Annie and James Rushden were man and wife, until James revealed he was transsexual. Annie writes about the experience of falling in love all over again with her partner Claire. Same soul, different gift wrap.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Nobody can hold a candle to my Claire...

Nobody can hold a candle to my Claire... mostly because she'd probably scream and run the opposite direction. Today was the day to visit our wonderful friend Ted and get our hair done. It was also a trip to get more hairs pulled from Claire's eyebrows via hot wax.

Let me just say that I am so happy that I have invisible eyebrows. I don't have very full eyebrows. Since mine are almost the color of my skin, so I've never bothered to trim them. This afternoon I walked into the room to see how she was doing while Ted was torturing her. Her poor eyes were swelling. She was taking it in stride though.

After having her eyebrows waxed and plucked, Ted colored her hair. He didn't really change the color because he used a demi-permanent. What Claire received, basically, was a chocolate brown gloss that hid her (not so many) gray hairs. She looks fabulous. It's a small change, but a significant one when she looks in the mirror. We can't set the clock back to puberty for her, but we can at least help her roll back a few years and teach her the tricks we women employ to look younger.

Well, while we were at Ted's studio in his house, his roommate came in. Claire is "out" to Ted, but we hadn't anticipated his roommate coming home. Claire stood there with her hair styled obviously feminine, and freshly waxed eyebrows. Ted's roommate introduced himself to Claire, and she froze. She didn't know what name to say. It was definitely a deer in headlights type of moment. We'll have to work on that :)



Panda Sneezes

Sneezing panda, priceless!

This video had me literally crying because I was laughing so hard. Gotta love them hormones.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The trouble with drabbles...

I'm addicted to writing a form of flash fiction called Drabble. Drabble is a complete story told in exactly 100 words. It's a lot tougher than it seems. I'm having a blast.

Claire's next trip to the chiropractor will be her first since she came out to our doc via email. She has informed me that she will most likely panic and refuse to get out of the car. Great, now I have to pack a tranquilizer dart.

Poor Claire is starting to worry about her first laser hair removal session, one week from tomorrow. I'm hoping she'll hang in there and not stress too badly.

My dog is having a horrible time with allergies, and is trying to chew his skin off, so we have a date with a vet in the morning. Poor little guy, even Benadryl doesn't seem to help much.

Ah well, off to bed. Have a nice weekend :)

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Claire is dancing around the house singing "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down..."

Now, this might not seem noteworthy, but to me it is. Prior to coming out about her transness, this *never* happened.

Not a lot to say tonight, except damn, I'm really glad she told me her big scary secret. Really glad. It's so nice to have her here and alive.

Oh, and apparently our chiropractor wasn't scared off by the thought of treating a TG patient. I didn't think there would be a problem. Glad I was right.



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Really cool doctors, HR, and family reaction to Steve Stanton

Claire came out to our chiropractor today. We see her at least once a month, and she's really great. It's a lot of fun to go see her, as she has a great sense of humor. A couple of visits ago, some joking went on that led to Claire getting close to the truth, laughing and saying "Oh, I prefer to be called Claire." Last visit, Claire said "it's the meds" in response to something the doc said, and I started laughing so hard I cried. I think she thought we were talking about illegal drugs or something. Yikes.

We decided it might be time for disclosure, as the changes from the hormones are starting to get noticeable. So Claire emailed her and let her know the situation, and sent her here. So, doc, you know who you are, if we don't get a call cancelling our appointment we'll assume we can still come back ;)

On the job front, apparently our HR person has been watching the Stanton issue still. When I called him about something else, Mr. Jones asked me how his "friend" is. I said she was fine, nervous and scared, but okay.

Mr. Jones then went on to tell me that he had been speaking to people in our agency and another agency he is involved with, and found that discussing Stanton's issues with them didn't come back as negative as he thought.

He seems to think it is time to start laying the groundwork for making our agency "trans friendly" by subtle means. He knows Claire wants to stay stealth and had planned to quit before transitioning. He expressed concern about losing a good employee, and asked if we'd stay on if there was a way to make it easier on her. I told him that we would love to stick around as we like the agency we work for.

He's looked around and realized that with over a thousand employees we certainly must have some GLBT employees. I know of one employee that makes no secret that he is gay. He expressed concern that there doesn't seem to be a place for employees to have a support group. I explained that we couldn't attend a group without outing ourselves, and although our agency has no problem with gay and lesbian employees, trans employees are the big new scary step.

So his plan is to start conversing with department heads about what the county needs to know about trans employees. When he gets to the department Claire works for, he's going to report back to Claire what the "climate" is like there from a supervisor. He assured me he was actively working on a plan, and to let Claire know "he's got our backs." Hoo boy, I sure hope so.

My mom, who lives in the area that Steve Stanton was just fired from, spoke to me about the firing. She was really upset and asked how they could get away with blatant discrimination like that. She really couldn't understand it. I can't either, really. I know she worries about us, and the Largo 5 sure aren't helping.

To Steve/Susan - I know you didn't intend to become such a poster child for your disorder, but I have to say thank you for appealing the decision. I hope you let the groundswell of support you have received carry your case to court and hopefully get the 11th Circuit Supremes thinking about human rights.



Tuesday, March 27, 2007

to boldly go ...

It's amazing that the small things in life can seem so big when you actually start to care. I've heard lots of warnings about not rushing into "the whole transition thing" and I thought that it would be easy, I have thought that it's ok, I can take my time.

Apparently I was wrong.

There have been quite a few fatal car wrecks in the surrounding areas that we live, sadly it's mostly innocent people being killed by speeders, drunks or idiots in general. This has not bothered me too much on a personal level (except for the obvious outrage at the way life claims the innocent while the guilty usually walk away) except lately.... It seems that since I have been upgraded (i.e having patches installed ... yes a lame geek joke but I still like it) I have realised even more how short life is. That it's too short of a time to be wasted, especially when life only started in the last year or so.

I am not wanting to rush through the process of transitioning, I (we) have financial and other obligations to sort out, but on the other hand I don't want to wait. I want to do something I haven't done before..... I want to enjoy life.. *shock , horror!!*.

Yes, as my therapist is want to say I am living now, and of course she is right, but I am not yet free.

As the old TV show used to say I am beginning a journey,

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both style and substance of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Hormone Zone

Monday, March 26, 2007

She took my money AND ate my pizza.

For six years, Claire has been a meat and potato type of person. She defined vegetables as carrots, peas, mushrooms, and onions - only. I have spent 20 years as a vegetarian, so it's been a bit tough sometimes.

Well, she's been making some comments about wanting to eat healthier and try some vegetables. I didn't take it to heart really, because I know that she makes choking and gagging motions when I cook with garlic, and she has perfected a lip curl when broccoli is about. Avocadoes elicit an "Ewwwww" from her.

A couple of weeks ago, we stopped and got pizza from a local shop. We normally get a half pepperoni and sausage, half onions, green peppers, mushrooms and black olives pizza. Instead of normal "ewww, nasty veggies" comments, she started teasing me that she was so hungry she was going to eat the whole pizza before we get home. I laughed and bet her five bucks she wouldn't eat a piece of my pizza.

Well, I was out five dollars, and a piece of pizza. I never said I was bright. But, I was very happy because there might be hope for us yet. I started having fantasies of vegetarian meals together. I didn't push it at the time, but a few days ago we went to a KFC/Taco Bell combo. Claire will get chicken soft tacos from Taco Bell, but would never dream of touching beans, sour cream, guacamole or tomatoes. So when I ordered a seven layer burrito with all those items on it, I was amazed when Claire wanted to try a bite. Then she had a second. I stopped her because I sure as heck wasn't going to lose my burrito; I learned my lesson with pizza.

