Diamonds, Bathrooms and Jewelry Saws…Oh My!!

I have begun and erased words on this screen a handful of times already. Not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I don’t know where to begin. I typically blog closer to the end of the week, mainly because Thursday is shot day, so it is a good time to document the week which has passed. Today is Tuesday, and I am certain if I wait until Thursday, I will be so overwhelmed with my own words that I will never get started.

This past weekend turned out to be a very important one in our lives. Sunday (May 24th) afternoon Laine pulled me into his lap and began a conversation about how he had planned to wait to ask me to marry him until he is “fully” Laine. (Yes, we have had the future plans conversations prior to this event, so the marriage talk was not a complete surprise.) I asked him what “fully Laine” looks like, and I explained that to me he has always been Laine. This being said, he agreed and the conversation continued. He then explained the 15 different ways he had planned in his head to create the perfect proposal moment. The most recent plan being during our trip out of town in a few weeks…approximately 5 weeks away!

I should explain right here that there are many reasons in which Laine and I are so perfect together, but one commonality we share was very apparent during this special moment. When we each decide we want something, we go for it. The impatience takes over and all reason is lost. The ring he had picked up at the jeweler only a few hours earlier, after waiting 6 weeks for it to arrive special order, was burning a hole in his pocket.

After all the planning, thinking, and trying to find the “perfect way” to propose, he ended up doing just that. Me sitting in his lap, him putting his heart into words and me falling in love with him all over again as the nerves took him over. Needless to say, I said YES!! As of fall 2016, we will officially become Mr. & Mrs. (and yes, I am legally taking his last name.) 🙂

Remember how I said above that we both tend to let impatience take over and reason go out the window from time to time…the next part of this story solidifies that…he couldn’t wait to give me the ring and I couldn’t wait to wear it….even if it was too small.

Laine did the right thing…he had my finger sized before he placed the order.  We slip the ring on my finger and it gets stuck at the knuckle. I know I should not force it…I KNOW this. However yet again all reason is lost, this ring is gorgeous and I want to wear it! With a bit of force, ok maybe a little more than a bit, it goes on and if it goes on, it will come off right?? Easier said than done.

Immediately my finger is starting to swell. I’m trying not to panic at this point. Laine is calm, at least on the outside, he knows Ill loose myself if I see him panic. We try soap, we try oil, we put my hand in ice, we try the dental floss trick, we Google tricks to get rings off fingers. Nothing is working. In fact the ring is moving less now than before. We decide that my finger is clearly traumatized at this point based on the size, color and the fact I’m nauseous at just the thought of twisting the ring one more time. So we give it a break and decide to let the finger rest over night hoping the swelling from trauma will go down a bit.

Monday morning arrives and there isn’t much change. I ice it again, and we try one more possible way of getting it off. No luck, it isn’t moving. It is inevitable at this point that we have no other option…they either have to cut the ring off my finger or my finger off of my hand. The thought alone made me sick to my stomach, but it had to be done at this point.

We traveled to Chandler to the store in which the ring was ordered through. The salesman knew Laine and was laughing at me. He took one look at my hand and he too knew there was no option. Two jewelry saws later (platinum is some hard metal!!) John (the salesman) had the ring off my finger and my finger could circulate blood properly again. Needless to say my ring is currently being repaired and UPSIZED so when I get it back it will fit properly and we wont have to repeat this experience. I’m trying to be patient while I wait for it to return to me, for we all see where impatience gets us…but it’s really hard!!

To finish off this memorable three-day weekend, we took the oldest two kids to the movies Monday afternoon. We arrived a bit early so we planned a bathroom stop on the way to our theater. Our daughter and I began to head into the women’s room, and Laine was lingering behind us with our son. Up to this point he has still been using women’s restrooms or avoiding them all together, but he was well aware that starting May 26 (today as I write this) he has to officially use the men’s room at work per HR. I stopped and looked back and he told me to go ahead. I haven’t pushed the bathroom issue one way or another as that is something Laine has to be ready for, so I didn’t argue.

When our daughter and I walked back out of the women’s room, Laine and our son were gone. I looked around expecting to see them sitting on a bench waiting for us, but they were out of sight. Next thing I know, here they come, out of the men’s room. Our son is talking a mile a minute to me explaining the experience of talking Laine into putting fear aside and using the men’s restroom. I couldn’t hardly follow the story due to the speed of his words and the surprise that it actually happened.

