May 22, 2008

Six Months

Posted in family, life, transgender, travel at 10:24 pm by Michael

Ok, I’m a few days early.

November 25, 2007 – Michael
November 26, 2007 – Megan

Talk about a step function! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Step_function)

I know that I tend to go micro in the blog (as in microeconomics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microeconomics) but this entry is a little more macro (as in macroeconomics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroeconomics).

As an aside, Christine (and you know who you are), encouraged me to write this by asking “When are you going to start blogging again?”

Why am I writing this four days early? Well, Anh and the kids are in Hawaii this week. I was at a training class for ‘softies since Monday night (three nights, four days), and she took the opportunity to depart for warmer climes (back tomorrow night – yea!) We are going to be busy this weekend, so I probably won’t have a chance to blog much, so therefore… the update!

Me and Anh

We are great, thank you. I was talking to someone at work a week or so ago who I hadn’t seen since early November, and she asked how Anh was doing, and basically said: “Do you still live together?”

I said, “Yup, and we are really *together* too…”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Wow, Anh must be an amazing person!”

I could not agree more….

The Kids

Peri and John, in the end, I’m sure I’ll find out what they really thought about 10 years from now (or 15, because I’m sure in 10 years when they are 20 and 18, my IQ will drop, followed by the inevitable rise as they age) but, by all measures, they seem to be doing just fine. They still call me Daddy, because I am.

Samwich is just the Samwich. He’s 14 months old now, cute as a button and sweet as pie – except when he’s yelling at you. He likes that. I think he calls me “Da”… but, it’s not consistent, and he doesn’t call Anh anything. We were talking about this the other day, and postulate that he doesn’t call either Anh or I anything (esp Anh) because he doesn’t see us as separate from him. We *are* him (to him). As a result, there is no need to name us.

He now is attached to his blankets (especially a green fleece one… he *loves* to snuggle it).

The kids are just kids… just like any other kids….

Family

Besides the normal ups and downs of any family, my trans-ness is old news. Nobody really cares. I can’t imagine a better situation.

Friends

Besides the fact that our schedule has been INSANE, and we haven’t seen our friends any where near enough, there’s no friend problem. If anything, we’ve gotten closer to a whole set of people.

Work

I was worried about this one. On so many levels. Would I face “to my face” hostility? Would I lose credibility as a leader? Would this just continue to be a topic *forever*?

You know what? As long as I’m effective, I don’t think anyone cares….

The training that I was at over the last couple of days was a great example. Like with any leadership training, a lot of the learning is from your peers, not just the instructor lead stuff. The instructor lead stuff was great, but I felt like I could still be really effective (and got feedback to that effect) doing peer coaching and mentoring. Did anyone care or notice that I was trans? Well, they all knew, because I told them back in the first part of the class in March, but I think they all knew anyway….

My work challenges have so little do with my trans-ness… its just part of the mix. Work is hard (duh), but not because of anything since November. If anything, the self-reflection that I’ve *had* to do has helped me… Do I have room to grow – no doubt!

Community

Our local community here (our neighborhood), is completely cool. In fact, we saw one of the mom’s from Anh’s mommy group last weekend at the park (when it was 80 deg F and super nice here), and she hadn’t seen me since right when we came back in December. The first thing she said to me was “Good to see you! You look great!’. What a sweetheart… she made my day.

As far as the trans-community goes, well, I think I’ve been more visible than I ever expected. I didn’t expect any notice really. The whole ABC thing was surprising. I think it worked out ok…. I still feel like a newbie.

I’ve also been invited to speak at the Out and Equal Workplace Summit (http://www.outandequal.org/summit/2008/default.asp) in Austin in September, and Southern Comfort (http://www.sccatl.org/main.htm) in Atlanta in October. I plan to do both. Will anyone care what I have to say? I think they’d rather hear Anh talk, but she is a woman of mystery. 

Me

Physically, I’m recovered from my re-face-ification. My noggin is still numb, although a smaller part than before. Underneath my nose (the part on the same plane as my nostrils (bottom) is numb. My ears are a bit numb on the top 10%, and my lower front four teeth have lost some sensation. That’s it. Everthing else is just fine thank you…. No complications.

Surgical moratorium still stands….

Emotionally, yeah, I’m a little more sensitive. Ok, fine, I admit it. I was walking in the grocery store tonight after I had dinner, and listening to music on my phone (NOT AN iPhone), and this little interstitial instrumental that had a baby (6 months) babbling in the background. Ok, yes, I got a little sentimental, both for the days that Samwich, Peri and John were that young, plus given that they are away, I missed them. I called Anh and told her that and I felt better. I told her I was going to be cheesy in advance, and that was ok.

