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 Why do so many of the transgender people I know of outside of Indiana and a few in Pennsylvania reside in the Pacific Northwest?
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 I’ve avoiding posting political updates, health statuses, and even stories about transgender issues on Facebook lately.  I’ve not been too successful with some of these, especially items about the health, but I got the impression that most people do not really care. They just want to hear the phrase “I’m fine” even if I am not, although I do appreciate the one friend who keeps asking if I’m all right every time I give some expression of pain.

If I examine why I avoid things, it’s the fear of criticism. I know this old demon from social anxiety disorder, and I’ve always found it strange I can share things with people I’ll probably never meet face-to-face on the Internet.  I need to stop doing this, and in fact, I’ll have to go out of my way to start re-posting transgender updates and political posts on Facebook. No one who knows what I’ve been through in the past year should be all that surprised that my views might have changed.  And I’d be surprised if the Terre Haute Mind’s Eye Society people don’t already know that I’m transgender. Testosterone has already done its damage, and it’s hard to hide at my age, even though it is not impossible.  Besides, I also believe Mystique was right when she said “I shouldn’t have to” in the second X-Men movie.

Avoiding health status updates is more complicated. I tried to at one time because I thought people were getting annoyed.  Then I started getting probing, concerned, and somewhat ridiculous questions from my grandmother like, “Will you still be able to walk?”  (Uh, why wouldn’t I? I only had bone spurs removed from my big toes.)  I’ve gone back to doing some health status updates just so the family information network gets to where it needs to go. 

Other Issues

I found out something I did not know about low-income housing in Terre Haute. Not all of it is connected to HUD or Section 8. If this extends to other places as well, other than the small towns I lived in long ago, it may give me a chance to go someplace where the safety net programs aren’t quite as restrictive or unsupportive as Indiana.  I will have to look into this further.  Now, where do I want to go?  Pennsylvania is familiar, and I’ve wanted to go to New Mexico for a long time. I might avoid the desert southwest, however. I don’t think the drought is going to end until the region’s population declines

And an unrelated note, I found out my ankles have an unusually large range of mobility. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this information. It’s nice to explain the ankle problems. She also said it might be why soft-tissue inflammation is showing up on the ankle X-rays that have been taken this year.  Does it mean I should switch from low-top sneakers to high tops otherwise?

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 Tuesday was a busy day. I spent the morning running around, trying to fulfill the requirements of the IMPACT program, as I was not sure that I had been released from those obligations yet. I found out that an additional form was needed, which I picked up and dropped off at the necessary office. I went to Sam’s Club to pick up prescriptions, dropped off applications, and returned home briefly, before heading out again. During this brief time, I struggled with a thought that has occupied my mind lately. It’s a strange desire for me, and one I will probably blame on the estrogen. For the last few weeks, I’ve been regretting the fact that I can never have children.

I never wanted children before, and I usually point to my nephew as a good reason why I should not personally have offspring. After all, why does there need to be another person who would likely have a similar criminal disposition running around?  However, it’s a bit deeper than just wanting children. When the thought comes to my mind, it’s contemplating motherhood. For some reason, the idea of being a father still seems unappealing  I do not know if it’s some sort of bizarre biological clock going off, or if I can attribute it to hormone replacement therapy.

Is this a common feeling among transgender individuals? I do not know. Everyone has regrets if they live long enough.  It seems strange that something I never even considered before becomes a regret even though it is a physical impossibility.

As this thought works its way through my mind, I can only hope that I will get the opportunity to do this in another life. For all I know, I could have done it in the past.  If this is the case, I do not want to do it within the confines of the Mormon heaven. Being part of a harem does not sound all that pleasant to me. (The church may have changed this doctrine, but I believe it remains intact.)  I’d rather come back to this planet or another one with the required parts and try it then support the idea that my eternal destiny is to produce new souls along with other women bound to the same male spirit as I am.   Reincarnation, if it exists, may give me a chance to experience motherhood outside of the Celestial Kingdom, but I do not know if desires last from one life to the next.

