Happy Holiday Season 2015/2016!

I wish a happy Holiday season to my wonderful friends and the readers of this blog with whom I am not friends yet, but maybe will be one day.

As for me, I’m having a happy Holiday season too. I was recently describing how happy I am nowadays, in a conversation with a friend. I made some or other comment to the effect that it sure is nice to be rich.

Then I stopped, and thought about it, and felt a little ridiculous. Financially, that’s the last word that should be used to describe me. I live in a humble apartment that was built in 1937 in Nevada. By Nevada standards, that’s sort of like a British building that was build in the year 800 or so. When this building was built, Christopher Lloyd, the actor who played “Doc Brown” in the Back to Future movies, hadn’t even been born yet. The rent is $500 and sometimes it’s a struggle for me to pay it on time.

ggg2015-12-27 17.04.03

Here’s I am by my front door. And yes, that IS a pink cowgirl hat, and yes, I DO wear it to protect myself from the sun.

Depending on which car starts that day, my daily driver is either a 26-year old BMW with a driver side door that doesn’t lock or even have door paneling any more, or a 24-year-old Volvo 240 wagon that until recently didn’t have a back window, and whose heater is stuck to “ON” with the fan always “ON” too. And yet, I’m happy with what I drive.

I have a lot of business debt, and both of my main businesses are struggling, albeit valiantly. Each of them might be on the verge of a breakthrough — which is what I’ve said about pretty much every business I ever founded until the day I had to shut it down … but still. Hope springs eternal.

I’m a happy girl. I’m living as who I am, with integrity, and consistent with my own values. I feel healthy and happy. A few years ago, I stopped hating myself for having been born a trans girl. Then, I started seeing some benefits to offset the drawbacks. And now, I’m just happy with who I am.

ggg2015-12-27 17.03.24

Because I live in Nevada, the Holiday Season celebrations start on Nevada Day, which was October 30th in 2015. Then Halloween, and then Walgreens removes the ghost costumes and its decor becomes a cheerful orange-and-tan. Yay for Thanksgiving … but don’t stop celebrating because soon it’s December 6th so it’s Hanukkah. Yes indeedy, some of my best friends are Jewish so yay for Hanukkah!

Then there’s just enough time to take a deep breath because, oh wow, it’s Winter Solstice (December 22nd) and the festivities keep roaring along with a peak on Christmas Day and another one on New Year’s Eve. Because January 1st is a Friday, hey, then it’s weekend anyhoo, so let’s have some more fun. By January 4th, I suspect that normal life will resume again, almost as a relief, with Las Vegas and Reno casino-and-hotel staff all sleep-deprived, and everyone else wondering why normal life actually feels so abnormal after two months of revelry.

By then the darkest and would-be-miserable days of winter are a distant memory and we’re already starting to notice the days getting longer, when we’re not to busy looking at the ski reports as to fresh powder and snow-pack in the Sierras.

Life is good. Am I concerned about all the troubles in the world? Actually, yes. But now my personal miseries about being a trans girl are no longer part of my burden. I can look at the world as a happy, integrated human being and deal with its issues.

Advertisements

For a Happy Holiday Season, Avoid Jerks in your Family

gg2015-12-14 19.19.10

Holiday times are, ironically, misery for many t-girls. Not me, but I write today to inspire those who are still struggling with the issue.

A typical pattern is that there’s a big family gathering. The t-girl is there too, feeling awkward. Some of the teenage boys band together and snicker, smirk, make remarks and are generally rude to her. The senior members of the family have a sort of bland patronizing and slightly bemused attitude about the t-girl being a t-girl, and the boys being assholes. As the general people talk to her or about her, they use her old name or refer to her with male pronouns. Some smirk, some manage not to, but it’s all tense and awkward. The t-girl hates every moment of being there and wishes she’d stayed home. The next year, she does want to stay home but a parent pressures her to go, by saying “it’s family” as if that’s some magic incantation. Actually, it IS. It gets her to go, and the cycle repeats itself.

How I deal with things like this? I make sure I have my own logical house in order and I can articulate the issues. Then, if someone treats me in a way I consider inappropriate, I call them out on it gently but candidly, and if there’s anything to debate then I take them on. It might seem scary but it’s not.

