December 22, 2007

The Holiday Season

Posted in Christmas, family, food, friends, Pro Club Laser at 3:48 pm by Michael

Ok, things are a little frantic, but a little “normal”, so there hasn’t been a bunch to write. However, there was a comment that I got late last night that I wrote a long response to (below), and enough has happened since Wednesday to write some stuff! It’s like a smorgasbord – what could be more in the holiday season than that!

One of the stories that I heard from a co-worker is a solution they found to how to refer to things that I’ve done pre-transition. Michael? Megan? He? She? Nah, they simplified the problem – they just referred to me, for the sake of that conversation as “Wallent”. Works for me! Honestly, I’m not trying to erase “Michael”. I did a lot of stuff… When people talk about interacting with me “Before”, it makes sense to say “When I was talking to Michael…” or “Megan” – whatever works. I have a very pragmatic perspective on this. Whatever works.

Wednesday night we brought a few friends out to dinner as a thank you for their support, specifically the folks who came to visit Anh and I when we were in San Francisco. We went to Chez Shea in Seattle, near the Pike Place market. The company was great, the food was ok, but the service, well, it was a distraction. Maybe it was because we were in the lounge, but honestly, it felt like the waiter had better stuff to do. Huh, no extra tip for him.

Thursday we got to find out how picky Seattle zoning is. We are trying to get some landscaping done in our yard, and a failing driveway wall fixed. However, it seems like no matter what we want to do, there’s a rule about it (or not doing it!). The folks we are working with are super knowledgeable, but still, wow! That’s a lot of rules. Maybe the yard will be just fine as is!

We were having some friends over (John and Cait) for dinner on Friday, so we wanted to make something nice. Cait is a fantastic cook, and they both are fantastic hosts (I do remember this, even though the last time we saw them I think we drank 9 bottles of wine in 8 hours (we slept there – no Drinking and Driving). We were all hurting big-time the next day). It’s been super cold here in Seattle, so we wanted to make a great winter dish. So, Anh made Tomato soup, which we planned to finish with a crouton with melted (in the broiler) cheddar and parm on top. I worked on braised lamb, onion, mushroom and tomato (garlic and rosemary too), that we’d then mix in with pasta (penne – our last bag that we got from Italy). I am very much the sous chef in our house. So, to say I “worked on” it may be an exaggeration. I am the sommelier and bartender – but just the sous chef. One has to know their place. We cooked all of this Thursday night – we pulled the lamb an hour early, planning on finishing it for an hour the next day, and got the tomato soup base done.

Friday morning was the long appointed crazy laser appointment. Now, I’ve had laser a bunch of times (five?) in the past six months, all at a different place. However, the second to last time I was there, my right arm got hypo pigmented in a weird pattern, and they stopped talking to me. I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t even upset, they just decided not to talk to me anymore. Very odd. Friday the appointment was at the Pro Club in Bellevue. I wasn’t worried about this at all. Laser is uncomfortable, but it’s not unbearable. I actually thought it was worse than electrolysis, but not a lot more.

So, I went in (got Sir’ed twice), and filled out the requisite forms, and went in to see Stacey, who was awesome. She asked how long I had (30 minutess), and a little history. I told her, told her the hypo pigmentation story, and she said “no problem”, and we agreed to work on my upper lip, lower lip and chin. She then got an ice bag, and asked if I wanted to get numbed.

Numbed? Ice? Wha? I’ve done this before, my whole lip/chin area is numb because of nerve issues from surgery, and I’m thinking “Who do you think you are dealing with here? Some sort of Wuss?”

She says: “No, really.”

I say (foolishly) “I’m SURE I’ll be ok.” (Smile and Wave!)

She says, smiling and sighing “Okay… we’ll just have to see how this goes!”

She started on my chin, from the outside.

Grabs the laser, puts in on my chin, and presses the trigger.

“JESUS FRIGGING CHRIST! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?” (calling on the FSM in this scenario seems pointless)

Where the “other” laser feels like a little elastic snap, this felt like five or six needle pricks (hard), all at the same time.

She got halfway across my chin, toward the middle, and I had to have her stop, and give me a minute.

