Monday, May 14, 2018

Artsy Hat - Sharpie Tie Dye

I have been searching for a nice feminine hat and have been disappointed by the available selections.  Sure there are quite a few baseball caps out there that are pretty cute, however I really like to wear wide brim hats.  Remember that whole skin cancer thing I mentioned awhile back?  Well I keep imagining them having to take that kind of slice out of my face and yikes that is some scary shit!  So, yeah, the least I can do is to wear a good hat, right?

For some time I have seen various Sharpie tie-dye projects on the web.  I teach a 3D art class this year and am always on the lookout for cool projects.  This is one I have been wanting to try and this was the perfect opportunity to go for it.

The first step was to practice on something that I didn't care about ruining!  Thus paper towels to the rescue.

The process is pretty basic.  Take your fabric, stretch it over something, or not, and begin drawing.  You draw a small circle of dots with Sharpies (or some other permanent marker.)  Or a large circle.  Or a triangle.  Or anything you want!  It is really pretty simple.  I tried out numerous different things.  It was only paper towel so what did I have to lose?  Nothing!

After I had practiced a bit and had an idea of what I wanted to do, I began working on my hat.  Being as it is such an odd shaped item, and I wanted some sort of consistent look to the blobs, I put it on top of a jar.  I covered the top of the jar with plastic wrap, then placed the hat on top, and stretched a thick rubber band around it all.

I drew what I wanted to, starting with blue.  After I did a bunch of the blue ones in the sort of pattern I wanted it in, I then began working in other colors.  As you can see, I kept one of my test strips nearby to give me inspiration.  I also did some test spots on the white paper I was working on.  This also shows the colors I was working with.  They are the five near the heat gun in the upper right quadrant of the photo.  On the paper I tried out some other colors whose colors did not seem to bleed very well and thus I decided to not use them, like the black for instance.

Once you have stretched your fabric how you want it, and you have drawn your design, you then slowly drip rubbing alcohol from an eye dropper.  I suppose you could use anything to drip the alcohol, but it should be something you can control.  A small amount of alcohol will spread the ink a small amount.  A larger amount and a larger blob will form.  Be cautious though as too much alcohol may not give you the effect that you want.

The other tool that I used was the heat gun.  I would drip the alcohol and then use the heat gun to control how far the drip spread.  By applying some heat you can make the spread slow or stop.  But be careful to not burn your clothes in the process!  The other nice thing about using the heat gun is that it helps to set the color into the fabric.

After I was done coloring the top of the hat, I used the same process for the chin strap.  Overall I think it came out looking pretty cool!  I impressed myself and have enjoyed wearing this hat since I completed it.

Oh one more thing was that I also tossed the hat into the drier after I was finished and ran it for awhile trying to further help set the colors.

Oh as well - be cautious about moving the garment you are dying.  If the spot is not dry, it will smear onto anything it touches.  The strap was really particular about that last part.  Being as it is quite thick it took extra long to dry and the heat gun got super close to singing it.

Hope you give it a whirl!

Seriously, try it out.

Even if on just a piece of paper.

Art is fun.

Art is love!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My Outfit - Lovely Blue Patterned Tunic

Top - White House Black Market - Similar @ Amazon - @ WHBM
Leggings - White House Black Market - Similar @ Amazon @ WHBM
Belt - ?? - Similar

I got major compliments on this outfit when I wore it the other day to group therapy.  Though I didn't wear the hair during group.  I decided to go for comfort instead of style.  That has been a recent theme for me as of late - comfort over style.  I'm not 100% sure that I actually like that new philosophy!  Ha!

Though it is not super obvious from these photos, I am pretty matchy-matchy in this outfit.  So..... well the tunic has blue, black, white, and a cream color in it, which the leggings of course go with, being as they are black and all!  Then the shoes are my super cute blue polka-dot wedge sandals, which go with my black and white polka-dot finger and toe nails.  During therapy I also had on a black beanie with rhinestones covering it.  So..... I was pretty matchy-matchy!  And I loved it!

