2013 – YEAR IN REVIEW
This blog is a collection of my thoughts as I experience what it is like to transition from male to female physically…and yes, somewhat mentally although I have been there most of my life.
2013 was a year like I had never experienced before. My biggest dream, my longest running prayer was answered. So, was it a good year?
It was as if that genie I’d wished for came down and gave me that one wish I’d always dreamed of: “Yes, you can live your life as a woman.”
…But it will cost you nearly EVERYTHING else. Here is that story. I apologize in advance for the length…
(Trigger warning: I am very candid in this blog. Some things I keep to myself, but in this essay I lay myself bare. My hopes, fears and emotions are detailed here. The month of April is particularly difficult and some may wish to skip to May)
As I write this, it is December 20th, 2013
The reason I started with this day is that Sydney (my wife of 33 years) got on a plane to California one year ago and never returned. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the last time I would see her as my wife. (See Goodbye Girl article on this blog for details)
Although I had come out to her and many others as trans* earlier in 2012, her leaving was the catalyst for change like I have never seen in my 55 years on this Earth.
I learned on the 2nd day of 2013 that my ex had no intention of returning to Dallas to continue to live with me so I waited until the 4th of January to file for divorce. (Her birthday was the 3rd and I thought that an inappropriate move)
On the 15th of January I had an appointment with my OBGYN (which sounds weird for me to say) to get started on my Hormone therapy to alter my body chemistry to that of a woman. Everything was a go and I received my prescriptions.
January 19th, alone in a big house and with shaking hands and tears in my eyes I began physically transitioning to female by beginning hormone therapy. I am on The Wiley Protocol which calls for varying dosages of Estrogen and Progesterone throughout the 28 day cycle, closely mimicking what is produced naturally in women. I also take twice daily doses of a medication that blocks Testosterone.
Hormones have many effects on the body and the mind. Many are irreversible. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, but my therapist calmed me by telling me that 30 days wasn’t going to do anything that couldn’t be un-done and by then, I’d know whether female hormones were right for me. There is no doubt, they are a perfect match. I found relief from the demon of dysphoria for the first time in 50 years.
The next morning got funny. It was a Sunday and that’s a day I would have a nice quiet morning. I did the chores, fed our horse, cows dogs etc. Made a nice breakfast and settled into the sofa in front of a nice warm fire. (Nobody but my inner circle knew of these changes and I still presented male at work and to the outside world for the most part) I was also very self-conscious. The house I lived in was on 8 ½ acres and had a privacy gate and was fully fenced. The house was over 400 feet from the street. We never had visitors knock on the door. I was lounging as I savored my 2nd day on Estrogen wearing a blue camisole and a black chiffon skirt…when someone knocked on the door!! It was my manly real cowboy 60-ish neighbor. I thought, “screw it” and opened the door. He started to talk then paused, looked me up and down and then said “You got a huge water leak out by the street” I told him I’d go have a look. He gave me the once over again and turned and left. I had to laugh.
I was without water for several days while the leak was fixed.
January 27th my daughter, Chrissy, started cosmetology school. I am so proud. She called to tell me an instructor at the school goes to a stylist who is transgender and that I would be most welcome at the school. I told Chrissy I wanted her to do my hair one day.
Feb 6th – got all dolled up, cute clothes, make-up and nails and went to the store. At check-out – the clerk said “Thank you SIR” That sucked. (I have a long way to go!)
2/14 – Valentines Day – the first time as an adult I didn’t have someone to buy a card for and the first time I had no expectation of receiving one. I’ve never needed someone to hold me more and just tell me everything is going to be OK. I spent the evening loading my (ex) wife’s SUV with as much of her stuff as I could so I could have a friend drive it to her. That was heartbreaking loading the clothing and belongings of someone you love and miss and doing it on Valentines Day just added to the difficulty. The last thing loaded in was my Border collie, Chile, and I just buried my face in his fur and sobbed. She needed a companion and she loved him just as much as I did.
A week after he was delivered to her, Chile was dead. That was just another piece of devastating news in a year already full of loss.
