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Christine’s Journey — 6 Months In

| May 9, 2016
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Christine on the convention floor.

Christine on the convention floor.

A number of friends have mentioned over the last few months that they missed my blog. “What’s next?” they asked. With the upcoming presidential election, I thought perhaps a political slant, something like “the first 100 days,” but I thought it better to wait a little longer, to 1 year after I informed the first person (other than my children) about me. On April 14th I traveled to Las Vegas for my annual NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) convention, a trade show I’ve attended for over 25 years. This would be Christine’s 1st NAB event.

From a professional perspective things have gone very well since my coming out birthday, November 18th. Meetings in different parts of the country, from Maine to Phoenix and places in between, have gone no differently than in the past (although now some meetings end in hugs instead of handshakes). In January I presented a technical paper to about 35 engineers at a trade show in South Carolina. Similar presentations are scheduled in Harrisburg, Pa. in May and New Orleans in June.

keystone-dancingI’ve attended two monthly consultant association meetings in Washington DC, receiving compliments on courage, and learned that I’m not the first transgender person some members know.

On the personal side, a week before Christmas I attended a family wedding in my hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., with many in my family meeting ‘me’ for the first time. Things also went well and I pretty much danced the whole night away with family (I have yet to meet a dance floor I don’t like).

With my name change official at the end of November there were a LOT of things to do. One morning I cried looking at my lengthy list of personal accounts, credit cards, utilities, all needing to be changed. How was I ever going to get through everything? A very deep breath, and getting a few done each day helped. Surprisingly the utilities were the most difficult and annoying (pain in the $#%) to update. So I spent a good portion of December and January just taking care of Christine business.

I did attend First Event in Boston for the first time this January, driving up to escape the snowstorm that hit Philadelphia that weekend. I met quite a few new friends from the New England area. First Event felt a lot like the Keystone Conference for its beautiful family atmosphere.

In early February, I took another physical and emotional step, having breast implant surgery (Dr. Kathy Rumer once again, she did my trachea shave a year ago). I had planned the timing to be recovered by the Keystone Conference in March, and also for the Vegas trade-show in April. The outpatient surgery took about an hour, just as I was told. I was on my way home about 90 minutes later, courtesy of a good friend.

I had been told by some friends that the surgery would hurt, the implants went under the muscle. And hurt it did, like hell for the first day. Abdomen and arm muscles are tied to your chest, and boy did I find that out quickly. I am however, pleased with the results.

With friends at Keystone 2016.

With friends at Keystone 2016.

I’ve thought often about facial feminization surgery, and whether to go that route given my age. Everywhere I travel I see women of every size and shape, all unique and beautiful in their own way. I wonder sometimes as I get older, I don’t want to look back with any regrets, so I won’t say never.

My next major step will be Gender Confirmation Surgery. I don’t yet know exactly when, or which doctor, but my research is ongoing. It seems everyone I talk to has used someone else, however I listen to their experience and recommendation. Choosing a doctor is an extremely difficult decision.

With more Keystone 2016 pals.

With more Keystone 2016 pals.

Keystone Conference in Harrisburg Pa. (my third) was wonderful once again, seeing many friends and making new. A day or two after the event I wrote on Facebook: “The drive home Sunday left me less than full.” It was almost like, “OK I did it, I’m out, Now What?” It took me only a minute to realize there is so much more to do in my personal life to complete the journey, and in my professional life. I think it’s that way for all of us, we meet and influence people almost every day. And as we’ve seen recently in some parts of the U.S., there is no time to sleep.

Shortly after Keystone I received a text at 6 a.m. from my daughter (now 27) asking if she could move back in with me. 16 months ago she moved out after I came out to her. It took a year for her to finally accept me. My heart pounded and my eyes teared as I texted back, “absolutely, however we do need to talk.”

Our “talk” centered on personal space and relationships. I respect her relationship with her current boyfriend (whom I like a lot). Certainly her space and her room are her business. She would also need to respect my space as well, whether that be with friends or lover. I discussed my interest in men, and that I had a year+ relationship that recently ended.

If she was okay with me, and everything that comes with it, she was very welcome to stay as long as she needed. There was absolutely no hesitation when she said she was “fine with everything.” A few weeks ago she moved back in, as she gets finances in order to again live on her own. Sometimes, it just takes time. It does feel great.

Any relationship can be difficult. Relationships in the transgender world even more so. I admire any woman or man who stays with their transgender spouse. While love endures, it is challenging.

For many of us however, divorce, being estranged from family and children, age and uncertainty, can weigh heavily. I think we all wonder when or IF we’ll ever again find love and intimacy. On the road, often alone, I think about this too. I try hard not to dwell too long. My glass is half full.

With Philly area friends at Keystone 2016.

With Philly area friends at Keystone 2016.

My son (now 15) still struggles. While he texts me, he doesn’t want to see me. It will take a very long time. My 90 year old mom has her good days and once in a while, a “not so good” one, recently referring to me with male pronouns and refusing to call me by name, ANY name! It did not take long for another tearful but stern discussion to take place. She’s back on track, LOL.

My return to Vegas went well. Many customers, friends, and competitors saw “me” for the first time, with four of the days spent on the trade-show floor. I received beautiful words and hugs of support, business meetings went great. Two customers struggled a bit, and commented that after all the years “it will be difficult to accept.” After that we went right back to discussing business.

Curiously, a number of customers from Puerto Rico, came by our booth specifically “to take pictures with me” (they had orders from their female admins back home, so funny!) Each told me they had transgender friends back in Puerto Rico. A wonderful surprise.

Two other interesting highlights. My boss’s wife informed me that she has an 80+ year old uncle in England who, many years ago “used to be her aunt,” and that he might be one of the first, if not the first trans men in that country.

The second highlight occurred on the last day of the show, when a 25 year male friend now living out west, came by the booth to chat. After a minute my friend “disclosed her transgender self.” We talked for 45 minutes, she thanked me for being visible. Did I mention I cried?

So that’s my 6 months. Where else does the future lead? I don’t know, but I look forward to every single day. I do plan to volunteer more for more technical presentations around the country (of course, using the bathroom of my choosing). There are places I will travel that may not be as welcoming, so I always watch my back.

I’ve started talking to administrators within the local Catholic Diocese of Camden, who want to be more welcoming to the LGBT community (I think a glacier moves faster). Provincetown (Fantasia Fair) has always been on my agenda. I think I’ll finally get there later this year.

I realize I’ve been very very fortunate. Every one of us IS changing the world. Thanks again for listening.

Love

Christine

So many seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all
So don’t ask where I’m going
Just listen when I’m gone
And far away you’ll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

“Corner of the Sky” – Pippin


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Category: Transgender Body & Soul

christinezuba

About the Author ()

Part of the Philadelphia area Transgender community living in Sewell NJ. A Penn State grad, working in TV and FM Radio Broadcast equipment sales. Full time (about time !) since Nov. 2015. My frequent travel schedule allows me to visit TG friendly locales and attend events around the US.

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