Monday, November 18, 2013

You Never Know When You Can Help Someone.

I generally try to to tell tales out of school, but this one made me really feel good inside and is precisely why I've kept my transition public.

The other night at a youth group I facilitate, for the first time I talked a bit about myself. Not a lot granted, but a bit. It's not my group to talk about myself by any means, but I've never declined to answer questions. Tonight was unusual as there were quite a few transgender topics and questions brought up by the kids, themselves. After the night was done and everyone was gone, the second facilitator and I were cleaning up and finishing the paperwork when there was a knock on the door.

In the group is an eighteen year old girl  Sue is a lesbian with an unusual and insecure home life.  Thankfully she is planning on going to college, far away to get a clean break and a fresh start. Sue came back and knocked on the door. Sue said can I talk to you? (meaning me)...... And Sue's first question to me, with both fear and a hint  of tears in her eyes was "How did you come out as trans?" We talked for a few minutes with me answer as best and as honest as I could, all within earshot of the other facilitator, who is at the group more times a month than I am, and knows Sue much, much better than I do.

When all was said and done, Sue left  and I looked over at my co-facilitator , who with a big smile said, "You did great and Sue has never come right out open with that." Sue talks about her problems at home and school but this was a huge break through.

Sue left with a smile, though I could still read her eyes were saying relief, yet with a bit of hidden sadness, as she thanked me immensely for being a huge help.

Five years earlier, the first Nashua Telegraph article helped a young lady, whom was unknown to me at the time, and her mother didn't understand what her daughter as going through, until my story was front and center on the Sunday paper. I received a brief but powerful "thank you" e-mail, on my first day in Montreal, which made me very happy.

 If I can help one person better themselves, my own humility is a small price to pay.

This is what makes it all worthwhile.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oh, That Magic Feeling

On May 29, I had my sixth annual talk at Southern New Hampshire University. This time was a bit different as the instructor, Traci Belanger was away at a conference plus I'm battling a bad varicose vein and tendinitis, both in the left leg, making it impossible to stand and pace in front of the class as usual.

Every class has been great all along and though I'm usually quite nervous beforehand, this I didn't feel as anxious . Some classes are more talkative than others, but Traci forewarned me hat this class was very talkative and already had a ton of questions for me, which made me relax more going into the evening.

This class was the best one yet. Five minutes into the night they were firing away with great questions and my two and a half hours just flew by. I hardly got to tell a lot of things important, but it was better because I was able to answer the things they wanted to know, instead of what I felt they should know, which keeps hings more interesting for all parties. All great questions, some quite personal, but I find it best to just answer honestly and let the chips fall where they may. This is one time i can honestly say I think I enjoyed enjoyed the class more than the students themselves.

Below are the comments Traci received this past week, and one I received on Face Book. I have no idea who said what, because it really doesn't matter. I usually to hear the negative along with the positive as it'll help me learn and once again, there were zero negatives, all positives.

Yeah, I'll be glad to speak again next year. Heck, I'm already counting down the days.

I just want to say thank you for speaking in our class today, you are a strong woman and don't ever change. Anyone would be honored to be your friend...

“ I found the articles about Cynthia extremely interesting, so much so that I couldn’t stop reading others on the blog! I am eager to hear her speak to us in person and learn more about her. She reminds me of an old friend’s father, who I met when she was in the pre-surgery transition to becoming a woman. Her name was Sarah. Sarah was one of the nicest people I have ever met. Her oldest daughter was a good friend of mine and invited me over for girls’ night at her dad’s. While we sat and talked, Sarah brushed my hair. I will never forget her telling me how much she wished she had beautiful, thick hair like me. She was taking the estrogen pills, but her hair was still very thin as it grew. I told her not to worry, she would get there.


 My friend’s name was Sam and she was very accepting of her father’s choice, but her younger sister had a much more difficult time with it. I actually bought a book a few years back, which is a collection of Carly’s diary and livejournal pages, reflecting her life through her own words. There are many entries in her diary and journal written about the hatred she felt towards her father. Being only in seventh grade when she found out, she was too young to understand the situation, and instead felt embarrassed by it. She has since accepted it and again has a healthy relationship with her dad again. I haven’t seen Sarah in several years, but she is someone who I will never forget. She was truly an inspiration to never stop fighting for what you want, no matter what others may think.”

