Sunday, November 10, 2019

Supporting Local LGBT+ Youth


Sweater - Michael Kors - Similar @Amazon
Tank - Mossimo - Similar @Amazon
Pants - Liverpool Kaylee Skinny Jean - Similar @Amazon, @Liverpool
Shoes - Asics - Similar @Amazon

Goodness, not the best expression,
or look for my eyes, but my outfit is cute!
This is what I wore to a local LGBT+ event.  I live near Visalia, Ca and our main resource center is The Source.  For the past few years they have been doing a fundraising event called Over the Edge.  People pledge to make so much money in donations and if they meet their goal, then they repel off the highest structure in the city.  I personally do not want to repel off the building, no matter what, so I just go to cheer on my friends.

On this particular day a young trans male from our transgender group meetings was going over the edge.  He and his mom are spectacular.  He is 12 years old, in middle school, and living and his true self, with the love, help, and support from his mother!  Wow, right?  It is a fabulous thing to be able to see and gives me tremendous hope for what the future of being transgender means.

So cool.

After seeing this young man accomplish his goal, I was off to complete my daily goals.  First was Lowes, then CostCo, Target, and finally Save Mart, our local grocery store.  I arrived home, unloaded all of my purchases, and grabbed the camera. 

I know, I know, I am very remiss in my blogging duties!  Alas, such is life, and if you may recall, long, long, long ago, in a land far, far, far away, I did mention that I make no promises as to the frequency of this blog.  In fact, I think I went so far as to say, don't ever expect any sort of regularity from me here at this site.  Hmmm...... I think I doth protest too much!!!  Hahahaha!

Seriously, life is good, but busy.  I've added things to my already overloaded system.  They are fun, but filling! 

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love supporting each other!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Electrolysis Reality Check


June of 2018 I went to my first electro appointment. They started on my face. It took over 20 hours to fully clear my entire face 1 time. Yesterday they cleared my face in 2 hours. It will probably take an additional 6 months of full clearings and then it will be gone for the entire rest of my life!

Now we are slowly working our way down my body. 6 hours was spent on my upper bikini line. I hate the process, it is shear torture. The cost is outrageous, $125 an hour per electrologist, plus $50 an hour for the nurse to do lidocaine injections. So yesterday it was 4 hours, 2 techs, 1 nurse, $1200!!

The results are truly priceless though. Well, my belly doesn't look like it right now, but I just need to hold steady, be patient, and maintain this heading.

Love you!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Advocating


Okay so the photos are horrible. Apparently my wife and I specialize in blurry photos! Ha!
However, the day was not horrible. I spent the morning teaching my middle schoolers and then we jetted up to UC Merced. I gave my TG presentation detailing my decision to transition and afterwards we both fielded questions from the students.
The professor there is amazing and he sent me a link to his student responses to our discussion. Here are a few of their responses (there are 7 pages of them!) :

"I found it very surprising that it wasn't more of a sudden realization. The decision to decide that kelly was trans was a culmination of most of her life. It was very surprising to imagine not feeling yourself most of your life."

"I believe what I found most memorable about Kelly's story that she was able to make it out of the hardest parts of her life, and is still smiling. She went through so much and faced so many difficult obstacles but she did it all and I find her really admirable for that."

"I found most memorable how supportive her wife was throughout the years. That must of been a great thing to have a great social support. I was surprised that it took her years to finally know how to identify herself after years of dressing like a woman."

"I just think its so amazing how loving they are... just like any "regular" couple. ( heart emoji)"

"The fact that it took Kelly years to not be afraid with who she truly was was the most surprising to me. It has made me realize how hard it must be for every transgender person to be out & happy with themselves. I think she's an amazing & inspiring person. The world definitely needs more people like her & Jodie."

"It was surprising it was more beneficial to hear her story. In the past I had an ex girlfriend who transition into a man and at the time it was difficult for me to understand what it was like for her and the emotions that came with it."

"I enjoyed the realistic lecture that she gave. Having her being open and unapologetic with how she felt made it easier to understand how different everyone's journey can be."

