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Christine’s Journey 6/15

| Jun 22, 2015
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It was an eventful few weeks. It included some very memorable moments, and some ‘not so much.’

As I’ve mentioned, I travel a lot for work. Recently, Biloxi, MS; Durham, NC; Atlanta, Dallas, and this week, Chicago, Madison, WI, and NYC. Some days I wake up in hotel rooms (even at home) and wonder “where am I today?” Many small towns and hotel rooms look the same. When I’m not traveling, I’m working out of my home/office and since I don’t go and personally interact with co-workers (our factory is in Maine), after a while, I do look forward to a trip.

cz profile 6-15My Durham stop was for the wedding of the daughter of two my best married friends, both of whom I have also known since childhood (I grew up in Northeast, PA, just outside of Wilkes-Barre, not very LBGT friendly). The bride’s father was the last of my “3 Amigos” that I needed to come out to. I was not going to do it prior to the wedding however.

Near the end of the wedding reception, he inquired, “so might there be a Mrs. Zee in the near future?” It was the opening I needed, the “slow hanging curveball.” Once I told him I was transgender, the first thing he asked was “Are you Happy?” Replying that I was “the happiest I have ever been in my life” he put his arm around me and said “That’s all that matters. You will Always be our friend.” I then turned to his wife who sat on the other side of me, and told her. More on that later.

As the night wound down back at the hotel lobby, I sat with my two longtime friends and their wives until 2 a.m. talking about me, LBGT issues, our families, kids, and many of the goofy, silly, stupid things we did growing up. No question was off limits (although the answers might be, LOL!). While topics such as relationships (prefer men or women?) and long term plans (SRS?) were discussed, they were very respectful and understanding the entire time.

Of course “The Interview” did come up. One can certainly criticize Caitlyn Jenner’s commercialization of the process, or the broadcast network accuracy reporting the transgender experience. With 17 Million viewers however, The Interview Has raised Awareness. Overall, my friends thought Jenner presented herself well. Surprisingly, two of the four had also heard about Kristen Beck, transgender Navy SEAL. Near night’s end, I finally did cry (of course I did), blathering about having such beautiful, amazing friends.

I was in Dallas the following week for a project meeting involving an industry competitor. Their VP Sales is a good friend whom I’ve known for 30 years. We both arrived in town late, but decided to have dinner in the downtown West End Historic District. Having dinner at the bar, near the end of our meal, I started “my spiel,” and I commented that there was always the chance that I could eventually lose my job over what I was about to disclose to him. Finally getting to the point (a close friend says I’m long winded, but I don’t get it. Ha!) I then explained that I was transgender. He said “Wow!” then said “well, if they fire you, I WILL HIRE YOU.” He took my breath away. We sat there talking for an hour “after” the restaurant closed, while they cleaned up around us. He also promised not to say/disclose anything until later in the year (I told him he ‘would know’ when that time would be).

I’ve talked to my therapist about how some weeks I feel very stressed out. Work, travel, therapy, electrolysis, mixed in with a little me time, (I can’t leave out shopping and dancing!) not to mention driving up to Wilkes-Barre, PA every 3-4 weeks to check on my Mom (89, who still lives alone in her house) leaves me worn out physically and mentally more times than not.

At work particularly, with everything going on, I just feel that I have not been at the top of my game, something I’ve always prided myself in. My therapist wondered if there was something I could do to try and ease my crazy schedule demands. Certainly getting help at work was NOT going to happen.

I’ve been doing electrolysis now for almost two years, and have been very happy with my electrologist, Mechelle located in Collegeville, PA, about 75 minutes from my house (her rates are very good for the Philly area TG community). I’ve been doing 1-2 hours per week, as long as I’m not traveling. I have too much gray/white for laser, and although it does sting (ok, it hurts sometimes) the numbing cream applied beforehand does helps some.

Since it usually leaves my face red for a day or two following, I try and schedule treatment around the middle of the week, so I “look decent” by the weekend (recall the shopping and dancing comment). At the rate I’m going however, and my age, I figure I’ll “be dead before I finish!” Every session, counting travel back and forth, pretty much takes up half a day.

So, to try and ease my schedule and accelerate the hair removal process, I’ve decided to do the Intensive Electrolysis with Dr. Mark Zukowski (Dr. Z), who is outside of Chicago, on Tuesday June 30th. After talking to them, I will be doing their 12 hour session, with 2 people working on my face/neck/chest at the same time. BTW I was told that Kristen Beck was there for 4 DAYS. OUCH!

They think that perhaps I may need one more 12 hour session in about 6 weeks, then maybe an occasional ‘touch up’ that can take place locally in Philly. If I “Live through it” I promise to tell ALL for certain, so stay tuned.

With 4 weeks before I was going to Chicago for Dr. Z, I decided to get my ears pierced. I realize it’s not that big a deal for many, since a lot of girls have lived this way for years. For me however, considering my ‘maturity’ (ok, age ) and relationships with family, friends, and work, it is a huge step in the process. Two days later I was at a birthday party for a friend, of course taking some teasing and explaining it as my late “mid-life crisis.” Soon it will all be clear.

Now. . . for the “not so much” I mentioned in the beginning.

