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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March 24, 2008

Into the Wild

Posted in friends at 6:06 am by Michael

Over the past couple of nights, I’ve been watching “Into the Wild”. Jon Krakauer is one of my favorite authors – Into Thin Air and Into The Wild being two of his best…. I’m waiting patiently for the next.

It’s a very good adaptation of book to a novel, especially one which is seeming as hard to film (because the main character spends so much time alone – think “Castaway” without the coconut).

The main character, Chris McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp) is the ultimate tramp and loner. He walks away from all the relationships that he both has and makes on his journey. He consistently tells everyone who he meets that relationships are transitory and unimportant – that the real relationship to be had is between the self and nature.

At the end, as the main character is dying, alone, cold and starving (sorry, spoiler), he comes upon a new perspective:

“No true happiness without friends.”

March 22, 2008

Hair

Posted in friends, life, transgender at 7:30 am by Michael

I hadn’t had my hair colored since mid-November. While it’s not falling out, and is pretty thick, the sides of my head are probably 80% gray. If hair grows at half an inch a month, and it’s been three months, that yields a good inch and a half of gray. Root City! At least for me, I don’t have it on top of my head as bad, creating the part line gray.

Why no color for three months? Well, remember I have this whole crazy incision/scar line thing running from ear to ear up over top of my head? I was waiting for it to heal completely, which it finally did about two weeks ago (yea!). I really didn’t want to get the chemicals into the scarline – I thought that might not aid in healing.

Anyway, I made an appointment for Thursday night, after work, at Gene Juarez in Redmond. I’ve had my hair colored there before, and this is also where I got my hair cut all the time.

But that was still when everyone called me Michael.

The same person had been cutting my hair for six years there. Color was a new thing for me, I’ve only been doing that for less than a year, and I don’t have a regular “person” for that.

(Note, I’m going to use fake names for the people there. Really.)

I had stopped going to “Sue” for my haircuts more than a year ago, as I started to grow out my hair – first somewhat unintentionally, then more purposefully as I knew that I would transition. I really like Sue a lot, and loved going to her. She is great at what she does, and we’d chat about any number of things. I did go back a couple of times over the past year, and Sue really gave me a hard time. “Where were you? What’s going on?’. The last time that I saw Sue, I hadn’t transitioned, and I hadn’t come out publicly. I hadn’t told her.

When I walked in Thursday night, who was standing right at the counter? Sue.

“Where have you been?”

Sue is very direct.

She asks about Samwich, and the big kids, and Anh (she’s met them all). She says to me:

“You look different! So stylish, your long hair, your skin, nice jeans, what’s going on?”

Sue was looking right at me. She 100% recognized me, but didn’t notice that I was now presenting female. Not at all.

Sue says: “Your face looks good, but different, what did you do?”

I said: “I had some surgery on my face.”

“Anh let you do that?”

This went on for a minute or so, and then I leaned over, and quietly said to her:

“Sue, I’m transgendered. I’ve changed my gender.”

She looks at me, and says “Why did you do that?”

Oh, this is going to be a long conversation, but neither of us have time….. I say:

“Because it’s who I am. It’s all good. We are all good… really.”

She says: “Ok, but why didn’t you tell me! We need to talk more.”

At this point, the hair color person comes over, and brings me back to start with that process.

About a half an hour later, as I’m sitting under the dryer, Sue comes over, sits next to me, and we have a good long talk – although its honestly hard to talk under a dryer.

She says “I’m going to do your hair when you are done with the color. It could look better, I’m going to fix it for you.”

Again, Sue, very direct.

I agreed, and when I was done with the color process, I went over to see Sue, and she did my hair – little styling, a little cut (not much).

Sue chided me for not telling her, yet again. I told her about the blog, all the stuff we had done. She was first and foremost wondering about the kids – how were they doing. She has kids too….

As she was finishing up, she said “Well, know when you walk down the street, and say to people, ‘Hi I’m Megan’ they won’t even question it. Hair says a lot you know!”

Thanks Sue! Good to see you again…. I’ll be back soon.

February 4, 2008

Ok, Deep Breath

Posted in friends, NE Patriots at 7:18 am by Michael

I’m over it. The Pats had an amazing season. They showed amazing tenacity, dedication and teamwork.

The first half of the year they were a machine. Scoring what my friend Viresh called “F-U Touchdowns” in the 4th quarter when they were up by a million.

The second half, they looked vulnerable – the Ravens, the Eagles and finally the Giants took an approach that came CLOSE to ending the perfect regular season: pressure Brady, press the recievers on the line, double or triple Moss. Scary close those games were. They had NO RIGHT to win the Ravens game. They got outplayed and got lucky.

Then, there was the amazing Jacksonville game – 26 for 28? In a playoff game? Unheard of! I thought that maybe they had figured out a way to beat the pass pressure/reciever pressure combo. Moss had what, one catch?