"i was suprised that so many people face this issue and feel like they're going through it alone. Transgender issues can be really complicating but i hope people can learn to accept them for who they are instead of what they look like."

"I think what was most surprising is Kelly not changing anything other than her hormones. I have personally never met a transgender person or know their stories so I always assumed that they needed many surgeries and pills and all. However, it's amazing realising how she was simply being herself."

"Her partner has known her since she was 8. It's so cute how she stayed beside her transition ! :,)"

"The most surprising to me was the fact that she felt obligated to deny that she wanted to be a woman. It was really heartbreaking that she had to make herself feel horrible in order to please society. What I found really powerful was when she mentioned you can easily change your body but not the gender in your mind."

"The fact that she knew who she was at such a young age. I was surprised kids at that age are even thinking about themselves"

Okay, I gotta stop....... there are so many comments that mean so much! There are about 64 student responses. All of them positive, loving, and supportive!
Um..... am I glowing much this morning? Yes, yes I am!
I think I'm doing this advocating thing pretty darn well!
Thank you for the help and gentle pushing Jessica LynnCarol Montgomery Brosnac, Dr Julie Nicole. Thank you for seeing something I struggle to see.
Love you!
Love yourselves!
Love telling your own story!


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Being a Transgender Teacher


People often ask me what it is like to be a transgender middle school math teacher, this is what it is like.  Not enough of an explanation?  Okay..... I'll give you a bit more info on the card above.  This was a card that some of my students gave me about two weeks ago, on my birthday.  

The card was special in and of itself, but it is even more special when one understands the back story.  So, the back story..... last year I had a student who told me that they considered themselves to be transgender, but that was about it.  They were a seventh grader last year.  Luckily, I got the same student again this year.  They happen to be a very enjoyable student, however, I do have a soft spot for anyone who indicates they are transgender, especially when they are a middle school student.  

This year I was so proud and impressed with this student.  They approached me at the start of the year, and told me they are transgender, and that they are male, and that they would prefer to be called Leo!  I was so excited for them!  Wow!  How cool to understand such an awesome thing at such a young age.  

Fast forward a couple of months into the school year and we get to a couple of weeks ago and my birthday.  Leo and some of friends got together, they created this card, signed it, and then gave it to me.  Wow!  I was floored!  This was most likely the best birthday card I have ever received.  It was one of those rare special gifts that will be with me until I die.  Pretty frickin cool!

The photo of me is from a recent school event.  I was helping another teacher with a Saturday field trip to CSU Fresno.  There was an engineering event taking place there and we took a group of students there for the day.  How did the day go for me, a transgender teacher?  Great!  Not a hint of an issue from any student from any school, and they pull kids from all over the Central Valley.  That is also quite cool!

Okay, love you!

Love yourselves!

Seriously, love yourselves so that other can rain down love onto you!

Friday, September 20, 2019

My Outfit - Yoga Dress Pants

Top - White House Black Market - Similar @Amazon, @WHBM
Pants - Tribal - Similar @Amazon, @Zappos
Shoes - Unisa - Similar @Amazon, @DSW

Wow, the last time I put up an outfit post was back in July.  That is a bit unusual.  I am still wearing post worthy outfits, it's just that I'm too pooped upon arriving home to haul out the camera and grab a few shots.  Oh and as well, when the temperatures are as ridiculous as they are in the Central Valley, it is far too hot to look even half way decent in any sort of photo.

This outfit though needed to have photos taken, so much so, that today when I got home, I took off the outfit that I actually wore and put this one back on.  This was yesterday's outfit.  When I got home today the opportunity was there to take some shots, so I had to change.  Why?  Well, it is the pants and the short top.  It may not seem like much to you, but to me, they are an entire new way of being able to dress.

