Month: November 2015

Nothing But Darkness

So yeah, the “Nothing But Light” photo shoot was today….

I’d heard about it when a friend of mine posed. My initial reaction was that much as it was tempting to do it, in my case being naked in that way would put the focus on who I’m not rather than who I am.

I decided to push through that feeling. To face down my fears. To show that it was possible for someone with a body like mine could love a body like mine.

I pushed myself too hard. Sometimes when you stare into the abyss, the abyss not only stares back, but swallows you whole.

I don’t have a problem getting naked. I knew what I was getting into to. The photographer, Anastasia was lovely and excellent at putting me at ease. We had a great conversation during the shoot.

But while the spirit was willing, the body was saying fuck off. As we were reviewing the photos together after the shoot, Anastasia commented that during the shoot I rarely moved around during the shoot, and all my poses were tightly controlled — poses with “pretty hands” and “pretty legs” and otherwise positioning my body to looks as “feminine” as possible. It wasn’t something I did consciously. She said normally people start this way but usually loosen up after a bit. With people who perform it takes longer (since they’re used to presenting their body to audience) — one reason she does a very long shoot. I never did loosen up.

I knew this wasn’t going to be a glamour shoot — but part of the appeal was the challenge of communicating my femininity when the make-up, the padding, the clothes were all stripped away. (I did still wear a wig, which she was OK with.) But going through the photos all I could think was that my hair looked awful (it had frizzed a bit that morning and I didn’t have time to fix it), my skin without foundation looked red and blotchy, I had man-boobs instead of boobs, my belly was all-too-prominent. I looked fat, old and ugly — and far too male.

I wish I was more self-accepting of the body I have now. I want to be more self-accepting. I need to be more self-accepting. But it wasn’t happening today.

We did pick out a half-dozen photos out of the hundreds she took, in which I don’t look as bad. I do have the option asking her to pull the photos of the project — that was an upfront option she makes available to all the models. Not sure if I’ll exercise it. I’ll ask her to send me copies of the photos and take a second look at them. I probably need more time to process the experience.

I’ll probably never think of them as photos I like, but they may be photos I’m willing to be seen publicly.

Static in the Attic


This weekend will be the first time in six months that I won’t be living en femme (since I’ll be down at my mother’s for Thanksgiving).

Unexpectedly, the prospect of doing so doesn’t freak me out. A little sad perhaps, but it’s not a big deal. Probably because it’s really just one day, since I’m flying back Saturday night.

I still feel like I’m occupying a place on both sides of a threshold I don’t quite understand; at that place of transition, waiting, and not knowing.

Though I sure seem to be meandering towards transition. I’ve started electrolysis, I want to do voice work when time and money permit. Hormones are something I’m thinking of trying after I finish up electrolysis. I sent my photos off to the medical artist who does the Virtual FFS stuff.

All of which has caught me by surprise. I never really expected to be in this place. I never prayed to wake up as a girl when I was young. I’ve always been fairly comfortable with Teh Tranz, even when I knew society wasn’t. So it’s not like I’m sloughing off years of self-denial and self-hatred.

And yet…

As I try to work on one of my other “not happy with the current state of affairs” issues (the lack of a social life that’s not up in SF) I ask myself whether I want to build up a local social circle as a man or a woman, and the answer is pretty clear — I want new people I meet to know me as a woman.

I’m becoming increasingly less comfortable (for the most part) being in places where people see me switching genders. To the point where I won’t go out to certain restaurants on a weeknight because I usually go there en femme on the weekends. (Burly is a bit different, in part because when the clothes come off it’s pretty obviously I’m not your standard-issue woman.)

