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 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!

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.

April 12, 2008

“I didn’t know you changed your last name too!”

Posted in transgender, work at 2:57 pm by Michael

Yesterday at work I was in a meeting where everyone didn’t know each other – I knew most everyone, but not *everyone*. I had been joking around with one of the other women there… basically being a pain. No surprise.”

When it came time for me to introduce myself, I said “Hi, I’m Megan Troublemaker.”

Without missing a beat, Betsy said:

“I didn’t know you changed your last name too!”

HA!

I almost fell off my chair laughing.

I pass this along for a couple reasons:

a) funny

b) my transition is transparent at work, and people have become so comfy with it, they joke with me about it.

Pretty cool!

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.

March 16, 2008

Homecoming

Posted in family, food, Samwich, transgender, travel at 11:44 pm by Michael

Saturday morning Anh, Samwich and I drove down to Rhode Island to visit my mom. It was Samwich’s birthday, and we hadn’t seen my mom in a while – good opportunity!

We usually don’t get a car when we are just in Boston, so Step 1 was to actually get a car. I usually rent from Avis, because I have a Preferred number with them (you can get this easily from them), and it makes the rental process easier. They have your license and credit card information on file, so it’s quick, and you get a bit of a discount. I haven’t yet updated my ID information with them yet, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. I didn’t even rent the car with my Preferred info, and just did it online without it. When I got to the desk to get the car, I gave the agent my license and credit card, and when he swiped it, it automatically came up with my Preferred number. Turns out that Avis uses your credit card number as your long term ID number. Changing my name with them was trivial as a result.

On the way down to RI, we stopped at Dunkin’ and got Samwich his first donut (it was his birthday after all). Loved it… but he loved smashing it more. Samwich is in food-smashing mode for most soft foods these days – bananas, bread, you name it. I think he’s looking for the treasure inside. Denied! He does eat the smashed bits too. (Not to go too far down the Samwich eating habits path, but Damn Samwich! Are you part penguin? Just about anything he puts in his mouth, he takes a bite of, then takes it out, looks at it, and then decides if its worthy to go back in or not. Sometimes he just sucks the essential juices out, like the salt-monster on Star Trek, and spits out the effluent.)

The last time my mom saw me in person was November 30th, the day after FFS. This is what I looked like:

Postop 24

In talking to her since then, she’s had a hard time getting that image out of her head, because there hasn’t been a live one to replace it. Yes, she’s seen pictures, video, and even the ABC stuff last week, but that’s just not the same.

Luckily, I was able to give her a new image… (sorry, we didn’t take a lot of pictures of me… this is the only one)

March 16, 2008

My sisters were both there when we arrived, as well as my niece and great-niece. I hadn’t seen any of them since November either.

When we arrived, it even smelled like home. They had put a turkey in to roast and my old(est) sister had made a cake/cupcakes. Smell is such a personal, deeply emotional sense. To me at least, a remembered smell can bring me back more quickly than any other sense.

I could see the relief on my mom’s face almost right away. She hugged me, then came back to hug me again a few minutes later.

We had a great lunch, Samwich loved his birthday cupcake, and spent the afternoon just relaxing. It was nice to be home.

My mom was/is still struggling with the name/pronoun thing. I don’t think for a second it’s because she isn’t respectful or understanding – but as *my mom* she has such a pattern of interaction with me, its hard to break. At one point, she said she was just going to call me “Michael Megan” so I couldn’t tell when she screwed up. Got to love the hardscrabble Yankee pragmatism.

That night, at about eight, I went downstairs, and noticed a good-sized water leak in the ceiling. Looked all around (up and downstairs), but we couldn’t find the source of it. I can fix a lot of things, but plumbing – that’s one thing that I’m not good at – clueless sums it up.

My mom is blessed with awesome neighbors, and she called across the street to ask for some help. Glenn helps my mom out a lot – he shovels her out, will help with house maintenance, and he and his wife both have been a real source of support for my mom since my dad passed away.

He came over – we (well, he swung the hammer) tore out the waterlogged ceiling, and saw that the leak was coming from behind the wall. We went upstairs, tore out some more wall behind the bathroom sink, and discovered that the joint on the hot water line was leaking. We then spent the next two hours repairing it (well, I held the flashlight, and did general helper 3 rd class duties). I love watching someone work who really knows what they are doing – doesn’t matter what they are doing. Watching my old(est) sister make bread is amazing – she used to be a baker in another life – always something to learn.

Glenn hadn’t seen me since last summer. You know what? If he was different in any way, I couldn’t tell. We were just getting the job at hand done – at 10pm at night on a Saturday. Glenn is a police officer in Pawtucket, and he’s one big, strong, tough dude. He’s awesome. Thanks Glenn.

