Friday, February 26, 2016


Where is she?  When is she coming back?  What's happening in Tammy World? 
These are all questions I've gotten over the last few months.  Questions shouted over the sounds of chirping crickets as a labyrinth of cobwebs formed around this blog.

Well, the answer is I am here.  I've always been here, you just couldn't see me for awhile. 

What happened?  Don't worry friends, all will explained in due time.  Let's just say I've been on a sabbatical of sorts.  Yes, that's the ticket.  A sabbatical, definitely not a vacation.  Not a vacation at all.

In the spirit of a blog being about what is happening Right Now. I am back but in quite a bit of pain.  Coincidentally, the pain is mostly in my back where I have a few bad discs, 2 almost completely shot.  This is an issue I've been dealing with on and off (fortunately off most of the time) for over 2 decades.  This chicken has finally come home to roost, I am afraid, and I am really going to have to deal with a long term solution this time.

Speaking of my neck, I've now found out I have a couple of bad discs there.  They make their presence painfully known as we speak.  At least my pinched nerve is better so there is little pain or numbness in my leg at the moment, keeping me awake at night.

So that's my long answer to your question "how are you doing?"  OMG I must be getting old to give such a long, detailed and morbid answer to that age old greeting.  Nooo way!

Actually, the answer is I am doing great.  I'm fabulous, everything is fabulous.  You answer the question with how you want to be, and the answer itself is a self fulfilling prophesy. 

In truth, I am fabulous and for the most part everything is great.  I didn't make it this far to give in to any problem, even as it reaches crisis proportions.  It all started this fall when Mitchell noticed me leaning to one side as I walked.  It was the purse I thought.  It had to be the heavy purse so let's just switch it over it to the other side.  That didn't work.

It really started last summer when, in an effort to shape up, I made myself do at least 100 crunches daily (in bad form I'm sure) before shooting pains forced me to stop.  The recurring problem had last reared it's ugly head in 2010 when I declined recommended surgery on 2 herniated discs.  Months later the doctor admitted that most people in my situation were the same after two years whether they had surgery or not.  The people who had surgery, he said, just got better faster.

Doctors are notorious for coming up with solutions that the body may not be happy about.  Doctors are also notorious for under treating pain and ignoring more holistic solutions.  For now I'm going to deal with the pain, which fluctuates but is constant, and treat the situation holistically through physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic adjustments and (hopefully) diet. 

This after my doctor, upon examining me and my xrays for the first time, declared me "tore up from the floor up" and described me as "The Leaning Tower of Tammy."  You have to love country doctors.  I've dealt with pain, but when this thing started to affect my posture it was time to fight!

There is a positive message here and you are going to watch as it unfolds.  We have a lot of catching up to do as well.  Make no Bones about it, I am Back.  I'm cleaning the cobwebs off Tammy World as we speak.

For you genderologists, note that beyond transition for many of us the gender issues are resolved.  There may be residual damage, but the good news is for the most part gender is no longer something that has any importance in life.  The bad news is that all the other problems in your life remain.  Only now you may start noticing them.  When you have a gender identity issue it tends to be overwhelming and push almost everything else to the side. 

The demons will follow you.

Monday, February 22, 2016


This was a test. This was the ultimate test.
To have brought a humble being out of the woods, out of the swamp, out of the wild
And plop it into her life as a ball of pure joy and innocence.
The Sun was shining. Finally
A smile returned to her tired, pale face
For many days, and the grass grew green by the lake
The Flower bloomed

But how would she handle the darkness when the sun one day did set

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


The rising waters began to cover the last patches of dry ground surrounding my old, rusty mobile home when the power went out sometime after midnight. I was home alone that night in September 1996 when the edge of Hurricane Fran passed by Elizabeth City, NC, causing the waters of the Albemarle Sound to push up into the canals of the trailer park. I didn't know if I would stay dry inside or not but I had a small john-boat tied up to the deck just in case.
Buzzed and burning candles for light, I listened to cassettes on my boom box, playing this album all the way through at least a couple of times. Whenever I hear Alice in Chains now I think of that night and that hurricane. I experienced no fear, only a fascination with the unpredictability of the weather. My own demons were providing me all the fear I could handle.
I maybe slept an hour that night, nodding off after the sounds of wind and rain banging the trailer around finally subsided. There was minimal wind damage as the eye of the storm had passed far west, near Raleigh. Looking outside I noticed that All of the flood water had subsided. Indeed the canal behind the trailer was completely dry as the shift in wind direction had blown the mass of water to the other side of the vast sound....

