A Most Curious Tale: A chronicle of my journey across the sexual seas
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Chapter the First - Small Beginnings
Dear Readers, please allow me to regale you with the most curious tale of my journey across the sexes. I shall try not to bore you, and I do crave your indulgence in the reading of it.
My journey began, naturally, with my birth. I remember little of that day, but I do know that one terrible thing happened: My dear Mother's sweet baby girl was born with a most hideous affliction, an extra appendage which jutted saucily from her nethers as if to taunt and deride all who came within range of its occasional jet-like expulsion of amber fluid. O how my poor mother must have fain swooned that fateful day! I myself get a terrible case of the vapours just imagining her horror.
My earliest memory was standing in the bathroom watching a grown man urinate while standing up. I found this to be a most fascinating act, but alas, I do not know if that man was my Father or some other family member such as an uncle or cousin; however, as first memories go, this one is rather naughty, which I thought deserved inclusion in this chronicle.
My second-earliest memory was one of those classic transsexual moments. I was, naturally, very small, perhaps three or four years old, and while my dear Mother and Sister were enjoying a poolside soak in the sun, I went into our apartment to use the rest room. Upon exiting the lavatory, I espied my older sister's awesome school clothes, the Big Girl clothing that she got to wear because she was now enrolled in kindergarten. I was alone in the apartment with my sister's best school outfit, and since I was a big kid and had been dressing myself for many months, and since my sister wasn't there to squawk about me touching "her stuff," I felt that dressing up as an Even Bigger Kid would be fun and make me feel like a Bigger Kid myself.
I quickly pulled the plaid skirt and white blouse on, and looked at myself in Charlene's vanity mirror, and at that moment I had what can only be described as an epiphany, though I would not learn that word for many years to come.
What I saw in the mirror convinced me that somehow everyone had gotten it wrong: I was not a little boy who liked playing paper dolls and Barbies with his older Sister, no; I was actually a little girl. It was so obvious. I was pretty, and for a few moments I felt a supreme happiness and an overwhelming sense of excitement and anticipation, a feeling which I did not experience again until I was 17 and snorting cocaine. Yes, dressing in my big Sister's school clothes had been as big of a mental rush as snorting a fat line of cocaine, Dear Readers.
While I was turning this way and that, and smiling at myself, I heard the front door open. Suddenly, my supreme contentment became supplanted with terror, because somewhere in the back of my mind there was certain knowledge that what I was doing was somehow taboo, that I was crossing more boundaries than merely borrowing without asking. So I did what any very young genius will do when confronted with a difficult situation: I ran and hid in the bedroom closet. Alas, to no avail, for it was my Mother, checking to see what I was up to, and she knew that I had entered the apartment a few minutes before, and was checking up on me. So naturally she looked in the closet and found me shivering in the back of the closet in my Sister's best school clothes.
She sharply told me that that was a naughty thing to do, that those were girl's clothes, and I apologized and never for one second ever considered telling her what I had discovered. I knew then and there that this had to be my best-kept secret ever, because I could sense the immense pressure that kept the sexes separated in the 1960's. Later in life, when school psychologists tested my IQ, I was discovered to be nearly four standard deviations above the norm, which is probably why I was able to sense the enormous sexual taboos lurking around "My Secret."
And though I always had "My Secret" on my mind, from then on forward, I never once attempted to do anything again to violate those taboos until I arrived at puberty, when impulses began overwhelming my defenses.
Chapter the Second The Meaning of Pain
Dear Readers, while this chapter is not specifically part of my tale of transsexuality, it does involve my personal sexual development and in this chapter I will relate several events to give you some idea of how other people reacted to me in those childhood years.
My dear Mother, who had divorced my Father when I was two years old, remarried when I was six years old. The man she married, named Ray, was a plant maintenance worker at the cardboard box factory Mother worked at. Mother tells me that she was attracted to Ray in part because he was relatively small, slender of build, and she specifically noted that he was not very hairy for a man. I was rather surprised to hear this, because my impression of the man from my own memory is that he was large, powerfully-built, and covered with black hair everywhere. I suppose, Dear Readers, that such opinions are always relative.
At first, Ray seemed to be an ideal Stepfather. For the very first time, my Sister and I had a bounteous Christmas morning. I remember using a naughty word and having Ray make me stand in the corner for a while. It was almost idyllic in the sense that our little broken family seemed to have been made whole.
But something happened around the time I turned eight years old. Ray started acting oddly towards me. He had always been rather strict, but when I began getting in trouble at school, the punishments became harsher and stranger.
I should mention that my second school year was the year they gave me my first IQ test. It was so high that they gave me another just to be sure. At about the same time, it was noted that I was behaving rather poorly at school. I was talking too much, and not sitting still and paying attention enough. Before the IQ test, I just got punished for any infractions as normal. After the IQ test, "I should have known better" and my punishments became more severe. At the same time, the school thought I might be simply bored, so they skipped me ahead one grade. I did regain some interest in classroom activities for a few weeks, but once I had mastered the very tiny incremental differences between the second and third grade curricula, I once again became utterly bored in class, and once again stopped paying attention entirely.
So, after an Electroencephalogram taken under the influence of a syrupy form of THC, a diagnosis of "hyperkinetic behavioral disorder" was proclaimed, and I became one of the very first American schoolchildren to be prescribed the drug Ritalin. Ritalin put me into a fog-like haze, in which I was passive and placid, but I completely stopped doing schoolwork, and instead, whenever someone put a piece of paper on my desk, I would use a small sliver of glass (I picked up an occasional sliver of glass on the way to school during that period of my life, because they were shiny and jewel-like. I also avoided stepping on cracks obsessively. Ritalin actually created several minor mental disorders in me that would be easily recognizable today, but were almost unknown back then) to cut that paper into the thinnest strips possible. So my grades plummeted, especially Deportment, and I started getting in serious trouble with my Stepfather, who was now growing more and more harsh and bizarre in his punishment of my many transgressions.
It began with Restrictions. No television, early bedtimes, no going outside to play, that sort of thing. Then the spankings began in earnest. A belt was the first instrument of torture. Eventually, Ray went to the trouble of purchasing a razor strop and punching holes in it, because that was the way they'd punished him as a child. Unfortunately, the punishments did not stop with the restriction and spankings, however.
The next thing to come in the new line of punishments was so bizarre at the time, yet once again part of me understood immediately that I was in taboo territory once again: Ray started using me sexually as punishment! He began with anal intercourse, and then later on began ordering me to suck his penis. This went on for the next four years, with increasing frequency and severity, until he became so utterly depraved that he began introducing yet more new punishments and twists.
When I was 12 years of age, I was pretty much permanently on restriction. My Mother and Sister went shopping twice a week for several hours, meaning that I had two "punishment" sessions per week with my Stepfather. Ray had arranged to have my teacher send a note home with me every Friday, and anything negative whatsoever garnered another two weeks of restriction and another punishment or three. I had two charts on the wall, one of my behavior, the other of my punishments (with code names for the sexual punishments). These charts were color-coded and served to remind me that I was in debt to the Company Store for years to come.
At this time, Ray became obsessed with my older sister. He wanted to have sexual intercourse with Charlene! He tried to use me as some form of cat's paw to talk Charlene into having sex with him. Ray's reasoning was that brothers and sisters always experimented sexually with each other, and if I was going to have some Charlene-pussy, then Ray wanted in on the act. Yes, that is a paraphrase of exactly what he told me.
Well, Ray had just started working the graveyard shift at that time, and he was waking me up at 2AM for various beatings and raping, now more than three times a week. I was ordered during a particularly brutal session (one in which I was ordered to stand with my hands behind my back, leaning backwards, naked, so that he could whip my genitals with his belt, and also I was ordered to bend over forwards, spread my buttocks, and allow him to whip me in the crack. I was not to flinch, move, or cry out during this) to spend the next couple of afternoons seducing Charlene, and then convincing her to have sex with him.
The following night, Ray woke me again at 2AM, and demanded to know what I had done. I hadnt said a word to Charlene, naturally, being hideously embarrassed even to think about approaching her for something so horrible. Upon hearing that I had no progress to report, I was beaten savagely and forced to perform several acts, one of which was poking my tongue up Ray's anus. He also introduced me to a new form of punishment he had devised as a result of my telling him that kids in gym class had commented on my always-purple fanny. So he had taken one of his old slot car transformers, and a piece of wooden doweling, and some wires, and had fashioned himself a small home-made adjustable cattle prod, which he used on me for the first time. Ray tied my hands behind my back while I sat naked in an old kitchen chair in the garage, while he shocked me for the next 20 minutes in various places, including the genitals. He ordered me in no uncertain terms to have sex with my sister the following day, and to broach the subject of her going to bed with Ray at that time.
The following night at 2AM I was again awakened by Ray, at which time I told him lies. I had of course done nothing but hidden in my bedroom closet all afternoon dreading the nighttime. I told Ray that yes, I had had sex with Charlene, and that she was quite receptive to the idea of going to bed with him. Satisfied, he allowed me to go back to bed unmolested. I fell asleep dreading the following evening, when my lies would become apparent.
The following afternoon, I arrived at the house to find that Ray had taken the day off from work, and he was there with Charlene, and she was crying. I began to cry too, dreading what was to happen next. Ray ordered me to remove my shirt, and Charlene to remove her top. Ray then proceeded to poke at both of us with that cattle prod he'd made. Then he left for work.
Dear Readers, I had tried to warn my Sister two weeks before. I had finally overcome my self-hatred and shame one evening while Charlene, our cousin Kim, and I were sitting in the parking lot of the Loray's supermarket in Hayward while Ray and Mom were inside grocery shopping. I told them everything, including Ray's new obsession with Charlene. Kim was aghast, and believed me, but Charlene simply thought I was making it all up. How she must have hated me to think that I could even imagine such degradation and horror on my own.
Within one week of this incident, our Mother was moving us out into an apartment. I suppose that Charlene's own experience at Ray's hands had made a believer out of her. The day that we moved out, I left a one-inch-sized school photo on Ray's dresser, because even after all of that, I still loved my Stepfather, somehow. This is why the name I eventually chose is Alison, which is Old English for "faithful or loyal." I am like a puppy, you can kick me all you like but I will still love you. This trait seems to be contrary to my own survival, so I wonder what purpose it could possibly serve.
I do apologize, Dear Readers, for the expressions of brutality and sexual depravity I have described in the foregoing. Were they not pertinent to mine tale, I would have gladly excised them, but I feel that they are crucial for illustrating how I have been a magnet for certain males with unwholesome sexual appetites, for my entire life, perhaps due to my somewhat-in-between state of sexual being.
The next chapter, Dear Readers, will chronicle my adolescence! Ah, the excitement of puberty! Always a fascinating time in the life of any transsexual.
Chapter the Third - Boys Don't Cry
Ah, adolescence, the springtime of youth, the font of our sexual awakenings, unless, of course, the very notion of sex utterly repulses you because you were used throughout your childhood as a sexual plaything, the human equivalent of a sock in which to ejaculate. If you're in that position, then puberty is more of a roller-coaster ride of compulsive masturbation bracketed with deep and abiding shame.
The very first time I experienced an orgasm, I was wearing an old powder-blue angora dress of my Mother's. I wonder how many 13-year-old Male-to-Female transsexuals were lucky enough to have their spare closet space taken over by out-of-date clothing moved there to make room in Mother's and Sister's closets?
I was alone one afternoon. Mother was working two jobs, and would not be home until Midnight, and Charlene was over at Kim's apartment, smoking dope and sending me telepathic messages of sibling hatred. Almost as soon as I started to walk, she started shunning me, for even though I worshipped the ground upon which my big Sister walked, she had little but contempt mixed with a dash of pity for her "weird little brother." I knew I would have the apartment to myself for at least a couple of hours, when Charlene would come home to fry some potatoes to kill her munchies.
Watching TV alone with a glass of milk, I saw a commercial in which elegant ladies smiled and offered their opinions on household products. One particularly pretty lady in a very perky dress caught my eye, and I played my age-old game, imagining that I was her, with her pretty face and hair, and her adorable outfit. I had played this mental game for years, but this time it was paralleled by an odd sort of "hunger," a sensation that I needed something, right now. I didn't know what that something was, but it had to do with my groin, and with my Game. I felt a mounting pressure to do something, anything, to relieve this need. I played my mental game of pretend, and the feelings got stronger and more compulsive. I finally thought of that closet full of Mom's and Charlene's clothes upstairs, and how I had been secretly thrilled to have a closet that looked and smelled like a lady's closet.
