A journey to San Francisco to become no less than Me. (BLOG REBOOT: Former site of Hairy Legs.)

Posts tagged ‘youtube’

Trans Mission: Freedom! (Day One)

“February 1st, 2012: All of a sudden, I looked up and I was sitting in Harvey Milk Plaza, staring up at the giant rainbow flag, and my heart swelled as I realized that, starting today, I was finally a resident of San Francisco.”

I haven’t been back here to post in a long time, but if anything warranted a reboot of my blog, this is it.

I just went back and read my first post on this transition blog, from July 24th, 2009.  It was almost 3 years ago when I finally sat down and committed, whole heartedly, to transitioning to male.  It made me burst into exhilarated laughter to realize that, in that post, I was musing wistfully about moving to San Francisco, some day, like a person who dreams of one day getting a jetpack so they can fly.

Today, I’m flying, and there’s nothing that can weigh me down.  I wrapped up my old life, trusted to Fate that I was doing the right thing, closed my eyes and jumped.  The car ride down felt unreal- I’ve broken free, today is the first day of my real life, and I’ll never spend another day living where I don’t want to live, working towards things I don’t want, or being who I don’t want to be.  There’s no guarantee that I’ll have a place to sleep from one night to the next, no guarantee that anything will work out for me, no guarantee that I’ll even live past the end of the day.  But, wait a minute- isn’t that what waking up and living your life every single day is all about?  You take that risk every time you get in your car and run down to the corner market for milk, so why get that milk if it isn’t fueling a body in motion, aimed on a trajectory towards the galaxy you want to live in?

It doesn’t matter where or how dangerously you do the things that you know you were meant to do, anything could happen, you have to pursue your dreams and LIVE your life instead of planning, hoping, and saying “maybe tomorrow” forever.  We have a limited number of minutes on this Earth, so why spend even a single one of them being or doing things you don’t want?

God’s honest truth is that I could have stayed in Tuolumne County.  I could have gotten that daily grind job, worked my butt off to pay rent and bills and nothing else, not had any resources to go through with medical transition, not lived in an area where my way of life was acceptable, not been able to go to an art school where I could actually learn anything.  I could have survived, and it makes me guilty to think that, with the economy the way it is, I threw away a potentially stable lifestyle and flung myself on the mercy of a collapsing economic structure and the kindness of strangers to get where I need to be faster.  But the truth is, I’ve been watching my life slip away from me day at a time for as long as I can remember.  Extenuating circumstances aside, whether my roomies had needed me gone by February or not, I couldn’t make myself miserable there, flipping burgers for a future I don’t have any stakes in, working towards nothing but a desperate gray existence, quietly being a martyr because “people who throw away potential job openings in a climate like this are foolish lazy bums.”  Do I deserve to be happy?  Who knows.  I think the question here is, do any of us?  I think if people spent more time focusing on working towards the things that light up their life, rather than being dragged down by guilt, expectations, moral fallacies, societal obligations, quantifiable monetary “success”, and all the trappings that lead to the white picket fence life… we’d all be a lot happier and have much less shame about who we are.  The expectations of others based on their own twisted moral compasses can do so much to destroy people’s lives, or if nothing else, grind them to a squeaky gray halt.

I know only one thing.  My life is mine, I’m the one who has to live it, and I finally have to courage, fortitude, and will to chase my dreams without stopping for breath.  Call me back when you can say that and we’ll have cake together.

***

Back on the subject of that first blog, it’s a bizarre thing that July 24th 2009 felt like the beginning of my journey, when now, today feels like it.  I thought I was living the great adventure of my life by starting to transition, and truly, I’d like to say that those three years were a massive chapter in my life.  But they’re beginning to really feel more like a prologue than anything.  If I had to make a comparison of my life to literature, then those first three epic years were the Hobbit, but today I’ve cracked the first page of the Fellowship of the Ring.  So much lies before me, I can barely wait to start the adventure!

