Come out, come out, wherever you are…

“In for a penny, in for a pound” as they say.  I have been ‘out’ for years now: very out at work, scaled back some at home.  It’s been a complicated dance I perform between the two worlds, and to be honest, I ‘leak gender’ all the time.  Some people just realize it, others just think I’m quirky, and some are oblivious.  In the end, all I care about is being treated respectfully.

On Oct 23rd, early in the morning, in rersponse to the White House memo about ‘redefining’ gender, I posted a new profile pic on Facebook.  A few minutes later, I posted the following to a closed FB group for non-binary individuals:

I kinda ‘officially’ came out on FB this morning. It’s not like I have been hiding – under ‘Gender’ on my profile I have Trans, Gender Nonconforming and Non-binary, but who reads profiles. 😉 I have never really stated explicitly ‘I am trans’, but I feel you would be hard pressed to miss that fact. Anyway, now it’s out there – new profile pic, of me, with a #WontBeErased frame. So there you go. 🙂

I am ‘publically’ transgender now… Whoa…

As I expected, members of the group were quite supportive.  We do like to support one another for things like this.  Many of my FB friends liked / loved the new pic, and several left encouraging comments.  It feels good to know you have the support of your friends, even it you are all not overly close.  But there was one reaction I wasn’t expecting…

I received a private message from a classmate from high school.  We were never close, I’m not sure we even ever spoke to one another, but that was what high school was like for me.  As I wrote when I was invited to our 30th reunion, it was rather cliquish and I never really felt like I fit.  But late last nite, I found this waiting for me:

Gary, I’m not on FB much anymore bc I forind it raises my blood pressure! When I was checking in more often, I always appreciated your intelligent posts, not knowing what u were living thru until u recently changed your profile pic.  I just want to tell u how profoundly touched I am by your courage and how deeply I respect and honor u and feel grateful that our paths crossed at one time.  While we were never close, I still want u to know that I am here for u if u ever need a friend. I hope u are living your best life and r happy.  Please know that there r many of us out there who have your back👍🏻❤️😘

I stared at the message, reading it several times in (somewhat) disbelief.  Few are the times when someone has reached out to me like this, and each time had been emotional for me, because it can be hard sometimes to see past the selfishness of what I do.  I’m ‘out’ for me – because I need to not be hiding; that’s not always easy for others.  I still tend to discount the (positive) impact I have on others, despite having been told so more times than I can count.  Thank you for reminding me. 🙂

The gains we have fought hard to make are likely to be erased in the blink of an eye.  It’s a hard time for anyone who is not white, cis, and straight, but we need to be strong.

Know that we all have people like my friend who support us and want the best for us.

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National Coming Out Day

Today, October 11th, is National Coming Out Day, a time when we celebrate coming out as some flavor of LGBTQ+ and share our stories.  I thought I would share the first time I ‘came out’ to someone in person.  It remains, to this day, a powerful moment in my life.

I was a VP in Human Resources Information Systems for Morgan Stanley in 1996. There was some buzz one morning about a new consultant who would be starting there: a transsexual woman.  I remember finding it rather disconcerting that there was gossip like this before she had even stepped foot on the floor.  I was also intrigued, as to my knowledge I had never met a trans woman.  Later that morning, we were introduced to Riki Wilchins, who would be doing Visual Basic development.  I remember thinking how unremarkable she was; I don’t know what I was expecting, but she wasn’t it. By the end of the day, the ‘novelty’ seemed to have worn off and things were business as usual.

We would chat on and off over the next weeks, nothing specific, just the the usual day to day idle chit-chat.  She did share a bit about herself with me, more so than she did with others I think.  We often have a sense for others like ourselves, so maybe she picked up on that.  One morning, when I was feeling especially ‘distracted’ by the trans noise in my head, I asked Riki if she had a minute.  She said “sure” and we went into my office and closed the door…

I told her “I hope you don’t mind, but you seem like you might understand…”, and then the floodgates opened.  I spent the next twenty minutes telling her my story, everything up to that point in my life.  I paused, looked at her and said “I’ve never shared this with anyone, not like this.”  She smiled, and said “I know.”  She was very understanding, empathetic, and offered suggestions for support groups, reading, and was just genuinely supportive.

Riki would go on found GenderPAC and has published a number of books.  Many years after Morgan Stanley, I had reason to email her, and introduced myself as “the guy who came out to you at Morgan Stanley”.  She said she didn’t remember that specifically, but recalled that I was the only person there who she felt treated her as just a regular person, and that that meant a lot to her.

Since that first time, I have ‘come out’ many times: at my last three jobs, to friends, coworkers…  I have come to accept that I will never stop ‘coming out’; there will always be some person, some situation, that will require me to explain this all over again…

… and by now, I’ve gotten pretty good at it.

