Friday, May 27, 2016

The Human Crystal

Gemstones are crystallized minerals. Their esthetic appeal makes them ideal for jewelry because of their shape, their color or even the color-change quality exhibited by some of them. Their chemical composition is the same regardless of their shape or the angle of their facets. What you see depends on the color of the light, the intensity of the light, and the impinging angles of the light.
A transperson is much like a gemstone. Their psyche is the same regardless of their persona which is expected of them based on a sexual designation at birth which many times presumes that this sex will grow to be this person or that sex will grow to be that person. Physicians or birthing specialists make the call without ever knowing what developmental changes occurred pre-birth, changes which cannot be known by anyone but the infant well after progressing from infancy. 

Medical research is only beginning to study why XX and XY chromosomes are not the sole determinants of gender. Thirty or more chromosomes affected by DNA variants contribute in unpredictable ways to human growth to become more male or more female or more androgynous. On the gender spectrum, Male is at one end, female is at the other end, and androgynous is mid-spectrum. Along that spectrum are dozens of other gender identity points.

Why am I talking about this? Because, as many of my in-person social friends and acquaintances know and most of my FB friends inferred, I am transgender. I am transitioning from the male role to the female role. What most don’t know is that this is my second transition. I lived as Karen for three years in the late 1980s. Unfortunately after 20 years of estrogen treatments I began developing blood clots and since blood clots killed my 20 year old sister in 1972, I feared for my life. I had the choice of being a dead woman or a living male. So I returned to the male role for 30 years. 

About a year and a half ago, the discomfort from the gender dysphoria become so great I decided it was not too late to become the woman I always felt myself to be. Since estrogen is out of the question I have no need for any kind of specialized medical care. I did, out of curiosity, ask my doctor to include a testosterone screen on one of my routine blood tests. He told me my testosterone was at the level it would be if I had been born female.

I became aware of my gender dysphoria at a very early age even though I didn’t know what it was called. I only knew in grade school I wanted to be with the girls, play with the girls, be one of the girls, BE a girl. Then in 1952, the scales fell from my eyes when Christine Jorgenson became the first well-publicized, successful sex-change recipient. That news changed the course of my life although not for the better initially. After graduating from high school and a failed first attempt at Penn State, I quickly (at age 18) became eligible for the military draft. Still male and from a Navy family, I didn't want to be in the Army so I enlisted in the Navy for a four year tour during the Viet Nam era.

After my enlistment ended, I returned to Penn State, this time long enough to discover I had chosen the wrong major. (Chemistry – I love Chemistry but it was too narrowing having to learn more and more about less and less. I dropped out and went back later majoring in General Arts and Sciences.)
From there, suffering the ongoing discomfort from gender dysphoria I continued moving forward with a positive outlook hoping to find employment in a job where my change from male to female would be accepted. Years of many temporary jobs and false starts followed to the point where I now am – retired and having to work part time to make ends meet. Happily, the company I have worked for for years as a local driver has said they totally accept my transition and will be glad to have me return (after lay off) since I always did a good job for them.

Except for not being able to afford a move from my squalid hovel (or artist’s garret) and having extreme financial difficulty, I am happier than I’ve been for longer than I can remember. Happy though I may be, after the recent spate of horror stories in the news about anti-transgender vigilantism, I am fearful that should someone determine I wasn’t born female, I might be a victim of violence. Since my transition has been taking place in a veritable fishbowl, some of those who knew me previously only in the male role have issues with which bathroom I use. I have been threatened with bodily harm or with life-long expulsion from a particular establishment.

It is my hope that my openness may lead some to understand that transgender persons have not chosen to be transgender, that they have no “agenda” and are not transgender for nefarious purposes. The bathroom non-issue is disturbing and laughable. I’ve shared the ladies room on several occasions with women who comfortably chat and once with a crying woman who appreciated my comforting presence and one instance of a beautiful young woman who followed me into the ladies room because she wanted to kiss me. Oh my, what a threat I am.

Yes, I still love women, always have, always will. Gay would have been easier. Gay is as visible as the gay person allows it to be – no wardrobe change, no name change, no physical modifications. I’m not gay, never have been, never will be.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hibernation Is Over:The Old Dinosaur Returns

Hibernation Is Over:The Old Dinosaur Returns

The past year and a half have brought a series of events so daunting that I could not overcome the distractions sufficiently to concentrate on writing. Now, the positives include being on the threshold of returning to my part time job. This is very good since the negatives include having arrived at a state of meager subsistence.

In November of 2014, my paid-for car legally parked at the curb was totaled by a hit and run driver. The insurance settlement was inadequate to replace my car and attempts to bring it up to Pennsylvania Enhanced Inspection standards failed even after substantial spending on repairs. I found another car but incurred several years of car payments in the process.

About the same time another tenant in my building brought bedbugs home from somewhere. He said nothing and did nothing for more than four months and by the time I figured out where the marks on my linens were coming from, the building was infested. The landlord, presumably ignorant about the scourge these vermin present, was slow to engage a professional exterminator. In fact, it wasn’t until the day before the city’s deadline to condemn the building that he got a reprieve from the city by hiring an exterminator. 

Their first treatment was to heat the whole house to a sustained temperature above 120 degrees. This killed 98 percent of them. They followed up with chemical treatments every two weeks for two and a half months. Now I can happily say the bedbugs are gone. But the disruption is still somewhat ongoing. It’s like having to move multiple times for treatment access and to remove target nest sites. Now I’m moving in again without ever having moved out – bags and boxes to unpack to return things to where they were before.

The reason for my lay off was the company’s fear I might bring uninvited “guests” to work with me and risk sharing them with co-workers. I will be talking with the company and hope they clear me to return after the Memorial Day weekend.

While enduring this whole traumatic event I once said I wouldn’t wish bedbugs on my worst enemy. After thinking about that for a while I decided I would, indeed, wish them on my enemies. But then, everybody’s safe because if I have enemies I don’t know who they are.

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