Tag Archive | Transgender

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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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.

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Thanks for reading!

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?