I can be ‘X’, but should I be?

New York City Will Allow Gender-Neutral ‘X’ On Birth Certificates

For individuals born in New York City, it is now possible to have your gender (sex?) on your birth certificate recorded as ‘X’. This is seen as a big move forward for TGNC (Trans, Gender Non-Conforming) individuals, and I am seriously considering having my own birth certificate updated to ‘X’.  It would be the first step it some sort of legal recognition of me as non-binary.

I went and dug out my birth certificate to confirm that I was eligible.  I was born at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital (back in the day) in Manhattan, so I am good to go.  As I look over my birth certificate, it clearly states Sex: M – this is what would change to an ‘X’ if I follow through and do this.  But as I stared at the document, I began to question just what that change really would mean.

My birth certificate says ‘sex’, not ‘gender’. Given the antediluvian year of my birth this is not a surprise. For all the cisgender (‘gender conforming’) men and women out there, this is very likely a distinction you have never considered.  In fact, most people use the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ interchangeably; for them, they are one and the same thing: men are male and women are female.  For (most) trans people though, equating sex and gender becomes problematic.  Our ‘sex’ (how our bodies are configured) and our ‘gender’ (how we see ourselves in a social context) tend to be in varying degrees of ‘alignment’, from close to not at all. Regardless of the bodies trans individuals inhabit: trans women are women, trans men are men, and non-binary individuals are non-binary.  All trans people inhabit ‘non-conforming’ bodies to some degree.

For the cisgender majority, their genitals define their sex – and their sex defines their gender.  I am considered AMAB (assigned male at birth), meaning that after a quick visual inspection I was recorded (or assigned) as ‘male’.  I have never taken exception to that: even though there are things about my body that are not ‘usual’ for males; my body is what it is.  When I started seeing a new primary care physician, she asked me what I wanted recorded on my medical chart: male or female.  I told her ‘male’ made sense from a medical (sex) standpoint, as that was the body I have.  I could not see what advantage being recorded as ‘female’ would provide me.  To me, my ‘gender’ was irrelevant from a medical standpoint; what matters is what body I have and that it is treated as is appropriate.

So I can have a ‘gender neutral X’ on my birth certificate, but it will be in spot labeled ‘sex’.  Just what was recorded when I was born: my sex? my gender? both?  What does that designation mean, now that my sex and gender no longer ‘line up’?  As far as I am concerned, my ‘sex’ is not ‘X’, even if my gender may be… So does ‘sex’ now mean ‘gender’ but only if you have an ‘X’ there?   The problem here is that there is no good reason to record the sex (or gender) of an individual at birth, but they’ve done it and made it a part of all sorts of bureaucracy.  It is now an outmoded codification, becoming meaningless, into which some new meaning is trying to be injected.  My birth certificate is now about my gender, which matters how, exactly?

:: sigh ::

It’s odd to be so conflicted about something so small – except that it doesn’t feel small.  We all want to be recognized and accepted for who we are.  For TGNC individuals, this is a start – a bit ill fitting perhaps – but a start nonetheless…

Now where did I put that form…

Lassitude

n.b.: This comes on the heels of yesterday’s generally upbeat post.  As such, this is not a refutation of that. I have bright spots of positivity, things where I look back as think, “That was a good day.”  They happen far too infrequently compensate for the overwhelming weight of the rest of my existence.  This has been kicking around as a draft for months, and I hesitated posting it as it was written while I was out of work.  I thought perhaps time would want me to rethink this.  It hasn’t… Go figure. 🙂 

On with the show… 

I truly am so very tired of living.

Lassitude : weariness of body or mind from strain, oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy; listlessness; languor.

I was in a car accident in 2010 – t-boned by a pickup truck on the driver’s side, just missing the driver’s door.  I was lucky – it could have been worse, so much worse than it was.  As it was happening, I recalled:

It’s already too late when I see the headlights: I am mid turn and the lights are almost on top of me. There is no where to go – nothing to do. I look at the approaching lights and think, “fuck…”

There was nothing I could do in the situation – I was going to be hit.  However, instead of feeling panic or fear, I felt a sense of calm resolve about the situation – and maybe even a sense of relief:

The irony of the situation was not lost on me. I found it morbidly amusing that things would end this way. I had thought about this before – many times in fact… What I never anticipated was that this might *actually* happen. That which I had been unwilling to pursue in earnest was now in full play and I was helpless to stop it. I remember thinking, “Be careful what you wish for…”

I survived unscathed, save maybe for the sense of disappointment that I did, in fact, survive.

Several years ago, I came across this on Tumblr:

suicidal

I have felt this way for the majority of my life – often contemplating how I might put an end to my existence. The first time was the summer after graduating high school. I thought about quite a lot really: thought about it, planned it out…  In the end, I lacked the courage to go through with it. Over the years this feeling has waxed and waned, but it has never really left me.

