Employ-ability

After 7 months of unemployment (vacation) I have decided to return to the job world. Excited to be truly ready to be who I am and work a job that I find much more satisfying. I also am assure enough of who I am and am prepared to deal with misgendering and transphobic people. I started applying in the social services field specifically mental challenged adults. I’m still waiting to hear back from a few but hope to be employed soon.

Applying as a transperson confused me at first. I wasn’t sure how or who to apply as. At first I applied as my legal name, then I had second thoughts. I talked to a translady who suggested doing the same thing that I was thinking of: apply with your legal name and once you get hired tell them your taken name. Something about that left a bad taste in my mouth. I decided to be upfront and apply as me, the person I am all the time, a person transitioning to be the woman she is.

While it’s impossible for me to say how this has affected my employ-ability, I would say it hasn’t much. I’ve been upfront and brought up my transition to every employer applying with my legal and taken name in quotes. To my surprise I had responses that were so nice and truly respectful. One person even said it was nice to meet me a second time this time saying my taken name instead of my legal name. The best part for me has been feeling very comfortable and alright with myself.

I am amazed at how okay people are with me. Too much reading made me feel like I was a freak I’m happy to say actually going out in the world makes me feel like myself. I also can’t help but be reminded what my roommate always says, people are a reflection of yourself. I am frank with myself and other about who I am and am shameless of that fact. I’m a woman but my body is still catching up (as is my mind too!). Once can expect as much after 25 years of living as a man. I understand confusion by people, I understand slip ups and misgendering. I wouldn’t say I’m entirely a man or a woman right now. Simply put, I’m transitioning.

To my amazement and despite dress wearing, bra wearing and extra femme bangs, I have hardly had any bad encounters. I don’t use beard cover, have yet to put much effort into changing my voice pitch and am clearly not a “woman” under a not-so-close inspection. Yet I have only been harassed, unsuccessfully, once. Which was by a creepy old guy trying to hit on me. After being frank with him about transitioning and correcting him that my parents were in fact proud of me for being who I am, he became frustrated. He seemed to be questioning his sexuality because of me and unsuccessfully put this awkwardness on me as he walked away muttering, “you’ll always be a man.” To which I responded plainly, “I tried that, didn’t work out.”

The power of positive thinking is amazing. It makes you feel great and that feeling is quite contagious. I am waiting back on hearing back from a few jobs this coming week. If not I’ve got myself another round of applications to put in. Hopefully employment will start soon and health insurance after that. I’m ready job world, so employment world get ready for this little lady!

Moving Towards My True Self

While hormones, electrolysis and legally changing my name are inching me towards my true self that alone will not get me there. Yes I will be a woman, but I won’t be who I truly am. To go on that path I need to recognize great things about myself and I have resumed working to achieve this. I don’t pity myself but love the opportunity I have been given and feel great great power in it. I have also taken up meditation and mindfulness to help me better deal and live in the world as it really is.

I have been on this quest before, becoming a woman has only allowed me to begin it once again. On it thus far I have utilized many great resources to continue propelling me. The first one is the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book is a great place to start and I have personally read it front to back at least five times. It helps you better understand the world we live in and give you strategies to start with. This alone will drastically alter your life for the better if you let it, and in addition with other things you will be much more happy, present and yourself.

Next I took up Transcendental Meditation. This is a sitting practice where you focus on your breath, quiet your mind and try to let go of your thoughts. You you may think meditation is crazy but it has been consistently proven to be helpful for many things. In one inner city school they even used it. They started doing two 15 minute sessions of meditation. Four years later the school moved “from the bottom of California’s academic ladder to the upper middle rungs.” With a 75% decrease in suspensions and a .4 increase in GPA, not to mention a large affect on students lives.

I’ve been meditating for about two and a half months and have felt great results. It has helped me better see what is going on in the world and what I am doing in it. Bodhi Kjolhede likened meditation as helping you use the mind better as a flashlight so you can better direct your attention(flashlight) to see the reality of the world around you.

To better utilize meditation I have also worked on being more present or mindful in my daily experiences. I want to better utilize my flashlight to see the world as how it is and enjoy every moment of right now, because what do what have other than this minute right now? The book, 25 Lessons in Mindfulness by Dr. Rezvan Ameli, has helped me in these goals. This book walks you through a 25 week course on being more present. Being mindful is letting go of your thoughts and trying to be present in the moment.I am constantly realizing how up in the clouds I normally am and have been struggling and succeeding in getting myself out of them. Instead I have begun to enjoy my life as it happens, the pain and the joy.

