Adventures in Mental Health

Adventures in Mental Health

I wanted to write this up before I forget any of the finer details. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to take my mental health very seriously. With the amount of stressors that I have experienced in the last 2 years, I’m not ashamed to say that depression has been a problem. When you also consider that one of my best friends committed suicide about 10 months ago after losing his battle with depression, it becomes even more important to me. 

Over the last year, I’ve been working with my family doctor and my psychologist to find a balance. My GP has tried adjusting my dosages, as well as trying different drugs, to no avail. Both at separate times suggested that I see a psychiatrist that had more specific knowledge on psychotropics. I was recommended to a center that was staffed with both nurse practitioners and doctors of psychiatry. I called and set up an appointment for this past Thursday. 

As I normally do when visiting a new doctor, I downloaded their intake paperwork completed it a couple days prior to the appointment. Nevertheless, I arrived about 13 minutes early for my 10:15 appointment. I signed in at the front desk and took a seat. The first thing I noticed was how busy the place was. The building being a repurposed house didn’t have a large waiting room and it was full. Additionally, some of the people waiting had restaurant style pagers. 

10:15 came and went as I amused myself on the internet as usual. As 10:30 came, I called my

Seriously?
Seriously?

manager to let him know that I would be coming in later due to a doctor’s appointment. At 10:38, I finally got up and went back to the window to see if they had forgotten about me. She motioned towards the check-in book. 

“I signed in at 10:03. The sticker I signed has been peeled off”, I replied. 

With no apology or explanation, she took my paperwork and a copy of my ID, then provided me with a pager of my own. I sat across from a mother and daughter, who were waiting for a 10AM appointment. She was finally paged at 10:52. In less than 5 minutes, her appointment was over. I’m thinking, “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?” in my best Meredith Grey voice.

About that time, I get called and simultaneously vibrated as my table for four is ready.. Oh wait, this is a mental health office, not Texas Roadhouse. So I meet my new person. His name is, well, we’ll call him Steve. So Steve invites me into his office. The first thing I notice is that it’s like my office at home. A mess. Stuff everywhere. Which, I can’t cast stones in glass houses, but hey! I don’t see patients in my office. We just play video games and post passive aggressive tweets. I digress. 

He introduces himself, and we’re exchanging pleasantries. He mentions that there’s an Addison in his family, but that Addison is a boy. I told him that a hundred years ago, Addison was primarily a masculine name, but in recent decades has become more popular as a woman’s name. I also mentioned that I had a non-binary/agender friend and their name is Addison as well. This is where things started to go sideways.

 “What is non-binary?” he asks. 

At first I think he’s joking. Then as I look at his face, I can actually see the puzzled look on his face. It’s the same face my seven year old makes when I explain something technical. It’s not dramatically different than my dogs cocking their heads to one side when you say, “Who’s a good dog?”

I explained that there are people who don’t identify with either male or female, that there are people who are fluid between genders and then some, like my friend, who are agender. They don’t identify as any gender. I got the feeling that, maybe.. I was his first trans patient. Somehow, it feels slightly unfair that this guy brings in at least $75-100 an hour, but I have to educate him on things that he could find on google. 

Next, Steve starts with a brief history. I give him the broad strokes, my laundry list of medications. What we’ve tried, etc. I always like when a professional asks me, “Why such a low dose of X?” To which I’m thinking, “Uh, IDK. That’s what the doctor told me to take???” 

Anyway, he asks about family history. I tell him what I know, in terms of mental health. Then we go into alcoholism and addiction. I explain about my father and his sobriety up until his passing. He pushes deeper about the rest of the family. 

“Well, I was raised catholic, so that should give you an idea”, I quipped. 

He doesn’t get the joke and continues to push on it. I explain that if you go AA’s “Twelve Questions Only You Can Answer” page, many of my family members would have fallen on the spectrum at some point in their lives. 

Finally, moving on, I’m asked about any past surgeries. Mind you, all of this was listed on my intake paperwork. I tell him that I GRS in May and then Breast Augmentation in November. That I had my wisdom teeth out about 16-17 years ago but other than that, no other significant medical interventions.