Tonight, we had a lovely vegetarian dinner of cheese tortellini with alfredo sauce. So it's been an interesting phenonemon since she started hormones. It seems her tastes or her attitude is changing, but I'm not sure which one it is. She's even said she might like to try being mostly vegetarian. I'm sure not going to complain.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Barretts and Bronzers?

Three years ago, Claire and I celebrated our anniversary by going to the Eastman Gun Show in our city. We bought each other gorgeous new handguns. I bought a Taurus Millennium (.40) and she bought a Taurus PT-940, also a .40. We then spent the day at the range blowing through boxes of ammo. It was a very fun and non-traditional anniversary.

Yesterday, we were cruising into town to go see the nice people at Ideal Image and get a quote on laser treatment to remove Claire's facial hair when we saw the sign. A gun show was in a nearby town this weekend. She looked at it and giggled, and said we should go. I rolled my eyes and said no, we have good guns. She fell silent for a couple of minutes and then said "But nothing says feminine like a Barrett .50 caliber and a nice red lipstick..."


We found Ideal Image and went inside. Claire was dressed fairly androgynous again, with a long sleeve white OCC t-shirt, women's jeans, belt, tennis shoes, and watch. She had let her beard grow out for a couple of days so they could see how much grey there was. I can't tell you how weird it is for me to see her with 2 days worth of facial hair. We went in and started filling in the paperwork, and turned into giggling kids. First there was "Male or Female" on the form. Claire put a slash through male, marking it and making a statement at the same time. Then, the section about current medications. I walked up to the counter and verified that this was indeed covered by HIPAA. It was, so she noted the anti-androgen and the estrogen and progesterone patch she uses. Nothing like having to out yourself to send you into a giggling fit.

So, my dearest Claire is scheduled for her first laser hair removal session two weeks from now. I'm hoping she doesn't get too nervous between now and then. I really am looking forward to the day she can wake up, put on some light makeup and go out without having a time limit before hair starts showing up again.


Friday, March 23, 2007

My faith in humanity has been temporarily interrupted.

*I have edited this post. I had to walk away from it yesterday and regroup. The wounds were raw from watching the meeting when I wrote this. I realize now that I was referring to things that don't make sense if you aren't in the moment of listening to the people speak. I have attempted to clarify with my edits.*

Mayor Pat Gerard and Commissioner Woods, I respect you so very much for your integrity and for holding firm for human rights Friday night in the Largo commission meeting.

To the brave people that took the stand and stood up for human rights, I applaud you.

To those that stood up and spoke of your own struggles as a transgendered person, I am in awe of your courage.

To the commissioners I shall not name, words fail me. You had a chance to admit you made a mistake when you blatantly discriminated against someone with a medical condition.

In the past few weeks, there has been an incredible amount of personal attacks aimed at Steve Stanton, his family, and at transgendered people in general. These attacks have been made in letters to the editor, in newspaper forums, and in blogs like Troxler's blog of the St. Pete Times.

In the past few weeks, transgendered people have been called deviant, perverted, selfish, delusional and have been laughed at in the cruelest words these people could muster. My heart breaks for all the people that have read these attacks and know that these attackers are talking about them.

Is it any wonder that so many people that suffer from GID commit suicide? To all the people that cried and whined about Stanton being a terrible role model for children, do you not grasp the number of people that are transgendered? Can you not make the small jump mentally to realize that those very children you wish to protect include transgender children? These young and teenage transgendered kids will see your venom too, and thus perpetuate the cycle of maintaining high suicide rates. This is not a game, your hateful actions have consequences.

To those that are so disgusted that transsexuals dare to love, marry and have children, if only you could bring yourself to just expand your thinking for 5 minutes and look at the logic. This is a cycle. Transsexuals hide, marry, have families and try to outrun this thing their whole lives because of people just like you. When they do finally come out and deal with this later in life, you call them liars, deceivers, untrustworthy, selfish and shameful. You attack them for trying to hide and live a normal life. Yet, it is your actions that tell the 12 year old that they dare not speak of their own pain and transition young, that they must try harder to live the lie so that they might never be discovered. This is, indeed, a vicious cycle.

You say that the reason you want Stanton fired is because you can't trust him. You say he lied because he hid his transsexual nature from you. Your statements that wives and children are affected by transition and therefore the sufferers themselves are selfish for trying to save their own lives are inane. You don't know the pain that is felt by the sufferers themselves, those forced into hiding by society and who tried to live normal lives - so to not bring pain upon everyone in their world. I don't want pity. I'm an adult woman with a transsexual partner and I am proud to stand by her side and hold her hand.

You protesters claim pity for children that will be shamed and harassed by their peers because of the parent finally coming to grips with their gender issues. Yet your actions teach your children to do just that - harass, shame and threaten those very children.

When will we understand that people are people? When can we finally put all these issues to bed and just live our lives being kind souls?



I am on the edge of my seat, following the commissioner meeting in Largo.

Here is the blog that is tracking the breaking news.

I pray that we can move this country forward where people that are born with this birth defect now longer have to live in shame, to be discriminated against.

Perhaps tonight we'll take a step forward for tolerance.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Big bang theory of transness...

Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote "You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star."

There have been so many times in my life when things would feel so overwhelming, so chaotic that I thought I could never get a grasp on them. I feel at this point that I am finally comfortable being my true self, and I like the person I have become. Claire, on the other hand, is feeling the pressure of the chaos closing in.

Looking at everything that is facing her in the next two years, that dreaded pink tornado, is a bit overwhelming. In trying to kill part of herself off, to silence the voice of "Claire", she really did a number on herself. It has manifested itself in severe anxieties concerning doctors and dentists. Thankfully, these anxieties are fading enough for her to face the barrage of things that go along with transition: laser hair removal followed by electrolysis, bloodwork, frequent trips to the doctor for checkups. The anxieties have faded a bit, but certainly are not gone. She is working through them, and showing great courage. I'm proud of her.

In addition, she must deal with immigration and job issues. We are having trouble finding anyone that knows if there will be implications for a permanent resident going through transition. The fear of job loss is a constant weight. All of this adds up to an overwhelming amount of chaos and pressure.

She's still doing great so far, despite the chaos. She still wakes up happy, sings in the car, and is as rotten and mischievous as ever. Saturday, an absolutely incredible day together of being out in public with "the real Claire", gave me a glimpse of the star she is destined to become. As long as she can hang tough through all of this, I think she'll be amazed at just how awesome life really can be.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007


This handsome fellow is Sabre. He's my search and rescue partner, and he's an amazingly wonderful animal. Claire and I both have working German Shepherd dogs. Her dog Echo has been trained for police work and is a tank - stocky and muscular. Sabre looks like a gazelle by comparison. Sabre is from American bloodlines and Echo's parents are both imported from Germany.

Relations between our two boys have been tense lately as they are once again jockeying for the number two position in the pack below the human alphas. These dogs are both pretty dominant, so it is a constant struggle for these two to maintain their status of who trumps who in their level of the pack.

Now, this is not the first time these boys have fought. These dogs are not fluffy pet material, they are bred and trained for their drives. Usually these two can resolve their social standing peacably after a couple of days of posturing and body language, but sometimes it gets violent.

Yesterday, it got pretty hairy for a moment when Sabre trotted towards a ball that Echo had his eye on. Suddenly, it was dog on dog action as a battle started. We separated the animals and Echo received a correction from Claire as she put him in a down stay. My wrist injury stemmed from breaking up just such a dog tussle, so when Claire grabbed her hand and cussed, I immediately assumed that she was injured. And injured she was, two fingernails were broken.

I'm still snickering when I think about it. She's cute like that.



Tuesday, March 20, 2007

From the oops files...

When a coworker says to you, "Your husband said ", it is generally not a good idea to give them a blank stare when they refer to your spouse as a husband. I actually had a moment of dead silence while I shifted gears back into remembering that I have a "husband". Luckily, I covered by saying I had a terrible headache and was having trouble focusing and asked if they could repeat what they said.