I will not go into detail because there is no need, but suffice to say my soon to be ex wife was having an extremely difficult time as well. Her world was turned upside down and she didn’t ask for this. She was looking for someone to take out a great deal of frustration and anger. I was that person. It was very hard to take. (as I’m sure it was equally horrific for her as well)
2/21 Always a tough day – just more-so this year being alone and with so many heavy emotional things on my mind already – this is the anniversary of one of my worst days ever – the day my dad died. (1987- so he never knew about me. I lacked the courage to tell him. I know it would have been difficult for him to accept, but I know with certainty he would have loved me as his daughter)
On March 26th, our divorce was final. Just 12 days shy of what would have been our 34th anniversary. Walking from the courtroom, I felt numb. I got in my car to drive back to work and the radio came on playing a song that had meaning to us and I broke down and cried. I drove back to work stressed and upset feeling like my life was unraveling.
Adding to my mounting stress was having to move. My ex was in California and not coming back but only took a suitcase. I sent her car and all I could fit and sent it to her at my expense. But now I had a 4,200 sq foot house with 33 years of accumulated stuff (along with a horse) to divide up and move.
(I really miss that house)
I began by giving away almost all of my boy clothes. I had to keep bare essentials for work. As I was cleaning out and packing my clothes away for giveaway, I felt the tears come. I didn’t really understand why…until I stopped and thought about it. I really hadn’t said goodbye to “Jeff.” He wasn’t a bad guy, he was creative, a hard worker, good friend and loving dad. He just wasn’t me.
April 7th – would have been my 34th wedding anniversary. Really tough day. I tried to leave a voice mail for my ex but just dissolved into tears when I heard the beep. I wanted to share some kind words in what had been mostly harsh texts.
(Although there are a lot of tears, it’s not like I went through 2013 crying all the time…I was also happier than I had ever been. The hormones I am talking have an effect of keeping my emotions more readily available. I share these moments because they are important and to illustrate what was happening in my life as stressors were stacked one on top of the other)
April 8 – I woke early and walked to the bathroom and stepped in a pool of dog puke. My dog Molly had gotten sick. Nice start to the week! I got that cleaned up and wondered to myself: “What’s next?”
My alarm clock had also died! (Cell phone back-up)
April 10th – really weird vibes at work. I had written my letter to give H.R. coming out as transgender. By this time, I had not cut length off my hair since last July, I was wearing nail polish pretty much every day and was finding it increasingly difficult to hide what was growing under my shirt from the hormones I was taking.
April 11th, I was summoned to my bosses office and I was terminated. To say I was crushed would be an understatement and things began to really unravel in a serious way.
(This turned out to be an important day for me on another level. After being let go – I drove home and changed out of my “boy drag” and put on a skirt and purple sweater. I’ve never looked back. That was the day I went “Full Time” as Leslie. My friend Peter invited me out to have a few cocktails and we drowned our sorrows until about 11p and I drove home.
(Warning – content below is sensitive)
6 Days later, after telling me I could stay in the house rent-free as long as it was on the market, my landlord told me I needed to be out of my house at the end of May as they were listing the house for sale. Feeling scared, trapped, exhausted and hopeless I sat in my living room of our beautiful 4,200 square foot house with my back against my gun safe holding a loaded .45 auto, cocked and safety off and thinking just how fast all of this pain would be over. I paused to grab my phone, I wanted my kids to know why…that seemed very important to me at the time. So my intent was to send them a text. My phone was across the room – I had laid it on the kitchen counter. When I rose to go get it, that brief moment caused me to think about the pain I would be causing my girls and I broke down in tears again before I could write the text. I put the safety back on and holstered the gun and put it away.
I’m glad I did…I came so close. I’m afraid if my phone was closer, I may not be writing this, so I’m glad it was across the room.
(I share this not because I want attention. I’m fine and well adjusted. It was impulsive and the result of more stress than I could handle. I share this because it is not uncommon in the Trans* community. Our suicide rate is 25 times the national average. If you find yourself in that place…please get help. Talk to someone. Pause. Think of your family. It really does get better)
May became a frantic month because of the impending move-out date and because of my unemployment and no place to stay.
