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Youth With Needs

I work six to ten hours a week with a local youth group, Positive Images. One of my duties as an adult mentor is to be sure that all the youth have a ride to the meeting and a ride home. With a group of fourteen to twenty four year LGBTQQI youth we strive to make our meetings a safe, confidential space where the kids can be themselves and relax.
Sometimes I get to learn a lesson from them. This one youth who lives about a mile from the meeting place often asks me for a ride home. He is nineteen, of a big build, and fit. There is nothing in his dress or manner that marks him as queer, and he has some mannerisms that are off putting to me. Yet, I am there to support, not to judge so I work hard to be open to him.
When I take him home, he is always anxious to engage me in conversation. Almost every night when I pull up to the curb in front of his home he makes no immediate move to leave the car. Sometimes he even will bring up a new subject to discuss. All I have on my mind is getting home to relax before bed.
I have since found out from other adults in the organization that they had not been able to engage him and get him to open up to them. I know he is estranged from his father and lives with his mother who is in poor health. He lives in a small duplex in a poorer part of town.
He always teaches me a lesson in patience and generosity because I know he craves the adult attention and I have to let go of any irritation I feel, any needs that are driving me, and strive to be present with him for that short period of time.
As I saw today on Facebook, often the best gifts we get are those we give to others.

The Joy of Being a Teacher

Over the last few years I have found an amazing amount of joy in giving talks as part of the educational panels that Positive Images presents at local schools, colleges, social service agencies, medical staff, or lawyers. Each of us presents our own life story, and if I have a chance I talk about my work with the LGBT youth at Positive Images.

The best part of my transition was because of my therapy and the work that I did at the Human Awareness Institute. I was able to face my fears and lose my shame about being transsexual and realize that I am mostly the same as everyone else. At Human Awareness Institute I learned the importance of letting everyone know that they also are perfectly worthy of love, and that right at that moment I love them.

A couple of weeks ago I was able to present my whole spiel to a junior college introductory LGBT class. At the end of the panel, Positive Images gives out a feedback form with four questions and asks for anonymous information on age and ethnic identification. Usually that information is all that is on the forms, but this time there was a note to me on the back:

Miss Transmadame Jacqui,

I am so inspired by your good natured words. You moved me to tears, just as you said "I love you!" Thank you for your huge heart, and your service to the communities. I truly see you as such an important example of public service done right. Thank you for all of the love. I feel it.

So much of what I do in these panels only results in a quick "Thank you!" as I go out the door. I got a big kick out of this short, sweet note!



Over the last few years I have been volunteering with a local LGBT youth group, Positive Images. I have become and adult volunteer, and I facilitate a Youth Trans Group, the M2F Support Group, and I am an adult mentor at the general meeting and a peer counselor.

Today I was on a panel of six, along with Jim Foster the co-director of Positive Images, who told our stories of self discovery and coming out to the new set of interns at Social Advocates for Youth. From the questions at the end of our presentation, I felt we gave them some useful insights that will help them to aid their LGBT clients.

Tonight I was at the Positive Images Center for the Youth Trans Support Group. I am there every first and third Tuesday for the meeting, but attendance at my drop in group has been sparse. Tonight I was sitting there from 5:45 to just after 6 PM before someone came in.

I went through my usual introduction, my name and that I am M2F, and that we allow those who attend our group to choose how they want to be called, both their name and pronoun. I said that the purpose of the group was to affirm and support the identity they choose.

The person who sat down was of a small build, wearing masculine clothes a few sizes too big. I have learned not to judge too quickly or speak my suspicions, so I waited until he introduced himself, with a name that begins with K.

K told me of his recent move from up north, how he was happy to finally have a somewhat secure place to live, and how he wasn't sure what he wanted to do about his gender. He talked of how he had tried to hide and present as female to get into a relationship, and I validated his experience by telling the stories of friends I know who had tried to hide their trans identities by trying to appear at the extreme of their birth gender.

After about fifteen minutes, I noticed K was crying. I checked in to be sure he was OK, felt safe, and was able to go on talking. He tried to tell me he shouldn't cry, and I told him nobody has the right to denigrate or deny his feelings, and he a right to feel them.

