Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Disclose or Share?

Today's photo is a view I see almost every day.  I wish it were more scenic, but it's my home away from home.  It's the view from my desk at work.

I provided some photos several months ago of the view outside our windows, and that was certainly nice.  But a group of us were crowded around a large conference table and all the windows often meant that it was as cold as a meat locker or as hot as a sauna there.  Now I've got my own desk, my own office (with a door!), and all the creature comforts I need to do what I do.

As often as not I'm off at meetings at any number of local facilities but this is home base.  Next - putting things on the walls. 

On one of my monitors you'll see Pandora.  I listen to it pretty much every day - whether at work, at the gym, at the beach, on my bike - it provides a backdrop of my life.  One song I've heard a couple of times in the past few days is a song I remember from writing my book.  I'd get home from work and write until the late hours of the night (or the early hours of the morning, depending on how you want to look at it).  I'd listen to Staind, and this particular song, over and over.  If you listen to the lyrics you'll probably recognize the deeper meanings....

So far away.  Good stuff....

I've got a number of things to talk about today:

I saw an article on the CNN website that articulating something I often ask myself.  It's titled "Are Men Stupid" and it deals with the seemingly endless stream of men who have achieved some significant level of visibility in their lives or their careers who throw it all away in some careless sexual escapade.  I suppose when you think with anything other than the brain in your head (or, perhaps your heart) you're bound to get into trouble but it's really incredible how fallible this makes people.

I also can't help but think of the women involved.  Whether it's the prostitutes in Columbia, the women that the Arkansas football coach was seeing, woman who mothered a child with John Edwards while his wife was home dealing with cancer, or any number of other women - it's all just a mess.  Anyway, I'm not trying to disparage men.  I suppose what I'm saying is that, given my past, I still can't get this although I'm sure most men couldn't get what I've done either.

My own life has much less drama than that.  Thankfully.  My career, my personal life, my limited advocacy efforts at this point, my family, my hobbies - they all seem to exist fairly peacefully right now which leads me to believe I've got good balance for now.  Of course, all it takes is one thing to throw it all out of whack but for now I'm simply appreciating it while I can.

I still get email from people who are struggling with the early phases of their transition.  Do it or not?  Strategy? Advice?  I'm constantly reminded how glad I am to have those things behind me, and at the same time how those things have helped to shape me.  

Another topic:  One of the reasons I enjoy my job is the people I get to work with.  Don't get me wrong, doing anything within the government can be a frustrating experience (not news to anyone), but the key as with most things is having good people with good attitudes and we do.

One in particular works in the same office as I do, and the two of us are typically the only women in any of the meetings we attend day in and day out.  We both lead large efforts as part of this program, so there's no way to avoid getting us involved.  And the two of us keep ourselves sane sometimes by sharing with one another.  She's a hoot. 

I've explained in the past that I have no problem "disclosing" my unique past given the right circumstances.  As far as I'm concerned, those circumstances include medical necessity, increased intimacy, and legalities.  In her case, I gave her enough information to do research on me several months ago and I didn't know whether she had done anything with it until some time later.  Our relationship didn't change, and that's the biggest concern - that where there had been a fun relationship that provided a seemingly safe context to share personal information a level of discomfort of creepiness comes into the picture.  Thankfully, that didn't happen here.  At all.

Some would argue with me that there are no circumstances under which they would disclose, and that's fine.  I don't even like to use the word "disclose" as that implies that you're divulging a secret, or that you're hiding something.  I far prefer the word "share".  Some would say it's simply symantics but I think it's more than that.  Words have deeper meanings than simply their definitions.

Anyway, this co-worker is a fashionista.  I mean, 5'4", slim, full of life, and always fashionable.  From her jewelry to her shoes and everything in-between.  Not most days, but every day.  I've learned lots from her, because I've never been around anyone like her before.  Honestly.

I have never been fashionable.  I can do ok, but her day-in-day-out coordination of accessories, outfits, and general looks is something I've never experienced.  Even when I was married.  So when I shared that I was getting into shoes a few weeks ago she's partly to blame/credit.  She rubs off on me.

So, today she's wearing a very nice skirt outfit.  I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt to work.  Dresses yes...but skirts, no.   So I told her - I'm going to break out a skirt shortly and although I'm certainly not going to be the petit thing she is I'm going to expand that boundary for myself.  Long story short - I'll probably share a photo of that when it happens.

I've gotten back onto a regular diet after my wrestling adventure.  For a while I was starving myself to make weight.  Then, I was eating anything and everything for nearly 3 weeks.  Now, I'm back to normal again - going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, still fit, still in my size 4 or size 6 slacks, not eating everything in sight.  It all feels good and I'm thinking the general life balance I'm feeling right now has something to do with that.

Speaking of wrestling, there was a story in the NY Times this morning that the Olympic champion from my weight class got married after winning the tournament in Iowa over the weekend (story here).  I'm genuinely thrilled for her for both achievements.

The first time I saw her was at the Nationals in 2010.  She won.  But it was the relaxed, cool way that she approached the championship match against Iris Smith that really impressed me.  After the match was over the announcer brought the microphone onto the mat and asked her if there was anyone she wanted to thank.  She thanked her partner, and that struck me.

Steph has never hidden her sexuality.  She and her wife have several kids.  She's very much a free spirit, and has gotten herself into trouble a few times but always seems to find a way out.  When she falls behind she ALWAYS finds a way out.  Every time.  I've seen her fall behind in a match, only to end up pinning her opponent with a quick flurry right at the end of the period.  She's amazing like that.

I think you'll hear a lot more about her over the next few weeks because of the gay thing.  She doesn't hide it, but doesn't let it define her either.  It's just a thing.  And we've had brief discussions about my background but that's just a thing, too.  She complained that she had gone into a store and the clerk had called her "sir".  She hated that.  I told her I could relate - but for different reasons.

Steph will be a great Olympian for this country.  You heard it here first.  My prediction: she will make history in London.  I suppose time will tell.


Mae West said...

I love the Staind song that you included in your post and think that Aaron Lewis is really cool!

He does an awesome version of a song called "Country Boy". Here is his version:


Hope you like it. I'm glad that you're doing so well!

Anonymous said...

You mentioned emails from people new in their transition. I don't know how alone in your head you were once you faced who you were and needed to be, but I do know for myself. I'm totally on my own and have no one to bounce any thoughts of. Any time that I've reached out to one of the more seasoned veterans of being transgender, I get absolutely no response. It is a very scarey place to be. We often get stuck trying to validate even our own right to want a better gender role. I love you blogs and that you still reach out to us little girls, so to speak. It is ok to answer people and if needed set ground rules about not being a substitute for needed counseling. I certainly would accept that. But, each of the newbies is undoubtedly in a very difficult place and with very few people they can turn to. Thanks for continuing to pay it forward through your book, website, and blogs. You perform a tremendous service to the world.