Rescue came from an unlikely source, my friend, Katie. She and I had only really been Facebook Friends more or less, having Skyped a few times, met in person only once and talked on the phone for many hours. She opened the door to her place in Marble Falls, which was about 3 hours from Dallas just west of Austin.
(The dynamic duo – Katie on the right)
So I rented the biggest truck I could rent and filled it with furniture and clothes for my ex and drove my wife’s things to California, I dropped off my bed and clothes in Marble Falls and then drove to California.
I had a pretty decent visit at first but things quickly degraded and instead of her driving me to the airport I stayed at a friend’s house and took a cab the next day.
Trying to pack such a big house solo was a huge job. Thanks to several friends who came by to help put things in boxes.
5/31 – I was absolutely exhausted in every sense of the word. I had been up until 2am packing and moving everything I could fit into the big truck, I had also shuttled the things I wanted to keep and put those in a small storage unit. Everything else went to my ex. I was so sore physically. The hormones cause a marked decrease in muscle mass and things I used to move with ease now were really heavy.
So, I was aching when the man showed up to transport my wife’s horse to her. He asked for hay so I loaded 12 bales in his trailer. Keep in mind a couple of things…it’s the end of May and it’s very hot and humid. Hay bales average 100 pounds. Sweat was pouring off of me and it was still around 10am…going to be a fun day! I walked around the trailer to pet “Dancer” (the horse) and say goodbye. I was wearing flip flops when I stepped on the fire ant mound! Yep, the hits just keep on comin’!
(My ex with Dancer)
The day ended around 1:15am with me wrestling a king-size bed down 2 flights of stairs through the kitchen and into the garage by myself. The house had to be empty so the real estate agent could stage it. The truck could only hold about a third of it all so the rest was in the garage and 2 big storage barns. I took a shower and collapsed.
June 1st – I hit the road with her stuff and my dog. I could not bring her to Marble Falls. Parting with my ex and both of my dogs was devastating. I’ve had Molly for 14 years.
(My sweet Molly – best dog ever)
After the drop off, I flew to Dallas, crashed on a friend’s couch and headed to Marble Falls. I had my bed, my clothes and my make-up at Katie’s. Everything else I had was in storage. Flying was interesting as my I.D. still said “Jeff” and also “Male” and had a picture of a boy on it. I looked nothing like the picture anymore. TSA agents were polite and I encountered nothing beyond a funny look or two.
Katie was a life-saver. No other way to put it. When I had nowhere else to go, she opened her door. I had no job, so no income. Nobody would rent to me.
We stayed up late the first several nights and talked. She was further along in transition than I am and it was just so nice to have someone who understood.
(Leslie – June 2013)
I had scheduled a mover to meet me at the house in Dallas to clear out the rest of our stuff. I left Marble Falls at 5am and made it to Flower Mound in time to meet the “Mover” my ex had selected. He showed up with a Ford Van and the smallest trailer U-Haul makes. He was moving enough stuff to fill a 26” Moving Van and then some.
Everything had to go and my storage unit 10 X 15 was full. I had to give away to her or just throw away SO MUCH stuff. There was a huge pile of “trash” that had all kinds of things from sporting goods to mementos from my career in a trash heap. It was emotional for me as I am (was) a keeper of stuff.
I was trying to explain to the mover that he needed to go get a few guys. He didn’t fully understand the size of the job before him and everything had to be out THAT DAY! I was really stressing. My phone rang and it was my daughter, Sarah wishing me a happy “Father’s Day”
SHIT! (How could I forget that?) I talked with her for a moment and asked if I could call her back as I was right in the middle of something. She said; “Yes” and I hung up. My youngest Chrissy called later and we were able to talk for a bit, but what really bothered me was that this caught me by surprise. This was their (and my) first Father’s Day where their “dad” was now…not Dad, but “Leslie.” I didn’t anticipate this day and it blindsided me. I tried to call Sarah back but only got voicemail. I crashed at my friend Peter’s home, showered and slept on his couch.
The next day before leaving Peter’s, I saw Sarah had posted something about Father’s Day being kind of confusing. I called her on the drive back to Marble. She told me all of her friends were putting pictures of their dad’s on Facebook and she wanted to as well but didn’t want to offend me. She had wanted to post the one of me walking her down the aisle. I apologized to her while fighting back tears. I love that picture and am not ashamed of my past as her dad. I just wish I would have been ready for this, but I wasn’t. After hanging up with her the tears came and I cried hard.
