Being the Dysphoria Story of Jennifer Diane Reitz
My earliest memory of my gender plight occurred somewhen just prior to entering kindergarten, and I can make no claim to knowing my exact age, but I reason that it must have been near the age of five or so.
I was playing in the living room of my mothers house in Baker Oregon, at 1636 1st street. It must have been a summer, because this was the only time we lived in the house, my father being a cartographer for the USGS. Most summers he left on special mapping excursions, leaving my mother and I in her little house, but this summer he was still with us. I was playing with my many stuffed animals, among them my favorite, Lilly the Leopard, a largish bespotted doll who was my best friend. I had made a little house of blankets and was setting about taking care of my little family in miniature. My father was sitting, possibly reading, behind me. Through the kitchen archway came my mother to announce that You boys should get ready for dinner now and in that frozen moment, something occurred in my young consciousness.
My dad was certainly a boy, as were many of the children I had known, and my mom was a girl, as was the children I preferred to play with, but it offended me somehow to be included with my dad in being called a boy. I knew I did not act like boys did, and that is what bothered me most. Boys were mean, they hit, they shouted, they liked to bang things together, and when they were big, like my dad, they were very mean and often full of punishment, as well as scary. I was not that. I knew that I was like my mom, that I was like the girls I played with. I did not like being called a name that I felt was icky. I told my mother this.
I do not exactly remember what occurred after this declaration, but I do know that it frightened and hurt me somehow. Perhaps they were appalled, perhaps my father yelled at me, which would be an expected behavior, as would a spot of hitting me, but whatever it was, it definitely traumatized me. Thus was my earliest conscious knowledge of my gender dysphoria revealed to me.
Kindergarten afforded my next accessible memory of conflict over my gender. Early in the morning, the teacher asked the class to line up, boys on one side and girls on the other, for some sort of game. I stood with the girls, of course. When this caused the predictable problem, I threw quite a tantrum, and the teacher, at a loss, had me stand in the venetian-slatted closet until She said so. I stood there, crying, seeing the classroom through thin wooden slats, for most of the day. I believe I was only let out at lunchtime.
My father Leonard, the mapmaker, had to travel, and thus so did I and my mother. First we lived in apartments, then eventually in a 40 foot long trailer. Throughout my life until high school, I would never call any town home for longer than six months. I had lived in seven different states by the age of seven, and this number would only increase, albeit only on the western half of the US. My father was an ambitious, selfish, brilliant, and utterly despicable man. Of genius level intelligence, he achieved some fame in chess circles as a professional instructor and coach, and was the subject of several newspaper articles because of a stunt he would pull. He was capable of playing twelve simultaneous games of chess, blindfolded, remembering the moves and layout of all the boards at the same time, and calling out moves. Even more amazing is that he generally won nine out of the twelve. While the caliber of my fathers intellect could not be questioned, his ethics and behavior certainly could.
My father never had a friend in his life, using mock friendship only so long as it led to career advancement, dumping individuals once he had climbed above them. He was exceedingly violent, and I lost many pairs of glasses to being struck across the room to smash into a wall. He would generally not attack my mother physically, because she had kept her considerable inheritance separate from him, and he coveted it, indeed it was the reason he had married her, a woman fifteen years his senior. The only concern of my father was to make appearances so as to advance, and the watchwords of our family were Never Let The Neighbors Know.
My mother, Margaret, was kind and doting until near my tenth year of life. At this point something failed in her, and she collapsed into a depressed and weak state, pathetic and useless for almost anything. She was constantly apologizing for having had me very late in life she had given birth to me at the age of 48 and felt shame for cursing me with an elderly mother. She hated my father but was utterly dependent on him, and took out her misery by an insidious form of mental torture, applied only to me. Her pleasure was to initiate an emotional conflict with me, over anything she could devise, or failing a constructed reason, nothing at all. Her goal was to fight to a crescendo, then to have me collapse in tears and utter submission, whereupon she would instantly become consoling and loving.
One time, probably at age 14, I deliberately withheld this cathartic release, by remaining utterly emotionless, like my hero of the time, Mr. Spock from Star Trek, and observed what would happen. She became increasingly frantic, and for the first time resorted to purely physical threat, brandishing a kitchen knife whilst screaming like someone insane. I was intelligent enough to immediately collapse in terrified bawling and supplication, and, like a light switch she became instantly mellow and terribly, terribly comforting of her little baby.
I never dared break the cycle of torture again, having determined to my own satisfaction her reason for doing it. It was a game I never, ever will allow myself to be forced to play again. Unfortunately, young children are the prisoners of their parents.
To say that my parents provided no role model for me, male or female, would be an understatement.
Throughout very early grade school, I became first a kind of celebrity, then quickly a pariah, because of my difference. In the first four grades, I was always the first to join a dance, or the first to help the teacher. I was forever inventing games and activities for the other children. It did not hurt that I was considered a child prodigy either, and this all resulted in great, if short lived, popularity for me. The second grade class of Chelan Falls in Washington was so moved that they sent me an enormous fan package after I had moved away, filled with cards and gifts to say they missed me. It was apparently the class project. I suppose I was excused my flamboyant behavior by the mystique of being a prodigy. A second grade child who had memorized the proper names of every bone in the human body, and who knew astronomy at a high school level, could be forgiven almost anything. While I was excruciatingly well mannered, I was exceedingly girlish, but as my mother once put it, it was somewhat expected that a child labeled a genius would act a bit delicate.
Being exceptional did not save me for long. By fifth grade onward, I increasingly became the brunt of teasing, exclusion, and violence. Called everything from sissy to faggot, beaten and rejected, I was of course scolded for not fighting back. Being the target of bullies became a standard of my life wherever we moved, and I was fortunate to even have one friend in each new school I attended. I lost the open and gregarious nature I had once had, and became a shy, inhibited, and fearful recluse, a trait that remains to this day.
One child, who had made a career of torturing me from my first day, was finally sat down and asked why, in my presence, he had such an obsession with my destruction. He simply was unable to answer. He fumblingly tried to express that there was something about me that made me different, something that made him feel funny when he saw that difference. He hated that feeling, so he had to hurt me. This little session did not stop my persecution, of course, but it did let me have an insight into the reasons for my endangerment.
I found that the increasing conflict occurring over my true gender versus my physical sex was becoming very painful. How I stood, how I sat, how I spoke and the mannerisms of my expression, all became terrible issues to my parents, my teachers, and very much to other children. Even the fact that I always sat down to urinate became a problem, as did my love of colorful and frilly clothing. Soon I danced and sang no more. I feared the constant teasing and embarrassment that resulted from my every action or commentary. I was afraid to laugh lest I be teased for how it sounded, I was fearful of description, for it necessitated holding my hands behind me carefully, deliberately, lest I be chastised for waving them about. I confined my emotions, and forcibly contained my happy exuberance or my tear filled joys or sadness.
I became ingrained with absolute terror at the thought of being called a fag or a queer. I was inculcated with narrow attitudes and seemingly infinite self loathing. To be considered a sissy, especially because I knew I was one, was unbearable. It became standard for me to cringe in embarrassment at the merest mention of such terrible words. I was shriveled and blasted by hatred and intolerance. Nothing imaginable could be worse than anyone knowing what I really was.
A strange thing occurred to my mind, born of this absolute terror of discovery and self loathing. I was too psychologically broken to face admitting my gender identity to even myself, and it was a basic impossibility to ignore it. This paradox created a mental division between my inner truth and the outer lie I felt hopelessly forced to perform. My mind split, and I increasingly lived two separate mental states, one aware of my gender problem, the other all but ignorant of the reason for its endless suffering.
I rapidly began
to withdraw, and to hide any part of myself that dared be honest
about my true gender.
I hid even from my day-to-day conscious self, with the female truth of my identity stepping to awareness less and less.
By the age of nine I was exceedingly withdrawn, and much of my natural behavior was controlled and affected, all for the sake of avoiding hurt. Still, I hurt inside, and felt forever stifled and trapped. Strange neurotic behaviors began to evidence themselves. I became obsessed with the fear of loss or change. I was distraught for days over the destruction of a little paper doll I had created to comfort me when my father took away my beloved stuffed animals at the age of ten. My father was forever trying to make a man out of me, and he felt that needing to sleep with a stuffed animal was akin to ax murder, at least with regard to me. I cried and raged if even a billboard of my home town of Baker was changed during my nine month absences, for that summer sanctuary was the only constant in my life, and the only place I could get away from my father. Getting away from my father was important, for the weakness of my mother was of some slight comfort to me. She had not the heart to enforce my fathers draconian rules. When she and I were alone for the duration of the summer, I might hope to have my stuffed animals back, or grow my hair a little long, or even to wear a brightly colored shirt...perhaps even pink. All this, so long as it was ended before we returned to my dread father.
As self suppressing as I was, my true self still found ways to come out to me. One way was in an obsession, at the age of 15, with the Disney movie Bambi. I became absolutely enslaved to the picture, though not to the whole film. What owned me, was the early life of Bambi. The little deer, the Prince of the Forest appeared about as cute and little girl like as it is possible for any animator to draw. Bambi did not look, or act, like a boy. Young Bambi was in every way an innocent idealization of my core self, utterly female, sweet and kind and gentle. I watched the movie, over and over again. I stole money from my mothers coin jars to pay for admission. I snuck in a tape recorder to tape the sound of the movie so I could listen to it at night, every night. 14 times in a row, twice per day, sometimes thrice, I went to the theatre just blocks from our house in Baker. Exhausted and zombie like, hollow-eyed like some intravenous drug fiend, I stumbled to buy my next admission. Each and every time, I cried continuously through the Young Bambi half of the film. I sometimes left after that, the rest of the picture offered me nothing. Young, little girl Bambi was a perfect reflection of the essence of my soul, a little girl trapped under the label of being a boy. Delicate, infinitely feminine Bambi, was my soul on celluloid.
Although increasingly repressed, my gender issues always seemed to affect every aspect of my life. They especially affected my play. I always preferred the company of other girls, when they would permit it. The few boys I played with either became fast if temporary friends, with whom I spent endless hours discussing science fiction or the nature of reality: were ghosts real? Did UFOs Exist? Was there life after death? What did it all mean? Sometimes I developed impossible crushes on those boys.
around the age of eight or nine, a neighbor boy tried to teach me
about something he was shocked to find out I had barely heard of, and
cared less about, G. I. Joe. I knew enough to know it was icky, but
that was it. No, G. I. Joe was really cool. I should come see. Or was
I a fag? I came to see.
I kind of liked the fact that Joe was like a doll, but he was an awfully ugly doll. He had a scar and everything. He did have a large wardrobe, but it was all pretty dull, all olive greens and tans. I rather liked the bright silver space suit Joe and Mercury Capsule, because I loved NASA, but what was with all of these guns?
He took me out to play on the sidewalk. Apparently the idea was that we were to use the guns to shoot at each other and use the bayonet like this: UHGH! UHGH! We were enemies and this was the big war. Something in me just curdled. I felt sick. This was really bad. It smelled of evil, of bad things and bad people and scary stuff. It was like the war on the news every night. It was about getting hurt and hurting people. I dropped my Joe like it was poison. I told him in no uncertain terms that I did not want to play with him, or his toys, ever, ever again. This was sick, this was bad. I ran home crying while he called me a sissy, a mammas boy and a fag, fag, fag.
Of course my father would not let me have any of the toys I really wanted. I never wanted Barbie dolls, because they seemed so hard and weird looking. I liked soft, cute dolls. I wished I could have my stuffed animals back. I used a magic marker on my feather pillow...I have it to this day...and drew big googly eyes and a happy smile on it. Under the cover, no one could tell, but I knew. Now my pillow was Pu Pu Pillow and he was my friend. I held Pu Pu tight against my body. While I slept. I always slept with my leg over Pu Pu, holding my pillow enfolded in my arms and my legs, surrounding it. I sleep that way to this day.
One time my mother took pity on me and made me a little sock creature as a stuffed animal...as long as I kept it hidden. It had ping pong eyes and looked like a cucumber covered with yarn hair. I loved it anyway, but my dad found out and destroyed it while I watched. This was supposed to help make a man of me too.
I was desperate for cute toys, but I became far too frightened to even ask anymore. One toy was just too much. Mattel released something wonderful called Upsey Downsey. The Happydiculous World Of The Upsey Downsies was all of my little girl dreams come true. There were a multitude of individual play sets, each complete with a cardboard play mat, various items like little pink bridges and bright purple flowers, and adorable, almost anime styled, fluffy headed dolls and their pets. The little soft, rubbery dolls were very well made, with bright colorful faces and bendable waists so as to fit into their little ladybug cars and piggy bank fire engines. They came with names like Dally Dilly and Baby So High, and they even had a mythology! The world of the Upsey Downsies was a planet of dandelion puffs. The great Huff, a godlike wind, came and sneezed on the world, blowing all of the dandelions into the sky. The puffs fell back. The ones that fell through a rainbow, became the Upsies, little cuties with rainbow colored afros. The puffs that fell through a storm cloud became the downsies, and walked on their hands, but were still full of love even if they were mixed up. Everybody loved everybody in the land of Upsie Downsey, and all of the little playsets could be joined together to form one huge world, arranged anyway you desired, providing there was enough floor space.
