Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Up until about 36 hours ago the only rain I've seen since I arrived here in May has been either (a) at night or (b) part of an intense localized thunderstorm.  This last day and a half has been the first steady, consistent rain I've seen and it has been coming down in buckets.  We've had over 6 inches come down in the last day and a half, with some areas getting much  more (news story). 

That's not a complaint, mind you.  I enjoy the rain.  Last night I was sitting on the couch in my living room with the door to my back patio open and the sound of the pouring rain providing a wonderfully calming backdrop.  The entire area of downtown where I live has a whole other "feel" to it in the rain, and it's actually pretty cool.

I almost had to wade out to my car this morning...
 I wasn't so thrilled about it yesterday morning, tho.  I got out to my car to drive to work and the battery was dead.  That started a series of frustrating, almost comical, events in motion that left me questioning whether or not I should just go back to bed and try again.  The good news is that everything eventually worked itself out, although it was all much more difficult than it needed to be.

When I was transitioning one of my biggest fears was being in a stressful situation and simply breaking down in tears.  Before transition I was pretty good at deflecting much of my stress and frustration but once things got going all the emotion would build up sometimes and there's no heading off the tears.  They just come.  There were a couple of times yesterday when I felt that the morning's frustrations mixed with other life events were building to that point but thankfully the tide never overflowed the sea wall.  I closed my eyes, took deep breaths, and stayed calm. Today - all is well.

Speaking about my car: Another change for me today - I registered my car here in SC.  My unique Arizona license plates that make the car so easy to spot in a parking lot are coming off.  For good?  Who knows.

Some have asked whether this means that I'm not going back to AZ and I really don't know the answer to that.  I don't have a crystal ball.  What I do know is that I'm a resident here now - that I feel at home here and that I'm not simply a transient who's here for some number of months before going back somewhere else.  I have a job I'm enjoying.  I'm renting a home that feels good to me.  I'm making friends and connections.  The world leaves me alone here, and just let's me be.  All things considered,  my connection is more than symbolic and I am hoping it continues for the foreseeable future.

Why here?  Hard to say.  It trascends any one or two or three things.  It has nothing to do with particular people, or places, or things.  I suppose it's all part of a bigger sense of "home" that I've been missing and have finally found (for now) but I'm not quite sure how to explain the feeling other than to say it just feels good right now.  I continue to pinch myself every morning, amazed that I actually live here.  Walking through the historic downtown streets is something that people come from all over the world to experience, and I get to do it every single day.  It's still new and exciting and energizing.  I hope it never grows old, but all I can do is enjoy it while it lasts.  And I am....

At the end of the week I get to visit other cities where I've lived and that I'd consider going to:  Austin - I'll see you on Friday.  And Phoenix - you're next.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The weekend has come and gone. From my checklist of wanna-do's: Long bike ride (50 miles) - check. Go see the movie - check. Do laundry - check. Fitness Center - check. Ride up the coast - nope. Time with laptop - a little. All things considered - very nice weekend.

The movie, "Midnight in Paris" was enjoyable. Not great, but visually very appealing and deeper than you'd think. I find you can often judge a movie by how many of the trailers at the beginning are films you'd actually want to go see. There were 3 or 4 of them.

I don't go to the movies all that often. I enjoy them, but over the summer it seems as though theaters are clogged with kids films, "blockbusters", or other noise that just doesn't interest me. I've made it a point to avoid any movie that's based on a comic book because that's gotten way out of hand. I refuse to go to any film that has a 2 or a 3 or a 4 after it because they almost never live up to the original (even if the original sucked).

I have no problem going to movies alone, although I have friends who avoid it because it makes them feel pathetic. I really don't know why. I've got dear friends who are wonderful movie partners, and others with whom I really don't enjoy watching movies with. But whether or not someone is available or wants to go with me won't affect whether I go or not.
One movie that's coming out soon perks my interest.  It's "Life In a Day" and is comprised of clips that people uploaded to YouTube in a 24 hour period last year:

Another of the trailers was for "Beginners".  I like Ewan McGregor. 

Here's another one I'd like to see:

I'm not sure what sharing my taste in movies says about my deeper psyche (if anything) but those are the kinds of things that pique my interest...

I do want to talk about a couple of things that have been on my mind recently....

First, it's the fairly broad topic of relationships but more specifically, committed relationships based on love. As many who read this probably know same-sex marriages are now happening in New York and I, for one, am thrilled. I still can't for the life of me understand how recognizing loving relationships as marriage in any way devalues heterosexual marriage, undermines western civilization, or is in any way a threat to anyone. The more these happen the more it becomes apparent that it's not the scary thing people made it out to be and it's just another flavor of the human condition. Anyway, congratulations to New York.

