25th Anniversary

Twenty-five years ago, my husband looked at me and said “I do”. I thought that would be the happiest moment of my life, but it wasn’t. Instead, today is the happiest moment of my life, and each day is just getting better.

For our twenty-fifth anniversary on Halloween of 2017, we were boring old people. He had cooked us dinner of salmon and some side dishes, and I cleaned the kitchen and we enjoyed a quiet meal together.

Afterwards we laid in bed and watched some shows and just talked about our day. We even found it funny that our cat ghost had to force himself in between us, because evidentially it isn’t allowed we touch each other, we both have to touch him instead. We avoided any conversation involving work and his transition. We just spent time with each other. It was a magical evening.

We had originally planned a to-do for our “big 25” that included a Los Vegas wedding vow renewal with dueling Elvis Impersonators, a pink Cadillac. We had been surprised at how relatively cheap it was for a renewal ceremony, even with the hotel and flight down. Sadly, our life has been pretty hard with work and the death of both of my parents who were our only real familial support. Additionally, were trying to pay back the debt from paying for both of their funerals. Instead, we chose to stick close to home.

Even so, our anniversary was spectacular. I have no regrets about how we spent the time. Just lying next to my husband, hearing his voice, and feeling his skin against mine (when the cat wasn’t objecting). It was a fantastic night of us just being together as lovers, spouses, and best friends.

I think back to when we first got married, and truth be told, I didn’t know what the future held. Many of my friends had divorced within a year or two. At the time my husband made it clear that he was like a stray cat. He believed he would never get married, nor have a long-term relationship and that we should just enjoy the time we had together. He put this forward for years as his ideal relationship, but in the end he had asked me to marry him. I wasn’t sure what time would bring, and I anticipated he would have grown bored soon enough and moved on. Yet here we are.

All I can think of now is that our marriage brought me something far beyond anything I could have hoped for. I never imagined I would be in love with a guy, and that the sight of him would excite me mentally, emotionally, and physically. That he would have been the same person, with the same green eyes who was a cute punk girl who crawled in my window at the age of 19 because I left “her” cans of Ravioli’s for when she was hungry.

Twenty-five years is a long time to some. It literally was a lifetime with my wife as her life ended and the life with my husband started. For me though, it hasn’t been long enough. I feel confident we will probably get another twenty-five years, or more if I have my way, and it still won’t be long enough.

Posted in All Articles | Leave a comment

On the Visibility of Harassment

The Harvey Weinstein issue has been hitting the front page of the internet, and I have been reading a lot of reactions to men who say they didn’t see it. Because I lived for 40 years as a woman and all the harassment that entailed, and now live as a man, I have a few insights into this issue.

I want to say when I lived as a woman, I thought harassment was a normal daily event for everyone. Whether it was creepers on the bus, guys cat calling form cars, dudes approaching me in the grocery store, it happened all the time.

I remember vivid incidents when I was especially young of just horrific scary violent harassment. The younger, and more feminine you look, the more predators target you. Predators target their victims well, and look for vulnerability.

I remember walking home from high school, where I looked 12 rather than the 16 I was, and a man tried to give me a ride. When I refused politely, and thanked him, he started screaming he would cut my head off, and pealed out so fast and close to me, that I thought I was going to be hit by his car.

That doesn’t even count the times a grown ass man has reached over to grab a breast, my ass, or physically pushed me to sleep with him. I have been sexually assaulted, harassed, and even raped as a woman.

However, due to the prevalence of this kind of harassment and assault, I only ever counted the rape. It wasn’t until I was much much older, that I realized that living in a world where I felt I had to downplay these types of harassment was not my problem. It was a world problem.

I did not identify the creep on the bus that kept touching me as harassment because I didn’t want to be “one of those girls” and “make a big scene”. There is a lot of pressure on women to avoid confronting or speaking about men that prey upon them. You don’t want to be any trouble, and often people around you will enforce this.

This brings me to my transition. I’ve talked before about how all that disappears. Once you are read as male, every creepy shitbag predator just evaporates. It’s like you don’t even see it anymore.