I explain that I’m having a number of issues aside from just typical depression. My problem list: 

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Issues staying on task
  • Constant exhaustion, lethargy, and malaise. 
  • Nervous Anxiety
  • Clenching my jaw subconsciously when I’m awake.

Then we take, what feels like, a drastic course change back to Transtown™.  First is a question that’s so hard for a trans person to answer, at least in the first couple years. 

“Are you still,” motioning with his hands towards his crotch, “…. um… male down there?”

I shot him the kind of look that only a mother would give to her kids when they’re out of line and replied, “I was never male.”

It's called a penis.
It’s called a penis.

As he stumbled over his words and tried to make a coherent sentence, I asked if it was medically relevant to my mental health? Mind you, if he had read my intake paperwork, or had any familiarity with trans patients, he’d have know without asking. He said it was, because some of the drugs have sexual side effects, including erectile dysfunction. 

And once again, I had to come back to Trans 101 and explain that a decent percentage of trans women who are post-op or non-op have issues with getting or maintaining an erection. Because of the use of anti-androgens, such as Spironolactone, our testosterone levels are typically lower than the average cis woman. I explained that mine were normally somewhere in the 8-12 range, on a scale of 8-55 for cis women, cis men having a much higher range from ~300-1000 (ng/dL). 

I went on to explain that there was a much better way to ask those questions to a trans person. I suggested, “Do you still have a penis?” Or even better “Do you still have testicles?” 

From that point on, I pretty much checked out on this dude. Especially when he started to show me facebook pictures of his sister’s lesbian wedding on his phone. Because, you know I’m a lesbian, so we much all lesbian together. Or something. 

In the end, he had two cardboard boxes of some drug called “Trintellix” of which he rummaged through and gave me two sample bottles. He basically claimed it to be the best stuff on the planet and that a number of his patients had seen improvements in 1-3 days. Which is odd, because my understanding of SSRI’s is that they usually take a couple weeks to build up a normal level in your system. He wants to see me back in two weeks.

Sorry, I think I’ll skip it. 

And there is grace within forgiveness…

And there is grace within forgiveness…

But it’s so hard for me to find

Today was a good day. I felt useful for a change. In working with Chris Hartman, Executive Director of Fairness Campaign, we’ve always discussed ways that we might take my story of discrimination and harassment at AT&T more public. Today, I made a speech at the Kentucky Fairness Rally in the middle of the Capitol. The media was there as well as tons of supporters from all walks of life. I wanted to let AT&T know why Statewide Fairness is so important. Because if they’re not going to consistently enforce their own non-discrimination policies, then they should be held accountable. That they have an obligation to all of their employees. “DO BETTER,” I say.  

While the news coverage didn’t include any of my actual speech, I did get a couple seconds on TV. You can see it here.

For the sake of posterity, I want to share my actual speech. I know I deviated in a couple places, but only in phrasing. 

Hi, everyone! My name is Addison Newton, and I’m proud to be here in the capitol as we continue to fight for both LGBT and workers’ rights in Kentucky!

I’m also proud to say that my union, the Communications Workers of America, has been fighting for my rights too! When I came out as a transgender woman at my job at AT&T, I faced a lot of difficulties. Even though my company has pretty good LGBT policies, what I learned is that no one in my workplace really knew how to implement them or had any idea what being transgender meant.

For the next several weeks, AT&T scrambled to figure out where I should go to the bathroom and how to explain to other employees about my transition. It was embarrassing, demeaning, and it shouldn’t have been that difficult. As time progressed, I encountered misgendering on a regular basis, by both staff and management alike. The general manager of my office vehemently refused to refer to me as female. Intent on having me fired, she conspired with another manager who followed me around town. Throughout all of this, I’ve had constant support from my CWA Local 3310.  As I saw how the company responded, I decided that I wanted to help other members and I became a job steward.

I’m very proud to be a member of CWA. The leadership has stood by my side every step of the way. We’ve worked tirelessly to hold my employer accountable and sending a message that each and every employee’s needs and safety are truly valued. Most likely, I wouldn’t be here today if not for the support of my union siblings. I want to thank them, especially local vice-president, Larry Gardner, who is here with me today.