My so-called genius brain finally put two and two together, and I realized that what I wanted to do was to BE a lady, even if for just a little while, in secret, in my bedroom. So I ran upstairs and closed my bedroom door and I slipped off my clothes and I opened the closet and I pulled out that soft, icy-blue angora sweater dress, and slipped it on over my head.
I was back in that place I had been when I was little and I put on my sister's school clothes and saw myself in the mirror. Except this time the excitement and happiness was accompanied by an uncomfortable ecstasy in my groin. That was new. I was a pretty girl looking at myself in the mirror, but the compulsion to do something, right now was still overwhelming, and the erection I had was almost frightening, since it was worse than any of the erections I had ever felt up to that point. My penis was always acting up and making me uncomfortable even when it was sending pleasure up my spine. I would be in a moving car and get an erection, or I would be in the bathtub, and suddenly there would be a swelling feeling between my legs that was both pleasurable and intensely uncomfortable. I imagine that a straight male having his prostate milked by a male physician might feel a similar uncomfortable feeling.
So with the weird array of mixed feelings I was getting on what was only the second time I had ever cross-dressed, I became more and more mentally agitated. I had to do something, right now. That something obviously had to do with my penis, which was practically jumping around while I posed in front of the mirror in Mom's old blue angora sweater dress. So once again my mighty genius brain made the connection, and I began touching myself, down there. Almost immediately, my mind exploded with pleasure, as I experienced my first orgasm within seconds of beginning self-manipulation.
And that was my very first orgasm, ever. It sort of set the stage for the rest of my puberty. I associated my own personal sexuality with my Big Secret of being really a girl inside. I also associated the strange sense of shame and humiliation that flooded into me whenever I achieved orgasm with the Big Taboo of my Big Secret. I didn't think about girls, I thought about being a girl, about doing my ordinary everyday routines but being treated as, looked upon as, and talked to as a girl, and being able to dress as a girl and play girl games and spend all my playtime with other girls who would play with me and accept me as one of their own.
All that, of course, got mixed all up with my budding sex drive, which I simply could not imagine sharing with another human being, since sex with people was degrading and it hurt and it made me cry and feel ashamed. What I had was almost pure; it was my own sexual reaction to who I was inside coming outside. Like the feeling of sunlight and breezes tickling your fanny when you finally take off all your clothes at the nude beach, I was enjoying, sexually, the airing out of the "real me," even if it was just in my own bedroom with the door closed when the apartment was empty. It was this entangling of my sexuality with my transsexuality that worried me the most when I entered transition years later: Was I a transsexual or a fetishist? Naturally, the chemical castration effect answered that question for me handily, I discovered that the sex drive was purely biological in nature and that I could go the rest of my life without ever experiencing another orgasm and I would be utterly happy, as long as I could be seen and treated as a female in return.
It was during this period of my life that I utterly lost my ability to weep, an ability which I did not regain until I was well into Transition many years later. I had finally been conditioned, by many a beating from Ray, and many an ass-whupping by boys my own age, to never weep. Because boys don't cry.
And that concludes this, the third chapter of my saga. Now you know of my first orgasm and the beginning of my years of on-again, off-again cross-dressing. Next I shall chronicle Young Adulthood! Surely more adventures shall follow that will curl your toes and straighten your hair, Gentle Readers!
Chapter the Fourth - Roller Coasters and Chicken Hawks
My adolescence proceeded slowly, other than a crack in my voice and a few wispy hairs in certain out-of-the-way places on my body. I also noticed a couple of hard lumps behind my nipples, they were there for about a year and a half, from age 14 to age 15. I secretly and fervently hoped that they were becoming breasts. They didn't.
I bore my Big Secret alone in those days. I never told Wesley, my Family Services shrink when I was 13-14 years old, about my girl stuff or my cross dressing. I just liked him too much and didn't want him to not like me. He sure tried to figure out my sexuality though, it seemed like every other week he'd say "Let's go take a walk while we talk," and then we'd wander around downtown Hayward and every time he saw a girl he'd say stuff like "Whoa, how about that, eh? Rar?" And I would sort of nod politely. But I never looked at dudes either. I must have driven him crazy, ironically enough.
I think what Wes was doing was right out of the child psychology manual; he was trying to determine my sexual orientation by presenting me with eye candy to gauge my responses. We had plenty of private conversations in his office, and we could speak pretty freely walking down the street too, since most people would be out of earshot for more than a few words here and there. I mainly complained about my big sister and tried as best as I could to process my history with Ray.
I really loved Wes. He died, I dont know what of but he was too young, around when I turned 21. He stopped being my shrink when I was 15 because our relationship got too personal, we just got to like each other too much for him to be able to do the hard things that needed to be done. That must be a difficult part of being a psychologist, you have to be able to cause some pain to help people, and if you're emotionally entangled with them it can be hard to inflict pain.
The Ritalin had had a profound effect upon my developing mind. As I slowly recovered from the Ritalin, I was treated to various low-grade neurological effects from my cold-turkey withdrawal at 13. For example, I became depressed and even more withdrawn. I created an imaginary friend based on The Fonz and had arguments with him. This continued, with diminishing effect, for nearly a year. But at the end of that year, around Christmastime, I was introduced to the delights of marijuana.
I smoked marijuana with my cousin Kim and her friends. It made Charlene mad that Kim and her friends accepted me as a sort of mascot, because she didn't want me around at all. But this was one of the happiest times of my life, because the people around me liked me and enjoyed my company, and they were all older and had cool long hair and they smoked pot with me and we played cards and colored posters with marking pens and listened to music like the Allman Brothers and generally had a swell time.
Then my Mother met a man named Hal, and they became serious. Mother had dated several men since her divorce with Ray, young men from Kim's extended circle really, but Hal was a granola-crunching California immigrant from back East who drove a Volvo and put a brick in his toilet tank, he was a Systems Analyst at a company that provided mainframe computing services to other companies, and he rented a nice house in Los Altos. So we moved from Hayward to Los Altos, and I never got to hang out with Kim's friends again. I was instantly and terribly lonely.
My first day of school in Los Altos, I met a young man named Sid at lunch. I told him that I was new in the area, and that my cousin Kim had told me that I should make friends with someone, and I asked Sid if he wanted to be friends. Sid stuck out his hand and I shook it, and we were best friends after that, for a couple of years or more. Kim had given me four joints to smoke with my new friends to cement our new relationships, so I smoked them with Sid and some other kids he knew from the Drama department.
Sid was an interesting young man. He had spent many months in the California Youth Authority jail because he was an habitual runaway, and they used to jail runaways in those days. Sid was as sweet to me as anyone ever has been. We used to do everything together, and he always shared with me. There was never a hint of anything sexual between us, although Sid did come up with a fairly silly but fun game, where we'd be drunk late at night our neighborhood, which was very dark and deserted at night, and we would strip nude and run to the end of the block and back. It was cold but fun, on a primal level.
One of the young men who fell into Sid's circle of friends was Peter. Peter was a nice guy, kind of tall, and he had an amazing birthmark, a system of black moles that strongly resembled the constellation of Orion. Anyway, one night Peter suggested that we go hit his pal Max up for some weed. It was a long walk over to Mountain View, but we had nothing but time on our hands, so we trudged on over. On the way over, Peter warns me "Max is gay, but don't worry, he's cool."
We had a nice time over at Max's place. Max had an upright piano, and there was a man with strong Native American features tinkling the ivories when we arrived. Max said he comes over just to play the piano, self-taught, plays by ear. It sounded quite nice, a light jazz tune. Max politely toked up with us, and somehow I wound up with his telephone number, I don't remember asking for it.
One morning I had fallen asleep cross-dressed, and one of Sid's friends, Mark, dropped by, and he peeked in the window around the curtains and saw me. "I didn't know" he said with a big old shit-eating grin. I always wondered who he told after that. He teased me a couple of times with a "Hey Sid, guess what" but as far as I know he never told anyone who knew me what he had discovered.
Some time later, there was a falling out between the circle of friends Sid and I shared, and me. I had been hosting a pot greenhouse in my bedroom; about a third of the floor space was dedicated to grow-lights and potted marijuana plants. One day while I was out, the greenhouse was burglarized, and a couple of plants stolen. The guys decided it must have been me, so I closed the greenhouse down and told tem to take what was theirs and get out. Peter, meanwhile, had moved down to LA to be with family. Even Sid left me, and I was well and truly alone again.
I had Max's phone number, and one night, desperate for a friendly voice, I called him to say Hi. Max invited me over, so I walked on over, with oddly mixed feelings. I knew Max was gay, and I wasn't sure how I felt about the possibility that he was interested in me in "that way." Part of me was repulsed because of my previous experience with Ray, and part of me was secretly hoping that I was attractive. I did put on my best shirt before I left home though.
Max was, once again, a gracious host. While I was there, enjoying the gentility of being entertained, someone knocked on the door. It was a neighbor who was a friend of Max, and she wanted to let him know that she had some LSD and was currently ripped to the tits on it, did Max want to buy some? Max bought a couple hits from her, and then when she was gone he asked me if I'd ever done LSD before. I told him No, just pot and alcohol and tobacco. He asked me if I wanted to try it, and I said Sure, why not, so we dropped the acid (a four-way blotter), and when it started to kick in, the movie on TV (Ray Milland in "Frogs") began to make less and less sense, and to be more and more comical, until I could no longer understand a word of what the people on the TV were saying. Then we played around with the color controls on the TV, the horizontal and vertical holds, and tripped on that for a while. Then Max introduced me to Whisky Sours.
After several Whisky Sours, I was rather tipsy, as well as flying in and out of the cosmic aerodrome on my little LSD fairy wings, and then Max began his seduction in earnest. I've learned to recognize these moves since, but they worked really well on me back then at the age of 15.
First was the "Your back sure is tense, let me give you a backrub." Naturally the backrub moved outside of the boundaries of what are normally considered backs. When Max made the signature move of massaging my thighs, I pushed his hands away and said "No." Max asked what was wrong, and I told him I couldn't have sex with a man, I just couldn't, not that I didn't respect him or his sexuality, just that I had issues in my past that prevented me from participating in or enjoying activities such as male homosexual oral sex and anal sex. Max probed further, and I wound up spending the entire night whining to him about Ray. Max became one of five people who had heard my story: Kim & Charlene, Max, Wesley, and Jennifer. This autobiography makes you, Dear Readers, the Sixth to hear the tale.
I think Max got about what he deserved: He tried to seduce a kid, and he wound up with a whining near-virgin talking his ear off until dawn. It must have been a terrible disappointment for him, I do remember him dry-humping me at one point though, so to hell with Max. And that's the last I ever heard or saw of him.
A year and some months after that, Cecily came back to town. She had been a member of the little circle of stoners Sid and I had collected back in 1975, but she had been sent to Bear Valley Mountain School for two years, and on her return, she looked me up. She and I kept each other company for the rest of the summer of 1977, watching cartoons and smoking hashish. Cecily was a fairly boyish girl of the same age as me. She wore pants every day, and a vest. Cecily was the only natural-born woman I have ever fallen in love with. I still love her, after all these years. At the time, she was a great friend, she taught me to play backgammon, we played chess, we watched old movies and cartoons, we smoked dope, we walked around Los Altos Hills where the deer roam wild, and just had a splendid time. She was always the dominant one, I let her decide what we were doing and when. This was actually a pattern for me, I have always been rather submissive to my friends.
After we were all done with high school, I got a job while still living with my mother, who had left the unfaithful Hal. I paid the entire rent on the apartment just because I could. While I was working at my first job, I met Steve, a straight male friend who always treated me rather like a child, but when he condescended towards me it made me feel kind of good, like I was protected. I introduced Steve to Cecily, and the three of us did lots of things together, such as forming a garage rock band. But the problem was, I had been in love with Cecily for a couple of years now, and Steve fell in love with her too. About a year after I turned 18, my Mother decided to move to Boston to be closer to Hal, with whom she'd reconciled. So I moved into a two-bedroom with Sid, who I had run into and patched things up with.
