Friday, August 26, 2016

I've Just Seen A Face

Things had been quiet on the TG scene for me. I did speak at SNHU in July to smaller and much more subdued class than usual.

A few weeks later I contacted by GLAD asking if I would be interested in getting involved again with trying to pass human rights in the state of New Hampshire. I was only to happy to get involved once again. They have a new project called Freedom NH that will be announced in September and making a stronger push than what was attempted in 2009.

I did a phone interview with Freedom NH where I thought came across less interesting than usual and felt I had left too much out. But when my profile arrived for my approval, acting sounded great. the difference between a real writer and myself, I guess.

On Monday August 22, a friend alerted me to a series of articles that was being featured on the front of the Concord Monitor for the week. On Thursday morning i was contacted by the editor of the Monitor inviting me to a community form they were holding that night in Concord. It turns out that the current editor of the Monitor was the editor of the Nashua Telegraph back when my stories ran in 2008.

I attended the forum and was very happy to see a room that was standing room only and dominated by positive news and feedback, unlike the reception my articles received eight years ago. The panelists were the five featured people from the week's worth or articles, while the article was filled with many transgender folks, friends, and many healthcare professionals, including my former therapist, Anne Boedecker.

I met Jon Van Fleet, the editor and Vanessa, the young lady that laid out my articles for the Telegraph and was the person responsible for NH News 1 interviewing ,me about the 2015 Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair cover article. Jon told me that he was in contact with Karen Lovett, the author of the Telegraph articles, whom had left the paper years ago. I hadn't spoken to Karen in nearly five years. It turns out she did see my appearance on NH News 1 and had Jon pass on the following message.

 "She looked and sounded so confident and happy. I'm really astounded by her courage to let us into her life. I bet her story made such a difference to a population of people and we may never know how far the positive effects of her openness have traveled." 

Back in 2007,  when we started the interviews and photograph sessions, I had no idea that going public would have had such a positive impact on me and countless others. some that I that I met, and some that I will never get the pleasure of meeting. It certainly makes me happy that I broke out of my shell and shared my story with the world. These days it's rather run of the mill, but in 2008 New Hampshire, it was rather uncommon.

Who wants to be common? That would be too boring.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Within You, Without You

A week ago I've learned of the passing of a racing friend, Barbara, after her eighteen month battle with cancer. Though I had known her since the the very early 1980's as the wife of a very successful and popular super modified driver, I got to know her better when her husband retired and their son(s) followed in the father's footsteps.

In my years as an official at Lee USA Speedway, early 1990's, I got to know the family better, but when I was invited to work with the International Super Modified Association (ISMA), I really got to know the family as we traveled as far south as Florida, as far west as Michigan and north into Ontario. She knowing that I knew a lot of people from out of the New Hampshire/Massachusetts circles, but was a stranger to a lot of the folks from New York, Ohio and elsewhere, she made sure I met the right people, made sure my job was fun, not an occupation. In a word, she made certain I was 'family'.

Though she made certain I was there for the fun times after the racing events were complete, there were times immediately at the conclusion of a race if she was not happy about a call made on the race track, you were the first to know about it. Sternly.

In time, I left ISMA for a period strictly due to being burned out by the sport of auto racing, the travel and the politics....especially the politics. I was brought back for a few years after clearing my head and nervous system, but retired again when I made the decision that I couldn't handle being "John" for much longer and had to save myself by becoming Cynthia.

In time a new president took over ISMA and with him wanting to return to an experienced crew, kept calling me to return. I ignored his many, many calls and messages. I had to do what I needed to do to save my life and being involved with a high testosterone sport, was not in my best interest. Barbara's son called me and asked me to at least return call the new president back and talk to him . Being the the family meant so much to me, I agreed and called. I wound up back with ISMA for one last year, as I thought my physical changes wouldn't be too apparent to the public eye.

A year later, I was retired again, but the closet door was busting wide open faster than I would have liked. Labor Day Weekend 2006,  I was walking through the Oswego Speedway pit area and was told that Barbara's son, am ISMA driver, was looking for me. Someone pointed out where he I was, so I went over to speak to him. Instead of taking to me, he just stared at me with a huge mocking smirk on his face, while shaking his head, totally aghast. I used to consider him a friend, but his arrogant smirk totally crossed the line. I was hurt.
For nine years, I barely heard a word from the entire family, excluding Barbara's daughter Cheri, who still treated me as a very good friend of the family. Walking through the various pit areas of the northeast and seeing old friends, including Barbara's family, turn their heads away as I walked by, very hurt but with my head held high. Hurt me very deeply. But being a bigger person I wasn't about to be kept completely away from the friends that still liked me and the cars and sport that I loved.

