So, that happened.

Nine months of radio silence aside, I AM NOT DEAD. Very much the opposite, in fact. Breathing and working and doing the full-time living-as-a-guy thing, which is quite a bit easier to do when you relocate to a state where almost everyone you meet doesn’t know you.

I’ve held off blogging for a number of reasons, but here’s the basic set:

1. Laziness. Because yeah.
2. I’ve been busy as all fuck.
3. For most of those nine months I had nothing to blog about, because I was making no major strides with transitioning, and that was incredibly depressing and unmotivating.
4. Laziness.

Despite the extended absence, my stats counter shows I’m still getting anywhere between seven and ten views a day. So, uh, loyal stalkers, I fear and salute you! Unless you’re advertising bots, in which case you should go talk to Cleverbot, because seriously, zi has opinions.

I’m sitting at work right now, waiting for my housemate to come pick me up because I left my bus pass at home like a functional and intelligent human being, so this is just going to be a quickie update. But here’s why I decided to start blogging again, in a nutshell:

There has been progress in my transition.

Like, actual progress.

Very exciting.

The bare bones elevator-pitch account goes like this:

1. I’ve been seeing a gender-therapist for the last two months, and I have SO MANY ISSUES ABOUT THAT. I WILL DISCUSS THEM AT LENGTH.
2. I got signed up with the Lyon-Martin Health Services Clinic in San Francisco, which is an organization that specializes in healthcare for queer women and trans* people.
3. I’m going to be starting testosterone in a week, if my blood test results come back clean and healthy. (I had the test last week).
4. My housemate will be having top-surgery August 1st.

So, you can expect some catching up in the next few weeks as I get into all of that. I’m also thinking of picking up a channel on YouTube to document some of this, as that’s what all the cool kids are doing nowadays. And I think it would be worthwhile for both a) keeping a record for myself, to help me chart my own changes, and b) creating more trans* visibility, if I may be very pretentious for a moment.

In conclusion:

Still here!

And we’ll take it from there.

[28] Trans questions at work.

Posted: October 16, 2011 in general

I’m liking the new job on the whole, but it does come with some interesting quirks. One of them, let’s call her Co-worker Unfortunate, is basically a walking disaster area of social ineptitude. She was kind of endearing until she decided to ask me ALL THE PERSONAL QUESTIONS EVER about being trans. Including:

“What kind of surgeries are you planning?”
“How did your family take it? Are they religious? Did you tell your parents?”
“How far along are you?”
“Do you miss being female?”

Now, I don’t mind answering questions, I really don’t. I’m happy to share my experiences, such as they are, and I don’t have any especial squeamishness about discussing the nuts and bolts. I think it’s a Very Good Thing to get gender-discussions out there and easily accessible, without any pearl-clutching tabooishness. These are things that should be discussed.

THAT SAID, I’d like more of a warm up then: “Hi. Welcome to the office. What bathroom do you use?”

Buy me a drink first, at least.

I’m very tempted to make it a rule that for every personal question I get asked, I’m allowed to ask one in return. I’m already composing a list. It could include things like:

– What kind of birth control do you use?
– What was your best sex dream?
– Have you ever committed a crime?
– What’s your opinion on masturbation?
– Do your family hate you?
– Do you spit or swallow?

And so on.

Of course, inappropriate questions at work are not just a trans issue. It just feels a little extra personal, somehow, when a stranger wants to put your fledgling identity under the microscope while you’re trying to file.

Aside from that, everyone else has been lovely.

So, now I’m going to church.

Don’t panic, I haven’t come over all fundamentalist. My housemate goes to the PMCC (Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church) nearby, which is part of a big organization of queer-friendly, trans-welcoming churches who preach a mixed bag of religion and spirituality, and don’t mind if you’re a bit edgy about believing in God. If you click the link and look at the picture, you’ll see my housemate near the bottom right-hand corner: look for the blue hair and big grin. He invited me to come check things out and meet the people, who were super welcoming. I liked the community vibe and Rev Terri, who’s an awesome queer butch-flavoured woman married to an equally awesome woman (both of them are in the picture, too, holding hands at the front), so I kept going. The Sunday sermons give me a chance to slow down and think about things, like the shape of my own morality and the weak spots in my character I want to improve.