This was too much for my little girl self to help. It obsessed me like Jihad to a Muslim.
I could not bear to use my allowance to buy my first set myself. On a trip to the stores with a friend, I begged and pleaded for one of the girls I played with to buy it for me while I hid in my mothers car. I cringed down in the back seat so no one could see me. My heart pounded. My mom did not want me to have it in the first place, what would my father say. But I was absolutely obsessed, and when I become obsessed, nothing stands in my way long.
I was so embarrassed. I was terrified that someone might notice that it was I who had asked for my friend to go into the store to buy my playset. I was sure everyone in the parking lot knew that I wanted a girls toy. I could barely breath from nervousness and excitement.
My mother and my little friend came back. She thought I was being really weird, why couldnt I just go buy the toy, I had the money. My mother was upset that I wanted it, especially this bad. She insisted that if I were going to buy such a toy that I had to face doing it myself, maybe it would teach me a lesson. Ready to go?
NO! I would
have that toy! It was too pretty, too beautiful! I had to have Dally
Dilly! She was yellow and had a footmobile friend and a little green
fence and everything! O.K. Then! But get it over with damnit!
I slunk, mortally embarrassed but determined, behind my confused friend and my upset mother. My neck bent 90 degrees, I saw my own feet and nothing else, save for the furtive peek. I faced Dally. Dally Faced me. I could not bear to hold such girlish wonder in public. Please, I begged my friend, please buy it for me. Even she was annoyed now and grabbed my treasure and stomped to the counter. She plunked the money that I had given her down and Dally Dilly was in a bag. My mother looked strangely disturbed. Out we tromped. I stared at my feet.
At the car, I could not wait to hold my bag. Here! Jeez have it! I sat in the back and stared at the glory in my hands. It was mine, really mine. I was too happy to be embarrassed for awhile.
For Christmas, all I wanted was the Deluxe Upsie Downsey Worlds-O-Fun Set. No way was my father going to permit that. For months I pleaded, I begged, I drew pictures of it and made up songs about it. I cried, I mourned, I fussed, I sank into almost immobile depressions. My mother could not bear my suffering. She worked on my father. It was only a phase, I would outgrow it. The other children have them.
Of course, all my playmates were girls.
I did get the set. I have it to this day. I had to keep it hidden, of course. It even had a storybook with the mythology in it. It is my most treasured toy from my childhood.
There were a few times that I told, or came close to telling, others about the nature of my plight. Once, in Victorville California, at the age of ten, I had two playmates, Jodi and Cheryl, who were my best friends at the time. I had created The Rinky Dink Club for us to be a part of, and we played together every day. One fine afternoon, Jodi admitted to me that she wished she had been born a boy. My heart sang! A kindred spirit! I excitedly told her of my own wish to be a girl, perhaps a little too overwhelmingly. The topic was never to be discussed again, it seemed to frighten her. Even so, we all continued to play together, three girls in behavior, if not form.
Several times I tried to tell my mother, when we were left by ourselves to the house in Baker - my father gone on some surveying trip - but the histrionics she replied with forced me to repeatedly deny the admission as a poor joke....something which strangely calmed her immediately, instantly, as though the incident had never happened.
I developed ulcers around the age of twelve, and this led to many visits with doctors. My stomach problems were rather painful, and the doctors were very concerned. Finally a doctor sat me down to ask me what stresses I might be enduring, for it was the wisdom of the time that ulcers were caused by extreme stress and not Heliobacter Pylori. I sat there looking up into the eyes of my doctor, alone in a room, and knew that telling a doctor might save me. I knew that there might, just might, be something that could be done, for I had great faith in science and medicine. I might be able be a girl! But I thought of my parents. I thought of what my violent, dangerous father might do. I thought of the screaming fights every other night, I remembered how much my delicate behavior caused me to be punished by my parents. I thought of being abandoned. I began to become terrified. I told my doctor about the fights and the incessant bullies, but I could not bring myself to tell him the real reason for my misery.
The most disturbing time that I ever told anyone prior to my transition was around the age of 17. For a brief week, I somehow became conscious of my suppressed identity. I remembered my life, always a dim fog to me otherwise, and understood what I was. The terrible split in my mind had mostly healed. I am not sure what precipitated this event, but I believe that it was a brief television bit about transsexuality.
Armed with the awareness of what I was, and with the suggestion that there actually was something that might be done about it, I need someone to talk about it to. Please understand that I had lived a very isolated life, moving all the time, and always under the control of my parents. I was very unaware of the world, and my life experience was muddled by my split mind and far too much television. I was far too innocent, and ridiculously trusting. Which is why, I suppose, I decided to turn to my art teacher at the time.
That summer, once again in Baker, I had enrolled for the second year in an art class run by a nun in a nearby Catholic church. I had no real understanding of any religion, it simply was not an issue to my family. Sister Mary Elizabeth was such a friendly person, so kind and sweet, and I was her very favorite student. She seemed to think the world of me, and even arranged my very first art show. I really liked her. I wished I could be like her.
I came one afternoon and asked to talk with my friend and teacher, about something private and serious. I reasoned that of all people, someone filled with the joy of god and art, would be able to counsel me in a kindly and open way. I happily told her that I finally knew what had made me depressed my entire life, that I was really a girl and not a boy, that I was overjoyed to finally understand that. I asked for her help.
In chemistry, I was once amazed to learn about a phenomena called sublimation. There are circumstances where a solid can become a gas, directly, without melting to become a liquid first. The solid just instantaneously becomes another thing, without going through any gradual transformation.
Sister Mary Elizabeth underwent personality sublimation. One second she was beatitude and Gods eternal love, the next instant in time, she was Satan incarnate.
Her express advice was very straightforward. I was utterly consumed by evil, and was inherently a creature of Satan. However, she felt that I must have some slight degree of goodness left in me, and so I should follow her advice. I should quietly commit suicide instead of undergoing a sex change. This would prevent my very existence from acting as a corrupting spiritual influence that would certainly condemn innocent children yet unborn to hell. If I had any love or goodness in me at all, I would leave immediately and kill myself. Of course, she offered, I would burn in hell forever, but at least I would have made one noble sacrifice to protect future generations. God would have no mercy for one such as I, but at least it would be the right thing to do.
I fled in tears, shock, and stunned horror. The split in my mind came back in days, this time far, far more strongly.
With puberty came the ultimate horror of the involuntary functioning of my much loathed sexual organs, so rudely appended to my abdomen. The utter degradation of autonomic erections slammed my concept of self, and filled me with bitter shame for my deformity. Nothing was worse than any revelation of the existence of my accursed organs, be it at a swimming class where the uncontrollable bulging of my swimming suit forced me into contortions to hide it, or the ultimate hell of gym class. Of course my exemplary, honor student grades plummeted, as I failed Physical Education classes, then many others as well. I simply could not bear to shower, or even to be in that terrible place, and sports in general were anathema to me. I soon lost interest in school altogether, not just because of my boredom at the illiteracy and ignorance of my peer students, but also the teachers whom I was often forced to correct for the most obvious of errors and simply hid my texts of biochemistry (my passion in late grade school) and science fiction (my other, greater, lifelong passion) inside the class volumes of Introduction To Whatever. I lived in the twin worlds of science and science fiction, for they were my only salvation at the time.
The influx of male hormone in my bloodstream ravaged my body and my sanity. Suddenly my life was a living hell, not only from the exterior, but now from within as well. It was all I could do simply to survive one day to the next. Male hormones not only caused endless erections and barely restrained sexual frustration that both humiliated and dominated my consciousness, but also brought terrible changes to my skin in the curse of acne.
My body could not abide testosterone. It robbed me of thought, altered my personality, bent me in twisted ways, and rode me like a demonic spirit. It crushed me in unending depression and sweaty, frustrated anguish. It also stole from me the remaining delicate beauty of my childhood, buried underneath a virtual shell of ropy pus-filled blisters. My acne problem was horrendous, with inch wide pustules covering the entirety of my face and back in overlapping repulsion. I began to walk constantly with my face down, hunched over, so none could see my countenance. It was as much because of becoming increasingly masculine in appearance, or so I imagined, as it was for the solid mass of pus-filled sacks that graced my face.
Such horrible acne led to my parents to take me to medical help, to seek some way to cure it. In this circumstance, I made the most pathetic error of my adolescent life. At the time, the discovery that acne is not caused by chocolate or grease, but by a genetic predisposition, which results in tiny pores, was still fairly new. Under the influence of sex hormones, the dermal glands produce copious amounts of oil, this oil is too viscous and rapidly produced to escape the small pores, and backs up, forming easily infected sacs. This is the basis of acne. My body could not tolerate, and seemed particularly antagonistic to, testosterone, and thus was provided an experimental option of taking estrogen to counter the male hormone.
I was enrolled in the experiment at the age of 14. Female hormones had an immediate and amazing effect upon me. My acne vanished within a week and a half, leaving smooth, clear skin. I marveled at the joy of being able to touch my own, flat and smooth, forehead. I was also filled with an airy lightness, an euphoric feeling that made every day a joy. The dark clouds of perpetual depression that were my normality lifted, and for the first time since my early childhood I knew contentment and happiness. Unfortunately, this was not to last.
One day I noticed that my breasts had grown just a bit. I loved this, and felt like my nightly prayer was being answered. I understood that the hormones were probably responsible, though I was not entirely clear on the process at that age. Perhaps I would turn into a girl and it would be alright!
However, one afternoon, I found a hard, small lump in the center of my left breast. There was no corresponding lump in my right. I had no idea of the true meaning of this, and I leapt to the conclusion that it must be a tumor or a cancer! I became frightened. And that is when I made my terrible error. I told my mother. That was the end of my estrogens. The doctors knew what I did not...that this was normal breast development...first a small hard core, which would have in time turned into a rubbery, expanding doughnut, only to melt away into the mature breast. My left breast had just started first. If only I had remained silent!
Of course the acne immediately came back, and so did the emotional and psychochemical nightmare world created by the dark god of testosterone. My faery world of light and contentment died, beneath the pounding, sweating, male hormones.
By high school, I had begun to learn how to avoid some of the constant abuse. No longer were groups of disturbed boys trying to flush my head down the toilet (as happened in Yermo, California) or taking turns kicking me in the stomach to get me to stand up and fight, or holding me down and urinating on me for being a disgusting girly faggot (as happened in Eugene, Oregon). Doubtless this was partly due to the general effect of growing older, but also I had begun a campaign of careful selective adaptation. I studied boys. I drew how they walked and moved, I practiced their actions and tried to mimic them. I increasingly suppressed my natural behavior in favor of an affected one that attempted to match those of the sex I was perceived as. It was horrible, but at least it was less fraught with violence.
At this time in my life the driving effects of testosterone became the most damaging to my psyche. I was constantly obsessed with sexual impulse and consequent frustration. It ruled my mind, my art, and my consciousness. I could barely think of anything else. It was inevitable that such sexual drives would spill over into my gender issues. Shortly after puberty, my need to dress in female clothing began to become tainted with sexual association. By high school this connection was ferocious. The disgust I felt at having my need to express my identity through dressing become blended with this hormonal alien that possessed my soul made the last sheds of my dignity, self worth, and hope dissolve. My mind could not cope with this last insult. The strange split in my mind, formed in my childhood, became profound, reaching its peak by my college days.
In effect, I had gradually developed two distinct selves, not unlike having two separate memory files. One memory file was my day-to-day persona, which was utterly oblivious to my gender issues. This version of my self was fairly narrow, rigid in attitude, but capable of a minimal level of survival in the world. For me, the sensation of this mode of being is very easy to define. It was like sitting in the back row of a vast private movie theater, watching helplessly as my life was performed by someone else, whose sad misadventures I cringed at, on that tiny screen so far away. It was living death, it was numbness and isolation from my own experience of the world.
My other mode of being, my other memory file became dominant only when I was alone and safe, parents gone or distant, sure of privacy. In those moments some change occurred, and the full knowledge of myself flooded back. For brief minutes, or at best an hour or two, I rushed to address my gender suffering like a woman possessed. Because that accursed sex drive ruled me even then, my scramble to dress up and be myself was heavily tainted by masturbatory excess. When discovery became immanent, an equal scramble to purge and erase occurred, leaving me utterly unaware of what I had been doing just minutes before. This lost time never bothered me, for my day-to-day modality was so constructed as not to question such things.