Alice In Chains Unplugged

Monday, September 21, 2015

Everything Changes

Everything changes when you can be yourself.

This little expression popped into my head the other day and consequently I posted it on my Facebook page.  That simple phrase does seem to sum up most of what I've learned about life in the last few years, and I believe I've learned more about life in these last few years than I had in all those years before.

I'm sure this has been said before and conceptualized by almost everyone who has gone through major changes in life.  It certainly seemed to resonate with many of my friends who liked, commented or shared this brief post.  There is no greater change, in my opinion and experience, than changing one's gender and/or sex, and these are people who for the most part have not been able to live their whole lives as themselves.

The key word here, I believe, is Everything because literally Everything changes.  The part about being yourself is something that I am sure not everyone can relate to because unless you've had to live part or your life denying, hiding and/or repressing who you really are I don't think you can understand how foreign even the simplest aspects of life can be.  It can seem crippling or at least make life a constant, uphill struggle.

When the mask is removed there is a freedom that is almost indescribable.  It wasn't that long ago that I first began to experience this freedom and feel the rumblings of change, just a few years before I began my transition.  I'd finally let myself out of my own box, then out the door into the real world. 

I'd figured out a long time ago that this wasn't something that I could control so if I couldn't be myself (truly), I had to repress myself.  For many years this was best done with a bottle (or bottles) and something (or things) that comes in a plastic bag, along with a healthy dose of self loathing, despair and a sincere belief that it will all be over soon.

I just didn't think that I was the kind of person that could live a double life.  I didn't believe I was strong enough or more likely the real me that lived within was too strong to be toyed with in that way.   I was right ultimately, even though I did attempt to live that way for a little while before finally giving in and admitting I had to become myself in order to survive.  That was right after I realized I was going to survive and after I got over my disappointment that survival, at least for now, was my destiny.

Everything was going to Have to change.

The feeling of being me out in the real world was amazing.  When I began to experience that feeling I also woke up to the fact that Not being myself was something I couldn't stand anymore.  All the alcohol, drugs, fantasy world or whatever coping mechanisms I'd used to get through the course of any given day were not going to be enough anymore.  Change had to come and the more I experienced tastes of what life could be if I could be myself, the more I craved it.  That's when I realized that survival itself might not be tragic.

On the road to my fate I was mitigating the horrible feelings that had plagued me, essentially, forever.  With freedom to be myself came a coping mechanism stronger that any I'd experienced before.  That might be enough to get me by for a little longer.  Having a real possibility of the sex change I'd wanted for so long and now knew I needed, gave me the light at the end of the tunnel to push forward.

Change can take you by surprise.

My journey inevitably took me into a therapists' office one day, asking for help in order to transition.  The next stop was a doctors' office where I was given a prescription for hormones.  I knew this was a necessary step in becoming myself on the outside so I hoped it would bring positive physical changes, even though I was far from puberty and teenage years.  

What I did not expect was what I experienced over the first few weeks and months of my hormone therapy.  Physical changes did occur as expected, but the mental, emotional and possibly even spiritual effects of estrogen on my system were phenomenal.  I was overwhelmed by the way the dark dread I'd experienced so long I had no memory of anything else, floated away very quickly and was replaced by a peaceful contentment that allowed me to see that everything was indeed going to be okay.

