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Exploration and growing into my transgender self

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Had a meeting with my therapist this afternoon. It went fine - he's terrific. Need to continue to explore myself...

Started by telling him that I’m feeling some sadness and ambivalence lately. The excitement of the gender euphoria has died down and I’m left with the enormity of wondering what to do, where I’ll end up, and how my life is going to be affected.

I’ve read a lot about transgender and its definition. The first sentence in Wikipedia’s definition is: “Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex.” It occurs to me that although when I see women/girls now and wish I was one this doesn't necessarily mean that my gender identity is not matching my assigned sex. And with that data point combined with my ambivalence I’m thinking now that I do not need to change my sex to match my gender. Some might say that’s a good thing but I’m less sure. I feel it would be better to know that my assigned sex doesn’t match my gender. At least, then, I’d know what I need to do. Instead I’m stuck in the middle, unsure of what will satisfy me.

Over that last week or so I had started to wonder if I really am transgender. After all, if I don’t fit with the Wikipedia definition (and we know they are always right!)… But transgender is an umbrella term that covers a wide range. I found a great “Trans Blog” by Angus "Andrea" Grieve-Smith (http://transblog.grieve-smith.com) that I recommend. Her insights and writing are excellent. For example, she wrote (http://transblog.gri...nd-actions-iii/):

“…most of us under the “transgender umbrella” – transvestites, transsexuals, genderqueer, non-binary, drag queens, butch lesbians and all the others – all feel either gender dysphoria or transgender desire, or both. Our interpretations of these feelings may be different. But more importantly, there are a wide variety of possible actions in response to those feelings, and none of those actions are more automatic or necessary than any other.”

Thus, with her definition – which I believe is better said than Wikipedia’s – transgender includes me, and I’m okay with that.

My therapist then suggested that when I see a woman on the street that I wish I was her. I told him that on one level that’s correct but that there is a much larger sense. Truly, I wish I had had her whole experience, growing up as a little girl, being a Brownie and then a Girl Scout, taking ballet lessons, and going through school, puberty, and emerging as a young adult woman. That’s what I think deep down. And I know that’s a fantasy of course, so that longing is also a bit saddening.

He then asked me what I know I want. Here’s some answers:

1. I want my marriage with my wife to continue and deepen.

2. I want my wife and I to be able to be 100% open with each other at least in the privacy of our home. As it is now, I have to hide my (growing) collection of feminine clothing at all times, which is very similar to remaining closeted.

3. I want to be sexual with my wife (only) which may mean making love with me also expressing as a woman, but also as a man – but that is dependent on my not living under the cloud of non-acceptance from her.

These days I am feeling lots more calm and less defensive than before I came out to my therapist and to my wife. It’s as if I always had this delicate house of cards constructed to hide my innermost feelings and shame, and when that house was shaken by criticism (real or imagined) or anything, I reacted emotionally to protect myself and my house of cards. That’s less urgent now that I’ve come out more with the real me.

But the problem remains that I need to feel my wife’s full acceptance and support, without raised eyebrows or negative comments. Like if I buy a new dress she would say, “Let’s see it on you!” with some enthusiasm. Or, if I was dressed, we could watch TV or do whatever, together. We are very far from that ideal right now and it’s not at all clear that we will get there, which adds a lot of stress and uncertainty for me now.

Lastly, I feel very alone and lonely. Besides my therapist and my friends here at TG Guide, there is no one else for me to talk to. I’d just like to hang out and have a dinner, maybe a glass of wine, and be able to be open and be me – whatever that is. Goodness knows I’ll be even lonelier if my wife and I were to separate, so that’s a big concern too.

I do plan on attending a TG (MTF only, I think) support group next Wednesday evening in San Jose. I’ll “go as I am” in male-mode which I’ve been assured that is okay. I do need to tell my wife about this; will do that in a day or two.

At this point I’m glad I met with my therapist but I’m tired and have a headache. I’ll take two aspirin and call in the morning…

Emma

Photo: an eagle in Norway, having snagged the chum and taking off for who knows where, to chow down on it.

My next one-on-one appointment with my therapist is this coming Wednesday afternoon. During the week before I consider what we might talk about even though it often seems that we end up talking about something completely different. I suppose I want to be sure that I’m able to take advantage of the time and money spent. I want to extract every last bit of help that I can get.

I keep a tally in my iPhone of thoughts and ideas. Here’s the current running list:

  • I remember being so sad and terrified when, as a young child, I did something – anything – wrong. Sad that I had again disappointed my mother and scared of the punishment.

  • After last week’s couples appointment with my therapist my wife told a gay friend of hers, and the mother of a young woman friend of hers, about what I disclosed to my wife, that I am transgender. In years past I would have been devastated to hear that anyone knew, that they would think me weird, and that I might run in to them. Now it doesn’t seem to matter and, in some ways, I’m kind of pleased that my wife is reaching out.

  • Sometimes, these days, I feel pretty alone and needy. I only have my therapist to talk to openly as well as my friends here at TG Guide. I compulsively check what’s happening here and whether I have any messages several times a day.

  • With my wife I’m more calm and self-connected than I have been in years. I’m stroking her, helpful, and we’re are very close. I think she likes this but I can see that she stops short as she thinks of my revelations.

  • I ordered a dress, tights, and a slip on Amazon this week that I expect to arrive in a couple of days. Imagine that, a slip. Well, I want the dress’s skirt to flow and not get all bunched up. I researched it all a lot and chose carefully. But as I wait for the delivery I keep wondering if I’m completely nuts.

  • I’m having trouble focusing on much other than transgender stuff. Reading whatever I can find on the Internet, here on TG Guide, etc. I feel I should also be studying on some unrelated topics that used to fascinate me but I find it impossible.

  • We have a couple of small watercolor paintings hanging in our bathroom showing scenes of young, pretty women, in pastoral Italy. It seems so obvious to me that anyone looking at these women would want to be like them. But I know that 99.9% of men would not and would think I’m crazy for even thinking of it.

  • Regardless of whether or not my transgender diagnosis is accurate (and I really think it is) is it okay? What makes it “right?” On Sunday mornings my wife and I go to a local pastry shop for coffee, a light breakfast, and to read the paper together. This morning she looked me in the eye and told me how much she loves me. We both show our sadness to each other at these times.