I am quite sure that I have suffered from Dysthymia for the majority of my adult life – maybe even before that.  Dysthymia, which now is called persistent depressive disorder (PDD), is a sort of low grade, on-going depression that permeates one’s life, to the point where it’s just their normal.  I have ‘happy times’ in my life, and I come across as a generally positive individual, but  I cannot say that I have ever really been in a place (mentally) where I have felt good about my life.  My life has been (is) filled with contradictory thoughts and feelings about who I am, who I should be, what my place is in the world.  It is a life where I feel as though I have no firm footing – it is a life wherein I have never known quite what to do.  It is a life where nearly everything I have done has been for the benefit of other people.

It is a life of trying to take some control, only to have that yanked away from me.

I watched a documentary about the now famous picture of “The Falling Man” from 9/11.  One of the people interviewed was a husband who’s wife did not make it.  He identified her as one of the people that day who chose to jump, rather than die inside the building.  He explained her choice this way: in a situation where his wife had no control over what was happening, choosing how to die was the one thing over which she did have control.

Hmmm…

I spent New Year’s in the hospital, diagnosed with multiple pulmonary emboli – blood clots in my lungs.  The morning of New Year’s Eve, I became dizzy and had trouble breathing after walking up two flights of stairs from the basement.  My wife got my daughter, who is now a third year med student, and they both wanted to take me to urgent care.  I resisted, saying I was fine and just needed to relax a bit.  Ultimately I relented, and when an EKG was done, the doctor did not like what they saw, and told me to go to the emergency room.  Another EKG, then a chest CT… By the next morning, I was informed about the clots.

While PE are serious, it is something very treatable.  I was given an IV blood thinner to get me going, and when I was sent home, I spent the next ten days giving myself four injections a day – two in the morning and two at night.  My abdomen was covered in bruises from the shots, which slowly faded after bridging to an oral blood thinner.  I spent the next month getting blood drawn twice a week – next month, once a week – then finally every three or four weeks.  I suppose I was ‘lucky’ to be out of work so I could make friends with the lab tech who took my blood.

Six months later, the clots are gone, but I will be on blood thinners the rest of my life.  I supposed I dodged another bullet; I really need to learn to stand still.  I am also on meds for type 2 diabetes – more joy.  My wife, who is well intentioned, makes sure to remind me to ‘take my pills’ – which I do.  But each time I do, I ask myself “Why? To what end?”  She wants me to be healthy, to get better, but again, “Why?  Why am I doing this?  For who’s benefit?”  I can tell you this much, it is not for my own.

I don’t see myself ever being happy – I don’t even know what that would look like. What I do know is I cannot find a reason to spend the next 20 or 30 (if I’m lucky) years being unhappy.  To what end?  I want a reason, a good reason – a selfish reason.  I want to know what I get out this deal – laying awake at night crying in the dark. Give me a reason that makes it all worth the effort, for me.

You can’t – no one can – because there is no good reason.  Hell, there isn’t even a mediocre reason.  Every reason will somehow be about how other people might be impacted.  No one will have a reason that speaks to what’s in it for me.  And that, me droogs, is the crux of the biscuit.

I do not see the point.  Everything dies: whether it’s today, next month, next year, twenty years from now – it’s going to happen. I have accomplished what I needed to: provided a reasonable good home for my family, raised two amazing daughters, made it so my wife could be home with them as they were growing up, sent them to college (with no loans), and taught them all I feel I have to teach them.  All in all, I would say I was successful, so what’s left to do?  What is left undone that requires I continue to exist this existence?

If you have read my philosophy page, this may seem to be a contradiction.  I have not decided, with any degree of certainty, that it is better to not be, than to be.  This is, after some forty years of living in hope,  my acceptance that despite the positivity of online campaigns like It Gets Better, sometimes it doesn’t get better. Sometimes, this is as good as it will ever be.  This, is one of those sometimes.

I’m just tired – truly so very, very tired of living.

 

A Little Validation

There is much written along the lines that one should not look to others for validation.  As a rule, I don’t, but now and then, it feels good to get a bit of external validation, especially when it’s unsolicited.  That is exactly what happened the other day on the elevator at work.

A woman and I got on the elevator coming up from the cafeteria that morning.  It was just the two of us, and she works for another firm (I could tell from her ID badge.)  As I stood there, looking down, not wanting to make eye contact, I could tell from the corner of my eye that she was looking at me.  Not that this is anything new, but it was making me feel rather self-conscious, so much so that I considered saying something, but decided there was no real point, as I’d be off the elevator in a few seconds anyway.

“That’s a really nice color, your blouse. It looks good on you.” She said, breaking the silence.