I was very lonely, and became obsessed with two women who in turn, seemed to fall in love with me. I was sexual with them, but it was essentially the act of a machine, it served my demonic lust, and pleased them, but best of all, it further resulted in attachment that assured that I would not be alone. I was obsessed with the idea that if I could just secure an eternal, romantic and totally committed relationship, then all my problems would disappear. My first relationship started at the end of high school, and caused me to follow my lover to college at San Francisco State University. When this first relationship ended, at the beginning of my college days, I became insane with jealousy and possessiveness, stalking my lost Cheryl for months. I knew I was acting in an insane way, but I felt helpless, in the back of my metaphoric movie theatre, screaming at the fool on the screen to stop. I could not comprehend my own behavior, and I could barely control it.
Perhaps the only thing that saved me at this point in my life was the introduction of recreational drug use. For the next several years, marijuana became my therapy of choice. I never used it as others did, for I was not very social. Instead I used it as would a scientist, performing an experiment, only on myself. I read about the effects and chemical composition of the active ingredient, THC. I reveled in the passivity and hypnotic tranquility it gave me. I was aware that THC blocks and reduces serum levels of testosterone, and this too seemed to benefit me greatly. I recorded the effect of the drug, and created experiments to test the way it changed my consciousness.
I used pot as a self administered control on my perverse sexual drives. I used it to hypnotically concentrate on developing my artistic skills. It was the only peace I had found. Other drugs were too scary or harsh, alcohol bothered me even more, for it left me numb to the sensation of touch, and unable to concentrate or create. Marijuana served me very well, and in many ways I benefited from using it. Not only did it permit me to advance my creative ability, and to have the patience to examine issues and open my narrow beliefs and bigotry, but it served an absolutely vital function: it limited my sex drive to the point that it kept me out of prison. Unfortunately, it also increased my fear, and in a very few years I was forced to stop using it altogether, because it caused me to feel irrational terror. I have never touched any such drug since.
In the middle of my college days I took to carrying a denim purse, ostensibly as a book bag. It thrilled me inside, yet I would have been defensive and filled with disgust at the suggestion that it was an inappropriate act for me. I simply did not think about any implications, yet felt compelled to do it, so distanced was I from my own awareness.
Near the end of my college days I became involved with my second, and last, pre-transition relationship. I won her heart because she took me to her room after seeing me crying, still mourning the loss of my previous relationship. I begged to sleep with her...not have sex, but just to cuddle, for I was terribly lonely. She was shocked to find that I never made a single sexual advance to her that night, and to her this was the mark of a perfect gentleman. It did not hurt that my constant use of marijuana had severely limited my sexual evils.
In time we moved out of the dormitories and into an apartment of our own, at 701 Capp Street in San Francisco, just above a bar. This apartment was the scene of the event that both nearly took, and saved, my life.
As the months went by, my lover put increasing pressure on me to marry her. Donna wanted children and a normal life, and claimed that she loved me above all else. She worked while I finished my college education, in preparation of supporting her and our inevitable spawn. We became engaged, somehow, for I did not feel part of the circumstances of my own life. I grew increasingly withdrawn, and my capacity for sex shriveled. Every time I could bring myself to look in the mirror, my mind would be filled with my own screaming thoughts: What Do You Want?, What Is Wrong With You?, Why Are You Miserable? ....and I really did not know. Whenever Donna left me alone, my other mode awakened and I expressed my gender issues like a beast. When she returned, my memory was as empty as the infinite vacuum of space itself.
I grew ever more suicidal. Every day it was harder to face being alive, and I could not bear to gaze into the mirror to see my mutating, increasingly masculine face, nor to suffer the chorus of screaming questions when I did so. I could not bear to look at or deal with my body, and in every way I felt living, yet dead. I felt already and hopelessly entombed, buried undead inside a crypt of misery, and the horrific filth of my own flesh. I could not understand why my body was so revolting to me, just as I could not bear to let myself know why I was suffering. Then one night, at age 21, everything changed. It was May 30th, 1981, and my fiancé had gone to visit a friend for a few days, after a particularly nasty fight about my inability to function as a man in our relationship, the way she expected.
Many things led up to the crisis of that night. She was making wedding plans, and pressing the issue almost every day. I had but a few weeks earlier noticed the first, true evidence, that I would not somehow magically grow up to be a girl after all...the very first few hairs on my chin, and beside my nipples. It was clear that I was developing secondary sex characteristics, and they were not female ones. It had come to my full awareness that my body was lean and bony...indeed I only weighed 103 pounds, despite being 5 11 in height (oddly, the exact height of my mother). I saw my future, and I could not bear to live in it. The walls were closing in.
Approaching midnight, that full moon May night, I set up a big mirror, wore a beautiful red dress, and utterly intoxicated myself with the most potent marijuana I could obtain. Also with me was my tank of carbon dioxide gas, used for air brush illustration, and a bottle of the most potent sleeping pills I could find. I had constructed a mask, connected to the tank. My plan was fairly simple. Intoxicated to the limit, I would take the sleeping pills. The anti-nausea effects of marijuana would keep me from vomiting the pills, and thus make certain that I did not recover to find myself permanently damaged. To absolutely ensure success, the mask and carbon dioxide tank would finish the job. I reasoned that the combination of drugs would suppress the natural spasms of dying by carbon dioxide poisoning, and thus allow for an effective and relatively pain-free death. Clearly, my college education had not been wasted.
Before I initiated stage two, the pills, I was overawed by the full moon outside the big bay windows of our San Francisco apartment. I reflected on how I had always somehow believed, deep down, that some god would somehow repair me...that I would just wake up one day and be female. I now knew that was never going to happen. Still, I decided that I would give the world one last chance. I began to pray. I prayed to the Christian versions of god, then the Hindu. I tried praying to Allah, and also to The Blessed Buddha. I pleaded to Krishna and I begged to The Great Spirit. I even tried variations of the Christian Devil, and really obscure deities like the Loa and Ahriman. I tried everything I could think of. Silence. There was no help from the gods.
On a whim, I do not know why, I prayed to the moon. Names came out of my studies of comparative religions, and I called on Goddess names, on Diana, on Selene, on Hecate. Instantly, something incredibly profound happened for me.It was overwhelming and absolutely real to my senses. My rational mind ascribes it to a psychologically extreme state, enhanced by the effect of the drug in my blood, and the utter despair I endured. My heart tells me it was real. Such paradox is inevitable with an experience such as this, if one is not the fanatic type. For the rest of my life, I will never really be able to decide what happened, because either explanation is unacceptable to some part of me. All I know is that it saved my life, be it mystical succor, or psychochemical delusion.
At the stroke of midnight the experience ended, I was instantly stone cold sober, and I knew. I knew all of my past, all of my history. My two separate modes of being had become one, and the catharsis left me integrated and whole. I knew who I was, what I was, why I had been so miserable, and very clearly, what I must now do about it all. I was beyond being even front row center of my metaphoric theatre, I was fully alive, in the now. I had become a full participant in my own life.
Of course I cried my eyes out in joy, thanked whatever it was that had helped me, and cried some more. Then, as the sun came up, I put away my little tools of death, determined to live. I felt like I was on a holy quest, a true adventure, and that I had a very Goddess on my side. I was empowered, and I knew that nothing could stop me.
Everything started for me the next few days. Accompanying a mutual friend to a used bookstore, I leaned on a stack and knocked the top book off. Picking it up, I was surprised to find something I never imagined possible, the story of a person just like me. It was Jan Morriss Conundrum, and reading it to the sounds of Jean Michel Jarre, I found an echo of my own plight. Over and over I read the book, my only inspiration and solace.
I knew what I had to do, I had to find doctors to fix my problems, to give me hormones and surgery. I had no idea how to do this. Opening the San Francisco telephone book, I was faced with a blur of medical possibilities. I closed the book. On an impulse, I strung the elaborate, purest silver ring I had made in a jewelry class, upon a chain, and closed my eyes. I opened the book and dangled the ring. Dropping my little impromptu pendulum of sorts, It landed on a name. Good enough, as I opened my eyes, and I made the call.
The doctor was Alfred Auerbach, and as I would find out, he had a long experience with transsexuals. An associate of both Harry Benjamin and Wardell Pomeroy, he was one of the most recognizable figures in the treatment of transsexuality not that I understood that at the time. Dr. Pomeroy, the co-author of the Kinsey Report, became my second, required doctor necessary to obtain permission for surgery. Soon I had a hormone doctor as well, and I was on hormones in a few weeks. If I had tried with all of the knowledge in the world, I could not have had a better doctor for transition anywhere in the western half of America.
I next needed an apartment, for there was no question of my former fiancé staying with me. Her love ended with the shape of my flesh, and the role I was willing to play, and the truth of my self was without value to her. I have since learned that real, genuine love, is not so shallow, and is possible, if rare in the world.
Finding an apartment on poverty wages is all but impossible in San Francisco, at least in any decent location. Out of time and options, I was encouraged by a lone remaining friend - for any others that heard of my situation rejected me brutally - to accompany her to a café to cheer up. Entering the crowded café, I was backed up against a wall which contained a cork board spiked with push-pins to which were attached numerous paper messages. One stuck in my coat, and my friend removed it for me. On it was an offer for a 200 dollar a month apartment downtown, at 926 Larkin Street, right where I needed it, just five blocks from my doctors. At first, the woman on the other end would not rent to me because of my age, she was only accepting an older clientele. Then for some reason, in the middle of repeating her rejection she stopped and fell silent. She then let me rent the apartment.
I worked four short-term temporary jobs at the same time, utterly abandoning my hopes of graduation, to quickly achieve enough money to make the security deposit and first months rent by the deadline to move in. I was utterly exhausted by this, and collapsed at the end of each day, unconscious, sometimes on the hallway floor. But I raised the money in time, and moved in. I was set, at least for one month! California, at the time, had a robust medical support system which helped to pay for my doctors. I dared only tell my parents that a serious medical emergency had come up, that I would inform them about it in time because it was embarrassing, and that I needed money. They did not send a lot, but it was enough to make the difference for my treatment. I still needed money if I were to eat and keep my new, one room apartment.
Again, close to the wire, and worried, I was walking in the financial district, essentially having all but given up hope of finding a stable job. Suddenly a rather frantic man ran out and seized my arm Hey you! You want job? I got job for you, come here... I was dragged into Mrs. Robinsons, a sandwich shop on the bottom floor of one of the tall towers of the district. I was instantly employed. With partial wages in advance, I was able to meet my next rent, and had barely enough for food.
Thus was the beginning of my two year transition.
With circumstances more or less stabilized, I could devote my energies to the process of transition itself. Once or twice a week, for the first three or four months, I would go to somebody, either Dr. Auerbach, or Dr. Pomeroy, or to see my hormone doctor, Dr, Garfield, or to get a psychiatric evaluation. In retrospect, I am convinced that many of my doctors actually overlooked payment, for I find checking the few records of the time, that it seems unlikely that they were paid consistently by the state, and my contribution was less than an eighth of their rather high fees. Somehow, they must have found me worth the time. I am very grateful.
I worked at the little sandwich shop, barely surviving, but ineffably filled with joy. The greatest dream of my life was coming true! At my little apartment, bereft of a refrigerator or a stove, I ate food cold from cans, and listened to my radio. I especially looked forward to the radio dramas that were a regular feature of Thursday nights, and ZBS productions Jack Flanders series, and The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy were my only friends in the entire world. All of my other current friends had utterly rejected me, once the reality of what I was doing truly hit them. I was alone in the world, braving a new world I had no concept of. With only the chronicle of Jan Morris to lean on, and no guarantee of success, still I went on. I had no choice, for my only other option was to die. I would not, could not live a year longer as a male.
Natures biochemical magic began to work, to correct the tragic mistake of my birth. Within a few weeks I noticed a definite alteration of my mood and my perception. My sex drive faded, and I was increasingly in balance. For the first time since that long ago acne treatment, I once again knew that same faery contentment and angelic peace. Everything seemed brighter, colors seemed sharper, and all of my senses seemed new and awake. I realized, by comparison, what it was to think clearly, to feel alive inside.
The longer I was affected by estrogen, the better I felt. It was like settling into a warm, comfortable bath, with a happy rubber duck, and sweet smelling soaps. I began to cherish being alive, and enjoyed each new day, filled not only with inner contentment, but also expectant joy. I felt filled with light.
I observed my body. Within two months, I noticed the first physical changes. It began with my hands. Glancing down while I made sandwiches, I realized that my hands were different. Examining them carefully, I saw that the skin had become softer, smoother, and that the texture was finer on the backs of my hands. The wrinkles on my knuckles were smoothing, and the overall shape of my fingers seemed less bony and angular. The skin on the back of my hands became my barometer of change, and throughout my transition, I was fascinated with such a clear indicator of my progress. By five months, the few hairs on my hands had vanished, and my skin was very soft. By a year, my hands were utterly those of a woman, in texture, shape, and the very feel of the skin.
My arm hairs, few though they were, became fine and invisible. My hips widened with redistributed fat, and my waist narrowed. My face softened and altered, with the early masculine jowls and the beginning eyebrow pads melting away. My chin became less square in appearance as the skin and fat of my flesh reformed about my bones. My muscles altered and the texture of my growing hair changed.