He asked about binders, and I didn't know any place locally he could get them and I gave him the number of a local F2M friend who might know. Then I asked if he felt comfortable calling, and I offered to call. He asked me to call. My friend recommended a site on line, and K told me that he was uneasy about buying such a thing on line, sight unseen.

Then I remembered that Positive Images has a gender exploration closet. We went there and I was able to find a binder and a packer that he could try. I left him alone in the room for privacy, and let him take his time.

When he came out, I couldn't believe the change. He had finally been able to see his body as he had always imagined it. He had never had access to a binder or packer before. It raised his spirit and changed his mood completely.

It wasn't until after he left that I realized why he was crying. Everything I had said was to validate his experience. I told him that he was going through the battles of coming out and transition that is common in our community, and I valued his feelings.

This is the best day for me in a long while.

Who Am I?

Tonight was the Barbecue and Pot Luck at Trans Gender North Bay. I have been struggling with a sinus headache and a cough, so I wasn't sure I wanted to go to the meeting. While I enjoy visiting with all of those who come, I did not feel that I was needed since Rachel is the one who brings drinks and barbecues the hot dogs, hamburgers, and vegyburgers. Yet, I did want to get out of the house and also purchase another allergy medicine to see if that could improve my condition.

I got there early and helped put out chairs as our numbers were swollen from the usual five to ten up to twenty people tonight. I checked in with a couple of members who seemed to be isolating themselves, but for the most part I just sat and chatted with those around me.

As the evening wore on I found myself in deeper and deeper conversation with a young person who was new to the group. She had traveled a couple of hours to be there tonight as she is looking for local resources before she moves to the area. Most of the conversation was around how she does not fit into any label, male or female, gay or straight or bi, and she was tired of how others would insist on trying to box her into a label that they knew and understood. I have the impression that I will see her again as she is desperate to be seen and heard as she is.

Another person took me aside as the meeting was ending and told me a story of her family. Her sister and her family will be visiting and she doesn't know how to deal with her transition around the children. I told her about how accepting my grandchildren were since their grandfather became their grandmother, but I told her the warning story of how one grandson was ostracized by his uncle for talking about me as female. I tried to stress that you need to tell children as much truth as you can, but the important thing is that both she and her sister need to feel safe in how they go about it. I suggested that she could say that she was always "like a sister" to her sister and they could call her "aunt", which would avoid the whole transition issue yet be mostly true. She seemed reassured.

Another person took me aside to tell me how a particular issue in their life had gone since we had talked. As she talked of her nervousness in coming out to a family member, I pointed out that it seemed that both of them were very nervous about it, but since it had gone well since then it was an indication that it went well. She agreed.

I am often amazed at how easily people come to me for reassurance. I am not perfect, I have numerous issues in my own life. I don't know what they see in me that they will go out of their way to confide in me. I do know that it is the most rewarding thing I have ever had in my life.


Sitting in a Dark and Quiet House

I am finding myself being a bit antisocial of late. Casey went out to two events tonight, and after first agreeing to go even though I really didn't want to go, I just agreed because I wanted to support her, I finally got up the courage to admit that I didn't want to go anywhere tonight. Rob, Kate, Teddy and James are off to the southern portion of the state for a tour of a few sights such as LegoLand and SeaWorld, so the house is quiet and I enjoyed just puttering around. I washed dishes. I did our sheets, towels, and bathrobes, I cleaned up some of the clutter in the laundry area of the garage and I remade our bed.

It is always a fight for me. Often I want to be with Casey even if she is doing something I might not enjoy, just to support her and be with her. The trouble I have is that that just makes it harder for me to say no when I don't really want to go.

I really enjoyed the quiet house tonight, though I must admit I watched TV too much, seeing both "Under Siege 2" and "Taken", both movies that are fun and allow me to turn off my brain. It is times like tonight that I think I need to find a way to set up some sort of music player for myself, so I will be more likely to turn off the idiot box and relax.

I am hopeful that in the four or five days coming up I can at last do some effective cleaning so that I can be more comfortable in my own home. Lately I often rise with great intent of getting things done but then escape into reading, the computer, or a book. I know that I can't be only involved in life when it concerns others, I need to start to move again on my own issues.


