked in the real estate business as my old self but as the yer progressed I pulled out more and more in preparation for my transition to full time.  At the time I didn't see a way I could practice real estate in my town after transition and the truth of the matter is the business was barely breaking even at that point, so I didn't see the logic in continuing it at that time. 

I had no idea how my parents would react after I came out to them but I did intend to stay in town as I was committed to taking care of them in their old age.  At this point I was living on investments intended for my retirement and I didn't think they would last for the rest of my life, but I knew I would be ok financially for awhile.

My goal was to come out to my parents at some point during the year and go full time on December 31, 2012.  This was so I could start the new year as a new me and transition during the magical year that I felt was bringing me luck, and so much promise.  Things didn't work out exactly that way, but it was pretty close and better than expected. 

2012 was a year of Major change for me.  My appearance changed, my feelings changed, everything changed.  That is what I signed up for and I was not disappointed.  This whole transition I believe, and my life since I accepted myself, has been blessed.  Although my organic anxiety had lifted with the introduction of female hormones, I went through a lot of anxiety during the year over the daunting prospect of coming out to my parents, transitioning in my hometown and eventually the end of my marriage.

I have to say that while I knew inside that transition was what I needed in my life, I had no idea how unbelievable I would feel when I got started.  The hormones made me feel amazing, in a way that I wasn't even expecting.  Having my own hair was a therapy unto itself.  I didn't anticipate how incredible that would make me feel.  Perhaps most of all, just being able to live increasing amounts of my life as myself and finally becoming my authentic self full time, was just what the doctor ordered, literally.

Like everyone else that transitions, I wish I'd done it sooner, but I've learned to accept the blessings that life gives me and simply be thankful to have this chance.  Sure, I'd suffered through the vast majority of my life in a dark, depressive, numbed out haze.  Coming out of that cloud was liberating in itself but feeling the changes inside and seeing them in the mirror gave me a high I'd never felt before.  Reality wasn't so bad now.  It was Awesome! 

The following pictures and captions document my first 7.5 months on hormones and my journey from the first trip to the doctor's office to going full time to my first Christmas as myself with my parents to a fabulous New Year's Eve with my boyfriend Mitchell.  It was a whirlwind year for sure and while it wasn't without pain and tears, it was the most absolutely fabulous time of my life.  Does it get better?  Yes, but I don't think I will ever experience a more special, magical year than 2012... 

The next day I would drive to my new doctor in Cary and get my first hormone prescriptions.
The hormones had an almost immediate effect on me mentally and emotionally.  Within a couple of weeks a wave of calm had settled upon me.  I'd heard of others experiencing something similar but there was another effect I that surprised me.  For the first few months I was on sort of a constant high.  After awhile that became the new normal, and not so noticeable anymore, but I was finally at ease with myself and able to truly enjoy life.  During this time the dark cloud of depression (that had haunted me in varying degrees since I was teen) began to lift and I was able to stop taking an anxiety medicine that I'd been prescribed for years.  When I started estrogen it was like my mind cleared up and I began to see a bright future for myself.  I did not remember ever having those positive feelings although I had a happy childhood overall, before puberty when things fell apart.
Just me..2 weeks HRT...
My everyday "androgynous" look at that time..looking into my mirror wondering, "is this stuff working yet"?  I was already feeling different inside and a Lot better than I had remembered ever feeling.
2 weeks into my MTF transition and out with my boyfriend Mitchell.
Having him in my life to love and support me made all the difference during this pivotal year.
Besides love, one thing we've always had is great communication.
June 2012
Almost one month on hormones.
Making my first ventures out as myself without a wig and

I look nervous.  This was an awkward stage.
4 weeks HRT...
Just mascara and lip gloss...what am I am gonna do with this hair???
Relaxing at home with my man, early July 2012.
Almost 7 weeks into my HRT journey...
Yes if I put on the make up, wig, and in this case high heels, I could look pretty good...
1.5 months HRT with "full" makeup, at home .
1.5 months HRT...Minutes after the previous picture was taken.  The wig gave me a completely different look.
7 weeks my natural habitat..
July, 4, 2012
Getting more confident without my wig
Having my hormone levels tested for the first time.  This is the only time I ever wore my wig to the doctor's office.