Group went well, though I would have to say that my wife would most likely say I was feeling feisty!  I am not so sure if that was the case, but I am relaxing for sure at group.  I am slowly trying to force myself to be confident even when I am not.  Which is a struggle!  I may come off as pretty darn out-going and confident, but really that is all cover for the truth - which is I am often super insecure and anxiety ridden.  Typically my worst moments are after I have gotten through something - I will then spend, hours, days, months, years, and yes occasionally even decades worrying that I totally fucked up something.

What do I have going for me?  An abundance of bravery.  It is only through my bravery that I have been able to accomplish anything.  I am still a bit concerned about this, and am trying to deal with it.  But I also have come to an understanding, bravery has to come before confidence.  One must be brave to face their fears, and after proving oneself capable, repeatedly, then comes confidence.

Seems simple.  Too bad it's not as easy as it sounds!  For to brave sometimes takes an unbelievable amount of strength.  I believe in us fellow humans.  We can muster that courage.  We can find the strength.  We can be brave.

Love you!

Love yourself!

Go forth and be brave my loved ones!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

My Hair

On occasion I receive compliments on my hair.  I really appreciate the thoughts but I also feel super guilty and almost immediately have to tell people that it isn't actually my real hair.  It is something that I need to stop doing.  Who cares if people know that it is my real hair or not, right?  

I suppose I am the only one who really cares and ultimately it is a result of having not voluntarily given up my hair.  Alas there are many things that continually bum me out about the lasting effects of testosterone, and a huge one has got to be the loss of my hair.  If you don't know, losing one's hair is typically a result of testosterone converting to DHT (dihydrotestosterone,) it can also come about in females from DHEA and testosterone also converting to DHT. Exciting stuff, huh?  Oh boy! It is interesting that while baldness typically affects men, it is also a problem for many women.  Bummer! 

Point being, if I had started estrogen and spiro oh so long ago, like anywhere before age 18 or so, I would most likely have super luxurious hair today!  Okay, maybe not, but I'd have more hair than what I have today.  Wanna see?  Okay, here ya go.

That was my senior photo.  I was eighteen at the time.  Like the color?  Well it is sort of natural.  I spent so much time swimming in pools and at the beach, the salt and chlorine would totally bleach out my hair.  Personally I really liked the color.  I think occasionally I assisted the sun with some Sun-In or peroxide.  But generally that color is what I consider my natural hair color to be.  

I think this whole hair thing has got to be funny for people that have met me within the last fifteen to twenty years.  That is about how long it has been since I shaved it all off.  People have asked me on occasion as to why I don't grow it out again.  If I could, I would.  Seriously.  It is not super noticeable how much hair loss I have when I keep it cut super short - like no guard on the clippers short.  But if it grows for more than a week or two, you clearly see the typical male pattern baldness toilet seat pattern.  

Alrighty, anywho - I have no hair unless I wear my wig.  But, if I did have hair, it would be close to the same color as the wigs I chose to wear.  Which is one of the things about my wig style and color that helps to make my hair look a bit more natural.  Oh and also the fact that I buy rather expensive-ish wigs.  They are Jon Renau, one is the Zara, and the other is the Amber.  I do however have a rather largish head and thus I will only purchase wigs that have specifically been made using a large wig cap.  This is a big issue.  Most males do have large-ish heads and standard sized wig caps just do not sit right on our heads.  It is not a matter of it just being too tight, it is the wrong size.  It looks a lot like a small baseball cap sitting on top of a Charlie Brown head.  Well, for me at least.  

Okie Dokie peeps!  I am outta here!  

Love you!

Love your hair!

Yes, even if it is "just" a wig.  Come on, every bodies doing it, right?!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Branching Out

A receipt?  Yup, a receipt.  This receipt is kind of special to me.  The sort of thing that if I were fifteen years old again it would go into my keepsake box and be stored away for too many years.  It is a bit of a marker.  It is the only piece of tangible evidence of me starting a new endeavor, public speaking.

I recently connected with a popular international public speaker, Jessica Lynn.  She came to one of my group therapy sessions as a guest speaker and mentioned that she was always looking for people to join her in speaking to people about our transgender lives.  It is something that I have always been interested in, but have yet to actually pursue it.

