Saturday, April 27, 2013

minor thoughts

So, I have been doing my major blog, which is primarily a TG caption blog….one for people with open minds.  Like many of the others, some of the content is not for tender eyes.  And it is certainly not one of the cleaner caption sites.  I guess I am trying to give those who read my caption blog variety, not only in the content but in the layout and stories as well.  But how do I know I succeed?  To be honest, I don’t.  Very few people leave comments.  I’ve asked for ideas on what it is that people want to see, I’ve offered to do custom captions if people want to send me ideas (and or pictures).  But few takers! There are people who read this blog, I know, and I am quite pleased and happy about that.  I never realized how many caption blogs are out there until I began my first blog late last August.  While the initial response was quite meager, it has grown in numbers since I began to get listed on other sites, and I do appreciate those writers for doing that.  So, until I become wiser, I’ll keep going as I am now and hope that I am making folks happy with what I am doing.  This second blog will be structured in the same way.  I’m trying to figure out what it is that I can contribute here that will make others want to read the blog.  So again, I am open to ideas………………………….


Friday, April 26, 2013

Question 1

OK, I know it is late and today is soon coming to an end here, but I have not forgotten that I said I would post the first question of a 40 question interview  I did a few years ago.  Today's installment will be somewhat lengthy because I will also include the introduction to the actual interview:

My name is Amber D****m. I am part of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender) group. I am straight but do believe in LGBT due to my beliefs such as 'do what you want as long as you are not harming anyone else.’ I am interviewing one my mother's friends that had a complete sex change under the category of transgender of the LGBT essay that I am writing.

I will be interviewing Alexis. Alexis is from the Iowa City area and the questions I will ask, she will hopefully be willing to answer. If she feels uncomfortable with any of my questions, I will allow her not to answer them.


As I begin, Amber, let me discuss the words ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual.’ The two are not necessarily interchangeable, though they often are used that way. And I am sure I will use both terms during this interview.. In my view, a ‘transgender’ individual is one who feels like they belong to the opposite gender, yet this is more of a mental state or feeling. A ‘transsexual’, on the other hand, takes on the physical attributes of the other sex…..and this is more of a physical nature. And neither of these are necessarily associated with another common term, “transvestite,” which refers to someone who prefers to wear the clothes typically associated with the opposite gender (although the term is generally assigned to males who like to wear female clothing much more than females who wear male clothing). All transgender people will not become transsexuals, and I would also guess that someone could become a transsexual without being a transgender, but highly unlikely…. There is actually a newer term that is seen occasionally, and indeed one of my physicians refers to me as a ‘trans woman’ in his reports.

When you get into the topics of sex and gender orientation, there are so many more terms and phrases that can enter into discussions,  besides the more typical terms such as “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and even “gender queer” (sometimes referred to as “gender non-conforming”) who is someone who does not readily identify as either male or female.  For the purposes of this discussion, we won’t need to define those, as non of them really terms that would apply to me at this point in time.

Let me also add right here that many of these questions are interrelated, and as a result, there may well be some repetition from time to time.  It will be difficult for me to keep everything separate as we go from question to question.  I will try to keep my thoughts from wandering.  But this has all been such a major part of my life from the early years to even the present, and I have many feelings to express in many ways.  This should, however, be an interesting experience for both of us. 

OK, that was the preamble...  now for the first question and reply---

 1) When did you consider yourself being a transgender?

I’m not sure when I first became familiar with the words "transgender or transsexual." I did know from as early as 5 years of age that I wished to be a girl (whatever that exactly means). Yet I also have a vague remembrance of being caught wearing my mother’s nightgown at maybe age 4. I remember praying many nights that somehow when I awoke  I would be a girl….. Or that maybe somehow my mother would suddenly decide to raise me as a girl. I wasn’t even really aware that a sex change operation was possible until I saw a magazine article in either Look or Life magazine during my teenage years.
Yet at that young age I certainly did not consider myself transgender…..golly, I didn’t even know the word existed. I actually thought that there was something “wrong” with me. After all, normal boys didn’t have feelings similar to mine, did they? I kept my feelings to myself because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy or something. I tried to be “normal” and did my best to act like a typical boy, but I never really wanted to play the games that the guys did. Out of the corner of my eyes I was always watching what the girls were doing, and wishing I could be one of them. Overall, I did a decent job of bluffing my way through life, but in trying to keep “the real me” secret, I resorted to being somewhat of a loner. This, in the long run, caused me many problems in the years ahead.

Beginning at an early age, I would beg my parents to let me stay home whenever the rest of the family would go visit other relatives or go shopping.  Even an hour or two alone was very beneficial to me, as it opened up the opportunity to be my other self for a while, dressing in the feminine clothes that were available…..which were generally my sister’s clothes.  While this might have been good for me mentally, in the short term, it also began to build up barriers between my other relatives and me.  And whenever I couldn’t get out of going to family events, I would never really be with the men or the women.  I often found myself sitting by myself, closer to the women than the men.  I wanted to be close enough to hear what was being discussed in the kitchen or at the dining table, and not in the living room watching sports.

