Month: November 2016

Legal Name/Gender Changes

Speaking of time flying… The court hearing on my legal name/gender change is a week from today — normally it’s just a formality, so I should have the court order in hand that day.

Although that’s the just the first step. Then you have to actually go change all your legal ID, and everything else with your legal name on it, which can take quite awhile.

Again I’m really privileged and lucky. I’m able to afford the $435 court fees (and California is a state where you can do a name/gender yourself without getting a lawyer involved). I’m able to afford the certificated copies of the court order at $25 each — I’ll probably need at least five: for the Social Security office (which every other government record references), DMV, passport, and the TSA PRE program; plus one to go in the safe deposit box). I also have an employer who’s supportive of me taking the time off to file the petition and for hearing itself.

Many trans people aren’t able to do all that.

FYI, the Transgender Law Center has an excellent resource on handling all the ID changes. It’s California-focused, but much of it is similar for other states.

We are Legion

It’s a small world….

Mom mentioned that her friend, had asked how “the boys” were doing, and Mom replied that she now had a son and a daughter. (Everyone say: “Awwww….”)

Mom’s friend got excited, because she’s mother to a trans man who transitioned a few months ago (he’s someone who attended my high school about the time I did, although I don’t really remember him). Apparently Mom had known this for awhile, although she never mentioned it to me until now.

This now makes three out my six family members/relatives who indirectly know someone trans.


When the Illusions Come Off

I suppose I should explain the context of my last post. Burlesque and BurlyCon have always been a double-edge sword for me.

OTOH, being able to be just another woman in the company of woman is hugely helpful helpful to the social aspects of my gender dysphoria. OTOH, it also usually kicks up the gender-related discomfort I have with my body.

I’m fortunate, unlike some trans people, I don’t feel like my body (or parts of it) are completely alien. But I’ve yet to feel really at home in it. With my clothes on, I can approximate the body I wish I had, the body that’s slowly moving closer to the body I have in my mind’s eye — although it will never be that body, I’ve been too fucked over by the androgyny fairy for that. It’s been a major issues I’ve had to come to terms with, and mostly I’ve made my peace with it. Mostly.

But when the clothes come off, well, so do the illusions. In both senses of the word.

It doesn’t help that in burly spaces I’m often around women who, if I could have their kind of bodies, I would do many terrible, terrible things.

Now hating your body is all too pervasive among women, given the way we’re socialized. Unfortunately the body positivity movement often rings hollow for me. “Love your body just the way it is”… well that doesn’t work so well if you’re trans. In fact it often feels damn exclusionary (even if it’s unintentional). It’s not just that I’m fat, but I’m fat in ways that are characteristic of someone who’s male-bodied. It’s not just that I have wide child-bearing shoulders, it’s that they combined with my narrow hips are characteristic of someone who’s male-bodied. It’s not just my large hands and feet make it extremely difficult to find rings and shoes that will fit, it’s that they’re characteristic of someone who’s male-bodied.

Earlier I had reached a bit of a detente with body, but with transition looming I’ve actually become become far less comfortable in my body as of late. The gap between what it is, and what it may be (after surgery and more time for hormones to take effect) seems unbearably wide at the moment.

Being Desired

Still coming to terms with an experience Saturday that was one of my most moving at BurlyCon — and of my life.

I was taking a class on “Eye Contact and Sensuality” — commonly referred to in burly world as “eye fucking the audience.” One of the exercises involved everyone walking around, locking eyes with someone and either: giving them a slow caress from their hair, to their face and down to their arms; or being the receiver of the caress.

With some people there wasn’t any connection, and we’d both continue on our separate ways; with some people it was perfunctory, just completing the exercise, with a surprising number of people it was a quite intimate shared experience with a stranger (more about that later possibly).

And then my eyes met the eyes of one woman….

It’s a cliche of desire to talk of magnetic attraction, of feeling a jolt of electricity shot through you, of getting completely lost in another’s eyes, when you meet that special someone. Honestly I’ve never felt that in my life. Never.

But this time… Our eyes met and we both seemed pulled together by forces larger than ourselves. I caressed her, she caressed me. It got hotter than the passion of a thousand burning suns. (Afterwards other members of the class commented that they expected us to go get a room at any moment — and that was before we met again during the second round of the exercise, when when we were instructed to channel sexual energy (or not) into our gazes.)

In that moment, I felt completely and utter desired. Something I’ve never felt before. Not once.

Unfortunately, I got buttonholed at the end of the class and the woman slipped away before I could talk to her or find out who she was. I never saw her again.

Realistically, at this point, it will remain only a cherished memory. (Though should we somehow connect again, obviously I’d love to talk to her.)

Did she genuinely desire me, or was it just acting? (If it’s the latter, I bow down to her +1,000 mad ninja eye fucking skillz.)

I’ll probably never know, and ultimately it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it happened at a time when I’m feeling particularly unsexy, unattractive, and unlovable. Whoever you are, wherever you are… thank you, thank you so very much.

That Moment When…

That moment when… You’re in a class and although you assume you’re “visibly trans,” you have to decide to say “as a trans woman” because there’s a point that you can’t really make without outing yourself.

