You Wake Up In Jakarta

When I told people where I was moving, the most common reaction was “I’m sorry. Did you say Jakarta? As in Indonesia?” Then they would sound out Indonesia phonetically like they were teaching the word to a four year old. It became so I kind of looked forward to the disclosure.
So, why did I move here? My youngest step brother has decided he wants to start a business. And I just so happen to have more experience with this kind of work than he does. He called me a couple months ago to ask some questions. We talked and exchanged emails. Eventually, he inquired whether I’d be willing to come out for at least six months to help get it going. And shortly after that, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. So, here I am.
That’s not to say I jumped on this right away. It’s a big decision. While he lives here with his new wife, I haven’t traveled internationally in quite a few years. And I didn’t even have a passport. I was finally coming to some personal acceptance with being transgender. I found a job where I was not only accepted for my work ethic. But, also accepted for how I was born. I had spoken with my immediate supervisor, Human Resources and the franchise owner. All were accepting. They even reached out to the LGBT Center’s Transgender Programs Manager (a friend of mine) to make sure they do this right. I was very proud to be working there.
But, I did obviously get on a plane and get off one on the other side of the planet. I chose to do so because I trusted my brother. He has a good plan for this business. He’s worked very hard to put it all together. I see it as something I can put on my resume. If I do things right, I can save some money. And I’ve never been to Indonesia. The closest I’ve ever gotten was a 24 hour stay in Singapore twenty years ago while in the U.S. Navy. So, I promised myself time allowing, I’d cut out some time to be a tourist.
By the time I decided to make the jump, we had to rush to get everything done before my flight. We had to put a rush on getting a passport. I even had to rush down to the local Walgreens to get my picture taken the day before my appointment at the passport office. My parents got me a set of luggage for Christmas. And they helped me get enough male clothes together. I had quite literally burned and donated most of my male clothes. I haven’t written much about where I had been living recently. I didn’t want some anti-transgender elements online to grief the two organizations housing me. Now that I’m out of there, I’ll write more about it soon. We ordered some clothes online. Others had to be found locally. I say male clothes because although I was very close to living full time as myself back in Colorado. I wasn’t quite there. So, between my lack of comfort being out and the fact that I know what my face looks like and the very reality of the fact that this is a predominately Muslim country that broadly disapproves of homosexuality and transgenderism. Look. I’m here to work. I didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention and at the same time distract myself by my very real hyperattentiveness worrying about my own safety. There’s no reason to give the police any reason to talk to me. I already stand out by being somewhat tall and caucasian.
That being said. I haven’t detransitioned. The first question asked when I brought up the idea to my support group was whether or not I was going to stop taking hormones. No. I brought a healthy supply of my prescription medication from the VA with me. One of the first things we talked about was whether or not it would be possible to get my hormones, blood pressure pills and anti-anxiety medication here. I haven’t had to try yet. But, I’m assured it’s possible. If anything, my parent’s are making a trip out here in March. I might find out if it’s possible to have some more shipped to their house from the VA and have them bring it out to me. But, I don’t really think that’s going to be necessary. The biggest issue I think I’m having at the moment with my transition, besides the stress of being seen as a male, is breast growth. I have some sports bras with me. But, sometimes the lines from the bra can be seen through my shirt. I’ve been looking for an Ace bandage. But, that’s something I don’t really want to put myself through. There are compression shirts FTM guys use that you can order online. I’m doubtful I can reasonably afford to have something like that shipped here. So, again. Parents. March.
I didn’t put too much thought into what kind of red flags I would trip by going on this trip. Maybe I didn’t. But, it sure felt like it. The first one we ran into at the airport was with TSA. My step brother ordered quite a bit of computer equipment (again, cheaper to pay the excessive luggage fee than pay FedEX). We checked most of it. But, we felt some of it, which also included two touch screen monitors) would do better if they went with me as a carryon. That, of course meant, that TSA wanted to have a look inside. Once I left the new to me body scanner at DIA, I panicked a little bit when I couldn’t find that bag. I was concerned someone had walked off with it. No. TSA had already pulled it from the conveyor and pulled me aside so I could observe while they took a look inside. The nice officer didn’t pull everything out. But, he did swab the inside lining looked under everything else he left inside. I had to empty out all the contents of that bag in Tokyo so they could run each piece through the scanner individually. They, then handed it all back to me in reverse order. It was lots of fun waiting there taking up lots of room waiting for that last piece to come back to me before I could pack everything up again.
The other interesting thing that happened was being pulled aside on the jetway to speak with a U.S. Marshal. I’ve had a couple of friends say the fact I didn’t personally buy the ticket, I was flying to a predominantly Muslim country for an extended period and flying on a brand new passport meant that I set off some alarms in Homeland Security. Whatever. Maybe it was completely random. I don’t know. I just thought it was kind of interesting. Just a few steps onto the jetway, a German Shephard was let loose onto my bag. Then, a man leaning against the jetway wall asked if he could talk with me and asked for my passport. He thumbed through it while asking what my final destination was. He asked why I was going out there and how long I planned on being there. His eyebrows were raised when I answered the question about where I worked. I told him I had quit my job. But, it was to do this thing. And my employer had told me I could get my job back when I return. The thing that ended our little conversation there was something I’m told I should do more often. I pulled the vet card. I told him I was excited. It was the first time I was traveling internationally since I left the navy. He smiled, handed me my passport and said “have a good trip sir.”
Between two flights, I spent over twenty hours in the air. The first leg on United, in a 787 didn’t bother me too much. I had an aisle seat and lots to entertain me. But, once I boarded the ANA flight at Narita, I was not looking forward to seven more hours in the air. It also didn’t help that we sat on the tarmac for almost an hour without moving.
I’ve adjusted better than I thought. The jet lag hasn’t messed with my sleep as much as I thought it would. I did wake up regularly at 4am and go to sleep before 8pm. I’ve been here more than two weeks now. And I’m editing this at 9:30pm. I won’t get to sleep until after 11pm tonight. But, it wasn’t until I was here for about a week, that I stopped feeling like a walking zombie. There is this kind of haze that won’t leave you. It’s hard to describe other than that. I’m glad we weren’t as busy as we are now when I first arrived.
I have a local phone and number now. I’ve been sharing a lot on Facebook and some on Twitter. That helps me stay connected with friends back in the states. I’ve started a travel Tumblr and I’ll probably post some pictures on Flickr or somewhere else. I’m not sure how many pictures I’ll post here. I’m just beginning to feel comfortable writing again. Deciding what to put online and when will be a day to day thing. I’m already pretty busy. But, I will continue to write here. I have lots to share. So, hang on folks. I have a feeling 2015 will be a fun year. 🙂

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About Frogtosser

A former sailor and pizza maker who is done hiding from the world and is now living life to it's fullest extent. I'm a single speed bicycle commuter who enjoys writing and photography. I'm a voracious reader. And a huge geek!
This entry was posted in Family, Gender Stuff, Social Anxiety, Transgender, travel, VA Hospital. Bookmark the permalink.

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