Friends at Disgaytalk and BENT,
have about another week before I'll be leaving you all for just
a short time. At least I hope it will be a short time.
been on my own and independent now for about a year, without all
the nurses and caregivers that I've spent most of the last ten
years living and working with while I learned to "deal" with my
HIV status and its many consequences. I feel like I've lived a
lot of my recent past in "stealth," trying to figure out how to
respond to people who sometimes expressed very odd views of me
and my impairment.
of that, I chose to be an undercover crip whenever I could get
away with it. Sometimes it was just too painful emotionally to
do anything else, since my real goal was to get on my feet long
enough to transform my life in ways that have nothing to do with
finally decided that I need to head in a new direction, free of
the complications that resulted from some of the less than noble
responses that friends, lovers and caregivers were exhibiting.
the background, and here's my Big Decision: I am moving to Oregon
at the end of June, where I plan to start over, after living in
California for a whopping twenty-five years. Since I won't have
Internet access right away, I'll be out of touch with you for
a time, so I want to thank ALL of you right now, for the limitless
support, patience and concern that you shown me during all the
time (years now!) that we've been e-talking. It was incredible
being a part of this list and its crew. I learned so much that
I'd never have learned anywhere else, and I want you all to know
that you play a vital role in the lives of others who struggle
with being gay and disabled. Keep up the awesome work.
place I'm headed to is Klamath Falls Oregon, where a dear friend
offered me my own room. After considering it for about a month,
and trying during my last months here to find a new place of my
own with absolutely no luck, I decided that this would be a good
chance for me to start over without all the baggage I'd picked
up hereyes, emotional baggage, not possessions!
has been and always will be my first love among the states. It's
progressive (most of the time), and the people are just darn freaky,
which I like. But I really felt it was about time for me to take
the big plunge and see if I can make it in a new environment.
What's the big deal about a new environment? I'm excited about
it because it will give me a whole new start in a place where
no one knows me or my history. I'll be able to implement some
of the changes I need in my life right now without people looking
over my shoulder all the time, something I'm aware of constantly
know I am taking a big chance, but no creature, large or small,
evolves without pressure and crisis, so if it turns out that I'm
jumping from the frying pan into the fire, well, I've always thrived
on a hot time!
Oregon, when I'll start cross-living as a female, I wont have
to contend with friends who knew me as a male. Plus, believe it
or not, there are tons more gender clinics both in Oregon and
in Washington State, where I'll eventually be going when Daniel
gets out of prison. Since that's only two years away, I'm getting
a head start in my efforts to seek reeducation so I can work again,
and find a place where we can live together (happily ever after,
is very supportive of my move and my gender reassignment,
and since some of you have asked questions about the latter, let
me assure you, No you're not nosy . . . just curious. I'll tell
you what I know, which isn't a lot yet.
still in my first year of gender therapy. Some transsexuals move
fast through this stage, others don't. Right now, I'm taking it
very, very slowly, learning what I need to know and talking to
others, in support groups (when I can find them) and even in less
structured surroundings, when I get the chance.
didn't exactly come to the table on my transgenderism, (I probably
made a faux pas there, I'm not totally conversant with the terms
yetthere seem to be so many meanings to so few word), or
if you like, on my transsexual status, with a happy face. I really
wigged out (pun intended) and solidly refused for the longest
time to even consider sexual reassignment surgery or hormone therapy,
but those days are long past. I'm not interested in fooling myself
any longer, but neither do I have an absolutely clear idea of
where I'll be going with this.
question of whether or not my body is strong enough for reassignment
surgery is still an issue, and probably will be until treatment
succeeds in boosting my immune system. And there are related issues
regarding the healing afterwards.
two or three years in gender therapy, most transsexuals begin
a cross-living phase, where they live in their intended gender,
to acclimate themselves to the impending change. After at least
a year, often longer, the psychological and emotional shift starts
in earnest, and with the help of intensive psychological and hormone
therapy during the next two years you make the final pre-surgery
decisionsyou know, little things, like which anatomical
alterations you've chosen!
HUGE, the process, daunting and turbulent. I'm very lucky to have
a guy who loves me, knows what I am, and is both willing and excited
for me to have the chance at that new life and gender. But it's
a lot to absorb sometimes. How you adjust, how you deal with the
difficulties, that process is intensely personal. No two people
approach it the same way.
realization that I'm about to face lots of difficult times helped
me decide to move to Oregon. I need to be near friends who understand
and support my decisions, and most of all, who won't freak at
losing the man they've known all these years. My friend
in Oregon is one such personaccepting, supportive and nurturing.
All qualities I'll need in spades.
can tell you, too, that I know my fears are not exaggerated. The
town I live in now is an odd place. It's a resort, just two hours
from the gay mecca of San Francisco, and a playground for the
rich and terminally gorgeous! Even so, it has its share of "gender
minority" folks. In fact, there are drag queens, transvestites,
and transsexuals (transitioned ones and un-transitioned ones)
galore. It is, for the most part, progressive where issues of
gender, sexual orientation (sic), and GBLT subjects are concerned.
Despite all this, I worry that my history and my candor might
come back to haunt me here once I began taking steps in earnest
toward transition to a female gender.
because I've been open with people, I know the resentment and
confusion they feel about me, and it's caused very real difficulties
in our interactions. Because I lived and worked in the GLBT world,
I assumed that our culture was free of the prejudice and hatred
that could be seen "outside." I was wrong. Being transsexual or
transgendered puts you on the outside. You learn that you
are neither one thing nor the other, and as challenging as that
can be personally, it can also be confusing and frightening socially,
a real obstacle for friends and acquaintances. Sometimes
I think the pronoun-use issue alone is enough to confuse the most
brilliant among us!
how it feels when you have to field questions from friends like,
"Why would you want to cut it off?" Nothing prepared me for that
question, or the hurt I felt at having my friends ask it. It was
as if the only part of me that mattered was what's between my
legs. During this last year I realized that no explanation, let
alone the true one, that I feel "wrong" in my gender, would ever
be an adequate response to those who asked that question.
their minds they were losing someone they knew and were comfortable
with, for someone they didn't know and had absolutely no idea
of how to interact with. Finally, I tired of trying to explain.
The gulf seemed too huge. Once I decided that I had to go through
with this for my own deep reasons, nothing else mattered.
here I am, off to Oregon, scared but resolute, knowing that I'm
about to make a major life change that excites me with it's possibilities
and frightens me with it's dangers. But I've never been one to
shy away from adventure, even when the outcome is anything but
care of yourselves please, and don't give up the fight!
JAEDANN is a transgender poet, artist, and activist.