August 19, one last time

It was on this date, in 2015, when I went public that I was six weeks into the Real Life Test of living as a female to see whether it calmed the fire in my brain and if I could succeed in the world as a woman.

On both the first and second anniversaries, I posted photos to show the progress I was making, the evolution of myself.  With the biggest change of all occuring in me this year, it seems a final post is in order.

Before I get to that, I have a fun quiz for you.

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Trivia Time:

What do Clark Kent and Superman, and Gina and Greg have in common?  Two clues are tucked between the photos.  The answer is revealed at the end of the post.

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November, 2011: before I crashed with gender dysphoria:

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CLUE #1: Clark/Superman and Greg/Gina each have their parting ways.

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August 19, 2015: the transition begins:

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August 19, 2016: do you see a difference from 2015?

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August 19, 2017: the final one before my face surgery in November.

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CLUE #2: when Superman and Greg make a spectacle of themselves, they cease making a spectacle upon themselves.

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November 22, 2017: facial feminization surgery day.

Christmas, 2017: healing from surgery, this is the new me.  Gina is ready for 2018 . . . she thinks.

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In January of 2018, I had cataract surgery.  It went so well, I no longer needed glasses, making the Christmas photo all the more appropriate, when I had Julie take some pics of me without my glasses.

At the time of the eye procedure, I was in the early days of my identity shift, of which you now know the story.

August 15, 2018: three months into living full time as Greg.

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Trivia Time Answer:

Since all online photos of Clark Kent and Superman are copyrighted, I can’t copy them to post here.  You can easily find them, or you likely recall the parting ways and spectacle of the two clues.

Clark Kent and Superman part their hair on opposite sides.  So do Greg and Gina.  Did you ever catch that?

Clark Kent wears glasses, while Superman . . . well, he wouldn’t be super with glasses!  Gina wore glasses and, now feeling like a super man—and with the aid of cataract surgery—Greg does not.  Now, to acquire that Xray vision thing . . .

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A final side-by-side look nicely closes this monumental chapter of my life:

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She-Nana-gans with Lou and Puppy

Thanksgiving, 2013, Jackie, our daughter in Indianapolis, and her two children, Oliver and Margot, drove to Port Hope for the weekend, to spend the holiday with Nana and Poppa.

On Sunday, Oliver, then six years old, absentmindedly left behind his beloved stuffed animals, Lou and Puppy.

Nana, knowing how desperate a child can be for his “stuffties,” set out to comfort Oliver until we would meet up with Jackie, Oliver, and Margot, a few days before Christmas.

Every day, Nana took a photo of Lou and Puppy, which included a fitting caption, to show Oliver that his loved ones were doing well.  Each day, Julie—er, Nana—tagged Jackie on Facebook, so that she could show Oliver.

The photos are in chronological order.  The captions are what Julie posted on Facebook.  The level of she-Nana-gans increases as the days grow long.

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Reading with Poppa.
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Making PlayDoh creations.
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Lou and Puppy are caught trying to sneak some turkey.
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The dogs felt very sleepy after all the turkey they ate, so they settled in for a nap. Yes, Lou sleeps with his eyes open.
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Well-behaved Lou and Puppy sit in on Pastor Poppa’s religion class.
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Naughty puppies! Lou and Puppy abuse their copier privileges taking photocopies of their paw prints.
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The puppies sweat it out on the elliptical machine.
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Doc McStuffpuppy to the rescue!
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Although they’d much rather be watching cat videos, Lou and Puppy find Shrek to be a worthy substitute.
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Their reputation as premier foot surgeons preceding them, Doc McStuffpuppies Lou and Puppy are invited to the hospital to oversee Poppa’s operation. Make sure you get the right foot, you two!  (Yes, I really was hospitalized.  I had toe surgery.  That cagey Julie is never one to miss out on a photo op!)
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Lacking opposable thumbs, Lou kept dropping the soap.
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Sometimes the dogs forget they are stuffed animals. “Lou! Puppy! Mind your manners!”
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“We are Lou & Puppy, and we approve this message.”
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An exasperated Poppa has to wait in line for a cup of coffee (aka, early risers Lou & Puppy get first crack at java).
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After waiting patiently on the roof for an hour, Lou & Puppy are rewarded when Poppa finally steps outside to a “snow shower.”
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After yesterday’s prank, Poppa tried to mail Lou & Puppy back to Oliver, but they must have bribed the postal service to let them stay a little longer.
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About to hand over the car keys to Lou & Puppy, Poppa realizes just in time that neither one of them can reach the brake pedal.
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Poppa is vexed by Lou & Puppy because:
A. They committed treason.
B. They refused to share their lunch.
C. They blew their cover as Starbucks spies.
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Lou & Puppy, eagerly awaiting Olly’s arrival . . .
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Reunited at last!