I didn't ask to become Cynthia. I didn't want to risk losing my job, my family, my friends, my house, my reputation, my racing involvement ,my my security.... my everything. I just knew that if I didn't make the necessary changes I would be dead. Soon.

My heart was broken when I heard that Barbara passed away. She was a great lady that was loved by many and best known for her smile, warmness and for having a great time no matter where she was.

Despite being exiled, I knew I had to attend her wake. She was too important to me. Thankfully Mike Douglas Sr. also wanted to attend, so we traveled to the wake together. I was uncertain how I would be treated or if I'd even be welcome, but having Mike with me gave me a security blanket.

I walked in the door of the funeral home and saw many friends from across the northeast. Most were happy to see me, a few turned their shoulder to me. I wasn't here for them. I was there in respect to Barbara and the family. The pictures in the rooms were just amazing. Barbara had that familiar smile in everyone of them, reminding me of just what a fun lady she was.

Finally Mike and I got into the receiving line. I admittedly was scared. Would I be ostracized or at least welcomed? Before I even reached the family, the family patriarch, Barbara's husband Jim, the family member I knew first, smiled down the line at the direction of Mike and myself. I figured he was happy to see Mike, his friend and former nemesis on the race track. Jim left his post at the head of the line and came down to directly to Mike Douglas. They chatted for a bit and Jim's look and attention turned towards me. I had no clue what to expect, but I was mentally prepared for anything, especially the worst.

Jim stuck out his hand, thanked me for coming and shocked me with "I really, really have to apologize for the way I've treated you the last few years. It was wrong and I'm very sorry for the way I've acted.".....I was floored, I had no clue how to react other than to say I understood and I accepted his words and expressed how much they meant to me. Because they outright meant the world to me. I was there to console the family, I was certainly not expecting anything of the sort for me.

As Jim was caressing my left arm with his right hand, he could not apologize enough, explaining that he's old and well....I understood his sentiments completely and tried to assure him that there was no hard feelings. Internally I was stunned, happy, surprised, shocked...words just can't explain what I've been feeling. I guess relieved is the best term I can think of 24 hours later.

I didn't realize Mike had heard the conversation until after we left the funeral home. He said that when he heard Jim say "I really, really have to apologize......" that Mike said he knew this was something very serious and immediately left the area to give us our privacy. He was right, it was serious. I wasn't sure how to react, but I did my best to hide my surprise and console Jim on his words and especially the loss of his wife.

As I eventually made my way through the receiving line, Barbara's son, the driver that mocked me at Oswego nine years ago, opened his arms wide and gave me a big warm hug.......

When you've seen beyond yourself then you may find
Peace of mind is waiting there.
And the time may come when you see we're all one
And life flows on, within you and without you
George Harrison 1967

Friday, June 19, 2015

Getting Better All The Time

The response from the June 2 interview with NH1 News was overwhelmingly positive. I was contacted with praise from as far west as Montana and as far east as Great Britain. The Caitlyn Jenner Vanity Faire cover and tv interview timed perfectly with my annual talk at Southern New Hampshire University, which was on June 3.

The professor shared an e-mail that she had received from one of the students. I'm currently awaiting any other feedback from the students, but this one was shared with me special.

Good Evening Professor,

I had wanted to thank Cynthia for coming out tonight to talk to us about being transgender, but I had to run out the door.

She is an exceptional person, and her emotions and feelings were definitely apparent. I only wish her the best of luck in everything she does. She is an inspiration for everyone, not just transgender people. If she can accomplish what she went out into the world to do, then so can anyone else! (Only in a positive way, of course). Thank you for having her come in. I have truly learned a lot and will be passing on the message to others including family so that we will be all knowledgeable on on this particular topic of Transgender.

I shared the above with my friend Jennifer. The nice girl that I had met in Montreal back in March of 2011, when I was at Dr Brassard's with my friend Karyn. She responded with the below reply.'