Then, we get to the Chargers – hobbled QB, and LT on the bench looking like a sulky Darth Vader. Brady with a 3 INT game? First red zone int in three years (since Champ Bailey picked him at the 1, and went 97 yards to crush them in 2005)? They barely win, very scary.

Then, WTF? Brady in a walking boot? Say it isn’t so! Doesn’t practice for three days?

The Pats looked solid in pregame, but then a nine minute drive? Having that end in a FG was a victory, somewhat, but wow, nine minutes? Mid to late 30’s linebackers don’t like nine minute drives. The ensuing touchdown from the Pats was awesome.

But then, two three and outs? In a row?

Oh, the horror.

With 2:42 left in the 4th, when the Giants got the ball back, I was petrified. We had a house full of Pats fans. Our friend Leslie (www.calmbyleslie.com) said to me: “Megan, you look like you are going to throw up.”

The moment right before Manning the Younger heaved the impossible pass, just as it looked like he was going down along with the Giants hopes, that was the moment of joy. Could it be? Could this imperfect perfect season really be?

Then, The Catch. Unbelievable.

From then on out, it was unevitable.

Two chucks from Brady into triple coverage from Moss, what are those 5% completion odds passes?

The screen was off before the game clock expired. I could not stand to see Manning the Elder celebrate.

Our guests filed out somberly. Anh and I cleaned up, and I worked till midnight.

It’s a new week. It’s going to be an awesome week.

Congratulations Patriots, you guys were awesome. As Bono says “Some Days are Better than Others”. It’s ok.

Congratulations Giants, you are the Champions and you beat the best to get there.

Cathartic Blogging, its “A Good Thing”.

January 11, 2008

Get Well Soon Chris!

Posted in friends at 10:56 pm by Michael

Our friend Chris woke up last Sunday with what he thought was a kidney stone, but turned out to be a mass on his kidney. He had surgery Wednesday, and is doing well… We love ya man… get well soon!

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 ( https://www.proclub.com/default.aspx?tabid=1243 ). 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.

A Reflection on the Comment from “Dave”

Posted in family, friends, transgender at 2:18 pm by Michael

Late last night, this comment came in on the “Pictures” page:

Your life is a really sad story and it is unfortunate that you did not get the type of medical help you needed. Play up your sickness all you want, but this can not come to any good for your wife and children. I don’t say any of this to be mean, but you have taken the hand you were dealt and acted selfishly. You are just ill and I feel very pained for you and your family.

I read this early this morning, and was honestly a little taken aback. I needed to sit on this for a while, and reflect a bit before I either approved it or not (I just did), and decide what to do. I could post it without comment, or comment briefly, or comment at length.

I’ve decided to comment at length, since I do believe that Dave’s thoughts may be shared by some others, and he does touch on a number of core issues not just for me, but for the transgendered community overall.

This is not a rant, and I’m not upset at Dave. I sincerely appreciate the fact that he took the time to post a comment, and I will not reveal the email address that this came from (both because I don’t think its right, and because I can’t be sure that it’s accurate). As I said on the “Rants N Raves” page, if you decide to not like me after reading my story, then “Peace Out”. We may be at “Peace Out’ with Dave….

So, with that, I have some thoughts.

Preamble

One thing that strikes me is that Dave’s comment was on the “Pictures” page. I’m not going to assume anything, but I do hope he read more than that page – those are pictures, not a narrative.

BTW, Dave posted his comment from a Comcast network in Washington state.  potentially eastern Washington, but that additional location information is a bit inaccurate.

Your life is a really sad story…

Well, to date, my life has been anything but sad. My life has been awesome! I’ve been incredibly fortunate, and have had amazing experiences, met amazing people, and learned a ton. I hope if people get anything from my blog, they should get that I was happy before, happy during, and I have to say, I’m happy now.

If what Dave is really saying is after reading my story, he got that I was happy before but felt like even if I seem happy now, that I’m going to flush my life (and those of my family), and that it made him sad, and he thinks that eventually I will be sad, then I at least understand it. But, if the latter is true, I guess we’d agree to disagree that this won’t work out long term. However, if my story makes him sad, I’d give him the advice that my therapist gave me when I read stuff about TG folks that were sad “Don’t read it then!”.

…it is unfortunate that you did not get the type of medical help you needed.

I’m a bit confused about this comment. I have been going to a licensed therapist for nearly a year – weekly. She’s an expert in Gender Identity issues. I’ve been seeing a licensed MD for almost a year, and also have been seen and evaluated by Dr. O in San Francisco. I feel like I’ve had outstanding medical care.

There seemingly is an implication that “medical help you needed” would have been help to “talk me out” of having GID.