What Laine told me later, surprised me even more. After our daughter and I went into the restroom, Laine needed to use the bathroom but had told our son he would just wait and it would be no big deal. Our son took the initiative and told Laine to get into the bathroom and go! He walked Laine into the men’s restroom, showed him where the stalls were and then stood guard near the door. Our son never had to use the restroom at all during this entire exchange. He simply took on the roll of protector. When I heard this I had a proud mommy moment for certain. Both of my boys surprised me through this experience!!!

Hopefully the first time was the hardest and it will only get easier after that. It did happen to work out perfectly that on his first men’s bathroom trip, Laine had a 12 year old bathroom buddy to make it a bit easier. I’m so proud of Laine for taking such a big step in his transition, although I will admit I’ll miss getting to travel as a pair to the restroom from now on. Anytime I’m bummed about that, I’ll just remember that the women’s room is probably cleaner, prettier and smells better than the men’s!

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Who the hell invited HER along?

(Disclaimer: When I write these blogs, they are only posted with Laine’s permission after he reads them…It isn’t that I NEED his approval, but a lot of my writing focuses on personal information about him and I don’t want anyone thinking I am running around airing his business without thought.)

It has been a little over 7 months since Mother Nature has visited our house. For me personally it has been over 2.5 years due to a medical procedure. For Laine, or rather “Joyce,” October was the last time Mother Nature showed face. We attributed this to being 51 and dipping his (her) toes into the menopause pool. You can imagine our surprise when 7 months into attempted menopause and 2.5 weeks into testosterone shots, here comes Mama ready for a visit…right in the middle of a romantic overnight getaway for two.

Being unprepared for this third party crashing our trip, we found the local corner store. Something even Laine doesn’t know, at least not until he reads this, is my past habits of buying feminine products. I would go into a store, purchase 15 items and slip the necessity items somewhere in the middle, avoiding all eye contact while the rep behind the counter rings up my order. Not this time. This time I put my own issues aside, put on my big girl panties and made damn sure the man behind the counter thought these items were for me. (At least in my mind.) I grabbed what we needed, walked up to the counter, we engaged in conversation regarding debit card machines, I grabbed the bag and we left. Simple as that. So simple I’m not even sure Laine noticed my protective stance on this issue.

Laine went through waves of emotions having to deal with such a female issue while trying so hard to claim his masculinity. No one else around us knew what was in his pants thanks to Mother Nature dropping by…but he knew. Only a few times did he allow these feelings to affect him. Tears of frustration crept up once or twice. We had a few conversations surrounding this topic, but for the most part he handled it quite well. I did my best to assure him this isn’t permanent, this doesn’t change anything and hopefully it WILL be the last time he has to deal with this. Fingers crossed. From an outsider’s view point…Mother Nature is a pain when you are a woman. When you are a man, she’s nothing but a real bitch!

In other news, today was shot day. That means three full weeks on testosterone. By splitting the dose in half this time, the mood crash was not nearly what it was last week. It is hard to tell what will repeat and what is a fluke…(Did you read the three paragraphs above???!!!) so we have to hang out on a weekly schedule for a bit to make sure it truly is what works for him.

As far as changes go, he and I have both noticed there is some redistribution in the backside area. The pockets on his jeans are beginning to fall differently, nothing extreme, but enough that he notices when getting dressed and I notice when checking him out from behind. 😉 He is also certain that what is beginning to disappear in the rear, has relocated itself to his midsection. This part I cannot visually see or even feel when I put my arms around him, but he feels as though it has become more dense within that area, so Ill take his word for it.

The biggest effect of the hormones is for certain the desire drive. Think 14 year old boy in 52 year old presentation. I have always been a high drive individual, and from day one we have had an amazing chemistry with very compatible needs and desires. This man is now giving me a run for my money. (Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way complaining) I do have to remind him from time to time that we have to eat and sleep…and function in the real world. Some days that is easier said than done.  😉

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Two weeks on T…

We made it…to shot day! This might not sound like a big deal, but combine pms, puberty, and menopause and that pretty much sums up what happens during a hormone crash between shots. Due to the crash Laine experienced by day 12, the Dr recommended we move the shots to weekly, administering half a dose every 7 days instead of a full dose every 14. (In the end it all comes out the same, but the time release is altered to hopefully avoid the drastic hormone drop at the end of the two weeks.)   Time will tell if this method will work better for Laine until the hormones become more balanced…fingers crossed.