Love Your Children

As I climb into bed, it is my habit to check both Twitter and Facebook on my phone. Usually, there is not much there, and I don't want to follow links or watch videos that late so I give up and drift off quickly. Tonight, I saw a picture which one grandson in Oregon had posted of his younger sibling, in a hospital bed with a breathing tube. I hadn't heard of anything, so I was unsure of how to react. Is this a typical prank picture by someone a bit immature? Is that only a tube like the one I wear when I sleep that keeps air pressure on my nose to prevent sleep apnea? What should I do?

At first, I just commented and asked what was happening. Then I started to get concerned, and messaged my daughter on Facebook. Then I scrolled farther back and saw a post about 40 PILLS. Then I was worried and I called my daughter, even though it was almost 11 PM on a weekday night. Yes, he is in the hospital. Yes, he is bipolar and he overdosed trying to kill himself. All the strength went out of me. Here I am six hundred miles away, almost eleven hours of driving non-stop. What can I do?

My daughter told me everything will be OK. But so far away, and seeing all of them so infrequently, I was left with a most helpless feeling. Right now it is already after midnight. Maybe I will drive up to Oregon in the morning. Maybe I won't get much sleep tonight.

All I do know is that I love and miss them all.

The Power of Community

A lot has happened since my last post. Over the last three months I have seen that young man at the trans support group, and I have often chatted with him at the Thursday night meetings. I was lucky enough to be waiting for my doctor when he had his first appointment for testosterone. As I came in the door, he patted the chair beside him in the waiting room. As we both waited, I talked of how scary it can be to inject yourself, and how a number of transmen I know have "T" parties where they inject each other. When his name was called, he gave me a big hug and went in. When he came out he had to show me his first vial of testosterone and his guardian took a picture of the two of us with our arms around each other and both of us grinning ear to ear.

Now he always says hi and gives me a hug when I see him. I am just thrilled to see the joy in him as he takes his first steps in transition. I suspect his acceptance of me has also helped with the other teenagers in the Thursday night teen support group at the high school. There is one young woman who has had abuse issues, family issues, peer issues, and often speaks emotionally to the group on "check-in-night", and I have made it a point to thank her for her bravery in sharing her battles, and her strength in being able to deal with it all and keep coming back for support. While I had gotten smiles of recognition before, last week I got a "Hi girlfriend!" and a big hug. That sort of high can overcome the most stressful day.

While I have been getting closer to the two co-directors, one of them has been pitching me to join the board of directors for the organization so last night I went to my first board meeting. I was happy that I was able to contribute substantially to the conversation, and my overall impression was that they believe as I do that I can make a good contribution to the organization.

Now I will wait for them to get me the paperwork.

The Joy of Giving

Every once in a while I get a clear message from the universe that tells me I am on the right path. I have been volunteering at a local LGBTQQI support organization, as an adult volunteer at the general meeting and as a peer facilitator at a trans support group. While I almost always have something to add to conversations in the trans group, I have often felt out of place in a group of mostly teens who are coming out in high school. I have spent most of my life avoiding large groups of people I don't know as I tend to freeze up and become speechless.

This last Thursday I was not feeling well, one of my regular bouts of diarrhea came just before the meeting and I just felt that all I wanted to do was go home and go to bed. Then I remembered that when I was feeling so sick the week before Christmas I had missed the last meeting of 2010, so I decided to ignore my own discomfort and make the effort to meet my commitment.

During the check in before the meeting, we were all asked to give our names, and to recall the most significant thing that happened last year. When it was my turn, I spoke of how in May I flew to Montreal for my surgery. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a significant bit of applause, I was thrilled to see the joy on the face of one of the young people I had yet met one on one. This young man has spoken of his first binding and packing in the previous year, which allowed me to identify him as a young trans man, and I was overjoyed when he came up to me at the break to give me a big hug.

While I have been going to these meetings for about six months, I don't often get an opportunity to enjoy much time in one on one support. For the first few months I was unsure that my being there even could make a difference. This experience on Thursday was a reminder that just by being there as a supportive member of the community I can be an example of hope for those who are just starting their struggle.

After the meeting I gave the youth my card with my contact information, and offered to bring him The Testosterone Files to read. Again I was gifted by the joy on his face as I reached out to him. As I left he clutched my card in his hand and seemed much happier then I had ever seen him.

Such small things makes me look forward to next week's meeting, and seriously consider the offer of one of the co-directors to join the board.