The receipt above is alas not from my first public speaking gig, but it is from the first time that I met with a college professor to have a private discussion about meeting with her students.  Her name is Debra Hansen and she is a psychology professor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, California.  She is currently teaching a couple of courses that she frequently invites several transgender people to be a part of a panel.  Her students are then able to question the panel and the panel can answer the question if they feel like it.  

Yesterday when I met with her it was a bit of a vetting process.  While I had emailed with her a few times, and we had spoken on the phone, there is nothing like the connection that can be made in person.  You can really get a feel for a who a person is when you sit across from them in a small office and chat openly for about an hour.  

Can you suspect that I was super nervous?  Well I was.  Like usual.  A holdover from growing up with the ever present paranoia of someone finding out that I am actually transgender.  I wish I could just blink that away, but that just isn't reality now is it?  Nope.  To rid myself of the nervous jitters, I generally have to get out there and actually face me fears.  

And I was afraid.  I was literally shaking when I stopped into a restroom retreat just prior to meeting with her.  While sitting there I asked myself if I was this nervous in just meeting with a professor, what was going to happen when I would be presenting to an auditorium of humans?  Yikes!  

I used my unstoppable bravery and mustered up the courage to exit the restroom and find my way to her office.  And what happened upon that fateful meeting?  Uh, we hit it off just fabulously!  We chatted and chatted easily allowing more than an hour to go by.  Our conversation was so enjoyable we continued it down the hall and out the building as we walked together to my car, and to her auditorium.  Auditorium?  Yeah she was off to rehearsal for a play she is in.  Exciting, huh?  I think so, I so enjoyed being in plays when I was younger.  

It was yet another awesome experience that showed me, hey I can hold my own in a conversation, and I am generally a fairly personable human.  And as Jack Handy used to remark, gosh darn it, people like me!  

Another small step was taken.  Another small step that one day will lead me to stepping up and out and continuing to expand my ability to make connections.  For it is those small connections, that we all can make, that change the world.

Love you!

Love yourself!

Love connections with other humans!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Silly Work Outfit

Top - ?? - Similar @Amazon
Undershirt - Vetemin - @Amazon
Jeans - Levi Denizen - Modern Boot Cut - @Target
Shoes -  New Balance - Similar @Amazon
Beanie - FHeaven - Similar @Amazon
Belt -?? - Similar @Amazon

Well, I suppose it is time to come clean if I am going to be able to accurately describe the context of this outfit.  And besides, I don't really think it is going to affect my life one way or the other for the blog-o-sphere to know how I am employed.  So.... ready for it?  Here goes nothing - - I am a middle school math teacher! 

Crazy huh?  Well I think I am to have been working with this age group for over 20 years!  Yikes, am I really that old?  Why yes indeed I am! 

Okie dokie, so now that is officially out of the way, this past week we had spirit week for our upcoming standardized tests.  On Friday it happened to be "meme day."  I kept asking everyone, what exactly are you going to do for meme day and they kept explaining to me what a meme is.  Uh, sorry kiddos, I understand what a meme is, what I don't understand is how is someone supposed to dress as a meme??  Whatever, right? 

My wife and I each have a shirt with a funny little saying on it, so we decided to wear those for our meme spirit day.  My wife's shirt is a pig eating bacon, thinking to itself, "yummm."  Funny huh?  And you can obviously see what mine says.  If you don't know the meaning behind this saying, it is going against conforming to the norm.  I always think of it as the students are the penguins!  Ha! 

The day that I wore this outfit, it was about an hour or two into my work day when it occurred to me that I was dressed fully in female clothes!  Funny as it was the first time ever.  I normally wear pretty much exactly what is pictured, except for wearing a male work Polo shirt instead of the silly penguin shirt.  I thought it was also pretty darn interesting as I normally don't wear such a tight shirt to work.  You know, with the boobs and all, tight shirts are interesting!  Oh, but I was too lazy to shave on this morning, so I had a bit of a goatee! 

