Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Narrative I wrote for the T-Project.

Hi Everyone,
I recently had the chance to work with 5 other wonderful participants of the T-Project. It is an art show which includes still photography and video of each participant. Along with the art we included a narrative, Here's mine, I hope you enjoy:

Okay, take away all the research and any scientific data. Why do transsexuals feel they have to transition to become the opposite sex? Well, let me ask you this: Are you happy and content with your body as you are today? Your answer would probably be, “yes.” Now imagine that suddenly you had the body of the opposite sex. You were expected to act a certain way and if you didn't you would be punished. Everyone treated you as you looked and expected nothing more or less from you. When you looked in the mirror, you did not like what you saw because that is not you. Deep inside you knew how your body was supposed to be, but you saw something totally opposite. You were treated differently from what you expected because people saw the opposite of what you feel inside. You felt like nothing was right, you could not be yourself. You felt like the weird one in the group. You were forced to be someone that you came to hate — a shell of a person. What would you do? Well, the same can be said about a transsexual.

The TS person feels that the body does not match what the brain knows to be true. They are tortured throughout their lives with the fact that their bodies don't reflect their true selves. Many times in their lives they are tempted to tell someone, anyone, but they are afraid of being rejected for who they really are. Many keep that fear of rejection hidden until they can't take it anymore, many times later in life after they have married and had children. Whenever it happens, there usually comes a time when a TS person must come out or feel a death will come from depression — the depression of not being the true self.

So what do we do? Hide from our fears and never become our true selves, never achieve our God given happiness in life? Or do we strive to prove that we were meant to be who we are and live a life that was meant for us? The answer lies within all of us, for each one of us is different and can only take so much from society. There are those who won't survive because the hate will finally cause so much strife in the transsexual's life that there may be the feeling to end it all. Others will be able to persevere through all the hate and succeed in life and live their lives complete and happy.

I have been on both sides of the fence. I've let the fear keep me down and hidden, but that didn't get me anywhere that made me happy. So those terrible thoughts would rise in all their fiery glory. I have also been lucky to make it over that hump and now look for that happiness that so many of us look for. We all have so much to live for and I'm slowly beginning to see that. So I'm making strides to change my life for a better place in life. I also truly believe that it will also make me a better person as a whole so I may be a better parent and spouse. That's what being out means to me!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reflections: Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) 2009

Yesterday we held our TDOR event at The LOFT in White Plains, NY. It was a very moving day for me. You see, I’ve spent the last year or so working on pieces on the event and a few months ago I was elected to the Board of Director of The LOFT and helped organize the event. I had a lot of help, thank god for that. For my first event, I felt good about how well it came out and it touched many hearts. The turn-out was good from the transgender community and new allies. I would like to thank everyone who came to this event or any TDOR event in this country. As I reflect back on yesterday’s event, I feel the need to do more. The name’s we read yesterday did not have to die. It is because of ignorance and misunderstanding do they lose a chance to live a happy life. I talked to a friend today. No actually I came out to her today. Even though I was nerves to lose her friendship, Several events this past year have brought me to this point in my life. The TDOR event made it painfully aware of the work that needs to be done to help people understand our community. The only way to make that change is to be open to people in your life. Change does not happen unless we tell our stories and people have a chance to see that we are human. We are valued members of our society. We all strive to live a productive and happy life just like any other community in this world. Yet some strive to drive our community in the ground. Our TDOR event drove home even deeper was how this hate and misunderstanding that must drive people to murder someone also drives even more of our community to end their own lives from depression gained from the rejection of our family, friends and society.
As I came out to my friend today, I thought about all the names on the list, the ring of the gong as each name was called out. After the vigil I had to step out to get some air, but as I stood there alone in the cool winter evening. I wondered if the ones that passed felt that alone and how it must have felt as they passed away with no one to comfort them. I kept hearing “stabbed 40 times”, “decapitated and dismembered”, “Shot 13 times”, “beaten to death”. It was just too much for me to take in. How does someone beild up that much rage to do that to another human being. I had to take a moment to gather myself together before going back inside. My desire to educate others has grown so much over this last year by attending events like this. I been inspired by the strength that I have seen in our speakers yesterday. They had the strength to persevere through the hate, bigotry and the misunderstanding of others. Yet they live their lives to the fullest.
As I sat there for a response from my friend, many thoughts are going through my head. But she turned to me and said that’s ok. She knows some people around her block that are transgender and talks to them all the time as they walk down the street. As she turned to me to give me a hug, I felt a since of relief. I turned to her and thanked her for her support and as we talked a bit more as I told her my story. She admitted that this was the last news that she would have expected but was glad I told her because she learned a lot.
After our vigil we revealed a project that we have been working on for the past year. To Advocate, Educate and Celebrate our community, we created a project called the T-Project. It’s a art project where we used still photography and video to educate the public about our community. We hope to raise awareness of our community in a positive and meaningful way, by Advocating, educating and celebrating our community. We would like to rolling this out to other LGBT community centers in the area, then possibly expanding to include other participants in other parts of the country, if there is interest that is ;) The project contains professional still photography matted and framed in the shape of the letter T. Each participant wrote essay which was displayed alongside the framed photos. One additional peace I worked on personally was a video that captured clips of each participant as they talked about being transgender. It came together for a powerful message. It gave even more meaning to the TDOR as a whole. It includes caption for the hearing compared members of our community. We hope to inspire others how are questioning their gender to reach out for a helping hand as it can be an important first step in discovering yourself all over again.
As I looked over at one of our new members who told me the other day, that they had a smile on their face thinking about himself while driving home from their first meeting. I thought we must still give hope to others that come behind us. At the beginning of my journey I felt so alone, no one to talk to how I felt I could trust with what was within me. So I built a barricade around me to project myself from any harm that come my way. I did my best to live up to what society expected of me, leaving behind my dignity and Identity. I don’t know about you, but I really appreciated the help and support that I received when I finally started to find people who know what being transgender means. I reached out many times just like my new friend has, I was inspired by many of the storied I read, many became good friends. I gained my dignity back, but most importantly, I gained my Identity back. If it was not for the hope I gained by reaching out, the future did not look like a happy one.
I have hope that we can cut those numbers down in the future. It may not be easy, but it’s something that must be done. By supporting our community we also grow stronger. So reach out to a hand in need of an ear to listen. You may be surprised by what you find within yourself. Be Authentic.
Michelle Lee

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Note: I wrote this about 2 years ago.

