Sunday, July 16, 2017

Trying to reconnect with my children

A lot has been written in the media about cis parents who grow to accept a transgender child.  Sadly, very little is available about the opposite scenario - a trans parent who is trying to have a relationship with cis children.  In my case, I essentially lost any opportunity to visit with my children due to stipulations that my wife attempted to enforce.   She is a devoutly religious woman who believed that being trans is a sinful choice that I made.  After coming out to her, she always referred to my gender expression as "this challenge that you have to overcome" and was fearful that seeing me as a woman would harm our children.  Nothing happening in my life at the time - including protracted episodes of depression and suicidality - could convince her otherwise. 

The following is a summary of my efforts to connect with my children after beginning my transition.  It has been a long fight to establish visitation, but I worry that the real work is just beginning.

Part I:
Raised in a very religious home, I spent the first 40 years of my life trying to hide and bury my feelings of being female.  The family religion taught that there was only 1 way to have happiness in life, and I was a faithful believer.  I did everything expected of young males in the church, while struggling with dysphoria.  I thought I could simply live out my life in hiding.  I hoped that I would be blessed if I kept the faith, and life would somehow work out.  I married, had a family, and struggled.  Life meandered through worsening depression for 15 years, before I became suicidal in late 2015.  The family suffered the consequences of dysphoria, without ever suspecting the underlying cause.

Fatherhood for me was a mixed blessing.  The religion taught that marriage and family are the source of our greatest happiness in this life.  In some ways, I can see this.  While the marriage was always troubled, the children grew to be my closest friends.  I love them dearly.  However, as the dysphoria grew worse, I had increasing difficulty with the fact that I was a husband and father.  Life became chronically traumatic, and the gender roles I was expected to play became part of the crisis.  When the depression was at its worst, I could still function at work, but symptoms would increase every night when I had to return home.  

This will be hard for some to understand.  Everyone says how rewarding fatherhood is.  Even within the trans community, I frequently talk with trans women who have no regrets about their past lives, and are at peace with their fatherhood.  This has not been my experience. I have only had the most tender love for my children, but dysphoria made fatherhood a traumatic experience for me.

Secondly, the family religion also played into the depression in dangerous ways.  The church essentially taught that being transgender is a sin, and I would only be unhappy if I decided to transition.  When my depression grew suicidal, the ideas taught by the religion did not make life as a woman seem like a hopeful option.  Honestly, it made death seem preferable.  When things were at their worst, my wife gave me the ultimatum of living as a man, or being put out of the family.  She reasoned that it was the right thing to do - a "tough love" measure, sanctioned by the church doctrine.

A psychiatrist recently asked me why I did not commit suicide.  I do not have a good answer to that question.  I do not know what got me through my wife's ultimatum.  My faith in the church must have faltered. Perhaps the thought of being buried as a man.  I honestly do not know.

Part II:
After being  hospitalized for 2 months, I moved out of the family home and into a small apartment where I would be able to make a serious effort at transition. It was an extremely difficult day.  My wife brought the children to the new apartment so everything happened in front of them.

The first few days were extremely lonely and difficult.  While waiting to start work with a new therapist, I made due with frequent chat sessions to the LGBT National Helpline (  After a few days, I had a phone call with my wife. Unaware of the pain the religion had caused, she wanted me to call every night and pray with her over the phone. In order to visit the children, she insisted that I present as a man.

Since leaving, I have been to visit my oldest son on his birthday last September (2016).  I dressed as a man.  My son was happy, but it was incredibly stressful for me.  I know trans women who have a a "guy mode," but I have never been able to do it.  The dysphoria and depression come back in terrible ways.  I simply could not present as a guy after that.  I did the best I could to keep in touch with the children.  I called weekly.  I delivered Christmas and birthday presents.  These had to be left on the front doorstep of the family home, where I had to leave after ringing the doorbell.  I was not to be seen.

The children grew hurt, and felt that I had abandoned them.  As the months went on, they gradually stopped taking my calls.