Geez, a lot to talk about this Wednesday and I still have three days to consider more topics. And then, of course, there’s also all the stuff I wrote in my “progress report” a couple of days ago. I’m overthinking but it seems impossible to stop.

Emma

Photo: The Zambezi River, Botswana, at dusk, a couple of years ago. Not good for swimming; many crocodiles.

I have experienced so much in the last month, coming closer to myself, coming out to my wife, participating in TG Guide. Maybe it will help me (and others, I hope) to review and express my gratitude for my progress. Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

  • My fantasy outcomes are just that, fantasies.

The fantasies I’m talking about are the ones having to do with my wife’s unconditional acceptance of me, dressing how I wish, being fully open to my awakening, even cuddling together. It saddens me a bit that this hasn’t come to pass and I’ll still dream of it, but we have a long way to get there if we ever do.

  • My wife’s feelings are valid.

Much as I’d like to stand on “what’s the big deal?” and that she should more quickly accept me because my femininity on the inside has always made up an important part of who she fell in love with, if it’s a big deal to her, it is, and that’s okay. My job now is to be patient, kind, and stay connected to her as we both navigate these uncharted waters.

  • I’m lucky and grateful to have her for my wife.

Coming out to her has been terribly hard. Her intense dismay and hurt are so hard to bear, and I automatically descend into depression, shame, and wishing I could just disappear. She’s really trying, is listening more and more, and expresses the same hope that I do that our relationship and lives will survive this. Neither of us knows if our marriage will survive but we’re trying.

  • I wish there was a cure or antidote for my being transgender.

Goodness knows, over the decades I’ve tried to ignore it, bury it, rationalize it away, purge, and dilute it with immersion in work and busy-ness. I know now that I am what I am. It’s hard to accept but the more that I do the freer and less stressed and threatened I feel.

  • “Transition” has many definitions; most would say it’s living full-time in the opposite role, probably at least leading to HRT and gender affirming surgery.

For me, my transition which has been pretty profound is more about my awakening and acceptance of my transgender self as well as my full disclosure to my wife. The full transition I hope for now is for my wife and I to move to an even more loving stage in our marriage. I think we’re at least and at last heading in the right direction.

  • My authenticity to myself and my wife has relieved a huge weight off my shoulders.

As hard and scary as it’s been, I feel such a tangible relief from depression and fear. I’ve always been conscious of my monitoring of my interactions with others, if “I’m doing it right,” or if they might be able to discern what I’m hiding. This was so exhausting and I often complained of being “so very tired.” No wonder I felt that way. I was like a spy living in deep cover always on the alert for enemy detection and my destruction. Now, so much of that has been relieved.

  • I am real, I am valid, I am good.

That’s hard to say and sometimes to believe. Maybe through repetition it will sink in more.

Thank you for listening to me and being here for me,

Emma

Remember the Seinfeld episode when Jerry's father kept yelling "Serenity now!" when he was upset and about to lose it? Very funny show.

I'm not very religious and don't attend church.. I was raised Episcopalian, attended a church school for 6th and 7th grades, and my parents often had us recite the Serenity Prayer or the Lords Prayer before dinner. I think the prayer was for my benefit... I remember how earnestly I repeated the words in the Serenity Prayer, hoping that my emphasis would gain me that serenity that I wanted so much. It never seemed to work although I suppose we might speculate on how I would have been had I not said those words at all.

These days the Serenity Prayer has come to mind a few times. I think it's a wonderful prayer and says so much in only a few words:

Lord, grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Each of these four lines says so much and they are hard to achieve. I would like more serenity. I think I'm getting better at accepting the things I cannot change, such as:

- I was born male.

- I am transgender.

- I cannot control my wife's acceptance or behavior toward me.

In the third line I'm starting to understand why my therapist (and even my wife) have said that I'm being courageous. I didn't really believe it, but I suppose I am demonstrating that:

- I'm coming out to myself and acknowledging my being transgender.

- I'm coming out to my therapist (which was damned hard).

- I'm coming out to my wife.

- Heck, I'm even coming out here. That was hard at first. I worried a lot about saying the wrong thing, or creating misunderstandings.

I suppose that by listing the things in the acceptance and change buckets one develops the wisdom to know the difference. Maybe the thing to do is to consider things that I'm now not able to distinguish. I'll have to think about that a bit.

Be well,

Emma

On Trust

By EmmaSweet,

I'm not sure if this is a good idea to post. I don't like writing this because it's such a problem for me, it's a downer. But hey, maybe that's why they call it a "blog" so here goes.

My wife was very upset at our last couples' therapy meeting, where I spelled out more details of my being transgender and asked for her support and offered some safe (to my mind) ways for us to explore and learn together. My hope was that she'd follow her heart and maybe through this exploration she'd gain knowledge that would help rationalize and conquer her fears. That fell flat.

Last night she returned home after seeing her therapist and her psychiatrist, and told me that she was so upset that I am transexual. I told her no, I don't have current plans or forecast of changing my sex; that I'm transgender. We got into the definitions a bit, but TG is still scary since its definition includes TS. She told me that while she's not looking for divorce right now she needs space and distance, so I will stay in our guest room for the foreseeable future, which I did last night.

While we moved around each other this morning I decided that I would not mope. While I felt entirely justified I also feel that if she's having to contend with that it would simply cloud things for her. Regardless, I'm not all sweetness and light but I did crack a couple of humorous plays on words that we both smiled at.

When she left for work she gave me a quick kiss - which is more than last night. No "I love you" or hug, but it was something. She said we might "talk more" tonight and as I drove to the coffee shop I fretted a bit. What does "talk more" mean, exactly? What topics? What questions? What answers should I try to think through to be prepared?

I tend to freeze up when I feel threatened in conversations like these, so I try to be prepared. I fear that my freezing (which translates into inability to answer a question cogently and right away) makes me look disingenuous or calculating, or at the least, we lose momentum in the conversation.

I try to prepare. But it's hard to answer some questions even when I know the answers. I still find it hard to vocalize that I'm transgender. There, I said it. Please don't hate me.

I even find it hard to convincingly say that I don't see myself as transexual. This is true as far as I know now, but in the future? Clearly, my crystal ball is cloudy.

And what do I want right now from her? First and foremost, some big hugs and kisses. But also a stop to the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy which for us means that in no uncertain terms am I not allowed to show her any of my clothing or me in it. Not that that would be easy for me either. But the lack of acceptance (and disgust?) communicated by that directive hurts. A lot.