It’s funny to think back to that summer summer morning so long ago- I was already so far with some things, but so behind in others.  For example, even at that point, I’d already learned how to use an STP, little things like that.  But I wasn’t standing up for myself in public yet- it horrifies me to realize that, according to my blog, up until that day I was still job hunting “in costume” (or dressed as what I perceived as an attractive female, so I’d match my documents and be appealing in some abstract way.)  But, oh, I’ve come so far in those years!

I’ve grown a lot of balls (pun fully and shamelessly intended) as far as expressing my gender.  A few years ago, I wouldn’t have let a person in on my male gender unless I really trusted them, and certainly not in a professional setting.

Today, I’m not afraid of walking into a job interview (that most vulnerable of places in our current climate), with my binder and suit on, introducing myself up front as Tom, requesting my potential employer not to use my legal name as I’m still in the paperwork process of getting it changed, and then letting their deductive capabilities fill in the rest.

Today, I’m not afraid of correcting people over the phone when they say “ma’am”, and saying, “Yes, I know my voice is high pitched, it’s a hormonal imbalance,” and letting them deal with the feeling of awkward if they so choose to feel that way.  I’m done with awkward.

Today, I’m not afraid of walking into the men’s restroom and using the stall if I have to, because I know the last thing on most men’s minds is the bathroom habits of the people around them.

In fact, a few months ago I used the ladies’ room for what I know will be the last time (I was dining out with old family who haven’t caught on yet and I didn’t want to create an awkward situation by running into one of them in the men’s room.)  At this point, the men in my family are going to have to deal with it, though, because a girl in the ladies’ room tried telling me I was using the wrong bathroom.   Through the awkwardness, potential danger and confusion, some little chord in the background sang out, “YES, I AM using the wrong bathroom- and people finally agree with me.  I’ll never walk in here again.”  I had to pop my voice back into a female register I haven’t used in years so she wouldn’t get freaked out, but at the same time, I suddenly realized that, for the first time, pretending my gender was female to use the ladies’ room under false pretenses made me feel inappropriate, and even though I didn’t mean anyone harm, it was suddenly unmistakably clear which bathroom I belonged to.

It was a little chilling to realize I’d passed over that line where I could get away with using either restroom if one room or the other made me feel too uncomfortable- that now there was no safe room to run to, no net to fall back on.  I was back in that area where I had an assigned restroom, and if I used the other, I’d be in trouble, only I was on the other side of that fence, and it was jarring to realize I’d finally toppled off of straddling it.  But at the same time, it’s exhilarating to realize that, even just in one area of my life, everything is finally lining up.  Plus, I feel much more comfortable in the men’s room now anyway.  I no longer get that rush of adrenaline/sweaty-palm feeling when I realize I have to use the bathroom.  I just take care of business and trust that what I’m doing just isn’t that important to other people– I’m not under a microscope, I’m just an average Joe who has to piss.

***

It’s interesting to note the things that have changed.  But I think the oddest thing was the number of thoughts and sentiments in my old work that have stayed the same.  Through my ugly teenage years, I’d write something and then go back and read it a year later, and be completely repulsed by myself.  So, I was preparing for that familiar acid reflux feeling on going back to read my 3 year old post.  BUT, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of values that remain the same.  I’ve definitely learned more, grown in myself, and become stronger in the things that I believe in, but the core values are still the same.  What does that mean?  It scares me a little to think that I might be getting comfortable with my way of thought- through those teen years I was an ever-changing entity (weren’t we all?) who believed that anyone who settled with a given moral code or mental structure was a closed-minded bigot who was unwilling to learn, change themselves or compromise with an infinite world.  I truly felt that if I didn’t see some gaping flaw in my thoughts from a month prior, then I wasn’t growing right.

But at the same time, I feel more like maybe it’s just that I’m finally figuring out who I am, and most importantly, getting comfortable with that person for once.  I’ve never known what that was like- to like me, completely, without bullshit, and realize that maybe I’ve got one or two things figured out.  I have SO much to learn, but the things to learn in this life are infinite and we are finite beings, and maybe it’s not so bad to know where oneself starts and stops, and to be okay with that.