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Garden Spotlight: Sun and Shade

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Our back yard is one shady customer.

I should stop being surprised when someone asks me whether vegetables can grow in shade, a question I have received many times.

Perhaps, folks look at the many flowers, ground covers, and bushes and shrubs, which do well in shade, and transfer this to vegetables.  I get that reasoning.  With veggies, though, it doesn’t apply.

Generally, your vegetable garden should receive sun from morning till evening.  Specifically, it can get by with six hours of midday sun.  Some cooler-weather-loving types—think greens and root crops—do okay with fewer than six hours.

The reason I put my garden in the front yard is because our back yard is far too shaded.  Our first year here, I put in a small garden on the west end of the back yard, as a test.  The spot doesn’t get full sun until after mid-afternoon.  It was not good enough.  Everything grew very spindly.

In the spring of 2016, I rototilled a strip in front of our house.  In both 2017 and 2018, I extended it a few more feet into the yard.

The 2016 garden extended too far to the east.  I planted corn on that end, and the first row received too much shade.  The stalks in that row were short and never grew decent ears.  I cut the garden back from the east by three feet.

I took the photos, below, at 10:00 a.m., on August 8.  The west end, where the tomatoes are, had been in the sun for under an hour.  Our neighbor’s tree keeps the east end shaded until 10:30 or so.

The east end remains in the sun until late afternoon, thus giving it at least six hours of midday sun.  This year and last, everything I planted on that end grew very well.

The west end faces a situation that I did not encounter until this year, with the garden a few feet more toward the street.  The next photo was taken at 3:00 p.m.  Note the shade has landed upon the tomatoes and the entire west end.  This is not good!

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Here’s the weird part, which has been a lesson for me, never to forget as long as that oak is there.  The arc of the shade only glances over the back half of the garden.  My watermelons are nearest the house.  Next to them was my corn, then a row of peppers, then the tomatoes.  The shade remains over the back side of the garden for way less time than it does over the front.  The watermelons have grown great.

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The photo, above, was taken around 3:00 p.m, on July 22.  Looking at the four corn rows, from left to right, see how the corn grew according to the sun/shade mix.  The row closest to the house grew tallest, and that corn was ready first.  Each row, moving toward the tomatoes, was a little shorter, and the corn was ready a few days later in each successive row.  The row closest to the corn produced fewer good ears of corn.

In all of these photos, note the size of the tomato plants.  With how well my garden grew this year, they should be to the top of the cages, with their branches completely filling the cages.

It took me until mid-July to figure out the reason they are so small.  I stuck those tomatoes in a bad spot.  They get too much shade, not enough midday sun.  Last year, that chunk of ground was grass, I wasn’t growing there, and too much shade didn’t dawn on me.

The sun returns in the very late afternoon, and the tomatoes get enough total sunshine to be growing and bearing fruit, but I stunted their potential.  So far, I’ve gathered perhaps six quarts of tomatoes.  Easily, I would be at twenty quarts by now.

Lesson learned.  Next year, I will likely place spinach or kale there.  I rotate my crops, never putting the same thing in a spot until at least the third year, so I’ll have to be mindful.

Anyone putting in the time and effort to grow vegetables wants to harvest a good crop.  Placing your garden where it gets plenty of midday sunshine is one of a handful of keys to success.

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Here’s my best proof that the back of the garden gets plenty of sun.  This is our first watermelon of the year.  My granddaughter was impressed with its size and potential sweetness, but not with the seeds.  She set out to remove them by hand.

What I miss about living as a woman

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Among one of my reclaimed favorites: this Detroit Tigers t-shirt!

I no longer paint my fingernails and toenails.