This is because these men are not random in their harassment. They do it to their victims, which are vulnerable. They often don’t do it around anyone else unless they are sure bystanders will be complicit in the behavior.

It’s an overwhelmingly successful strategy. Even a stand up guy, that would never condone that kind of behavior might have a hard time believing how prevalent this is because it’s so out of sight for him. It would be an alien concept to think a man would just drop trou and whack off to a 14 year old girl on the bus, on his way to a job that requires wearing a suit.

Once I was reliably read as a cis gendered man by the world, the very most I would get was occasionally an off colored joke in my presence. I almost never actually see the harassment that goes on every day for women, anymore.

It’s hard to differentiate crap socially acceptable jokes that are shitty to women and minorities from actual predatory behavior. Some guys just tell tacky unreflective jokes as a way to fit in, and some predators use it as a way to test the waters. If you aren’t really into the joke, a predator moves on to other people.

I had a racist guy try on a racial slur in my presence recently, and I asked him what the hell was wrong with him. He has steadfastly never once revealed any obviously indication of racism in my presence again. Yet, he shops Hitler picks to my other friends that froze in horror and laughed nervously as a reaction. He chooses who he shows this kind of thing to. I was strategically not a target for his shit anymore. He moved on to people that would not call him out.

This is why the people that predators surround themselves either just don’t care, if they are not shitty predators themselves. The Harvey Weinstein’s of the world, are careful to cultivate that, and enforce it with whatever power they have. (I know, if a guy is powerful enough, he can enforce acceptance of his harassment and assaults in the people around him, but that’s a totally different issue to what I’m talking about.)

My years of living as a woman are fading in the distance of time for me, but as I continue my life being accepted as male I have a couple of possible solutions.

The first is to take women at their word when they tell me they are uncomfortable around some men. No questions, and no issues. I know from first hand experience that I was not believed in so many small ways, so to believe women when they say they are being harassed is important.

When a woman makes it past the socially constructed barrier to make a fuss, she has already thought about the issue forever. She has dissected it, and weighed the possibility of “making a scene” versus how dangerously uncomfortable the predator makes her feel.

Secondly, I make it clear when the jokes come out about sexual assault (and racism) that I don’t think it’s funny. I am not going to give any social approval by laughing. I’m a bit more confrontational than most, but I feel it’s important not to be a part of a cultivated approval network for a guy that thinks he can get away with this kind of behavior.

However, by doing this, it means I will not see this kind of harassment or assault happen almost at all. By believing women, and not approving of these testing behaviors, predators will almost never engage in this behavior around me.

This is why good stand up men say they don’t see the harassment happen. Predators have identified them as someone that will not condone their behavior, and strategically prey upon their vulnerable victims elsewhere.

The best we can do, is make sure to be vigilant, keep a protective eye out towards those that are vulnerable to predation, and believe victims when they come forward.

 

 

Posted in All Articles | Leave a comment

Rough few weeks

I have been quiet the last couple weeks because of many things.

First, I broke my foot a week ago last Tuesday in a stupid cubicle fall at work. It wasn’t my worst experience but that knocked me out for a week. So now here I am healthy enough to post more.

brokenfoot

The second reason, and probably the bigger cause of my silence is all the crap that Trump and his administration has been doing, and it shut me down being able to talk about it for awhile. I needed to regain some of my stability and center myself.

The problem is the administration has been doing way more than even I anticipated. This includes the previously talked about loss of medical for trans health services for Wolsey,  Jeff Sessions rolling back protections of transgender employees, and Jeff Sessions sending the DoJ to get involved in the Supreme Court case and saying that an employer can discriminate based on sexual orientation.

trumpprotection

This is alarming for all LGBTQIA people. That means anyone who falls in the spaghetti alphabet is deemed ok to discriminate by employers based on their sexual orientation and/or their transgender status.

This has been extremely anxiety inducing to us since we work for the most conservative non-religious organization out there (Department of Defense). We have already been told that it is very likely the rider preventing Wolsey’s trans medical care may be back. I then followed up and asked if he is protected from discrimination for his transgender status.