***

Hopefully I’ll be posting daily updates with my current situation.  For those who might be curious about specifics, I had to leave my current living situation in the hills by February due to a lack of income.  I’m on the waitlist for a bed at Lark-Inn, a shelter in San Francisco that caters to impoverished LGBTQII youth by providing counseling, helping them find jobs, and get onto their feet.  They say the wait time is 3 to 4 weeks.  I asked one of my trans communities online for ideas and help to patch up the intervening gap, and one of them responded with a site called couchsurfing.org.

I went on the site and found several people in the bay area willing to open their homes to LGBT individuals, some specifically on emergency conditions.  One such, a crisis counselor at the Trevor Project among other things, agreed to take me in for a few days starting today.  Several others responded as well, and the idea of moving from couch to couch in the bay area for a few weeks just didn’t scare me enough to stop me.  It really isn’t as if I can come up with any other options.  So, I packed my stuff and here I am.  Soon, hopefully they’ll be able to get me on an insurance and refer me to a gender therapist who can approve me for T (I think ~3 years living full time with professional and family references will go far for credibility), and I’m looking at starting my own business as a dog walker (it’s a very lucrative business down here!)

Also very soon, I’ll be posting the introductory video to my vlog of my journey and gender transition.  I’m still in editing- I just shot the primary footage with a friend’s camera over the last couple days, and thank god I have a computer savvy friend who fixed my laptop for free!  So I can do decent quality videos from down here, at least in the beginning.  I don’t know if they’re going to make me sell my laptop before they take me at the shelter, but I’m prepared for that option- my phone is synched with my youtube account so I can directly upload videos from my tracfone.  (This computer, I bartered from a friend with a laptop I won in a raffle in 2007, so that’s two degrees of working with equipment I didn’t pay for.)  Who says the poor can’t be technologically advanced?

If you’re interested in following the journey, my channel is here. http://www.youtube.com/user/atTheTomFace/videos

On the topic of webthings of mine, my Twitter account is @TheTomFace.  I’ll be sending frequent updates on my situation, so if you want to stay abreast of current events, go on ahead and follow me!  I try to keep it entertaining, I promise.  😀

To the world:

Follow the day and reach for the sun!

-Tom

Day 14: Name time, part two.

Last month, I discovered it’s a bad idea to try and live with a name given to you by someone who you might wind up hating down the road.  I’m glad that I didn’t get anything done legally about it and all I have to do is change it on places like my blog.  (I’d almost forgotten that even needed to, except I clicked the “Random Blog Post” button for a blast from the past year and some inspiration, and found the post where I talked about how I decided on my name.)

Anyway, my ex was the one who decided on the name Calvin, and I kept it in my name even though I never really used it.  Now, any time I see that name, it reminds me of him and what he did to me, and a whole sequence of bad feelings come rushing back, so I’ve decided to drop it, move the “Thomas” back around to the first name spot, and go with my legal last name.  Now my name will read Thomas Jack H______, and it’s considerably less clumsy and more comfortable.  Besides, now that I’m becoming a lot closer to my dad, I’m a lot more comfortable with sharing his last name.  I kind of wanted to change my last name originally because I was afraid he might not want to be associated with me, but he’s become a lot more accepting of it all since then.  Now I’m ready to get my legal name change when that’s ready to happen.

***

I’m also thinking about starting my youtube channel soon.  The computer with the camera doesn’t really work all that well and it doesn’t have much in the way of editing programs, but I figure if I don’t start now then I never will.  I’m having a hard time coming up with an opening topic, though.  I’ll keep looking and when I get it posted, I’ll put a link up.

Peace!

Day Eight: Enter the rat race.

As you may or may not know, I live vicariously through my Youtube subscriptions.  One of them recently posted a video about having on the job harassment issues, etc.

As much as that sucks for him, it’s actually helped me to form a game plan for when I start to really go through transition.  This is from my response to the video:

“…I actually have a plan to get a shitty little job of some sort, food service or something, to get me through during transition, and then, as soon as I’m passable, I’m going to look for another job and drop the first one like a hot potato.  I don’t want to get into something I’ll enjoy doing if it means I’ll have to leave it as soon as I transition.”