After cleaning up the big mess we had made by tearing out a ceiling and a wall, we went to bed.

When we got up this morning, Ma suggested that we all go out to breakfast at her favorite neighborhood joint – Oatley’s. Rhode Island, even though it’s wedged between Boston and New York can be both very urban, but surprisingly rural. Just five minutes from my mom’s house is a huge turf farm. The vibe of her town is east-coast rural. Lots of stone walls as you drive around, not made for the look, but out of necessity from clearing the land.

My mom and dad used to go to Oatley’s five or six days a week before he passed away. She goes less now, but is still a regular, and pretty well known there.

We had our breakfast, Samwich did his penguin-eating, and as we were leaving (and I was across the room paying), one of the waitresses who knows my mom well came over and was chatting with them. Just as I walked over, she had to run, but my mom said to me “Well, I’m sorry that she didn’t get to say hi to my youngest daughter!”

After we finished up, we stopped by the cemetery to visit my dad’s gravesite, and to leave a ceramic bird at his site. This was harder for me than I thought it was going to be. Samwich hadn’t been there before, and as we were driving up, Sheila said “Samwich, are you going to say hi to Pa?” Samwich never met my dad, and my dad never knew that Samwich was coming. Anh was only a few weeks pregnant (we knew) when my dad passed, and it didn’t seem like a good time to tell him. (Long story).

As we were walking up to the site, Anh said “What’s that rumble? Is that Pa rolling over?”. Just some context here… we all in the fam have talked a lot about how my dad would have dealt with his only son coming out to him. This was on *all* of our minds as we walked up, and Anh, because of the way she is (fabulous) felt like the ice needed to get broken. Ma said “Well, I think he would have said ‘Are you happy? If so, that’s all I care about.’ Then he would have said ‘Jesus F#!$’ing Christ! What next?’ “

We all laughed…. That’s the way my dad was. I got a little misty just thinking more about it – thinking about how I was never able to talk to him about this.

Well Pa, I’m happy. We are happy… Your kids and your grandkids all love you.

We drove back home, for lunch had some pizza and a meatball grinder from Fillipou’s Pizza (401-294-4767 – on Ten Rod Road in North Kingstown – the BEST!), and then headed to the airport. Ma as she always does was a little teary and sad to see us go, but we’ll be together again soon (next month!)

It was a good homecoming – another “First” down…

March 14, 2008

I’m Back

Posted in Boston, family, food, Identification, Samwich, transgender at 7:38 pm by Michael

Well, not really, still in Boston.

Anh, Samwich and I went to Boston on Tuesday night on the redeye, and I worked here all week.

Honestly, after all the buzz from last week, I needed a bit of a blog-break. But, here we are, it’s Friday, it’s the weekend, and I’ve got some stuff to say. Here goes.

Commenters and Supporters – Thank You!

I sincerely appreciate the comments that people have posted, and the mails that have been sent – both with support and also questions. It’s all good, and it means a lot to me! Thank you.

JetBlue – Please don’t go out of Business!

As I’ve written about at length, we love JetBlue. Between lots of legroom, DirecTV on board, friendly crews, new planes, great website, good customer support, and reasonable and understandable pricing – by far is our favorite domestic airline.

Last couple flights though – scary – probably only 25% full. Now, for a redeye, this isn’t the worst thing in the world – for the passengers. But, you have to question in this day and age, how long empty flights can keep flying. Maybe it’s the season, or the day of week we fly (Tuesday), but I’m a little scared that the reliable redeye will go bye-bye.

Boston Cannoli Fest V2

Wednesday night we did a little cannoli-comparo. I’ve been a big fan of Bova’s for a very long time. The others in the big-three in Boston are Modern Pastry, and Mike’s.

We tried Mike’s and Bova’s again – side by side. (Large ricotta, plain (no nuts of chocolate chips). Yes, I realize that Italian cannoli are made from marscapone generally, but in the US is more likely sweet ricotta based – lots of discussion on that in this space back in early January).

I believe that we have a new winner – by far – Mike’s. The filling was lighter, and the crust thinner and crispier. The Bova’s entry was too thick – both the crust and the filling. The ratio here matters, and Mike’s was better.

Good Italian

Try Pomodoro on Hanover Street in the North End. The menu is small, but the food was in general very good. The chicken carbonara pasta and the veal with carmelized balsamic served with green onion risotto were both tasty and unique. Hallmark of a great Italian place – the simple things are fantastic. We had the fried calamari appetizer to start – it was light, crisp, hot, sweet, not chewy, and came with a (big) side of tomato sauce – which was light and perfect.