But yeah, mental note. While at work, my partner is my husband. Whoops.



Monday, March 19, 2007

"We're only immortal for a limited time." - Rush (Dreamline)

I am facing surgery on my wrist again. I play hard and pay for it sometimes. My first surgery just over a year ago repaired a damaged ligament, repaired a torn TFCC and removed the lining in my wrist that was shredded by the TFCC. Complications from the first surgery have resulted in a partially ruptured tendon inside the scar tissue in my wrist.

I am a 5'3", 30-something, very stubborn tomboy. Being weak, or being perceived as weak, is a pet peeve. I am a certified firefighter and a trained K9 search and rescue specialist, both volunteer activities. My K9 partner is an eighty pound German Shepherd. I was fairly strong and fit before this surgery. I loved the fire department and all the challenges within. Before the surgery I could easily bench press over 100 pounds and could drag a dummy that outweighed me by 20 pounds while wearing bunker gear, although not easily. I shook hands like I meant it and I didn't do anything daintily.

I did not keep any of this secret from the therapist after my surgery. I also shared the fact that I have a fairly high pain threshold and a tendency to ignore pain. Yet, I received instructions to "start using your hand" and "start working with your wrist to build strength, as much as you feel you can take". So I did as I was told and was fairly conservative in my approach, or at least so I thought. I didn't go to point of sharp pain, just a good ache that was so similar to working muscles to failure.

I broke myself, injuring two tendons. The tendon in my arm healed, but my pinky is paralyzed in one direction. I can fold it under, but I cannot lift it. At least nobody can expect me to hold my pinky out daintily as I sip tea now. I can not write longhand because the tendon in my hand painfully spasms and locks up, and I can't make a fist with any strength without pain. I have been on light duty with the fire department for a year now since the surgery. My department needs me at scenes, and I love to respond, but I feel like a little kid tagging along with the big boys. I’m stuck with traffic and crowd control, feeling like a weakling.

It bothers me deeply too, though, to know that had I been male, maybe assumptions would not have been made by my therapist. I would overhear instructions to male deputies or firefighters in rehab involving specifics with cautions of "take it easy," but I was encouraged to "build strength." When the therapist asked me what weight I was working with for wrist curls at home, I was using fifteen pounds of weight when I was supposed to be using three pounds maximum. According to the therapist, women are supposed to consider a three pound weight heavy for the task, and she assumed I would naturally not go over that. It was implied that it was my fault for pushing myself too hard - not her fault for being vague.

Perhaps it is my fault, though. I could have asked for clarification. Maybe I pushed myself hard because I wanted to get back in the game, or because I needed to prove to myself that I could bounce back quickly, or maybe I was simply naive. Did I push myself hard because, like guys that drive jacked up pickup trucks, I felt some need to overcompensate? Maybe. Then again, perhaps physical therapists shouldn't lump everyone together by gender, either.

I’ll admit I'm angry at facing another round of surgery and rehab, but the pain is starting to worsen, and my hand is pretty much worthless right now. I received great tools for my silversmithing at Christmas, but I can't hold the torch in my right hand to solder. I just don't know where to direct all this anger, so I feel helpless and depressed when I ponder it.

I do know that some things will be different this time, if I decide to go through this again. I will not push myself so hard after this surgery. I will try to remember that it is not a character flaw to be weak and fragile for a while. I also know that Claire will probably have to physically sit on me when I hear fire trucks roll so I can't go join them. I'm a fairly intelligent girl, but I sure don't act like it sometimes.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Echo.. echo... echo

This dog is the cutest, most intense 90lb
best friend anyone ever had.
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This was a present from Annie, I picked out the stone & she created the wire form to hold it.
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Annie and Claire's Excellent Adventure...

Today was road trip day. We went out of town to spend a fun filled day as Annie and Claire. After fighting down the beard shadow and fixing her hair so she can fully pass as a genetic female for the day, the transformation in physical appearance is complete. But there is a second transformation that happens, and it is amazing to watch.

As she gets close to finishing her preparations, a deep silent sigh of relief just settles in as she relaxes into just being herself, and a smile extends to her eyes. If you've ever spent too much time in a too tight pair of shoes or jeans, you can understand what I am trying to describe. When you slip off the offending item, there is a sigh of relief, isn't there? It is so evident when Claire slips off the ever-present beard shadow and hides the hair that must be maintained in a fairly boyish cut, that she is slipping off just that pair of shoes. When she can look in the mirror and see union between self image and the image she presents to the world, it looks as if a weight has been lifted from her soul.

When she is presenting as male to go to work or presenting androgynously to go shopping, she is happier now than she used to be, because she knows that within a couple of years she will be living full time as a woman. But presenting as male is like wearing shoes a size too small and being on your feet for 8 hours. Presenting as a full female, by comparison, appears to be more like being barefoot in a field of flowers. She sings happily along with songs in the car, can't contain her smiles, and has a twinkle in her eye that just looks like she's up to something. She looks like a confident young woman that knows the value of really living life. She is a joy to be with.

So today we went to our gender therapist, shopped for tumbled semiprecious gemstones for me to wrap in silver, had lunch in a nice restaurant, walked along the river while she photographed the scenery, and walked along a street lined with cool shops. One of these shops is a GLBT themed shop, and we purchased a new bumper sticker that says “Celebrate Diversity.”

On the way back home we had some close calls passing cars of people we knew, and started laughing about getting busted and outed. When it happens, it will definitely cause trouble at work and perhaps some financial hardship, but we sometimes wonder what is worse - the stress of fearing the inevitable or the fallout when it actually happens. Today was one of those days where it felt like discovery might actually be a relief, to have it out and over with and just let Claire be Claire 100% of the time, come what may. We’re still in the closet, though, as we ran the gauntlet unchallenged. We’re home, relaxed, drinking a nice cup of hot tea and still smiling from a fantastic day as our true selves.



Friday, March 16, 2007

Is "sleepy" considered a long or short-term disability?

If you’ve read the earlier post you’ll know that, using an email with a fake name, we emailed Mr. Jones at our HR department and asked what our local government agency would do in the event of a situation like Largo. We let him know that just like Largo, he had a transsexual employee on the payroll. We had also asked him to investigate whether the current or new insurance plan would cover hormone therapy.

So today it stepped up quite a bit. We spoke with Mr. Jones in Human Resources today in person, or at least I did. Claire couldn’t get free to come across town for the appointment, so I just went in her place, since I’m only 4 blocks from the HR building. I walk in and Mr. Jones isn’t expecting me. I close the door and say that my spouse has been the one emailing him. Now, Mr. Jones knows me, and didn’t realize that the person he had been corresponding with was married to a fellow employee, so he was a bit surprised.

He pulled out a load of printed out paperwork that he had been reading, including the transgender workplace guide from HRC that we had linked to him in an email. We talked for a couple of minutes about the Largo reaction, and he asked how long Claire and I had been married. I told him it was 6 years today. After a “happy anniversary,” he then asked me if I had known Claire was TS before we were married. I told him that I had not known, but that I was much happier now that Claire has told me. I explained that James was always depressed, but I would see flashes of the essence of Claire that I fell in love with. He jumped in and finished for me and said “And now you have her all the time.” I believe he gets it.

We started discussing what he could do for us. It was a little disappointing. Basically, he asked if we had a lawyer and advised that we might want to speak with one. I told him that I had been told - by someone that deals with the corporations/agencies to develop their transgender policies – that we were unprotected by the laws in Georgia, and that our only hope was for the corporation to stand behind us with a gender identity policy.

He told me that basically, our government agency is in the middle of the bible belt, and that any attempt to add GID to our non-discrimination policy would be shot down like Largo’s commission did. He said that only one county and one city in Georgia had adopted employee protections, and not to count on him being able to get ours changed. He did reiterate that our agency would try to assist however possible, but that changed the discrimination clause change is unlikely at this point.

