April 25, 2013

Transition Day

Posted in family, friends at 2:29 pm by Michael

headshot

It’s been a busy couple of days. Tuesday night was haircut night (had to work late). Yesterday was name change day. Today was implants out day. The implants have now left the building. (We are back from the 11am process.)

Tomorrow will be take a nap day.

Doing name and gender change stuff is much easier today than it was six years ago. The WA DOL has a very clear process on changing the gender marker on your license.

http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/genderchange.html
The US Department of State has an even clearer (and more kind) process for changing the gender marker on your passport. Basically, you need a letter from your doc, saying that the process is complete, and without any additional passport approval they will issue you a new passport with the proper gender marker.

http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_5100.html

I’ll get those docs tomorrow from my doc, and finish that up too.

Two companies through this process that have stood out. FirstTech Federal Credit Union and Alaska Airlines. Both were kind and quick.

I feel so fortunate to have the support of friends and family, but also to live in a time and place where not this isn’t normative but at the same time won’t get you harassed, jailed or worse.

More to come on the answer to the question: “How are you feeling?”

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May 12, 2009

Jennifer Finney Boylan On Trans-Marriage

Posted in family, life, transgender at 9:03 pm by Michael

Fascinating NY Times Opinion article by Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Here.

Jennifer’s book – “She’s Not There” was super helpful to me and my family, and was a great support to me in coming to grips with the duality of being transgendered and still wanting (deeply) to stay married to Anh.

In the opinion article she discusses the complexity of marriage laws for transgendered folks and the insanity that can sometimes ensue.

Society benefits when people are co-dependent on each other, and not just on the larger society. Marriage codifies that. (Yes, I realize that marriage started as a patriarchical institution that effectively made women property of men. I’m not advocating that type of relationship, but rather a true joining of equals.)

The situations that Jennifer describes are clearly complex… worth a read! Maybe even deliver an (anonymous) copy to your favorite co-worker, neighbor, or government official who may be thinking about this issue in a less-than-open way.

November 23, 2008

Thankful

Posted in family, life at 5:01 pm by Michael

Barcelona!

Barcelona!

Thanksgiving week, this year quite a bit different from the last.

Many people have asked how I’ll celebrate my “One Year Anniversary” (November 28). The fact is that I probably won’t. It’s another day…

Many people have asked about how work has been – how traveling both domestically and internationally has been. Pretty unremarkable actually – we’ve had both our quickest return trips through customs, as well as the first time that we’ve ever been pulled out. (That was coming back from Spain – it turns out that there is a lot of “Ham Smuggling” – not a euphemism – and the customs folk are on the lookout for smuggled sausage.)

At work, day to day in Redmond, no one really cares about my gender (or transition). They care that I’m competent and do my job (which I try to do!)

At home, well, there I’m truly fortunate. Thankful even. I won’t gush, but it wouldn’t be the same without Anh… nuff said.

I’ll be back soon with a full recap of the year.

Thankful.

September 12, 2008

Discretion is the better part of valor?

Posted in family at 9:40 pm by Michael

Run Away!

Run Away!

We were in Austin since Wednesday night for the Out & Equal workplace conference (see posts below). My presentation was Thursday afternoon (more on the in another post), so my official work there was done, although there were more conference things going on until Saturday. We were planning on going home Sunday afternoon.

Then Ike showed up.

Over the past couple of days, people all along the Gulf coast have been keeping an eye on the approaching storm. Austin is a ways inland, but there were concerns that even there, this very massive storm would have an impact on the city – potentially with a loss of power and other challenges.

We got a letter from the hotel last night saying that they were tracking the storm, and if they lost power, they had emergency generators for some elevator operations, some emergency lighting, and limited foodservice. No ventilation, and certainly no AC. For the last three days, it was in the high 90’s, with very high humidity there.

As of last night, all the flights today (Thursday) out of Austin for Friday (today) were all sold out. The Houston airport was closing at 6pm Friday (closed as I post this), and the Austin airport was not scheduled to operate on Saturday, with the requisite flight cancellations.

This morning, I woke up a little before Anh and Samwich did, and checked out the weather. There was no definitive forecast for the storm’s effect in Austin, but there were already FEMA people in our hotel (dealing with evacuees, and preparing Austin too).

I checked for flights out of Dallas (DFW) to get back to Seattle today. Yes, there were flights, direct on Alaska, and there were still rental cars available.

Hmm… there were a bunch of other folks from Microsoft at the conference, and I had hoped to spend more time there.