“Are you a man?”

Anh and I went to Filene’s Basement to check out jeans and some shirts, both for me and for her. There wasn’t a ton, but we picked out some stuff, and went to the dressing room. I was carrying Samwich in the baby carrier, and Anh had most of the clothes (I had a few). At the basement, you have to check in at the dressing room and get a number tag for the number of items that you bring in. As I was going through this process w/the attendant, she said to me:

“Are you a man?”

“No.”

“Are you?”

“No, do you want to see my ID?”

Pause, still not giving me the number tag.

“No, really, do you want to see my ID?”

“No, that’s ok, go ahead.”

She was not convinced. I tried on some stuff, liked some, didn’t like others, and while I was, I was thinking about how to handle it – ignore it? Talk to her? Talk to the manager?

I decided to just take by bargains and run, and not say anything. I’m not sure if I didn’t have a “F” on my license what I would have said. It would have been harder.

It brings up the fundamental question of what it means to be male or female in general, in a public situation like this. Who is being protected? For what reason?

I’m still not sure what I think about this. Maybe tomorrow I will… Maybe not. Maybe I never will.

“I saw you on Nightline”

After dinner, we were taking the T (Red Line) from South Station to Kendall Square. We love the T, and really wish that Seattle had public transport like that. It was just about 9pm, and the train wasn’t too full. Just after we had gotten on, I noticed that there was a guy, probably a little older than us, with lots of facial piercings. He was looking at us pretty closely. As the train stopped, he looked at us, and said:

“I saw you on Nightline!”

Me and Anh almost at the same time said:

“Yes you did!”

He said: “Well, good for you!”

I almost asked him “What did you think?” or “How did you recognize us?” but I was afraid in many ways to break the barrier of anonymity that seems to exist in public places like this. Yes, he did reach out to us, but I wasn’t sure what to do except for smile and say thanks….

I looked at Anh and said (quietly) “I never expected that!” Anh said “Me too!”

Neither of us were freaked out – just a little surprised…

He got off one stop before us, and said the following to us as he got off:

“I wish you both the best of luck and may god bless you.”

I’ll take it that he was supportive from both the words and the tone, and I give him a ton of credit for reaching out to us, and I think we probably could have done more to reach back.

I honestly never thought that we would get recognized on the street, especially so far away from home.

Happy Birthday Samwich

Samwich is One. Congratulations Samwich! Thank you Anh for being such an amazing mom.

March 7, 2008

“What about the kids?”

Posted in family, transgender at 10:46 pm by Michael

As is well documented, we have three kids – Peri, 10 – John – 7 (almost 8 ) and Samwich (1 in a week!).

Many people have asked many questions about the kids – how did we tell them and how they reacted, how they dealt with my early transition and how they are doing now.

How Did We Tell Them?

The challenges for telling the kids included:
– what to tell them, and how to do it in a way that they would understand
– how to give them space to react and respond
– how to be “true” to myself, but at the same time still love and honor these precious little beings

We ended up telling them at the start of a two week vacation. Me, Anh and my mom sat down at the dining room table and told Peri and John that we had to tell them something important.

We first reassured them that no one was sick or dying, and no one was going away. (Their grandfather – my dad – had died about a year earlier, and they were still scared of that) We reassured them that we loved them, and that nothing about that was going to change.

I then told them that while most kids, when they are very young know that they are a boy or a girl, and their bodies match that. I said that I didn’t feel that way. That I felt more like I was really a girl, even though my body was that of a boy.

We told them that at the end of the year, I was going to start living my life the way that I really felt inside – as a girl.

We reassured them that we loved them, that I was still their Dad, and that our family was staying together.

We didn’t say a whole lot more.

John started to cry, and after that so did Peri. Anh reassured them that it was ok to cry and to be angry with me. That she was initially as well. We let them have their feelings, and didn’t try to talk them out of it.

This initial conversation was brief… probably only 10 minutes, or so. We all hugged, reiterated the central points – that we loved them, I was still their dad, and that we were still all together.

We just sat there for a while…. Both Peri and John were just sitting on my lap, and I was rocking them gently….

The next day, while on a walk, Anh asked Peri how she was doing, and then did the same for John (privately). At this point, they both said “Fine” but then “Angry”. She asked them if they had more questions, and they said no.

Over the next few days, life kind of went on, just the same as always. We didn’t bring it up. They didn’t bring it up – we were intentional about this. They needed the room to just feel what they were feeling.

After three or four more days, we checked in with them again. Peri really didn’t want to talk, but John did (I was surprised by that, given that he is two years younger, and an important two years).