It has been really tough for me lately. After my surgery, I knew I would have to spend some time recovering my health, but I have gone from feeling that I could do almost anything I wanted to feeling tired after a forty minute walk, sometimes falling asleep for a three hour nap in the afternoon, yet I am still tired the rest of the day and tend to spend too much time sitting and watching TV. If I read, I am afraid of falling asleep again.

I find that I am cutting myself off from friends again. As I often did when I lived alone, I put off calling friends and setting up times to see them. I try to call my mother on a regular basis, and I have worked very hard to be patient when I realize that half the time she hasn't heard what I have told her, but for the most part our relationship is good right now. Since my grandniece was diagnosed with cancer last year I have tried to keep in contact with my niece, but I rarely can find anything I can say or do, so I feel that I am not doing enough, whatever that means.

I am on the outs with my sister again, so that means I haven't talked to her at all since all the family events last year were canceled due to my grandniece's illness. At this point, all I can remember is that I was not invited to the Mother's Day celebration breakfast with my mother, my sister, and my niece; and I have a vague memory of my sister being mad at me on the phone so I am too uncomfortable to call her. Our family never has dealt well with anger, and I am often bewildered by other's anger at me when I don't know what I might have done.

All of this has gotten me down quite a bit of late. The only things that have kept me going are my three regular occasions to get out of the house. My former roommate Mary and I go walking two or three times a week, and we chat while we walk and sit and chat and rest together afterwards. On Tuesday nights I go to one of two trans support groups where I can support and encourage other trans people, just as I found support when I was first discovering myself. On Thursday nights I am an adult role model in a support group for LGBTQQI high school kids. Those outings are the things I look forwards to the most.

Last night I struggled through the support group. Since there is no group on next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, the theme last night was gratitude. For me that brought up my fears around the family tension I have felt at gatherings since my transition. I can't blame my family for anything they did, I have just felt ill at ease. In reflecting on that during a grounding exercise at the beginning of the meeting, I realized that unlike when my father was alive, I haven't felt very grateful for anything for a number of years. It made it very difficult to participate in the art exercise, drawing a picture of my feelings around gratitude for a mandala that would be covered by everyone's art. All I drew was a spiral, which I quickly hid in my purse.

As I left feeling quite disconnected from everyone there, despite fulling a request for a hug from everyone by one of the youth who models himself the "group hugger", I heard my name called. A young lady that I have been acquainted with for just over a year wanted to chat with me. She asked me how she could be sure that genital surgery was the right decision for her. I told her that while I saw her as a beautiful young lady, and I understood her urgency for surgery, I didn't have the answer for her. It was the right decision for me. I am myself as I had long imagined myself. I am not completely satisfied with my results as I am not yet responsive, but I understood the risks of surgery. Just as I was willing to risk losing my family, my friends, a place to live, and a job, so I was willing to lose the joy of sex to finish transition. I gave her my card and she thanked me and ran to her car to be driven home.

This morning, I got to drive James to school. Kate left for school about 7:30 am and James was eating his breakfast of an orange and two Nutri-Grain bars. All of a sudden James stopped eating and told me, "I want my Mommy!" As he started to cry, I immediately tried to comfort him, telling him that his mommy loved and missed him, but just as James had to go to school, so did his mother. Very quickly I realized that I had started off on the wrong foot. A three year old does not want or need an explanation. He just needs to feel his feelings. After a quick jump up to get a paper towel to clean up his tears from his seat, he hates seeing messes, I started singing. I tried a couple of songs, but couldn't remember the words, but finally I realized that I did remember the words to the Ants Go Marching song. He quickly stopped crying, and after being unsure for a few minutes, he smiled at me as I got to verses five and six.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. I got James to school. I told him goodbye. He responded, "I don't want to talk!", then I drove home alone. Today I am happier then I have been in a while. Today I am grateful for the people in my life, and the love I give and receive. Next Thursday I will give thanks, no matter what happens.

A Change In Weather

Depression is an odd thing. I think back to when I was young, I never had more then one real friend at a time. As a result, when I wasn't doing something with that one friend, I had a lot of time alone. Even before I began to dream of waking up a girl, I felt different, apart; I couldn't imagine ever being like the kids around me. I spent a lot of time, sitting in a chair or lying in bed reading. Was I depressed? Sometimes I am not sure.

