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.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Homophobic outspoken coworkers suck.

This is a rant. You have been warned :)

My *ahem* very macho straight overcompensating *ahem* coworker insisted on loudly proclaiming his manliness by yet another gay bashing speech today near my office.

His rant, in a nutshell, was that gay people shouldn't display affection in public. It's perfectly okay for straight people to grope and slobber in plain view of the universe. Hand holding is okay for gays and lesbians though, so I guess I should be grateful for this magnanimous gesture on his part. I shall no longer need to feel ashamed to hold her hand!

Now, I had to stop and think - other than the PRIDE weekend - when was the last time I saw a gay or lesbian couple making out in public. Oh right... this morning. Wait, they were straight. Oh yeah, yesterday - oh wait. Straight too.

You know, I'm having trouble remembering even a single time that I have seen a gay or lesbian couple comfortable enough to kiss in a general public area. Yet, I see guys *groping* "their property" at the train station at least 3 times a week.

So, I argued for a minute - while another coworker stood there looking like he didn't know what to say - and then when he reiterated that only straight people have the right to kiss in public, and that he'd never forgive Disney for subjecting poor innocent straight families to Gay Day, well, I just turned my back to him, put my headphones on, and just dismissed the conversation.

I hope my manager heard this trash. I'm so sick of having to hear this at work.


I feel somewhat better now. Thanks for listening :)


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Banking on Change

Well, I have to say that Bank of America has restored my faith in their institution. As of today, Claire's name is officially Claire in their records, and they have made sure the employee that seriously crossed the line a few days ago now understands that trans customers shall be addressed with respect and the appropriate pronouns. To be continually addressed as 'he', 'him' etc for 30 solid minutes while dressed as a female--despite repeated pleas by me and Claire to say 'she'--was simply intolerable. To inquire as to a transgender customer's surgical status after a request to use the right pronoun was just unspeakable. We were ready to close our accounts and leave, seriously disappointed.

I will say this: Bank of America reacted quickly when informed of this situation. They escalated the problem immediately and went above and beyond to make sure we knew we were welcomed and valued customers of BoA. The employee that this case was escalated to came in on his day off--he had given me his personal cell phone number and told me to call when we were on our way in so he could leave home and meet us. We were treated wonderfully by the manager at the bank as well, and all is good with BoA.

We really appreciate the fact that this was something they were not aware of (this employee's attitude) and that they really went to great lengths to correct our experience. So, LGBT community take heed: Bank of America really does believe in their policies. They have my business for a very long time to come with the respect, kindness and professionalism they showed today.

Claire was so happy to come home today, log into her BoA account and be greeted with "Claire". We have new checks on the way in the names of Annie and Claire. In a couple of weeks, her new debit card with picture will arrive. I plan on making her buy me dinner with her own debit card as soon as she gets it. Hey, it comes out of the same bank account, so I don't feel bad making her buy ;)

Claire has an endo appt Friday. The fun part about being in transition is the fact that insurance doesn't cover trans stuff. So, the endo will be about $450 out of pocket, added to the out of pocket hormone therapy. I hope we get to the point someday where we can move transgender treatment out of the shadows and make insurance companies cover transgender issues. Hopefully the endo will up the spiro dose and maybe adjust the estrogen up a tad.

When you add the extra cost of transitioning as a permanent resident into the mix, you have about $1000 in costs just to change your name--it costs almost $400 just to change your name with immigration alone. I do wonder how people do this that make minimum wage or pay child support. The expenses just add up. Please don't misunderstand, I don't regret or resent any dollar spent towards transition. I just wish something better was in place to make it easier for people like 18 year old kids with no parental support to do this.

Laser hair removal is one week away and Claire is starting to stress a bit over it.
Thank god the doc prescribed her some Xanax. It really does help control the overwhelming and crippling anxiety that still occasionally grabs hold of her. She's come a tremendous way since beginning transition - facing her demon of severe doctor anxiety. I'm proud of her. I know laser treatment for her is painful as hell, and I feel so sorry for everyone that must undergo this and electrolysis. It just makes it so important that we get this society to a point where parents can understand that this is a valid condition and stop the wrong hormones in puberty. I'd love for us to get to a point where FTMs no longer have to face mastectomies and MTFs no longer have the ravages of testosterone to undo.