The pleasant surprise of estrogen hit me like a bucket of cold water thrown in my face.  It woke me up.  I was alive.  I had first experienced freedom, now I was experiencing the inner feeling of normalcy that most people take for granted.  Maybe I wasn't insane after all, but had just been plagued by a hormone imbalance that ruled my world like a Dark Lord since I first went through puberty.  Combine with that standard gender dsyphoria and it was a potentially deadly situation I was about to escape.

Life wasn't just going to continue and be tolerable, it was going to be beautiful. 

Except for the anxiety of coming out and finally making the transition (my own Mt. Everest), those first few months on estrogen gave me the feelings of being a child again, and it was a joyful childhood at that.  Even as a child I'd felt remarkably different but the pain of that difference didn't truly sink in until I began to feel the chemical effects of puberty.  That pain hit me like a ton of bricks and stayed with me until I started my physical transition with estrogen.

That is when I knew that I was not only going to be myself, a woman, but that being myself was going to be fantastic.  That feeling was not going away regardless of what happened when I came out to my parents and transitioned.  

Everything changes when you can be yourself.

Bolstered by the positive changes they could see in my life and attitude, and me finally giving them an explanation of why my life had been so miserable and messed up, my parents instantly accepted me and actually rejoiced that I was not only going to be alright but finally was happy in life.  My dreams were actually going to come true.  My mind was at peace and now events were lining up for me to finally be at peace with my body. 

At some point when I was a teen I'd heard about a sex change operation.  I remember thinking to myself that I should have one of those although I had no idea how to go about it and didn't think it was a possibility in my life.  It seemed like a great idea though and something that would be perfect change for me, but I thought I'd have a better chance of going to the moon.  It was years later before I found the specifics about it and by then, of course, I assumed it was too late and could never happen anyway because of family, life situation etc.

Well, here in my 40's it was actually going to happen!  Literally, everything was going to change!!  I didn't think I needed other surgeries to be myself.  I guess I was lucky, but I was accepted as female everywhere I went and people treated me the way I wanted and needed to be treated.  Overall, living as myself came very natural to me.  The thing I needed to do no one would see unless they knew me intimately.

I felt at peace within myself but there was still a part of me that very wrong and it was something I could not change myself.  This is something that most people may not be able to relate to, even some people who are transgender and do not feel the need for this change, but this was something I'd physically felt the need for since the first horrific jolt hit me as a teenager in puberty.

2012 had been my great year of change, beginning hormones to start my second puberty, fully coming out to the world and beginning to live as myself.  2015 was going to be the year to make the big physical change. 

You've read some of the details about that fantastic journey here, as it unfolded, and much of what has happened since.  As we come up on the one year anniversary of my physical transition with surgery (GRS), you are about to hear the rest of the story.  Stay tuned, because this is a story of hope......

Monday, August 3, 2015

10 Month Post Op Update

Wow, I'm now into my 11th month since GRS and things are going great.  Even though any complications I had seem far behind me, they told us that full healing would take a whole year.  I guess I still had a few questions, like what was that mysterious swelling that caused me to get an ultrasound, was everything healed alright inside and was the area that had the granulation and silver nitrate treatments going to be okay?  All of those questions and more were answered last week when I finally went to a gynecologist for the first time and had a full physical exam from my regular doctor.

Going to the gynecologist was an affirming experience overall.  I drove a couple of hours to see this particular doctor as she came highly recommended and is someone who's worked with trans women before.  The office had mailed me paperwork which I brought in with me, so the processing nurse knew of my condition before we sat down to talk. 

The only "trans" question she asked me was if I'd had the surgery and when it occurred, even though I had stated that on the paperwork.  This discretion was a good thing because there were other people in the adjoining waiting room who might have been able to hear that conversation.  Considering that a lot of the women in the waiting room were pregnant or had babies with them, some aspects of being in that office did highlight (in my mind) some of the differences I have with most other women.

