To The Pain

I’ve only alluded to it, but I’ve been in some pretty serious pain since November thanks to a pinched nerve in my neck.

It was manageable while I was in Buenos Aries for facial feminization surgery, but right after I got back I then had to fly to SoCal and help then I helped my mother move from the house she’d lived in for 47 years into a retirement community. (Mom is quite happy there and has duplex that’s nicer than my house. It is a bit weird seeing your childhood home for the last time.)

Unfortunately, all the flying — as well as not being able to see my healthcare providers who had been treating it — really worsened the pinched nerve problems and I went through six weeks of excruciating pain that couldn’t be controlled with medication (or medical marijuana). Thankfully the pain has been generally under control for the last week and half after a medical procedure. But I’m on the maximum dosage of a (non-narcotic) pain killer, which isn’t the best thing to be on long-term, and they still don’t fully understand what’s now going on in my shoulder that’s continuing to cause pain. The rehab specialist at my regular medical group ended up referring me to the Stanford Pain Management Clinic to see if they can tame it. Which means another round of waiting to get into see the specialists there. Ugh. In the meantime I’m still working with my PT, chiropractor, two orthopedic massage therapist and acupuncturist.

So all my plans of resting and recharging (and hopefully being able to do some spring cleaning) got shot to hell. Aside from all the health care appointments breaking up my day, chronic pain is just incredibly draining. There was one day where my major achievement was that I took out the trash and washed the sink. I’m still far from 100 percent.

But it’s back to work whether I really want to or not.

Better Living Through Chemistry

Wanna know why trans women are often cranky… it’s because the drug that’s used to block testosterone is actually normally used as a diuretic, but we use it at far higher doses. Meaning you’re constantly needing to pee hella bad, dying of thirst, and craving all the salty snacks (ALL of them) — all at the same damn time.

Trader Joe’s miso soup to the rescue. Some trans women will drink pickle juice straight from the jar, but I hate pickles. Although I have been known to eat salt straight from the shaker.

Coming Out Resources

By request, here’s both my coming out letter and my Trans 101 FAQ, in case someone find them useful.

Feel free to copy from either, since mine were in part based on stuff copied from other excellent examples.

My HR director suggested I handle coming out as trans similar to how one would handle it is she needed to announce that she was pregnant and about to take maternity leave, i.e. this is something to celebrate.

So the email is intentionally relatively short, positive (i.e. no defenses about being trans or a litany of the struggles to reach the decision transition), and covered the essentials around what name/pronouns to use. I also explicitly asked for people’s support going forward.

The separate FAQ took a similar “light touch” tone, but got deeper into the likely questions people had. Although it too was intentionally brief. The FAQ was intentionally designed to start with Trans 101 in less than 10 bullet points, with an additional six bullet points about how to interact with trans people. Even if people stopped reading there, the basics were covered. The second part gave a bit deep explanation of each point, and the whole thing was kept to 5 pages, including a half-page of link to additional info in case someone wanted to learn more.

Everything You Always Wanted To Know Sample transition letter

Everything You Always Wanted To Know

Of course it’s hard to beat The Axis of Awesome’s approach (NSFW language):

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.


In the Wake of the Pulse Massacre

Dear cis/straight people who’ve remained silent,

Among those few who’ve spoken up, I’ve often heard that they felt like they didn’t know what to say, I get that. When someone’s parent, someone’s child, someone’s sibling or even their dog dies, we often don’t know what to say.

That’s why there’s ritual phrases: “My condolences.” “I’m sorry for your loss.” “I’m there for you.” Phrases that we say without thinking, without hesitation in the aftermath of other losses.

Imagine someone murders your parent, or your child, or your sibling, or even your dog. And no one says anything. Imagine the place you go to feel safe being violated. And no one says anything. Imagine knowing that it’s all too possible that someone you love, or you yourself, might well be murdered, in your refuge of safety. And no one says anything.

Yeah, it’s like that. And the silence has been deafening.

I get it, everyone processes tragedy in their own way. Some folks try to distract themselves, some folks withdraw. I get that you might need to get off Facebook for a bit.

I get that you might not have the energy to reach out individually to the LGBT people you know — I know I haven’t. I get that offering your condolences to an LGBT person might trigger emotions you rather not deal with right now — I know it has for me.

But honestly, how hard is it to take a moment to offer your condolences. Even getting on Facebook for a minute and making a quick post that you don’t what what else to say, but that you share our grief, that you’re with us.

Because a lot of us need to hear this right now. To know that someone else shares our pain. To know that we’ve not been abandoned. To know that we’re not alone.

P.S. I’m sure some of you are pissed off and defensive after reading this. If you are, ask yourself why are you so upset about being asked to do for us, what you routinely do for others. Just think about that.

Mourning Pulse in Solitude

Being both bi and trans, I feel very similarly:

“But the horrible thing about “passing privilege” is the closeting, the erasure. And never have I felt that so keenly as I feel it today while I mourn Orlando….

….It means I feel alone a lot.

I feel alone today in this household of straight people. Sympathetic straight people, yes, allies, yes, but straight people nonetheless.

I feel alone when the queer community talks about fighting back against homophobia with kiss-ins. Kissing my partner produces no hateful response from society (a privilege). So…where is my resistance? I must be doing this wrong.

That’s where the guilt enters in. The deep, deep isolating guilt that comes from internalized bi-phobia.

Am I allowed to feel this devastated, this full of rage?

Am I gay enough to be this upset?

Am I appropriating the grief of real gay people?

It hurts. On top of the pain and grief of loss, on top of the “that could’ve been me, that could’ve been my friends”, on top of the psychological terror, there’s also the sinking feeling of self-doubt.

Thank God for the radical queer community, the people who helped me heal from some of my guilt about not being “gay enough”. They came through for me in the past, and they are coming through again, reminding me of who I am. Reminding me that I count. Reminding me that I am enough, that my emotions are valid, that my existence is resistance, that I deserve to be here.”

– Biphobia and the Pulse Massacre