Tag Archive | LGBTQ

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.

Advertisements

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.

 

Finding an ally

DFrMul3XkAAy03dLast week I saw this image on a friend’s Facebook timeline. I didn’t think much of it as she’s a liberal person and I thought she was simply being supportive. She didn’t know about me or my journey, having never confided this secret to her. I loved the image and  continued on my way, scrolling down my feed, wasting time.

It wasn’t until later that I started reading her comments, and she stated that she had a transgender son. I was in shock. I had not known that. I suppose most people don’t advertise that fact. It’s dangerous to say so and can put them in an awkward and even a hazardous position. Being out comes with a price, a price I’m only now coming to terms with, and deciding if I’m willing to pay that price.

But my friend’s son decided to come out, to transition. She went from a young woman and accepted herself as a young man. That takes a lot of courage, especially with the amount of bigotry that seems socially acceptable to push onto the transgender community. I’m in awe.

But I will confess that I had a mixture of emotions when I read about her son. On the one hand, seeing her accept her child filled me with a sense of hope. Maybe I could confide in her my own struggles and my own journey to accept myself. On the other, I felt saddened by it. Saddened because it’s such a difficult burden to carry. Many fail. I pray he succeeds.

But it also takes a toll on the family. Who was once a daughter is now their son. How does one process that? I’ve never been in a position to deal with that, and it’s a position that I may be placing my family under should I conclude that I must transition.

At that moment, however, I decided to reach out to my friend, and to tell her about my own journey, my own struggles. To my relief, she accepted me for who I am, referring to me as her, girl, Stefani. It was an amazing experience.

I’m hoping to meet up with her in person at the end of the month. I’m heading back to the DFW area for a mini vacation, just a few days away from work and home, a chance to relax and to recharge. She sounds every bit as excited as I do. Of course I will be going in Stefani mode. There’s no question about that. I now I can’t wait. It’s nice when you discover another member for your support team. Every one helps.

Boomerang roadtrip

20170730_134635

In front of Walmart 5311 in McKinney, TX. I worked here as an ASM back in 2006-2008! ~Stef~

What a week! Last week was inventory week at my employer, and anyone who has ever worked retail knows just how horrible the inventory process is, particularly if you are a manager or a supervisor. Lots of work, long hours, little sleep. Worked Thursday until midnight, having to return to work at five in the morning on Friday. I ended up not being able to sleep, so I stayed up about thirty hours before I was able to get to bed for a little shut eye.

With inventory over, we had reports to work on Saturday, which we spent a few hours doing, until it got too busy. I worked until six, at which time I went home and tried to relax, knowing that the next day, Sunday, I would be have off. Finally having some free time, I changed into my Stefani clothes, knowing I would have the rest of the evening, and the next day, to be myself.

 

At around nine Saturday, my friend Amy convinced me to drive up to see her. The drive from Amarillo to her house, about an hour and a half north east from Dallas, usually takes about six to seven hours. Not wanting to squander the time I had set aside, I said I would go, but I would only do so as Stefani, which she heartily agreed to. She missed her best friend after all, as did I!

Nothing of note happened on the drive. I listened to music, and then switched over to a book got off of Audible, The Night Circus (my favorite book of all time!), and got to her house at 4 in the morning. Slept in until almost ten before I woke up, exhausted but happy to see my friend.

Now, Amy has known about me since we met back in ’98. Her husband, however, did not. He only found out maybe a year ago, after I told Amy to go ahead and tell him. I think it freaked him out, the arch-conservative that he is. I never presented myself as Stef in front of him, but this time I took only one change of clothes, since I would have to drive immediately home on Sunday evening.

This is where it gets amusing. I was in the living room, on the chaise, covered with a throw, wearing the clothes I wore on the drive the night before. He saw me but didn’t pay me no mind. I thought he was avoiding me, not wanting to deal with a freak like me. Soon after, I look a shower, changed into the jeans and blouse I brought for the visit, put on my makeup, and stepped out, nervous at having her husband see me.

A few minutes later, he called me, wanting to show me his latest acquisition, and I went into his music room, where he showed off the controller for his drum machine. I sat down and began playing on the drums, as I usually do while I’m there. As I played, he went back into the kitchen until I was called back for breakfast.

Amy whispered to me that Bryan hadn’t even noticed that I had on a blouse, or that I was wearing makeup, or had my hair tied back. Never registered that I was in Stef mode. What he noticed as I walked into the music room, and what he asked Amy, was if I was wearing girl jeans!

Amy and I set off for one of her client’s house – she has a pet-sitting business – to drop off their dog. We stopped by a Walmart I had worked at in McKinney, the one I opened back in 2007 as an assistant manager, and walked around. Brought back some memories! Then we got a bite to eat, stopped by another client’s house to feed their dogs, and back to her house.