When I finally got to see the doctor, she interviewed me in her office for awhile before going to the exam room.  She asked me about my surgery, hormones, mammograms etc.  She asked if I'd had breast surgery as she looked at my top and asked me what was going on there.  I guess just me and a slightly padded bra was enough to make her question that.  She's very nice and about my age so talking to this doctor was very easy.  I hoped that the exam part of the visit would be as easy.

Luckily, the exam wasn't bad at all.  I had to take off all my clothes, put on a gown and lay back on the table.  First she felt around for glands in my neck and abdomen.  She did ask me if I'd had throat surgery, apparently because of my lack of a discernible Adam's Apple.  A lot of trans women get that done along with GRS (a couple of the girls in Montreal had this) but it was something I didn't think I needed. 

Next she did a breast exam in which she noted that I'd had good results so far from hormones and that I needed a mammogram.  I think this is a standard thing for doctors to request but I really don't think I need one, having only been on hormones a little over 3 years. 

It's like I am a 15 year old girl in that respect but then again we take a lot of pharmaceutical estrogen and progesterone, so maybe there is an elevated cancer risk.  Anyway, it looks like a mammogram is in my not so distant future.  When checking out of this office I scheduled that test for October and the lady at the desk asked me to bring records of my old mammograms.  I didn't want to ruin the moment by telling her this would be my first.

The vaginal exam was thorough but surprisingly easy.  The doctor felt around my outer labia, which is a routine part of the exam, and could not find the little lump that had been a big concern for me just a few months ago.  I haven't been able to feel it lately either and the discomfort if caused me when crossing my legs etc. is gone.  So I guess that is just one of those things they never can pinpoint but that did resolve itself on its own.

I feel that my vagina is very tight and from talking to other post op women this is not unusual.  In a lot of ways that's a good thing, but I was a little worried that it could make the exam more difficult.  She did the exam with her fingers and speculum and it was easy, so there was no need for worry.  She asked me what kind of tissue was used to make the inner lining of my vagina and the truth is I don't know.  I never learned the specifics of the operation, as I would be sleeping anyway.  That it was a penile inversion surgery is all I know.  This doctor did tell me that the vaginal wall was mucous tissue which explains why I am able to get moist there, even enough for sex without artificial lubricant sometimes.  Apparently she has seen other patients who have a different type of tissue there.

It's nice to be able to tell my doctors that I am sexually active with my boyfriend and that everything is going great in that respect.  I don't think my experience is completely typical, but I am able to have orgasms more easily than I did before the surgery.  I'd always heard, and was expecting them to be more difficult to achieve but possibly more satisfying after surgery.  In my case now, they are easier to achieve, often multiple and very often more intense than before my operation, as well as generally being much more satisfying because I now have the right part for me.

In the end, she said that I had a normal looking, functional vagina and that everything was fine.  I did get a prescription for Estrace cream, that is applied into the vagina with an applicator.  She told me the amount of estrogen from the cream is like a drop in the bucket compared to the hormone therapy I'm already on.  This cream is supposed to help with vaginal elasticity and was one of the things I'd wanted to get from this doctor as I've heard good things about it from my friends.

There is some scar tissue where I had granulation and treatments for granulation, but they are fading as well as the general surgical scars.  This doctor told me that they looked like normal scars from a regular woman who's had labiaplasty, so they do not necessarily give me away as trans.  She also told me I would not need labiaplasty, or a stage 2 surgery, which was encouraging to hear.  I am truly done with all the "trans" surgeries, having escaped with only having to do one.


I also saw my general practitioner (GP) last week.  We had scheduled a follow up to my Bell's Palsy episode and it was also time for another physical.  There is a problem with my thumb that I needed to talk to him about as well and you will be hearing more about that in future installments.

As far as my Bell's Palsy, I am rating it 97% gone.  My voice therapist recently did another evaluation of my voice, partly to see if the Bell's had any lasting effect there.  She found some slight anomaly that showed up on a graph and may or may not be a result of this palsy episode (as it didn't show up before).  At any rate it really doesn't affect my voice to the naked ear or affect the way I am gendered.  She said I'd achieved the mastery level of voice feminization which I guess is not too surprising because I never get called sir anywhere, even on the phone, and really don't have to think about my voice anymore.  After my last couple of sessions with her I will be done with voice training too.

