Isn’t it amazing how fast time flies? I can’t help to think that. Here’s one of those terrific moments where I get to do reflecting. Allow me to explain what is going on in my mind.
As part of the Standards of Care, the standards in which medical professionals use as guidelines to handle transgender patients, to become eligible for Gender Correction Surgery, a patient must live one entire year continually in their preferred gender.
Let me be clear, there is a lot more to this milestone then simply being eligible for a medical procedure that only I and few other people close to me know happened, if it does. This milestone means so much more. The biggest one being that I since plunging into this gamble of transition, I have been able to live life as close to normal as I can, presenting, living, and being treated as a gender I understand myself being. What I wanted to do this this entry is go back to July ’12 and revisit some highlights for me. So sit back, as I tell you some of the points that stick out from this past year.
Convergence 2012: Wonder Women
During the first weekend of July each year, Bloomington, Minnesota is home the annual sci-fi;/fantasy convention Convergence Con. It was here that I started my first day living female. I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew for sure was a lot of the friends I had already made as I was going out and becoming readjusted would be in attendance, and I knew I could count on them of support.
I arrived at hotel and went straight up to the room to drop off luggage and then it was off to registration. Down in line is where I had my first interaction with someone I did not know. I later found this gentleman’s name to be Avi, an out of town attendee who was chatting while we waited for our badges to be distributed to us. What sticks out to me from this interaction was, just how comfortable I was in a situation I wasn’t use to. I knew I could do this!
Later that night I would go to a panel that turned out to be a hit, “How to Talk to Girls at Con”. My idea behind attending this panel was, “I’m pretty new to this whole being considered a lesbian, maybe I’ll pick something up that I would otherwise not thought of.” Of course the panel was very entertaining, but also pretty straight. I found myself nodding and agree with what the women on the panel were saying, and was slightly amused I would not learn just what the hell the secret was to the infamous friend zone. (A small note, it is also amazing the connection I have to one of the panelist, even though my way of connecting to her is indirect.) By the conclusion of the panel, I actually had two different guys actually approach me about going with them to do different things at the con, which I give them props for having the balls to do the approach, but since I’ve been in the same position I felt bad when I had to shoot them down. Hopefully they had better luck later on at the con.
I took a lot of pictures, talked to lot of amazing people. I made friends with so many of those people. I’ve seen some of them through-out the year, some I had to wait a whole year before seeing again, but here’s my chance to yell at you all for making such a huge impact on me, on some critical days. Thank you to Rachel S, Ashley S, Stacey Wub Wub, Liz B, Bri F, Lisa E, Kelly P, Brett T, Damarra A, Mary S, David T, Katie V, Jen V, and many more. (In case you couldn’t tell, this was a huge attempt to be a social butterfly and it was certainly just that.)
Returning to Work
Convergence wasn’t the only social trial I faced in the last year. Three weeks after the annual convention was over, my paid time off expired and I had to go back to my store. (This is the best part, I managed to accumulate almost a full month of paid time off to allow for staff to adjust.) A couple days before my return to work, we had a staff meeting. We had general discussion we have each and every month with one addition, I got to introduce people to Michele for the first time. I must say, this team was hands down the best I could ever imagine for a transgender co-worker. My teammates were damn near flawless in pronouns and proper name usage.
What was even scarier was my first day back to the sales floor. I remember getting to work 20 minutes early to psych myself up for what was to come. There was a point when I was sitting at our break table trembling in fear over the worst case scenarios for when I got in front of a customer. There was a point where my co-worker Alesha walked by and could see my hands shaking fiercely. She stopped to asked what was wrong I spewed everything that was working me into a frenzy. Her reassurance is exactly what I needed. I remember her saying, “You don’t need to worry, if anything happens, everyone here has your back. It’ll be okay.” She was right, in nearly a year at that store I only had one person who was rude about my being trans. Unfortunately for him, he said it to my manager who was extremely supportive. Jason not only stuck up for me, he proceeded by chewing this customer a new ass, and banning him from our store.
Trying Out Dating
Life was fine and dandy for the next few months. In about September, I had another new experience, dating. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on dates before. But that was different, that was all before transition. Dating now, took on a new meaning, going out as the new me and witnessing what it was like to date as a woman.
I met this gal at my usual Monday hang out and we hit it off well. We went out on a dinner date one night, then a fun date a week later. I quickly discovered what other lesbian women deal with when they go out on a couple dates with another woman who is unsure of her sexual orientation. She ended up flaking on me, and I didn’t have an encounter with her until mid October. But that night only went up from there.
Later that night, some friends introduced me to a girl. We got to talking a little bit and I discovered that she was another nerdie lady who goes to the same home convention as me and has a big appreciation for video games. JACKPOT! As we were talking at the bar, the friends I came to the club with wanted to leave and planned to take a cab, but they wanted to make sure I would get to my car safely. Theora, the lady I was introduced to, assured me I would be safe. We got to bar close, and everyone migrated outside, mind you it’s mid October, and I was cold. It turns out that Theora is quite chivalrous, by offering me her coat. Now, this threw me for a small loop, I’m used to being the gentleman. Not only that, but she is tiny, she would get cold faster than I would. After refusing to take her coat, she took the lining out of her coat, gave me the shell and she put the lining on. Along with other drunken friends that needed a ride, she walked us back to my car, and I gave her a ride back to hers. I got out quick to give her a hug and to put my number in her phone. When we hugged, she kissed me on the cheek, I reeled back quick, and told her to try that again. That is where I got a kiss goodnight. I was on cloud 9. For the story of our first date check out my blog entry, Welcome Back to the Dating Scene!