I actually had a coworker come up to me this week and talk to me about this girl from NH who was on the news talking about being transgender. They said it was very well done, I think her name was Cynthia.  Me -no way!  I know her, she's awesome. One of the best people I've ever met. :-)

Proud of you, I don't necessarily think transitioning is brave, but I think doing what you do certainly is. You're out there educating, making a difference. All the shy girls like me totally are in awe, and owe you a great deal of thanks :-)

The above is responses are precisely why I surrender my privacy and humility, to help create a better, safer, more educated future to for those following that are suffering from the same internal struggle as I had for so much of my life.

Things are getting fact, I never realized that being transgender would be so 'cool' or so 'trendy' 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

NH1 News and Caitlyn Jenner

Tuesday I arrived to work later than usual due to a scheduled doctor's appointment. As I was walking back from letting my boss know that I arrived a co-worker stopped me and asked if I was tired of hearing about the Caitlyn Jenner Vogue cover. Indeed I was.

Within twenty minutes I got a call from Vanessa at NH1 News asking if I would be willing to be interviewed about the cover. I wasn't sure I would be able to, but Vanessa offered to have the reporter come to my employer for the interview which would only take a few minutes. Vanessa knew of me because she had been employed at The Nashua Telegraph  and had a hand in my stories that ran back in 2008. That I was completely agreeable to and two hours later Celine McArthur was setting up the camera in my office.

Thankfully I dressed business-like that day, unlike the shorts and t-shirt I had been wearing when we had a heatwave the week prior.

The below is the results.

Jun 2, 2015 7:07 PM

Becoming Cynthia: Transgender NH woman reacts to Caitlyn Jenner cover story

NH1 News
It’s the picture and story that’s taken America by storm.
We’re talking about the Vanity Fair cover story, “Call Me Caitlyn.”
Bruce Jenner - now Caitlyn - is sharing her transition from a man to a woman, in part, to give us all a better understanding of what it means to be transgender.
NH1 sat down with a life-long Granite Stater who knows exactly what Jenner’s going through.
“She looks great, she looks happy, much better than I would have ever anticipated, and I’m really happy for her,” Cynthia Tebbetts said.
For 50-year-old Cynthia Tebbetts, transitioning from a man to a woman was the best decision she ever made.
“Because, honestly, if I had to go back to being John, I’d be dead within a week,” Tebbetts said.
Instead, she’s a successful professional woman with a sense of humor.
“I don’t listen to Bette Midler or Cher records," she said. "I’m not into gardening. I’m a punk rocker who loves hockey and auto racing. I mean, that’s not what you would expect.”
It’s also not what her bosses at Cummings publication printing in Hooksett were expecting 10 years ago, when she - known as John back then - broke the news.
Fortunately, they supported the decision of transition.
“Of course, I did it the right way," Tebbetts said. "I didn’t just pop in one day and say, ‘Oh, I’m changing my name, I’m now going to be Cynthia.’”
Cynthia shared - and continues to share - these pictures and her experience with friends, colleagues, even college students at Southern New Hampshire University every year during a special lecture.
That’s when she made a realization: “You know what? I’m not alone. There are other people out there like me that are experiencing the exact same thing.”
While she doesn’t know exactly how many transgender people live in New Hampshire, she believes - based on feedback from the SNHU students - that number is going up.
“The first time I did it, I asked the class how many people knew someone that was transitioned or transitioning," she said. "I think there was only two. Every year that I’ve spoken, that number has grown dramatically to the point that where it’s almost 100 percent."
Cynthia hopes her story, like Caitlyn Jenner’s, will continue the local conversation about what it means to be transgender.
The first thing NH1 News asked her was, "Did you think when you were having surgery four years ago, that we would be trendy?"
Tebbetts laughed.
"Absolutely not.”

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The (Petra) Long And Winding Road - R.I.P. My Friend

I met a lady named Petra Long in the mid-1990’s, before MySpace or Facebook, in an unauthorized Yahoo newsgroup for Seekonk Speedway.  She was a moderator and we hit it off as friends via the web board. Having my years of race officiating experience, I helped try to interject logic into some of the heated discussions of race events at Seekonk, even though I wasn’t in attendance, but I could look with logic and no biased opinion, which Petra very much appreciated. After a year or so, I finally met Petra and her driver, Ken Bamford at Seekonk one hot summer night. We all hit it off immediately and a true friendship blossomed.