I tend to display my soft underbelly, by communicating as openly as I can which includes listening carefully as if through that my wife and others will at least respect my vulnerability, and in their humanity will open up to me. That's getting harder to do these days.

My therapist advises that I need to display leadership, bravery, calm. That through this my wife's anxieties will at least not be amplified and perhaps will even help settle them a bit. Well, there's little doubt that what I've done before hasn't worked so it makes sense to try something different. Repeating the same things that haven't worked and expecting a different outcome is the definition of crazy, no?

I am a good person. Created in God's image. Struggling to find and be myself while not tearing my life apart.

I trust that my wife sees this too, that she loves me, and wants to find a way for all this to work out. I think I also need to believe that she's also embroiled in her own panic mode which makes it hard for her to communicate too.

I trust that our therapists will help us navigate these choppy waters.

Without trust, what is there?

Emma

Dear Sugar

By EmmaSweet,

Have you heard of Cheryl Strayed, who has a column called "Dear Sugar?" If not, I suggest you find out about her. Check out her book "Tiny Beautiful Things." In hindsight I wish I'd included it in my Suggested Reading post. Below is a letter to her and her response. (I didn't really send it, but it's in tune with others in her book.) I'll also add that I wrote this about a year ago. I'm posting it now to reinforce my positive feelings in myself and, I hope it might help others.

Dear Sugar,

My wife (I'll call her Mary) and I have been meeting with a therapist for over a year. It started out with only me seeing him, because although Mary and I have a great relationship and love each other very much, I'd lost interest in sex, was depressed, and Mary encouraged me to try - yet again - to get to the bottom of it.

The main issue it seems is that I've been fascinated and ashamed of my fascination with girls and girly things since I was very small, which led to sexual fantasies and fixations that I've not been able to shake off. I told Mary about it a couple of times in the past and it pretty much shocked and disheartened her, so I rapidly withdrew into my shell.

Now, though, we're talking about it more openly in our therapy meetings. I'm still quite sensitive about it (notice I'm calling it "it"), and pulling details out of me is tough. Despite Mary's recent assurances of her love and acceptance I get worried.

I suppose I don't really trust her acceptance. I wouldn't blame her at all if, even hidden deep down, she wonders about how strange this all is. Might lead to all kinds of awkward and embarrassing moments for her. And, even if her acceptance is sincere, my shame makes it hard for me to accept her acceptance.

You see, Sugar, I know I would appear pretty silly in female clothing without a lot of help and preparation. And even if I looked acceptable, where is all this going to lead? What do I really want?

At the extreme let's say that I dress up and through practice and experience, learn to blend into society as a woman. I can go out and about, shop, doing whatever I want in public. Is that the goal? I don't think so since at the end I'm still me, unhappy in my own skin - or at least not loved by me.

Do I want to be female? No, but there are times I wish I'd been born one. Perhaps then I could be me, happy? But I know that the grass isn't so much greener over there. Most would say my grass is already lush, green and well trimmed now.

I really hate and am impatient with myself at times like this, and try to push feelings away. I don't know what to do to get better, and on top of my shame of myself in general I'm also ashamed that I even need to go see a therapist. I'm so sensitive, scared, and tired of living like this. I know you're going to say that I need to love the one I'm with (me). Maybe so but I've not figured out how.

Screwed Up in the Bay Area

Dear Screwed Up,

Let's say you're playing poker and you were dealt two pairs, and a pretty good hand at that: kings and tens. Your other card is a queen. And not just any queen, it's the queen of hearts, the girliest card in the deck. What do you do? Throw in the queen hoping for a full house? Probably, since I'll bet you know how to play poker. But what if you then pulled the queen of diamonds? How might your hand have played out differently if you'd held that queen of hearts and played your hand another way? Answer: nothing, zilch, nada. Like it or not, you'd still be you.

Look, honeypie, I can tell you've been around the block on this quite a few times. But mostly it's all been running around in your head, keeping you small and in hiding. Keep talking and opening up to Mary and your therapist.

And I can also tell that you put your marriage with yourself on hold many moons ago, too. As if you're sleeping in separate bedrooms, sniping at each other, or not talking at all. Self-divorce isn't an option. You need to patch up your relationship with yourself. Get to know each other. Take yourself out on date nights. Become as fascinated with yourself as you are with things girly.

Sugar loves you, and I'm sure Mary and your therapist and many others do too. You do need to learn to love the one you're with. It starts there.

Sugar

Photo: Another pair of pretty birds in that park in South Africa.

According to Google, the definition of transition is: "the process or period of changing from one state or condition to another." In the context of transgender, my sense is that it means moving toward a more final condition of living full time, HRT, and quite possibly, surgery. If you don't mind, I'd like to put a finer point on it and hear some feedback.

In my career in high-tech marketing/sales we often used the phrase "we don't know what we don't know" to underscore our lack of understanding that would develop as we explored further. I think I'm there now. I have my doubts that I'll want/need HRT or SRS but I don't know what I don't know because I'm so early in my exploration. I trust that with experience I'll gain insights that will make this more clear for me. I admit I'm frightened.

But long before profound changes like HRT/SRS there are other important transitions. Probably lots of them, but here's a couple:

* Coming out to my therapist. Gee, that one took me >3 decades. Wow!

* Accepting myself. Because of my therapist's wonderful support, friends and information here and elsewhere, I'm "getting it." But I still have times when I wonder...

* Openly talking with my lovely wife. This is hard to do. She didn't sign up to this when we married. I know she loves me dearly but one has to wonder what her breaking point will be. We're in the middle of this now.

And there are others, like going out and having a good time, in private, and making friends. Going out in public and achieving confidence and presence. Letting my family, neighbors, and friends know.

So, I don't think there is such a thing as a singular "transition." I believe it's a continuum. But I am a newbie in many ways and am open to discussion and correction. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Emma

Photo: Some years ago we visited Rodin's Museum in Paris. It was a cold day in January, and wow, The Thinker was right outside! Seems like an appropriate photo for today's post.

I've been feeling a little blue today. Like yesterday I'm questioning myself and have a lot of fearful thoughts in my head that are hard to fight. I subscribe to emails from Leo Babauta, who writes on his site Zen Habits. He's a neat guy, with a lot of good suggestions. Just now I saw this email from him, which I copied directly below. I hope/assume he'd be okay with my doing this since I'm attributing it all to him.