I thought about this, thought about what it would be like to ride out a major storm in a hotel with no power or ventilation, in a city with potentially large number of evacuees coming from even more impacted locations.

Anh was stirring, and I said, “Anh, how about if we leave now. Let’s drive to Dallas and get a flight out of there.”

Anh immediately agreed, and we got ready to leave. I sent email to my co-workers offering folks a ride, but no one else decided to come with us, although some people changed flights and were going out of other airports.

The traffic leaving Austin was pretty heavy, probably both because of the time of day, but also because there were a lot of people on the road. For the next hundred miles or so, there were temporary signs telling hurricane evacuees where to exit, and where they could stay. It was honestly a little spooky.

So, we left.

We got to the airport in plenty of time, got on our flight, and off we go.

As we were driving I was thinking about the choices that we have that others don’t have. We were able to rent a car without a thought. I rebooked the travel without a thought, and got to where we needed to go. If the Dallas thing didn’t work out, then we’d just drive until we found an airport or a flight that did. Two cell phones, two laptops with data cards and a GPS give you that flexibility.

Before I booked it all, I was starting to feel a little trapped.

What if there was no power – no milk for Samwich – hot and steamy on a high floor in a hotel that we had to walk up and down the stairs to get in and out. What if? How would I have felt if I didn’t take the choice that was available to us, and the storm was a little more to the west, and a little worse than thought?

I can only imagine how the residents of that area (or, lets say New Orleans, pre-Katrina) felt when facing such an impending area. They have babies. They have loved ones. They want to protect them too.

The choices that I have are a fortunate gift, and I was reminded of that today.

I hope that Ike isn’t as bad as forecast, and the people of the region are in our thoughts.

Samwich Rates the iPhone

Posted in family, Samwich at 9:37 pm by Michael

My son, the traitor.

Samwich has a very simple rating scheme for things.

Things that you can eat are rated either:

– Ah! (with mouth open): Translation: “Give me more, now. Didn’t you hear me? I said now.” Things in this category include M&Ms (yes, we are bad parents), fried rice and sushi.

– No! (shaking head): Translation: “This stuff is foul. Are you trying to kill me with this crap?”. If not obeyed, this expression will be followed with the self-evident “Ptoey!” with the accompanying ejection of said objectionable material.

Non-edible things that are cool are rated “Whoa!”, generally with his lips pursed into an “O” shape, and sometimes accompanied with a point at the “Whoa” rated thing.

Things that have been rated “Whoa!” before include airplanes, dogs, Elmo, car wheels, and digger-like machines. The maximum “Whoa!” rating ever received was three. For Elmo.

Until today.

Sitting on the airplane, waiting to go back to Seattle from the Out & Equal conference (more on that in another post), Anh was showing him the latest Conde Nast Traveler, looking for “Whoa!” things.

He flipped to the back cover, which has an iPhone ad – showing the face, with the “desktop” icons visible (just about life size).

Samwich sees this and goes “This is Whoa!”, and starts pointing to it, trying to press the buttons. Now, the fact that he strung the phrase “This is” on the front of the rating gives it even more weight (little dude is only 18 months old now, so three words is pretty good).

He proceeds to rate this 13 “Whoa!”’s, a new record.

To add insult to injury, he starts to kiss and slobber all over it.

Samwich, iPhone, get a room!

Anh says “Looks like mommy needs an iPhone….” Giggling.

Maybe we’ll just laminate the back of the magazine and call it done.

August 19, 2008

Vacation Tidbits

Posted in family, Identification, life, transgender, travel at 12:13 am by Michael

We are on a beach vacation this week (not to be confused with Blogcation).

This presents an interesting challenge for me.

What. To. Wear.

Short answer – shorts and a UV top (no sunburn).

So far, in my experience, the more clothes I’ve got on, the harder it is to “pass”. Big winter stuff – not so much. The hardest group to pass with – kids and teens – without a doubt. Dirty (not crappy mind you) looks are highest per-capita in this group. The beach should be great then, right? Well, add in my outfit, and wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap (Red Sox, of course!), what should be easy becomes, well, less than that.

So, given that context, a few interesting bits so far on this trip:

(NB on the whole “Passing” thing. This is not my raison d’etre. I am who I am. However, I find the reaction to me to be just plain interesting. It doesn’t bug me not to pass (mostly)…)

– When we got here the other night, we were at Safeway getting some stuff for lunch. I was at the deli counter (no jokes please), and the very nice guy behind the counter was *overly nice* to me. This hadn’t happened to me before. It was o-d-d. I was not prepared for this. I was nice, and smiled, and got my turkey and roast beef, thank you.

