A friend of mine posted this 30 Day Transgender challenge. I suppose it is 30 days because some are choosing to answer a question a day for 30 days and post in a vlog. (Which is great) Being more of a writer, I thought I’d take them and answer them here.
This is a 30 day challenge inspired by TheMiserableMuse. 30 Day Trans-Challenge:
1) When did you realize the term transgender referred to you?
That depends on what you mean. The actual word “Transgender” didn’t come into vogue until the 70’s. So I suppose when hearing the word and making the connection with my identity – maybe 1982.
While I don’t recall the exact date or even year, I was very young. It was likely 1962 or 63, so that would make me 4 or 5 years old, I knew I was different. I felt like a little girl and I prayed for God to make things right.
2) How did you choose your name, and what names were you thinking about using and why?
That is one of my favorite stories and one I have told often. I didn’t choose my name, my parents did. When I was very young, maybe 5 or 6, my mother was ironing clothes and I was watching her. I asked her what my name was going to be if I had been born a girl and she looked at me and said “We were going to name you Leslie” That has ALWAYS been my name and I never considered another.
3) Have you ever been outed?
I don’t know. Maybe. When I came out, I was out, well everywhere but work, but seriously, my hair was in a ponytail, I wore two turquoise studs in my ears, my fingernails were painted, I wore a pink and silver bracelet every day, I wore a delicate necklace with a silver heart and a silver letter “L” on it. (My initials at the time were JTM) I wore blingy “Miss Me” jeans on casual Friday…could I be any more “Out?”
4) How did your family take it when you came out/ if you are not out why aren’t you?
I am out. (I’ve been living full time for a year) It was a mixed bag. My daughters have been very accepting and supportive., though they have struggled at times. As you might imagine, it was devastating for my (ex) wife. She really tried to accept it and be supportive, but ultimately, it was too much. My brother is in the church leadership with a Christian Evangelical Church and he has disowned me. He claims it would be offensive to God for him to say my name. His kind scares me. Cousins have been universally supportive and loving. One regret is not being able to tell my parents before they died. It wasn’t because they died suddenly or tragically, I was just a coward.
5) Are you active in the trans community or LGBT community?
Yes I am and it is very rewarding. I am a volunteer with GEAR in Dallas. (Gender Education Advocacy & Resource)
6) Who was the first person you told about being trans?
My ex wife. We were still married at the time. She was convinced I was having an affair but I wasn’t. She was sure I was hiding a secret. On that, she was correct. She basically pushed me to the edge of the cliff and said “I know you have a secret.” I admitted that I did. She said “I KNEW it.” I asked her if she wanted to know it and she said “yes” – I asked if she was sure, because after I told her, I couldn’t “Un-tell” her. She said she wanted to know, so I told her.
7) Who do you look up to?
A lot of people. Girls that came before me. Christine Jorgensen, Dr. Rene’ Richards and a young Trans* girl named Jazz who just absolutely blows my mind with her maturity, courage and determination. My room mate, Katie who walks in grace and confidence and a FB friend named Jamie. She has risen above more obstacles than most people can even imagine yet still finds a way. These are incredible women. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
8) How do you deal with being read mis-genderd in the beginning of transitioning by people?
I spent 30 years in the entertainment business so I have thick skin and a wicked sense of humor. I won’t say it didn’t bother me, but I never blamed the other person. If I’m read, that’s on me. If I am rudely mis-gendered on purpose, that’s another issue and it only happened once and I handled it. I haven’t been mis-gendered in around a year now – except over the phone.
9) What is something positive about being trans?
I could go on all day! The #1 positive is simply living my life as me with no inhibition. #2 is what I like to call “Unguarded conversations.” Talking with someone else and not having to take into consideration protecting an aspect of myself and never revealing it. Just a nice free unguarded conversation is precious. #3 is the incredible friendships I’ve made in the Trans community. We are all walking a similar path and none of us need to explain what we are going through.
10) What are some of your fears in regards to being trans?
That I may never find employment in the field I’ve spent 30 successful years in.
That I might not be able to support myself.
Being homeless. Never being able to afford the surgery I need.
11) How do you manage Dysphoria?
I suppose like 12 step programs – one day at a time. Before I was on hormones, it could be nearly unbearable. These days when I look in the mirror, I see what I feel like and THAT tells Dysphoria to STFU. When I am naked or intimate with someone, it rears back up. Still working on that part. It can get pretty bad at times.
12) What are you doing to stay healthy for transitioning mentally and physically?
I eat a LOT better than I did before I Transitioned. I haven’t had a sugared soda in almost 2 years (with only a couple of exceptions) I don’t keep ice cream or processed sugar treats in the house. I eat more salads and fresh stuff. I need to exercise more. I don’t drink near as much alcohol and I am under far less stress. I lost 50 pounds from my pre-transition high (was 218) The single best thing I’ve done for my mental health is keeping a journal. It has helped me in so many ways, as has my blog that I write. The fact that my gender therapist is world class doesn’t hurt either!