“Oh… Thank you!” I know I had to be blushing.

“It’s a great – compliments your hair color.”

Blushing more, “Well thank you! You have just made my day!”

She smiled as the elevator door opened on my floor.  I walked out, giving a little wave, “Have a lovely day!”  I headed back to my desk with more than just a bit of a smile.

I have long contended that people do not go out of their way to pay a stranger a compliment unless they are sincere about it. This woman was under absolutely no obligation to speak to me at all, but she did – and she chose to say something complimentary.  I’m inclined to believe she meant it.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m doing something right with all of this after all. 🙂

 

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I start my new job tomorrow, which is a good thing for a number of reasons.  First and foremost is that we need my income: it takes money to live and we cannot do that on my wife’s salary alone.  Next is getting back into a routine: five months at home has really worn away at me and I am looking forward to getting back into a regular routine, where I enjoy what is the next reason: being productive.  I like what I do for work, and not being able to do that has been frustrating and a bit depressing – it will feel good to be ‘back in the saddle’ again, so to speak.  And then there is the human interaction: as much as I am an introvert, I need to interact with people.  Being at home effectively cut me off from my entire social network, so I am looking forward to meeting people and re-establishing some social interaction.

I lost a lot more than just a paycheck when I lost my job.  See, changing jobs was not something I planned to do – nor was giving up my team, my friends, my support network, or the environment where I truly felt accepted and respected.  I had finally found my place, and found my voice, as an out and proud trans person.  Rather than being excited to start something new, I am filled with anxiety over the whole thing, and that will continue until, well – I don’t know when it will go away.

When I left Barclays (who purchased Lehman Bros after they went under,) there was the inevitable conflict around how I would dress / present to interview for a new position.  It was ‘decided’ that I would cut my hair, wear a suit, and do my best impersonation of a ‘man’.  This was really difficult because I had been out and open as a trans person, and now I was again hiding, pretending – all to make sure I get hired.  I got a job with FXall, and within three months, much as I had done at Lehman, I approached HR and asked permission to follow the women’s dress code – to present in a way that was authentic for me.  Essentially, I had to ‘come out’ for a second time, asking for permission to be ‘me’.

The conflict around how I would present to interview was worse this time.  I have been presenting authentically for seven years, and now told to just stop.  I had to buy a suit, and I could feel a part of my self wither as I put it on.  Every time I wore it afterwords, I died just a bit more inside.  Ultimately, I did my impersonation of a ‘man’ and have found a new job.  However, in my mind, they a have not hired ‘me’, but rather have hired an imposter, which means coming out all over again.

Lehman was the first time, FXall was the second time, and now my new job will be the third time.  And while it’s a ‘business casual’ environment, I will still be going to work as a ‘man’ and not as myself.  People will meet someone who is not who I really am.  I will need to wait (I don’t know how long) and gauge the ‘right time’ to go to HR, have my talk (i.e. come out, again) and ask for permission to be my authentic self at work.  And then, likely, have some other discussions with people who will want to understand what is going on.

I’m just so tired of fighting for a little comfort, for a little recognition and acceptance.  Yes, I have done this all before, and I will do it all again.

Ultimately, I know it will all work out…

:: sigh ::

I wish it could all be a bit easier.

Regards to Captain Dunsel

McCoy: Dunsel? Who the blazes is Captain Dunsel?

(cut to Chekov and Sulu, both expressing uncomfortable recognition of the reference)

McCoy: What does it mean, Jim?

(Kirk slowly exits the bridge without a word)

McCoy: Spock? What does it mean?

Spock: Dunsel, Doctor, is a term used by midshipmen at Starfleet Academy.  It refers to a part which serves no useful purpose.

I came out as non-binary / transgender in the early 2000’s. I did it by slowly changing how I dressed, waiting for someone to say something about it: no one ever did. Instead, I found acceptance from my colleagues and management. It was a good run – until early 2011, when I was layed-off and needed to find a new job. That was a stressful time as it meant cutting my hair, donning the suit and tie, and doing my best impersonation of a ‘man’ all for the purpose of landing a job. It worked, and I was employed again in less than three months.

After a few months, I was able (again) to present as I needed, and for the next seven years I enjoyed the support of my colleagues, and of the firm itself. I slowly became more visible, more vocal, and ultimately seen an a leader in the LGBT community at work. Over the last two years, I finally felt that I once again had a career as opposed to just ‘a job’ – and that I had found my place and my voice. For possibly the first time in my life, I started to truly feel good about my self – that events in my life were finally falling into place in a way that was life-affirming – that maybe I could feel ‘happy’.

For the past seven years, work had been my support network. It is where I have been the most ‘out and proud’ – it is where I have had the most support when I need it – it is where I have had the most encouragement: from my team, my colleagues, and even senior management. It is where I have been recognized for both what I do and who I am.