Visually, there are not any physical changes happening at this point, at least not any that affect anyone reading this blog. If we invite you into our bedroom, then we will fill you in as necessary, but personally, I’m a bit possessive and I don’t like to share, so that isn’t happening. If you need any more information than that, private message me…I’m open to questions for educational purposes, not for your personal pleasure.  🙂

The paperwork and photographs have been submitted for the surgeon in San Francisco. Next week Laine has to call to schedule a consult appointment. We are still looking at surgery by the end of the year at this point. Just have to make it through the summer utilizing binders, something Laine isn’t looking forward to as the weather heats up.

Due to the fact that there isn’t a whole lot to report at this point, I felt it would be a good time to publicly address a few of the questions I have received privately since beginning this journey. I am always open to questions, discussions, etc, so please don’t be afraid to ask…chances are if you are thinking it, someone else probably is too.

Although every piece of feedback that both Laine and I have received has been positive, there has been a few individuals point out the obvious to me, (or to Laine about me)…“You didn’t sign up for this.” True Statement. I won’t and don’t argue with that for even a moment. But do you know what I DID sign up for…this relationship. This person to be my partner (no matter what form, Joyce or Laine, they are still the same mind, body and soul.)   And yes, as it has been pointed out, his body will change overtime with the testosterone. My response…”and???” He is still the PERSON I signed up for.

I fell in love with an individual with a heart of gold. An individual that craves everything I thrive on giving, and returns the same to me. A soul that connects with mine on so many levels, levels deeper than I even knew possible.   These things don’t change because of his gender identity. These are engrained within him. Physical changes are what they are, and they don’t change how I feel about him. From my perspective, if those physical changes make him a happier individual, and they enhance who he is, then they are certainly a positive and not a negative at all.

Yes, this journey comes with its rough patches…did I mention the pms/puberty/menopause combo above??? But would I give up everything to avoid a day or two of needing to be a bit extra cognizant of how and what he is feeling during those hormone drops? Not even for a brief moment. So although I may not have signed up for this journey, I am along for this ride and I am 110% committed. My love for Laine is unconditional and his gender identity and the journey he has embarked on is included within that.

It is a possibility that I am so incredibly open to this path we are on, based on the fact that I identify with a very broad label.   By the way, labels make me crazy…we’re all human and we don’t need to be put in boxes, but society says we must check a box. It doesn’t matter if we are gay, straight, bi, or any other letter in the LGBTQIA alphabet. (And for those of you who don’t know, this alphabet is much longer than typically noted.) This is another question that has come up recently…”So are you straight now? “ Me personally, nope. My sexual identity hasn’t, doesn’t and won’t change. I identify as Pansexual. (No, I’ve never been to Never-Never Land, and I don’t have sex with the cookware, lets get those questions out of the way before they arise.)

Pansexual simply means I fall in love with the person, not the gender. For those who live in the binary male/female world, there is a whole other world out there that falls in-between on the gender spectrum. (I could go into a full fledged gender education lesson here, but I’ll give you the opportunity to Google it first.) The portion of the lesson that plays a role here, is that by identifying Pansexual, I might be attracted to male, female, a trans-man, trans-woman, someone who identifies as gender queer, or even gender nonconforming. The possibilities are endless, but the point is I am attracted to the person, not their gender identity. Therefore, yes I fell in love with Joyce…and now that he has become Laine, that changes NOTHING as far as my attraction is concerned. (Well nothing except for the fact that Laine has extreme confidence that comes out from time to time and it is incredibly sexy….)

Prior to transition, Laine struggled with sexual orientation when asked to check a box. He was “told” he was female, although he knew he is male centered. This created an internal conflict. As a “female” who likes only women, by definition it made “Joyce” a lesbian. However this never quite felt comfortable. Now, when Laine is asked the question “So are you straight now?” his answer is different than mine. The answer is a confident “Yes.” This is a topic that is discussed within the first few sessions of gender therapy. There is a whole other lesson here involving gender vs. sexual identity and although they are connected they are not the same. A trans-man can be attracted to men and identify as gay. A trans-man can be bisexual. A trans-man can identify as Pansexual…do you get my point here? Gender and sexual orientation can be intertwined in a multitude of combinations. The day he came home and announced he is a heterosexual man my only response was “Thank goodness because I am a woman!”

