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Everything You Ever Wanted
to Know About Sex Change*
*but were afraid to ask

Last updated in 1997

Personal Issues

The following essays are the personal stories of those who have taken a transgender path. They are presented to the curious as a counter to popular misconceptions, and to those considering this path as an assurance that you are not alone.

My life story as a TV/TS

by Michelle

I am writing this because I have been silent far too long now. First let me tell you a little about myself, I am now 23 years old and came from a violent alcoholic family. I remember very little about my earliest years because my mind has seen to protect me from some of the more horrible memories. My life like so many others has been one of confusion and bitterness because I have been forced to accept a life with an affliction known as gender dysphoria.

My earliest recollections of crossdressing were at a house next to my grandparents. I had an aunt who at the time would babysit the girls that lived there. During these times she would also help them practice ballet and being the only boy she would try to get me to practice along with them, I remember very little about these times save for the tights and leotard I was talked into wearing. I also learned the intricacies of ballet, which I have long since forgotten. I remember that I was treated just as the girls were, and though I felt that this was wrong I still felt shivers of excitement at the feel of these strange and feminine clothes on my body. This went on for months until my aunt moved away to go to nursing school.

I imagine that at the time she saw this as merely innocent play, but it was to have a very profound and confusing effect on my life. As time went on I started to search for other clothes with which I could live out my girlish fantasies in. I also had another aunt who was the others sister, and I found her styles were quite a turn on for me to wear. I also started to search out more items in my own home as well as my grandparents house, and within months I was building a collection so large it was nearly impossible to hide away. This went on for some time until, one day I was caught by my mother upstairs in the room I stayed in at Grams. The look on her face was one of shock and horror, and she had no idea what to do with me.

I was terribly ashamed and felt that something was very wrong with me, and there was no one that I could ask to explain this to me. It was during this time that I began to act out on the surface, but went ever deeper into myself. I became secretive about what I was doing and talked very little to anyone. I was very confused about why I felt how I did, and had no idea what was wrong with me. I felt compelled to wear women's clothing, and at the time of my first sexual awareness my fantasies revolved around me being a girl. I could talk to know one, and with the fact that my parents often came into talk to me in my room I was probably caught a hundred times, each one with the same look of disgust and lack of understanding.

It was when I was thirteen that I had gotten in so much trouble that I was sent to a treatment center, my family was falling apart and I was torn apart inside with my own very personal conflict. During the time I was in treatment my parents thought they would bring this issue up with the counselor, and they put me under a microscope. I have never been more embarrassed in my life since that two hour session. I was asked all types of questions, yet no one had any answers for me and I was very mad at being cornered like this. I came home a few months later and for a time things were fine, but again I felt the feminine side of me pull me back to where I had hidden my collection.

With great alarm I found it was gone, and I went searching that night for my dresses and lingerie. I found them in the basement of our shop, in my fathers hobby room where he built scale models of cars. And it was this night I got the greatest shock of all. It had never occurred to me that the lingerie was far too small for my mother who was heavyset, and I began to get suspicious finding male pornography mixed into the chest where the clothing was stored, along with catalogs and breast prosthesis and a pair of latex underwear with a vagina fashioned into the front of it. It was then that I realized who I had been borrowing clothes from all this time, my own father.

About a year later I finally felt comfortable enough to bring all of this up to my mother about my dad, and also about myself. It was from this time on that I had found my protector. She swore me to secrecy about him and explained that she had been dealing with this for years with him, and my interest only made it worse. She did promise not to just walk in on me and something of acceptance was finally found at last. It was because of this bond that I developed such a close relationship to my mother and after all these years I can finally talk to her about parts of this subject. There are parts of this she has no knowledge of save for hints made at various times. I continued on in the years that followed and always felt out of place when the guys in high school would talk about women the way they do. I always felt out of place because of my dark secret. I still fantasized about being a girl, and would daydream about it often, becoming distracted in school. I would watch the other girls to see how they acted and carried themselves and when I was alone I would try to imitate it.

As I reached the age of sixteen I had as many female clothes as any girl my age had and I was always trying to conceal what I was doing and most nights I would sleep in something feminine as soon as I felt I was alone for the night. I also lost my virginity that year and the whole time the only thought in my head was that I wanted to be Jessica, the girl I was with. I didn't enjoy it very much and I resolved that I would try to become as masculine as I possibly could, thinking I could escape this double life I was living. We broke up shortly thereafter and I was single for six months. During that summer I met Melissa, who later became my wife.

I felt that joining the Army would help me to straighten this out so eighteen days after graduation I was in Basic Training. I was still living totally in the closet save for 3 family members knowing, and now I was a soldier. Upon completion of Advanced Individual Training, I was sent on a hardship tour to Korea for a year, and the whole time I felt very conscious of my body in the barracks. I also didn't feel like I fit in with the guys so I began to drink and party with them downrange, (our term for the villages). I tried to play the single man bit and became a motorpool stud. Unbeknownst to them on one of my overnights with a girl, we had sex and said she would be back in an hour. When she didn't return to the hooch, I began to go through her clothes, and in no time I was wearing her outfits and putting on her makeup, while up front in the bar my buddies were drinking and whoring it up. She never came back that night till I was sound asleep, but I was very happy indeed because I had gotten to do what I had missed for so long.

After the tour ended I got married to Melissa. During the entire ceremony I remember feeling jealous of her getting to be the bride. After a short honeymoon we moved to Ft Hood Texas, where I was assigned to the Cavalry. It was during this time that being in good shape helped me in another way. I was a full head taller than my wife but very thin, and when she would visit her friends I would go through the drawers and closets and put on the clothes she had that I could fit. That was most surprising because she was a petite 5'0" and I am 5'9" and still could wear some of her clothing. This went on for a year and a half, and our marriage was getting very bad for both of us. During this time I felt that I had to tell her what was happening to me.

I had gone to Desert Storm and returned to do the very same things, and I finished up my time in service and we returned home to Minnesota. Our marriage was shaky already and we had separated twice by this time. Shortly before the birth of our son, I shared the details of this condition to her. The night I told I fear I made a mistake, because I dressed up and got back into bed. I was rubbing myself against her and she flew out of bed enraged by what I was doing. She had been shocked by what I had told her and now she felt I had gone too far. I had asked her that when I was dressed especially that I wanted to be treated as a woman, she hadn't known how to take it at all. It was during this time that I gave my feminine persona a name, which was Michelle, a name I had always liked a great deal.

The following day in openness I asked her if I could finally start my own collection of clothing again, and grudgingly she consented. I was in seventh heaven and giddy with excitement. I was finally going to be allowed to live the only way I felt right about doing. This was a new era in my life and of course I was anxious for my first order to arrive. I admit that part of my rationale for telling her about this was because catalogs were starting to gather at home and I may not beat her to getting the packages from the apartment managers office. My first order was over $400 and I was impatient for it to arrive. The greatest pleasure had been to openly go shopping through the catalogs at the kitchen table for hours on end carefully planning out my new wardrobe. Several events were to shock me greatly over the next few weeks. First of all, my order came in and I went into our soon to be born sons bedroom for an hour glorying in the feel of my clothes on my body. When she came in I was very embarrassed at first, but too happy to let it stop me now, I was on my way. When she jumped on me and we made love passionately it was my turn to be shocked.

This was a whole new dimension to our marriage, and in my eyes opened doors I had never even thought of. I insisted on her calling me Michelle when I was dressed and I imagine that it was my newfound freedom breaking loose with a bang. She was very against that part, but she did treat me in a very feminine manner and that was a fair compromise for the moment. I asked her for one other favor and that was to pick me up some things in town, including makeup, and she said she had no idea what I liked so I would have to come along too. This was the experience of a lifetime, and to the clerks it must have been obvious who they were for, due to our difference in size. This was extremely exciting to me and I enjoyed it immensely. Who ever would have imagined the degree of support she was giving me. This was not to last long however, as weeks past she started to attempt to forget this so I went back to being independent with it again.

Our marriage was also having more and more problems now, so things were on the rocks in every other way now. During the next several months we had two more separations, one for a week and one for three months, and after getting back together again, two and a half months later it was over for good. We had finally destroyed everything else in our marriage and on November 11th, 1992, we separated for the last time, this time with me leaving. My whole life was shattered and I wanted the end of it to come. I was living with family, with only this, school, and a few of my closest friends to help me get through.

By Summer of 93, I was back on my feet in my own place and I met a girl. I really couldn't stand her but I was dressed most of the time around her when alone at home and she accepted this easily. I found that the only reason I could tolerate her at all, but I continued this for months because I now had my freedom to be myself with another human being again. She bought me many presents and I felt like roles had started to reverse. All the gifts were feminine, including makeup, and clothes. The only problem with it were our different tastes, and I often kidded her that if she listened to my advice she would be one of the best dressed women in the whole town. I was starting to find some humor in the anguish now, and even really enjoying the freedom I had living alone. I had started to accept that this wasn't something I was going to grow out of and occasionally I felt that I wanted to go the rest of the way as well, but at this time I had very little knowledge about transsexuality at all.

It was during this time that I found my hero, a transsexual by the name of Tula, of which most people are very aware of. I found her to be both beautiful and witty, a striking combination. The most important part of it was that for the first time I had some information to understand what was going on inside of myself. I had gone through marriage counseling alone before this woman had entered my life, and they had taken a personality test. Some of the questions asked about whether I had ever wanted to be a girl, and related questions. I gleefully answered yes to all, hoping that it would stand out in the results and later I would be questioned about it. I was depressed when nothing of the sort got mentioned, because it would have been my chance to attempt to resolve the conflict going on inside me.

After some months I could no longer handle the woman, in spite of the shared interest in my feminine side and I sought to have solitude from her and others. For months I just enjoyed living alone and having my son every other week, so I was still in seventh heaven that way, even though so much was yet to be done. Then I had a real godsend, AOL, which has changed my life forever.

It was here that I met someone I fell in love with, found out a wealth of information on gender issues, and also started to use my feminine persona more actively online. I met others like me, and most of these people know of my distaste of labels and stereotypes, but it at least gave me a new language to learn to describe my condition in a way that others can stand. I recently have decided that I need to begin counseling to deal with this issue, because I know I am no longer a cross dresser. I never get sexual excitement out of being in a feminine role, but rather feel that I am acting in a way I need to be. The woman I am with is incredible, but God only knows now what twists and turns are up ahead as I finally unravel the pieces of the puzzle that is my life.

One thing's for sure now, I am definitely on my way, no matter which way this leads I can now see it out to completion. I love the woman I am with, but recently had started to actually say good-bye to her. She works in the insurance business, handling claims, and she has dealt with transsexuals before, paying their bills, but never thought she would deal with the issue with someone she is in love with. I can now only trust to God, and support of friends as the answer gets closer each day. I am proud of who I am, I have no reason to feel shame, and I have found that helping others get to my point of acceptance with this is a very fulfilling way to return the support I have had for so long now. I recently started the TS Support Room on AOL, as a forum to discuss these very issues and I hope from it will come the answers so many of us desperately need to get ourselves in the right direction.