Ken was successful at racing, athough underfunded, in two divisions, Pro Stocks and Late Models, but was in the twilight of his career, with his last feature win being nearly twenty years prior. He later returned to victory lane after his long drought and I was so happy for both Ken and Petra that the next week at an ISMA race in Canada, I asked all of my ISMA drivers sign a congratulations card for him. Unbeknownst to me, as I was having the card signed, Ken was on his way to winning his second feature race in a row over in Seekonk. I sent the card and it meant a lot to both Ken and Petra. To my knowledge, the card is still hanging in Ken’s office.

Living two hours apart, we didn’t see each other often enough, but we did spend many hours conversing about racing and the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

A short while later I was a guest of a friend at Seekonk Speedway for the weekend. He introduced me to a key Seekonk official and we seemed to hit it off on a professional level. Minutes later I caught up with Petra. I mentioned how I had met the official and what a nice guy he was. She informed me “Yes, he really is a nice guy, but watch out he’s a real head case.” Within the next decade, this would become one solid piece of advice I wish I had not chosen to neglect.

Fast forward to late 2005, I had started my transition but it was still not known to the majority of my closest friends, family, or co-workers, never mind the general public. But within months the changes were coming faster than even I had anticipated.

I was getting over tired between the printing company, Newbury Comics, NEMA and helping the Douglas 23 racing team. I had little free time to myself, unless a race day was rained out. But even racing, my former true love, was taking its toll on me, something I had been involved with for over two decades. I wasn’t happy going to the racetrack and I was counting down to the time to return home from the moment I left the house. I loved the people I was around at the track, but I just couldn’t be true myself outside with everything I was experiencing inside.

The pressure finally got the best of me. On the first day of my summer vacation, I just broke down. I couldn’t handle the pressure and being slowly molded into an “it.” Plus my ‘vacation’ meant spending three days at a racetrack, twice with the Douglas boys and once with NEMA. Not exactly a ‘vacation’, in my eyes. I spent the afternoon sobbing uncontrollably as I really thought I was going to throw in the proverbial towel at this point. I left the following post on Cynthia’s old secret MySpace page.

Dear Friends,
I know this isn't going to be read, but I want it posted on public forum in case something "stupid" happens.

I can't take it too much anymore. I realize I'm sooooooo much better now that I'm on the hormones. But in all honesty, the seven months of happiness, are still having a hard time overcoming the 41 years of hell.

I didn't ask or seek to become "the freak" but lord knows it's too overwhelming. I have a lot of great friends and over the past few months have really learned how to separate the real ones from the fake ones. I do not wish my condition on anyone. It's living hell.

But I honestly don't know how much more I can take. I'm breaking and I'm breaking apart bad.

Thanks for being there and thanks for the kind words. If I have to suffer another 41 years, there's just no f'ing way.

I'm sick of crying and I'm sick of fighting this alone.

Just minutes after I posted the above Petra contacted me via something unrelated on e-mail. She was not aware of “Cynthia” but she knew by the tone of my e-mails that all was not good. We traded e-mail for a while but Petra, whom I have the utmost respect for, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell a racing person what was truly wrong with me. I did manage to admit that I was probably going to be ostracized from racing very soon and it was people like her that I would miss the most.

Petra sent me the most amazing reply from and her and Ken.

I don't know what turns have come about in your life and racing for you to come to this point, and all I can do is tell you how I dealt with such a turning point (life and racing). I redefined my goals and, like you, realized that the people meant more to me than the checkered flag or my accomplishments on the track. I have chosen to spend my time with guys who really need the help ... guys who probably won't ever win a race, or another (like Ken) ... either due to money or talent. Others ask "what are you doing with him?" However, they truly appreciate your presence and contributions. And if one night we do win, just think how grand it would be. Checkered flags don't define what I can do or who I am. I just really love seeing my friends every week.

Maybe it's time to redefine how you can get what you love about racing without the things that have made you "hate" it. You are and have been a significant part of so many aspects of racing, I truly believe the sport would suffer ... but most of all ... it would be a great loss to the people you love so much, including Ken, and especially me.

