I sure as Hell don’t feel like a Butterfly

A new room, a new roommate, and a new life stretching out in front of me. It feels real, it certainly hurts like its real. I still can’t tell what lies beneath all the gauze and ice packs, it will be the better part of a week before the final debut. Until then, when asked, I respond that it is like living with a basketball between my legs.

Have I told you how much I hate sleeping on my back? I mean I really hate sleeping on my back. I don’t think I’ve slept more than an hour or two in a stretch since the day of the surgery, it is definitely starting to wear on me. Lots of changes to look forward to, but they will all have to wait a little bit longer.

In the mean time, dressed in the uniform of the day of pajamas and slippers, there isn’t much to do but rest, and get to know my roommate, a very enjoyable part of my stay in Montreal. Christine and I share much in common and later in the week as we practice dilating while having a philosophical discussion will prove to be a unique bonding experience. I hope to count her as friend for the rest of my life.

Then three times a day I navigate the stairs down to the dining room for meals, my fear that stairs would be so painful did not turn out to be true, but sitting was another story entirely, I had to learn how to sit on a rubber doughnut, I have also learned that sitting on a dining room chair without arms to ease yourself down, could lead to an absolutely excruciating crash landing, the result of which will throb for at least an hour. Aside from unintentional self inflicted pain I am absolutely shocked at how good I feel. I haven’t had anything stronger than Tylenol for the first two days after surgery and took actual pain killers only two or three times in the whole ten days that I was there.

Right now I’m looking forward to the end of the week. Starting on Friday, each day is scheduled to unveil a little more of the finished product.  First they will remove the outer dressing, revealing my brand new anatomy in all it’s swollen glory for the very first time. That is to be followed in succession by the removal of the stent on Saturday and then finally the catheter on Sunday which also happens to be my birthday. That’s right, the final act is to take place on my  birthday, which also happens to be the first day of spring. What a perfect symbol, the time of renewal which for me will mark forever the moment of my rebirth.

I walked along the river one day, then sat watching the sea birds on the solid ice sheet along the bank. Winter still holds sway here for a bit longer, but watching the broken ice flow by in the current of the Prairies River, its obvious that it’s only a matter of days before the anticipated change of seasons comes to this place. Of course as if to prove to me how little I actually know, the following day I woke to a thin blanket of snow sparkling in the morning sun, it was beautiful and prompted me to think about how each of these moments is a first. My mind is rewiring itself to my new reality and as strange as it seems, even those things I have done hundreds of time before, seem different now.

All that remains is to learn the aftercare for shiny new vagina, which will be no small task for the next two or three months and then a bit each week for the rest of my life.The trade off for the pain, the money and the ongoing commitment to care is a profound sense of completeness, an absence of the unease that I have felt my entire life when standing in front of a mirror.

The rest of my life is going to be much different,

I do believe I am ready to fly.

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Four Weeks From Today

 

Four weeks from today, as I close my eyes
As the light of this world slowly fades
Soft blackness envelopes me, bringing focus
My journey, a lifetime in the making is at it’s end

My existence hangs in the balance
I trust I will awaken, but there is no certainty
If this is my moment to move among the stars
Know that I am at peace with my choices
I have chosen my path, I have rewritten my future

My last thoughts will not be ones of regret
But of pride to have done what so many could not.
If I die within sight of my goal, to some an utter failure
Will still fill my heart with satisfaction
To have been moving forward to the very end.

28 days from now I will open my eyes for the very first time
As a woman newly born, I will take my first breath,
The pain and discomfort I feel, the price of Rachel’s birth
I have delivered her into this new world, into this her new body
She begins her new life, complete and whole.

Twenty eight days from now the tears will flow.
They will taste different from the tears of loss
Unlike the cold tears of heartbreak
Different from the bitter tears of disappointment
They will be warm sweet tears of joy..