Dream A Little Dream

by Pam 36C

BACKGROUND; I was born in February 1947. In the spring of 1950 my family (Mom, Dad, Sister and Me) moved to California because I was asthmatic. It didn't help my chronic attacks so in 1952 we moved back to Ohio, and our old neighborhood. The new house we moved into was about ten blocks away from our old house. My sister was and still is very pretty but back then we played quite allot together. My sister is 353 days younger than me.

My first memory of crossdressing is in this house. As children go we got bored with our toys and make believe scenarios. We played grocery store, house, cowboy/cowgirl, etc. Well I can remember my sister asking "What can we play now?" On this one occasion I responded "Lets play dress up you be the boy I'll be the girl" Of course she went along we were completely oblivious to the gender stigma attached to clothes. As I remember this only happened four or five times until she didn't want any part of this make believe game. Try as I might she rejected the game each time. My next exposure to crossdressing would be by myself quite a few years later.

At about this time I started having a nightmare. I call it this now because then it was a very traumatic experience when it occurred. I would wake up each time very scared, distressed and confused. Here I must say the dream was the same every time I dreamt it. I had three or four a year over a period of probably five or six years.

As the dream started it was like the description of an out of body experience you hear about. My mind would be watching a scene unfolding. Though I would not be conscious of that mind being in a body. It was sort of like only my consciousness or intellect observing this 3D Technicolor panorama unfolding. It seemed as though I were a very great distance above a lightly wooded area. Not being concerned with the forest in particular my attention would immediately be drawn to a log cabin resting gently on a very green patch of perfectly kept lawn. The lawn subtly rolled away from the cabin in all directions, peaceful was the only way to describe it.

Looking at the cabin I am then drawn into it almost automatically and only by sight or so to speak telescopically. After the first few times dreaming the dream I tried to resist this but I couldn't.. As I zoom in on the cabin it becomes transparent and I am suddenly gazing at the scene inside. The walls of course are logs. The light inside is soft and warm but I don't know where it is coming from. Then I notice a very attractive very young very blonde little girl. She is sitting in front of the only window that I am aware of. Sitting, rocking just gazing out that window content and happy looking. The rocker is a child's rocker, you know small, but real old looking.

She is very pretty in her pink dress with lace at the collar, cuffs and hem. Her hair is as soft as corn silk and about that color too. In her hair is a pink ribbon holding back her hair so only part of her ears are showing. Soft gentle curls cascade out of the ribbon and seem to flow from it. The curls sway easily a tiny bit as she rocks back and forth. With all this that I see I can't remember ever seeing her face though.

I am aware of her emotions also almost as if I am connected to her feelings. She is content, happy and pleased by the sights outside the window. Rocking in the little chair and gazing out the window makes her very happy. Then an overwhelming feeling sweeps over my whole consciousness. I have an unmistakable knowledge that I am that little girl in the chair, I knew it, I could feel it, all my being knew I was her and she was me. At best I was completely confused by this sense of a connection with her. I didn't understand any of this but I knew what I knew. That person in the rocking chair was me! Why, how, or what for I didn't have the slightest idea. I could feel the contentment the peace inside this little girl. I knew she was happy where she was and what she was. All this peace, contentment and connection I could feel.

Then I became aware of a rumbling, distant sound. You know the kind of sound that when you hear it, even for the very first time, you know it isn't a good sound something bad is coming. Well, that's what this brought to me, pure fear. As the sound came closer the little girl's joy turned to terror. Still watching out the window as the sound and apprehension increased her rocking decreased. Then she stopped rocking and just leaned towards the window, watching and waiting. She knew what was approaching and she knew what would happen. I could feel her fear mounting.

Then just as in the beginning of this scene my consciousness zoomed backwards out into space. Automatically, as if someone just pushed the button on a rocket and I flew back out to my original, detached, safe position. Once there the otherwise pastoral scene was transformed into a terrible scene of destruction. The quite calm cabin was about to be crushed by an avalanche of large rocks and earth.

As I watched from my lofty and safe observation point I could still feel the little girls' emotions. The peace, warmth, and happiness now were replaced with terror and panic. It filled me to my very core and I would cry out and weep uncontrollably. Then the emotional transmitter ceased and it's now terrible transmission silent. The little girl was dead and so was that part of me that she was. At this point I would wake up usually drenched with sweat and filled with that lingering terror that something in me had really died, but I was still alive. Many times after I quit having that dream I wondered why she died what this nightmare meant. Then one day it hit me I killed her, each time I denied she was in me. She was the girl in me sitting patiently, awaiting her time to leave that cabin. Waiting to breathe Gods fresh air, see the beautiful world He made and show off that pretty pink dress she wore. Time after time the avalanche of guilt would crush her and the beauty inside her. leaving me empty, alone, and crying because I killed her again and again.

Then the dream stopped sort of by itself. As I remember it may have stopped around the first time I put on one of my sisters' dresses when we moved into another house in 1959. Time clouds many of the dates but the sights and emotions that happened over and over I'll never forget.

  • Well, we are proud now who we are.

    We are alive and living our lives together now.

We are at peace now that I have accepted her.

We both are happy now that she is out of that cabin and I am out of that guilt.

We may still not be able to venture beyond that soft green velvet lawn and out into that forest of unknowns, yet.

We have put up a welcome sign in the yard finally. The most important though is I will never lose her ever again. The rest of our lives will be at peace, happy and together.

Be All You Can Be

by Stephanie

Enclosed is the journal I kept during my trip to Chicago. I offer it pretty much as I wrote things down. I couldn't have made this trip without all of the support and love received from this group which I have come to call the Electronic Gender Community.

Thanks for the support.

Stephanie

The following is a journal kept during the Be All You Can Be convention hosted by the Chi Chapter in Chicago, from June 8-12, 1993.

- Stephanie Julia Havens -

"My Journey - Be All You Can Be - 1993"

Day One - June 8, 1993.

What a day. When I awoke this morning I knew Steph was beginning a new adventure and my life would never be the same again. I was very excited and terrified at the same time. Chicago!

I was up until 2 am packing a suitcase that contained enough cloths for two weeks. Yet I knew the whole trip would last only 6 days. I will never bad mouth an over packed lady again. Thank god I visited Joan and "borrowed" a few things. Stephen needs to take Stephanie shopping.

Took long bath and SHAVED! I'm read to go. Three quick stops; Post Office, Car Wash, Museum, then on the road. It should take about nine hours to arrive in Chicago. (Wrong - only 6)

Funny thing happened outside of Rockford. I decided to wear the forms under my white sweater. I pulled over for gas and got out to fill the tank. There was a gentleman filling his car just in front of mine. As he looked over I realized what I had on and that without makeup I looked like a guy with a serious glandular problem. Lost the forms before paying for gas.

Arrived at the Ramada Inn, sit of "Be All" by 3 pm. Coincidentally the cab I followed into the parking lot contained my room mate Michelle from CT. Inside the lobby I call for Naomi and make connections.

Still in male mode, Michelle and I walk up to the counter and announce "Room for Stephanie and Michelle." I couldn't believe it cam out of my mouth. the clerk made me spell my name and she (Joan) found the slips and we signed in.

Michelle and I hit it right off. We exchanged herstories and firsts like old friends. This was Michelle's 5th Be All and while ironing clothes for the week she fills me in on what to expect.

6pm we head to dinner and eat a wonder Italian meal at the hotel. conversation was like that between old friends even though we had only met 4 hours earlier. (Cool)

Back up in the room Stephanie makes her first appearance. (Joan you are right, plucking the eyebrows makes a huge difference.) Michelle is working on her legs, arms, eyes. I decide to give plucking shot. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!!

Michelle gave me the most wonderful earrings. They use converter so you can take studs and turn them into clip-ons. WOW!

I decide to take a chance and leave the room for some soda. The first attempt went down in flaming failure. There were 3 men waiting at the elevator and I couldn't get past. I was frightened but I didn't panic. So I returned to the room with my tail dragging.

Michelle told me not to panic and take my time. Where have I heard that before. Later I made it to the machine, what a feeling of freedom. Still I am very self-conscious.

As the day closes, I prepare for bed and think of what is yet to come. What an adventure.

Day Two - June 9, 1993.

My first day out. After the plucking of the eyebrows last night, the eye makeup looks much better.

Registration begins at 10. So Michelle and I head down the elevator. Still very nervous I brace myself for sharing a ride with the other guests. It is always worse in you fears than in real life. A change begins to take place that is what I came here for.

No one is in the registration room. So Michelle and I go exploring the hotel. The outdoor pool looks wonderful. Maybe later in the week for a dip. I begin to gain confidence as we walk and talk. I get used to the stares and resolve that this is going to be a good week.

By 11:30 Michelle and I have been sitting in the Registration room for 30 minutes. We have met and chatted with Sandy and Karen.. They are a husband and wife couple from Canada. Just another example of how open and accepting this community is.

During registration met Vicki from IN. She is a country western impersonator. Rachel, Vicki, and Michelle and I chat, have lunch and can feel others watching. It doesn't matter. (We are sharing the hotel with the Baptist General Conference [state] Convention).

Some of the Vendors have arrived, and I strike up a conversation with Anne for Louisiana. When I informed her that she might not have my shoe size, she starts looking. (Size 9 1/2, she specialized on larger sizes) She produced at least 5 pairs in my size. There are two pair I immediately fall for, a pair of red flats and a black pair of 1 1/2+ pumps. I can only afford the flats but I'll have the pumps by Friday.

Short nap & the White Welcome dinner time 6:30. I became enthralled with all of the women who arrive. Beginning to feel part of a sisterhood. Politics is the conversation over dinner of salad, chicken (oriental) and almond Mousse. Some average and some drop dead good looking women.

Nature calls and another first, the women's restroom. (I've cleaned enough of them.) It just didn't feel right to go to the men's room in a white sundress with pink turtleneck. First time to adjust make up.

Prior to the start of dinner we all stood and introduced ourselves and I found three other girls from MN; Roseville, St. Paul, and Duluth. Cool.

Heading off to the bar...

Tomorrow brings a boar tour of Lake Michigan, and a make over lesson from the Mary Kay rep (Fay). I know they may have been buttering me up, but I enjoyed the compliments just the same. The agreed to teach me how to do my eyes, I can hardly wait.

Everyone looked great. A few people commented on how lovely the gold bracelet looked. As well as the nicety of having a GG friend. (THANKS JOAN)

Today is the first time in my life I got my shot at being a girl, and I loved it. Thanks

Day Three - June 10, 1993.