However, even with the power of the CWA behind me, fighting for ALL workers’ rights, it’s still not easy. Anti-transgender laws like Representative Nelson’s bathroom bills make it harder and more dangerous for transgender people to live our daily lives and meet our most basic needs. My difficulties with AT&T also illustrate how necessary it is for Kentucky to pass a Statewide Fairness Law. Because even the most well-intentioned corporate policy is no good if the company refuses to enforce it. A Statewide Fairness Law ensures that all businesses in our commonwealth are held to the same standard of respecting the basic dignity of all people, including our LGBT community. So, in closing, I would like to ask AT&T to join the 200 other Kentucky businesses in the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition!

I’m a proud transgender woman, union member, and Kentuckian fighting for Fairness for all!

You’re feeling down, just like this town

You’re feeling down, just like this town

Let’s talk about my health. I don’t know if it’s mental health or physical health or some combination of the two. Who the hell knows at this point?

For the last few months, I’ve been fatigued and exhausted. It’s actually been going on since my GRS in May. For the first few months, I could just chalk it up to healing and all that. Then it was my hormone levels. Then it was my anti-depressants. 

I’ve been from Lexapro to Celexa and then on to Zoloft. This is on top of the Wellbutrin at it’s peak dosage. I take Trazodone at night to sleep — and sleep is something I do pretty well. I average 8 hours or more a night, most nights. I sleep pretty soundly. I might wake up once a night to go to the bathroom. 

I’ve been diagnosed by my endocrinologist as having Hashimoto’s Disease. It’s an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the thyroid. However, my endo checks my thyroid and all of my levels every couple months. He’s not currently treating it, saying it’s very minor. However, maybe this is why I want to go to sleep at my desk at work. Why I feel like I’ve been awake for 36 hours, all of the time?

Eh. I think I’m dying. WebMD agrees. FML;JK. 

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

(Edit: 2/3/2017 — I’m posting this from drafts. I had intended to add more to this, but as I started it around New Years, and it’s not been edited for weeks, I think it’s time to just throw it out there.) 

 

So much is happening. I don’t even know where to start. In my last entry, I spoke about the company’s offer to relocate me. They formally invited me to apply and accept the same job, but in Atlanta. As politely as I could, I declined the position. 

I reiterated my reasoning. I wanted them to know why I wasn’t willing to move to Atlanta. I wanted them to know that I’m not trying to be difficult. I cited the following: 

  • Atlanta is (arguably) no better than Louisville for a transgender woman. Much like Louisville, Atlanta is a liberal enclave within a very conservative state. The majority of people in the state are voting for people who want to make my public existence illegal. Statistically speaking, there would be any number of these people working along side me. 
  • If I went there, I would be going stealth. I wouldn’t be disclosing my trans status to anyone in the building. However, my ability to be stealth would be totally dependent on management being able to keep my personal business private. Based on my experience with local management, I don’t see how that’s possible. 
  • A “voluntary” relocation would require me to stay in that position for 24 months. I asked, rhetorically, “What happens when this starts all over again?”  I’d be trapped. 
  • Atlanta has a higher cost of living, but my rate of pay would be the same. 
  • The company has no obligation to provide any relocation budget. 

There’s other reasons too. Like the fact that going further into the deep south to get away from discrimination seems ludicrous. The company asked me where I wanted to go, and that short list did not include any of the South East states. I felt like I was better off staying where I was, because at least I knew what to expect. 

The impression that I got from the conference call I had on Tuesday was that the company took my decline as a rebuff. I say that because all of the sudden, they’re talking about my 2015 year-end performance and the not yet finalized 2016 year-end data. My argument was that my performance was impacted by the harassment throughout 2015 and up until April of 2016. I missed half of April, all of May, and the majority of June. They said that if I don’t accept the job in Atlanta that I may not be able to be considered for other positions within the company because of my performance numbers. This is not unlike what I was told in 2015. That because I had discipline in my file for performance, I couldn’t transfer. At this point, I’ve been able to get all active discipline out of my personnel file. Now the company comes up with a new excuse. 