I stayed another couple of hours. Bryan came in and we talked a bit, mostly about the trailer for a movie that’s coming out next year, Ready Player One, and the differences we noticed between what they showed in the trailer and what was written on the book.

Then at six that evening, I left to make the six hour drive home. Once Bryan had decided that I was the same person in Stefani mode, he grew more comfortable. I hope that leads to him coming to terms with transgender people in general, but we will have to wait and see.

I think most people would grow more comfortable if they interacted with transgender people. We’re not some group of bogeymen. We’re not crazy, and we are not mentally ill, which I’ve read as fact from some ignorant jack asses on Facebook. I know some people are bigoted and are eager to find a group that is socially acceptable to bully and disparage, but if more people were willing just to talk to us, maybe some of that stigma would disappear. Maybe they would come to see that we’re people deserving of respect.

At least, that’s my dream.

Last Sunday Afternoon

20170625_143320I had to summon all my courage, but I actually did it. I went to the Panhandle Pride Festival this past Sunday afternoon. Pride is a celebration of all things LGBTQ, but it is itself a commemoration of the Stonewall riots that happened on June 28, 1969, a watershed moment in the gay rights movement.

What I witnessed at my first Pride Festival was not a demonstration, but an all out celebration, an opportunity to come together as a community, to recognize and find some measure of acceptance from the community at large. It goes without saying that there is still a ways to go.

Others can and have expressed in more elegant words what Pride means. This is not what I’m writing about. This is a personal journey for me. I have been working towards accepting who I am as a member to the LGBTQ community. Am I trans? Am I genderfluid? Am I bi? What does any of this mean? Does it change who I am, or am I simply coming to terms with my personal reality?

I have hidden myself  behind a mask, a mask that I believed expressed what others wanted from me. I became what I thought others wanted me to be, but it came at a price. I was miserable. I was depressed. I didn’t know who I was, how to be happy. In short, I denied myself to make others happy. It was a supreme act of cowardice.

In the past few years, as you well know, if who’ve been keeping up with my writing, I’ve been coming to terms with my identity. Growing up, I didn’t have the resources that are available now. I was a freak, someone to be shunned. I shunned myself. Now, I’m happier, more at ease in my own skin. I make consessions in my everyday life, but even that wall has been slowly falling away, leaving my true self out in the open.

Which brings me back to Pride. I became aware of the festival last year after the fact. The Home Depot, where I’m currently employed, set up a booth as a community outreach program. My store manager is a lesbian and made it her mission to become involved in the festival.

I remember thinking that I wished I had known about it. Further, I wished I would have had the courage to go. Since last year, it’s been on my mind that I wanted to go. I didn’t know if I would have the strength to go as I am, as Stefani, but I wanted to go. I had to.

Pride came around this year, and I decided I would go. I still had doubts that I would actually go through with it, but I wanted to go. Home Depot again would have  booth, and if I showed up as Stef, I knew my secret would be out. I resolved to go regardless, but I would do my best to avoid the booth to keep my poorly kept secret from falling away.

The moment I showed up, however, dressed in my usual jeans and blouse, I went immediately towards the booth. I barely hesitated. The time had come to let the wall fall away, in this sphere at least. I was welcomed with open arms. I had no reason to fear.

My store manager had already knows, as did another of my coworkers, but for the rest, they did not know. I have to give them all the credit in the world. They didn’t bat an eye. I was their friend, and I was treated with the same amount of respect as they always afforded me. I was in heaven.

I was still crazy nervous, but at least that hurdle had been cleared. I soon relaxed, thanks to the few beers I had. Soon I was just another person enjoying the park, a valued friend and coworker.

I had intended to spend an hour at most. I stayed for five. I took my picture, posted it on my work Twitter account for all to see. Even my store manager took a group picture and posted it as well, with me visible. My secret was gone, at least as far as my job was concerned. I outed myself and it felt good.

There are still hurdles to clear, of course. My family still has no idea. It’s been growing on my mind that the time is coming that I will have to own up to my reality. I fear I will be disowned, but the stress of having two distinct lives is wearing at me. I want to be me.

 

Driving Miss Stefani

20170217_1236551I’m on vacation! It’s nice to get away from the hassle of everyday life. No work responsibilities, no familial ties to bind me into societal norms. I’m free to be me, to explore, to live. It’s an awesome experience.

I left work on Wednesday and drove to my friends house outside of the Dallas Metroplex, getting there around eleven at night. I didn’t change into Stef. I was more concerned about getting out of Dodge than anything else. Thursday was a no go as well. There were too many things to do. My friend, who runs a dog sitting business, had to travel to McKinney to pick up a dog, her cousin’s, and then I went to Commerce to visit my step-daughter.