You may remember that I was hoping that my recent surgery would allow for some different configuring of certain bits.  I am happy to report, that yes indeed, things are improved and I am able to place things in a far better position for certain clothes.  As far back as I have been dressing as myself, I have worked hard to find clothes that I could comfortably wear without tucking.  Camouflage was my main weapon in this endeavor.  Thus most of my tops are tunic length to simply cover that area.  It has worked very well, but it has limited my clothing choices, especially for work.  Pencil skirts, most dresses, and waist length tops have all been off limits for work.  I could wear those items, but for work, running around for nine to ten hours a day, I was never comfortable. 

Now that I am comfortable in being able to effectively hide the bits I don't appreciate having, my work wardrobe has greatly expanded.  This prompted me to change my shopping style.  Generally, as many of you long time readers know, my shopping has consisted of spending days at outlet malls, hitting up just about every store I could.  Now though, I made a deal with myself, I would stop outlet shopping, if I signed up for Stitch Fix.  I went for it, and I'm super glad I did!

I wrote to my stylist that my main goal was to stay with my current style, but to have someone gently push those boundaries by picking out some things I wouldn't.  So far, I love the results!  Two of the items that I would have never even tried are a pair of jeggings, and these lovely yoga dress pants.  I really like these pants.  They are so super comfortable that they are comparable to wearing my most comfy LuLaRoe leggings.  Which if you know LLR, that says a lot about these pants.  If you have not tried pants like these yet, I highly recommend them.

Okay peeps, I gotta run. 

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love yourself enough to wear comfortable clothing.


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Friends, Mis-Gendering, and Warm Fuzzies

My friend has an amazing filter on her camera, it removed about 20 years!!
I had a fascinating set of interactions with some friends recently.  One of them was with three different teachers I worked with for a few years, the second one was with a college professor who I work with in helping to teach teachers, and the third was one of my employers. 

While they will certainly recognize themselves in this post, I will change their names.  My employer, let's call her Emily, I met about ten years ago, obviously when I was presenting male.  The college professor, umm..... Matt, I met at the same time as Emily, though at that time he was teaching me how to better teach math.  The three teachers, Shelly, Mable, and Tom, I met about five years ago, I was their math coach, employed by Emily, and assisted by Matt.  Okay, so if you followed that, you know the players.

I worked with the teachers for about two to three years, all while presenting male, though I did share this blog with several of them.  Anywho, the job ended, life moved on, I stayed in touch with Shelly through Facebook, and I happened to transition during this time period.  Uh, yeah, that happened.  Earlier this year, I thought it would be fun to meet up with them for lunch.  We made plans, and all arrived at the selected destination.  Tom was clearly unaware that I had transitioned.  In fact that moment was the first that he discovered anything about my gender variance. 

I naively assumed that Shelly would inform everybody about my transition.  Her version of events is that it was not her business to share. Wow, so cool!  That is not what the expected norm is that most trans people dread.  However, when Shelly shared further that she also had not updated my name in her phone, I was acutely aware that I had not done my due diligence.  Here were three friends that I clearly neglected to have the conversation about my transition with.  And now they were in the dark and just barely catching up, and I am left feeling uncomfortable about my lack of communication.  The lunch went very well, and it was enjoyable.  We did catch up.  Many mis-genderings occurred, and a few mis-namings, but effort was made, and we had a good time.

A few weeks later, I met up with Emily and Matt again.  Emily is employing me again to continue trying to teach other teachers, and Matt is doing his math-guru thing, teaching teachers, teaching coaches, teaching the world.  Matt is actually very familiar with the teachers I met up with, and Shelly in particular.  I mentioned to him that I saw them for lunch.  He was happy and we reminisced.  Later that day, Matt said he would call me to meet up in the evening for a drink of wine.  I joked with him about whether he still had my phone number and if he had been like Shelly and had not yet updated me in his contacts.  He informed me that he already did update it and told me he would give me a call. 

We never did get a chance to meet up that evening, however, the next, Matt made a point to come up to me.  He said I want you to know that, even though I met you ten years ago, and you were clearly presenting male, it feels as though I have always known you as a woman.  As soon as you told me your real name, I immediately updated it in my contacts, and that is the only person I ever think of you as. 

