This is a tad late. But, I really didn’t want to let this post go without writing it. Looking back at where I’ve come since January, 2011, I’m really amazed. I don’t usually pat myself on the back. But, I have to admit, I’m quite proud of myself.
A NEW FROGTOSSER HQ
In the beginning of 2011, I faced looking for a new place to live. Almost a year before, I had moved into a house owned by a transman and his wife. The purpose of being there, was to transition. But, I ran into personal roadblocks that I needed to work on. So, when my roommate’s finished school and wanted their room back for visiting relatives, I had to find somewhere else to call home. Thankfully, I was able to find someone looking for a roommate much closer to work and somewhat closer to downtown. My current roommate is a nice guy. And he has two dogs. I’m hardly ever there, outside of sleeping. But, the fact that I have my own home office is kind of cool.
Shortly after moving in here, my bike was stolen. While I liked my Cannondale and was sad to see it gone. I think I found an even better bike in the Langcifire. It’s a matte black aluminum single speed Specialized Langster. Shortly after I got it, I did a cut & flip job on the handlebars and got some brake levers that give the bike a very menacing devil look. I ride it everywhere. Year round. Even in the snow. But, I’m itching to add multiple gears. So, before winter is over, I may lay her up for a week or so to get that done. Also, toward the end of summer, a bike thief who is thought to be responsible for most of the bike thefts in downtown Denver was caught. I’ll never know if this was the same guy responsible for taking my bike. But, just knowing he’s off the streets makes me relieved.
Every Thursday, for two months, I sat on a short retaining wall in the GLBT Center parking lot in downtown Denver trying to find the courage to walk in the front door. And every Thursday night for two months, I would defectively ride home. The Center hosts transgender support meetings Thursday nights. Or so said their website. I didn’t really know anyone who went to these meetings. I did have a few friends who offered to walk in with me the first time. Although a nice gesture. I wanted to do this myself. I have been plagued by social anxiety all my life. I knew this was a huge hurdle to get over. But, I also knew that if I could walk in there, I would have done some massive monster slaying.
One day, I got frustrated enough in myself and slowly started walking closer to the door. I walked into the middle of the parking lot and looked in to the area where there appeared to be a front desk. I think I feared that front desk more than walking into the actual meeting. It had been quite awhile since I had let the words “transgender” leave my mouth. I’m quite sensitive to people knowing this certain thing about me. I know that if I was going to be accepted anywhere, it would be here. But, trans people are kind of on the fringe of the GLBT spectrum. Lots of gay people don’t understand what we’re going through. I didn’t want an ignorant person at the front desk to laugh at me or not be knowledgeable about the meetings held there and then start laughing at me. I know. It’s ridiculous to assume that would happen. But, that’s where my mind goes. I Imagine the worst scenario and protect myself from it. In the end, I did walk in. I think I remember whispering “I’m here for the transgender meeting” and being ushered into a room by the very nice lady at the front desk. Turns out, I had nothing to fear. The ladies who work the front desk are the nicest people you’ll ever meet. And when I see shy trans people walk in for what might be their first time in a public place en femme, they don’t even bat an eye.
What I found at the trans support group meetings at The Center really changed my outlook on this whole problem. I’m not alone. I’ve found several really good friends there. And (sometimes) I even feel comfortable enough to open my mouth and talk about what I’m going through. It’s comforting to be able to be around people who know exactly what I’m going through. I don’t know where I would be without those meetings. Thank you, Courtney.
A FRIENDSHIP REKINDLED
Several years ago, after I broke up with the girlfriend, I started hormone therapy. But, I stopped to work on my depression and social anxiety issues. One of the first transwomen I met after joining an online message board was a super nice girl named Cate. But, I had issues. Big issues. Suicide issues. So, she (understandably so) backed away from me. I thought she was out of my life for good. Well, let’s not talk so fast. One night, I left a meeting early (sometimes the meetings can just degenerate into arguments or someone might monopolize the discussion) and headed to a nearby gay bar we often frequent after the group. I went upstairs and laid my head back on the couch and closed my eyes. It had been a very long day. I heard a couple of friends come in and sit next to me. But, I didn’t open my eyes. Not until I heard a familiar voice say “Hey”. Although, immediately familiar, I had a hard time placing this disembodied voice. So, I opened my eyes and saw Cate standing there next to me. We ended up sitting and talking for about an hour. And then over the course of the summer, we would keep hanging out. Not only was it nice catching up, it was nice seeing where she had been and how far she has come. She is a bit of a restless soul. At the end of the summer, she packed up her car and left for warmer weather. But, I have a feeling she’ll be back again someday. I’m glad our friendship was given a second chance.