Anyhow, today was the Feast of St Francis, so people were invited to bring their pets. Z and I took four rats, who were so good. I had the oldest boy, Twister, sitting on my shoulder for most of the service.

(It’s worth mentioning at this point that I also got drafted into the choir. My voice is unaltered as of yet, but low enough to sing tenor, which they’re happy to let me do. Tons of fun. Also means that Z — who’s also in the choir — and I spend most of the service front and centre, along with the rest of choir.)

The rats were a runaway show-stopper, especially with the kids. People loved them. One lady asked us to take a picture of Twister being held by her and her daughter. I wound up sitting down with a bunch of kids who wanted to hold them and feed them and ask a bunch of questions; it was pretty cute.

And one of the boys was wearing glittery orange nail polish, which led to an interesting moment.

Me: I love your nails. They’re fabulous.
Little boy: *gets all embarrassed*
Little girl A: I don’t think he’s supposed to wear it.
Me: Because he’s a boy?
Little girl B: *enthusiastic nod*
Me: I’m wearing nail-polish. I got a pedicure done the other day. Want to see? *shows off shiny chocolate-coloured toenails*
Little girl A: *startled* Boys can wear nail-polish?
Me: Sure, why not? It’s fun.
Little boy: *lights up*

I’ve never actually had a pedicure before this week, but I’ve always wanted to try it, and I managed to score a part-time admin job at a real estate place, so I figured I might as well treat myself and Z. It’s a strange experience, but fun: there’s more poking with sharp tools than I expected, but I got a foot rub and various other nice things, and none of the women batted an eye at the two transdudes debating polish colours (Z got dark blue). We joked a lot about it being the most transgressive thing we’d done recently.

Turns out it kind of was.

Now for something fun!


Excellent mash-up poetry that surprised me. I started out thinking that it was all about female empowerment (which is no bad thing), but it shifts and warps and plays about, and is actually about genderfuck and fabulousness. I enjoyed it.

There’s also Gender? A Short Film, which doesn’t allow for imbedding, but is another shot of interesting. It doesn’t say anything especially new, but it also has a lot of genderfuck (which doesn’t get enough press), and a swathe of various flavours of transguy, and it made me want a pug.

Pugs are awesome.

Still waiting on news from the second interview. In the meantime, something entirely different.

I’ve got a cool temper. Not like my housemate Z, who ignites like a flash-fire and gets over it in five minutes, or my brother, who triggers over really specific things and then sulks for weeks. Mine is slow-build, like a tumbleweed picking up linty bits of irritation and tucking them away in a twitchy ball of annoyance. I get snappish and scratchy and unpleasant to be around, and start snarling that “I’m fine, quit asking” until people end up treading on eggshells and I have to go for a long, long walk, or write something, or listen to angry music, or vent at a good friend until it’s out of my system. Anything that isn’t smoking.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t blow up at people and I don’t shout at telemarketers, or service providers who make a mistake, or the waiter who thinks he’s correctly identified a pack of butches and winds up addressing a table of transguys with “Good evening, ladies!”

But I do frighten some of my friends occasionally when they think I’m being quietly furious at them, or they can’t figure out why I’ve upgraded from ‘mildly annoyed’ to ‘slightly murderous’ after five unrelated instances of generalized jackassery. Which makes me sound like some kind of bastard, but I’m not trying to be, and I’m certainly not trying to scare the people I like. It’s just how my mechanism for anger functions. I was kind of a bully as a kid, taller and stronger and smarter than a lot of other kids, and I didn’t have a good grasp on my own strength. I got told over and over “You must control yourself” until the message kicked itself into my hindbrain.

