‘There Are People Up Here I Like For This’
(4 Jan 2019)
Let’s hope that I am a better person, better human, today than last year, three years ago, six years ago, a decade ago.
It’s time to reflect on this Winter afternoon – the Sun is shining, the sky is clear, the air is warm.
Lizzy jumpt down from her roof-top perch to visit. How cool is that!
It was three years ago.
Or shall I start at six years ago.
Maybe 10 years ago that I can count my latest life journey.
I travelled more than miles to arrive at Asia in January 2016. I travelled to restore my place in social living.
First stop was to pay homage to Tank Man and the courageous Chinese people of their Democracy Spring 1989. He stood at this street and faced down the entire Chinese Army and its line of tanks. Their Statue of Democracy stood near that pillar.
I had been employed by the State of Arizona beginning July 1990:
- I worked as a public assistance case manager for applicants for such programs as Food Stamps, AFDC, MedicAid (AHCCCS in Arizona), Emergency Assistance, etc. (1990 – 1993).
- next I worked at AHCCCS; I was part of the Payroll Department as an Accounting Clerk then Fiscal Specialist (1993 – 1999) preparing employee payroll, doing payroll audits.
- finally, I was employed as an Administrative Assistant / Fiscal Specialist for Department of Administration doing Risk Management accounting; I shall proudly boast that I accurately and timely prepared and maintained multiple billion Dollar account spreadsheets to the penny (1999 – 2010).
Keeping the record accurate, I really don’t know when my employment with the State of Arizona officially ended.
My director ordered me to speak to an agency manager upstairs to discuss a discrepancy in my Social Security file; first thing she said were her questions asking me about being Transsexual, asking why my Social Security file changed from Sharon / female to Nick / male (2006). I refused to respond; my medical privacy is not for my employer’s debate.
Two years of grief and harassment later, my agency director summoned me to his office to present termination papers to me (August 2008) – ‘mentally unfit’ to be employed by the State of Arizona following a series of events that began two years earlier, being F-M Transsexual was their accusation.
I fought my termination for two more years while apparently still on the rolls as an employee. I won my effort, but hey, it was just little ol’ me without any legal oomph to back up my legal victory – not one lawyer, not the employee union, not EEOC, not any other government agency, no one came to my legal support. I repeatedly sought to return to my workplace; my agency director ordered State security to deny my presence on State property. My final attempt to return to work was October 2010; again, my agency director refused to allow me to return to work.
I applied for Unemployment Insurance (October 2010); the State agreed to my application – they made no appeal, they admitted to each and every accusation that I presented to UI. UI determined that I endured years of a ‘hostile work environment’.
I submit that my employer had their hand wringing me into financial ruin. UI granted my allotment as $200 per week, subject to federal and state income tax withholding and Social Security / MediCare deduction. Payment was to be via bank debit card. No card arrived by the end of October. I spoke with the agent at UI and with the issuing bank; both assured me that my card would arrive by the end of November. Nope.
At least I had Food Stamps and a church charity food box. My mortgage and utilities were falling behind. Money for gasoline was tight. UI still obligated me to conduct in-person job searches no matter that I had little money for gasoline or bus fare.
December arrived, and passed. Still no UI debit card.
My own bank account was literally $0.
Finally, into January, came my UI debit card. I immediately paid my overdue bills.
Meanwhile, the Republi-con Congress passed legislation cutting off ‘extended’ UI eligibility. Remember, this was during the depths of Baby Bush’s Second Republi-con Great Depression. Jobs were not easy to find. I submitted hundreds (likely more than a thousand) of job applications to hundreds of prospective employers, I had only four interviews throughout the entire time I was seeking work under UI – October 2010 through December 2011.
I had no idea what was going to happen when UI ceased at the end of 2011.
At one point during 2011, Social Security Administration notified me that my employer, the State of Arizona, applied for ‘permanent disability’ for me on my behalf. That was curious because SSA only recently determined that I am ‘not disabled’ when I used their determination to succeed in my efforts to save my employment. Nothing changed during that intervening time. Curious again, SSA approved my permanent disability; I received my first SSA check as UI concluded. I received the grand sum of $1100 per month, net about $1000 per month following the $100 monthly MediCare deduction.