I know from many years ago that my father felt he had his first two children in the order he wanted them.  In his mind, he had one girl and one boy with my mother. He even told me he  made sure this happened. While I know this is scientifically impossible, there is still a part of me that wonders what might have happened if he had not tried to arrange things this way. 

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 People who are socialized as male – whether they are male or not – are taught to keep most of their feelings to themselves. They are expected to display three feelings at most. Anger, joy and a null state of emotions are all society allows. Feminists decry this as one way the patriarchy harms men, but I am not going to use their language, even if I am using their arguments.  However, transition is in many ways a life-changing experience. While I would not give up what I have gained in the past few years, it is also important to note that I have lost things in the process as well.   Sometimes, however, transgender people do not take advantage of what they have gained, even though they should. Being able to display feelings more openly is one advantage of transition that does not take place easily.  Hormones do not change a lifetime of societally-enforced behavior. Even if someone can show their emotions more freely, it does not mean that they will. Crying might be one of the biggest examples of this.

Men are taught not to cry, or if they do, not to do it openly. Special circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, grant an exception.  Since starting HRT, I’ve found that tears come more easily, especially if it’s something that makes me sad, like hearing of the death of someone’s pet.  Last night, was one of those occasions.  Even though I can cry more freely and openly, I felt the need to hide my tears, because that is what I have always done.

HRT caused many changes, physical, social and emotional.  One of the more difficult ones I faced was experiencing a greater range of emotions at first. (Of course, there was also a childish glee at having breasts, something I wish would have subsided much sooner than it did.)  Even the way I felt anger changed.  It is not the expression of normally repressed emotions; it’s expressed because I have reasons to be angry.

And I must admit I’ve experienced a greater range of mixed emotions, although they are not necessarily contradictory. Perhaps the most recent example is finding out I have the beginnings of osteoarthritis.  While I’m not pleased about this, I was happy that it wasn’t what I feared. In fact, I felt like celebrating because the news was considerably less bad than I feared. (If German doesn’t have a word for this, it should. It’d probably be a variation of schadenfreude.)  I also have mixed feelings about being referred to a physical therapist. I’m afraid, excited, and filled with a desire to waste as much of Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shields funds as possible for all the crap that they’ve put me through when not covering my estradiol in the past. There’s also a desire to use as many of Indiana’s resources as possible because of their failure to provide adequate safety nets.  Experiencing an array of emotions over a situation is something I rarely experienced presenting as male. I might have once, but my peers, bullies and other quickly taught me that emotions were bad things to have.

As I go through the process of learning to be female, an experience I was denied, I find myself questioning whether I should be hiding this. People may state something if I become too emotionally charged, or view me as overly emotional, but they won’t openly ridicule me.  Women may do a lot of things behind the scenes that I do not understand or know about, and this, unfortunately, is also part of the learning process, and because it’s a social skill, I’m not sure I’ll ever learn it fully.  Maybe one day I’ll even be okay with openly crying rather than trying to hide it.  [Spoiler Alert!] At least for the moment, I’m glad no one saw me cry when Tris’s mother gave up her life for her in Divergent.

[Hmm... I wonder if I should post this on my Blogspot blog.]
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 ...this conversation needs to be shared.

Housemate: Have you seen Fox News's lead story on their website today?

Me: No.

[Looks over at screen]

Housemate: Mom and Dad in the Dark: Oregon pays for Teen sex-change operations

[Angry ranting]

Me: Wouldn't you have done that when you were a teenager?

Housemate: Well, yeah.

Me: Which one of us was arguing against moving to another state in the Pacific Northwest last night?

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 1.) Lobby to provide low-income coverage to residents of the state of Indiana and get approved
 2.) Provide paperwork that shows an impressive array of services  at what are supposedly cost-saving measures.
 3.) Sign up  the state and get customers to pay a modest premium
4.) Do everything you can possibly can to prevent those services from being provided
5.) Ignore federal law that says you can't discriminate against transgender people, frequently change the gender marker every time a doctor's office sends in paper work with a gender marker that is the opposite of your legal gender
6.) Refuse to pay for this low-priced medication on principle, even though you've already refused to cover Linzess and probably certainly wouldn't cover Lyrica because there's no generic for it at the moment. (Thank goodness I'm on gabapentin.)

