Stages of Fear

I’ve been writing a lot about coming out , and my latest get together with a couple of my trans friends provides more insight. 

We will call them girl-A & girl-B, and we had a nice little gathering recently. We don’t get to see girl-B much, so it’s always a treat when she's there. After much catching up our topic of talk always turns to all things trans. 

Girl-B opined that she had had little, if any, ‘girl time’. A relative had moved in with her and that made the transformation all but impossible. I have known girl-B for quite a while and I know that she really finds the thought of being discovered unpleasant.

 I can remember an occasion that we were attending an event and I was giving her a ride. She had me come down the alley and park in her garage. As I drove was away from her house she ducked down a bit until we were well clear of her neighborhood.

This is not unusual behavior. Most trans people, women in particular, raised more than a couple of decades ago have been through this. The thought of anyone seeing you struck absolute fear in your heart. I know, I was there once.

 Girl-B is quite comfortable around other LGBT people and is actually quite lively, often the center of attention. So it’s not a matter of her being shy.

 Girl-A and I often ride together to events. I drive to the front of her house and she walks out to my car. We often go to public places together, museums, movies restaurants, she is extremely comfortable in public. 

 Originally from another town, except for wife & kids, all her family and friends are in her home town. She is going home for an extended visit this summer and is quite scared of their reaction to her appearance. She is adamant that they can never know anything about her being trans, so she is afraid they will notice that her eyebrows are thinner, that her beard does not grow (laser treatments), that her hair is very long.

Girl-A is perfectly comfortable with strangers, It’s a different town and except for her trans friends, almost no one knows her. She worries only about her family and friends back home, and states she would rather die, than cause any of them the discomfort of knowing she is trans.

 Girl-B is afraid of her family and friends knowing, but is also afraid strangers. She feels that everyone will judge her poorly. The exception is her trans friends.

I know that I went through these stages myself. Originally I wanted no one to know, but I slowly added family, then friends, then strangers. 

 I wish I could say these are stages that we all pass through naturally, but this is not the case. I know many transgender women and I can see that everyone seems to find a stage they can live with and stick with it, or if they do move on to another stage, it’s a slow process. At least they all made it past the very first and hardest stage, leaving the house.

A cursory read on any of the many internet forums  will show you that the majority of the people on these sites will never leave their house. They will never get over that stage of fear that would let them meet in person, others like themselves..

So what can we do? I think that just like cis people, trans people need to get to know other trans people. And this is happening. Media exposure goes a long way toward the transgender stuck a home. But public exposure is what it will really take. Once they see others in common places the fear will lose some of it power.

 So how about my friend girl-A? She is certainly comfortable in public. Her only hope, is for her family and friends to be exposed to enough transgender people to think of trans as acceptable, then they will have to express it to her. Fear will prevent her from ever being the instigator in that talk.

 

Your Milage may vary...

Recently I have a chance to catch up with several of my Trans friends who are transitioning. We have known each other for some years and have all started HRT, although at different times.

The differences are quite startling. A couple have had breast enhancement, one looked fabulous, in my opinion, a perfect ‘C’ cup, The other went for more like a ‘D’ or Larger, I didn’t ask. One told me that she had been on HRT for 6 years with no breast growth, so she had the work done.

I talked to another girl who had around 6 years of HRT resulting in sizable natural breasts. She related a story about holding her grandchild and discovering her shirt soaked. Her breasts had spontaneously lactated.

When I contemplated HRT, I researched everything I could about it’s effects. I could find no definitive answers. Almost every source had at least some contradicting info. ‘You can expect growth similar to women in your family’,  ‘Past the age of 25 you can not expect any appreciable growth’,  ‘It’s all up to your genes’,  ‘It’s all up to the right doses of the right hormones’,  ‘It’s up the the zodiac sign you were born under’  and finally one actually said ‘ It’s in your mind, it you want it enough, it will happen’.