The problem here was, Sid and Cecily started sleeping together after a few months in the new apartment. I guess they'd had feelings long ago in high school. But Steve and I were terribly jealous. I asked Cecily to marry me, and she actually laughed. Steve became crazier and crazier, and we became estranged for a bit, because I had my own problems. My last dreams of a normal life were in smoking ruins. I had asked the only woman I'd ever loved to marry me, thinking we could start a family and be regular people together, but she just laughed. I don't think she intended to be cruel, just nervous, but it had a pretty devastating effect on me.
So when Sid moved out due to lack of rent money, I just stopped seeing Cecily. I still loved her, but I couldn't be around her, it was making me too depressed. I started hanging out with Steve over at his place. I didn't see Sid much after that, just ran into him working at a Jack-in-the-Box once, visited his apartment nearby, and it looked to me like Sid was a needle drug user from the setup there.
All throughout this time, I was riding a rollercoaster of compulsion and shame. Pressure to cross-dress would build and build while I denied and denied, then I would go crazy and steal some things from Mother's old surplus clothes, or I would borrow her Flicker shaver and shave my legs and armpits, and then after a few weeks of that I would throw every stitch of women's clothing I had away, vowing to "never again" indulge in the practice. I wanted so desperately to be a normal kid! But then the compulsion would start up again, rising and rising and getting stronger and stronger until I started it all over again. I rode this rollercoaster from the beginning of puberty until the day I began my transition.
I do apologize, Dear Readers, for the sketchiness and lack of interesting detail in this chapter. This chapter was necessary to set the scene for the subsequent events, however, and is rather pertinent to how I interacted with others and how that affected my later path. In the next chapter we will discuss the last time I rode that rollercoaster, and the beginning of my new life.
Chapter the Fifth - An End to Denial
As the various social permutations of my young adulthood spun into chaos, and I was once again left to my own devices, a particularly intense peak of my transsexual rollercoaster ride had me telling myself that it was about time that I sought professional help and actually told the truth, flat-out. Perhaps this was a sign of maturity. I sure could have used some signs of maturity about then.
I decided that I would seek out another Family Services psychologist, and confess everything, and then the shrink would wave a magic shrink wand and "cure" me of my compulsion to constantly think about being a woman, and to occasionally cross-dress. I wanted to be normal. Then people would like me, and I wouldn't have to be alone any more.
I found a Family Services office right there in Mountain View. I made an appointment by telephone. When I arrived, I was delighted to see that someone in the office was a subscriber to Fusion Magazine. I managed to actually distract myself reading about Russian tokomak reactor designs until it was time for my appointment. I swallowed firmly, set the pamphlet-like magazine down, and followed him into his office.
The shrink was a man. That was a bit of an obstacle there, but I was determined to "get well." The shrink did that 30 seconds of silence thing, so I just smiled and waited. The shrink asked me "So, what brings you here?"
I began by blurting out "I've always felt like I was a female inside." He asked me to elaborate, so I poured out the whole thing: The desires, the cross-dressing, and I quickly sketched a very brief outline of my history of being abused by Ray. Several times during my description of my cross-dressing history, he got this odd little smirk that started to make me mad.
"So what are you attempting to accomplish? Do you want a sex change?" he asked.
Inside, my heart leapt up for a second when he said that. Part of me screamed "YES!" But I wanted to be "cured," and to be "normal," not to be someone so strange that they invited me onto daytime TV talk shows as a freak. So naturally I said "No."
The shrink, when I said No, let this exasperated expression cross his face for a second at that moment. Perhaps he sensed that my newfound honesty was not 100% complete, because my expression when he asked the question must have been rather complex, but my answer was unambiguous and incorrect. Then he asked "Well then, what can I do for you?"
I told him "I want to be normal," and he got that annoying smirk back. Then he flat-out told me that there wasn't much that he could do for me. I left, hating him and feeling like I'd wasted my time, telling him my deepest secret (come to think of it, he was the first person I ever told about my gender dysphoria, Jennifer was the second).
This sent me back to the rollercoaster for another couple of years. I sought help, but didn't get the cure I begged for, and I wasn't ready yet to admit to myself that I wanted a sex change operation. But he had planted the seeds in my mind. I looked up the subject of sexual reassignment surgery, and read some articles at the library. While I rode the rollercoaster one last time, an idea started to form, unarticulated, in the back of my mind.
At the peak of my final rollercoaster ride, I was frantic. Every time I passed a mirror, I had to stop and check for more signs of deterioration of my feminine appearance. I had always been tall and slender, with babyish features, light blonde hair, periwinkle blue eyes, a few freckles, and translucent skin. Now I started to see the evidence of a wispy mustache coming in, and my face seemed to be getting harsher as the baby fat melted away. I was obsessed with appearing as feminine as I could get away with, so I was extra careful to keep my long hair blow-dried just right, and I dressed in colors that showed off my hair and eye colors. Then I decided that I just had to find some kind of support group, some people like me who I could talk to and be myself with. I got the San Francisco phone book out while at work one morning.
I was looking through the white pages for anything to do with transvestism, transsexuality, or any other cross-dressing support groups or clubs. First I looked in the white pages under "trans," then under "sex." No dice. Then I thought "Why not look it up as a sub-heading under "San Francisco?" Voila! I discovered the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline!
I called SFSI, and got through to a nice young man who gave me the phone number of the Gateway Gender Alliance in San Jose. I called the number, and got a recording that listed meeting times and the address. They met every first and third Friday of the month in the basement of the Unitarian church on Third Street in downtown San Jose. I attended the first meeting in stealth mode, essentially just wore my male street clothes, kept to myself, didn't say much, and left very early. What I discovered while there was amazing to me though.
First person I saw was Georgia, the transvestite who ran the GGA. He was an apparent WWII veteran, who talked in a growly voice, and he was 100% male from the neck up, and 100% Aunt Mabel from the neck down. He was bracketed by several other transvestite males, all around the same age, with the same manly voices and the same frilly out-of-fashion female clothing. Georgia and his friends were almost the only people I talked to on that first night, I didn't say much, just said I wasn't sure yet when they asked The Question.
What was The Question? Well, everybody at the GGA, when you met them for the first time, always asked the same damned question: TV or TS? I was still not willing to commit in front of these people, though I could see that I was not much like the obvious TV males there at all. I was a lot more, shall we say, delicate. The main thing that I took away from that meeting was that it was a complete waste of time unless you dressed as a female to attend. There were people dressed as males around, but I wasn't sure which ones were like me, which ones were voyeurs, and which ones were predators (I had become convinced that a fixed percentage of males were sexual predators like Ray and to a lesser degree Max, and that a venue like this would bring them out in droves, so I was a bit paranoid about the male-looking types, and I suppose people were suspicious of me that evening too, though I was obviously too fey-looking to be much of a predator.
One woman who was obviously not a TV guy was Amber. She was the only person other than Georgia and his war buddies I talked to that night. I guess she figured I was a first-timer, not a transie-hawk, so she came over and chatted with me, naturally opening with The Question. Amber looked at least half Polynesian, and was beautiful, with long straight black hair and pretty almond-shaped brown eyes. Meeting Amber convinced me that I should probably come to the next meeting; talking to her gave me hope that I didn't necessarily have to wind up like Georgia if I came to the GGA.
Almost two weeks later, I had picked out my outfit for the next GGA meeting: A simple single-knit beige skirt with elastic waistband, and a floral-print polyester tunic. I had a pair of black high heel sandals that fit, I had purchased them mail-order when the rollercoaster started going up again. But I needed un-laddered nylons, and makeup! So I spent two nights riding my bicycle from 7-11 to 7-11, trying to muster up the courage in each one to purchase the makeup and nylons I needed. Not this 7-11, the clerk is a big dude. Not this one, the clerk is a lady who looks like my mother. Not this one, it's too crowded. Not this one, it's too close to home/work.
Finally, at the end of the second night, near dawn, I had had enough of my fears. I marched into the very next 7-11, which happened to be clerked by a big black man, but was otherwise unoccupied. I purchased the L'legs, several pair just in case, some blue eye shadow, some Revlon black mascara, a Maybelline black eyeliner pencil, some frost-pink lipstick, a tube of Cover Girl by Noxzema, some blusher, and a small crock of cold cream to clean it all off afterwards. As I approached the counter, my heart was slam-dancing with my stomach, and as I placed the items on the counter, the clerk looked at them, then he looked at me, and then he spoke to me:
"You don't need this shit. You're a good-looking guy." I guess the burst of courage that had sent me in to purchase my makeup was still there, because I defiantly placed both palms on the counter, leaned forward, and told him, "Yes I do, this is me, this is who I am, man." So he just rang up my purchases for me, and I left triumphant.
The night of the meeting arrived. I was far too entrenched in my male persona to just go to the meeting dressed, so I did what many of the attendees did at those GGA meetings, I went to the restroom and changed there. I carried my female clothing and makeup in a shopping bag on the bus to get there. I had played with makeup before, so I was able to apply it without making myself look TOO awful. Then I went back to the basement meeting room to mingle, for the very first time, with other people while dressed completely as a female.
The first person I saw was Amber. I smiled and waved, and she suddenly smiled back and waved. She said "I didn't recognize you until you smiled, you've got eyes that smile with your lips." I was so thrilled! I was a girl, in public, for the very first time, and I was in a totally accepting environment. I began to mingle.
I met several people there who would become friends later; Lisa, and Diana, for example. Lisa was an elevator maintenance and repair worker, and a sweet older TS woman of around 50. Diana was also older, around 50, and was some kind of engineer. Diana had just gotten a job as a female to start her Real Life Test, but she didn't have a car. I had a car I had gotten from an acquaintance really cheap, but I couldn't drive, and it needed a new starter, so I wrote my address down on a piece of paper and told her to come to that address any time after the following day, and she would find the keys and pink slip under the driver's seat.
Diana picked up the car, a brown 1968 Newport, two days later while I was at work. The apartment manager, who I had informed ahead of time, told me that Diana came with a male friend and they had a replacement starter with them, they changed it and she drove the car away. That car had cost me $150, I bought it intending to learn to drive it and get my license. I did have a learner's permit at the time I purchased the car, but I didn't actually get a license to drive until 1987, when I was 27 years old. Diana and Lisa both became very good friends until they disappeared into the Tranny Mists.
I was chatting about something with Amber when I noticed this woman with dark blonde curly hair in a sun dress expounding on some subject with great animation, using her hands to gesture as she described something. As I was looking at her, she stopped in the middle of her conversation, turned to me, and said "You look interesting. We'll talk later." And we did, she introduced herself as Jennifer, and she introduced me to her Significant Other, Sandi. Of all the people I had met that evening, I sensed that these two were IMPORTANT to me. They held the answers that I was seeking. I asked them if they would care to go to dinner at a Chinese dive I knew of, my treat. Sensing a tasty meal, they accepted my invitation, and I met them at their apartment in Sunnyvale. We enjoyed dinner, and then returned to their apartment. I was completely in love with both of them by this time.
There was a lot to love about them. Sandi was the first person since Cecily who could keep up with me verbally. Her wit was so sharp, so precise, that I just plain fell in love with her mind right then and there. She was a cutey too, short and blonde and sassy. Jennifer was as tall as I was, as slender as I was, and she was the first person I had ever met who thought about such things as "What if quanta were cubical instead of probability clouds?" And the walls! The walls of their apartment, which I was informed was called "Bangelfadrigar," were completely covered in India-ink sketches of Faernie and other science fiction creatures, comic strips of Jenny's inner self discovering cosmic truths, and all manner of artwork, including a 3D chess set exactly like the one in the "Star Trek:TOS" episode "Charley." It turns out that Jennifer had made the board herself. Her silver jewelry appeared not only to be handmade, but also were rich in detailing that included many cabalistic symbols and images.
I was hopelessly in love, I had chatted with Jennifer about transsexuality, and the way she just brushed aside my fears and self-doubts was like lifting a weight off my shoulders. The time I had visited a shrink for a "cure," I expected miracles. With Jennifer, I GOT a miracle, I was able to finally, with her help, cut through years of my own bullshit and obfuscation, and I came to the conclusion that I was a MtF Transsexual, and had always been one, and had always been in denial about it. I rode my bike home that evening, my head spinning with all these heady new discoveries.