Okay, I'm done complaining.  This is the second time they've pulled this particular trick. I'm getting sick of it.   It was a fairly good day  until I went to pick up the prescriptions.
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 The media has covered Bruce Jenner's transition fairly well. They have treated the subject respectfully even as the buy into the ratings grab.  I do not fault this from a business perspective. Networks need to get viewers, and people love to focus on celebrities.  Covering the transition of a public figure gives them viewers which translates into extra advertising dollars.  However, if there's one thing I wish people would stop doing, it is describing transgender people as courageous.

I understand that the people who use this phrase mean well, but it was not courage that drives me or other people to transition. It is a simple necessity. A trans* individual can either live in denial with all of the emotional turmoil denial brings, or they can break through the cognitive dissonance of trying to live as their assigned gender to live in a way that is in greater harmony with their own mind. (I prefer to think of it as their own spirit, but I know many people do not share my views on the existence of spirits or souls.)

I've been subjected to the c-word as well. I didn't feel particularly courageous when I made the decision to live as Lara full time. Instead, it was simply a matter of letting go all of as much of the emotional baggage that came with living in anxiety and denial as I could.   Going to a family funeral as Lara for the first time was not an act of courage, either. It was simply a granddaughter doing a favor for her grandmother and her sister.  

There are many reasons why I hope I'm not a role model for anyone. Even in my own mind, I view some aspects of my life as a cautionary tale.  I've done things out of fear, out of desperation, and out of necessity. None of these things made me feel particularly brave. Transition wasn't something I did to shock people. It was the right decision for me.  I hope it's the right one for Bruce Jenner as well

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During the last few months, I have spent more time in the company of doctors than I would like. The thought that visiting the doctor causes sickness has crossed my mind more than once. However, I've dealt with male and female doctors, and I've noticed a pattern emerging in the way they interact with me. 

I'm sure this will not come as a surprise to any cisgender person or a transgender woman who has presented as female for a long time, but the male doctors are less likely to listen to me than their female counterparts.  My endocrinologist is likely to order the tests I ask for, as long as there is a good reason for them, and she will order them if she thinks there is a good reason for the test, even if I cannot articulate it clearly.  

The male doctors, however, usually assume there answer is right, and the main doctors has fallen into the "It's probably just your fibro" idea.  

Also having one part of your body feel too warm while another is cold is a weird sensation...
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 I get that we're worried about all the bathroom bills that are getting passed, but I don't need reassuring dreams about being caught in the wrong restroom. 

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Note: This post is part of a writing project. It's working title is Fireside Chats with a Sinister Porpoise.  I have told this story elsewhere, so I do not care if it gets read here. 2nd Draft.