Part III:
Moving out gave me the chance to explore the trans community in Chicago.  I eventually made friends with a woman named Christine.  One evening, I told her about the situation with my children.  She told me that I needed to fight for my visitation rights.  She explained that it would someday be important when the kids asked why I had left. It would give important credibility when I said that I had never abandoned them.

Part IV:
My wife and I moved forward with a divorce in the fall.  We made two attempts at mediation.

We had only 2 sessions with the first mediator.  I thought things were going well, but my wife abruptly halted the sessions.  The mediator had tried to broker a deal on child visitation - I would be allowed to see the children if I dressed androgynously.  While she kept a calm outward appearance, my wife was inwardly angered by the thought of compromise.

A few weeks later, the wife called, telling me she wanted to try a new mediator.  She told me that she thought this new mediator would be more "professional," and we would get more value for our money.  I reluctantly agreed to go along.  We worked with the 2nd mediator for ~6 weeks, but I soon realized that the "mediator" was not going to side with me on anything.  No compromise.  It became evident that the wife was trying to use mediation to force a settlement that no court would ever agree to.  I stopped mediation altogether at that point, knowing I would be protected in the courts.

We do not have any real assets, so my wife borrowed $4,000 from her mother, and hired an attorney.  The divorce petition was filed 2 days after Christmas.  After an auto accident, I used the insurance settlement to hire a divorce lawyer in mid January.  After we filed a response to the petition for divorce, my wife filed motions to restrict my parenting rights.  She argued that I was a danger to the children because of their religious upbringing.  She formally asked the judge to order me to present as a man in order to see the children.

In May (2017), the two attorneys had a pretrial conference.  Both sides were to set forth their expectations for the trail, and the judge would provide guidance.  At the conference, the judge dismissed outright my wife's petitions for restricted parenting.  In fact, the judge quickly rejected the main points of my wife's proposed settlement plan - including requests for an order that I present as a man in order to see the children, permanent maintenance, and an inequitable division of the marital assets.  Judge Flood added that she was a judge of the law, not of my ex-wife's religion.

At the conference, the judge endorsed a plan we had advanced that called for use of a therapist to help me re-connect with the children as a trans woman.

The only remaining obstacle to visitation was to find a suitable counselor.  In the following month, my wife soon put forth a motion suggesting a church-affiliated counselor.  In good faith, I contacted the woman to ask about her experience, but it was evident that she had never met a trans person before.  After a little digging, I found the name of  another counselor who took the family insurance and had a history of working with transgender children.  She became the focus of our motion.  A hearing to decide the matter was set for July 13th.

Part V:
 In the meantime, relations with the children were not getting any better.  In late June, I dropped off a birthday present for one of the children, and my daughter happened to see me through the window.  This was the first time she had seen me after almost a year into my transition.

I spoke with her on the phone a few days later.  She asked who had dropped off the presents.  When I said it was me, she was hurt - she had not recognized me.  She went on to ask me to "dress as her Dad" when I came to drop things off.  I tried to explain that I love her and will always be her parent.  In response, she protested and started to talk about religion - telling me that she knew that my transition was wrong.  I tried to explain that my transition had saved my life, but it was of little use.  I could not begin to explain that mom had given an ultimatum that would have ended terribly for everyone.

The difficult call underscored how far apart the children and I had become.  My transition has gone really well, and I had been passing as a woman since December.  My facial features had softened and grown more feminine.  My facial hair is almost entirely gone. My breasts were a size B, and I had stopped padding my bra months before.  My hair was shoulder length, curly, and had been highlighted.  Even without female clothing and makeup, I did not look like a man anymore.  However, that was only the beginning.  The kids have stayed locked into a religion that I had to leave if I was ever going to accept myself.  They had an extra year of Mom's influence, and have heard her side of the divorce, and have tried to soothe her hurt feelings.