Friday, however, was my day. I woke up at four in the morning to get ready. Once, done, I finished whatever last minute packing we needed to do, then we headed out at six, down U.S. Highway 69 to Tyler, where we jumped on I-20, and eventually Georgia. It was a looong drive!

The trip itself was uneventful. I sat in the passenger seat most of the way, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. I had never been in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia, so it really was a new experience. We stopped at all the rest areas to take pictures, except in Georgia. By then, it was dark and we were tired of being cooped up in the car.

The only stressful part of the drive was going to the bathroom. Damn conservatives! I myself consider myself right from center, but damn! The evangelicals in the right wing of the party are a bunch of busy body, judgmental assholes. So much for being for smaller government. It puts a great deal of pressure on us to conform into a mold in which we feel uncomfortable.

For the most part, I tried to find places I knew would have family or unisex bathrooms. Where I didn’t, I hurried into the women’s room, did my business, and left. I didn’t linger. I felt pressured and uncomfortable. I feel judged as it is, and I’m self-conscious about taking a pee. I never had any trouble, however I did get some jackass glaring at be as we gassed up in Mississippi. I wanted to beat up the old codger, but I refrained. I’m a very nice person.

I didn’t let that dampen the enthusiasm for the trip. I took over the drive in Alabama, stressing out over how busy the traffic was. My friend fell asleep, and I drove in silence, enjoying the beauty of the scenery. Wishing we had the time to stop more often to explore places I had never seen before.

I gave up the driver seat right before we entered Georgia. We stopped for gas, and once we left, I had to change back into Joe. I was bummed out, but a little relieved. My jeans were a little tight around the waist, and my men’s wear is a little looser. Taking off my makeup and fingernail polish was tricky in the dark, but I got it done.

The people we are staying with don’t know about Stef. I haven’t decided whether or not to tell them. They have a daughter who is a lesbian, so I don’t fear judgement. It’s more that it takes it out of me to revel myself. Opening myself up isn’t easy. We’ll see how it goes.

We plan to leave here Thursday, bound for New Orleans and Mardi Gras! I will spend those few days as Stef, once again stressing about restrooms and the like. I used to worry about it years ago when I took my first steps out as Stefani, but now there’s an increased focus on that, which I absolutely loath. I may end up having to become more political, but not just yet. I’m on vacation. I’m not ready for reality to ruin my fun.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Straight Up Gay Podcast

15626262_1816559568558382_646652579043121160_o

Copyright 2017, Straight Up Podcast. Used with permission

I know I run a self-serving little blog. This is my home, a place where I can find some freedom to be myself, unencumbered by societal expectations. I’ve received nothing but kind words from you, my readers, and I have found you all to be a source of understanding and strength.

But to turn the table around, I want to share something I found the other day. I say found, but it was a follower of mine who posted the link to a podcast, run by a man who calls himself Major. Major is the father of a son who came out to him as gay. The Straight Up Gay Podcast is his way  of “working to advance the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in modern society.”

My follower on Twitter, who I have had the pleasure corresponding with for the past several months, is a mother of a young woman, who has begun her journey to transition from male to female. She shared the link to the podcast to talk about her experience as a mother of a transgender child, and knowing who she was, though we’ve never met, I was entranced by what I heard.

More than her conversation, however, was the fact that Major had created a forum where such a discussion could take place. It’s not an obnoxious or toxic arena. It’s a safe place where he can be an advocate of a son he loves, and a platform where he can educate people about the struggles of being a parent of a gay son.

I’ve only listened to Episode 5 with AnnaLis, but a lot of what they discussed I could relate to. The struggles AnnaLis discussed were things I’ve struggled with, but instead of confronting them outright, I chose to do the opposite and hide from them. It was eye opening for me, as a 40 year old, to listen to her talk about a teen going through much of the same things I went through.

But back in the 90’s, there were no forums to go to, no advocates such as there are now. I was a lone wolf, feeling very much alone in my brokeness, struggling to fit in within a world I knew I could never truly belong to. I learned to fake it, and I tried for over ten years to deny to myself my true identity. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with my truth.

I believe Major has the promise of becoming an ally for not only members of the LGBTQ community, but the family of those whose children, parents, friends, come out as such. There’s a lot of misunderstandings inherent within our community, some of those I’m still working through, but he’s using his place behind the mic to dispel those same misunderstandings. He has become an educator as much as an advocate.