The next time I saw Sandi and Jennifer, they helped me get started on my Transition. They took me to Doctor Smilo, an endocrinologist in San Francisco, and she prescribed for me a large cocktail of hormones, and set up a regular monthly appointment. They gave me the phone number of Doctor Brown, a noted gender therapist who treated transsexuals. I made my first appointment with her that day. They also hooked me up with an electrologist just south of San Mateo who did good work.
My Transition had begun!
Chapter the Sixth - Metamorphosis
The placebo effects of taking your first female hormones can be tremendous. It's a lot like taking the Red Pill in "The Matrix." You gaze raptly at yourself in the mirror until you can finally see some evidence of your skin getting shinier, but no, I kid, I kid.
Within hours of taking my first dose of hormones, I felt an inner euphoric calm that might almost be called "serenity." A journey that had long been anticipated, deep within the convolutions and recesses of my gigantic brain (size of a planet I tell you), had begun with the first steps. Time to march along and enjoy the scenery!
During the first three months of Transition, I began charting out my future as best as I could. I would enter my Real Life Test within three to six months, so as to be ready for Sexual Reassignment Surgery within 18 to 24 months of taking my first hormones.
Meanwhile, I was attending every meeting of the GGA that I could, which took place twice a month. I shopped at K-Mart and Ross for some more "everyday" feminine clothing, such as stretch jeans and pretty tops (which was sort of the "uniform" for conservative MTF TS's at the GGA). At one point, I made out a couple of times with a young handsome tranny hawk who started attending. I knew he was a tranny hawk, but he was good-looking, young, blonde, healthy, and it felt really good to have his hands on my young budding breasts and his tongue in my mouth. He tasted like cantaloupes. When he moved on to someone else I didn't mind, we'd had a bit of fun and that was the first time for me that that had ever happened.
I was searching for a new apartment situation, in which I could begin my Real Life Test without harassment from people who knew the old me. At one point, I was recommended to a friend of Sandi and Jennifer's, Tala, and her mate, Ginna. I visited them to interview for the roommate position. Since I was coming from work to East Palo Alto on my bicycle, I went dressed in male clothing.
When I arrived at Tala and Ginna's house, as we passed through the living room, Tala gestured towards some hooks set in the ceiling in one corner, with some chains hanging from them. She said that sometimes she had Ginna hanging up there, and that I shouldn't be shocked if I saw something like that. I had already been informed of the household's orientation, though, so I just nodded and agreed. We sat down at a kitchen table to chat, and I told them about myself (not much to tell really), and what I hoped to accomplish (my white bread fantasy which somewhat resembled the "Cottage in the Suburbs" song from "Little Shop of Horrors"). Tala told me that she practiced Astrology, and she got my vital particulars so that she could make a chart for me. After we were done, I thanked her for the opportunity, and she told me she'd get back to me in two days.
Four days later, I called Tala to find out if I had been accepted as a roommate. She said that she was sorry, but no, because I was not "sexually compatible." I assume that that had something to do with my chart, she did tell me that something really big would happen to me in the year 2000, and I was anticipating that for a long time, but when that year had passed, nothing of any note had happened to me. This was not my last dealings with Tala and Ginna, however.
At a GGA meeting, I ran into the mother and stepfather of an old church friend of mine. They were concerned that I would spill the beans on my friend's stepfather's transvestism, but I assured them that what happened at the GGA stayed at the GGA. W__ and J___ learned of my apartment-seeking, and, trying to be helpful, hooked me up with two basket cases they had met, a TV named Brian and a lisping she-male named Rudy. Together, the three of us managed to secure a three-bedroom condo rental that would start exactly three months after I had taken my first hormones and electrolysis treatments.
Coincidentally enough, Sandi and Jennifer were both volunteers at the San Francisco Sex Information Hotline. There was a big training seminar coming up, including a Sexual Attitude Readjustment course. Since Sandi and Jennifer were going, and since it was SFSI that had connected me with the TS community, I decided to pony up the dough and volunteer, especially since I could cadge rides from Sandi. So off we went to Fort Mason for our SAR course!
The SAR course itself was a bit rough for me. I didn't have any problems with what people did with each other for pleasure, but towards the end, they showed a moving video about a natural childbirth in a loving hippy commune, and then followed that up immediately with a woman on an operating table having an second-trimester abortion. The juxtaposition of the two films was very jarring, and I wept for the first time since I was 13.
That pretty much guaranteed that they would never let me near a phone bank at SFSI. Volunteers are supposed to offer information, not make judgments. I didn't mean to make a statement with my tears; they just came out on their own, though. Maybe it was the hormones, after all, I had only been on them for a couple of weeks at that point.
The first Wednesday evening of the two-week seminar, there was a party at the home of one of the officers, to allow people to mingle socially without the structured events of the weekend day sessions interfering. I had attended the very first weekend sessions in male guise, as I had only just begun Transition within days. But since Wednesday night's party was a "get-to-know-each-other" type of event, I decided to attend as Alison, the name I had chosen for myself after borrowing Jennifer's big book of baby names.
For a bunch of sophisticates, their reaction was rather surprisingly strong to my appearance as Alison. First of all, one of the people who seemed to be in charge of the whole SFSI organization from what I could tell, a smallish dapper man with a neatly-trimmed brownish beard and gold-rimmed spectacles named, aptly enough, Hunter, was into "Man-Boy Love," or so I was informed somehow the weekend before. I kind of felt nervous just being around him, what with my history with Ray and everything.
Well, when I arrived wearing my stretch-jeans-and-frilly-top-with-sandals outfit, my hair neatly blow-dried and wearing makeup, I could see people who had been at the weekend sessions performing various organization tasks looking at me and talking to each other. Most unsettling was the way Hunter kept leering at me. He literally followed me around the apartment during that party and flat-out stared at me for most of the evening, whenever he wasn't talking to someone he was standing or sitting nearby, just plain staring. It was, truly, the only negative part of the entire evening, which was otherwise wonderful. He settled down next to me at the party several times, at which point I would just move to another group to get away from him. Despite all that, I enjoyed myself at the party tremendously, because it was the first time I had been in a large party of mixed company as Alison.
The following week-end, I attended the seminar as Alison. But I was confronted immediately by none other than Tala and Ginna! It turns out that they were volunteers too, and were assigned to keep an eye out on me. It had been decided that I had to be watched because it was automatically assumed that since I was in Transition, that I was inherently mentally unstable. So I had a minder for the entire remainder of the seminar, Tala and Ginna alternated to ensure that at least one of them was in every group exercise I attended, and they sat either right next to me or directly across from me, staring into my face and with these looks of exaggerated sympathy on their faces every time I spoke. Frankly, Dear Readers, it was mortifying and humiliating for me, to have babysitters.
On the final day of the seminar, they showed the back-to-back filmstrips of the live natural childbirth followed by the clinical second-trimester abortion. About a half an hour after that group exercise, Tala took me aside and told me I wouldn't make the cut at SFSI, but maybe I could attend next year and try again. Embarrassed and unhappy, I waited the remainder of the last day session out in the hallway, exercising my newfound ability to weep. I felt like I had been set up to fail, that SFSI, for all their self-proclaimed open-mindedness, and for all the trannies that were working at that seminar, that they had actually been bigoted and prejudiced against me because of my status as a MtF TS in early Transition. I had been ogled at by a Man-Boy Love aficionado who obviously thought of me as a cute baby-faced boy who was even legal, I had been dogged by that weirdo Tala and her sidekick Ginna for most of the seminar, they had taken $300 of my money, and then they gave me the boot at the very last minute, when I might just as well have stopped attending after the first Wednesday evening party, since that was essentially when my destiny within the SFSI organization was determined. I've endured things that most people wouldn't want to even imagine, survived them with my sanity intact, and then was told by a bunch of people no less oddball than myself that I was too oddball for them. GRRR!
The day came to move into my new apartment and begin my new life. I was so excited! I had already gone to San Francisco on the train four or five times as Alison, the first time I boarded a Cal train looking like a female, the conductor actually SMILED at me! That had never happened before; it was like a validation of my dreams and hopes, that people treat you differently when you are a woman than they would treat a man.
A month before I moved into my new apartment, I had to confront the issue of coming out at the workplace. I was a high-level electromechanical assembler at the time; I built delicate robotic subassemblies for machines that automatically processed wafers. I approached the Human Resources lady with some trepidation, and a note from Dr. Mildred Brown. The HR lady was sympathetic, and she proceeded to hold meetings with various departments until everyone in the company had been informed by her personally that I would be living and appearing as a female, with a new first name, in one month's time. The meeting room was adjacent to the lab where I worked, so I could see groups of people going into and out of that room all morning, and twice I observed women weeping as they exited. Apparently, the HR lady was making some really pretty speeches!
I also had a note from Doctor Millie for my Mother. Oh, Dear Readers, this was and remains the most difficult part of my transsexuality. I love my Mother, and I hated to disappoint her regarding my lack of manliness and the removal of all chances of my ever giving her grandchildren. I still visit her every Sunday evening for dinner, and she is very supportive, but I do feel like I have let her down fundamentally because of my birth defect.
Life as Alison was fairly sweet. My breasts were really coming along nicely at almost four months on hormones, my skin was getting even softer, and my attitude was so much better since I no longer had any sex drive to speak of. Chemical castration was like sobering up after a drunken rampage, I was a bit shamefaced at how randy I had been and quite relieved that it was over. Electrolysis was nicely removing my wispy mustache and sparse chin bristles, and the first thing I had done on the day I moved in was to gather up every stitch of male clothing I had and ceremoniously dumped them on the curb next to the dumpster. That was the day the old me vanished forever, never to return. That was the day the new me, Alison, got the keys to the castle.
Less than two weeks into my new life, I was visiting Sandi and Jennifer one evening. I was trying very hard to limit my visits to once per week, because I didn't want to become a pest, and Jennifer told me in no uncertain terms that I was visiting too often. This evening was a GGA meeting though, so I cadged a ride from them to avoid having to ride the bus downtown. This visit, they had a friend staying with them in their tiny one-bedroom apartment, a MtF TS named Jacky. There was some tension in their household that evening, because Jennifer was getting antsy about sharing their EXTREMELY small apartment with a third person, and Jacky didn't have anyplace else to stay, having just gotten TS'ed out of her previous job and home.
I had the master bedroom at the condo rental, since I had done all the negotiating and I had loaned the security deposit to the other two roomies, so I felt well within my rights to offer Jacky a place to stay for a bit, until she could get on her feet. I figured that way Jacky would be out of Jenny's hair, but she wouldn't be on the street or in some dangerous shelter. So this began my relationship with Jacky.
So now you know the very earliest part of my metamorphosis into my fully-realized self, Dear Readers. In the next chapter, I shall chronicle the remainder of my Transition, and my relationship with Jacky, if my gracious audience will permit.
Chapter the Seventh - Inside the Chrysalis
I believe I mentioned before about traveling to San Francisco from Mountain View by train. That became a monthly occurrence, since Dr. Smilo, a renowned endocrinologist, insisted on a hands-on examination on her old-fashioned gynecological exam table, which I didn't mind at all since, though it was cold and ancient and kind of scary-looking, it was a gynecological exam table, and had stirrups and everything, and it sort of made me feel realer somehow to be required to sit on a table designed exclusively for women.
On one of these trips to Dr. Smilo's office, the round trip of which took all day to complete, I discovered the Black Rose bar. Oh, what an amazing place that was in the early 1980's! Like an exotic transgendered fish tank, it was narrow and deep, with a long bar that had mirrors on both of the claustrophobically-close walls. A black-painted storefront window and a small painted metal sign swinging from two tiny chains on a bracket over the door gave the place away. I was taking the Stockton Line, number 30, up Third Street from the train station in the South of Market District, and I always got off at Market and then walked to a Metro station to take the Seaview Line out to Hayes. Anyway, one day I got off of the bus one street past Market, since it was early, and decided to walk up to the next Metro station via this parallel street instead of Market. I think it might have been Eddy Street, but it's been a long time. Anyway, I had cash, and it was a Friday (I worked four 10-hour days, so my appointments were all on Fridays), so I decided to go into this little bar and have a boilermaker, a shot of Jack straight up with a beer chaser. This was a sort of impulse, I had quit smoking pot for the first six months of my Transition because it made me a bit paranoid coupled with the Progesterone, which Dr. Smilo always prescribed and which I stopped taking almost immediately, as it made me act like a bitch.