I suspect that my depression started when I moved to Berkeley in 1975. I had saved enough to rent a studio apartment four blocks from campus, and despite spending every bit I had saved on books and movies, the isolation from a near total lack of socializing left me miserable.

It returned full force when my first marriage broke up in 1979. My wife left me without warning, and I was soon working 10 hours a day, six days a week as a Letter Carrier for the Union City Post Office, and by the next year I was taking a full load of graduate level business courses at Hayward State College so the responsibilities of my own home, work and school covered how miserable I was.

I was so unable to turn to anyone for help, when I fell off a ladder in my garage and fractured my spine and flattened one disk, I drove myself to the hospital, waited three hours alone for rays, then drove to the pharmacy for pain meds, and the grocery store for food, before going home to my empty house. I didn't tell anyone for a few days.

I married again about four years later, and then spent the next seven years just trying to deal with the chaos of living with my crazy wife. I was the emotionally battered spouse and I spent a lot of time, money, and energy trying to "fix" the marriage. When I finally left her, I just let my life fall apart in exhaustion. It took ten years and about $60,000 to finally clear up that mess.

Living alone again, even with a small circle of friends, I discovered the trans community on the internet, eventually making local friends through the Transgender Gazebo on AOL. Despite that, when my truck broke down in the Caldecott Tunnel and I had to coast to Broadway to park it, I called a cab to take me home the sixty miles to Santa Rosa. I was again isolating myself.

Over the last two years I have had dreams come true. I have a wife who loves me, as I am. I have a home we own free and clear. I have had the joy of a toddler in my for the last two years. I am retired with enough money not to worry. I have had my surgery. Yet despite this, I had felt that there was something missing. I had a feeling of impending doom, somehow everything was about to go wrong.

Last month, Kate announced that she is pregnant with her second child. Soon after that she and Rob announced that they wanted us to buy them out so that they could buy their own home. I started to worry about how Casey and I could care for a 1790 square foot house on 2.37 acres. I didn't want to tell Casey of my worries, but as I have come to realize, a relationship works a lot better when each person knows what is going on with the other person. I told her of my worries about the two of us, her with her damaged and painful knee, and me with my bad back and being sixty one years old, and I was concerned about taking on a large loan and trying to care for the property ourselves.

Fortuitously, a few days later Casey had a chat with her cousin Deb who has spent years in real estate. Deb suggested that we might want to consider just selling the house and getting something smaller and easier to care for. Casey took me out to dinner at Red Lobster, a real treat and a tradition since we first started going out. There she told me of how she liked the idea of selling her mother's home and getting a home of our own. She even had printed out a number of real estate listings of home we might want to look at.

All of a sudden it was as if a veil had been lifted. My mood, which had been one of frustration and nervous anticipation, was transformed into giggly joy. Casey admitted that if I had suggested selling, she might have resisted. Yet, with the idea coming from a trusted family member who is well versed in real estate Casey immediately recognized the wisdom of it. Now we are looking at homes, mostly in Santa Rosa so far, and trying to discover what we really want. Instead of just dealing with my life, I am again making choices.

That is what was missing.


Timing Is Everything

Over the last few years I have made a number of friends in Sonoma County who are active in LGBT issues. Casey and I worked for Marriage Equality for a year; we volunteered on the board of Sonoma County Pride for over a year; now Casey is a member of the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and I have gone with her to many of their events. Right now I volunteer as a peer counselor for Positive Images for a support group for Male to Female Trans Identified people. I thought that was all I could handle.

Just over a month ago I happened to talk to a friend of mine named Nancy Vogl who is one of the Directors of Positive Images, the Sonoma county LGBTQQI youth support group. She suggested that I might want to come to the youth support meeting and be an adult mentor. I had not felt that I had much to offer, as I have long identified as trans, but I was so far in the closet in my youth that I felt I had little in common with todays out LGBT youth. Yet, I like Nancy and I have admired the work she has done so I decided to try it out.

Last night was my fifth meeting, I believe. While I had little to contribute to the evening's discussion of how to intervene if someone you know might be considering suicide, I have been convinced that I can make a difference. I am in awe of a number of the youth. The meeting is led by two of the members, with the directors only speaking up on the rare occasions it is needed, mostly just clarifying and assisting with the meetings as it is led by the youth.

