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Meeting people and volunteering

IMG_20170923_140146If you haven’t been following my videos, which I don’t blame you if you haven’t, I have started a couple of different things recently. Last month, I started seeing a spiritual advisor so as to get my spiritual life in order. Also, I started attending a transgender support group. This week, I will start volunteering with a homeless organization which seeks to place the homeless into housing.

The spiritual advisor came about after a talk with an old college friend who is now a priest. I told him about my struggles with being transgender, which came as a bit of a shock. Instead of condemning me, he accepted it and suggested I start talking with someone, which I have.

We’ve met twice now, and I feel a lot of it on my part has been expressing what it means to be trans, and the trouble it has cause me with my faith. Linda, my advisor, has been steering me towards a deeper understanding of my faith, of the fact that I should not view myself as damaged, that I should see who I am as a gift.

Meeting with Linda led me to the support group. I’ve only attending the group twice, but it has been illuminating. It has made me consider whether I may not actually be transgender as much as genderfluid. I’m equally comfortable as Joe as I am as Stefani. I have my male traits as well as some female traits. It’s helped me understand my hesitation with coming out and going forward with transitioning. It hasn’t completely eliminated the possibility that I may go forward with the transition.

I will say that I’m torn about that. All my life I’ve felt as though Stefani was a larger part of who I am, even when I was keeping that aspect of myself under wraps. Now that I’ve come to terms with it, it’s less of an weight that I carry but just another part of the totality of who I am. I am Joe and Stefani, or as one of my best friend calls me, Stefani Jo. It fits like a glove. Still, part of me wants to transition completely into a woman. We will see where this journey goes.

As for volunteering, it’s one of my best friends who led me to it. She started volunteering recently, and I wanted to take a look at the organization, Amarillo Housing First. I actually went dressed as Stefani to check it out, being told as I was getting close, that Chris, the founder and CEO of the organization wanted to meet with me.  That led to an invitation to volunteer, they wanting someone within the LGBTQ community to help with that part of the homeless. So that’ll be my advocacy within AHF.

I’m not sure what all that will entail, but I’m excited to lend my time to the group. I’m hoping that I can make a positive impact for the organization and the homeless community at large. I’m also nervous about it. I’ve never done anything like this. Whatever the outcome, it will be an eye-opening experience.

I will confess that I feel good about where my life is headed. I never once considered that I would ever come out to anyone, or that I would ever have a place as Stefani in the world. It isn’t always a happy experience, but it is authentic to who I am, to who I am becoming. I’m learning to love who I am, though I do experience setbacks. I suppose that’s just a part of life.

Please check out my YouTube channel and subscribe. Follow me here on my blog, and please don’t hesitate to give me some feedback. If there’s any questions I can answer, or even any advice, I would appreciate it.

Thanks for reading!

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Adventures in Dallas

20170829_155558Yesterday took me and my friend into downtown Dallas, specifically the Dallas Museum of Art. Amy has been wanting to take me to the museum for years, and I’ve wanted to go, but it’s never happened. I wanted to go as Stefani, and I hadn’t developed the nerve to go out until now.

We had planned on maybe going to Lake Texoma, but we got up late, and honestly I didn’t have anything to wear to the lake or to go hiking. We sat around, I played on the computer, and we had a late breakfast a little before noon. That’s when I decided that we should see the museum. She heartily agreed.

We got ready as quickly as we could. I chose a skirt and blouse to wear for the day. I wanted a chance to dress up, not in my usual jeans. I thought it would be a nice change from my usual attire. Amy dressed up as well, and we set off on our day’s adventure.

A little about why we hadn’t gone before today. Like I said, I wanted to go as Stefani, but I was afraid to dress up here. Amy’s husband didn’t know about me at the time, and even after he did, I wasn’t comfortable with him knowing, In addition, I wasn’t entirely ready to go out in public. When I did go out, I was self-conscious, and convinced everyone was looking at me, judging me for being some weirdo in a dress.

Even during my trip to OKC last year, I was nervous and afraid. People were paying attention to me, not because I was a guy in gal’s clothing, but because I was nervous. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay attention to someone who was anxious because who knows what they would go.

I’ve grown to relax now. It’s amazing how easily I walked into the museum. So far this vacation I’ve gone into crowded stores, restaurants, and parks. Even if I’m not entirely convincing, I’m not attracting stares or awkward glances. I’m at ease and I’ve become more or less invisible, another member of the crowd. I keep repeating this only because I want to stress this point to others who are on the same journey I am. The more you relax, the more at ease everyone around you is.