Again this is where being “out and proud” is different if you’re T vs. LGB — for latter it’s telling people who you really are, but for transitioning trans people it tends to focus attention on who you were (or at least who people think you were).

One of the things I enjoy about burlesque and BurlyCon in particular, is that it’s been a space where I’m accepted as a woman in the company of (almost exclusively) women. Last year’s BurlyCon was marred for me by some transphobic incidents — both the incidents themselves, but also that by calling attention to them I by necessity had to call attention to myself being trans.

Now I’m not one of those transitioners who plans to disappear into the woodwork post-transition. I’m proud to be a woman who’s trans. But there’s just some days where it’s just… nice… to have that not be the thing that defines me. To be just another woman.

Today wasn’t something that needed calling out. I didn’t have to raise the point I raised, it was just offering an insight that was a bit unique.

(It was a class on eye contact and one of the exercises was for everyone to walk around the room and hold eye contact far longer than normal as they encountered people. For me, I initially had to stifle an automatic defensive reaction, because “the stare held too long” is the reaction I get from people who are displeased by my gender, or at least are trying to figure out my gender. And while I don’t let that bother me anymore, it does mean I go do become much more watchful of whether the person staring poses a potential threat. At this point it’s more of an ever-present, almost unconscious continual threat assessment, just likes he ones I do without thinking as a woman being out in the streets at night.)

I raised this because I thought it would be a useful bit of gentle consciousness raising, especially apropos now.

But yeah, it’s complicated…

The Political Gets Personal

That moment when you realize that the State Department change dropping the requirement that you have genital reassignment surgery in order to change your gender on your passport will likely be repealed under a Trump administration, and you frantically look at the calendar to see if there’s enough time after the name/gender court order gets issued to get your passport changed before your overseas trip at the end of the year.

Rationally I know it would probably be OK, because I only need the wait until mid-February for all the various travel to be done with.

OTOH, Trump just announced that the head of his domestic agenda transition team is a guy from the Family Research Council, a virulently anti-gay, anti-trans extremist hate group that’s one the key organizations that has been pushing the trans bathroom predator/bathroom bill agenda.

Fortunately there a regional passport office in San Francisco where you can do walk-in rush service, although you have demonstrate that you’ve got an imminent trip. The big hitch is that you need to get your Social Security info changed first. Pretty sure the latter requires a court order, but need to double check (I’m at a conference and just haven’t had a chance to do so). Having a friend who temp’d at the passport office talk to people he knows there, to hopefully find out more.

When I filed the name change petition they said it usually takes about three weeks to get a hearing. Which would leave a week’s window before I go under the three-week advanced period for booking a flight, afterwards airline prices start jumping. OTOH, worse case it’s only the flight to Buenos Aires that’s affected, so I could eat the extra cost if needed.

When I get the hearing date info I’ll also call the court and see if there’s any way to get them to expedite the hearing date.

There’s also been some local lawyers offering pro bono work to help with trans name changes, so it may be worth a call to one of them.

Some to Do, So Little Coffee

I realized I’ve just been feeling exhausted lately is that transition not only takes up a good amount of mental/emotional energy, but also by just the sheer amount of time it’s taking up.

Appointments with my electrologist, gender therapist, and speech therapist usually take up 10 hours a week. Then there’s been regular drives up to San Francisco to see the hormones doc, and time needed for the related blood tests to monitor things for him. Plus last weekend’s visit to Mom so she could meet me, the time spent this past two weeks with my brother and the relatives after the coming email. Laser hair removal for my body every 6-8 weeks. Dealing with the surgeon’s office for my upcoming facial feminization surgery in January and having to book flights and place to live during the recovery. Getting the paperwork together for my legal name and gender change, going to the bank to get my birth certificate out of the safe deposit box, going to the courthouse next week to file the paperwork. Going through my male clothes and getting rid of them.

With yet more stuff to do on the horizon.

Gaining a Sister

Just got off the phone after an hour-and-half conversation with my brother who called. We’ve drifted apart over the years and aren’t very close, especially since he lives back East, although during the call we both said we’d like to reconnect going forward.

It was a bit of “ask me anything,” so I ended up talking about the full gamut of Teh Tranz, including: electrolysis, how I chose my name, the effects of estrogen, what I’m expecting to happen at my job, my upcoming facial surgeries in January, as well as my “backstory” — I’d mentioned in my coming out email to him that I’ve felt trans since around puberty and he was interested in hearing my life story about that part of my life.

Another one of those “small world” moments.* Turns out both a trans girl and a trans boy attend the school his two oldest kids go to. So it’s not unfamiliar to them and apparently didn’t faze his oldest daughter, who’s 16, when he told her. (He hasn’t yet told the two younger brothers who are 14 and 12, in part because he wanted some help on age-appropriate explanations.)

We both ended up choking up at the end of the call, when he said, “I guess I should say goodbye to [boyName] and hello to Marla.”

He really has been amazingly supportive. When he replied to my coming out email, he congratulated me and said he wasn’t losing a brother, but rather gaining a sister, and used my proper name when he called me today.

* It previously turned out that one my cousin knows two trans people via friends.

Tipping Point

A friend who considered transition but didn’t commented that I have more guts than he does (he’s now male-identified).

I don’t know that it’s guts — rather I reached a point where transitioning seems easier than not transitioning.