What the company doesn’t seem to understand is that you can’t use my workplace performance results as a qualifier for allowing or disallowing harassment. That is, I’m an employee and they have an obligation to protect all employees. Regardless of their metrics. The conversation was very disheartening. I’m looking into pursuing other external avenues in which I might be able to gain the company’s captive attention. Going to the media or filing an actual lawsuit. I’m waiting on some responses on some leads I contacted. 

Colly Strings

Colly Strings

A pity invitation to an awkward house,
For pseudo-boy that would rather wear a blouse.
I sincerely saw your skin for the very first time.

My curly hair and a voting booth,
Confessedly, this is the first time I’ve loved you.
And God I mean, God I mean it, I hope that I mean it.

Once again, I’m standing on a proverbial ledge — just kicking rocks over the side, looking down. Someone told me today that they wanted my life. I laughed a little laugh, replying “My life is very messy right now.” This is probably the understatement of the century. My life is more like the white water rapids and all I’ve got is some floaties to keep my head above water. 

It’s no secret that I’ve been unhappy in my job for some time. In more ways than one. The normal way, is just like my coworkers, the work is shit. However, we all show up for that paycheck. Those benefits. That PTO. A lot of us are like, just a couple more months.. or another year. Always with this expectation that we’re going to do something better with our lives. Sure, ok. But the way I’m different from my co-workers is that I’ve been asking to be transferred out for over a year due to the recurring issues in the workplace. 

I mentioned this in my last entry, the company had approached me with the idea of relocating to Miami, Atlanta or New Orleans. Today I took a call with HR that said that if I would consider it, that I had a 99.9% chance of having a position in Miami or Atlanta. I didn’t say no, but I didn’t say yes. I said I would think about it. I just don’t want to move to another red state and essentially jump from the fire into the frying pan. Atlanta has a nondiscrimination ordinance that protects gender identity, but the state doesn’t. Miami is the same. With the emboldened confidence of the GOP, I suspect that many other states are going to try and force HB2-esque bills through the state house and into law. This would invalidate the city ordinances.  

I acknowledge that this is not “the company’s” fault, they can’t control the whims of lawmakers (please hold your laughter.) They can’t be held accountable to the states in which they operate. Their position is that the company has a very comprehensive policy pertaining to discrimination. This is the part where I laugh. Or at least chuckle.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Honestly, I don’t understand why it’s so important to the company that I stay within the same bargaining unit. There’s not a state in the bargaining unit that’s better than where I am already. When you consider the shit I’ve gone through in the current state, it’s like why trade one shithole for another? I just don’t think it’s worth the effort of uprooting everything in my life to take a gamble on going further into the deep south. Or past the deep south into Miami, which is probably going to be underwater in the next 4 years, given our political electorate’s position on climate change. 

I’m really hoping I get a call or email or carrier pigeon on the Providence job. I am probably going to look for jobs there with the competitor. Since they’re the incumbent provider in that area, there’s probably more options in or around Rhode Island. On the other hand there’s a fear that they’ll actually want me. Then I have to figure out what to do with the house and everything else in it. #puke

Related, one of my best friends just bought a dealership in Dallas. I really liked Dallas. The political climate is arguably the worst, second only to maybe North Carolina. I had messaged him, congratulating him on his continued success. At one of the previous jobs that he held, he had tried to get me to come down and work for him again. At the time, I was married and I knew that Megan would never go back to Texas. However, I’m now divorced and I’m hungry for change. The years that I worked for him were arguably some of the best times I ever had. I loved my job, I was excited to go to it (most mornings.) I didn’t mind working 80 hours, because a lot of the time, it didn’t seem like work. Also because I knew that I was taken care of, that I was appreciated, and that there there was mutual respect between he and I. Of course, now that I’ve transitioned, I wonder about how that might impact our dynamic. I know that when a mutual colleague of ours had made a shitty trans joke at my expense, he went ballistic on the guy. I hope that carries. I just know that the last time we were face-to-face, he seemed distant. I remember crying on the way home because I felt like I lost one of the most devoted friends that I’d ever made. I would like to think that it’s just because we’re 1000 miles apart and we’ve just drifted. That things could still be the same if I was there every day. In any event, I was texting with his wife, saying that I wished we had never left. I’d have stayed there if Megan hadn’t wanted to move back home. She said she wished we never moved either and that my friend needed me more now than ever. To which I replied, tell him to make me an offer. I’ve not heard anything from them since, but if a reasonable offer came through, I’d probably jump all over it. 