We should have gotten to the museum sooner. There was too much to see. We left only because they were about to close. We walked across the street to a park built over a freeway, which was kind of neat. We then headed to the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of of Guadalupe. I wanted to see if I would burst into flames if I cross into the church, but they are doing renovations and the doors were locked. I didn’t know how to get in, so we left.

We made our way to the Galleria mall. Amy had worked in the Galleria Towers for several years, and I used to go have lunch with her occasionally. We hadn’t been there in years, so we went. I had to use the restroom. I know that’s not usually newsworthy, but considering the noise Gov. Greg Abbott has been making about the transgender community and which bathroom they use, it has been stressful. I try to use the family bathroom, unisex bathrooms, or just hold it. I had no choice but to use the women’s room. It was fine. No drama. It was a quick pee and go.

Other than that, and a quick stop at Starbucks, we didn’t stay long. We had no intention of shopping. We walked around, reminisced a bit about her time there back in 2000 through 2006, and we left, taking the long way home, stopping only for gas and a couple of pizza to eat once we got home.

Today’s my last day here. Tomorrow I drive home, and Friday I go back to work. It’s depressing. I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want to have to return to being Joe, even if Stefani is a lot of work. It’s amazing how necessary time away is for the soul, how time to one’s self is a tonic that washes away exhaustion and the bitter taste of life.

I have another vacation set for October, a little over six weeks away. I have a wedding to go to, and planning on following a band for a couple of days, seeing them in OKC before following them to Albuquerque the next. Then a few days to myself to recover from such an insane attempt. This is the kind of crap I should have been doing twenty years ago!

But I guess the old saying is true, it’s better late than never. I’m enjoying my life more. I’m not as sad and depressed as I was before. There’s some direction in my life now, even if that direction terrifies me. At least it’s not a scary as living a stagnant life.

 

It’s work becoming me

So far this has been an illuminating experience. I have spent the whole of my vacation thus far in Stefani mode, embracing my inner self. It’s kind of exhausting. I know you cis-women are rolling your eyes at me, and I can’t blame you if you are, but damn this is tiring. Getting up, shaving, chosing what to wear, doing my make up, it’s exhausting. And I’m not doing anything special with my hair!

Part of me relishes the simplicity of being a guy. Get up, shower, throw on some clothes. Done and done. It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but damn it’s easy. I look like a slob most of the time, especially at work, but who cares? Right? And when I do dress up, it’s still quick and painless. Slacks, a dress shirt, and done. The difference is quite stark.

Now, it would be easier if I wasn’t putting on makeup. It would save time. A lot of women aren’t into putting on makeup daily, or if they do, a little eyeliner, maybe some lipstick, and done. I can’t do that. It’s a full face all the time, to cover up this annoying 5 o’clock shadow. I’m considering waxing or some other semi-permanent hair removal. Then it would simplify it a little.

But there’s also the matter of dressing. I wear pantyhose all the time. I just do. At first, it was a sensual thing, I won’t deny that. I still love the feeling of hose on freshly shaved legs, but it’s hot, and itchy, and it’s a little uncomfortable. Also, I can’t not wear it. The reason I do is because – how do I say this? – it helps me hide my genetalia. It’s how I tuck everything back.

I will admit a few things while I’m at it. I sometimes doubt myself. Am I really trans? Do other transgender ever feel this way? Do I doubt because I’m unsure or because this is an arduous and painful process? What does it mean to have this doubt?

I know I can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Or maybe Pandora’s box is a better metaphor. I can’t but Stefani back in the closet. I’m unhappy without her. I’m unhappy with Joe. I’m somehow neither and both. Schrodinger’s gender? A bad joke perhaps, but somehow also true.

That’s the thing I’m discovering about myself. It’s not entirely black and white. I thought the whole gender spectrum was a bunch of bullshit. I’m discovering that it is truer than I could have imagined. I’m a little of both. A little bit country, a little bit rock n roll. Another bad joke. I apologize.

In the end it’ll come down to which side is more me. It’s going to take me a lot of time to figure this out. I have a spiritual advisor to help me out, and she gave me the name of a therapist who deals with LGBTQ issues and hosts a transgender support group.

I refer to my female self in the third person not because I consider her someone else, but to identify her, to give me an identity. Joe is who I am everyday. Joe is drab, and mundane. Stefani is an emergent butterfly, ready to take flight after her transformation.

I do want to make clear that Stefani is not a mask, a costume I wear when I’m bored. I wouldn’t bother trying to come out if this was just some cheap thrill. I wouldn’t risk friendships and possibly alienating my family on some fetish. I am Stefani. I’m also Joe. I’m both and neither, and sometimes it’s overwhelming and confusing.