I have been reading Lori D's blog the last few days and came across a entry that brought back a lot of pain and sorrow. I have tried to avoid many of the memories, not out of disrespect or anything. It just brings back a lot of sorrow for what I saw that day. Until recently have I started to deal with it. So I wanted to share with you mine and many others experience and many people experienced the same thing or worse.

I will remember that day till the day I die. I worked on the 47th floor of the second building that got hit. I remember that morning was so beautiful as I looked over the Hudson River into NJ and then looking further down the river to see the statue of Liberty. I often did this every morning before starting my work. I turned to my desk and said hello to a co-worker as he came in and sat at his desk.

I was sitting there no more than 10 minutes before I heard what sounded to me like a big explosion. I suddenly felt our office get warmer as the building vibrated and moved from the concussion from the other building. I though a BIG bomb went off in our building. I ran to window of my office and saw a lot of smoky papers falling in front of me. I thought we were hit for sure. I got REALLY nervous and told my co-worker that we should get out of the building so we proceeded to the stairwell where other workers where gathering, debating on leaving or not. I told them, are you crazy, we should get out and gather out front if possible and then decide what to do from there(good thing we did).

We proceeded down the stairs and as we got to each floor it would slow some as other people were also trying to get down the stairs. I remember looking into several firemen eyes as they ran up the same stairs everyone else was running down (God bless them all and their families). I remember hearing over the intercom that a small plane had hit the other building and it was safe to return to our offices, but what I felt when the first plane hit told me not to listen to their advice, so I continued down the stairs. 30th floor, 20th floor, I was starting to get a little winded but could not slow down too much fearing I'd get run over. So I continued. I finally made it down to the lobby, where the police was directing everyone to go to the plaza area to exit through the plaza. As I hurried myself through the plaza, I remember so any faces with terror in the eyes, something I hadn't seen in person before. I started to get a haunting feeling as I started to hear thuds above me, thinking it was debris from the fire I continued. I finally made it to the exit and continued to the outside where it was mayhem all around. I looked up to see a huge fire burning. As I turned to walk up the street I heard another explosion and I looked up just as the building I was just standing in blow up in a ball of flames. It scared the crap out of me and I ran as debris started to fall around me. When l I was a few blocks away I finally paused for a few minutes as I looked back and finally realized what the thuds I heard in the plaza was. I saw people jumping to their death to get away from the flames as each floor was engulfed in flames. I decided to go home. So I got on the last train leaving the area before they shut down the subway. I remember walking down the block and seeing people crying historically and others trying to comfort them at the same time trying to absorb what was happening around us.

The horrible things I saw that day still haunts me at times. I finally visited a memorial this year at a local park and as I stood there reading the names. I had to sit down as I broke down remembering all the faces I saw of the firemen, police and others that day. Yes, we should never forget those that died that day. How many are scared for life. I'm reminded how lucky I am to be standing here today. We must NEVER forget that day. God bless us all.

Michelle Lee

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Validation and Acceptance

I've had to take a closer look at my life in the last few years and how things have affected me. I have always looked for both validation and acceptance but have never gotten it for the reasons that meant most to me. I've had acceptance as a boy, but always looked for the acceptance I never had a chance to get for being a female. I hid in fear. Fear of being laughed at, fear of being ridiculed and fear of being alone. All these fears kept me down for so many years.

Rejection can be a strong emotion, which can tier at your very fabric of your soul. Rejection from society, your friends and loved ones. This can bring about all the other fears. Early in life we all try to fit in somewhere in society. Looking for acceptance in some group or another, and sometimes doing just about anything to fit in to one of these groups. Usually we slide in where we feel more comfortable. The brainiest hang out with the brainiest; the athletes hang out with the jocks, est. But as transsexuals it may be more difficult to find that place of total comfort. A place you're not afraid to be. I found myself just looking for a place I could be accepted. I went as far as practicing in front of the mirror to make sure the way I walked and the way I acted was totally male. Mind you, I was not a macho guy, but I didn't want anyone to think I was gay or perceived as a girlish boy. Survival of the fittest as they say. In the small town (Southern Utah) I spent most of my childhood, anyone that fell out of the norm was tossed out to the side as an outcast.

Acceptance comes in many forms. Social acceptance most people seem to look for. As noted above, this can be the one everyone fears at one time or another. For the lucky ones, it can be a wonderful experience to finally find a comfortable place to be. But each of us will go through these times in our lives at different paces. I believe the more you feel comfortable with being out, what that may mean to you could be anything. For some of the girls out there, this can be a emotional journey at times. Some may turn to isolation from society. At times in life you may have been witness to the cruel ways some people can be. Rejection from society can make one also want to go into isolation. Away from everyone and giving yourself some time to meditate. You must get to a point where you're not afraid to be comfortable with yourself. Take some time to look at yourself and your life. Sometimes self acceptance takes some time, but as you mature at your true nature, you gain the life experience that will carry you into the future.

Many of the un-educated in our society refuse to look at any of the research that seems to show that there are other reasons that transsexuals feel the way that they do. They will tell us that this is a CHOICE! You got to be kidding me. Who in their right mind would ever want to go through what many transsexuals go through just to keep our heads above the water. There is belittlement from our families, friends and society as a whole. It makes perfect since why so many TS’s prefer to stay in stealth mode all their lives. It’s sad that people can’t just accept the fact that this is not a choice and it was meant to be, even before we were born. The parents seem to blame themselves, but they don’t have to. They don’t need to feel guilty over what their child is going through. There was nothing that they or anybody else could have done to prevent this from happening. Nature will take its own course and that is just life. We all have to deal with it, the TS person, their families and many of their friends. In my option, the only ones that should feel guilty about anything are the bigoted ones, but not for the way they raised them. For not only ignoring science but also for not giving their child the love that they so deserve.