As the day begins, Stephanie becomes more real to me. Today is for fun only. A boat ride s schedule at 10am. I head down stairs to get into the vendors room to meet with Fay and set up an appointment. On the books for 3 pm.

I run into Sonya, a designer from In. She is spending the day going into Chicago to meet with designers to sell her line of fashions. Living out a dream.

The bus ride over almost wipes out everyone. They never should have used school buses. The traffic due to construction is as bad as St. Paul was last year during the worst of it. 3x.

On the boat I have a lovely chat with two of the ladies from MN. They told me they brought NO male clothing along. Whew. The read of the boat ride I talked with Sandy & Karen. Except for chat with woman from Mississippi. We decide that if Stephanie make a public coming out, I'll do it as the first Cross Dresser to canoe the Mississippi from end to end.

3pm and even though I am exhausted and sun burned, I sit down and take the lesson from Fay. She explains proper skin care and make up application. $103 is the cost of all of the accessories to make the face beautiful.

5:30 a new adventure begins. Rachel, from Houston, introduces me to Amanda from IN/FL. We decide not to take the bus to the dinner theater, but take Rachel's rented Continental.

When we got into her car and looked around, the busses have left without us. Here we are three tourists with no idea of how to get to the theater. We head south in hopes of catching the busses. Amanda caught them moving down the free way parallel to the frontage road we are on. Quick U-turn and we are on the same road, but no busses.

We head south and go on for about 30 miles before pulling off at an oasis to call for directions. My personal instincts cause me to volunteer to make the phone call. So out of the car, not feeling particularly feminine I trudge into the Wendy's and make connections with the Candlelight Dinner Theater.

Back on the road we laugh about the whole incident and continue onto the most wonderful performance I have ever experienced. First half of the play was a solo actress singing every word, the second was a dance troop of 12 dancing the same story. AWESOME. (Andrew Lloyd Weber's: Song & Dance)

Back to the hotel by 11. I talk Michelle into coming down to the bar to get a coke. While there I spot a Baptist minister I met in the elevator the previous day.

I went over to say hello and see how the conference was going. This began a two hour Q&A session. They put my faith to the test and wanted to beat me with scriptures, but failed. Having a rock solid faith in Christ got me through the last 24 years, and didn't leave me when I needed him most. They also couldn't shake my lifestyle choice.

The women couldn't truly accept Stephanie, but told me that I carried myself very well and by the end began to understand. I also realized for the first time that Stephen was very firmly entrenched inside. I was a whole person with an eclectic taste in clothing. I was comfortable with who I was and had become for the first time in over 20 years.

Exhausted I slip into bed a whole person.

Day Four - June 11, 1993.

Boot Camp! The session spoke about how to carry oneself, comportment. Most of this I learned a long time ago as an actor. How to stand, sit, walk, and just present yourself in the best light. The leader was a CD of many years who was pinch hitting for her wife who is a professional model.

Fashion was the next topic. Nothing that I hadn't read about in the newspapers or seen on television. I did learn how to use color to create the illusion of a waist line.

The keynote luncheon speaker made a wonderful point...labels like CD,TV,TS are for the back of your shirts and dresses.

After lunch Rachel full fills a dream...to go to the mall. We talk Amanda into going with. Amanda says she wouldn't miss my first "mall crawl" for the world.

We head out to the Woodfield mall and head for a larger women's store. There is a freedom and nervousness that I feel until Rachel asks the head clerk, "how many cross dressers do you sell to?" The ice broken the store clerks open up and all is normal.

We had to talk Rachel into this beautiful dress and then into buying it. I get talked into a wonderful black silk dress. The hem stopped at the knees with a string fringe to below the calf. It felt wonderful, but it was a size 22 and way to big for me. I couldn't afford it anyway; $195.00.

Another dinner and I just couldn't wear the same outfit one more time. No matter how many scarves and accessories I tried, it was getting old. So I headed down to the vendor area and put together a smashing outfit. A blue sleeveless dress with white polka-dots from one vendor. I found a perfect hat from Rachel's Wigs, a red belt from Jim (makeover artist), the red shoes from Anne and a bracelet from Mary Kay.

Met my one and only Jerk. This guy was here on vacation with his wife and he just didn't understand. He wore a "stupid" grin and had nothing but fear in his eyes. Like what we were doing would somehow rub off and change him. He oozed machismo.

Later in the bar, I noticed that every time his wife would strike-up a conversation with anyone from our group, he would "reel" her into his arms and hold her like a mother protecting a baby from the world. It was the saddest behavior I have ever seen.

1am - sleep.

Day Five - June 12, 1993.

Its Saturday. The day begins as usual; shower, shave, makeup. I'm off to a session about Balance. even as the session begins I sit and workout yesterday in my journal.

I've notice water goes through me a little faster...silly

The panel talks about adolescent & gender confusion. I think of Anony1 from AOL and how these people could help. I must get some names. They also talk about finding a balance to Cross Dressing and the public life.

Full time is not for everyone. Left unchecked this could become as destructive as gambling or drinking. Keep in sight who you are and why you do this. Make time for this like any other hobby.

Lunch is a fashion show. Amanda is wearing an absolutely stunning black dress with gold beading.

The big dinner is tonight, and I don't know what I am going to wear. I have one last outfit from Joan...but no blouse. Just then Rachel comes along and invites my up to her room to try on a dress that was too small for her to wear. After an initial goof, the dress looks and feels great. I ask to borrow it for the night and she says OK.

I run down and get the shoes to go with it, these black satin pumps with gold and silver accents. Anne agrees to hold my check for two weeks so it won't cause and overdraft charge. What a community.

Rachel (wigs) has agreed to work on my hair in exchange for back rubs previously given. It is another first, my hair in a very feminine style, and I begin to feel beautiful. She adds a black lace bow with rhinestones to complete the look.

After meeting and a short prayer session with the ladies of the Baptist General Conference, I run into Rachel (Houston) and agree to help her put together a surprise for Amanda. We pick up a few things at the gift shop and I get another Q&A from a stewardess.

Up in Rachel's room with Amanda, Rachel reads a couple of poems she has written for the occasion. Tears and emotions swell as the words speak directly to my heart.

Amanda has been mulling over the purchase of the dress she wore for the fashion show when Rachel hands her the present. Inside is the dress. She then looks at me and tells me she really met to buy the dress I had on for me anyway. Amanda and I begin to cry again and I know what Anne means by "kindred spirits"

The dinner party was a great success. I looked and felt wonderful. We all stood for a group picture, the wide shot type. What a group of people.

I spent the rest of the night trying to make it last. Talking and joking with Barbara #1, and others until 3:30am. I finally meet Marsha Jackson from AOL. She came down just to meet me. What a group. Day Six - June 13, 1993.

Sunday 8:00 am...
...tears...
...good-byes...
...tears...

Promises of a future meetings. The drive home had only one event. I took off En Femme and almost burst trying to find a gas station. The attendant pointed me to the Ladies room and after paying for my gas she said "have a nice day dear."

I almost killed myself when I saw Joan, slipped on the wet grass running up to her. I wanted to tell her about the entire week and re-live it all. We went out to dinner at Bakers Square me still in dress and I felt the best week of my life coming to a close.

Short of my acceptance of Christ as my savior, this is the best I have ever felt. It is great to be whole. A new life/journey is ahead and I look forward to every minute.

My Coming Out

by Danielle

Well, Melanie, as I told you last Sunday at the forum, I was going to "do it" this Saturday. Guess what, despite literally sweating bullets at the eleventh hour, I DID IT!!!!

Since the Partytime Cafe, as it was called, was held in Boston, and I live in Maine, I checked into the hotel Friday. I dropped off my wig at a local beauty shop recommended by the local support group (Tiffany Club of New England), dropped my blouse and skirt off at the dry cleaner, and made an appointment with the makeup artist at the beauty shop to do my makeup for me.

Normally, I do my own makeup, but this was to be a very special event in my life and I wanted to look perfect (now if that doesn't sound female, I don't know what does).

Saturday afternoon, I dressed in my tightest blue jeans and a peasant style denim top. Then, off to the dry cleaner, and then to the beauty parlor. So far, I was not nervous..... until I got to the beauty parlor - then I began to sweat...bullets. I kept thinking to myself, "What if..." Finally, I reminded myself that my time had come and what I had wanted for the past 30+ years!

I walked in, spoke to the owner, and was directed to a private room where I could change clothes and get ready for the makeup and my newly styled wig. The sweat came again, heart quickened, I though, "My gawd, my wish is finally coming true!"

The makeup artist was really nice, asking me what colors I use and how, then instructing me on what I should use in the future and what best fits my features and complexion. It seemed like an eternity, but only 40 minutes later - Danielle was born! The makeup artist said that I looked beautiful and that anyone would certainly think I was female in appearance. When she turned me around to the mirror, tears formed in my eyes - Danielle was quite an attractive lady, if she says so herself. The makeup artist took a few pictures of me, some for me, some for her - she thought the before and after pictures were amazing. She even asked if she could introduce me to some of her TRULY female customers - of course, I said yes - my confidence was holding its own.

I drove back to the hotel to pick up a few things and felt quite confident walking through the lobby to the elevators and back. After all, I was a woman. One woman about 25 years old in the lobby, "checked me out" as I walked by and told her husband that I must "be a call-girl." I smiled to myself and thought, "Alright! That's exactly what I want to feel like - a desirable female!" After all, red pumps, pleated red miniskirt, white hose, red ruffled panties, sheer white blouse and long blonde well-teased hair sure do get attention! The event was held at a Convention Center/Hotel about 20 minutes away from where I was staying. I drove a little slower than normal to get there, just to see how many passing cars "checked me out" at the stop lights ----- I loved it!

Once at the Convention Center, I met in-person the Tiffany Club members. I belong to their BBS, but have never met any of them. It was nice to talk all night about ourselves, each other, exchange thoughts/ideas about clothing and makeup...just being female. Of course, when Mother Nature called, I left the table and headed to the rest rooms. As I pushed open the door to the Men's Room, I realized my predicament (????), excused myself, and entered the Ladies Room. My confidence surprised me, no nervousness or sweating as I went about my business there. In fact, while I was touching up my makeup, a girl in her early twenties asked who did my hair because it was so beautiful - I told her the salon's name, and she was grateful. Ah, to be a woman.

When the party ended, I went over to the lounge with some other members. Several times men came up and asked me for a dance, but I declined - not quite ready for that...yet. I think I need a little more walking before I decide to run! I did however enjoy the attention!

Well, I returned to my hotel. Walked through the lobby, past security and up to my room. I slept like a baby that night - and I know that can be taken literally, after all, Danielle was only born about 8 hours beforehand.