I don’t carry a purse.

I stopped wearing necklaces.

No more shoes with heals for me.

My makeup kit is on the shelf, with only Julie dipping into it for the odd thing.

Hair doesn’t get into my face or mouth.

Shaving my legs and arms is a thing of the past.

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Of all of the things I mentioned, and of whatever else I might include, how many of them do I miss?

Zero.

Not a one, that’s how many.

I bet you guessed it.

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One month ago, today, I posted The return to Greg.  I’ve been living full time as a male since late May.

This is how remarkable has been the brain-shift I have experienced. The past few years, I always kept my nails polished, because I liked them to look pretty. As for cute shoes, even three inch heels? I loved them. And, though high heels made me 6’4″, they so aided me in looking like a woman that I paid no attention to my being overly tall.

Carrying a purse felt natural, and it enhanced my feminine look. I received so many compliments on the large, pink-peach colored bag I carried. Those comments were door-openers to lots of friendly chats, opportunities for this would-be-woman to fit in with the females.

I freely admit that, though I don’t miss carrying the purse, I do find myself longing for the space it provided for hauling around a lot of stuff. Now, filling my pockets, my wallet and keys and Chapstick in the left, and my phone and hanky in the right, I am weighed down. That’s okay. I’ll take it. I feel freer, having my hands empty.

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Far more important than the baggage that comes with living in a certain gender is that I love that the world sees me as a male, that I am interacting as a man, that when Julie and I are in public we are seen as husband and wife.

These are but a few of the many revelations I’ve been experiencing in this new strictly-male mind of mine. I am feeling and thinking things that I never have in my life. I never felt or thought them, because I was unable.

The mental competition has been wiped clean.

I never, ever look at a woman and think that I’d love to own the dress she’s wearing. I never, ever look at a trans woman and wish I looked as nice as her, or wish that I had when I lived as a woman.  I never, ever wish that I could have the life of a person who had been born a genetic female.

I miss nothing of it. I want nothing of it. I identify with it as much as I consider myself to be the elusive abominable snowman.

Finally, since my gender identity issues began fifty years ago, there is only one person living in me. That person is a male.

I miss nothing of living as a woman.

I am a man.

It’s as if I am seeing me as I am for the first time.

I like it!

I.D.clare!

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I would have tried to use my Kroger Plus card, but, silly me, I was at A & P!

I tried to buy groceries this morning without my photo I.D.

Cashier: “Sir, if you don’t have a picture I.D., we accept your NRA membership card.”

Me: “Being a traditional Christian who is politically conservative, you’d think I would have one of those.  I don’t suppose you’d take my AARP card as proof?”  As he sputtered a NO at me, the look on his face said, “What?  That Commy, socialist organization?”

Getting nowhere, I took my cart to replace what I had grabbed.  As I was putting my items back on the shelves, ICE descended upon me and whisked me to a detention center. For two hours, I was held with other local troublemakers.  Among them were these three:

  • A guy in a wheelchair, who was observed not standing for the national anthem at a high school football game.
  • Sitting against the wall was a woman who was overheard telling a friend that she refused the gun that was being given to all back-to-school shoppers.
  • Next to her was a fellow who accidently found himself in a women’s restroom because he was texting while walking.

Apparently, I was appropriately remorseful, as ICE informed me that I was being released, but not first without receiving their stern warning.  Whew, I sure am glad that I didn’t let it slip that I voted for a third party candidate in the 2016 presidential election!

What’s next, Americans? Will political satire be outlawed?

After all, didn’t I just post fake news?

Garden Spotlight: Corn

Corn is easy to grow.  It’s a snap to harvest.  Best of all, when you eat it fresh from your garden, it is among the dandiest summer treats.

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I plant one packet’s worth of seeds.  This year, I got 108 plants from the packet.  I think that was about twenty percent more than the past couple of years, so be aware that packets vary in quantity by seed company.

On July 23, I picked the last of the corn.  Beginning on July 12, I harvested seventy-six ears.  Here’s the rundown:

  • July 12: 11
  • July 14: 10
  • July 16:   9
  • July 18:   9
  • July 19:   5
  • July 21: 25
  • July 23:   7

There were fifteen to twenty more that did not fully develop and went into the trash, and several stalks sprouted late and did not grow ears.  The day that I picked twenty-five, Julie was out of town.  I cooked them all, ate seven, then cut the kernels off the rest, filling five pint bags for the freezer.

