Tag Archive | Acceptance

I made a friend

IMG_20180520_160255_877.jpgWent to the bar a couple of weeks ago with a friend. That in itself is not remarkable. Though we haven’t gone lately, we will occasionally go to get out, have a couple of drinks, and maybe play some pool. By the way, I totally kicked my friends butt that night. The last time we went, however, I was not as fortunate.

But this is not about our last outing, but the one before that, the night I came out the winner. Starting out, we were asked to show our ID’s even before we stepped into the bar. That usually doesn’t happen, so I was taken aback, more so because my ID does not match my gender. Reluctantly, I pulled my license out, waiting to be called out. All that the bouncer said was that I looked good for 42.

With that, we began the evening, getting a bucket of beers, and playing a few games. Across from out pool table sat a couple, a man and woman, who seemed to be enjoying the night out as well. They were talkative, and my friend Jessica was happily interacting with them, but I less so. I hate talking because more than anything, my voice outs me. I hate my voice!

We continued to play, and the couple across from us continued to visit with those around them, including us from time to time. The man was making me a little nervous, but I ignored him as much as I could, and concentrated on the game. Soon, we were out of quarters, and I was ready to finish that last of my beer, and head home. The couple across from us had other plans.

They invited us to join them, which Jessica was keen on accepting. I followed, afraid of being rejected, or worse attacked, as sat down at their table. With introductions out of the way, the man turned to me and asked if I was trans. Feeling as though the jig was up, I admitted I was. What came next nearly left me speechless. He confessed he was a trans man. I never could have guessed that in a million years!

After that revelation, I was a little more receptive to a conversation, he talking about his journey, and me sharing mine. For him, he feels as though he is obviously a woman living as a man, while I feel the opposite, a man trying to live as a woman. In his case, he feels obvious, though of course that’s his own insecurities manifesting. He is not obviously trans. He looks and acts like a cis male.

How much of the struggle to fit in, therefore, is an internal struggle? How much of it is our own insecurities? For me, I know getting on hormones would help, as much as being on hormones helps him, but a lot of passing is partly being confident in living our true gender.

For him, he’s living life as the man he is, with a woman he loves. I’m still living part time, whenever I can spare the time to be me. The thing is, the trans experience is valid for both of us. He transitioned, I have not. Some people go all the way, hormones, top and bottom surgery, or maybe just top surgery. Some never get on hormones, some never accept being trans.

Acceptance begins with yourself. For me it began when I accepted who I was. It was helped by the scores of friends who have accepted me, who have cared for me, who have loved me. It’s an ongoing journey, a journey of discovery and learning to live being true to myself.

I have had few negative experiences going out as Stefani, and so many positive experiences. That night at the 6th Street  Saloon was one of positive experiences, one where I met some new friends. I just have to remember to give others a chance.

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The difficulty of finding acceptance

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I took a few days off from work. The reason was so I could come down to DFW to see my friend so we could see Deadpool 2 together. It was a great movie. Glad we went! I’m not much of a superhero/comic book person, but I loved the first movie, and I loved the second one as well. Now I’m waiting for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I can’t wait!

What I love about heading out of town is being able to exist in my own skin and be me. I don’t have to be drab and pretend anything. I can dress up and remember that I’m more than what my body tells me. I’m more than what my chromosomes made me out to be. I’m what my mind tells me I am.

The long weekend also allowed me to escape from home, to get away from what’s been stressing me out. Ever since my conversation with my parents, then the conversation with my sister, I confess that it got to me. I forget that this is a huge deal. Took me a lifetime to come to terms with it. It’s unfair of me to expect them to just happily accept this. I’m being selfish.

A lot of my friends have been great. They sympathize with me, but they also remind me that this isn’t a minor thing. It’s a monumental shift in my existence. To ask someone to be okay with someone deciding to be a different gender is a lot to ask. For some, it’s too much. That’s the sad reality of being trans.

But for me, though I identify myself under the trans umbrella, I exist as both male a female. I prefer to present myself as female as I feel better of myself as Stefani, but I’m equally secure as Joe. I can’t deny either aspect of my reality.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t considered hormones. I have, I am, and I will continue to consider it. I would like to feminize myself more even if I don’t completely transition. Not everyone wants to have gender-reassessment surgery. I have thought about it, naturally, and one of my earliest dreams I remember about by identity involves me having a female anatomy.

The struggle for me is that I was born a certain sex. I was born, for better or worse, with a penis. I wish I was born with a vagina instead, or at the very least identifying with the gender I was assigned. That’s the struggle we face. Accepting our assigned gender or accepting that our gender runs counter to what our anatomy tells us.

There’s also a certain amount of God-fear as well. I was born Catholic, and though I’m not practicing, I haven’t abandoned my religion completely. I feel as though I’ve lost my faith at times, but to reject it completely is beyond me. I envy those born without this burden.