After I just came out as a t-girl, and I felt and looked awkward, I was walking into a Walgreens in Reno when some nearby teenage guys figured out I’m a t-girl and they stood snickering and making remarks. So, I stopped, turned, walked towards them and engaged them in a candid shakedown of their assumptions. By the time I walked away, they were no longer misbehaving and they’d probably learned something too.

I know t-girl issues way better than clueless hostile folks do so in any debate, the odds are that I’ll do just fine.

After the conversation, assuming I’ve explained things and they understand, or had every opportunity to do so, if someone is still unreasonable then they have no excuse any more. Now they’re not ignorant, they’re unreasonable.

I can’t make them change but I don’t have to put up with it. I stop associating with them. If they’re hosting an event, I decline to attend. If their presence at an event would make it a net negative for me, then I don’t attend and I make it clear as to why. I might even then host my own event, and invite those who are reasonable towards me. This all takes some fortitude but it’s worth it. And even if I’m the only person present at my Christmas party, then it’s a party with 100% reasonable people and t-girl friendly people present, and I can enjoy it as who I truly am.

Often, making this sort of stand has good consequences. Self-respect, for one.

Those who initially were resistant might just come around. For example, I have a close friend about 30 years my senior, who lives in Sunnyvale, CA. For many years, he was a father figure to me and we became more and more close, but this was with me trying to live in a male role albeit with all the personality and character traits that make me who I am — me, the me with a female brain structure, regardless of gender roles.

So, he liked me and grew to love me as a person and he informally adopted me and signed his emails “Love, Dad.” After I came out to him as a t-girl, I explained the issues to him in person, carefully and nicely. He said he understood the logic but emotionally he couldn’t accept it (whatever that meant). So the emails from then on ended very differently: No more “Love” and no more “Dad.” So I was effectively disowned. I tried to reason with him but he and I were both clear that he understood the issues, he just didn’t like them. So, okay.

I basically checked out. He’d send me a bland email now and then, and I’d reply or vice versa. We were no longer close. A few years later, he sent a slightly nicer email and I took the opportunity to explain how I’d experienced his actions and how hurtful they’d been and that this is why I checked out and have been so distant. More emails flew back and forth, harmony was restored, and now his emails once again sincerely end with “Love, Dad.”

My mom was initially a similar hard case, and although I explained at length, she was not receptive at all, and it was a very combative dynamic, until eventually I checked out. Things were, at best, bland and distant … for many months. Finally, she came around and now two years later, she and I are close, she announces me to everyone as her daughter and she’s now proud of my courage, although this included me standing up to her.

In another situation, I came out and lived by my own standards in a large family setting where holidays were a big, public affair. Unbeknownst to me, there was a trans guy in the family also, albeit in stealth mode. Me coming out might have helped pave the way to make his coming out easier too.

So now, it’s late December in 2015, and I’m enjoying the Holidays. I am an atheist so my celebration involves Christmas trees, fun, joy, and all the happy pagan things that make it a joyous event for me. There isn’t any Bible-reading going on but a t-girl friend and I are reading Atlas Shrugged out loud to each other, a little every day, which is a lot of fun. On December 22nd, we celebrated Winter Solstice and I’m likely to go on celebrating the Holidays for another few days yet. That very much includes the commercialization of Christmas. In fact, that’s one of the best aspects. I love the colorful and nice-smelling and nice-tasting things, the wonderful presents to buy, the energy, and so on. Here’s a picture of last night’s celebration: fresh tropical fruit, some yummy cake, and good reading material.

soltice

On Christmas eve, I plan to visit my mom and bring a t-girl friend along too. My Holiday season is a nice-to-me one because I refuse to socialize with those who are mean to me. It’s a recipe that works well, for me.

gg2015-12-14 19.18.38

Asking for Directions when Lost

gg2015-12-18 21.30.18

Guys tend to not get lost geographically as easily as girls do. However, if they ever do get lost, their natural preference is to tough it out, and try to personally try find it even if takes hours, even if that makes them late for whatever deadline they were trying to meet. A guy might well be frustrated and angry but he will take pride in not giving up.