This feels like a Faustian deal. How can something that gives me so much inner peace cause so much collateral damage to the people I love the most? It’s cost me my marriage, my job, my house and almost all of my stuff and it has turned my daughter’s dad from a figure of stability into a stranger. This is so hard!!!
I have a management firm in New York that will manage my business affairs (when I have some to manage) and they also make suggestions. One was to look at reality TV. A couple of producers showed interest in a transgender radio person living in Dallas with a transgender room mate who is an attorney. They asked for some video of me and since my career has been audio, I sat down and made a video. Personally, I think my life is hilarious and would no doubt offer plenty of entertainment value! After looking at the video the producers described me as “Too Normal”
I suppose I should take that as a compliment? I was asked if I would go along with a “scripted reality” version and I declined. I just don’t go to the grocery store dressed like Scarlet O’Hara.
I had talked to an attorney some time back to help get my name legally changed along with my gender. The name part is easy, but the gender part is tricky. Many judges in Texas won’t grant it no matter what. The judges that will grant the order need affidavits from your doctor that has treated you explaining that you have had sufficient medical treatment to render you irreversibly female. I have, so I filed the petition and waited.
It’s a big deal. Presenting as female 24/7 since April provides ample occasions where I needed to present my ID. Having a clear female appearance and male ID can be everything from an embarrassment to a safety issue. Having everything match would be a Godsend.
Imagine a job interview. I present as female and my name is Leslie, but not legally. I don’t want to show up in a men’s suit as I would look ridiculous anyway now; then change into a skirt and heels once I get the job. Nor can I wear a skirt suit for the interview and if hired hand over ID for the I-9 that contradicts what I put on the application. Awkward.
July started with me living with Katie in Marble Falls and Katie giving notice at work and to her landlord. Moving again! Ugh!
In addition to needing to find work, and moving by Aug 1st. and waiting for my name/gender change, I was scheduled to fly to California to answer a petition my ex wife filed there.
Katie was exploring her options and we looked for a new place to live during her off hours.
July 10th I flew to California. By now my appearance was consistently accepted by others as female. At the airport I went through TSA with professionalism especially since my ID wasn’t close to my appearance (The agent calling me “Young lady”). At the rental car counter the clerk greeted me: “Yes Ma’am?” When I stepped up and asked for my reservation I was asked for my drivers license. She looked at me and looked at it then back at me. I was wearing a skirt and a cute top with a black purse. My nails were in a French manicure and I was wearing full make-up. The clerk handed my license back and kind of did the eye roll. I really couldn’t wait for the name/gender change. Same thing again when I checked into my hotel.
July 11th. Why is it so many stressful things happen on already difficult days? Today was my court date to answer my ex wife’s petition. It also would have been my dad’s birthday. Her case was dismissed and it was a tremendously difficult and emotional day for both of us.
I flew back to Dallas exhausted the following day and arrived in Marble Falls about 1:30am. Katie and I were looking at apartments the following day in Dallas so I only slept a couple of hours before driving 3 ½ hours again. I was a zombie and stressed. We had 3 weeks to find a new place and get moved.
No luck. We returned with nothing.
July 18th – My first day of electrolysis. 2 people working on me at once for 7 hours. Over 100 painful lidocaine injections in my face. I was very sore and swollen.
July 21st My birthday. One year since I came out to my wife and set all of this in motion. It was a low key day. Katie took me out to lunch. Lots of nice messages on social media and both of my daughters called to wish me a happy day.
In the last year there has been so much change, so much loss but I’m finally loving life and living it on my terms. It feels so good to just be ME. I can’t wait for the name/gender change.
July 22 – Our real estate agent found us a place. (with 9 days to spare) We are moving to Carrollton.
July 26th – After saying goodbye to some really good friends we met in Marble Falls we loaded up an impossibly large moving truck and drove it to Dallas. I drove the truck and started in, Katie followed later after she got off work. I got the electricity turned on while driving and the water would have to wait 3 days. We showered at Katie’s mom’s, then headed back to Marble Falls to clean Katie’s apartment there.