I felt like wax in the hot sun, melting and soft, and I felt new and fresh and tingly. I was again a baby, newborn and pink, and I felt pure and light and floating on air. It felt so good, so beautiful to shapeshift!
But perhaps best of all, was the development of my breasts. Every day I could not help but marvel at my arising bosom. My flat, bony chest began to grow. The few hairs that had sprouted by my nipples disappeared. Once again, as when I was 14, my left breast formed a hard little core. Soon my right breast mirrored the left, and the little, tender cores grew, surrounded by soft tissue. I used to measure myself constantly, by placing my hands, unobtrusively I imagined, backsides up, just under my ribs. I would judge my development by how far I protruded over my fingers. Of course it took months for any truly significant change, but it seemed as though I could see improvement on a weekly basis. I kept careful measurements, and indeed I grew at the rate of half an inch (as measured by a tape around my bosom) per month. I attribute such quick development to two things. One, I was still young enough at 21 to be powerfully affected by hormone treatment, and Two, I am convinced that my body, my cells, really wanted estrogen to control their genetic activity. I am convinced that the cells of my body prefer estrogen to testosterone.
As my changes became great, they became impossible to ignore, and I explained to my coworkers what was happening to me. For the most part they accepted it pretty well, which surprised me. In fact, I had quite a bit of nastiness directed toward me as I became obvious in my transformation, and it came from sources I did not expect.
In the San Francisco of 1981, the gay community was at the very peak, and dominated much of the life of the city. My apartment, on Larkin Street, was directly beside one of the two main centers of gay life, which were Van Ness and the Castro District. I was on the street beside Van Ness.
Now the days before AIDS slaughtered most everyone, every night was a party in these areas, and the streets were filled with milling thousands. Disco clubs blasted music to the crowds and the streets were an eternal parade of every type of person imaginable, from local gay folk to curious tourists come to see the show. All in all, it was an experience beyond compare, a bacchanalia of immense and unceasing splendor, as well as not a little lunacy. The San Francisco of 1981 was all of the Glory That Was Rome, and then some.
The half-way of sex, to be both and neither, is a special sort of hell. Neither definably male nor definably female, yet somehow both, is a disturbing state to many people, at some fundamental level. It is certainly the worst part of transition. I found acceptance most easily from heterosexual women at the time, the majority of my coworkers. Straight men, like the majority of the construction workers who I had to pass by on my way to work each day, enjoyed mocking and swearing at me. But oddly, or so I thought, was the abuse I suffered at the hands of gay folk. I erroneously believed that gay folk, themselves oppressed and the object of bigotry, would be supportive of me if anyone would. But I found only scorn and ridicule, and even outright disgust, in most of the gay community. Gay men looked upon my in a kind of horror, presumably because I represented their worst nightmare, the destruction of what they prized and held most dear, maleness. Lesbians seemed to see me as some strange kind of threat, a danger and an invasion, and acted with almost paranoid revulsion. It quite shocked me that the oppressed could so easily turn upon their own kind, for the transsexual certainly counts as equally Queer, in the sum scheme of things, and in the collective oppressions of society.
Enduring the catcalls and insults, the staring eyes and disgusted or horrified looks, I survived and slowly changed shape. After six months, I suddenly was no longer alone.
At the beginning of my transition, I had the occasional interaction with a friend of my old fiancée, a middle aged gay man who had a bit of a fancy for me. This fancy was actually rewarded, as just prior to going on hormones, I was assailed by one of my rapidly diminishing friends over a disturbing concept. My soon to be ex-friend, John, was utterly convinced that I had to be a gay man, and that the drive to change my physical sex was just an attempt to avoid the responsibility of being openly gay. To him, my transsexualism was a disgusting effort to pass for female, so as to escape the righteous suffering of being homosexual.
I was off-balance, frightened and uninformed. I decided to test, beyond doubt, to see if this was valid. I had no desire to live a lie of any kind.
Donnas gay friend, Robert, was more than glad to show me the True Gay Path. He was the only gay man I knew, and while I was not overly attracted to him, he would serve for my purposes. It was, to say the least, very unhappy, at least for me. While he seemed glad enough, for me it was just as bad as sex with a woman... and by now, I had no ability to even cope with acknowledging the existence of my sex organs, so I kept them tucked and hidden all the time. While he played with what parts of my body I could stand to allow, I felt only embarrassment and horror at my own bony, male body. All I could think of, was how I was built, and that I was built wrong. Male-to-male sexuality simply was no different to my comfort than male-to-female sexuality....for in both cases, I was trapped in the form of a male. Neither was any good, despite my unquenchable sex drive, and altogether I was clearly aware throughout the experiment that I would be much happier alone, imagining myself as a woman, perhaps dressed for the part.
One day, six months into my transition, Robert suddenly contacted me out of the blue. There was a crisis of sorts within his circle of friends, and he needed my help. I am ever the amiable sort.
Robert knew of a young runaway, who had been taken in by a somewhat brutal Sugar Daddy, an older man who provides material comfort in exchange for sexual favors, and this young boy needed a safe haven to escape to. I came along and helped to confront the reasonably violent Daddy and thus gained a roommate, my young ward, Robin.
Robin was 16 at the time, going on 40, and both childlike...sometimes childish...and incredibly mature at the same time. Robin had to be mature, for the sake of his own survival. Robin had run away at the age of fifteen from the constant leather-strap whippings of his Tennessee father, which had culminated in an almost effective attempt on Robins life. When his father tried to strangle him for being gay, to put him out of his godless misery, Robin had found an axe handle within grasp and managed to club his sire. This gave him the opportunity to run for his life, and despite being half dead, he made it. He had traveled to the only place he had heard of that might accept him, and thus became a resident of San Francisco.
I took Robin in to my tiny cockroach infested, one room apartment. He rarely slept there, for he was always out upon some wild sexcapade or another. Robin was a happy-go-lucky soul who delighted in calling himself a sissy and a faggot. He loved everything about his newfound freedom to be himself, and he danced and sang with a natural fluidity and ease that I envied. He was unabashedly flamboyant, and was very dedicated to assimilating every nuance of the gay culture that surrounded him. Robin was very grateful to me, and became my protector, my guide through the wilds, and my only friend in those difficult days.
Robin would take me on field trips to get me out of my apartment and to boost my self confidence. He taught me the codes and rules of the street people, and introduced me to their lives. There I met my first transsexual, intersexual, and transgendered folk. I learned of the famous Handkerchief Code and was shown the subtleties of gay etiquette and propriety. I was introduced to every kind of soul imaginable, from the 16 year old amphetamine addict who for all the world appeared to be 60 years old and who claimed royal lineage, to the gravel voiced, but perfectly passable 18 year old she-male who spent her days in a fantasy of perpetual pregnancy, complete with belly-form in place to complete the illusion. Like a world of Emperor Nortons, all abided these fantasies and broken dreams as truth, and as harsh as the street life was, as dangerous and brutal, there was also a deep concern for the happiness of others and a strangely noble respect for their illusions.
The impoverished street people, the underbelly of the city, lived a life apart from the world. They had their own laws, their own punishments, and their own social courtesies. All things were meted out with absolute severity. They would rally to help an endangered person, regardless of their circumstances, and just as swiftly maim or kill the soul who became too selfish or, because of newfound wealth, vain and arrogant.
Robin was my Man Friday upon this lost island, the subculture of San Francisco. Because of him, not only was I witness to the wonders of a world that would soon vanish beneath the shroud of the plague known as AIDS, but also was my very life and future saved. I was utterly ignorant, and easy prey.
The street subculture is very much an ecosystem, filled with niches and animals to fill them. There is a type of predator, a vile and contemptuous evil, that exists to prey on every kind of person, and one exists for the transsexual. Called Transie Hawks, they are always men, and they live by entrapping and destroying vulnerable and innocent transsexuals. Robin saved me from one.
Loneliness is the constant companion of the transitioning transsexual, or at least was in 1981, and it is a particular weakness of those who are undefined, who have no place in the scheme of things. I was ignorant, and I was very emotionally vulnerable. Transition is a second adolescence, with all that implies. I was far too easily manipulated and far too weak in self definition or understanding. One day, I met a man, all smile and shine, all snappy patter and compliments. I to this day have no idea of how it happened, but this con artist managed to move into my apartment in but three days, and set himself up as my purported boyfriend. Like a tornado, he wrecked my world, and blew the trailer park of my stability to ruin. I cannot even remember his name anymore. But I somehow woke up when he started talking about a joint checking account.
Robin came home, absent for a week on some wild adventure, to find me at this point. Robin was both afraid, and furious. He took me aside, explained that I had been taken by a fast acting predator, and that I was in terrible danger. The transie hawk survives by swiftly setting up a parasitic relationship with a host transsexual. The Hawk gains access through providing false emotional support precisely when the poor transsexual is most vulnerable, after they are rejected by friends and family, become alone and afraid, and desperate for any kindness. Once attached, the transie hawk is supported by the transsexual, who is under the illusion that true love has found them, and that everything is going to be alright. As the transsexual earns money to be put away for surgery, the transie hawk siphons away that money to support a rich lifestyle. When all is inevitably revealed, the transie hawk runs away laughing to find another victim, and the impoverished, emotionally destroyed transsexual sinks into absolute paralyzing despair, and often, suicide. Sometimes, the transsexual is murdered outright, an event almost never investigated, or of any concern to the authorities.
Robin, by some adventures involving his many sexual partners, had gained some favors from the local criminal underworld, and made use of one of these to save me from any retribution by the suddenly evicted transie hawk. Robin counseled me to never speak of the event to any street person, nor to act anything but cordial should I ever accidentally run into my predator again. The hawk had been forced to back down by threat of Robins connections to the local equivalent of the Mafia, and this was a delicate situation. But ultimately, it saved me, and I was never the target again.
Robin worked hard to help me face my life, and my new sex, courageously. Eventually, it came time for me to enter the required Real Life Test which is mandatory to win approval to have surgery. The principle of the Real Life Test is simple, and sensible. Surgery will not change anything, except to the person having it, for no one can tell what anyone really has in their pants, or under their skirt. Surgery is good for only one thing: correcting an absolute discomfort with the genitalia. What matters truly in regards to gender is not what sex one is between the legs, but how one is accepted and treated. It is true that I suffered terribly with the pain of feeling deformed and having the wrong organs. I certainly would not have been able to endure this suffering indefinitely. It was a serious issue. But what I wanted most was to be able to be myself. I needed to be accepted utterly, able to act in an unaffected and honest way, to no longer be despised for my expression of my identity.
To pass the Real Life Test a transsexual must live, work, and prove that they can survive completely and utterly within the gender presentation they seek, for at least one year. Some doctors require the period to be two - or more - years. I was fortunate, I had only to prove myself for one year.
The Real Life Test is a dangerous time for transsexuals, because if they are caught, discovered in some fashion, they can be the target of great abuse. Although whether or not one has the correct sex organs does not matter day to day, it can become an enormous issue if one is forcibly Outed. The transsexual who is found out about, and who is known to have opposite organs, may be arrested or become the target of harassment or violence by those who find out. Using the restroom becomes a lesson in worry, and the workplace can become a hell pit of damnation.
The Test is also a time of great insecurity...the very first months of dressing and being entirely in the preferred social context is a time fraught with concern over every little detail. The ultimate goal is to be able to Pass, to be totally accepted as the person one is. But, without a lifetime of preparation and training of how to act and be, this forces the transsexual to essentially and instantly become what takes other human beings a lifetime to master. Details such as social graces, appropriate behaviors in given contexts, and the very basics of growing up as a given sex have to be perfected overnight. Worst of all, a lifetime of self suppression and affectation of behavior must be given up as quickly as possible. The transsexual, to succeed, must overcome all of this, in a matter of months, sometimes days, often without the benefit of a family, friends, or even a decent understanding of what is expected.
It is truly fortunate that transsexuals are statistically far more intelligent and far more creative than the general population. Without that advantage, it is difficult to imagine any transsexual having a chance at all.
I was, of course, petrified. I was sure that I still looked horridly masculine, and was certain that if I dared to wear clothing that was obviously female, I would be instantly attacked and beaten to death for it. I worried about my voice, my hands, my chin, and my behavior. I was certain that all I would ever be was a hideous, laughable freak, the sport of all and a matter of disgust. The closest I came to wearing womanly clothing was to dress in what I imagined was an androgynous manner, but to be honest, it was really more toward the masculine. The clothes I had always worn were like a safety blanket, and the more drab the better. I felt like I could become invisible in such garb.
The fact was that I had become so female in appearance that my clothing was an anomaly now, and became a source of curiosity to the folks I interacted with. My natural behavior and appearance was not by any means butch, indeed quite the opposite, yet I dressed like a man. This did not fit any of the conventions of society at the time, gay or straight. I also did not yet pass perfectly, so any anomalies only made me stand out more.