For the record, we’ve been together for over nine months, and we are just as happy with each other now as we were just over nine months ago.
Re-Acquainting with the Family/Meeting the Family
Holidays brought on an interesting stresser, going home and seeing everyone since going full time. I am so thankful that Theora chose to come with me to my family’s annual gathering. A couple times on my drive there, I could feel heart rates racing and worried about how my family would perceive me in person. I’m glad to see that my worries were unwarranted. I arrived to open arms, hugs, and my family just happy to see me. They all knew my name, not the old one, and the pronouns. My family was on the ball, and I have to thank them for it.
A couple weeks later, I attended Theora’s family Christmas. Again, worry set in over how I would be perceived by her family, plus first impressions on top of it. Again, I found that I was worried over nothing, as her family was so welcoming and accepting. My stay with them went without a hitch, and I had a terrific time. I now look forward to my next trip back to visit with Theora.
Winter stuck around, and stuck, and stuck some more. When spring finally started to approach, I was invited out to dinner by my father since he was going to be in town. Now there is a lot of back story, with him and I, and they don’t always involve us seeing eye to eye. But at this point, he reached out to me because of an e-mail conversation where there was some shouting, and the message that was being conveyed was lost in some type of translation. We cleared it up, so since he was in town, Theora and I were invited out to eat and catch up.
I worked that day, so after I finished, I raced home to change into something other then my work shirt, and I was meeting Theora at my place. We drove out to his hotel where we would decide where to go to eat. When we first arrived and made our way up to his room, there was a little tension. Not a negative tension, but a kind where we didn’t know what to say to each other. Eventually we decided on a usual hang out on Tuesdays and went there. It was there, where we opened up and spoke more. Him and I talked about things we always did, fishing, the Twins, other current events. We also did personal catching up, after all there was a lot of stuff that happened between that last time we talked regularly and this point.
The point of the night that stuck out to me, is when we were talking about the age we all appear to be. I made a comment about how people always guess that I am younger than I actually am, the opposite of what happened pre-transition. My dad told me that it might be because I am likely not under as much stress and it showed. That was a big compliment, which I was flattered to receive. I am thankful for it. The end of the night ended with us hugging and parting ways back to our places of rest for the night. This night will stick with me for quite a while, and I’m glad it will.
Switching Up Job Positions
My dad was right, I was under less stress, except for one new area. The manager I had all the way through my transition was moving to a new store. His replacement was an individual I could care less what happened to him. I won’t get into other details, but we’ll leave it at, he’s not a good manager. My old manager got wind of this and made an offer to follow him to his new store. After sleeping on the offer, I took him up on it. The only thing was, I had to do an interview with him and his assistant managers.
Job interviews are already nerve racking, let alone I have to worry about what new managers would think had me extremely worried going into my interview. I got to the mall where Jason had moved to, and as I park I can feel my heart beginning to race. I pushed myself forward. I walked in through the automated doors and began looking for the nearest store that is branded with the company of which I am currently employed. After a brief adventure, I was able to located one of the three locations where I hoped to be working.
I entered the store to find one of the assistant managers who was up there. After introducing ourselves, we left to go to a different store front where Jason would be waiting with the store’s other assistant manager to do this interview. We again left the store to go sit somewhere comfortable. When sitting down, my anxiety was at its peak for this interaction. I say it was at its peak because I was eased in with easy questions, which left all three interviewers nodding and agreeing with what I had to say. By the time the interview was over, I was comfortable with being in that spot, and I was convinced I nailed it.
I was right, I did nail it, days later I had an offer for a position at the mall and that is where I have been for close to a month now.
My First Photo Shoot
Near the end of June, I was able to try something I never thought I would do. I had a hand in modeling for a camera. First off, let me say I am pretty spooked of cameras. In fact, I prefer to be the person taking my own pictures. However due to some friends and a certain girlfriend, I was persuaded to suck it up and get in front of the camera.
All I’ve got to say, this is where the right photographer makes for amazing photos. My photographer is someone I already knew to be a great person, and his awesomeness carried through in professionalism. I was put at ease, and now I have an album of photos I would have never expected to own.
Back to Convergence
All this led up to return to Convergence. Cons, where this new chapter truly begun. This wasn’t my only con I have attended since transition, I’m now staffer at an anime convention held here in the Twin Cities too. Cons have become a community hub where I feel beyond comfortable.
Convergence, I thought I would take it to the next step. I started cosplaying. This means dressing in costume for fun and potentially having photos taken of me. All this because I have become more comfortable with who I am, as I now live every day as me.
I am thankful for this past year. It’s been a hell of a ride. This year, I hope to build on the momentum that I’ve created. I also wanted to share this with so many other people out there who are struggling. At times our ride is rough, but in the end, it’s definitely worth it.