I can’t help but wonder why religion makes this so difficult. If someone is born with a defect and there’s a surgery or treatment available, most would agree that the sensible thing to do is to accept said treatment. Heart condition? Surgery. Tumor? Surgery. Transgender? No such thing. God made you that way. You were born female/male. Accept it!

But people are born with heart defects and no one tells them to accept it. “God made you that way.” We amputate limbs, fix other issues, but anything to do with sexuality is taboo. The religious mindset is infuriating!

Sexuality is a natural biological function. Why do we place so much importance on it? Penises are beautiful, so are vaginas. Men are beautiful and so are women. Why is sex considered vulgar? Why does engaging in sex make women whores? Why aren’t men held to that same standard?

But I digress. Gender is more than what our physical bodies tell us. It’s independent of it. For most gender and sex aligns, but some of us it doesn’t. Why can’t I be a woman? Why can’t I change my body to align better with what my mind tells me?

In the end, it’s a battle too many of us have fought, and continue to fight, both with the world without, and with ourselves as well. I’ve come to accept who I am after many year of denial. I’ve come to the revelation after running from it for a lifetime. Now, I’m happier than I have ever been, though it’s not easy for me. I’m secure in my identity. I just hope my family comes around.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. Many are outright disowned. That, more than anything, is why being trans is so hard to our mental health.

Family drama

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I’ve been seriously stressed out lately. Since telling my parents, I thought things were going okay. I wasn’t making plans on showing up as Stef any time soon, but I thought there was some acceptance there. Even when my sister found out and turned on me, I thought maybe I wouldn’t be so alone. I was wrong.

About a month ago, my mother told me I needed to go home because they needed to talk to me. Nothing gets me more anxious than someone telling me that we need to talk, but I went, needing to get it over with. It was as bad as I feared.

My sister, it seems, has been crying about this to my parents. She claims she fears that I’m going to suddenly show up as Stefani to family events, and is saying she doesn’t think she’s going to a family reunion because of it. The more my parents spoke, the angrier I got.

In the end, my parents said that how I lived my life was my business, but they didn’t want to know. They don’t want me to come around as Stefani, nor do they want to see pictures. If, as they said, I decide to go the Caitlyn Jenner route, they couldn’t support me. They love me, they claimed, but they can’t go against their religious beliefs.

And people wonder why so many in the LGBT community turn our backs on the christian community!

They told me I needed to talk to my sister, and tell my last remaining brother. It took me a week, but I contacted my sister. All it was was an opportunity for my sister to attack me. “What, are you going to date guys now?” or “And you think you’re happy dressing up with dresses and fake boobs and makeup?” She was using her training in social work to put me in a defensive position. I never felt such venom!

It’s been almost two weeks since that conversation, and I’m still on edge. My stress has spiked, I feel as though my heart just wants to beat out of my chest. I go to sleep wondering if I’m going to have a heart attack and die alone in the middle of the night. Part of me welcomes death. I just don’t want to deal with this shit anymore.

But I’m still here, living my life. My sister is not really a part of my life, and never has. I never liked her. The judgment and the hypocrisy she espouses keeps me at bay. She presents herself like a typical Christian, posting religious nonsense, pretending to be holy, but seething with hate. I have enough to deal with.

Part of me wants to be done with my family. I have friends, very good friends, who love me for me. They don’t care if I’m Joe or Stefani. They don’t care if I’m gay or straight. They don’t care about nothing except that I’m being honest about who I am. My family, it seems, doesn’t love me as unconditional as they claim.

So I’m stressed out. I’m wondering about myself, who I am, and where I’m headed. Why does my future hold? Will I transition or not? Do I have the strength to live my life without my family? I put off telling them because I was afraid they would disown me. Turns out, I had every reason to be afraid.

This is what it is to live my life. I feel trapped in limbo, not able to breath, not able to live my life. I don’t have the energy to do anything at this point. Breathing feels like it takes too much out of me, but I have to go about my business, pretending to be okay.

Loving me

20180304_142016.jpgI escaped the confines of my apartment, drove two hours to Lubbock, all to meet up with a group of writers. So here I am, sitting here in a coffee shop, playing on my laptop. Isn’t this exciting!

I’m working on a novel, which I’ve been working on for years, and I’m still working on it. The rough draft is done. So is the second draft. And the third. I think I’m going crazy chasing perfection. I’ll never get there. I just want to get to adequate. I’ll be happy with that.

So, like I say, I’m here in Lubbock, with a group that met me as Joe. One of the writers here has already met me as Stef, but two more now know. It’s interesting to me to see how people react. So far, I have yet to run into anyone who has an issue with me. At least I think I haven’t. If they do, they haven’t voice it.

