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Everything posted by Chrissy

  1. There is also the Silvia Rivera Law Project - www.slrp.org
  2. Chrissy

    Bringing my life together

    Last Friday I was having lunch with a friend from school - he and I were at the same field placement last year and got into the habit of going to Taco Bell for lunch every Wednesday, we've moved the day around but have continued the practice. I would say he's the best friend that I've made so far in school, we always have great conversations - if neither of us have anything else scheduled our lunches often turn into all afternoon things (we don't stay at Taco Bell the whole time, we walk around). Anyway - last week we were talking about the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual - a guidebook for mental health diagnoses) and Gender Dysphoria vs. Depression. We were in pretty complete agreement on the topic (see below), but I was still getting a bit energized by the topic. As I was talking at one point I noticed that he was smiling - when I finished my thought he said "I really like this side of you." The "side" he's talking about is basically the activist side (the thought I was on was something critical of the DSM). Later that evening I texted him to specifically thank him for that segment of our conversation - I like all of our conversations, but that one in particular helped me connect some dots that had been wandering around loose. Along with the general thank you and explanation I mentioned that it was an area that brought together my personal, professional, and activist life, which I really liked. It then occurred to me that that happens a lot now. For example, when I was at the Trans Health Conference a few weeks ago, that whole few days were about all of those parts of my life. But in school, at my internship, and in other places I feel like my personal, professional and activist lives are all coming together. This is compared to say 5 years ago when my professional life was a job I hated, my personal life was virtually non-existent, and my activist life was completely non-existent. The reason for bringing this up in a post is that all of this is a result of coming out and transitioning for me. We talk about being "authentic," which is what I think is one of the most important aspects of coming out (and transitioning if that's what you do), and this reflects on what being authentic has meant for me. Side note about Gender Dysphoria and the DSM - Gender Dysphoria (GD) is a step in the right direction for the DSM, away from Gender Identity Disorder (GID). With GID they were basically pathologizing being transgender (the diagnosis just called for the person experiencing a dissonance between the gender they were identified with at birth and their experienced gender - it didn't matter if that dissonance had any negative effect on them). GD requires the presence of the dissonance, but is only diagnosed if it causes some problem in the person's overall functioning. So that's a good step, but my criticism of it is that it seemingly disregards the impact of bigotry on the person. There are passing references to this, but it doesn't seem that important that much of the dysfunction that can result from being transgender is in response to how it is perceived, and often stigmatized by others. So it's virtually (but not quite) pathologizing a perfectly reasonable response to bigotry. The question I've asked people is, if transphobia dissappeared tomorrow, would GD still be a problem? I think it would, but a much much more manageable problem - someone saying that they're transgender would be greeted with "ok, so what do you want to do?" That could still be a difficult question, but easier to deal with if you weren't also facing rejection from family, friends, and society as a whole. Ok, I'm done :-) xoxo Chrissy
  3. Chrissy

    Hurry Up and Wait

    Same here, I've never been a big chat room person (I think I've looked into the chat rooms here once or twice, and very briefly both times - possibly because nobody was there)
  4. Chrissy


    I did change my gender marker pre-surgery on everything except my birth certificate (NJ requires bottom surgery before you can change that, but that should change next year when we lose our current pathetic governor). Another consideration for a lot of people is access to surgery, not everyone has the resources to get them done.
  5. Chrissy