He didn't write this with people dealing with TG issues like me in mind. But the wisdom and insights apply, I think. I hope it helps me and you.

Be well,

Emma

Pushing Past the Terrifying Dip in Motivation

http://zenhabits.net/dip/

My son, who is officially an adult in a matter of days, is facing a small crisis: the project he’s working on is not going well, and he’s ready to give up not only on the project but the career he was excited about not too long ago.

I can feel the horrible mixture of discouragement, disappointment, difficulty, despair he must be feeling, because I’ve felt it too.

I’ve felt this punch in the gut whenever projects or new ventures didn’t go well.

I’ve given up, and felt the disappointment in myself.

And I’ve pushed through this discouragement, and felt so much better. Pushing through was always better.

So I’m here to talk about how I push past what Seth Godin calls The Dip — that slump that we all hit when things get hard, which is (sometimes) before the place where things get great.

How do we know if we’re in a slump or if we should just quit? We don’t. There’s no way to know the future. There are times when there are a bunch of good indicators that you should quit — customers aren’t responding, the market doesn’t support your work, there are better opportunities. But the feeling you have when you’re in a dip is not a good indicator that it’s time to quit.

The feeling wants you to quit, but often you shouldn’t. Because if you do, you’ll never get great at anything.

How to Push Through

What do you do if you’re demotivated and disappointed? If things aren’t going well and you want to give up because they’re so hard? When you’re confused and overwhelmed?

Push through.

This is the time when you can show yourself what you’re made of: you can brace yourself for a heavy load, put your head down, and push, like you’re trying to lift the barbell at the bottom of a heavy squat.

How do you push through when you don’t feel motivated?

You start moving. Take just one step, any step, a tiny step. Movement begets movement. Once you start moving, even a little, you feel better, you see that you’re capable, you want to move more.

You embrace the uncertainty and discomfort. Lots of people avoid these two things, but without them, you never get good at anything. You never learn anything worthwhile. Embrace these things and grow.

You do it not for success or some end goal, but for the sake of learning.

You do it because you’re tired of being in the pain of disappointment and regret. You want to get out of this dark hole, because staying in it sucks.

You start moving because you don’t want to let your life be ruled by fear. You don’t want to give up every time you face resistance.

You let yourself be moved by curiosity: wanting to know what it’s like to get past this, to push through discomfort. You want to find out how this chapter ends. You want to learn more about yourself.

You do it because you want to build trust in yourself, and you realize that there’s nothing more important right now than that.

You pause and remind yourself of the reason you started in the first place: it’s not for personal success but to help people, to strengthen yourself, to inspire others, to make someone’s life a little better, to put a smile on your face. And then you ask yourself: which is more important, this reason for doing this project, or your personal comfort? And you realize that your personal comfort matters little in this case.

You push through because every time you face uncertainty and discomfort in the future, you want to know you’re good enough to push through.

Take the first step right now, without thought, without hesitation. You have it in you.

Photo: a foggy morning in Kirkenes, Finland, which is near the northernmost area, well above the Arctic Circle.

When I wrote my blog post about the "breaking of my fever" I asked myself if I was only experiencing the rush of gender euphoria. You know, that feeling of infatuation for a new love where you're so enthralled with finding the perfect soul mate... and you've only known them for a week or two. So, if my enthusiasm has waned even a bit, does this mean my journey is starting in the wrong direction?

There are plenty of times when I reflect:

  • Am I merely finding joy in exploring a childhood fantasy?
  • Am I rationalizing or justifying my erotic desires?
  • My God, I have so much, a wonderful partner and we share a wonderful life. What if I hurt this irrevocably?
  • When I look back on this time am I going to have terrible regrets?

Sure, I should just check into that Mindful Meditation Zen place and focus on the now, let the future take care of itself. Easy to say, harder to do.

What to do? I recall Riley in the 20/20 show I posted about, the 11 year old transgirl. And the other girls there and in Just Gender. Let's face it, they're me and I'm them. But I also remember liking to play with slot cars, train sets, and building models of airplanes and ships. Maybe there's a happy medium for me in the gender spectrum. Probably is, I just need to find it.

In the meantime I need to stay the course. It's been too many years drifting without a compass, unbearably unhappy, wondering what the hell was wrong with me but deep down knowing. I guess we all experience ambivalence at times. It's part of life. As transgenderism is part of mine.

Emma

Photo: Took this shot of a giraffe in Zimbabwe, I think. When we first arrived in South Africa I was shooting everything that moved. After two weeks, not as many shots. "Oh yeah? Another giraffe? Okay, thanks. I'll continue reading my book."

The documentary Just Gender has a short clip from a Barbara Walters 20/20 episode titled "My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children." You can (and I believe should) watch it here:

One scene shows an 11-year old transgirl, Riley, with Barbara Walters. Riley is fully a girl on the outside and attends school as a girl although she must use the nurse's restroom. The school and students know she is biologically male and she is the brunt of childish teasing. When Barbara asks her how she feels when she's teased, her face crumples into such profound sadness and she starts crying. That touched me so deeply, from within my core. I just started crying too as I am starting to do now as I remember it.

Elsewhere in the program, Barbara interviews the parents and their trans daughter, Jazz. Jazz's mother said "all of the younger male-to-female younger transgender children are obsessed with mermaids." Geez, I was too. I studied them in the movies, books, and cartoons so thoroughly. I really wanted to be a mermaid.

While I found Just Gender to be extraordinary in its scope and depth, and I recommend it highly, this 20/20 program brought it all home for me. I really am transgender and always have been. It's not a phase, it's not sexual, it just is what it is, which is me.

It helps me to talk about these topics here and I hope it will help others, too. I considered sharing some of my other pre-pubescent fantasies here to underscore this but I think you get the point. I really wanted to be a girl.

Emma

Photo: Just outside Cape Town, South Africa is a marvelous bird sanctuary called World of Birds. It spans acres and has thousands of birds. It's fenced in with mesh (the height is maybe forty or fifty feet above the ground) so visitors just wander through. I don't know what this bird is called but it's very pretty, isn't it?

I found this poem in my father's papers a few years ago after he passed away. And I found it again yesterday as I was (finally!) going through everything, trying to tidy things up. The poem really touches my heart and I think it's perfect for us here.

Living the Dash

I read of a man who stood to speak

At the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on her tombstone

From the beginning... to the end.