Robin saw this and tried for weeks to get me to finally start living full time as a woman. I was terrified to make the leap from being a laughable whatsit to something defined. I was afraid I would fail. As long as I did not try any further, I could always have the hope that someday I would succeed. I was terrified to have that hope crushed. I also had the foolish idea that I could retreat into being male if it got too horrible. It was far too late for that.
Finally, Robin got fed up. I got out of the bath, with the intent of dressing to go to my weekly required therapy group. Suddenly I found myself pushed naked into the hallway. The door slammed and locked. Through the door, Robin set the rules. I would not be allowed into my apartment again until I went to the meeting dressed correctly. If that took till next weeks meeting, Robin had food, he could wait. Beside me in the hallway was clothing. The female clothing I had bought long ago, but never dared to wear in public.
Robin, was a very stubborn little boy.
After much cajoling and whining, I was forced to give in. I got dressed, and I headed for the bus. I was absolutely terrified beyond all reason. Robin had picked me out a nice white blouse with ruffles and a denim skirt, as well as all the appropriate accoutrements, and well, there I was.
After that night I was never allowed to go back...Robin had disposed of every last trace of my former wardrobe. I could not bring myself to purchase another male article, and he knew it. He, like a mother bird, had forced me out of the nest, to fly or die trying.
I made it official with my doctors at my next meeting with them, my Real Life Test had begun.
I had years of shame and bigotry ingrained in me, however, and while it was wonderful for others to be flamboyantly themselves, it was anathema for me to permit myself that freedom. Deep down I lived in terror of being found out, of being called a faggot, a queer, a sissy...a transsexual. Now out of male drag and into female clothes, living full time as woman, I was not out of condemnations for myself, nor out of fears of punishment for the crime of being a woman.
This shame and fear would haunt me in far too gradually lessening degree, right until the present day. It took some five years after my surgery to get to the point that I no longer felt constantly paranoid about whether I Passed for female, and the reason for the creation of this site is to assist me in finally crushing my own internalized shame. I have never dared to wear lipstick, or makeup. I fear to wear dresses, and stick to jumpsuits and prim pantsuits. My vile parents, and the cruel attacks of children and adults when I was growing up, indoctrinated me well. Such concepts, such narrow and hateful bigotry, are poison to the self, intellectual and emotional cancer, and they destroy the soul.
It is my dear hope to finally overcome them.
Approaching the end of my first year of transition, I was now living full time as Jennifer Diane Reitz. I had chosen my name after much soul searching. At first I intended to name myself after my favorite Dungeons & Dragons character, the one I always played in high school and college. The character I had created had an original name, Faelini. I really liked the lyrical sound of my made-up name, and identified with my fantasy persona. My hormone doctor thought the name was a very bad choice, and suggested that I would be much happier in the long run with a more traditional name, one less likely to draw attention for being exotic. I grudgingly saw wisdom in the concept and set to trying to find a name I could live with.
At first I toyed with the name that my mother once had told me would have been my moniker had I been born a girl...well physically a girl. My mother was into numerology and had worked out some sort of mystical inherent destiny for my birth name, and also had done so for my if female name. The name she had created long ago was Dawn Christina Reitz, which, after consideration, I really did not like. I filled notebooks with possible names until my hands cramped.
One afternoon I was listening to my radio, and heard Donavans Jennifer Juniper song. I loved the piece, and instantly identified with the Jennifer of the work who Longs For What She Lacks. I immediately fell in love with the name, and as a bonus, it fit my special criterion. I had early determined that I would accept no name that had a masculine origin. I wanted no part of the Paul in Pauline, the George in Georgette, or the Sam in Samantha. I wanted a purely female name, one without any hint of being a derivative of a masculine name. I demanded a non-patriarchal name.
Jennifer is derived from Genevieve and Guinevere, and has no masculine origin. It is utterly a feminine name. It was perfect, and it somehow suited me, like a perfect hairstyle.
My middle name all but decided itself. Diane was a perfect reference to Diana, and if indeed I was somehow saved by a moon goddess, then I could only do honor by taking a goddess name for myself.
I felt stuck with Reitz. I have always detested its guttural sound, and was further annoyed by the inability of most people to pronounce it correctly, as Rights, rather than Reetz. It is a clunky, fairly ugly little name. I thought of taking my mothers maiden name, Geddes , but liked that no better. I simply could not think of any other name, and I foolishly hoped to not antagonize my parents by keeping my original name. For one thing, I idiotically expected to inherit.
Just a few months after the end of my first year of transition, everything was nicely on course. I had begun my Real Life Test in preparation for earning the right to have surgery. Hormones had resculpted my body, and calmed my mind. Speech therapy had taught me how to possess a natural and acceptable voice. I had passed the many psychological tests and I had performed the great medical dog and pony show required of the transsexual.
I had a helpful roommate, and the best doctors. I had a stable job. By this time I had corresponded with my parents and explained my condition, the medical basis behind it, and had even included helpful letters from my doctors, written for the express purpose of helping me to be accepted. My parents did not like this, but the impressiveness of my reasonably famous doctors combined with the fact that they did not have to actually see me, made it bearable, and my mother promised to continue to help me financially. She even agreed to let me have the money for my surgery, from the account in my name that she had started at my birth. It was truly gracious of her to let me have the money that had been saved just for me in my own name. I truly had it all.
That, of course, was the exact moment everything explosively fell apart.
Robin had found a very wonderful Sugar Daddy at last, and sadly informed me of his leaving. I was glad for his happiness, but sad to see him go. Then I lost my job. In a screaming fit of utterly unexpected vitriol, my employer suddenly terminated me for being a freak and a pervert. He denounced me for breaking the laws of god and nature, and for bringing embarrassment and shame on him personally by having the thoughtlessness to be in his employ. Did I want to sue? Just try! He would win any day of the week, who would believe a freak? What court would uphold the rights of a monster such as I?
And he was, of course, correct. Transsexuals had no legal protection in 1981. In fact, they were not entirely considered to be human beings under the law, for in a case to that effect, the Supreme Court had simply refused to rule, leaving the decision uncompleted. Legally, I posessed fewer rights than a slave before the civil war. Southern law required slave owners to feed and care for their slaves. I was soon to be homeless and without food, and with no recourse under any law.
In desperation, I called my parents, and arranged a meeting with my father. My mother, severely crippled with emphysema brought on by years of smoking, was not up for the journey to the city from the trailer in Redwood City.
I had the ability to survive for the remainder of the month, about 15 days. I met my father in my apartment, and we discussed my need to survive. I had no job, few skills, and was about to lose my apartment. I had tried hard to be brave and to do it on my own, to conquer this terrible defect of my birth. I was only seven months from getting my surgery. If I ever truly, really needed my parents help, this was now the time. My father offhandedly mentioned how much I looked just like my mothers picture, from when she had been my age. He did not actually hit or try to kill me. He did not vomit. What admirable self control.
My first month of being homeless was very frightening and very difficult. What few belongings I owned had been taken by my father, who had most generously offered to store my cheap mattress and my radio for me, and even offered to not destroy them. My most difficult problems were going to the bathroom and shelter. My next most difficult problem was trying to be clean. The last biggest problem is staying safe.
Going to the bathroom is a big issue when one is homeless. It is surprisingly difficult to find a toilet in the city that one can use. It is also fairly difficult to find a private place to defecate or urinate, if no bathroom can be used. Most businesses, and even restaurants, do not permit the homeless to use their facilities.
This obviously makes staying clean next to impossible. The cleaner one can be, though, the more neat and tidy, the more likely one is to be allowed to use restrooms. Also, the cleaner one is, the less one appears homeless, which in itself is good survival camouflage. Carrying things can be a problem, so the wardrobe is pretty much by necessity small. In time, entropy destroys the dignity of being clean.
Food is less of a problem than you might imagine. I was still receiving money from my mother, and it was enough to eat on, just not enough to rent an apartment with as well. I could theoretically choose. I could starve in a cheap apartment, or I could eat on the street. I choose to eat.
I could also still afford hormones, I was not about to quit those. I might as well just die. By this stage, I almost never was required to see my doctors, certainly I had not needed to for months, already, so that expense was not an issue.
The street of a big city is a difficult place. The homeless life consists of endless walking, essentially nowhere. Occasionally there is much sitting, doing nothing. There is some eating, usually cheap, barely nourishing food, followed by more walking. The walking is important for a number of reasons. Staying in one place tends to attract hassling, either from the police, or from shopkeepers or the street folk themselves. It marks one as an easy target. It is also dreadfully dull to be homeless. Except when comes time to sleep.
difficult, especially if one is female. The key is to find a place
isolated or invisible enough to be worth placing a bet on not being
attacked, raped, robbed, abused or killed while one is vulnerable sleeping.
The rooftops tended to be my choice, as almost nobody else seemed to think of visiting them. It was worth the extra difficulty of getting up to them. I was also benefited by having had some rock climbing experience in my youth. Even so, I found myself much weaker than I used to be.
Being homeless does provide a great window into the secret life of a city. From drug deals, to hideous beatings, to open air back alley prostitution, the homeless person is silent witness to it all. Silent, discrete, wisely gone the next second, but witness nonetheless.
Never be homeless.
My calls to my parents were only successful when my father was gone. Then I would get to talk to my mother, and not immediately be violently disconnected. She was working on my father. Be patient.
Somehow I survived that time, somehow I was kept safe. I was not attacked, no one harmed me. A few times I was desperately afraid, I stank, and hurt, and shivered. Much of it is a blur. But I made it.
My parents met me on a street corner, and I was hurried into my fathers huge new pickup truck. The trip to my old home, and my old bedroom in the huge Expando trailer was sullen. But my raven tressed mother, now with shock white hair - a recent change brought on by stress over me - had prevailed. I had a home, but only until my surgery; then to hell with me forever.
Life under my father was a matter of timing and hiding. I was required to keep to myself as much as possible, and there was no question that I was barely being tolerated. No one was to see me, and I was not to eat or be in his presence. I kept to my room, or away from the trailer as much as possible. To facilitate this, my mother lent me the use of her car. I had many adventures during these months of excursions.
On one excursion to nowhere in particular, the purpose of which was to fill time absent from my fathers sight, I ran into two other transsexuals. It was not odd how we could recognize each other. Transsexuals almost universally have some strong issues about passing, about being accepted, and become hyper critical, even paranoid about the slightest indications of physical sex and presentation. Such focused concern can easily be applied to others, and in general it is fair to say that most transsexuals are very accomplished at spotting other transsexuals, even in a crowd.
Candice and Joy were out shopping, and stopped to talk with me. They somehow knew that I was a lost soul, and offered to talk with me. They invited me to their home.
They lived together because they were a couple, self defining as lesbians. This was a stunning revelation to me. It was something that opened vistas of wonder to my soul.
When I was first facing transition, I had only one book, Jan Morriss Conundrum, and a few snatches of televised information as my entire basis for understanding my plight. I just assumed that I would become a heterosexual woman out the other side, a proper Suzy Homemaker with husband and adopted baby. This was certainly what my doctors seemed to desire me to be, and I dearly wanted to please my doctors, because they held my very life in their hands. I was willing to do anything, be anything, to earn my passage to womanhood. I had little concept of even what that meant exactly, only that that was clearly my goal.
Certainly nothing would stop me in my quest. Not even the truth. My first, early, evaluations by a psychologist indicated that I had a "masculine oriented mentation", and would not be a safe candidate for surgery. I was "penile fixated". This was news to me. So I had hit the books at my college library, to find out how on earth such a conclusion could possibly be reached. What learned shocked me. The tests I had been given, the Rorschach Ink Blot Test, as well as other visual tests involving pictures of people and scenes, were not grounded in any rational science. In fact, they are essentially arbitrary, culturally based catalogs of expected interpretations, based on a laughable model of what it means to be female or male of mind.
For instance, if one sees in a random inkblot suitably feminine images, such as flowers and cooking pots, then one is judged female. If one sees cars and planes, then one is judged a boy. It is that silly. In my first evaluations, I saw what was relevant to my life. I played fantasy games, so I saw dragons and griffins. I read science fiction all of my life almost exclusively, so I saw starships and galaxies. I studied science, so I saw cells and DNA. Guess what? According to respectable psychology, none of these things could possibly interest a woman. Only men should care about, and envision such things. Women should only see domestic subjects, or matters relating to child care.
To say this angered me alone would be to ignore the vast disillusionment and disgust I felt. I resolved that no idiotic psudoscience would determine my survival. I studied the same textbooks that my psychologist used.
My next evaluations uniformly portrayed me as the ideal of blessed womanhood. I saw butterflies and daffodils. I saw train tunnels and doughnut holes. I saw diapers and teapots. And the most telling part is that my psychologist ate it up with a spoon. Of course all of that useless, degrading therapy I endured to meet the standards of care must have helped me to grow into a successful female psychology. How wonderful was the science of psychotherapy. Back pats all around, and a hug for our exemplary case study.