I’d be less worried about the state level protections if I was working for him. I think he’d give me a fair shake and if there were issues with others in the workplace, that he would choose me over them. If they’re in the wrong, of course. I think Dallas has a nondiscrimination ordinance, too. On top of that, with all my documents updated at the state and federal level, I can’t imagine having a problem outside of the workplace. I don’t get misgendered in public, only other trans people clock me. We’ve got this transdar that picks up on everything. And I’ve got a fresh set of tits. #winning

Going to Dallas would close the door on the saga of Kayla and I. I admit that I have some far fetched idea that if was to end up in New England, that there might be an opportunity to open a new dialogue. The bridge is burned, but I own tools. I know that’s a dumb hope to hold on to, but we were talking about being together in the nursing home. I was going to propose to her, perhaps sooner than she might have wanted me to. I threw that away in a drunk discussion and then sober hardheadedness. I doubled down on a shitty idea and I got just that, shit. I know she’s going to read this, but I hope she doesn’t. 

I’m listening to “23” by Jimmy Eat World. I’ve loved this song since it came out in 2004. I was 24 at the time, but close enough to 23 that I could relate. The lyrics speak to me. 

Amazing still it seems
I’ll be 23
I won’t always love what I’ll never have
I won’t always live in my regrets

I need a person to follow me around and give me good advice all day. Where do I get that? I need a Kif. Jesus, does that make me Zapp Brannigan? That’s kind of gross. Ok, it’s nearly 4 am, I’m going to meet my mom at Waffle House for breakfast and then take my ex, my kids and her mom to the airport for them to go to Disney. Dueces. 

Transatlanticism

Transatlanticism

All I see are dark grey clouds
In the distance moving closer with every hour.
So when you ask “Was something wrong?”,
That I think “You’re damn right there is but we can’t talk about it now.
No, we can’t talk about it now.”

So I’ve not written in a while. I’ve just been in too much of funk that I couldn’t manage it. Funk is the wrong word, the phrase I’ve used a few times when talking to friends has been “mind-crippling depression.” I’m still very depressed, but I think I’ve pulled myself from the worst of it. The ideation has passed. I was going to say it was gone, but I know that at some point, sooner or later it’ll come back. 

I still spend an enormous amount of time thinking about Kayla. I really do. I was (am) very much in love with her. I keep thinking all the things I could have done differently, but none of that will help me now. I think that’s the hardest part. It’s like having murdered someone and having to sit in a cell every day and replay those events in your head. For me, the cell is my own brain. It’s not a place one would want to visit. It’s the exit on the interstate that you skip when you’re looking for a bathroom.  

Kayla had posted an idea of what her prime timeline looks like, with her doing successful things in Rhode Island, having never left. When I talked to her about it, I explained that in my headcanon, that timeline has me in Rhode Island with her. Everything is fine. I surmised that the two timelines had split the day we flipped a bottle cap to see which of us was going to move. In the darkest timeline, she came here and it played out as it has. In the prime timeline, I moved to her and everything is going well. 

I want to be on the prime timeline in a bad way. 

So the thought of leaving this place is again popping up. The only thing that kept me from leaving before was Kayla coming here. My reasons for leaving were only partly to be with her. They were also for me to have a chance to start over fresh without so much “dead me” baggage. This has come up due to my company finally starting to come around to the idea of transferring me out of the worksite. Since there aren’t any other call centers in Louisville with my company, they asked if I would consider moving to Atlanta, Miami or New Orleans. After doing some research, I’ve determined that no, I would not really consider that. I asked for something in a blue state. Somewhere that has statewide protections for trans people. I’ve been scanning the company’s open positions and I found a few that were interesting. I even applied to be a Store Manager at one of our corporate owned retail stores, in Providence of all places. 