The seventy-six were perfectly formed and delicious, as in the photo, below.

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My granddaughter, Margot, eagerly helped me shuck the first two pickings.  After that?  She had moved on to other interests.

This year was remarkable in that I had no animals get into my garden—the first two years here, I lost about thirty percent to raccoons—and of the dozens of ears I shucked I only saw one insect and zero worms.  I don’t have a fence, and I did not put neem oil—which I use for insect control—on the corn.  If I would have seen signs of pests, I would have used the neem oil; they simply never arrived.  Perhaps, they had their fill from my broccoli and collard greens, where I lost the battle with them.

Growing one’s own corn requires a bit of a commitment.  With some crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, there is a window of several days when they can be picked, but when sweet corn is ready to harvest you need to pick it.  Letting ready ears go for even a couple more days will result in kernels which are overgrown and mushy.

Watch for the cobs to look full size and the silk to have turned brown.  If you think cobs are ready, give them a grip, which, with practice, will tell you whether the kernels are full size.  If you aren’t sure, pull down the husk and look at the kernels.  If they are small, simply pull the husk back to cover the ear as it finishes maturing.

 

Plant corn in a block.  Because the ears are pollinated as the pollen falls from the tassels to the ear’s silk, having the rows next to each other increases the likelihood that breeze-blown pollen will land on silk.  Corn planted in a single row stands a good chance of being poorly pollinated, which will result in spotty kernel growth.

I planted an early variety, so that I would have it all harvested before the end of July.  Next to my corn, I plant a vining crop, such as squash or canteloup.  This year, it’s watermelons.  Vining crops require a lot of room.  By the time the corn is ready to pick, the nextdoor vines are encroaching the corn, as seen here.

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As soon as I pick the last of the corn, I pull the stalks.  The vines now have all of that space to grow.

 

I rotate my crops, not putting a vegetable on ground for at least every third year, as each type of plant takes nutrients from the soil at varying degrees.  Thus, next year’s corn will not provide the temporary privacy fence as this year.  Despite the cover, when I was sitting on the porch, below, and Mac, across the street, walked down his driveway to get his mail, he peered through the stalks, spied me, and gave me a wave.

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Despite our being friendly neighbors, I don’t share my corn with Mac.  He has his own.  After sharing some of our produce with him and his wife, Alice, from our first garden two years ago, they put in their own . . . including a patch of corn.

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The return to Greg: Q & A

These are the questions asked by those, whom I informed over the past months that I have been feeling male.

If you don’t see your question(s) answered here, please let me know what you are wondering.

 

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This easily is my favorite photo of me as Gina.  (January, 2016.)

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Did you change your mind about being transgender?

No.

For me to return to living as a male was not a conscious decision. I had finished transitioning. I was content. That I stopped having any sense of being female, and now felt completely male, came as a shock to me.

After fighting with it for a few months—struggling with how I was going to live as a guy with these large breasts, and having a drivers license and credit cards that name me as Gina Joy, not to mention my three transitioning surgeries—the sense of being a male persisted, so I finally accepted it.

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Did you keep your men’s clothes?

Yes. I kept them all.

I didn’t keep them with the thought of using them again; it was only me being the practical person that I am. I had put them away in tubs and stored them in the basement. There simply was no reason for me to do anything more with them, so there they stayed. For weeks, I’ve been in the process of doing that with my women’ clothes, and my attitude toward them will be the same.

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While I loathe hauling out old clothes and packing up my dresser and closet, this is the first time I ever was pleased to remove my women’s things.

I’ve had this chat with several trans women regarding their men’s clothes.  It’s been common that the desire to transition has been so strong that when they replaced their men’s clothes with women’s, they got rid of their men’s clothes.  It was important for them to do so—a landmark, long-desired event.  It’s one more example of how we all experience being transgender in our own way.

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Do you still consider yourself transgender?

Yes.