So I hang onto my temper, I damn sure don’t explode over people, and I wind up with irritation that becomes anger that becomes something compressed and cold and hard to get rid of.

Not all the time, but sometimes.

It’s a lot like having a corona of magnified annoyance wrapped around certain issues: things I’ve gotten twitchy about a couple of times, like when people eat with their mouths open, make me twitchier much quicker the next time around.

This is all basically a fancy way of processing why I went from perfectly chill to FURIOUS in about a nanosecond over some jackass dumping shit all over my old blog, Break It Down, Butch. A good chunk of it was because they went after my friends, which’d make anyone kick up a shitfit, but a big part of it was that they just flat out annoyed me and I wanted to yank out their jugular and use it for a jump-rope.

Bask in the glow of that beautiful image for a moment.

Actually — hm — I’m figuring this out as I’m writing it, so I keep pausing to confer with housemate Z who’s sitting on the opposite sofa, and it just occurred to me that what’s probably going on is that, naturally, I don’t have a cool temper. Naturally, I’m probably more of a flash-fire kind of guy, but I’ve learned to catch and compress and crush things down, so I’m left with inflammable diamonds instead of easily burned out coal.

Wow, that was overwritten.

Maybe I just don’t process anger very well, so it builds up and sticks until I can shift it all at once. Or maybe I’m just growing up and getting more inflexible, so things annoy me more. Or perhaps I’m just a leeeetle stressed, what with the moving continents and the job-hunting and the massive life changes, so I’m noticing this shit more. I’m certainly thinking about it more. I don’t want to be a snarly, unpleasant, pissed off jerkwad who can’t get over his own issues, especially given that I haven’t even started T yet.

Maybe it’s option d) all of the above.

Either way, I didn’t need to blow up at the journal-dumping jackass. My friends defended my honour and theirs with grace and cutting verbage, and I was proud of myself for not leaping in after them with both feet and post full of fight-picking sarcasm. I just said: “What they said”, which, granted, was not exactly mature, but it was mature-shaped. Well done, self.

Baby steps, I guess.

Job interview went well! I originally applied for a vet assistant position and didn’t have enough experience, but they liked me enough to suggest I apply for a kennel assistant position, which is the next rung down, so I did and I got a second interview. Hurrah!

For the curious, here’s the rough hierarchy of a vet’s office as I currently understand it.

Registered vet tech (requires a qualification)
Unregistered vet tech (requires on the job training but no qualifications, sometimes illegal depending on what state you’re in)
Vet assistant (no qualifications required, but experience necessary)
Kennel assistant (where you gain experience!)

Kennel assistants are basically the grunts of the office. They do the cleaning, dog-walking, shelf-stocking, running-and-fetching, feeding and watering the animals, and more cleaning. But it’s a good way to get a working introduction to a vet’s office, and the position I applied for comes with full benefits. Health insurance! Dental! Possibly visual! 401 K! These are all good things. And I’ll be working with animals, which is what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was knee-high.

So, fingers crossed.

They also seem extremely cool with the trans thing. I haven’t mentioned it directly, but Z and I have been in as clients and they’ve always been careful to refer to us by male pronouns, and they’ve been super friendly. I interviewed very much as myself this time: sexy-looking business shirt, black jacket, dark jeans (it’s California; jeans are okay for casual interviews), lip ring, short hair. I’ve been giving my name on my resume as ‘[first name] “DK” [last name]’, and they’ve stuck to calling me as DK, which is awesome. I reckon I’ll probably need to have a more direct talk about it when it comes time to present all my documentation, which is unaltered and has big accusing F’s stamped all over it, but I’m hoping it will continue to remain a non-issue. The whole office seems pretty alternative anyway: lots of hair dye and visible tattoos.

If all goes well, I’ll be able to start saving for T and top-surgery soon. I AM EXCITED.

[23] Interludes of life.