Ok, take away all the research and any scientific data. Why would a transsexual feel they would have to transition to become the opposite gender. Well, let me ask you this. Are you happy and content with your body as you are today? Your answer will probably be yes. Now imagine that suddenly you had the body of the opposite sex. You where expected to act a certain way, if you didn’t you were punished. Everyone treated you as you looked and expected nothing more or less from you. When you look in the mirror, you do not like what you see because that is not you. Deep inside you know how your body is supposed to be, but you see something totally opposite. You are treated differently from what you expect because people she the opposite of what you feel inside. You feel like nothing is right, you can’t be yourself. You feel like the weird one in the group. You are forced to be someone that you become to hate, a shell of a person. What do you do? Well, the same can be said about a transsexual. The TS person feels that their body does not match what the brain tells them that is the truth. They are tortured throughout their lives with the fact that their bodies don’t reflect the true person inside. Many times in their lives they are tempted to tell someone, anyone. But they are scared to be rejected for who they really are. Many keep that fear of rejection hidden until they can’t take it anymore, many times later in life after they have married and had children. Whenever it happens, there usually comes of time when the TS person must come out or they feel that they will die from depression. The depression of not being their true self’s all your life. Society puts so much pressure on an individual to conform to the stereotypes set forth at their birth, the pressure to conform can be tremendous.

I believe that personal acceptance can be the hardest for the transsexual at times. I had some problems at times with this. I've gone through many years of indecision to get where I am today. But it didn’t come easy. The years of denial, the years of fear and the years of wanting to believe that I was something I was not can take a toll on a person. It was not until I gained some education on the subject that I began to see I was not the only one out there that felt this way. Seeing others struggling through life as I had let me know I was not crazy. It took me several years before I truly accepted who I was and what I needed to do to be happy.

Family acceptance is another we hope to have in our life's. I spent most of my life afraid to tell my parents about me being a transsexual. When I finally did tell them I was 30 year old, and getting overwhelmed with my life. My mother seemed to be very supportive, and my dad didn't seem to care to much either way. It was really surprising that I also got the support of my brothers also, one of whom now calls me his sister. I have not seen them much in last 10 years but we have been in contact over the phone and have had many long talks. I also have been given some support with my two kids. They are great kids and I love them very much. I was not able to tell my kids about me being transgendered at first. Within the last 8 year I have talked to my kids about me being transsexual and they seemed to be opened minded about it. It has also been a surprised to see my wife starting to support my needs. She is starting to open up to the idea that a transsexual can honor their needs without losing the sentimental moments.
The acceptance of family can be a life line to your soul. Many of my brothers and sisters have lost family in the process of coming out. It can be devastating to someone, especially if they have always been close to their loved ones. So many of those who lose their families are due to the pressures of society, even their religion. I find it sad that many of those people can’t or refuse to see the happiness and pure joy in their loved ones eyes as they go through this journey of enlightenment. An enlightenment that brings out a better person. In many cases a person who is able to truly love another without fear. A person who has opened there heart to others and willing to show the authentic person.

So what do we do? Hide from the society and never become our true self’s and achieve our god given happiness in life. Or do we strive to prove society wrong and show them that we were meant to be who we are and live a life that was meant for us. The answer lies within all of us for each one of us is different and can take so much from society. There are those that won’t survive either because of the hate will finally cause so much strife in the their life that they feel they need to end it all, and others will be able to persevere through all the hate and succeed in life and live their lives complete and happy. I have been on both sides of the fence. I’ve let the fear keep me down and hidden, but that didn’t get me anywhere that made me happy. So those terrible thoughts would rise in all its fiery glory. I have also been lucky to make it over that hump and now look for that happiness that so many of us look for. We all have so much to live for and I’ve slowly come to see that. So I’m making strides to change my life for a better place in life. I also truly believe that it will also make me a better person as a whole so I may be a better parent and spouse.

In closing I’d like to share an excerpt of a poem I wrote about a year ago:

Why am I angry
I look into people eyes
I get back intolerance
If looks could kill
It would be a death sentence

Why am I angry
If people would just try and understand
And take my place in this great land
They would finally see
I'm no different than them

I have a kind heart
That gets all torn apart
When they try and condemn
For if they could let go
Even they could live free

Maybe one day
I'll find acceptance
For my life as it is
Seeking life's essence
And finally find my way
To the place that's peaceful
With pleasant morning rays

Friday, July 31, 2009

What is Transition mean to me?

Transition will mean many things to many people, so bare with me as I describe what it means to me.

From Wikipedia:
“Transitioning is the process of changing genders - the idea of what it means to be female or male. For transsexuals, the new gender is "opposite" that of birth sex; for intersex people it is different from how they were raised; for genderqueer people it is neither solely female nor male.”

For me it is the journey we all take in our lives to discover who we are and how we will handle things in our future. Transition is not all about the process of just changing genders or taking the final step toward SRS. It is so much more than that. It’s a process, a process that may start 2, 5, 10 or even more years before even getting to the point of SRS. And in my option, transition does not stop after those final surgeries. This journey we go through will take us to so many places deep within ourselves, some will be dark and others will shine a light that gives clarity to many misunderstood thoughts and feelings you may have had in the past. This clarity is an important part of transition, because without it we may get ahead of ourselves and jump into something before we are ready to take the correct steps.

This journey took me to many dark places because I resented that fact I could no longer play with the other girls when I got to a certain age. If I didn’t play with the boys I was looked down upon because “boys” don’t play with the girls. You must stay in the male pack. I hated my body in my teens as it changed with more masculine features. I was envious of the girls around me because I felt I should have been growing and socializing right along with them. Yet my body was forcing me in a different direction then I wanted to go. To survive, I immersed myself in other things such as music and drawing, but those things really never could relieve the torture I felt inside. To add to the pain, I knew I could not tell anyone because I knew that if I didn’t even understand what I was feeling no one would either. On top of that, I knew I would me mocked and labeled a freak. All of us at this age (teens) are trying to fit in somewhere, and to be left outside of a group was to live a lonely life.

