In the interest of sharing coming out resources, I’m publishing an e-mail I sent to my parents and my brother….

I’d love to tell you how I have some altruistic intentions in reaching a point in my life where I’m tired of feeling like I’m withholding information that’s essential to who I am (largely because I am), but the fact is I’m just tired of not being as open as I should, and need to, be about the circumstances of my life in the last couple years.  Maybe my motives are selfish, I still haven’t figured that part out yet.

As it were, I sat down to write a timeline of events over the last three years about two months ago, of things I needed to tell you and things I wanted to tell you.  It would be easy, and impersonal to simply attach the file with a cavalier “there ya go” and hope for the best.  Really, its best I narrate the timeline for you.

Starting just over three years ago, maybe closer to four now it was a time just after what we’ve come to refer to as TJ’s “troubles”.  Reflecting back now, no doubt the stress of dealing with the fall out may have been a triggering event, but realistically I’d been dealing my whole life with feelings of wrongness about who I was and what my identity was.  Some people are able to conceptualize at an early age what I knew as  my truth at about age 12.  I was and always have been female.  Prior to that, my understanding of who I was was limited to knowing that I did and felt things other boys didn’t do or feel.  If you were to have a similar conversation with my peers, you would hear the same idea echoed, a feeling of wrongness, often accompanied by not knowing the language to fully express our feelings.

By December, 2010, things had reached a critical point, I was frequently losing sleep as my mind fought with the truth I’d been battling my whole life.  Things were coming to a head and the sleeplessness was causing a deep depression which was threatening my life at that point.  I reached out to a therapist in Atlanta that specialized in Gender Identity Issues.  I choose Dr.  Ren Massey in large part because he was transmasculine, I wanted someone who could appreciate my feelings first hand and for whatever reason I just relate better to transguys then I do anyone else.

I had two outcomes in mind when I first started therapy, I wanted to be able to put my transgender feelings behind me and be able to move on from a struggle I’d faced for most of my life or I wanted to turn and face the very thing I’d been running from.  It became apparently early on that the only course of action I could gain a sense of peace from was to find a path to integrating my transgender identity into all the other parts of my life.  From January, 2011 when I first started taking Propecia (I’ve since stopped taking it) on the advice of Dr.  Massey (“You’ve got great hair”), until now, I’ve worked at a careful, and often slow, pace in the process of working out my full identity.

Rookie School put a hold on forward progress, a choice I freely made and would make again – I am always so proud of my accomplishment in that period of time; however my suffering was never far from my mind.  My first foray into publicly acknowledging my identity was over July, 2011, in which I first came out as seeing a therapist and admitted to hating my body while TJ and I were in Traverse City.  It is with some sadness that watching kids playing on the beach, happy and carefree and the longing for my happiness and carefree attitude that had long eluded me, especially in childhood, brought me to the next steps in my transition. In August, 2011.  I started taking medication to suppress the testosterone my body was making.  At the time, my doctor, since retired, was quite surprised I wasn’t interested in taking the entire spectrum of medications most transwomen usually take.  Again it was my own slow and carefully thought out process.  Truthfully it didn’t take long to be both delighted by the changes the medication caused as well as disappointed in its limitations.  My doctor wasn’t surprised when I came back in October ready to add Estrogen to the list of medications I was taking in order to address the persistent feelings of being in the wrong body I’d had throughout therapy.

Dissatisfied with the progress I was showing, I was offered synthetic progesterones the following month and was somewhat delighted given that my own research had strongly recommended them as well.  I have been on some form of Progesterone since November, 2011.

Ultimately I would leave the fire department the following spring, in March of 2012 for several reasons, though the most prominent among them the realization that I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of being a transgendered fire fighter.  In the months prior, I had reached out to a number of other firefighters that had followed the same path I was on and saw a crap shoot I wasn’t willing to take.  I had to make a choice and I knew that being a firefighter was never a part of my identity in the way that other things were, not just this, but things like raising TJ, etc.  I could let go of being a firefighter, I couldn’t let go of those far more important aspects of my identity, including this.

After losing my health insurance from the department, I did what I could to “get by” until my insurance from Central started in August.  I was thankful that I had enough medications to get me through until then and Dr.  Massey was comfortable seeing me once as month as I was now paying out of pocket for our sessions.  As you recall in this period was my acceptance of my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms as a result of my long career in EMS.  With Dr.  Massey’s blessing, I started taking Celexa, via mail order from New Zealand,in order to cope with the feelings that were leaving me hopelessly depressed and at the edge of suicide.  On an aside, I’ve lost far too many friends and co-workers (6 in as many months at one point) who were unable to face their demons – for so many reasons I didn’t, and I don’t, want to be a statistic like that.

By October, 2012, my insurance was in effect again and I was able to start seeing Dr.  Scott Parry for the medical management of my transgender identity.  It was also at this time that I switched to injecting Estrogen, which I’ve continued to this day (Sunday is “shot day”), because I was often forgetting to take the nighttime dose of my oral estrogens.   A year ago in January, Dr.  Parry switched me to natural progesterone telling me that he preferred using that with any female that required progesterone compared to the synthetics I’d been taking.

Outside of the medical aspects of transition, I settled on a new name for myself in November, 2012. While deployed for Hurricane Sandy, I dreamed that I’d changed my name to Tristen, far from a nightmare, it was just mildly annoying that I wasn’t able to use my old name.  I’ve used Tristen wherever possible since then and I’m quite comfortable with it.  Over several months, I evolved my middle name to be Ryleigh.  I wanted so much for this to be a decision for you, mom and dad, to have “naming rights”, but things just happened the way they did.  Were I better at coming out about this, things would be different, and for that I’m truly sorry.  I had to check my blog to confirm this, but by January, 2012, I was wearing female clothing publicly at least part time.  One of the benefits, I suppose, of being a tomboy is that I dress like every other tomboy I know – jeans, polo shirts or hoodies.  As of October, I wear female clothing almost exclusively.  At some point between now and then, I started wearing makeup as well.

It’s been a long three years, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made and with the addition of Adderall last month, I can finally say that for the first time in my life, I’m living the life I always wanted to.  My work life has been an interesting experience over the last several months, as my partner tells me my co-workers are evenly divided over whether I’m transitioning from male to female or female to male, he often gets asked “hey isn’t your partner that Paramedic that’s transitioning?”.  Keep in mind, while I’ve made no effort to conceal things, I haven’t admitting to anything either.  In that context, my recent promotion is all that more sweet and tells me that I don’t have to choose between transition and my career.  Finally, within the last month, I’ve been really happy to see a close friendship blossom between me and a co-worker, Michael.  As my latest blog entry will tell you, I want so much to fall in love with him.  Chris definitely left me with some emotional scars, but I take comfort in knowing that at least I don’t have to explain my being transgender to Michael.  I just hope Michael can appreciate me for who I am.

Dr.  Massey’s advice long ago was to avoid speaking in timelines, therefore I won’t get ahead of myself with future plans other then to acknowledge my upcoming name change and intention to come out at work for the purposes of being gendered as female.  Beyond that, I have some ideas of things I’d like to accomplish, but no desire to hold myself to a timeline at this point.

As for my blog, regan5.wordpress.com, I’d encourage you to read it.  Nothing is edited, hidden or otherwise not as it appeared the date I published each entry.

As always, thank you for your love and support.

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