Posted: August 22, 2011 in general
Tags: , ,

I have a job interview tomorrow, and because the universe is a cruel and unfeeling entity I’ve spent the major portion of the night wing-manning my housemate in the ER because he decided to acquire CELLULITIS OF THE FACE.


Throat, specifically, because he has a special, special immune system fashioned on the French model of cheese-eating surrender monkey, i.e. totally ineffective at fending off invaders. Seriously, his whole throat went from perfectly fine to OMG red-and-painful-and-swollen in less than an hour. At midnight. Because it has a sense of drama.

He attempted to call a doctor friend, but couldn’t get through. And then a nurse friend, who said GO TO THE HOSPITAL WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR MOVE YOUR BUTTS.

Several-hundred forms, one cat scan and a prescription of antibiotics later, we are home.

The nurses and staff were absolutely excellent about addressing Z by his preferred name and pronouns, which was awesome and made the whole experience much less stressful. Z seems to be mostly fine, if still painful and a little miserable, but he’s bearing up like a trooper. If I was in his shoes I’d be waving my arms at strangers in the street and yelling “CELLULITIS OF THE FACE!” a lot, in between bouts of rocking in the fetal position. But I am not quite so hardcore.

And now to bed to catch four hours of sleep before the morning.

Job interview! Wish me luck.

The intersection of tired and restless is no place to find sleep. Which is another way of saying it’s 4:30 in the morning and I’m so thoroughly acclimatized to the American time zone that I’m back to being a night owl.

Bugger fuck.

I’m also the only person in the house who isn’t sick. Z has an ass-kicking cold, four of the five rats have upper respiratory infections, and the fifth rat has a seriously nasty abscess on his jaw that required surgery. This weekend has pretty much been spent watching films and doling out meds, hugs, and scritches. (On the other hand, now I know how to syringe antibiotics down a rat’s throat, and flush both a surgical drain and an ear canal. Aren’t I lucky?)

For a complete list of injuries, Z also took a chunk off his big toe tripping over a one-inch ledge, and his other big toe developed an abscess under the nail. Our mate Phi from New York came to stay with us for a while and got badly sunburned, too.

Tomorrow, I expect to lose a foot.

(If this turns out to be a funny aneurysm moment I will be deeply annoyed.)

Other than that, it’s pretty much same old, same old. Still waiting for my Social Security number to come through. Still having gosh-wow moments over the weird bits of Americana I keep running into (people are astonishingly friendly here, in an in-your-face kind of a way). Still definitely having immense love for X-Men: First Class, which I have now seen three times and would happily see a fourth. Turns out it’s going to be part of a reboot trilogy, to which I say hell yes. If you haven’t seen it, go now. Don’t finish reading this post. Find your local movie theatre, get a ticket, and bring the joy of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender’s fabulous, fabulous bromance into your life.

(I could go into depth and talk about the meaning of the film, the metaphors it holds for gay and trans people — there are many, including a brilliant little throw away line about don’t ask/don’t tell — and all the subtle little nuances of awesome. Or, alternatively, the ways it falls down, which are few but significant. Only juuuuuuust bucking the Bechdel Test being one, which it does by the skin of its teeth.

But I won’t, because I love it, and you should just go enjoy it.)

Besides, look at the dorktasticness:

No, I don’t have a crush. I have two.

All that aside, life continues much as it always does, albeit on another continent. I am noticing that my accent is acclimatizing very quickly. It’s always been English with an American “twang”, which generally gets me read as Australian, South African, or once, memorably, Irish. I’ve only been here three weeks or so, but already I think the American is getting much stronger, though I’m still routinely identified as foreign. I wonder how it will sound in a year?

Other than deeper, hopefully.

I’m trying to find an essay. Straight People Call me Sir by Trish Thomas, containing the following quote:

Straight people call me sir and faggots cruise me, but other butches say: “Aww, you’re not so butch.” That’s cuz I don’t go for femmes like I’m supposed to. This confuses people. When I’m out with a femme buddy, everyone assumes we’re on a date; when I’m out with a butch date, everyone assumes we’re buddies. That’s if I can even get a date, which isn’t easy for someone like me.

It appears in this article (‘G.I. Joes in Barbie Land: Recontextualizing Butch in Twentieth-Century Lesbian Culture’), and here (‘fuck yeah butches fucking butches’: awesome but short-lived blog).

The citation for it is: Thomas, Trish. “Straight People Call me Sir.” Quim 3 (Winter 1991): 21-257

But I can’t find the original text anywhere. Can anyone help me out?

Worst jetlag ever.

Turns out the sushi was probably bad, too. The guys I went with both ended up with stomach issues, so my WEEK OF OUCH was not without company. I’m on antacids and omeprazole for the next week or two, and in the meantime I’ll whine a lot. But at least I probably don’t have an ulcer. (Seriously. It was a concern for a few days.)

Also, America? Get your act together and install public health services. Not being able to go to a doctor because I don’t have health insurance yet SUCKS. (Thank God one of Z’s friends is a doctor and gave some freebie advice.)

Anyhow, Pride was FABULOUS. We went to the Transmarch on Friday, along with about five-hundred people of all shapes, sizes, flavours, and genders. There was awesome music, interesting speeches, lots of banners, free condoms (there’s always free condoms at Pride events, no matter the country), and SO MANY TRANSFOLK. I spent a lot of the day being reminded of Ivan E. Coyote’s essay One Among The Many, specifically this line:

What was most amazing for me was the stuff we didn’t need to talk about. That was what touched me most, I think. Everything I didn’t have to say, all the things that didn’t need explaining. I didn’t worry about being understood or believed, because for the first time in my life I was surrounded by other butches. And they just knew.

I didn’t talk with much of anyone at Transmarch — I’m not a natural public speaker, and I tend to clam up awkwardly when nervous — but I did spend most of my time just drinking in the sights and sounds and being thrilled. In England I was the only transperson I knew, and before that, the only butch. I’m not saying there weren’t others, because of course there were — just none near me. Or at least none that I knew.

To go from being one alone, to one in five-hundred was amazing.

I marched, too, along with a whole bunch of others right through San Francisco with traffic stopped and cars honking approval and news crews taking pictures and people cheering us on…


And okay, I felt lousy that night, but the day was amazing.

Saturday was Pink Saturday and we were supposed to go to a RENT sing-along in San Francisco, but it was cancelled last minute so we went to some kind of insane street rave near the Castro instead. Dancing, pot, and gratuitous nakedness were pretty much the order of the day. I enjoyed every minute of it. (No pot for me, sadly, what with the not-terribly-mentally-healthy family history, but the dancing was fun.) I got to meet Z’s girlfriend for the second time, and some of her utterly mad and slightly frightening friends (middle-aged lesbians with a fetish for puppy play). But my favourite part of the evening was admiring the leather-wearing, musclebound gay threesome performing some kind of avant guarde bondage scene hanging out of their living-room window.

I may have taken pictures.

Pride Sunday was a little more laid back, in a sunny, OMG!crowded way, and I won a Betta fish at a hoopla stall, as you do. He’s called Best Beloved Betta and is currently inhabiting a two-gallon vase, along with a small yellow ninja snail (every time you look at him he’s in a different place without ever appearing to move), and a plant. Pride Sunday will probably get its own post, because there was so much and it was all awesome. I bought my first packer, talked to a trans-counsellor who gave me some info about an organization specifically focussed on getting transpeople into work, and bought hilarious tee-shirts for my brother and his girlfriend (iTop and iBottom, both in the same size, colour, and style; I figure they can switch depending on the day*). I also got to see my ex-girlfriend JB and her new partner Quinn, who slayed me with an alcoholic mudslide of death drink. They’re a well matched set and very happy together, so I am pleased for them. And Quinn seems like good people; firm handshake, firm hug, dirty sense of humour. These are good things.

All in all, a great weekend. And there will be pictures later.

* Ba-dum tsh!