Why is the available info is so bad ? Maybe it’s that we have remained so hidden for so long, and there really is not a lot of quality documentation. I think we are on the verge of changing that.

I can say that my experience has been good. A year and a half into it and I have small but unmistakeable breasts. My skin is amazingly soft. And although it is really hard to see a difference in my shape, I can no longer comfortably fit into most of my boy clothes. Not from weight gain or loss, they are just all cut wrong. I have to buy mens shirts a couple of sizes larger. The shoulder seam hangs down my arm, but it fits through the chest. I had taken to stealing my Wife's jeans and short because they just fit better. And in a truly unexpected turn of events, I’m seeing hair on my Male pattern bald head returning. Will it fill in completely? Who knows, I hope so but am not counting on it. I always believed that having been devoid of hair for decades, it would never regrow. Pleasant surprise.

Is my experiences borne out with my friends? No, they have their own changes, at different rates and in different places. But isn’t this really just natural? CIS women experience the exact thing. I remember in school watching the girls change throughout Jr. High and High school. Some got really curvy really quick, other not so. Many would bloom as they entered college, some later, some never.

So be patient, things will happen at whatever pace your body is destined to. Relax and enjoy the ride.

Coming out at Work

Probably the hardest thing that any transgender does is come out publicly. It hangs over our heads like a guillotine poised to strike. Most of us spend years, some forever, actively preventing anyone from knowing our feelings.

But once you make the decision to live your life on the outside like it feels on the inside, you know that it has to be done.

Several of my friends are on similar journeys to mine and I spoke a recently with one about her experience coming out at work.

 She works for a large company so her first step was the Human Resources department. They consulted with the corporate office and got onboard. Her direct supervisor was supportive as were many of her colleagues. This did not stop some from complaining, resulting in her having to use a single stall bathroom, …in another building. Human Resources  intervened at the prodding of her lawyer and she can use the bathroom in her building again.

 

 Another friend still works in boy mode, in spite of a pair of very nice implants. She tells me she wears a big shirt, a big jacket and puts her hair in a ponytail down her shirt. Her reason is that it’s too much money to risk a bad reaction. Eventually she will apply to another company as female, thus avoiding the issue altogether.

 

 

 I am in the unusual position of being self employed as a consultant. This means there is no single HR to go to, no one place to make an announcement. I work for several companies, some government entities and many individuals. So I have multiple targets. Add to that an active political life and you end up with quite a complex problem.

 I’m taking it slowly, always a sound tactic. Starting with my individual clients, I am testing the waters. So far so good, the reactions have all been very positive, and I am encouraged. I have also informed my direct supervisor at one of my bigger clients. She was great, again very enthusiastic , even suggesting that I give a TED Talk on the subject. This clients HR is in my near future.

 Will my luck hold? Can I really just stop being Jeff and go to work everywhere Jess? Only time will tell.

A Man's Man !

I have come out to my family and friends. I tell them that it’s ok to tell anyone they want, it’s not a secret identity, I’m not a superhero!

One thing I really enjoy is hearing the story of them telling their family or friends. I am interested in the opinions of people without my presence to alter their response.

A common reply is ‘ You would not think that of him, he was such a ‘Man’s man’. These statements are usually based on shared experiences like backpacking or Mountain biking. Both activities that are perceived as manly, but are just as likely to have female participants as not.

This makes me reflect on how I behaved in the past. I expressed myself in as manly a manor as possible. I kept a beard or go-tee for most of my adult life, and although I never admitted it, it was my way of keeping me from expressing my feminine side. All part of the mask that I wore every day.

A little bit of self reflection always leads me to comparing what I have learned about myself to the rest of the world. I started looking at some of my trans friends, specifically the ones that are ‘Part time’, still in hiding from their work, friends, family and sometimes even their wives. When they are not expressing themselves as feminine, they exhibit that same ‘Man’s Man’ kind of attitude. Not the over the top attitude of a typical bully to frat house jerk, just an expression that they are a MAN, with no hint of femininity.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I know I did this as a way of keeping myself in check. A way to make it more difficult to express who I was inside. 