He reminded me that Georgia is an at-will state, and that Claire works at the “leisure of” her boss. He said that although she can be terminated at any time for any reason legally, she could not have it done for a discriminatory purpose and the agency would not allow that. However, her department could make things up and fire her for reasons unrelated to transgender issues. He spoke about ideas Claire could do to protect herself from getting set up in that fashion,none of them foolproof though.

He asked me to go into detail about the day her supervisor made the jokes about Claire’s nails and said “Well, over here (the USA) the only guys that polish their nails DRESS” and started laughing, making Claire and her male coworker both a bit uncomfortable for a couple of minutes. The only way we could fully protect her from being fired from a legal standpoint is very radical. He suggested that should she file a sex harassment claim against her female boss, any retaliation would be covered by EEOC and her department would find it impossible to try to set her up and fire her. He did agree that this was probably a very tough road, because that meant generating extreme hostility in the workplace. I do have to concede that it certainly is a creative approach to find at least one method where she would be protected by law. Anyway, we nixed this idea.

So, he tossed a couple of other ideas on the table. One was that we could start putting different knowledgebase types of article on the agency intranet about topics like diabetes, cholesterol, GID or anything else that employees might like to learn more about or contact HR discreetly and ask questions about options, insurance coverage, etc. Another idea was to publish - on the agency's website - a calendar for local young adult activities groups including a local group that is a GLBTIQ support group. The idea is to start slowly introducing the concepts of transgender issues casually to just raise awareness.

So basically, we left it as a stalemate. Claire wants to stay stealth as long as possible and HR really can’t come out and be too forceful ahead of time. So, Mr. Jones is still brainstorming ideas in the meantime and is prepared to go to the agency’s attorney and Claire’s department head immediately if she calls him and tells him she needs him to. Now the real stress kicks in, right?

Well, we're hanging in there. We're only mildly stressed, because we have so many other things happening right now, both scary and fun. I'm facing hand surgery again and co-writing a book, and Claire is looking at starting hair removal and getting into photography. The pink tornado is hovering over our heads and we have our storm chaser vehicle loaded with survival gear. Floor it Claire!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

From the ashes...

We're hitting anniversary #6 this Friday. When we first got married, I certainly never saw this as where we'd be right now.

It's quite funny to me how many times in our life together the Phoenix has presented itself. In volunteer issues, in work, in books we love. I don't recall ever having the image of a Phoenix embedded in my conscience before marrying my beloved, but now the symbol of rebirth through fire is everywhere I look.

I guess our marriage has gone through - and is staged to go through - a transformation not dissimilar to that of the Phoenix. I'm sure that we will face many things that will turn up the heat on us as we go through this change and emerge out the other side as a new dynamic.

I hear a lot of spouses lament the losses they have felt. I admit I have had a couple of moments, albeit fleeting. Typically, others report the big things: voice, looks, sex, name, status quo. Mine tend to center around silly stuff, like realizing that a pet nickname I used to call her is no longer appropriate, since it is based on the male name. Another one was picking up an old article of clothing that I thought looked cute in the old days and pausing for a moment before adding it to a pile for charity. I liken it to how I feel when I see something from Kiddo's childhood, and realize she's all grown up now and in the military.

What I find funny is that I experience these minor pangs even though you couldn't pay me enough to shove Claire back into that closet. James really was a miserable soul, argumentative and illogical at times and sometimes downright unreasonable. Yet that little spark of Claire would surface on a regular basis, and I would make contact with my soulmate, buried way down deep. I guess that this is probably one of the reasons that I feel so positive about transition.

Ever since I was 12, I have railed against society for pressuring people into hiding or making them feel inferior, and transgendered folk are definitely one o the groups still greatly suppressed right now. I hate that she lost so many years of her life in hiding, and that I couldn't see her shine from the beginning of our marriage. I look forward to watching her discover life as her true self, free from the skin of the wrong gender.

So, I guess what I am saying is that we stand on the brink of this anniversary seeing the flaming hoops behind us and ahead of us and we make our way through this transition. As I do so, I sense a kinship with the Phoenix. I do not mourn my marriage, or the loss of James. I cherish the rebirth of my marriage in this new dynamic, and I celebrate the emergence of my soulmate.

In case you're wondering - this is our anniversary present to each another: Soulmate rings from hrc.org. What better way than to celebrate this special anniversary than with a reaffirmation of our love as we are now as our true selves, while supporting such a good cause.

May you find love and happiness in your life,


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mama don't take my kodachrome away...

Claire is now in possession of a Sony Alpha 100 camera. She's a happy shutterbug. We had read a review on Circuit City's website about one downfall of this camera being blurry sports shots. Let's just say that speeding german sherpherds are captured with perfect clarity, so we're thrilled with the camera's ability to take motion shots. However, I am now convinced my dog is a freak of nature, since we can't catch him with either of his two front feet on the ground. We each claim one of the dogs as our own, although of course we love them both. Mine is a complete goober.

She is stashing some of her pictures here: http://www.justclaire.net/gallery2/main.php. The pictures in the Misc folder were taken in a car at 60 MPH. Pretty impressive camera :)

Claire decided she wanted to get some shots of them running, so I squatted down and called Claire's dog to me. He ran up to me, than turned and ran back and gave some great pictures. Then it was my dog's turn. He runs straight at me and comes to the edge of safe stopping distance and doesn't slow down. I laugh and jump up right before he plows over me, narrowly avoiding a solid collision. Of course, Claire has now immortalized the face I made right before impact. It's pretty damned funny, if I must say so myself. An 80 pound shepherd torpedo, ouch.

The pictures all came out great. Claire has a good eye and is having fun. That's the important thing. I have a hobby of my own, I make jewelry using silver sheet and silver wire. I'm glad she has something she can really enjoy, and maybe this might grow into a "Claire's Photo Studio" down the road. That would be cool. If nothing else, I have someone to take gorgeous pictures of our life together.



Monday, March 12, 2007

Random musings from our life.

Sometimes I wonder about the logic of having two alpha male german shepherd working dog types as indoor pets. They weigh about 180 pounds together, and furniture flies when they go crashing through the house playing.

Friday is our sixth anniversary. It's our first "real" anniversary as Annie and Claire. I think that's pretty awesome.

I love my 5.11 all terrain all conditions (ATAC) tactical boots. I like to wear them to work, they go with everything in my estimation. Silly Claire disagrees and still tries to find ways to turn me into a girl. Ha! Her inability to comprehend why I would want to wear a tactical boot as fashion wear is about on par with my inability to understand why she actually likes heels. I think I win the argument, because my choice is just so damn comfortable and practical!

Claire claims she is now entitled to two birthdays, one as James and one as Claire. I think she's full of it. Nice try though, missy.

I bought a pair of somewhat girly shoes. They are relatively plain kitten heels and they drive me insane. They look all right and they feel okay, but I have determined that the clip clop sound of heels makes me neurotic. It feels like I'm being stalked by a horse. I find myself walking like a goon trying to not make noise. Other than walking on my toes I have not been successful. I do agree that my beloved 5.11s might not go with my stevie nicks style skirts, so I am trying to see if I can find something else. Are ballerina slippers considered office wear? Is barefoot allowed? I'll have to check the SOPs.



Sunday, March 11, 2007

Gonna wash that man right outta my hair...

Yesterday when we were in Publix I learned another lesson in Gender Perceptions 101. Please allow me to set the scene.

