November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve

Posted in friends, thanksgiving, transgender at 9:39 pm by Michael

Thanksgiving Eve

Today was my last day in the office this year. It seems like it was just the summer, and I’m on “Christmas Vacation” now. What am I getting for Christmas, huh?

Anyway, tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and as usual, we’ve got lots of people coming over. At last count, we are north of twenty-five.

Two turkeys (one roasted, one fried – the *best* way), lots of potatoes, stuffing, and of course cranberry sauce. Now, not just any cranberry sauce, but Ocean Spray with “Flav-O-Ridges”.

Cranberry Sauce

The can now comes with a handy serving suggestion (pictured), as well as a guide to open the other end. I’m not sure what planet the Ocean Spray can engineers live on, but in normal world, where Newtonian physics (and suction) apply, one cannot remove the cranberry cylinder from said can without opening *both* ends. Of course, you can use a crude device like a spoon, or even use a knife to cut around the edges, but doing so will cause complete “Flav-O-Ridge” destruction, which of course makes the sauce far less tasty.

I grew up on Ocean Spray – not just at Thanksgiving, but just about once a week. Ocean Spray made me the man that I am! Er, wait… ok, maybe the person that I am! That’s better.

This morning when I got into work I felt a little melancholy. Ok, a lot melancholy. My last day for a while. I actually love my job. Its fun, it’s intellectually challenging, I love the space… its all good. I hate to be away for this long. No helping it really…

I’ve had a bunch of really sweet emails from co-workers over the past few days wishing me well. I still marvel at my fortune of working at Microsoft, and with such an amazing set of folks. Every mail like that is a little gift, and I really treasure them all.

As I was leaving this afternoon before coming home to run the inevitable errands, I did what I usually do before the hour-long fight in traffic – stopped in the restroom. I got to the doors, and stopped for a second. This was my last trip to a Microsoft men’s restroom. (I’ve accidentally opened the women’s room door once or twice. Some of the buildings diabolically switch the sides/location of the rooms from floor to floor. Check twice, open once. However, the men’s rooms generally have a bluish hue to the tile – the women’s – pink. Bye bye Blue!)

I drove home, did errands, had dinner (Samwich did his best FSM impression, he was eating rice noodles, and they were knit into a knot around both hands, then his head, then his body, etc. Bathtime was an exercise in noodle-ectomy skills.

There are no big chunks of time between now and Monday when I have to be in guy mode. I’m on the precipice of my fulltime transition. I feel stressed, but less so than yesterday.

I don’t think anyone can be really ‘ready” for something like this. I can say that I’m at peace with it… still convinced, still consenting.

All I know is that I’m ready to eat a lot of Turkey.

November 20, 2007

My Day in San Francisco – Part III – In Which the Mystery of the Toothbrush is Revealed

Posted in friends, Identification, surgery, transgender at 10:08 pm by Michael

(If you haven’t read the first two parts, scroll down and read below… otherwise this whole toothbrush matter will seem odd. – Ed.)

As a parting thought, Dr. O explained various reasons why I should call the office, or call the nurse.

“If your PCA [patient controlled analgesia – narcotics on demand] isn’t enough… call the nurse.”

“If you feel nauseated, call the nurse. We have stuff to help that.”

“If you get the stuff, and you still feel nauseated, call the nurse. We have other stuff to help that.”

“If you vomit blood, remember that a little blood in your stomach, mixed with acid, makes what looks like a lot of blood. Don’t worry, but call the nurse.”

Etc. Basically, if something is wacky… call the nurse.

Dr. O says bye, and hands us off to Mira. The process with the Doctor took about an hour. It was a long time to talk about all the stuff that would go wrong, but hey, that’s the essence of informed consent. I do feel informed. (and I still consent!)