Those who surround us…

When someone you love is in the middle of this journey, you want to do nothing but protect them. I know I can’t be there 24/7 to filter the world, but I can be right here beside Laine to support him the best I can. I can be here to embrace the good and to cherish those moments of the day that make him smile. And when those crummy moments happen, I’ll be right here to kiss his wounds, to do my best to pick him back up and to remind him to move forward. Fortunately, so far the good moments out number the bad 100:1.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the circle of people that surround us in our everyday life. There are three types of people in our world at this point of the journey. This includes both known and strangers.

The first group of people are the allies and the supporters who personally know Laine or myself. Some of you have been around for a long time and some of you we have just met. These people are the ones who make every effort to utilize the name Laine, the pronouns he, him and his, and to embrace this journey even if they might not fully understand it.   These individuals are the ones who slip up from time to time and use his birth name, or the pronouns she or her. When this slip happens they typically catch themselves, usually being overly hard on themselves for the accidental slip. To those of you who fit into this category…we thank you. You are amazing. Your efforts and support are more than we could ever ask for and the number of you in our lives accounts for more than we even imagined. Be assured those slips are OKAY!!! They are going to happen. Don’t beat yourself up over them and with time it will naturally get easier and you wont have to think as hard about making those adjustments. The fact you are making the effort to adjust shows that you support him and that is what is important.

The second group of people are strangers. The reality of the situation is that a stranger doesn’t know any better. Laine has only been on hormones for exactly one week. Visual changes are not obvious at this point, and I know this…but I still have to bite my tongue on a regular basis because for anyone who doesn’t know Laine (or anyone for that matter) assumptions can be wrong. Every time we are in a restaurant it seems the staff thrives on the closing statement “Have a nice day (evening, night) LADIES.” I touched on this in my first blog, but I can’t fully put into words just how much it irritates me. Every time this interaction takes place, Laine is the calm and collected one. I am the one who gets worked up and is ready to jump out of my chair to set someone straight. Last night at dinner he did make the statement that the first server who addresses him as “Sir” will be receiving a $100 tip. (If you are in the restaurant industry and you see us at your location, pass the word on to your co-workers!) My first thought when it happens is “He is NOT a lady.” My second thought then becomes how can I change the world and formally educate those working in a customer service position to utilize gender neutral forms of interaction? Why is society so gender based and why can’t we just be human based?

The third group of people are individuals who know Laine as Joyce, and are unwilling to embrace any changes. Fortunately this is a very, very small group of people. I wont give an exact number, but know that those who do support FAR outweigh this group who doesn’t. This group may or may not realize that their unwillingness to accept (or even discuss) any changes is hurtful. Some of this unwillingness may come from not understanding this journey, or rather not being willing to even attempt to understand it. Some may be from a generation gap, or their background and upbringing. We can’t get upset with this group of people (but that doesn’t keep us from getting frustrated.) It’s possible that with time and visual changes, that this group will reform a new opinion on the matter. Until then, Laine will continue this journey and not let their words, opinions, or lack of acceptance get in his way.

If you are reading this, you have most likely already decided which of these groups of people you fall into. If you are reading this, my guess is most of you fall into the first group, but I wont make any concrete assumptions. However if my guess is correct, I will again say “Thank You.” Thank you for your love and support, for your willingness to embrace change and for being an ally. We couldn’t go through this without you!

Becoming Laine…

We had only been living together a few weeks when I entered the bathroom and found her standing in front of the mirror. Hands cupped over her breasts, trying to hide them and create the image of a flat chest. I had seen her do this many times before, but I didn’t question it. I assumed it was just a habit, some type of nightly ritual before bed. Every other night as I watched this happen, I didn’t say a word, but tonight was different.

Like a small child I began with the questioning. “Why are you doing that?” “Why are you trying to cover yourself?” “Don’t you like your breasts?” The answer surprised me. “No.”   I could have left it at that, but I didn’t…I began to push for more answers. “Are they too big? Too small? Not perky enough? Too perky?” The answer I received…”I wish I could cut them off.”