The only thing my doctor's evaluation could only find was slight asymmetry in my smile, which I believe I had before but don't remember for sure.  I realize that there are a few lingering effects from the palsy (for instance the affected side of my face gets "tired" sometimes) but they get better with each passing week.

He also wanted to give me a full exam as well as take blood work (which I haven't gotten back yet).  He decided not to do a speculum exam to look inside my vagina, because I'd had one a couple of days earlier. 

This is the same doctor that started me on hormones back in 2012 and last gave me a physical before I left for Montreal.  He has a couple more post op patients but I am the only one who's been with him from first hormone through the complete sex change, so I know he was anxious to examine me and I was glad to show him how far I've come in this ~ 3 years.

This doctor always has a nurse in the room when he examines me with clothing off, even though it was a different nurse now that he's changed offices.  I guess that's just his procedure as the gynecologist didn't have anyone in the room when she examined me.  Anyway, I am not nearly as embarrassed to take my clothes off these days, which has been a positive effect of my surgery.

He also asked me if I'd had breast surgery and when I said no he said I had grown there since he saw me last spring.  As he was examining me he told the nurse my breasts were from the (hormone) replacement therapy.  He then took a look downstairs and asked me a couple of questions about being sexually active, which I was glad to answer.  He made note of everything being in the right place, clitoris, urethra, vaginal opening, so everything is normal and looks good.  Great reports!

July 2012
Since I'd posted it recently as a throwback picture, after the nurse left I showed my doctor this photo from 3 years ago.  It was taken on my way to see him after I'd been on hormones 2 months and was going to get my dosage doubled.  After that my transition took off and has not slowed down.  I did not reduce my hormone dosage after GRS.  In fact I changed to injections and have higher estrogen levels now than I did before surgery, so I am still changing a lot in just about every way.

The one thing that hormones could not change I addressed with my surgery in Montreal and today I could not happier with the outcome or my "decision" to have it done where I did and when I did.  For me, GRS was the missing piece of the puzzle for sure.

When I showed him that old picture I told my doctor that wherever I go people treat me and accept me as any other woman.  In fact, few know that I am really trans.  He prefaced this statement by saying that I Am a woman, but he told me he wasn't surprised to hear that, and that I look like any other woman with my clothes on Or off.  Hearing that from the man who started me on this (physical) transition truly made my day.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


There is a stigma to being different.  I guess a lot of people feel it for different reasons to various degrees at some point in their lives.  Personally, I've felt it strongly since at least time time I entered school as a kid.  People deal with having a stigma in various ways.  Some embrace whatever it is about them that brings upon shame, others go into hiding and some are destroyed by it.

Transgender people have a special kind of stigma.  Most often this feeling of being disgracefully different is the cause of us repressing who we really are and/or secretly leading double lives.  This can be extremely overwhelming and can lead to isolation, addiction, shattered lives and sometimes worse, although some are better at putting on a happy face and leading a "normal life" than others.  In any instance, the dark shadow lives within.

When we come out, Good God, the stigma is suddenly there staring everyone in the face.  It is like having a tattoo on your forehead if people know that you are transgender.  You may be successful at covering it with enough realness, by blending into the world so that everyone doesn't know.  Still, someone always knows.  And they are staring at that tattoo.  Even if they embrace and accept you, you have to wonder what is going on their heads.  What do they really think of you and this strange condition you are now so openly displaying?

I've come to discover that transsexual transition is only about treating your own gender dsyphoria.  It doesn't do a thing to do away with the stigma of being grossly different.  That requires a different treatment altogether.

By and large, you cannot effect how other people are going to react or think about you, so how you cope with this stigma of being trans is all in your head.  It can destroy you or you can find a way to deal with it.