My best moment with mindfulness was when I was drenched and walking my bike up a never ending hill. I had just backpacked for 3 days and was trying to get my car to go home. I was tired, hungry and over it. But I tried to stay present in my suffering and realized it wasn’t unenjoyable at all. In fact it was amazing. I got home and was truly present for the next 24 hours and have quested to get that feeling back ever since.

The final book I have found extremely helpful is Start Where You Are by Pema Chodren. She talks in an easily understandood way and helps you utilize painful moments in your life to grow enormous amounts. I have greatly appreciated her book and all the slogans that she has shared in it.

I now will leave you with a moving TEDx talk by Sean Stephenson on pity and power.

Informed Consent Hormones Pennsylvania: Second Puberty

Hey all! I’m writing this post for two reasons to list the resources I know about for Informed Consent Hormones in Pennsylvania and to tell y’all about my experiences thus far. If you don’t need those resources skip below, if you do enjoy.

So far I know of a few places that have informed consent hormones and a list more that may or may not be specifically informed consent in Pittsburgh in Garden of Peace’s website.
The ones that are informed consent in Pittsburgh are:
Metro Family Practice (which in my experience take most if not all insurances despite facts otherwise. I go here and have felt utmost respect as has my non-binary roommate Jamie who is going there too [they are super cool about the non-binary stuff])
Stacy Lane at West End Health Center(I heard from one person that a questioner they filled out had questions that felt like Dr. Lane may be gender policing a bit, asking whether my friend wore dresses or not.)
East End Community Health Center, which I have heard nothing bad about from the person I know who goes there.

In Philadelphia I only know of the Mazzoni Center. They also have great other resources online about name change etc here and I have heard great things about them, though have no trans-specific information.

Finally I know that there is someone in Harrisburg that according to a friend of a friend, “give [hormones] out like candy.” So if you want me to look into finding out who this doctor is let me know and I’ll ask my friend for more details

I feel that it is very important to better share information in the trans community, especially when this information is essential to new comers. I will be attempting to share information I am finding and cataloguing all the details of my name change for people who are excited about that lengthy exciting process in the coming months. This is also meant to motivate people to not give up hope because I almost drove to Philly before realizing there are 3 informed consent clinics in the city I lived in.

Now to the exciting stuff, changes I’ve felt on my two weeks on estrogen!!! Well first off I’d like to say how validating and exciting this has been for me. I felt torn about taking hormones for a while and was scared of possible side effects. I weighted positives v. negatives and found that there were hardly any negatives and a lot of positives and was compelled to take them and right my body.

The first thing I felt was headaches the first few days. I also got really somber and felt very lonely one day. I ended up going on a long walk and going to a friends house. This feeling passed quickly, though it ended up feeling validating, especially when my roommates just told me I was having my period for the first time (ha).

I have been taking NatureDay supplements for 10 months now and will continue to. They have caused a small amount of breast growth – significantly more after I started using the soap and moisturizer. The introduction of estrogen on top of that has caused noticeable breast growth, even by friends who can feel it in hugs and visibly see a small change in only two weeks!

But the most noticeable thing for me is an increased energy level. Before I struggled to feel a desire to do much of anything now I feel happier and more productive. I don’t know if this is estrogen specifically or simply my body/mind response to it. Either way it feels nice to be even further from the weight of depression.

I also recently talked to a translady who had been on hormones for just shy of a year and she showed me her results at a dance party we were at. Woah. Her breasts, and hips were much much larger. And her face feminized more than I expected not to mention her super soft skin. A week ago I got nervous not being able to pass but after seeing her changes I’m sure I’ll look a lot more effeminate and voice training will certainly help the disconnect I feel with my body. I’m really excited for the year for so many reasons. Haven’t felt that a while so I’m pumped for 2015!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

MLK day is an extremely important day to me. It’s a day I listen to at least one speech by MLK and at least one by his counterpart, Malcolm X. I’m going to post those videos here and highly encourage you to watch them and remember these astounding men on this day.

This is his most famous speech that highlighted his work and set him apart as a leader in the civil rights movement, his “I Have a Dream” speech. This is one of his more moderate speeches so I always make sure to listen to one of his more impassioned speeches – one of the ones that got him killed.

This is his final speech, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop.” This speech is a speech to the sanitation workers as they struggled to unionize in Memphis, Tennessee. MLK wasn’t killed for his views on voting rights and black’s freedom, but his views on their economic rights, on peace and justice. MLK was a radical man that shouldn’t be remembered with a national holiday. Which is why I listen to his speeches – to remember the man he was not the man they try to paint him as.