Claire's 6'4" slight bod was clad in a men's black v-neck t-shirt, women's jeans in a dark vertical wash, a girly belt with star studs that you couldn't really see beneath the untucked shirt, white feminine tennis shoes, and a silver dainty women's watch. She wears a short unisex necklace with a dragon pendant. Her hair was mussy and femininely styled, but she had no makeup on to hide her beard shadow. I look at her and see all female, despite the shadow. But dressed androgynously she's not sure if she's perceived as "normal", gay or an obvious TS. She definately doesn't look like a macho male jerk and we're obviously together as a couple.

Claire likes to watch women to observe their outfits and mannerisms. I certainly don't mind. I'm not the jealous type. As we shop the pasta aisle, a woman with the coolest hair comes toward us. We stand next to each other for a minute or so. I finally turn and compliment her on her hair, telling her I love the creative bright coloring. She smiles and thanks me, her eyes obviously showing happiness at the compliment.

As she moves out of earshot, Claire leans over and whispers that she wanted to say something to her but couldn't. I laughed and asked why she felt she couldn't, and she responded that it is different when a "guy" says something like that. I shrug off her concern and call her silly.

Later while we're shopping, someone else approaches with a really cool hair coloring. It definately appeals to my inner punk. Not a coloring I could pull off, but it's really a nice look. Claire once again leans over and says "her hair is really cool", so I tell Claire to say something. She refuses and makes herself busy in the frozen food section, sticking her head in the freezer and intently studying packages, like some urban ostrich. So of course, when the woman gets close to us, I tell her that I love her hair. She, like the other woman, is also deeply pleased by the compliment.

As Claire and I head to the next aisle, she tells me I need to trust her on this subject. She said that girls get weird when that same "I love your hair" compliment comes from a male because they always assume it's a pick-up line. We debate for a moment, with me pointing out that it is obvious we're together and that it wouldn't be taken that way. She insists that it wouldn't make any difference.

I remember one day in Wal-Mart I was in a makeup aisle looking at foundation. Another woman was on the other side of the aisle to my left. I hear a man's voice to my right say "You don't need that, you're pretty the way you are." I assume this man is with the other woman and turn to look at him, only to find he was looking at me. He took off out of sight and left me giggling where I stood. I have to say it was a very sweet thing to do and it made my day, simply because there wasn't a followup pickup attempt. I realized I just had a hit and run compliment.

So I sit here today wondering if the women in Publix that were obviously tickled to get a compliment from me would have felt uncomfortable had it come from my spouse, even though I probably would have jumped in as well and agreed. Claire is a kind soul, and it is a bit frustrating to think that she holds back shining that light of hers on other people because she happens to be in male presentation.

On an unrelated note, I am the only creature in this house not napping. I just finished a fictional short story for submission to a magazine. Claire is breathing softly as she sleeps on the couch. One eighty pound German Shepherd is out cold on my right. The ninety pound one is next to the couch, dreaming. I love to watch them dream. Their little feet twitching, their little half barks that come out sounding like "murf", and their funny facial expressions always make me giggle. Right now, the energy in the house feels like a moment of perfect contentment. I think I'll go join them.



Saturday, March 10, 2007

Everything's coming up roses...

We went out today to Best Buy to get Claire some new computer gear - an external hard drive so she can organize and back up her photos. While we were there, Claire declared her undying love for the Sony DSLR-A100 camera (click here if you want to see camera review). She admitted that she loves me almost as much as that camera. She had me giggling all day as she pined for the camera of her dreams and tried to trick me into going back to Best Buy.

After that, we went to Publix to do some grocery shopping. For the past few months, we've been splurging every week on fresh flowers. I never realized just how much Claire liked flowers. Over the years she would occasionally buy them for me and I always thought that she was so sweet.

A few months ago, I bought her a card and some flowers and surprised her with them. She had never had someone buy her flowers before. Her face just lit up; you could see it made her really happy. It was one of those moments of revelation. Why had I never surprised her with flowers before she came out to me as trans? I knew she liked the flowers when she was "male" in my eyes, so why did it never occur to me to bring some to her then? Did I really never even consider it just because she was a guy? I was actually very dissapointed in myself for being so blind.

So at Publix, we went to the floral department to buy our weekly bouquet. We don't have a Publix in our city, so we were delighted to see that you could buy 3 small bundles of individual types of flowers for $10, allowing you to make your own bouquet. Claire stood there, dressed androgynously, studiously examining different bunches of flowers deciding what to put together. She looked so alive and happy. I couldn't help but notice that other female shoppers glanced her way with respect in their eyes. I am sure that they just saw a thoughtful, sweet (although very feminine) husband picking out a bouquet for me. She picked out a beautiful bouquet, and arranged it perfectly when we got home. She told me that a long time ago she grew flowers in her yard and would arrange them in vases. Six years of marriage and I'm still learning about this fascinating person I married.

I'll have to make sure we visit Publix on future trips to this nearby city. I would love to watch her build another bouquet.


Friday, March 9, 2007

"Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me"*

As you can tell I don't write that much, but I have been planning a lot.
This month includes those wonderful delights of going to get eyebrows waxed (Yippee!), the first visit to a laser hair removal clinic for a consultation (boy am I looking forward to that? not!), and a trip to the therapist to see if I am still acting like a normal (?) human being. Yeah, normal, that's me. LOL.

Also as stated earlier it's also my birthday & luckily enough it's also patch day!!!

*title taken from ..Carry on Cleo

Please buckle your seatbelts. Seriously.

As a volunteer for a fire department, I have been to too many scenes with people ejected from their cars. Children are especially easy to be thrown out, and your injuries are usually going to be far worse if you're thrown from the car. If you're scared of being trapped, trust me, we firefighters know how to get you out. We don't know how to repair the incredible damage to the human body that occurs on a rollover when you get ejected from the car. All we can do is get you to a trauma center.

Last night I worked a scene with 2 people ejected and one entrapped. 4 people were taken to the hospital. Just a few minutes ago I learned that the 8 year old boy, who we thought would be okay, has died. The person that ran the stop sign and rolled his family's car is still alive, but this child is gone.

Please, everyone, it only takes a minute. Children don't have the ability to make that choice. Make it for them. If they scream and fight you on it, be a parent and make them do it anyway. I have spoken to children as a firefighter on parent's request and told them matter of factly why they need to buckle up. It works.

From this side of the spectrum, I just can't imagine subjecting yourself to this kind of trauma to save 5 seconds. Even if you are the safest driver in the world, there are still people that can take you by surprise.

I'll end my lecture with a reminder to test your smoke alarm batteries when you change your time this weekend.

With a heavy heart,


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Happy birthday to Claire...

It's Claire's birthday. This is her first birthday since the start of hormones, the first birthday in this new phase of life. It is the first birthday where she is finally relaxed and comfortable being herself, whether or not she's in girl clothes. I just want to say happy birthday to her, and let her know she's the light of my life.

In other news today, Stanton has filed an appeal. This fight could have a big impact on transgender discrimination.

Overall, a pretty good day :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Holy pink tornado, Batgirl!

Claire was chatting last night about an idea for her new profession. She has always loved photography and would like to perhaps try to find a way to transition into that field when she does the "big" transition. Neither of us really likes what we do for a living, but we're good at it. My idea was this: since her history is as male in this field and she hates it anyway, and since we're moving to the Pacific Northwest and starting fresh, why not allow Claire to establish a new field as her proper persona?

Our plan is to let her get established for a couple of years while I (having climbed my way up to some pretty damn good job skills) carry us as the steady income. Once she gets established and I've finished my own soul searching about what I want to do when I grow up, I might switch. I might not though. My career path isn't really overly demanding, pays good money, and if I can get into the government sector can be very steady work with good benefits. It does afford me extra money for my hobbies. I guess I'll have to see what I decide to do as my dream job.

So, we're in the throes of the "Tell HR or Don't Tell HR" dilemma, and we didn't sleep well last night. This morning we were both kind of tired and cranky, which didn't last too terribly long. We're really good friends so it's hard to stay snarky before one of us will start laughing. After a morning of feeding the dogs, getting dressed, feeding ourselves, making lunches, slugging down coffee and trying to pry our eyes open in 30 minutes flat, we get in the car for our morning carpool.