I also found Cynthia to be very interesting and I enjoyed learning more about her choices. I thought she did a great job explaining everything and about her life. Nothing irks me more than people who do not support gay marriage and the transgender community. I was always taught not to judge others. I just don't understand how people get so worked up about other's choices, especially when it doesn't even affect them directly. It definitely takes a lot of strength and courage to live in this world today and it is sad that everyone cannot just be accepted for who they are.

I was so excited about this speaker and loved getting to know about this lifestyle. I found Cynthia to be very open about talking about everything she has gone though she answered every question I had to ask and I ask some that were very personal. She was a trooper regarding how to explain all of her ups and downs. I personally am very excepting of the gay community but have only ever been surrounded by gay men and lesbian women. I find myself sometimes struggling to understand the world they have to deal with and have tried to put myself in their shoes and don't think that I could so be strong and stand your ground all should be able to find happiness.

I had read the articles before meeting Cynthia and it was after I met her that I reread them and the articles were much more meaningful after.  Her story is inspirational.  I have to tell you I have like a girl crush on her- that's how much I admire her bravery.  Her openness, honesty, and her sense of humor have opened my eyes to a subject I initially felt pretty neutral about.  Its neat experience to be able to view life as both a man and a woman. The aspects that she contended with and the decision to go and seek a non reversible procedure, and then to have to save enough money for it.  I can barely save enough for a skirt from piperlime before I lose interest in it let alone to reassign my gender.  It must be agony for those who desire it or need it and it is just an improbability to achieve.   

Right! I was really inspired by her bravery and determination too! After reading about her and listening to her story, I was kinda ashamed of myself for not being able to pursue my dream job since childhood, which is to become a Civil Engineer. I believe it's really hard for her to make up the decision to go for surgery, but now that she's happy living as Cynthia, I'm really glad for her!

                I agree with you that we need to embrace people’s decisions no matter what they are. Before Wednesdays class, I thought that race, religion, and sexual orientation were the only things that people had to deal with. Unfortunately, I was wrong especially with dealing with gender neutral individuals and their way of life. I never knew anything about this lifestyle until meeting Cynthia, and after that, my views have changed slightly. Overall, it’s a pretty interesting topic, and one that I am sure will have a profound place in our society.

I can agree with your feelings of being inspired after meeting her and talking with her. It was such a great experience and one that not many have had. I really enjoyed when she said that her way of bringing about awareness is to simply talk with classes as she did with us and allow those she speaks to and with to spread the information and share the experience with others. I think that's a great way to do it and keeps it from being too overwhelming for her both physically and for her own safety perhaps.

I totally enjoyed class Wednesday - it just flew!  I thought about Cynthia a lot in the following days and what she went through.  She was a real inspiration to me - to make the decision to go through the gender reassignment surgery even though she was going to upset her mother and lose friends, possibly her job, was so brave.  She could have lived as a very unhappy man for the rest of her life because it was easier, but she took the leap and did what she needed to do to live a happy life.  I found her to be open, funny and real - something she probably wasn't when she felt like she was living a lie.  Thanks for opening my eyes Cynthia!

Cynthia's story was not only educational but inspirational! I think that though she had to overcome a lot of struggles, she did what she felt was right and her attitude about it great! In the articles, it stated that this project was to educate people. As Corey said, "transgenders are people, just like you and I" and it is the truth! I really enjoyed her story, truly inspirational.

Meeting and talking with Cynthia was a great experience.  She answered any and all questions that were asked and added a few things of her own.  Her story is one of bravery.  It takes a lot of courage to change your entire life, especially when it involves the possibility of never fitting in.  She seems to be very comfortable in her new skin so to speak.  She is a very brave woman, but the way I look at it is you should live your life according to your own plan, you should never worry what anyone else does or thinks.

I knew they’d love you….{{MAJOR HUGS}}

Friday, February 1, 2013

I Look At The World And I Notice It's Turning

For those visiting here from the web or Susan's Place and are looking for stories about my two week stay in Montreal, you may want to start by viewing the blog archive section (to the right) and start your viewing from  the bottom of things posted in February 2012, which is where I placed my blogs from 2008. For more up to date information from when my friend Karyn had her surgery, so you can compare 2008 vs 2011, I suggest looking at the posts from April 2012.

