Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Midnight Tale of Wraiths in the Aether

   I've become used to stopping in at the transition blogs I read and finding a "closed" sign, or a final post.   Although I will miss the authors, I'm infinitely more happy for them than I am sad for me.  I know that they've moved on to another realm and are finally happy and at peace with themselves.  This time though, I sensed something different.  Something...not right.  I could feel it in the depths of my soul.

  I started reading transition blogs perhaps four years ago.  Since then I've watched as three or four waves of women followed the usual pattern that ultimately culminates with them completing their mental, physiological and social adjustments.  The blog author then intentionally and cordially says thank-you and good-bye, and closes out the blog (and often, her login and all other traces), or  she may continue for some time until she realizes that her life has moved on and the blog is no longer relevant.  At that point she moves on by default, as the entries have become quarterly or yearly at best and have little to do with her pre-transition life.  The blogs are taken down or left up for others to learn from, and to inspire the rest of us.  They help us keep our Faith.

  Like I said, this time it all felt...wrong.  Sometimes this neat little process of growth and healing goes awry, I guess.  Sometimes, there is a poor soul that can't move on.  It could be anyone, but I've noticed it's often a self-declared "TS-not-TG-not-LGBT-don't-call-me-trans" woman.  I know, because I have a bit of it in my blood, save for a little gynephilia and having worked toward lgbt equality.  You'd think it would be the easier route, simply flipping from one end of a binary to the other -and most do just that.  But, for whatever reason, sometimes there is a women who is somehow cursed and has unfinished business with the world in which she once lived.  Instead of moving on she inexplicably lingers like a Victorian spirit, unable to move past the realm of those who have yet to fully transition.   These poor souls are the Undead of the trans world.  And like the denizens of that fictional plane between our world and the afterlife, they often tend to be full of discontent and exist only to sow discord.  She who finds herself in that state lives on forever in the pre-transition plane, haunting the comments of other people's blogs, growing stronger from whatever she can take from them.  She survives day to day by sucking the life force and hope from other people's transitions.

   It seems to cycle, somewhat.  Maybe it's the seasons, maybe it's the balance of good and evil in the world.  This year, the dynamics were such that a very small handful of these women made the rounds like a horde of wraith, shadow-people, or maybe jiang shi, leaving a path of hapless souls in their wake.  They saw the neophytes and those about to go in for surgery not as poor souls who could use a boost in confidence and support, but as easy ego-prey.  They positively hummed as they discovered new, untouched psyche to exploit.  This time, even the supportive spouses were considered fair game, something I've not seen before.  Their victims tried to hold on for as long as they could, but unless they are banished the wraiths can wait...forever.

  To them it is all fun play, just a little mean pinch that makes them feel powerful, almost like they are fully alive once again.  But they are twisted, and hollow inside, and feel nothing.   To those they attack, it could be a matter of life and death.   At the very least, it makes life that much more difficult for those they shut down, for they lose the support of the people who care.  For those just starting out, with every blog shut down there is less variety in the experiences presented. 

  But maybe that's their goal, to be sole source of light despite having nothing but a dark hole where the core of their being once existed.  Maybe they want to be the one that decides who gets to move on and who deserves to remain in pain until their last dying breath.  Maybe they want to trap every soul they can, to remain and keep them company in the nothingness between worlds.  Maybe we'll never know what drives them.

  So if on some dark and lonely night, you log into your blog and you see a shadowy figure lurking round your comments...take a closer look, but with care.  See if she fits the description of TS-not-TG and had her final surgery over a year ago, maybe even decades ago.  She may offer you something tempting, but it'll turn out to be something less than heartfelt encouragement and care.  At first it will seem like the advice of a wise crone, but beware!  For she wants to suck the light and hope and joy from your very transition.

Steel yourself and tell her, "Walk into the light."