One of my most significant hopes continues to be that I will find myself in one of those kinds of relationships again one day. Relationships can take you to heaven and then drag you through hell, but such is the nature of vulnerability. One friend who was in what she thought was a loving committed relationship learned otherwise and is coping with that. Another is moving from one state to another to be with somebody that she's fallen head over heels for. Many more of my friends lament the fact that they're alone, and that's just the way it is.

The movie, "The Proposal", was on over the weekend. For some reason I like that movie. I realize it's not a high-brow piece of cinematic art but it's cute and it's funny and those are two of my main reasons for going to movies in the first place.

Perhaps my favorite part is the kiss at the end. That kiss is my holy grail, my Santa Clause, my Tooth Fairy. Whether or not it exists for me is a whole other thing - the more important thing is to believe that it does. I'm talking about the kind of kiss where you close your eyes and get lost for a moment, where you leave your body and soar among the clouds, where time stands still and you get lost. Romantic notions - yes - but underneath all of my armor beats the soul of a hopeless romantic looking for someone to release her.  With a kiss. Some day...

When I close my eyes and imagine that kiss I suppose I have to admit that the person who takes my breath away could be a man or a women. He or she is out there - someone worth falling in love for. And, until he or she and I find one another I fulfill myself and fill my life with as much living as I can. So much to do - so little time......

Speaking of kissing - I remember my very first kiss. I was in 8th grade. I was living outside of East Lansing, MI and had a crush on one of the girls on our bus. She played the cello and every morning we'd stop to pick her up and she'd lug this big instrument onto the bus. I was far too shy to ever act on it but the two of us took Theater together. It just so happened that our play was the romantic comedy "You Can't Take it With You" and she was cast as the female romantic lead. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess who was cast as the "other" romantic lead. Anyway - my first kiss was am awkward stage kiss. I'll never forget it.

I'm not sure what sent me off on that tangent but it has been on my mind so it's worth sharing.

Next Topic: Hormones.  I read a posting that Jenny Boylan recently made on FB about potentially going off HRT.  It generated quite a few comments. 

As for me - Donna - one thing I'll say is that I wouldn't go off HRT for anything.  Nothing.  If I had enough money to eat for a week or pay for my meds it'd be an easy decision.  I'd eat catshup or soup.  No doctor no where under no condition could make me give up my estrogen.  Needless to say - I've got some very strong opinions on the topic (at least when it comes to me).

Admittedly, there is precious little research or "evidence" into the hormone needs of post-SRS women.  This is partly due to a misplaced notion that once we've had surgery we're "cured" and we simply go on living life like any other woman.  But just this past week my visit with the urologist and the need to explain the presence of a prostate demonstrate that there are continuing health and medical sensitivities that involve our unique physiology.

I have heard some women talk about moving to some low maintenance dose.  Been there.  Don't like it.  Doesn't do it for me.  As a result, I continue to take bi-weekly injections and I continue to take a projesterone.  Do I need medical "proof" that it does me good?  No.  I just know it.  It may or may not do anything for my physically at this point but as far as I'm concerned my mental health is just as important of a component in my day-to-day existence as my physical health. 

I may be tempting fate with this approach.  My maternal grandmother had a double mastectomy thanks to breast cancer, and I've already dealt with a melanoma myself. But I've come to peace with the fact that each of us is going to die and I stopped fearing that a long time ago. 

Every year I have my blook levels checked and I suppose that if they were high off the charts or if that I was a constant emotional mess that'd be reason to discuss dosage or frequency.  But that's not the case - at least up til now - so I'm more than comfortable with it.  Funny thing is - back in the early early early days I looked so forward to my be-weekly injections.  I still do.

The bottom line to all of this is in two parts:   (a) even in this day and age there is precious little research on this important topic and (b) there is no one right answer for everyone.  As a result the key is to get to know your body and to take an active role in managing your health so you can make the decisions that are best for you.

Next topic: Social Networks.  I'm on Facebook and find it to be both a blessing and a curse.  As with most things in my world I just don't have the time to spend too much time there.  Sometimes people write me email via FB and I suppose I should mention that I don't check it all that often.  I've learned that most of what I read on FB is BS, and the best part of it all has been actually meeting several people who I've met through it.

So it should be no surprise that I'm not big into Social Networking.  I have a LinkedIn account but never use it.  People invite me to be a contact there but I just don't do it so don't get your feelings hurt if you've asked but don't hear back.  I saw that Linked In is the 2nd largest network (that was before Google+).  I'm going to resist being dragged into it for as long as I can.

