As the Buddha points out again and again, the very essence of human life is impermanence. Nothing is static, and so we are all undergoing constant transitions. But living in this strange world with igneous rocks, slugs, blueberries, iPads, rainbows, and Facebook, the change of the physical body from a female form to a male form is an emotional and spiritual journey like none other. This blog post is a pictorial representation of my experiences, both in transitioning to a male body, and in other important life transitions. I hope you will indulge me the saunter down memory lane.
Here is me as a baby sitting on my beloved daddy’s lap:
And me at 7 months of age:
Here I am again with my dad about age 2 years, not smiling because of the curly long hair or the frilly dress, but because I was sitting beside my most favorite person in the whole world:
Here I am at about 2 years of age, but notice I prefer my book to my doll, and I’m already sitting with legs crossed in “boy style.”
Here I am with my first dog, Fuzzy. My hair had been cut short, and I was wearing the closest thing I could get to “boy clothes.” Fuzzy was my “pretend horse” when I wanted to play cowboys and Indians and he sure tolerated a lot with great patience. His warm, furry hugs got me through my daddy’s death:
Here I am with my little buddies, me in the middle with glasses, about age 5 or 6:
Here I am at around the same age, very miserable to be forced to wear a frilly dress, hat, and patent leather shoes:
Here is me in 1962, the first Christmas after my dad had died, me in my thick glasses, the sadness hidden, but oh-so-happy to have been given cowboy boots, an air rifle, and pistols and holster for Christmas:
Here I am in ~1963 or ~1964, wearing a Marine hat someone had given me:
The following two photographs were taken on my first real vacation, when we drove from Little Rock, Arkansas, all the way across Texas and through El Paso, into Las Cruces, New Mexico. I got to see White Sands National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, and we crossed the border on foot into Juarez, Mexico:
The following two pictures show how I looked in approximately the 4th grade. She second picture shows me holding my dog, Sheba. I will have to write a separate post about what my mother did to my dogs, Fuzzy, Sheba and her puppies, and Scottie:
The next three photographs show how I looked around the time of high school, college, and immediately after completing my BA in psychology. The first one is my senior high school picture:
And here I am with my first partner, Dee, and her little sister Pam. I am on the left, Pam is in the middle, and Dee is on the right. Dee was my high school sweetheart, though I couldn’t tell her that in those days. We were friends and college roommates for 5 years before we became partners, and we were then together for 9 years before the relationship ended. The photo was taken in the home we purchased together:
The next two pictures are my “piano” photographs, taken while Dee and i were still together, I believe. The first picture was taken at my mother’s house in Arkansas — me playing my daddy’s piano, which had become destroyed by mother’s cigarette smoking by then. The second picture is me playing an old upright piano I’d bought while Dee and I were still together:
The next bunch of photos show my “transition” period from my relationship with Dee to my relationship with Donna. The top left photo is Donna’s graduation photo from Elmira High School in New York. The bottom right picture shows me in my “New York” t-shirt, after I’d made my very first trip alone to Binghamton, and just before I moved there. The bottom left photo is notable for being the last picture of me wearing a skirt — I was on the way for a job interview at Blue Cross / Blue Shield of Western New York. And the top right photo is one that was taken in our apartment in Binghamton after one of countless eye surgeries I’d had over the years:
In the section of photos after the one that immediately follows, I’ll show the period of time that encompassed my relationship with Kim. But this one here was taken while Kim and I were together, but just as the need to transition had become overwhelming. I’d shaved off my hair and died the fuzz blue, but then I had some fun with altering the original photo:
The next group of photographs were taken during my relationship with Kim, and show me moving closer to transitioning. Knowing that Kim has always identified as lesbian (and I had as well, until the buried gender issues clamored to be heard), when I met Kim, I immediately told her that I might transition some day, ans asked her if that would trouble her or be a problem for her. She was straightforward and honest on that score, and said she thought she could accept it and would try, but she wouldn’t know for sure until it happened. Unfortunately, the relationship unraveled for other reasons, and I could guess that my transitioning would have been an insurmountable issue for her, but she did support me along the way, and even after we broke up — once we’d put the bitterness behind us.
The first photo is of the two of us having a meal at a nice restaurant in Georgetown. The next three are photos taken on a trip we made to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, the third of that group showing our dogs, Henry and Otis trying to get a snuggle as I snoozed on a hammock in the cabin we rented. I’d started transitioning at that point. The photos showing me in ties and button down shirts were taken just around the time we had become partners or just before. The one of me in a vest was when I was just beginning to transition. There is a photo of me sitting at my desk in my cube where I worked as a systems engineer while Kim and I were together. And the last one was me dressed for a job interview, after which, I’d be hired as a “computer scientist.”
The next group of photos were taken after I had started the physical process of transitioning, but before I met Paula. The first is a shot of my “top surgery” before it had completely healed. Lower down, there’s another photo of my chest after the healing was complete. The second picture was taken in that “intermediate” stage before the testosterone shows its full effects. Some of the others illustrate how I looked when I finally got my full beard growth. And the latter photos are from my trip to Montreal, Quebec, to see Dr. Yves Menard for my “bottom surgery.” Montreal was beautiful with the winter snow, and I spent a month in his recuperative facility. It was glorious!!!
The next bunch of photographs were all taken during my period with Paula, and even though I look blissfully happy, it was when my life took an unexpected downturn. So many years, so many trials, so many disappointments, but now whole in body and heart, I thought I’d finally found the one who truly loved me, who I could spend out the rest of my years with. Alas, I didn’t know predators like Paula existed. I had only ever wanted a family, which had been denied to me in all those years when being a lesbian was verboten, and sometimes life-threatening. In some of the pictures, you can see me holding my precious dog, Otis, the inspiration behind DogDharma. I could never have predicted that my baby would end up dead with my wife’s involvement. Nor could I have predicted the other terrible things that happened. But for the briefest of moments, everything seemed right with the world. The next-to-last photo with me holding the rainbow flag was when we attended gay pride in Brighton, UK. Paula’s three daughters and some of their friends are standing around me.
And here is how I look now, a little worse for the wear, but less naive, and grateful to still be alive.
PLEASE NOTE: Photos of Paula’s children have been edited to obscure their faces and to protect their privacy.
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