I use them regularly. OK, I use the women’s bathroom when I am out and about and have never had a problem anywhere. I have travelled all over, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and my home state of Texas. Never a problem. I also only go there when I need to go to the bathroom. I’m not there to screw with anyone or make a point. I never stand up to pee (It’s been 2 years since I’ve done that even at home!) I am respectful of others and expect the same. My stress level went down a lot last September when I had my name and gender legally changed.
14) What are some of your passing tips or things you do to pass?
I’ve done all the basics. I’m on HRT and have been for almost a year and a half. I’ve had enough electrolysis that I have no shadow and my face looks good. I pay attention when I put on make-up and don’t over-do. I learned how to style my hair, how to Put outfits together. I still cringe though when I see Trans Women in too-short skirts with fishnet stockings in a casual coffee shop sitting with their legs spread and arms on the back of the chair like a truck driver. Or walking like a linebacker for the Steelers. The best tip: Pay attention to the world around you; if you are shopping in a grocery store, how many women are in dresses and heels? None. Most likely, leggings or jeans and comfortable flats. Look around and just fit in.
15) How have you embraced your trans identity?
Mostly be embracing it as MY Identity. I know who I am and I just live my life and try to be the kind of woman that would make my mom and dad proud. I have never been happier or more at peace with who I am. It’s an incredible feeling and I had to fight so hard to get here. The cost was staggering.
16) What’s your rock anthem and why?
Not so much “Rock” anthem, but my anthem is from the movie “Frozen” it’s a song called “Let It Go” The first time I heard it, I was sitting in a car repair shop waiting for my oil change to finish. A girl I used to work with at CBS (who I think the world of) sent me a text and said I HAD to listen to this song – she had heard it and she said it reminded her of me. Wow. So I listened to it in the repair shop waiting room and I sat there with tears streaming down my face!! (Thank goodness for waterproof mascara!) That song was SO moving and it spoke so clearly to me. It has become MY anthem.
17) What’s your binding choice and why?
As a Trans Woman this one doesn’t apply
18) How do you feel about the trans laws where you live?
It’s a mixed bag. The city of Dallas has some protections for Trans* people but not the county, or the State. Texas doesn’t permit a birth certificate to be changed (California does) and even getting your ID changed can be a real challenge depending upon which county you are in. Trans* people have very little protection in Texas. We have no employment or housing protection from discrimination. Same sex marriage is not permitted. Consider this (If you are cis – imagine using a bathroom and having to take into consideration whether you are in a city or county establishment. The difference could cost you your freedom. Just a little of what Trans* life can be like)
19) If your religious how do your views effect being trans if your not religious what about your family religions?
I used to follow the Christian faith and I didn’t so much leave them, but they left me. My brother made clear that I am going to Hell for making this “Lifestyle Choice” as he calls it. I consider myself a Buddhist now and am quite happy.
20) Do you want to be a parent why or why not?
I am a parent. I have 2 beautiful daughters and 3 grandchildren.
21) Your views on the cis-gendered community
I am not going to judge anybody – I was talking to some friends at lunch recently and I was looking at (apparently) Cis-People in the same restaurant and marveling at what it must be like to wake up in the morning and not have your gender be one of the first things on your mind. I’ve never felt that. I sometimes feel sorry for them because they seem to be sleep-walking through life. Being my true self after being denied it for so long is like the Wizard Of Oz where it goes from Black & White to the Technicolor beauty of Oz. I live that every day!
22) Do you feel being trans holds you back from your career choice?
Yes. No question. I’ve been told as much to my face.
23) What stereotypes are put on trans people?
One that bothers me the most is what I call the “Jerry Springer” stereotype. That we are unstable drama queens. Also many people don’t understand the difference between someone who is Transsexual and a Drag Queen. Most Drag Queens are gay Cis-Men and that surely isn’t us.
24) Who is your favorite LGBT actor/musician/director/artist etc and why?
That’s kind of a weird question because I don’t believe I know the sexuality or gender identity of every actor or entertainer. I admire the hell out of Leah Wachowski. I just love her. Ellen DeGeneres is also a favorite. She shows that you can be funny without it being at someone else’s expense.
25) Doctor visits.
I suppose that I am blessed in that my doctor that has been handling my care is also Transgender, so there is no discomfort or awkward explanations. She knows. I am generally in excellent health, so those visits are few and far between.
26) Do you feel comfortable answering questions about being trans if say your teacher/friend/stranger asked you?
Yes, I feel comfortable talking to anyone about it. I would hope that whoever is asking the questions is respectful and polite. I am quite candid and have no qualms about discussing Tans* issues.
27) What goals do you have?
They have really been simplified. I used to make a lot of money and accumulated a lot of stuff. My goals now are: To make enough to support myself. To help other girls (and guys) that follow on the path behind me. To see my story published some day. Maybe find love again?
28) What is something you have to do everyday or else you feel like your whole day is off if you don’t do it?
Have a nice hot cup of coffee
29) Write out something positive about yourself using the letters of your name. Ex. Your name is Bob so B-Beautiful O-Outstanding B-Boy
LESLIE – Leslie Enjoys Seeing Love In Everyone
30) Write a haiku about being trans
Sitting In Boy Clothes
Sobbing On The Closet Floor
Wishing He was She