I am so pleased with my first time, that I know it will soon be "every time." I am on the road to becoming the woman that somehow nature forgot. For those of you thinking about Coming Out, I can only say that it was a great moment for me and I intend to make those moments permanent.

"A Symbiotic Friendship"

by Karen Patrick

The words sear through softened layers of protective shell burning hollow my spirit. A simple sentence lay waste an evening of joy. In a fleeting moment a gender confidant openly perceives me as man. "I see you as a supportive male"... her words silence my self esteem wrenching open a lifetime wound. An hour later I lay on a bed bursting tears from deep within.

It is not said in malice but the voice maintains its echo. My emotions are fragile and crumble in despair. Years of projected image designed for societal survival remain etched on the surface. It has not yet faded enough. Perhaps a year ago I could have disregarded my feelings...I no longer can.

Joining a gender support group has placed me on a winding path of discovery and destruction, friendship and pain. It is a delicate link to renewed hope of fulfillment. It is a place which has allowed me to uncompress a feminine essence and expose a vulnerable core. It has left me emotionally defenseless and in need of reassurance.

That night I cried into the phone for an hour. The sympathetic person on the other end helped patch up my life. She has done it for me before and will again ... she is my best friend. I first met Sharon at the group's annual BBQ. We had few opportunities to talk amid the rumble of the day but we exchanged phone numbers and I hoped to talk to her soon. That night I met my first encounter with the reality of open femininity. Feeling unrestricted and emotional, I vented years of loneliness by falling into a momentary interlude with the wrong member. By morning I was hurt and alone again. I called Sharon's number and for the first time in my life found true support and compassion. We talked for two hours, then again the following night for four more. Our phone calls have never stopped and we meet almost daily. She is my link to self- understanding.

Through this friendship I am learning better how to touch my inner core. I have come to lean on her, her on me ... we support each other in trouble and triumph.

Through this support group I am meeting a microcosm of the real world through the eyes of a woman. It is filled with a spectrum of pain and joy. There is only one constant within, a friendship as deep as I have ever experienced with one who feels what I feel and sees beneath the exterior layers.

So many fears have been overcome one tiny step at a time with her help. The origins of transition commence with release of the mind. I have someone now with whom I can share this experience in kaleidoscopic detail. I have someone who shares with me her innermost thoughts. She is both a guide and a dependent. It is a symbiotic relationship in a rarefied culture.

I feel fortunate. I feel released. I am slowly becoming Karen and know I can not accomplish this journey alone. This group has opened a new pathway of hope, a new honesty. It contains a precious friend who is helping me bond with others and overcome adversity. I can no longer imagine how it was a year ago when I was truly alone.

Sarah's New Skates

by Sarah

The lights were low in the cavernous hall of Cub Luna as I came in. I was nervous, I know it's not smart for a woman to go to a bar alone even in Santa Fe and I was definitely on my guard.

Cub Luna opened a few years ago in a building that was originally built for a movie theater. They built the bar on one side, the whole side, it's about a hundred feet long. The place has a reputation for being packed and smoky, but this night there were maybe fifty people, it seemed almost empty. The act hadn't started yet and I found a table near the stage just one row back from the dance floor.

I had heard this guy Tab Benwa was going to play. He had been interviewed on a local radio station today. He sang some old delta blues and sounded so good that I had to see the show. Well at least that was the excuse I used to convince myself that I needed to come even though all of my girlfriends were ether working or watching someone's boring home movies of their honeymoon in Samatra.

I ordered a drink from the waitress and sat there listening to the old blues CD's they were playing. The fact is I've been so lonely as of late that going to the show alone seemed to make since. Don't get me wrong I know I have lots of friends that care about me, but after two years without any close loving body contact, I'm getting desperate. I was about to ravish the first unsuspecting guy that came within arms length.

Getting dressed tonight was tougher than usual, I just couldn't decide. The dress code in Santa Fe is always casual with some really fancy thrown in just to mix things up. I wanted to look good but not like the horny sex starved wild woman I am. After trying on every thing I own and making a huge pile of unsuitable outfits on my bed I settled on a calf length rayon dress, mostly burgundy but with small flowers all over. It has short sleeves and it's cut tight on top and very full and flowing on the bottom. It's a magic dress, some how it makes me feel pretty even if I'm having my period (an interesting phenomenon that only a natural woman or any of us who might be on hormone therapy can relate to). I left one button loose on the top to give my inadequate but growing cleavage a fighting chance and unbuttoned five or six from the bottom so my bare legs could show when I cross them. For earrings I chose these long wide dangling silver things from Bali and I but on a string of tiny cobalt blue glass beads. Wonder of wonders I'm having a good hair day! Its blond by the way, shoulder length and curly. I brushed it out and it looked good, the first time! Wow!

Now, I'm like the rest of you, I love to wear high heels but I'm five foot ten and I don't want to be any taller than that, so I put on my black cloth Chinese maryjanes. They're great for dancing and that is just what I intend to do. I put on my eye make-up a little heavier than usual and I even brushed on some translucent powder (something I never do) and some blush. I feel like I look good, maybe too good, this is getting scary.

Well, I've been sitting here for about ten minutes before this good looking white guy with curly black hair comes out on stage. He is young and too nice looking for a blues singer but as he starts to play I feel my body start to dance right there in my chair. This guy plays like BB King. He's up there with a base and a drummer and they are all really hot. A few people are getting up to dance, mostly women dancing in a group. Oh, I really want to dance! But even more I want to dance with a man.

The first song ends and Tab starts into another and I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder, there standing behind me is a bearded bear of a man. His words are drowned in the music but I think he wants to dance. Smiling he takes my hand and leads me on to the dance floor. This bear is quite handsome but it soon becomes clear that he's so drunk that he isn't dancing much. He's just kind of wobbling and watching me with this silly smile. So I begin to dance enough for both of us, I love to dance, I feel so free and the music is carrying me, I couldn't stop if I wanted to. The song ends and I thank the bear for the dance but decline his invitation to another and go back to my table.

Tab starts to sing about a silver moon, and another guy sneaks up behind me (what's with these guys, shy I guess). He's kind of nurdy looking but nice and as we start to dance he is really getting into it. Kind of wild, not at all what I expected. I love it there's so much room on the floor, I'm spinning and moving all over and he follows me with a big grin. The song is ending, he leads me off the floor and back to my table. I'm breathing hard and smiling as I thank him for the dance. He walks away and before I can catch my breath I feel another tap on my shoulder. I turn and a very handsome man, maybe fifties, tall, slim with an artistic look about him ask me to dance. I can't seem to loose this silly smile on my face, this is fun. The cologne this man is wearing sort of puts me off, but he takes me by the hand to the dance floor and I begin to spin it's really a sensual experience, as my dress catches the air I can feel it swirling up higher and higher. The cool air blowing around my panties thrills me as I spin. Oh, don't ever let me stop!

The song ends but we stay for another and another. Finally we sit down and he asks if he can buy me a drink. He's making for the bar across the room when this really tall, blond, wild looking man comes up and asks if I would like to dance, this one is cute, I would love to dance with him but the other guy has gone off to get me a drink. He smiles and asks if I think the other guy will beat him up just for one dance. Oh Goddess, my scruples are always getting in the way of fun. The man with the drinks comes back and as I sip he leans over and asks my name. It's so loud he has to get right up to my ear. I like it, but it's kind of scary. His name is Chuck. He tells me that Sarah was his mothers name (Oh come on, isn't that about the moldiest line you ever heard?).

In case you didn't know (as the old song says), "I have a brand new pair of roller skates" and I was really hoping some body would take me home tonight and try out his "key". I know, I sound like a slut to me too. But I was ready, right up to when he said he had a room in the hotel across the street because his wife had kicked him out tonight. It seems she thought he had pushed his four year old daughter down and hurt her. He said it wasn't true, he hadn't pushed her and he began to tell me how they had been together ten years. He was getting closer and he put his arm around me, he was holding my hand and quietly coming on more and more. My body is going for it (slut), but my little hormone soaked brain says this guy's no good. As horny as I am I can't do this, I keep thinking about his wife and little girl and what kind of guy would sit here coming on to me after telling me all of that.

Some times it's a curse having morals. My body would have a lot more fun if my mind would just stay out of it. As if from a distance I hear myself saying thanks for asking but no, not tonight. I should have known when I first smelled his cologne that I wasn't going to let this guy take me home. First Impressions are usually the clearest.

It's midnight and I have to work in the morning, I get up to leave and he walks me to my car. We hug and I kiss him on his cheek and tell him to go home and apologize to his family. Some how I can tell he respects me because I didn't go for his proposition. That's nice. But here I am, driving home alone to another night in that empty bed. What would I do without my vibrator.

"Welcome Home"

by Elizabeth

I began my personal journey on July 12, 1993, after "enduring" 47 years as a man. I can't begin to describe the feelings of contentment and inner peace of mind I feel at letting Elizabeth finally come out, and begin to experience the joy and happiness of her new life.

She has always been here, sometimes scampering out to go shopping with girlfriends-and at other times living only in my mind's eye but she was always there-a blonde hair, blue-eyed beauty, who loves deeply and cannot wait to experience all that life has to offer as a woman. She laughs and dances and likes to be the life of the party. Like other women, she is active, hates to exercise and reveals in intimacy. I have felt her when I was depressed and when I was on top of the world. She comforted me when I was sad (which was most of the time), put a smile on my face when she was happy and never once let me down because she knew she would emerge someday and live the rest of her life-free.

I am a bright and intelligent woman, and I know better than to think my journey will be a "walk in the park." There is so much I do not know about "feeling" like a woman but I will never forget the pain and agony of being a man. I was frustrated, quick to anger, disappointed with life in general, and more than anything else, sad. The sadness was for myself and my inability or perhaps, unwillingness to choose what was best of me in terms of personal happiness and satisfaction. You know what they say... sometimes it is more "comfortable" to stay stuck than to move on and create one's own personal happiness. I lived that scenario for too many years.

Many of my former years were spent compiling to the wishes of others whether they were parents, siblings, or society and its' bigotry. I did not readily accept their demands-only compiled with them. I wondered what was wrong with me? Didn't I have a mind of my own? Oh, most definitely, I did but the feelings I expressed were not in ways that, how shall we say, won friends and influenced people.

Like so many other transgendered people, I became aware of my feminine self at a young age. 10-years in my case. It was at that time in my life when I first discovered the "perfume sanctuary" of my mother's dressing room. It was also the first time I experienced scares and confusion I had never felt before. I dressed almost every day after school when nobody was home. I had plenty of time because my mother had her usual bridge clubs and social events which kept her away from home most afternoons. My father worked until 5 and my brothers, both older, had activities which kept them busy after school. I had no sisters. It was a blissful and exciting time for me, and in between feeling scared (that I would be discovered), I loved wearing her clothes and make-up, and parading around the house. All that changed on one fateful weekend in August, 1957. But what transpired then and for years afterwards maybe the subject for another issue.