(No, not the tunnel filled with the voices of those who've gone before and moved on.  The Semi-tractor headlights on the freeway, bitch.  You took my Sisters from me.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Outed

Today, our family went to get our flu shots.  DS3 was to get the nasal spray and the rest of us were going to get needles.  For DD7 this was a Big Deal.  She'd had the spray since she was old enough and focuses on possible future pain with amazing devotion.  Did I mention that she is highly sensitive and tends to obsess?  So, she was nervous today.

We walked up to the person sitting at the desk at our hospital's flu shot clinic, took our clipboards with the liability forms, quickly checked, "no" on everything and signed.  By then we'd reached the conference room they were using for the clinic.  Meanwhile, DD was gibbering non-stop about The Shot and How Much It Will Hurt But She's a Big Girl and will Be Brave.

They gave DS his nasal spray.  I comforted and distracted him while my wife received hers.  Then it was DD and my turn.  The plan was that I would go first so she could watch and we'd explain everything as it happened.  Here's what actually transpired:

Nurse: "Are you, (reads name from card)"?

Me: "Yes, that's me"

DD: "That's (name) with an e, not an i"

Nurse: (confused) "Really? Um, Okay."

DD: (continuing) "Like a girl.  My dad thinks he's a girl so it's spelled with an 'e'.  Like a girl.  That's why he has long hair and dresses like a girl."

She probably said a few more things after that, my ears were burning too much to let me hear clearly...

Anyway, the nurse took it in stride, stayed as cheerful as ever and we continued to show my daughter how easy it is to get a flu shot.

She did great, is very proud of herself and we went to the Pumpkin Farm afterward.  Four hours later, she's still asking every now and then, "Aren't you amazed that I was able to have a shot instead of the nose spray?  Aren't I brave?"

She is, and I'm very proud of her.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Long abandoned thought

Yesterday as I was just settling into bed, I had a thought I've not had in a very long time.

"I wonder what tomorrow will be like".

Not dread.   Not fear.   Not even discomfort.   To be sure, there is still that baseline level of discomfort, but that's between me and my body and between me and the outside world.  The one that was missing was the discomfort that used to live in that twisted little space between everything I block and my Self.


Then it hit me;  I was looking forward to today.

There's nothing special about today.  No parade, no party, no GRS/SRS.  Not even a storm heading in from the Pacific to soothe me.   Just another day of going to work without a piece of the burden I've been carrying.

Oh, and my hair and I have made up.  It was a little upset with me for washing it yesterday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

...and another.

  The electrical line for the microwave ovens is being worked on today at work.  So for lunch, instead of my healthy, low-cal, nicely-portioned, homemade frozen meal, I went to Subway on my way back from the pharmacy.

  Got up to the counter, ordered my six-inch-oven-roasted-chicken-breast-on-italian-no-mayo-no-mustard-no-cheese-standard-veggies, please. 

  About halfway through making my sandwich the woman looked up and said, "I like your hair" in the voice that women use when they do the social-complement-thing.

And...and..

I giggled.

Like a 40-something teenager.

In my defense, I was caught totally off-guard this being Monday and me being in what I thought was my best guy mode.  And, my hair does look indescribably cute today.  :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

One small way things are changing.

I stopped in at an OSH (smaller home center / large hardware store, once independent, now owned by Kmart/Sears) on my way to the rental today.  Brought my purchase up to the register.  Here's what transpired.

Checkout woman in her late 40's-early 50's:  "I'm sorry, our debit card lines are down.  Do you mind if I put it through as a credit card debit?"

Me:  "Sure."

Her:  "Um, for credit card transactions we have to verify your ID.  Could I please see your ID?"

Me:  "Here you are."

Her (looking at my DL):  "You had a haircut back then."

Me:  "Yeah."

She looked at me.  She looked at my card.

She looked at me again.  Suddenly, it dawned on her.

Her:  "I bet life is much better now!  Here's your receipt, have a good day!"