Well, I have to tell you, I’m not sure that would have been possible – I guess I could have been counseled to continue to suppress and hide how I was feeling, but my previous suppression was leading me to overly focus on it, but also was starting to effect my mood (negatively) last fall.

When reading this part of this comment, I wonder if Dave believes that no person with GID should ever transition, or if after reading my blog, he feels like it was specifically wrong for me. I am genuinely curious about that.

Play up your sickness all you want…

Perhaps it’s unfair to call out this line – but a couple things. One, I’m not playing up anything. I’m telling my life’s story, as is. I write about the good, the bad and the indifferent. Secondly,  if anyone reads my blog and says “WOO HOO! I wish I had GID – sign me UP!” then, well, that’s really unfortunate. I would not wish this path on anyone. It’s not easy – not for me, not for family, not for friends, not for co-workers. It’s hard. I would have loved for this to “GO AWAY”. But it didn’t.

…but this can not come to any good for your wife and children.

This sounds close to the argument against divorce when you have kids. “Stay together for your kids!” I’ve heard that. I heard that before I got divorced (first marriage). However, what I think most professionals say is that a happy, complete but “different” parent is better than an unhappy, unfulfilled one.

Most of the people who know me have said that since coming out, they like me *more*. More open, less withdrawn, funnier, easier to laugh at myself, more reflective, more engaged. Read the posts about Anh’s family – almost universally, my relationships with those people have become far stronger.

Now, one could argue that I should have done all of that, but then not changed my gender presentation, but part of the reason why I’m so much more comfortable, and have so much more energy, is because this background pain of not being true to myself is gone.

But, Dave is right. This is a challenge for the kids. However, our experience has been that if the adults around them do not make this a “big deal”, it won’t be a big deal for them. Part of it also has to do with how I handle the transition too. If I came to pick them up at school in stripper-wear, then, well, that would be bad. However, I take considerable time and energy to dress conservatively – all the time.

Will it get harder as they become teens – probably – but by then, it will have been something that they have been living with for a long time.

And, I give the community more credit than to think that they will allow the kids to get attacked. One of the nicest stories that I’ve heard is that one mom’s of another girl’s on Peri’s soccer team told her that she had an “important job”. Her important job was to make sure to stand up for Peri if anyone gave her a hard time about me. I know these people only a little bit – we see them at games – but they heard my story, and decided what they thought the right thing to do was – and that was to be accepting, loving, and supportive.

As for Anh, she can speak for herself. But she’s right here next to me now, sitting on the couch, as we chill out on yet another rainy Saturday in Seattle. If I won’t speak for her, it’s not clear to me that Dave should either, especially without knowing her.

I don’t say any of this to be mean, but you have taken the hand you were dealt and acted selfishly.

I don’t think Dave is being mean. I don’t take it that way. As far as being selfish, well, this was my  primary fear before coming out. I felt like coming out would be the most selfish thing that I have done. This was a deep conversation with my therapist before I ever came out – to anyone. When I talked to Anh, this was a deep conversation before we told anyone, and worked together to decide if I was going to transition, and decide how and when. This wasn’t something that I simply told her I was doing, and to take it or leave it.

Fundamentally, I don’t agree that being true to your self is selfish. It’s honest. I’ve tried to mitigate any impacts on family and friends as much as possible, but I cannot simply run away from who I really am.

You are just ill…

On the one hand, you are right. I have suffered from GID for a very long time. That is technically a psychiatric diagnosis. However, as I have commented on in this space, I now feel “cured” – in that the outside matches the inside.

On the other hand, I feel healthier psychologically than many people (of all walks of life) I have encountered. I understand that life is a series of mistakes that you make, learn from, and hopefully don’t repeat.

Again here, I wonder if Dave is commenting about me specifically, or about the entire set of folks who have GID, and who have chosen to publicly express a gender different than their birth-gender

….I feel very pained for you and your family.

Well, I appreciate the concern, but I think we are doing just fine, thank you. I never asked for, and certainly don’t want sympathy. I’ve tried in this space to be honest, admit the good the bad and the ugly, and just try to live my life.

I’m not suggesting that anyone follow me (FSM forbid!), but I’m just telling my story. If you, or anyone else disagrees or just doesn’t like what I have to say, then I guess that will be one less return visitor.

Peace.

December 15, 2007

Anita Rowland

Posted in family, friends at 1:21 am by Michael

At my age, you don’t often expect people that you know or work with who are contemporaries to pass away. I think I’ve known (would have sat down to eat with them) five people who were around my age (+- 10 years) who have, and each one of these early passings is just incredibly tragic. Well, I heard about another person who passed recently.

http://www.anitarowland.com/

I worked with Anita on IE, and on Avalon, and I remember her as a genuine, sweetheart of a woman who seemed to be full of life, interests, information, and just plain ol’ love of being here. As it sit here writing this, it just reminds me again how important it is to live every day – don’t wait – live it all – NOW. None of us knows when the gift of our special time here will come to an end.

