Thursday, September 29, 2016

T-Shirt & Jeans Girl

There's this thing in our modern American society; T-shirt and jeans guy. It's a term for a guy who's relaxed, casual, doesn't put on airs and is more comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans. I was one. Hardcore. I still don't actually know how to look good in a suit. There's something about it that I've never been able to pull off. Like my brain and body know it's wrong. So yeah, I've always been T-shirt and jeans. So what happens when you transition?

Well, I plan to be a T-shirt and jeans girl too. If I can manage. It's actually hard to dress down as a girl. I even discussed it in a recent episode of my podcast. But when I ended up with some me time recently, I thought it would be a fun project to try and dress down, to be as much of a normal and every day a girl as I can be.

First, it started with the new jeans I picked. Actually they were used from Housing Works. I love Housing Works thrift shops because while I don't always find good stuff, they have really good quality clothing for super cheap. So I found a $250 pair of designer jeans for $40. They fit like a glove and I was a super happy girl.

So I paired those with one of my black Banana Republic T-shirts. Seriously, I have like six of them. And I want to get more. In general my guy wardrobe was like 95% black T-shirts. The girl ones I picked up are a nice replacement. They fit better, the fabric is softer and they have a little bit of a scoop neck that helps highlight my boobs. Perfection!

Lastly, I decided that I would try for a no-makeup look. Now, I should highlight that there is a big difference between no makeup and a no-makeup look. What I did was seriously minimal makeup. So, for starters, absolutely no foundation or contouring. Skin only. Then I did some light brow pencil, light eyeliner, mascara and some lip gloss. The results, I think, were really good. I especially like the fact that I can now get away with no foundation at all. I probably couldn't do that all day because some beard might start to show up and I probably couldn't let people get too close to me, but in general no foundation at all is starting to be an option.

So now all I need is for the weather to cool down just slightly. This summer has been almost unbearable with the heat and humidity. And unlike many areas of the country, in NYC you have to go outside. There's no avoiding it. We walk everywhere and we walk in all weather.

Well, it's almost late September, so autumn should be here. That's jeans weather! I for one, can't wait.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Friendly Little Chat with HR

So, I'm going to write this post in little spurts as I go through this. There might not be pictures involved. This will be a weird post, okay, that's all I'm saying. It might just be text. I don't know yet. Think of it like a mini-blog within a larger blog. Meta as hell, right? Okay. Anyway. Here goes.

This is the story of me coming out to HR so that I can come to work as a woman.

My meeting with HR is scheduled for 3:30pm today, Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 1:42pm, EST. 
Mostly I'm hoping I don't cry in the meeting. At lunch the Lorde song "Bravado" came on my random mix. That actually made me tear up a little bit. Especially this bit: "I was frightened of  / every little thing that I thought was out to get me down / To trip me up and laugh at me." 

It's a good song.

And I need some courage right now. My hands are shaking a little bit. I'm definitely reminded of the time I went and flew on a plane for the first time as a woman and took a trip, living as a girl for a while. I was nervous as hell but it worked out okay. It was a fun experience and I'm glad I had it. It was an important step and yes, it made me nervous as hell.

That's where I am now. Nervous as hell. I hope I don't cry. And I also hope I don't throw up.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 2:03pm, EST. 
Right now I'm trying to remember that I'm out as transgender to many former coworkers. When I'm a job it seems like the most terrifying thing ever for people to know I'm trans. Then when I leave the job it suddenly doesn't matter any more. Trying to remember that.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 2:32pm, EST. 
You know how before an execution, you sit there in the Walls Unit next to the execution chamber and you just wait. I bet that's a weird feeling.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 2:52pm, EST. 
Time to go for a walk around the little mall in my building's lobby. The sight of woman in professional outfits will get my jealousy raging and give me a little courage and motivation. 

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 3:13pm, EST. 
Head of HR strolled past my desk and asked "You got time now?" Sure. Well, here goes nothing.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016. 4:03pm, EST. 
Well, I had my first meeting with HR. It went, in a word, well. 

So, this might be disjointed because I didn’t have a plan and also because I’m writing down things as I remember them. 

As I went in I was shaking and I could barely stop my own nervous laughter. I really hate my nervous laughter. It's something that I just can't help. In really tense situations I crack up and I hate it. Yes, I laughed and couldn't stop for a second. Then I managed to overcome it.

The whole time the HR lady was like “It’s okay, it’s okay.”
Finally, managed to stammer out “I’m transgender, and hoping we could start a dialogue about my coming out at work.”
“Okay,” she said in a cool, reassuring manner “It’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation.” 
I told her that I was in the process of physical changes and that I was also in the process of changing my name legally and changing the gender marker on my driver’s license. That’s my next stage and she said she’s going to talk to my boss and to the big boss about this. That kind of scares me, but I’m going to have to be coming out to everyone soon, so I guess that’s unavoidable. At least I don’t have to have that conversation. 