The local EEO people said they considered him still protected. However, the person I spoke to was bluntly honest and said that may not last much longer, it depended on how hard people above will push.

honesty.png

I then followed up with asking about this week’s DoJ proclamation about employers being able to discriminate. She was very clear about this a well and said absolutely that would not happen at this moment. She was also honest though and said that may not be true in three months, since we are the federal government and the DoJ is pushing against those protections.

Basically it will come down to a fight between the EEO and DOJ. One wants to protect people at risk, the other wants to follow the demands of a homophobic conservative movement. Sadly even she said if things don’t change the EEO will probably lose unless SCOTUS or Congress actually do something. Unlike people not working for the feds, the state laws don’t protect us (Washington State is incredibly protective over LGBTQIA), but like before with our healthcare issues in 2014/2015 they don’t have power over this employer.

screwed

What this does mean though is I am done with this job. For many reasons that include these reasons on top. I/We are not quitting today, Wolsey’s second surgery is still coming up at the end of November, but I think after we figure out where our debt load is, we might focus on paying our short term debt down and maybe get out by next summer. I won’t miss this place if it happens, and I definitely won’t miss working for the federal government.

 

 

Posted in All Articles, Lucky's Articles (AG) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Changes with authorship

Just letting everyone know that Jello has not left the blog, but with the publishing of the book coming up he decided to coalesce his online presence and now Jello writes under “The Wolsey Blog”.

Same wonderful husband, same awesome writer. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

Posted in All Articles, Lucky's Articles (AG) | 2 Comments

Unisex Bathrooms

This post is only tangentially related to LGBTQIA, but I figure it may be beneficial to any trans*men who are transitioning and haven’t gotten much experience in traditional men’s bathrooms.

This last Saturday I went to Geek Girl Con. A fantastic con that promotes feminism, minorities and LGBTQIA people in geek culture. One of their trademarks is converting all the bathrooms to unisex bathrooms.

This isn’t the sign, I forgot to take a photo of that.

I love that unisex bathrooms are there. I don’t personally see a reason why its separate. After all, its illegal to harass someone no matter their gender anyways. It is true, I probably have some personal biases with Wolsey and bathroom bills anyways, but still that is how I have always felt.

Now, there is one thing that unisex bathrooms makes very clear. People raised as men are taught different bathroom etiquette then women. I have been told by Wolsey and prior girlfriends that it is allowable to talk with each other in the ladies bathroom. I also know it is evidently a surprise to a lot of women that this is definitely considered a no-no in boys bathroom.

So Saturday I walk into the unisex bathroom and there is a line for the stalls and the urinals. A couple of younger girls are talking and they start talking to me. I hesitantly respond, not because they aren’t interesting or there is an issue, but my entire training in life for men’s bathrooms was you don’t talk.

They are nice people of course, and so I do start talking. The line for the urinal was much faster so I walk over when its my turn and they are still talking to me. Just chatting away and no matter how hard I try I can’t go. They are behind me, so its not like there is any danger of them seeing, and they aren’t particularly interested in watching anyways, but they want to talk to me.

I stood there for several minutes thinking in my head that its all ok, just go ahead. It wasn’t until the ladies who were still talking to me both went into stalls that I was able to partially do my business. I finished, said goodbye and came out to Wolsey, who erupted into laughter the second I told him about it.

So key fact to all people using the men’s bathrooms for the first time (or sharing a bathroom with a man for the first time). There is a pretty explicit hard rule that we are raised with, you don’t talk to each other, especially not at a urinal. This of course only goes for public bathrooms, things change in relationships at home.

I am not saying that is the best option, of course we could relearn it and maybe be more easy going about it. However, until that day happens, other people who grew up using the men’s bathroom are going to be uncomfortable with you, and they will avoid using the bathrooms with you in the future.

Oh, and yes some men do talk to other men in the bathroom. I am not sure where they were when the rest of us learned the etiquette but it is sometimes awkward with other men.

Also, just a side note that this goes for bathroom stalls as well, it is generally considered not polite to start chatting to someone in the other stall, which is apparently contradictory to those who use the women’s bathrooms, or so I have been told.