I asked John how he was doing or if he had any questions, and he said:

“Is there any way to stop this?’
 
I said: “No, there isn’t”.

John then said one of the most amazing things I’ve heard though this entire process – note he was 7 years old at this time:

“Ok, I understand, if you stopped, you wouldn’t be being true to yourself, and that would not be the right thing to do, right Daddy?”

Peri was much quieter, and didn’t really want to talk to me about it for quite some time. She talked to Anh privately, but not as much to me.

John had another moment of brilliance later in the trip. My mom said to him “You look just like your Dad.” John says, without skipping a beat:

“Ha! But only until Thansgiving!” [that’s when I had FFS]

Dealing with the Early Transition

At home, for about three months before I transitioned, I would dress “fulltime at home” (oxymoron) in female clothes. Not ultra femme at all – jeans, t-shirt, etc. Not a lot different than what I had been wearing before. Before I did this in front of the kids, we talked a lot about it – gave them a lot of notice, and incrementally introduced it. We were monitoring the whole time if they were showing signs of stress or discomfort, and slowing (not stopping) if they did. After a while, as others came over (family and friends who knew), they saw that “nothing really changed”, and this was reassuring – in that I acted the same, Anh acted the same, and other fnf acted the same as well.

Dealing with The Transition and my FFS

I was in SFO for two weeks, and over a weekend. On that weekend, Anh went up to Seattle, and got the kids to bring them down. Partially to see me, but also to see Anh and the rest of the friends and family that were down as well. The time they were down was the hardest for me recovery wise – they got down on a Friday night, the day after FFS. Anh left it to them if they wanted to see me or not, and they both wanted to, with some trepidation. But after, in talking to them, they expressed that they were glad that they did – and I looked better (HA!) than they had feared.

Pre-surgery, we talked to them about their fears – and it really revolved around “change” and “loss”. “Change” in that I would “be different” in an unquantifiable way, and “loss” – mostly fear of me dying.

The lesson for us out of this was even though it was hard for them to see me in a hospital bed, bandaged up – that it *wasn’t as bad as they had made up in their minds* and as a result, it was a net positive. Fear of the known is easier to deal with than fear of the unknown.

Over the weekend, they spend the vast majority of the time exploring the city and being kids, and hanging around with their aunt and cousin – they loved it. They spent a little more time with me, saw me getting better, and in general were relieved.

Samwich was a little reserved with me when I had dressings on my face. As soon as all of those came off, I was just the same old Maddy to him, and he was 100% back to his previous big slobbery kisses for me.

Reentry

The weekend we got back from SFO, Peri and John both had events that we were going to. This would be the first time that they would be in public with their dad Megan. We spend a lot of time talking to them about how to handle it – even minute stuff like who was going to drive them, who they were walking in with (us or their mom), etc. We talked to them about a proposed plan, and then asked for feedback – and they gave us great feedback. In the end, this was a fantastic day, and they felt included, listened to, and in control. This was our big takeaway – that they needed to feel in control, and have it be ok for them to say what was ok and what was not ok.

We have not heard of, nor have they told us of any teasing at school, at all. To the contrary, we heard a story of a mom who told her daughter who is friends with Peri:

“It’s your job as Peri’s friend to defend her. If someone starts to tease her or make fun of her because of her Dad or anything else, you need to step in and tell them that its not ok to do that.”

That was pretty amazing.

Peri and John still both call me Daddy. Its their choice what to call me, and I’ve told them that.

Anh and I refer to me as “Maddy” to Samwich. If he decides to call me Daddy, or something else in the future that would be ok too.

However, we are all pretty consistent about referring to me as “she/her”, and not “he/him”. 

Update From Tonight

I asked Peri and John tonight about how they were feeling, and if there were things we did or didn’t do that they thought we should do differently.

Peri Says: “Since you told us when we were on vacation, we almost had too much time together after that. I liked being with Ma [her grandmother] and Anh, but I was mad at you, and I didn’t want to be with you *all* the time.”

Peri Says: “You think initially that it’s going to change everything – you think that – even when you said that it wouldn’t, we didn’t believe you. But now, its like nothing has changed. I’m fine now.”

John Says: “You still look like Frankenstein, because of the line on your head with no hair on it!” [I let him touch it, and that made him feel better too]

John Says: “I wish that this didn’t happen. And I’m going to wish that it didn’t happen forever.”

We talked about it more… he asked me if I was done, or if there was going to be more change. I said no, that I was done. He got a big smile on his face:

“Its ok now because I know its done. Right now is ok. Just ok. Maybe even good.”

John Says: “You are the best daddy ever!’ (Peri chimes in with the same – I think they may be pandering.)

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