Part VI:
On the 13th, the hearing was supposed to be brief, but it ended up including an hour's worth of testimony for and against both therapists.  My testimony included an admission that I had left the church, and discussion of how church teachings had done harm to myself and the family.  I also spoke of our therapist's experience working with the families of transgender individuals.  My wife's arguments focused on her track record of making decisions about the children's healthcare providers, and the experience of the counselor that she was championing.  In the end, the judge took my side.  She ruled that the family needed the guidance of someone experienced with transgender patients.

Part VII:
I have a date to see the children - August 24th at 10:00.  This will be the first time they have seen me as a woman.

Life has been an incredible struggle over the past ~2 years.  I somehow fought back from suicidality, but in doing so left a church that was openly hostile towards trans people.  After being separated from my children for over a year by conditions set by their mother, I fought and secured visitation rights.  The kids are upset, and I know they are going to judge me for many of the actions I took to save my life.  They are going to side with mom on her losses in court. I know the kids will blame me for many things, and the older ones may never accept me as a woman.

I am sure they wish I would simply go away.

Why do I persist?  Because I love them.  Life is hard enough, and I know they will need that.

If anything, my transition has taught me a lot about the home in which the children live.  It's a world that is judgmental, and at times openly hostile.  It's a place where love, once thought sure, is frighteningly conditional.

Some of the children may learn these lessons.  When that happens, I will be close enough to make a difference.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Thoughts on Pride Month

    Growing up is never easy, but the difficulty is compounded when one is an LGBT youth.  Born a boy, I longed desperately to be female.  I knew who I was my entire life, but felt powerless to do anything about it because of what I was – trapped in a body that did not belong to me.  Even though I spent much of my youth in California, 90 miles from the Bay Area, it was still the 1980’s.  I was born in a conservatively religious family.  My parents were transplants from Salt Lake City, the family religion had strict gender roles,…and I was the only “son.”  In our home, gender was not a characteristic; it was a boundary that one could not cross without offending God.  The homosexual community gained national prominence in the 80’s.  A generation was lost to AIDS, and the epidemic ravaged the national headlines.  I knew very little of homosexuality, but I knew that Rock Hudson died of AIDS when I was in the fifth grade.  The news stories brought homophobic humor to the playground at school, and I learned about life in the way that most young boys do.  Sadly, the transgender community, where I would have found a safe home, did not gain prominence until Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn in 2015.  What I had heard of the transgender community was limited to curious playground talk and occasional oddities in the newspaper.

    To grow up transgender in that environment was a challenge.  Even though I did not come out until one year ago, the longing was constant.  Imagine having the same daydream for 40 years.  It was what I always thought about when I could think freely.  My mother used to take me along when she went clothes shopping for my sisters - I spent countless hours in the girls department at Gottshalks waiting for my sisters to choose new dresses or outfits for school.  My sisters used to tease me about being the only “boy" there.  Sadly, the life I truly needed was only accessible through spectator sports.

    My high school was originally built for 1000 students, but there were 2,500 by the time I hit 9th grade.  Out of all those students, there was only 1 that crossed gender lines.  His name was Aaron.  The nephew of a prominent television news anchorwoman in the area, he was openly effeminate.  My oldest sister sang in the women’s choir at the high school.  When they needed paper roses for a concert, Aaron was the one who volunteered.  The rumors about Aaron were that he was gay.  Nobody dared befriend Aaron, but everyone was an expert.  There was always talk, and none of it was flattering.

    I got through high school as an awkward bookworm, never going on a single date and rarely hanging out with friends.  I remember being a senior when I first had feelings for another student.  His name was Alex.  He was a junior, and he had the most beautiful smile that I loved.  Young love should be happy, innocent.  Yet, I remember being so afraid of what I was learning about myself.  Clearly, I was capable of love, but not worthy of it.  When it was time for prom, I simply had too much homework to attend.

   I feared I was homosexual, and quietly added that to the list of changes I needed from God.  For the next 25 years, I prayed that list every day – constantly.  I desperately needed to be something entirely different.