Sun's (not Son's) Day

My wife was right, part of the way my folks were treating me was due to my appearance, and I garner, my attitude.  Yesterday and today I took her advice and dressed just a little more fem and made sure that I wasn't hiding the changes in my shape, hair or Self.  Yesterday my folks stopped in only briefly, but today my Dad and I worked together for about three hours moving a copper supply line so it would work better with the new vanity in one of the bathrooms.  I'd done all the prep work (i.e., cut away the drywall, put down a drop cloth, arranged the tools needed, etc.) and done some detail work in the room.  When my Dad arrived, all we had to do was cut the pipe, build a new section and put it in.  Over the next couple of hours, I played the role of the devoted but capable daughter & he fell right into the same role and behaviors he uses with my sister.  Makes me wonder how much of it is gender on my part and how much is just feeding his ego, but I prefer not to dwell on such questions just yet.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Old Man Saturn's Day

  Tomorrow is Saturday again.  Saturday has become emotionally the most difficult day of my week.  Not Monday; Saturday.  Apparently I just can't get the whole "typical transition narrative" right, at all.

  The weekends are, "refurbish the rental" days until it's done.  I don't mind the work itself, in fact it's relaxing and satisfying.  Thursdays I get a lot done as it's just me.  Sundays it's just me working and the kids playing while my wife manages to keep them from maiming each other.  Saturdays however...well, that's when my folks come up for a couple of hours.  I enjoy seeing them more these days, I really do.  The same walls and blocks and facade that kept me safe also kept me distant and now I think both my folks and I realize that there is far less time left together than has gone by.  Far, far less.  Especially now that my dad is coming to grips with not being even a fraction as physically productive as he was even five years ago.   There was a whole lot of his place in the world wrapped up in how he could physically affect that world.

  So now they come up to the house on Saturday to see how it's going and still have those dreams and ambitions of my Dad passing the torch to me.  It should be an honor, being given the place of Alpha Male.  Except that I've never been able to do that.  I never even honestly tried to claim the Zeta Male position in any social situation, and everyone knew it.  I was never able to learn those social lessons that lead up to the big generational hand-off of Male Privilege and Authority.  I consistently failed them in the social role of Son.  That doesn't seem to matter.  They were taught that it must happen, it's the way of their world.

  But time is running short, as I mentioned.  Three (-ish) years ago when I came out to them, my folks were accepting and even supportive.  They also seemed a lot younger and capable of change and of learning.  Since then they've both started the sad and frightening decline that no one wants to see in their parents yet know is inevitable.  Right now the good days far outnumber the bad.  But I rarely see that spark anymore, the one that defines them as the parent.  They seem to be giving up on the world, a little at a time, right when I need them most. Instead, I know that I'm going to be there for them.  Despite everything, I have to be my Self and that includes taking care of them.

  So our roles are shifting in that way, too.  And that means that for one day a week I'm treated as The Son.  I hate it.  It washes away a lot of whatever progress I've made in the intervening week.  I have to find a way inside myself to not let that happen tomorrow, but without hiding my Self safely away as would have done several years ago when I last was expected to fill that role.  By the way this isn't a matter of them not accepting that I am someone with TS, nor do they doubt at all that it is real.  As my Mom said on one of her good days, "I wish we'd listened to you when you were little".  This is a matter of them spending more and more time accepting me as I am, yet seeing me in terms of the gender role they thought I should be for all those years.

  My wife suggested tonight that I dress a little more fem tomorrow instead of my usual grubby-job clothes.  She has the luxury of being outside of my family of origin's dynamics and thinks it may be better for everyone.  I made the excuse that I don't yet have much of a wardrobe that's not clearly male, and nothing that I'd want ruined by paint, sawdust and spackle.  It's all casual to be sure, but not construction site casual.  More like replace things from the other side of the store as the need arises (remember the old fashioned department stores, like Gimbel's & Marshall Fields?  ...but I digress).  She hinted that it comes down to how much I value giving my folks the chance to know and love the real me that can love them back.

  I have to remind myself that she was also right about my walk, when I keep my feet straight ahead instead of splayed my walk reverts to the girly, intrinsically hip-rolling one I had growing up.  How can things that hurt to put into place be so hard to undo?

Things about me.

Things about me that have to do with stuff other than having/being TS:

I make delicious breads and soups.