While driving home yesterday, I heard a love song playing on the radio. Suddenly I felt a wave of sadness come over me as I listened to the words and tears came to my eyes. I couldn't shake the feeling that I felt a great amount of love for somebody. But whom? It wasn't until I begun to sing the words that I realized who that person was. The one who had always been there for me... protected me... stood by me... nurtured me. He showed me his compassionate and loved me enough to set me free. And for that, I will always love him.

Six Days - A Journal of Holiday En Femme 1993

by Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Day 1 - November 9th, 1993

Actually, the convention won't start until tomorrow, but things are happening today. Picked up Stephanie (Stephanie2) from the airport today. It can be very interesting looking for someone when you have no idea what they look like. I just kept looking at every single male coming off the plane that could be a crossdresser, until I saw the auburn-headed person with stubble, dangling earrings, and a white-and-polka-dot sun hat. We got her luggage and headed home, and awaited the arrival of the next straggler, Breanne, who showed up just before I had to leave for work.

Later that evening, my wife and the two of them headed off to my work, Stephanie Crossdressed, and Breanne did not. Breanne, I may add, had never been -out yet, having been only a -closet dresser to this point.

Once I made it home, we stayed up until around 3:00 in the morning, just chatting, and doing our best, obviously, to save $3.50 an hour in AOL connect charges.

Day 2 - November 10th, 1993

A whirlwind day, this one. After getting up early in the morning, we hit the mall to collect some outfits for Breanne (who only had a formal for the banquet to her name). Needless to say, each and all of us came back with a bag or two. Breanne, who is known online for her "Clam Smileys"(example: (:) ) fell in love with a toy in one store, a clam hand puppet. unknown to her, it was bought. We also, of course, found plenty around the specialty shop that we would have been more than happy to have bought - if we had unlimited funds, of course. Then it was off to the Target cosmetic department to fill Bree's make-up case.

That evening was the first night of the convention. An informal dinner was held, and we found ourself, again, chatting through the hours. We also, once here, caught up with Danita, who was, I should add, dressed as outrageous as you would expect) and Rhonda. Also, everyone was able to see and meet some of the -movers of the Tri-Ess and Holiday En Femme - Virginia Prince, Christine Hochberg, Kymberleigh Richards, Kathy Helms, and others.

Day 3 - November 11th, 1993

This morning I absolutely panicked, due to a late start, I had to rush to get my morning shave and make-up done so as to allow myself on to the train up to Santa Barbara for lunch and shopping. We made it, and just in time. Thankfully Breanne picked up our registration badges, else we would have never made it. Breanne chose not to dress this day, as she didn't have any flats to wear for the event.

Once on our way, we finally met Peggy. I should add, by the way, that she is a -genetic female (I can't stand terms) who just so happens to like crossdressers. Also on the way up my wife, Bonnie, and I talked and took photos for a pair of reporters for the Los Angeles Times.

After lunch, our little group headed uptown to shop, the opposite way of the main body. We had fun, though Steph did run into some minor trouble on her way to the bank. Seems one of the male population didn't think that Steph's attire was becoming...

On the way back from Santa Barbara, again on the Amtrak, we spotted a whale in the Pacific Ocean, another first for many of us.

We also hit the vendor room, and Bree found a wig she was happy with, while Stephanie found a white gown she could not live without, but did.

In the evening was a dinner, which went well, with only a minor glitch. This was Breanne's first out, this night. She was a little nervous, but was doing well. Unfortunately, one thing happened. A friend of mine from the local chapter of Tri-Ess, Teri Lynn, came over to chat, and gave what would amount to a newcomers speech, dealing primarily with the crossdresser, their guilt, and the wife not accepting. The one bit of information not given was that Breanne had separated from her wife three days before heading down for the convention. Her and Peggy went careening off, and we then told Teri Lynn what had happened, much to her dismay. Eventually, Breanne calmed down, and we again finished off the night with a rousing session of conversation, this time until around 3:00 a.m.

Day 4 - November 12th, 1993

Decided to forgo the trip to NBC Studios, the Walk of Fame, and the Universal City Walk, and rest up. This morning, though, we received a rap on the door from Danita, telling us that Rachel Ann (another local friend) had seen us in the paper. We got ahold of a copy (or five) and, sure enough, on full color, we were on the front of the San Fernando Valley section of the Times!

Shortly thereafter, we again hit the vendor room. This time, Steph had to try on the dress. Down there were two sets of reporters, both for local stations (channel 9 and 13).Bon and I talked with the reporters, and Steph "vamped" for the cameras in the rush she was experiencing. Needless to say, the gown was bought, and it was decided to become the attire for the trip to a local play house for a Cole Porter review.

While waiting for that trip, disaster again struck, much the same as before, Teri Lynn came over to smooth things out and apologize, and Breanne again rushed to her room. We all decided to miss the show and try to give our sister a helping hand.

After several hours of chatting, two pizzas, and several cokes later, all was well, and Breanne had discovered the joy of dangling earrings. Steph had a PowerBook, so we stopped online, and had received mail from Melanie  (Melanie XX) in reply to our own mail asking to meet her while we were in her town. She had left us her phone number, and, even though it was late, we called, and decided to go over just then!

Melanie was a gracious hostess, and we chatted until almost daybreak. I am glad that Melanie only makes it online during the gender forum, and not for the occasional "TV Chat" room, for she has a wit that is at least as sharp as each of ours. We even ended up having toast, pancakes, and bacon - which lead to an infamous take off on the voice tape, her new "cooking video", known as "Makin Bacon with Melanie."

Late that evening was my turn to break up. Those of you that donut known what Melanie looks like, let me assure you, she is a knockout. I am on a similar road to hers, though where she has now traveled several miles down the road of femininity (she is a post-op TS), I have only recently made my way to the path of transgenderism. I looked through her "transition book" (a collection of photos of both Dave and Melanie), and began to reflect upon myself, and just how long it will be until I get my own transition book to that point. I cannot thank my wife for her support that night.

Day 5 - November 13th, 1993

Today, once we finally rolled out of bed, missing both the breakfast and lunch gatherings, and the couples events. We grouped and began to prepare for the events of the day. Breanne had decided last evening to sign up for a facial that day, and, once done, she was an absolute knockout - this also did something else for her - gave her an incredible dose of confidence.

Also while down in the vendor area, we discovered that the tape that was shot was "shared," and that it had been distributed to channel 4, channel 7, and to CNN - which, I may add, alarmed us all, though Stephanie was especially bothered, as this was not something she was ready to broadcast so far. She eventually saw the broadcast, and she, or us, did not appear in it.

We then headed over to the local mall, looking for the studio that was to do a glamour photo of yours truly and her wife - but they weren't there! After a phone call or two, we discovered the problem - we were at the wrong mall! Steph, Peggy, and Breanne stayed behind while the two of us and Danita headed to the studio several miles away in a tiny, crowded mall. We made it, and it was truly a wish fulfilled. You see, my father is a photographer, and I would love to have him do such a set of photos, but I have not told him, and, if I did, I doubt he would be happy. Actually posing for the camera that afternoon was one of the most enjoyable things I did all week, and I hope that some of the photos are not marred by my tear-filled eyes.

The lateness of all this, though, meant that we arrived late for the formal banquet. Stephanie was a basket-case, having already imagined all sorts of horrible consequences to our trip over to the studio. Bonnie and I made it to our room, tossed on our gowns, and headed down.

The banquet was fine, though made quite long with speeches, awards, and the occasional amount of posturing. High point for all of us was Stephanie accepting an award for her chapter of Tri-Ess, Beta Gamma in Minnesota (which, I may add, we are still wondering if it is a state : ). After the dinner wound down, we tried to get a room to view a videotape of the media's coverage of the event, to see if we appeared. No one could find a VCR, however, so we scratched those plans and went to bed. Well, some of us, as Breanne was not at all ready to undo that makeover, and she made a few trips around the block. Day 6 - November 14th, 1993

Well, this is it. After a brunch, where we saw Rhonda in male drab for the first time (and, I may add, what a change), some good-byes, and re-packing for the journey out, we headed for our home, including Breanne, Peggy, Danita, and Stephanie. I think both Stephanie and I were doing our best not to lose it, though we were fighting fatigue as well as our emotions, and had a hard time letting go of Bree and Peggy when they started out together towards their individual homes, and keeping our emotions in check again as Steph gave out gifts of jewelry to us all (and thank you Steph for the earrings, they will be the first I wear after the studs).

Eventually, though, it was time to go to the airport to send Steph off, and we headed on our way. The trip there was subdued, to say the least, and we held together well until in the terminal awaiting boarding. That is when Bonnie and I presented Steph with our gifts - an origami figure (Bonnie is quite accomplished at that art) and an earring and necklace set in gold with "diamonds" and "emeralds," in the shape of a heart. I had seen that set before con, and had thought about getting it then, but bought it that day for someone who has the perfect white gown for it.

That was all we could take, and our emotions took us there. If I could have held her a little tighter, maybe she wouldn't have been able to board, and we could've taken her back for good. I do know it has been a long time since I have cried that hard in an airport and watched that plane take her away.

On the side of the little 737 she boarded was a red heart - a symbol of love. I wish that all my friends at Holiday En Femme could have seen it too, because it was my heart too, on its way with Steph, that is, the parts that already hadn't gone with all the others. It will take a long time before I can't remember that heart, and all that it meant for me.

MY COMING OUT

by Danielle

I started "dressing" when I was 11 years old - wearing my mom's girdles, slips, and dresses. I enjoyed their feel and how I looked in them, and dreamt of being one of the girls at school. When I would stay at my cousins' (three girls), they were always "making" me dress in their clothes, but I always LIKED it and didn't want to change back into MY clothes. Sometimes, I would even take some of their clothes home with me, and wear them in bed. Later as I made money mowing lawns, I bought my own panties and pantyhose - keeping them hidden in my bed.

Once I entered college and worked at a good paying part-time job, I found my "female" wardrobe growing - miniskirts, formals, casual dresses, negligies, panties, bras, garter belts, camisoles, nylons, slacks, jeans, tees, body & swim suits, etc. I owned more and sexier clothes than most girls I knew!

Once married, my "female" wardrobe became "hidden" in my workshop in the basement, where I had access to them but my wife would never find them. On business trips, late at night, or when no one else was home, I would go down, select my outfit, and "dress." It was nice, but I really felt too rushed and wanted to BE a woman all of the time, not just for a snapshot in time.