Without the knowledge or resources we have today with the internet and so many other places of support, life for me looked rosy on outside, but very cloudy on the inside. I only mention the above to make a point. The point being that because of that journey (painful or happy side), it eventually led to moments of clarity. The search for knowledge began as the internet began to emerge. I always wondered why I felt I was meant to be a girl? Why dressing made some of those sad feeling go always, but only for a moment. Why did I still feel something was missing? Why? So many whys went unanswered most of my life.

I tell most people that I’ve been transitioning for the last 15 or so years. It could have been even long if you consider the whole journey apart of transition. But it was about then when the internet emerged and I slowly found answers to some of the burning questions I’ve always had. In every new peace of knowledge I grew. I grew to better understand my thoughts and feelings. I grew to know myself better. I was finally able to cut away some of those barriers I’ve built up so long ago to protect myself from harm. The barriers that held me back from being authentic to me and others. I began the journey of self discovery. Slowly the clarity in my mind began to shine a light on the path that I knew I needed to follow. The clarity of self acceptance was the biggest stumbling block, because at first I didn’t want to admit I may be a transsexual. I was afraid of what that would mean to me and the family I now had. It took a while, but the more I read and compared it to my past and present, the more I realized that this was never going away. The more I realized this, I could finally declare to myself that this is who I am and trim away the shame I attached to it for so long. It also helped to know I was not the only one out there. I soon learned that there are many that have traveled down this path and did something about it and are much happier for it today. I wanted to be one of those people that were happy with themselves and life.

Since I got serious about my transition, I am happier which makes the hard time more bearable. With each step I take toward my goals, the light shines even brighter. Even though the transition is not complete, I now know in my heart that this is the right thing for me. Complete. Hmmm, I wonder if anyone can ever call a transition complete, because the discoveries won’t stop after going full time. And they sure won’t stop after SRS, at least that’s what I believe. Maybe I can settle on that a step in the transition will be complete:)

So after all this rambling, what is transition? Well, it’s a journey of self discovery that for some will never end, but with each turn in that journey you’ll discover new and wonderful things about yourself and life in general. It’s a process that’s not made for everyone, but for the select few who go through the process it can be a life changing experience. So take a very close at yourself and find where your journey will take you.

And by the way, what does transition mean to you?
Hugs Michelle

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Lateisha Green Murder Trial (Update to my last post)

Well, yesterday after posting my note I read the blog from TLDEF on the trial. It seemed odd to me that some of the witnesses where suddenly forgetting what they had said in police interviews, even suggesting that they were just saying yes to what the police told them about the case because he was scared of the police.
In today Syracuse paper there (and a mention in today's TDLEF blog) that witnesses were being threatened by friend of the murderer. After reading this everything I read yesterday made since. they tell the police one thing during the night of the interviews, they receive threats, then try to change what they said or somehow blame it on the police when they testify. This ASS plays dirty. I truly hope he does not get away with this. I'm not sure how this would normally work, should they put the trial on hold, investigate the treats and charge the offenders and bring it up in this trial, or do they do the investigation after this trial is over? However it should work, this stinks me BAD. What did this fool think he was doing? This just makes him look so much more guilty then before.
What do you all think?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Some things are getting out of hand

Some of you may be aware of an upcoming trial of Dwight DeLee which begins July 13. He’s accused of murdering Lateisha "Teish" Green with a rifle outside a house party in Syracuse, NY. Teish was a 22 year old transitioning transwomen. Teisha was sitting in a car with her younger brother Mark while attending a party when Dwight DeLee came over to the car with a rifle and fired his weapon. Dwight DeLee is alleged to have made a number of hate remarks about Teisha and her gender presentation and sexual orientation at the party. Her brother was injured during the attack, but Teish was mortally wounded and was pronounced dead at the hospital. I feel that our community must stay on top of this case just as we did in Angie Zapata.
I’m not sure what the deal is lately but I have noticed attacks on trans people on the rise. Even closer to home we had two attacks within a month of each other. Luckily these women survived.

From On Top Magazine:
Two men face up to 15 years behind bars for assaulting a transgender woman in Queens, New York on Wednesday, NY1 reported.
Carmella Etienne says she was pelted with rocks and beer bottles by Nathaniel Mims, 25, of the Bronx, and Rosheed Thomas, 22, of Queens.
The 22-year-old aspiring fashion designer says the men called out homophobic slurs at her – and threatened to kill her – as they attacked her.
“I was being attacked because of who I am,” Etienne, who was treated for a large cut to her leg, told the New York Daily News.
“I'm pretty traumatized,” she added.
Thomas admits to the name calling but says the victim did not see him throw anything, according to prosecutors. The two men were arraigned on Friday.
The incident comes on the heels of a nearby Jackson Heights assault where a transgender woman was beaten by two men with a belt buckle. Thirty-year-old Leslie Moran says her attackers repeatedly called her “faggot” in Spanish as they beat her. Two men, Trinidad Tapia, 19, and Gilberto Ortiz, 32, have been charged with assault in the second degree. The transgender rights group Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) and other advocates have urged authorities to charge the men with hate crimes enhancements.
“There's mounting concern in the community and anger at the violence and prejudice,” Brendan Fay, a leader in the LGBT community in Queens, told the paper. “Clearly these aren't isolated incidents.”

We're sad to bring you the news of another brutal attack on a transgender woman, this one coming during the height of LGBT Pride month. On June 19, 2009, at approximately 2:30 am, Leslie Mora was walking home from a nightclub on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens when she was accosted by two men who brutally beat her with a belt. They stopped only when a passing motorist threatened to call the police. Throughout the attack, Leslie’s assailants called her a “faggot” in Spanish. The attack left Leslie with multiple injuries, including bruises all over her body, and stitches in her scalp. Police called to the scene found Leslie nearly naked and bleeding on the sidewalk. They also recovered a belt buckle from the assailants that was covered in blood.

