“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!

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Hop aboard the Crazy Train…next stop…Floral Department.

I have so much to say and so many things to talk about (no joke, I keep a running list so I wont forget) yet when I sit down here to write I always struggle with the same issue…how to get it all from my head to this screen. I don’t even know where to start after busy weeks like this past one.

The big news regarding Laine’s transition is that he officially filed his application for a name change with the court. We have to wait until Wednesday when we can call and get his court date. Although the process is a headache (2-3 trips downtown to file papers, appear in court; then a trip to SS office and the DMV after we get the paperwork post-court appearance, not to mention changing legal name on every account, document, etc. that currently exists under current birth name) it will be worth it in the end. He is also getting the necessary doctors/therapist letters so he can change his gender marker at the same time. This is yet another big step in this process, and a very exciting one.

Due to the fact that Laine and I are who we are, we didn’t think his transition, planning our wedding and daily life in general was enough going on currently, so we decided in the middle of it all, we should also build ourselves a new home. Well, WE aren’t building anything, but we are having a house built. We have spent the past two weeks running numbers, looking at our design center options, moving wants and needs around so all the numbers fit into the budget, and yesterday we went to the design center to pick paint colors, cabinets and fixtures. The house will take approximately 5-6 months to build so we aren’t moving until after the new year, and we aren’t going far…only about 7 minutes northwest of our current house. I have never been through this process before so I am like a kid on Christmas morning…Laine had built his previous home, so he has some prior experience. What is most important to me personally is that this house is OURS…we are designing it the way we want it (and in that design process we are again reminded just how much we belong together…for example we walked into a room of 9 different exterior color schemes and both immediately picked the same one…even the salesman was shocked how easy that process was for us!!) Currently the “house” is a plot of dirt…but soon it’s going to be our home. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

For anyone who has bought a home, you know the paperwork is extensive. Sign this, initial that…and guess what it all has to be done in a legal name. So for us that meant “coming out” to the homebuilder. When we initially looked at the models, Laine introduced himself as “Laine.” But when it came time to begin paperwork, it had to be clarified as to what name needed to be on the forms. Since the salesman and I had already began a texting chain, which contained his answers to our 15000 questions (Thank you Jason, you have been amazing!) we decided the simplest way would be to toss the information in a text to him since he was writing up our paperwork. He was very receptive to the information I gave, and continued to utilize preferred name only face to face, even though all paperwork is in legal name. (Kudos for that as well….if anyone wants to be our neighbor, ask for Jason!) The design center experience went just as well yesterday, the decorator (Jeanne) utilized “Laine” without question. Thus far Garrett Walker Homes gets my vote for their diversity skills!!!

As far as wedding planning goes…we have a date, a venue, a photographer and a caterer all confirmed. Only 439 days to go… I say “only” facetiously…it feels like forever away. I am extremely confident in the vendors we have chosen so far. We still need a DJ, but we have a contact we are scheduling a meeting with, and a florist. (Plus attire, etc.) We did have one florist appointment, but we both checked out within minutes of being in that meeting. This woman was certifiably nuts, I’m fairly certain…I don’t even know how to explain her here so you all can understand. Because of her high-strung nuttiness, she was NOT a good fit for us upon immediate impression, however we didn’t want to be rude and walk out, so this experience became something to laugh about, and that we did.

The meeting began with us introducing ourselves to coo-coo bird. Although introduced as “Laine” she insisted on calling him “Laine-E” Now I understand if she had read it on paper and wasn’t sure of pronunciation, but no, we verbally introduced ourselves. She just chose to alter his name, and she used it every chance she got. We sit at the desk (but this wasn’t a calm and collected have a seat moment…there was much energy and spastic activity going on) and she asked if he wanted a bouquet or boutonniere. Ok, thank you for asking, here is where I stepped in and explained the transition process in very little but informative detail. So right after I get done saying “he” “him” and “by the time of the wedding in 15 months the male features will be much more obvious” she begins filling out the contact form for a quote. She scratches out “Groom” and writes “Laine.” I’m done at this point. Laine is trying not to burst into laughter because he can see my agitation and he checked out the moment we met this nut case. I’m squeezing his hand under the table and I can’t make eye contact with him because we both will break out in giggling laughter if we do. This woman blows through a picture book of flowers, points out random stuff, I’m not really following because I already know my answer, “Thanks but no thanks.” I’m beyond overwhelmed by the spastic energy, I’m irritated that the paperwork has become “Bride and Laine” and all I want to do is kick Laine under the table because every time crazy lady says or does something I can see him out of the corner of my eye and he’s making me want to loose it with laughter like a kid in the back of a classroom. Needless to say, this was a quick appointment, we will not be using this vendor and we have an appointment with another floral vendor next week. Hoping that one has a bit less crazy involved.