To Anita’s family and friends, my deepest sympathies.

December 14, 2007

How are you? “Fantastic!” No, Really. “Really!”

Posted in family, food, friends, NE Patriots, Vegas at 3:02 pm by Michael

Yesterday was another pretty pedestrian day here on the two week mark since my face got discombobulated and recombobulated.

Marvin

Why was Bugs Bunny ever afraid of Marvin the Martian – that just doesn’t make sense. Marvin, besides having the special disintegration ray, had absolutely nuthin. And that hat – some sort of Martian/Trojan/Push Broom hybrid – again – don’t get it.

While I’m being random, wow, Legend seems super disappointing.  3rd time, same story – Vincent Price was one of the older leads…. Was this what that mystery trailer w/the crazy flying Statue of Liberty head was all about? Really? That’s all?

I can’t wait for the Pats v. Jets game. When the game gets to 72-0 in the 2nd quarter, I might have to slaughter a goat (or some Tofu – we are very inclusive here at the Casa).

Is anyone surprised by the Mitchell Report? Baseball Players Did Steroids. Wow, and amphetamines too! Maybe 162 games is a few too many to be played by humans on pure air.

I’m filling – yesterday morning was boring – Anh went out to the Dr, and then lunch w/a friend, and I stayed w/Samwich. We had stuff to do, so we did it – UPS, Home Depot for light bulbs (hard to find mini-spots). We then went to “Szechwan Noodle Bowl” in the ID in Seattle for lunch – met Hillel too… Great dumplings… good dan dan noodles –Samwich is crazy about those.

We did a bunch of house stuff (like put holes in our leaked ceiling to control further leakage – super exciting!)

At five yesterday I had my first scheduled therapy appointment since surgery. It was weird. I felt completely unemotional – most of the emotion of the past is just gone – not suppressed, just gone. While I absolutely have loved and valued my time with her, I feel like I’m mostly done with therapy. I’ll still go, but certainly not every week, unless something radically changes. WHEW!

I’ve gotten feedback from my therapist (and others) that I seem almost “hyper” these days. Well, here’s the deal – all the gender stuff, plus concerns about me and Anh were taking up “HUGE” amounts of headspace. That’s all just gone… all of that headspace is now open to be filled up with other stuff. Hence the increase in energy – it was always there, it was just doing background tasks before. Wow… what an unexpected benefit!

Last night we then went to our first post-transition work function. It was Debra’s (my last boss – written about many times before) staff/guest holiday dinner at Elemental in Seattle. Anh and I were the first to show up – was nice – had the whole place to ourselves, and got to share a private glass of champagne before anyone else showed up. Was nice… Plus, the place was super dark, so it was hard to see the crazy stuff going on with my face still!

As folks filtered in, we saw people we had met and not met before, folks who I’ve been super close to, and those who we have not been as close to. Overall, and this is pretty boring as well – I felt just normal. Anh felt normal. We talked with people about a lot of things. There were a couple of folks who have read tons of this blog (Hello!) and were talking about events that occurred in our lives like they had been there. This was both spooky and interesting at the same time. Boy, this blogging thing actually WORKS!

Universally, folks would ask: “How are you doing?” As avid readers of this space now, my answer usually ranges from “Great!” to “Fantastic!” When I’d say this, usually, I’d get a bit of a pause from the asker, then “Really?”, and I’d say “Really!”. I felt like people in general have thought that I would look dramatically, or unrecognizably different, or that I’d feel horrible still. I don’t and I don’t. In no way is this meant to disrespect the question – but just to state how clearly we have defied expectations. Honestly, it’s exceeding mine too!

With folks like Debra and others, they had a lot more questions about our experience in San Francisco, and how we are doing, and we talked about that too. I don’t shy away from it, but I don’t want to talk about it all the time – I expect this will tail off dramatically pretty soon.

We cabbed it home (city living!), and crashed… Today was a big day – my first day back at work (kind of). I had some stuff to do at work, and decided to come in from 10-3.

My day started beautifully, as I walked to my office and opened the door, I noticed that my nametag had been changed already by Tina (my longtime AA), and when I opened my door, on my meeting table were lovely flowers, and a frame with a card from Tina and my staff here. Wow, super nice! What a nice way to start your first day back.

I did all my meetings and work functions – and you know what? Fundamentally, it was just “normal”. Sure, people asked how I was feeling, but I didn’t get any weird vibe at all. We had work to do – and we did it!

I’m finishing this up now from my office here in Microsoft in Redmond (I’m still on vacation you know! HA!).

I’m looking forward to a couple of days of “Vacation” next week in Vegas, but then coming home for the holidays, and just continuing to enjoy life with Anh, with Peri, John and Samwich, and all of our friends and family.