So I decided to have a very rare drink, since it was barely noon and my appointment was at three o'clock. I figured I'd have processed the alcohol by the time I arrived, especially since I was going to dine first as well. So I entered this completely unknown bar, which was very dark inside, even with all the mirroring. After people-watching through the mirrors for a while, I realized with a start that this bar was solely occupied by various transgendered individuals! The Black Rose's owner was a TV named, if I recall correctly, Robin, who looked, if you can picture this, like Popeye in a leather miniskirt. Despite Robin's rather garish presentation, Robin ran that bar with the heart of a sorority House Mother, sternly but tenderly. Most of the girls there looked to be TV hookers an a few TS's, also hookers. Whenever I visited during the daytime, the only people in there appeared to be sex workers. When I visited at night a couple of times, there were also a lot of street people, with huge colored Mohawks and piercings and the like, which was pretty exotic in 1982-83.
While I sipped the remainder of my beer, a small rather pretty TS hooker, younger even than I from the looks of it (I was 22 at the time) stuck her head in. Robin's Popeye-like voice scraped from behind the bar, "You know you can't come in here no more, you got the boot because you cause too much trouble." So the blonde girl peers into the darkness, her eyes focus on me, sipping my beer, obviously engrossed in the performance, and she says, scathingly, "You're all bitches!" I didn't laugh or smile or even hoist my beer in salute, but I could have hugged her for calling me a "bitch."
I made the Black Rose an occasional stop from then on out, I think they went down a couple of years later, but I lost track after my surgery sort of took me out of circulation for a while, but that's a later part of the tale, Dear Readers.
We lived four people to a three-bedroom condo apartment rental. Brian, the TV, was like a stammering ghost, I gave him some of my old clothing and he scurried into the shadows, never to be seen again, except when he shafted us on the last month's rent. We also had Rudy the lisping shemale, whose Army dog tags said Adolpho, and the silly yutz still wore them constantly. She had enormous breasts, due to implants. That girl was a problem, because she actually picked up a sailor and brought him home to bed, never telling him that she had a penis. I guess she did the old Catholic Girl thing and kept her octopus repellant spray handy while she knelt and took his communion in hand, but frankly Jacky and I were not thrilled to have her bringing a sailor home who didn't know the score. Of such things beatings and killings are made, and I hate when those happen to me. I was quite glad to see Rudy move someplace to be with her beloved David, the gay Army buddy she'd been gay together with in the Army, and for whom she had become a shemale in the first place, to his complete and total ambivalence. Bye-bye Rudy, have a good la vida loca.
That leaves Jacky. Best for last. She shared my bedroom and my bed. It was a pretty innocent sisterly thing, with the occasional low-intensity snuggling or cuddling. It's damned near impossible for two girls to share the same bed without some snuggling going on, unless they're really fucking repressed.
Jacky presented pretty well, she was like a sort of biker chick type, and though she was late-onset, I think age 38 when I met her, hormones had been very good to her, for she had 38C boobs. Her hair was a light brown, she was thin, and about 6'3", with some appreciable muscle mass still, but the 'mones had softened them, which is where that "biker chick" look came from, and she dressed to show it off, like those tops that show off your lady deltoids.
Jacky brought one major asset to the relationship: She had a working car, a Toyota Corrolla hatchback. Otherwise, I paid the rent, for the food, and for her electrolysis for 20 months, the entire length of her stay with me. She did not even look for work or even apply for any sort of government assistance the entire time she stayed with me. She did some cooking and cleaning, but to suit her.
After one year, Brian and Rudy dropped out, Brian at the last second and in arrears. So Jacky and I had to make last-minute arrangements for just us two. Since we had to stay in the condo an extra week, I called the owner and told him we needed an extra week, but he could keep the security deposit as compensation, and we would be sure and clean up thoroughly for him. He was very angry, insisted upon getting a key lock put on the door for the week so he could show the place, and he actually threatened violence if we weren't out as promised in one week. Luckily, I found a place in San Jose we could afford. We lived there together for six months, in a small one-bedroom, and then I lived alone there a further two years.
When Jacky had been living with me for one and a half years, in a sisterly relationship but with me providing the hormones and electrolysis and all the rent and food and utilities and gasoline and auto maintenance costs, she was invited to visit Canada with Autumn, a TS we'd met at GGA. All she needed to do was come up with her own food and pocket money, and the ride and lodging would be free. So we cleaned out my closets, stuff like tennis rackets and junk like that, and took them to the San Jose Flea Market, and she put together a small poke of money and went to Canada for, I think, an Exposition. When she got back she told me she had a marvelous time, I was happy she'd had a vacation from that apartment.
But a couple of weeks afterwards, Jacky started acting moody and brooded a lot, and was very distant. She was starting to act like my REAL sister! One morning, my massive brain sort of made a few lightning connections in the realm of intuition, which was still a fairly new experience for me, and suddenly I knew that Autumn had a crush on Jacky and that she had asked Jacky to move in with her, as if Jacky and I were lovers and they were going behind my back, which was fairly laughable considering that we weren't lovers, though I loved her like a sister. She looked surprised and blurted out "Yes." I asker her if she'd made her decision yet, she said "No."
She got moodier and moodier. One day, I was working on getting the car working so I could learn to drive. That car I had given to Diana she had returned to me as soon as she got herself some wheels, which i thought was thoughtful, but the steering was shot, so I was trying to do what I could myself, and one afternoon, while Jacky was away somewhere in her car, I was working on replacing the Idler Arm, and I needed a mirror. I remembered that Jacky had a bunch of old used-up compacts in her junk drawer, so I went to get one, and when I opened it, ten of my huge 10 milligram Estinyls fell out. I put them back and chose a different compact. I never said anything about finding my hormones hidden in her compact, but I assumed it was a sort of parachute.
The moodiness, in the last week, turned into outright hostility. She holed herself up in the bedroom while I was up, and then moved to the couch when I went to bed. She snapped at me and snarled at me no matter how sweet I tried to be, so I just gave her her space as much as I could. Then she coldly announced that she was moving out, and she did so within two days, but before she left, I wanted to clear the air between us so that we could leave on a friendly note, so I turned off the TV so we could talk and she got angry and said to turn it back on, and I said no, we have to talk, please, and she got really mad, and she turned it on, and then I did something stupid and I turned it off and then she turned on me and jumped on top of me and drove me down to the ground and put her knees on my chest, which really really hurt, and she told me not to fuck with her or else, did I understand? Did I? I didn't say anything, I just lay there limp and passive and waited for her to get off of me, and then I went into the bedroom and cried. I was still sad when she was gone though, because the apartment was so lonely all by myself like that. I would actually have rather had that abusive piece of shit living there than to live alone, that's how hungry I am for the Other. Pathetic.
I should also mention Edie. Edie was a VERY late-onset MtF TS who was pretty much dying of diabetes. Very sad, she got a girl-crush on me big-time so I had her come grocery-shopping with me when i stocked up my kitchen with canned and frozen food for my planned convalescence, and other things. Last time I saw Edie, I was visiting her in the hospital because she was having her feet amputated. I went to cheer her up because I knew she had a crush on me, but I think I'd rather take a bath in lava than do that again, it damn near broke my heart. Poor girl, I hope she's happier in the next life.
Back when we were living in the condo apartment, I had focused on the money for the surgery angle. That had me stymied, so I studied the various group insurance plans available at work. When I started there at that company, I had taken the cheapie no-co-pay HMO, but I noticed that their 80/20 with $500 deductible did not exclude transsexual surgery, and the pre-existing condition clause only applied if I had utilized any form of insurance to pay for my treatment within the past year, so I realized that by my interpretation, that meant that I could switch to that policy, pay out of pocket for my hormones and shrink-and-doctor visits for one year, and then I could start filing claims for my treatments and even file a claim against sexual reassignment surgery if prescribed and performed by licensed physicians.
I asked Sherri, the HR woman I mentioned earlier, and she came back with a "corporate says no" to my interpretation. Unsatisfied, I contacted the insurance company directly, supplied all of my particulars, and was assured in no uncertain terms that my interpretation was correct, and I even had her mail me a letter to that effect for Sherri. I switched carriers immediately.
Over the course of coming out on the job, I caught some harassment. There were several people who openly scorned me and refused to work with me, and they were tolerated because, well, I was a freak, right? One Mexican-American named Danny, pissed off because I was following orders to help him transport a fire safe when we were moving to a new building, so he tried to tip the safe over onto my feet on purpose, which would have probably broken bones. An older man named Paul, who was a famous UFO chaser in his spare time, posted a religious condemnation written by a television preacher saying that boys with long hair and makeup were abominations and shit like that. It was over 20 years ago so I am hazy on the details, but the article he pasted up on his lab door was a conservative rant about "boys should be boys and girls should be girls," with a religious slant. He highlighted the lines pertinent to insulting me openly. Someone sprayed WD-40 on my full-length fiberfill coat. Women in the restrooms were often openly hostile, and when not, they said mean things in Spanish, a language with which I am not completely unfamiliar. Just a few little things like that to remind me that I was not wanted.
The insurance thing also caught corporate's attention. Our company was part of a small corporation of several similar companies, and the president of the corporation, a Mr. McMillan, took a special interest in getting rid of me and thwarting my insurance claims. Unfortunately, I turned over the incriminating evidence to an upstart transie lawyer who was a total flake, another person we met at the GGA, and she lost the paperwork, including a letter from McMillan on his office letterhead telling me things that were not true.
I got the letter from the insurance company promising to pay 80% of the surgery and hospital stay. I passed on my method to several friends who had the same insurance carrier already, and who had no pre-existing condition clauses to wait out, and as a result of my research, three other women got their surgery from Dr. Falces at good old Saint Luke's: Sandi, Lisa, and Diana.
I had chosen Dr. Falces to do my surgery because he had a good reputation as a plastic surgeon, and his office took my carrier's insurance. His office accepted their promise to pay 80% plus my 20% up-front (from a small credit union loan) and we scheduled March 15th, 1985 as my surgery date.
I arranged to have a couple of friends, again from the GGA, make sure I didn't bleed to death or something once I got out. The friends were Chris and Christina. You might know of Christina Taylor, she's a rather prominent TG activist, or at least she was around the turn of the millennium. Anyway, they called and had to flake on me, so Lori Sunland, a sweet TS girl also met at the GGA offered to come down from her place in San Rafael and keep an eye on me for a week or two, she had vacation time coming. She turned into a very dear friend after my surgery, bless her heart.
The night before my surgery, I took one last look at the problem between my legs, gloating over its imminent demise.
Next chapter, Dear Readers, I will tell you of the surgery itself, and the immediate aftermath! Stay tuned!
Chapter the Eighth - Not So Deep as a Well, Nor So Wide as a Barn Door, But 'tis Enough
The morning of my surgery was a cold pre-spring morning, gray skies at home in San Jose, but when I walked into Saint Luke's hospital to check in, the skies over San Francisco were cerulean blue with a few wispy cirrus clouds, and that famously brisk San Francisco breeze was blowing.
I was led to my room on, if I recall correctly, the Eighth Floor. I was the very first sex reassignment surgery case performed at Saint Luke's, and the ward they had decided on assigning to be used by Dr. Falces' SRS patients was the terminal ward. So everyone else on my floor was dying. I was informed that normally I would have been assigned a semi-private room, with a single roommate, but since I was sexually ambiguous to the hospital administration, they couldn't put me in a semi-private because they couldn't place me with either a male or a female roommate. So they put me up in a private room, which cost me about $120 more per day out of pocket.
My room was painted in a pale green. I had a window with a view of the roof of the parking garage, and the southeastern exposure of the hospital. I placed my overnight bag on the sidebar near the window. A young man in orderly whites came in and told me that he was here to give me my enema. I looked at the item he was carrying, which looked like a tube of replacement caulk for sealing bathroom tiles, and told him that I'd be happy to do it by myself if he'd prefer. He looked relieved, handed me the enema kit, and dashed away. I undressed and went into the bathroom, got into the shower, got down on my hands and knees, unsealed the enema kit, stuck my ass up in the air as high as it would go, and then I reached around my back with the enema kit and jammed the plastic tube up my ass, and let gravity pull the fluid out of the tube and into my colon.
I had been instructed to not eat anything after Noon the day before the surgery, and to only eat liquid foods for two days prior. I had done what I could to clear my bowels before I left my apartment that morning. I wanted to reduce the chances of sepsis should my bowel get nicked during the surgery. So I was very careful while self-administering the enema.