The day after posting my blog "Five Years Gone", I met friends for dinner in Pelham, NH. Driving to the restaurant, I happened drove by my first endocrinologist's old office. She has since retired, but it's where I received my first taste of estrogen. I only saw her for two appointments and that was the first time I have been by that area since early 2006. It was total fate, seeing it was the five year anniversary of my first full day at Dr Brassard's in Montreal.

These blogs have served me well and I know others have learned from them. Some learned for their own future endeavors, some were people that knew me or of me, and learned a lot about me. I re-read them and I learn a lot about me all over again. I do refer back to them often. I smile at the things from back then, but yet can also get stomach knots, fears and tears I had back then. Especially in the week leading to Montreal, to the day I returned home. Even five years on, the emotions are still overwhelming.

I'm very glad I wrote these blogs or journals.A very dear friend, Cynthia (not to be confused with me), gave me a journal book to write in. I thought she was crazy. In hindsight, I can see that she was very much correct. But with my lousy hand writing I elected to write blogs digitally on MySpace, which in 2012, I transferred over to here. I can not imagine not having these to reflect upon.

One dear friend is notorious for removing her blogs from being posted and it drives me absolutely insane. For better or worse, the pain, the joy, the loneliness, the tears, the emotions are all part of the big picture. Even the embarrassing ones have a great way of building my character, even five years on. Writing got it off my chest. Reading them reminds me of where I've been and what I've survived. Hopefully they can give others the encouragement they need, no matter what they are after in life.

I know a lot of people that have had "the surgery" and don't get as emotionally involved as I have. They don't get the flashbacks or emotional ties that I get. That's okay too. I've been known for years for being able to distance myself from things. Usually, it's strictly a defense mechanism. Often it's spot on. But I was on such an emotional overload, that I didn't get to enjoy it at the time. I enjoy the flashbacks now. I wish I had a video of me 24/7 back in January 2008. It doesn't exist. I have these blogs and a handful of photos to see what I missed. No matter how I write it, I can not express  how and why I still get so emotional every year.

Strangely, I sent a congratulatory text to my surgery sister, Sonja on the fifth anniversary of our surgery date. Her reply, "I almost forgot. Thanks", simply proving what means the world to me, is just another day to someone else.

Not sure how much I can add here anymore. There's not really enough 'trans' things happening after five years. Unless something drastic happens like a relationship or encounter, this blog from now on will be very quiet except if there should be anything breaking. My five year wrap up on Thursday seemed to bring things full circle. Hopefully I'll find things to post on subject in the meantime. But I just may not have any further news until the 10th Anniversary in 2018.

Some how, knowing me, even I can't keep that promise :)

Peace & Love,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Five Years Gone

It was five years ago today that I had the most nerve wracking day of my life. The day I had to travel to Montreal for my life changing surgery. Granted the days prior had been stressful with the release of the first Nashua Telegraph article and making certain that not only was I prepared for the two weeks in Montreal, but also that things at home were all set.

The weekend consisting of the 26th & 27th were also incredibly nerve filled, but thankfully I had four visitors coming up to join me. Yes, I freely admit the times I spent freezing with them in Montreal, were a lot of fun, but I was still overcome with internal nerves and emotions that I did my best to hide from my four angels, Carrie, Michelle, Linda & Gaily. My stomach was in knots the morning of surgery (January 28) but I was surprisingly stronger with an internal calm, that I had zero of, the entire day of January 24, 2008.

For the years following I would still get flashbacks of the entire experience with just the seasonal changes or hearing songs. Thankfully with time, these are not as frequent and especially after spending ten days up in Montreal with my friend Karyn, during her surgery.

A lot has changed since those two weeks in Montreal, 2008.