 I showed her a pic on my phone and she said that all the women in the office are going to have to step up their game.

So, I’m still terrified. But at least one step is out of the way.

We talked about my plan, which is something I didn’t really have thought out well. That kind of made the meeting a little haphazard. I probably should have come to her with a detailed plan worked out. It’s so not like me to fail to have a plan. I’m fairly meticulous when it comes to planning. It’s more like me to have had a spreadsheet ready. Ah well, chalk that up to nerves. But, life pro tip for people who plan on having this conversation with HR; have a plan ready. Makes the conversation go more smoothly.

She asked if I was having surgery and all that, to which I replied “eventually, probably.” She explained that there would need to be conversations with staff, training about how to act and treat me. She asked about bathrooms which is one big thing that makes me nervous. I said “I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable,” because that’s true but also because I didn’t want to declare “I’ll pee wherever the hell I wanna pee!” I’d love to have single use restrooms.

And she said “we’re all New Yorkers, it’s 2016, this won’t be a big deal to people.” And I hope so. There will be training for staff, and things like that, and that’ll involve the EEO people. It’s just gonna be a thing for a while. At least for me. She said this will be to help stop the stupid questions, since people will ask stupid questions. You can’t, she said, come in with a new haircut and not get stupid questions.

And she reassured me that I was a respected employee who did a good job and people knew that. And that they’d respect Faith and treat her the same way.

And I said I wanted to start coming in as me, around mid-November, which would give me time to get all my paperwork in order.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Stumbling Toward Full Time

Perhaps one of the scariest moments in transition is looking at the Transition Timeline you put together over a year ago and realizing you're right on target.

On Friday I went to court to go get my name legally changed. As I was walking there I felt myself go into auto-pilot mode. I just shut down my brain and let my body take the lead. If I actually stopped to think about what I was doing then my anxiety would come back with a vengeance. Just keep walking. Just keep walking. Go through the motions.

It didn't really matter in the end though, because I didn't bring proof my address. Nope, the address printed on my drivers' license wasn't good enough. It had to be a bill. Plus, it turns out that I need my spouse to notarize that she's okay with the name change, even though we're only domestic partners. And I'll need originals of her documents (copies aren't okay). Isn't bureaucracy fun!

So, we'll go back another time and go together to keep it simple. Also I'm terrified that if I bring her original passport I'll lose it. I'd much rather her carry it.

These photos have nothing to do with this particular piece of writing, but what? Did you want to look at a wall of text?
Now the other part of this is coming out full time at work. I was waiting for my annual performance review before I mentioned anything. I knew the performance review was coming up sometime soon, but I couldn't be sure exactly when. My plan was that if I got a good performance review, I'd schedule a meeting with HR and come out at work. You know, just so if there were issues I'd be able to have proof showing that I was good at my job. If I got a bad performance review, I'd put together my resume and start looking for a job and go to interviews as Faith. That way I can start a new job and everyone would just know me as a woman.

Well, early last week I got my performance review. It was glowing. "Exceeds expectations!" My boss is rather happy with my performance and wants to give me more responsibility.


Guess that means it's time to come out out.

So, I late that day, just before I left, I emailed the head of HR and asked if she could meet early next week. Why wait? Because I had taken a long weekend to try and get some court stuff done (see above) and thought having a new name would be a great way to kick off that meeting.

Well, I don't have that. And the meeting is tomorrow. And I'm terrified. When I talk to HR I'm guessing it'll be up to me when I want to come out. Do I delay it? Or do I just go ahead and start full time immediately while there's still good dress weather?

My hair is growing out. In fact, on Friday it was a beautiful day and I styled my own hair to the point that it looked feminine enough and went for a walk. It felt absolutely amazing. I think it'll probably be three or four months before I'm able to go to a hairdresser/stylist and get it cut/colored/styled in a way that'll look decent. That means three or four months of wigs. That's not a lifetime of wigs. Just a few months. Is it doable? Yes, it is. Am I ready?

Phew. That is the question.

Mostly, I'm just scared. I'm scared that I'm not ready for full time, that I'm not really transgender, than I'm too lazy to keep it up, that I look like a ridiculous joke and no one will take me seriously. I worry people will object to me using the ladies room. I worry that people will talk behind my back and make me the butt of jokes. I worry that I'm deserving of jokes for how ridiculous I am. I worry that I'm crazy. I worry that at best I will be some sort of joke ersatz woman and that's it. I worry that I'm crazy and making a big mistake.