Reflections on a Trans Woman’s Passing

In Memory of Brynn Kelly

I cry because I never met her
I cry because I knew her so well
She is the sister I never had
Her death, leaves me an only child

I could not have imagined her pain
Though I live some of it every day.
Her loss is felt by us all
Yet how anonymous her passing

I cannot understand why she could not go on
Although at times I feel exactly the same
The reasons are always the same
Even though we each claim them as our own.

She was a writer, accomplished at her craft
Yet unable to rewrite her own story.
What happens to all of her words?
Composed yet uncommitted to paper

Did they cease at her passing
Have they been lost to the world?
Or do they exist somewhere in the ether
Waiting to be discovered

Was there a time that day when just the right word
Spoken at just the right moment, in just the right tone
Could have rewritten the ending of her tragedy
Turning it into just another bad day

So much we will never know

The Dream Made Real

I am a transgender woman and have always been so
As such, from the first day I admitted this out loud
The question has always been, where are you going with this?
Do you want the “surgery?” complete with the obligatory air quotes.

The answer is yes, a resounding, unequivocal yes
And as the date looms large on the horizon and
The countdown winds around to zero
I know exactly what it will be like, I’ve dreamed it all before

I’ve been here before, hundreds of times
The fear has long since evaporated
Nervous anticipation washes over me in waves
As excitement grows minute by minute.

I focus on the sights and sounds of the moment
To burn them into my memory
To be remembered and retold to myself
Again and again for the rest of my life.

As a sense of incredible peace comes over me
I wonder, how much of it is the drugs they’ve given me?
How much is the culmination of a lifetime of yearning
It doesn’t really matter, all is ready, just breathe

I lie upon the gurney, a few final tears mark my cheeks
An angelic face leans down and in a soft soothing voice
Speaks the words I will never forget, are you ready?
All I can say is yes, it’s all that I need to say.

The journey to the operating room is slow and steady
Befitting the significance of this short journey
I watch as the lights above me pass as rhythmic milestones.
Another of the many countdowns I’ve marked

The final set of doors open, on the other side my new life awaits
As the anesthesia begins, I close my eyes for the final moments
I wait as the darkness closes in
And wonder in this instant, if the caterpillar dreams of flying

First came the awareness
Of the blackness,
A living thing wrapped about my mind
Reluctant to release its hold

It yields ever so slightly at my minds insistence
Melting slowly back into the dream
Fragments of reality reappear fitfully
Coalescing into a memory

Dissolving in the soft light, and muffled sound
The world reappears, but the vision lingers.
The dream has always ended the same
I wake to the question, “where am I, could this be real?”

This time is different, I awaken to an unknown world
My life has changed forever during this momentary sleep,
I’ve waited for this for so long, I’ve dreamed of this for so long
Patience abandons me, so close now, I will the fog to clear

A lifetime of dreaming and waiting, over in an instant
My mind seeks connection to my new reality
Reaching out to nerves and muscles still paralyzed
Searching for that first glimmer of sensation

I know the truth, the recollection has returned
But I crave proof, a feeling, a sensation, a glimpse
Straining to focus, what do I expect to see?
A short gasp of breath at the sight of the bandages

Gone the ever changing lumps and bumps
Replaced by smoothness, a continuous unobtrusive curve
A simplicity belying the beauty that lies below
Could this be real? Again that question reappears

The thought brings a momentary wave
Of panic, or fear, or joy? Perhaps all 3, perhaps all at once
Breath deep, close my eyes, Let the fear and panic drift away
No it’s a feeling of completeness, of wholeness…

Of Joy

I smile…..

Another Step

Another morning, another milestone, yet another step on the journey.
At my favorite table in my favorite coffee shop, looking down at the airline ticket I just purchased to take me to and from Montreal. Leaving before dawn on March the 12th, I return as the final embodiment of Rachel’s feminine spirit on March the 22nd.
The 20th of March is my birthday and the first day of spring, a time of rebirth that will take on a much deeper meaning to me this time and forever after.
Each time I read that line the tears well up in my eyes and my breath stutters just a bit.

