Happy . . . huh?

This Thanksgiving, I have specialized wishes to offer:

For everyone named Henry, I bid you a Happy Hanksgiving!

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Eating hot dogs for your feast? Happy Franksgiving!

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Looking over your finances and finding yourself in good shape? Happy Banksgiving!

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Spending the day with a bunch of practical jokers? Happy Pranksgiving!

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If you are the one who best pulls everyone’s leg: Happy Yanksgiving!

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Were you promoted yesterday and are relishing it today? Let me be the first to offer a hearty Happy Ranksgiving!

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Feeling a little frisky with your better half? Happy Spanksgiving!

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What’s that you say? You are not being forced off the edge of the boat and into the water? Happy Planksgiving!

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And when I finish off the homemade eggnog which I will soon stir up, I hope you wish me a Happy Dranksgiving!

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Finally, for our adult audience:

It’s the day after you got the long-awaited vasectomy?  Happy Blanksgiving!

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Do you know beans about giving thanks?

I titled this piece “Do you know beans about giving thanks?” because, well, I’m going to wax a little poetic bean this Thanksgiving. Why would I aspire to this adventure, you wonder, as you ponder your holiday feast? Why, exactly for this reason: because beans are impressive things.

See, you can’t simply say, “Let’s have beans with dinner.” That statement can only be answered with an abundance of questions:

You want beans with dinner, do you? Well, would you like green beans, or yellow beans, or waxed beans?

And, if you choose one of these, shall they been regular cut or french? Canned or frozen or fresh (if I can find fresh this time of year)? And shall I serve them unadorned, or mix them into a casserole?

Do you prefer Del Monte, or Fresh-Like, or the Jolly Green Giant? Or will the local grocery store brand sufficiently stimulate your tastebuds, bud?

Is this what you are thinking, or did you not have a garden variety garden variety in mind? Perhaps you are leaning quixotic or exotic?

If this is so, would your tongue be tied by any of these lusty legumes—the lima, the fava, or the garbanzo?

Or are you testing me—do you think I’m bean-brained (in this case, that would be a compliment)—wondering if I am aware of these lesser-known pod poppers:
• such as the Hyacinth, which is grown in southern Asia, and is akin to our Southern Pea;
• or the Horse Bean, which they might enjoy where I used to live in Michigan, as it is also known as the Pigeon Bean;
• or, perhaps, the Scarlet Runner, also called the Fire Bean, but which isn’t really grown for its bean, but as an ornamental flower?

Now, I know that time is wasting away (unlike your belly), but I have yet begun to dig the fertile soil of beanery. Shall I proceed to the categories of beans which one normally finds mixed up into a lovely culinary concoction?

You are well aware of kidney beans, are you not? Would you care for those in a pot? Shall they be red or white, light or dark?

Black beans are all the rave these days. Do you have a prized recipe up your sleeve?

You wouldn’t start a war, would you, if I suggested navy or soldier beans baked up with some pork?

If I had time to cook cornbread, too, would you delight in a nice pinto bean stew?

Oh, what am I thinking with all this heavy fare? Could you have been speculating a salad bar . . . stuffed with sprouts of beans, of course?

Well, I’ve about emptied my noggin of all my bean jargon. There’s just one bean left on which I could spout, but with all these questions I’m just too tuckered out to tackle the ever-popular soy. Oh, boy. Now, there’s a bean which brings the whole world joy in a thousand different ways that one can employ.

After all this blather, I could use some caffeine. Would you grind up a pot of my favorite java bean? Oh, and something sweet for my belly. How about some of those colorful beans made of jelly?

Now having stifled, with your Cliff Claven clatter, the person who made such a simple request, you’d better be prepared for their dazed reply: “I think I’ll just open a can of corn!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I have long felt that beans are a fine representative of just how good to us is the Lord, and why He deserves our thanksgiving praise. In creating this world, God certainly did not have to create so much variety of food. If He were focused on giving us meat, fruit, and vegetable, He could have only given us the cow, the apple, and, if the vegetable had to be the bean, it could have simply been green. If this is all we had, we wouldn’t know that we were lacking, and we would be satisfied. But, God isn’t a God who only satisfies. He is a God who delights.