My partner and I had a long talk about it tonight and she says all my fears are normal. But all this weekend has been spent with my insides twisted and my thoughts in a deep, dark place. There are so many things to worry about and the one I worry about most is myself. Right now I'm not in a happy place transgender wise. I reminded of my own post from a while back about how sometimes I feel like quitting.

My partner reminded me of my own chart from this post.

Right now, I'm all anxious and feeling depressed. I'm in one of the little dips but the dysphoria isn't going anywhere. And I know what I know. I know what I wished for on every single birthday candle, every dandelion, every penny in every fountain. And now that wish could come true. And that terrifies me. 

And now if I had a dandelion, I'd wish for some courage and certainty of conviction so like many other transgender people seem to have, but that I lack. 

So I'm reminded of an episode of Gilmore Girls. You know, in the second season when Lorelai is thinking of starting her own business and is asking Luke, the small business owner, about it. It spoke to me. Right now, I totally feel like Lorelai. Here's the dialogue:

Lorelai: Oh Luke, do not underestimate the complete and total lack of confidence I have in my abilities.

Luke: You're just scared. Just like everybody else when they're taking on something big.

Lorelai: Well, then what does everybody else do to get through this feeling?

Luke: They run in the back, throw up, pass out and then smack their head on the floor.

Lorelai: What?

Luke: That's what I did on the first morning I opened the diner. Look, there is no button to push to get you through this. You just gotta jump in and be scared and stick with it until it gets fun.

Lorelai: How long 'til the diner got fun?

Luke: About a year.

Lorelai: Wow. And there's no button?

Luke: Nope.

Lorelai: How about a lever, can I pull a lever?

Luke: Nope.

Lorelai: Turn a knob?

Luke: Nope.

Lorelai: You just jump?

Luke: You just jump.

Lorelai: I wanna do it.

Luke: You should do it.

Well, let's see if this girl can jump.

Nothing worth doing is easy, I guess.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Recently, I came out to my sister. By mail. A letter seemed like the best option because it gave the person time to think about a response. Plus I wouldn't be instantly bombarded with questions that I didn't quite want to answer (you know, like "Are you gay?" or "Why do you hate Jesus?"). Now, the only problem with a letter is that it is slow. If only we had some sort of electronic letter or "ePost." 

Well, I sent the letter and waited for a response. First I waited a couple days for the letter to get there. Then waited for my phone to ring or for an email. But there were no calls. There were no emails. There were no texts or Facebook messages. No owls. 

Every day I came home from work and immediately checked the mail. Seriously, I was like a little kid waiting for their prize to come in the mail. On weekends I'd check twice. I'd go in my building lobby to see if a letter were in the little stack delivered mail. But there wasn't any. I did this for a month.

Then, the other day I was walking home and I got a text from my partner. "It's here!" she wrote. I raced home to find a greeting card envelope addressed to my female name! Exciting!

In the letter, which I'll probably detail later, she said that she would miss the guy me, but accepted me for who I was and hoped we could be closer now. 

Now, the funny thing was I had already decided to send her a birthday card and had wracked my brain to pick the exact right one with the exact right message. You know, something that couldn't me constructed as too needy or too dismissive. So, I went with neutral. Then I got her letter and I wish I had picked a different card. Ah well.

Honestly, her letter filled me with mixed emotions, I'm not sure why. But, my partner was super happy about it and up and declared that we were going out celebrating.  Luckily I'd just gotten a lovely new dress, the weather was perfect and so a fancy night out seemed like the best idea ever.  

Aren't I such a fancy girl? 
Of course, we captured a few photos. My partner decided she liked the idea of snapping random shots of me when I wasn't aware of it. Sometimes this worked out (though for the most part it really didn't). She likes candid shots rather than posed and I do too. When they look nice at least.

We went to one of our favorite neighborhood spots, Clover Club. Sometimes we call it Kanja Club. Because we loved The Force Awakens. We also love Clover Club. Their cocktails are always delicious and their food is heavenly. Like when God orders Brussels sprouts, these are what she eats. Also their mac & cheese may be the best on the planet. I'm literally not kidding or exaggerating there. I consider myself something of a connoisseur when it comes to mac & cheese and this is probably the best on the planet. 

If you're ever in Brooklyn, I seriously recommend this place.

Plus look - exposed brick! How much more Brooklyn can you get? 
With celebrating, social life and work it's been so busy this past week that I really haven't had any time to breathe, much less to really process all my emotions. Of course I'm happy that she responded and in such a positive way, but I'm also a tad upset that we've not been that close in these past few years. And of course, I'm apprehensive at all the other coming out letters I'll be sending soon. 