Look, I’m totally convinced that I did the right thing. It’s not easy every day, but every day is easier…..

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May 19, 2008

Politics at Work – Probably a “Bad Idea”

Posted in Identification, life, work at 11:17 pm by Michael

Remember the SNL skit for “Bad Idea Jeans“?

I felt like I was in that skit last week.

I was at a work thing (I won’t go further…), but it was at the time “non-work”, in that people were talking about stuff that was non-work related.

The conversation, just like many conversations these days, turned to politics – the Clinton v. Obama race, McCain’s running mate, etc.

There was discussion about the polarization that was evident in the recent Democratic primaries – the high numbers of voters unwilling to vote for the other candidate:

“Barely a third of Clinton supporters say they’d vote for Obama over John McCain in a November matchup. As many claim they’d vote for Republican John McCain and a quarter said they would not vote for president. If that horse race were Clinton vs. McCain, half of Obama backers say they’d vote for Clinton, about three in 10 say they’d back McCain and the rest would stay home.”

I *really* tried to stay out of it. Really.

About half the folks in the room were Republicans, about half-Democrats.

Remember, I *really* tried to stay out of it. It’s work.

Then, someone asked me:

“Megan, who are you going to vote for?”

“Well, that’s a good question. I have to say that I can’t vote for someone that doesn’t think that my family should be a family.”

“That means either Obama or Clinton, right?”

“Well, it’s hard to tell because it’s hard to get a straight answer from any of the candiates, but Clinton and Obama are more open than McCain.”

(Here’s the chart)

On the positive side, some people who were on the McCain side actually commented that yes, this was a problem…. I honestly don’t know sometime how “activist” to be, and how much to just silently live and lead… it’s a tradeoff.

(BTW, I met Sen. McCain in 2001, while doing work on internet privacy. We had about an hour meeting, and I remember him as fiesty, but that one side of his face and one of his arms was more significantly injured than I had thought from seeing him on TV. I’ll hand it to the guy, I may disagree with his positions, but he’s honorable, and has served our country both in the service and in politics.)

Michael Who?

Posted in Identification at 10:20 pm by Michael

Over the past week or so, twice now, I feel like I’ve had to “Impersonate” Michael.

Impersonate? That’s a weird word to choose, huh? Yeah, that’s kind of what it felt like.

As I’ve written about a lot, I’m a pilot. One of the non-fun things about being a pilot is dealing with aircraft maintenance. I’ve been dealing with that for the past couple weeks, but the thing is that the last time I had a plane in for an annual inspection (its an FAA thing, and a safety thing), it was “Michael” who was the operator, not “Megan”. The folks who do my airplane maintenance (Galvin Flying, at Boeing Field in Seattle – I like them), are nice guys and all, but I really didn’t want to get into it with them.

So, when I called to make the appointment “Michael” called. When the guy called me back, I didn’t recognize the number, and I answered the phone “Hi, this is Megan.” He said “Can I speak to Michael?” (or Mike, I can’t remember, he tends to call me either). I said “Speaking!”… It must have been an odd moment for him. It was super odd for me.

I also noticed that my intonation as changed too, especially when greeting/departing… It really struck me that I’ve changed my speaking pattern.

So, we’ve been talking back and forth now for a couple weeks (I recognize the number now), and I’m “Michael” to him. It’s become incredibly odd.

Another instance: I had to call for a hotel reservation that for a long convoluted reason that I won’t get into I had to:
a) Make it under “Michael Wallent”
b) Then add Anh to the reservation

When I called, I introduced myself as “Michael Wallent”, gave the checkin/checkout dates, and they found me, and then I said “I need to add my wife, Anh to the reservation” (there was a little more too it, but it wasn’t the point). I got the immediate “No problem Sir!”, and they fixed it.

I felt like a liar. I didn’t really like that either.

While we were out for a walk the other day, I mentioned this whole thing to Anh, and especially the part about my speaking pattern changed. Her reply was, sensitive, but along the lines of “Duh!”… It was really more loving than that, but that was the essence.

I’m also really struggling with what to refer to Anh as in every day conversation with people that are acquaintances. People tell stories, you tell them stories, and I increasingly just say: “Well, when Anh and I…” But the problem is that they don’t know her, and am probably not sure about our relationship, so its probably just confusing….

Technically (see below), she’s still my wife. I’m still her husband. Maybe I need to just get over myself and just refer to her as “My Wife” because duh, she IS.

May 1, 2008

Trans-Marriage Issues in the News

Posted in family, Identification, transgender at 11:55 am by Michael

Interesting article last Saturday in the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/fashion/27trans.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&oref=slogin

They also had an article in the Sunday Magazine about gay marriage.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/magazine/27young-t.html

Good for them for writing about both of these issues – in the same edition no less….