She said “You want to see what it looks like so far?”

I’m thinking “What’s this about? Usually it just looks a little red, so what am I looking at here?”

She gives me the mirror, and “MY GOD – WHAT IS THAT?”

Basically, it looks like my hair has literally jumped out of my skin, some all the way, some partially, and is now stuck to my chin.

She says: “You have great ejection happening.”

I say “Eja-wha???”

She says: “Well, the courser hairs that we do, especially the dark ones on people with light skin, they tend to just “jump” right out. That’s called ‘ejection’. You get results immediately for at least half the hairs, and the rest come out in about a week.”

I say: “Well, this hurts like hell, but I love you. Keep going!”

I iced the rest of my chin, and she started working on my upper lip, which is SUPER numb.

That also hurt like hell. The nerves got an interesting wakeup call yesterday.

We finished up, and I spent the next two hours with ice bags/packs on my face. The treated area is still swollen (but less so) more than a day later.

Stacey said that the laser she was using was an older type (but new model) and was patented ( ). Basically, the other place had a different model, and while it hurt less, was a different wavelength that was less efficient.

 I will post some new pictures shortly – I don’t feel like I have “Lion Lip” on top anymore – although it is still swollen.

After laser, with ice bags at the ready, Anh, Samwich and I went to lunch with our friend Val at Malay Satay Hut in Bellevue (good place!). I had a beer. My face hurt like hell still.

Anyway, Val’s a sweetheart, and has been super supportive through this whole process. She also gave me a special present that I will value forever. (Sorry, I can’t say what it is. When I get back to work, it will be in my office though, prominently displayed).

We went home after a little Christmas shopping at U Village (cold!), and then finished up with dinner. Food ended up coming out the way we wanted, and it was a lot of fun.

This morning, we simply finished up with Christmas shopping and shipping… and life goes on.



  1. Dave #2 said,

    (In response to your Dave post).
    I agree with Dave on most points.

    I say that as someone who was (and still is somewhat) in the same place as you mentally and emotionally. I could choose the path you did or make the best of the hand I was dealt with. It did the latter because it’s not all about ME. Its about your wife, kids, family, friends, co-workers. They factor in too. For me, their lives are a part of mine and me doing something that is more than a little difficult for them isn’t fair. It is selfish.

    Once I made peace with this, and it took a bit, I had peace in my life. Sure, I’ll always feel the way that I do. But it’s OK. I can manage it by embracing the hand I was dealt and spending even more time with the ones I love.

    So I am with Dave. You should have made this choice 20 years ago before you involved so many other people. And frankly, it’s not too late to change your mind…

    And yes, I did know you well as Michael, at one time. You were not a always nice person back then. Others feel this way, they just won’t take the time to post. I hope you have improved from those days. We all do.

    In spite of that near-rant, take care Megan. I’ll respect and support you the next time we meet if we ever do.


    Megan >> I’ll just comment inline here, since I don’t want to make the whole Blog a “Dave” discussion.

    “Its not all about ME” and “It is selfish”

    There’s a critical point here about how I came out and how and why I ended up transitioning. When I came out to Anh, I told her that I had gender identity issues. At that point (and this is what I told her), I felt like I had three options:

    1. Status Quo – tell no one, stay totally closeted
    2. Tell but Don’t Act – be open with close friends and family, but don’t ever be “public” and not present female in “public”
    3. Tell and Act – tell and be public with presenting how I feel inside (female)

    I was open to both “2” and “3”. “1” was where I was before, and I couldn’t do it.

    I specifically decided, and we discussed that I was only going to “optimize” around her. That is to say, I wanted to do what would keep our relationship together, but I wasn’t going to take the path that was “best” for anyone else (except her). Yes, I did decide not to optimize around my kids. I have talked to friends about this decision (in depth), and I understand that others may not make that same decision.

    The discussion that we had around the kids was complicated. Everything that I’ve read and been counseled about says that the earlier that kids face a transitioning parent, the easier it is for them. The worst time generally is when they are teens. Peri is getting close. Samwich is very far from that. We also talked about how if we (me and Anh) were together, no matter what the outcome, it would be “easier” on the kids. Honestly, if Anh bailed initially, any “public” step would have been insanely more difficult for the kids. E.g. “Wow, this must not be ok, because Anh/Mommy left Daddy over this.”