I ponder the meaning of all these feelings welling up. I am excited, at bit terrified and oh so curious. I wander back through my memories, viewing snippets of a lifetime living in the shadows. The more time I spend, immersed in recollections, the more instances I remember of being out of sync with who I really was. I have always had a sense of when I became aware of my gender incongruity, but the truth is that it made me so uncomfortable I didn’t think about it much, it was just there.
That has changed since I transitioned and I became comfortable with the reality of me. I realize now how much earlier in my life I knew of my differences. It doesn’t really change anything but it does help to reassure me that this is not a dream.

I imagine everyone goes through these feelings as they make their way down this final stretch of a journey that has lasted a lifetime.
I know the steps, I know the path, in my mind, in my dreams, I have taken those same steps and traced the journey ten thousand times. The realization takes root that this time is different, that this time is real, that it is not just another one of the countless dreams I have had over the course of my lifetime.
I look down at these pieces of paper, I look beyond the words “confirm your GRS”, beyond the departure time listed on the plane ticket and I marvel at what they represent. A dream made reality, a future made whole that was until now only fog and shadow.

I continue to deal with the anxiety of the unknown, and the certain knowledge that life will never be the same again, but the excitement grows a bit more each day.

Another Milestone

Four years, is it really possible? Four years, what did I think this place would look like? Could I have ever envisioned where I am in my life and what the past 1460 days have felt like, looked like, even have smelled like?
It has been an extraordinary one thousand four hundred and sixty days, four trips around the sun and countless trips to the therapist and words, reams and reams of words. Words of despair, words of joy, words of gratitude disbelief and amazement.

The world looks very different than I supposed it would, but I think that is true of everything in life. The truth of the matter is that we project the way that we will feel and interact with the world using the way we feel now. The trouble with that thinking is that four years later I am not nearly the person that I was. I honestly don’t feel I would recognize myself from four years ago and as I continue to change and evolve I wonder what I will look and feel like four years from now.

I will say the most astounding thing that I’ve learned is that is never too late to make a change, big or small, it matters not. Humans have such an amazing ability to adapt, the survival instinct is something not to be underestimated.

I do know that I have committed to moving forward with the final chapter of my physical transition to Rachel. Today I made the down payment on my shiny new vagina, that’s what I’ve gotten to calling it, a slightly irreverent reference to something that is almost mystical and definitely spiritual. I have lived with the fantasy of this my entire life and in truth it has always been a fantasy, not in a sexual sense but that the person that I was did not have the courage and could not ever even imagine having that kind of courage.

Now that the ground work is done now that the commitment has been made I can get down to contemplating all of those messy details. Like I don’t know the first thing about vaginas real or otherwise, I wonder if it will come with a handbook? “Vaginas for Dummies” for example. I’ve never seen support groups, meetups or adult educations seminars on the care and maintenance of said body part. I’ll have to place an ad and see if I can find a tutor.

An Extraordinary Price

 

For Transgender Day of Remembrance

 

They paid with their lives, for someone else’s unease
That the rage of a bruised ego,
Could only be repaid in kind with bruises dark and angry
That your damaged swagger demands to be healed
With a balm of blood, sticky and warm
That embarrassment could be fatal,
Defies understanding
From a maniac’s lust to destroy those apart
To those that find joy in the suffering of others
The dangers of this world are real
Real as the feelings that compel us to be,
And to be the persons we are
For rewards that seem elusive and a future unclear
We risk consequences, unforgiving and everlasting
We brave all this and a thousand other slights and indignities
In a quest to arrive finally at life of authenticity
The journey long, So many fall by the wayside
Each year the list of lives lost to hate and despair
Grows longer and longer
Each week brings news of another lost and then yet another
Each year we lament their lives cut short
We cry for the loss of their voices from our chorus
Each year we speak their names, remember their faces
And vow never to forget.