I thought I’d add our own personal experience around the whole legality of marriage for trans-people, and some thoughts on what we’ve done to try to protect ourselves.

Anh and I are legally married. In Washington State at least (unlike at least 13 other states), gay marriage or domestic partnerships/civil unions are not illegal, but are also expressly not legal (Massachusetts and Hawaii being the exceptions on the marriage front).

However, we have a standard marriage license.

From all the legal advice that we have received, the state *cannot* (at least in Washington, and there is no record in the USA) void a legal marriage.

There is a super interesting question of what gender I am to the State of Washington. As I’ve said, I have an “F” driver license, but a male birth certificate (from Massachusetts). (I cannot get an F birth certificate from MA – the require SRS – same deal with my US Passport) If we were not married today, and wanted to get married, it is not legally clear if we could or could not.

Even though we are still “Legal”, we redid our wills in November, before I transitioned – with both my names (Michael and Megan), and we also had specific power of attorney, living will, and basically outlined all of the joint rights (including inheritance) that we have as a legally married couple in legal documents, so that our joint intent is clear.

Last month, we refinanced our house mortgage (lower rate) with the same bank that did our mortgage last summer. We had ZERO problems, and all they asked was if we wanted to hold the title/mortgage as a married couple, or as separate unmarried persons. We said “We are still legally married”, and that was that.

The whole silliness of the gay marriage issue (or strenuous opposition to same) is brought out by trans-marriage issues. I’d love for someone who is anti-gay marriage to explain to me how my marriage to Anh was “ok” on November 27, but  not “ok” on November 28, (Without invoking “God”) or also who I would be allowed to marry if Anh was not the light of my life….

Live from MMS 2008 – Vegas!

Posted in food, transgender, work at 11:33 am by Michael

This week I’ve been at my first Microsoft conference in a while – Microsoft Management Summit in sunny Las Vegas. The last one was way back in the spring of ’06, which seems like forever ago.

So, this is my first official “Megan” conference badge.

My Megan MMS Badge

At work, everyone (or virtually everyone) “Knows”. Coming to a five thousand person conference – not so much. While I’ve been here, I’ve done customer and partner meetings, both formal and informal, and also talked to a lot of other ‘softies who I’ve never met before. In addition, I’ve run into a lot of ‘softies who I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Me at MMS, Blue Shirt and All

Fundamentally, what the customers and partners care about when they are talking to me is that I have a clue about what I’m talking about. I’ve not gotten any crappy looks, comments, or sideways glances (as far I as I can tell).

One thing that I did notice, handshaking is totally different. I’ve got reasonably big, but long and thin hands. “Before” when I’d shake hands with people, I’d get the full on, thumb/thumb handshake. Now, when I shake hands w/men, they tend to grab fingers only – not the full-on palm handshake that I’ve been used to.

There is still oddity when I see people who I know, but haven’t seen in a while. I ran into one guy who I’ve worked with a ton in the past, and he was here with his wife. I said hi to him, and he started talking and he said to me: “Wow Megan, you are looking great!”. I could see his wife give him a super shitty look when he said that! I’m sure he’ll explain later, and get the “Ooooohhhhh, now I understand!”. It was a funny moment.

Others are more circumspect: “I’ve heard there’s been a lot going on with you!”

To all of my friends and co-workers who I haven’t seen in a while  – I’m certainly “Out”, and I don’t get bummed out or uncomfortable when people learn about my story. So, if you are afraid that if you say something obvious like “How’s your transition been?” – it’s ok!

On to a more pressing topic – what to eat in Vegas! I have a new favorite steak place in Vegas – “Cut”. It is in the new Venetian Palazzo wing, and it’s a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. I know… these are not great at times – good, not great. This is actually great. Try it. Its new. The service is fantastic, the sommelier is super, and the general manager was super fun to talk to (Marino Monferrato). If you go there, tell ‘em Megan sent you!

(Our previous fave place for steak here – Craft Steak was VERY disappointing when Anh and I were here about a month ago… I may give them another shot, but not soon.)

I also tried David Burke with a couple of other folks. The drinks were great, I had a fantastic halibut t-bone, which was light and memorable. BUT – we had a spicy lobster appetizer that came out undercooked (way undercooked). They handled it well, gave us a salad as a replacement (comped), but still – yuk – undercooked lobster. Not cool. Not sure I’ll go back there anytime soon.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is still my absolute fave on the strip. Go. Go again. I sent somebody there this trip and they described it as “The Best Meal of My Life”. Go. Go More.

Anyway…. Just another show, and I can restart my badge collection!