Lastly - I've had a few friends that I typically only see once a year at SCC asking me if I'll be in Atlanta to attend again this year.  There's extra "stuff" going on since the WPATH conference will be happening in Atlanta and will overlap a bit.  But the short answer to whether I'll be there is "no".  I've got another commitment that will bring me to Denver that weekend so I won't even be in the same time zone....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chapters and Milestones

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the single-most profound event in my life. If you ask yourself that questions - can you identify one specific things as having the most signficant impact on your life? - you may or may not be able to identify just one that stands above the others.  I can. 

It would probably be PC to say that the event in my life was the day I got married, or the birth of my son, or the day my father died.  Those events were certainly all very profound and all are certainly in the top 5.  But the one day that is head and shoulder above anything is the day I had my FFS with Dr. O.  In a very real sense - that was the end of my old life and the beginning of my new one.

It could be argued that facial surgery is simply superficial or cosmetic and to those who choose to believe that I have no response.  I'm not looking to explain or argue.  The fact of the matter is that the day before I left for San Francisco was the last day I spent with my family (my wife and son) in my house with all the various "stuff" that I had accumulated over a half-lifetime.  It was the last day I resisted allowing the ever rising tide of "Donna" in my life to overtake me.   It was the last day I looked into a mirror and saw a comfortable stranger there.  The many impacts of that experience on my life, my psyche, and my spirit cannot be over-emphasized. 

I go back to my FFS page from time to time just to look at the pictures (see them here). It is truly amazing to me to look back at them and to realize that they're me.  All of them are me.  I feel no shame in admitting that, or in sharing old photos of myself.  If anything, they help me to appreciate just how far I've come.

Several years ago I posted all the original writing and email that eventually became "Wrapped In Blue" online (read it here).  Leading up to this day in 1999 there is an exchange between me and a dear pen-pal, Michelle, who helped me make it through those very difficult days:
Me: Mentally, I think I'm hanging in there ok. I get a bit nervous sometimes, but
everything has been so busy in my life I haven't had time to dwell on it. I
expected to have to take something to help me sleep last night, but actually
slept ok. So far, so good.

Michelle: You really so amaze me sometimes with your strength of resolve and character.
The things that you are going through make my own little travails seem so mild
when looked at in comparison. I am very proud of you and take courage from you.

Me: So that's the scoop fer now. I have to go and get ready for work. These will be a
busy couple of days on that front as well. When I leave work tomorrow, it will be the
last time that people will see me as the me they think they know. When I return they
will know.

It was no coincidence that I went to the South Carolina DMV yesterday and became an "official" resident of the state.  I've lived here since April so the logistics part is certainly not in question.  This is bigger than simply logistics, though.

Over all my travels in recent years (since 2004, actually) I've had my Arizona driver's license.  It has represented an anchor for me, even as I've lived in other parts of the country for work or doing other things.  Arizona has been the place that feels most like "home" and I've ensured that my connection there was as real as it is symbolic. 

But yesterday I traded in my Arizona Driver's License for a South Carolina one.  Throughout the day I took it out of my wallet a half-dozen times to look at it.  The picture is ok.  But, as with my FFS, it is symbolic of something bigger.  It's a shift in recognition of "home" as much as a legal identification document.  Anyway - it's a big deal in my little world.

Speaking of big deal....let's talk about "Users" for a second.  I find it endlessly interesting how many people who wanted me to do things for them back when I was involved with HRC and other efforts have fallen away, especially when I write to ask something.  It is actually pretty remarkable.  Case in point - I've got a friend who asked me for a favor that I thought I could help with.  It's actually not all that big a deal.  But when I wrote to people who could actually make it happen I didn't even get  the courtesy of a response.  And those who did respond told me they couldn't help.  When I contact some of my corporate "friends" to ask a question I don't get a response.  Others have similarly short memories.  All I can say is - I don't have a short memory and I won't forget.  I don't forget when others help me out and I don't forget when others choose not to.  I fully expect that there will come a day when these same people need or want something from me again.

The good news of all is that much of my time these days is my time.  I'm very much hoping to get another long bike ride in this weekend.  I need to spend time with my laptop.  I may take a drive up the coast a bit with Maggie.  There's a movie I've been wanting to see before it leaves theaters (Midnight in Paris) so I'm going to try to make that happen. I need to do laundry, and want to go to the fitness center.  I already realize that two days isn't enough time to fit everything, but that's ok.  At least it's MY time.

It's my last "down" weekend for a little while.  I'm headed to Texas to visit my son and my mom next weekend.  Then it's out to Phoenix to take care of some things for a few days.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I saw the inside of my bladder this morning.  I realize that's an odd thing to admit, but it's true.  A urologist pushed a camera up into it and I saw the various components.  As I watched it on a screen it was difficult to believe that the images on it were being taken right then and there from inside one of my major organs.  He pointed out where the left kidney and right kidney empty into the bladder.  There were lots of blood vessels.  The most important thing is that everything looked good.