The combination of these and other accumulated events were both stressful and depressing.
My life collapsed into little more than going to the Public Library for socialising.
That diminished by some vague time during 2013. It’s not as if I charted one specific date on my calendar.
By 2014, I left my home only four times all year – at least I had some semblance to buy groceries. I was little more than a fetal lump on the floor. The radio and TV created noise to drown out the silence.
At this time, during one of my departures from home, criminals broke in, ransacked it, and stole most all of my personal and valuable belongings.
I suspect that it was a neighbour. She previously cased my home.
I was devastated. I spent my days at the local shelter where I ate dinner – fearful of being home.
I managed to make an appointment with my Endocrinologist (March 2015). She was disappointed in my circumstance. She made a screen print of one local physician’s home page and encouraged me to do research.
I participated at an on-line chat room of mostly all women. This was at the time of Transsexual issues taking public awareness. I felt an obligation to play defence. I was didactic – not very friendly; it was a learning experience.
With the Summer of 2015, I continued my fumbled re-socialising while preparing for travel.
But sheesh, seven years of self-isolation can’t be cured within a few months.
Back to the Public Library. One thing led to another. I attended community courses taught at the Library. I met strangers who befriended me. I was socialising.
Elements were coming together. One of my class-mates was an immigrant from Thailand – she encouraged me to travel to Thailand through the course of our conversations. Co-incidentally, I had been corresponding with the GCS / SRS surgeons of Thailand; I chose Dr. Chettawut. I had cover for my departure.
I became acquainted with several Trans people through their own web-site pages. Oddly, I seemed more amazed at them – meeting Trans people even at that distance – forgetting my own life history. After all, I spent my adult life as ‘stealth’ (one of dozens of words, phrases, acronyms that I would soon be learning). I lost my self-recognition that I am also Transsexual during those four decades of stealth and subsequent self-isolation. I explained to a few different on-line audiences that I rarely recognised my self as Transsexual except for the times at a medical appointment that specifically included that fact.
I befriended ‘C’, a Chettawut Sister, while I was preparing for my journey to Thailand. Dr. Chettawut originally scheduled me to arrive one week before C’s departure. I hoped that we could develop a friendship before my departure – I sure wanted a friend at Baan Siri. Nope, the Passport agency would be certain that my travel would be delayed a few extra months.
I did not realise my naive gullibility. By Thanksgiving Day, she wove her tale to me that she was the wounded Spaniel. She wailed that her family and even her patient companion abandoned her. She bemoaned how she was financially constricted. I offered my empathies to her, I literally offered to travel out-of-town to share turkey sandwiches with her, to be met with insult from her. Over time, I learned that who she presented to me during summer 2015 and how she presents her self on this cyber sphere is not who she is. Lesson learned.
I prepared for my travel as time shortened. I made several preparatory appointments with my Primary Care Physician and Endocrinologist. I added medical examinations with several specialists: Radiology, Phlebotomy, Electrocardiography, Urology, Gynecology.
This was when I received interesting information from the head nurse for my Primary physician following my meeting with the head nurse at Gynecology. My Primary nurse questioned me, ‘Why do you want to have your ovaries removed?’. Just exactly like that. My organs were abdominal, but til then, no medical authority told me the fact what they were.
My preference when I go to the doctor is to provide to them the opportunity to examine me without my influence, fearful that something that I present could be wrong, could lead them to an erroneous conclusion.
January travel arrived quickly.
I met new friends at Baan Siri Cottages and at the Chettawut Clinic. Everyone was kind to me. Looking back, I was still in need of socialising – badly. Looking back, the person whom I was then was probably someone whom I might not want to have befriended either.
You put up with me during my three months overseas:
I said some bad words in my effort to be your good neighbour and patient companion. Maybe my apologies can’t change the past, but I can change for the lessons learned.
So it is. I am learning to be a friend, to assert my own persona, while adhering to lessons in social order.
Thank you for visiting today.
Thank you for slogging through my ramblings.
May 2019 be a better year for all us – each of us as we need.
Be nice to one another.
Keep your words and actions kind and decent; no insults, we are better people.
Please return for another essay.