– Peri broke a toenail today (kind of bad actually), and I went to the little nail hut near the beach to borrow a nail clipper to fix it. As I was sitting there, trimming her nail, a little girl (probably 6?) came up to me, and strated asking lots of questions:

“What are you doing?”

“Do you work here?”

When I said no, and I was just fixing her nail because it broke, she said:

“Oh, you are just her Mom, and you are fixing her toe then? Does it hurt?”

Peri and I just exchanged glances, she smiled, I smiled, and I said:

“That’s right… she’ll be ok!”

And that was enough for her! She smiled and was off.

As we were walking away, Peri said “Was I that nosy when I was that age? I don’t think I was.”

Oh yeah Peri, you were!

(NB. I’m not Peri’s mom. I am not confused on that point. Peri and John calling me “Daddy” all of the time generates quizzical looks, but that’s no biggie.)

(NB II. The little girl above was a sweetheart. She was genuinely concerned about Peri, which was super nice. I hope no one takes away anything remotely negative in my tone.)

– John was getting a Henna tatoo (fish skeleton) this afternoon, and when I went to pay, the tatoo lady was taking down my info.

“Last name?”

“Wallent”

“Ok, first name Mr. Wallent”

“Megan”

“Oh, I’m sorry… I’m a kayak guide in the morning, and with a wetsuit on, I get sirred all the time. Isn’t it funny?”

– We were at dinner tonight, and I was up, walking around with Samwich. Our server, who was a nice middle-aged lady says to me:

“Are you the grandma?”

“No… no, I’m not.”

“Oh.”

DUUUUDE!

That’s worse than asking someone when the little bundle of joy is coming and the answer is negative six months!

Needless to say, Anh has been calling me “Granny” all night…..

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…..

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….

April 18, 2008

Ma is Coming to Visit

Posted in family, transgender, travel at 9:30 pm by Michael

I’ve been in Boston this week again for work.

I’m writing this sitting in seat 5C, JetBlue 497, back to Seattle. Back to Anh, back to Peri, back to John, back to Samwich.

I really miss them when I travel for work, and they can’t come with me.

This week when I called back home, Samwich started talking on the phone. I sung to him, he started talking back, and saying “Hi There!”. He whispers into the phone, and it melts my heart.

I realize that my blogging has slowed considerably in the past month. Here’s the deal: my job is taking a ton of my time, and I’ve been completely wiped out at night, and I’d rather spend time with Anh and the kids.

My mom gets worried when I don’t blog – she worries that there’s something wrong. She hates it when we talk and she asks me how I am and I say “Fine”. That’s in some ways code for “there’s something going on that I can’t explain right now”. I avoid saying “Fine”.

When we were in RI last month visiting Ma, Anh invited her to come out and visit.

I was in Boston this week for work, and she came back with me (JetBlue – my standard flight).

She met me at the Microsoft office, and came up to visit (she likes seeing where I work…).

Before she came, I had mentioned to a few people that my mom was coming today. Its funny, I think that folks were just as interested to meet her as she was to meet them. To sum up my mom, I told them the following story:

“When you meet my mom, I will say “Hi, this is my mom, Hilda”, and she’ll immediately say “Just call me Ma.” “

Guess what? I know my mom.

She hung out with me at the office for a while, and then we headed to the airport. We were walking to the elevator, and I said to her “Come on Mother.” (This is a loving way to talk to her – really…) She said to me “Coming Daughter.”

She and I hadn’t really been around each other much since November. We got in really early to the airport, and went to just sit down, and we caught up. We talked, we both got a little weepy – talking about my dad – and how he’d feel about his newest daughter. Ma loved the post that I made about the Superbowl, and talking football with my dad, and also the Homecoming post that I made when we went back to visit last month.

At one point, she said to me: “You know, just sitting here, looking at you, in the different light, you are really beautiful.”

She’s my mom. She’s biased.

Disney: Did anyone notice?

Posted in family, Identification, transgender at 9:30 pm by Michael

Besides being recognized a few times, nobody cared. Anh and I have talked about this one quite a bit. We think there are at least two reasons why:
– We don’t make it a big deal. E.g. when we check in to a hotel and they ask “one bed or two” (and its just us – not w/the chitlins), we smile and say “one”. Done.
– Admittedly, we have the resources to go places where people don’t give us a hard time. Yes, this is a privilege – no doubt. But, interesting to point out none the less.

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