A number of places offer help for people who contemplate suicide. The Trevor Project reaches out to LGBT Youth, and Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project works to reduce the statistics.  I am aware of the controversy surrounding Savage, and I have been targeted by him once. Although I disagree with some of Savage's positions, I applaud him for his efforts.  However, this is not his book. Discussions of mental health frequently come from people who mean well but who have no experience dealing with these illnesses. I do not wish people to think I am some role model of good mental hygiene. During dark times, I contemplated taking my life, and one time I actually tried it.
Despite the misery I felt during my junior and senior high school years, I managed to get through it. I do not recommend anyone else used my method. Sheer stubbornness and a desire not to let my tormentors win allowed me to make it through my graduation day. It took the tragedy of my adolescent, post adolescent and adult years to weigh me down.  I tried to end my own life when I was in my mid-twenties. It took place the year after my mother died.  I had lost my job, gone through four clutches in a six-week period, and I faced losing my apartment.  I could not see any way out of the situation, except for the Zoloft bottles that rested on my dresser. Ending my life, it seemed, would solve all of my problems.
My attempts to resolve the situation failed. Losing my job had forced me to go on welfare. The $174/month welfare gives an individual did not cover my rent. I lived in public housing at the time, and if I had talked to the landlord, the situation would not have gotten out of hand. Dealing with the person face-to-face terrified me. Social anxiety disorder always made it difficult for me to deal with people in these situations.
I wrote a note and gathered and took all of the Zoloft I had.  I left the note by my bedside and made sure the cats had extra food. As I went to sleep, the cats, as they always did, lay down beside my ears and purred loudly.  Guilt came over me as I drifted off to sleep. The animals depended on me, and I had let them down. Leaving extra food out for them seemed like an inappropriate measure.  If I achieved my goal, someone else would have to find them a new home.
Sleep came that night. Strange dreams that took the form of black and white drawings dominated the next eighteen hours. One of the dreams involved a rocket. Not one of these dreams contained deeper insight into my life or my situation as far as I can recall. If one of these dreams did have a deeper meaning, I had forgotten it long ago.
Anyone who reading this knows the attempt failed. The situation did not improve. I lost the important and someone else found the cats a new home.  Even though I like cats and eventually overcame my fear of dogs, guilt prevents me from getting another pet. After getting evicted, I lived for a few days on the street.  My caseworker, who learned of the situation, had me involuntarily committed. During the three weeks in the hospital, the doctors increased my Zoloft dosage and provided an incorrect diagnosis.  After the hospital stay, I lived with my sister for a few years.
Living with family  forced me to keep Lara hidden.  I tried and failed to make it on my own again.  Gender dysphoria did not contribute to the second attempt's failure. The experience taught me two things. First, I learned that I should deal with these situation as soon as they occur. Second, I learned that I overreacted to this situation. Dealing with the landlord and other support structures face-to-face would have prevented the downward spiral.
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The Brodie Awards are given to ex-mormon bloggers. Even though I thought I was being faceitious and absurd, I was nominated for one. It falls into the best religion and gender discussion category. You can vote on the awards here.

If you want to read the post, it's here.  I'd encourage you to vote for my post early and often, but I'll probably have to be content to be nominated.

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When I cam to Indiana three years ago, I did not know what to expect exactly. I knew the state did not have the mountains I knew in Pennsylvania. I also knew that the state leaned somewhere on the conservative and libertarian axis. It also meant increased difficulty in finding Middleswarth Potato Chips, Birch Beer, Lebanon bologna and a few of the foods to which I'd grown accustomed. (I can no longer eat flavored Middleswarth Potato Chips, but that is a different story.)

Even though I expected a somewhat different political landscape, I thought the attitudes would be similar to those I found in rural Pennsylvania. When I paid attention to the political cycles, even going so far as to attend a Wabash Valley Tea Party meeting, I discovered the erroneous nature of my assumption.

Republicans in the Midwest do not behave the same way as do the republicans from the Northeast. Like many people from the Northeast, I find Michelle Bachmann's political ramblings extreme. Her philosophy seems dangerous. Native Hoosiers -- especially those living outside of Indianapolis, Bloomington, or LaFayette, think Bachmann can steer the country in the right direction.

As I spent several campaigns here, I found that the Republican candidates were more than willing to do more than pay lip service to opposing LGBT rights. At the time of writing, Indiana's legislature considers a license to discriminate bill, similar to the one that Arizona's governor vetoed. They introduced this bill a year after they failed to pass a constitutional amendment that would have barred same-sex marriage. While I may not plan on marrying anyone anytime soon, transgender people are usually even less popular in red states than are gays and lesbians.

The change also comes after years of doing what I am supposed to do. I am working and I am doing my job well. I am doing my job well, and doing everything the right way, but this has not improved my situation any. My employer will not put wages above their current pay rate, and they implement policies to keep the number of hours each employee receives down. I cannot even go back to school because of student debts, even if further education. Even if I were able to return, the job market remains shaky. (There is plenty of factory work available here, buy I have never been able to keep up with the machines at these places.)

It's obvious that the way my father did things and tried to teach me to do things does not work. It never worked for him, and stubbornness maybe the only reason I continue to do things his way. Stubbornly refusing to change may be a family tradition, but it's not a very practical one. Maybe it's time to re-evaluate all of my assumptions.


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