“Excuse me SIR, would you like a drink?”

We made it to Philadelphia! I’m fairly certain this is one of the most trans* advanced cities in the U.S. Today City Hall raised the Trans* Flag for the first time in city history, how cool is that??? Not to mention they have a city ordinance in place that includes gender protection and they are working diligently with their local police department to implement and uphold policies for interacting with the Trans* community.  That being said, even with as forward moving as they are, they still face the same issues as the rest of the country, a Trans-woman was murdered here just last month. There is still so much work to be done, it inspires and exhausts me all at the same time.

The keynote speakers today were powerful. The youth speaker reminded everyone in the room that we each have a story and every story counts. The main keynote, Tiq Milan a transman from GLADD….amazing!   Enough said. I don’t even know where to start with explaining the words of this man. He touched on the fact that although Caitlyn Jenner is a wonderful individual, Caitlyn is not the norm for mainstream Trans-women. The majority of trans-women don’t have access to the best surgeons and even if they did, they don’t have access to the funds to pay them. Caitlyn might get the conversations started within the media, but it is up to the mainstream community to normalize these conversations and make them realistic and true to life.

Not going to lie, I am in the minority here at this conference. As a cis-gender female, I had a brief moment where I thought, “Do I belong here? Is this ok, or am I invading a sacred space?” But when Tiq talked about telling our stories and utilizing social media as a very powerful tool to do so, Laine squeezed my hand and gave me that look that said “He’s talking to you!” My thought of “Do I belong here?” immediately dissipated and I reminded myself that as a SOFFA and an Ally, I am a part of this too. If Laine’s story though my eyes can impact just one individual, then I have made a difference by documenting his story.

The last workshop of the day focused on changing legal documents. I don’t know if you have ever thought about how many legal documents you might have that contain your name and/or gender, but when you write them all down, there is more than a handful. In order to change anything, you must begin with an official court order. This takes time and money. Every state is different but in AZ it will cost over $300 to file the court application. After appearing in court on whatever date the court assigns him, (which could take a few months depending on their availability) and presenting his case as to WHY he wants his name changed, Laine will receive an official court order of name change. From there he goes to the MVD with his court order and a letter from his doctor, at which point he can then change both his name and gender marker on his drivers license. Keep in mind the MVD must be done at least 2 days after the SS Office, but no more than 10 days after he receives the court order, so he’s working on a tight timeline. Once these items are completed he can continue on to update his passport, bank accounts, credit cards, and any other documents in which his name and gender appear.

The thought of all the steps involved in this process is a bit overwhelming, but when you break it down it becomes manageable if you take it one step at a time. I have to remind him of this and remind him I am here to help him through this process. We’ll conquer it together and before he knows it everything will be legal and there wont be any more explaining the double names or why the gender marker doesn’t match his presentation.

On this topic, yesterday was a pretty cool day for Laine when it came to travel. During the TSA check-in, the agent did a double take, trying to figure out why the “F” on the driver’s license didn’t match the male presentation. (Photo has been updated but the gender marker comes with a name change, which is as I outlined above, is a process we plan to begin as soon as we return from Philly.) Getting onto the plane, the airline attendant who was scanning boarding passes was calling everyone by Mr. or Mrs. and then their last name. When it was Laine’s turn, the attendant saw his legal (female) name on the document, saw his male presentation, and then skipped the pronoun completely and just utilized his last name. This made us laugh as we walked down the ramp to board the plane. While on the plane, the flight attendant came by to offer drinks and used “Sir” when referring to Laine. We both got overly giddy by this…if only the attendant had been a waitress, there would have been a $100 tip in it for her!

At only 5 weeks (today) on ‘T’ the physical changes are becoming more apparent to the general public. Even though I know there are days he feels like the changes are taking forever to appear, looking back over the past 5 weeks I can see the changes already taking place and I know he sees them too. Before we know it we’ll be headed to San Francisco for Top Surgery, a stranger referring to him as “Sir” will no longer make us giddy but instead become the norm, and I’ll certainly be pestering him to shave his “manstache” in order to save my own face from scruff burn when he kisses me. 🙂