Sorry… not much excitement for the past two days, but honestly, that was our life before, and its great to see it coming back to that.

December 11, 2007

More Trans Talk – With Megan Jenna Wallent

Posted in Barney's, family, friends, goooofy stuff, Identification, King County District Court, NE Patriots, transgender at 2:30 am by Michael

Remember SNL’s “Coffee Talk” w/Mike Myers? Hilarious (and offensive!). I just thought of that, given the topics for today….

Ok, a bit of cleanup before I get to the meat:

Mary, this is your fault, since you said that a blog w/o trans talk was “boring”. At least do your own S-I-L the honor of reading then, huh? <smooches>

Ok, I’m not gaining weight. This sucks. Don’t be hatin’ me for being skinny. You get robo-jaw (bones broken, titanium and wires, muscle issues), see how much you can eat, and then see how weak you feel. Believe you me… I’d gladly weigh 10lbs more right now to be able to run again. (or at least have the cardio endurance if not the bone strength for it.)

Fave quote from today: “You are funnier when you aren’t on drugs. Don’t ever go on drugs please.”

I’m sorry Fabian. (See comments, and Rants ‘n Raves). “Fabian-bot” wasn’t true, although DAMN funny. (not an excuse).

No hatin’ on the main blog (thats reserved for the “Pages” (the things at the top)). As a result, see “Crappy Look Counter”.

There are new pictures to be seen. I liked the SBS (side-by-side) look for the comparo, so I did it again (yes, no makeup).

I’ve heard feedback that the ( ) style of writing I have can be funny, but “confusing” or “hard to follow” (esp when it gets to ((()))). Part of it is my charm (read: suck it up), but yesterday was a little out of control. I need to follow my own advice “Use Fewer Words”.

No, I’m not “Gay for Tom Brady”. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Hillel is. See FAQ.

If you want to see a page here called “Anh Sez”, please comment for it (or against it). Here, the lovely and talented Anh-O will get her own page to impart her “Pearls of Wisdom”. Some examples (might include (some of these might be repeats) (because they are good (but I wrote/transcribed these so it may be different when she does))) (D’oh – did it again!):

Anh Sez: “If you aren’t ashamed, don’t act like you are ashamed.”

Anh Sez: “I’m not picking you up still you stop crying. I’d prefer a smile.”

Anh Sez: “Solutions, not problems.”

Anh Sez: “Megan, you are beautiful and I love you” (Ok, I freestyled a bit there… but she DOES say that – but she wouldn’t put mushy crap like that on HER page).

Please vote! Anh will do what YOU want. (Uh, I can’t promise that – I do not live in a democracy w/my wife. She is clearly the Supreme Ruler for Life, and I’m ok w/that.)

New Book Title Ideas: “Smile and Wave”. I can’t decide to subtitle “How I Transitioned with Grace and Poise” (not sure if I have the first yet, I think I rock the 2nd) or “How I Transitioned and was Still Me” or “How to Transition and Still be You”. Honestly, “The Tyrrany of Lables” was too angry – I’m not angry. Also, BTW, the t-shirt ideas “Don’t you wish…. hot like…” Wow, that was super snarky and rude. I’m sorry about that.

Sorry, not going back to add stuff to yesterday. The future people, the future. Short version: PEPS QA Moms Rock the Hizzy. Wine 100.5 (101 give me WAY too much credit) is a great way to meet people. Stars on top of trees make me cry. Also, Samwich likes blueberry pancakes. Duh. Need I say more?

Ted, call me. Please. I miss you. Really.

I’m made out of helium these days – so light! I thought, well, but hydrogen is lighter, why not that. CUZ IT EXPLODES. Right, love those noble gasses.

“Today”

Anh had to stay home to watch the builders fix broken stuff in our house, so she couldn’t come w/me to court this morning to file papers. Name changes in King County are very easy – file papers w/the District Court Clerk in the AM, and the nice person takes some money – not much – and then tells you to come back to see the judge (who asks you all the same questions that are on the paper, but he or she has a robe, and talks formally). I’ve been to court a lot, so I wasn’t stressed about it (for work people – for work – remember I work at Microsoft – we get sued. I worked on stuff that people sued us about. Different blog – not here – I just didn’t want anyone to think I was a felon. ACK.).