This opened a conversation I wasn’t expecting, as I had no idea up to this point how she was feeling. Hiding from the world around her, concerned about what others might think and always trying to conform to societal norms, she never bothered to stop and think about what she wanted or needed to truly be happy. As we explored this conversation deeper, I made her think about what would make her feel complete. The answer I received…”If I could be a boy…..”

Being the ally I am to the transgender community, I sympathized with him. Although I personally have never felt trapped in my body, (in fact if you know me you know I enjoy dresses, heels, makeup and glitter) I have watched others around me throughout all stages of the process. My first “girlfriend” came out as transgender, a few years after we stopped seeing each other and I was the first person he called to share the news that he was officially going to transition. One of my dearest friends is a transgender woman who is destined to change the world, or at least the political system within Arizona. I have marched in equality rallies along side many transgender brothers and sisters. So when my partner came out to me, I instantly became his biggest ally and supporter.

The first major change to take effect was the wardrobe. It started off slowly at first, a shirt or two would find its way to the Goodwill pile because it was too feminine. That pile quickly grew within a few days of embracing his new gender identity. We found our way to the mall to restock the closet, this time with clothing only purchased in the men’s section of the store. We ordered a real binder, which replaced the double-layered sports bras. As his wardrobe changed, so did his personality. He began to smile more. The confidence in his appearance began to shine through. I would find myself just staring at him, taking him all in and truly seeing HIM in front of me. Confident, sexy and handsome, still the individual I fell in love with, and as he began to find himself, I only fell more in love (and continue to do so.)

We began to have more conversations around how deep he wanted this transition to go. Would it stop with the wardrobe and simple gender expression? Would we explore testosterone and top surgery? Name change? I assured him I was good with whatever steps he wanted to take.

We keep in touch throughout the day via chat when we are apart. One day randomly in the middle of another conversation via chat, he slipped a message in that said “New name= Laine. Yep, I’ve been thinking about it.” I would have missed it if I wasn’t careful, but I did catch it, and my heart and soul lit up. Laine was the perfect name for him, and once he explained why he chose it, it instantly stuck. Born as Joyce Elaine, Laine held onto a portion of his given birth name.

Having four children in the house, ranging in age from 4-12, the questions quickly began to pick up in consistency. The youngest two, ages 4 and 5 instantly began to utilize his new name and they love to tell others that “Joyce is a girl, but she is going to be Laine and he is a boy.”   Multiple dinner conversations circled around this topic of discussion. In fact the oldest (and the only bio male in the house) decided he should be the one to give Laine “man lessons.” Entertaining and informative on both ends (you would be surprised what kids are discussing on the playground!!!) these conversations allow the kids to be a part of this process and this change. Transgender is nothing new to the kids, they have been raised to understand and accept diversity and to love people for who they are.   They have known many of my transgender friends and they have never been lied to about “so and so” was born into a male body, but she is actually a girl and vice versa. Children are inquisitive and they want to know how these things work, and I don’t lie to them. If anyone wants to criticize my honesty with them, so be it, but the only way to change the future of the world is to educate our children and to raise them with open hearts and minds.

In March, Laine began seeing a therapist. Neither of us ever having a positive counseling experience in our pasts, we weren’t sure what to expect, but therapy is a requirement in order to move forward in the process of transitioning. He was still undecided at this point regarding testosterone, afraid only of what he didn’t know. I personally was incredibly nervous the first time he went to a session. I’m not sure what I was anxious about, but when he returned from that first session reporting a positive experience, I was excited for him all over again. He returned with a resource guide, a list of doctors for hormone therapy and a list of surgeons for top surgery.

The therapist made him really think about this whole process. How far did he want to go with the transition from female to male? Did it stop at gender expression and an alternate name at home? Did he want top surgery with or without hormone treatment? She gave him the details of testosterone. The effects and the facts, and she dispelled the myths. This reopened the testosterone conversation at home, and we began to research surgeons for Top Surgery.