There is no shame in lying to tyrannical fools to save your own life.
Suddenly, Candace and Joy, lesbian transsexuals, exponentially expanded my vision. In one meeting I gained a wondrous new view. I could be free. I did not have to swap one limited role for another, equally limited role. I could actually be whatever I wanted, and still be a woman. I really did not want to be Suzy Homemaker. I could love who I chose. I could love women. I really did not like men, for they were the constant source of all of my misery for my entire life. Males were the ones who beat on me, called me names, degraded me, bullied me, hurt me. Women were nice. Females were like me. I did not hurt people.
I realized I could still love women , and be a woman. I could do this and still get my surgery...provided I continued to lie even more to my doctors of course. I was prepared to do this. Gladly.
Candace and Joy introduced me to another like soul, an astrophysicist of some renown named Marilyn. Marilyn was wonderful, kind and brilliant, and absolute proof to me that not all transsexuals have to end up like the street people I had known. Again my horizons expanded: transsexuals could be wealthy and successful.
The three of them offered to take me to a local support group, called the Gateway Gender Alliance. I was happy to go, and it was perhaps the most vital event of my life to come.
In 1982, at the Gateway Gender Alliance, the rented room in the Unitarian church was effectively divided by a simple difference of purpose. On one side were the transvestites, who had started the organization. These were mostly very older men, with a penchant for pinafores and miniskirts, and a predilection for growling in deep voices about WW2, the Big One. They dressed as sexy or outrageous as they preferred, to satisfy the sexual fetish they had with regard to womans clothing. They were loud and happy to pursue their occasional hobby.
On the other side of the room sat the usually timid transsexuals, dressed rather innocuously, even somewhat prim, the better to blend in and be accepted, or at least, left alone. They tended to favor jeans and lace tops, or the occasional simple long skirt. They were there to cope with the complexities of living their lives entirely and completely as what they were inside, and quietly burdened with the life or death struggle they faced.
On one side, the painted clowns, on the other the grimly serious schoolmarms. That was the state of the genderqueer in 1982 San Jose.
Prim little me, I entered in the company of my new friends, and looked about. Clown, Clown, Clown. Schoolmarm, Schoolmarm, HUH? Something wonderful caught my eye, and in that moment, time stopped. In a timeless space, beyond adequate description, I knew the blond, bored woman in the middle of my view. Imprinted on my memory is her golden corduroy jeans, her frilled white blouse, her medium length hair tied in a French knot. I knew she was it. I knew she was my future, I knew her outside of time.
When the world began again my heart was all aflutter. I was terrified. I could not blow this. I knew that my entire life, my entire future lay in meeting that woman. Everything in my existence depended upon it. I did not know what to do. I was frightened to act, and horrified at the thought of doing nothing. I nervously went about the room meeting and talking with everyone...everyone but her. All the time, I never knew what I or the persons I met said. All I was thinking about is what I would say to her. How could I possibly do the perfect thing, say the perfect words?
The meeting was coming near a close. I had to act. I had no choice. I forced my fear aside and went out to face my destiny. I introduced myself. I asked her what she was, TV or TS. I dont really like labels she responded. Putting people in little boxes is kind of shallow, dont you think? Uh oh! Damage Control respond, were going down, all engines destroyed, Danger Will Robinson.
Uh, I agree... you are right. I really do know better, usually. Um.. the fact is Ive been waiting all night to speak with you and I just plain didnt know what to say.
It turned out she had been waiting for me to speak to her too, and was miffed that I had introduced myself to everyone else but her. It seemed that she had had the oddest feeling when I came into the room, and she just knew she could not let me get away. She felt compelled to make certain that I did not just disappear, even if she had to follow me out to the car. She was afraid to approach me, because I seemed so be avoiding her.
Sandra, my very best friend in the world, my primary partner, and the love of my life, had just found me, and not a moment too soon.
I was pretty happy for the next week. At this point, I had but a month and a half to go until my surgery. Everything had been paid for by that account my mother had started for me at my birth, the 11,000 dollars neatly paid for my reassignment in Trinidad, Colorado, at the hands of Dr. Stanley Biber. Time had seemed to drag on forever, but now, I was on the verge of achieving the completion of the primary prayer of my entire life. I was accepted completely as myself, and I was Jennifer in every way but the flesh betwixt my legs. I was eager to be rid of that vile growth, to have my entire body be my very own, and not in any way alien to me.
I had a date set up with Sandi, our first, and I was excited to get to know her better. I was feeling hopeful, despite the difficulty of my life in my parents trailer. That had actually improved slightly in the past months leading up to my trip to the Gateway Gender Alliance, once my father had been put on medication.
My father had been forced to do this as an alternative to prison. A few months prior, he had received a phone call from his favorite prostitute. She was threatening suicide, and he was beyond consolation. He forced my mother to drive him over to save his little pet, because he was too drunk to make the trip himself. I do not know what happened, but when they returned, my father had gone out in his flashy truck anyway, leaving my mother to abuse me for my fathers indiscretions.
My father parked himself on main Street in Redwood City, and drank and took some sort of pills. He then started sniping with the semiautomatic handgun he, much to my amazement, possessed. The local SWAT team was brought in, but before a standoff occurred, he collapsed. After a few days in the county Nut-Bucket, he was released with the provision of having to undergo psychiatric treatment and medication of some sort.
By this stage in my father's career, he had become a GS 14, a fairly high level of governmental status, and we had actually been settled for the first time in my life, in the Bay Area. The central office of the United States Geological Survey was there, and my father had become a high level programmer, no longer sent into the field. He had earned his status in part because of the many mysterious jobs he had done, offered out to the World Bank in places like Yemen and the islands of Truk. Whatever it was he was mapping, he certainly got to travel the world during the summers we went to Baker. I have wondered if my father was some sort of spy or agent, because he seemed exempt from the laws of man. Whether it was the rape case against him in the halls of the USGS, or this new, sniping event (I had no idea he owned guns), he never got in trouble. He also had the most interesting photography to show us of his trips, usually of unusual planes and vehicles, which he said he had an interest in. One in particular, I remember, was the SR-47 Blackbird spy plane, which I marveled at, all black and futuristic in his photographs. What the hell was he really doing for the government? Which government? With luck, I will never know.
The medication they put him on actually worked. He was almost nice. It was very odd. He let me eat at the table, he was civil with me. He showed me his elaborate HAM and microwave radio system, and even let me speak to distant parts of the world. It was almost like having a father for two months.
The day before my first date with Sandra, my father came home to inform us that he would have nothing further to do with his psychiatrist or his medication. The psychiatrist was younger than he was, for Christs sake, and what did that little shit know anyway? He started drinking and taking his own little helpers.
I was sitting in the middle of the street. Under me was the pile that was my clothing, it was nicer than sitting on the blacktop. The night was cold, and very loud. My father was screaming obscenities at my mother, and throwing what were from the sound, very breakable objects. The trailer, all 40 feet of it, visibly rocked a few times. Loud slams and shrieks filled the night. I shivered as much from fear and shock, as from the cold.
My father, at the door to the trailer, screamed at me to leave, to go away forever. My mother interrupted his tirade temporarily, saving me further abuse. Where could I go? I had nowhere to live or be, and no money to live on. I had lost the job I had found, at the local K-mart some months back, because one of my old high school teachers had come to the conclusion that it was immoral for an ungodly monster, such as I, to work in a public place. I had gone to my high school to change my school records, and had bothered to stop by and see my old, favorite teacher, and to thank him for his kindness. He had excused me from dissection and other awful activities that I could not bear to face. I had no idea he was a fundamentalist Christian, and made the mistake of telling him proudly of my success, and my new job.
I was poor, broke, homeless again, and six weeks from surgery.
I thought of an idea. It was perhaps my only hope. I called up Sandra and timidly asked her if our date might be an extended one. I explained my situation. I left the trailer park payphone and sat down on my pile of clothing, a bird in a fabric nest.
Soon, heralded by my mothers blood curdling wailing, my father emerged from the trailer and strode purposely over to me, huddling on my pile. Suddenly I was looking down the barrel of his semi-automatic. A real gun looks like metal, and it has a funny smell. It is all dark inside the tube of the barrel. The end looks really huge, close up.
You goddamn fucking queer freak! You stinking little fuck. You should have killed yourself long ago, you piece of shit! Youve ruined my life...look what you did to your mother! You are killing her, you dirty shit. Why are you still here? I told you to leave, you god damned spiteful fucking piece of shit!
Guns make the funniest little clicking sounds sometimes. I dont know guns, but he adjusted something and it made this little soft click. I remember that click. It did not even sound metallic exactly, it sounded almost ceramic. My whole world was that dark barrel and that red, screaming face.
You ugly, ugly, god damned little piece of stinking shit. You little fuck. You listen to me, You listen you...
In the distance a car could be heard. It actually could be heard. It was dead quiet except for him, and he actually noticed the sound of the car that was entering the trailer park.
If I ever see your fucking face again, ever again you sickening freak, I will fucking blow your brains out for you, I swear to god I will kill you, you ugly little shit. If you try to come back to the trailer, I swear to god I will set fire to it, I will shoot your goddamn mother and I will set fire to the goddamn trailer and I will kill you and myself. Do you understand that? I am not kidding around here. I will kill you, you goddamn little fucking freak. My father turned abruptly and almost glided into the trailer just as a pair of headlights turned the corner, and began to illuminate my dark world.
Sandi got out. I could not stand up, so she helped me. Urine was all over my clothes, and all down my leg. It was so warm it burned.
My new home was in East Palo Alto. Sandi was staying with a friend, Tala, who had taken her in. Sandi had had a difficult time of things, and was fortunate to have found someone in the bay area to provide her with shelter and emotional support. Tala lived with her lover at the time, Ginna, and my introduction to their home was rather interesting.
My first meeting with Tala and Ginna was also a deliberate character test. As I entered their home, my first image of them was one of two women engaging in something I could just interpret must be some form of sex. Tala had her arm all but up to the elbow inside Ginna, and used the other one to wave to me from the fairly spacious living room floor. This was fine, I really did not expect, nor particularly desire, a handshake.
I was utterly nonplussed. I think the reader will completely understand this. At this point there was little that could shock me, and I was beyond any capacity for surprise. I waved back, as merrily as I could, and did a little half-bow to Ginna. They welcomed me to their home. I said thank you very much, I appreciated their kindness. I smiled. They smiled. They returned to imitating a piston. I followed Sandi to her room.
Talas household was a very comfortable place. Ginna, originally from the south, was a wonderful cook, And I tasted my first hush puppies...though I must admit that grits were not to my liking. Ginna was always making delicious treats. She also was very fussy about cleaning, which was not a bad character trait for a surgical anesthetist.
Tala worked in a machine shop. She and Ginna were highly intelligent, and exceptionally well read. They had strong political and social views, and my evenings were filled with fascinating intellectual debate. They expanded my concepts of the world, and helped me overcome much of my remaining narrowness.
The household was a clothes-optional one, although I did not take advantage of this, because I felt so ashamed and deformed. But my surgery was imminent, and everyone was excited for me. Sandi and I slept cuddling on her little cot, and although it was pretty cramped, it was also very comforting.
My day of departure came remarkably soon. Sandi took me down to the train, and saw me off. I waved to her from my seat, watching her shrink to a point on the depot. As the miles of beautiful countryside rolled by, I missed her so much. I constantly daydreamed that she might come to love me, for I was already hopelessly in love with her. Sandi had become everything to me.
Riding on a train is wonderful fun. The view is gorgeous, and the clickity-click strangely soothing. At night I prayed to the moon. It was absolutely full, just like it was on that night, seemingly ages ago, when I was ready to take my own life. Now it shone on me as I traveled to my physical reconstruction.
I needed to go to the restroom again. I was pretty excited, and that necessitated more trips than usual. On the way back, I was stopped by two of the train men. They seemed very friendly and asked me where I was travelling to. I answered that I was going to Trinidad.
By the time I made it back to my seat, I had stopped crying. Apparently no one went to Trinidad by the train, except for one kind of person. The freakish, ungodly, Satan-spawned, monstrous kind, who exist solely for the purpose of providing sadistic entertainment for bored locomotive operators. Someday, I hope to personally thank God for the teachings of Christianity. I have a teddy bear all picked out, to shove down His god-damned throat.
After several days, I made it to the depot in Trinidad, Colorado. It was snowing slightly, and the high, thin, icy mountain air itched my lungs. I could see the incredible peaks that enclosed me shining in the moonlight. It was stunning.
I was all alone in the dark of an unfamiliar small town. There was nothing but dark buildings and the depot. One lone streetlight shown in the distance. A dog barked. The wind whipped at me.
With a bit of searching, I found a payphone. A search through the ragged remains of a phone book offered me Trinidads one and only cab company. A few coins later, I reached a nice sounding young girl. She could not have been over 18 by the sound of her, but she was happy to help me. I called for a taxi to meet me at the depot. I was assured one would arrive right away.