In the end, all I did was bottle up my feelings until they reached a breaking point where they could no longer be ignored.

Petition!

Target stores did a brave and wonderful thing by publicly declaring their support for non-discrimination. 

So of course the fear mongers have organized a boycott. They would not want to shop with people that don't fear the world as they do.

So today I ask you to sign my petition showing support for Target. We need to show an overwhelming number of supporters. This will go a long way to make the haters understand just what a minority the are.

Please Sign Here

     

 

 

 

Let the bathroom wars begin!

By now virtually every US citizen has heard of a ‘Bathroom Bill’, these nocuous, transphobic, fantasies of religious zealots. GOP politicians in control of the legislative branch of many states are pushing the idea as a “protection” law for women and children.

 These politicians have not thought this one through. They were complete taken by surprise at the response from Industry leaders,TV & movie production companies, Actors, Authors, and Musicians who have applied economic punishment.

 That’s good, but it’s going to take one more thing.

 The state legislators are hunkering down and waiting for the issue to go away. And this will work… as long as they keep the public scared. Scared of men in dresses - also known as perverts and rapists.

 Their mistake is not accounting for transmen, which they treat tike unicorns, mythical creatures that you never encounter.

 They sold their supporters on an image of a scary, unfeminine man in a bad dress with even worst makeup, intent on molesting anything it can find in the bathroom.

 So what happens when women see transmen in the bathroom? How about guys lined up at the urinals when a blonde bombshell sashays by?  The women scream, the men probably pee all over each other.

 We want this to happen, it’s a good thing for us. Don't resist the ban, embrace it, and quickly before that image is burned into the public psyche. We all need to find as many reasons to go into our birth gender restrooms as possible.

 Not only will this show them who we really are, but it will turn them against the bills proponents. Women and Transmen don’t want to share the same bathroom.

  The public needs to see the farce in these laws. States with upcoming legislation can benefit by an educated public. People can easily be blinded by fear, but once they understand the truth, fear no longer controls them.

  The best way we can fight this is from inside the battlefield.

America speaks

North Carolina governor signed a discrimination legalization bill, effectively overturning the City of Charlotte's recent anti discrimination ordinance. It prevents any city within the state to pass any law preventing discrimination of LGBT people.

Georgia has prepared and is awaiting it's governors signature on a similar bill. It goes so far as to promote defiance of the Supreme Court ruling on same so marriage.

Many other states have these types of vile, ignorant knee-jerk reaction bills.

I find this appalling, but what really strikes me is the overwhelming reaction of corporations and the public at large.

Hollywood has whole heartedly made it clear that it in no way will put up with nonsense. North Carolina and Georgia have benefitted from an sharp uptake of TV and Movie production. Hollywood has stated this will end abruptly if these discrimination bills stand.

 

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/actors-film-studios-create-georgia-boycott-over-anti-lgbt-law-20160324 , http://time.com/4271861/north-carolina-anti-discrimination-backlash/

 

IBM, PayPal, American Airlines, Google, Apple and many others have all expressed dismay at the blatant anti-social nature of these bills. While no threats as definitive as Hollywood, the corporations message hints at major financial repercussions.

The NCAA has threatened to pull planned tournaments from the state.

 

We are seeing the efforts of a small group of scared, ignorant law makers, intent on preventing change. But they do not represent the will of the people, and that makes me swell with pride!