A man in a pale blue suit with a clerical collar came in. Apparently Saint Luke's was funded by Methodists or Episcopalians or some other hoity-toity blue-nose Christian sect, I forget which. This man was pleasant, not a ranter, more of the ecumenical type than a zealot. We chatted a bit about why I was there, and my lifestyle, and my religious beliefs. We parted on the best of terms, both genuinely impressed with the other as people. He was reassured that I wasn't some kind of perverted lunatic, and I was reassured that this wasn't a religious loony bin, since their "chaplain" was entirely reasonable and courteous. The reason he had come to see me was because I was the first of my kind that Dr. Falces had brought into their hospital, and my case was a test case, and how Dr. Falces was treated by the hospital depended entirely upon how my case turned out. So I was determined from that point forward to be a model patient, to honor the man who was performing the surgery I so desperately needed.
After that, I was given a hospital gown by one of the Filipina nurses, and after changing into that I was taken to be prepped. This consisted of shaving and a thorough soaking of the area using Betadyne antibacterial liquid, an iodine-based antiseptic rinse. I had been given a large pill to take upon getting up that morning, that was a very powerful Valium, which was, I suppose, to keep me from puking in fear. Once I was prepped, I was photographed and wheeled to an elevator. While in the elevator, I met several of the people who would be assisting Dr. Falces in performing the surgery. They rode to the surgery room with me in the elevator, and Dr. Falces joined us in the operating room. While in the elevator, I sensed an opportunity to set their minds at ease, so I told the joke that had occurred to me, which is an ancient joke but if told properly is still funny. I asked the man who was apparently the anesthesiologist if I would be able to play the piano at a recital in one month. He replied that he didn't see why not, upon which I retorted "Wow, that's awesome! I never could play the piano before!" I did not get the side-splitting belly-laughs for which I was hoping, just a sort of half-grin. Perhaps he'd heard that one before...
Inside the operating theatre, things started happening. They turned on the Machine That Goes Ping. Dr. Falces walked in, like Elvis joining his backup band, and the anesthesiologist stuck a tap in my arm, and he poked a needle into the tap and injected something, probably sodium pentothal, and told me to count backwards from 100. 100, 99, 98, 97, 96, by 97 the fluorescent lights in the operating room entryway started to flash by overhead as if they were the windows of a passenger train. I flew into the lights and then disappeared entirely for a long time.
I awakened briefly. I felt fuzzy-headed, as if I was still mostly asleep. There was an horrific pain in my groin, as if I had been sliding down a banister and had hit some razor blades on the way down. I opened my eyes, and I could only see a very narrow field of vision, circular, with a dark black-and-purple ring of blindness surrounding it. The first thing I saw was my dear Mother's face. I smiled, and then the blackness rose up from the back of my mind and engulfed me again, not unpleasantly, like drifting off to sleep gently.
What was probably only a few minutes later, I awoke again, and opened my eyes again, and this time I managed to smile at Mom and I opened my mouth to speak and then I passed out again.
I awoke perhaps an hour and a half later. Mom was gone, but she'd left me a nice note, saying that she came by to see me, but I was just "visiting," so she'd come by later that evening to see me. I couldn't raise my head far enough to survey my surgery at first without passing out. As the afternoon progressed, my head cleared somewhat, and my strength began seeping back in very slowly. I managed to grab hold of the triangular bar that hung above my bed from a chain, and to pull my upper body high enough so that I could peer down at my midsection and below.
I was in a hospital gown again, but it was hiked up around my waist. My legs were bolted into an A-shaped metal frame that kept my legs spread apart three feet or so at the heels. My shaved groin was actually in far better shape than I had expected on my first look: The labia were not very swollen or discolored at all, but they were attached to the flesh at the base of my legs via large stitches of a coarse black material. There was an L-shaped catheter inserted through the abdominal wall between the navel and the vagina. Otherwise, it looked pretty damned good, despite the extensive bruising of the entire area.
My ass actually hurt worse than my vagina did. Dr. Falces' method was to use the penile skin to form the labia, but to form the vaginal walls he used skin grafts taken from two large patches on my left buttock. He used the top few living layers of skin, and then laid a permeable plastic sheet over the skin graft donor site to facilitate healing. There were certainly more live exposed nerve endings on my left buttock than there were in my entire groin, thanks to the swelling.
A couple of hours after I woke up, a nurse came in and removed the IV bottle from my tap, and installed a bag of what I assumed was saline and nutrients. I am guessing that the bottle had been dripping painkillers. I received my first injection of Demerol at that time.
Demerol is essentially hospital heroin. It felt better than any drug ever has or ever could. It was like a combination of being held and sung to by your Mother, while having multiple orgasms in an XTC-fueled orgy. Every time they stuck that needle in my arm, it felt as if I could hear angels singing, for about an hour. I received one shot every four hours at first, but the pain was generally back in full force at three hours. I asked for a three-hour painkiller schedule, and they agreed to it, then after two days of that I requested to be taken off Demerol and put on oral Codeine, to prevent becoming addicted. The Codeine lasted longer anyway, though it was not nearly as effective.
I was on a liquid diet, which, in a hospital, is skin to starving. That's because nothing that a hospital kitchen produces that is not solid is not also disgusting. It was all pale green cream-of-puke soups. I grew to love the Jell-O gelatin cups though. About six days into my eight-day stay, I managed to socially engineer some real food. I managed to convince the Nutritionist that Dr. Falces had approved switching me to solid foods. I'm sure that he would have, if I'd actually asked him. The first time I chewed something in a week was quite pleasant indeed, some rather innocuous piece of mystery meat with smashed potatoes from the hospital kitchen.
I already mentioned I was on the terminal ward. I was instructed on the day immediately following to try to stand up. I got out of bed, with some help, and I passed out three times the first time I tried. I asked to try again an hour or two later, and managed to stand and walk a few steps. I used a walker and had my piss-bag hooked over the top bar of the walker.
I was told to try to get up and shuffle around the ward as best as I could. Dr. Falces and his staff told me that I would heal faster if I moved around some. I tried to, and managed to get out on the ward twice in the first three days. On the third day, a nice lady who was, I think, interning under Dr. Falces, gave me a mild scolding for not walking around enough. I whined that it hurt too much (it really did), which I think was the only time I whined the whole time I was in Saint Luke's. Typically I tried to smile and be as brave as I could. I wanted the whole ward to remember me as a good patient, to reflect well on Dr. Falces. I remember one night, a nurse came in to give me an injection, the tap having since been removed, and I have this pale translucent skin on my inner arms and you can see the veins but they are buried deep and they are small and they are rather hard to penetrate apparently, because she kept trying and trying to get that needle into a vein, and the veins just kept popping out from under the needle, and by the fifth or sixth jab I started to get physically nauseous from the pain and the effect of watching her jab at my glass-like arm with that huge needle. I had dreaded getting nauseous since before I checked in, and after surgery I was deathly afraid of throwing up, because the muscle contractions would be agonizing in that state. But I only got nauseous that one time, because of that late-night needle session. I told the nurse I was starting to feel sick to my stomach, and she managed to get a towel into my hands just in time to press my face into it and vomit into the towel. When the agonizing vomiting contractions had ceased, she managed to get the needle into the vein, and gave me whatever it was they needed to give me, probably more antibiotics or something like that.
On the fourth day, I was out and about walking a couple of laps around the ward every couple of hours. I had gotten past the pain enough to be back on track with being the model patient I wanted to be. I smiled at people as I shuffled by, my gait completely hampered by the steel A-frame my thighs were still strapped into, clutching my walker and with my piss-bag swinging from the top bar by a hook. My hospital gown covered my crotch-gore, barely, plus I had brought a bathrobe from home which nicely covered my bare ass.
On the fifth day, it was time to withdraw the catheter and try using my new piss control system. One of the doctors assisting Dr. Falces had been a urologist, and I would be using the same muscles afterwards as before, just not in the same place in the plumbing as before. Withdrawing the catheter was weird but not painful as I thought it might be. This one didn't go through the urethra; it penetrated the abdominal wall from the outside and into the bladder. So I have a little dot over my bladder now where the catheter was injected.
I was in no shape to sit down on anything, so my first piss was standing up in the shower. It felt very nice, even though it landed mainly on my feet. I showered for the first time in five days, and it felt heavenly to wash off some of my hospital funk, and it felt splendid to be able to pee on demand and hold my urine until I wanted to release it. The new plumbing worked just fine!
I should mention that on the second day, when I still couldn't stand up, I had several visitors over the course of the day. Mom of course, Lori dropped by, the sweetie-pie, and the final visitor was something of a shock to me. It was Jacky. I was terrified, because I was never in a more vulnerable position in my entire life, ever. I literally couldn't move. Jacky walked in, all smiles, and I pasted a false grin on my face and said Hi, and she asked me some questions like How Are Ya Doin and I mumbled some answers like Good, Thanks, and You? I started to get tired and my eyelids were snapping shut on my of their own accord, I told her I thought I was going to pass out again, might be a good time to wrap things up, so she got up to leave and she handed me a bottle of Chanel #7 and then she took off her watch and she put them both on my bedside table and said they were gifts, then she left, and I never saw her again.
By the sixth day, I was bored, restless, and nervous. I kept feeling like I was slacking off, I worried about the work I was missing (I had taken a six-week unpaid leave of absence for health-related reasons), and I was so ready to leave psychologically, but not yet physically. I was in the aisles walking around a lot from then on out. On day six they also came in and unstrapped the A-Frame, warning me to be careful not to crush my new labia too much for a bit. So my shuffling around the ward got a lot more graceful, especially without the piss bag.
By day seven, I no longer used a walker, but still had little stamina, and could only do two laps of the ward before toddling to my bed to collapse.
On day eight, I was discharged. The nurses all said very heart-felt good-byes, and the nice lady who had admonished me to walk around more helped wheel me to Lori's car. She told us to make sure we locked the doors, and I waved back at her as we drove off. Good-bye Saint Luke's and thank you for the best hospital stay I could have hoped for!
Lori took me back to my apartment. I had stocked the place with frozen TV dinners and canned soups and stews, in case cooking was difficult at first. The apartment was clean. Lori and I watched TV together, chatted, listened to the Alex Bennett Program on KITS 105.3 FM every weekday morning, and generally got to be absolutely splendid friends, like sisters really. When my strength had returned enough to stay standing for more than a few minutes at a time, we actually drove up and participated in Alex Bennett's live studio audience. After a few days at my place, I packed a bag and we went to stay up at Lori's place in San Rafael for a few days. I met her roommate Nova and her dog Charley. Lori was such a wonderful friend; she was there for me when I really needed a friend.
The healing was rapid for the first three weeks and then gradual. I'd say I was completely healed within 10-12 weeks, but was mostly healed within about a month. I spotted for the first three weeks I was out of the hospital, so I was using belted maxi-pads during that time. I remember I stopped needing the pads about the time I started back to work.
After about four weeks into my leave of absence, I just couldn't stand being away from work anymore. I called Sherri in HR, and she said that since my LOA was so long, that I could only get my position back at the company if someone else in my department quit or was terminated. I guess that this was more of Corporate's shenanigans, because I sure had never heard of people going on medical LOA's being denied re-entry unless they were replacing an outgoing employee.
The following day, I received a call from Paul in my department. This is a different Paul than the UFO guy, the Paul in my department was a former volunteer fireman who had a bad wrist, and who had a penchant for hanging around racecar tracks and drivers. Paul had called me to inform me that he had quit his position several days before, and he wanted to make sure that I knew that his position had been vacated, and was open to me. He did this not so much out of regard for me (we got along fine though), but more to stick it to the company, which he knew had been trying to get rid of me for many months.
So I called Sherri, and asked her if anyone had left yet, and if any positions were opening up. She said No, and I said, oh, then perhaps you hadn't heard that Paul left two days ago? Caught in her blatant bald-faced lie, she said "Oh yeah, he did, I guess you can start tomorrow if you like."
And that, Dear Readers, is how my surgery and its immediate aftermath occurred. Next chapter I shall detail the early post-operative life, and perhaps cover some previously-uncovered ground from my pre-op life too, for example, I haven't mentioned my Final Evaluation yet. Stay tuned, Dear Readers!
Chapter the Ninth - Vive La Differance!
