‘A Change is A-Comin”

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(1969 xx xx) Slim - Muffin - Charlie (Side yard)My dad took a two-years contract to teach at an American international school at Sao Paulo, Brasil (1974 – 1976); I stayed home and kept house, attended college, and attained employment during those two years.  Our missed opportunity to travel to Liberia allowed another opportunity for my future – proving that as one door closes another door opens.

I had a brief, chance meeting with Denise, a transsexual (1974).  She told me that I am okay.  (1973 04) Self-PictureShe gave information to me; her help allowed me to begin devising my plan.  We would have a second brief, fortuitous meeting (1977).

This is a picture (below) when my dad, Slim, and I visited relatives at Follansbee, West Virginia (August 1976).  I began trimming Slim’s hair during the hot Summer months; that made him happy.  People said he looked like a little lamb.

(1976 08) Follansbee (3) - Slim and Boyuks (Ohio River view)

What did I know of the coming of my change?  What did I know of my future?  My transition to Sharon would commence in earnest in less than two years.  Ah, why not; it is now a strange sense looking back in memory at that picture of me from 1976 – I did not know my future would be well.  I watched the Olympic Games that Summer, same as many Americans.  I cheered Bruce Jenner competing for Decathalon gold, same as many Americans.  What did ‘Bruce’ know of ‘his’ future while standing at the winner’s podium?  Transition to Caitlyn would commence.

My dad secured a one-year contract as Principal of a public school near the Navajo reservation (1977 – 1978).  My dad travelled first and set up house while I finished a temporary appointment where I worked at a nearby military base.  My trip and my time at New Mexico was to be bitter.  This was when I lost Slim along the way.  I turned my heart-ache into action and began my process of transition.

I lived under my father’s roof at New Mexico.  I’ll grant his due to his right of authority while I was living in his home now that I was age 21; it was he who could not accept that I was an adult who earned my own position of responsibility in his home.  He snooped through my room and discovered incriminating books that I checked-out from the Gallup Public Library; he beat me for that.  I endured rather than calling the police on him.  I could have charged him for domestic violence – that respected school authority of the community and his church.

I worked as a substitute teacher that school year; I taught at my dad’s elementary school and the nearby high school.

I contacted Stanford and made enquiries (1977).  Their program provided information and referrals; they helpt me take early steps in my transition.  I eventually made my first medical appointment and examination (Spring 1978); my health was good and my body was ready to begin what would happen next.

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I returned to my civilian appointment at the nearby federal military base (effective June 1978). Military and civilian employees of this electronics command worked at duty stations world-wide; special experts made their audit rounds from one military base to another.

My desk was one of three at the ante-room to the Director’s Office.  The latest auditor arrived and our Director escorted her into his office.  My supervisor told me this employee would be here the next two weeks.  My supervisor then quietly asked my co-worker and me whether we thought of anything curious about this auditor; I said, ‘No’.  My supervisor continued needling us, ‘Have you ever seen a female electronics engineer?’.  Well, no; female senior-grade electronics engineers were rare.  I still did not get the point.  Finally my supervisor told us that this visiting civilian electronics engineer was once a man – she is a male-to-female transsexual.

Soon others from our department gathered at our ante-room and spoke in hushed tones.  They all wanted to see the sex change – as if some side-show freak.

I had to hold my emotions and my tongue.  I secretly had been taking care of my own paperwork to begin my transition, I changed my Social Security record to my new name and sex, and was working with referrals from Stanford; but I was still employed as a male.  I was miffed how my supervisor was handling this information considering the fact that all information passing through our Directorate was adjudged on ‘need to know’ criteria.  Why was it within my supervisor’s ‘need to know’ authority to inform us that this engineer is a transsexual?  Or anyone else’s ‘need to know’?

The Director and engineer came out of his office and proceeded to make the rounds – introducing Linda to the office personnel.  I introduced myself and tried using eye contact and a smile to express my empathy for her and apologise for the crude behaviour of my Directorate co-workers.

Whispered gossip continued throughout that first day.  Some later time, I went to a private telephone and called Linda.  I re-introduced myself, told her who I was and where I worked, mentioned my personal situation, and asked if we could talk either at lunch or after work.  We agreed to meet at her hotel room on Friday.  All week we exchanged knowing glances – me of friendship to Linda, she recognising my quiet support.

Linda’s novelty wore off by mid-week; everyone was back to business and not obsessed with her presence.  I did not sense any hostility toward Linda among my fellow Directorate co-workers, mostly curiosity.  I felt relief for her.