I have had the chance to talk individually to a number of the youth, and there are already four or five who smile and say hi to me when they see me. Even more meaningful, I have had interactions one on one with three of the youth and the chance to let them know I see them for who they are, I am impressed by their intelligence and forthrightness, and thanking them for significant contributions to discussions, has made me grateful for the chance to be there.

This morning I had the joy of finishing dressing James (age 3), feeding him breakfast (some of my personal yogurt, a treat), and getting him to school. I have always been filled with joy around small children. I am now filled with joy by being around young adults.


Thing Read

I am reading "To Light a Candle" by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. I just read this passage:

"Better his friends should be alive to hate him then that they should be dead still thinking dead of him. He would know he'd done the right thing, no matter what they thouht."

Even without the life or death consequences, I would hope I would do the right thing no matter what others thought.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.



Spirit Day

I have to thank  expanding_x_man for this post:

Originally posted by neo_prodigy at Spirit Day

It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.

61st Birthday

Casey and wandered the Fplsom Street Fair for just over two hours, leaving when it got too hot and crowded after 2PM. Then Casey told me i cpuld have lunch wherever I wanted and I chose Ghirardelli Square, a nice contrast and a good place to relax before heading home.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


Seeing Myself

One of the things that I have learned over the years is how many things we have a choice for or against, and how that can shape our lives. Today I had this quote, not quite clear in my mind, but good old Google helped me find it:

"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so"

Hamlet is talking about Denmark being his prison, but in my case I have noticed it in terms of my life. I got married Casey in 2008, a woman I love and one who loves and is devoted to me. That was a good thing. I moved in with her after the honeymoon, so I no longer have to pay rent, again a good thing. I retired, something I had not thought I would be able to afford until I was 70 in another ten years. That is a dream for very many people right now, being able to afford to retire. I had my surgery, something that I had doubts I would ever be able to afford. A dream beyond dreaming came true.

I was still not happy. I wanted to marry Casey, but I was in no hurry. We had a short window between the State Supreme Court decision and Proposition 8, so since I knew I would do it eventually, I agreed to marry her because I beleived it would be our only chance.

I moved into her house, what had been her mother's house. Her mother Mickey left it to Casey and her daughter Kate. Long before I came along Casey had discussed the eventuality with Kate and told her she could have the master suite. Casey and I, adults with a lot of history and stuff, have a suite of our own, composed of the two smallest bedrooms, each about ten by ten feet. With our queen bed we have just over a foot on each side of the bed. With some of Casey's furniture and some of her mother's we have filled all the available wall space and we don't have room for much of our stuff. Also, I had lived alone for around 18 years and it was a shock to live with three other adults and a baby.

I retired because Casey had always wanted me to travel with her to the confrences she attends three to five times a year, all over the country. I had not done much traveling myself so it sounded great. Yet, I am home each day. I have little other then housework, TV, my computer, and reading to keep me busy. I love caring for or reading to James, but that is only a few hours a week. I have yet to decide what will define my retirement. Should I get my books from storage and start a bookstore? In this economy? Should I go back to college and finally get the counseling degree I really wanted? Should I just volunteer as my mother has done for the last tweny five years since she retired? (SF Symphony, SF Opera, Whistle Stop Wheels Senior Center, President of an organization of WAVES, Secretary for her home owner's association)

I went to Montreal and had a wonderful experience with the care I had around my surgery, Yet, I have been back over three months and I am still feeling the effects, at times weak, exhuasted, and often sleepy. My life revolves around my self care, and everything I do is planned to fit into that.

After Kris' funeral, I got home and felt a huge weight had lifted. I know in part it was performing the rituals around death, finally fully feeling the loss of Kris. It is also something else I realized. A lot of the dissapointment I felt from those life changing events came because I was not fully engaged in the decisions. I let myself get swept up in the event, the needs of others, and I refused to accept that I had fully made those choices. I did. The results are not what I expected, but they are now my life. If I want to be happy, I have to own those decisions and keep choosing things that will make me happy.

That is my "New Year Resolution." I will choose. I will be happy.

What Do I Really Know?