July 31st. I only lived with Katie for 2 months but I feel as though I made a lifelong friend.
The major reason we moved back to Dallas was for Katie. She had been presenting male at work and female everywhere else. This provided a fresh start for her as she now lives full time as Katie.
The early days of August were spent setting up house and moving my things out of storage.
It was so nice to have a place to stay that is safe and to get into a routine that isn’t fueled by chaos.
Mid month, Katie found a guy at work that had a used dresser (women’s dresser) which I bought and put in my room. So nice to have somewhere to put my clothes!
August 12th My mom would have been 93 today. I lost her in 1992 and wish I could have shared with her that she had the daughter she had always wanted. I miss her so much.
Now that I am back in Dallas, I am able to resume volunteering for GEAR in Dallas. GEAR is a resource for the Transgender community and is a program of Resource Center.
I noticed recently that I haven’t really listened to music since my divorce. I just can’t. Music was such a big part of my life and career (33 years in the radio business) so many songs evoke an emotional reaction. I think I’ll be ready soon. I get stronger every day. I love who I am.
August 18th I was feeling introspective and just thinking about how happy I am to be me. I love my life and in spite of the collateral damage, I am absolutely certain that this is who I am and who I am meant to be. I went for a long walk and watched a movie that reminded me of what I lost.
August 23rd – It’s been a series of nice summer mornings. Appreciation for little things has been nice. Coffee in the morning, I enjoy cleaning our townhouse, I love cooking. I love everything about being me. The simple routine. Maintenance on a girl is surely more complex than as a guy.
Nearly 8 months on hormones. I’m now accepted and recognized as female everywhere I go. It’s been months since my last “sir.” And that is a pleasant change.
September 1st it was 106 degrees in Dallas. Then it rained on the 2nd. We needed that. Katie and I went to Austin the following weekend for Austin Pride. We met up with 3 good friends from Marble Falls. Kody, Kriss and Irene. We really had a fun weekend. Lots of laughs.
Sept 8th – Katie’s Birthday. We had lunch with the gang in Austin before driving home. I made spaghetti for her birthday dinner and I made a chocolate pie (her fav) and we watched the Cowboys win their opener against the Giants.
September 19th. My last full day as “Jeff” My name/gender hearing is tomorrow. I’m excited, nervous, melancholy – but I haven’t been Jeff for a very long time. It’s Leslie’s time.
September 20th Friday – it was pouring rain. I slept OK, but I’m a bundle of nerves. I have waited for this day really since I was about 6 years old when I asked my mom and dad what they would have named me if I was a girl. They said “Leslie” so that’s the name I will carry for the rest of my life…legally. Given to me by my mom and dad. That feels so right. I parked a couple of blocks from the courthouse and in a skirt suit and heels, walked in the rain to the courthouse and arrived soaked. I dried my hair in the ladies room with a paper towel, straightened up as much as I could and walked to the courtroom and waited. I actually got in early to see the judge. She was very nice and after I was sworn in we went through several questions and she had my paperwork.
She then said the words I’ve longed to hear:
“I’ve read your petition and agree that you meet the conditions. Therefore I am going to grant your request for your gender change to female and you shall now be known as Leslie Michelle McMurray. Congratulations.” About all I could squeak out was “Thank you for changing my life!” before the happy tears started. They didn’t stop for a while either. This was such an important day for me.
September 23rd – Monday – Guess what day is is? It’s drivers license day! Armed with certified copies of my court order for name and gender change I can now get ALL of my ID changed over. Starting with my license and new picture, so I got fixed up and got it done. I love my picture! Then a new social security card, bank ATM card, new checks, pink slip for my car, Cost-Co card, credit cards and finally a new birth certificate. Many of those things would take months but I have all new ID as of now.
(Finally!! It identifies me as Leslie and female)
September 28th – I spoke to my youngest daughter on the phone today. We usually talk about once a week. She told me she struggles a bit with exactly what out relationship is. I’m not really “dad” anymore. She says I have changed a lot – I suppose she is right. I think mostly for the better. I was pretty high strung. I never intended to take away my kid’s dad. That bothers me.
