Sobriety, Transgender

The bathroom agenda

I find this whole bathroom discussion absolutely ridiculous for a variety of reasons, most of which stem from my experience with both sexual assault and a transgender male-to-female whom I happen to live with. Unless you truly know what a transitioning transperson does to make themselves the gender they feel that they are in every fiber of their being, the effects of their therapy, etc., then you have no idea what you are talking about.  Everyone should know how to Google at this point. There is no excuse for ignorance in this day and age of Google.

I live with a person who is transitioning from male to female. No, I had no idea when I first saw them again after 25 years that they, in fact, were really a woman underneath the goatee and extra pounds. That didn’t come out until later, after a slew of issues began cropping up and I was completely puzzled as to the reasons for them. Issues that are personal and none of anyone’s business, and those like “Why does he want to know whether I am wearing my boots to work or not?” What the hell was going on? Anxiety attacks? What? And why the f*ck did he shake like that? I didn’t remember the shaking from when we were kids.

The night I was told that sometimes this person liked to wear my clothes while hiding their face in their hands was one that I will never forget. The moment when I realized that this was much more than someone wanting to wear my black dress is also one that I will never forget, and it was excruciating. I realized in that second, that this person never existed; they never were who they said they were. Moments we had from our youth were completely different and I no longer understood them. I couldn’t look at photos of us from that time period for a long time. And then the day came when I saw that the shaking had stopped. The anxiety attacks lessened. The true person began to emerge and I made the decision to learn how to love that person. I could really see them and who they really were. I still can see them, and more of that person comes out every day. It’s pretty amazing and worth every second.

Sometimes when we go out, people call us “ladies”. She beams from the inside out. Me, I begin to feel the anxiety grow in the pit of my stomach. What if she has to use the bathroom here? What if someone overheard the hostess calling us “Ladies” and then she goes into the Mens room because we haven’t crossed that line yet? Will she be safe? She can’t afford to get into a fight with someone. All of these thoughts go through my head as I watch her get up and make her way to the restroom. When she comes back and there are no police entering the premises, I breathe easier.

You see, this is my life now. I choose to have it this way. I choose this because underneath all of the transitioning, I still love the person. We still have a connection, and she is the first person I have been able to work through arguments with. I don’t know why. It would have made my life much easier if it had been my ex whom I could have had this with. But it wasn’t. He is a very good person and the best father I could have asked for my girls. At the same time, I guess I was more of a lesbian than I thought. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Well, out loud anyway. I always believed that if anything happened with my marriage that I would just go out with women. I had no idea that this would actually happen.

So where does the sexual assault experience come in? I have had the unique pleasure of being in a situation where I was pressured to have sexual relations when I didn’t want to more than once. When you are a female drunk such as myself, it tends to happen more often than not. I would like to focus on the first one because it was  the most devastating, and because these were boys (yes, there was more than one at this lovely event) whom I had known and grown up with. I thought highly of these boys and one I was particularly fond of. When they came into Friendly’s where I worked, I was thrilled to see them. Except this type of attention wasn’t what I was looking for that night. Beer was part of the equation and what little sense of judgement I had went out the window. I was taken advantage of and they didn’t stop. Even as I had tears fall down my cheek, and said in a heartbroken whisper to no one”But I really cared about you, I loved you” I couldn’t understand why this was happening. It wasn’t enough to snap him out of it. This boy who was from a good Plymouth family, went to a private school, was an excellent student and good samaritan.  And I was….me. A drunk girl who should have just gone home. At the time I felt unworthy to get away. I had finally gotten the attention from him I had been wanting for so long. Attention that made tears fall down my face as I pretended I wasn’t really there.

I remember the car ride home was in complete silence. I was shoved out of the car at the bottom of my driveway. No goodbyes necessary. My bra was missing, my clothes were wet, and I had no idea what time it was. My mother was waiting for me at the door, not having a clue what happened. She didn’t speak to me for two weeks. This was right before I went to college. Again, as an adult I take full responsibility for putting myself in a precarious situation. However, when I asked for them to stop- when I had tears running down my face and looking like I wanted nothing more than to go home, they should have stopped.

One of them has at least one daughter that I know of. Sometimes I wonder what he would do to someone who did to her what he did to me. I’m sure he thinks of it and maybe out of guilt is friends with me. Who knows. Here is what I do know – if someone is going to assault someone, a law isn’t going to stop them. What it will stop,  is people trying to be themselves being able to use the bathroom in peace.  Someone commented that some MtF still look ‘male’, so that would certainly be a red flag to people. I guess is their own fault since they can’t afford surgeries or hormone therapy, or maybe haven’t been able to take that step because they will lose their job if they came out. It’s their fault that others are uncomfortable, when they themselves have been uncomfortable their ENTIRE FREAKING LIVES. Live and let live. Pretty simple.

I am sure you must be wondering where the hope is in all of this. The hope in this for me is that I hope people realize that these people aren’t men in dresses drooling over their kids. I hope that people see that a person who is transitioning isn’t interested in anything other than using the facilities. I hope people understand that there are predators out there, and some of them hide behind masks of a private school, good family and educational background.  I hope that people understand that I am who I am because of these experiences, that I rose from those fiery pits of alcoholic despair and rose above to begin caring about myself. My hope is that my girls will  love themselves more than I ever did at their ages- and in doing so, will make decisions based out of love, not the fear I see around me today.

