‘Forty Years Ago Today’
(24 Dec 2019)
Forty years ago today.
Forty years ago – Christmas Eve 1979 – was the end of a highly pivotal year in my life and in my Inter-sex and Transsexual experience. Probably my most consequential year of my life.
I’ve written about the anniversary of 40 years ago today several times this year. This may likely be the last time this year that this anniversary gets this attention.
January 1979 began with my first appointment with my Primary Care Physician. My residence was at a small community of barely 3000 population, so I made no expectations upon the town’s sole doctor other than to obtain a general physical exam and a referral to a possible endocrinology specialist at the larger city about 45 miles away. Done. Though I was totally nervous with this physician, he was quite accepting of my plight. I presented my Stanford enrollment papers to him so that he knew that I was quite serious about my request.
February saw multiple events come my way.
Janus Information Facility arranged an appointment for me with a Transition counsellor. That didn’t go well. He had me strip naked to take pictures. I can get that maybe this was valid to document my anatomy, but I eventually felt creeped out about it and never returned. My mother and my sister Kathy knew about this appointment. They eavesdropt my telephone call to him when I was visiting them that month; turnabout is fair play when I eavesdropt on their gossip about me after I finished my telephone call. That was the visit when my mother told Kathy how she was ‘one and done’ – the first time I comprehended that term and how she meant about it with me not being her child. My mother spoke that term many times before, but I had no reference to its meaning til that day.
Lemme tell you about Bob Melvin. He was the DJ at KTAN (Sierra Vista) when I was active in the high school radio station club. Bob would befriend me during the following years, teach radio broadcasting to me, encourage me to obtain my FCC licence. Bob and Jennifer took me in as surrogate parents (so to speak) during my first year living on my own. He supervised me at KTAN for a few years til Ken Ferguson, the owner, died and his heirs sold the radio station. Bob moved to Phoenix and eventually DJ-ed at KRUX; Bob was the last DJ at KRUX. Hey, Bob – if you happen upon this, or maybe someone who knows him will tell him. I am sorry that I could not bring myself to share any of this with you. You were always good to me, I didn’t want to spoil our friendship. Anyway, Bob and I had a great visit during February 1979.
That was the day when the metropolitan Phoenix area incurred a massive flood that wiped out most Salt River river bed crossings and the Mill Avenue / Tempe Bridge. As I recall, only the Interstate highway that crossed the Salt River was open to traffic for several months as the only route to cross the River within the metropolitan area. Black Canyon City was hit by floods that destroyed the Interstate highway through their city.
In a long-forgotten jumble of memory, I was frequently going to Disco dancing clubs throughout 1979. At one time, about Spring, I met a dance partner. I told her about me as something of a test. After all, innumerable dance partners at these clubs meant little likelihood that she would ever see me again at another day. I was wrong. Instead, she offered her Norinyl birth control pills to me – she wouldn’t need them while we were regular dance partners. She kept giving her pills to me til my physician began prescribing Diethylstilbestrol to me later during 1979.
Summer 1979 was momentous. My father and I travelled to visit his relatives at New Jersey (metropolitan New York City). He drove first. I flew stand-by. We drove home together a couple weeks later. But much happened during those two weeks. Well, much had been happening before those two weeks. My body was changing on Norinyl, but I lacked the self-conscious awareness about any of those changes up top. I was wearing T-shirts that didn’t hide much. It was not til I came home and saw some pictures of the visit when I realised that family got a preview of what was happening to me. At least I noticed something, regardless of whether or not they did. Of course, family imposed their gag rules against me – our family’s own ‘Don’t talk, don’t tell’. Good that their swimming pool was gone; dunno how I could have gone swimming unless I wore one of Cousin Donna’s swim suits. Hah!
I was the one who assembled driving music whenever my father and I travelled together. That Summer, was no different, but the music had a distinct change in one angle – all female music performances except the then-current McCartney album. I don’t recall that my father appreciated my selections – too much hint of Estrogen for his liking – whether inferred or blatant. If Dear Ol’ Dad denied my talking about my Transition, then he would listen from other people.
Our family is from the New York City area. David Bowie’s notorious song ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ was still getting heavy air play – especially on Free Form and Album-Oriented Rock music stations on the radio. I froze with fear whenever that song came on the radio and Dear Ol’ Dad was in ear shot. I never played that album when he was around. Pete, my Cousin Donna’s husband-to-be, took me to tour NYC at night during this visit Back East. Suddenly, we drove through an area; he told me to take a good hard look at all the ‘Tr@nnies’ doing tricks. He meant to demean me during my Transition. For shame, Pete! You, a medical doctor of all things.