Communication

I have left the political soapbox behind today and return to my personal ramblings.
Of late I've been revealing that I'm trans to just about everybody. Every encounter is different, but have all been positive.
There was one friend both my wife and I were apprehensive of. An older gentleman, divorced, who lives alone. I've known him for over a decade and we get along great. In spite of the fact he might be considered a curmudgeon.
 I came out to him recently and he seemed to ponder it for quite some time, but never had a harsh word. Quite the opposite he was very gracious.
 The next day I saw him with a serious look on his face, so I wondered if sleeping on it changed his mind. Unexpectedly he said "You shared a secret with me, so now it's my turn to share with you. Here is something that nobody in this town knows...".
 I'm sworn to secrecy so I can't elaborate on what he disclosed, but it was personal, legal and neither common nor unusual. I was humbled that he chose to let me in on his secret.
 It dawns on me that we have just expanded our communication capabilities. There are now two worlds of discussions we can have that were not possible before. I can talk of transgender issues, he can tell me of his secret world.
 Before the LGBT revolution, I'm sure that millions of people had to stifle their thoughts and feelings for fear of outing themselves. Now they can freely speak to anyone about their lives. Now it's the transgender community sharing our secret with the world.
 What starts as a minority pushing for rights has the side benefit of making human interaction more complete and precise.  

What happened to us?

- Sometimes I feel the need to speak about issues that are not transgender related, and today is one. -

When one group of people wants to takes over or destroy another, the usual way is through violence. If one of those groups is an entire society, the method is war.

You choose to fight a war to take over/destroy your enemy. Unless you know you can’t win, then you have to try other means.

Al Qaeda, ISIS, The Taliban and others I’m sure, want to wage war on the western world. They want us to die because we don’t believe in their extreme version of religion*, one that has no room for anything or anybody else on earth.

 Some also want reprisal for perceived digressions the West has hefted on their world over the past centuries, some just want our stuff.

 But they know they don’t have the strength to take on even the smallest western government in a direct war. 

If you can’t win directly against an emery, you have to make the enemy destroy itself. This is where terrorism comes in. You do things to make your enemy panic and do stupid things.

 The things they do have zero strategic value. No amount of market bombings, Mall shootings or even destruction of big buildings will ever help them gain one inch of ground on taking over the countries they attack. Killing 3000 people is terrible, but a drop in the bucket vs the 450,000 active servicemen in the US military alone.

They do it to make is scared.

  And it's working. The American people have become so afraid that we will do anything to feel ‘safe’ again. Even though our odds of being in a terror attack are a fraction of dying in our own bathrooms.

 They have made us so stupid that we take weapons to the movies for ‘Protection’ and shoot innocent moviegoers by accident. (http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/suspect-in-renton-theater-shooting-says-he-feared-random-attacks/).

We are becoming violent against our fellow citizens because of their religon. Something that drove people form their homelands and created our country in the first place. (http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/hate-attacks-muslims-u-s-spike-after-recent-acts-terrorism-n482456)

 We won WWII by breaking the secret Enigma code used by the Natzi's for secure communication. We heard everything they said about troop movement, attacks and supplies. Now the Governments wants to break our secure communications by forcing Apple to break the iPhone. Who among you think the terrorists did not think about this when they used an iPhone in their California attack? 

 They can’t break the encryption, so get their enemy to break it for them.

We are facing an election year, and instead of focusing on issues of human rights, non-discrimination and economic well being, we are thinking like chickens with our heads cut off. We favor a man who is an open racist, bully and con-man. A man who touts his business ability when virtually every business he attempts fails. ( Trump Airline, Trump Travel, Trump Mortgage, Trump Magazine, Trump Steaks, sold only at Sharper Image! ). His claim to fame is real estate and he does not even build or finance the buildings, he merely ‘Licenses’ his name to real developers. (http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-businesses-that-no-longer-exist-2014-10?op=1). 

Why? Because he says all the things that make a scared population feel safe. Says he will ban all Muslins, even though 99.9% have nothing to do with terrorism. He says he will build a giant wall on our border, and make someone else pay for it! 

 We are so scared that all our normal bullshit detectors have shut down.

 This is not a blog against Trump, if you want him, elect him, that is what democracy is about. But just think about the real reason you are doing so, and who made you feel that way. 

 

*These people do not represent Islam anymore than Jim Jones represented Christianity