2017: The culmination (1)

 

The microwave take

I had set my goal to be fully transitioned by the time I turned sixty. Over the course of four years, I had done everything to set up 2017 to complete the task in time, having the surgeries I desired.  My birthday is in April, after the eleventh.

  1. January 19: Vocal cord surgery
  2. April 11: Sex reassignment/gender confirming surgery
  3. November 22: Facial feminization surgery and breast implants

When I fudge my stated goal—to have all of my surgeries in the calendar year in which I turned sixty—I can claim to have achieved it.

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That was one crazy ladder.

The crock pot take

It was 2013. A few months after I began seeing a therapist that April, I had decided that I would need to attempt transitioning, to see if it would help me feel better. Actually, I was on about my tenth decision to transition, and my mind would remain on the I-will/I-won’t swivel for more than two years.

That January, I had crashed. As I reflect on things, I now see that I was in the process of crashing for a few years, since my very early fifties. My life was like watching a slow motion video of a football running back who is hurling through the air, stretching for the end zone, only to have the enormous linebacker awaiting.

It was five years ago that I finally made contact with that linebacker. I was crushed, crunched, and crashed.

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Yeah, that’s me—new look, same great taste, and still a dip!

Back to the therapist’s office, that summer I had once again decided I would need to give transitioning a try. Nothing else was working. I was getting worse. Meltdowns were my too-frequent visitors. I cried almost as much as I breathed. If I could have torn off my flesh, I would have.

Having announced my decision, I said to my therapist, “I have a goal. I want to be fully transitioned, with whatever surgeries I will decide to have, by my sixtieth birthday, in April of 2017.”

At the time, I had plenty of time. As I tore off calendar pages, it felt like sand seeping out of the hour glass and through my fingers. Before 2013 was out, I had begun hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and in 2014 I retired. Outside of retiring, everything else was a seesaw, including the HRT which I stopped and started four times. Up and down I went, and with every hard landing came the next crash, more jarring than the others.

While suicidal thoughts regularly came calling, I never was close to trying. What came close, and I truly thought was going to land and stick, was losing my mind, going insane, becoming a blithering idiot of a person who could do no more than sit around, eating and watching television.

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Nice, but I like my new packaging better.

That is where I found myself in June of 2015. On April 29, I had gone public online, that I had struggled all my life with my gender identity. I was so hoping that fighting my battle in public, openly writing about it, would strengthen me in my resolve to remain male. I found that while writing was therapeutic, being public about this was no cure. In June, I decided to begin to live full time as a female, to see if it would help. I set July 2 as the date to go all Gina, all of the time.

I was finding relief. Thus, in mid-August, I went public about it. I changed my online presence from Greg to Gina. While I continued to have seesaw-situations, each one was situational A pattern emerged. Every time I took the next step, I subconsciously rebelled against it.

And, every time, not only did I fight through the rebellion, taking the step proved beneficial. I succeeded at living as a female. I legally changed my name on May 2, 2016. I scheduled visits with surgeons. I kept going forward.

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Extra!  Extra!  Read all about it!

In 2017, I had every surgery I planned to have. If surgeries did not take so long to accomplish, I would have made my goal of being fully transitioned by my sixtieth birthday. After I hit sixty, the lone thing I had to do was my face surgery and breast implants. At least, I can say that I got them done during the year that I turned sixty. Yeah, I’ll go with that, reaching my fudged goal.

Since my final surgery, I have been on a high. It is a combination thing. I am both tremendously happy with the surgery and riding the wave of being done. If I had a pizza for every time I have verbally proclaimed a huge, smile-accompanied “Whew!”—well, I’d be continually sauced.

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I’ll take four of these and leave the “33% more!!!”

The other thing I find myself saying is, “I am a completely transitioned transsexual.” This boggles my mind. From my middle-school years, when I first learned about transsexuals and was so intrigued by them, to the many years that my regular lament was, “All I want in life is to be a girl,” of all of the daydreams I had where I could not ponder actually transitioning, so foreign to my life was that notion.

And now here I am. I am one of them—a male who is a fully transitioned trans woman.

If I had been selected in high school to be part of some crazy send-a-teenager-to-the-moon program of NASA, and had been the youngest person to lope the lunar landscape, it would not have been any wilder in my imagination than the ground on which I am now walking.

It turns out the man in the moon is transgender.

dolunay

Ain’t that cheesy?

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Surgery is a game-changer

 

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Last Thursday, I wrote about health and happiness. Reaching my conclusion, I said that I would speak to what prompted the topic at this time.

