I have always been one of those people who have been sentimental about milestones. I was always better able to keep track of significant dates and anniversaries than my spouse. There are lots of reasons to remember these dates: accomplishments, events to savor again, loss of people close to us, birthdays and more. But for me, my calendar is becoming really full of significant dates!
Gender Transition is very much like giving birth to a new person! I remember the day I came out, the first day I left the house dressed, the day I began hormone treatment (I consider that day my “other” birthday) there is the day I had my name and gender legally changed and the day I went full-time (never looking back).
The day I went full time was April 11th of 2013 and the one-year anniversary of that is this Friday.
This is an especially important and memorable day for me (as I am sure it is for so many in our community. It’s not a day you forget. It’s a BIG deal) Please permit me to share why –
The week of April 7th 2013 was a week I would never want to re-live. I was pushed beyond my emotional limit to a point I never want to re-visit and I will leave it at that.
Sunday the 7th would have been my 34th wedding anniversary except that my divorce was final 12 days earlier. It was a terrible day.
Monday the 8th dawned early and the first thing I did was step in a pool of dog vomit on the way to the bathroom. Good morning! My week only got worse from there. Ratings come out on Monday and ours were mostly good.
By this point, I was living an odd existence. At work, I was a guy. Well, sort of. (I’m sure many of my CBS colleagues had their doubts!) I had not cut my hair since last July, my fingernails sported bright polish colors and I wore a pink breast cancer bracelet every day. At home and every other place except work, I was living as a woman…with male ID, which drove me nuts. This dual existence is beyond awful. It was confusing and the closest thing to torture I can think of – well, psychological torture.
There was a LOT of pressure at work, my marriage had just ended, I needed to move from my house that was big, safe and comfortable as well as being so secluded and I had to play a role I felt less and less able to play every day – that of a man at work. My life was unraveling before my eyes. Perhaps a snip from my journal from the previous week will best explain: (Actual journal entries are in italics)
Tuesday, April 2nd 2013 –
I don’t want to erase who I was; I just want to embrace who I am. The Real Estate agent is going to wear me out! Another showing today. I’ve been marveling at how much I am trying to handle. Somehow I have been able to bear the weight with humor and as much grace as I can muster – however, I fear that the proverbial straw might just be more than this girl can take! I do my crying in private. Just a couple of hours after this entry, my radio station received our best ratings in 5 months! Then 90 minutes after that my boss tells me there is a lack of confidence in my ability – (really? You just gave me an award for excellence less than 60 days ago for the past year!) Panic is setting in. THAT was the straw. I can’t take any more. I cried all the way home; I don’t even remember how I got there. When I pulled in to the drive, there was a “For Sale “sign that the agent promised wouldn’t be there for another 2 weeks! Everything in my life is broken and I can’t fix it. I need a miracle! My job is broken, my marriage is over, my dog is dead, my finances are broken, I am broken – neither fish nor fowl, stuck between two genders! Do I live as a goofy looking dude with boobs or an ugly chick with a dick? Neither appeals to me. I pray there is a way out. If my job ends now, I’m broke, single; stuck mid-transition and unemployed in a terrible job market unable to afford to become physically female. Did I miss anything? This is no way to live…
If the desperation and fear I felt doesn’t come through, please believe me that I thought it couldn’t get any worse.
It got worse.
Tuesday April 9th –
I found myself becoming a real scatterbrain as so many thoughts vied for limited attention. Misplacing things, forgetting why I went upstairs (I was never like that)
Wednesday April 10th –
Weird vibes at work today. (I was the program director for Jack-FM for CBS in Dallas) It was a cold wet day. I revised my “coming out” letter to HR and will present it tomorrow. I had my picture taken for my passport and need to spend $195 to expedite it. (This was for a company trip in May) I have the paperwork and will take it in at lunch tomorrow. More stress at home this evening.
Thursday April 11th
(From my Journal)
Well damn, Got fired today. Sure hope it gets better from here. I was called in first thing and given my walking papers. I called a few friends and scheduled an appointment with (my therapist) I was feeling very panicky. I drove home and pulled into the drive crying. I took off my “boy drag” with the thought that I might not EVER have to wear boy clothes again. The idea of really setting Leslie free to be herself, helped stall-off a complete meltdown. I decided to dress cute for my therapy appointment. I put on my make-up and wore a black skirt and a purple sweater – I felt pretty. My therapist urged me to “breathe” and stay calm. She fixed me herb tea and helped me work through the latest in this string of life events. I am trying not to be crushed under the weight of this. (By now I have lost 50 pounds from last July) My friend Peter had heard the news and invited me to have a cocktail at a local watering hole. I walked confidently in and after getting a hug from Peter, sat down and chatted with the gorgeous bartender Harold. After a few hours and hugs from Peter and Harold, I was walked to my car and I drove home. Not such a bad day after all!
There you have it. April 11th isn’t just the day I want full-time; it was a day that changed the direction of my life in so many ways – almost all of them good.
Yes, I miss the money the job provided and I miss working with the amazing talented people at CBS who I still consider friends. But in so many other ways that day, that decision to never look back and take that step was one of the best, most courageous things I have ever done.
The WPATH Standards of Care refer to something called a “Real Life Test.” (Now called the RLE or “Real Life Experience”) This used to be required before GCS could be done. The “Test” consisted of living for one year as your identified gender. In my case, female.
This “Test” for me will be completed Friday. However it has not felt like a test at all. It has been the most natural thing in the world.
The Real Test was the year before…really from April of 2012 – April of 2013. That year was a bitch. It nearly killed me.
When I look back at that day, something really important happened and I didn’t fully realize it at the time – I had lost control of nearly everything. Instead of giving up, I took control of the one thing I could control – I decided then and there, to be ME. To finally honor the person I had kept silent all those years. She has not let me down.
So, this Friday I will observe what for me has been the most incredible, amazing, eye opening, mind blowing, surprising year of my life. I am so glad to be alive.