I was laid-off January 2nd, 2018.  I lost my support network, my friends, my outlet.  I am home alone every day, looking, emailing, applying.  It’s my fourth month of looking, and things are moving at a glacial pace.

My wife and I are fighting more lately.  She has this almost paralyzing fear about what is going to happen, and as a result she feels the need to try and ‘solve’ this, which has manifest itself as her advising / directing / controlling everything I do – criticizing every step I take looking for work.  I am emotionally exhausted trying to manage my wife’s sense of impending doom because I am not working.

I have this view of life, that people are the most honest when they are angriest.  There is no ‘filter’ when you are angry – just raw emotion delivered unprocessed.  There are the apologies afterwards, about not meaning any of it, but by that time the bell has been rung.  The monster keep caged has gotten out and done their damage.

The other day, during a shouting fest over a missed call from a potential job, (because I turned off the ringer on my phone at the interview that same day) the monster made their appearance.

“You’re just fucking sitting around, not fucking doing anything.”

Succinct, unfiltered, truthful.  What my wife sees, now that I am unemployed.

I have spent thirty one years providing for my family – my wife, my two daughters.  I have worked hard to be successful professionally.  I have fought against who I am so I could be a good provider – so my wife could stay home and not have to work for fifteen years and raise our daughters.  I have swallowed my pride, compromised my personal integrity, all so I could do the right thing for everyone else.  Rationally, I know my wife recognizes (some) of this when she not spiraling uncontrollably in fear of what will happen to us…

But deep down inside, I am a dunsel to her.  I can do nothing right, I have nothing to offer – I no longer serve a useful purpose.

I feel like I have lost everything, and accomplished nothing, with every day sucking just a bit more from me.  I go to sleep hoping that I don’t wake up – that I can finally be free of all of this.

Because right now, I am just so tired of being alive – and I have no good reason to continue.

My Transgender Day of (in)Visibility

Friday, March 31st was International Transgender Day of Visibility. The premise is simple: be out there, visible, and proud to be trans. Many people ‘come out’ for the first time – or reaffirm their status as a member of the greater transgender community. The idea is that greater visibility can only help us to be better accepted in society.

If one takes the (not too) long journey through my blog, they will find that I am out and ‘visible’ all the time. I identify as ‘non-binary’ and lean towards the feminine side of center. For many years, it has been a toss-up as to how I will be gendered by other people – and it has waxed and waned over the years. No one at work ‘mistakes’ me for a woman (they know me as Gary,) but my presentation makes it clean that ‘gender normative’ is not a label applied to me. Truth be told, I don’t really know what most of them think, but as long as they are respectful, it’s all good.

I had planned for TDOV several days in advance. I knew just what I was going to wear: dark wash blue jeans and a thin plum / purple flowy top with a black cami underneath. Here is a pic of said outfit:

I have been working up the nerve to wear it to work, and TDOV seemed like the perfect opportunity. Over the past six months or so, I have started dressing more feminine – especially in my choice of tops. Here is an example from a couple of months back:

My immediate coworkers, plus a few others with whom I’ve shared more personal details about myself – have all offered a lot of support and encouragement. My wardrobe ‘upgrade’ has been well received which had done much for my overall sense of self. Given this, my choice of clothing for TDOV would not have especially out of the ordinary for me.

That Friday morning, I woke around 4:30am – a good forty minutes before my alarm. This has become a semi-regular occurence: waking early, lying there, eyes open, thinking… It even happens in the middle of the night: sometimes for a minute, other times longer. The longer times can feel like a weight, bearing down on me as I struggle to get back to sleep. My head fills with an all too familiar noise that makes it all but impossible get back to sleep. And in the darkness of the bedroom – thoughts bubble and pop like thick oatmeal – images swirl, morphing one into the other – and the weight of it all just keeps on pressing me deeper into the bed. That was how I woke early that Friday morning – laying there awash in what was, undeniably, an all too familiar feeling.

If I look back to my early childhood, when I was maybe four or five years old, there were indications that I was wired a bit differently. However, my transness did not really manifest until I hit puberty, and even then I didn’t know what was going on. As I grew, I learned to deal with these confusing feelings by suppressing them secretly cross-dressing when I could. I know now that my parents ‘knew’, but it was never discussed. I would find out later in life that they just assumed that I’d figure it all out at some point. Throughout my adult life and all the rationalizations I have made to cope with this, those ‘feelings’ have never left me. They are that ‘noise’ buzzing in my head – the noise that wakes me at night – the noise that keeps me awake – the noise that woke me Friday, March 31 at 4:30am.