I still consider myself transgender for a number of reasons. First, I don’t know that I am done with this. While it is my fervent hope that I am done living on a seesaw, I have to be realistic that I could again have gender dysphoria, and again live as a woman. Second, because of the surgeries I’ve had, my body isn’t strictly male anymore. Third, I continue to identify with transgender folks in general, and especially with those I’ve gotten to know. I long to strive with them, to be there for them, to do whatever I can to be of service to them. Indeed, just last week I spent the better part of an afternoon with a new trans friend, who met me as Greg. My being able to speak to her of having gone through the entire process of transitioning was beneficial to her.

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Do you have any regrets, such as having surgery?

No.

Do I wish I had not found myself needing surgery? If this male sense of myself persists, yes, of course. I wish this male sense could have happened years ago, but we don’t get to live that way. We can only live what we experience, one day at a time.

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Okay, okay!  I admit that three days after my facial feminization surgery, as seen here, I wasn’t exactly all zippity-doo-woo-hoo about surgery!

Everything I did in transitioning, I did with great care. I did nothing impulsively. I proceeded methodically. Julie and I talked through each step. I prayed for the Lord to direct me. And, interestingly, every initial surgery date was postponed, which gave me the chance to rethink each one. Even going to court, I had to return to have my gender marker switched from male to female.

Nothing along the way, as I proceeded, and as I concluded, caused me any regrets, so how can I have regrets now? Wishes, yes; regrets, no.

Even more, all of 2018 I have had the keen sense that I would not be where I am now if I had not taken every step in transitioning. It seems to me that if I had put off any step—say, having my face done, or having sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery—I believe I would still be in the process, I would still be struggling with myself to get those things done, and that would have me unable to have reached the peace which I now enjoy.

That all might sound weird. You might even find it preposterous. Fair enough. Regardless, it is exactly what I believe to be true:

I had to make the entire journey to reach its end.

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If I hadn’t had surgery, you would never have had the wonderful opportunity to view my vocal cords!

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What if the sense returns, that you feel female?

If it does, I’ll deal with it.

I can’t live in fear of that happening. I suspect that I feel these days the way a person who has beat cancer feels. When I am strong, I feel like a world-beater. Thoughts of a relapse are the furthest thing from my mind.

But, honestly, the thought of the two-person struggle returning almost knocks the wind out of me. I fear that it could destroy me. I have gone through this so many times, as I wrote in The return to Greg (2), with each episode worse than the previous. Now that I’ve enjoyed being free of gender dysphoria for six months . . . well, to those who asked I have said that I might just tear my house down with my bare hands, so filled with anger I believe I would be were it to return.

I am living as though it will never return.

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Do you fear that you will set back progress made for transgender persons?

A bit, but, really, not because of me. Rather, my fear is based on those who do not listen, who have hard hearts, who are stuck in their prejudices, who will find anything they can to say, “See? I told you so!”

I take this tremendously seriously. I have learned so much about gender dysphoria, the challenges which go with transitioning, and living as a trans person. I have met dozens of trans women, trans men, and those who are gender queer and gender fluid. Their struggles have been my struggles. I can’t ditch these folks now. I desire to do all I can to help them.

When I was asked the question, here is what I heard: “Perhaps you should continue to live as Gina. If you can’t do so in everyday life, you should continue online as a trans woman.”

I can’t do that. First, I am a person who strives to be open and honest—two important marks of being a person of integrity. Second, these months that I have been transitioning back to living as a male, I have felt like a liar as I have lived as a male but have continued online as a female.

Honesty is the only way to go. Ever since I went public, in 2015, regarding my gender dysphoria, I have been totally open and always straightforward.

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As Gina, I met some dandy folks, including Barb “The Impaler” Clayton, my electrologist.  As she and I hold the issue of Indianapolis Monthly, where my article appeared, it was my first time being paid to write for a publication.

Now that you feel the way you do, would you change anything you have written?

No.

Ever since I went public, I took care to write honestly, whether I was discussing gender dysphoria, transitioning, or Christianity.

Regarding gender dysphoria and being transgender, I believe in everything I wrote. Since I did not change anything in my understanding of God’s Word, I have nothing to retract in my writing about the Christian faith. Even in the essays, where I was very hard on my fellow Christians, I continue to find everything I wrote to be faithful to the Lord.

I’m good.  No regrets.  Next question?