Ummmm..... WOW!   Wow, Matt, you hit that one out of the park baby!  That was one hell of a home run statement!  When I re-told that story to my therapist, she got goose bumps.  For me, I have had warm fuzzies every since. 

Okay, so later that day, after speaking with Matt, I found myself chatting with Emily.  She was letting me know how bad she has felt for all of the mis-genderings she has done.  She has done quite a few, but she is working on it, and getting better.  The other thing is, she often calls herself on it, which is nice.  She said to me, that she is sorry, but that she is also super thankful about how kind, polite, and forgiving I am towards those who may make a mistake.  I told her, well, but of course, it is understandable that it can be difficult for some.  She thanked me again, and mentioned that many trans people she has known have not been nearly as gracious as I have been.  I told her that I appreciated her speaking to me.  And I really did appreciate it, especially when later that afternoon she did properly gender me. 

So there ya go.  That is a nice summation of what it has been like since coming out to one of my employers.  In short, it has gone fabulously!  And did you notice what I did there with the three teachers?  I blamed myself, not them.  Sure I could blame them, but what would I be proving?  That I can be petty and bitchy?  I didn't go there, and I'm not going to go there.  That's just not me.  It does indeed hurt being mis-gendered, and mis-named, but I believe in being kind, and being optimistic about the future. 

Sure it would be great if everybody thought the way that Matt does, it's actually quite impressive, but that is just not reality.  Reality is, if I want to continue meeting these teachers for lunch, every now and then, and to have them properly name and gender me, I choose to be nice now when they are taking the time to learn.  I'm a teacher.  I'm very forgiving in the face of those attempting to learn.  In fact, I'm going to be, helpful, kind, and nice. 

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love learning and growing!


Sunday, August 11, 2019

In the Closet and In a Wedding??




You may remember that recently my friend Dana and I began a podcast.  We have been having lots of fun recording it, and sharing out bit of weirdness with the world.  We recently received a great question from a listener.  I was emailing her back today and thought, hey, maybe I should share this with a larger community to try and get more opinions.  So I'd encourage you to reach out and give me your thoughts.

Hello!

My name is J, and I'm a hetero cis woman who absolutely loves you two. Your podcast is wonderful and I truly enjoy listening to your conversations. 

A little background on why I'm asking this question, I live in a very conservative area of the Midwest and there is not a lot of exposure for the trans community here. My former roommate and current best friend is a trans woman but due to our environment and personal struggles, she has not been able to openly present herself as a woman to society. I'm the only girl friend that she really is herself with and since we're so close, we both really want her to be involved in my wedding this fall as a bridesmaid. So here's my question: what advice would you have for us to help make her feel more comfortable being in front of a large group of my friends and family in a dress when she struggles with her body dysmorphia and fear of being vulnerable in public? 

Thank you so much for sharing your friendship and closeness with your listeners, I hope to hear back from you!
J

Thanks so much for writing to Dana and I, and for listening to our podcast.  You are super kind and sweet with your compliments towards us, so thanks for that.  In regards to your friend, wow, you are super sweet for wanting her in your wedding!  That is so nice of you to put yourself out there to help her! So cool!  

Dana and I will be recording again late this next week and we will for sure discuss this.  Dana has lots of experience in speaking with many trans individuals and I'm sure she has her own thoughts on this matter.  Being as it may be at least a couple of weeks for our discussion to make it live on our podcast I wanted to try and write to you personally now and attempt an answer to your question.  

To that end - in general, in order to become more comfortable being in front of people dressed as oneself, your friend would need to begin doing it now.  Over time, comfort, joy, and relaxation can come about.  I personally began by going to the movies, museums, and other locations where no one knew me.  I was also super fortunate to have my wife by my side most of the time.  I would encourage you and your friend to get out together and begin exploring if the realities of doing such a thing is what both of you actually want.

For me, when I was fully in the closet, the idea of being a bridesmaid in a friend's wedding would have been amazing!  It still is actually! But when I was closeted, actually being that bridesmaid was a minefield of terrifying unknowns.  How would I actually look in a woman's dress?  Would it work with my body?  Would anyone who saw me ever really take me for a woman? What if someone I knew saw me?  What if my family found out?  What if my work found out?  What if people got mad at me?  What if people tried to hurt me?  Would dressing as a woman at my friend's wedding take away somehow from her day?  