  • The car I drove to Montreal and back is long gone.
  • My two cats I was terribly missing while in Montreal, are deceased.
  • The convalescence house staff has changed over 100%, since January 24, 2008.
  • The laptop computer I bought for Montreal and recovery days, is now a doorstop.
  •, which kept me from being lonely up there and gave me a touch of home, is now defunct.
  • The Mod Chick Mafia, the support group of ten girls I was extremely close with, semi-disbanded, though we are slowly piecing things back together. Linda moved away, Kelly had a baby, Kathy got married, Michelle had a life changing surgery of her own, Elaine got divorced, has moved on and keeps us all too busy.
  • I have gained some fantastic new friends, that didn't know me at all back then. Too many to mention, but they certainly help keep life interesting. If you are reading this, you're probably one.
  • First time in the stirrups and having a speculum used was not a thrill. Stirrups still make me feel like I'm throwing my hip out of joint.
  • Some people that were afraid of the 'freak' actually talk to me like I'm human, as opposed to 2007.
  • Some friends have sadly have eternally left us. Many way too young.
  • I finally left my part time job after eleven years. Not bad considering I was hired as seasonal help in 1999.
  • The restaurant where I had my only physical violence fear (December 2006), Holidays in Auburn, NH, is now closed 
  • My bitterness towards racing finally went away, and I actually worked three races in 2010 & 2011.
  • My shadows from the Nashua Telegraph, Karen (author) and Corey (photographer) have both moved on to other occupations. Karen recently had her first child and is a teacher. Corey is a newlywed, and now a press photographer in Florida.
  • My sister passed away. I wasn't home 20 minutes from Montreal and I got the call that she was rushed to the hospital, and was in a coma. It lasted a few months and nine months later she was gone.
  • My blogs and contact from a lot of people, while in Montreal and home recovery, was on MySpace, which is now a ghost town. 
  • I have had my first orgasm as a female (and many more since)
  • I've changed hairdressers three times.
  • Sadly, some of the actual surgery photos I was promised, have never seen the light of day, except for a brief viewing one March 2008 afternoon. This does depress me on a regular basis.
  • Gas prices are up about 80%!
  • I'm much more comfortable driving in Montreal now and try to get up there as often as possible. Though I still can not drive on Route 89 through Vermont and the roads into Montreal and not get the butterflies I had on January 24, 2008, even if I have company on the trip.
  • I was featured in a GLAD publication, as a "success story" about NH trans people.
  • The Nashua Telegraph did a third article in September 2012, with a new writer and photographer.
  • I lost my primary care physician of twenty years. Not because of my change, but because of Obamacare and insurance companies nickel and diming care. Just giving what they have to, not what they should.
  • The two weeks in Montreal, made me a hockey fan again. The hormones made me lose my passion for the sport or any sports in 2006 and 2007. Two weeks in Montreal gave it back.
  • The two weeks in Montreal made me addicted to cranberry juice. Formerly I would only drink it with vodka. Now I can't get enough of it without the vodka. I should own stock in Ocean Spray.
  • My recovery time made me have a new appreciation for chocolate and especially ice cream. Even in the dead of winter.
  • The non-stop terms on tv and the radio "Obama, Clinton, McCain", Spitzer and "Papa Gino's Big Cheese Meal Deal" will forever be linked to my recovery period. That and hearing about the Patriots 18-0 choke in the 2008 Super Bowl.
  • The chip on my shoulder, the bitterness with life and suicidal thoughts are long since gone.

There's no moral to the above list. But for those reading this that are contemplating sexual reassignment surgery, that live under the false premise of "Once I have surgery, everything will be better." Not everything gets better. People still die, you lose and gain friends, the mortgage is still due every month, family issues, the car breaks when you least expect it, food and utility prices increase, illness, etc.

Life goes on, as before. But I find I can deal with life's intricacies with a much more relaxed frame of mind. Not every thing is better. I still have my highs and lows like any other 'normal' person. But now the 'lows' tend to last a day at best as opposed to a week or more

Five years on, I'm very happy I made the changes I've made.  My genitals and lifestyle are different but my outlook is more optimistic than years ago. Life still has it's challenges, plastic surgery can not change that. Difference being, I'm happier much more often, easier to get along with, and if I had to do it all over again, I most certainly would.

And yes, I've been getting the flashbacks all week. I know I'll pull through. I can still hear my quivering voice, calling Michelle Lavigne at work, praying she was still there, to give me the address of the convalescence home, when I was lost in a rapidly getting dark, foreign city. I could hear the smile on her face on that call. But even as nerve wracked as this day still makes me, I still reflect with fondness.

With the coming of each January 24, a knotted stomach and frayed nerves still plague me five years on. As a reminder of a significant time period and the strengths I've gained, I hope they always will.