Assuming I pass the pre-op physical this afternoon (required because I have two heart stents), on Thursday I undergo the first surgery in my transition. This will be on my vocal cords, with the goal to raise the pitch of my voice. On February 14 (moved back from my initial January 24 date), I will have sex reassignment surgery. I hope yet this spring to have plastic surgery on my face.

An interesting thing happened on my way to surgery. I have come a long way in transitioning. I have conversed with many people who either are not sure about all of this or who explicitly disagree. Reactions and opinions have greatly varied, but with everything I have done so far temperaments have been pretty steady.

However, everything changes when the talk turns to my having surgery. Folks’ reactions. Opinions. Demeanor. Concerns.

A common response, and the most explicit, has been, “How can you do that?” The sense I get is that my living as a woman, being on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and having my name legally changed were one thing, but to actually have surgery is quite another.

And I think I know why.

As for dressing as a woman, that is immediately and totally reversible. I still have my male clothes, packed neatly in tubs and stored in the basement. This ranks as the easiest to alter.

About as simple would be returning to Greg and male profiles and pictures online. This would be nothing more than a time-consuming nuisance.

While it took time and effort to have my name and sex marker legally changed, they could be reversed with the same amount of effort; more than changing my online presence and clothes, but totally doable.

Finally, HRT. I began taking estrogen and blocking my testosterone in September, 2013. I have experienced important affects both to my brain and to my body. If I were to stop HRT, eventually my testosterone would take over and my estrogen would reduce, returning me to a male hormone structure. Changes to my body would remain, but none are significant enough to impact living as a male.

Oh, and I would need a haircut. Quite the haircut.

Summarizing, everything I have done to this point is reversible. Surgery, however, is another matter.

When it is Christians who are the ones troubled with the talk of surgery, I am sometimes left with the impression that I can still be saved as far as I’ve gone but, if I have surgery, I will have gone too far. All bets would be off. I would have committed some sort of unredeemable sin. (I will spare you the theological arguments.)

Transitioning has been a phenomenal experience. No one could have told me how these things would have progressed. There is no book to follow, “Ten Steps to Freaking out Your World.”

I am not making fun of anyone, but I have been everything from befuddled to amused to enlightened as to the ways of my fellow humans.

Why do they react as they do? I believe I have the answer, and I located it in something Julie said very early after I told her how badly I was being crushed by my gender dysphoria: “I wish I could spend one day in your brain.” She has eloquently explained how those who have never experienced a conflict between their gender/brain and their sex/body have no ability to grasp what the gender dysphoric person lives through.

When it comes to Christians who retain a traditional doctrine, who are so immersed in “male and female He created them (Genesis 5:2),” a person’s being intersex is perhaps the highest hurdle to jump. And any surgery to alter one’s appearance for the purpose of changing sex is incomprehensible. Offensive. Sinful.

Returning to “How can you do that?” I have a question for you. You would never agree with a person’s cutting off his own arm, would you? Normally, of course not. But what if the person were trapped, with no one to hear his cries for help, and would die unless he freed himself by cutting off his arm?

Surely, you have heard of Aron Ralston. Already famous for his heroic 2003 deed, his story was made more widely known by the 2010 telling of it in the movie, “127 Hours.” Hiking the canyons of Utah by himself, a rock loosened above Ralston and trapped his right hand. He had not made anyone aware of his plans, so he was as alone as alone could be.

It was either lose his arm or lose his life. While “grueling” and “horrible” barely describe the act of cutting through one’s own flesh and bone, the decision to do so was a no-brainer.

If he wanted to live.

Sometimes in life, we find ourselves—no pun intended—between a rock and a hard place. A spot where doing what was previously unthinkable not only becomes thinkable, it finally lands in the spot of necessary.

I understand that all of this intersex, gender dysphoria, transgender stuff is mysterious. Because of the media depictions through the years of trans folks, I grasp why many are offended. Why they might think I went off the deep end. How they can only find this sinful.

When I was a pastor, I dealt up close with people who suffered terribly with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and drug and alcohol addiction. I ministered to those whose crimes landed them in prison, whose affairs ruined their marriages, whose participating in an abortion left them with a huge burden of guilt.

I have never experienced any of these. I had little or zero experience with them. Before I became a pastor, I might have been prone to casting a quick judgment on folks in these spots.

I had to learn to clear the slate of my mind so that I could listen. So that I could care. So that I could be of service to them. So that I could be on their side to help them heal.

For the first time in my life, I have been the person who longs not to be judged, ridiculed, cast aside. My transitioning has vividly taught me never to say, “If I were in your position, I would never do that.”

I long for all people to honestly be able to recognize the same thing.