As the years went on and I was living alone, I continued to avoid many family events for the same reason.  I also did the same with those individuals whom I met at work or elsewhere.  Whenever someone wanted to come over, or invite me to join them in some activity, I would find a way to always be busy.  By now, however, I was also drinking very heavily.  Very heavily.  The psychological stress I was feeling at this time in my life was becoming mentally draining.  My thoughts of becoming a female began to preoccupy my mind, and the best solution I had at the time was to drink myself to sleep.  I was still very afraid to let anyone find out this weird thought that I had in my mind.  At the same time I was still not able to accept the idea myself.  I was being torn apart mentally.  And it goes without saying that all of this desire to be alone hampered the development of my social interaction skills, and even to this day I can have a lot of acquaintances, but very few close relationships.

For so very many years I struggled with what was a major conflict in self identity.  It went right to the heart of not only who I was, but what I was.  The turmoil left me with a very low self esteem for many, many years.  I truly hated myself as I struggled with this, primarily because I continually felt that there was something truly wrong with me, and I couldn’t understand or accept it.  Or maybe I just didn’t want to.  Either way, I was miserable, and continued to withdraw so I could be alone with myself, and drink my troubles away.  Surprisingly all of my alcohol consumption didn’t really affect my work all that much.  And ever since an incident in Ames at one time when I barely made it home when I was riding a drunken motorcycle, I did most of my drinking at home--alone.  The biggest problem with all of this time alone was that I was primarily talking about my feelings with myself, which simply led to a circular pattern of thinking…..round and round in circles, and never really going anywhere.

Should they ever do a sequel to the movie “Home Alone” and feature my story, it would not be a pleasant one to watch.  Oddly enough, I actually look back in retrospect, and wish I would have been able to somehow videotape all of it, as I think those recordings could be made into an extremely interesting psychological documentary. 

When I was alone, I never actually did much except sit, drink and think.  Since I really didn’t like myself at the time, I bought a large pad of paper, and wrote these huge notes to myself.  I was not complimentary.  I would put them up on the walls and doors, so they were always visible when I was either sitting there or walked around the house.  I did slowly begin to reach out to others, either at local crisis centers, GLBT lines, or on the internet.  I truly did have some very rewarding conversations with others, yet I still struggled.  I was still grasping at ways to make “my secret” go away, but it just wouldn’t. 

One thing that is so common with those with thoughts and feelings similar to mine was also an expensive practice.  For me, and others, the feminine clothing is an important part of our lives, despite the fact that we so often have the idea that this just isn’t normal guy behavior.  We like to buy lots of clothes.  Many of us, however, eventually try more than once to just stop dressing in the hope that the desires will just simply go away.  If I recall right, I threw away all of my female wardrobe about 3 times.  This ritual is commonly called “purging” by the trans communities.  It never lasted more than a few weeks, and then I would start to go shopping again.  Eventually I simply decided to stop doing that and save my money.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there.  Back to my time alone and what sort of existence I lived for so long.  One day or night I remember being on the telephone with someone from the local crisis line when I heard something so simple, yet amazingly beneficial.  The conversation at the time was about my inner struggles, and how it was making my life plain miserable.  I had mentioned different ways I had tried to bury my thoughts of becoming a female, when the woman on the phone simply said something like “Why don’t you just find a way to live with the idea?”  Like I said, so simple, yet it turned my thoughts toward ways I could live in harmony with my two selves……at least for a while, until I could  determine which part of me was going to become dominant----although I sort of already knew. 

I did seek out counseling locally more than once.  The biggest challenge that I faced was finding someone who felt competent in working with me.  I could find those who would like to help, but they were just not qualified, and wished me luck.  At that time there weren’t many therapists in the country that truly had much experience in working with transsexual or transgender people.  We are not exactly a large group of people.  If I was going to find someone with that background, I was likely going to have to travel to Minneapolis, St. Louis or Chicago…….and I just didn’t have the time or the money to travel like that, so I tried to work with a couple of therapists here locally at the time.  It really never worked the way I hoped, so I continued to call various crisis lines and seek out chat rooms or the net.  I actually found that more rewarding, but it wasn’t until I finally reached a point where I could begin to talk with people in person that I could get a better feeling of self esteem and social acceptance.  And, actually, once I began to open up to others, it is really amazing how fast things accelerated for me.  In less than two years, with some special help from one particular person, I had the confidence to plan the transition……and follow through with it.