As much as I love to read and learn new things, I aslo love to read about things that challenge things that I think I know. I am a regular reader of two sceptical magazines, and I just love this article:

Top Ten Myths of Popular Psychology

Virtually every day, the news media, television shows, films, and Internet bombard us with claims regarding a host of psychological topics: psychics, out of body experiences, recovered memories, and lie detection, to name a few. Even a casual stroll through our neighborhood bookstore reveals dozens of self-help, relationship, recovery, and addiction books that serve up generous portions of advice for steering our paths along life’s rocky road. Yet many popular psychology sources are rife with misconceptions. Indeed, in today’s fast-paced world of information overload, misinformation about psychology is at least as widespread as accurate information. Self-help gurus, television talk show hosts, and self-proclaimed mental health experts routinely dispense psychological advice that is a bewildering mix of truths, half-truths, and outright falsehoods. Without a dependable tour guide for sorting out psychological myth from reality, we’re at risk for becoming lost in a jungle of “psychomythology.”

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In Memoriam: Kris Bowman

Yesterday I went to a memorial service, a funeral, for Kris Bowman. Today I am going through pictures I have of Kris, far too few I have to admit. Kris came into my life about six months after I met my wife, Casey. Casey and I were at the Downtown Market in Santa Rosa and Casey told me I had to meet a close friend of hers. I remember when she came back and I saw the two of them together, I didn't see what so many others would call so striking, their resemblance. Kris told me that she was working at the Sonoma County Legal Aid, the same job Casey had a few years before. She had clients who came into the office and called her Casey upon first seeing her. At the funeral service yesterday Kris' mom had the same experience, she came into the church where we were all sitting in the back row out of respect until the family arrived, and she saw Casey sitting there and was confused to see what she believed was her daughter Kris at her own funeral. Casey was mortified at the pain she caused, but Kris' mother insisted right away that we move up and sit in the second row, right behind the family.

Casey, Vinny, Glenda, and I sat there, with both Casey and Vinny speaking about the Kris they loved. Casey broke down in tears at the microphone, and Kris' mom, feeble as she is, stood up and walked up to Casey to hug her as Casey cried. The minister spoke of Kris, of how Kris was a woman with a large heart, always looking out for others. I looked over to the small table, covered in a white lace cloth, where Kris' cremains sat with a picture of her smiling and waving. I started crying, tears flowing in sheets, and soon I was wracked with sobs. That was the Kris that I remember. She was always so happy to see me, we always enjoyed each other's company, and I loved her all the more for knowing how dear she was to my wife, who was both like her sister in the multitude of things they had in common, yet like her guru in how Casey gave Kris from her experience to help Kris in her life's journey.

Casey got a two calls she missed overnight on August 2. She finally woke at the third call about 5:30 AM. We were both shocked to hear that Kris had died. Casey had talked to Kris around 9 PM the night before, discussing a decision Kris had made. Casey warned her against getting hurt from this decision, but reminded Kris that no matter what she decided we both loved her and would support her. The coroner said that Kris most likely got up to pee, and had a massive coronary, and died before her knees hit the floor. She was gone quickly, without any pain or lingering.

As soon as we could, Casey and I flew back to Baltimore to help settle her life. Kris' friends had made arrangements for cremation, but Kris had still been living in Mount Airy, Maryland; almost all her things were in the basement of the house of an ex-friend. Casey, Vinny, and I, along with a new friend of Kris', had to spend a few hours going through Kris' things, finding a few things with meaning for the family, some things that would only have value to her friends, and clearing out the detritus of a full and loving life, if one that was highly disorganized. Among the things that were given to the family yesterday were presents Kris had bought for her nieces and nephews on trips Casey and I had made with her back in 2009. Although we spent nearly a week talking to the people Kris new, trying to settle things, I had not found any closure until yesterday.

As I sobbed, Kris' mother reached back from the pew in front of us and gave me a loving touch. When Kris was lowered into the earth, Glenda added a few of Kris' possessions that were very meaningful to Kris, and Vinny stooped at the grave and threw in bits of earth. These are the things of meaning to me that mark Kris' passing, along with the mark on my heart which will remain.


Ne doesn't like tem zeeself

This article from the Economist online leaves me little hope for trans acceptance if we can't even get acceptance of inclusive words.

Ne Doesn't Like Tem Zeeself



I am rethinking my problem. I suspect that it is as much depression as it is surgical impact. I still have exhuastion, I still get very sleepy in the day, but I am also jumping at those as excuses not to go out. I will have to work on that.