Some forty minutes later, shivering uncontrollable, I called to see what the delay was. Trinidad is not a large place at all, indeed it is one of the smallest towns I have ever been in. It was hard to imagine that taxi work could be very demanding here.
Are you still there? You stupid weirdo, Jesus will you get a clue? Fuck off and die! she laughed merrily, I aint sending anyone out for no dammed sideshow freak. She seemed to be having a lot of fun.
I hung up the phone. The distant, lone streetlight beckoned. It was the only light I could see, other than the moon. I trudged through the thin layer of snow, my suitcase in hand.
Behind me, a car pulled up. An elderly man and his wife asked me if I needed a ride. I was freezing. Yes, I would appreciate it very much. The man and his wife were born in Trinidad, they had a daughter out west. The wondered if I had come for the skiing competition. I decided to use some of that supposed statistical intellectual advantage for a change. I said yes, that was why I was here. They relaxed and smiled. I smiled back.
The hotel was the biggest in town. It had three whole floors. Inside it looked just like a wild west saloon set from out of a western, not the usual kind, the fancy linen on the tables kind. I got my key and checked in to my room. I was exhausted and cold. I warmed myself with a shower, and settled in. I set my little clock to wake me, I did not want to miss my ten in the morning appointment with Dr. Biber. After I hung up the phone, I missed Sandra all the more, as I fell to sleep.
I awakened to the phone ringing. My heart leapt. Sandi was calling me back? I looked at the clock. It was three in the morning. I eagerly picked up the phone. So, are you lonely? I have what you need. I have some nice dick for you to suck. You faggots love that dont you? My head reeled. This wasnt possible, I was in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. The rough voice continued So, you want to get together with me, faggot? I was unable to think clearly. This was too twilight zone. I found myself asking why on earth they were calling me. I know some folks at the hotel. They let me know when the queers check in, I get the phone numbers. I can be over anytime, faggot. This was beyond tolerances. I could not even get angry. I politely said no thank you, please leave me alone. I think my voice displayed no emotion at all, for I was quite beyond feeling at this point. I hung up. I checked the locks on my door. I checked them again. I piled my suitcase on the chair I wedged under the doorknob. I checked the window. I checked the air vent. I went to bed. I checked the door again.
At 8:30 I dragged myself down to the breakfast they offered. I had pancakes and the appropriate food associated with them. Other diners filled the place, locals for the most part come for a breakfast out in one of the only restaurants in town. I carefully studied my food. It was hard to hold my fork with so many people openly staring at me. I checked my clothing unconsciously, no, I looked fine. Maybe it was just because I was a stranger. New in town. New in a very small town whose primary financial base is transsexual surgery.
9:45 brought me, at last, to the steps of a horrendously dilapidated multistory building in the heart of town, all eleven buildings of it. First National Bank Building, it read, Dr. Bibers offices. Inside, the peeling wallpaper somehow matched the oily puddle that filled the middle of the empty, lower floor. A pile of garbage framed the stairway.
At the top, I finally came to a slightly less decrepit floor, this one inhabited. A few locals sat on the ancient couches, and a young woman sat at a desk apparently found at the salvation army. I timidly asked if this was Dr, Bibers office. Yes it was, Take a seat.
In time I was admitted. The inner offices were slightly better, but still seemed like a clinic in a barely demilitarized zone. Things moved quickly now. I was weighed and measured. I was interviewed briefly. Dr. Biber asked me if this was what I really wanted to do. He took Before pictures of my naked body. I did not want to do the last part, but after all I had been through, I was not going to say boo, now.
He told me to take a taxi to the hospital outside town, and what I should have ready. He took the rest of my money for the surgery. I explained a little about my problems with the taxi before. He said that his word carried weight in the town, not to worry. A taxi would be there in the morning.
The taxi was there, and I was wordlessly driven. As we came up the hill, I was amazed to see one of the most modern hospitals I had ever seen in my life. Here it was, Mount San Rafael Hospital, the sole financial support of Trinidad, Colorado.
Mount San Rafael was shining white with tall arches and polished marble. It was beautiful, gargantuan, and utterly out of place in the crumbling, decaying little town. It was the hospital of the largest metropolitan city, at the top of a hill in Pissbucket Colorado. It is a monument to the determination and financial resolve of over 15,000 transsexuals. The gold mine of Trinidad.
Soon I was led to a temporary room, awaiting placement in my actual room for the duration. Sister Roberta Marie explained to me the rules as we went. Although Dr. Biber held a lot of sway in Trinidad, this was a proper Catholic Hospital, and When Biber was not there, it was incumbent upon his special patients to behave properly. I was not supposed to leave the special wing for any reason. I was not to talk to the good local people who had to use the hospital for real reasons. I would be taken care of, but none of that wild San Francisco stuff. Here was my welcome book, here was my list of services, here was a room to wait in. I chatted with the girl I shared my temporary room with, an exotic dancer who was here for the same reason as I.
In came Father Stevens. Father Stevens had come to explain all about how we were wrong and it was a good time to go home. Father Stevens had once been a transsexual too, but had gotten better through faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ. Not actually better, it seemed, but whenever those evil yearnings came back, more prayer would always keep them at bay. We too could be just like him! He wore a long ponytail.
I reflected on all I had been through, especially lately. I told him how much I thought of his ever so loving efforts to save our immortal souls for the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
He turned several shades of the most darling crimson before he left. It really was so terribly pretty that it made me feel much better. My temporary roommate seemed to feel better too.
Finally, at about eight in the evening, I was almost fed with a light broth and a cracker, and had been settled in my true room. I shared it with Charlotte, a kindly pharmaceutical saleswoman, who regaled me with stories about how almost all commercial drugs get their names. For instance, Premarin, my estrogen of choice, is actually a portmanteau that describes what it is. PREgnant MARe uRINe. Distilled and purified. Yummy, and all natural too. Interestingly, after 16 years of use, I am deathly allergic to horses now. Even so, I am convinced that urine farming produces better estrogen replacements than pure chemistry can.
Dr. Biber stopped by to check on us, and a very kindly intern also wished us well. I gave Sandi a call, which made me both happy and sad. I missed her even more now. I thought about the possibility of something going wrong. I might never see her again.
In the early morning I was awakened for my sedatives. I was cleaned and shaved, disinfected and prepped. A whirlwind of activity ensued. I was wheeled into the operating theatre.
I lay on a
surgical platform, in the middle of a largish green and white room. I
was absolutely utterly, alone. It was Wednesday, November 3rd, 1982,
at exactly 9:30 AM
I heard no sounds. It was dead quiet. I looked around. Nothing. No equipment, no people, nothing. I looked out the large entrance arch. It was like a Twilight Zone episode, where everyone in the world just went away. What the hell was going on?
I waited. Half an hour passed. I was still alone, with nothing in sight. Fear was mounting. Was there some emergency? Had I suddenly gone insane? This was a busy hospital. Where was everyone? Everything had been all fast and busy, now nothing. I called out. No answer. Should I get up and try to find out?
I lay there and I thought about death. This could kill me. This could actually kill me. This was major, abdominal surgery. One slip, and I could bleed to death in seconds. Nothing could stop such a torrential flood. This was fact. I remembered the stories I had heard, stories of the maimed, the dead, the permanently crippled. Transsexuals die on the table sometimes.
Everyone was so rude, too! They had my money. Look at this hospital. Maybe my life was not worth a nickel now. I thought of the movie Coma, and wondered how much used transsexual corneas and livers brought on the open market. Fear rose in me like a tsunami.
I consciously dug my fingernails into the platform in a death grip. My legs made motions like they were trying to run away on their own. I literally began to shake with terror. I gripped harder.
I realized this was my only chance, the only chance I would ever, ever have. I had been unbelievably fortunate just to get to this point, most transsexuals never do. Everything was paid for. If I backed out, it would never, ever happen. I thought about the future. I knew one thing with absolute certainty.
If I could not have my surgery, I would not live another day. Not another damn day.
Knowing that, I felt a slight relief. I was already dead in the future where I got up and left from fear. That future without question led to the grave. But staying here, I had a chance. It might work out. Maybe they were on the up and up. I would have proper genitals, or I would choose death. I relaxed. Nothing, nothing would make me leave that table. This was the moment of truth, the moment that my soul was defined. I was a woman, in life or in death. This was my stand.
Of course, thats why they did it, to give me the option of running away without shame.
Suddenly, almost comically, the room burst to rushing life. An entire hour had passed in absolute silence. Now it was a dozen people, and machines being wheeled in. It was surgical chit-chat and snapping gloves. Where they all came from I dont know, but suddenly the room was filled with activity.
Where before was an utterly empty room, now was a fully equipped surgical arena. Dr. Biber was there, and gave me a wink and a squeeze on my shoulder, and the anesthetist came up to ask me to count backwards. The mask went on, and I made it from 100 all the way to 98.
I could not stop shivering. I was cold to the bone, cold to the very soul. The terrible cold was beyond imagining, it was cryogenic. A blurry face came by and had me state my name and where I thought I was. Apparently I passed this test of my vast intellect. The blurry face went away. While eons passed, stars were born and came to burning ends, while endless gulfs of eternity faded into timeless void, I shook in agonizing cold. Eventually the dim light brightened, and I was being wheeled.
I knew I hurt, I knew I was different, but it was hard to comprehend. Somehow I ended up in bed.
Charlotte was congratulating me, as best as she could, for she was little better than I. The sun was setting. I was informed about my pain options, and was told not to move about, for I was bolted into a frame of sorts. Dr. Biber eventually came to see me. He removed my dressings and I got my first look at my new organs.
Frankenstein stitchwork ran across swollen hunks of bloody meat. Purplish swelling and raw gory hamburger was penetrated by plastic tubes and a strange metal loop that came out of my flesh and went back beneath it. For all the world it looked like clothes hanger wire. The wire loop was attached to an armature that lifted it. I truly was a monster now.
Looks great! I think youll do fine! pronounced Dr. Biber, obviously suddenly struck blind. You call for the nurse if you have any problems, OK?. I made a mental note of that invaluable information. I sank back exhausted from the Olympic effort of craning my neck. I thanked my doctor very much, and even managed to get in my prepared joke Did you get it all?. He half-heartedly laughed. I did not know at the time that it is probably the standard of all transsexual post-operative jests.
Time came and went, as did consciousness. By the next morning, I was awake, jovial, and constantly in pain. Pain like that almost transcends perception. It almost becomes background noise, because it is difficult to fully appreciate the true depth and rich complexity of it. It is sublimely horrendous. Medication does help, but even with pain killers there is no escape from the constant news that a large Nerve Faction has decided to violently overthrow the current regime for mismanagement of affairs.
But oddly, the pain of having my sex organs Skinned out like a rabbit and sewn back together was not as severe as what was to come. Worse, it was something that could have been avoided.
Dr. Biber is a bit old fashioned for a sex change surgeon. He gained his skills doing duty in a M.A.S.H. unit in Korea, and from all reports was a real-life Hawkeye Pierce. My entire surgery took just under two and one half hours. I got to play guinea pig too, I was one of the first to receive a pseudo-cervix. My only complaint with Biber is that he used, according to my roommate Charlotte, rather out-dated anesthetics.
The third night I discovered the meaning of this. The anesthetic caused my bowels to be temporarily paralyzed, as well as to dry out severely. I have always suffered from constipation, so the sum of this was the worst intestinal cramps I have ever experienced in my life. Indeed, it was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life period. The breaking of my arm one summer was nothing to this, neither was my broken clavicle in first grade. The surgery on my groin was utterly insignificant now. This was REAL pain, true hell pain from some Dantes inferno of eternal damnation. I could not scream it hurt so bad. I could barely breath. I was not allowed any more pain medicine, I was at maximum already.
I tried to sit up. I tried to use the bed pan that the nurse supplied. My intestines clamped down with enough force to crush freight trains. Individual villi inside my intestines began boxing with each other like thousands of enraged Mike Tysons. I tried to lean, I tried to scream. I dug through the drawer by my bed in an insane attempt to find a pair of scissors to stab through my own heart. I would have done just that if there actually had been any.
That shocked me. I really would have attempted to stab myself to stop the pain from the cramping. That woke me up. I really had intended to do myself harm because of the pain. I forced myself to settle down. I Concentrated on how much I had to live for now. I reminded myself that this too would pass, even if my bowels could not. I actually began laughing because the pain had gone beyond any capacity for tears. I endured.
Eventually, by morning, I was so exhausted that my entire body was ready to collapse. I fell into a dreamless state. Utterly devoid of any remaining strength, my bowels finally began to unclench. The searing, yet lesser pain of my surgery was almost a comfortable relief.
Over the next two days, I required almost no pain medicine at all, indeed I asked to have it lessened. I began to realize that I was liking it too much, and feared addiction. After that supreme pain of my intestinal cramps, my surgical pain seemed easy to tolerate by comparison. The nurses were amazed at how courageous I seemed. They had no idea as to why.