After many years of denying my gender identity and cross-dressing whenever I had the opportunity, I decided that I must acknowledge my feelings and do what was "right" - become the woman that I had been yearning to be for so many long years. My first step was that I joined the Tiffany Club of New England (Boston, MA). Because I live in Maine, I accessed the Tiffany Club's BBS for information on the regional transgender community and to chat with other CD/TV/TSs. There I found the support that one needs as they make this major transition from "what was" to "what should have been."

One of the TCNE sysops, Debra Berube, informed me that TCNE was sponsoring an evening social for the transgender community and that I was welcome to attend - the date, May 15, 1993, at a suburban convention center/hotel. I decided to work that date in with a business trip I had planned that would have me passing through that area.

I checked into my hotel room Friday night, and laid out my plans for the following day. I slept very little that night, anxious about the forthcoming day and my Debutante that evening. After only about 3 hours of REAL sleep, I awoke to find that Saturday had indeed arrived and my day of reckoning had arrived.

I had room service bring up a light breakfast to my room. Next, I fixed a nice warm lavender bubble bath and soaked for what seemed like hours. I then took the opportunity to depilitate the hair from my legs (all the way up), arms, back, chest and belly. Despite plugging the drain several times ( I was like Harry the Bigfoot), I relished in the smooth feeling of my "new" body and the tingley sensations as I patted myself dry and applied a mist of my fav body spray, L'air du Temps. Once out of the tub, I put on a little pink lipstick, blush, dark black mascara, and my brown pageboy style wig. Next, I got dressed in my sexiest undies, tightest pair of blue jeans, high black pumps and a peasant style denim top, which accentuated my ample breasts.

I then strutted to the elevator, through the lobby, and to my car. I felt a little uncomfortable, but knew that I was doing well so far. I proceeded to drive to the dry cleaner and the beauty parlor. I dropped my blouse and skirt off at the dry cleaner and requested the 1-hour service so they would be ready for me to pickup before going to the beauty shop and wear that evening. Once I left there, I headed to Payless, where I tried on and purchased a pair of bright red high heel pumps, which I would wear that evening, and a new handbag.

Next I went to an adult store that caters to the local transgender community. There I was assisted by a very courteous female clerk in selecting a padded brief and crinoline, trying each on to ensure fit. I then returned to the dry cleaner and picked up my blouse and skirt.

As I parked my car in the rear lot of the beauty shop, anxiety and apprehension hit me. I began to think, "What if...?" and started to sweat profusely. Composing myself, I just thought, "The time has come to wake up & smell the coffee. Now go out there and be the woman you really are." With that, I entered the rear door of the beauty shop, and proceeded to speak to the owner, Esther. Esther showed me to a private dressing are of the salon where I could change into my outfit and then have my makeup done. It was warm inside the dressing room and, combined with my anxiety, I began to sweat again - this time bullets. But, like before, I assured myself that all was going well and that if I continued to sweat my soon-to-be-applied makeup would run..

A short time later, the cosmetologist entered. She was really nice, and helped "break the ice" and reduce my anxieties by asking me what colors I use and how, and then instructing me on what I should use in the future and what best fits my features and complexion. She asked who had done the arching of my brows, and I told her that I had - she said that I had done a very nice job. This put my mind at ease as well, of course 30+ years of practice certainly helps! As she prepared my face for the makeup, and then finally applied the makeup, I could only wonder what I would look like. My heart began pounding, waiting for the "unveiling" to happen. It seemed like an eternity, but only 60 minutes later - Danielle was born!

With my back to the mirror, I was unable to see the makeup artist do her magic, but when she was finished she said that I looked beautiful and that anyone would certainly think that I was a woman. She turned me around so that I could see, and my eyes welled up in tears again - there before me sat a beautiful woman, a woman whose eyes sparkled and whose lips were supple and full, a woman who could easily turn the head of any guy. She told me not to cry, that I was beautiful, and gave me a hug of confidence. I then asked her to take a picture of me so I could keep it in my diary, and she did.

I thanked the cosmetologist and beauty shop owner for their help, support, and confidentiality. Then I confidently walked out the FRONT door, and down two blocks to a newsstand for a paper. When I entered the newsstand, the men just stared at me. I casually strutted to the papers, modestly bent down and grabbed one, and walked to the cashier. I could tell they were looking at my legs and butt, so I leaned over the counter enough to flash them a little view of my ruffled rhumba-style panties. As I turned, I smiled at them and said, "Have a nice day." As I walked back to my car, I noticed people slowing in their cars and "checking me out." I realized that they weren't "making" me, they were viewing me as a sexy babe (---blush---). Chills ran up my spine, how flattering to be treated this way I thought.

As I drove back to the hotel to get a few things before the party, I noticed other motorists "checking me out" as I was at stop lights. Ahh, to be a woman and be wanted. What a feeling. Once back at my hotel, I confidently walked through the lobby to the elevators and back. After all, I was a woman. One woman, about 25 years old, in the lobby, "checked me out" as I walked by and whispered to her husband that I "must be a call-girl." I just turned around toward her, smiled, left my tongue wet my lower lip, and proceeded on my way thinking to myself, "Gee, now I KNOW I'm in the right gender!"

Once at the Convention Center, I met in-person the Tiffany Club members. I belong to their BBS, but have never met any of them. It was nice to meet the faces behind the words, and to talk all night about ourselves, each other, exchange thoughts/ideas about clothing and makeup....just being female. Plus, the food and drink were quite good too, although I did so in moderation to watch my figure "like a good girl."

Of course, when Mother Nature called, I left the table and headed to the rest rooms. As I pushed open the door to the Men's Room, I realized my predicament (????), excused myself, and entered the Ladies Room. My confidence really surprised me, no nervousness or sweating this time, as I went about my business there. In fact, while I was touching up my makeup, a girl in her early twenties asked who did my hair because it was so beautiful - I told her the salon's name, and she was grateful. Ah, to be a woman and be able to talk about such things. Plus, it seemed that I was "passing," even though I still have trouble controlling my baritone voice.

Throughout the party, I danced with other TCNE members and their guests, noting the variety of professions and upbringings we all had. The rapore that we had with one another was really encouraging.

When the party ended at about midnite, I went over to the lounge with some other members. Several times men came up and asked me for a dance, but I declined - not quite ready for that...yet. I think I need a little more "walking" before I decide to "run"! I did however enjoy the attention, and even met a nice man to converse and have a drink with. As time progressed, we kissed and cuddled in our secluded booth near the rear of the room - just playful fun. I never did tell him that I was a male, but then again HE did not ask and I did not feel like a male that night!

Well, about 3AM I returned to my hotel, feeling happy, sexy, confident, and secure. I walked through the lobby, past security and up to my room. I slipped into my sexiest negligie and slept like a baby that night - and I know that can be taken literally, after all, Danielle was only born about 8 hours beforehand!

I am so pleased with my first time, that I know it will soon be "every time." I am on the road to becoming the woman that somehow nature forgot. For those of you thinking about Coming Out, I can only say that it was a great moment for me and I intend to make those moments more numerous and permanent.

POST-SCRIPT DATED 11/23/93:

Well, its been 6 months since Danielle was "born" and those six months have posed both challenges as well as rewards. I am spending most of my time living as the woman that I have always wanted to be. I was "laid off" from my Fortune 50 corporation management job of 12 years in June, likely a result of my "transformation", but I have since founded my own company, which competes against my former employer - Yes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! I find that I am enjoying life better now, I am more relaxed, and more "myself." I find my male clothes in the back of the closet or in boxes in the basement, where my female attire used to be. I am happy and know that what I have done has made me a better person - it's made me ME.

I would like to thank all of you who have helped me through this period in my life: Melanie for your newsletters and AOL Forum, Debra Berube & Joannie Bartlett (TCNE) for just being there when I needed you, Kathy for understanding why I am who I am, Tula and Shannon (my idols) for being themselves and showing once again that "it" can be done and accepted by all, Diann of AOL for chatting with me on-line when I needed someone to talk to, and everyone else who I have related with over the past 6 months...THANKS ALOT!

I know now that I must continue my journey to womanhood, and make the transformation complete. Over the next few months I will be continuing my SRS counseling. Hopefully, all will go well and, in a short time, I will be "complete." In the meantime, however, I am enjoying life as a woman-in-transition.

REVERSE PASSING

by Tracy WH

Yes, you guessed it from the title, I have to try to pass as my male self for the first time in nearly a year and a half! None of you know the background so I'll fill in the blanks.

I'm working as a legal assistant for a firm in Salt Lake City as a woman, and have been for the past 17 months. I'm serious about my life as a woman, to the point of having my breasts augmented nearly 7 months ago. I'm a 34c and quite proud of my figure. I'm waiting for the "right time" to go all the way and do the surgery thing. For right now I'm content with my life, and am in no hurry to finish. I've recently turned 24 and have plenty of time for that later (after I've saved up the rest of the money).

As my male self I traveled to S. Korea with the Peace Corps and learned to speak Korean quite well, and used that language skill and experience on my resume.

Another firm in Salt Lake has a client that is opening an American business in Seoul. They had heard that I spoke Korean, and are willing to hire me as a translator/legal advisor for two to three months while they are getting things set up.

To make a long story short, my passport is as a male, and the people that are going to hire me know me only as a woman. Here's where the conflict arises.

I had known that this might come up, and had been doing some asking around on line, and reading some of the downloads concerning legal identity changes. I didn't really think that it would go this far, but here I am with a South Korean visa in one hand and a plane ticket in the other.

I'm really puzzled as to how I'm going to get through customs/immigration, but I have a plan.

I had to submit a photograph of me along with my visa application, and did myself up as a man quite well. The photos matched close enough, and I only had to practice my male signature a few times to get it right.

However, a photograph passing, and a living breathing (and potentially nervous) person passing are two TOTALLY different things. I've been practicing in preparation for the big day, and have a few tips on "reverse passing" as I'll call it.

First, anatomically there is the problem of the "units" attached to my chest. That shouldn't be too much of a problem, I just buy a very tight jog-bra and wear a really loose sweatshirt on the plane (corporate types don't care what you wear on a 14 hour flight).

Second, hair can be pulled into a tail and worn in a hat. Shouldn't be too much of a problem, besides, many men have ponytails these days. The biggest problem there would be the cut and style difference from the passport to the "actual head". Again, easily explained.

Third is the removal of all makeup and traces of ANYTHING. One thing I have been doing is wearing only one earring when "reverse passing", and then it is a simple gold hoop. If I let my whiskers grow for about 3 days, I look like an adolescent teenager with a light beard. With the singular earring the effect is pretty good.

I have been buying wine coolers and beer as a man in the supermarkets around town to make sure and get ID'ed to see if I can "reverse pass" effectively. So far, so good. Much to my amazement. One funny story about buying alcohol.