But, this morning lovely Jenny was going to take me to Barney’s to go get makeup. So, she also decided to come with me to court in exchange for a bus lesson. (I’m a Seattle Metro dumbass though. Anh’s the pro. I know how to get to and from downtown from my house on one bus, and how to get up and down 3rd Street for free. I also know how to take the 545 to and from work (although that requires a connection)). (There I go again) . I taught Jenny what I know, we got to court (although I got off too early, which Anh demo’d to me when we all went back later. See “bus dumbass” comment above), and filed papers w/the SWEETEST clerk on the planet. I had last minute decided to change my middle name not to Jen, but to Jenna, so even though I had printed out all these (well, 2) forms all nice and neat like (girly), I crossed out stuff and rewrote it. I have guy handwriting. Ugh. She nicely retyped it all. While there, waiting for her to finish (Smile and Wave, Smile and Wave) and after she told me that I would appear w/the judge at 330pm in room E301, I saw a sign related to passport payments. I ask:

“You do passports?”
“Uh Huh”
“How long for expedited?”
“2-3 weeks”
“Really?”
‘Yup – its quick. You can even just do it w/me when you come back today after you see the judge.”
“I’m in. Have a great day, see you after!”
“Great! (Big Smile) Good luck!”

New task – Kinko’s post makeup – SCORE! Jenny from down the block knows how to get makeup done to take pictures (she’s a pro!). (No, I’m not friends w/J-Lo. Although Jenny from down the block is *nicer* than that other J person – guar-an-teed).

We go to Barney’s on Pine St. and see Marina Pirkle, who hooks me up. Here’s my makeup plan though. I basically don’t want to wear it. I only went today because I didn’t want to look bruised for the judge. However, now we have reason #2, because I need passport photos, and those will be 10 year artifacts. I really REALLY don’t want to be bruised on that.

I know Jack about makeup. Really. I couldn’t put it on to save my life and not look like bozo (yes, the clown, and not in a good way – if there even is one).

Marina was nice and patient and listened to me blather a lot. I felt nice ‘n pretty. Thanks!

We then go to Kinko’s (or FedEx Kinko’s) because they rock at passport photos. A year ago they went digital – you don’t buy the pix before you love it. This is good. Two shots, Jenny picks. I think I look a bit, um, harsh, although not bruised. I think makeup made me look older, not younger (Marina – not your fault baby – its all me) and harsher and more angular. I could just be crazy. It is possible.

Anyway, after all of this, we stop at Red Bowls, which Jenny tells me is the official lunch spot of Jackson Fish Market (www.jacksonfish.com). This is Hillel, Jenny and Walter’s company. No, no fish, just beautiful software and great experiences. Check out Invitastic (for invitations w/o foof and fuzzle – just invitations – and it works!) and “They’re Beautiful” (virtual flowers). I know there is more coming – these guys are GREAT! (We also went to the Official Coffee of JFM where I got the Official Latte and also the Official Blueberry Muffin, which Officially prevented me from passing out at least six times today.)

We bus it back home (woo hoo!), and I bring Anh lunch. On the way, I hear Hillel needs a lunch buddy, and he stops by to share Red Bowls and other stuff w/us. He took the photos of me “with” makeup. At this point, while I like the Kinko’s pictures as artifacts, I don’t feel like me w/a painted face. I know some people do, but I don’t. I really don’t. So, after sitting with this feeling for about 30 mins after he took the pictures (can’t do makeup and not take pix, and I owed the site after not taking any for a day.) I thought to myself “If I’m more comfortable when I see the judge, I will be less nervous. And even if the judge sees a bit of a ‘stache and some bruises, she’ll probably understand, and if she doesn’t, I’m just helium baby, and it will roll right off this noble gas.” (Yes I just admitted to being a windbag. Have you SEEN how much crap I write?)

I say to Anh – “What do you think about taking all this off before I see the judge?”

Anh Sez: “Do what will make you most comfortable.”

“I’m taking it off. Explain how.”

Anh Sez; “Duh, Soap and Water?”

Did you sing “There’s a hole in my bucket” in music in 3rd grade? I did. This reminded me of that.

So I cleaned up, we rolled downtown on the #3, and got to court so sprightly and quick I knew in a moment it must be time to get my name OFFICIALLY CHANGED. (Sorry, have been listening to Christmas music a lot – these phrases stick like organic peanut butter).

We go up the stairs to floor 3 (more on that later), go to E301, and sit in court. There are probably 30 people in the room, about 25 waiting for name changes. Promptly at 330pm the judge comes in, we all stand, she says sit, we sit (you do what judges say unless you likety like like jail. No shit. Once, a lawyer friend of mine said “I never went to see Judge [Likes-to-Throw-Errant-Lawyers-In-Jail-For-Contempt] w/o a toothbrush in my case.” Huh, glad I got a BS in CS and not a JD in “I could go to jail if I have a bad day today.”)

No no, I don’t mean to freak anybody out – nobody is going to jail today – especially not me!

The judge sits, and just rolls through the instructions for the name change. Ladies and Gentlemen, you get called, you stand in front of one of the microphones, she asks, you talk – loud for the recording and for the court reporter, you get your papers from my clerk, you go to E327 to get said papers recorded, you get as many copies as you paid for, done. She goes through this in a way that make me thing “you do this once a day, every day, every week, every year”.

