Defining Our Norm…

Next month (April 30) we will celebrate Laine’s one year “T-versary.” We are ending this first year by celebrating with a complete hysterectomy. Woo-hoo! Ok, so most of you are thinking why in the world would anyone be excited about having surgery?? But the fact is, as a transman, he doesn’t need the parts and the parts are only causing him pain (as crappy as that is, it does mean the procedure is medically necessary and therefore insurance coverage helps pay for it).  He (and I) are looking forward to this surgery because his high sex drive equals need for orgasm release. Orgasm and fibroids are not a good combination…they equal pain post sex. Hysterectomy will solve this little issue.  Hence our excitement. Next Friday March 18, we will be (not so bright eyed) at 530 in the morning as we check into the hospital to complete another step in this transition process.  My anxiety is semi high regarding this surgery, not because of the surgery itself.  I know Laine will soar through it and recover quickly.  My anxiety stems from the thought of how many times will Laine have to “come out” or explain himself during this process, something that can be frustrating on any given day, much less when undergoing or recovering from a surgery.  I had to call the hospital billing department this week to make the copayment for the procedure, no less than 4 times did I have to correct the woman on the phone…HE, HIM, HE, HIM…”DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?!?”  What is really amusing is when Laine and I are sitting together, across a desk from a medical assistant and they start explaining the process and procedures etc. and the woman is making eye contact with me, clearly addressing her spiel to me and we have to politely inform her… “I’m not Laine…he is.” (This happened.)

Over the past month we have settled nicely into our new home and our lives. It is strange really, we have lived together since December of 2014, but that first year we never really settled into life. Laine moved in with me and the kids, into a home my ex and I had purchased a few years prior. For that first year of our lives together, that location served as a house for us, but never our home. There was always something preventing us from finding a routine. Something keeping us from creating a fluid transition from the early morning waking hours to bedtime each day. Now in OUR home, we have found the fluid schedule and routine that works for all of us, adults and kids alike. Life has finally settled in and I like it. I didn’t realize how much I craved what we now have, until we found it. Chaos has always been routine. Anxiety was normal for me. Now we have established a new (non-chaotic) routine and the day flows.  We are happy, the kids are happy.  Life is comfortable, but not at all in a boring way (!!!) and therefore life is wonderful.

Our youngest baby (ok so she’s a four legged furry baby) had surgery last week.  She had a bad knee that refused to remain in socket causing her to hop around on three legs for weeks now.  (I have never seen anything run so fast on three legs in my life, nothing slows this mutt down!)  She is healing nicely now and hopefully will be back on all fours within a few weeks.  Leave it to us to rescue a puppy with patella luxation. The day of her surgery, I woke at 230 in the morning with the stomach flu.  This meant I was out of commission for the day.  Laine handled kids, his work, household chores, vet drop off and pick up, cooked dinner (NOT TAKEOUT), and diligently took care of me while I got myself back in working order.  He deserved a Super Dad medal to say the least.  As if that wasn’t enough, the 11-year-old had a Mother/Daughter tea party the next day that all three girls were looking forward to.  With Mom (me) still recovering from dehydration, (step) dad had to jump in and save the day, even if he was the only guy in the room.  They decorated hats, ate finger sandwiches and cupcakes and made bracelets.  He lived to tell about it, and based on the pictures, I think he might have even had a little bit of fun.  😉

Towards the end of February, we gathered our friends and celebrated the last 9 months of our journey with a housewarming/engagement/celebrate legal name changes/birthday (Mel turns 29 for the 6th time) party.  As if having our house full of our family and friends wasn’t enough, we were extremely lucky that Sarah Smith was passing through Phoenix at the end of her tour.  If you haven’t heard of Sarah and her music, check her out (www.sarahsmithmusic.com) …her music is flipping amazing, and she’s pretty damn cool!  She (and Ken) performed LIVE IN OUR LIVING ROOM!!!!! (I’m fairly certain I am still trying to come down from that excitement high.) We are so happy we could share this experience with all of you who joined us that evening for food, drinks, laughs and live music.  Those of you who were unable to attend with us, we missed you and hope you will join us in October for our next big step.  Our circle of family and friends are what make our journey through life memorable.

“I Thought it Was a Joke!”

It finally happened!!!! This past weekend we were visiting Laine’s mom at her independent living facility. A new resident recently moved in and “Tom” was sitting in the hallway in front of the elevator when we entered the lobby. Mom decided to introduce Laine, and it went down like this…

~ “Tom, this is my daughter Joyce.”

~ Tom looks at Laine, looks at Mom, looks behind Laine to where me and the kids are standing, the three of us patiently waiting to see how this plays out…

~ Tom looks baffled but says something along the lines of “nice to meet you…”

~ Laine gives him a sympathetic “ill explain later look” and we turn the corner.

As I am signing us all of the visitor’s book, I tell Laine he should go put Tom’s mind at ease because that poor man was deeply confused. Mom has wandered off at this point to chat with someone else, so Laine has a clear shot back to Tom. The conversation now develops into this…

~ Laine explains to Tom that he is a transgender man and that Mom doesn’t embrace or accept it.

~ Tom gets it, is very understanding and lighthearted about it and explains to Laine “I thought she (Mom) was playing a joke on me!!!!”