The first time I went to buy coolers as a man since living as a woman, I accidentally took my purse in. WHOOPS!!!! I didn't realize what I had done until I had gotten to the checkstand and had to actually take out my license. I had it in a Dooney-Burke billfold (very feminine looking) in my matching purse. I was so nervous I'd be "read backwards" (this does get a bit confusing) that I dropped my license on the floor. As I bent down to pick it up, I thought I saw the check-out boy look down my shirt and see my breasts. I could have died! I tried to regroup and just handed it to him with a $20. That's when I looked down and saw my well manicured nails. Luckily I only wear clear enamel, but no man I know of has nails this pretty! The checker gave me a quizzical look, but I rationalized that off as being an old ID. He didn't say anything, but I was so paranoid I was sure that he knew.

I hurriedly took my change and ID and stuffed them in my purse. I took the coolers, and BRISKLY walked out to my car. All the way out the door and to my car, I imagined a hand grabbing me on my shoulder and asking me to come back into the store for a "little chat". I got to my car and threw myself inside. My head was spinning, my heart was pounding, and I was nearly out of breath! I just sat in my car laughing/crying at myself for being so stupid! I am usually so methodical and plan things out, but I just got lazy and didn't think before actually going to the store.

I went home laughing the whole way, sat down in front of the TV and watched Vertigo while drinking my trophies. I felt pretty good after about 3 of them.

That story got long really fast. Sorry.

Anyway, here is where it has gotten tricky.

All of the partners in the business have decided to travel together. This would pose a problem for me if I were to have to pass as a female to them, and as a male to the customs people. Again, this has been taken care of with a little schedule juggling.

I suggested in one of the organization meetings, that I travel ahead a few days, set up short-term accommodations, purchase a vehicle, and schmooze the Korean partners before their arrival. This was met with warm welcome, as none of them had ever been there.

So, as far as they're concerned and will ever know, I'm a woman, and will work with them as one. I'm pretty proud of my little trick, but still a little nervous. I hope that this goes off smoothly and have no glitches.

I'm not sure if any of this means anything to any of you (how many "any's" can you put in one sentence?), but I thought it might be interesting nonetheless.

MY FINAL WEEK LIVING AS A MALE

by Denise Anne Fell

Preface On the morning of November 5, 1992, with the stroke of a pen, the Honorable Virginia Q. Beverly, Circuit Court Judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit, in and for Duval County, Florida, made Denise Anne Fell a legal person and with the same stoke made Tom a non-person for all legal purposes. I am filled with mixed emotions. I am thrilled that Denise is alive, well and legal, but at the same time Tom died. This is going to be an account of my last days living in the male world. It will start on Monday morning, November 9th and end Sunday night, November 15th.Monday

November 9, 1992.

I awoke as usual this morning. As I prepared to get out of bed, glanced into the mirror. I had on my purple nightgown. I know that within a week I can stay in the femme dress. I will not have to put on the usual pants and shirt to go into work. It is a very exciting time. I arrived at work at 6:30 and smiled as I entered the snack bar. Next Monday, Denise will be entering the snack bar. I cashed a check, signed by Denise Anne. I love it.

I arrived upstairs and started my morning chore of uploading from system (District) and prepared to download to the main IRS Computer System. The download was going smoothly, when it dawned on me that after Wednesday when I have my 3 hour session of electrolysis, there is no reason as to why Denise cannot start to work on Thursday or Friday. I played around with this idea for a time and wrote a memo to the 3 managers that are over me and to the Labor Relations Specialist that is handling the paperwork for Denise. I told them once I passed Wednesday and had jumped this little hurdle Denise could report on Thursday or Friday. I said that it all depended on how I felt that morning. But the transition would begin no later than November 16th.

We had a meeting across the street concerning employee safety. A manager was mugged a couple of weeks ago and her pocketbook was stolen. The mugger broke her finger and hit her hard enough to cause her to have to get stitches above her eye. It was a very upsetting experience for the entire Branch.

My day went smoothly. As I was ready to leave, I crossed Monday, November 9th off my calendar. This was my last Monday in the male mode. When I arrived home I had a package waiting for me. The sweaters that I had ordered had arrived. They look nice. I had a long sleeve pink sweater, a royal blue shell and a royal blue regular sweater. They all fit. The slacks that I ordered did not fit. I think that it was the style rather than the size. I sent some more notices to different companies that I have accounts with about my name change. This task is almost completed. I hope that by next month I will have new cards and my bills will be coming to Denise. I spent a relaxing evening and prepared for my next work day.

Tuesday, November 10, 1992

I woke up this morning with a feeling of total contentment. I do not remember feeling this good and this relaxed in a very long time. I have about made up my mind that Full Time will start on Thursday. The only problem that I can foresee to prevent this from happening is if my face is too irritated from the electrolysis that I am scheduled for tomorrow. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will not happen. It was a typical day and not much really happened. I guess that I spent the majority of the day trying to get myself mentally prepared for the big step.

I talked to Melanie in the early afternoon (Florida Time) and felt very good after our conversation. I find her a totally remarkable woman who is always there to help. Her support has been a tremendous boost for reaching my goal. I spent a relaxing evening watching a movie when I got a very pleasant surprise. I received a telephone call from someone that I have wanted to talk to for a very long time. I had a nice chat with Elaine and I hope that there will be many more in the years to come. I thought that Elaine had a cute little southern accent, and I envy that. I could easily take her voice as feminine. I am still hoping that I will come up with something. I guess I will try a voice coach and failing that I will try with some voice surgery after studying other alternatives. The day ended on this pleasant note. With that I will close and prepare for a full day tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 1992 (Veterans Day)

I awoke this morning at my usual time. I wanted to get some chores done before leaving the house for a days adventure. I started out with 3 hours of electrolysis. I can honestly say that I can think of far better ways to start a day. This was a necessity in order to begin my Real Life Test. After 3 hours of torture, I went to Regency Square Mall and shipped a couple of packages UPS. I then had an ice cream treat at Swensons. I felt that after my 3 hours of torture I deserved an award for being such a good girl. At the appointed time I arrived at J.C. Penneys. Robbin Briggs, the nail technician, was ready to give me my first pair of acrylic nails. This took approximately 2 1/2 hours. For the most part it was very enjoyable. We selected a length that was about average and a white nail polish that had a pink opaque tint. This was a nice color that would go with anything and yet not overpowering. This is what I was looking for. I came home and spent the evening shaving and preparing for what could be a RED LETTER DAY.

Thursday, November 12, 1992

I woke up this morning and listened for the rain that they had predicted. I did not hear any noise of rain on my skylights. As I got out of bed, I made the decision that there was no reason to delay any longer. When I selected my underclothing I put out a bra and panties instead of a T-shirt and panties. I went into the rest room and washed my face, brushed my teeth and took off my nightgown. I put on my undergarments and returned and put on my makeup. I only had one small part to correct and I chose my dress for my debut as Denise at work. I wore a royal blue pullover knit dress. Any of you that know me know I am an amputee so shoes were not an issue unless I put on my prostheses, which is not likely since they weigh so much. I fixed my wig and prepared to meet the world.

I made my usual stop at Burger King and got something to drink on the way into town and arrived at the Federal Building at about 6:20. I stayed in my van until 6:30. The next couple of minutes had to be the hardest of my life. I wanted to get back in my van and go home, but that would have solved nothing. I entered the building where the security gave me a good morning and that was all. I went to the snack bar where I usually read the newspaper before work. Again, nobody said anything. They had been forewarned, but did not really expect me to come in dressed until Monday. As I sat reading the newspaper and eating my morning toast, a coworker from another branch came up and said, "I guess that Denise is appropriate." I said, "I think so." That was that another coworker said good morning and that was it.

The true test was going to be going into my branch. This is on the sixth floor of the Federal Building. I went in and absolutely nobody said a word. A few people finally came up when I was doing my morning upload/download and said that they were surprised. They did not think that I would look this good. People then began to call me Denise, although a few did slip and call me Tom. I answered them. I guess that I have to get use to it also.

The only problem that arose was the rest room. I had planned to use the ladies rest room on the ground floor. One reason it is one of the only two that are wheelchair accessible and also I only knew of one or two female employees from the Army Corps Of Engineers worked on the ground level. Most use came from people coming into the building and going to Immigration. I soon found out that there were 17 female employees on the ground floor and they were not happy about this. The next solution would have been the nurses office. However, since this is also used by sick people it could not be tied up for long periods. The final solution was that for a short time I would use the nurses office and a private rest room on the ground floor would be altered to accommodate me and that would be a rest room for me to use that would not upset male nor female employees. Also, since I came out and have started full time they have no idea if someone else will come forward now or in the future. If so, then this rest room will also serve to accommodate them. That made everyone happy, especially yours truly.

Other good news that happened today at work is that I was notified that my personnel folder had been changed to reflect my new name. The payroll records have been changed and all my computer logons have been changed or are in the process of being changed. I am on 3 different systems, which is 3 separate main frames. This does not include the PC. All day I expected the hammer to fall, but it did not. It was one of the best days that I ever spent at work. One that I will always remember. The day I went to work in a dress.

I found that my nails were too long. They needed to be trimmed. I called Robbin and made an appointment after work. I guess the biggest surprise is that I went through the mall and did not get read. I think one lady was unsure, but there was no laughing or pointing. I don't expect this to happen all the time, but it was nice for a first time out. I came home and I was emotionally exhausted. It has been a long and wonderful day. I can only compare it to the days my two daughters were born. It is a day that I will treasure always, and I know that tomorrow morning I will have less of a problem going into work. I can honestly say that today is the first day of the rest of my life (female life).

Friday, November 13, 1992

I went into work this morning. It was much easier to enter the building than it was yesterday. I noticed that for some reason there are some people that I go out of my way to avoid. I don't know why. Maybe it is that I have such harsh feelings towards them. I really know of no reason to do this. Today, I wore a rose color dress that had a large button on the collar. I received compliments on this outfit. One coworker make the comment unf***ing believable. I guess that was a compliment. My manager told me that a few people were shocked. They never thought that I would go through with the transition. They figured that it would blow over and that would be that. Surprise, surprise.

I left early in search of the elusive driver's license. It was a comedy of errors. First of all they would only take original documents or certified documents. The only elusive document is the name change. It is still being processed. The clerk said that if I would produce the original letter from my doctor he would change the sex on my driver's license. I said fine and went home to get this letter. By the time I got back he stated that the office had called again and until the surgery is complete no gender change on the license. This is a different story than what I was told earlier. After about 3 hours I gave it up and went and had my van repaired.

That was fun. The Service Manager was my neighbor at one time. He had one surprised look on his face when I went in the service department in a gray skirt and royal blue blouse. In all reality he handled it very well. I also had the misfortune of breaking a nail today. I made an appointment and had it repaired after my van was repaired. I am really beginning to appreciate what women go through for their entire life. I have had the mood swings, I no longer just jump up, wash up and get dressed. I now have to decide what to wear. Make sure that the makeup is on correctly, the hair looks all right and still get myself to work at the normal time. It does take us girls a little longer to prepare ourselves.