Before I continue with the narrative where we left off, Dear Readers, please allow me to backtrack a bit and tell you about my Final Evaluation.
I have already mentioned Dr. Millie Brown. She was a sweet-natured middle-aged lady with apparent symptoms of lupus, the discolorations and sun sensitivity and stiffness and so forth. She seemed like a very nice lady, but every visit was like getting to know her all over again. Also, her office was in San Jose, but she occasionally asked to meet at her home, which was in Los Gatos, making it difficult to get to by bus. Millie did help with the substantial heavy-lifting of the Transition, though, such as writing important letters, and her most substantial contribution to my treatment came in the form of her referral for Final Evaluation after I had completed eighteen months on hormones and one full year of my Real Life Test. Looking back, I can see that I had an aggressive schedule laid out, back then it seemed like it took forever.
My Final Evaluation would be performed by a Psychiatrist with an MD. His office was in Los Gatos, in a small medical and dental complex. When I walked in, he was quite gracious, offered me a seat, and complimented me on my outfit, which made me preen a bit without even thinking about it. After the pleasantries were over we got down to business.
I was expecting ink blots, or maybe that long test where they say a word and you give your first response, over and over, but that wasn't how it went down at all. It was like a chat with my old shrink Wesley, only more open and honest because I had nothing to hide anymore. It was a long talk, and it covered a lot of ground that's been covered right here in these pages, Dear Readers. My first incident, being caught red-handed in Charlene's school clothes, years of playing my secret game, my teenage years, the whole shebang. He was a very good listener, and was engaged and prompted me when he wanted more information. It was a bit exhausting because it took almost two hours, much longer than any counseling session I've ever heard of, but he wasn't counseling, just getting to know me. Still, it was therapeutic, and afterwards he told me that I was the most feminine transsexual he'd ever talked to, which was quite complimentary I thought, so I thanked him and we said our good-byes and I went home to wait for the results.
A couple of weeks later, Millie got the results back from my Final Evaluation, and she said that she was satisfied and would write me a recommendation for surgery to accompany the Psychiatrist's recommendation for surgery, since, I think, Harry Benjamin Society guidelines required two recommendations by certified counselors, at least one of them a doctor, to proceed with surgery. As I said before, Millie truly did help with the heavy lifting, I couldn't have had a counselor who was more familiar with the procedures and she was also respected by the portion of the medical community serving transsexuals. I think her health problems might have been interfering with her concentration during sessions, but she certainly did her job well in my estimation despite being obviously very ill at the time.
Now, back to my narrative. I had just returned to work, and was still weak from all that blood loss and the lingering effects of general anesthesia. Speaking of which, I have had a recurring waking dream (a unique experience, my dreams are rather baroque complex affairs that resemble Terry Gilliam films and I have only ever had this one dream repeat itself) in which I am laying on a flat surface and my lower half is imprisoned somehow and there is an horrific pain in my groin and I force my way to a sitting position through a strange lassitude in my limbs, and there are people on either side of me trying to push me back down and I look down and see an anatomy display for just a second until I am pressed back down on my back, and then someone does something to my arm and I black out. This dream was a bit disturbing, and might hold some explanation for why I was in surgery for two hours longer than I expected to be.
Things had not changed at work, having surgery didn't make me any more or less acceptable to my co-workers. People sort of drifted off in my department, until I was the only one left, about one year and four months after my surgery, when they finally fired me. They tried to jack me out of my unemployment insurance by claiming it was For Cause, but I appealed and won in a fairly court-like setting. When I attended the hearing for the appeal, my new stepfather Frank volunteered to accompany me for moral support. Frank is a real sweetheart, he had met my mother a year or so before, and they moved together fairly quickly, and were like a couple of zany peas in a pod after that. They keep bunnies in the house as pets, and love action movies with really big explosions. Frank's pretty much a real genius from what I can tell, extreme social quirks and all. I mean, he feels genuine affection for people, and hides it behind bad jokes. He has terrible social graces but you know where he stands. I think he's the best thing to happen to Mom since, well, ever. It sure was nice of him to come along for moral support, I was impressed.
One thing that happened during my convalescence, before going back to work, was that Lori and I went shopping at the outdoor mall near her house in San Rafael. There was a Radio Shack, and I had been buying peripherals for my old Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, which I had purchased for $600 in early 1981, and which had been my one major spending weakness ever since. I couldnt resist checking out a Radio Shack I'd never been in, because you never knew which items they'd have in stock. In this place, there was an interesting Color Computer add-on, a plug-in cartridge high-speed serial port with terminal software on the cartridge. Also for sale was a 300-baud "direct-connect" modem. Both items were on clearance sale, and I reckoned that with those two items I could go online using my phone line.
I had already seen Jennifer surfing BBSes with her Commodore64 and her Modem Cartridge with built-in terminal software, so I had some idea of what to do. I picked up free copies of Computer Currents and Microtimes, and I read the BBS Listings in the backs of those magazines and looked for any that were in local telephone exchanges.
Eventually, I made it onto some multi-line BBS systems that had huge message bases and I became something of a minor local dial-up BBS celebrity, but I better not reveal my old BBS handle so as to not freak out my old BBS pals, who never knew me as anything but a rather goofy woman.
A few months after being voted Most Valuable Poster on the Man-o'-War BBS and getting free access, I also visited several similar BBS systems and spent some time reading and writing messages on three or four BBS systems per day. One BBS operator who had upgraded to a Unix box multi-line system had his old TBBS system running on a TRS-80 Model III with four half-height floppies, and he asked me if I'd like to borrow it and run my own BBS. I thought it would be cool to have a BBS dedicated to the TRS-80 color computer in my area, so that's what I set up, because there were only a few of those and they all sucked. Mine, of course, was magnificent, and became so popular that the message board got traffic from non-Color-Computer people too, and it became entirely a social BBS, and it got around 200 messages a day, which is a lot for a single-line system running a 1200-baud modem. I had several online games to play, lots of files to download, mostly for the CoCo of course, and I expanded the message bases to cover various topics of special interest.
Eventually, I upgraded to an Atari ST for my BBS system. I ran on Michtron software. It was still single-line though, but it allowed me to use the message base simultaneously with the online users. We had a lot of fun times, my BBS eventually specialized in pleasant nonsense, such as making up tall tales about ourselves and each other, and the unspoken rule was, once you made up something about someone, everybody had to treat it as if it was true from then on out. It got pretty funny and silly, especially since people could change their names and post under alternate identities, allowing them to create fantastic characters that interacted with each other hilariously.
I met several people who happened to be users on my BBS system. Various BBSes I participated in had pizza get-togethers in restaurants. I networked and schmoozed with people locally, and made lots of good friends who had never known me from before. Two of my best friends today are fellows who were once callers to my old dial-up BBS in the 1980's.
Not too long after my surgery, before I even went back to work, Diana introduced me to her roommate, Cheryl. Cheryl was a cherubic lesbian of 18 years old. She was officially the only person I knew who was younger than I was. I actually met her before my surgery, and instantly liked her. She was mature beyond her years, good-natured, wholesome, and I thought it was neat that she was a professional cabinetmaker. Anyway, while I was still recuperating from surgery, perhaps ten days after I got home, Diana and Cheryl came to visit me in my apartment. Lori was there too. I had been having trouble because even though Dr. Falces had sent me home with pills to soften my stool (sodium docusate I believe it was), I was terribly constipated. General anesthetics have some weird effects on your bowels sometimes. I was in considerable pain because I hadn't taken a shit since before my surgery. Cheryl said she knew just the thing to fix me up, and she ran down to the car and drove tot he store and brought back a bottle of prune juice. She poured me a 16-ounce tumbler of the purple stuff and bade me drink it all. Oh my gosh, Cheryl was right! It was just the thing. Talk about natural relief! Thanks again Cheryl!
Speaking of Cheryl, she moved out not too long afterwards, I think to move in with a girlfriend. So Diana advertised for a new roommate, and the roommate she got turned out to be part of my continuing adventures!
Diana's new roommate was a man. His name was Dan, and his wife had kicked him out of the house for some reason or other. Dan tried to explain what had happened once, but it was kind of mumbly because he was obviously embarrassed by it. Apparently his wife thought that he might have touched his eight-year-old daughter inappropriately. I found this out towards the end of my dealings with Dan, I doubt if I would have had anything to do with Dan if I'd known that up front.
I met Dan when i was visiting Diana. She introduced him as her new roommate, then she and I retired to the kitchen to play Scrabble. Dan said he had to practice, and he sat in the living room with a guitar and practiced his music. He played and sang quite nicely, and I told Diana that I thought he sounded a bit like the Young Elvis. Dan heard me and said, in a deep-voiced impersonation of the King, "Thank you. Thank you very much."
Well, Diana and I had a splendid time, as usual, playing Scrabble. She kicked my lily-white ass as usual. Diana enjoyed my company because she craved intellectual stimulation, and I provided it. Nobody else would dare play Scrabble against that tile-bearing land shark! So we would sit there and toss puns back and forth and I would try (unsuccessfully) to throw her off her game by cracking her up all the time.
Dan must have been listening the whole time. Because he begged Diana for my phone number, and when she gave it to him, he called me to tell me that he'd written a song just for me, and he played it over the phone. I was naturally very flattered. I told him I liked his music, and he told me that he was playing a concert his band played every year, for some mentally challenged young people in downtown San Jose, who put on a big annual dance with Dan's band as the live music. So Dan asked me if I would like to come to see his band play the dance, which was coming up that week. I said sure!
The night of the dance, I went with Diana, and Cheryl was there, and we went to the place where the dance was to be held and Dan and his band were already there, all set up and about 15 minutes from their first number. The mentally challenged kids had a great time that night, and Dan's band played oldies with consummate skill. It was fun watching those kids dance, they were quite good at those old sock-hop type dances, I even saw some jitterbugging. It was a most pleasant evening.
After the dance wound up and the kids were bused out, Dan's band was breaking down their equipment, and Diana and Cheryl and I were going to go, but Dan asked if I'd care to ride back to his and Diana's place with him instead, so I said sure why not, see you there Diana, good-night Cheryl, good to see you again (I felt like the lion to Cheryl's Titus Andronicus whenever I saw her, she'd pulled the thorn from my paw big-time). I got in Dan's car, him holding the door open for me very smartly.
On the way home, we were stopped at a light, and Dan turned to me, and said he loved me, and that he wouldn't do anything if I would just sleep in his bed with him that night, he just wanted to hold me. I felt trapped in the car there with him alone, he was so insistent, and I was almost afraid to tell him No, but I did. He kept trying to talk me into it, he kept insisting that all he wanted was to hold me. But it just seemed, well, kind of creepy, like I'd just met him and we hadn't even gone out on a date yet and he was talking the L Word. And he was married, though separated. I still didn't know why he was separated. But on the way home, he volunteered the information, though he sort of stumbled and mumbled his way through it. I sort of clenched inside and just wanted the ride to end. Finally we arrived back at Diana's, he must have taken a long route there, that ride took so long! I was so relieved to see Diana! But the night was not yet over, alas.
Dan wound up volunteering to drive me home. I was maybe a 35 minute walk from her place, coincidentally enough, that's practically next door in San Jose terms. But Dan made the offer, and I didnt know of a way to refuse without sounding hostile. So I accepted the ride, and he behaved himself on the ride, but unfortunately now he knew where I lived.
Dan already had my number, that's how he played that song over the phone to me in the first place. Now he had my address. Sure enough, a couple of days later, I was in my apartment, reading a book, and there was a knock at the door. I never answered the door in those days unless someone had called and told me they were coming, I assumed any drop-in visitors were salesmen or worse. So I just went on reading. Then Dan's voice came through the door: "I know you're in there! Please, Alison, I just want to talk to you!"
I sat there, horrified. This was a nightmare! I lived a solitary Spartan life at this point, no luxuries but my computer gear and my paperback books. I was sort of shocked at how suddenly this obsessive man had taken me into his ambit like this. The pounding on my door got louder and more aggressive-sounding. Dan's voice started sounding angry through the thin hollow-core apartment door.
Finally, the knocking stopped. I started to relax, and then suddenly the phone rang! I let the machine pick it up, and it was Dan, and he sounded pissed! He had driven tot he Shell station and was calling my machine from the payphone, chewing me out for not talking to him. I waited, and when he ran out of tape he didn't call again. But he came back and knocked some more, for about half an hour. And that's that last I ever saw of Dan, I told Diana I was afraid of him and she said he was already given notice to move out, maybe she was tuned in to what was going on somehow.