 

Posted in All Articles, Lucky's Articles (AG) | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Some uncomfortable thoughts

I want to tell other partners of transitioning people that it is absolutely normal to miss your partner’s pre-transition form. They were part of you before the transition and they were shaped like that when you got with them. In my case, it was over 20 years together. This is absolutely normal and no one should shame you or make you feel bad that you may sometimes miss the form of the person you fell in love with. The problem is if you can’t let it go.

The last several weeks I have been scanning our old photos. We have a lot of negatives I have to scan and edit and these are all 10+ years old. They all have Wolsey in his pre-transition state and it caused some emotional baggage to come up. I realized I sometimes missed his old form for more than just being able to hold his hands or hug him in public (something I have covered in the past).

This sensation of loss doesn’t come often. I love the way he feels, smells like and sounds now, but sometimes when I see pictures of him from before, or we are talking about something prior to transition, or even sometimes just a movement or gesture will bring me back to his old self. I do in fact sometimes miss the way his body had felt, his scent and sounds. I don’t feel that way much anymore, but it still pops up sometimes.

After thinking about that for some time I realized that feeling comes up in other occasions, but at the time I couldn’t explain what I was feeling or why I was missing what he looked like. Unfortunately, these times are more uncomfortable, not because of him, but because of the reflection on me.

Before his transition, Wolsey used to do pinup modeling, was an incredibly attractive by society standards, and on top of that was incredibly alternative so it had an exotic feel. When he would walk into the room people noticed Wolsey, and by default me.

Some people would focus on me and question me on how did I end up with Wolsey, and what keeps Wolsey still wanting to be with me. I have to admit it did buoy my self-esteem that someone everyone thought was hot was with me. I admit I married up, but my self-esteem always thought it was a lot further up and their recognition of Wolsey being with me made me feel better.

It is uncomfortable to realize I miss Wolsey pre-transitioned for more reasons than originally expected when I think about it. The first was for intimacy which is acceptable and to be expected.

The second part is what bothers me, that I didn’t realize I was being sexist and that I sometimes had missed being able to take advantage of that sexism. Yep, that smacks my self-identity as someone who was fairly successful at not being sexist.

I never realized until now the benefits that I had with having a hot wife on my arm. I never intentionally wanted that status symbol that a lot of men seek out and now I find I am ashamed to actually miss it.

Posted in All Articles, Lucky's Articles (AG), Spouse Guide | Tagged | 4 Comments

TMI: Intimacy now

I figure I have gotten enough PM questions that I can give a general overview of things, but don’t worry there aren’t any gruesome details. I also have some more future thoughts I want to write about, and I think having this here is a good foundation for those posts.

Not this kind of foundation though.

I had always idly wondered if intimacy with Wolsey after his second surgery would be different. I had assumed not really, but there is a change in parts, and a change in hormones so I wasn’t sure.

Even with his top surgery, there wasn’t a lot of difference in our interactions except appearance and maybe an awkward automatic attempt to touch breasts that weren’t there. It was pretty funny when it happened, and Wolsey laughed about it so no bad things, but that was about it. The first couple of times we were intimate definitely showed me how automatic some reactions are when you are with the same person for decades.

I swear it wasn’t like this.

The second set of surgeries was a bit different. All trace of the intimate parts of my husband I had married were gone, and in their place, were new parts. There were new sensations for him and definitely a new pace/tempo.

I was flexible before any of this occurred, and I found with our new intimacy that it didn’t bother me or give me any negative reaction. In fact, his comfortableness with himself made our new intimacy that much better. He smiles more and just seems happier.

There is of course the relearning process of what he likes, and just general adjustments but overall there has been no negative consequences for me and intimacy when it comes to his transition.

So there is the answer many have asked for.

Posted in All Articles, Lucky's Articles (AG), Spouse Guide | Leave a comment

Being an out Transgender Man at Work

I haven’t written an article for a while. I’ve been occupied by my job and my surgeries. However, I was listening to the Nancy podcast, and they had a prompt for what it’s like being out of the closet at work. I’ve been thinking about this anyways, but I thought I would write down a bit of it.