I do not spend much time discussing how much this weighs on me all the time. I could describe myself as ‘highly functioning’ in some sense, as I have learned to just keep pushing it down – pretending it’s not there – and going on with my life. I do not come across as ‘depressed’ or moody, and I maintain a generally happy disposition. I think the price I pay for that is at night, when my sub-conscious allows to run free that which I work so hard to contain.

The noise – that constant tugging at the back of my brain – is Gender Dissonance. Gender Dissonance is a term Julia Serano coined to describe “the cognitive dissonance experienced by trans people due to a misalignment between our gender identity/subconscious sex and our assigned gender/physical sex. Gender dissonance differs somewhat from the psychiatric term gender dysphoria, which typically conflates this cognitive dissonance with the mental stresses that arise from societal pressure to conform to gender norms.”

On that Friday morning, the noise was simply too much to ignore. That with which I struggle to keep contained, refused to be locked away. Insecurity took hold. Instead of ‘out and proud’ and visible, all I wanted that day was to be invisible, and so I was. I stayed home, in the house – hidden, sullen, and ashamed. The explanation to my wife for staying home was simply “It’s Friday, I’m working at home.” She had no idea of my previous plans for TDOV, so for her this was just another day. But for me, on the one day I felt it most important to ‘do’ what I do every day, I felt that I failed miserably.

Being trans is difficult; being middle-aged and non-binary doesn’t make it any easier. I know that there is ‘no right way to be trans’ and as a rule I’m proud to be out and visible. Still, sometimes I am left with the feeling that perhaps there is a ‘wrong way’… It is when I wake in the middle of the night – my head buzzing with what is now a lifetime of repressed feelings, emotions, hopes, dreams, self doubts… It is all in there, buzzing around – looking desperately for a way to break free.

What the hell did we just do?

When I got to sleep, Hilary had just gotten Washington, Oregon, and California – it was close but I had a modicum of faith in the citizens of the United States to see through Trump’s bullshit and do the right thing.  Tired, I turned off the TV and headed to bed.

I woke at 3:00am this morning, because the time change still has me messed up.  I made the mistake of looking at my phone to see the results – and my heart sank.  I’d like to say I was surprised, that the impossible had happened, but I just kind of stared at it.  We did it – we elected the nationalist, bigot, racist, misogynist, hate-monger – who creates his own reality – as our next president.

I shuffled back to bed where I tried to get back to sleep.  I spend the next hour tossing, turning, and staring at the clock before getting up (again) at 4:00am and putting on the TV to watch the aftermath still being reported live.  I check out Facebook feed and it is filled with post after post from the trans groups to which I belong.  Final posts from people who have left the group, posts from people going back into hiding out of fear of what is to come under a Trump administration, post from people desperate for someone not in the US to please take them in and protect them.  It was hard not to be upset reading then.

There were of course posts that encouraged us to remain strong, to not be defeated, to not disappear into the shadows, to be more vocal, to fight – and rationally this is the right attitude, but at 4:00am rationality is not where one heads first.

I know that nothing will happen or change in the immediate future.  However, once the now all republican political machine gets moving, it is anyone’s guess as to just what will happen, but no one is anticipating it to be good for the LGBT community… or women… or immigrants… or…  ::sighs::

So at 8:00am, five hours later, I start my day – much like any other Wednesday – but with an unshakable, pervasive looming sense of dread.

My Two Minutes of Fame

So that thing I did – where I was interviewed for a news piece about the LIRR gendered ticket policy?  The piece is up and can be found on the WFUV website, linked here:

SHOULD THE MTA GET RID OF GENDERED PASSES?

I originally asked that ‘they’ be used as my prefered pronoun, but the editor thought that might have changed the impact of the piece. I tend not to get too fussed about pronouns as long as people are being respectful, so I agreed to ‘he’ in the piece. We had agreed to ‘gender nonconforming’ as the description for my gender identity which is accurate – well as accurate as single lable can be. Besides, “Male-bodied non-binary gender-nonconforming trans-feminine” sounds like I order my gender at Starbucks. 🙂 Also, I wasn’t thrilled about the “… when he started wearing women’s clothing and makeup …” as I don’t think I had described things quite that way, but it was minor to the story.

Overall I was pleased with how the piece turned out – especially as this is the first time I had done anything like that.  Thanks to Suzie Xie for contacting me and allowing me to be a part of her report.

So, have a listen if you like and maybe let me know whay you think. 🙂

So I did a thing today…

Perhaps there has been an unknown reason for my little social experiment; the one where I have saved my LIRR train tickets for the past eighteen years. (If you are just tuning in, read: Riding the Long Island Railroad, Conductor Confusion, What would you like to be today?, She’s Back…)  Up until now, the main (i.e. only) reason has been to provided a tangible record of how, once a month, I am gendered by the conductor du jour.  It has allowed me to look back and see how over time, I have moved from a predominantly masculine presentation, to one that is perceived as more feminine.