You may be wondering how exactly things go with dressing the way that I dress while teaching 7th and 8th grade students.  You know that lovely age from about 12 - 14!!  Ha!  Lovely!  That is funny!  Well I will let you know, if you don't already, typically middle school students are so super self conscious of themselves that they can barely focus on anything else.  Sometimes it is about half way through the school year before a student will loudly exclaim "wait, what, you paint your fingernails?!"  And then the whole class laughs, not at me, but at their fellow student! 

I once had a student directly ask why I dress the way that I do, and I told them that I do it to show them that it is okay to be different.  Many teachers tell them it is okay to be different, all while looking exactly the same as a typical teacher.  I tell them that even though at first I was terrified of being myself in front of them, that I do it because I am learning how to love myself for who I really am. 

Generally speaking after that conversation with my classes, they clap.  Yup, that is how awful the little buggers are!  Ha!  Seriously the students are awesome.  And yeah, I do work at a pretty rough school.  New teachers have been known to run scared from this place!  But as well, this is not the only school that I have worked at that I have been dressed in a mixed gender manner.  I think this is the 4th school.  And at no time have I received any negative feedback from my students.  They have questions for sure, but they accept my answers. 

So, um, yeah, there ya go!

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Seriously, give it a whirl!  Who knows, maybe you'll like it and start treating yourself better!


Friday, April 6, 2018

A Human Narrative

What do you picture when you hear the phrase "gang member?"  How about the phrase "founding member of a gang?"  How about hearing someone explain to you, in person, standing not five feet away, that they have possibly taken the lives of human beings in the commission of crimes?  And yes it was left open as to the exact number.  I got the feeling that possibly not even he knew the exact count. 

So?  How about it?  Thoughts on who this human being is?  A pleasant one?  One that makes you think, hey you know what, this is the perfect person to come out to and explain that yeah, I am transgender.  

Whatcha think?  Sound like a good idea?  Does that sound like someone that you would picture as being tolerant?  What about warm and touching?  Well, without much fanfare, I will let you know that was exactly the conversation I had a while back.  I'm not so sure of when exactly it was, except it wasn't super recent.  Maybe a few months ago.  Maybe. 

I do know that back in February I did mention to you that I have been having some odd conversations as of late.  This particular one came about through the fact that I want people to know someone who is transgender.  I read somewhere that something like 80% of the American population does not personally know someone who is transgender.  That is a crime.  Those of us who are transgender seriously need to stop hiding.  It is easy to discriminate against a group of people that you personally have no connection to.  I want the people in my life to have a connection to the transgender world.  It is a small but vital thing those of us who are transgender can do to help out the entire world.  We need to put a face to this whole transgender thing.  We need cisgender people to feel some sort of personal connection to a word.

Moving on.....  So yeah, this guy I chose to speak to that day was pretty high on the list of people I assumed I would never speak to about transgender issues, let alone my own personal ones!  Eeek!  And the things I had heard about him certainly did not help me to feel comfortable about him either.  How about when one of my supervisors told me that we had one of the top three founding gang members working for us?  Yeah!  Not the first person you would chose to have the whole TG talk with right? 

Funny, as because in reality, yes he is all of those things, a gang member, an original founding member of the top gang in our area, a possible murderer, and a felon.  Yet he is also, a husband, a father, a son, a brother, an artist, a hard worker, and one hell of a nice human being.  But if you can't get past the lack of formal education, the time he has spent in prison, the actions he has taken, the obvious gang tattoos covering most of his body, you'd never get the opportunity to learn who this human being is.  

Isn't it more than a bit ironic that is what most of us who are transgender are actually looking for?  For people to see who were are on the inside and stop judging us by our outside shells?  Hmmm..... Yeah.  

Of course I had the conversation with him.  We see each other almost every day at work.  Not for long, but for long enough for us to have a few moments to converse.  One day, kind of out of the blue in my recollection, I told him that I am transgender and that I am taking estrogen. 

He had super thoughtful comments.  One of them was explaining to me how he had a friend in prison who transitioned while in prison.  I was floored by that and asked how in the world a person gets those types of meds in prison.  He explained that you can get almost anything you want while in prison if you are able to pay for it.  I explained that I thought it was sad that this TG human had to exist as a female in a male prison.  Damn. 