    The worst part of that environment is what I started to carry around inside.  The standards that I had to measure up to as a young boy were set by the family religion, the expectation that I would follow my father’s example, and society.  I knew who I was, but also knew being myself would make me a disappointment.  I had an undeniable identity, but knew I would be humiliated if anyone found out about it  Despite the consciousness of my identity, I was afraid and ashamed of who I was.  The three constants of being LGBT in the 1980s:  Longing, fear, and shame.   Self-acceptance was a luxury to which I was not entitled.

    That self-rejection and shame is the gift that society bestowed on the LGBT community.  In the U.S., we are used to thinking that solitary confinement is a severe measure reserved only for unruly prisoners in the penal system.  While there are striking similarities to society’s wholesale isolation of the LGBT community, we call that “living in the closet” - oppression tidily swept under a rug of nomenclature.

    At times, the oppression and shame were codified in laws and official policies.  There is a long unspoken legacy of violence and often police brutality towards the LGBT community that only came to light after the Stonewall Riots.  In the 1990s, President Clinton attempted to compromise on the issue of gays serving in the military with a policy called “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  The idea was simply that homosexuals could serve in the military, as long as they kept it hidden.  While it appeased conservatives, the great crime of the policy is that it reinforced the idea that homosexuality was something shameful that needed to be kept hidden.  In a more recent scenarios, the fight over marriage equality openly questions whether homosexuals are worthy of having open romantic love.  There is currently serious political discussion about Transgender restroom use.  Imagine the humiliation of having your restroom use debated publicly.  All issues openly question whether LGBT individuals should be allowed to participate in public life.

   So, why a Pride Month?  It rights a terrible wrong - shame has been the solitary burden of so many of our LGBT brothers and sisters.  Pride replaces shame and fear, and mandates the presence of self-acceptance. I turned 42 last November, and I am just now realizing what Pride - life minus the pain of self-loathing - feels like.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hair: Some asssembly required

Just a quick post.  I bought a wig today and thought I'd post a photo:
I tried on a wig at the local mall yesterday and went back today to make a purchase.  It was a fun experience.  I wanted a shortcut to longer hair, but I think this wig helps out my jawline.

As this is my first experience with a wig, I learned a few thing along the way.  I purchased a good quality synthetic wig - real hair was above my budget.  The saleswoman was good enough to show me how to fit the wig to my head.  Underneath that wig is a net cap, which is used to hide my natural hair, and helps hold the wig in place.  She added a few hair pins to help anchor the wig to the cap.  The saleswoman demonstrated several different hairstyles with the same wig using barrettes and clips.  The hair can also be curled (but not heat-styled).

I got a good lesson on wig care.  Wigs require a specific wig shampoo and conditioner. The synthetic hair needs to be combed with a metal pick (no plastic).  Wigs are also susceptible to something like split ends, and require periodic trimming every few months to restore the look.  If the split ends are extensive enough, the wig can be cut into a completely different hairstyle.

Anyways, I was really happy with the look and felt more feminine.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

First image

Okay, I thought it was time to post a picture of myself en femme:
Unfortunately, I do have a fairly masculine jaw, but I do the best  I can with what I have been given.  The picture was taken after only 3 days of hormones, so hopefully the magic will happen as time passes.

I am exploring makeup.  While I do have an occasional mishap, I feel pretty good about my progress.  Today, I learned that it is best to brush your teeth before applying lipstick!  I haven't made heavy use of Youtube yet, but I have been frequenting Sephora and asking lots of questions.  I find the girls at Sephora to be very helpful and kind in light of my gender expression.  They are more than willing to demonstrate.  In any case, makeup is an adventure that I am enjoying, and I try hard to look my best.

I do have one open makeup question:  Does anyone have a reasonable approach to skin care?  I've been hearing  a lot about it lately.  I'm convinced that I need to take better care of my complexion, but I have seen a number of very expensive products that I simply cannot afford right now.