Over the course of the summer, the personal wall I erected a long time ago, started crumbling from within. I could see glimpses of a good life on the other side. I was starting to see that many of my fears were not valid. I saw friends and aquaintances who had transitioned and were living every day life like everyone else. I started to feel more comfortable with the idea of other friends knowing the real me.
One night, I took my laptop to a popular diner in Denver called Pete’s Kitchen. Although already 2am, I ordered french toast and opened the laptop. I sat there for over an hour pounding out two emails. One to close friends. The other to aquaintances who I knew online mostly. I felt a loopy from the lack of sleep. But, I needed to get it out. The funny thing was, it wasn’t as hard to hit the send button as I thought it would be. Before I could even get on my bike to head home, I was receiving very supportive emails from friends. I can’t tell you how many new email pings I heard in my ears while riding home. The response to my emails was, to put it mildly, overwhelming. I still choke up thinking about it. I even had one friend tell me that he’s shown it to his gay friends.
A short time after coming out to local friends, I sat in the Denver public library and nervously changed my name on facebook to Rebecca. No warning. I wasn’t sure I was bold enough to write a wall post about it. But, I couldn’t hide any longer. I sat there for the better part of the afternoon, refreshing the page waiting for my number of facebook friends to plummet. It didn’t. But, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t lost friends. I have. But, almost all of them are people I am not close too. They are former shipmates from the Navy or high school classmates. I wasn’t sure what the response would be from former shipmates. It looked like I had almost nothing to worry about. Several people asked me about it. And even more offered their support. It made me feel great.
I had come out to most of my family members before 2011. But, there were some who had no clue. My facebook outing really changed that for the extended family. I’ve reconnected with the step sister from my mom’s second marriage. And I’m exchanging emails on a regular basis with two cousins I haven’t seen since their mother’s funeral in 1996. One local cousin I don’t talk to much outside of holidays has expressed his support. And both my aunt and uncle have told me they support me. I’ve heard from my mom that both my younger step brothers support my decision to transition. And my step sister in Illinois supports me as well.
But, that doesn’t mean everything is great on the family front. My sister sent me an email in April telling me that I’m not welcome around her or her kids. And toward the end of the year she sent me a text message essentially confirming (by using a disgusting word) her opinion that she disagrees with my intention to transition. My relationship with her is in a bad spot right now. And until that changes, I will be refraining from writing about her on this blog. I have no intention of giving up on her. But, I can’t let her hold me back. I have to live my life the best way I know how. I just feel really bad for my mom and step dad who are caught in the middle.
Although there aren’t really any visible changes to me, my sister doesn’t want me around. So, it has made family get togethers hard. For Thanksgiving, I had to leave my parent’s house early. And I was kept away from their house on Christmas Day. My family held a special Christmas Eve Eve dinner for me though. So, that was nice. But, it’s still hard.
*I’m not officially out to my Dad. I’m a little scared to talk with him about it. But, he is a Facebook friend and knows where to find my twitter account. So, he might be reading this blog. I’m not sure. Hopefully, I’ll have enough courage this year to send him an email.
I’ll have to go back and look to see when the hole in the dam burst open. But, I do know it happened sometime over the summer. I started writing here so that I could get some of this stuff out of my head. It’s been great therapy to have my own little part of the internet where I can post my own personal thoughts. But, sometime last summer, the number of posts I was publishing exploded from one or two a week to three or four a day. And that went on for a couple months. I had so much to say, it really felt like I couldn’t get everything out fast enough. It was a great relief to get it all out. But, I’m sure some people must think I’ve given up on this blog since I don’t post that often. Trust me. I’m not even close to shutting this blog down.
I will remember the year 2011 until the day I die. I have made many new friends. I’ve become closer to many other friends and family. I’m comfortable with the knowledge that my social anxiety will be with me for the rest of my life. But, thanks to medication and living an honest life, I’m now able to keep it stomped under my snow covered boots. I’m happy. I really am. And for some of that, I have you to thank. I’m in a different place now. I no longer look for acceptance from others as a way to measure my self worth. So, I am ready to pat myself on the back for every little accomplishment I did for myself last year. But, the sheer amount of acceptance and love I’ve received from my friends and family has really kept me going. It feels so good to know I’m not alone and that so many people have my back. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you. Even if we have never met personally, I see every online message directed my way. Whether it’s an “@” on twitter or a message on this blog, it really does keep me going. Thanks. 🙂
The next year will continue to be a long hard trek. In some ways, I still have a ways to go. But, I have to remember that I wouldn’t be at this point if I hadn’t gone through what I went through last year. So, I’m happy to be where I’m at right now. Bring it on.