Stealth, going completely underground so that no one (and I mean No one) knows this secret about you, is one way of dealing with it.  This is the old way and used to be considered necessary for survival.  Today, acceptance is more widespread so not as many people choose the option of going completely underground after coming out.  It requires severing ties, telling lies and going back into a closet. 

Closets are usually dark, cramped, uncomfortable spaces.  Prior to coming out we live a type of stealth, hiding from the world.  As I have stated before, personally this is not a situation I want to return to.  It's not healthy for me and for those of us who don't want to completely start over, it is not possible.

You hear of people doing things as extreme as committing suicide even after they have fully transitioned.  Did the dsyphoria not go away or was there some other dark element at work.  Could the stigma of being transgender or the realization that some will never be able to deal with it (family, spouses etc.) be the culprit? 

Every trans person defines their own transition.  Just this year I've realized that my own transition is complete.  I've gone from point A to point B.  Although I gave up a career and lost a spouse, I know it's something I had to do and it has been extremely rewarding.  I guess I am lucky in that my transition was successful in curing my gender dsyphoria.  That was my one goal going in, but recently I've realized that nothing has made the stigma I feel from being extremely different go away. 

So, I have embarked on another journey, one of introspection.  I realize now that I have never been comfortable being transgender.  I hated it, hence I hated myself.  I fought it for as long as possible, then I came out and transitioned as quickly as I could.  I wanted to get away from this thing as swiftly as possible.

You know what, it worked.  Bingo, I was cured!  It couldn't have been so easy, could it?  I don't hate myself anymore.  I learned to love myself and luckily also found someone to love me.  Life is Awesome!

But wait, I am still trans.  I'm still not comfortable with that, even though I am finally comfortable with myself.  How do I deal with this awful stigma?   I've always felt like a woman, not a trans woman.  That's one reason I didn't want to transition.  I wanted to be a "real" woman, not a trans woman.  Now I am having to realize that I am as real as I am going to get.  Not only do I not feel pride in being this way, I have to admit to still feeling shame.

Maybe it's just the lingering pain of 4 decades of wrongness, maybe it's the fact that much of society still views people like me in a negative light (that often includes discrimination and violence committed against us), maybe it's the fact that I still worry about what people think of me (in every way), maybe it's the fact that my secret isn't such a secret anymore, but something still bothers me about about being trans.  Inside, I feel the stigma.

The bottom line is that I don't want people to know, but it's a catch-22.  In my situation, for a lot of reasons, some people are always going to know about me.  All the realness I can muster cannot wipe that away. 

I realize I am fortunate to have made it here alive and seemingly in one piece.  I'm fortunate to have been able to complete my transition the way I wanted to and I am fortunate to have a future that could possibly fulfill all my dreams.  The only nagging problem related to this condition is dealing with this tattoo on my head.

So I have sort of withdrawn some lately.  I've let fear creep back in to some degree.  In real life I have been fine, just not interacting with friends as much for various reasons.  My family life is looking up and couldn't be better.  But online in social media, except for my private groups, I've tried to sort of distance myself from being trans. 

It's an awkward situation and I'm not satisfied with it.  I haven't been posting blogs recently because right now I generally write about my transition and I didn't want to draw attention to that situation.  Friend request have come in from people I've met who may not know I'm trans and I don't know what to do with that, so I've blocked some so they wouldn't find out.  Otherwise, I've tried censoring the content I post publicly. 

This isn't working in a way that I'm comfortable with.  I don't want to go back to hiding, and partial hiding seems to be a tedious balancing act that's going nowhere. 

So at the end of the day I have to find a happy medium in my life.  I'm still going to be trans.shhh, meaning I am not going to advertise or tell everyone I meet that I am different.  Still, I am not going back to missing out on life or opportunities out of fear of someone finding out. 

Feeling stigmatized is not only not justified, it's not going to hold me down.  I won't let being trans define me but I'm going to have to suppress that creeping feeling that I need to go out of my way to mask who I am in every situation.  Even if I don't embrace it, I have to deal with it.