By contrast, a girl will more easily get lost geographically but when she does, it’s the most natural and logical thing in the world for her to stop and ask for directions. She can’t even imagine why anyone wouldn’t.

And yes, I’m stereotyping. But it’s a stereotype that probably resonates with many.

The gender dynamic is often starkly visible when a straight couple is on their way somewhere, and the male is driving, and is geographically lost. Often the relative preferences are not appreciated, and by then the male is often frustrated, the female is frustrated, and you have some choice ingredients for an argument with the first agenda item being whether to stop and ask for directions, or not.

So, geez, as a t-girl, where do I fit in? And more importantly, why?

Much research has been done to explore the difference in brain structure between men and women, and it’s been shown for some time now that men and women think differently at least in large part due to having very different brain structures. So, a woman could never think like a guy, even if she tries really hard.

More recently, what with trans girls coming out openly as such, more scientific analysis was done, both autopsies as well as MRI-based work. The scientists concluded that trans girls have a very different brain structure from men as to the part of their brains that is (as a generalization) responsible for language and cultural skills, and a sense of self. For the most part, the brains of t-girls closely resemble those of normal (non-trans, i.e.., genetically integrated) girls.

As to the part of the brain used for math, science, engineering and so on, the t-girls’ brain structures were identical to males.

In practical terms this would mean that the typical t-girl would have a female self-identity, and would relate to culture as a female would. To classify her female would be more precise than not. Yet she might well have a slight edge over a normal female when it comes to math, science, engineering, directions and so on.

That tends to explain me well. I used to live in Los Angeles, which at the time was (and maybe still is?) the largest urban area on the planet. On my days off, as a fun puzzle and mental exercise, I would enjoy just driving, driving anywhere and everywhere in the LA basin, and then trying to figure out where I am, and how to find my way back. Very soon, you could put me anywhere in the LA basin and I’d not be lost.

New cities are a delight for the same reason. I can now find my way around many of the large cities in the US plus also Vancouver (Canada), Oxford (UK), London (UK), and Cologne (Germany). I would be fine with figuring out where I am. I’d also enjoy the puzzle but my prior knowledge would make it quite easy for me.

For example, when I was ten years old, I visited my great-uncle in Germany. Twelve years later, I found his front door again, without anyone giving me directions. I didn’t rely on maps much, either. I enjoyed figuring it out.

And yet, when I do get lost, I don’t hesitate to stop and find a safe and friendly place where I ask directions. I have yet to do that and not have it be a feel-good experience for me and the other party.

So why am I this weird combination of genders, as such?

As best I can tell, which includes counseling, introspection and a formal brain test, I’m a t-girl, and as an adult, now I know that. And, I finally understand that there isn’t anything wrong with me. I’m an unusual genetic mutation such as a black panther is a melanin-related genetic mutation. It’s neither good nor bad. It is what it is, and there are relative benefits and relative drawbacks compared to a normal girl, just as a black panther has relative benefits and relative drawbacks compared to a normal leopard.

As a child, teenager and young adult, I didn’t know any of this. I though the most likely explanation of why I feel female is “I’m crazy” and I tried hard to overcome my feelings of feeling female, through sheer willpower, and when I failed (which was often) then I tried to hide it from others’ notice.

The cultural part of growing up as a t-girl was the hardest part. Everyone told me I’m a boy. In fact, they didn’t even tell me – it was presented as self-evident. I tried SO hard to understand and fit in with guy culture, but I just couldn’t. I felt like a girl who was pretending be a guy. And cultural pressure told me that I’d better darn well keep trying.

 

For example, until I made peace with who and what I am, then on the rare occasions when I did get lost, even if I’d feel very tempted to ask for directions I’d tell myself “no, a guy wouldn’t do that, so don’t” and I’d try to tough it out. Eventually this became a sort of conditioned response — one that I was only too happy to unlearn as part of embracing who I am.

So now, that’s me: a girl who doesn’t easily get lost geographically and when she does, she isn’t angry, and she is fine with asking for directions.

From Glum to Giddy

A friend of mine has a transgender partner, and has just posted a link on Facebook to a well-written article as to how to help someone who’s struggling with gender dysphoria.