Last night we were saying we should put the camera gear in the car and if we see something snap-worthy while in commute, we'll be prepared. Well, we forgot. And this morning we're driving along and looking at the clear blue sky with one solitary cloud breaking up the expanse. It's in the shape of a tornado. A big one. A bit lower and black and we'd have turned and run for cover.

Now I don't know how many of you have heard the analogy that transition is like a tornado leaving devastation in it's wake, but we certainly have no problem envisioning it. This morning, with our own personal tornado warning, we both looked at the tornado in the sky and giggled. Then we both notice that due to the sunrise the cloud is most definitely, unequivocally, colored PINK. Can you get any more ominous than that?


Needless to say, we cracked up laughing. That damn tornado was in the sky the whole way to work. As we approached, the angle stayed consistent so that no matter which direction we were heading, it looked like it was pointing directly over her place of employment. As it turned out, the HR person was out today so we have another 24 hours to fret. But the camera will most assuredly go in the car tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Which way should we go?

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche

This has been a morning filled with anxiety. On the way to work we discussed the pros and cons of giving Claire's identity to our HR equal opportunity specialist. We have been communicating anonymously with HR since the Stanton issue broke asking what would happen if a currently employed TS employee were outed. After 3 conversations now, he insists that Claire should confide her identity so that she may be fully protected by HR in case she is outed soon. Claire has been subjected to comments and ridicule from her supervisor about having moderate length fingernails with clear polish on them and has been told in the past that her hair may not touch her shoulders; she must keep it short.

This HR individual has expressed the following sentiments by phone:
"We can't protect you if we don't know who you are."

"You should not have to submit to being held to identity expression standards simply because your supervisor prefers a particular look. It pains me deeply that we are doing this to you. There is no statement in the SOP of this organization that mandates the length of your hair or nails."

"We don't care about how you look, or what your identity is, just about the job you do for us."

"We would never allow you to be fired for gender expression. If we did, you would definately not have any further worries about how to pay for any surgeries, and your new wardrobe could be purchased from Fifth Avenue after the lawsuit."

Our organization's code says this:
"Discrimination against any person in recruitment, examination, appointment, training, promotion, retention, discipline, salary increase, or any other aspect of personnel administration because of race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, mental or physical handicap, or any other factor not related to requirements of the position is hereby prohibited."

HR insists that the open-ended statement would positively include gender expression and identity. We can only look at the wording in Largo that clearly stated gender identity and gender expression were protected and wonder just how protected we would be.

I can see the logic of being on record before a bad review is added to her file, or other manipulation of records to demonstrate that she should be terminated without being attached to a discriminatory act. On the other hand, the person in HR also has expressed great dismay that a valued employee is being harassed about hair, etc. If this confidential name is handed to HR, would he then begin an "educational campaign" to teach that department that supervisors may not impinge upon gender expression? I can understand he would want to be proactive in making sure it didn't happen. If they are made to look twice at the employees in the department, Claire's supervisors will surely put two and two together. The supervisor herself would just have to hear nails and hair to know exactly who she has been leaning on. The loss of Claire's job months before we pay off all of our bills would surely mean ruined credit.

On the other hand, if she is harassed or fired shortly after speaking officially and in confidence with HR it would be at the fault of HR and the loss of employment would, by HR's own opinion, be merit for a lawsuit or settlement. But that would be long after said ruination of credit.

We continue to ponder this one. We know HR is watching the Largo result, as do we. In the meantime, we worry. Any comments from others that faced this would be welcome.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Why didn't you go BEFORE we left?

Claire shared with me recently that she has always had trouble using public restrooms. I imagined what it would be like, to have to use the opposite gender’s restroom and never be able to tell someone why I didn’t want to go in. I imagined what it must be like to really need to use facilities but not be able to because they were just too busy. I then imagined what it must be like to be in a restroom like that, hiding in a stall, and have someone come in. And then I thought back to all the times I teased her good-naturedly about her refusal to use public bathrooms. It made me feel pretty sad, and I wondered what else I have missed.

The other day she was in the restroom at work when a male supervisor came in. This supervisor makes jokes all the time – it’s not a very politically correct place. He came in, looked at Claire washing her hands and asked “Aren’t you in the wrong bathroom?” Now, of course, Claire immediately thought back to the previous day’s events where a female supervisor had questioned her nails being polished, and wondered if they were on to her. But she has a blindingly quick wit, and just laughed at him and walked out, shutting the light off and leaving him in the dark cursing and laughing. Score one for my feisty little Claire ;)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

So ...

We decided to try an experiment and see if it would enhance or spoil it if I posted here rather than on my own small piece of cyberspace.

My name is Claire, and after 35 years of fighting it, I have come to terms with the fact that I am a Transsexual Woman.

I've been married for almost 6 years. I came out to my wife slowly, first just trying to dress a bit and then finally letting her know the whole truth.

We sought counseling in August 2006 and I started hormones in November. So far it has been going very well. We've been quite happy and I really feel so very alive now that I am able to really be me and let my secret out.

We plan to allow the hormone therapy to work it's magic for a bit while I sort out things like hair removal, etc. Our plans are to move somewhere a bit more friendly than our current location (quite backwoods) and start fresh in just under two years.

We're looking at the Pacific Northwest; we heard Portland and Seattle are quite welcoming. My current employer is just about one of the worst possible places to transition on the job, so I have to stay as stealth as possible until we're ready to move.

Coping and enjoying life are two completely different things. I'm a grandmaster at the first; I'm learning how to do the second.

Well, that's me. Nice to meet you all.

She's a rhinestone tomboy...

Claire is on a mission to determine just how much of a tomboy I am. I was deathly sick with a sinus infection one day recently. Claire was painting her toenails her favorite shade of deep coral. In a moment of weakness and near death, I let her do mine. Now, you have to understand that I'm a die hard tomboy. I’ve had painted toenails once in my life, and it lasted 24 hours before it completely weirded me out.

So, for several days, I attempted this thing that is supposedly so normal for so many women. The first three days when I would take off my socks I would do a double take and shudder. The first morning after the deed, I was in the shower half awake when I looked down and thought I had cut myself when I saw all the red. In my defense, I was sick, and didn't have my glasses on in the shower. After 10 days of this experiment, I would catch myself staring at my toes wondering what the hell had happened to me.

Well, I tried. I left it on for 12 days and finally took it off. It was a palpable relief. I couldn't believe that is was so incredibly uncomfortable wearing simple polish on a part of my body that nobody ever sees. It really struck home just how very uncomfortable it must be walking around presenting as the gender opposite of your brain. She’s still giggling at me and my inability to last two weeks with polished toenails. I’m still in awe that she lasted 35 years coping with wearing the wrong gender.


Saturday, March 3, 2007


I am still receiving emails from the post I made on Howard Troxler's blog. I received one this morning that really touched me.

Jessie said "I know what it's like. I hid from my family for six years, and only when I started feeling suicidal did I realize that I couldn't run anymore, that I needed to transition. I'm nine months in, now, and I feel like I've been set free. The difference between who I am and who I was trying to be is like night and day, and I would imagine your S.O. either went or will go through a similar sense of liberation. It's like a huge weight being lifted."

I wanted to address this fully. I kind of summarized in my post on the Troxler blog, but it goes really deep. In my story below, I will refer to her as James for two reasons. One, because that's who she was to me at that point, and two, because there was so much pain involved that right now I just want to separate it out from who she is today. Although legally and to her employer, she is still "James", she is 100% Claire to me and to herself.

Claire was one of these people that survived her condition by putting up a self described "brick wall" around her heart. She suppressed her real self so deeply that she actually can't remember years of her life, due to walking around in robot mode. When you inject such a massive dose of Novocain into your soul, it really affects you.