Being an out transgender man, in a super gay marriage at work means people self select on if they want to have anything to do with me before I even get to the word, “Hello.” People who have a problem with queer folks will automatically avoid me. This isn’t necessarily bad. However, it has led to some awkward interactions where I can’t tell if they avoided me because of that, or they somehow failed out of being human beings when it comes to polite work interactions.

Being out at work means that the folks that don’t have a problem with LGBT folks make it a point to have my back clearly. I’ve never in my life seen so many straight folks make a point to be clear about supporting queer folks. It’s awe inspiring sometimes.

Especially in this crazy Trump/Pence inspired attack on transgender people having basic rights. When the Trump ban on transgender people serving in military came down, a large number of my coworkers were furious about it. They wanted my husband and I to know they felt it was a total injustice. It felt nice to walk into a place where I knew so many amazing allies. If I wasn’t out at work, I would have never known.

Being out at work as a transgender man, means I use the bathroom farther from the office, so I don’t make people uncomfortable, and they don’t get weird and awkward to me when I am in there. I try to stay as predictable as possible in my bathroom habits to avoid that frozen deer in the headlights thing that happens when some dude is forced to share bathroom space with a known trans guy, and is obviously uncomfortable about it.

Being openly transgender in the office means I think about this bathroom issue every single time I have to pee. Bigots are sometimes like a Jack-in-the-Box. It’s all nice pleasantries until they spring out. In my experience, sometimes I am complete shocked by the people that suddenly freak out about my being transgender. It’s like they had to think about it, talk to their friends, get some courage from some church somewhere, before they feel they have enough backing to spring. So yeah, I think about this every single time I have to pee.

Being out at work means having to listen to a coworker spend a year telling my husband and I how he supports bathroom bills, banning trans folks from the military, and general anti trans fuckery disguised as “debate.” As if not being allowed to pee in the appropriate bathroom, or kicking transgender soldiers out of the military is a debate. Sneering at the loss of my medical because “Is that all?” as if getting testosterone, or surgery is somehow an affront. Oh yeah, and nothing says you are a dick, like loudly discussing how you are pissed your tax dollars might go to a transgender person’s health care, two seats down from a real live transgender person.

Being out at work, and getting bottom surgery that I am are not hiding, means I get asked a lot of questions. I am cool with the questions, until the person that is super anti-trans uses this openness to attempt to affirm their erroneous backwards anti-transgender biases. In a lot of ways, this was a cool experience, and I got to see so many supportive gestures, and I got to do some actual education on the topic. It was totally cool.

Being out at work means sometimes allies are shocked and disappointed to realize you are a normal guy, with normal foibles. I think allies sometimes want to swoop in and protect LGBT folks, and it’s sometimes shocking that we aren’t “Will and Grace” gay. We are grumpy in the morning, stressed about deadlines, and not agreeable all the time. Sometimes I can see the exact moment I fall off the rainbow pedestal.

Being out at work means, I sometimes see a flood of people digging into my LinkedIn. I see this in waves, usually when folks find out I am transgender. I work for the Department of Defense, and I know when the contractors find out, because I get a flood of them looking at my LinkedIn. Otherwise I’m not in a noteworthy enough position for it to warrant that kind of thing. Plus, nobody else around me ever gets these little floods.

Being out at work means I get to see folks evolve on the issue of LGBT people. Sometimes I see folks go from not thinking or being outright against our existence, to being shockingly supportive. This one makes it worth while to talk to people openly about their questions, for me. It’s nice to have someone come back a year later, and tell me how they really changed their views because before they had never known anyone like me.

I have tried being closeted about being transgender on the job, and it was one of the worst experiences in my adult life. Being closeted was more about attempting to be careful about what I said, or referred to. It meant that if folks suspected, they dug into my life online, to prove I “wasn’t a man”.

While being out at work is definitely a mixed bag, I am not sure I want to go back in the closet, though. It’s definitely something every transgender person has to consider when entering a new work position.

If I wasn’t out at work, I would not have seen the amazing folks step up in this current political climate. I would not have been able to see how amazing day to day work is when you don’t have to hide your identity. It’s not without it’s frustrations, as an out transgender man, but my only option is to hide, or be out. I prefer out.