I’m leaking gender at work. I’ve been wearing (a nice neutral) nail polish to work for the past couple months. I wear stud earrings. The past two weeks I’ve worn a woman’s sweater to work — albeit the gendering of the sweater, buttons along the sleeves, was pretty subtle so no one probably noticed. (And the irony is that I worn it many because the weather turned cold and I can’t find the box of men’s sweaters I put away last spring.) There’s two fashionista co-workers who I haven’t explicitly come out to — that it’s more than just for the stage — but I’ve talked with them about needing to put together a fall wardrobe, so it’s probably not too hard for them to read between the lines. As far as I know this hasn’t caused any issues — one advantage to having a good number of people there knowing that I perform.

And yet…

I don’t hear the siren call of transition. Much as the Pink Express is problematic, there is something to be said for certainty. In my case, I’m finding I’m more comfortable as a woman, and I don’t hate being a man, even if at times it’s feeling more like a part I play. I don’t have a horror at the thought of dying as a man. It’s more like…. done the guy thing for 50 years, been there, done that; maybe it’s time to try something different.

Will it work to have a life working as a man and living as a woman outside of work (perhaps with some chemical enhancements)? Quite possibly. Quite possibility not. As said, in another thread, the tipping point often seems to be when people reach a discomfort level that they can’t take anymore. Maybe I’m the boiling frog, but it doesn’t seem like I’m close to that yet.

I do have serious — if probably somewhat unfounded — worries about the impact transitioning would have on my career, especially in light of a friend’s comment that she traded her career for transition. Especially since I’m at an age where age discrimination in Silicon Valley becomes a definite thing. Which, when I am support myself is a bit scary, even if I do have far more financial reserves than most people who transition. Because the Bay Area is so fucking expensive, but there’s very few other places I’d want to live.

I do have a lot more churn in my head related to Teh Tranz these days. Mostly because I still feel like I’ve moved out of one stable place and don’t really know where I’m headed. Because I’m thinking through various possible scenarios (hey it’s what do for work). Maybe that static in the attic will calm down as I get more used to this true “dual living,” or as I work through the issues I’m wrestling with, or as I take more small steps. Or maybe that noise will be the precipitating event to transition.

Or who knows, I may end up rivaling another friend for the world’s slowest transition.

Transitioning in Place

By all accounts “transitioning in place” is hard. A friend of mine noted that looking at the bios of trans people who transitioned in place, it’s extremely common to see that within a few years after transition, they’re working somewhere else, and often they’ve switched in a different field. My friend had a bad experience with a workplace that slowly turned toxic post-transition and in the end, the only solution was to cut ties. The same goes for social ties — it can be hard for other people to do The Work to fully accept us as our new-to-them selves, so in the great American tradition, we leave and start over, free of pre-conceptions.

That’s a bit depressing, since I like where I live, and I like both my job and the company I do it for.

But especially in the workplace that makes sense — something to think about if I do end up transitioning. Though it might not be so bad, since I’m beginning to feel things are getting a bit stale at my current job. But I’m also at the age where age discrimination in Silicon Valley is a definite thing. Could I move into a different career? Sure, but it’s unlikely to pay as much as I make now, and given the insane Bay Area real estate prices that would have some serious consequences.

OTOH, one advantage of being in a large urban area is that it’s easier to move social circles without physically moving. Especially when my most of my social life is up in San Francisco, so there’s room to develop new social ties more locally.

But I’d hate to lose the social connections I’ve made, especially in the burlesque scene.

As one of those on the meandering path, I do have hopes of establishing myself as a woman, I might not need to cut those ties. Specifically in the burlesque scene I’ve been careful to (almost) always present as a woman. Not sure how exactly I’m seen. Definitely people know I’m trans. Some people know that I don’t live full-time as a woman. OTOH, with a few rare exceptions they’ve always interacted with me as a woman.

A Trick Not A Treat

Odd twinge at work on Halloween…

While I was in costume I needed to use the restroom, and under the circumstances I used the men’s. But it felt very awkward….

Really looking forward to BurlyCon in two weeks, where I’ll be a woman among 600-700 other women.

Other than that, I’m settling in to life as a (weekend) woman.