On top of that the Queen District attorney is refusing to prosecute this case as a hate crime. WTF! How many trans people must be attacked or even murdered before our government takes this seriously? The media does not help in most cases either with their biased reporting (or no reporting at all) of the cases. I’ve seen too many reports where wrong pronouns are used or just refusing to report their correct gender identity. Teish’s case is a prime example of terrible reporting. In the first reports out on the murder the paper in Syracuse referred to Teish as he or man throughout the news article. People, she has been fulltime since she was 16.
I don’t know what it will take, but our society has to change. Transgender people have been around since the beginning of time, and that’s not going to change. We have been silenced for far too long. One thing I do see as a positive, is that trans people are making their mark on our society in positive ways. We are SLOWLY making turns for the better in our own lives and I believe it’s come mostly through positive education. Positive episodes such as 20/20, CNN, and a few others have made their mark. Also laws in some states have changed for the better. All this has changed because of people like you and I. We must make our voices heard and speak out against the injustice that we see in our daily lives. It will only get better if we can make our voices heard. Without our voice and our stories, the world will continue to leave us behind. For me, that is not acceptable.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Some thoughts for monday.

I have to wonder sometimes how people can be so ignorant and bigoted in their daily life. It makes me wonder if they are just miserable and have to find some way to make some else feel worse than they do. For example, I have a sister in-law that happens to have seen me many times in the house as Michelle (for the ones who are new to this blog, I’m not fulltime yet). Any every time she has made some rude comment or gesture toward me. One evening a few months back I happen to be watching Sex Change Hospital and enjoying my quite time when she came in from work. As soon as she realized what I was watching, she remained in the kitchen and made very rude comments toward the patients and Dr. Bowers. She even laughed at a patient as she described the pain and heartache she has been through in her life dealing with being a transsexual. She then began to sing above the volume of the TV some type of prayer hem. So I turned the volume up so that I could hear the TV. I’ll just say, it is not very pleasant when she is around. Know my other sister in-laws have treated me with at least respect since my wife and I got back together over a year ago, although they have not really seen me in person as Michelle. In the future that might change, I don’t know. To be fair, my niece told me one time that she was just not happy with the way that my wife and I separated a few years ago. But the way she has treated me has gone a LOT deeper than just that. Even my wife is tired of it. She stood up to her for the first time, a few month ago and reassured her that she was happy and has moved on. She also told her to leave if she can’t deal with it. For me, this was a defining moment for her. She is a quite person (as I am) and not crazy about conflict, and for her to stand up to her sister showed me the love that she has for me. It also gave me hope that our marriage will survive my transition.

I have been lucky that my brothers and mother (before she passed) was accepting, but I also feel for the many other brothers and sisters out there that are not so lucky to have a supportive family, The ones that would rather write off their family members, just because they are TLGB. Rather than deal with their prejudices and fears, they are willing to lose a precious part of their family. Yes precious! It saddens me deeply that people are so scared of what they don’t understand; they would throw out a member of their own family like a bag of garbage. To them, I’d say that they should look at themselves and take a very close look at why they are so shallow to allow society to dictate how you live your life. We see so much of this shallowness in the debate against gender identity and same gender marriage. The definition of marriage can’t change, because it tradition they’ll say. Just because it’s a tradition does not make it right. This country used to have a tradition called slavery. Was it right and just? NO! Things and attitudes change, and they are still changing. My hope is that things will change for the better for everyone within the TLGB community in the near future. There is so much false information out there that we need to stand firm and correct that information when we see it. If we don’t, who will? We all need to stand up and voice our opinions, if we don’t, then they win. And for the sake of our brothers and sisters, we can’t afford that to happen anymore.

Another false accusation against our community is that, if transgender people are allowed to use the restroom of there chosen gender. We will rape there women and children. Yet 99% (if not 100%) of all rapes of children and done by heterosexuals. Please explain this to me. I have NEVER heard or seen any valid story of a transgender person taking advantage of a women or child in the restroom. Darn, all we want to do is pee, is that so wrong. It’s as if they would rather shift the blame to someone else and ignore where the real problem is. They are more than happy to spread false rumors and outright lies to see their views passed as law. I’ve seen so many examples of this in the last 10 years it just makes me sick. I pray every day that people will see through all the lies and that one day we all can live in peace with one another. Is that such a bad thing to pray for?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coming Out, Why?

This was a question that was posed to me the other day. Why do you feel the need to come out? So I’d like to pose the same question to you all who have come out to others either in your family or at work.

The question for me was mainly associated with work. I first came out to my family (mom and brothers) about 15 years ago. At the time I told them that I was not sure where this journey was going to take me. I also told them that I would have to take some time to figure all these feeling out within myself to really know what the future would hold for me. About the same time I came out to my wife with very mixed emotions about do so. The GID had finally gotten to a point that I felt I could not hold it from her anymore. All those years of knowing I was a women, at the same time feeling I had hide it from everyone because of the body I was given at birth. For the next 10 years or so I kept it within the family.
I guess at the time I hid it well, because she didn’t expect those words to come out of my mouth, I’m transgender.

Well, to say it went over well would be a lie. It didn’t go over well at all. We soon began to have problems within the relationship (she couldn’t separate her religion from the fact I was transsexual), and to make a long story short we separated for about 7 years. She thought the devil got a hold of me. I knew that was not the case. She thought I could just forget about it all and we could go on living the life we were living. I couldn’t do it anymore. I thought many times to myself, “was it worth it to come out to her?”. When I would ask myself that question, many times I would answer, No! I thought I lost the one person that knew me better than anyone else in this world. The only problem was she didn’t know me completely. She just got to know the shell of the person that I let out. It was nowhere near the full person I was. And that went for everyone else also. No one really knew what made me tick. What my true passions in life really were. They only knew one side of me.

During the time we were separated we had many one on one talks with each other. Many focused on what I was feeling and why I felt the way I did. During this time I also had time to discover what it really meant to me to be trans for me. As I came to accept myself for who I was, I slowly saw my wife change also. She began to ease up on the religious beliefs (No, she is not walking away from her religion, she is still a strong Catholic). I believe she finally believed that this was a condition I was born with and came to accept it. Well, a little over a year ago we decided to get back together (knowing my desire to transition) and we have been doing pretty good.