Living my life is so much better. I feel happier, more at peace with who I am. It’s amazing how much freer I feel just because I’ve stopped fighting with myself. I no longer waste energy denying who I am. I’ve let go of a lot of anger because I no longer have to hide the essence of me.

I still feel depressed at times, but my anxiety has gone down. I get down, but I’m not as sad as I was even a year ago. Moving out on my own again helped. Finding people who accepted me and pushed me to be me led me out into the open.

So being able to meet with friends is such a joy. Being able to feel the open air is a gift. Knowing that I have family and friends who accept me gives me peace of mind. I no longer fear for my fear is baseless. I only wish I would have had the courage to come out twenty years ago. Coming out in middle age comes with its own set of struggles, but I suppose that’s not unique to my age.

There are people who consider people like me sick, that we have some mental issues. Being transgender does not affect our mental health, but being ostracized does. Being rejected negatively impacts us. Living in fear has a huge impact on anxiety.

Finding love and acceptance has minimized my depression. I no longer want to die. There have been times when I actively thought about my own death, sometimes wishing I had the courage to kill myself. Does that shock you?

Those thoughts aren’t as prevalent anymore. If you feel as though you’re not accepted, find people who do. If you are hated, find people who love. If you can’t be yourself, find a space where you can express yourself without judgement. It’s amazing how much better you will feel.

And if you see people struggling with their gender, or their sexuality, show them respect, give them love. Affirm who they are without comment, without judgement. Be the friend, the family member, they need. It’s a struggle to come to accept yourself when you see yourself as outside of mainstream. It takes a lot of courage to come out and say “I am…!”

I am transgender, and I’m proud of who I am. Yeah, I sometimes wish I was born normal, whatever the hell that means, but being me doesn’t make me abnormal. I love me, and that is such a change of who I used to be.

The unexpected truths of my coming out

20180114_170537.jpgI won’t lie to you and say that coming out has been easy. It’s been a hard endeavor, terrifying and seemingly impossible. Every moment left me feeling lonely and afraid. Every person I tell is a potential rejection, and rejection is something I’m not very good at dealing with.

So far it’s been better than expected. Every friend I have told has supported me. Every family member I have come out to has not abandoned me. No one understands it. Who can understand the journey of discovery those of us in the transgender community have to undertake? I’m in the middle of my journey and I don’t understand it!

The truth here is that I’ve been extremely fortunately so far. I can’t help wonder when I’ll come face to face to someone unwilling to accept me for who I am. It’s bound to happen. I don’t stress it too much, because I can’t stress over every little possibility, but it does flit into my mind when I steel myself to tell someone else.

Where I am now is coming to terms with this new reality. I’ve told two of my siblings and now my parents. Though I still have a three siblings yet to tell, the two people I feared telling the most now know. My parents still love me. They still accept me. They don’t like it, but they accept me.

Now I’m free to decide whether or not I want to transition. That’s huge! It’s been on my mind, but I can think about that without fear of losing my family. So many aren’t that fortunate. Many lose that support. I don’t deserve to be this lucky. No one deserves to be so unlucky as to lose their family.

I don’t know what to do. All I know is that I’m freer to explore my options. I can now decide if I want to become Stefani full time. I feel as though I’d like that sometimes. Other days I feel otherwise. Is that normal?

I’m not going to rush into things. At 41, I think I’ve proven that I dont rush into things. What I’ve come to realize lately is that I don’t want the added pressure of being in a romantic relationship. My desire for one caused me to lose a close friend. A recent sexual encounter left me wondering if I even want to pursue a woman.

Months ago, I was complaining my lack of success in finding a woman to date. A friend asked me if I was even trying to find a girlfriend. Her question offended me, but the truth of the matter is that I’m wasn’t. I’m not. I’m willing to find myself in a relationship, but I never really tried to pursue a relationship. I never really tried to pursue a sexual relationship. They usually just happen.

Coming to terms with my gender is forcing me to engage my sexuality as well. My attraction it towards females, but the idea of dating a man isn’t as terrifying as it was, even a recently as two weeks ago, the day I came out to my parents. I want a woman, but I also want a man. It’s confusing enough dealing with my own gender identity without throwing that into the mix. Straight? Gay? Lesbian? Bi? Fuck if I know!

So for now, I’ll deal with my new reality. One day I’ll introduce my family to me as Stefani. One day I’ll decide whether or not I want to get on hormones and transition. I want breasts, and more feminine features. I want hips, softer and smoother skin. And yes, there’s part of me that wants a vagina rather than a penis. I want to be a woman. I’ve always felt my life would have been more my own had I been born female.

I wish it was so easy, to become who I want to be is to simply wish to be. To be a woman, I only have to wish to become one. Instead my journey into womanhood would be invasive and costly. Would it be worth it? I think it would I just need to decide to do it. Then I’ll have to figure out how to finance it.

The joys of being trans!