    I get that it would be “easier” for the kids if I hadn’t been public and transitioned (Option #1). I’m not trying to convince anyone its not true. However, I do believe, after being divorced the first time, and honestly being a way better parent post-divorce than pre-divorce (happier, more focused on the kids, not avoiding being home), I felt like if this weight was lifted, it might help me to be a better parent and that in combination with Anh’s support (and at that point hopefully other’s – because no one else knew then) would offset the obvious challenges this brings.

    As for which path to choose – this was a painful, emotionally wrenching issue for both of us. In the end, Anh’s position was “You have to be true to yourself. If this is who you are, and you are sure, then go for #3.” Her other position was “The middle sucks. I can’t last long in the middle. Get to someplace (soon) where we can live our lives and get past this.”

    Is that “Selfish”?

    Well, that’s a label. I’m not sure that applies here. I would clearly say that I decided not to optimize around some people, while I did optimize around others.

    “You should have made this choice 20 years ago before you involved so many other people.”

    Interesting issue. 20 years ago there were a lot of things that were different.

    While I felt these identity issues, I wanted, more than anything for these feelings to “go away”. Jennifer Finney Boylan talks about this very issue in her book “She’s not There”. I felt, like she did, that if I was in a “perfect” relationship, that they would.

    While some TG folks have STRONG feelings that they are trapped in the wrong body and are suicidal, I wasn’t. In “She’s not the Man I Married”, Helen Boyd talks about a spectrum – and describes her husband “Betty” as 51/49 (female/male). I was more like 60/40. But, not 90/10. If I was that far, I don’t think I could have been authentically “Michael” for so long, and quite honestly, a happy person. Given that, it fed into my desire for this to “go away”.

    My dad was alive then. I wasn’t able to come out to him. I couldn’t do it. Sorry… not strong enough.

    Twenty years ago, it was hard to find role models (not impossible – but hard).

    Twenty years ago, there was far less societal acceptance of TG folks, and even understanding. Yes, there were trans-folks on Jerry Springer and Phil Donahue, but it would be fascinating to get one of those tapes, and compare it to the recent Oprah series on TG teens and then families.

    Twenty years ago, I didn’t know myself well enough, and wasn’t strong enough to face this.

    Then, I think about Peri, John and Samwich. If I did transition 20 years ago, they wouldn’t exist. While their lives will have challenges because of this, I’m glad they are here.

    Would it have been “better” to do this without involving as many people – yes, it would have been. I agree. However, to quote my favorite lawyer again “It is what it is”.

    “You were not a always nice person back then. Others feel this way, they just won’t take the time to post. I hope you have improved from those days. We all do.”

    I think this will be at least the fifth time in this blog that I admit that I wasn’t always as nice, caring, understanding or as easy to work with as I should have been or the people around me deserved. About 3-4 years ago, in the middle of shipping Vista, a series of events made me really examine how I carry myself at work, and I do believe that I’ve made significant change and progress on that point since then. So, I hope if we run into each other at some point, then maybe we can talk more about this.

    While I really do appreciate the honesty, the anonymity that you have tried to attach to yourself, and at the same time assert that you are speaking for “others” is a little disappointing. I’m certainly not anonymous. If you take the time to actually write such a clear comment, maybe you owe it to me, and the others who post in this space to use your real name. Others do. And we have private discussions in mail.

    “In spite of that near-rant, take care Megan. I’ll respect and support you the next time we meet if we ever do.”

    I didn’t think this was a rant at all. I really do appreciate and respect the time you took to post, and I hope you find my reply helpful (or at least respectful).

    I thank you for your support, and wish you peace in your life as well.

  2. Brian B. said,


    Two part comment below.

    – Part 1 –

    This is really an amazing exchange. If nothing else, I think the two Dave’s have to admit that you are extremely brave to carry on this conversation with them – in public, no less.

    Even as your friend, it is tempting for me to agree with the Daves about the “selfishness” of your decision. However, chiding other parents for how they raise their kids is a slippery slope that I don’t want to walk down.