Baking and cooking remind me of my Grandmother.

When I was very young my grandmother gave me a Steiff bear.  I cut the tag off her belly, removed the ear button and named her, 'Bear'.

I still have her.  Bear is Real now, as the Velveteen Rabbit would say.

I was doing my own laundry and ironing when I was 9 years old.

I like doing the dishes.

Being in the presence of plants, wild or tame, makes me happy. 

I enjoy stargazing and love old telescopes and other vintage instruments.

I love to *feel* the past.

I was born and raised in Northern California.

My parents were both teachers, and ACOA.

Our family spent every summer and winter vacation of my childhood at my grandparents' house in Wisconsin.

I was left alone 98% of the time when we stayed in Milwaukee.

I miss the smell of the breweries and the sound of distant trains.

I miss that world and that time.

I have oddly small feet and hands with slender fingers.

I am a smidge less than six feet tall.

I was reading whole books at four years old, chapter books at six. 

I learned quickly that people don't fawn over geniuses the way they do athletes.

I made an AM radio out of a razor blade, juice can, thumbtacks, wire and a safety pin when I was 7.

I love silver, especially Sterling.

I've never liked gold, not even a little.

Touring a Victorian mansion or hearing a lecture about the art or clothing of the era can bring me to happy tears.

I think the Victorian era was a terrible time for social morals, sex and gender.

I'm not crazy about the Goth and Steampunk appropriations of Victorian style elements.

My Aussie/Kelpie cross is the most wonderful dog I've ever met.

I attended ten schools, alternating between public and parochial from pre-k through college.

I was trained in Bible-foo by the Jesuits.

I've never believed in a God or Gods.

I like reading about cultures and religions.

I have Faith in Love, Nature and Probability, in that order.

My cell phone is eight years old as of 2011 & barely made the digital cutoff.

I am terrible at using a BBQ, except when I use it to 'poach' Salmon...in butter.

I don't like Salmon.

My favorite food is mushroom-shrimp Tom Yum soup.

I love spicy food.

I've never eaten shrimp, or any other shellfish.

The only seafood I like is fresh fish n' chips.  Which isn't really seafood, at all

I've never burned a roux.

I have an audio processing delay: Think dyslexia for your ears.

I also have a non-verbal learning problem, I need *words* to understand people.

I tested out as a genius or better as a child and later ranked in the top 2% on the LSAT.

I keep a copy of the photo, 'Migrant Mother', by Dorothea Lange on most computers I use.

Autumn is my favorite season, by far.  Followed by Winter.  Spring is like Fall in reverse & Summer is good for coastal fog here in Northern California.

Walking always cheers me up.  Rain and fog and wind make me happy.   Walking in the rain and fog is bliss.

I don't like the ocean when it's sunny out and love it when it's overcast or foggy or raining.

I've never lived more than an hour from the Pacific Ocean, or more than a few miles from a body of water.

Classical music makes me feel edgy and nervous.

My favorite singers are Elaine K, Sonia Rutstein, K.D. Lang and Julia Fordham.

I love being a parent.


     *     *     *     *     *

Things about me that have to do with having/being TS:



My audio processing delay disappears for the first five or six days after my E shot.

Pre-hrt my testosterone count was near the bottom of the gap between male and female ranges.

I have the "correct" finger ratio and pelvic bone shape, etc.

I am selling my telescopes to pay for electro.  And the vintage tech stuff, too.

I've had horrible plant, animal and food allergies; auto-immune attacks; digestion issues; frequent migraines; no sense of hunger or thirst, and a random sleep cycle since I hit puberty.

All of those problems went away completely when I hit a high enough level of estrogen.

I understand people much better without words now, it's more...intuitive?

I have crazy food cravings now.

I have hormone shifts that sync with my wife but hit a day earlier.

We now realize that I had them before hrt; they are a hundred times stronger now.

The first time a girl intentionally physically aroused me, by straddling me and grinding...I threw up.

I was a virgin until I was 25,  by choice.  I hated throwing up, I was a violent vomiter.