My son 14, who lives with his mom, has not wanted to see me for last 5 weeks. He’s had school (bullying) issues for the last 3-4 years, and just this last year started online school which has been going “just ok.” He also has a weekly conference with a local counselor/therapist, sessions I was attending if I was not on the road. Since I’ve come out to him however, there are times he didn’t want me there (an aside, his counselor is brilliant, and gay, and he’s become a good ally of mine). Anyway, at one session about 5-6 weeks ago, while in drab, I did wear nails. This small event, hit home with him. His dad IS changing! So, while his counselor is working with him, he has not wanted to see me since. It’s not easy for him, nor for me.

There are a plenty of opinions on when and how to tell children about being transgender. At the 2014 Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference I sat in on a panel discussion involving transparenting and “telling your kids.” The transmen and transwomen on the panel were in their 30s and of the opinion that it is best to tell kids when they are young, even very young, i.e. 3-4 years old. At that time, I didn’t agree. I felt that one should wait until the child is older, is more mature and can better understand. 

With my son struggling recently, I’ve also spoken to a few friends about him. Opinions varied including, “Wait until you’ve completely transitioned for your child to see you” to “Respect the child’s feelings and dress down when with him/her” — in effect, ‘not coming out fully’ to the child.

When I came out to my son in January, his reaction changed my opinion from last year. I now understand the panelists of the 2014 conference. I believe children have unconditional love, and my son expressed that to me by his words. I feel it’s the action and influence of adults that shape their opinions, and coming out when they are older and set in their ways and beliefs, can be much more difficult to accept. As my son’s counselor said to me (and specifically to my ex.) “How my ex-wife responds” to my transition, will affect and influence what and how my son feels about the situation. To her credit, my ex-wife is trying to understand and to help.

Each of us knows our children better than anyone. We will think this through, do the research, ask others for opinions, and then make our own (hopefully wise) decision. I’ve chosen to transition at MY pace, and my hope is that my kids, family, and friends will ask questions along the way, and understand.

christine_062015While my son is having difficulties with Christine, my daughter (26) has shown some ‘warming.’ She’s still anxious and uncertain (my ex. recently said she was crying about me), but at least we’re talking, and we still have dinner almost weekly. She recently asked “what should I call you?” I accepted her preference to still call me Dad (of course) but suggested that if she’s less comfortable with “Dad” in public, she should just call me Christine, or Chris, or C, whichever works for her. Both kids are certainly a work in progress, but at least there is some progress.

Having mentioned the Philadelphia Conference earlier, two weeks ago was the 2015, 14th Annual TransHealth Conference. Over 5,000 transgender women, men, allies, friends, young and mature, from around the world, attended the 3 day event. I live about 35 minutes from the city, and this year I was able to attend Thursday afternoon and that evening’s reception, and all day on Saturday. Sponsored by the Mazzoni Center in Philly, it is an amazing educational experience for trans men and trans women of all ages, with a major emphasis on youth. I met Louise, a wonderful woman from England who came specifically for the conference, who said “there is nothing like this” in England. Personally, I doubt there are very few events like it worldwide. It is well worth attending.

This past week I had meetings on Monday and Tuesday in Chicago, a conference in Wisconsin, followed by meetings in New York City Thursday and Friday. I’ve been going to Wisconsin for conferences for 25+ years and know a lot of industry people there. Many are now good friends, that I might see every 6 or 12 months. It was interesting to gauge the reaction to both my hair (much longer than 6 months ago) and to my pierced ears. While no one said anything, I felt some stares, and sensed people are wondering “what’s up?” Soon, very soon. . . .

Okay, back to the wedding and my friend, and to the mother of the bride (note, she was a high school guidance counselor for many years). When I said to her that I just told her husband I was transgender, her one word reply had me in tears — “So ?”

She further commented that “I [she] had (counseled) many kids who were transgender, and, it’s very hard.” After a little more conversation, she then leaned over and said “You are my first transgender friend, let’s go dance!”

Someday, perhaps not in my lifetime, there WILL come a day, when upon learning that a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker is transgender, the common response WILL be — “So?”

Till next time, the journey continues.

With Love,
Christine, XO

Christine’s Journey — First Step

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


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.

Comments (4)

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  1. christine you are a amazing women ,parent, friend and obviously your employer is blessed to hve your professional talents and energy. following your story is such a blessing for ME and i am sur for many . wow yu have amazing talent to hit all the high points and for me so many aspects of clarity. i hope some day to have privelege of meeting you and yes save a dance for me veronica black kansas city

  2. fi.nuala fi.nuala says:

    Nine months since I began my RLE ( Real Life Experience … as if all that went before was some how less real!!) and my son is beginning to come around. He’s older than yours but the trick to moving forward was for me to really try to see these changes from his perspective.
    Thankfully I had friends and ex’s around who helped me understand that transition isn’t all about us. It’s about your friends and family – it’s as much about their readjustments as our own
    The “So” needs so often to be from us… that’s my story – So, how can I help you!
    You seem fortunate to have long established close friends open enough to want to understand, and that’s great, but remember the loss of a friend, sibling, father etc has occasionally been described as akin to grief. It can take time and empathy to reassure those un-nerved by our transition that there are elements of who we are that are consistent, permanent and that much of what former relationships have been built upon are still sound and stable as before.
    Good Luck with your journey – you sound almost ready to go full-time.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I do realize that it will take time, perhaps quite some time, for close friends, family members, and business associates to adjust. In fact the second person I confided in, whom I have known since Little League baseball, said the very same thing. I am also acutely aware that the world “does not revolve around Christine”, and do try to look at things from their perspective, although sometimes I may not do that enough. Things can change very quickly in either direction, so while some things may seem good for now, you just never know. There is still much to do at my end, but I’m getting there. xo

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