September 30th – My agent/manager let me know I didn’t get a job I was hoping to get. I’m disappointed yet optimistic.
October – I’m fighting my weight more than I thought I ever would. Hormones make it very difficult to drop weight but I’m just as hungry as I ever was.
My blood test results showed my Testosterone was almost nothing. About identical to a natal female. That made me happy.
October 3rd – I was on a morning show in Atlanta with some guys I used to work with when I was a guy. Kind of freaked them out.
My youngest daughter is going to graduate Cosmetology school later this year. She doesn’t know the day but she asked me if I would come to Phoenix and be her final client before she graduated. I was so deeply touched. I’m honored. Of course I would.
October 26th – Halloween Block party in Cedar Springs tonight. Katie was Bat Girl and I dressed as the St Pauli girl. What fun!
November 5th – Tuesday. This was the first time I ever voted as “Leslie” although it’s an off-year election it was still very cool.
November 7th – Happy Birthday Sarah – my 1st born. I love her dearly.
November 17th – Dallas observance of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. A very emotional night. I shed so many tears.
(See blog entry called – “Too Many Roses”
November 27th – I rose at 2am for the drive to Atlanta so I could spend Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family. Then we went Black Friday shopping. (See blog entry under Black Friday…or was it Black Thursday?)
I spent 5 days in Atlanta enjoying my daughter, son-in-law and 3 beautiful grandchildren. It was like being dipped in the fountain of youth. I had some good talks with my daughter whom I adore.
Decmber 5th. My youngest, Chrissy turns 27. She is a light in my life. What a smart, talented beautiful person she is. I spoke to her and that made my day. We had an ice storm today…kind of shut things down.
I have for the first time been battling depression. Not to worry, I am OK. But it was a feeling I’ve had before but could never fully experience. Now, I am allowing myself to feel it and learning how to deal with it and trying to sort out where it’s coming from.
December 8th – I rallied enough to put on a dress and go to the GEAR Christmas party. I had a good time .It helped to see everyone.
December 19th – 2am alarm again – this time to get up and drive 1,073 miles to Phoenix. I loaded, grabbed coffee and hit the road. I made it to Chrissy’s house by 5:30pm.
Dec 21st – Chrissy graduated. I drove with her to school and she did my hair, waxed my brows and did my nails before graduating. She is so well liked by everyone, her station was covered with flowers and gifts. She was happy to have it behind her. She is so talented!!
The following day turned out to be pretty profound for me. After breakfast, Chrissy asked to do my make-up. I was thrilled. She showed me a few tricks and did a wonderful job. Then she blew my hair out. (Note: Women are notoriously hard on themselves and Trans* women are worse. While the outside world has accepted me as female I had not yet looked in the mirror and been able to nit pick something I didn’t like – so today was a big deal) When I looked in the mirror, it was the 1st time – ever – that I saw all girl. I could find nothing male anywhere. It was so overwhelming. I have finally accepted ME. I fought tears and didn’t want to mess up Chrissy’s work!
I stayed for another week and spent Christmas with Chrissy and her boyfriend. Some of my favorite time was just drinking coffee and talking with her. So nice! Best Christmas in a while. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. There was just no stress. None.
While both daughters struggle with my change, both love me a lot and it was really nice to begin making new memories.
December 31st – Katie and I met 3 of her friends from Oklahoma and had dinner in Dallas. They stayed to party, and we went home. We were in bed by 10.
New Years Eve
What does 2014 hold?
It’s going to be my first full year starting Jan 1st as Leslie although I have been Leslie full time for nearly 9 months now. In January I will mark one year on Hormones and the changes brought on so far are remarkable.
Hopefully, early in 2014 I will find myself employed, I have 30 years experience running radio stations and hosting highly rated morning shows, surely that skill set will be found valuable by someone.
2013 was both the most difficult year of my life and also the most rewarding. The word “amazing” is so over-used, but I truly am amazed by all that has happened and the inner strength I have found that I never knew I had.
2013 was a year unlike any other.
To provide some perspective – below are two pictures…Just before Transition and last week.
Thanks for sharing it with me.