To answer the question, Was it worth coming out to her? Yes and No. It was terribly hard to miss out on the 7 years that we missed out on the time we were separated. But without this time, I truly don’t think that we would have gotten as close as we are today. And I also feel that she would not have gotten the time to think it out for herself. I do wish things could have been different, but it all worked out in the end for both of us. Who knows what the future has in store for us.

Ok, Michelle. What’s the point of the story? For one, it showed me that minds can change with the right. What do all this have to do with the title of this blog? Well, I was asked by a co-work this same question. She was the first one I came out to. She began to question my motives for coming out to people at work, stating “If I get pregnant, I’m not going to go telling the everyone at work, it’s my business and no one else’s.” She also tells me that she know these people, and a lot will not take it well. Sure, I don’t want to loose my job. At the same time, I have not been fired and I started coming out over a year ago. Yes, One person I came out to lost her mind and began to spread false rumors that I was suicidal (she claimed to have done a suicidal assessment of me without my knowledge), and even took it to the owner of the business and I’m still here. Does this mean I won’t be fired down the road as I get closer to gong fulltime. Who knows. They have hired two other trans people I know of (never met them though) and one still works there, the other quit. The point is, I’m so tired of playing this she raid. I’m not ashamed of who I am either. I can finally honestly say that and it feels good.

My co-worker questioned why I felt compelled to tell people that I’m transsexual. Is it for acceptance? Well, If it was only for acceptance I think I could possibly get more acceptance by not telling anyone and going on with my life the way it was before. This has not worked for me at all. All it made me was a bitter person. Bitter for letting others control my life. Bitter at others for allowing there predigests control my fears. Bitterness toward myself for allowing all the above. I spent ALL my life to this point looking for acceptance from others. Doing everything I could to be accepted somewhere in society. From putting up masked to hide the true person I was so that no one would laugh at me. Hiding the fact I felt like a women, just to fit in some were. It never worked. Ok sure, I found places to fit in, but the point is I was not being authentic to my true self. They accepted the facade, nothing else because they knew of nothing else. I didn’t feel whole. I was always on guard that I would slip and let it out and everything I built up around me would come crashing down. Not a happy place to be at all.

So Why? Because I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of not being true to myself. I want to be authentic to my soul and live my life authentically. Is that so bad? Going full time will not happen for at least another year, but in the mean time I can be true to myself. If people can’t accept that, then they will not be friends of mine. If they do, then more power to them. At least we can build a friendship on honesty and trust that will go a lot longer than one in lies. Is that so bad? I also know that without coming out, no one will learn anything new about our community. I have been trying my best to educate someone new, one person at a time. Maybe, just maybe, that will make the transition to full time that much easier for everyone involved and maybe the next person that steps in our doors.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Update with me and other news

It’s been a at least a month since I last wrote anything and I just wanted to write out a few things. I feel I just need to vent some and just get it out of my system. Before I go into that I just wanted to bring up a few things that are happening in the T-community:

Today the U.S. House has passed H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This bill added gender identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, and disability. It now has to go through the Senate. We will see what happens while its there. President Obama has pledged to sign the bill into law once it get through congress. It’s about time! Now if we can only get the inclusive ENDA bill through, we’ll at least have the protections that we have long been waiting for.

I feel I need to mention another trial that is coming up very soon. I REALLY hope that the media will give this trial the amount of space as Angie Zapata. Dwight DeLee has been charged with second-degree murder and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the November 14, 2008 in the killing of Lateisha Green. She was outside of a house party when DeLee came out to the car, had a few words, went back into his house and came out with a 22 caliber rifle and shot her and her brother. Her brother was able to drive away, but Lateisha died before getting any medical help. Early this month the District Attorney added hate crime charges. I bring this case up, because what I have seen from the Syracuse media has really disgusted me to no end. In most, if not all of the new reports that I have seen so far, the media refuses to use proper pronouns, they are referring to her as a gay man when the family has stated she identified as transgender. The trial is set to start June 11. We ALL need to do something to get the media reporting this properly. Selective jurors could be negatively affected by the improper media coverage and as we have seen in the Allen Andrade murder trial, it can make all the difference. Check out TransGriot for more info. Monica, you ROCK!

Now onto some personal things that’s going on in my life. The last couple of months have seemed to be the most stressful time in the last year. A few months ago I learned that the company I work for is replacing one of the major programs I wrote with a retail program (customized for our company). My first thoughts was I’m out the door for sure, because I spent about a month not having any real work related programming to do. In the last 2 weeks my feeling have changed a bit on that issue, in that they have sent me along with managers for training on the system. I’m hoping that is a good sign. I’m also hoping that my role as a programmer does not change. It seems that in sending me for training I may become the administrator of the system (really won’t be that bad) which would be a change in roles but I think I may be able to live with that. With the way the economy is doing lately I feel lucky to be out to many in the company(not full time yet, in case new readers didn’t know) and still have a job. I also did recently get a new little project to do, but eventually that project will be rolled over into the new software. Who knows what’s going to happen.

One other major stress in my life write now is the amount of hair I have lost in the last 2 to 3 weeks. About two months ago my scalp started to itch some and got a little dry. Well in the beginning of April it got worse and I noticed my scalp began to turn red. I began to use head and shoulders thinking it would help relieve the dryness and itchiness some. Well that didn’t work, if nothing else it made it worse. 2 ½ weeks ago started to noticed a lot more hair left behind in my brush after washing my hair and drying it. Well, today I have a patch/path from my right temple (2 to 2 ½ in wide) going back to the crown of my head that has thinned out so much it almost looks like I’m bald (I feel like crying right now). I went to my primary doc and she gave me a referral to a dermatologist. I had an appointment for tomorrow the dermatologist I made last week, but because of this MANDATORY training, I had to cancel and reschedule the appointment. What’s worse is that I now have to wait tell May 11 for the next appointment, UGGGGGG. My primary thought maybe it was a fungal infection, or maybe psoriasis. Naturally after I got home I did goggled psoriasis and it seems to fit all the symptoms I’ve had in the last few weeks. My wife got some medication for me that seemed to have eased the major discomfort I’ve been feeling on my scalp but I’m still losing hair which has put a damper on my emotions lately. I’ve waited so patiently the last 1 ½ to let me hair grow out only for it to start falling out. One thing I’m not clear about yet, is if the hair will grow back or not. It’s as if I’ve been on chemo I’m trying to hang in there but it’s getting more depressing very time I wash my hair. I guess I’ll have to see what the doctor says in two (more) weeks.