When I was 5 I tried to figure out how I could order "60,000 Units of Estrogenic Hormones" from ads in the back of women's magazines.  The ads with the well-endowed, blond Swedish woman with over-plucked eyebrows.

When I started first grade at St. Sadist's of Persecution and they had two lines and two bathrooms, I finally understood the social role differences between girls and boys.  Before that I still believed the mistake was going to get fixed.

I was raised by strict Catholics who believed that any variance (but especially gender variance) was a sin, or maybe worse.  They in turn trusted the advice of conservative priests and pediatricians.

Reparative Therapy was touted as the correct treatment for both TS and the Gay in the world I grew up in.

The last time I remember getting beat for gender variance was when I tried to put on my sister's uniform to go to school in the first grade.

I was 6 when I locked my Self away with dissociation, amnesia and depersonalization.

I have very few memories of the years that followed.

I was painfully aware growing up that I constantly had the "wrong" reactions and answers for a boy.

The psych texts I found in college that spoke of treatment were by the same researchers that later pushed "fixing" gays and trans people.

I didn't realize transition was something real that real people really did until I was 39.

I also didn't realize until then that somewhere in me was a real person.

I broke my original gender therapist.  She transitioned during the Dark Ages.  I questioned her authority.  She threw a fit, and her notepad.

I was two visits from my hrt letter.  I got my letter, then quit.

She published a book this year that is very popular with transgender people.

I've not had much better luck with therapists since.

The most useful by far was a staunch Second Wave Feminist (ie the body is irrelevant) who had attended MichFest for years.  She had issues with trans women.

I learned a lot about how to deal with mental blocks / dissociative amnesia from her.

The most recent had no clue about trans issues despite listing "gender", "trauma" and "transitions" among her specialties.

I'm doing better without therapists, for now.

I'm learning to find pieces of myself that I haven't known for decades.

I retain memories from when I am 'myself', that is, not wearing a crafted persona that happens to be male.

I *like* the little bits of 'me' that I've come to know so far.


 
 *     *     *     *     *


Personally, I think the first list is far more interesting...  :)

Lesson Learned #1

  -It is not socially acceptable to "floof" one's hair in the Men's Room.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Someday I'll look back and laugh...

...at a health plan that encourages its users to refill prescriptions online but can't actually make sure that their supply chain can fill orders for syringes with the correct gauge needles.  The online ordering window is about a week; before that and I get the reply, "you are trying to refill this Rx too soon (you drug abuser, you)".  But they insist that for this particular item they need at least 5 working days lead time.  So, every 12 weeks I go through the same routine.  Place the order as soon as the system will let me and show up on the day it *should* be available, which is also my shot day (ie a week later).  If I'm lucky, I can beg for something that will work, sort of, but hurt more or not draw without pulling bubbles.  *If* I get a sympathetic pharmacist and *if* they have anything in stock that's 22 to 24 gauge & a close approximation of mL's and needle length.

[Updated, Thurs Oct 13th, 10pm:  I finally reached Member Services yesterday.  They called back today and were helpful.  'Justin' found a nearby in-plan pharmacy that could fill my order and transfered the Rx to it after having them visually confirm that they had them.  He also contacted the website manager and had them change they way special order items are handled.  So, hypothetically, in three months I can request a refill far enough out that I won't run out.  Just to be sure I'm going to request it be filled at the location that had them today.  It's the one that my endo sends all Rx's to by default, anyway.  No wonder they have them in stock...]

Wednesday = Monday?

Q: When does Wednesday feel like Monday?
A: When you love your hair!

Okay, that probably made no sense.  But it's true, I swear!   :-)

For several years, Mondays have become more and more emotionally difficult due to having to don a persona and facade that are no longer automatic and no longer fit.  All of those survival mechanisms are broken and I'm holding up the pieces in front of me the best I can.  Now that I'm no longer completely numb and blocked, it's like wearing a wool bodysuit on a hot, humid day.  Okay, it's nothing like that but that's the closest I can describe it to someone that hasn't experienced it.  Anyway, despite squeezing into the same sort of binder that FTM's wear and then layering basic, nondescript office-wear-for-men on top, I've been coasting into Mondays with a little residual happiness and fledgling Self-connectivity left over from the weekend.  Tuesdays became my really bad day as practicality sunk in.  But today I realized my hair looked really good.  As in, "if I were trying to present as female I'd have no problem with this hair" kind of good.  And tomorrow is my weekly extra day off (I need to burn vacation time and it fits our home schooling schedule really nicely).