It's gonna be a crazy ride, these next few months. Coming out to family, coming out at work, starting full time, changing my name, all of it. I wonder when I will get a chance to breathe at all. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sailors' Snug Harbor

Summer is starting to wind down but there's still plenty of time for summer adventures before autumn adventures begin. As any of you probably know, I do a podcast with my partner. But many of you may not know that my partner is a veteran podcaster and has several podcasts of her own including ABC Gotham. Recently she did an episode on Snug Harbor. You should totally give it a listen because it details some pretty interesting background about Snug Harbor. Especially interesting are the murders. Seriously, give it a listen.

Snug Harbor was founded in the early 19th Century as a home for aged sailors. It's composed of 84 acres of land on the northern coast of Staten Island in NYC. For almost a hundred and fifty years retired sailors made their home there in a time before Social Security or other safety nets for the indigent. Now that it's no longer a home for sailors, Snug Harbor is now a cultural center with multiple gardens, museums and even a hedge maze!

Needless to say we've wanted to go check it out. A Sunday in August seemed perfect. After all Staten Island is just a ferry ride away.

I realized that trip was literally only my third trip on the ferry to actually go to a destination in Staten Island. Every other time I was just riding the ferry over to the other terminal and then riding it right back.

If ever you visit NYC be sure to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. It's free and it takes you right by the Statue of Liberty. Plus you get some amazing views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the whole harbor. It's fun.

Can't help it- there's just something nice about wearing a dress on a boat.

Our first stop was the museum. We actually skipped the Staten Island Museum (we'll have to go next time) because we wanted to learn more about Snug Harbor more specifically. Okay, we're history nerds and especially New York City history nerds.

The Snug Harbor museum was sightly interesting. There were ship models and a they had a houseboat on display with all its furnishings still intact. All the walls were decorated with paintings of ships. I mean, they were no Turners, but pretty decent as far as artwork went. 

There were also displays about navigation including ships's wheels, sextants and telescopes. 

All in all, I wouldn't have paid for the museum, but for a free museum it was okay. After that, we strolled around the grounds. There were so many grounds and lots of interesting things to see. You know, like a giant praying mantis!

Okay, I really don't need to run. They only eat you if you mate with them. Sorry, bug, I'm taken.

After that we found an allee and stopped to take a few photos. 

There were lots of other sights too like gardens, memorials and the hedge maze, which wasn't so much a maze as it was a "hedge windy path." This was no labyrinth and there wasn't really a way to get lost so it wasn't as entertaining as I expected. Also it had a castle, though ti was more like the kind of castle you'd expect to see on a miniature gold course. Okay, it turns out the maze and castle are for kids. Hence the lack of a challenge. Ah well. At least I know I'm smarter than a kid, so that's something.

The best part was the Chinese Scholar's Garden. It was beautiful, even on a humid, sweltering August day. There were bamboo groves, big fat koi and lots of hidden swastikas in the designs.

It almost felt like a Hollywood set and I bet it's probably been used for a few TV shows here and there. There's probably at least one Law & Order filmed there. There's definitely lots of weddings and they were even setting up for one when we were there. We took the opportunity for lots of pictures. 

Above is the Moon Gate. They say you can make wish when you pass through it.

Above is me pretending I'm in Kill Bill, Vol. 1

The funniest part was when this random dude stopped to give us directions. Now, I don't think we looked lost but apparently he felt the need to come over to us and start telling us about the interesting sights of Snug Harbor. This is something I'm starting to see more and more as a woman. Men coming up and helping when I neither need nor want help. You know, 'cause women are helpless and stupid and need basic things explained to them. But, as my partner explained, you have to be polite about it anyway. Ah well, this is what I signed up for. 

All in all, Sailors' Snug Harbor was a fun little day trip. Since it's only one quick subway ride and then one quick ferry ride away and then one quick bus ride away it's pretty easy to get to. And it's one of those places where you can go and kind of forget than you're in NYC even though you're like right across the harbor from Manhattan and Brooklyn. It's nice to get away from time to time, but really I'm a city girl. Plus it was super hot that day and we were getting eating alive by mosquito. Apparently, I have that blood type that is just so delicious to mosquitoes that they can't control themselves. After a few hours outdoors in (sort of) nature were ready to head back to concrete and steel!

So, we stopped in at Pier A for a pint. A nice, refreshing pint. It was a lovely end to a fun adventure. And I'm getting to the point where being a girl is shifting from "nerve-wracking," passing "normal," and heading right toward "perfect." These are interesting times.