I relate to the article, but … in the past tense. I used to dislike my body, and as for my mind, I was working on the assumption that I was basically nuts, secretly feeling as if I were a girl all the time. That didn’t leave all that much at a personal level, to be cheerful about. So, I was fundamentally a very glum person though social feedback told me I was doing a good job of hiding that.

Then, one fine day, I changed from evading the issues to confronting them, and I learned that the most likely explanation is that I’m not crazy, I’m a trans girl, meaning I was born with a female brain structure even though I was born with male plumbing. It happens. I just happen to be one such person to whom this happened.

Really, there’s nothing wrong with being a trans girl. In fact, it’s actually pretty cool, as long as one is self-aware and self-accepting. That’s no small feat. Many trans people, guys and girls, initially try to deny who we are, and we beat ourselves up about being trans.

I used to have a romantic partner who was candid and insightful, and near the end of the relationship she voiced the observation that I was essentially living in a mode of self-loathing. Wow, was that a wake-up call. It wasn’t fun to hear, but it inspired me to not just live as who I am, but to do it to where I could feel good about myself, and who I am.  And finally, I’m there.

Arguably, I’m more than there. In typical Tanya fashion, I overdid it, and now I’m so giddily happy that I’m probably downright annoying to be around. From life being fundamentally a cold, dark, gray fog, it’s now a picnic in a sunlit meadow with flowers and rainbows all around.

For example, when I’m not developing custom database software, I analyze cars. I take them apart, document the process and parts, take pictures and figure out ways to make money by fixing the Achilles’s heel in the various models on which I focus. Fun work, but until recently it was hard to be motivated for that, and much of everything else. Projects used to languish. But now … well, here’s an example from tonight.

My friend and I have been analyzing the ZF 5 HP-24A transmission out of a 2001 Audi A6 Quattro, the one with the 4.2 liter rocket-ship engine 40-valve engine. Fun task for a Saturday.

And yet by dinnertime, after we’d been at it for probably eight hours or so, the work was just way too interesting to want to stop. So we enjoyed a nice snack and kept on working. My assistant used to be in the US Army and although she’s sweet as pie, she’s also hard as nails, and if she’s impressed by anything, she normally doesn’t let on.  And yet, finally, the quality of the engineering behind this transmission melted her heart. She kept exclaiming how cool this or that item was, as the brilliance of the design became ever more apparent. And, of course, I was in full agreement.

Quite some time after midnight, it occurred to us that maybe it’s time to finally stop working, and so we finally dust-proofed everything and we left.

However, as the events were winding down, one of us made the mistake of noticing that the clutch A drum of the transmission looks a lot like the torch of the Statue of Liberty. And, of course, there’s always time for silly pictures (with no lack of patriotism implied).

2015-12-19 22.40.55gg2015-12-19 22.42.12gg2015-12-19 22.42.51

 

 

Go Live with Integrity, Openly

“For what it’s worth … it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

This is from the screenplay for the film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” The book was by F. Scott Fitzgerald but the screenplay, including this wonderful passage, was written by Eric Roth.

Inspiring words, and especially true to the many t-girls who live their lives in the shadows, hiding who they really are, part-way out of fear, part-way to the intended benefit of those around them … both aspects being a classically female-mindset approach, ironically.

The pictures above are of me, at the Five-Star Saloon in Reno, NV, this September. Yes, I’m living in full color — finally.

Hair, Then and Now, Fake Vs. Real

Whenever I mentor a hesitant t-girl, I assure her that I was the ugliest male-looking person known to exist, and if I could improve to where I can feel decent about myself and how I look, then anyone can.

It’s sort of like if someone rebuilds a car that had caught fire and rolled down a steep cliff-side and fell into the ocean. If a car can recover from that, then restoring the average car is not as hopeless a task.

Due to how I feel about how I looked, I avoid pictures of me from before I transitioned. Not that looks are everything, or even the main thing, but even so  … ew. I didn’t like my body nor how I looked, and the two aspects fed on each others’ negativity and made a downward spiral that ended up with me feeling very glum and failing to find the motivation to get and stay healthy even though my health was rapidly failing. My blood cholesterol levels were bad news and my weight was increasing steadily. If I hadn’t decided to live as the girl I am, I’m sure I’d have been dead by now from a heart attack, and I wouldn’t have even have made a pretty corpse. Seriously.