    If I start to question your parenting now, then I also have to wonder: Was it in your kids’ best interest when your first marriage ended in divorce? Perhaps you should’ve just “embraced the hand you were dealt” back then too? I would like to hear how Dave2 responds to that – exactly which parenting decisions of yours does he feel qualified to judge and why. Does he really feel that he knows better than you when it comes to your own children?

    In the end, we, as a society, have decided to allow parents to divorce, even when it TORMENTS the children involved for the rest of their lives. Most of us don’t even blink anymore when we here about such divorces. Why should a sex change be any different?

    And this is also where I end up in your case – I trust you to weigh all the pros and cons and decide what’s best not just for you but for your entire family. If I can’t trust you to raise your own kids, then I have no faith in you at all. So I simply assume you know how difficult this transition must be for your children – my heart aches for them above everyone else in this story.

    – Part 2 –

    That said, I’m stuck myself on a different aspect of your decision. I still can’t understand the logic of a person whose “personal F/M ratio” is 60/40 converting to a pure female identity, complete with a new name, etc. Even if you had no marriage or kids, that is a HUGE amount of hassle to go through for a measly 20 point gain in gender satisfaction. You still feel 40% “wrong” as a female, no? To be blunt, that’s gotta suck after all you’ve been through.

    Since your 60/40 nature is in the middle of the gender spectrum, why didn’t your Option 3 (Tell and Act) put you there? It seems to me that you could’ve adopted an androgynous identity that was both A) truer to your actual nature, and B) easier on EVERYONE involved. Why try to go all the way to female when you don’t feel or act entirely female to begin with?

    To put it bluntly (again), I wouldn’t object in the slightest if you simply wanted to wear a dress to work. It’s a new century – go for it! Wear beautiful colors, knock yourself out. But what you’ve done obviously goes WAY beyond that: Hours of painful surgery, weeks of recovery, public blog self-examination, personality changes still emerging, turmoil for family and friends, etc. One huge f’ing drama, to say the least.

    In your own words, your F/M ratio was “not 90/10. If you were that far, you don’t think you could have been authentically ‘Michael’ for so long, and quite honestly, a happy person.”

    But a happy person doesn’t do what you’ve done, does he? That’s the part I don’t quite understand.

    Megan >> Hi Brian,
    Note to everyone else – Brian and I are good friends from way back, and have had many personal email discussions about whats going. So, this type of comment is “perfect” – in that he’s actually asking a hard question (part #2) and I’m happy to reply…. Note thats it’s not anonymous….

    On to the “60/40” question….

    Before I read “She’s not the Man I Married” by Helen Boyd, I wouldn’t have gotten it either. She does a great job explaining her position about how gender identity and expression is a “spectrum” and not a binary choice. She talks at length about how in our society, the range of acceptable expression for those in the “male” checky box is “narrower” than in the “female” checky box.

    Yes, changing your checky box gender is pretty damn hard – on all involved.

    However, I’m still 60/40. So…. I wear jeans a lot. I don’t wear makeup. I don’t dress super girly. I don’t own a dress. (I’ve tried some on, but felt very uncomfortable). Basically, I am androgynous, but w/the F checked, not the M. I feel like an F. I’ve just got my own style.

    I would be surprised if anyone, male or female, after reading that book, would describe themselves as 100/0 (or 0/100).

    This isn’t about clothes. Really. I had cross-dressed privately and secretly for “a long time”. It started to make me feel “worse” – in that I was playing dress up, and not being authentic.

    As far as the happy part – I was and I am. Now I’m happy, but more whole. Happy and authentic are different.

    As far as authentic – I never did anything because I wanted to “pass” as “male”. If you read enough TG folks stories, you will see people who do stuff like join the military, or other typically “male” roles in order to “prove” that they are “men”. I never did anything like that. “Michael” was authentic – not a front. I’m not saying that doing otherwise is wrong – I’m just telling my story (not judging!).

  3. SarahR said,

    Last time I made a choice of denial, tarnished as acceptance, it held four years befour leading me to deep depression. Dave#2 -> You may call Megan selfish now but I would not exclude that you finally land on the same place.

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