I won't go into a ton of detail on why I needed to have this procedure other than to say that the doctor I went to today was wonderful.  Many of us have issues or problems with health care providers and I generally go into the office of someone "new" with a sense of caution.  My local primary doc called this urologist to explain some things to him - things he needed to know - and he was totally wonderful and comfortable.  I've been refused care before and know many others who end up leaving the office after bad experiences.  This was a good experience.

Needless to say, I'm a little bit "ginger" this afternoon.  But I'm a bit relieved that everything checked out ok.  I suppose it's all part of routine maintenance while getting older. 

I think I'm getting "hooked" on my bike.  I went for another ride last night to watch the sunset at one of the local picturesque piers.  It was wonderful.  I really, really enjoy riding it and sometimes feel like a kid who can't wait to get home to play with a new toy.  The more I do it the more my legs get better at it and the more I want to do it.  I envision a long road-trip at some point in the not too distant future.  Of course, when I say "long" I mean a trip to one of the nearby: Beaufort is about 70 miles from here, Mclellanville is 40 miles, other destinations are similarly distances.  I'm certainly not about to become a triathelete or anything but I'm enjoying this more than I enjoy running....

News came out today of an ACLU lawsuit against the state of Alaska on behalf of a trans-woman for denying her a gender marker change on her driver's license (read it here).  While recently I expressed my opinions regarding the ACLU suit against the state of Illinois for refusing to change birth certificates without medical interventions, I fully support this move and believe it to be the kind of thing that is a far more productive use of money and energies.

I am confident that the ACLU will eventually win this case and I hope it provides some sort of precedent that can be used in other states with similarly prohibitive policies.  As I said at the time, I fully support changing identity documents such as driver's licenses and passports with appropriate documentation that should NOT require surgical proof.

When I changed my documentation in Arizona it took a letter from my doctor and from my therapist indicating that I was being treated for GID and that the changes I had undergone were "permanent and irreversible".  That was the key phrase.  And, thankfully, things went smoothly.  I hope things go similarly smoothly with this lawsuit....

Peter Frampton is playing tonight in Myrtle Beach (about 90 miles from here) to celebrate the 35th anniversary of Frampton Comes Alive.  I'd love to go see him but given a number of circumstances I can't make it.  My fall-back plan: Tuesdays are half-price-burger night at my favorite local pub.  I even have it in my weekly calendar to remind me in case I forget.  Although I'm feeling a bit tender at the moment I'm going to treat myself.  It's another of those simple pleasures, and a wonderful way to celebrate "Tuesday"....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Feel young.

It's hard to explain that I accidentally drove my bicycle almost 70 miles yesterday but it just kinda happened.  The good news is that I survived it.  The bad news is, well, my butt is a bit "tender" today.  Thankfully, I could actually walk this morning.  The way my legs were feeling last night I was a little bit concerned about that.

Yesterday was one of the nicest days you can imagine - comfortable temperatures, reasonable humidity, not too sunny but not too cloudy.  I all led to a bike ride that turned into an extended almost a full day on the bike.  I don't know that I'll ever do anything quite like it again.  And even if I do it's about 60 miles longer than I've ever driven on a bike before.

Back when I first met my ex- I didn't have a car so I'd take my bike from the Syracuse University campus to her house in one of the Syracuse suburbs to see her.  It was probably a dozen miles or so, and somehow it felt longer.  The first ride of the day yesterday felt like that.  I thought of it more than once.

Thanks to my riding partner for making the day such an enjoyable one.  It sounds like a lot of work but it was actually fun - well, most of it was.  A couple of people didn't share the road well and as they passed they wanted to make sure we knew that they were a$$holes.  We weren't fast enough to respond to the first one, but the second one was the target of a return volley of choice words and hand gestures.  It's lucky for both of them (and probably for us) that we didn't catch up with them at a traffic light or something....

You'd think that something like that would make me feel old.  Instead, it made me feel young...

A couple of things that do make me feel old, tho.  One is that I was walking in my flip-flops and my attention was on something else and I mis-stepped on a curb.  The end result was effectively cutting of the very tip of my big toe.  It hurts.  Second is that every couple of years I get it into my head that I can polish my own toes.  And every couple of years I re-learn that I can't.  I don't know what it is but it's one thing that I can mess up 10 times out of 10.  Sigh.