Going back to the doctor, becoming me.

He doubled my hormone prescriptions that day and my physical transition went into a higher gear
7-28-2012, about 2.5 months into HRT.
7-28-2012, about 2.5 months of HRT.
Getting out more often without the aid of a wig.
At home getting used to a more natural look.
Side view...My hair is getting longer and I noticed it getting thicker.
Out shopping as myself, August 2012
8-13-2012...No longer padding the bra, still wearing the wig sometimes.
I turned 48 years old the week before but I was feeling like a teenager...
Later that night I went out with Mitchell.  Pictured here at a hotel in Raleigh where we spent the weekend.
With my friend Kate Bell at the Body, Mind, Spirit Expo in Raleigh, NC. This was our second day at the crowded Expo. The first day I wore my wig and this day I brought it with me and I asked her if she thought I would be ok going in without it. She told me I didn't need it so I went in without it and this was my first time being around large crowds presenting female without a wig. I was not ready for prime time yet but it was a growth experience, liberating..
With my dad on his birthday, still presenting male and not out to my family yet.
I am like, help, I need to take the next step.
Almost 4 months HRT...out and about as myself.
Starting to feel I am close....
I was finally getting happier with my hair.
Still wearing a wig when going out with Mitchell.  I was (and still am) so happy to have him in my world.
Driving to Greensboro, NC for a class at the UNCG on Transgender Voice and Communication. Not only was this class important self improvement for me but it was awesome going to a university as myself and taking a class. I went as my natural self for every class, no wigs.
10-1-2012... getting much more comfortable out as myself..
I think at this point was starting to realize that I was "there". After almost 5 months of hormones and almost 11 months growing my hair out and an improved voice..I had no more problems passing. In 6 weeks I would go full time...
..same day as the previous picture but I was not quite ready to ditch the wig, although the only times I still wore it were when going out with my boyfriend Mitchell. I didn't always wear the wig around him but I still wore it when we went out, although I probably didn't need to anymore...
A couple of loving pictures with my baby...
Going to the State Fair, by myself, a new challenge. Only one year earlier Mitchell took me and it was my first exposure to a huge crowd of people.  On this day it was not quite as crowded but I went by myself, another growth experience..
In my class at UNCG I met a new friend, now a dear friend, Donna Simms. I usually drove to Raleigh and rode the rest of the way to Greensboro and back with her. Not only was it nice to spend time with such a fun, positive person, but Donna also helped me out greatly in my struggle to come out to my parents.
Halloween Party Picture. The next day I went to lunch with Mitchel, who was also a pirate at the party with me (I was his wench, lol). On the way home that evening I took off my wig and that was the last time I ever wore it. The day was 10-29-2012.
Me as a wench with my Pirate.  I'm sort of tall here in 6" high heel boots...
The day after the Halloween party having dinner in Raleigh with Mitchell.  When I got home I took my wig off and watched television with Joan.  After that day I put my wig up and haven't worn one since...:)
Day 1 of totally wig free life.
Basically at this point I was full time with the exception of the time I spent with my parents.  Mt. Everest, as I referred to the mountain of fear I had about coming out to them, loomed but I was spending most of my life as me.
Out with Mitchell on his birthday.  First date with no wig!
This was a Big day for me. It was Mitchell's birthday and I had my hair styled for the first time at a salon. When I arrived at the hotel suite he had for us he commented on how nice my hair looked but when we got ready to go out he asked me if I was going to wear my wig. I told him no, I thought I would go without it. For a couple of months he had been asking me this same question before we went out and I took it to me that he wanted me to wear it, but later this night he told me how proud he was of me for going out with him with my natural hair. He said lots of women have hair shorter than this and he loved my hair. I guess in my desire to please and be appealing to him I had misread him on this, but we were on the same page from then on and I would just go with my own hair. That is for better or for worse because a lot of times there are bad hair days...