He also shocked me when he confided that one of his cousins is transgender.  It turns out that he is super sad because his cousin disappeared for a long time and nobody knew why.  Eventually he got a hold of his cousin and that was when his cousin explained that he was transgender and was transitioning.  He told his cousin that he better come by and begin reconnecting with everybody.  The cousin came over, and everybody was super supportive of her.  Did I explain, besides the whole gang member thing, that we are talking about one of those huge, extended, Hispanic, Catholic families?  Well yeah, there's that as well!  

It was again just one incident in what is becoming a vast number of them that made me shake my head at myself for ever being so foolish to think that I can't be honest with my fellow human beings.  One of the huge things for me was another conversation with this gentleman where he explained how freaked out he was about people finding out about him, his past, and who he once was -- I swear I thought he was going to explain he was transgender!!  If you know transgender humans, that is like our narrative!

Or so I thought.  Apparently, it is not a transgender narrative, it is a human narrative.  We as humans are typically so in need of human contact, and so fearful of being shunned by the herd, that we are terrified to tell anybody who we really are.  It's a sad existence.  I know not everybody suffers this way, but a vast number of us do for sure!  And this coworker of mine, he has apparently been terrified of people finding out that he was a gang member, and had been to prison.  He was afraid that if anybody knew the truth they wouldn't want to have anything to do with him.

Regardless of his past, of who he used to be, he is trying to be someone different.  He has made a vow to his wife, that with his first two kids he spent too much time in prison and missed much of their lives.  So when she had two more children about ten years back, he said he was done, and would never go back to prison again.  And he did it the right way.  He cleaned up his act.  He was able to barely find employment, but he did it, and he has kept his word.  Eventually a judge ordered his record be expunged and he was eventually able to find decent employment, which is how he and I eventually were able to have this seemingly odd meet up and conversation.  

In reality that conversation was exactly the one that needed to be had for we were two people who were both suffering in the exact same way.  It was such a mind blowing moment for me to realize that two humans who have had such vastly different paths in life were able to share the exact same insecurities.  

Shocking.  Seriously.  Shocking.  Well, for me at least. 

It was yet another incident that is slowly but completely changing my opinion of just who exactly my fellow human beings are.  

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Only then can you love each other!

Oh and by the way - the art pictured at the top of the post was a gift to my wife and I from the gentleman I had this conversation with.

Photo Credits:

Monday, March 26, 2018

My Outfit - White Sweater

Sweater - White House Black Market - Similar @ Amazon (at least it looks soft and fluffy!)
Scarf - No Idea - Similar @ Amazon or Similar @ Amazon
Jeans - 7 For All Mankind - Similar @ 7 For All Mankind - Similar @ Amazon
Booties - Madden Girl (Farrley) - @ Famous Footwear @ Amazon 

This is such a plain sweater but it does actually have a very small embellishment on it.  You can't see it in any of the pictures that I took, so you'll just have to take my word on it.  It has a small black bow on the upper right shoulder.  It's at least a little somethin-somethin to make it look a bit different than most.

Oh, and it is super soft!  I am super into texture, if I haven't mentioned that to y'all yet I will take this opportunity to toss that out there.  I think my affinity for texture comes from color blindness, blue-green, and my love of black and white.  So, yeah, textures can seal the deal, or kill it off entirely.

Alright, thrilling, I know!  The thing about this sweater though, as with many sweaters, it is a bit bulky and boxy.  Thus when I put it on for this outfit, I knew that I hand to find the right way to belt it.  But none of my many regular belts worked.  Which is exactly why I keep my hanger with my scarfs right next to my belts.  Sometimes, they work so perfectly, like this black and white polka-dot one.  I love the way that it pops when combined with this sweater.

Getting opportunities to get out used to be such a special occasion for me that I could remember each one as an individual piece of joy and happiness.  Funny, as now that dressing in my preferred manner is pretty much a daily occurrence, each particular day is not so special, it is just ordinary and common.  In one way the magic has seemingly faded, but in reality it has simply spread to my entire existence, which is actually way more cool.  Hmm.... is that just a fancy way of saying, I have no idea what I was doing when I wore this outfit??  Hmmm.... Maybe!!!

Okie dokie!  Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love scarfs as fabulous accessories!