He noted that first came her date of birth

And spoke the following date with tears.

But what he said mattered most of all

Was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time

That she spent alive on earth...

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;

The cars... the house... the cash.

What matters most is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...

Are there things you'd like to change?

For you never know how much time is left,

That can still be arranged.

If we could all just slow down enough

To consider what's true and real.

And always try to understand

The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,

And show appreciation more.

And love the people in our lives

Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,

And more often wear a smile.

Remembering that this special dash

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy's being read

With your life's actions to rehash...

Would you be proud of the things they say

About how you spent your dash?

Author Unknown

Photo: I like to have at least a small connection between the photo and the blog posting and I'm not sure I'm achieving that now. But I'm starting to run low on photos! Anyway, this is one I took on a Norwegian fjord several years ago. Besides the scenery, which is remarkable and awesome, I really liked the image of a single small boat with two people in such an immense space. I guess it's a bit like living the dash in that we do at times feel like we're pushing out into the unknown. Hopefully we have someone to share it with, like the pair in this boat.

"JUST GENDER tackles the all too often misunderstood world of transgender. The film explores the common myths and misunderstandings about transgendered people, as well as the confusion between sexual orientation and gender identity as reflected in the rigid binary view of the world generally held by society. JUST GENDER also touches on the discrimination, hardships and brutality resulting from those misconceptions and prejudices, including the numerous deaths caused by hate each year. Through the stories of transgender individuals and their spouses, friends, and allies, the film explores the confusion, the isolation, and the fear felt by many transgender persons. It also reveals their growing awareness and acceptance, and ultimately their joy in blossoming comfort as transgendered persons."

I learned about this movie/documentary recently in the Transgender section of the Huffington Post. (Which, by the way, is excellent.) And I watched it last night. About 90 minutes long, they address many issues and questions, with transmen and transwomen and other professionals as spokespeople, that I have, my wife has, and have been raised here and elsewhere. It was very well done and in my opinion valuable for anyone, TG or not, to watch. It does cost $9.95 but it's great that you can download it to your computer so you'll have it forever.

http://alivemindcinema.com/justgender/

It may be too soon to be sure but at least it feels that way. For the last 50 years I feel like I’ve had a fever that ranged from slightly above normal to scarlet, along with raging shame, depression, and self-loathing. I can’t fully express how weird it is to be writing this now with my head clear. I’m transgender, I know it, I love it, and I’m happy.

(Postscript edit: I heard from Monica that she thought I was actually recovering from a fever. No, I thought it was a handy metaphor for the feeling we all get when we know we're starting to get "better" if you know what I mean. Sorry if I caused any confusion!)

I found this video last night, where Laura Jane Grace (whom I admit I’d never heard of before) and others tell about their gender dysphoria:

http://www.huffingto..._n_6000588.html

It’s not like I’ve never heard this stuff before, those feelings of wanting to play with the girls, share in the expression of their girlhood. I know it about myself, remembering from about four or five that, like Laura said, “I was too young to know what it is, so it turns to shame. And if you were to express those feelings to someone else, you’d be shamed for it.” But hearing her say it in the video really spoke to me so that I feel like I really did hear it internally. It’s not BS, it’s not at all bad. It’s me.

Wow, what a beautiful day.

Love,

Emma

Photo: I found this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Osaka, Japan, that features Kobe beef cooked right in front of you, along with sake and other goodies. The name of the restaurant really caught my attention: "CowCow". I ate there a couple of times and the owner introduced me to sake that has tiny flakes of gold. But to see them you have to swish it around in the glass to stir them up.

My wife’s been out house-sitting for a couple of weeks, and will do so for another two weeks, so that’s provided me some space to explore myself. Most mornings I walk a couple of blocks to our local coffee shop before breakfast, buy a large cup, and return home to catch up on emails while enjoying the coffee. Now, though, I can add something feminine to my clothing which I like to do.

But I must not present anything girly on the outside. I know many of the people I run into and as we know, males simply do not even show a hint of lace, feminine color, or fabric not typically found in masculine clothing. I can consider, therefore, only wearing feminine clothing underneath my shirt and jeans. But it doesn’t end there.

I must not wear a bra. Even the slightest padding under a shirt and sweatshirt may very well show something unusual and remarkable that I’d have to answer for. And we know how bra straps show through outer clothing by tugging in around the back and sides.

I could just wear a pair of panties, sure. But darn it, it’s not enough! Even though no one will know I will know and I want to express myself even in a hidden yet sort of public way.

It’s getting chillier here these days, about 40-45 degrees in the morning, so it’s natural and comfortable to wear a sweatshirt or jacket over my T-shirt. And it’s cold enough for me to wear something under my jeans. I thus don a long-sleeved leotard and tights, and then everything goes on top. And yes, I wear socks as well since I can’t risk my pants leg riding up and showing (horrors!) what is obviously feminine fabric.

It feels good to do this. When I run into people I can’t help but imagine that they see something odd about me but they really do not. I’m warm and safe and I know that deep inside I’m expressing a part of myself that I always want to. It’s not erotic in the least. Just feels like I’m being hugged all over. And as I walk and encounter people I know that deep down I am me.

This posting was hard for me to write because I worry that some here will think it’s silly to wear dance clothing underneath. I guess so but I can tell you that back in the 60s and 70s I envied girls who wore leotards as tops. I guess that fell out of style but not for me.

Isn’t it kind of interesting that even wearing something as simple as this under so many layers can make one feel so good?

Sincerely,

Emma

Photo: I took this some months back on my iPhone. A pretty sunset in Cayucos, California.

Pablo Neruda

By EmmaSweet,

I receive a weekly email from Brain Pickings on Sunday mornings that often has inspirational vignettes. Today, they wrote, "Neruda relays an anecdote from his childhood that profoundly influenced not only his poetry but also his understanding of art and of life itself:"

One time, investigating in the backyard of our house in Temuco the tiny objects and minuscule beings of my world, I came upon a hole in one of the boards of the fence. I looked through the hole and saw a landscape like that behind our house, uncared for, and wild. I moved back a few steps, because I sensed vaguely that something was about to happen. All of a sudden a hand appeared – a tiny hand of a boy about my own age. By the time I came close again, the hand was gone, and in its place there was a marvelous white sheep.

The sheep’s wool was faded. Its wheels had escaped. All of this only made it more authentic. I had never seen such a wonderful sheep. I looked back through the hole, but the boy had disappeared. I went into the house and brought out a treasure of my own: a pinecone, opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored. I set it down in the same spot and went off with the sheep.