Change is Imminent

Odd, that ever since Facebook appeared I never think to sit down and write. I feel like I am in limbo. My body has recovered from my surgery, at least as far as the exterior and the level of care I need. The problem is that with the extended time I spent as an invalid, laying down in bed most of the day for over two months, I find that as I approach three months my body wants to sleep fourteen to sixteen hours a day. I get exhausted after doing just a few things. Even worse, I am very cranky all the time and I have far less patience with others.

I have heard second hand that there might be some big changes in my living situation, but since the kids have odd working hours nothing will be discussed until at least tomorrow. The future I never sought but have worked hard to accept, will most like be profoundly changed in the next few months. I still wasn't sure what choices I wanted to make for myself, and now I have to accept that I will be living with other's choices.

I must have made someone very angry, because my life is getting very interesting.



One week home from surgery, and I am struggling with staying within my prescribed limits. I am doing all my self care, and that keeps me from doing anything for more then an hour or two, before I have to return to bed. I know this will be over, as I heal the care will be reduced, but yet I struggle to hold myself back.

Despite that, I have come a long way since two weeks ago today when I returned to the residence from the surgery. I can take care of myself, dress, walk about without getting weak, and I can relax mostly when I sit. Again, life has sent me a lesson to remind me that I need to learn patience and determination.



Invalid Ring

With my surgery, I received an invalid ring so that I can sit without putting pressure on certain parts of my body. Among those of us at the residence, it has been referred to as our "donut". James, at two years and eleven months has decided that it is my "bagel". I guess he is more familiar with bagels? I donut!


Still Learning To Be an Adult

A lot of nasty, physical problems you probably don't want to know about behind the cut.

TMICollapse )



While at first I was concerned about recovering at all, now I am just concerned about being well enough for our flight out of here at 8:20 AM on Thursday. I cannot yet sit for long and we have a six hour plus flight home.
It gets even better, we have a great early flight, but we have to leave here around 5:20, which means will have to get through my new long list of ablutions quite early. I expect to be near dead when we get home.

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While at first I was concerned about recovering at all, now I am just concerned about being well enough for our flight out of here at 8:20 AM on Thursday. I cannot yet sit for long and we have a six hour plus flight home.
It gets even better, we have a great early flight, but we have to leave here around 5:20, which means will have to get through my new long list of ablutions quite early. I expect to be near dead when we get home.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.



I am almost a week since my surgery, and I am begining to feel human again. For the first few days I began to believe that I would never recover, never be whole again. Every time I moved I hurt, I felt completely weak and helpless. Over the last few days I have begun to learn to care for my new body, and while it is still scary, I am gaining confidence.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.



I am almost a week since my surgery, and I am begining to feel human again. For the first few days I began to believe that I would never recover, never be whole again. Every time I moved I hurt, I felt completely weak and helpless. Over the last few days I have begun to learn to care for my new body, and while it is still scary, I am gaining confidence.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.


Self and Others

I am constantly driving Casey nuts. It hurts a lot for me to sit, yet most of the day I have very little pain. When I was offered pain meds, I declined, because right then I did't hurt. So then I would have to retreat to my room and lie down to feel better. Casey suggested that I should ask for the pain med a half hour before meals, but I demured saying it was ok, I felt all right then.
It has taken me three days to accept that the real reason I refused was because I did't want to bother the staff. It was the same at the dinner table where I would get up, slowly and painfully, to walk around the table to serve myself. I have always had a very difficult time asking for what I want or even need. I will have to keep working on this because I will have around 3 months at home when I will have to ask for help, and even worse, refrain from giving it.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.


Self and Others

I am constantly driving Casey nuts. It hurts a lot for me to sit, yet most of the day I have very little pain. When I was offered pain meds, I declined, because right then I did't hurt. So then I would have to retreat to my room and lie down to feel better. Casey suggested that I should ask for the pain med a half hour before meals, but I demured saying it was ok, I felt all right then.
It has taken me three days to accept that the real reason I refused was because I did't want to bother the staff. It was the same at the dinner table where I would get up, slowly and painfully, to walk around the table to serve myself. I have always had a very difficult time asking for what I want or even need. I will have to keep working on this because I will have around 3 months at home when I will have to ask for help, and even worse, refrain from giving it.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.



Me in beret
Jacqueline R Nugent

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