I have a few other stress’s going on but prefer not to share those things quit yet, maybe never. I’ll have to see. Anyways, life at home has been going well with the family. Last week was my birthday so my wife and daughter and I went to visit my son at school and we went out to lunch/diner at a great place called Bobby Q’s in New Haven, CT. They have some great BBQ there by the way. I’ll be happy to go there again the next time we have a chance too. It was a nice weekend spent with the family, and no cooking on top of that, lol.
Well, that it for now. BTW, if anyone has any tips on psoriasis, PLEASE let me know.
Take care everyone.
Hugs Michelle

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm clearly upset!

Hi Everyone,
This one may be short, we’ll see what happens. The other day I was reading someone’s blog (I’m really sorry I forgot where I originally saw this. If anyone knows, please give credit where credit is due.) and was guided to the following link: Intersex Infant surgical abuse. PLEASE watch the video. It is a sad and aggravating story about a woman that adopted a baby that turned out to be intersex. Not that big of a deal on the surface right. Well not quite so fast. The doctor wanted to do evasive surgery to “FIX” the child and the mother told the doctor not to do any surgery at all. Later, after the mother had taken the baby home, the doctor called them and told them that the babies single testicle may become cancerous and they should do a biopsy to make sure. The doctor CLEARLY went against the mothers wishes and removed the testicle trying to turn the child into a girl. UGGGGGGGG. PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO. I feel that it is very important that everyone watches the video and if you can please pass it on to others.
Why is it so important? Have you heard of Alice Dreger? To quote TSRoadmap , “Dreger is the J. Michael Bailey of the intersex community: someone whose trade is writing and speaking about controversies surrounding marginalized populations.” Read this and maybe you’ll understand. Anyways, its people like this that give make this world so difficult for the intersex and transgender communities. Ugggg. I also believe its attitudes like this "I know better than you" that give doctors like the one in the story above the attidude that they can do anything they want. What do you think?
I said I would keep it short, so I’ll say good night for now. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Update and thoughts

Hi Everyone,
It’s been a while since I posted an update here about me. I must say that when I look back 2 years ago and compare were I am now. It’s amazes me at how much better I feel about myself and my life. I also realize that my last relationship was not good for me in any way. It held me from growing personally. It held me back in way to many ways. I was too busy pleasing her ever whim they my soul never got fed what it needed. To Live Authentically! As Lori would say:)

My wife and I have spent this past year becoming closer than I think we were before. She has seen me in my strongest and weakest points in my life. We have shared feelings we never shared before and for that we become closer. We have survived more than many families do, for that we become closer. Once we both lowered our barriers we began to understanding each other better. The ability to talk to my wife heart to heart about all my trans feelings feels amazing. Judgments I used to receive is a thing of the past, instead there is more supportive talk from her and my kids. It may not all be joy in the future, but I think we know have the resolve to work this out.

This past year I have taken more time out to think out things. How the h#$%^ I’m going to pay for anything major during my transition? I’m still not really sure how I’m going to do it, but I know I can’t let that stop me from proceeding in my transition. The progress with HRT has leveled out now. I guess after two years it’s about where it ever going to be. To be honest I am happy with the progress I have made on HRT (38B). I’m feeling more confident when I’m out and I wear it proud at home. Which leads me to my next step in my journey. I’ve actually began this step already, my look has slowly changed from my hair and my body. So in this step the plan is to slowly introduce more fem look to my appearance, which also means I really should look at getting a few more things to wear, hmmm ;). I plan on gradually adding something to my appearance to hopefully dilute some of the shock factor when I do go full time. Is this a wise choice? I don’t know for sure, but I feel I will handle it better that way.
I still have many worries such as total revulsion from someone. Take this exchange (excerpt of email sent to a dear friend):
Recently I went out with my friend to a club. I think this person heard the heeled boots that I was wearing walking across the wood floors. She came running down stairs to meet me in the kitchen where she stared me down with the look to kill. I said hi to her and she replied "Don't say hi to me, I don't know you!!!" I thought to myself, Ok whatever. As I walked toward the back door, she said "Why don't you show all your friends in Kentucky the way you are?", I replied "I did, and they didn't have a problem with it!" in a pleasant tone. With that she replied "Why don't you stay there!!" and I said "Because I live here" and smiled maintaining my pleasant tone. She replied "Oh really!!". I decided it was not worth fighting her over anything and just left. Of course she peered at me through the glass door tell I left.

This is one of many incidents I’ve had to deal with this past year. It’s gotten to the point my wife is getting tired of it and has had a talk with her (Bless her heart). So we will see how the future goes. Whatever happens I’m planning on handling it as I have in the past. That is to ignore it. Well, to be honest I can’t ignore it, but I will continue to return a calm voice to her or anyone else. I will not let them get me to explode and return them totally negative vibe. I’ve been there and it can make someone an ugly person. I guess in this life we still have to deal with negative types, which makes the support from my family so precious to me. I guess they can now see that my reality is also everyone else’s and they are willing to accept that, which has brought a balance to my life.

I’m so excited for my niece. She is getting married after being with this fella for many years. He is a good person and a kind soul. They are planning on having the wedding in Puerto Rico in 2010 which sounds very exciting. I’ve never been to any of the islands so it will be a new experience. I really wish them the best. They have worked very hard and they are good people. See ya in Puerto Rico . Maybe I could get away and work on those tan lines, lol.

Pause: I’m sorry I have to clear my eyes. I’m sitting here with my IPhone watching the 20/20 episode “My Secret Self” while I’m writing this blog. It touched me the first time I saw it 2 years ago, and it still touches me today. I can identify with Jazz so much, actually all the kids I do, but for some reason the interview with Jazz seems to get to me the most.