We actually met online, both volunteering with a group that assisted law enforcement agencies hunt down online child predators and help people that were being cyber stalked. James and I spent countless hours chatting online as we worked talking to victims or gathering evidence. James mostly was advocating for women who were being stalked in real life by people they met online. I was mostly in the pits of the child porn peddlers, gathering information on their activities and putting reports together to send to their local law enforcement agencies. James and I both were able to survive this work mostly because of our abilities to shut down feelings.

James was in a different country. He was talking to me about always wanting to visit America, and a bunch of us here in the States finally encouraged him to come basically "backpack through America" by crashing with all of us for a few weeks each. At this point, we had started voice chatting while we worked our volunteer activities late in the night, and I considered him the best friend I'd ever had. We would talk for hours and never seemed to run out of things to say. I was becoming quite smitten with him as well. I quickly volunteered to be his first host. (Note here - we had known each other for a year and both had multiple clearances and background checks, this wasn't a normal meet a stranger off the Internet scenario).

My daughter and I met him at the airport. I saw this extremely tired, skinny "guy" depart the plane. We went over to pick up James from customs, and soon I was able to take him home with us. Well, let's just say that it was quickly confirmed that I was deeply in love with this wonderful best friend of mine. Let's also just say he never made it to the other host family stops. I kidnapped him :)

As we started to make a life together, I could always see the spark of the wonderful soul that was there, but I also saw other things that troubled me. I saw someone that would pass a mirror and refuse to look into it, or that when he did, would get depressed. I saw so much self-loathing that it hurt me badly. No matter what I said, no matter how much I made it clear that I loved him, it never made a dent. A deep sense of depression just always seemed to be there. Sometimes we would fight over illogical behavior that he would have, like being angry about something and wanting a solution that just wasn't there, like one issue over a used car we had purchased. I just chalked it up to not understanding how things worked over here as far as consumer rights were concerned, but in hindsight depression has a lot of ways it shows itself.

The depression really started to get to me. I started to ask him to please get help. A commercial for anti-depressants would come on and it would make me feel so helpless that I myself would cry. Nightmares started, with James being in a black pool of quicksand and me trying to hang on to his hand for dear life, with him slipping out of my grip and submerging before I would wake up in terror. My love never abated, but I honestly started to wonder if I could take it much longer if he didn't get help. I am part Buddhist. I have no exact religion except that I take bits of the philosophy from several religions and meld them. Unitarian churches have always fit me well. The part of Buddhism that I love is that you learn tools that give you the ability to cope with pain and depression, and I found that I could rebound quickly, but it was starting to get harder to keep myself and James up too.

Physically, the depression was manifesting itself as well. James had never been able to get a good night's sleep. Severe anxiety over doctors, dentists and needles would cause him to suffer in pain or misery because he just wouldn't go.

Well, when James approached me with the concept of dressing as a woman, I had no problem with it. I had a transgender roommate in college, so it was no big thing. It started small and then little revelation after revelation came out. Soon James was wearing a skirt in the evenings ("They are so comfortable") and stockings ("I just like them, don't know why"). He seemed more relaxed, less anxious about things.

Then, one night we were watching a show about women that lived with cross-dressing husbands. These husbands went the whole 9 yards, wig, makeup, a femme name, etc. My spouse I was cuddled up to while we watched was so obviously tense. I sat up, looked at "him" and asked him point blank if that was the level he needed to go to. I got a look I could only describe as a cornered animal look, fear and flight in his beautiful eyes. I could see this internal struggle to say yes and fear to do so plain as day. I assured him it was okay, really. A meek answer in the affirmative was returned and I remember saying "okay, we'll get some more stuff for you". Then I asked my poor petrified spouse if there was a name "he" identified with. He kind of shook his head. After the show, after some quiet reflection time while doing typical chore stuff my beloved came up to me and quietly said "Claire."

(note. I will now switch genders back to referring to her as Claire)

We sat down that night and went online to look at wigs. Claire found one she really liked but wasn't ready to venture out and try one on. There was a wig store down the street from my office, so I went and picked one up for her. That night, she spent some time dressing completely. She admitted she'd never had the opportunity to dress completely as she'd never had privacy where she lived in Britain. So we had a fun evening, working on makeup and hair. She looked in the mirror and said just said "Wow, this feels so right."

So we lived like that for a while. She would come home, take off her boy uniform, and switch to female stuff. She was happier, more relaxed, but it was obvious something was still deeply troubling her. Then, finally, she just broke down and admitted the whole story. I listened, slightly stunned at the level of suppression she had to do, but overall, I admit I was relieved. So much about her now made sense. She was so good with female victims because really, she was one. And suddenly, the light shone through the depression. She was dead inside because she tried to kill that part of herself for so long.

I never felt deceived. I don’t blame her for introducing this topic in steps to me either. I can’t imagine the fear that she felt upon trying to tell me. We started therapy. It was rough at first because the therapist seemed to have a hard time dealing with that fact that I was truly as okay with this as I purported to be. But we stuck through it and found a wonderful doctor here in town that has treated many transsexuals to handle hormones for her. She’s a lovely, warm, earth mother type of doctor. She’s a D.O., which I’ve always enjoyed using, and she’s delighting in Claire’s progress.

Just like Jessie's story at the beginning of this missive, I have to say that the difference in my partner is night and day. I have a happy, well adjusted partner now. She wakes up with a sparkle in her eye, a zest for life, and an anticipation approaching a kid at Christmas as she peeks down her shirt to see what progress has been made overnight. She sleeps soundly at night. Her anxieties are abating. She looks in the mirror with a sense of satisfaction with her body, even though she isn't "done" yet. She actually looked forward to Christmas for real for the first time ever this past year.

So when people ask me "How do you handle the changes in your transitioning spouse?", I have to say "With great joy."


Friday, March 2, 2007

Never been good with the social graces.

I do agree that it is not polite to snicker when one's transitioning spouse complains of morning sickness because the hormones make her intolerant of anything that smells like milk in the morning, despite the fact that I haven’t been able to get near the combo of orange juice and eggs since my pregnancy 18 years ago.

I also admit that it is also not nice to giggle and smirk when one’s transitioning spouse complains that her boobs ache while they grow, despite remembering that it was the worst feeling when it was happening to me at 12.

But damn, it’s fun. *Grin*

Go Susan Go!

Just got this alert from Google.

Read Newsweek Story

Steve (Susan) Stanton discusses plans to fight the decision to put her on administrative leave as the first step to fire her for being transsexual.

Hang in there Susan, we're rooting for you.

Fwd: Anatomy, old habits, and almost outing one's partner

My partner Claire is still deeply stealthed at work. We're hoping to hide from discovery (much like Steve/Susan Stanton) for a while longer while we pay off bills, let Claire finish hair removal, and get other things in place before what will surely be a job loss. It will also give Claire more time on hormones to allow for all the lovely things she wants to happen. One of those is breast growth.

Now, I have to say I'm enjoying watching her change and delighting in her daily routine of waking up and looking for progress. To be blunt, which this blog will be, I'm bisexual by nature so the changes don't bother me at all. It's rather a fascinating thing to be involved in, watching her body change. It appeals to the scientist in me, and hell, it's just cool that hormones can do what they do. So far it's been pretty good. She's almost a full size A after just a few months on hormones. She gets to wear a pretty loose fitting uniform, so right now it's not hard to hide it.

Unless your spouse, who works in the same organization, happens to momentarily forget and place her hand on your chest while turned away, absentmindedly sliding her hand up to your shoulder. Yup. It was one of *those* moments. I goofed and well, let's say I stopped before I reached her shoulder. Luckily we both moved away pretty casually into other positions. Panic mixed with a near irresistable urge to bust out in giggles is a very strange emotion. It is scary though, to realize just how easily I could give her away by accident.