Do you know how much that card you had signed for Ken when he won his first race meant??? He has it in his office hanging front and center. He treasures it and I do because of the thoughtfulness that was behind it. I'm sure you have touched many in the same way.
And just so you know, I also feel a special connection with you. albeit internet ... but I've always felt I could say anything and you'd be there REALLY listening. 
Petra Long 7/9/06

I knew Petra was correct and it felt great to hear something so reassuring. Especially from someone in racing, that I in reality had only met in person a dozen or so times but corresponded with often. She unbeknownst to me, being the smart lady she is, read between the lines of what was going on with me, in that days e-mail exchange.

The next month, the Modified Racing Series had a rescheduled race from an earlier rainout at Seekonk Speedway.  Though Ken wasn’t racing at Seekonk this week, Petra came to the event just to check up on me. I was fine mentally by this point but I didn’t truly come clean about my gender dysphoria to her at this point. I couldn’t. I certainly said everything alluding to it and around it. But I never just directly blurted it out. After Petra left, internally I felt bad for not just opening up to her face to face. It was a dumb mistake on my part. The next day I e-mailed her, apologized and told her what I should have told her the day before. Her friend John was becoming Cynthia.

Petra replied

Don't worry ... I will keep your confidence. However, you should know I discussed what I thought with Ken before the mod show. I told him how sad you were in your e-mail, what I thought, and he knew I went to Seekonk to see how you were. When he asked, I told him I was pretty sure, although you didn't actually confirm anything. He and I are on the same page ... we just want our friend to be happy. No judgments from either of us. We just feel bad that you feel you will be ousted from the racing community ... but do what you need to do for Cynthia. Your friendship is important to me and I hope you never feel the need to keep something hidden because of what I might think. I'm on your side. 
Petra Long 8/3/06

Ken retired from racing and sadly Petra became very ill with Lyme disease, forcing this two time NASCAR Mechanic of the Year into premature retirement. We went quite a while without seeing each other, but once she was strong enough to visit the race track, we always picked up conversation right where we left off.

In February 2008, approximately one week after my life changing surgery, while lying in recovery at a Montreal convalescence home, I received the most beautiful e-mail from Petra.

E-mail from Petra Long

I know I'm not on your list of close supporters but I have been thinking of you. I would have been in touch sooner to wish you luck before hand but I've spent most of the last 3 months in and out of hospitals ... I haven't written anyone.

From your blogs it sounds like you achieved everything you wanted and needed to begin the life you were meant to have. You are blessed and lucky you found the way and have so much support through it all. You're friends sound great. There are so many people who wish they could start over and overcome there regrets in life. It takes and enormous amount of courage to do that and most of us don't have it.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you can be proud of your life choices and the courage it took to make it happen. I'm sure you ill inspire many others in the same situation and also inspire others to go after other things they always wanted in life ... even if it's just going back to school for a career change, quitting the job they hate, or getting away from the partner that is keeping them down in the gutter.

Best of luck in your future endeavors. Hope you find everything you're looking for. I know I won't see you much because you are basically out of the racing loop but I'm cutting back myself.

Hugs and kisses. I know you are in good hands. Anyone who calls themselves the MCM has got to be cool.
Love Petra 

That is when I had learned that Petra had been sick. We had both cut back on our racing commitments but we still managed to see each other at the track and stay in in contact. She also played the middle person in a good natured verbal teasing between Ken and I. I a Boston Bruins fan and Ken a fan of the dreaded Montreal Canadiens.

 Just this past summer, we were talking at Seekonk one evening and the subject came to music, mostly The Ramones. We discovered that many years before we met, several times we were at the same Ramones concerts at the Living Room in Providence. Our mutual world was even smaller than we had previously thought.

Petra passed away unexpectedly earlier this week. I will miss her greatly. I already do. It was only after her passing the I learned that she had a love animals that matched my own.

Over the span of our near twenty year friendship, we usually reconnected at southern New England race tracks, but most often at her home away from home, Seekonk Speedway. When I return to Seekonk on July 1, it’s just not going to be the same without a big hug and a lot of  laughs coming from Petra. For certain, she’ll be there, if only in my heart the entire day

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Talking to Cynthia has got to be my all time favorite experience while going to college"

The quote that I made the title of this blog, is probably my biggest mental high I've had yet. Be thankfully I don't have an ego.