Updates

I've decided to make a few changes to wmr.  First change is, no political posts.  No TS/TG/T* discussions, no posts on local, state or federal politics.  I just don't have room in my tiny little psyche for that stuff right now, and somehow typing and posting it makes it part of me.   Likewise, for now I've turned off the comments.  I need to concentrate on, well, me for a while.  It's not something I know how to do and I'm not good at it and I need to learn.  So for the time being I can't have this blog be about me *and* a certain gaggle of commenters that seem to show up on just about every TS or TG blog with not-so-helpful advice.  Especially when it comes to navigating a mid life transition within an existing family.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tearing Down Walls

  This morning I was really irritable and grumpy, to the point of having no patience for anything and finding fault with everyone.  The normal Saturday morning kid sounds were an intolerable cacophony.   That is really, really odd the second day after my shot, and at this time of month.  At first I thought I was dreading the gender role I was going to be stuffed into for the day.

  I'm working on a project with my Dad.  It involves refurbishing a house that my folks rent out.  Dad had some heart trouble a few years ago and is on several medications.  End result is that he can't do most physical work any more.  So, I am finding myself doing things like painting, stripping a bathroom floor down to the beams, replacing some of those and then building it back up.  Today was the last day of that little subproject as I grouted the floor.  A little spackle and paint, install the new vanity and the bathroom will be done.  My younger sister (the one who once spent a summer climbing outdoor stage rigging to do electrical work) just had her baby or she'd have been pitching in, too.  But when I'm down there helping, my folks act like I can do it because I'm the 'man' of my family.  In fact, they apply that role and image to our every interaction, it's a generational thing to build up men that way I guess. It makes me dread working on the house when they are there.

  So, I thought that was what had me in such an agitated funk, the forced gender role.  Except for one thing.  While getting ready I had a sort of minor internal panic attack wherein I discovered that I was dreading being with my folks.  More than dreading, really.  I'd discovered a gigantic Something Bad (tm) in my head that I was blocking.  I've worked through those before, often with the help of a therapist; they've all been tied to some defense or another I'd built in response to trauma when I was a child.  As I said, this one was big, solid, and impenetrable and scared me, a lot.  But, at least I knew why I was in that horrible mood.  That helped me to move it aside enough to not take it out on those around me.  We finished packing the car and left.

  About halfway there we stopped at The Home Depot to pick up grout.  The plan was that I would run in and my wife and kids would stay in the car.  I got out and as usual these days, did *not* immediately fall into any of the mannerisms from my old facade.  Yes, it's a tiny thing but for me that is progress.   And I know that I look somewhat androgynous sometimes now, especially when I wearing old guy clothes to do grungy work like this.  Anyway, I was feeling a little better and well aware that I was just letting myself walk naturally (I've got girl hips.  Actually, a lot of my skeleton apart from the testosterone-damaged long bones has female ratios.  I'll do the obligatory finger-ratio post some other day).  And as I'm walking up to the doors I saw my reflection; I looked like a tall, andro-butch woman.  I'm okay with that.  Better than okay, really, 'cause I'm not ready for anything more yet.  I smiled and thought, "I could get used to this"!  Then I looked past my reflection and saw just behind me...my coworker, with her husband and three year old son.  She had her, "I know a seeee-cret" grin plastered on her face.  I didn't turn around, just kept going straight to the tile department as if I was oblivious.  Not because I was scared or embarrassed, but because I just didn't care.  I'm learning to like being me.