Laine decided to cut his hair to match his gender expression at this point. This meant short on the sides and back, with just a touch of curls left on the top. A very male model runway style. I loved it the moment he walked in the door after getting it done. It completed his expression and male style. He loved it too, but he was afraid of what his mother was going to say. She is in her mid 70s and isn’t the easiest to talk to about these types of things. Worrying about what she might think is part of the reason Laine waited 51 years to be his authentic self.

We visit her every Sunday afternoon, spending a few hours taking her to lunch and to pick up any groceries she might need for the week. Laine is her primary caregiver and only local family. We were not in her apartment two minutes when the conversation hit the ground running. She questioned why he had cut his hair so short. Laine told her because he wanted to. She then blurted out “What are you a man?” I stood in the kitchen like a deer in the headlights not sure how this conversation was going to turn at any moment. The oldest two children were visiting with us that day and they too stood back to watch this unfold.

Laine walked over and sat on the sofa and replied to his mother “What if I am?” I was watching him across the room, reading his eyes, his face, his body language. He was going to do this. He was having this conversation with her and he wasn’t going to back down this time. When Mom told Laine he is a woman, Laine corrected her and informed her that he has always felt like a boy. Although the conversation didn’t go deep that day, it was at least now out in the open. He did inform her that he will be removing his breasts in the near future, and he gave her a few memories to think about. She will take her own time to process and as more changes become visual hopefully the conversations will progress.

By the third therapy session, Laine had already scheduled an appointment with a local doctor who specializes in transgender healthcare for the following week. Testosterone quickly went from a maybe to a must. The therapist was fully on board with Laine’s request and she gladly wrote her letter of recommendation for the doctor.   The weekend prior to the scheduled doctor appointment, Laine went to the transmen’s support group in which we participate. His buddies there informed him that the doctor would draw blood and he might have to wait another full week before getting his script. Adding another week to the process was comparable to adding a lifetime. He was now at a place where he wanted these official steps started and they needed to start now. We prepared ourselves for the possibility of having to wait yet another week.

While we sat in the doctor’s office waiting room that afternoon, we discussed the process of legally changing his name and gender marker. That would be the next step to tackle on this journey, a multistep legal process, but one he certainly wants to take. The medical assistant called him to the back using “Laine” as his preferred name. This made me happy, as I was getting tired of strangers referring to him in female form. I want to post a sign on the table every time we go to a restaurant that says I’m with HIM, so the serving staff would stop saying “Have a nice day LADIES.”   I know I can’t fault them, as the only changes visual to strangers at this point is the wardrobe. But to me, he is HIM, HE and MALE.

The doctor visit was like any other routine well check. He checked all the basics, and ordered a blood draw to check for pretty much everything. (I have to say how impressed I was with the phlebotomist, Laine wasn’t in that room 2 minutes and he got his two vials. It takes people what feels like hours to get a draw out of my arm and that is after searching, squeezing, typically at least 2 blown veins, and multiple needle sticks!) We were ready to check out and the doctor said “ok, well call you tomorrow when your script gets sent to the pharmacy. See you in 5 months.”   Tomorrow?!?! What happened to having to wait a week? The possibility of starting the hormone before the week was over, made the process a reality all over again. This is happening and the waiting was finally over.

The next day, the doctor office called by 8:30 in the morning. The script was being sent to the pharmacy and would be ready in a few hours. We drove to the pharmacy that afternoon to pick it up. Much of the car ride was spent chatting with the youngest two children who had renamed the testosterone “boy shot” because testosterone was too difficult to say. We had already told all the children that once Laine started taking these shots, he would begin to look like a man as time progressed. To a 4 and 5 year old, that meant that once the shot was administered, he would wake up 110% visually a man the very next morning. (If only it were that easy…) so they had quite a lot of 4 and 5 year old appropriate questions, and we tried to explain the answers the best we could.

The pharmacist explained to us both how to administer the shot. 1 cc every two weeks, directly into a muscle. Fortunately Laine isn’t afraid of needles and neither am I. After we picked up the oldest two children from school, it was time to get this party started. Following the direction of the pharmacist, my hands were shaking slightly while I prepped the shot. Liquid in, air bubbles out, it was ready to go. I held it the way the pharmacist showed me and jab, directly into the right side butt muscle.

Much to the children’s dismay, Laine did not wake up this morning with a full beard and chest hair, but we are on day 2 of official hormone transition, and that is where this blog begins…