Every spring I am offered to opportunity to speak to a Human Sexuality class at Southern New Hampshire University. The first time I nervously undertook this assignment was literally three weeks after surgery. I've now spoken seven times, six more than I ever thought. And I love it.

I don't preach or talk at the students. I teach the important aspects of hormones and their effects, but I prefer fielding questions and answering what the students prefer to hear, not what I feel I should ramble on about. Some of the key things I try to reinforce is, throw away all stereotypes, don't fear what completely uneducated politicians want to scare you with, and in reality, I'm not different than anyone else in the classroom.

What makes it all worthwhile is, every year the students get it and often I find I have changed any preconceived negative notions to positive ones.

Below is a small sampling of some of the responses from my talk on May 21, 2014. I shared the unedited comments with a close friend and co-worker, Nicole. Her response it the last one. Though I my get discouraged from time to time, it's comments like these from the students and a co-worker, that I'm glad I'm "putting myself out there" for the education of the masses and for the benefit of the people that follow in my foot steps. For privacy sake, the names of the students have been deleted.

Cynthia touched on how some transgender people go so far as to not pay their bills and get evicted.  Or they lose their job thinking it is because of their lifestyle changes, when really they are probably not performing as they should.  I personally do not like this type of behavior from anyone whether they are transgender, straight, gay or anything else.  But these things happen can happen to anyone.  Poor and/or selfish decision making is human nature.  Cynthia sharing all that she did made me realize that we truly are all the same on the inside.  Her conflicts with hair, body and clothes are the same as everyone else’s.  Clearly, she is a woman who has a full life of family, friends, work, and hobbies, which is what I think everyone strives for in life.  I am very happy to have met her.

Also, Cynthia bringing that amazing photo book was incredible.  I was blown away by the detailed photo's of her journey and another big thank you to her for sharing that extremely personal story.  

Please share with Cynthia a very big THANK YOU, for being so open and honest about her transformation.  I feel very grateful to have this first-hand insight into something I once could not understand.


I think Cynthia is an amazing woman! I included information in my discussion board about her speaking to us, but I also wanted to thank you for arranging with her to speak to our class. I think having Cynthia tell us from her perspective about her life, is so much more valuable than reading in a textbook. I found it fascinating that she has all the same issues and insecurity’s as any other woman does. Though I think she is brave for listening to what her body was saying and not allowing other people's hatred to take her life away. I think Cynthia's photo album showed us the answers to some of the questions we might have not felt comfortable to ask. I am grateful she shared her life with us for those few hours. One question I did wonder about that evening is; Cynthia mentioned she had low testosterone as an adult, and I wonder if she always had low levels of testosterone (as an adolescent) and if that could have had any impact on how she felt she was the wrong gender?
You certainly can share my praise of her, with her. She is one special lady!


I must say reading about and then talking to Cynthia has got to be my all time favorite experience while going to college. I have always supported LGBTQ organizations and rallies, but I have never had the opportunity to have someone openly discuss their life and thought patterns for going through with the surgery. Not only is Cynthia brave for telling her story to us and having it publishing it in the newspaper, but for being true and authentic to herself. I for one am glad she did not commit suicide. (Whenever I mention suicide I always include numbers to hotlines) 

Need Help Now?
Call 911
Text Telephone:

Military Veterans Suicide Hotline:
1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)

Suicide Hotline in Spanish:
1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)
LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline:1-866-4-U-TREVOR

The information about the pronoun changes, challenges my thought process to whether we actually need it or not. I think there are some options that would of course work, but I wonder if it would draw a lot of negativity. As Cynthia commented on the bills for the bathrooms, transgender people already are in our bathrooms...we just didn't notice. 
After reading the above, my friend and co-worker had the below amazing and reassuring comments to add....

WOW, Cyn. That’s great stuff. You give invaluable insight into a life that most people do not understand. Think about it, you were John for so long here, now you’re Cyn. This is a male dominated profession and after 6 years…..nobody even gives you a second glance. You are Cyndi now, and that is how everyone see’s you. Not as this freak, or weirdo, but Cynthia. You are a person, not defined by your clothes or hair, but by who you are. You’re a good person and most reasonable people will see you for just that. A good person, a good friend, a soul sister, a good employee, etc.  Because of you, if I see a transgender person I don’t even give it a second thought. Cuz chances are they are good people just trying to find their place in this world like the rest of us. We all have our own way of going about it. There is no right or wrong.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

If Not For You

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, simply because not much has been happening in regards to the post-op areas of life. But I’ve been reading the old blogs in preparation for my seventh annual presentation at Southern New Hampshire University, and it really brings back a flood of memories even I had put behind me and shows me just how far things have come in just seven years.