It feels weird to consider going to Providence and not be there with Kayla. It feels backwards. It feels like dating your best friend’s ex-girlfriend. In any event, I don’t think that I would be even considered for that job. I’d been applying for assistant manager positions in Louisville and couldn’t get a call back. As John Cusack said in High Fidelity, ” It was like trying to borrow a dollar, getting turned down, and asking for fifty grand instead.” 

But whatever. But… what if they say yes. Then what the fuck do I do? I guess I’ll figure it out if that happens. 

It’s nearly 2am, I had to take a phone call when I was really focused on this. I’ve lost that focus, so I’m going to just cut it off right now. 

Black Sun

Black Sun

“There is whisky in the water
And there is death upon the vine
And there is grace within forgiveness
But it’s so hard for me to find”

This is an entry that’s hard for me to write. I debated writing anything at all, but this blog is my story, for better or worse. So, right… 

i am a huge fucking idiot.

There, I said it. I broke up with Kayla. We were facing an issue that needed to be dealt with. She offered a solution, I dismissed it immediately and said that I didn’t see that it was a long term sustainable solution. Thus ending our relationship as we knew it. I let it marinate for a couple days. I had serious remorse of the decisions I had made. I tried to make those known, in an attempt to save the relationship. Alas, it was too late. She left Kentucky this past weekend and headed back to New England, this time to Maine. 

From when she left up until now, I’ve been devastated. There’s no amount of antidepressants in the known universe that could have kept me top side in this moment. With the exception of going to work, I’ve been hiding in my bed ever since. I’ve come home and put the same shirt and sweatpants on, cried, watched tv and tweeted sad sad drivel. I’m not eating. I’m not sleeping. When I do sleep, I have the most bizarre dreams which usually have me in some sort of peril. No matter how much I hate to admit it, I’ll say that I’ve been suicidal. Still am to a certain extent. There’s no gestures or any plans made, but it’s there. It’s scary. It’s like this little nagging thought in the back of your mind that keeps pestering you. 

It doesn’t help when you’re being bitched at by customers for telling the truth and being 100% honest with them. To have them tell you that you’re a bitch and “fuck you very much” before hanging up. That kind of thing is mentally exhausting on a good day. On a day like today, it’s all you can do to keep it all together and not start crying with the customer on the line. 

At some point, I’m going to have to let it all go and just resign myself that I’ve fucked it up. That no matter what I do now, I can’t get mend what I’ve broken. That I may have lost the person that I love very much, forever. Considering how much time and effort I invested convincing her to come here in the first place, it’s hard to let it go. With such a drastic change in locale, it’s not like I could give it a few weeks and then show up on her doorstep and grovel. 

i hate myself. 

I’m not ready to make nice

I’m not ready to make nice

The last few weeks at work have been frustrating. I started trying to get HR to come around the bend, but they are just as tone deaf as ever. All I ever get back from them is either “Our investigation is still in process” or “The issue has been addressed and appropriate action has been taken.” 

What appropriate actions are those? They can’t tell me. It’s all confidential. There’s no sort of transparency, not even a semblance to be seen. I still have my EEOC and Fairness Ordinance complainst being investigated outside the company. I met with the investigator recently. I shared details about the events outlined in the complaint, along with witness information so that he could contact them. He said he was going to request more information from the company. I’m not sure when that’ll be concluded.

Meanwhile, my union representative and I are going to meet with people from the Fairness Campaign and ACLU of Kentucky next week. We’re going to talk about other options and avenues that we might pursue. I’m open to any suggestions that they think might help. I was hoping to keep this contained within the company, but I feel like my hand has been forced. My company wants me to sit down and shut up, but when the only option they’re providing is to shut up and take it or to quit. The only thing I can think of is the chorus from a Dixie Chicks’ song.

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should.

It’s true. If I’m going out, I’m going to do all I can to make everyone be known that AT&T doesn’t care about their transgender employees, based on my personal experience. I shouldn’t have to quit because people are dicks. Just like the Michael Bolton said in Office Space, “Why should I change my name? He’s the one who sucks.” Everyone who has ever worked with in the past knows that I’m a pretty low key person, I come in, put my head down and do my work. But I’ve never been in a bad work situation before. 