I mean, it’s a pretty sweet idea, and it pretty much follows what I was planning to do career-wise anyway- take whatever crappy little job I can get, and then build from there.  I’ve heard it said many a time that it’s much easier to GET a job when you HAVE a job, so if anything, all my strategy really does is stretch out the time I spend in my shitjob a little longer, probably.

I already work a volunteer job, so I have a taste of what it’s like to be unpassable and not out in the workplace- it SUCKS.  I haven’t brought it up because simply enough, it would just complicate things unduly in a workplace that it’s really not worth it for.  I’m working at the local food bank, which basically translates to working with uber conservative, upstanding, elderly white ladies who would probably have a heart attack if they knew they were working with a transsexual.

It’s kinda funny, actually.

They all really do love me to death there, because I’ve shown initiative, dedication, good people skills and phone skills, and invaluable computer experience (really, they don’t much know what they’re doing with the computers they have, so any help makes me look like a wizard.)  And I hate to put a cynical slant on things, but one of my top motivations for working there isn’t so much helping the community as racking up work experience, a good list of references and connections to the working world.  I feel like all my time there would be wasted if I alienated them by demanding their acceptance in this area, too.  So, basically, it’s turned into a big game of kiss-ass, which kind of gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.  But hey, you do what you can to get ahead, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone in the process, there’s really nothing wrong with it, right?

Anyway, that’s all a microcosm of what I’m probably going to be going through at McDonalds or whatever patty flipping joint I can manage to work at- except with less money, less hours and less gender problems.  Once I get on T, I expect the shit’s really gonna hit the fan.  I’m going to have to deal with people questioning my binding (which generally becomes more evident the longer you spend time with a certain group), my voice drop and my facial hair growth (which, if my genetics have any say about it, will be prolific, believe you me.)  I plan on deflecting as much as possible, and sad to say, I’m probably not going to do much sticking up for myself if I’m starting a job looking like this and wind up looking like my dad.  They’re going to have every right to be curious, and frankly, I can’t expect them to switch pronouns to accommodate me unless I wind up working with a real bang-up, intellectual, forward-thinking group of fast-food workers.  Not exactly the descriptors that come to mind, right?

These will be the crappiest six months to a year of my life, and it’s going to be worth it.

Almost a month, and no post?

Sorry I’ve disappeared from the internets so long.  Celtic Faire was a blast, and I’ll probably update on a lot more of that later on, but let’s just say by the end of the third night, a group of the guys had officially initiated me into their group as a dude, and I was feeling pretty damn good about things.

For Faire, I dyed my hair orangey to get back to my celtic roots (pun actually not intended), made a kilt, and did my traditional application of theatrical facial hair.  Unfortunately, I only got one picture, and a bad one, and it was on a cellphone camera, but if I can get ahold of the person who took it and get them to send it to me, I’ll try and post it.

I got my hair back to a normal color today, and I’m feeling generally more creative and happy about things, so much so that I’m thinking about finally starting my youtube vlog.  As to why I haven’t gotten back on top of things since Faire, one of the things that happened during faire was that for five nights in a row, I was sleeping in a tent out back of the fairgrounds, which is normally fine, but we got a cold snap this year, with it snowing the first night and pissing down freezing rain the third night, so badly to the point that for the first time in faire history, they had to do a forced evac of the tents and relocate us to some of the more dry tents under the barn.  On top of all that, I worked my ass off every day from the second I got up until the workforce was turned in for the night, and all that combined gave me the worst case of bronchitis I’ve had in three years.  I was bed-sick for about a week and a half since I went home, with a fever for the first week above 100 the whole time.  I’m just getting my lungs back, the coughing is slowing down and I feel good enough to get up and move around somewhat.

I’m sick and tired of being stuck in a bed and not doing anything, so my creative juices are just bursting and I’m ready to start doing something really creative in the trans community.  I had a couple ideas for a music video, and my best friend and I want to record a dialogue on the internal warfare in the LGBT community and how we all just have to wake up, grow up and start trying to live in harmony again- or how can we expect the straight community to ever accept us?

In other news, I might be making it down to the Bay again some time in the next few weeks, which is always revitalizing.  So things are looking pretty up.