A speech by Malcolm X. A extremely powerful figure who was gunned down for reaching across the isle to fight with not against the white man. Malcolm X is remembered for who he was not who he became. After he left the Nation of Islam his views changed and he was no longer censured by the Nation of Islam. If he had lived only a year longer I’m sure his views would continue to evolve to the point that he would have been fighting hand in hand with MLK.

Finally a movie trailer for Selma. It has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And the film is directed by a black woman who normally directs Indy films. I haven’t seen it yet but it looks like one truly amazing film.

Falling Up

About every 3 to 4 months for the past couple of years I’ve made music CDs that catalogue what I’ve been through and what songs took me there. I’m posting this one online to share it with y’all the music that’s been in my head and to give you tidbits about what these songs have meant to me in the past few months. Songs to me are time markers, they are pages from my diary that I cannot erase.

1. She Don’t Use Jelly – The Flaming Lips
This song has been stuck in my head for months. I don’t know the words beyond the first verse but I’ve liked it for a long time. I honestly think part of the reason I like this song is just because I like saying she in reference to myself. Either way this has overlapped Let Me Go by Cake as my song to sing absent mindedly.

2. Mozart’s House – Clean Bandit
When I was running I listened to this song a lot. I almost went to Toronto to see them with some good friends. “So you think electronic music is boring. You think it’s stupid. You think it’s repetitive… well it is repetitive.”

3. FuckMyLife666 – Against Me!
Laura Jane Grace has been a hero of since she came out as a transwoman. This song helped remind me that “All things meant to be destroyed, all moments meant to pass.” I was grasping for relationships and moments to stay forever. That never happens. In this song Laura is singing about her marriage – they seemed to be staying together at first, but her wife couldn’t do it, seeing her transition was too much. It hurt me to know that, now it is a important lesson to appreciate these moments when they are there.

4. Take Me to Church – Sinead O’Connor
This song is so powerful. The video of her famous song playing over top of it is so powerful. “I am the only one that I should adore.” Lessons I hope to live by.

5. Habits – Tove Lo
I originally didn’t want to have this song on this list. I don’t like what it says, but I feel what it says. I listened to this song on repeat for days. Sometimes it is hard to keep people off your mind, they just become habits.

6. The View – Modest Mouse
I like this song years before, but it began to ring true recently. “As life gets longer awful feels softer. Well it feels pretty soft to me. And if it takes shit to make bliss, then I feel pretty blissfully.”

7. Paralytic States – Against Me!
I feel the lyrics of this song. I feel her dysphoria. I am not quite the woman I wanted to be.

8. Dust Clears – Clean Bandit
When I first listened to this song I imagined that certain parts of my life weren’t true. One of those parts was that Big S wasn’t real, that I was making her all up in my mind. Interestingly I have come to realize that is somewhat true. I mistakenly made her into more than she was and succeeded in messing up that friendship and messing with my own head for months.
The song also reminds me and makes me happy when it says, “It may get harder, cause you’ve just restarted.” Because I felt that, I am changing my sex and how I view myself. It was harder, but I am just restarting.

9. Sky is Broken – Moby
This song is epic. I listened to Moby over and over again when arriving to visit Philly for the solstice. This song makes me think of the x-files (this song plays in it) and reminds me of Moustache. Moustache and I love Moby and would listen to him as we both got somber while working on bikes in Philly.

10. Cow Cud is A Twin – Aphex Twin
Aphex Twin is very calming and I listened to him to take a break. This song is especially head nod friendly. This album was on repeat for a relaxing few weeks.

11. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
Reflections, that is all things are in this world, reflections of reflections of reflections. We don’t see what is really happening, only a reflection of ourselves. We see in others what we have in ourselves.
Not to mention, “Thought you were praying to the resurrected, turns out it was just a reflektor.”

12. #1 – Moon Hooch
I listened to Moon Hooch on and off during this time period. I decided to finish the play list very happy, because that is what is happening. As days go forward I feel myself shedding layers of baggage and smiling more and more.

The Holidays

This holidays, since I’m still not working, I travelled all over and had a great time seeing everyone. Firstly I went to Philly, then State College and finally a solo backpacking trip on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail. I’ll briefly tell y’all about all my trips and show some pictures.

Philly was nice, I saw all the friends I had hoped to and updated them all about my news of going on hormones and that (starting this Friday!). I also got to tell my Aunt and Uncle I was transitioning who were quite supportive. I even got to see a good friend from my first year of college and spent the solstice sunrise with her.

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

I spent the solstice in Philadelphia and spent most of my time in a brick cabin of sorts called “the compound” owned by Half Dread. It has a rain water collection system, electricity and a wood fire to heat it. The day of the solstice I spent time at Philly Aids Thrift and lots of time meditating in the sun. That evening I was with Guac for a while and even got to see Juju briefly. Anxiety overtook me that night and when I saw the sunset I felt myself working through and flushing out old problems. It was a cathartic experience and has made me exciting for 2015 a year of powerful enlightenment, awakening and openness.