Lastly, I'll end with a few pics I've taken with my phone over the last few days.  They provide a good sense of why I find it so pretty here.  One of the things that's particularly expressive is the sky.  The first is of Shem Creek during my bicycle marathon on Saturday.

The second one is of the view near sundown coming across the Ravenel Bridge back into Charleston yesterday evening:

And the last one is of sunrise this morning, just as the sun poked it's head above the horizon.  I'm often out with the dog along the waterfront to see it - it's still as amazing as the first day:

Life is at a pace at the moment when I feel as though I do get to stop and smell the roses...

I heard a fascinating story on NPR a couple of weeks ago about an artificial heart that has no beat (see it here).  A heartbeat, or a pulse, is actually one of the things we use to determine life (or not) so having a pump that doesn't beat - that moves the blood without "beating" seems almost not like a heart at all.   Anyway - for some reason I found it fascinating....

I'd write more but I'm pooped.  It's time for bed.  And I'm not going to fight it.  :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Work. And Play.

I did an interview several weeks ago with a writer who was researching a story about trans workplace issues.  He asked what the single most significant issue in the workplace is for trans workers.  I suppose it's difficult to identify a universal single-most significant challenge for anything but it was pretty much a no-brainer for me to explain that the biggest challenge many of us face is simply getting a job. (see his story here).

I am incredibly thankful to enjoy what I'm doing right now and, honestly, I thank my lucky stars each and every day.  I'm also tremendously thankful simply to be able to do it, and to live where I want to live.  At one of the conferences I attended last year Mara K. from NCTE gave an ominous piece of advice to everyone in the room:  If you've got a job don't lose it because you may not be able to get another one.  Too many of us have learned this the hard way.

Several years ago we started something at SCC that we called the "Career Expo" specifically to address this crushing need and to bring together companies that are hiring with trans workers who need jobs.  It's no longer happening for a number of reasons, but the need is no less critical. 

We were also doing some work with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce when I was on the Board there surrounding starting and running your own business.  For many of us, the most realistic option becomes self-employment (whether we want to or not).  NGLCC attended a couple of SCC's to collect information but they haven't replaced me with another transperson on the Board for guidance and they haven't updated their "Transgender Business Owners Toolkit" page in forever (still no toolkit, tho). 

In all honesty, I think many of us are naive about how our transition can and often does affect our jobs/careers which is actually probably a good thing in the long run.  Some of us fear the worst and think we've prepared for it but still somehow get caught off guard when it actually happens.  I often warn people that the day of your greatest career potential and highest income level is often the day before you come out at work.  Still.  And I realize that many of us do have positive experiences and that's truly a testament to hard work and diligence over the past dozen years or more.  But that still doesn't stop bad things from happening.

Sometimes it's necessary.  We've changed to the point that we've outgrown a number of things in our lives, including our careers.  What initially seems traumatic and terrible eventually turns out to be yet another opportunity for rebirth.  Often in life we don't do difficult things, even though they may be necessary things, until we are forced to do them.

On to other topics, I posted the photos I took at the Beach Wrestling event in Rochester this past weekend (see them here).  I didn't edit the photos so they are straight out of the camera but I wanted to put them online while they were still fresh.  I think my next Beach Wrestling adventure will be at an event planned for Labor Day weekend in Myrtle Beach. 

I don't usually give on-line testamonials but I feel compelled to mention something today.  I've mentioned in the past how I'd really like to go back to school for some things - I have a thirst to learn and I just don't do all that well simply by reading.  I have found a website that provides wonderful video-based training on a wide variety of topics, is affordable, and is tremendously simple in terms of use and billing.  It is  I'm loving it, and I force myself to take the time to sit down, to get into the "zone", and to take at least two of the classes every day.

In all honesty, it's a terrific model for developing training on other topics as well.  But that's another discussion for another time.

Yesterday we had an amazing typhoon-like storm here.  It poured like nobody's business for an hour and the air was full of lightning strikes and crackling thunder every few seconds.  It was wild. We got almost 2+ inches of rain, and the power went out for 30 minutes.  Other areas of the region didn't get so much as a drop but we got smacked hard.  It was actually wonderful - I enjoy that kind of thing and Lord knows we need the rain.

The weather here has been pretty brutal lately, with high temperatures in the upper 90's and humidity above 70% the heat index has been above 110 degrees for several days.  It's about time that this weather break so this storm is hopefully the beginning of cooler days. I have no problem at all with heat, or humidity.  But it's just nice to have a bit of a break from time to time.

I haven't shared any music here for a while.  Every once in a while I hear a song for the first time and the lyrics just resonate with me.  I heard one of those songs on a local radio station recently.  It's an artist that I hadn't heard before and the more I see him the more his sound reminds me of mid-'60s Crosby, Stills, and Nash stuff.  Anyway, part of the reason that I can identify with these lyrics will be obvious.