The reality is, I would have never felt comfortable in actually being in that wedding until I had transitioned, or at least had come out to my circle of humans.  There would have been a terrific desire to do it, and an extreme sadness if I didn't, but I would never have felt comfortable doing that while I was closeted.

There may have been some things that have helped me to feel more comfortable though.  As you stated in regards to your friend, she has two main issues, 1 - body image concerns, and 2 - social concerns.

For issue number one, body image, that can be combated in a few different ways.  The first way that I dealt with my own body insecurities was learning how to dress it.  Clothes come in many different cuts, fabrics, styles, etc.  By trying on vast amounts of different clothes one can eventually find something that actually looks good.  I have found this to be true, regardless of one's personal body "type."  Thus for a wedding, the right bridesmaid dress can make all of the difference.  Many AMAB (assigned male at birth) humans have wider shoulders, thus a dress that shows more shoulders is often not flattering on their bodies, for example.

Another helpful tactic is realizing the vast variations that exist in bodies.  Not every AFAB (assigned female at birth) human has shoulders and hips at the same width.  Not every AFAB has greats breasts that show their decolletage.  Not every AFAB looks undeniably like an AFAB.  Variations happen, and are totally natural and expected.  Not everyone looks like that standard female image that media tosses in our face on a regular basis.

My personal body image issues have also been helped by working with my therapist for the past two years and bugging her constantly about the evil voices in my head that try and convince me that I will never be seen as anything but an AMAB desperately trying to pass as an AFAB.  In addition to talking to her about my own body image issues, I have tried to talk to many other people about it.  I have spoken to college classes about it, my wife extensively, my sister, my coworkers, my friends, and total strangers!  I believe that insecurities are wounded by being brought into the open, and that they thrive in the darkness of our minds.

Another small, but powerful, thing I have done to help with my body image issues is to take a large number of pictures of myself.  This may seem counter-intuitive as humans with body image issues tend to not like their images at all.  But, over time, with lots of practice, and learning about the medium of photography, I have been able to see myself in a totally different way.

Lastly, the largest thing I have done to help with my body image issues, is to have changed my hormones.  That has helped the most as that has actually changed my body to be better aligned with what my brain thinks my body should look like.  Thus I am beginning to feel like me, and not like I am playing a version of me.

 Okay, so, for issue number two - social concerns, I have a harder time in coming up with more options.  The first, and by far the easiest, is to dress in one's preferred presentation and go to locations where it is all but assured that you won't see anyone who knows you.  That limits the potential side effects of your entire world discovering your secret.  But it also allows one to begin to interact with other human beings while dressed in a manner one is not familiar with.

Another option to transgender people is to come out of the closet.  It does not mean one has to transition.  People can open up about their gender variance even when they are not sure what it may mean.  I came out to my sister as a transvestite about fifteen years ago.  A few years after that, I came out to some friends and described myself as a cross dresser.  After that, I came out to some other friends as gender non-conforming and non-binary.  It was not until a few years later that I began telling people I am a transgender woman.  Anywho..... when you begin to open up, and come out of the closet, it helps to ease the social pressures.

Coming out is not an easily undertaken event.  It takes large amounts of bravery, and support.  It can lead to horrible rejection and large amounts of ignorance.  But, it can also lead to freedom.  The freedom to actually be able to be oneself, in front of anybody, and everybody.  It can lead to a deep sense of closeness and belonging within a community that most transgender people have never felt.

In short, I don't know of anything that can guarantee your friend will be able to be in your wedding and be totally comfortable, however, there are lots of things they could begin to do that would allow them to be in your wedding and feel more comfortable about it.

I hope that in some small way my words will help you and your friend.  You truly are an awesome human being and a fantastic friend.  Thank you so much for being so kind and caring to others.  Your friend is very fortunate to have you in their lives.

Thank you!!!

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love others!