Sunrise in Philly - exhausted and relieved

Sunrise in Philly – exhausted and relieved

Next was State College. I saw mostly my immediate family, it was especially nice to have my brother there. He missed x-mas last year, which while it’s not an important holiday for most of us it felt like the conscious choice of work over family. My family worked on calling me my new taken name and worked a little on using female pronouns too. This felt validating as though I was transforming into a woman in their eyes, and in my own.

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My final trip was to hike along the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail (LHHT). It’s the same trail that I hiked over Thanksgiving and I was happy to hike it again. This was the most intense of all the experiences. Including two opposite by equally astounding experiences.

The first being hiking two days to come upon a winter paradise. Suddenly there are houses covered in snow, even their roofs (there was no snow to be seen where I was hiking). People are skiing from house to house and then I see a ski lift. I’m at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I laugh and take a silly selfie and continue hiking. Whereupon I realize this is only the beginning, the LHHT cuts directly across multiple ski slopes. From serene woods to dodging skiers and snowboarders. I hike across the slopes taking a couple of pictures as I laugh at the insanity of what I am doing. Finally after 20 minutes in this winter paradise I quietly return to the woods.

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Now my third and final day. I decided that morning to cut my trip short early because there is freezing rain, I forgot my rain pants and I’m running low on food. I spent the day wandering adjacent trails in Forbes State Forest. The weather is beautiful with everything coated in a thin layer of ice. After hiking for several miles I realize I want to bike back to my car (I dropped of a bike two days hike out so I could ride back to my car). I also realize that I am lost and can’t comprehend where I am on the map. Luckily I see my footprints in the ice and simply retrace them. Three miles later I make it back to my bike and realize I have 20 miles left to bike.

At this point I am tired and woozy and have been for the last two miles of hiking. I eat two chocolate bars and start biking. First I bike down Laurel Hill, peak elevation 2,994ft, on Route 31. Next I bike up and down a series of hills on some back roads before turning onto Route 653. At this point I am exhausted and my pants are drenched, I can even feel the water sloshing around in my boots. I reach pinnacle after pinnacle as I climb the mountain where I parked my car. Having just read Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron (I’ll talk more about this soon) I try to stay focused on the present and not let my mind wander.

This experience is wet, exhausted and laden with mild muscle pain. Not as bad as I imagined. The whole experience was actually beautiful, being present in the now even if it is miserable it calming and fun. After miles up hill I start seeing fog and familiar signs. I make it to the summit in a state of serene peace. I was very present and remained so the following day.

A wonderful end to my trips and a great memory to have as I embark on my job search and continued quest for my true self.

Winter Solstice 2014

Happy winter solstice friends, family and readers,

I hope everyone had as heartwarming of a year as I did. My friends and my family has gone above and beyond and helped me more than I ever expected. I feel truly humbled and extremely happy to write this. The last two years can best be summed up by two tarot cards I drew last new years. One was for 2013 one was for 2014. My card for 2013 was the 8 of arrows, struggle. My card for 2014 was the 9 of arrows, dedication.

Tarot Reading 2013

Over the last year I went from slowly dying and saving money to buy a house in Pittsburgh to quitting my job and working on being happy now. I vowed to spend my savings on things that made me happy and in becoming who I truly am – a woman. In August I went on a bike trip to remind myself of who I was and to start telling other about who I am.

Along my trip I had great responses and lots of support. I don’t know where I’d be without all my friends and family. The people near and dear to me stood by me and offered more support than ever. They picked me up when I fell and urged me to keep moving forward. Thinking of them and their unwavering love and support makes me feel free to do and be who I am no matter how scary that seems.

This past year was hard, but rewarding. I struggled but I found myself. I kicked depression and started meditating and being more mindful and present. I haven’t given up on anything but fake me. I left the bike shop world for good and am about to try to get a job working with mentally challenged adults. After that I plan on going to grad school to become a counsellor. My life is coming together and next year is setting itself up to be an even better year than this one.

Planned for next year is a solo backpacking trip to kick it off. After that I have an appointment to get hormones on the 9th of January. Second puberty here I come! I can’t wait to have my body fit my view of it. The next two years will be an exciting long awaited feminizing of myself. All the while I’ll be continuing to find my trueself and find love and happiness within myself instead of in others. As Arcade Fire says, “it’s never over” but that doesn’t mean that everyday it isn’t getting better and better.