Ray Lamontagne - For the Summer

Been a while since I saw my lady smile
Have I been away so long?
I'm tired.  I get so tired.

Can I come home for the summer?
I could slow down for a little while.
Get back to loving each other
And leave all those long and lonesome miles behind.

Now that's good stuff....

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beach - Part 2

I can't remember the last time I made two blog entries on the same day.  Until today.

I wanted to follow-up on some of my comments from earlier about simply living our lives and letter our truths speak for themselves.

I remember my frustrations growing up as a child looking for "role-models" with whom I could identify, and not being able to find them. In a very real sense, finding those role models online - Dr. Becky, Andrea James, and others - played a significant role in helping me turn that corner from shame to pride, from fear to comfort, from hiding to being. It wasn't anything specific that they did other than share parts of themselves with others who were looking for something and who were fortunate enough to find it.

I don't think any of us realizes how powerful some of the simple things we do in our lives can be. For sure, when I wrote my book almost 10 years ago I never imagined that anyone else would read it, much less that it'd have the impact that it has. I very much felt and continue to feel a pay-it-forward responsibility - simply to be a good person and to share my humanity. The good and the bad, the right and the wrong, it's all there just as it is in each of us but sometimes it's easier to see it (or to learn from it) in others then it is in ourselves.

I received a recently published list of the 10 Defining Moments in Queer Sports History today. While these kinds of things are certainly subjective this list was created by someone that I like and respect so I was certainly surprised, honored, and humbled to see that my particpation in the World Team Trials last year is included. It's actually pretty amazing to realize that nobody else "like" me has an athlete tag quite like this one....

Despite the fact that my subsequent injury was NOT the outcome I had envisioned few people will ever realize what it took to get to that point.

The thing I'm proudest about in achieving that is doing it with my whole self. I'm as proud of being there as an LGBT person as I am of being an AARP member as I am of any number of other aspects of myself.  I refuse to live my life in one dimension so reaching that point with my full self was a big deal.  I hope to move it to the next level in 2012 by earning a spot at the Olympic Team trials. 

So while my participation in an event in Rochester NY this past weekend won't change the world, it was more than worth doing.  It was a path not traveled before.  My championship plaques are a source of pride for me simply for the effort it takes to prepare and the courage it takes to compete.  All I can do is hope that more of us refuse to abandon aspects of ourselves that we enjoy because of misplaced notions about gender or sexuality.  It's not easy.

I suppose none of us gets to write our own legacy, or our own epitath, but if my own can simply be "She truly lived" then I will have done my part.  Honestly, tho, I hope I've got lots of mileage to cover between now and then (God willing).  I've got lots left to do, and I fully intend to make the most of every mile.  :)


So.  I'm back home.  Phew.

Thursday thru yesterday were a whirlwind of driving and doing.  I drove 350 miles after work on Thursday, and the remaining 600 miles to Rochester on Friday.  I went to weigh-in's on Friday night.  I was at the Beach all day on Saturday for the US National Championships, and had dinner with my brother and his family at my favorite BBQ place.  I was back at the beach on Sunday for the International Cup competition.  And I was on the road by 3pm to drive 5 hours of the trip home.  I drove the last 8 hrs of it yesterday, and am just now finally decompressing.  Phew.

I had a wonderful time.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  There were lots of younger wrestlers there, and lots of spectators.  The event was wonderfully run - everything seemed to go very smoothly.  All things considered - I was very impressed.

The rules for this version of wrestling are perfect for getting more people involved in the sport.  There is only 1 3-minute period (vs 3 2-minute periods in freestyle), although I didn't see a single match get to the end of the period.  To win all you need to do is score 2 points or throw your opponent to his/her back.  You can get a point by pushing them out of the 20' circle that consitutes the "ring", or by doing a takedown.  It's pretty much that simple.  Although, in practice, it's probably harder in practice than it is on paper.

I took lots of photos and hope to have them up on Flickr by tomorrow.  I'll provide a link to them.

I'm sure none of this doesn't matter to anyone but me.  That's fine.  I suppose that this blog is as much for me as it is for anybody.  There was a time when my blog was far more "community" focused - news, activism, other "stuff".  It has changed over the past couple of years in a way that I think mirrors how I've changed. 

Although there is certainly a need for all those other things I've reached a point where the goal of life is embracing it and living it.  It's one thing to be a helpless victim of your own circumstance, or a passenger in your own life.  But it's another thing to be an active participant in the world, someone who refuses to acknowledge that they should accept anything less than anyone else.  That, I think, is part of what fuels me these days because there's just so much that I enjoy, that I want to do and like to do, and that provides life fuel.