People want to act like I’m blowing things out of proportion, or I’m too sensitive. “Have a sense of humor”, they say. Don’t deny me my existence and my right to live a life free of people trying to legislate my life. I’m hoping that my company will pull their heads out of the sand and do something more significant. However, it looks more and more like I am going to have to force their hand for that to happen.  I’m tired. I feel defeated. I’m still fighting. 

“Don’t take any guff from these swine.”  —Hunter S. Thompson

This is not a swan song, but it goes….

This is not a swan song, but it goes….

So this morning while I was catching up on Facebook, a friend asked what are the best places to “people watch?” This was part of an assignment for a class she’s currently taking.

Which got me to thinking. As a person who has always been very observant and generally fairly situationally aware, I have spent a lot of time watching people. Since transitioning, those skills have become more valuable. Being able to gauge a room and know who’s paying you too much attention might be the difference between being accosted and not. It reminds me of a scene in The Bourne Identity, where Jason is explaining to Marie about his skillset.

I come in here, and the first thing I’m doing is I’m catching the sightlines and looking for an exit. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that?

So while I’m not quite on his level, it did remind me of how my brain works.

I started typing out a reply to my friend, initially mentioning mall food courts. I was trying to think of other places, when I remembered being in San Francisco in May.

The Monday following my surgery, I was scheduled for my follow-up for packing removal. While sitting in the waiting room, as Megan was parking the car, I saw another trans woman coming out into the lobby from the exam areas. She was tall and pretty, but seemed a bit nervous. We met eyes for a brief moment and I wondered if this was before or after her surgery. Maybe she wasn’t having surgery at all. Who knew. She and her friend left and I returned to my phone as I waited, letting my questions fade off.

Two days later, we prepared to return to Kentucky flying out later that afternoon. Having had a very good experience in the hospital, all of the staff being so nice and attentive, Megan and I wanted to do something nice before we left town. So we went down to a local bakery and purchased some very fancy cupcakes and picked up a card. Then we headed back to the hospital.

Megan dropped me off at the door and went to park, so I settled down in a chair in the lobby of the hospital. Just doing what I always do, checking out all of the people, taking in the details of them. A few minutes passed, and from the corner of my eye, I see the girl from the doctor’s office. With the same friend accompanying her.

They were coming into the lobby from the pre-surgery area and they walked out into a indoor garden/relaxation area. I got up and walked that direction, but I stopped. I wanted to tell her congratulations, good luck and a quick recovery. But, I chickened out. My anxiety crept up on me, where I can only speak to strangers when they initiate the conversation. So I let her enjoy the fresh air.

I wonder if she’s happier now, like I am. I wonder if I might even know her online. Have we crossed paths on Reddit or Twitter? Who knows. It was just a neat experience of passing someone on the same journey, but just a step or two behind you. In a week, she would be back at Dr. Bowers’ office for her check-up. Then maybe she’d be flying across country back to wherever she calls home.

Kill yourself for recognition, Kill yourself to never ever stop..

Kill yourself for recognition, Kill yourself to never ever stop..

So, this week has been all over the place. I wrote the other day about having the flu. Turns out, not only do I have the flu, but I had flu strains a *and* b. Double whammy. While the flu is gone, the crud in my chest and throat was lowkey trying to morph into full fledged pneumonia.

My doctor said she couldn’t hear the middle or the bottoms of my lungs, because I couldn’t take in a deep enough breath to get there. She loaded me up on all the best that the pharma industry has to offer. I’m finally starting to feel some clearage. Hopefully by Monday.

I went to work on Thursday with my bag of pills and preparations, hoping to get a better response from management. What I got, was worse than before. Our new center sales manager aka CSM (my boss’s boss), told me that he really didn’t care if I could talk well or not, I either took calls or I called out sick and faced the discipline that comes with that.

I thanked him for the condolences, consideration and compassion. I reminded him that my gender dysphoria would make it extremely hard to be misgendered for 8 hours. His response was that he’d been referred to as female on the phone in the past and that it wasn’t a big deal.  This is exactly the same argument used by the aspiring manager a couple months ago. The one that led into a loud verbal dispute in the middle of the office.