Just how good is this creative God, from whom all blessings flow? He creates so many different kinds of beans that neither do we tire of eating them, nor do we exhaust uses for them. Exhibit A: the soybean.

And not only do we have the cow, but we have a horde four-legged meat factories, and plenty of poultry, and oceans of fish and other seafood. And not only do we have the apple, but we have so many forms of tree-grown fruit and vines with berries.

And vegetables—oh, my!—but beans are far from the magnitude of the menu.
• We have round ones, and leafy ones.
• We have green ones and white ones and red ones and every color one can imagine.
• We have those that grow in the ground and on the vine and on the stem.
• We can freeze them, and can them, and dry them.
• We can fry them and bake them and boil them, and turn them into tons of tasty treats.
• We can stew them, and soup them, and kabob them.
As with creating songs from the notes on the musical scale, there is no end to the dishes we can devise from the variety of vegetables the Lord has set on our table.

But you know all of this, don’t you? There isn’t a thing that you have heard that you haven’t heard, before—except, perhaps, for Pigeon beans, as I had never heard of them, myself, before researching all about beans.

Yes, we know all of this, but this Thanksgiving essay is designed to get you to say, “Wow! What a great God we have! How generous He is to us, His creation!” My friends, we need to be wowed, and we need to know to whom to point our wow, or we will so take for granted the gifts with which the Lord overfills our horn of plenty.

Yes, to celebrate Thanksgiving, and to rejoice that the harvest is home—not only because we are surrounded by a farming culture, but because all people gain from the goodness of Almighty God—to take a day to give thanks is a most essential endeavor.

Even the least religious among us is prone to turning their eyes upward in acknowledgment that the gifts aplenty which they enjoy come from the hands of a giver. However you understand this giver, I hope you humble yourselves in thanksgiving.

Because I am blessed to know the Giver by name, I give my thanks to Him, to my Lord Jesus Christ, on Thanksgiving, and every day I awake from my night’s sleep. My Lord Jesus is the One who knows all of the beans about both creation and salvation, and He has opened my eyes to see Him for who He is, the Creator and Savior.

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you (Deuteronomy 8:10).”

Thanks be to you, dear Lord Jesus, this Thanksgiving Day and forever!

Now, someone, please, pass the beans . . .

Transgender Day of Remembrance

From glaad.org.

309, worldwide.

23, in the USA.

Murdered. Simply for being transgender.

And those are the ones we know of.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Imagine being killed, simply because you are different.

It’s easy, if you try.

The lives of our fellow humans are unjustly ended in every conceivable situation, when one person is so prejudiced, and is so filled with hatred that he (or she, but, yeah, it’s almost always a man) finds a way to give himself permission to kill the object of his contempt.

The murdered person need not have done anything but existed as a fellow human being, but of a different color, or different religion, or different nationality, or different culture, or different language or different sexual identity, or different you name it . . . including different gender identity.

Different.

Often, different is all it takes to fuel the flame which ignites into the inferno of homicide.

The murderer need have no other motivation than his prejudice, which fuels his hatred, in which he possesses a skewed sense of superiority.

Isn’t that what these murderers possess? Isn’t it their skewed sense that they are somehow superior? Isn’t this how they acquire the self-permission to mind the business of those who are minding their own business?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Among those whose lives might be unjustly taken are transgender persons, whom prejudiced, hate-fueled, self-superior-minded individuals found to so offend them that the haters gave themselves permission to end their lives. To get them out of the way. Out of their sight.

You know, to cleanse the land of those queers.

But, hey, let’s have the prejudiced haters roam free.

Transgender Day of Remembrance, known as TDOR, was initiated in 1999 when one trans woman, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, found it vital to pause in reflection over the murder another trans woman, Rita Hester. See Wikipedia for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender_Day_of_Remembrance.

Since 1999, groups all over the country and world have used this day to remember those whose lives were unjustly taken during the past year, and to reflect on the state of things for the sake of those who identify as transgender, in the various ways one might identify as trans.