Finally, an opportunity to spend quality time.  I was filled with questions; Linda and I spoke many hours that Friday after work.  She gave tips, ideas, and suggestions to me.  Linda also told me about Janus (Galveston).  We parted; I contacted Janus and would later receive their transition information package.

Linda’s second week at work went smoothly; we continued exchanging friendly greetings all week.  Most office gossip ceased.

Well, the sense is that times have changed – hopefully – for the better.  Linda’s private matter was of no one’s concern.  No one at the Directorate had any authority to ‘out’ Linda or treat her as that side-show attraction they did her first day.  She did not choose to make any presentation to our department.  She should have been left alone.  On the other hand, I am forever gratefull for her time she shared with me.

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I was on my own by December 1978 and working at a different federal agency at a city distant from my dad; I was no longer subject to my dad’s rules against my feminine protesting nor his continued assaults.  I made additional enquiries of Janus (Galveston).  I attended counselling sessions and medical appointments as 1979 began.  One appointment led to my first estrogen – Norinyl birth control pills.  Yes!  Everything felt good.

My dad invited me to travel with him to visit relatives at New Jersey (Summer 1979).  Little did anyone accept that I had been on estrogen for a few months by then and was clearly showing results ‘up top’.

My gradual transition from male to female continued:

  • There were the clothes I began wearing.  I transitioned to uni-sex female jeans, tops, shoes, sox, undies.
  • My doctors graduated me from Norinyl birth control, to Diethylstilbestrol, to Premarin at increasing dosages.
  • I was humoured at my dreams on ERT.  My initial DES prescription dosage was 6 mg per day, originally all at once each morning.  That dose occasionally rendered ‘morning sickness’.  One side effect of morning sickness went to my night-time dreams – I experienced pregnancy in my dreams.  Apparently the body sensed the hormone level and triggered those dreams – whether because of or regardless of my anatomical predicament.
  • My quasi-female inter-sexed body began transforming toward my actual female body.  My original ‘A’ breasts went to ‘B’ the second year, to ‘C’ by 1985; my growing girls were complicated to hide under extra T-shirts when I presented in my male role at work, yet were sufficient to help me pass as I began presenting myself as female in other elements of my life.
  • The original equipment that doctors mis-identified as a ‘penis’ held no sufficiency for male purposes; estrogen reduced it to less than an enlarged clitoris.  I had rudimentary makings of my vagina that improved on exogenous estrogen and got me to be vaginally-focused.
  • My ERT re-developed my structure; my shape fit better in woman’s pants than men’s.  My androgynous body structure was ready to transform to female.
  • My puberty was late in life – toward my late-teens and early-20s – a sort of personal puberty blocker was floating in my bloodstream.  That extended my worry time not knowing when it would kick in while helping facilitate my eventual transition to female.  My voice barely changed; people on the telephone called me ‘Miss’ until I told my name to them.  I had no Adam’s apple that required reduction.  My hairline had little time to become male.  My body hair of profuse male distribution since childhood began diminishing, losing its male pattern, and eventually was gone thanks to my awakened estrogen cellular receptor sites.  Hormones converted my body to hairless female except for one last male vestige – facial hair.

(1981 xx xx) Work ID Photographs

The only real complication was that pesky facial hair; it began coming in strong only months before I began my hormones.  My face developed that horrid ‘5 o’clock shadow by noon’ look.  Estrogen was too late to suppress that facial hair.  I shaved for a time; I scraped my face raw.  Eventually I stopt shaving and I plucked out my facial hair – Saturday mornings were my prime event followed by weekday touch-ups as needed.  It only took an hour or so – I did it while watching evening TV.  Tweezing out my facial hair did not hurt one bit.  It mattered none that it would grow back; plucking restored my smooth facial skin and eliminated that shadow.

My internist provided his initial assessment to me.  He first cautioned that my hairy male body indicated that I would not likely experience any feminisation on ERT.  He cautioned me to prepare my ‘Plan B’ alternative (life as a male) if I could not pass as female.

It was a far different story two years later.  My doctor told me that my body was becoming the female body it was meant to be had I been born fully female.  Quite a pleasing reversal!  My body’s estrogen cellular receptor sites saved my life and confirmed me female.  All that remained outward was eliminating that intrusive facial hair.  Electrolysis eliminated that in due time; no more shaving, no more plucking – forever.

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