To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses – that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.

That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all of humanity is somehow together...

It won’t surprise you then that I attempted to give something resiny, earthlike, and fragrant in exchange for human brotherhood. Just as I once left the pinecone by the fence, I have since left my words on the door of so many people who were unknown to me, people in prison, or hunted, or alone.

This resonated with me and I think it relates to TG Guide. Our postings are like gifts of resiny pinecones, fragrant with perfume.

Sincerely,

Emma

Photo: I used to regularly go all over China on business trips, and once in a private dining room in Shenzhen the walls were covered in old photos like this one. I was mesmerized looking through windows into the past. I couldn't stop looking at this woman. She's so beautiful, so poised, and so pensive. What do you think she's thinking about?

One the high school classes I remember most fondly was entirely focused on reading. I took it as a senior because to get an A all one had to do was read at least 3,500 pages during the semester. I chose a book, the instructor okay'd it, I read it, reviewed it with her for about fifteen minutes, and voila! More pages added. No midterm, no final. Too cool for school. The class really changed my life as I learned how enjoyable it can be to read 500 to 1,000 page books.

If you've been following my blog postings you'll know that I've been pretty focused on finding and accepting myself. I find that when I read books my mind often opens me up to new inspirations and actions. A frustration is that although I may really enjoy the book, when I'm finished I have trouble recalling the details. I often re-read the really good ones, sometimes only a couple of pages a day, to savor the thoughts it brings up. Maybe you'll enjoy one or more of these and, I hope, will send suggestions for more.

Nonfiction

  • The Artists Way, Julia Cameron

When I was studying fingerstyle guitar my friend and teacher recommended this book to me. On Amazon they say it's "the seminal book on creativity." The target audience of the book is artists such as painters, writers, and musicians. But we're all creative and I think the book is applicable to all of us. Her suggestion for a daily one-two page "morning pages" is an activity that has helped me a lot, working things out of depression, stress, and shame, as well as times like now when I'm doing better.

  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, Brene Brown
  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene Brown

I wish I could tell Brene how much her books and writing have helped and taught me. She terms herself a "shame researcher." She wrote: "Shame loves secrecy and can't survive being shared." That one sentence may not have saved my life but it's certainly helped. She also explained to me the difference between guilt and shame. We feel guilt when we do something bad, and we feel shame when we are bad. It's an important distinction.

  • Fail Fast, Fail Often: How Losing Can Help You Win, Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz

I am also working on re-creating my professional-life and career, which is pretty hard after spending >35 years in a variety of companies but in generally the same line of business. This book is so perceptive and encouraging. It's one of those that I read slowly...

  • Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career, John Krumholtz and Al Levin

This book kind of ties things together for me. Taking chances, being vulnerable and open. Here's a real example about me: I am helping a friend who owns a small store with bookkeeping (mostly data entry) while he sorts out some problems in his life. This work is definitely not what I want to do when I grow up but I wanted to help a friend. But then we had problems with his computer so my friend called in another friend (who was unknown to me). We then started chatting and, lo and behold, the friend of a friend is very involved in a small local non-profit that needs new leadership. So far it sounds perfect and I have another interview next week!

Fiction

  • I Will Fear No Evil, Robert Heinlein

Well, it's a fun fantasy, isn't it? The idea of ones mind being transplanted into a beautiful woman's body. The book has mixed reviews and may not be one of his best but the fantasy has stuck with me all these years.

  • Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier

There was something magical about the way Ms. Chevalier created the character, her situation, and life in Vermeer's world. No, it's not TG at all. But I enjoyed it tremendously more than once.

  • Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier

Yes it was a movie, and a good one at that. I loved the book even more. Much more.

So, that's the abridged edition of my reading list. There's many more and I hope you enjoy these.

Sincerely,

Emma

P.S. I have to add one more: Enchiridion, by Epictetus. Here's a guy, born into slavery about AD 55. Because of his remarkable nature, he was allowed to attend lectures and trained to be a Stoic philosopher. Later, he was freed, and taught philosophy in Rome. By the way, I'm not advocating that we all be stoic and just somehow bury our feelings. I just liked what he wrote and imagining what life must have been like for him back then. What an amazing man.

Photo: This was taken in the Vigeland "installation" at Frogner Park, in Oslo, Norway. I'm not usually so taken by sculpture; this collection was amazing and touching. I chose this photo because it shows a man and woman, intertwined in a circle, as if continually flowing in and through each other. Seems inspirational to me.

Going Public

By EmmaSweet,

Yesterday morning when I first saw mention of Businessweek's publication "Tim Cook Speaks Up," I thought it was a bit anticlimactic. Most knew that he is gay. After all, he'd led Apple's contingent at the LGBTQ Pride Parade this year and even before that the word was pretty much out. But I was deeply moved by his words and the article. Not only was he stepping out as the CEO of the Fortune 1 company (as one writer described it today in the NYT). He was inclusive of all LGBTQ people. It's not just about him.

In today's NYT follow-up article ("The Coming Out of Apple's Chief Tim Cook: 'This Will Resonate'") I noted that he checked it out with Apple's board beforehand. I think that probably took more courage than even coming out in Businessweek. Sure, he's the CEO. But he reports to Apple's board and there's no doubt in my mind that those people are very strong minded and outspoken. And they are his peers.

Speaking of the Times, Charles M. Blow recently published "Up From Pain" there. Very tender description of what happened to him as a child and how he's finding himself as an adult. Just imagine what he's risking! Heck, he's a New York Times published writer. Unlike Mr. Cook I doubt Mr. Blow could afford losing his income should it come to that.

And then there's another that I found recently: Brynn Tannehill's "I Am Real," her keynote address to the 2014 TransPride Pittsburgh National Convention. She's amazing. Please, please, search for it and spend the twenty minutes watching it. It's that important.

And, there's Lynn Conway. If you haven't heard of her you owe it to yourself to visit and read her extensive writing on her MTF journey: http://ai.eecs.umich...way/conway.html What a pioneer, woman, and leader. I have to brag here: she accepted my LinkedIn request! I'm thrilled and grateful.

What about me? The other day I had this stream of consciousness that I sent to my wonderful therapist. Playing "what if" with yourself can encourage some creative thinking:

  • What if: I was always transgendered, that it's not a reaction to my mother's abuse?