Here’s the thing. In every system there are rules. If you know the rules, you can play by the rules, and things go great. Rule #1 – know the rules. Rule #2 – play by the rules. If you fail on #1 and are not prepared, you loose the game. Different games have different penalties for losing, esp. for dumbass reasons (like failing on Rule #1). If you are in court, do you and your progeny a favor. Know the rules. The Internet isn’t just used for porn people – (see Avenue Q – funny – not hilarious – but funny. “Everyone’s a little bit Racist!” – that was the one hilarious part) – it can also be used to know all the rules in advance – and get cool stuff like online forms that you can pre-fill out and be really super prepared. Judges and Clerks and Reporters LOVE you if you do this. Trust me.

Ok, so the first dude to get called should have read this before today. He was late. This is Rule #0: When you go to court, and you are told to appear at Time X. Make sure you are at court at Time X, minus 30 minutes. Trust me. The judge gets to be late. You don’t.

Court Clerk: “Case #XX, in the matter of Mr. Ima Late Dude.”

Ima Late Dude shows up and opens the door as the word “Dude” (not his real name to protect this I’m sure very loving and special, but misguided person) is spoken.

Mr. Dude has already failed Court 101. Rule #0 – broken. He missed big parts of content of Rule #1. Oh Dude. Oh…. Dude.

Now, when the judge said “Stand in front of one of the two microphones” she very clearly didn’t say “Please sit in one of the chairs that are on by the table that contain said microphones.” Nope. I didn’t hear that. Neither did all of the rest of us who were there to change our names that day (and who followed Rule #0, and also got some handy Rule #1 info).

Ok, I screwed up. I numbered wrong. There’s a really important rule. Maybe it’s a corollary so I don’t have to go negative on rule numbering. I’ll call it:

“Ima Late Dude’s Corollary That I Learned on 12/10/2007: Don’t make the judge not like you. Its super bad form, dude.”

Now, its not ‘Don’t piss of the judge.” That’s called the “I don’t like Jail corollary” – but I already have gone there. Can you tell that I REALLY don’t want to go to jail. NB that once in court on MS biz, that a judge advised me that I was known to him as “The Chief Infringer” (as opposed to the inventor of a patent). Let me tell you, in my role as corporate representative and now “The Chief Infringer”, I was right invested in understanding every possible rule, theorem, corollary and postulate about how not to piss of this judge. I got my JD in how not to make judges angry.

Ok, Mr. Dude now makes mistake #2. He walks up to the table, and touches one of the chairs.

Judge: Mr. Dude, please remain standing.

Mr. Dude: (confused) Uh, ok.

(Mr. Dude also broke another rule, which is “dress like you fit in”. In court, people wear their Sunday Best. Or at least Thursday Best. One with two neurons working together as a team in their noggin doesn’t go to court wearing Lazy Sunday clothes. I’ll let you decide for yourself what part and day of the week Mr. Dude was dressed for. Hint: Not the “Best” part of Sunday.)

Mr. Dude, then reaches out to grab one of the table mikes. Strike #3. Called. (Backwards K because the bat never came off his shoulder.)

Judge: (irritated) Mr. Dude, please just *stand* in front of the microphone.

Mr. Dude: (more confused) Uh, ok.

(This is the good part)

Judge: (Now HIGHLY irritated, me wincing in pain for Mr. Dude and the repercussions of said dumassedness that he has demo’ed quite well. I then think “Maybe he’s a plant to make us all feel more relaxed, because clearly we all at least knew Rule #0 – be on time – and then some. So, we are going to better than him! Nah, he’s just a dumbass.) Mr. Dude…. If you were here *on time*, you would *know* the process because I took the time to tell the rest of these nice people who where here on time what I expected. It’s unfortunate that you were late. Now, Please. Let’s proceed. Answer the questions that I have for you. Do you understand?”

Mr. Dude: Uh, yes. Yes, I do.

She swears him in – he looks like he might just screw the pooch on this one too, but he makes it through understanding that he needs to tell the truth.

Judge: “I see here on your form that you haven’t provided a reason for wanting to change your name. That is required. Can you tell the court what that reason is?”

Mr. Dude: “It’s a name I wanted since I was 8.” (Ed. I’m not making this up. I’m really not that creative.)

Judge: Ok then, so Mr. Ima Star Dude (Ed. Again, first and last names – made up – middle name – this is what he wanted. Really. No shit. You can get the record from today. Go to court in Seattle (county court, its on 3rd), Go to E327. Ask them to give you the PUBLIC RECORD from the 3:30 PM Name Change Session in Room E301. You will see that I am not BS’ing you. It will cost you maybe $5.)

Knowing that Megan doesn’t make shit up (unless she’s winking at you): Priceless. (Sorry- could NOT Resist). I’m sometimes a little evil. Sorry….