The Year of Stefani

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February 2017

Is it time for the 2017 retrospective yet? We still have a ways to go, but in the closing month of the year, I can’t help but look back a bit. I started the year afraid of going out anywhere, and I ended up going to my company Christmas party last week.

I have come out to many people, everyone I work with, essentially, and a couple of family members. I came out to a friend I met in college, a priest, someone who promised to remain at my side, to support me. I began meeting with a spiritual advisor. I went to Georgia, and I’m going again next week, this time all week as Stef.

I went from being scared to becoming bold. I went from remaining in the shadows, to coming out into the sun. I went from wanting to remain anonymous to wanting to be known for who I am. This is what 2017 has meant for me.

Going back three years, in 2014, I started dressing up again after more than ten years pretending to be someone I wasn’t. More than ten miserable years lost in anger and confusion, wanting to be a normal man. That didn’t work out.

2011 lost my wife and lost another relationship. 2012, lost my job. 2013 went back to college, got my current job, graduated with my bachelor’s degree, but it wasn’t until December 2014 that things started to come around.

It took time to find my style. I bought clothes, makeup, wigs. I built up a wardrobe, and for the first time ever, I didn’t purge a single thing. I came out to a friend in 2016, someone who accepted me, along with her mother. 2016 began the phase of accepting myself, and 2017 was the next phase,  of accepting that I could come out, that people could accept me. They have.

2017 has been my year, the year of Stefani. I have let myself be seen by so many. I started volunteering as Stefani, something that only lasted a couple of months, and something I wish I hadn’t let go of like I did. I made a few mistakes, as you can see, but I had something to give to the community. Something uniquely mine, and not my male alter ego’s.

I began my YouTube Channel, and though it doesn’t have many viewers, it helps me develop my thoughts as to who I am. I continue writing this blog, mostly as a personal journal as to my own journey, a way to look back and remember where I was, where I am, and where I want to be.

I’m looking forward to 2018 with renewed vigor. Where can I go from here? I have no plans to return into the shadows, or to remain a part time person. I would like to emerge more fully, though fully transitioning is still in question. Do I or don’t I? Some days I feel it so strongly that I must. Other days, I’m a little less certain.

This is what I do know. I am not an alter ego. I am not a character. I may refer to my male and female personas as two separate and individual people, but I have come to realize that I have integrated them into myself. I am both for both make up my singular personality. I may act a certain way depending on how I’m presenting myself, but I am essentially me.

If anything, that’s my biggest take away from 2017. I can’t wait to see what this upcoming year has in store.

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From then until now

It was a year ago that I took my first roadtrip as Stefani. I drove to Oklahoma City, spent the entire time dressed up, did some sightseeing, and drove back, without once changing into my male alter ego. I didn’t even take him clothes. It was a scary and exhilarating experience, and one I will never make again.

Since then, I’ve grown bold in my femme persona. As I write this, I’m in a coffee shop in Amarillo, a few blocks from where I work, wearing a skirt and blouse. Being Stef is less of an issue. I’m still apprehensive about it, especially with all the negativity thrown our way via the politicos in Washington and Austin, but no one gives me a second glance. I’m invisible.

Part of it is growing more comfortable in my skin. My first forays were spent in a state of hyper anxiety, waiting to be called out. But the more I have gone out, the less anxious I have become, learning to relax and enjoy my time out. The more comfortable I’ve become, the less attention I draw to myself.

Since my trip to OKC, I’ve gone out several time to DFW, visited the Arboretum there. I’ve driven to Lubbock and spent the day. I’ve started going out during the day here in my city. I’ve let more and more people into my life, the fear of being discovered having less power over me.

Only last week, I drove to Dallas, spent the entire time as Stef, and even visited my old work place. No one bothered to pay me any attention. I spend almost all my free time as Stef, only going out as Joe when it’s necessary, or when I go to work. I’m not yet ready to introduce myself as Stef there, even if most people already know.

Where I am now is coming to the decision that it’s time to move on. I never meant to stay in Amarillo, and I think my time here is coming to an end. I think that by next spring I’ll be ready to make the move to DFW. I’ll transfer to another Home Depot around the McKinney area, or maybe I’ll consider looking for another job altogether.

I’ll admit that I want to go to work as Stef. I want to live as Stef. The act of transitioning is growing more on my mind. I feel no rush when I dress up any more. I do not feel the excitement as I once did just to step out the door. It feels natural, it feels right, I feel like me.

I’m supposed to call someone my friend has recommended I talk to. She’s out of town until this coming week, but I’ll meet with her as soon as possible. I need to know how to proceed with my life, and my spiritual life is just as important to me as my physical well being.

There’s a lot to look forward to, and I can’t wait to live my life. My only regret is that I waited this long to come to terms with who I am. I can’t change the past, but I can make the right decision going forward. Here’s to me.