I recall that by September was when I was about to embark on my next step. My counsellor approved me to start Estrogen hormones, thus my Internist began prescribing Diethylstilbestrol – 6mg per day. As good as I felt the hit from Norinyl, DES was far stronger and far better. Tingling was the best.
Something unexpected also happened that neither my Internist nor counsellor expected – my sleep-time dreams took a twist. My dose was to take all 6mg at once after breakfast, but I repeatedly got sick. My worst fear was that my body was rejecting the Estrogen. My Internist told me to divide the dose throughout the day – that worked, no more sickness, no more dreams. Bummer! A few years later with another Internist and we discovered what was happening. Full-dose DES brought about real Morning Sickness, as in pregnancy Morning Sickness. My body reacted to the 6mg hit as a signal of pregnancy and my subconscious rendered those body impulses to night-time dreams being pregnant. I really miss my pregnancy dreams, but no way would I want to experience Morning Sickness again (but I did that second time around with the second Internist).
Not much fills my memory from then til Christmas Eve 1979.
My job at KBWA, the local radio station, assigned me to the first shift on Christmas Day – sign-on at 5am Christmas morning. That meant an abbreviated visit with family that would end with Christmas Midnight Mass.
I recall Christmas Eve day. My father, Kathy, Uncle Jack, and Grand-aunt Lena, and I would be spending time that day together. We were at the mansion of Kathy’s employer where Kathy was house-sitting for him during his vacation. Every other participant was in a celebratory mood, except me. I so much wanted to share the year during the short visit, but no one wanted to allow me that one opportunity. Their suppression was agonising.
I had no expectation that I would present as Sharon during that visit and certainly no plan to attend Mass as Sharon. I merely sought family interest in one of its members same as the others demanded and received.
My father, Kathy, and I attended Catholic Midnight Mass.
I drove home not much later. It was about 120 miles, little more than two hours. I cried most of the way home.
I don’t recall that I took a nap before work. I put myself into my Christmas Day show playing Christmas music (not really my interest, but I aim to please my audience). I played my KBWA radio station Christmas production of PSAs and promos. I inserted snips of the Beatles’ Christmas Album as well.
The week leading to New Year was soul-searching. How did I feel being left out, left alone again during a holiday season celebration? By New Year’s Eve I made my conclusion that I meant nothing to that family, therefore, in return, that family would diminish in importance to me.
There are few family who are here still among the living who know first-hand about these events, witnessed these events.
My sister Kathy knows about these events.
My cousins Jack, Gail, Carole, and Beverly know about these events.
Hey, these cousins didn’t mind when I was younger, wearing their teen girl make-up;
– ‘Oh, Nickie! What a cute little girl!’.
Then we’d all go to the girls’ bedroom, play their 45s, and I ‘danced like a girl’ to more of their amusement.
My Uncle Artie and Uncle Jack know about these events.
None of of these family have anything to do with me.
– My sister Kathy severed our last legal connection earlier this year; I have not seen her since 1993, her irregular correspondence was routinely biting.
– Cousin Bev was the one who called me on the telephone in 2016. She told me that Kathy gave a box to her a decade earlier – that box contained mementos from my mother meant for me upon her death. Bev couldn’t be bothered to deliver it to me any time sooner. She told me on the telephone that I am a ‘monster’ who ‘hides in her bushes’ and ‘waits to attack her’.
– The others similarly have no meaningful communication with me; I have not seen any of them since 1992, 1993, or 1994. Very unlikely that anyone will be calling me for a visit any time soon – they want nothing to do with me.
Each of them have their own social media pages, including their own page here on Facebook. This essay will arrive at their Feed same as their compositions arrive at my Feed. I don’t expect a reply or a Comment from any one of them. Could be that this essay will stir up old gossip.
Holiday gatherings disappointed me growing up. All their family cheer among themselves without noticing my pain because they isolated me from them.
I truly can’t recall any holiday gathering with family since 1979 – four decades ago today.
I didn’t expect that streak to break this year. It surely will not break next year, either.
I’m not bitter about the family foisted upon me. Just a realist.
‘Godfather’ (Part 1) is a Christmas movie, at least it occurs during the Christmas season. Watch those wine glasses at Michael’s hotel room when he and Kay are dining. Sometimes they are full, sometimes they are not quite full, sometimes they moved. Continuity was not someone’s strong suit during production.
Anyway, maybe I shall watch Godfather for Christmas.
Or maybe Marlo Thomas’ version of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’; hers was the first version that I saw of that story:
I watched that TV movie alone that year when my father and I lived at New Mexico. My father and I lived in the same house, but we hardly had a home.
Thank you, Dear Reader for bearing with me. Please return for another fine mess.
Thank you to the Resources who contribute to this page.