It has made for some interesting conversations over the years: discussions about why there would be gender markers on the tickets, as a lead in to how I identify and why, about why I present as I do, and some larger discussions regarding the ‘non-concentual gendering’ everyone does to everyone else…

I have clearly been trying to get my money’s worth out of these tickets. 🙂

Then this past Sunday evening, I received an email:

Donna,

I hope this email finds you well. I’m a reporter with an NPR-affiliated station based in New York City.  I’m working on a story about the gender-specific designations on LIRR and Metro-North tickets and whether they can be considered discriminatory toward gender-nonconforming passengers.

I came across your blog a few weeks ago.  The fact that you’ve kept your monthly tickets over the past decade provides a powerful illustration of the issue, and I wanted to ask if you’d be willing to share your story.

I’d be more than happy to tell you more about what I’m working on.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Someone wants to interview me – to share ‘my story’ – for a news piece.  That’s never happened before…

I spend ten minutes laying in bed considering this before replying:

Thanks for your kind email.

It was an unintentional experiment, but yes, I have tickets going back to 1998 in various states of being punched male, female, in the middle, not at all and ‘corrected’ – the latest correction posted here.

I’d be interested to hear about your project – and if you think I have something relevant to contribute,

I look forward to speaking to you soon. 🙂

Regards,
Donna

I pretty open about all the trans stuff and will speak about it with anyone who is respectful to me.  My feeling was, “Why not?”

And so today, I did. 🙂

I was interviewed about the tickets, my feelings about the policy, and about being ‘gendered’ in general.  It lasted almost an hour and it was all recorded.  I’m a bit unsure about my talking possibly being broadcast – just because that’s how I am.  It’s one thing to speak to one or two people – but it’s done now.  All that’s left is to see how the story turns out.

So, yeah – I did a thing today…

And I have to admit, it was kinda cool. 🙂

She’s Back…

My poor sad neglected blog…  I have had such good intentions – so many things I have wanted to say…  But I cannot seem to be motivated to write them up.   I am hoping that this entry will be the reboot – my opportunity to start over…  Time will tell.

So what has happened of such a significance, to prompt me to tippity-type into the ether once again?

Read More »

My daughter, Caitlyn Jenner, and Laverne Cox

This is makes me all kinds of happy. 🙂

gendermom

As the mother of a young transgender child, my response to Caitlyn Jenner’s headline-grabbing announcement is a visceral one. Yes, I’m kind of put off by the hype. No, I’m not a big fan of celebrity culture or reality television. But when I look at the cover of Vanity Fair, and read the news articles that respectfully use Jenner’s new name and female pronouns, I’m overwhelmed by this new state of affairs, and by a world that might just be ready to accept my daughter. And that knocks me off my feet with awe and gratitude.

I called my friend Alice, a member of our support group whose trans daughter is a few years older than mine. “Did you see it?” I said. She knew what I was talking about.

“Of course,” she said. I could hear her shaking her head over the phone, as overcome as I was…

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Casa del Whopper

After my uncomfortable shopping excursion to get a sport coat, I stopped at the Burger King down the road to pick up a nutritious balanced meal for lunch.  One would think shopping at the ‘big and tall’ shop should have prompted me to find something healthier. 😦  I wait on line – get up to the counter – order my food.  As I go to pay, the cashier (the girl couldn’t have been more than twenty) asks me “Did you just get your nails done?”  I tell her that I had them done last week and she replies “Wow, they look really nice!”  I smile somewhat awkwardly and thank her before moving down so she can take the next customer. Read More »

Non-binary

From the other end of the non-binary spectrum, if that makes any sense.

I love seeing people identifying as ‘non-binary’ – we need greater visibility around this.

Genderweird

This past week I had a phone interview with a Washington Post reporter, off the record, about being non-binary in a binary world.  It went exceedingly well, but that’s not the point of this post.  What I’ve been mulling over for a while now is — wait for it — my identity.  Go figure, right?

So in my never-ending quest to figure myself out, I’ve made quite a few steps as of late to try and suss out who or what I am.  For as long as I can remember I’ve felt distinctly different, other, irgendwie anders.  Having an identical twin only further complicated things around puberty; she journeyed off into this magical realm called Womanhood, leaving me alone to figure out why I didn’t feel myself to be a girl, but also couldn’t conceptualize myself as a boy.