All during those first couple of years after surgery, I was visiting Jennifer occasionally, perhaps twice a month; usually late at night because we were both night owls and both of us sort of peaked after midnight. I still felt extremely close to Sandi and Jennifer, and the additional personages of Eldenath and Stephen were also persons who I viewed with vast affection. Eldenath was a real cutie, when i first met her I was pre-op and very early in transition, and Eldenath was still with a man who had this little devil-beard. They kind of had this "Spyke & Drusilla" vibe, which was cute as hell, and my first word to Eldenath were "Oh, that is a really pretty ring!" and she replied, still in character, "It can also bite," mocking throwing a little punch, and I thought to myself, "Awww," because she reminded me of a feisty little kitten I once had, he weren't afraid o' no one! I immediately liked Eldenath, her being one of the all-too-scant exampled of three-dimensional humanity I had up until then experienced.
Stephen came along a bit later, when I was post-operative. He was an old friend of Jennifer's from high school, and one of the most brilliant young men I'd ever met up to that point, despite his handicap of liking Apple hardware. I was impressed with how he was comfortable with his own masculinity and not threatened by Jenny's Transition at all. And he was very interesting to talk to. Jenny's little family was like an oasis of peace and love and intellectual stimulation that I craved like a drowning person craves oxygen. I didn't want to be a pest though, so I tried to keep from bugging them too much.
One day, Sandi and Jennifer ask me if I might be interested in moving with them to Santa Rosa. I said Of Course I Would, and we even went on a day trip up to Santa Rosa to talk to a Real Estate rental agent and ask her some questions. It was a fun day trip, we played games and sang in the car on the way there and back.
A week or two after that, Sandi and Jennifer told me that they had decided to move to Pocatello, Idaho, all of a sudden. They were packing already, and they moved very shortly afterwards. I came over on the last day that they were here in the South Bay Area, and I helped them load their stuff onto the rental truck. When I waved good-bye to them outside the now-empty house, it was like a big chunk of myself was going away too. I had my occasional visits with Lori, but she lived two hours away. I had my computer programming and my BBS surfing. I had my books. But I was now well and truly Alone in every way. My TS friends had all gone into the woodwork like me, as most post-ops do. I had barely begun the BBS thing, and I was living alone. Other than a weekly visit with my Mother, and the hostile environment at work (and then the job-hunting and the replacement job with a grumpy old boss man), I had little contact with people who knew me. I started spending most of my time alone in my apartment, actually bringing home food for the weekend on Friday night and not leaving the apartment again until Monday morning.
On my new, rather diminished-capacity job (women are not valued as much as men in high tech, or at least they weren't in the 1980's), I noticed that everyone else who worked for Bernie was in college. I reasoned that if those guys, who were pretty ordinary guys, could handle college, I sure could. I needed to do SOMETHING to get out of the apartment and try to get out of the deep depression I'd been in since Sandi, Jennifer, Eldenath, and Stephen had left town. I started taking college courses at De Anza college, and it did provide a distraction, but wasn't all that enjoyable, just time-filling. I wound up with an Associate Degree in Multidisciplinary Studies, Magna Cum Laud, after several years of part-time attendance. I was glad to graduate and end it though, because my depression was widening and was engulfing me whole.
I wasn't taking care of myself. I stopped taking my hormones. I started overeating, because food gave me momentary pleasure. I gained loads of weight, all through college and for over a decade afterwards. My life had become a Deathwatch. I was just marking time like a condemned prisoner, waiting to die. Momentary pleasure was all I could derive. I enjoyed the visceral pleasure of videogames, or the consciousness-dissolving experience of writing, usually on my BBS. But as soon as I shut down the computer, the silent depression hammered at me, dragging me down, keeping me hiding in my room. I had moved to save money so I could afford books and tuition, and was living in rented rooms instead of an apartment, but roommates were just strangers to me. I hid, living only in the worlds of BBS and the paperback science fiction and mystery novels I read. The real world was my Limbo.
This continued, with some ups and some downs, until 2003. in March of 2003, I was 5' 11-1/2", 285 pounds, I was so depressed I didn't even read anymore, I just played videogames and surfed gaming-related message boards every second I had. I had been laid off twice in three years, and had spent nearly two of those years unemployed and living off my dwindling savings. It seemed that perhaps some kind of climax was at hand.
Tune in, Dear Readers, for the uplifting (I promise!) final chapter of this narrative.
Chapter the Tenth - Loving Yourself Enough to Re-Invent Yourself
In March of 2003, I had been battered by the Dot Com Crash of two years before. I was laid off in spring of 2001 from my job as Manufacturing Engineer at a major international fiber optics company specializing in vertical integration in the spring of 2000. Four days after 9-11, I got a job offer that lasted a year. I got that job because my old boss at Xerox PARC had given me a good recommendation. After a year, the startup was faltering a bit, so they had to let me go. so by March of 2003, I had spent 20 months since 2000 completely unemployed. My savings were due to run out by September and my unemployment benefits, even with extensions, ran out in January. I was not sure what was going to happen then, I had never been in such a lousy job market before.
In the midst of all this, I wasn't doing much besides job hunting online during the mornings, and playing videogames the rest of the time, with the TV on in the background but ignoring the TV for the most part. I ate cheap stuff like crackers and frozen pizza and Value Menu items. I occasionally cooked, but only immense quantities of "comfort food" like casseroles and spaghetti. As I mentioned before, I was 5' 11-1/2", and weighed 285 pounds.
I sort of woke up a little bit from my deep dark depression and saw that I was rapidly approaching the 300 pound mark. I decided that I should try dieting. I chose the Atkins Diet because it made some biological sense, after all the bulk of my intake was cheap low-nutrition carb calories. I quit drinking sugared soda immediately, and went on the Induction Phase of the Atkins Diet. In two weeks, I had dropped 20 pounds, and was greatly encouraged. I remained on Induction for a few weeks longer, and continued dropping weight rapidly. I was bicycling for exercise once a day for a few miles, but then I tried jogging on turf, and badly strained my knees, so I was hobbling around for a couple of weeks, and decided to can the exercise and focus on the diet. I lost 60 pounds all told, and also I managed to find a job in July of 2003, the job I currently hold as a matter of fact. I am no longer a high tech engineering type though, now I sell stuff on eBay for my employer.
I lost 60 pounds by September of that year, and was down to 225 pounds. I stayed at that weight for another three years, working at my new job and still playing video games for my free time. I did visit my Mother once per week, and I also visited my two old BBS friends about once a week, but otherwise my life consisted of work and video games and little else.
Last November, I had a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner with my Mother and Frank. Dinner was good, we enjoyed our usual relaxing viewing of a portion of a DvD Box Set, and I petted their kitty cat, a sweet long-haired goofball with loads of personality that I had won over despite his shyness. But I was still, after all was said and done, in my decade-long deep depression, my Deathwatch. I went home, and the Thanksgiving Weekend progressed. Sunday night, I didn't visit Mom because we'd done our weekly visit on Thursday, so I had an unusual opportunity to sit in my room alone reflecting on my Thanksgiving. I, naturally, did not see a lot at that point to feel grateful for. I had had my surgery, but though it made me whole, it didn't, in itself, constitute the basis of a happy life. It was merely an outer anatomical change to match my inner mental anatomy, it wasn't a magical panacea, though I had attached great significance to my surgery beforehand, imagining it to be the solution for a host of problems.
As I reflected, I thought to myself Why Am I So Depressed All the Time? The usual answer came back, loneliness. But why was I so lonely? Wasn't that partially my fault? What could I do to be less lonely?
Well, I reflected, I could spend less time playing videogames, and thinking about videogames, and writing about videogames. I could spend time in the Real World, and meet more people there, though I am actually painfully shy and I only fake a form of gregariousness to overcome my shyness.
I also reflected that I had let myself go. How could I expect anyone to like and respect me when I so obviously did not care for or respect myself? I was 45 years old, still fairly overweight, and a shy hermit. That was not a formula for anything but continuing solitude. I had lost 60 pounds a couple of years before, but I was still way too big, and felt ugly and ashamed of my appearance, which contributed to my shyness and my hermit-like behavior.
I decided that I would go on another self-designed program of weight loss. This time it would be strict calorie-counting plus mild aerobic exercise. I started out by finding out how many calories it would take me, without exercising, to maintain my then-current weight of 225 pounds. I then simply cut that figure in half to determine how many calories I would allow myself to eat in one day. I figured I could allow a slight exception on Sunday nights so I could eat dinner with my Mother and Frank, but even then to be much more careful, and keep it under my BMR.
I began walking every night, no exceptions, rain or shine. At first it was just around my neighborhood, around and around, a bit more each week. I got a pedometer, and started measuring my distances. I was at 2.65 miles per day when I first got the pedometer. I began walking in random directions, for 2.5 miles, then doubling back, and that's where I am today, at 5 miles every night, and I am now eating about 850-1150 calories per day.
I also take a multivitamin with minerals to keep my nutritional needs met. I have dropped 35 pounds in the two months since I had my Thanksgiving Weekend epiphany, and my original goal, 180 pounds, which I originally planned to reach by the end of June, I shall likely hit within another six weeks at most. So I looked up the Body Mass Index at the USDH website, and for my height, a woman right in the middle of the normal BMI is 160 pounds, so that is my now-ultimate goal. I expect to achieve it, at the current weight-loss curve, by May.
I started taking hormones again when I started this. I also started moisturizing my skin, and shaving my legs and underarms again. I still had 100 2.5 milligram Premarins, they don't even make them that big anymore, so I have been taking those whole (I used to cut them in half, but I figure they must have lost some potency in years of shelf life). I also went online and ordered some .625 MG Premarins, 120 of them, and they arrived and are waiting for me to run out of the older, four-times-as-high-a-dose, Premarins.
In other words, I have started taking care of myself again. I decided that the secret to loving yourself isn't treating yourself kindly or nicely; it's being tough on yourself when you need it, forcing yourself to do the tough things you don't like doing but need to be done. As much as I love the first couple of miles, the last couple can be pretty hard, but mean old bitchy Alison forces poor sweet meek little Alison to keep it up, night after night.
I also bought a new bra and am wearing it. I quit wearing a bra when my first one wore out, and when I was really really fat I just didnt bother with stuff like that. I've been dressing in dark loose-fitting clothing for almost 20 years now, basically just unisex pants-and-pullover kind of crap. I literally hadn't worn anything recognizably female in almost 20 years.
I now weigh less than I did when I had my surgery, and my breasts are larger than they were then. I am in better shape than I have been since the second year of my Transition began. I have discovered how to love myself ruthlessly and without mercy, and I have learned to fear even the thought of not obeying my nagging demands upon myself, for fear of additional tasks heaped on top of the unfinished ones. I have decided that before I can expect others to value me, I need to value myself. I am more feminized now than I was 21 years ago, and healthier, and I feel as if, as I grow ever more noticeably feminine and pretty-looking, and as I begin to pass even my slender pre-Transition weight, as if the very last vestiges of masculinity are sublimating away. I am melting towards my Ultimate Self, a woman never-before seen because she's been hidden inside my old shell.
The Deathwatch is over, and my Life has resumed, with a stronger pulse than ever. I have always been a late bloomer in almost every respect, from puberty to college to, what I think I am attaining, true Maturity. When my next birthday rolls around this summer, I shall treat myself to a fun shopping spree, and buy myself colorful summer clothing of light, bright fabrics, and I shall join social clubs and meet people in Real Life and I will LIVE.
I WANT TO LIVE.
And that, Dear Readers, concludes my little narrative. I have tried to remain focused on a fairly narrow spectrum of my existence, centered on my Transsexuality. There is a vast amount of personal ground left uncovered or merely hinted at or sketched-in. I apologize for the narrowness of the focus, but I intended for this memoir to be read online, and in the interests of brevity I have attempted to maintain this focus throughout. I want people to know that they can do anything they want if they put their hearts into it. Don't dream it, be it, as the song goes. No matter how bad it might be for you, remember, these times will pass, and you are the architect of your own future. Don't be afraid to change! Don't be afraid to be abandoned. You can never abandon yourself. Love yourself, but make it tough love when you need it. May good fortune follow you in all of your endeavors!