Perhaps some of the abuse is real and some was in her own mind (e.g., the time I remember she told me that she'd spanked me so hard that she'd broken a vessel in her hand). Heck, maybe part of her issue was that I wasn't acting the role she expected.

  • What if: my shame is a learned expression – a useful excuse – for the outside world to rationalize my condition?

Might it then be a habit that can be unlearned? I do know that I use it at times as a way to gain some hugs and love from my wife. I appreciate her support a lot but at times I wonder if I only got what I needed because of some level of manipulation.

  • What if: I had expressed my desires to be a girl more definitely when I was young?

What if there's no answer to this?

  • What if: my recent weight loss and trimness is driven at least equally by my desires to express a more feminine image?

Because, it is.

  • What if: my desires for leotards and tights is more about the relative social acceptability of fetishes vs. my having a feminine expression?

Here again, it seems to me that it's more socially acceptable to have a fetish.

  • What if: I could feel love as if I were a woman and remain as I am?

Why not? How would that look and be?

  • What if: I could be fully accepting of myself as I am?

No more shame, just pride of being myself.

I feel sometimes a bit embarrassed that this is coming to a head for me at my age, as if it's "only" a mid-life crisis. I think it's more about the urgency of realizing that we only have so much time in this life. If not now, when? Lynn Conway wrote, "If you want to change the future, start living as if you're already there."

So yeah, I think I get it. The first step to going public is to fully love and accept myself, whatever that turns out to be. Then, review it with my board (my wife). And then just do it. At this moment in time it seems like the last step is the easiest and the first is the hardest. I'm way open to suggestions on the first one.

Happy Halloween!

Emma

Photo: This is a fun story. We were in Zimbabwe in an open-air safari four-wheel drive, when the guide/driver stopped in the dirt road, pointed up the hill, and said, "Up there, under the tree. There's a pride of lions." We couldn't see anything of the sort. Even with my telephoto lens, I simply could not find them. Patiently, the guide looked around, and then drove up the hill about a hundred yards to within 15-20 feet of a pride of a dozen lions, lionesses, and cubs. Wow. For tonight's festivities I'd like to be the lioness!

I want to know what my label is which I suppose can be interpreted to knowing my own identity. Perhaps that sounds strange to some. After all, I don't think anyone wants to be labeled by others. We (or at least, me) want to know what we are ourselves. What does it matter? I think it's so that as we progress through the day, interact with others, we know who we are in the world. And yes, I'm talking here about gender. For many, it's binary: male or female. We've all heard it before so why write about it here? Well heck, it's my blog! And maybe this will help me and others sort it out a little. You be the judge.

I think I remember the first time I read about "transvestites." I was in elementary school and thought maybe that's what I am. But I didn't like the label with its "tites" at the end. It sounds like some sort of disease to me. Sure, it's only a word, but I didn't like it even though it seemed to fit.

Then came "crossdresser." Good, it lost the "tite." But there was something I didn't like about it, I'm not sure what. Well, I guess I know. It's not that I only like to dress in feminine clothing. I also imagine myself to be and feel like the girl or woman. So, crossdresser is too limiting.

When I registered on TGGuide.com the other day I was asked to label myself. Let's look at those:

Not Telling

Okay, that one's obvious. I didn't want to select it since I would like to know too.

Transgender

This is the one I selected. But I'm not perfectly happy with it because it seems that common usage also includes transsexual within its scope and as far as I can tell (or admit?) I'm not transsexual. (Now there's another idea for a blog posting.)

Male, Female

These are obvious of course.

Androgynous

According to Google androgynous is partly male and partly female in appearance; of indeterminate sex. I don't think I fit this, which I think is a bit unfortunate. And, it's an adjective, not a noun, so is it even a label?

Intersex

In some ways I wish this were me. At least, then, I could point to my body parts and say "what the hell, it's how I was born!"

Other

Huh? I guess this is like undecided. It's cool for me if it's cool for you but not very descriptive, is it?

But this thought experiment enabled me to identify one of the things that's bothering me: objective vs. subjective. It seems to me that Male, Female, Intersex, and Transsexual are very objective. You are what you are, take it or leave it. Unless one falls into one of those buckets the label is subjective?

I seem to always be left with questions and here I am again. Perhaps the moral of this story is that I need to accept that there may very well be more colors in the rainbow than there are names. Diversity, yeah!

Best,

Emma

Photo: I took this photo of a meerkat in South Africa a couple of years ago. I like it that he stands up so forthright, keeping an eye out for his fellows. Consider all the names and labels he has: meerkat, mongoose, suricata suricatta, mammal, carnivore.

Two months after I graduated from college my mother committed suicide. In the middle of the night she'd driven off of a cliff south of Santa Cruz into the rocks and surf below. In many ways I was relieved but felt guilty for that. I felt I was supposed to cry and look bereaved so I did my best at her funeral and it seemed that everyone accepted my act.

As I was growing up she was often depressed, sometimes unable to get out of bed. She was hospitalized several times, took antidepressants, and had electroshock therapy. And she had many conversations with me over the years as if I was her therapist. I am an only child so I was kind of locked up with her, too. Clearly, she had her own issues. Competition with her brother for her father's love. Measuring up to her mother's standards and expectations.

When I was six or seven I found a paddle in our laundry room cabinet, neatly placed on a shelf. It was from one of those child's paddle and ball sets that has a rubber band to bounce back and forth. No ball, no rubber band, just the paddle with the little staple still stuck in the middle surface. I asked her why it was there.

"It's for spanking you, if I need it," she said.

"Why?"

She looked at the palm of her hand and said, "I broke a blood vessel once spanking you. It hurt a lot and I don't want that again."

I stared at the staple, wondering what I could have possibly done to deserve such a spanking. And, wondering if she'd be flip the paddle away from the staple if she spanked me with it since otherwise it might cut my bottom. I put it back on the shelf and am happy to say that I don't recall her ever using it on me. I really did try to be good.

But inside I knew I was wrong and bad. I wanted to be a girl and every night went to sleep fantasizing about being taken away to become one, or having my mother buy me a dress or dance clothing, or... And I kept all of this carefully locked away. My ugly secret that I absolutely could not confide in anyone.

Which, no doubt, leads to resentment, lots of hurt and shame, and depression. Thoughts of suicide, certainly. But I'm not writing this looking for pity or something. In some ways I don't even know why I'm writing it!