SCC (Southern Comfort Conference) is around the corner. I'm pretty excited at connecting with the community and experiencing the seminars. Should be a great time :)

Kiddo is now in Iraq, and on her way to her permanent station over there after spending a week in Kuwait. I had a complete meltdown at work last Friday--the day she boarded the plane in America to deploy. Thank god that there are some really wonderful people I work with, particularly B. and E. that checked on me throughout the day and made every effort to use humor and hugs to get me through the day. It's tough having a kid going to Iraq right now, but I'm back to coping anyway.

Well, I have a whole lot more to say, but it's after midnight and I'm worn out from a long day. I'll try to get on to post again tomorrow.

Peace, love and equality,


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tears of a clown

So, the last week has been a fairly tough one, well I am the one posting .. I received my name change documents from the UK, made them legal by having my signature witnessed etc.

So we thought we would go and get my drivers license updated with the new name, shouldn't be too hard right? wrong. After waiting about 20 minutes for the girl helping us to find a supervisor who could help even more, we were told that they have no clue what a deed poll is and that they couldn't help us. The supervisor did forward the details to "legal", one week later we are still waiting.

Then we went to our bank for another simple procedure, change the name on the account from X to Y, easy right ..nope wrong again. You havn't played this game before have you? :) I can't do the whole story justice so I will let Annie when she feels up to it. Needless to say Bank of America (oops, did I print that out loud?) who supposedly gets a 100 on the HRC equality index, will be losing our accounts if I have my way.

This week our baby shipped out to Iraq, she's a combat medic and probably the sweetest, most loving, dumb ass teenager out there. But she's our baby. Emotions have been running high, good or bad my old habit of blocking emotions has helped me not lose it this week ... or did they, that power is fading, thankfully. I cannot take being emotionally dead anymore.

Last week I also signed up for one of those reunion sites to see if anyone I knew from school was around, well I found my sister. We havn't spoken for probably about 20 years (very long story, and probably not for here). I left a message saying Hi. Almost a week later and got nothing back, so figured ok, that's that then, I tried.
2 days ago I got an email back, she had been out of the country and was happy I contacted her. I then had the problem of deciding whether to tell her about "the real me" or not. In the end I decided what the hell, nothing more to lose, if she doesn't like it, I can always add her to junk email list.

I sent her to the very first post I made on here, so the words came across correctly. I received the following reply.

"ok i have read it ,and is claire you,,well if it is ,you are and always will be my brother things were never easy and if it is you,i look forward to having a sister ,im a little confused whether it is you or not ,,,but if it is please don't think i will turn my back on you ,we have missed out on each others life for far too long so either way ill always be here for you"

She's out for the weekend and said she would email again next week. I don't know how I feel about this. On one hand it could mean I have some of the "old family" again but on the other it could end up with me being hurt again and I do not want to go into the black void I used to be in.

It's almost 1am and it maybe time for a Xanax, maybe I'll add some more to this later.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Claire's official name change document is at Stansted Airport in the UK. We should have it in hand Monday morning. It's called a Deed Poll. Strange name, huh?

It's a holy crap kind of moment. It feels kind of surreal. "James" is now completely gone in "his" country of birth.

Is it bad to say I don't really remember "him" much? I mean, it is who I fell in love with, so I guess I should feel some little pang at least of loss. But I don't. Claire is just Claire. She's not ex-James, just herself. All I feel is a relief that the wait for this is over. Come what may, the deed is done. Immigration has assured us no backlash on this, but if it happens, it's done now. I'm not afraid :) Bring it on. It was worth moving to Atlanta to do this and let her break out of her holding pattern and really move on to her new life.

The only thing that has me shaking my head is the absolute breach of protocol Claire has done.

Took pills and grew boobs? Heh. No biggie.

Changed gender? Nah, no problem.

Picked the name Claire (from Breakfast Club, remember Molly Ringwald's character? I was Ally Sheedy's character mixed with Anthony Michael Hall's character in real life in school BTW)? Not the name I would have picked for myself, but no... that's not it...

She has No Middle Name!

She's Claire NMI Rushden

She said she did it because she doesn't want me using all 3 names when I'm mad, But I've informed her that she is now Claire Enemi (NMI) Rushden! when she runs afoul of my laws.


Seriously though, it's really freaking cool that her new name is getting on an airplane. Beats begging a judge for permission to change it, doesn't it?

Oh yeah, and let the "Just Claire 2007" jokes begin. (Will and Grace fans will get this)


She's officially Claire!