I hope you all give him a chance and listen to what he has to say. Check him out, subscribe to him, and donate if you think him worthwhile. I know I’ll continue to listen, hoping to learn more about myself and my fellow brothers and sisters. You can find him at the links above, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Feeling the itch

IMG_20160415_205021.jpgI’ve been neglecting my blog for too long. I feel bad about it. It’s been a great way to put myself out there without the risk of being in pubic. But lately, I’ve been getting the itch to actually step outside my comfort zone. I want to go out, have fun, be myself. Yes, I’ve gone out for a drive a few times. Yes, drove to Dallas en femme last month, and yes I did manage to go shopping once, but it’s not enough.

I had dinner with another TG friend of mine that lives in town, and what happens is that I go over in boy mode, dress there, and then we have dinner, talk, and sip some wine. It’s pleasant to be open with someone. It’s not often I get to be myself. There with her, I get to be Stef, and it’s a liberating experience. I absolutely love it!

After dinner last week – or was it two weeks ago? – I decided not to change back, but to walk to my car and drive to my friend’s place. I’ve noticed that I’m not as nervous about it, though I’m still cautious. While I was leaving, I ended up driving by a gay club, 212 in downtown. Now I’m working up the courage to go there.

I may have to try it out first in guy mode. I’ve never been there, and I’m not big on going out to clubs to begin with, but I want to go out, and I need a safe place to do so. If I think it’s safe, I want to go there as Stefani. I know it’ll probably take me a while to relax, but I think it would be exhilarating. I really need to do it. I can’t survive only within the confines of my friend’s apartment.

 

If only…

11753870_10204800331195250_1977484206_nI need more clothes, but I’m so broke! UGH! Why couldn’t I have been born rich or something? I need a job, a better job, one that pays me a decent salary. I need money!

Being me isn’t cheap, and I don’t exactly go for designer clothes. I buy most of my outfits at Target or Wal-Mart. Yeah, I’m really high-class, lol. I have expensive taste but a poor man’s wallet. Damn my inability to play nice at work! If only I could get a promotion, or get a better job. If only I would finish one of my many books I’m writing.

If only…

We all have if only  moments in our lives. Some of mine are, in no particular order:

If only…

  1. …I would have been born a woman.
  2. …I could be a normal man.
  3. …I was brave enough….
  4. …strong enough…
  5. …I was skinnier…
  6. …prettier…
  7. If only I knew who I was.

Lately, I’ve spent so much of my money on clothes, but I don’t have near enough. I want more. I need more! I need shoes, boots, I need dresses, jewelry, make-up. If only I had enough money to make ends meet, with enough left over to realize my truest vision of myself.

If only…

Earlier this week, my friend took me to Burlington Coat Factory where I found some reasonably priced clothes. I bought a pair of jeans and she bought me a couple of blouses. Guess what, still not enough. I suppose the truth is it’ll never be enough. Not with my obsession with taking selfies to post online. I can’t help it that I like to show off! I pretend to hate it, but part of me likes the attention, so long as it doesn’t get creepy.

I know I’m not alone in the struggle. It’s hard to balance the girl side that we keep hidden with the public boy image we much maintain to save face. We’re not allowed, as men, to admit that we aren’t 100% manly. We have to be macho, sometimes doubly so, to prove to ourselves and to others that we have a softer, feminine side to us.

You know, I think that’s a shame. If only we were allowed to be ourselves, I think we would be happier, more productive members of society. And I’m not talking solely about the LGBTQ community, but all of society. We are raised to conform to an arbitrary standard of behavior. Sure, some of it is necessary to maintain an ordered society, but why should that come at the price of our individuality?

I realize there are those who have come forth into the light, to show society that being transgendered isn’t some sick vanity, that we chose to be somehow different. How many of us struggled against yourselves, against our need to be who we are, to try to present a normal identity to the world? How many are no longer with us because they couldn’t do it, and opted instead to kill themselves.

Right now, I buy my clothes in secret, afraid of letting my secret out into the world. Sure, I post my selfies, but I live terrified that my family could find out, or my co-workers, or friends. I wish I could go out everyday, showing the world who I truly am, instead of presenting this bitter facade for all to see. I’ve made jokes about wanting to be a woman, and it’s funny that everyone thinks I’m joking, all unable to contemplate that I could actually be serious.

But what if they were to see the real me? What then? Would the accept me and realize that I’m much happier as Stefani, or would they reject me outright? What if I didn’t care anymore? What if I let my secret out to the world to see?

There are so many what if situations that I don’t know what to do, or how to realize any of them. Instead I lay here, dreaming about my next outfit, wondering who I could scrounge up enough money to buy something really killer. Maybe I’m a little shallow and self-involved, but all I can think about is what if I had the money to expand my wardrobe.

If only…