First days full-time: Acts of grace

When I first decided to transition, I  was worried that I would be dis-owned by God.  A devout Mormon, I was conflicted over my fate.  I knew from my personal feelings that I would continue to suffer ever-worsening depression if I didn't transition.  Yet, I practice a religion that protects a conservative view of the family.  Within the church, having same gender attraction is okay, as long as it is not acted upon - a difficult view that sentences homosexuals to a life of celibacy if they wish to remain faithful.  While no official doctrine has yet been released on being transgender, the policy is likely to be similar to that for homosexuality.  The situation could produce some very real, serious consequences.  I knew I risked having my religious covenants invalidated.  To take matters further, my wife views the transition as a very real risk to the upbringing of our children.  In order to transition, she wanted to move out.  As she views herself to be right (with me being in the wrong on this matter), she claims to have authority over all matters concerning our seven children.  Visits are to be conducted on her terms (at her house, under her supervision, with me presenting as a man - wearing "Dad" clothes).

At times, I have enjoyed feeling close to God, and I credit my religious faith with some of the happiest moments of my life.  I also have a deep love for my family, particularly my kids.

So, transition, for me, is not a decision lightly taken.  I worried about my religious well-being and my access to our children among several other factors.

On the other hand, I worried about my health if I did not transition.  I have personally struggled with severe depression for the past year.  At times, suicide seemed like the most attractive option.

In this context, I finally took steps to move out of our home in order to begin a more sincere transition on Thursday afternoon.  For me, it was an act of faith and hope.  With some trepidation, I hoped that God would not leave me alone.  I hoped that I would be able to find the same peace in my heart, while finally feeling right about my gender identity.  I also had to hope that my own children would not find me repugnant.

So, I wanted to write my initial spiritual impressions after my first day of living full time as Rebecca. 

My apartment is in a town called Worth.  It was a Craigslist find, a small one-bedroom place in an old 6-flat.  I liked the location - on a dead end street, with a rear deck that looked over a creek.  It was smaller than I initially wanted, but I thought the peaceful location would be helpful.  I saw myself a little cramped, but enjoying the rear deck on days when the Chicago humidity was not to present.  So far, I see two blessings in the apartment.  First, there is plenty of space for everything.  I furnished the apartment with second-hand furniture before I moved in.  I simply bought what I thought I needed to live somewhat comfortably, but I had no feeling for the dimensions of the apartment.  For example, I bought a couch without having measured to ensure that the door openings of the apartment were wide enough to move it in.  Yet, everything made it in, and the place is furnished about just right.  I'm not having to return anything.  Second, I have the best of all possible neighbors.  As a transgender person, I never know how people will receive me.  Yet, "Missy" has a graduate degree in gender studies, and she was actually excited to have a transgender woman move in next door!  We talked for an hour last night, and I think we'll get along really well.  I thin she will be a big help.

On Friday, I spent my last day in the outpatient program at the hospital.  This is the conclusion of my most recent hospitalization for depression.  I was hospitalized twice over the fall, but my longest hospitalization is this most recent stint.  I spent three weeks inpatient, followed by five weeks in daily outpatient therapy.  I was a little nervous to leave the hospital.  However, I do feel very different leaving this time.  After my previous hospitalizations, I was somewhat more stable, but I knew something was still very wrong.  During this hospitalization, I was open about my gender identity issues for the first time, and I worked through the difficult process of deciding to transition.  I made that decision while in the inpatient program, and counted on the staff and patients in the outpatient program to help me through the early stages of my transition.  I open attended all but three days of my outpatient therapy as a transgender woman.  To my surprise, the patients and staff were very supportive.  I felt okay about myself, and felt love from others for the first time as a female - not romantic love, but the kind that carries you through difficult times.  I first felt that there was something really beautiful about being transgender in the hospital. Leaving the outpatient program, they have something of a small "graduation" ceremony.  The other patients in the program are given a few moments to comment on those who will be leaving.  When it was my turn, I was really touched by the things that were said.  People spoke about respect and courage and beauty.  I was really touched.  Personally, I felt a little pride in myself.  I know that I have grown in unexpected ways - I've always had a passive personality, but I've finally demonstrated the courage to stand up for myself in the face of something difficult.