Off to Mira’s office, where the first thing that she does is call admitting, and hand the phone to me. I notice for the first time that Mira is referring to me as “She” and “Her”, both to Anh, and also to the admitting nurse. This just strikes me as cognitively dissonant for a second, as I’m dressed like a guy, everyone still calls me Michael, but I’m “She”. I look down on my chart, and here we go, for the first time, under gender, the “F” checky box is checked.

The admitting lady, very nice, confirms the surgery dates, goes through medical history – basically does all the hospital things that everyone has done if they have gone to the ER.

Mira then comes back in, and she’s got a big stack of pink papers. Turns out that these are all consent forms – one for each of the procedures I’ve listed previously. Each is a page, double sided, describing the activity, then listing risks. Each one is signed, dated and countersigned, and on to the next. I’ve signed fewer papers buying a house!

We go through final details of pickup./dropoff times, going again through when I need to stop eating and drinking. As a fine point on the fact that I will from liquid, to soft (e.g. oatmeal), to partially soft over the two weeks that I’m there, she says:

“Enjoy Thanksgiving. If you eat too much, its ok. You will loose it, trust me. Have an extra dessert! Have an extra serving!”

 And then, she opens her drawer and takes out the toothbrush, and sets in on the table.

A toothbrush

Anh says “Who’s that for? A gift for Samwich?”

“No, its for Michael.”

Jointly: “Huh?”

“Well, remember the discussion about the jaw opening being restricted? Well, this might be the only toothbrush you can fit in.”

Anh: “Neat, it’s a piglet one! Do you have another one for Samwich?”

Anh Rocks.

With all that out of the way, I gave Mira the check (paid in full), and she said to me as we were leaving:

“So, when should we all start calling you Megan?”

“How about Monday?”


We ended up walking back to the Bart station to catch the train for our flight. Our flight home was delayed an hour, but we got back in time to have dinner with the Samwich. On the way home, Anh and I watched video on my laptop of the Samwich crawling, and babbling, and playing with Peri and John (Peri dragging Samwich around the house on a blanket, singing “Samwich train, Samwich train, all aboard the Samwich train!” over a soundtrack of him just all-out belly laughing is just one of those things in life that you don’t forget). I think we both got a little misty… This is our life. It’s a good one.

I was thinking about Thanksgiving tonight as I was driving home. This Thanksgiving will certainly be different than last, and it will be different than the next, but I hope in ways that are more superficial than substantial. I feel incredibly fortunate to have an amazing wife, a great family, and friends who have just been superhuman in their caring and support. I was a happy person before this all started, I’m a happy person now (if not a tad bit stressed), and I hope to be happy and even more complete person in the future.

I think that’s all you could ever ask for.

November 19, 2007

Off to SFO for the Day

Posted in friends, schedule, transgender at 2:46 am by Michael

Today we go down to visit Dr. O for the final pre-op consultation. Its 1:59 am, we have a 6am flight, and surprise! I can’t sleep.

I’ll do my best to be coherent.

A week from now at this time, we’ll be in SFO, three hours away from being at the hospital for surgery #1. I keep on wanting to write: “A week left of Michael”. I think it, I write it, I delete it. Doesn’t sound right, doesn’t look right. I can’t write it.

I can’t write it because it’s not how I feel. I can’t write it because I don’t want to let go.

Why not? I don’t think of Michael and Megan as two people. I’m just me. The name is a label, the name is a pointer, the name isn’t a definition. When I wrote that my friends and family had an infinite hall pass to call me Michael for as long as they wanted, I really meant it. However, I’ve gotten a ton of feedback/pushback from folks about that.

The nut of the feedback is that I’m “Becoming Megan” (I think that’s even in the blog title somewhere). They don’t get how calling me Michael after November 26 will make sense.

In thinking about this, maybe this is really about me not wanting to let go, or just being scared beyond belief. Maybe this isn’t about making them feel comfortable, it’s about me being comfortable. I say that I’m the same person – and I really want to be the same person – and maybe saying “Call me whatever” is a way to attempt to reinforce that. Maybe the name is important to me, but its not the Megan name, it’s the Michael name.