I have the feeling this is going to be an ongoing occurrence with Mom and her incorrect introductions. She refuses to even acknowledge the situation. More often than not in public Laine is getting “Sir-ed” (I’m not certain that is a word, but for sake of this blog post, I’m claiming it!) This happened all of the sudden. Lexie started it at IHOP and from there on everything has been “Sir” and male pronoun usage when others address him. Therefore people are going to start looking at Mom like she might have some screws loose…

Thursday will be 19 weeks of Laine’s “boy shots. Last week was a big week for him! His name change became officially legal on Wednesday, September 2. We then ventured to Social Security and then this week he’ll head to the DMV, which will also include a legal gender marker change. Top Surgery has been confirmed for June 7, 2016. Although the doctor did have opportunities for surgery to happen quicker than that, we had to take life into consideration. We have four kids in school, we are closing on a new house within the first quarter of 2016, and top surgery is going to take us out of state for approximately 9 nights. That is a long time to be away from home. There just isn’t any feasible way to accomplish that with the kids in school and life happening around us. So although it’s frustrating, we decided to wait until the summer time when kids don’t need to be shuffled to and from school, and our 9 nights of being gone won’t affect them as badly.

Physical changes seem to be appearing almost daily lately. His voice has dropped even deeper. In fact his mother, asks EVERY time they speak on the phone, “Did you just wake up?” UGGGHHH. NO MOM! It is 1030 in the morning (or 2 in the afternoon, it doesn’t matter….) we have 4 kids, he did NOT just wake up!! THIS IS HIS VOICE NOW!

Facial hair is starting to appear more and more. It is my obsession to rub my cheek against his and feel the stubble that is beginning to appear. He laughs at me when we are in good lighting and I am very clearly analyzing the stubble growth.

His backside…it deflated almost overnight. I went to give him a shot a few weeks back and I had to re-train myself where to stick the needle. The original cheek curve has gone flat and certainly taken on more of a male shape.

In other news of our lives, our house is finally in the building process. They sent an email last week letting us know all permits have been approved and that we would see definite activity within the next few weeks… is a slow process for the impatient!

The wedding planning has come to a hurry up and wait point. All vendors have been chosen and/or secured. Now we just need attire and the fine details. September 24 begins the dress shopping adventure, the first appointment has been confirmed. Only 390 days to go…remind me again why we thought waiting forever (ok 16 months) from the day we got engaged was a great idea??? I know there are 15 other things happening between now and then, but geeze 390 days sounds really far away! Benefit of waiting this ridiculous amount of time…we get to plan it the way we want it, and ensure it is a perfect day. Our day!

Assumptions make an A** out of U!

WHEN DOES THE MISGENDERING STOP??? This isn’t a rhetorical question, so if you are reading this and you have an answer, please comment here or on my facebook posting…it’s making me crazy. Maybe it isn’t my place to be so worked up over it, Laine doesn’t seem to be, in fact he has to remind me to breathe in these moments…but it seriously makes me crazy. I know I am jaded, as I see him for who he is, and to me that is male. He, him, his. I expect everyone else to do the same and yes I know that is unrealistic only 8.5 weeks into hormone treatment, but I can see the changes, why cant other people???? (He is shaving every 3 days to keep the mustache growth under control…that is pretty quick progress if you ask me!)

I’m not talking about friends and family either, I understand that is a process…for those people that have known him as “she” for years, months, or even weeks prior to transition, I get it. It takes 3 days to create a habit and 21 days to break one. For those who personally know him, it is a process, and you all have been wonderful about making the necessary adjustments and correcting your pronouns when appropriate. (Except for my future mother in law, but I’ve already explained that situation…to date there are no changes.)

I am referring to the general public. Those who have no idea who Laine is or what pronoun he goes by. We as a society make way too many assumptions in life. Waitresses at any given restaurant “Have a nice day ladies!” (I want to respond with “Thanks I will, and HE would too if you used the proper pronouns!!”) Greeters within the antique stores in Palm Springs…PALM SPRINGS…one of the LGBT capitals of America…but again, the T is excluded there and if you are not a gay man then you MUST be a lesbian couple and therefore Laine MUST be a butch lesbian, who happens to be wearing a clearly visible pendant around his neck of the Trans* symbol. Pretty sad when our own community needs some 101 training on the basics, what does that symbol mean again?

If I ran the country, (hmm that’s a scary thought) I would require all customer service related job fields to be trained in gender-neutral pronouns, or communication that excludes pronouns. “Have a great day!” would be sufficient, drop the “ladies” from the end of that. Everyone needs to quit making assumptions. (Of course this would be beneficial in all aspects of life I do believe…most assumptions tend to land everyone in more trouble than not.) While we are in the process of training society about proper pronoun use, we’ll also be renovating every public restroom into a gender-neutral facility. No more “pants and capes” on the door. No “M or W” on the shiny little plaque. Just individual single stall bathrooms that are open to everyone. (#Puskar2016)   Just Kidding…but only about the election hashtag, the rest I am drop dead serious about, society needs to make some changes.

One of the best ways to push for changes is to educate. That is part of the reason we tell our story so openly; although this is a very personal and private process, we invite you all in to experience it with us. People are curious and they have questions. If you think about how we learn as children it involves about 400 questions per day…why stop as adults? If the answer to your question will help you better understand something you are unfamiliar with, then ask the question in a respectful manner. There is very little information for public consumption surrounding personal experiences with this process. There are even less options for the experience of partners like myself. That is why Monday morning I completed a Skype interview with Elspeth Brown, a researcher out of Toronto. She is focusing her study on historicizing the experiences of the partners of Trans*men, specifically those who were with their partner before and during transition. Her goal is to document our stories and get them written down.

If you happen to be reading this and are a partner of an FTM individual and you two were together pre-transition and then during transition, or know someone who is (and this is NOT just for the cis-gender females either, it is for any partner of a Trans*man, no matter how you identify) check out her website at:

http://www.elspethbrown.org/page/transpartners-project

Her email address is located on the page where you can contact her if you are interested in being a part of the study and sharing your own story regarding your partner’s transition. (It’s all done using anonymous alias’) She also has a fabulous list of resources on her page for partners of FTM individuals, or anyone looking for more information on the process in general.