In my twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties, I've seen a lot of therapists myself. Taken antidepressants too. For the last couple of years I've been seeing a therapist who's been terrific. I love his affirmations and understanding. He's not like so many others who simply echo what you say or say something stupid like, "how does that make you feel?" And my wife started attending the meetings too. It's so hard for me to express what's going on for me to her without having a coach in the room. Wisely, he stays unbiased - he's helping us both. So I've come out pretty darned fully to both of them.

My wife's always been steadfastly against any of this stuff. But hey, she has her own physical issues that she didn't choose. So when she understood that my feelings and desires emerged before elementary school she realized that, like her, I am what I am.

But I do still get depressed especially when I detect (rightly or more likely, wrongly) that my wife's unhappy with me. About a month ago I pulled my Prius up to a railroad crossing just as the arms descended. We'd had dinner out and I was alone in my car, driving home. I came very close to simply driving through the barrier and waiting on the tracks. It seemed like I had a long time to think about it, how easy yet terrifying it would be. I wondered if the train could possibly be moving so fast that it would actually do me in. Or more likely, how it would leave my Prius torn up with glass all over, me inside. Big deal, who really cares. I'm tired of all this crap. It weighs heavily at times. The train came past in an incredible rush, and I knew that yes, it would have destroyed me.

I was pretty shaken up for a couple of days. Like I might have suffered from some sort of stress disorder. But I came out of it and told my therapist. Here again, he's pretty cool. I worried that he might have me committed or something. Instead, he told me that he saw how serious this all is for me. I wonder if that's more manipulation on my part. But then again it was pure happenstance that I was at that railroad crossing at that time, and I felt what I felt. So I think I was being true to myself and to him.

These days I'm doing pretty well. I continue to see the therapist both by myself and with my wife. I really wish my wife and I could make progress faster (which means that we'd be able to talk more openly with each other) and I get impatient. I get frustrated and short with her at times, which I regret. I'm trying very hard to figure out who and what I am and then to be that person.

Best,

Emma

Photo: I took this about fifteen years ago. We'd left a B & B and were driving north toward Paris. I noticed this scene outside my window and very nearly drove on. Like so many times before, drive on and then wish I'd taken the five minutes to stop and take the photo. This time I pulled over and walked back, and I'm glad I did.

Nom de Femme

By EmmaSweet,

When I wrote my first post yesterday I couldn't imagine what else I might write about. Since then my mind's been churning out ideas left and right that I hope people here will enjoy and/or find informative. We'll see. Today I'm writing about how I came up with my female name.

The first name I chose for myself turned out to be my wife's middle name. I'll keep that one private for now in case I ever introduce her to this blog. Understandably, she's very apprehensive about posting things in public forums that might get back to us. Anyway, I never told her my original name because I didn't want to load her feelings up about her own middle name. I didn't think that would be fair.

But my last name has always been "Sweet." Whenever I've thought of myself as female, that's what I've wanted to be: sweet. For me that encapsulates so much feeling, images, and how I'd like to be treated. So it was a good fit.

How about "Emma?" Where'd I come up with that, you ask? In many ways I'd be perfectly happy with any female name but when I was considering what to call myself I had some thoughts:

- I wanted it to end with an "a";

- I wanted it to be short and, well, sweet;

- I wanted it to be unambiguously feminine.

Emma came to mind and I knew it was right for me. And it was icing on the cake that it's the first name of Mrs. Emma Peale, whom I envied so much in The Avengers way back when. (Wasn't she fantastic?)

So, Emma Sweet it is.

Best,

Emma

Photo: I also think it'll be fun to include photos that I've taken. This one was in a Norway fjord where we were on a small boat out looking for eagles. The guides were throwing out chum to attract eagles and these seagulls came alongside and this is one of the photos I took.

Hello Friends

By EmmaSweet,

Hello everyone,

Wow, this is both exciting and a bit intimidating. First and foremost it's so fun to see my "nom de femme" in such a distinguished forum. But now that it's there, what shall I write about? I suppose my first inclination was to write some sort of diary. Honestly, I'll bet that won't be that interesting. And too, I'm a little wary of overcommitting. Let me provide a short biopic and see what comes up. Let me know if you have questions or comments and we'll see if we establish some sort of back and forth communication. I do hope so and look forward to meeting you, if only on-line.

I'm way past fifty years of age and since I was about three or four felt that I was missing something substantial by not being born female. I wasn't sure what it was exactly but I wanted to be a girl. In and of itself, no big deal, especially these days. But for some reason I was certain that these feelings and desires were Wrong with a capital W, and would remain cloistered within my brain. I was deeply ashamed about my desires and inclinations, and the shame has only grown over the last half century.

While I've had a good professional career I blame my shame for limiting my progression in responsibility, titles, and pay. Maybe I was too feeling, too sensitive, too much showing my underbelly of vulnerability. Or maybe I reached the level of my incompetence. Regardless, the shame has caused a lot of depression and suicidal thoughts over the years. I've tried to address those through many meetings with a variety of therapists and psychologists, couch time and prescriptions. But here again, my shame prevented me from even opening up to these well-meaning people in a meaningful way.

I have been married twice and we celebrated our almost twenty year anniversary a month ago. We love each other deeply and are best friends. I don't want to spend my life with anyone else. But our bedroom fun kind of evaporated in recent years and understandably, we tried to figure it out - without my disclosing (again) my deepest transgender feelings. A couple of years ago I started seeing yet another therapist. In a word, he's fantastic. But also, I decided that screw it, I wasn't going to let my shame get me down. I was going to come out with it, come hell or high water.

Over time (months) I have done so and he's been sincerely supportive. I'm so grateful for his help. And we've been meeting with my wife, too, and she's learning that hey, this is what I am. It's not some sexual fantasy or diversion. Whatever it is, it's part of me, and if she loves me (which she does) then maybe my transgender-ness contributes in a positive way to making me the person she loves so much.

At the moment I'm trying to accept myself too, to see myself in my entirety, and see myself as good and loving, and worth loving. Some days it's easy, and other days it's not. Go figure!

Sincerely,

Emma

Photo: A few years ago I was in Tel Aviv, Israel, on a business trip. We had some time to kill and walked around some building/monastery (not sure) near the Mediterranean and this kitty really caught my eye. I'm not sure but I think it's female, don't you? ;-)