Posted in All Articles | Leave a comment

Final Appeal

We finally got notice from OPM (federal government human resources basically) saying they received our final appeal and will give us an answer in 60 days. Sadly this is about 14 days after we have to make payment and we all know they won’t decide early. Hopefully on the off chance they approve we can get a refund pretty quickly.

We had our first two go to Kaiser Permanente, the second time with an incredibly well written letter by the surgeon explaining why it is absolutely necessary to have the second part of the surgery, otherwise intended function of the first surgery would not work.

All they have done in their response was say they won’t cover it, because it isn’t a covered procedure. As someone who has worked in and managed medical offices it is absolutely the most moronic response we have ever seen. The purpose of appeals is to find medically necessary procedures/medications/services that are needed on an individual basis.

Normally the appeals person will respond in detail why something is or is not going to be covered. My experience it is a lot of times a doctor explaining either other options that would get the same medical necessity, or at least go into detail why the surgery isn’t medically necessary. This is the first time we have seen an appeal response, especially the second time, not give any details. That is exactly what they aren’t supposed to do when they respond to an appeal.

Wolsey even called the appeals department and the representative we got on the phone went over the response and was stunned about it. You aren’t supposed to be able to just say “its not covered” because after all that was the original reason for the turn down, and the appeals is supposed to allow medically necessary things through or explain in detail why it isn’t necessary.

Both Wolsey and I suspect it isn’t a normal appeals because it is the federal government. They are immune to almost all the insurance laws out there. This is the reason before Obama approved transgender care, they ignored our state law when it came to transgender services, and the state was really frustrated they couldn’t touch them.

So now Wolsey’s surgery payment is in the hands of appeals in the federal government. I don’t know what to expect in the response. I have seen Medicare appeals, and they have a good rate of approval of appeals, but this isn’t Medicare and with Trump and Pence’s war on transgender people both Wolsey and I suspect it will be a no go.

We are fortunate in the fact we can fall back on our recently paid down credit cards. It will put us about 7 months of major payments back, but it is an absolutely necessary surgery, and we are going to get it for Wolsey whether or not the feds abandon us.

Posted in All Articles | Leave a comment

It keeps getting rougher.

A lot of things have been happening, lots of little things, and I think I will just address them individually. So right now I will start with the most angry/frustrating thing I can think of. Trump’s ban on transgender in the military.

Everyone has probably read about it, transgender people won’t be allowed to sign up, those already in the military may be ejected at any time, and their medical has been hit with no transgender services used by the military.

We found this also hits Wolsey. It has been said that as of the end of this year we are back to where we were when I petitioned to have his medical care back in 2015. I have been told, but I don’t have a confirmation yet that he won’t have coverage for anything in those areas. We won’t  have that until the new medical plans come out in November.

This means at the end of the year, hormones, SRS, or ANYTHING to do with his transgender status will no longer be covered.

We knew this was coming, and I am incredibly grateful that the two of us “panicked” at the start of the year and pushed two years ahead on our schedule to start his surgeries.

Currently our final level of appeal for the last surgery itself is at OPM (the Human Resources for the federal government) and we will see if its covered or not. If it isn’t, I have two credit cards ready to take on all the debt, it will just push us back about 7 months.

Even so, I am very glad we assumed the worst of this administration, and that through sheer luck we were able to get Wolsey in for surgery.

The other aspect that I haven’t talked about yet, we don’t know if civilian DoD workers can be fired at will like active military or not. If the medical is cut the same, I am prepared for the rest of it to be treated the same with him.

After his surgery in December we are going to reassess. Our original goal was to wait until he got 5 years here. That way he gets a tiny little pension worth 5% of his paychecks when he retires. We are currently at year 2 for him next month (and I am at year 3). We still want to hold three more years, but we don’t know. State jobs would cover him, protect him and also put into a different tiny pension when he retires, but he really wanted to finish what he started here.

I guess we will see, and I will tell everyone else when we know.

Oh, and we will have more stuff coming, Wolsey had to take a break from Background Radiation last couple of weeks. It has been so depressing.

Posted in All Articles, Lucky's Articles (AG) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments