Sunday, December 21, 2014


Don't get me wrong, but sometimes the wrong word used in the wrong context can give the wrong connotation and be interpreted in a completely wrong manor.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Not necessarily anyway, but often when there is miscommunication someone can feel wronged.  Please don't take that the wrong way.

Last night I made a rare appearance at a transgender support group meeting.  In fact, it was only the fourth time I've attended such a meeting in person and the second time I've attended this particular group.  I'm really at a point in my life and transition where I don't particularly need to go to such meetings but I will continue to go when I can to offer support and see my friends.  In the past, when I was more in need of support for issues such as coming out, it was logistically tough for me to attend these meetings.  That's still the case today as I am usually busy with my boyfriend or other things when the group meets that one Saturday a month, but I will make the effort to attend whenever possible.

During the meeting, one of the members made a reference to having been made to feel wrong for exhibiting signs of being transgender.  In their case these feelings were bestowed on my friend by certain religious people who feel they are righteous and everyone who doesn't follow their strict doctrine is wrong.  Oh, don't we all know that type.  They are particularly prominent in the south where religion is as strong as a shot of brandy on a Sunday morning.

Another person in the group noted that there is a movement to get away from referring to ourselves and our activities as wrong.  The new, politically correct way to express our experience is to say that we are different or variant.  The idea being that if we say we were made to feel wrong it can perpetuate the idea that somehow being trans is wrong.  Just like the term and diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder has fallen by the wayside as yesterday's thinking, the idea that we are wrong or have engaged in wrong behavior should be left by the wayside.

While this is actually a noble effort, all of this is sort of tit for tat to me and the whole conversation seems much ado about nothing.  The fact that disagreement over terminology, or the interpretation of terminology, ruffled some feathers in the groups seems to me, well, wrong.  One group member was made to feel wrong for using the word wrong to describe how she was made to feel by others earlier in her life.  As another friend said, it is unfortunate that someone can leave a support group meeting feeling worse than when they came in.  Something is inherently wrong with that.


My take on the matter is that the use of the word wrong to describe the transgender condition is not wrong at all.  At least not in my experience or interpretation.  While I do not feel it is wrong to be the way I am and have been, I know that for most of my life being trans has made me feel very, very wrong.

Personally, I didn't have many instances of being made to feel wrong.  Like almost all of us, I dabbled in expressing myself by trying on clothes and makeup of female family members as a young child.  I don't recall being caught while doing that clandestinely but I do remember one instance of dressing in my grandmother's clothes and wig then walking out of the room to show her and my aunt's. 

I didn't feel wrong for dressing in her clothes like that, and for a few minutes the women seemed to get a kick out of it when I walked out of the bedroom to show them, but then my grandfather came home and definitely let me know it was wrong.  That's how they looked at it then anyway.  I realize many others had much worse experiences with family members than I did, but after that I totally went in the closet with it.  It would be later in my adult life before I made a serious attempt to put an entire look together and go out, and I know that repression was due to the fact that I felt like my coming out and expressing my true self was wrong, or at least it would be interpreted as being wrong.

Much deeper than any feelings that any of my actions would be seen as wrong, were the strong feelings inside of being wrong.  These feelings didn't start until I was about 12 years old, as I recall, but they played a huge role in shaping my life from that time forward.

I've described that feeling as a dark cloud that came over me and it did begin about the time of puberty.  The feeling of being wrong was organic, internal and extremely powerful at times.  Oh My God, something is Wrong!  I feel I had a chemical imbalance in my brain and I believe it was caused by the sudden surge of the dreaded hormone testosterone. 

From that point on my inner being was ruled by this tragic feeling, this dark stranger.  From the age of 16 I tried to quell these feelings with alcohol, drugs, or any form of escape.  It was only when I knocked down the testosterone and began taking female hormones that this feeling went away and I finally began to feel normal, to feel right.

I'd had feelings of being female inside, never fit in or felt right being male and had symptoms of gender dsyphoria (including genital dsysphoria) most or all my life.  I'd found out the term and figured out I was transgender several years before beginning transition but I'd never put two and two together to figure out the chemical nature of my dark psychological cloud.  I was producing the wrong hormones and it created a clash of the titans in my brain.  The light that came on within me very soon after I began taking testosterone blockers, then the female hormone estrogen, made this crystal clear.

So for me, the word wrong is the right term to describe my inner feelings before beginning my medical transition.  None of my behaviors have been wrong and no one can make me feel wrong about the changes I've made to make myself right. 

Those that believe that what we do or how we feel is wrong, are wrong themselves in an extreme way.  We as transgender people are different, as all people are unique and different, and not all trans people have the same feelings I experienced.  We are a varied group and have varied experiences.  I just know that I survived a very dark period that lasted a very long time.  Now I feel right inside and outside,  There is nothing wrong with that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

December Sixteenth

My, what a difference two years makes.  On this day (December 16th) in 2012 I came home from an overnight stay with my boyfriend Mitchell.  He'd worked the previous day, a Saturday, in Danville, Virginia and I made the 2.5 hour drive to spend the evening with him in a hotel.  That Sunday, before it was time to check out, I'd been hit by an emotional outburst and crying fit.  I had the strangest feeling.

So much was going in my mind.  My life was getting ready to change in some very major ways, some I didn't even realize at the time.  I had a goal of coming out to my parents by the end of the year and as the Holidays approached it began to look like I would be talking with them on New Year's Eve, if I could muster the courage.

My plan was to come out by the end of the year (at the latest) and transition to life as myself (Tammy) as soon as possible after that.  My actual goal was to transition at the beginning of 2013 but in order to accomplish that I had to come out to my parents first.  Being somewhat of a procrastinator and deathly terrified of coming out to the only family I had, I'd managed to go through almost all of 2012 without coming out.  This had been my stated goal since the beginning of 2012, so yes I was procrastinating.

The coming out letter was written and I was as prepared as I could be to talk to my loving but conservative parents.  I was nervous, as this was my Mt. Everest that I had viewed from the distance for so long.  Occasionally, through the clouds, I would catch a glimpse of it's peak and stand mortified, contemplating a hundred disastrous scenarios that might follow my ascension of the dreaded mountain. 

So yeah, I had a lot on my mind.  At home things were not well.  My marriage had gone from bad to much worse as the cancer of my pending transition, and her knowledge of my relationship with Mitch, poisoned the semi content friendship based partnership my spouse and I once had. 

After my coming out and going full time we were going to try to secure another living arrangement for Joan, perhaps an apartment nearby.  Maybe it would be me that moved out, we had not decided yet, but I surmised that when left with the house alone she would no longer want to live there. 

Details, details...  Details that would be decided later as my mind was a million miles away, on the frozen, windswept slopes of the looming mountaintop.  I was so distracted by the task at hand (coming out and transition) that I didn't see what was happening at home, right before my eyes.

Joan had reluctantly agreed to help me put up a Christmas tree.  I was thinking this would be our last Christmas together and I wanted something spectacular, a huge live Frazier Fir.  Normally, the thought of such a tree would have excited the little child in Joan but this year she wasn't into it at all.  I bought the tree a couple of days before leaving for my overnight trip to Virgina and put lights on it, but she had yet to decorate it by the time I left.

I'd come out to her a little over two years prior, in October 2010, and our marriage had been in a downward spiral ever since.  I still kept secrets from her but earlier in 2012, right before I began my transition with hormones, I decided my life needed to be transparent with regards to my spouse.  Before the end of the year it would be transparent to the whole world, but I still had that mountain ahead of me.


It's December 16, 2012 and as I'm getting out of the shower something hits me in the gut.  My mind is thinking back to beach trips with Joan and the dogs, one of the few things we really enjoyed together in our later years.  I'd been trying to get her to take one last trip with us that Fall, as I knew it would be our last and likely the final trip for our oldest dog Jumper, who'd just turned 16.

I realized that we would never have such a trip again and I began to cry.  Usually I am very happy when I'm with Mitchell but he understands that sometimes I can get emotionally nostalgic.  In transition most of us lose something and I was about to lose my friend and housemate, as well as one of my dogs as she would surely take Jumper with her.

This loss would occur sometime in the future, perhaps a couple months or more down the road, but there was also the grave uncertainty of what would happen with regards to my parents once I came out.  Of course that was weighing heavily on my mind that morning.

But there really was something very different about this emotional outburst.  I could literally feel, at the very core of my soul, that Joan was gone.  It was a hollow, panicked feeling.  I knew something was wrong and I couldn't stop crying.  As I lay face down on the bed, Mitchell held me and attempted to comfort me.  I could feel his loving warmth (something I'd never experienced in marriage) but it wasn't enough to stop the sobbing.  I liken that feeling to when someone dies and a loved one can feel it from far away.  I'd been thinking back to what good times we'd had and suddenly, everything went black.

The time of day I was experiencing this feeling was consistent with the actual time she left the house.  When I got home late that evening the dogs were in the house and it appeared they'd been left there all day.  There was no Joan. 

On the kitchen table was a letter.  Oddly, it wasn't from Joan.  On the envelope was my old (legal at the time) name so I picked the letter up and opened it.  The letter was from an attorney Joan had hired to file for legal separation. 

This would not do!  She wasn't going to leave me like this.  Not now.  I needed her to stand by my side when I came out to my Mom, or at least be in the picture.  She couldn't do something like this without talking to me first.  She just wouldn't.  But the letter said she was filing for separation and instructed me to call this lawyer as soon as possible.

With tear filled eyes I looked up and saw the beautiful, green Christmas tree.  She'd put a few decorations on it before heading out the door.  Bless her heart....


Driving into Destiny

This was taken on my way to Danville, Virginia on Saturday.  On Sunday December 16th 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.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


It's Over.  In my dirty little hands I'm holding a sheet of paper stating that the court has ordered that "The bonds of matrimony which have been established between the parties are dissolved and the plaintiff is granted an Absolute Divorce from the defendant." 

Absolute divorce, absolutely.  In this case I was the plaintiff.  It really didn't matter in our case, it was just a matter of who filed first.  Joan and I both wanted this and now it's over.  We are now Officially divorced.

Sometimes I tear up when thinking about where this failed marriage might have led if only for this or for that, even though most (but not all) of my tears over this have already been shed.  If we had been different people leading lives, in a different world, with a different set of circumstances, in another life, we would have lived happily ever after and been the most content couple in the world.  In this life we were always a mistake.

There are, of course, two ways to look at life.  The proverbial glass can either be half empty or half full.  As y'all know, the glass of my outlook on life has overflowed in recent years, or at least tipped past the half full point.  In the case of my marriage though, the truth is the glass wasn't full at all.  It was completely empty.


I met Joan when I was but 23 years old.  Being an "older woman", naturally it was she that made the first move on me.  Being sort of directionless, I played along and soon found myself in a relationship.  We actually got along really well.  We shared the same taste in music and enjoyed doing the little things in life together.  Joan and I both looked at life from what I will call a childlike perspective and everything we did seemed like sort of an adventure.  We couldn't wait to see what was around that next curve.

For several years we shared the intimacy that loving couples are supposed to experience.  My favorite thing was kissing.  I remember sitting with her in the back seat of a car riding somewhere with friends, Joan and I making out like teenagers.  We do have some good, loving memories from our early years.  In those days we were as close to being a normal couple as we would ever get. 

There's one memory, from our first months together, that haunts me.  Even though Joan lived in an apartment where her mother stayed downstairs, I would stay over sometimes and sleep upstairs with her in her bed.  When the lights went out, Joan wanted to cuddle with me and go to sleep.  Somehow I wasn't comfortable with that.  I remember her asking me if I liked to spoon.  Having never technically slept in bed with anyone, let alone a lover, it was just something I wasn't comfortable with so we barely did it if at all.

Seeing things now from a woman's side of the bed and realizing how amazing and important cuddling at night with your lover is (now that I finally have that in a relationship), I feel horrible that I deprived her of that special feeling of being held at night.  Sometimes I feel that was the beginning of the end of us ever having a great, lasting relationship.  

In later years, when we finally got married, I remember trying to cuddle up to her at night.  I think by then I'd realized the importance of holding someone and I felt it was something I needed myself.  By then she didn't want to anything to do with it.  I could almost feel her cringe when I would touch her and after a few seconds she would kind of wiggle away.  Had I planted that seed of coldness by turning my back on her all those moons ago?


Of all the things that made ours an empty marriage I believe it was the lack of kissing that stands out the most.  Our last kiss, our last really good kiss that was more than just a peck, occurred the night before we got married.  We'd been dating over 11 years and by then any true physical romance had already left the relationship.  We weren't fully having sex and what's worse, we never really kissed.

That night in the hotel room Joan and I made out for what seemed like the whole night.  One kiss lasted at least an hour and in her arms I felt the passion I'd felt in our first year together.  That was the year that she told me she loved me more than anyone she'd ever met.  I yearned to feel that same thing and I was moved by her revelation.  Somehow to me it didn't feel exactly right but I knew I loved her.

That kiss, I might call it our Last Kiss, is something I will never forget.  It gave me hope that marrying someone I cared deeply about was the right thing to do, even though our relationship had grown cold and was more of a friendship.  Maybe there would love in this marriage after all.  Maybe I would finally find inside myself the real love that would make me a normal person.

The next day we drove to a wedding chapel in Winchester, Virginia and said our vows.  Joan was so pretty in her wedding dress and I wore a suit.  Everything felt empty to me then, it always had, but in going through the motions of life some days were better than others.  At the time I considered that a good day.

We never consummated the marriage in the normal fashion of husband and wife and we never again shared a passionate kiss.   We were truly great friends and pretty good partners in life.  We slept in the same bed most of the first half of our marriage but only some of the last half.  Occasionally we would satisfy each other but still never truly consummated the marriage.  We enjoyed our trips to the beach, occasional trips to the mountains and raising our dogs together.   Yet, over the years we grew more and more apart.

When I finally realized that I had to transition at some point in order to survive, I came out to her.  It took me almost 2 years to get the courage to talk to her and by that time it was 2010, just a little over 4 years ago.  From that point on she never touched me, not even a hug.  Even the little pecking kisses went away.  She moved into a separate bedroom and our lives became more separate than ever.

She did support me in my idea to come out to my parents and go "full time."  She even made me begin to believe that it would be a possibility while they were still alive, and she supported me in other little ways like encouraging me to get my ears pierced and grow my hair.  Overall though, she was more tolerant than she was supportive.  It seems like she was happy with being only friends and she spoke of leaving me when I transitioned.


One of the things that hurts the most about my divorce with Joan was the fact that she tells me today that it wasn't my transition that caused her to leave, but rather my finding another lover and finally coming clean about it to her.  No, that is The Thing that hurts me the most.  If she had simply left because of my transition I could look at it as abandonment during a tough time in my life.  That's how many others want me to see it but in my heart I feel that she left because I had someone else and was bringing them to the house. 

I don't regret starting to date Mitchell.  Looking back I would have done some little things differently, like not bringing him to the house when Joan was away, but I needed a chance to experience real love for once in my life.  In a sense I met him a little too early but in a way I met him at exactly the right time.  Joan and I were never truly happy in our marriage and if somehow we were still married today I think we would be taking that unhappiness to a whole 'nother level.

In fact, Joan and I are taking our relationship to another level today.  It is a level of truth, honesty and reality.  We are friends.  We seem to be starting over on that friendship again recently after having a hiccup for a couple months after my surgery.  I think she needed a little time to digest that and to get used to not only being separated but being divorced.

I saw Joan twice this week and I will see her again at Christmas, maybe even once again before the Holiday.  I'd be lying if I said that a part of me didn't want her to come home, even though all I (we) want her to do now is live in the guest house.  No one else in either of our families seems to want that so I doubt it will ever happen and that's for the best really.  We do get on each others nerves and bring out the worst in each other I believe.

We need to have separate lives but we need to be friends.  We still have the common bond of the dogs, which are like our children.  She needs visitation time with them probably more than she does with me, but that's okay. 

Unlike in our marriage, in our friendship the glass seems to be half full.  At least it's not completely empty and it is an honest relationship.  It's not a mistake.  And occasionally I get a chance to glimpse that childlike sparkle in her eyes.....

Monday, December 1, 2014


A friend told me awhile back that after "the surgery" some people would react to me differently, perhaps drift away from my life.  That didn't make sense to me.  I was already "out" and had transitioned a good while ago.  Everyone who mattered already knew about me so why would having GRS affect any relationships any further?  Nothing changed that anyone could see or in a way that would affect them.

It's been over two months now and I haven't seen Joan since I got back from Montreal.  We talk, but not nearly as often as we did before I left for surgery.  We keep making little plans to get together to walk the dogs but somehow those plans keep falling through.  Could our relationship be suffering blowback (unintended consequences) from my GRS?

The dogs are the ones suffering, I guess, not seeing someone who helped raised them and was so important in their lives.  Being apart from Joan hasn't really bothered me so much.  I've stopped reaching out to her by calling so often and I don't miss her calls the way I might have in the past.

What did she expect, that we would somehow get back together as husband and wife?  Unless she is delusional, she knew better.  I really do not think that is what she expected.  Perhaps she is just afraid to see me now, I don't know.  It's weird.

Tomorrow is the day that we have scheduled to meet halfway between our homes and take the dogs for a walk in the park.  Usually we have lunch and maybe do a bit of shopping if it's not too hot to leave the dogs in the car.

Tomorrow is when we planned to get together.  Always tomorrow, until today becomes tomorrow.  Then it's tomorrow all over again.  Tonight I wait for her to call but I don't think I will call her.  This scenario has played itself out quite a few times in the last few weeks.  I am surprised by how much it really doesn't matter to me.

I'm also a little surprised and disappointed that she didn't come to see me when I first got home and was at Mama's recovering.  We were sorta surprised when she didn't visit Mama on her birthday last month.  Now she tells Mama that she is going to come by for dinner on Christmas day, as the rest of her family will be out of town and Mama and I will be home alone.  Seriously?  We will just have to see....


There's one more friend I hear much less from and have not seen since returning from Canada.  My old high school Buddy and pensive supporter doesn't talk to me as much now.  Is this too because of blowback or just life's circumstances.  I don't know and I think it matters.  I don't feel like I've lost anyone from this act of transition that I hadn't already lost, and a little distance from some people doesn't bother me.  Again, when it comes to Joan it is surprising that I feel this way.


The closest call I've had to actually seeing Joan in the last two and a half months was when her sister and brother in law (the people she lives with) went out of town for a weekend.  Mitchell was due to come home the following day and in fact that was his birthday.  I'd told her about this a week or more in advance but the night before she called me several times wanting me to come see her and bring the dogs. 

The next morning she called and asked me again to come by and I again told her I couldn't.  She went on and on, about everything, and I had a hard time getting her off the phone.  That call was unusual because most of our recent conversations have lasted about 5 minutes, tops.  While talking to her I drove over to Mama's and finally handed her the phone.  Mama ended the conversation after a few minutes, much to my relief.

That week was sort of a dark period for Joan.  I sensed her depression and it sent me into a phase of intensified guilt for leaving her alone and "ruining her life."  Over time I was convinced that she was suffering from a bout of bipolar symptoms and either hadn't been taking her medication or needed an adjustment to her medication. 

Joan's bipolar disorder was something I dealt with for the entire 25 years we were together.  Though she didn't know about it until recent years and it affected me in various ways, when I finally began to deal with my own disorder (GD), she began making plans to get out of Dodge.  When I took the step of transition to make peace with my gender dsyphoria , she followed through with her plans, packed up and left. 

The realization that Joan wouldn't be there for me the way that I had been there for her has eased my guilt to some degree.  Of course in my situation it wasn't just transition that caused her to leave.  Yes, I had found someone else to love.  That's the price of a loveless marriage, or at least one with no intimacy.  It was also my jumping at the chance to fulfill my lifelong desire to love a man as a woman, but it was primarily just because I had finally found true love.


Blowback from my having surgery or not, Joan and I have drifted further apart recently.  Emotionally this has not been tragic for me, but under my underlying sense of numbness about the whole situation, there are feelings.

Not long ago I had a dream in which Joan and I were at some sort of establishment in a downtown area.  The roads had become icy and I was going to give Joan a ride (to her home).  She walked away into the crowd and I followed her all over the place.  The scene was downtown Rocky Mount, the beach, and some other strange crowded place that might have been Disney World. 

I was walking and everywhere I went she was either way in front of me or out of sight, with me just having missed her.  I stayed on her trail but could never quite catch her.  This was one of a few semi disturbing dreams I've had recently after which I wake up in an emotional state.  Outside of the dream world, my emotions regarding Joan have been subdued for the most part.


That numbness held true tonight, when I opened an email from my attorney stating nonchalantly that my divorce was final.  It seems the judge signed the papers last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. 

Out of nowhere, 10 minutes after reading the email, I suffered an intense bout of crying.  Not a typical boo hoo, this was one of the wailing, almost screaming cries that scares the daylights out of Mitchell when they hit me.  Fortunately, they aren't common so he's not subjected to that too often. 

Only the dogs were here to console me tonight, and Nightingale came and sat beside me for awhile until I calmed down.  Then, as suddenly as it had come on, the crying spell and any sad emotions I had about the divorce or anything else left me.  The state of numbness over my divorce and lessened friendship with Joan had returned.

I am left with new normal when it comes to EX (now I can literally caller that).
It's not so bad after all.....