I suppose one definition of activist is the traditional one that involves politics and social justice.  But another would be simply someone who is "active".  That's how my life has changed in recent years - from being active in a board-room to being active in a 20' circle on a beach.  I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to outgrow those roles even though there are still times that require a level of involvement in that capacity.  But it's nice to be able to do things I want to do rather than things I have to do based on obligations I've made...

I had a wonderful time in Rochester.  I stayed with my oldest niece and her fiancee which is a first for me.  I got to spend some time with my sister.  I got to spend some time with my brother and his family.  It was nice to see some good friends who came out to the beach to see me and show support.   I had dinner at my favorite BBQ place.  I stopped at Wegman's and brought home a cooler full of stuff.  I sated my reminiscent side by visiting the old neighborhood where we lived for 15 years.  I has some Abbott's frozen custard, and a Zweigel's hot dog.  And then it was done.

 My goal was and remains to qualify for the 2012 US Olympic Team Trials.  Now THAT would be an accomplishment.  In the meantime, I'll just prepare as best I can.  I'm in pretty good shape and I hope to stay that way.  I'll continue to train.  I'll try to avoid getting hurt.  And, I'll do as much "living" as I can, too. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Miles to go before I sleep....

The things we do for the things we enjoy.  When I train for wrestling I drive across the entire state of South Carolina.  Total drive from here to the wrestling facility is almost 250 miles which is quite the hike given that training itself lasts 90 minutes.  Then I turn around and drive back.  On Tuesday night I didn't get home until almost midnight.

The people I'm training with are some of the elite wrestlers in this country.  Without naming names (not that anyone who reads this would recognize them, it's just that I hesitate to use names in general here) one of the coaches/trainers won a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, and others there are just as amazing.  As someone who appreciates the sport it's a joy simply to watch them do what they do so well.  All things considered that alone would be worth the drive.  They fact that they're as good at coaching as they are at competing makes it all the more amazing.

Speaking of driving, I'm scheduled to begin the 900+ mile drive from here to Rochester after work today  I think the weather will be fairly kind so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  I'm planning to drive 5 hours tonight, I'll finish the drive tomorrow, compete on Saturday and Sunday, and drive back on Monday.  Yeesh.  I'm renting an Economy car instead of adding to the 142,000+ miles already on my car.  The good news is that the gas mileage is great (cheapest price I've found here in recent days is $3.14/gallon).  The bad news is that it doesn't have cruise control.  Anyway - such is life.

BTW: For those who travel with a dog.  A website that's useful is  They list pet-friendly hotels in an area, specific policies, and even provide discounted rates.
Most people don't have a clue as to the pressures of competing at that level in a sport that is as physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding as wrestling is.  Without any other attribute of myself as part of the mix, my age alone is something that makes this a challenge.  Add to that a minefield of sensitivities that require respect while at the same time maintaining focus on the job at hand.  It's critical to keep distractions to a minimum and in that regard all I can do is all I can do.  I work hard simply to get to the point of being able to compete but this is truly one of those things in life where the key is the journey, not the destination.  Simply getting there is a test in and of itself. 

How do you explain to someone that you do it because you enjoy it.  Last year at this time I got hurg and didn't expect to compete again but here I am.  Early last year I was coming off a 30 year hiatus that I never expected would end.  But as with  most things passions are as hard to explain as they are to define.  The main opponent in all of this is myself - mentally and physically - and in that regard I'm determined NOT to allow myself to stop myself.  Where it leads?  Who knows.  I've stopped trying to rationalize this and am focused on simply doing.

I have absolutely no clue what to expect so I'm pretty much prepared for things to go to hell in a handbasket and I'll hope it doesn't.  I've packed my USA Wrestling card, my passport, my birth certificate, my blood tests, and other "stuff" that I might need.  I'll hope I don't need any of it and can focus on the tasks at hand: (a) competing and (b) not getting hurt.

I'm also looking forward to spending a couple of days with my brother and sister and their families, and friends in the area.  Since the trip is a quick one I won't have much "extra" time but I enjoy going home and I look forward to some of the social opportunities.  Two additional goals: (a) a visit to Wegmans to fill a cooler of stuff and (b) dinner at The Dinasaur BBQ. 