I avoided picture-taking. Of course, I delighted in taking pictures of others, and (with her kind permission, of course) I’d enjoy taking a great many pictures of whoever was my romantic love interest at the time. Pictures of me? No thank you. On average I think I had less than a dozen pictures taken of me, per year — ideally, less yet. That’s good because pictures of me, from way back when, are not the sort of thing that I delight in seeing all over the place.

At a soul-deep level, the happiest I was was when a lovely and wonderful lady would mentor me as to how to start living as the girl I am. One such miracle worker bought me a nice blonde wig that greatly transformed how I looked and felt about myself. Underneath the wig, my hair was short and unhealthy and styled as if I’d been in a lawnmower accident. But with the wig on, I felt … pretty, which was a total first for me.  Really what I felt was “female” for the first time, and feeling pretty just flows from that.

IMG_0187Above is a picture of me in that magical wig, taken in March of 2011. Yes, I know, the rest of the picture isn’t inspiring but wow was I happy.

And suddenly, I thought of the pictures I took yesterday. Yes, I do have my hair lightened and styled. But it’s my own darn hair now, and doesn’t it look very similar to “ultimate fantasy” hair that was an unattainable, temporary dream four and half years ago?

ggg2015-12-16 02.38.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise, I’m Mellow and Happy

ggg2015-12-16 02.38.41

I’ve been told that, as part of me going on feminizing hormones, I had to balance the trade-off of having a more feminized body with the more troubled emotional state that t-girls experience during that process.

And yet, I’m not experiencing any of that emotional effect, even though I’ve now for some months been on intense levels of both androgen-blockers as well as estrogen — albeit legally prescribed, and carefully monitored. Physically, though: yes, wow, my body is changing and I like what it’s changing into.

In preparing for this, I spoke to t-girls who have gone on feminizing hormones, and also to those who are, or were, in relationships with such girls.  The latter group provided the most candid input. For the most part, the relationships were over. The t-girl had been a nice relationship partner. but then she went on feminizing hormones and she became so unpleasant (moody, weepy, unreasonable) that the relationship partner eventually couldn’t stand it any more, and finally checked out.

I’m gay (a girl who likes girls) and so I’ve observed the effects of female hormones on my relationship partners over the years, and yes, sometimes, my partner was moody, and we both knew why. From what I’ve been told, a t-girl going on feminizing hormones experiences this effect way more intensely to where she becomes socially unbearable.

So, if I were to be in that same emotional state, would I be OK with that?

Yes!

I wasn’t overly worried. I have willpower so even if I were an emotional mess, I’d still make a point of being reasonable. Besides, I was forewarned and prepared. So was my romantic partner.

And yet, months later, things seem so be very even-keeled as to my emotional state … if anything, more so. It’s not that I’m deluded, either. People around me are giving me feedback that substantiates this. In fact, things are so mellow that I’m surprised.

Not that I haven’t had challenges, personally and professionally. One of my clients was being bullied by his IT department, and I stood by him and candidly and logically explained why he’s in the right. Last week, the toilet overflowed while I was away for four hours, and when I came back, there was an inch of water over much of the bathroom, kitchen, and carpets. And yesterday, I soaked my computer keyboard with milk and cereal. In each case, I didn’t even get upset — neither sad nor angry. I just dealt with the situation and enacted damage-control measures, and later preventative measures.

In fact, as to the latter incident: the splash of cereal, the milk, dried strawberries and cereal looked so out of place on my serious, black, military-like Logitech keyboard that I found myself chortling about the contrast, sort of like seeing flowers on a military rifle. If that’s not me being mellow, I don’t know what is.

My romantic partner is genetically integrated girl, not a t-girl. She explained to me that for her, her hormone levels tend to go up and down a lot, during the course of each month — whereas for me, it’s more stable, because I take the same dose every day. Her hypothesis goes a long way towards explaining what I’m experiencing, though now I’m kinda puzzled as to where all the cautionary stories come from.

Anyway, I prefer to be puzzled and happy.