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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Grandma is the one who would take me to the dinosaur museum when I was a toddler. At least every other week, my family and my uncle’s family would go to Grandma’s and Pop-pop’s apartment for dinner. Starting in first grade, Grandma was the one who picked me up one day a week after school. With my sister, the three of us would go for ice cream, go to the library, and then go to the swimming lessons that my grandparents insisted on paying for. My weekly afternoon with Grandma continued until I entered junior high, and I was very sorry that it stopped.

When I joined the school band in 4th grade, Grandma and Pop-pop attended my very first concert, and most every concert after that through high school, not to mention marching band shows and spring musicals. Amazingly, they managed to do the same for my sister and my four cousins that live in town. They even have made it to events for the two cousins that live in a different state. At the extended family gatherings, Grandma was the one that would answer my sister’s and my questions about how we were related to all of the people present, a game my sister dubbed “Jewish geography”.

Grandma and Pop-pop are the ones that own the lake house, and many a summer weekend has been spent in their company there. I have many memories of Grandma working on the planter box, and of going for walks with her along the lake road. Grandma is the one in the kitchen on Dock Days (the days at the beginning and end of the season when we put the dock into or take it out of the water), making sure that there is ample food to feed the hungry work crew of family and friends. One of our long-running family jokes is that we have to tell Grandma to “Sit! Stay!” because she is so concerned that everyone else gets enough to eat she is often the last person to sit at the table. Even then, she frequently tries to get up to help someone find more food. (Actually, this phenomenon happens during family dinners at the apartment, too.)

Mother’s Day means walking in the Race for the Cure to honor Grandma, who is a 30+ year survivor of breast cancer. She was devastated when her daughter, my Aunt B, was diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2004; thankfully, Aunt B now walks with Grandma every year, also wearing the pink survivor shirt. After the walk, the whole family goes to brunch together, and we play musical chairs to catch up with everyone. Even on those years that I don’t walk for some reason, I make it to the brunch and spend a little time talking with Grandma.

Even though they are Jewish, Grandma and Pop-pop have typically spent part of Christmas Day with my family. When my sister and I were younger, they would come over in the morning to help open and assemble presents. When I was about 10, they started coming to Christmas dinner, instead.

When I came out as transgender, Grandma accepted me immediately. To this day, she is one of my biggest supporters.

This week is my Grandma’s 85th birthday. She and Pop-pop have been married for 63 years. They still travel, although now it is only to the lake house or to visit family (once upon a time they did many Elder Hostel excursions). Grandma was diagnosed about 3 years ago with Alzheimer’s. The most obvious effect has been that she tends to repeat herself in conversation; in every other way she is still my Grandma. To celebrate her birthday, she and Pop-pop, Mom and Dad, me, Uncle H and Aunt Be, Aunt B, and maybe a cousin or two are going to dinner tonight at one of the city’s fanciest restaurants, one where men are required to wear a coat and tie. With Aunt S’s help (she’s my Mom’s twin), I bought a new suit, and have successfully persuaded Grandma and Pop-pop to let me be their chauffeur for the evening. It’s my way of saying Happy Birthday to one of the most amazing people in my life, my wonderful Grandma.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am a writer. For now, my only published pieces are fanfiction; if you are interested in reading them they can be found at fanfiction.net under my user name of T-man626. I also have several beginnings of original pieces, which I hope to one day sell to the literary magazines. Most of these pieces fall in the categories of science fiction and/or fantasy, as those are my favorite genres.

I’m looking for input on one piece in particular. As I grew up reading science fiction, I wondered: Where are the people like me? Why aren’t there any characters who were labeled one gender by society but identify as something else? Now admittedly, the majority of the sci-fi I grew up on is from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, with some more modern stuff thrown in. There are the occasional characters that could be labeled as transgender, but they are background characters, and the way that they are viewed by the other characters varies from pity to outright intolerance. As much as I admire the man, I am still heartbroken every time I read Heinlein’s description of transsexuals as “poor monsters”. (Yes, I know that there are stories that portray the characters in a better light, but I still feel like they fall short.) Again, I started thinking. What are the classic sci-fi scenarios? Colonizing another planet or first contact with aliens. Okay, not sure yet if I can do anything with the latter, but what about the former? Why wouldn’t or couldn’t there be a transgender colonist? From there, the idea grew. Who says what people get to colonize the new planets? How do they go about selecting these individuals? All of this evolved into the Selection Committee, responsible for handpicking the “professional” colonists who assist with the start up of each new colony. In the latest batch of candidates is a transman. Where I’m getting stuck is what the discussion surrounding this candidate would entail. 

So the question I pose to you is this: What are points in favor of this man being part of the colony? What are points against? I want to hear what you think. Please leave a comment with points for and/or against. I appreciate any and all input.

Everybody has a list of milestones, those dates/events that are important to you in some way. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries; it doesn’t matter what they are. Like most trans people, I have a few additional milestones, like when I came out to my parents (September 2007), or the day that I started hormones (16 October 2009). A more recent addition to this list is the date of my top surgery (25 June 2012). On 17 June of this year, I underwent a hysterectomy. In the days immediately following this procedure, it hit me: not only was the date important because of the surgery, but also because my medical Transition is now, for lack of a better word, complete.

I’m not stopping hormones; on the contrary  I plan on taking them as long as my doctor says that I can. But I have no plans for further surgery at this time, and as of last fall I have completed the legal aspects (changing name and gender marker). For the first time in many years, I have no big “to do” list related to my Transition, and it is relieving, scary, and confusing as hell.