In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
And the world will open their arms to me

This is a song Jazz began to sing to Barbara during the interview. I think this is a powerful thing coming from a child her age considering she just decided to sing that particular song. It’s funny that, I use to sing In My Room by the Beach Boys when I was a kid. Actually I still do at time, but for different reasons now. I would spend hours in my room thinking of ways to change myself to be who I should have been. Nothing ever worked of course, but I always hoped that one day it could be fixed. At least today I can stand here and say proudly that I’m a transsexual. The last several years I have been getting out of that room which had become a tomb and it feels so much more natural. If you have not seen this show, see it. You can find the whole episode split up into segments here.

Last Thought:
I sometimes wonder why anyone could not believe that being transgender is not a natural thing of nature. After all, who would go through what most of the trans family goes through just to be authentic to themselves and the world. What cis-man or cis-women would go through the surgeries that we are willing to go through to be authentic. There are WAY too many of us for me to believe that this is some mental illness or that we, in some way are deranged. The world has to change its attitude. Its better than it used to be 20 years ago, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Ok, I better go before another Last Thought comes to me, lol.
Nite all.
Hugs Michelle

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Sister: Jan. 11, 2009

I was brought up in family of 3(really only 2) boys, me being the oldest. I remember holding my brothers in my arms when they were born. I helped my mom take care of them many times as children. In those young years I felt as I was their older sister. I was gentle and calm. As I got older I felt things changing around me, but something inside was not. I still felt like I was their sister (a girl), but the world around me started to demand that I was something else. Something that I did not want to be, a boy. It felt all wrong, but the power of the binary is strong, and trying to go anywhere outside that binary, you are ostracized for trying to be who you are. So I held it in. Throughout our life, my brothers and I have been through some not so great times (actually some Crappy TIMES), but we seemed to have survived everything that life put in front of us. I always wondered if this binary thing would cause tension in my family or not. As a kid, I was to scared to find out. I guess I had many chances to tell my brothers, something always held me back to telling. Be it fear, or not sure how to best explain how I felt. As I got older I felt the clamps of that gender binary claw its way into my life. To protect myself I built this barrier around me. This male barrier shielded my feminine voice from speaking, I felt as if I was trapped in a cage. A cage that had no locks, but thunder would roar once the door was opened.

That was many years ago. Even though I longed to be called their sister. The knowledge of knowing that I was there, they just couldn’t see it yet. You see I build that gender binary shield pretty good. Well sort of. As the years rolled by the strength of the Gender Binary weakened, but the long effects of testosterone has taken its toll. I would not know tell I was older how It would awakened new possibilities in my life.
So what has become of a quite little girl stuck in her room her whole life. The little girl who used to look out her window up in the sky and wonder will I ever be who I’m supposed to be. Nobody really knows her, they’ve only seen the shell of the true person inside. No one saw the passion and joy from the inside, only seeing the shy person I became. As I came out to my family I was terrified that something would get lost between our family. But as I told each of my brothers, my mother, then my dad. I became stronger in my conviction to do what needs to be done as I told them how I was feeling. It took some time for things to sink in, but I have also been taking things pretty slow lately. This year will be even more changes
What brought all this on, was a unexpected comment from my brother to my blog "A Sons Perspective":
That was an extremely well constructed verse on how a young man feels enlightened by a parents wish to become a complete person. I admire you also, Michelle, your reality has been hidden for to long. I welcome you to a shared reality by which I to am proud to call you my sister.

We have had several chats over the years about the trans issues and things seemed as if they were cool. But to be honest I was not quite expecting his response. You know how long I’ve been waiting to hear that! ? For a long time! Lol. It is short, it is sweet. But in those few words I was filled with such emotional joy I had to sit. As I sat there, I thought about what I just read. "My Sister". OMG, I read it again after clearing my eyes from morning slumber. I wanted to scream with joy, but didn’t want to wake anyone up, lol. I took a deep breath and was overcome with this emotional release as I stood looking out the back window, it freed some of the barriers I preserved. I realized in that moment how much those two words meant to me. "My Sister". There is so many thoughts rolling around my head, but I must thank you from the bottom of my heart for you support. Having family back me means a lot to me because I never wanted to lose the ones I grew up with. That meant so much to me. We were there for each other in the hard times and the good. Its an experience to feel these firsts in my progression to be true to my reality. And each of these firsts adds to the strength I didn’t think I had, to move forward and live my reality. As I move forward in my journey I will be taking a lot from my sons letter and my brothers comments to heart. The knowledge that my son is strong in his convictions and yet he is even tempered and very thoughtful person. I’ve seen him stop many times to go help out his grandfather, or one of his aunts. He does have a compassionate heart for his family and friends. I admire his strength. To my brother, I Love You. I’ve always admired you also. You were always yourself. You were loud and let everyone know your option. I always thought if I could just be like you and just tell everyone, maybe things would have changed a long time ago. But to be honest, I couldn’t change then because I was not ready. I am ready know, more than ever.
On a closing note. Quoting my son:
Personally, I would rather be proud and shout out for who I am, than desperately be trying to live a life for who I am not. And I feel like you would agree with this, and I hope that someday I will have as much courage as you do.

I do agree with this. I’ve become more proud of who I am every day. The more I do, the more strength I gain. I think you do have the courage, it’s in you. You must always be true to yourself. Never let anyone hide your voice. Be heard! For me, being locked into the binary has brought me both pain and joy. The pain of living a life in a shell, but many joyful moments I’ve found down this path. The family being the most important. I’m letting my voice be heard now, and that will never change from this day forward. I’m proud of who I am, and will live true to my reality. I know this year is going to be some of the biggest changes so far (well, except for breast), I expect several more changes by this time next year. So I look forward to what 2009 brings. I have more positive changes planned I’ll fill you in on as the year roll along. ? To all my friends out there, take my son advice "Be proud and shout out for who you are". In this way our voices and hearts can be heard. Let them see the beauty within. The binary can be broken, I prefer to think of it as expanding the binary. As my friend Lori always says "live. Authentically". I hope everyone has a great year.
Hugs Michelle