Now I’m at a point where, if I decide to…

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Out of my Element

I went shopping at a men’s store today.  It wasn’t really by choice: I have an event to attend and I’ll need to look ‘presentable and appropriate’.  And while I have several suits, none of them fit as I have gained too much weight. 😦  I do have black pants that fit (women’s, but not that anyone would notice) so I figured all I needed was a reasonable sport jacket to wear with them.  Easy-peasy it should be…

I walked in the store and I felt a wave of uneasiness hit me: looking around the store, it all seemed so wrong to me.  I found my way back to the suits and such and started looking for a jacket.  I realized that I had no idea what size I was, what the styles were…  I was, in a word, lost.  As I browsed, a sales girl came up and asked if I needed some help (perhaps I looked as though I needed it.)  I told her I wanted a jacket to go with black pants and she showed me a few choices.  She asked me what size I wore and I had to tell her I had no idea and that it had been years since I had shopped for anything.  I was acutely aware of how awkward this all felt – how silly I must have sounded, not even knowing what size I wore.

If I had been shopping in the women’s shop around the corner, it would have been a different story.  They know me there by name, I know how their sizes run, what works for me and what doesn’t.  There is nothing awkward about being there because it’s pretty much how I have been shopping for years now.  I felt a bit like your average guy in the lingerie department: dazed, uncomfortable – and wanting to leave as quickly as possible.  Funny thing (or maybe not so funny) is that I’m totally comfortable browsing lingerie – but today, looking for a sport coat?  I wanted to make my purchase and be out of there as quickly as possible.

I did get a nice jacket and as much as it kinda hate to say it, it looks good – and I’m not sure how I feel about that to be honest.  On the one hand, I want to look good, to make my wife comfortable and to just have a nice time.  But on the other hand, I don’t like being gendered as a man – and that I (still) look ‘good’ as one evokes a feeling I am having trouble articulating.  I guess in part it makes me sad, and maybe a bit defeated…

::sigh::

And so it goes…

12 Things Every Gender Nonconforming Child Wants You To Know

Fantastic and spot on!

Raising My Rainbow

  • When most people are born, their sex (male or female based on their genitalia) and their gender (male or female based on their brain) are usually in total alignment.  Mine aren’t.  Get over it.  I was born this way.
  • If you are confused and can’t quite tell if I’m a boy or a girl, just know that I am a person, please treat me that way.
  • Sometimes I notice that my gender nonconformity makes you uncomfortable.  I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable; I’m trying to make myself comfortable.
  • My gender nonconformity is a way of expressing myself.  A way of being true to myself, true to the way my heart beats and my blood flows.  I allow you to express your gender your way without being bothered; I hope that you will allow me to do the same.
  • It’s silly when you think, say or feel that colors, clothes…

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Little Things

So I got my nails done last week.

For the past five years or so I get a manicure every two to three weeks.  It started with just clear polish, giving my nails a nice clean look.  Eventually I moved up to getting clear Shellac (a UV cured gel type polish) which has the advantage of lasting about two weeks with no chipping.  I then progressed to a clear sparkly finish which is a bit more fun but still doesn’t attract too much undue attention.  Then, about a two years ago, I started getting a sheer pink color under the sparkly finish.  It added a hint of color which was noticeable if you really looked at my nails but still relatively neutral.  I wore that for about a year before choosing a less sheer pink base.  So for about the last year now, my nails are noticeably sparkly pink.  Not screaming across the room pink, but enough that they can no longer go unnoticed while sitting a table with other people. Read More »

So, I have this blog…

…which has not been shown love in over a year. I have things to say, thoughts to share – I’ve just been lazy about it. Maybe lazy isn’t the right word: unmotivated is a better one.

I had lunch with a friend last week. She’s transitioning after many years of telling herself why she couldn’t do it. I told her that I am a bit envious. The truth is I’m very happy for her, as I am for any of us who are dealing with this. But as we chatted, the discussion turned to me and to what has kept me from ‘moving forward’ as it were.

I told her that in some ways, I wished that being trans was more of a problem for me. I don’t wake every morning hating what I am. I don’t spend my waking hours consumed by this. I don’t feel I need to ‘transition or die’. I many ways these are all very good things. I recognize this and on some level I am quite thankful for it. But it doesn’t change the fact that underlying it all is the continual dissatisfaction I have.

I need more than this.

‘Shit or get off the pot’ as the saying goes. I always have a reason to put off discussing what I need. The time is never ‘right’ – but honestly, is there ever a right time?

I need more and I have droned on about it for years and years.

And this is perhaps the reason for my lack of motivation to write. It’s an old story now – one I have told for so many years that even I don’t want to hear it any more.

So, I have this blog…

I think it’s time I start writing again.

Worth a Thousand Words…

… that’s what is said about a picture. More telling than any narrative, a picture has the ability to lay bare the truth of it’s subject. Sometimes, that truth is more than we want to know or accept.

I was kind of excited for our holiday party this evening. Enough so that I went and had my make-up done. Nothing outlandish, but just something a bit fun for the evening. So, I skipped out of work a bit early and headed off to be ‘made up’. Read More »

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