Relief comes from the fact that on first glance someone will not automatically know that I am anything other than what I appear to be; that is, a man. With all of my documentation changed to reflect my true self, it would take some work for an individual to find out that I was assigned female at birth.

The fear and the confusion go hand-in-hand. Like many other people, trans or not, I’ve been so wrapped up in this one issue for so long that, now that it is gone, there is a gaping hole. Well, not gaping; I always tried to have other goals to focus on, to plan for the “after” that I now face. But it’s been interesting these last few weeks to realize just how much of my attention was focused on my Transition. For example, I no longer have to worry about saving for a surgical procedure or wondering if the insurance will cover it.  After the mastectomy last summer, I no longer had to wear the binders (a great relief). Now, after the hysterectomy, I no longer have to worry about finding blood in my underwear (the usual sign that my testosterone dose needed adjusted). So I’m confused about what to do with all of this extra energy I suddenly have. What can I focus on now? What should I focus on now? Not only that, but I’m feeling the fear that comes with any major life change.  I was terrified of going off to college; in the end, it wound up being a second home that I was sad to leave. As ready as I was to start my Transition, I was also a little scared of the changes that were about to begin. Now, though, I’ve become used to and love my body in a way that I never did or could before.

I’m also wondering what, if anything, my new status as “post-op” means for my identity. As much as I might sometimes wish otherwise, I am who I am, and my past will continue to influence me for the rest of my life. Because of my upbringing, I will always act and/or react in certain ways to different situations. I have heard of people who, once they are done with legal procedures and surgeries, choose to live stealth for the rest of their lives. As I stated in my first post, I just can’t do that. While it is not the overwhelming part of my identity, I am trans, and always will be. So while I muse on this and work on integrating this latest aspect of me, I’m also working on ways to continue to grow as a person. All of that energy I mentioned earlier? I’ve been putting it to use to begin another job search (my current job just isn’t challenging enough), work on my writing (I’ve published two fanfiction pieces since the surgery, worked on two more, and made progress on several original pieces), and figuring out how to meet the next goal of getting out and meeting people. You know what? Maybe this won’t be so hard after all.

One of the reasons that I hated holidays as a kid, and enjoy them so much now, is that I get to spend time with family that I don’t see on a routine basis. This weekend (Fourth of July), I’m at my grandparents’ lake house, hanging out with my younger sister, one of her college roommates, and my dad. Later on we will be joined by the grandparents, Mom, maybe a cousin, and possibly a college friend of mine. As great as it is to see everyone, the person I have been looking forward to seeing the most is my sister, L.

L is only three years younger than me, and we have always been extremely close. She has long been one of my biggest supporters; in fact when I told her that I wanted to start Transitioning she said, “Oh good! I’ve spent the last five years stopping myself from introducing you as my brother, but now I can!” Even with her own issues, she’s always been a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. Unlike me, L wanted to go to college further away from our parents. Whereas I only went an hour and a half north, she went four hours west, into a completely different state. I’ve visited her out there a couple of times, but ever since she started school our relationship has depended on things like e-mail, phone calls, Facebook, and Skype. In person visits have become a treat reserved for holidays or other special occasions. Technology is great, but I miss my sister!

As I said, getting to see L was one of the things I was most looking forward to about this weekend. Dad and I arrived at the lake Wednesday night; L and her roommate arrived several hours later. Yesterday, we spent the morning and early afternoon playing down by the water, enjoying the sun. After lunch, L retreated up to the house to do homework for a summer course. Later, when I came up, she had finished, and was watching an episode of NCIS on her computer.

Before I continue this story, a quick disclaimer: I know next to nothing about NCIS. L has tried to interest me in the past, and I know who some of the characters are, but beyond the fact that it is a military crime drama I know zip.

“Hey!” L said. “You should watch this episode with me! It’s the one where DiNozzo kisses a guy!” Well, I wasn’t too interested in watching, but I did sit down next to her and work on my laptop, glancing over at the screen occasionally. I became glued to the screen though, when I realized what exactly was going on: The main suspect in this particular investigation was a Naval officer who happened to be a male-to-female transsexual. That kiss my sister was so sure I had to see? DiNozzo, not realizing who the woman is, takes the suspect out on a date and she kisses him. That was what my sister meant by “DiNozzo kisses a guy”.

After the kiss took place, L looked over at me. “Wasn’t that hilarious?”

“Actually, I find it a little offensive.”

L just rolled her eyes at me and went back to watching the episode’s conclusion, wherein the other investigators harass/question DiNozzo about the kiss.

After thinking about it, though, it’s not the show that I find offensive. Yes, it’s not exactly a politically correct portrayal of a trans person, and yes, the way that they refer to the character as a male (even though she was scheduled for gender reassignment surgery) is rude. No, what I’m more concerned/offended/discouraged about is my sister’s description.

L has known me all of her life. As I’ve said, she has been one of my biggest supporters. She was one of the first people to refer to me using male pronouns, even though she got in trouble with Mom for it. We have a cousin who is MtF. And yet she still committed the same rudeness as the characters in and writers of the show: She referred to someone by the label society gave them, not the label they clearly preferred.

I haven’t talked to L yet about this revelation. I only came to this conclusion late last night, after everyone was in bed, and as of right now I’m the only one awake. (L is definitely NOT a morning person.) I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to talk with her about it this weekend, but I want to broach the subject at some point. In a way, she let me down, and I don’t want it to happen again.