Over the past twelve months, 309 trans persons worldwide were murdered simply for being trans. That’s to the best of our knowledge. In the USA, the number was 23 of our fellow citizens. I took this information from the TDOR website: https://tdor.info/. If the numbers are incorrect, it is because I made an error in counting.

It is good—yes, it is important—that we remember these trans persons, our fellow human beings. We pause to remember many things, those which make us sad and glad—9/11, the days wars ended, holy days, birthdays, death days, and the like. In our remembrance, we hallow those events, we honor those people and, when we recognize that change must still be accomplished, we hone our hopes for a better remembrance the next year.

We’re all together in this thing called life. We are one human family. Let us love one another.  Let us respect the lives of one another, no matter their different.

Let us especially look out for the least of those among us.

Too often, the least among us are those we remember, today.

I returned to deer camp!

My first night, all by myself in the camper, getting into a book which, despite its title, is a work of theology, written by Jeff Mallinson, one of the two men who interviewed Julie and me for a “Virtue in the Wasteland” podcast.
Later, I had to drop the table into a bed, because it’s also where I sleep.

From Monday, November 12, to Friday, the sixteenth, I camped in the woods of the Manistee National Forest, a twenty-two minute drive northeast of my hometown of Montague, Michigan.

I camped with two of my brothers, two nephews, one cousin, and a family friend.

It’s our family deer camp.

It’s a place to which, the past three years, I thought I would never return, because I was a transgender woman.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

When I was a kid, I tried to get into hunting. I found it to be too much walking and sitting, with too little action. Oh, and it was always so stinking cold.

In 1981, my dad, three brothers, and a few others, decided to camp, rather than daily make the drive to and from home. This caught my attention. I decided to give it a try. In 1982, I became a member of what was quickly named “Dead End Camp,” because, well, camp was set up at the dead end of a two-track road.  (That road has since been blocked off by the state.  We’ve now moved two times, but still are in the same section of woods.)

(A note for those who do not know what a two-track road is, which, by moving to Iowa in the 1990s, I learned that not all people use this term, though these roads exist everywhere. They are little used, unimproved roads which, by the two tracks of tires that create and sustain them, have a hump of grass in the center, making them, you got it, two-track roads.)

Entering camp from the two-track road.  Note the two tracks of the entrance lane.  Why can’t the entire world get on board to call two-track roads what they are?  I’m talking about you, Iowa!

I loved the camping and being with the guys. At one point, our number swelled to over a dozen for the first couple of days of hunting, a mixture of relatives and friends. We developed traditions, such as Festivities Night, which is the eve of Opening Day, when everyone brings some sort of finger food—deviled eggs, rumaki, ham-and-cream-cheese-wrapped pickles, sausage, cheese, and the like—which we set out as the hoity-toity-ly named hors d’oeuvres table. For Festivities Night, we make an oversized campfire. I always had the honors of building it, often making it so large you couldn’t stand within fifteen feet of it, and which we joked that it could be seen from outer space. The festivities were topped off by the reading of the camp poem, which was created by my younger brother, Dave, who wrote it until he ran out of ideas, and then by me for over a decade.

Everyone had his own duties. Older brother Tom was the natural Camp Coordinator. Youngest brother, Mark, was Camp Grounds, because he loved to rake and tidy the camp. I was Camp Pyro, because of my too-large fires. After Dad no longer was able to camp, I took over the cooking of breakfast. Everyone did his part, such as washing dishes. Nothing was left to chance.

In my first years of hunting, I did not see a buck so as to be able to shoot my gun. Though I didn’t want to give up camping with the gang, the long, cold hours sitting in the woods became an unbearable chore. The morning of Opening Day 1986, my fifth year of hunting, I decided that I would hunt out the day, tell the guys I was done, go home, and never return.

After lunch, I sat in a different spot. I wasn’t sitting ten minutes when Tom’s brother-in-law, who had just shot at a buck, hollered, “Shoot him, Greg!” Before I could think, “Shoot what?” the buck came into view. He was forty yards away, running all out—carrying the mail, as we say—from my right to left.

I began shooting.

I had a shotgun. It held three shells. For having never shot at a deer, I unloaded in quick succession, as if I had done it many times. Thankfully, after the third shot, he dropped.

Amazing myself, I remained calm as I adroitly opened my gun and inserted a fresh shell. I carefully walked up to the buck, which was struggling to stand. Dad’s advice, spoken years earlier, rang inside me: “If you have to finish off a deer, plunk it behind the ear.” And so I did. I walked up to that buck, and with no hesitation I plunked him behind the ear.

He stopped moving and my jaws started moving. I screamed at the top of my lungs:  “I got one! I got one! I got one!”

Finally succeeding at bagging a buck, it forever changed my attitude about hunting. Even when I would go a couple of years in a row where I saw no deer during my three to six days of hunting—which were determined by what day of the week November fifteenth’s Opening Day landed and how much vacation time I had—I sustained a love for hunting, for sitting in the woods, and, ahem, reading novels while doing so. (Hey, the hours grow long out there.)

The view of camp from the corner of the outhouse.  Those four trailers housed seven guys this year, and easily could sleep several more.

When I moved away in 1992 to go to seminary, and then was a pastor in Iowa, and finally on the other side of Michigan from Montague, going home to camp often was the only time each year that I saw family. Deer camp grew precious. Each year, when we passed Halloween, I counted down the days the way kids do anticipating Christmas.

And then, in 2014, I revealed my gender dysphoria, and that I might need to try transitioning in order to see if it would relieve my suicidal thoughts and fear of losing my mind. I retired from the ministry that summer. I attended camp in 2014.

In 2015, I transitioned to living full time as a woman. I didn’t even have to ask if I would be welcome at camp. Things already had been said. Besides, while I knew a few of the guys would be okay—they would accept what they knew about me, and it would be tempered because, at camp, I would be dressed as they always knew me, in the usual casual clothes and hunting garb—I knew specific ones who would not be able to abide my presence.

Missing camp in 2015 caused me to suffer a terrible meltdown, which lasted for days. 2016 was hard, but not as intense. Last year, I barely was affected.  2018 brought the dramatic change in me, which had me announce in July that I now felt completely male and had resumed living as Greg.

When two brothers, who still are at this camp—last year, one brother fulfilled a long-held dream, buying land and a cabin north of home—urged me to come to camp this year, I was slow to be interested. I knew I wouldn’t hunt, for two reasons. First, a non-resident license is nearly $200. Second, with Opening Day on Thursday, I wouldn’t be able to hunt more than a day or two.

Mostly, I had gotten out of my heart the desire to be at camp, and I didn’t know if I wanted to get back into it.

But, I knew that I needed to seize the opportunity to get reintegrated with family. It was important that I show my brothers how important to me it was that they invited me. And, I knew full well that once I got there I would be happy about it.  Plus, when at camp I can drive into town and see other family and friends.

As I made my way to Michigan on Monday morning, I found myself to be in the groove. I was excited and really looking forward to camp and being with the guys.

Because I was three days ahead of Opening Day, I would be at camp by myself the first two days. Mark had his trailer set up, which is where I have slept for years. I got my old bed back.

Mark’s trailer, and my cherished deer camp home.

From Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, the others streamed in. Each one greeted me as usual. All of them said they were pleased to see me, that they were glad I was there. No one acted oddly as to all that had transpired with me, and it would not be fodder for conversation. Only in private, with two of the guys, did I have any openings to discuss my situation.

As much as I long for my loved ones to show their concern by asking me about all that I’ve experienced and suffered, I understand that it’s just too much for them—truly, too weird—and so I have to take their being happy to be back with them as confirmation that they love and accept me.

It’s a good lesson for all of us. As much as we long for acceptance and understanding from others, it’s on us to give to others the same level of bearing with them.

As for me, they saw the same guy they always knew. If they had any fears that I would be different, or not as goofy, they should have quickly melted away.

I plan to return next year. I’m still not sure whether I will hunt, the price of a non-resident license standing as a cost which I might not be able to swallow. But, I’ll be there. Hanging with the guys. Acting like an idiot. Savoring the treats on Festivity Night’s hors d’oeuvre table.

And frying the eggs for the guys every morning.

Yup, it’s hormones

IMG_20180603_170047883_LL

The human body was not designed to thrive with extremely low levels of hormones, including the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. I have been learning this the hard way.

Sitting across from my doctor for the first time in fifteen months, there would be no thoughts of any other situation as behind my troubles.  She confirmed all the suspicions of which I wrote in I am at another crossroads.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On November 9, I saw my endocrinologist. I had previously emailed with her, so she knew that I had been off hormone therapy since last winter. I now filled her in on what I’ve been experiencing.

I began with the hot flashes, which began in May. She nodded, completely unsurprised. I said, “I put myself into menopause, didn’t I.” She agreed.

I continued, explaining the muscle soreness, stiff knees, burning sensation in my thighs when I stop running, and how hard it is for me to run anything more than a very slow pace. Again, she was not surprised. Again, she confirmed my thought that it was occurring because my estrogen and testosterone levels have dropped to very low.

Remembering how I always had my blood drawn after all of my previous appointments, I asked if that would be the case after this one. When she replied in the negative, I asked why. She said, “I know what your levels are.” She explained, saying that my estrogen and testosterone are obviously, tremendously low; so low, she finished up, that they might not even register on a blood test.

Oh, my.

And, regarding the future, the goal won’t be to know, in numbers, where my hormone levels are, because the goal now is for me to feel better, to feel right, not to reach X, number-wise. My situation now is entirely different than when I was on hormone therapy for the purpose of transitioning, when knowing my levels, and keeping them constant, was key.

I explained my concern, that disturbing my hormones might bring a return of my gender dysphoria. There is no way to know when that might occur, and what levels could possibly cause it, or whether it will or won’t ever return. I told her, more than once, that this not knowing concerned me a lot.

Being a male, we began talking about my taking testosterone (T). I had difficulty explaining why raising my T level was a concern for me. I attributed my concern to my entire life, how being a guy, with the competing feminine gender identity, made surging T very challenging to how I experienced myself. And, crazily, now that I finally experience myself as fully male, the thought of increasing my T still gives me pause.

I then spoke of how I was feeling last autumn, how my muscles performed so well that I was running the most miles of my life, and I was regularly knocking a few seconds off my per mile pace, and my T was really low because I was a half year post-op from sex reassignment surgery. Though, last fall, I wasn’t yet feeling like a guy, I had gone through the period of once again feeling like myself—and not a person who was a different being from Greg, which is what happened with me over the first years of my transition—thus, if I could find the sweet spot with my hormones, it seems to me that it would be with low T and slightly higher estrogen.

She heard me. She said this is all experimental, and then she reiterated what she had said earlier in the appointment, that mine is an exceptional case. She saw the tears well up in my eyes each time I told her that I couldn’t bear to experience gender dysphoria any more, how much I loved finally enjoying what I had been seeking all my adult life—to be a guy, with no gender issues—and that though I had succeeded at transitioning I had no interest in returning to it.

So, she agreed with my idea, that I go on a low dose of estrogen. After pondering how much I should take, she suggested I begin at twenty-five percent of what had previously been a full dose. She said that even that small of an amount might help my muscles and bones, and that it might stop the hot flashes, but not to be surprised if they do not cease entirely.

I told her what Julie had said to me, that I go into this with the idea that I will go back on estrogen, that it will provide the relief I am seeking, and that the dysphoria will not return. At the time Julie had said that, I had little confidence in it. But, in the days leading up to the appointment, as I pondered it, I grew in my belief of it. Thus, when I left the doctor’s office, as I departed the building, as I drove home, and as I anticipated the return of once-a-week injecting myself, I was okay with it.

Even hopeful.

Stop for stopped school buses!

M-Big-Bus-Stop-Bob-Markwardt-Cecil-County-PS-MD-13-1

Late in October in northern Indiana, three siblings—a nine-year-old girl and her six-year-old twin brothers—were killed, and another child seriously injured with several broken bones, when a woman did not recognize she was approaching, then passing, a stopped school bus. Though the bus had on its flashing lights and its STOP arm was out, the driver says she missed these signs.