Going to class at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
At UNCG with Donna Simms for our Transgender Communication Class...
I went back to the salon for a hair trim , as the previous week we only had time to do the color and style. This time I got a different style, I didn't really like it that much, but it showed me that the same hair can be styled very differently.
Meeting my friend Lisa Lesher in person for the first time...
We had both seen our therapist that day, then went out to dinner in Raleigh.

She said I was the first trans person she'd met in person and we have since become best friends.
Thanksgiving week 2012...
6 months of HRT and starting to show some (all natural) curves....happy and relaxed in my back yard and anywhere else else I went, but still hiding from my parents and a few other people in my life...but that was about to change. the mall....less than 3 weeks from coming out to my family and 23 days before going full time...
Entering December 2012, the most pivotal month of my life...
6.5 months of HRT transition.
Driving into Destiny

This was taken on my way to Danville, Virginia on Saturday. Sunday I would return home only to discover that my spouse had left me and also left me a letter from an attorney she had hired to file for divorce. Talk about a blast from the past, this was the day before my world crashed in on me and I saw an opening to begin my new world. 3 days after this picture was taken I came out to my parents and 6 days later, on the Winter Solstice and last day of the Mayan calendar, I began my new life; full time as Tammy Ann Matthews.
After a happy weekend with Mitchell, I returned home later that night to find out my spouse had left me.  She knew about my relationship with him but I believe she left me at the time she did because she knew I was preparing to come out to my parents and determined to transition to full time by the end of the year.
World Changes....
My parents had just met the real me for the first time and as I sat at my house and thought about things, I decided that I did not Have to go back to pretending for anyone anymore. This is the very moment that I decided I was full time, that I was never going back again. If my smile seems sort of subdued it is because I was still reeling from my spouse leaving me just days before. Because I had not been myself All day I waited until the next day to call it my first day of being full time. That day was 12-21-2012, the last day of the Mayan Calender and the so called "end of the world"...
For me it was a new beginning...

"December 21, 2012 marks the completion of the Great Mayan Cycle, and the beginning of a New World Age. There are many predictions of what might happen on this day that, if they do not occur, could mislead many to perceive this date as meaningless. By focusing too heavily on external events, one may be missing the true significance of this prophetic date. Regardless of what happens externally on this day, December 21, 2012 is a clear marker of the transition of World Ages. This synchronization is inviting all of humanity to open to imagining, envisioning and actualizing the possibilities of gradual, positive transformation of our human culture in harmony with the Earth. As we internally align with this grand shifting of cycles we can contribute our personal inspiration and commitment to being part of this collective transformation... "

Mitchell came to town to take me out to a celebration dinner, 2 days after my going full time. 
Christmas 2012
My first Christmas with my family as myself and my last Christmas with Jumper.  Jumper had been Joan's dog but she became a major part of our family when we got married. She passed away the following spring at the age of 16.5.
My first Christmas as me with my dad.  He was so happy to have a daughter!  He was also finally happy to see me at ease.   That night we shared a father daughter dance which I will always remember as one of the most special moments ever with him, and in my life in general.  I was blessed to be able to have this time with him after coming out, and have his full acceptance.  I just wish we'd had a Lot more time together.
My first Christmas as myself with my loving, accepting Mama and Daddy
Mitchell showed up with flowers, as he is apt to do...<3
Out with my baby
Full time as my authentic self...:)
Celebrating New Year's Eve with Mitchell, at home before going out to dinner, then a bar.  He had been with me when this magical year came in and he was there for me all year...
New Year's Eve dinner with my baby...
One of many celebratory New year's Eve kisses..
New Year's Eve 2012
The magical year had brought everything I'd hoped for.
I'd been on hormones 7.5 months and full time 10 days when the new year came in..