My friend from Phoenix went back home on Tuesday and just avoided the crazy dust storm that rolled through the area in the late afternoon.  Some of the photos of it were absolutely amazing.  I'm glad her plane got in because they shut down the airport shortly after she landed.  We had a very pleasant visit.  Here's a photo of the 4th of July fireworks across the harbor.  We had a great seat with our feet hanging over the edge of a pier enjoying the gentle evening breeze.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011


It was a busy long weekend.  Part of it involved spending some time at the beach in a recently bought bikini.  Although I've worn a bikini before this was the first time I actually did it in public like this.  I suppose the most lasting result is that sun touched spots on my body that it doesn't usually touch so I'm a little pink at the moment.  Nothing major, but at least I don't feel as though my mid-section is so blindingly white that a satellite in outer space could spot it.

We did a little shopping.  We took the horse and buggy tour around downtown Charleston.  We sat on the pier last night for a couple of hours watching the sun go down, and enjoyed the fireworks.  I went to the David Gray concert on Friday.  We went to church.  We had some REAL BBQ (in my case, ribs), and Sunday morning I made Donna's delectible croissant breakfast sandwiches.  We went to the fitness center.  I washed the dog, and we walked her all around downtown.  All things considered - it was a busy but enjoyable long weekend.

I still pinch myself sometimes, wondering if things that are happening are real or a dream. 

The big event in my future is the Wrestling event in Rochester this weekend.  The event is sanctioned by the same organization that oversees US Freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions so it's no small thing.  There are only two weight-classes for women - below 154 pounds and over 154 pounds.  There is one 3 minute period, and you win by either scoring 2 points (pushing the opponent out of bounds, takedown) or a pin.  Anyway - I drive all the way across the state to train and I'm doing it again tonight.   We do what we need to do.

I've talked about it before, but competitive athletics and trans-people continue to be one of those hot-button intersections.  It's interesting that things really haven't progressed that far from Renee Richards days in terms of acceptance.  Granted, organizations now have more inclusive rules but those rules rarely get tested and when they do things get noisy.  Last year a boy refused to compete against a girl in the Iowa HS Wrestling championships so the gender line in sports in general is a powder keg sometimes.

I know many trans people who support the notion of equal rights but stop short of being able to support competing against natal born women.  I'm not going to argue about it - there are rules in my sport that cover this particular situation and I'm well within the guidelines.  I've had my blood chemistry tested so I'm confident I'm good in that regard as well.  But once you find yourself arguing about muscle memory or the lingering effects of growing up on testosterone or other things you find yourself in an argument that is as much emotional as logical.  Those are arguments that have no winners.

But as we look at the boundaries of being involved in life as men and women, and enjoying the unquestioned rights (and obligations) that come with the territory so too is this one of those.  And so, too, are some of us going to want to participate.  It's just that simple. 

I always hope things aren't going to get too crazy but you can only control what you can control.  I've done my best to train and I'll do my best to aquit myself well.  The rest isn't up to me.

On a side note I'm planning to bring back a cooler of Wegmans stuff.  I MISS Wegmans.  Plus, I promised my son a care package that includes his favorite iced cookies.

Friday, July 1, 2011


The 4th of July is traditionally percieved as a pretty chill Holiday characterized by BBQ's, beaches, and other summer diversions.  I've had some pretty amazing things happen over the 4th of July weekend over the past several years so traditionally my own experience hasn't been quite that quiet. 

I've got a friend visiting from Phoenix and we're going to do some tourist stuff around Charleston.  We're going to the David Gray concert here tonight (I LOVE David Gray - the last time I saw him I was living in Austin).  A trip to the beach is in our future, as is a trip to the fitness center. 

Somebody has tried to characterize my opinions on changing personal identification documents and Birth Certificates by belittling them and seems to want to find an opportunity to spat.  I do not spat.   I generally avoid letting myself get dragged into philosophical arguments about opinions, but I want to re-state what I believe here so that there is no confusion:
Drivers License, Passports and other identification documents should be changed with the appropriate non-surgical documentation.  HOWEVER, Birth Certificates are different and should require some level of medical intervention for modification.  It doesn't have to be SRS (orchi or other FTM procedures would qualify in my book), but a letter from a psych is not enough.
That's my opinion.  Others may agree or disagree but that doesn't change it.  It may or may not be popular but that doesn't change it either.  I'm not looking to solve all the inequities in the world, solve world hunger, or otherwise imply that I'm smarter than anyone else because I admit at the outset that I'm not.  I am simply sharing my own beliefs and others can respect that or not.  I really don't care either way.

My own history of activism advocates that a more effective strategy is to normalize the procedures that constitute "treatment" for trans-related issues as more than cosmetic procedures rather than to expect that people (trans or not) should be allowed to change their Birth Documentation simply because.

That's that. 

Another thing I'd enjoy this weekend: a deep muscle massage.  The muscles between my shoulder blades are as lumpy as week old gruel.  I'll see if I can't find some time to fit it in.  :)

Let the long Holiday Weekend begin!