On Friday, I went out to have something of a celebration.  It was my first day living entirely as a woman - no changing back to a man.  I wore a long maxi dress and sandals - comfortable wear for a humid Chicago day.  I flat-ironed my hair.  I wanted to do something feminine, so I went to have my eyebrows arched, and got my ears pierced.  While at the mall, I also stopped for a bra fitting.  I present well as a female, but I know I am still read by many people.  I remain very much a work in progress.  However, I was touched by how kind everyone was that I met.  At one point, I stopped in at the pharmacy to pick up some medication.  The pharmacist is a woman we have frequented for the past few years, and we've seen a lot of each other as I have been treated for my depression.  The pharmacist kindly asked if she could change my name in the computer so that my prescriptions would come in the name of Rebecca!  We talked openly for the first time about my transition, and she wished me luck on my journey.

So, I have written about some small things.  Yet, these are small things that help me to feel that God has not left me entirely alone.  I do see unexpected blessings in my apartment, and in the kindness of others.  I also see the Lords hand in my personal growth as I have found previously unknown reserves of courage within myself.

Anyways, I have a long ways to go.  I still have work to do with my immediate family, and I will likely be working through a divorce with my wife.  Yet, I feel as if I will not be forsaken by God while on my journey. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

On coming out: It does get better

Coming out to friends and family can be one of the most difficult steps when one begins to identify as transgender.  I wanted to write some about my experience coming out, in hopes that it might help others.

Before coming out, I first had to begin to identify as being transgender.   This sounds like an easy step, but it took me a long time, and the help of a very good therapist. I grew up with the desire to be female always in my mind.  While I've said before that I kept those feelings buried, they were actually fairly close to the top of my mind.  The desire to be female was always there, and it surfaced constantly.  I just did my best to ignore it.  For years, I prayed it would go away.  It took a bout of severe depression and a skilled therapist for me to admit to myself that I wanted to be female, more than anything else. In a sense, my therapist helped me come out to myself first.  For me, that first step was a huge relief.  I finally realized that my feelings had a name, and there were a lot of other people like me. With this realization, came a lot of self-acceptance, and the desire to transition.  Before telling anyone else, I spent the next few weeks talking privately with my therapist.  She wanted to make sure that this was a real identity issue, and not just a passing desire to wear women's clothing. 

Coming out to those close to me is where the story becomes more dramatic.  I came out to my wife two weeks later.  We actually had the discussion in the therapist's office, and the therapist proved to be a big help.  After I told my wife that I wanted to be female, the therapist was there to encourage discussion and to listen to my wife.  For me, that was the right setting; I tend to get quiet and wrap up in myself when I feel that my words might hurt someone.  It was great to have the therapist there to lend a hand.

So, telling someone is only the first step in coming out.  In the case of my wife, it took several conversations over the next few months before she began to be accepting.  The therapist explained to me that my wife would go through a grieving process, and we talked frequently about the 5 stages of grief - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  I've seen most of these phases with my wife.  She was initially in shock that something like this could happen to her.  There was a lot of denial, mixed with anger during the first few weeks after my admission.  4 months later, I've started to see some bargaining and acceptance. The tone of our conversations has changed recently.  My wife has begun to ask me friendly questions about being transgender.  We've decided to separate, but we're able to have good talks about how life will be post-separation. I'm optimistic that we'll come through this with a pretty good friendship.

So, here's my advice about coming out boiled down to a few bullet points:
  • Realize that coming out to one particular person is a process rather than a single event. For those closest to you, it will take a several conversations as they work through the grieving process. You can notice the stages of the grieving process in the conversations you have with them.
  • The friends who work through the grieving process are most likely to remain friends through your transition.
  • You may have some difficult or uncomfortable conversations with friends while they work through their feelings.  It's best to not avoid these conversations.  I've found it helps to reassure friends that this is a decision that you have made, and one that you are happy with.
  • You will undoubtedly have some personal ups-and-downs as part of the process.  I've had a really good experience coming out at work, where people have been very accepting (I'm the only transgender person at the lab where I work.  My friends and close co-workers have been very supportive.  Others are good enough to respect the lab's anti-discrimination policies.).  I've had a harder time with closer family members and friends who may disagree in principle with my transition.  I had a difficult purge after a particularly challenging day with my wife.
  • Look for  a support network.  A good therapist helps.  You can also find help from LGBT organizations in your local area.  If you cannot interact with a local group for whatever reason, look for online support. My family situation has kept me from attending support groups in person, but I have found friends by contacting other online bloggers through email.
  • Be patient with yourself and others.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Good Week