Nearing day five, it was time to get me off the catheter, and to remove the wire and stent. The funny wire loop that impaled me just around my pubic bone was unhooked from the armature. Two nurses came in with a serious pair of pliers and a wire cutter. They informed me this might feel a little funny.
They cut the thick wire, with some effort. It made a loud metallic twang, and felt like nothing I ever hope to remember, even for a moment. They then clamped the pliers onto one end of the severed clothes-hanger wire loop. Together, both nurses muscled the wire out of my abdomen. One end dived into me as the other was pulled straight up. I could feel it running like a metal snake around and under my pubic bone. After several million years of this, the wire came free from my body in a slippery, bursting, pop.
There are some things Man Was Not Meant To Feel.
Unfortunately, I am a woman. With the wire gone, the vaginal stent, a solid mass designed to keep my new orifice open and in the right shape and angle while it healed, could be removed. This too was a sensation better left beyond the reach of memory. Much packing gauze was also removed, all black and soaked in clotted blood. The smell made crematorium sound like an ideal name for a new perfume.
Finally, I was hole.
I had healed nicely, and the swelling was much less. Frankenstein zippers of stitchwork ran down my puffy labia, macaroni like drains interrupted the stitchwork, and black necrotic lumps of dead me hung from spots, but overall I now looked less like hamburger, and more like steak. I finally realized that Dr. Biber had been observing the whole thing. He assured me that everything was normal, and that I was healing remarkably quickly. Then he informed me about the catheter. It was to be removed.
There was something I should know about this. The catheter had to be removed, because the longer it stayed in, the more likely were my urinary muscles to lose the ability to function. If that occurred I could face being incontinent for the rest of my life. If I had suffered permanent nerve damage, this could also be the case, but it was not too likely. I had a limited number of hours to learn how to urinate, providing that the swelling permitted it. If I failed, the catheter would have to be replaced. I did not want that to happen. I would find out why, when they removed the catheter.
At the end of a catheter is a little balloon of sorts, that keeps it from falling out of the bladder. Even deflated, it has mass which trails the tube of the catheter itself. All of this has to be pulled carefully out the bladder, and the body, through the urethra. Once I had felt this exquisite sensation, I realized that the one thing I wanted most in life was to teach myself how to pee.
After the fifth attempt, the nurse suggested standing in the shower. Running water helped. I agreed. It was very hard to stand up, for I was utterly weak. With the door open, shaking from the effort of fighting gravity to support my own weight, I attempted to urinate for the first time as a woman. The warm water ran down my body, feeling very good. I tried to figure out what internal switch to pull, what nerve to trigger. Everything was new. It was like being thrust into the cockpit of a 747 and expected to land the plane without ever having even driven a car.
streams and rivers. I tried to follow my own nerves inside my own
body. I tried to feel what I could of my new construction from the
inside...I dared not touch myself there yet. I had no idea what
I began to feel worried and hopeless. What if I could never control my urine? I became frightened.
Then I had a brilliant thought. I felt all swollen inside. Hmmm. I remembered all those awful involuntary erections I suffered long ago. I remembered how I willed them to go away, in embarrassed horror. I started to apply the same internal trick, concentrating on making the swollen feeling go away. I reasoned that the nerves had been traumatized, perhaps there was still some erectile tissue covering my urethra, deep inside. Even if that was not true, maybe the same inner control would work on any swollen tissue. I felt the water, and I imagined making a horrible erection go away.
I began to pee. I was urinating under my own control! I could feel part of the muscle that started and stopped the flow. It felt weak, so I practiced stopping and starting my urine. I was so happy! It was like Christmas in Yellow.
By day seven, I was near rebellion. It was just too much. They had gone too far. Every meal. Low salt. My total salt intake came from two, count them two, tiny pimento-stuffed green olives. Every day, I dreamt of those olives. They were served with the bland broth and bread that made our meal. Two wonderful green orbs, so succulent, so precious, so sweet. They did not even taste salty, just sweet, like honey, like nectar. I savored both, nibbling them in microscopic bits for an hour, then licking my fingers over and over.
I was feeling my oats. I was a paying customer, and I deserved better, damnit! But those foul razorbacks in the nutritionist's lair refused us anything good. So something had to be done. I was the person to do it! I was on a mission from the Goddess after all!
I demanded my purse. I demanded a phone. I asked politely for a phonebook. What was I up to? After a bit, my call was made. I smirked. I laughed. I chortled. Charlotte, my roommate, was both worried and intrigued. The nursing staff started hanging around our room. Something was afoot and they all knew it.
A very nice man arrived, my savior. He brought with him heaven. I paid him with demonic glee. PIZZA TIME!
Charlotte was in ecstasy. I was beyond that. The greasy, salty pepperoni floated on cheap, melted cheese. Hairy eyebrows of anchovy mocked all hospital nutritionists everywhere. I didnt even like anchovies. It was the principle that mattered. It was the salt that mattered most of all. The other transsexual patients hobbled in, drawn like salt zombies to a kill. The nurses threw up their hands. A couple of them asked for a piece. I shared joyfully with everyone. This was a triumph of the human soul. This was the overthrow of nutritional tyranny. This was cheap cardboard delivery pizza, and it was GOOD.
The pizza incident brought a call by Sister Roberta Marie. It was very improper to do that. I shouldnt incite the other special patients that way. I should be grateful that the hospital was willing to treat people like us at all.
This only made me more sure I was doing the right thing.
It was required that we hobble about a bit every day. We walked somewhat bow legged, because we were still swollen and sore between our legs, even with the drains removed and most of the stitches gone.
I decided I was going to see some more of the hospital. I could walk pretty decently now. I wanted to visit the gift shop and buy a stuffed animal for myself. Charlotte was afraid we would get in trouble if we left the special ward. I no longer cared. I was tired of being so damn special.
I had no trouble leaving the ward, nobody was looking. There were no locks. I began to explore my hospital world. I found the gift shop, but saw nothing I liked. I decided to head back. Along the way, I saw a waving hand.
It belonged to a very old woman, in for a kidney stone. She was just being friendly, and was lonely because her daughter and granddaughter had not come to visit yet. She was sure they would, soon. She had hoped they would come yesterday. The day before they also had not come. She was sure they would come today. Or maybe tomorrow. I could see a tear.
I sat with her, as best I could, holding her hand. We chatted about how pretty her granddaughter was and how she had been in Trinidad as a little girl, back before the hospital, or even any doctor at all. She liked the mountains and horses. She did not mind that I was one of Bibers special patients. She knew it must be tough for us. I stayed with her a long time, until the pain was too much. I excused myself, and apologized for leaving. She said I had made her day, and she thought I was very nice. She thought I looked like her granddaughter.
I walked carefully back to the transsexual ward. The nurses got me back into my bed. It felt good to lie down. I had not found a stuffed animal. I had done better than that.
The next day was the ninth day, the day I was to leave. One of the nurses took me aside and told me that I had a slight elevation in my temperature. It was probably nothing, but she was concerned. She told me that about 20 percent of Bibers patients get infections, because, well the guy is getting a little old. She did not want to get in trouble, but she did not want anyone to be hurt either. She told me that she was going to do something for me, but never to speak of it, because she could lose her career if anyone found out. She handed me a bottle of antibiotics. She told me to take them carefully, and finish them all if my fever got worse. I thanked her very much.
Sister Roberta Marie was furious as she escorted me from the hospital to the waiting taxi. She told me in no uncertain terms what she and her Jesus thought of perverted "men" like me. She felt that going out of the ward was a severe breach of the rules and it was unforgivable that I has corrupted a poor old woman with my evil. She was glad to see me gone. I was a bad influence and a troublemaker.
I had had enough. I told Roberta Marie that I thought her religion was an evil, spiteful, hypocritical lie. I felt that she was a bitter old woman whose heart was filled with hate.
She responded the only way she was programmed to, with the inevitable threat of the hell I would burn in for all eternity, good riddance.
Better hell, than to worship a hate-mongering tyrant. Besides, I was Pagan. Hell didnt exist for me.
My last sight of Sister Roberta Marie was her waddling angrily back to the hospital.
Taxi to train, and the countryside was rolling by. I had a sleeping bunk, and I needed it because I was feeling trainsick and dizzy. I was very weak. As the day went by, I felt increasing nausea. The train really bothered me for some reason. I wanted to get off. I wished I could get off.
I never felt the wreck. It happened far ahead of my car, and was not very serious. The engine had slipped the tracks, and come to a halt. I was in a stupor, so I was awakened by some sharp jolts. We all had to disembark. A fleet of taxies took us to motels and hotels. I was really woozy, so I did not remember how I got into my room or on my bed.
I woke up to find myself in Albuquerque, New Mexico in a strange hotel room. I felt terribly bad. I was dripping with sweat, and I felt funny. I called room service and asked for some soda and an aspirin. I dug in my suitcase for my travelling stuff. In a baggie, I had my toothbrush, toothpaste, hormones, and even my little plastic cased thermometer. I figured I had a slight fever. I had better check. First I had my soda though, because by the time It arrived I was feeling better. The aspirin helped my throbbing head. I was so tired. I fell asleep for awhile.
I awoke. The room was all twisted. Everything looked slanted sideways 45 degrees, but I could not interpret which direction it was slanted. My head pounded like a jackhammer. Everything sounded far away and also with an odd echo effect. I tried to move. Bit by bit, I inched to the edge of the bed. Every movement made the world swim. It was hard to tell up from down.
I made it to the edge, and somehow got my feet on the floor. I could not stand up. So I crawled on my hands and knees to my suitcase. I got my thermometer. I took an antibiotic. It was obvious I had a post surgical infection of some sort.
I was dripping sweat, then freezing every few minutes. I had better check my temperature. It was hard to put the thermometer in my mouth. No, that was backwards. Better. I startled awake. The thermometer was still in my mouth. How much time had passed? Enough for a reading, surely. I took out the thermometer. The room was even worse, all twisty and pale. I could barely read the numbers. 103? ...no that was not right. It was all blurry. I crawled to better light. 105? No...it was 106. I had a fever of 106, I was utterly alone in a strange town, and I was virtually immobile. I was dying, and I knew it.
I tried to use the phone several times. It was very hard. Finally I got the number right. Sandra? Sandra, I need help. I have a fever of 106, yes I checked. I cannot stand up. Everything is all twisted. I feel bad. Help me.
Ginna was put on. She assessed my situation. I was to go to the bathroom and apply cool water, not cold. Pour a little cool water in the tub and sit in it. Not more than an inch. Stay awake. Take another aspirin. Sit there until she called back. She would do what she could. Keep trying. Sandra again. Sandi told me to hang on, just keep hanging on. I wanted to live. Sandra wanted me to live. I would live for Sandra, because she wanted me to. Sandi wanted me to come home!
The tub made me sick. I wanted to throw up because of the cool water. I had nothing to throw up, and the action almost made me pass out each time. The phone rang. Ginna told me that I had a flight home. The hotel staff would come to my room and help me. Could I get dressed at all? I said I would try.
A blurry shape shook me awake. Somehow I ended up in a cab. On the way I started feeling better. Things were not twisty anymore. I was sweating and freezing less. I thought of Sandra. I was so tired. I rested my head. Somehow, I was on a plane now. I felt even better yet. I was going home to Sandi! My heart raced. I would see Sandi soon. I felt better and better. Sandi wanted me to come home!
When the plane landed, I was almost well. My fever had broken, and I could stand and walk. Tala and Ginna and Sandra were there. I kissed and hugged Sandra. I thanked Ginna and Tala. I was home. How did I feel, amazingly better! I was hungry! I wanted Pizza!
We went and had pizza. I was alive, I was physically female, and I was home!
In the 16 years that has followed, my life has just improved. Sandi and I had our share of hard times, of being poor, of having to find unhappy jobs. A year after we moved out on our own, sweet, gentle Eldenath joined our family, now a polyamory, or group marriage. A year after that, My high school best friend and genius Stephen joined us as well, and this completed the polyamory. Always we care for each other, help each other, encourage each other. Thus we have lived, loved and shared until the present day. There are so many adventures beyond this point, such incredible stories to tell. Hundreds of pages worth. But the point of them all would be to show that after surgery, there is life. Transition is a wonderment, but it is not a goal. Transition is a means to an end, a way to find the beginning.
This then, at this point, was the beginning of my life. I was entombed. Resurrected, I began my life for the first time. This has been the story of how I came to be born. At last I was myself, at last my body fit my identity.
I have never regretted my transition. It is truly a blessing to have the correct flesh to wear. Not a night goes by that I do not hug my bosom or touch in wonder my delicate labia before I fall asleep, and say a silent prayer of thanks to my little Goddess for the utter relief that I feel. I have been freed from the prison of the wrong life in the wrong body, and there is everything good about it.
Oh, but it is wonderful to be myself.
Oh, but it is wonderful !