More on coming out.

This has been on my mind almost 24-7 lately (when I’m not thinking about what to do about my car, which broke down a day or two ago, and when I’m not trying to figure out how to get to Anime L.A. in January.)  I know that I want this video by one of my favorite trans vloggers on Youtube, Heather, to be part of my coming out presentation, and I encourage any of my fellow transpeople to spread it around:

“Life in a Shreddies Box”

(Though hell if I know what “Muslix” are.  I think it’s a Canadian thing.)
This channel deserves a lot more visibility than it gets.  Heather’s videos are very informative, well worded, to the point, and very powerful in getting to the core of a lot of trans-related issues; I think there’s good for all of us in it to spread the word about the TransInsight youtube channel.

I think my car breaking down is actually doing me a little good.  I was in an area where I was running, running, constantly running around with friends, filling my schedule with almost more than I could take, trying to escape my reality, I guess.  I didn’t give myself any time to sit down and think.  Now that I’m being forced to, I realize how soon I’m going to be an adult and that my identity is slowly escaping me and everyone else.  I remember I had a goal last year, to be on T before I turned 21.  I don’t see that happening, the way I’ve been ignoring my problems, waiting for them to sneak up and bite me in the ass, I guess.  The truth is that the longer I wait, the harder it’s going to be for the hormones to take hold in my body, and I can’t sit around and wait for it to be okay with my family anymore.  I have to do something about this, or I’m going to be waiting around forever.

I think I’d like to be talking to a gender therapist before I’m 21, at least.  I’d like to be on the road to transition, medically, by next month.  I’d like to at least be able to tell my dad that I’ve hashed it over with a gender therapist in more than a consulting session.  I’ve been putting it off, you see, because in this county there’s only one person to go to for gender issues and I met her once, back when I was still having a lot of trouble with my dissociation.  I don’t think she took me seriously- maybe she was in a bad mood, maybe I rubbed her the wrong way, I don’t know, but she seemed so cynical that it was really hard to open up to her about ANYTHING.  The experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and I just feel like the chemistry is all wrong.

But damned if I don’t, cause if she’s the only way for me to get to what I want, then I’ll give her another shot.  I just hope she doesn’t remember me.  All I really remember about how I presented that day was how foggy and burnt out I was, on the ass end of living on the streets for four weeks, and how much effort it took to run through the grocery list again of things that were wrong with me, like someone who has to explain for the forty-fifth time the story of how they wound up with a broken leg in a cast.  It was not my best day, to be sure.  I don’t even think I brushed my hair that day.  But it’s time.  It’s time to go back down that road, and I hope I bring a better presentation this time.

Flying too close to the sun.

I think things in my life were getting too good.  I was getting too nervous about being on top of things.  Nothing bad’s happened yet, but with some trepidation I stepped away from my gay little friend with the delicious cock and all the other contraband I’ve been enjoying too much.  I’ve been away from him for three days for the first time in two weeks and I’m just waiting in my storm shelter for the world to collapse around me.  I’ve spent well enough time with my boyfriend in a sort of repentence about making him jealous that I don’t feel so guilty anymore.  But still, I don’t think I can dance away from this fire so easily without getting burned.  Nothing in this life ever works out so easily.  Nothing.  Whether he wants to admit it or not, I’ve hurt him, at least as much as he hurt me, maybe more.  I know I enjoyed it more than he did.  I waited longer.  How can you fall in love with someone and wait for five years to see it come to fruition, and not feel like you’ve cheated the devil somewhere along the line?  There’s an equivalent exchange and a consequence for everything, so I must be paying for what I’ve taken somewhere.  I’m just not seeing it yet.

On other things, there’s this amazing webcomic my bf sent me that is a huge artistic statement for the LGBT movement in my opinion: Khaos Komix.  It takes a while getting to the point (at least for us), but by about part four or five, everything explodes and you’re glad you read it.

What else is there?  Oh yes, the Trans Day of Remembrance on the 20th.  I live 109 miles from the nearest event sympathetic to the holiday and I’d like to be in San Francisco (165 miles) for the big protest event, but I can hardly afford to drive to the store these days, let alone take a road trip.  I’d like to make an effort to bring my friends together and light a couple of candles, but I’m afraid their attitude is less than accommodating.  The general consensus (not spoken, but just inferred by their blase attitude) seems to be…

“Not my fight.”

I’d like to bring my friends together and try to watch “Boys Don’t Cry,” (which I haven’t seen yet, just watched the Brandon Teena documentary in 12 parts on youtube), and I hope to change that attitude.

I know that I need to spread awareness of the trans battle beyond those of us it applies to if I hope to make the world a safer place for the oppressed.

-Calvin Jack Thomas

Sorry for all the bitching, guys.

Life is great when you’re starting out on this path, and all of this is internalized and theoretical, and you’re seeing all the changes you’re about to make and how comfortable you’re going to be with yourself and how much easier things will be, at least psychologically, in social terms when you get to the other side.  People seeing the real you and all that.

But the difficulty of this lifestyle really hits home when you start taking it out of writing and out of your head and out of your personal life and putting it on display and then sit back and watch how people gel with it.  Generally, at least at first, and at least in my experience, people DON’T.  Even the ones who say how supportive they’re going to be forget to even make an effort for a long time in the beginning, which really hurts, even when they don’t mean to hurt you.

The point of all this isn’t complaining, not for the 5th post in a row.  The point is saying that the honeymoon with this lifestyle is over for me, my head is out of the clouds and it’s all getting to be real life, down to the nitty gritty.  I can’t honestly post any more philosophical, “I think I’d be this way in this situation” bullshit.  Now I’m seeing what it’s all really like, and it’s harder than I thought it’d be.  Now I’m really going through what all the other FTM’s do, and I kinda just wanted to say, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for being even the slightest bit pretentious and ever thinking I really knew what I was talking about, and I’m sorry for getting all emo on you guys the second it started getting real.  Looking back, it looks like I’m all  enlightened and high and mighty right up until I tried to come out to people and apply what I’ve learned to real life, and then I crumbled and pulled into my turtle shell and did nothing but bitch and moan about how hard it’s been.   It’s really time to man up, in every sense of the word, pull on my big boy pants and get through this with my head held high and my dignity intact.

So I’m gonna get back on the warpath again and start posting about things that really matter.  Like STP’s.  And drag king contests.  And youtube videos.

Ok, maybe those things don’t matter THAT much, but they’re a hell of a lot more fun and interesting to read than “OH GOD WHY ME?!”

And sometimes, I think that’s what it’s all really about, you know?  The articles and videos I’ve seen by my fellow FTM’s that really affected me and made my life better weren’t very often the ones that dragged me down and went on about how HARD something was (unless, of course, we’re talking about a certain anatomical- okay, that was just a cheap shot, sorry).  The ones that helped me along were the ones that made me smile, gave me something to laugh at, and reminded me that, hey, life isn’t really all that bad after all.  I want to be that person, the guy who encourages all the little bro’s along the way and really makes them feel better about themselves and helps them look to the future.  I wanna remind people that things’ll be better some day and we’ll all get through it, together.

(warm melty cheesy ending.  like a Kraft’s commercial.)

OH!  I still need to figure out what I’m doing for my coming out party.  I want to put that in the next post, I guess.  The point is, I wanted to bring a lot of the people in my life together in a light atmosphere and say, hey, guess what, this isn’t a tragedy, it’s even something to celebrate!  Follow me on my journey.  Into a land of magic and wonder, Charlie…  *wanders off to Candy Mountain*  NO! *comes back* I mean, I don’t know.  It seems like a good idea, just something to sort of mark a point of no return and gently show my friends that, yeah, this is it.

Did any of you have a coming out party for your close friends, and what did you do?  I’m looking for do’s and don’ts, even if your own personal advice in the way of “don’ts” is “Don’t have a party!”  I don’t know protocol for this sort of thing or even if there is protocol.  Oh, it’s also going to be around my 21st birthday, so that’s a whole other level to mess with.

I’m off to go look for inspiration on coming out parties!

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