    Power Struggle

    I remember after Sandy my power was out for about a week, and the most frustrating thing was seeing that it was coming on near me, but I went another couple of days without 😞 Not a fun experience!
  6. Hi all, So I anticipated being more detailed, but that wasn't really very practical in this setting :-) Suffice to say I really enjoyed the conference and got a lot out of it. In some cases it was learning that I already a fair amount of what they were talking about, which is always nice, but I definitely learned a few new things. The only downside was one of the last panels I attended - "White Supremacy in Trans Relationships." The title probably should have been a warning - the fact that they used "white supremacy" instead of "white privilege" definitely reflected the views of the moderators, there was a good amount of hate going on and attempts at shaming. I plan to write to the conference organizers about it - I have no issue with being made uncomfortable about my white identity, but I don't think it should have happened at this conference and certainly not in the way it happened. This conference is about community in our gender identity, it's not right to shame people about other parts of their identity - not here. Otherwise everything was great! I had dinner with a couple of friends from NYC on Friday night - they had gone down on Friday, but I had just finished 2 full days. I commented at one point that "I had never had to be transgender for so long before" - I meant it to be humorous by with a point too. I was feel good about the conference but also pretty exhausted, and I think part of that is that I really don't activate that part of my identity for such long periods at a time on a regular basis. It's fine, I survived, but it was an interesting learning experience. Maybe the biggest thing I discovered - about myself that is - compared to when I attended last year is that I'm so much more comfortable about who I am now than I was back then. xoxo Chrissy
  7. So day 1 is done - such a long day! I volunteered to help with set up, so I was there starting at 6 a.m. But all totally worth it :-) On a matter of personal achievement first - during one of the panels I actually spoke during the Q&A. Perhaps seems small, but 3 or 4 years ago there's no way I would have done that - it was a fairly large room with about 50-60 people. No way. So that's a nice sign of what transitioning has done for me :-) The most interesting/controversial part was a lecture on "The Biology of Gender." It was a single presenter discussing the science and theories behind gender identity and gender variation. During the Q&A several people criticized it from the perspective that it was very binary - and he generally agreed (that the research itself tends to be biased in favor of the binary). Fair enough. However, I think this is an area where science and culture get conflated sometimes. Leaving aside the terms "sex" and "gender" for a moment - in my view there are 2 things going on: (1) there is what we are born, physiologically, biologically, neurologically, etc., and (2) there is the social construct that got built on top of that - sometimes with some basis, usually not. Regarding #1, I think we all exist on a spectrum from male to female - some in between, some "mixed" at birth (at least I think that's the prevalent theory about being transgender - genitalia developed one way, the brain the other). I also think that most reputable scientists - although they shorthand it as "male or female" - acknowledge that it's a spectrum and not a binary (they don't, for example, deny the existence of intersex individuals). Anyway - I'm not sure why I just started that, but curious if others have thoughts :-) xoxo Chrissy
  8. Chrissy

    Ignorance on Display

    Wow, "genital mutilation." What does one say? My GCS surgeon was on a panel I saw yesterday and my thought was "she's the person who made me (physically) right." Far cry from "mutilation" ☺ I'm not surprised on the sexual orientation part, even LG people seem to often have a problem knowing the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.
  9. Chrissy


    Karen, I'm so sorry to hear that - hopefully they'll both be fine, but it's still a difficult process to go through :-( And great point about getting checked! I've been more assertive about talking with my doctor and endocrinologist to understand what things I need to be watching for that I might not have before (of course that's also part of getting older - but never mind that!!!) xoxo Chrissy
  10. I arrived in Philadelphia today - the conference starts early tomorrow so I decided to get down here a day early. I got a hotel at a decent rate and it's about 1/2 block from the Convention Center! Anyway - last year I did the free version of the conference, this year I paid for the professional track (for a student it was $85). The tough part is deciding what to go to! Initially I went through the schedule and just put everything I was interested in on my calendar. Then earlier this week I went through to pick which ones to actually attend - that was the hard part! I gave 1st priority to Behavioral Health panels, since that is the professional track I'm on. Then I leaned towards panels covering topics around F2M and gender non-confirming individuals, since I have decidedly less experience there. Of course this is a mixed things for me - personal and professional, so I don't want to forget the personal side :-) I'm volunteering in the morning - helping with set up, so it will be a long day, but worthwhile! I'll post more tomorrow after Day 1. xoxo Chrissy
  11. Chrissy


    I suspect you will have "typical" days again, they'll just be a different "typical" 😛 Xoxo Chrissy
  12. Chrissy


    Michelle, Congrats on the job! It sounds challenging, working with kids in a detention setting, but possibly very rewarding. Anyone who has been exposed to the criminal "justice" system is going to have a rough time, they need all the support they can get if they're going to have any chance after. And congrats on growing into Michelle ☺ I definitely know what you mean about there being no going back! It is sad that it's connected to your wife passing - that seems like it would be very bittersweet - but you have to keep doing what you need and want. Xoxo Chrissy
  13. Chrissy

    Makeup Kits

    Personally, when I started out I found videos by Stephanie Lange on YouTube (she's Australian, now based in Ireland). These aren't specifically for trans people, but I found her easy to follow (I mainly found her because I have "hooded eyes," and she's done a number of videos on that specifically. If it's a possibility (and I know it's not always), ask female friends (trans or cis). I was fortunate that I have a good friend who is obsessed with make-up. I think when I came out as trans to her all she heard was "make-up shopping buddy!" It was a little hard at first - she knows it all so well and I barely knew the basics, but over time I picked it up :-) Beyond that, it just takes experimenting and practice! I've found that the brands at drugstores and such is perfectly fine, especially if that's where your budget it (as mine is! I'd love to go to Sephora, but I can't afford it).
  14. Chrissy

    Two moments out of my week

    Karen, That's so great! I know that it's best to not live for external validation, but it's always nice - really nice ☺ I also like the sense from the first "moment" of simply feeling comfortable with another woman. I've gotten closer to one of the (female) bartenders at the jazz bar I go to. The other night I was leaving when she did and so we stopped outside to chat - that went on for about 1/2 hour - mainly about the jazz band members from that night (a little about their musical ability, but mostly other stuff 😛) Xoxo Chrissy
  15. Chrissy

    Hillary's story resonates

    Hi all, I've read a few articles about part of Hillary Clinton's upcoming book (which I just pre-ordered! I can't wait to read it, and I don't usually read books by politicians). This was specifically about the debate in which Trump kept wandering around the stage and seemingly (not seemingly, he was) stalking her. She spoke about how creepy it was (it really was, even watching him do it was creepy) and how she continues to second-guess the fact that she didn't say anything to him right then and there. An op-ed in the Times talks about how common an experience that is for women in many settings (ok, for most of us it's not in the context of a Presidential debate) - both the experience of men trying to intimidate through stalking behavior, and the thought process that we go through when it happens - do I do something? do I just ignore it? How will I be perceived if I say something? This writer suggested - I think accurately - that there probably wouldn't have been any political benefit to Hillary challenging him. Anyone who would have viewed that positively was probably already supporting her, the others would have just kept talking about how "shrill" she is. I was thinking about this in the context of my own - transgender - experience. First, with respect to Hillary, I'm not sure how I would have felt about it if I was still living as a man and she had spoken back - I'd like to think I would have been supportive of her, and I think I would have, but I wouldn't have totally understood what she was experiencing and why she was reacting. For that to happen I had to be living as a woman. In the couple of years that I've been living openly as a woman I've had several experiences that, while not the same as what she went through, are similar. These were basically situations in which men, strangers on the street (or in a bus in one case) got overly assertive - they approached me with whatever intention they had and didn't back down despite my clear lack of interest. In all cases nothing ended up happening, I was able to walk away from it and they eventually did give up - but while it was happening I went through that same thought process, do I say something? Do I just ignore it? Like I said, nothing ended up happening - but because of these incidents I've had to adjust certain things. In one case it caused me to adjust the route I take going to and from the PATH station (because he works at a parking garage that's along the route I used to take), and in another how I choose seating on public transit (I stay close to the front of the bus, in an aisle seat). In another case there's really not much I can do, it was someone who aggressively approached me in a supermarket - short of changing stores, there isn't much to do. These aren't major life adjustments, but it's an indicator of ongoing sexism that I have to do them - men don't (that probably isn't 100% true, but much more often than not men don't find themselves in similar situations). I have thought about self-defense classes, I should continue to look into that. I'm curious about what experiences others have had and what steps they've taken? Chrissy
  16. Chrissy

    I've Always Had Terrible Handwriting

    Emma, That's all so wonderful I find too that being correctly gendered still makes me very happy (I do think that having recently stopped wearing a wig kicked that back up again, but I never stopped enjoying it). I feel like voice trainers have some deal with ENT specialists, mine did the same thing! And I also got a clean bill of health. Perhaps that's just cynical, it probably is a good idea, just seems suspicious Enjoy your ongoing "space trip"!!! xoxo Chrissy
  17. Hi everyone, There was recently, as part of a discussion in another Forum, some talk about mental health professionals. I thought it was worth putting this out as a separate Forum post, to give people an opportunity to talk about their own experiences working with mental health professionals and what they think is (or isn't) important in looking for one. The information I'm discussing below is specific to the U.S., so there will likely be differences in other countries (it also may at time be specific to New York - so my apologies if I get parochial at all). It's important to know that in most places you don't need any formal training or licensing to call yourself a "therapist." So if you want to make sure you are going to someone who is properly trained and licensed (and licensing does provide some assurance that the person is responsible for following ethical guidelines, and that they will be properly trained and insured), you should also check the person's credentials (which shouldn't be hidden from view!). Therapy in the U.S. can be done by psychiatrists (who are medically trained), psychologists, social workers, mental health counselors and (other thoughts?). These are all trained, licensed professions (a social worker for example would have an LMSW and possibly LCSW license). To be licensed you have to complete a certain level of approved education, pass a licensing exam and meet other licensing requirements. Typically you also, initially, have to work under another person's supervision and have proper insurance. When it comes to cost, social workers and mental health counselors are typically going to cost less than psychiatrists and psychologists. Any of these can be properly trained to work with transgender issues - it's important to look to see if they have that training and/or have worked successfully with clients who are transgender. Another consideration is that, depending on what kind of medical transitioning you are thinking about, you'll probably need letters from mental health professionals to do that. It's a good idea to check your insurance (or medicaid, etc.) and/or the doctors you're thinking about working with to see what exactly they'll require (doctors usually just need whatever the insurance company requires). In my case, to get HRT I needed a therapy letter, and one from the mental health counselor I was seeing was sufficient. For my GCS I got a letter from my therapist (a mental health counselor) and had to get at least one from a Ph.D. level professional (a psychiatrist or psychologist). I was referred to a psychologist who met with me for one (90 minute) session and provided the letter (since I had one from my therapist already, he didn't require a lengthy process to provide the 2nd). Personally I've worked with 2 therapists in the time since I came out and transitioned, the first was a social worker, the second was a mental health counselor (I had to stop going to the first because he stopped taking my insurance). Both for fully qualified to work with transgender issues. One way of confirming that kind of thing also is to see if there are any mental health organizations in your area that make referrals - both of my therapists were affiliated with the Institute for Human Identity in NYC. So other thoughts on this topic?
  18. Hi all, On September 7-9, 2017 in Philadelphia they are holding the 16th Annual Trans Health Conference. I attended for the first time last year, but it was well worth the trip (from NYC, so not the longest of trips, but still). I did the general admission last year (which is free), and it was worth the time. This year I'm doing the professional track (which was $85 for a student), so I have a lot more options of presentations. There are 2 professionals with whom I've worked who are doing presentations (the person I went to for voice training, and the surgeon who did my GCS). Marci Bowers is also doing a couple of presentations. I'd strongly recommend it for anyone who can get to Philadelphia and has the time! https://www.mazzonicenter.org/trans-health Chrissy
  19. Emma, Thanks for sharing that! Yes, relationship is vital to any therapy working. I went to one therapist where we clearly didn't click, I stopped after 3 sessions. You need to feel comfortable sharing everything with the person. And you made a really great point about experience - having specific experience working with trans clients isn't necessary, a good therapist can work with almost any population, they'll learn from you and through research. Chrissy
  20. Chrissy

    Transition Anniversary

    Hi all, I just wanted to do a quick post, yesterday was "officially" my 2 year anniversary of transitioning. I arguably started before that, but August 10, 2015 is when I began "presenting full-time" as a woman, and I haven't looked back :-) It was shortly (like days) after that I started on HRT. It's also now been almost a year since my breast augmentation surgery. When I look back, especially in the approach to my GCS (in December last year) I remember thinking about whether or not I would regret it. I really didn't believe I would, I think it was just that even the remotest possibility of that could have been devastating (since GCS is, for all practical purposes, irreversible). I haven't spend even a short moment of regret, so that fear didn't come to pass. The only moment that was even like it (but wasn't regret) was after 2 days of bed rest after surgery when I first had to stand up - it was such a weird, disorienting, uncomfortable feeling that I remembered wondering why I would have done this to myself - but that was just a response to how I felt at the moment, it wasn't a regret about what the surgery was for. I think the key for me to not being in a position where I would regret anything was that I took my time. It may not seem like it, given how much happened in just 2 years (and I recognize that objectively that is a pretty quick transition time), but when you're actually living it day to day, it's a pretty long time. But the process also mattered - at each point I took a small step, I figured out how I felt about it, and if it felt right, I took the next small step. I didn't try to immerse myself in living as a woman (not that that can't be the right approach for others, but this is what worked for me). The first few steps were in simpler acts of feminizing my look, until it drifted to a point where I had to go full on. Even then I was fortunate to have a friend who did a drag show and she let me guest perform, which gave me a "safe" place to present as a woman in front of a bunch of people. I did that quite a few times (she was really amazing, she pretty much let me guest perform whenever I wanted, I give her so much credit for helping me through the transition process). Each step not only felt right, but it felt like it wasn't enough, so moving on to the next step was easy, even necessary. I recall at an early early part of the process a good friend asked if I thought I would get "bottom surgery," and I said, totally sincerely, "probably not." I meant it completely at the time, but through the process that I went through I came to realize that it was something I wanted. One important thing that I've learned (or at least tried to learn) over time is to be aware of my privilege. I'm not Caitlyn Jenner, I'm not a rich white woman who could basically disappear and then re-emerge a few months later as a woman - I had to do it in real life, I had to transition while going to work, while riding the subway, while grocery shopping, etc. But still, I was fortunate to have insurance that covered most of the expenses (and the benefit of working in New York, where insurance companies are required to cover transition expenses). I also had a job that was not only ok with my transition, I think they really liked that I was doing it. And I was especially privileged in having close friends who were totally supportive and helped in so many ways as I worked through the process (especially my friend who was thrilled to have a new make-up shopping buddy and to share her knowledge of doing make-up). I'm also fortunate to have this website and the collective experience of everyone on it! There are so many people who don't have that kind of access and that kind of support - so I'm always looking for ways to help out (not financially unfortunately, being a full time college student doesn't leave me with much - any - discretionary spending money). Ways to be supportive individually, and ways to advocate more publicly for changes that will benefit transgender people with less resources (right now we have to fight Trump to just not lose ground - but there's always room for improvement). So that's all I have for this anniversary edition :-) xoxo Chrissy
  21. Chrissy

    Transition Anniversary

    bluemoon, Thanks for your comment! I have to admit that although I do think about gender nonbinary and gender nonconforming individuals and issues, I don't end up saying much about it - part of that is because I consider it something that I'm still learning, part of it is based on where I am in terms of transitioning. Having lived for 49 years (more or less - a little less actually) as a "man," and only now living as a woman, I admittedly don't like to let go of all gender norms. When it comes to clothing in particular I'm more likely to use male and female references because I finally get to wear the women's clothing that I feel I should have been all my life! But it is problematic to use gender references when it comes to clothing, people should be perfectly free to wear what they want without thinking about whether or not it fits their gender. So it's something I'm working on :-) Chrissy
  22. Chrissy

    Transition Anniversary

    Emma, It's funny you mentioned that about the jeans - recently I was having lunch with a male friend who said that a girl he dated pointed out that he had women's jeans on. He seemed ok with that idea, but wasn't positive - the first question I asked about them (he wasn't wearing them at that moment) was "do they have essentially useless pockets?" (they did, so yes, they were women's jeans). I learned that it's both that the pockets are smaller, and the jeans are partly made of spandex, so they pull in (which means if your keys will fit, they'll hurt because they're being pulled into your leg). Something else re timing that I didn't think about before - I was kind of ready to start transitioning around April or May of that year (2015), but I was working at a school and I did a lot of exam proctoring. Since exams were about to happen, I didn't want the first time students (at least the ones who knew me) seeing me as a woman to be when they're about to take a final exam, so I waited until the semester and exams were done. The nice part was that meant that the students were gone, faculty was gone, and staff were on and off vacation - so I had a couple of months to get used to presenting as a woman at a pretty empty school. So by late August when classes started again I was much more comfortable. xoxo Chrissy
  23. Chrissy

    IN which Bree whines about medical things.

    Brew, I've experienced acid reflux, still do, it's not fun! The steps you're taking sound good! I also found that stopping eating earlier (several hours before bed) helps, and Prilosec (though that isn't a great long term solution). Over time I've also figured out, and try to avoid, foods that I know will trigger it (sadly that includes ice cream). Good luck with your efforts! Chrissy
  24. She's never been a good role model for transgender people, I gave upon her long ago
  25. Chrissy

    senior adults

    I think Emma is correct that it mainly depends on where it is and what laws exist in that area. Another consideration though are medical ethics - if the person is not receiving proper treatment because of their gender identity the ethics of the staff can be called into question. That would be a matter to raise with the medical board in that state.