So, that is the start.  I haven't figured out yet how I will be adding the remaining questions...daily?  Sporadically?  Weekly?  Who knows, though I tend to lean toward the 'random' concept.  And remember, I
am open to additional questions if they are serious, reasonable and legitimate.  Sensational or dumb questions will not be addressed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What's Coming Up

Well, tomorrow I will post the first question in the first installment of the story of my life....for whatever that is worth.  There are 40 questions that have been written and published in a local GLBT newspaper. I'm not sure exactly how I will bring them up in the days and weeks ahead.  And remember, if you have a question, please do not hesitate to ask as I am more than open about my life. 


a cute lil' GIF

Current Pain

So, I’ve mentioned my issue with my lungs.  To be honest, being tied to a plastic tube that feeds me the oxygen sort of reminds me of being on a leash.  I like the oxygen, but I really hate the leash bit.

So, let’s go into another issue that has come up.  I have a myriad of issues which always keeps me in touch with several doctors at the nearby university hospital.  Recently, I have noticed that I am once again not standing up straight.  I’m leaning forward—scoliosis.  I’ve had it before, and much worse   In 2008 I had 2 major spine surgeries, totally about 15+ hours on the operating table.  It was no big deal for me since I slept through it.  For the last year or so I have begun to notice discomfort, and now I’m leaning forward again in the upper body.  Went back to the surgeon the other day, and I guess I’ll have another one of them.  It appears that one of the fusion points never healed properly, and over time it is making all of the metal slowly stress and move.  That is why I’m slumping.

So, when is the surgery going to be?  Ha!  That’s where is gets complicated.  You see, after my surgeries in 2008, something went haywire in my stomach.  Bigtime!  It has never been fully understood either.  All I know is that I could not eat solid food for months.  I was on a feeding tube for over 6 months, and I lived with major spontaneous diarrhea.  I always carried a change of clothes with me because I never knew when I was going to have an unpleasant accident.  It sucked.  And, finally, it suddenly stopped, but not until after I had lost over 40 pounds.  The ortho surgeon won’t do the surgery until he gets a clean bill of health on my tummy.  Well, I have a colonoscopy and endoscopy scheduled for September (the tummy doc won’t do those procedures until it has been over a year since I received a stent—because of a medication I am on that makes clotting more difficult).  So, the surgery won’t be until at least the latter part of September—and more likely October.  The result, at least 5 or 6 more months of pain…..whooooopee!

And this surgeon isn’t really big on giving pain relievers before a surgery.  His feeling is that one will need those things more after the surgery., and the more you take the more intolerance you build up.  


OK!  I’ll be the first to admit that this blog has been overlooked.  I initially started it with high hopes and good intentions.  However, somewhere along the line I sidetracked myself.  I really got into the caption blog of mine and actually guess that is still more of a priority.  Yet I do want to get back into just writing about what I am thinking about at the moment.  Yet that won’t be easy.  My mind has a tendency to jump from topic to topic, keeping me from simply sitting down and writing for any length of time.  It reminds me of jobs that I have had in the past where distractions were commonplace.  Interruptions sometimes came fast and furious (no, I’m not referring to that little gun fiasco). 

So, just what should I do with this blog?  I love to write.  I frequent many sites where news is featured simply because I am interested in what is going on in the world, not just politically but economically and socially and whatever(ly).  In the political arena I might be referred to as one of those crackpot conspiracy theorists that the formal media and politicians like to marginalize while they spin the version of the facts.  It matters not that most investigative journalism stopped about the time a guy named Jack Anderson retired.  I remember him being sued many times after he wrote about certain subjects.  He was supposedly at the top of Richard Nixon’s Most Hated list, and the story exists that the Nixon White House actually considered having him killed.  A nemesis is never popular when you are attempting to hide things.  Did you know that the evening news stories often come in the same order on several networks?  I used to have two television sets set up so I could watch two channels at once.  I checked the three major networks from time to time and was amazed to see that at first, until I learned later that news organizations often get their news from press releases put out by the government.  A journalist may be denied press passes to certain events if the irritate the powers to be, so they tread soft and conveniently overlook many things.  That’s why I no longer have cable and rely on the internet for my news.

But I don’t really want to write a pure political blog.  So I won’t.  I may interject my two cents worth from time to time, but I’ll just make this blog a sort of a potpourri of things.  I can use it to talk about gender identity issues.  I will also add excerpts from a story on me, written in the form of an interview.  People say I should make a book out of it but I think there are already a lot of books out there on the topic.  And I only have about 40,000 words and feel that I would almost need to write 20,000 more to cover everything.  I have tried to get more questions from people, but with no luck.  I’m not really good about just sitting down and talking about me.  But if asked a question, I have no problem answering it.  I prefer to write about what people want to know about me, sexual identity and the struggles that I have gone through in my years.  I don’t simply want to make assumptions about what I think people want to read.

Consequently, if you have a legitimate and reasonable question, ask!