And the act of maintaining two distinct and separate lives is exhausting. Yes, there’s be some integration of my two halves, but it’s not complete. In the end, I think I will have to let Stefani out more and relegate Joe to the shadows. I’m happier as Stef. I’m freer as Stef, even if being Stef is a little more maintenance. It’s a small price to pay to be happy.

But why does it have to be a lot of work?

Taking a break

20170826_170048I’m on vacation! I drove down to my friend’s place after work on Friday, in Stef mode of course. It meant that I couldn’t leave immediately after work, but it was worth the wait.

My first day went well. I spent all morning in bed, catching up on my sleep. When I actually dragged myself out of bed, I got dressed, ate, and headed to Commerce to visit my stepdaughter. It was the first time she was introduced to me in Stefani mode. It was the first time my ex-wife has met Stefani as well. It was a little scary, but the accepted me and it was marvelous. My stepdaughter even made me a choker.

Then me and friend went to Greenville to do some shopping. I worked in Greenville and know quite a few people. I was a little eager to run into some old friends and acquaintances, but it didn’t happen. I was a little bummed. The more I go out, the more I desire to be out.

On that note, I went and met someone this past Wednesday. Back in April, I met with an old friend who is now a priest in Hereford. I told him about me, about my journey, and my struggles, and he suggested I meet with someone, a spiritual advisor. I finally met her and I was apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect. Being Catholic, I expected more resistance, but instead I got understanding and love. I was surprised.

It was a freeing experience to talk about me, what I was going through, what I was struggling with. It was heartening to hear that I wasn’t being rejected or belittled. I was being validated from someone within the church that I call home. She even apologized to me for how the church has treated me and made me feel.

Going forward, we will meet once a month. In addition, she wants to help find a counselor for me, someone experienced with the  LGBTQ community. Fr. Tony had mentioned it as well, that I displayed symptoms of depression. In addition, I would like that help to help guide me to the decision of whether or not transitioning is right for me. Somedays I think it is, others I think it would be a mistake. It’s too big a decision to make on my own, though I recognize that decision will ultimately be my own to make.

I’m also continuing my video channel, even if I don’t get many views. It’s another avenue to talk about my journey. I’m not very good at it, but at least the quality has improved from my first. I finally posted my third video, and I’m planning on recording another one on Monday, talking about my meeting with my spiritual advisor.

I want to thank everyone, while I’m at it, for reading and following me. I know I’m not a leader within the community. I’m just some girl spilling her heart and soul to the world. This is more a diary than a forum. What I would like to say is that it’s a lonely road sometimes, and that I appreciate hearing from you, even if I’m terrible about responding.

For those of you who are transgender, I hope that what I’m saying helps you in some way, even if only to tell you that you aren’t alone. If you know someone who is transgender, then try to be understanding. It can be confusing at times, especially when you start coming to terms with what it means.

I love you all.

My new channel

20690050_1976279675940743_5806870085882549103_oHi everyone!

I posted my first video on my YouTube channel earlier in the week. Boy was I a nervous wreck! I think it shows in my mannerisms and the crazed look in my eyes. Do I always look like that? Now I’m self-conscious. I hope I’ll get better as I get used to being on camera.

So far all the feedback I’ve received has been positive, though I haven’t heard much. That’s okay. I wasn’t expecting anyone to take time out of their lives see the video, and I’ve almost amassed a whopping 100 views. I’m actually pleased!

I’m planning on continuing to put out videos on a regular basis. Maybe one a week, or every other week. I’m not sure if what I have to say will find an audience. After all, there are a ton of people out there who are more photogenic, who are well-spoken, and who are plain better than I am at connecting with people at large. I cannot compete.

Then again, they are not me. I’m on my own journey, and I still don’t know where I’m going. I’m partially doing it for me, to document this journey. It’s fun to do, and if I connect with anyone, then that’s a bonus. Maybe I can help someone whose own trajectory is similar to mine.

It’ll take me some time to create videos that are polished. I bought a tripod so I won’t have to try and balance my phone. I’m going to experiment with video editing software to clean up the video. I mean, I don’t have enough hobbies as it is! I’m already neglecting my writing and my painting, and my music. I really need to sit down and write. I miss creating my stories.

But this is an extension of my storytelling. Instead of creating fiction, I’m telling the story of Stefani, who am I and I came to be. I’ve written a lot of who I am, so I guess this is repackaging my narrative, but there’s also the path I’m about to walk down.

I would appreciate any support I can get. Like my videos, and if you can, please subscribe. If you are not already following me, please follow me here, too. I would love to hear from you as well. If you have any questions I can answer, please email me at tgstef@stefani.com or leave a comment on this post.

This is only the start of a new endeavor. I don’t know if I will succeed, but I am willing to try, and I’m excited about the challenge.