 

Speaking of fear- I was so worried about this echo that Izzie had today, that I actually kept this a little to myself. Our cardio texted me that everything looks great. Her energy levels have been all over the place but now that we know that her heart is showing no signs of concern, I feel like we can relax a little.  Always can find hope in that!

Family, Sobriety

Lesson Learned and Many More To Go

Today I attended a luncheon honoring women who have been inducted into the YW Boston’s Academy of Women Achievers. The CEO at the firm I work at was one of the honorees, and she had extended the invitation to include a few women from my group. I always jump on networking opportunities for both personal and professional reasons. It turned out to be a lovely event, and I am really happy I went. As always when I hear inspirational speakers at these types of conferences, I tend to reflect on my own current situations and try to see ways I can improve myself. Words that came across loud and clear were “authentic self”, “fake it until you ARE it”, “Passion” and “Pay it forward”.

Authentic self. What does that mean exactly? I have taken a chance and revealed my authentic self to a few of my “friends” recently and have received mixed responses. Some have conveyed their support. Others have asked a few questions, and then stopped talking altogether. Then we have the ones that don’t respond at all. Does this bother me? Of course it does. It bothers me to be rejected, especially after being honest. Many people say they admire honesty but the truth is, they want it on their conditions that are best for them. What do I mean by this? “Be yourself” is what I have heard my entire life. I have also heard “You need to calm down”, “Do you have to be so outspoken?”, “You wear your heart on your sleeve, can’t you just pretend to be (insert socially acceptable behavior here)?”  I pay the price being myself sometimes with the loss of friends, relationships, and even jobs. Over the years I have tried to learn to manage these defects of character only to find that they just morph into other defects. Being myself has its drawbacks and trying to be what others expect me to be only leads to depression.

I have recently discovered that someone’s authentic self has caused me to be more honest about who I really am. Something I wasn’t prepared emotionally for at all. We took a risk and some of the reactions were unpleasant. At the same time, the majority was very positive so it isn’t an experience I regret. The experience showed me the limitations I put on myself. It opened my eyes to where I really am at with this situation in my life as oppose to where I would like to be. I have a lot of adjusting to do which I am willing to do because I truly believe this is where I am supposed to be. The lessons I see before me are invaluable, including the lesson of who my friends really are.

Last Thursday someone who has no idea or experience with a particular topic decided to share her opinion. After reading it against my better judgement, I became angry because it came from a place of pure judgement and not of intellectual curiosity. She proceeded to agree with this article that cites antiquated assumptions about gender and identities. You know, things that she doesn’t encounter in her Christian world and that she has no business starting a debate about. If you have experience or know people that struggle with gender , that’s one thing. I am pretty sure she does not and when I commented about my own PERSONAL and PAINFUL experience, I was told that it was a perspective, not a reality.  Hey-It’s my reality, bitch. Just like being a heart mom is a reality. Yes, I am going there.

The comments reminded me of when people tried (and sometimes still do) to relate to open heart surgery when they compare their childrens’ ear tube surgeries to Isabelle having her chest cracked open and her heart stopped. Folks- there is empathy, there is curiosity, and then there is being stupid. Comparing holes in the heart to missing an entire side is like comparing an apple to a grape. Comparing gender issues to being insane or having a fetish is just wrong. Seriously. Just stop. Go back into your homeschooled bubble and to the things you know about. I don’t pretend to know about Jesus so don’t pretend to know anything about having an open mind.

Perhaps I need to pray about this resentment. Duly noted.

Passion. My passion has always been my family, liberal and or Jewish causes, and congenital heart disease. Those who know me know I am also passionate about my sobriety and about my work. My passion for creating effective compelling design is what brings me to work every day. I thought I lost it, and the last month I think I found it again. Today I heard ways of channeling my passion and taking a leap into uncertain waters. I take leaps all the time. Sometimes with glee, other times with terror- but I make them. Having my children grow up Jewish is a passion, and teaching Sunday school is too. Although I am taking a year off for personal reasons, I hope to continue the following year.

I am passionate about my sobriety. I go on commitments, I speak, I open my home group meeting just about every Friday. It has saved my life. Period. I would be dead if it wasn’t for my commitment and passion for sobriety. Which brings me to “Pay it forward”. Giving back what was freely given to me is the name of the game. I had the pleasure of being given a service position in my group. I also have been given the opportunity to give back to one of the many heart organizations I love and am part of. Combining my passion for CHD awareness and my love for design came together this week bringing me a sense of fulfillment that has lifted my exhausted heart.

The ‘passion’ I need to lose is my need to be liked and accepted by everyone. It’s just not possible. Add my aggressive personality to the mix and we all know that just isn’t happening. Recently, I took a risk and put myself out there. I also know that the price of being authentic has been hearing crickets instead of responding to the posts I make on peoples’ pages, even non-confrontational ones. I want the heart moms I am ‘friends’ with to like me. I want fellow sober peeps to like me too. However I am learning fast that when I do reveal who I really am, these “friends” of mine head for the hills. Someday it will be ok, but that isn’t today. Today I am sad that people are no longer talking to me. It upsets me that people who claim to have open minds really don’t. And the lessons that lie before me are painful ones that will require a great amount of strength I was hoping to get from some of these people.