Not maybe. Really.

I’m just me. I’ve got to get over the name thing. In a week, people will call me Megan. I picked it! How lame is not wanting people to call you by…

(Ok, the baby just woke up (2:16 am). There’s very little in life that’s more satisfying than rubbing your kid’s head and having them fall back asleep. Daniel was born with a full head of hair (this was the first part of him I ever saw – his crazy black hair), and it’s so soft, so comforting… I love him. Now he’s asleep again…)

… the name that you chose for yourself? This name that fits in the gender that I’ll be 24/7/365/∞.

I’ve got to be confident in the fact that I am the same person inside, wrapper changes and all. I’ve got to get over the fact that by others calling me Megan, they aren’t saying “Ok, you are different” – but they are just being consistent with the choice that I have made.

Part II – The Best Advice

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

By far, the best advice that I’ve had…

Part III – This Weekend

We love to throw big parties. We had better love to, because we do it often. Saturday we had a baby shower for Anh’s sister and brother-in-law. Their baby, who we have nicknamed “Pickle” (goes with Samwich!), is due early next year. I’m so happy for both of them.

Anyway… this weekend, I was “fulltime at home”, even with the big party. There were about thirty people at our house for the party, about half who I’d never met before.

I felt totally normal.

Over the past few months, its been a process to get to here – where it wasn’t a production to tell everyone in advance “Hi, I’m transgendered, and I’ll be dressing in women’s clothes for today.”

When I chickened out, and didn’t tell people, and didn’t dress the way I felt, I generally felt crappy. I felt like I was hiding. See Part II – The Best Advice.

Anyway, at the party, I didn’t feel like anything other than the host (hostess?) with a house full of thirty people. I felt like me…

Anh’s sister after the party said to me (and I almost lost it) “I’m glad you wore comfortable clothes.” Me too. They were comfortable.

November 16, 2007

No, Yesterday Wasn’t My Last Post

Posted in friends, transgender at 9:51 pm by Michael

I’m living in a foreign country, but I’m bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor’s edge; someday I’ll make it mine
If I could only turn back the clock to the time when I was born

“Come in” she says, I’ll give you shelter from the storm

Bob Dylan – Shelter From the Storm

I’m not sure why these lines now make me a puddle of emotion, but, they do.

Two things here really resonate with me. First of all, right now, I feel like I live in the mushy middle – I certainly don’t “pass” as female, and as a guy, I look decidedly odd. Long hair, little/no face and arm hair, skinny arms and upper body… not exactly manly. In both regards, I feel like I’m living in a foreign country. Neither male, nor female.

Last weekend, with all good intentions, I tried something that didn’t work. A couple of months ago, I had planned to go to Vegas (as I love to do), with some of my guy friends to have a “Last Boys Weekend”. Now, realistically, my boy’s weekends in Vegas have consisted of eating too much, gambling too much, drinking too much. Little-to-no other debauchery was ever had. I know that women do virtually the same thing… in the past, Anh and I have had mirror weekends in Vegas where we stay at the same place, eat at the same places, etc. The only difference is that the girls go spa most of the time. Boys, not so much.

In any case… we get there, and I just feel… odd. Very very hard to explain. Like an imposter? A poseur? A guest? An alien? Oh god (or Flying Spaghetti Monster), what I have done?

I’m already different.

But, then it feels like this one way door — I certainly don’t want to go back, and at this point, getting to “The New Normal” is a ways off….

Now, the second bit of resonance for me. I’m lucky to have an amazing set of friends, family, and more than anything a wife who loves me and supports me. She’s my Shelter from the Storm….

I was incredibly afraid before I had told anyone that I would loose everything – family, friends, job… I’ve read about people who have. Very very scary.

I have had a very different path than what I feared. Yes, its been hard – especially on family and friends – but, I’ve grown closer to so many people. Its truly been amazing.

For my friends who have been there for me through this – thank you seems insufficient, but its all I’ve got. So, thanks….

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