One of the stressful things about having a spouse in transition is fear of their discovery. I admit, I do worry about Claire. I don't worry so much about bills, etc... I mean, yes, it will be hard if she loses her job prematurely, but I do believe in the adage that when one door closes, another opens. It's more of a worry about Claire getting hurt. So I do worry that I will accidentally expose her. Of course, her worry is for me and the grief I will get for being married to a trans partner.

Working in the same organization (different buildings across town from each other) we are connected all day because our jobs sometimes cross paths. At night she's Claire, in the daytime, she's James. So far I have been able to keep the two separated, but I do admit to fearing about accidentally addressing him as her, or saying Claire instead of James. Wrap your head around that concept. Sometimes I slip at home and absentmindedly say James or he, especially if we're talking about our day at work, because I do try so hard to think of her as him during the day. Luckily, she responds by being her normal understanding and kind self and torments me with teasing when I do goof up, which thankfully isn't often. She does have an incredible sense of humor by the way; we have a lot of fun. Truth be told though, I really hate it when I do that. Not because she expects me to be perfect, but because I know it must bother her on some level although she would never admit it.

So, going back to yesterday's accidental public grope. We carpool, and I love it. We have a long commute and it's great time to talk each other's ear off. We were chatting about techy stuff when we ran out of material. A silent pause of about 60 seconds and we both started laughing and started to say something about "the incident". She recounted it in her highly humorous way and had me laughing so hard I about cried. The standing joke between us is who is going to be the one that accidentally outs her by mistake, and right now we're leaning towards me at the moment after yesterday's action. We have established a code via IM though, just in case. Should she get a message from me in the line of "OMG, OOPS!" she should quietly slip out the back door and exit the building, because I just goofed big time.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

New beginnings

My name is Annie. My husband's name is... Claire.

Let me explain.

After two awful marriages, I found my soulmate James. James was a wonderful person, but he had a horrible self-image and a deep depression that haunted him. I never knew what to do or how to help, until the day he took a deep breath, trusted me with his best guarded secret, and told me the truth.

James was transsexual. He was a woman. I shall now refer to her henceforth as such.

Suddenly, things started to make sense. Little quirks, comments, and actions suddenly started to fit into place. When she told me, it was as if a load of bricks was removed from her shoulders. The depression vanished and I was happy. I set out to learn all about transsexuality (gender identity disorder).

I was shocked. I was repulsed. But not from what you might think.

I learned that children are born with what amounts to crossed wiring - a brain that develops in one gender and genitals that develop in another and that they start suffering when they are as young as three. My heart broke. What shocked and repulsed me were the horror stories of little innocent children being shamed, chastised, beaten and told they were crazy by their parents.

I learned that people with this disorder learn different coping mechanisms to hide from society. They learn to keep their mouth shut and to try to quiet the voice inside that screamed in a deafening silence to please let them live a normal life. The Pink Floyd song Comfortably Numb comes to mind.

I talked to people that broke down in anguish and told their spouses, hoping that all the sacrifices they had made to protect their loved ones from the pain could finally be repaid with a shared burden and understanding, only to find themselves served with divorce papers.

It broke my heart again. I had no desire to divorce my spouse, and I initially experienced great contempt for people that would lash out at their spouse for something that was so utterly blameless. I'll go into my journey through this phase later.

We joined support groups. Over and over we saw stories of heartbreak, of pain. I almost felt bad posting messages because I felt we were so very lucky to have a marriage start to truly thrive simply because my partner told me her deep dark secret. I felt like telling of our happiness would just be salt in a wound.

But then something happened. Steve Stanton was fired in Largo, Florida because he is transsexual. I'm sure you've heard the story by now, but basically he had a well planned timeframe to go public, to inform his son and protect his family from the news that he wanted to have gender reassignment surgery and live as Susan. Unfortunately, either someone he trusted as a friend or a medical professional violated his trust and told the St. Pete Times. He was ambushed. Having no choice but to switch to damage control, he called a press conference and announced his news.

A firestorm erupted. You can read about it here if you haven't already:
St. Pete Times article

In the middle of all this, one columnist fought back against the venomous outbursts by the so-called righteous. You can read it here:
Troxler's Blog

I was so utterly crushed. My heart actually hurt, watching the video of the commissioners, and watching this poor woman just be ripped apart publicly. Pages and pages of support for Susan Stanton couldn't offset the sheer mass of outbursts by people hell bent on destroying what pride she had left. The ones that killed me were the people saying that they felt so bad for the child involved as they called his father a perverted freak that should be pitchforked to death. Just who's children do you think are going to torment that child?

After reading so many people compensating for ignorance by increasing the volume and the hate in their posts, I posted the following on the blog:

Okay, let me try to enlighten some people here.

Most transsexuals are told in early childhood that they must never tell anyone that they have this problem lest people consider them crazy or freaks. They grow up trying to suppress these very valid feelings their whole life.

Eventually (you know, being human and all) they come across someone that captures their heart and they fall in love. Do they tell that person and run them off, or decide to try to silence the internal conflict in the name of love, giving up their hope of a happy, well-adjusted life in deference to trying to put their soulmate's happiness first? Usually, it's the latter.

Very few transsexuals can live like this forever though. Eventually the depression and the silent self-loathing get so bad they affect every aspect of their life. They eventually have to face the music and realize that they cannot put their own happiness in a box and lock it away forever.

When that happens, they tell their spouse. Most wives do leave, some don't. Some support their spouse and delight in the fact that their spouse is finally starting a journey where they can be able to *live* for the first time ever. Some stay married and just best friends, some stay married and stay fully in love.

How do I know? I'm married to a man in transition to becoming a woman. Family therapy has exposed the amount of self sacrifice that was done by my soulmate, in order that our lives not be disrupted. My daughter, my family and I are thrilled to finally have this wonderful, giving, moral person in our lives finally start to take steps towards true happiness.

It is a birth defect. TS people suffer from early childhood and are shamed into telling themselves that they can keep their secret quiet their whole lives. It's not deceit, it is survival and trying to keep others they care about from suffering. Blame the very people who are calling Susan deceitful for forcing her to suffer all those years. It is precisely those voices that keep transsexual people from transitioning young enough to live a normal life out in the open.

Stanton's wife knew about Susan's issues. They were working together on it, much like my partner and I are. How dare you judge them for finally having the bravery to stand up and say they are working to fix a long standing problem.

Good luck to you and your family Susan, and I hope you reconsider your comment about suing the city if you are officially fired. If not for the monetary award, then at least for the ability to push the laws forward to keep this from happening to others, and use the money to move to a friendlier place.

I posted this while I was angry at the world. I wanted these people to see that not all families are scarred by a transsexual family member. I expected hate mail. What I received surprised me.

I received emails from transsexuals in all stages of their journey. A lot of them. The gist of most of the comments was that they too were transsexual and their spouse did not stand by them, that they really appreciated my post, and that it meant a lot to see that there really are people out there that can live with transsexuality. So I have decided to share our story here on this blog.

I hope that perhaps this story might help some people either understand this issue better so they might be able to realize that transsexuals are not evil, perverted or sinners, but just people suffering from a cruel yet correctable defect.

Perhaps a parent might find this, and understand their child, and not crush them in an attempt to make them fit an unattainable sense of normalcy in their parent's eyes, or allow them to transition young enough in life that they don't have to try to set forth in stealth, and suffer the devastation of a marriage when they can no longer pretend to be "ok".

Perhaps nobody will read this, but at least I have a place to vent against the injustice. At least I can feel like I am trying to do something, instead of sitting helpless while people like Susan Stanton exit rooms filled with lynch mobs, heads hung in despair, in cities that call themselves progressive.

For those of you that hurt out there, I feel your pain deeply. Please know that you are not alone.