Transitioning has it's ups-and-downs, but this has definitely been a better week for me. A lot has happened.  Some good experiences and some bad, but definitely all teaching moments:

  1. Clocked!:  I was out as Rebecca when I stopped at a thrift store for a quick look.  We have a large family, and it's important for me to stretch the wardrobe dollars as much as I can, so I usually shop at thrift stores.  Anyways, I passed two pre-teen girls, and I think they read me.  They were staring, and switched positions to get a better look, and were talking excitedly.  I acknowledged the attention with a glance. This was the first time that I felt like I was a spectacle.  Being transgender does require some practice.  Some people can practice in private and arrange everything perfectly.  They have the luxury of transitioning once they are passable.  In my case, my wife won't let me dress at home, so I have to practice in public.  I honestly don't mind the feedback; I just wish I had stopped to talk with the girls for a moment.
  2. New counselor: The medical group through which I receive all my mental health care recently hired a new counselor who has experience with LGBTQ care.  We had our first session yesterday morning and I appreciated the difference right away.  While the previous counselor helped me come out as transgender, I was her first transgender patient.  I valued our relationship, but I think I disappointed her as I dealt with the ups-and-downs of the early stages of my transition.  The new psychologist feels much more affirming.  I went to the appointment dressed as Rebecca, and she asked right away if I had a preferred name.  The one question I wanted to ask was if she would help me to become a woman. She answered, "We'll get you to where you feel you need to be!"  I was happy with her reassuring nature.  To top it off, she is also named Rebekah!
  3. Hair:  While I have generally hated my hair for most of my life, I suddenly find myself receiving some flattering comments as a woman.  I have really curly hair.  As a man, I would cut my hair short so I didn't have to deal with the curl.  I began growing my hair out ~ 7 months ago, so it's getting long and curly.  Most days, it's an easy feminine look to wear my hair curly; I use a little hair gel to help with the curl definition, but my hair does just about the right thing on its own.  Yesterday, I was checking in at the psychologists office, and there was a Hispanic woman behind me in line.  I suddenly heard the lady ask, "Okay, so what product do you use on your hair?"  I initially didn't think the question was for me, but glanced around and there was nobody else within earshot.  I turned around and we began a brief conversation about naturally curly hair. The woman had wavy hair with a lot of volume, but wanted it to look more curly, and expressed some frustration with her hair.  I firmly believe there is a inherent beauty to being female, so it was easy to tell the woman that she looked beautiful.  I appreciate the frankness of women; I love the feminine culture of giving and receiving compliments.
  4. Transition timeline:  So, my wife and I have agreed to separate so I can live as a female.  I've written some in past postings that she doesn't agree with my transition and wants me to move out.  We were planning that I would move out in October after we had paid off some financial obligations.  We recently had some investments mature, which will allow me to move out sooner.  The new date I'm working towards is August 1.  I'm busy trying to find an apartment and furnishings.
  5. Shopping by committee:  Ever since it warned up in Chicago, I have wanted a light colorful outfit for the summer.  I finally managed to go shopping yesterday.  I have to admit that I had a blast.  I found a skirt I liked, but had real difficulty matching a blouse.  I asked the store employees for help, and soon it became a competition between the store manager and her assistant.  Not long later, several patrons became involved.  At one point, I had 5 ladies offering their advice on how to pull together the outfit.  In the end, I found something that worked, and had a great time doing so.  I'm excited to wear the new outfit tomorrow.
Anyways, a good week.  I am looking forward to August 1 - I plan to go full time on that date and start hormones.