There are other questions, but he does ok and he walks out Mr. Ima Star Dude. The really funny thing is that unless someone told him AFTER, and he knew to take the paper that the nice judge and nice clerk just gave him there to get them filed (because that’s the RULE) then his name isn’t REALLY Mr. Ima Star Dude, its still Mr. Ima Late Dude, because again, if you don’t follow the rules, it doesn’t count.

The rest of the folks do just fine. They get their name changed, and the judge nicely demos that if you follow some very simple rules (including Megan’s Rule – Smile and Wave) that she is super nice, and just here to help.

I’m last.

Of course. Its alphabetical. I’m a “W”. No Zuckerman’s in the house today lookin’ for a name change, so its all me.

Now, for everyone else, two interesting things happen.

One: They are called by their current legal name. They are asked if their requested name that’s on the form is what they really want, and not fraudulent, and not bad in some other ways.

Two: The judge reads, in open court, the reason for the name change as written, and asks if this is the truth. Of course everyone says yes, because they are the one’s that wrote it.

I’m at this point, fully 100% expecting that I will be called as Michael John Wallent, and the very nice judge will ask me if I’m really a transgendered person and that is Megan Jenna Wallent really the name that I think is more appropriate for the gender that I will live the rest of my life in. I’m ready. Peace and Love. Bring it. I can do it. Anh-O is here. Samwich is here. I grab her hand, give it a big squeeze, and wait for the “Crappy Look Meter” to go up by about 10.

Ok, Peace and Love, Smile and Wave, you can do it Girl!

Clerk: “Case #XX, in the matter of Ms. Megan Jenna Wallent, Ms. Wallent?”

WOW WOW WOW. These folks rock! They KNOW! They are trans-friendly. I never would have guessed.

Big smile now…. 

I stand up, get sworn in (I’ve done all of this before – this is EASY), answer all the easy questions, and I’m ready for the hard one, and the SUPER NICE judge says:

“Do you affirm that the reason for name change stated on your form is true?”

Me: “Yes, your honor” (they like that)

Judge: “It is so ordered”

I Smile (don’t wave though – its not called for), turn, collect my paper, saying that I’m now legally Megan Jenna Wallent, and go to E327, and go see the nice clerk from this morning. Give papers, get 10 copies, submit passport app (already done, but she checked it 2x – I liked her a lot and told her at the end. She smiled.) Note that my Passport is going to be M for the foreseeable future, since to the Dept. of State and the Passport Agency, you are not an F w/o a vagina (or at least w/o testicles), and you are not an M w/o a penis (with our without testicles – plastic works). This honestly seems a bit, um, pedantic, no? Birth Cert, I can see. Maybe, if I’m squinting. But passport? Whats next? Draw and Quarter all the Trannies to see if there really is a little devil inside, and if not, then they will sew you up all nice-like? Really, do they care?

I have to say, WA State DOL – you rock. A letter from a Dr, I’m down w/that as bar to jump over.

But I digress (snarkily – sorry, this is just something that should be easier but it isn’t. If you are about human rights, work with your brothers and sisters like me to change the law to let us change one little letter on some papers. It makes life easier for us, but harder for who exactly? There is zero need to make people who go through this jump any higher or over any more flaming hoops than we already put there ourselves. End of rant.)

We exit court – we take the elevator cuz I don’t feel great – sugar low – have some muffin, much better. We go walk to dinner and meet up w/some of Anh’s local sibs who I haven’t seen in a week (Mary) or two (Joseph), its great, we go home, watch some TV w/the Samwich.

The most exciting thing that happened post that is Samwich discovered that eating TP, while it may look yummy, isn’t. Samwich – for the record – it’s not a big roll of marshmallow, even if that’s what the bear on TV implies. That bear is a *liar*.

I did have a long chat w/my friend Val (Hi Val), and we bonded.

Oh, I make mistakes too. One of the ways that I found out all the cool rules in Washington State is by going to the website of a local counselor who is a real aid to the trans community – Dr. Anne Lawrence (www.annelawrence.com). Under “Transsexual Women’s Resources” there’s a cool link about “Washington State Resources’, where all the rules are listed.

One of the things it covers is how to get an F on your license, even if some of your parts may be considered by some to be M. Rule #1. Make an appointment. D’oh!

Prev plan to go to Olympia tomorrow to DOL and achieve goal of getting license with right pic, right name, right address, right gender may crash and burn. New plan. Call early – grovel. Special Adjunct to Rule #1 – when you screw up rule #1 in some way – admit it, act repentant (and I am), and ask for forgiveness and help. I hope this works, or I have some juggling to do. Will update on efficacy of said grovel.

Anh-O and I said I love you a bunch (bo-ring, right Mary?), then I started Blogging.

And scene. I’m going to bed. Its 227am.

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