Claire received an email from the UK today telling her that her official name change documents will be fedexed today.



Thursday, August 2, 2007

SCC and how to live life as a happy trans partner

It looks like I will be able to get the Friday off for the Southern Comfort conference here. I've heard that there will be a couple of people speaking that I would love to meet, so I am really looking forward to it. I would love to talk to the activists that will be there, and would really love to attend the reading that Jennifer Boylan will give. The job fair should be great and I know Claire is looking forward to the marketplace.


I received another email a few days ago from a partner that had just realized that her spouse was trans. She was struggling to find a reason for it, and grappling with the shock and reality of what staying together will mean on her part. I am asked quite often how to deal with this issue in a positive light. I would like to give some advice to partners that are in this situation. These are my thoughts, and perhaps sharing my ideals might help you realize how I came to be the way I am.

* Be kind, step back, take a deep breath and try to empathize. Talk and find out just what your spouse has been dealing with all these years. Again, be kind.

* Realize that the hiding that has been done has not been on purpose to lie to you. It is most likely the fact that they have been deluding themselves that they could hide it forever and live a normal life. They only break down and tell when they give out trying to hide anymore.

* Realize that the physical appearance you fall in love when you meet is fleeting and degrades with age. You will have changes in your body, and your spouse in his/hers. If a relationship is only about looks, perhaps your relationship isn't strong enough to last the test of time anyway. If you are married to the soul inside the body, then that is what will last.

* Realize that a soulmate, a true love, is very rare. There are many women living with abusers, with drunks, with philanderers. If your spouse is a truly decent person, perhaps you should try to make the journey with them. You have nothing to lose if you try.

* Realize that you can't live your life worrying what others think. If your self-worth is tied into who you can be friends with and what groups you can be in, then you probably won't stand a chance.

* Realize that there will be awkward issues with sex. Again, empathize and be creative. Perhaps if you simply can't deal with the idea of exploration, then maybe a marriage without sex is an option. If you can handle the idea of snuggling and you're married to your soulmate, talk and compromise. There have been many people that transition and keep a marriage together, and not all of them have sex, just like there are several non-trans couples that eventually become platonic and still deeply in love. Ask yourself what you would do if your partner became impotent and the trans issue was never there, would it be a deal-breaker? If not, look deep and see if you can try to stay together.

* Realize that if you're willing to take a risk, to try a journey that will definitely be an experience in life, if you're willing to dig deep and understand, then perhaps you can find a happy balance and a joyous life.

* Again, if you stay, be gentle and kind. Transition is scary as hell, and there will be moments where you may get annoyed if your partner is self-centered and fascinated at changes in their body. Remember back to puberty when you experienced the same thrill, and realize that it won't last forever.

* Communicate constantly.

* Most importantly, if you don't stay together, be kind. Realize that this is not something your partner wished for. It is something they've hidden to try to spare you pain and to stay together. Please don't use children as a weapon. Set an example for them of being compassionate and understanding.

Have a good night everyone,


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A gigantic step

One of the big hurdles for us has been not being able to change Claire's name legally. Claire is a permanent resident, and she received her PR based on marriage over 6 years ago. We were afraid to do anything before getting citizenship which Claire isn't sure she wants to do yet. You must renounce your birth country to get American citizenship; you can't be a dual citizen. We were afraid that immigration would nullify the PR and kick her back to the UK.

After speaking with NCLR we were informed that they would really not have a strong case for deportation because the marriage was valid. But still, the worry remained. If we changed her name, what WOULD happen? NCLR's attorney that helped us said that there was no case on record like ours, so we would be a first if it happened and they tried to deport her.

But today I called immigration (from a phone not traceable to me, just in case) and spoke with them. They said that she has nothing to worry about and can change her name. If she wants a new card, though, she must pay $370 for one.

So my beloved Claire finally put in for a name change in her home country. She could never decide on a middle name so she decided to go without. Now we wait and see if it goes through. If it does, then her name will legally change and we won't have to go through the painful process of publishing in the newspaper for 4 weeks and then going before a judge. So here's hoping!

It's been pretty crazy here in Atlanta. My new job is going well but I have a lot to handle and my manager is on a vacation, so I'm in a sink or swim situation. Thankfully I'm keeping my head above water still, although I do have a good bit of water up my nose ;)

I'm dealing with a bit of a situation with a homophobic coworker right now, but I'll post more about that tomorrow hopefully. I have a lot to catch up on!