I told the CSM that it wasn’t ok and it wasn’t remotely the same. That he had no idea what it was like to be transgender and how you’re constantly having to prove yourself. Nothing productive came from that interaction and so with no other options, I left. Not like my customers would have been able to hear me whispering on the phone anyway.

*SIGH* 

*SIGH*


Enough of that continuing shitshow… I’m sure there’ll be more to come.

Back to important things, I went to my breast augmentation consultation on Wednesday. It was more informative than I expected. If I’m honest, I wasn’t 100% excited prior to getting there. I never really wanted implants. I was hoping that I’d be able to grow boobies the old fashion way. You know, by downing lots of wide-loadestrogen and progesterone and suppressing my body’s ability to produce testosterone. But that hasn’t been 100% successful. Obviously I have some breast tissue. I can’t go get the mail topless. That said, I’m wearing two bras right now just to get a proportional look on my big ass ribcage and my WIDE LOAD shoulders. Seriously. This is me walking down a hallway. I saw decent growth from probably around the 3rd month and that ran into the next year. When I switched to injections in February, I was sure that they’d start perking up. Especially when they started getting tender and aching. They might have grown a bit. Hard to say looking at the pictures from last year. Again, I thought after GRS that I might see some additional perks from being without testes. While the anti-androgen medication I was using did a good job of suppressing testosterone, it’s not without it’s faults. Who’d blame it, it’s not even labeled for that purpose. It’s a blood pressure medication.

So breast augmentation was seen as a last resort option. It wasn’t like the vaginoplasty where there was no other option. Not doing it wasn’t on the table. Having a BA was something I was hoping to avoid if possible. In any event, I’ve reached the point where I think I’ve plateaued in terms of natural growth. Now it seems the BA is the only logical choice moving forward. I decided to move forward now, while I have good insurance. So that I can kind of cross “transition” off my to-do list and focus on more important things in my life.

Of course, once I was in the exam room and the medical assistant was helping me into the fitting bra, my brain woke up. As we tried different sizes, starting small and moving upward, my excitement peaked. I looked at myself in the mirror and I could finally see myself in a bathing suit without being totally mortified that I lost about 3 cup sizes in the bathroom. Or wearing a strapless dress. Even just going to the gas station at midnight to buy chips and not have to feel like I need to put my bras on first, because society expects a girl my size to not be flat chested…. Also, they expect your nipples to not point in opposite directions like Steve Buscemi’s eyes in Mr. Deeds.

It’s easy to say that you don’t care what strangers think. To proclaim that you have no interest in how they see you, through their own eyes. I’ve said it from time to time, but it’s not a mantra that I can live by. I’m constantly scanning the room looking for anyone that’s looking at me. I live a life where I’m constantly concerned about my voice, what I’m wearing, and how I look in order to blend in with the other women. Having the boobs would take one thing off my list of things to be constantly worried about.

Of course, in order to get the surgery or for insurance to cover it, I have to jump back through the hoops of WPATH once more. As I mentioned prior to my GRS, I had to get two permission slips from mental health professionals to be allowed to take my field trip to the vagina farm. For BA, it’s just one. Which is good, that second opinion cost me something like $300 last time.

However, for someone who considers herself to be well established in her gender, I find it hard to accept that I still have to prove myself just to get covered health care. It’s kind of demoralizing in a way. I mean, jesus fucking christ, I let someone cut off my balls and turn my penis into a functional vagina. If anyone’s committed to the trans life, I think it’s me. No one would go through all the shit I’ve experienced in the last 684 days and not be sure that she needed a boob job. But here I am, forced to go back and talk about my dysphoria pertaining to my (lack of) boobs. About a year ago, I wrote an entry where I said:

See, if you’re a trans person and you want to actually transition, you have to jump through hoops. A lot of hoops. Oh, did I mention that the hoops are on fire?

But whatever, I’ll put my Jordans on and get to jumping. It’s not like I have an option.

 (Side note: The title is from the song “High and Dry” by Radiohead, from their 1995 album “The Bends.” It is not a cry for help. Thanks.)