Although I had retired from being an official in auto racing, I had a few offers to return over the years, all of which I politely rejected. I was very quite content helping two friends (Mike Douglas Sr. & Mike Douglas Jr.) with their modified at Star Speedway. No politics, no back stabbing, no phone calls or e-mails during the week. Just be ready on to work on race day. Not that the Douglas’ actually let me touch the race car at all.

Early in the 2013 racing season, I hurt my left leg while exercising. I ended up with severe varicose veins and tendinitis in both tendons on my left leg. Walking was incredibly painful and often completely out of the question. Keeping my leg up was the only temporary ‘relief’ I could get until I was able to schedule surgery.

One race event I had no choice but to stay seated in the Star Speedway grandstands and perform my spotting duties from there for the evening. I missed being in the action and seeing my friends in the pit area. When it was time for the qualifying races, the mothers of some of our fiercest competitors, who are all in my age bracket, sought me out in the grandstands, so I didn’t have to sit alone.

 Individually, Lisa Wood, Debbie Dore and Leeann Iannarelli found me and soon all were surrounding me in the stands me for the qualifying races. We talked and joked, but as I looked around and thoroughly enjoyed having them for company and support, but internally I was aglow.  I could see what a major deal this was, even if no one else could understand. There was none of baggage of my past, just three women in my age bracket, that took me in as part of the group and sought out a female friend in need. This was the breaking point in which I knew I was finally accepted for who I am, not who I was years ago. No amount of money or surgery could buy the happiness I was feeling inside once I made the realization that I was just another woman.

Circumstances had us going in different directions for the last half of the racing season, and it’ll sadly be the same for the 2014 season, but I’m still in touch with all of them on a regular basis and will continue to be, even away from the race track. Although it wasn’t a conscience decision at first, but this acceptance gave me a new confidence and sense of complete self worth.

Time heals all wounds and the pain I had felt from the betrayal of a handful ‘friends’ of my last days as a racing official was beginning to fade.  As time made the big picture clearer I was able to see who the actual backstabbers were and I backed off from being bitter of all associated, whether they were guilty or not.

In October there was some discussion (not by me) of my returning as an official. When it was proposed publicly, I was met with conflicting feelings. I was truly honored, but I was strongly aware that there could be some conflict of interest and I also had a very strong dread feeling knowing that I was content in retirement, away from the headaches. Did I really want them back again?  The topic came up in conversation over the winter but never too seriously.

In January, there was some light-hearted joking about my returning as an official by the president of a local touring racing division. I wrote it off with humor, but within days I was contacted by a friend involved in the group. He was asking if I would at least consider the offer and be willing to listen instead of flatly declining for once. I believe I shocked all, including myself, when I said “Yes”.  For the first time since 2008, I would be willing to at least talk and hear what the offer might be.

I love my time spent with the Douglas’ and that won’t change one bit. Helping them will still be a priority. But admittedly, there are many factors to consider, especially with the economy, the current instability of auto racing in New England, and the fact that I’m not a mechanic but I am a good racing official. My abilities were being completely underutilized.

The time I spent away from the pressures of racing, the offer to “get back in the saddle” on a part time basis instead of jumping in with both feet, the fellow officials I would be working with (Carrie Kelly & Jennifer Ready especially) and the short amount of travel compared to 2007 and before, made my decision easy for me. I would return to my roots.

I won’t be dealing with too many of the participants of the past. These people will only know Cynthia and my past and baggage should never become of an issue. It may on the rarest occasion, but I’m much mentally stronger now and prepared to deal with the circumstances should they ever arise.

Truly, my consideration and acceptance of this racing position absolutely never would have happened, if it hadn’t been for the before mentioned night at Star Speedway when Leeann, Debbie and Lisa unconditionally took me in as one. A newer racing friend, Kathy Kourafas has also become a great ally as well. I appear to be just another racing friend and a person who was no different than any of them. 

And that is all this girl could ever ask for.