  As I walked back to the car I realized that somehow that event had pushed that giant block so far back I couldn't see it or feel it.  I had an easy time dealing with my folks and slid not into my old role as, "son" but into a role that was different.  I'd like to say, "new" but I think it was always there.  It was a role where I didn't mind being a little subservient to my Dad if his male ego needed it.  I actually played to it and asked him to teach me, knowing full well he was at the edge of his knowledge on something.  My role and attitude was more caring and respectful, too.   More like my sisters.  And he fell into it, too.  The floor, by the way, turned out great.

  I'm sure that huge block is still out there in my head somewhere, I don't think it's gone at all.  I still have some big developmental step to pass before I'm ready for things like allowing myself to fit into what our society considers a more female presentation and social role.  Not to mention the impending crash course in style, fashion, and all those other culturally specific lessons I've missed out on.  I can tell that there is something really dark on the other side of that block.  But that was not today.  Today was another day that left me feeling good.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reflected Images

  So, I'm sitting in my cubicle this morning with a cup of coffee in my hand and my wife on IM.  Feels like a good morning.  I have a few nicely technical problems to get lost in today and the early-for-the-season rain has cleared for a few days. 

  Walking up to the building I saw my reflection in the glass walls.  It's getting to the point where I can actually look at it for just a moment without blocking.  One thing I noticed is that either I can't hide my figure & other physical changes much longer (especially on casual days despite the binder and loose shirts), or I've stopped trying so hard to do so.   I think it's both.  I also move and hold myself different now.   I smiled and even laughed at what I saw and felt.  I *like* that I can do that now.  Even if I'm not excited about being a little between genders for now,  I can appreciate that it's a process of  unraveling followed by reweaving.  I'm just starting to be able to realize that the warp is better than I thought and that maybe, just maybe, I actually know how to work the weft threads.  It's all there, I just have to learn to recognize and trust it.

  I don't know yet what my eventual style will be when I grow up, though I have some guesses.  Right now however, on that corporate institution known as 'Casual Friday', I realized that the only things I wore today bought in the Mens' department were my undershirt and the "manly light pink" plaid short-sleeve shirt that happens to be slightly fitted.  Something like this but with less black:
 


  Why the mashup?  Because it's carefully done so as not to be obvious or offensive.   Because despite the need to be accepted as a woman, I'm not there yet.  But I like clothes that fit and look good.  Not "cute" or "sexy" or some other image, just aesthetically pleasing.  Because it fits where I am in the process right now it's what I feel I can do.  And because I know my workplace and the people who work here.  I started with the company in 2004 and up until a few years ago everyone here saw me as the epitome of a dweeby, geeky, non-macho, invisible, odd, funny, weird-but-nice guy working in the IT department.  "Number three on the sides and back, please, and a little off the front and top".   You might know that one.  I haven't said those words in a few years, and I finally like my hair.  No, let me reword that; I love my hair and it's only getting better.  My body and mind really like the little realignment I've embarked upon and I plan on taking advantage of everything the Trickster owes me for hir little joke.  Yeah, a Tamora Pierce reference.  'Mastif' is due out in a couple of weeks and I have it on preorder, okay?  But I digress.

  We've had enough layoffs since '04 that the people around me have shifted every six months or so, and we're down to just a handful now.   In so many aspects the decision makers here are prone to statements and actions based on a certain set of moral standards that I feel the need to prove myself with each small change.   By gradually dropping my old facade as I felt comfortable, the owners, directors and my team have come to know me as a dedicated, valuable and desirable asset to the company.  And they've had a chance to adjust.  Both they and I smile and make eye contact far more often nowadays.  So far so good.   I want that record and their concept of me as a good person and employee to be there when I finally schedule a talk with HR to work out how to least affect our workplace and productivity.  I've also been learning, a lot, about how to approach this.   The last woman here that had to transition quit the moment she figured it out, maybe a year after I started.   Seeing what she has gone through since then, I figure I have nothing to lose by taking the more complex route.  I also see that I got lucky in a way she did not,  in that it has taken time for me to undo the damage done decades ago, one cracked and crumbling layer at at time.