Indy Star, our Indianapolis newspaper, followed up the story with information which are shocking and dismaying: https://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2018/10/30/school-bus-stop-rules-what-drivers-should-know-indiana-traffic-laws/1819196002/

In the story, Indy Star reported that one day each school year Indiana school bus drivers count the vehicles that pass them when their bus’s stop arm is out. During the most recent count, 3,082 drivers illegally passed school buses. If that 3,082 were an average day, it means that over the course of the school year, school buses are passed in excess of 500,000 times, reported Indy Star.

That’s a half-million.

In one state.

Indiana’s population is nearly 6.7 million. The USA currently is almost 327 million. Therefore, Indiana has almost exactly 1/50th of the nation’s people.

Taking the 500,000 illegal passes for a year and multiplying them by fifty, we get this staggering number: 25 million.

It is possible that 25,000,000 times each school year, school buses are being illegally passed.

It is possible that 25,000,000 times each school year, drivers are either not paying attention, or in too big a hurry, or ignorant of the law, or just plain negligent regarding stopped school buses.

It is possible that 25,000,000 times each school year, children are being thrust into harm’s way.

This is almost incomprehensible.

I struggle to read stories which report these deaths of children—deaths which never had to happen. My heart is broken for the parents and family, who lost these precious children, who now have Grand Canyon-sized holes in their hearts. My mind tries to conceive what the driver is now experiencing, most likely a huge burden of guilt. I try to fathom the horror felt by the bus driver, who saw the crash happen to children whom he thought he was safely sending across the road.

The driver of the vehicle that hit the children is twenty-four. She’s married. In fact, she was returning from having taken her husband to work, and she had three children in her vehicle, including her brother. It likely was a typical morning for her, which was leading into a typical weekday.

She’s now charged with reckless homicide.

Surely, this young woman is just a regular person, who is loved in her family, liked by her friends, and valuable at her job.

Surely, she never desired to do any harm.

There is no good reason so many school buses are being illegally passed, that so many crashes are occurring, that children are being injured and killed.

Know the law in your state.

Obey the law in your state.

Be watchful when you drive.

Keep our children safe.

I am at another crossroads

Of all the things I wanted never to do again, I am facing the possibility of going back on hormone therapy. I write about that in the second portion of this post.

1. “Hi, I’m Greg, again!”

Today, I go to the dentist for my twice-yearly cleaning. I will be going as Greg. I will be going as Greg for the first time since April of 2015.

On Friday, I see my endocrinologist. I will be going as Greg. I will be going as Greg for the first time since my first visit to this doctor in June of 2015.

When, after I began my transition in the summer of 2015, I was in the spot of going places where they knew me as Greg, I found that I needed to give them a heads up that I would be coming in as Gina. Indeed, I asked if this would be okay, if they were fine with trans patients. At each place, they appreciated my calling, they were on board with me, and they usually told me that they had trans patients.

Returning as Greg, I do not see the need to inform anyone. Indeed, going to places as Greg, where I had gone as Gina—I’m thinking of grocery stores, restaurants, and the like—I have no hesitation. However, going to the same restaurants and stores as Gina, where they had met or seen me as Greg, I stayed away from those.

Today, when I enter the dentist’s office, I suspect the receptionist will immediately recognize me. The question is, how quickly will she recognize that my hair is short and that I’m wearing guy’s clothes?

Because I love chatting with folks, over the four years I’ve gone to this dentist I’ve gotten to know that woman, and others who float in and out of the office, whom I always see when I arrive for my appointment. She is friendly and has treated me wonderfully, so I want to do things right by her.

I suspect that as soon as she sees me approaching her window, I will smile wide. If her window is open, or when she opens it, I think I will say, “Hi, there! You were expecting Gina. Well, do I have something to tell you!”

I’ll have to do the same thing with the dental hygienist, and then with the dentist. I am so hoping I see one dentist (of three possible) in particular. We’ve chatted a lot over the years. He’s been dandy with me. And we joke around a lot.

When I see my endocrinologist, I won’t be breaking my news to her. I’ve emailed with her. But, the receptionists don’t know. As with at the dentist, I’ve seen these women many times, and have had lots of friendly chatter with them, so if my approach at the dentist works okay that’s how I’ll do it with them.

2. “Doc, my muscles are killing me.”

No one warned me I might be experiencing this. My legs feel that since last winter I have aged twenty-five years.

When I went off hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the only concern which was expressed was for the sake of my bones. Osteoporosis is common in older folks for a variety of reasons, one of which is low levels of testosterone or/and estrogen. Having had sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery, I now produce very little testosterone. Because I am a genetic male, I produce very little estrogen.

Weakened bones is not yet a concern for me (that I know of). Several other things have happened and, if my research on them has proven correct, they are connected to my low hormone levels.

I have been having hot flashes since May.

It took me a couple of weeks to figure out that these episodes were hot flashes. The weather grew hot here in Indianapolis in May. I thought that, when I would do a chore and I grew too hot so quickly, it was because of the outdoor heat, even though we keep our house air conditioned at seventy-four degrees.

And then I noticed I was having these overheated experiences when sitting still.

And then I got online to research it.

And as I sorted through all of the possibilities, there was only one which matched up with me. I had low estrogen.

I was experiencing menopause.

The confounding, uncomfortable, toss-the-blanket-off-me-when-it-hits-in-bed hot flashes have continued. As spring moved into summer, again I initially attributed to the heat and humidity why I was struggling with jogging and speed-walking. Indeed, I found myself speed-walking more often than running, because my body simply couldn’t do a lot of running in the oppressive weather.

Since I had the same problem the previous summer, I attributed it to my having grown older. But, now, I noticed that my walking pace was slower than last year, and it kept getting worse, and the weather didn’t have to be as hot for it to be too hot for me to run.

I looked forward to the cooler weather, which finally landed here in early October. Thankfully, as I had hoped, I was able to run. Within a week, I was running five miles non-stop.

But, wow, was my pace slow. After I had one good run, I fell apart. Last Friday, I had the slowest five mile run of my life. My pace has grown so slow, I won’t even tell you want it is, except to say that it’s way worse than ten minutes per mile.  At this time last autumn, I was jogging six and seven miles per day, and getting close to ten minutes per mile.

Even more, my muscles are constantly sore. Whenever I get up from bed or having sat for awhile, I hurt the way I envisioned I would be when I get into my eighties, not at age sixty-one.

So, as with the hot flashes, I got online and looked into it. Of all the things it could be, one stood out as likely for me. You guessed it: low hormone levels.

Human beings are not meant to work well without a proper amount of estrogen and testosterone.

I was hoping to stave off osteoporosis by continuing to be a distance runner. Running builds bone. I was determined never to return to HRT for fear that it would unbalance my hormones and cause me to once again experience gender dysphoria. I am all but convinced that my gender dysphoria went away because my hormones finally stabilized at levels which work for my endocrine system, as I wrote in The return to Greg—the cause.

I cannot afford to again experience gender dysphoria.  I have been worn out by it.  The thought of it drives me to despair.

I have felt so good this year, experiencing myself as a male, completely as a male, with no female tugging back and forth. This is the way I’ve always wanted to be. I don’t want to lose it.

I was bound and determined not to return to my endocrinologist. I was bound and determined never to go back on hormone therapy. I was bound and determined to be forever done with gender dysphoria.

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I still have a supply of estradiol and syringes. I’ll let you know whether or not I’ll be getting them out of storage. Or, might my doctor prescribe testosterone? I wonder.

Or, maybe, neither. Maybe, I’m wrong about all of this. I don’t think I am; all of my symptoms line up perfectly with low hormones. But, my doctor is the professional. I have my notes typed up, so that I forget to tell her nothing, that she might make a proper diagnosis.

Julie—ever the wise one—said to me on Monday, “Go into this thinking that you will resume HRT, that it will provide the help you need with the hot flashes and your muscles, and that it won’t cause your gender dysphoria to return.” I continue to reflect on this, picturing her sitting across from me, calming me as she has so many times.

Regardless of my wonderful wife’s advice, I easily admit:

I am scared.