While at the mall, waiting to get my nail repaired I strolled around, so to speak, and I don't think anybody paid me any attention. The only place I know I was read was at the little hot dog stand that I frequented when I was at the mall. All in all it was another great day.

At this point in time, Denise is enjoying life to the fullest and is still mindful that she must be careful to make this a success. My weekend is planned and I am preparing myself for the upcoming full week at work. It is going to get cold, so I am going to look for a pair of dress pants tomorrow. I have a nice pink sweater that would look very good with some navy slacks. I will see what I can find. I am ready to go full forward and I am looking up the road to the day that it will all be accomplished.

Saturday, November 14,

I am not sure how to explain today. I guess that you could compare it to major surgery. I was once told that the 3rd day was the worst, well, I woke up this morning and realized that I had to go out of the house dressed. I procrastinated. I vacuumed, mopped the kitchen and finally went in and put on makeup and got dressed.

It was not my typical Saturday when I threw on a pair of cutoffs and a T-shirt. Those days are over. Even after dressing and getting ready, I put off going out. Finally, I took the plunge. The only thing I can think of is that during the week when I leave the house it is dark. I have my ride to work to get ready to face the world. This morning the sun was out and there were people around. I don't know what the big deal was. I may never find the answer as to why I was so reluctant to leave the house. The reason is important, but I went to the grocery store, filled my van with gas and then went to the mall. I took one of my wigs in to have it styled. The other I needed to wear. I had an appointment with the television at 12:30 to watch the Florida Gators play football. I came home watched my game, this is when the day began to get interesting.

The first was my neighbor from across the street came over to see me. Her husband had been over the other night and told her how good he thought that I looked. She said she was surprised and thought that my makeup looked very good. Next Elizabeth came over. She is the wife of a person that played wheelchair basketball with me. She was impressed and we talked about my attitude of expecting too much from me. She said I had the wrong idea of what a woman should look like. She said that she hoped that I would be more than a lady, she hoped that I would be a woman. We also discussed that women wear casual clothes on weekends. I had on a camel skirt with a white pullover shirt. This shirt and a blue pullover shirt are the only male clothing that I kept.

Just as she was getting ready to leave my next door neighbor came by. He is the one I thought that I would get a hard time from. The first thing he said, was can I speak to oh, you're pretty. I don't think it registered with him at first. He was just letting me know that he had talked to the post office and I could have a curbside box put in front of my house if I so desired. I thanked him, but it was information that I already knew. I like the idea of a locked mailbox, especially when I am out of town for a weekend.

After the game, I went back up to the mall to get a manicure and it was the first time that I went shopping for clothes dressed as Denise. I picked up a couple of pairs of pants. It is supposed to get into the 30's and may be a little too cool for skirts or dresses. I made another purchase also. I had a few samples of fragrances that my Mary Kay representative had given me. I was not real crazy about them. I went and got some SHALIMAR. This has always been a favorite fragrance for me. I hope it smells as nice on me as it does on the ladies I gave it to over the years. After my manicure I came home and spent a quiet evening. I have a big day tomorrow. It will be the first time that Denise will play basketball.

Sunday, November 15, 1992 Today was going to be a wonderful day, but I guess it has turned out to be a total BITCH. I went to Gainesville to day to play some wheelchair basketball. The first as Denise. I was looking forward to a nice day of exercise and seeing some old friends. Needless to say I did not play in a wig or makeup, and I really did not like going back to semi-male for even a few hours. Sure I put on a bra (a necessity these days) and other feminine underclothing, but still I missed seeing Denise dressed in the mirror. It ended up two games. I broke a nail. I was afraid of that and I guess that I played some good basketball. It was a good day up to this point.

I arrived home and took a shower and put on a nightgown so that I could relax a little while before Gender Chat. I signed on Prodigy to see if I had any Email. I then went to Frank Discussions. A subject of AC/DC TS/TV WHATEVER was mentioned. Out of curiosity I looked at the message. Lo and behold, I knew who it was from and who it was directed at. It was from my sister's sister-in-law a person that can't keep her face out of other peoples business and who has carried stories to a former spouse about me. To say that I was ticked off is an understatement. I was livid. I have no doubts about it being directed at me because of certain things stated. Only information that she knew first hand or had heard from my sister.

I am ashamed to admit it but I wrote her as close to a nasty note as I thought that I could get away with and told her to stay out of my face. Do I feel better. I don't know. I just know that it seems I have no family members left. That too is fine with me. I could not go on forever living my life to please others.

I really need to compose myself and get ready for what I hope is a pleasant evening on gender chat. I only know that I am going forward and each day will have to get better. Denise will survive this upset. It is really sad that the happiest week of my life has to close on such a sour note.

CONCLUSION: I guess that I did not make it a full week. I started four days early and have no regrets. All in all this has been a wonderful week. I have started full time. I am able to dress and be the real me. I have been to the mall and from all indications I am passing. I feel that some people may wonder if I am a male or female, but that is almost as good as passing. More will be written as time passes on my transition to womanhood. DENISE ANNE IS ALIVE AND WELL IN FLORIDA

"The Neenah Connection"

by Denise Anne Fell

This is the story of my trip to Neenah and my journey to womanhood. It is my intent to document the events as they actually happened.

Day -5, Saturday, February 12, 1994

The flight was to originate in New Orleans. The plane was to stop in Tampa, Jacksonville, where I got on, Norfolk, Baltimore and finally Cleveland.

The plane was late getting to Jacksonville because they circled Tampa for an hour trying to land. It was too foggy and they then proceeded to Jacksonville.

We took off about 10 minutes late. The pilot said we would get to Norfolk on time. After landing and sitting there for awhile they announced that we were over flying Baltimore due to snow and the airport was currently closed.

All the Baltimore passengers de-planed and their luggage was removed from the plane. We waited and waited for a decision or some sort of clearance to fly to Cleveland.

After an hour and 20 minutes or so on the ground it was announced that Baltimore was open and all the Baltimore passengers got back on the plane, their luggage was reloaded and we took off for Baltimore.

We arrived in Baltimore and were only going to be on the ground for 20 minutes again.

After about 45 minutes we again were ready to resume our flight to Cleveland when two passengers decided to get off. They had to find their luggage in the hole and then they let four more passengers on. They only had 3 vacant seats so they had to decide to was not going to go. That finally happened. The captain then said Flight 1660 might have same day service to Cleveland.

One of the new passengers sat by me. He was from Pakistan. He was mad because his wife had to sit in a seat behind him. He did not speak English too well and just gave me dirty looks all the way to Cleveland.

I was supposed to meet Marisa at the Cleveland airport. The plane was to arrive at 2:50 p.m. We were still on the ground in Baltimore at 2:50.

Since everything was messed all along the routes I felt that I would still have an hour or so in Cleveland so that we could chat and I was getting hungry. I still had not eaten lunch.

I got off the plane in Cleveland. Marisa was waiting. I was informed that I had 3 minutes to get to my flight. They were holding it for me. I got to say, "Hi Marisa, Bye, Marisa." I got on the plane when the captain announced that we would be on the ground for awhile because all flights into Milwaukee were being delayed.

Well about 35 minutes later we took off. About half way to Milwaukee the pilot announced that we had cut speed to conserve fuel. Milwaukee had been shut down but they expected to have it open about 15 minutes to the hour. He thought that it would be like more on the hour. He said we did not want to get there too early and go into a long holding pattern.

I finally got to Milwaukee and went to get my rental car. It was in the maintenance area. It took about 45 minutes to get it. I still had not eaten lunch.

I got to the motel. It was snowing like crazy. I got checked in and asked the desk who delivered. I was given several menu's and ordered my supper and ate in my room. It was good, and I was tired.

Took a long hot shower put on a night gown and went to bed.

 

Day -4, Sunday, February 13, 1994

Went to Denny's for breakfast. Marsha had called and said that she was coming up. She arrived about noon and we went to Grand Avenue Mall.

I got some post cards at a nice little store called Celebrate Wisconsin. We had lunch. I had my favorite, Cajun Blackened chicken sandwich from Chickadilly Circus. We then went to Walgreen's to get a few items.

We went to South Ridge Mall. I had to go to the pet store and get Misty a couple of birthday gifts. She would turn 3 on the 15th and I was going to miss her birthday, but wanted to have her a belated gift upon my return.

We got back to the motel and Marsha and myself chatted and watched a movie on HBO and then she had to leave to get back for the Sunday Gender Chat on AOL.

I went to Ashleys for Supper. It was a nice day. There was no new snow and what was on the ground was starting to melt.

Day -3, Monday, February 14, 1994

Went down to the Federal Building. Cathy Gore, was coming to work late. I had breakfast at Wendy's and went to Grand Avenue Mall and got some additional travelers checks.

It was a beautiful day. The high was near 40. Drove by mo old apartment complex. The snow was piled high. Sidewalks were clean. They finally got it right.

Came back to the motel. Ordered dinner in since Ashley's was closed on Monday. Have a big day in Evanston, Illinois tomorrow with Dr. Ettner.

On the down side I lost a large gold hoop earring. On the up side I had packed 2 extra pairs of hoops. I medium and one small.

  • Day -2, Tuesday, February 15, 1994

    I left for Evanston at 9:30. My appointment with Dr. Ettner was for 12:00 noon.

I arrived about an hour early. I located her house and went to McDonalds for a drink. I waited until 15 minutes before my appointment and left for her house.

We began our appointment about 5 minutes late. We had talked on the phone. She had been sent an autobiography that I had written so our meeting time was greatly reduced. We talked for about an hour.

She asked me a few questions. Most of the questions had been answered in my autobiography. We chatted and she told me that she would notify Dr. Schrang I was recommended for SRS. We hugged and she asked me to stay in touch.

I returned to Milwaukee and did some laundry. I did not want to leave dirty clothes packed for 9 days while I was in the hospital. I had dinner and got ready for my trip to Neenah tomorrow.

It was a WONDERFUL day.

Day -1, Wednesday, February 16, 1994

I awoke at 4:00 this morning. I drank a glass of water and went back to bed. I slept until 7:15.

Finished packing everything and went to Denny's for breakfast. I felt calm and relaxed.

Went back to the motel and waited until about 9:45. Put my luggage in the rental car and started towards Neenah. I took my time since I did not have to be in Dr. Schrang's office until 1:30.

I went through McDonalds and got two medium diet cokes for my trip. I had a nice leisurely drive through the Wisconsin countryside and snapped a few pictures of the snow covered fields, etc.

I got to Neenah and stopped at Tom's Drive In. I had eaten a steak sandwich from there once before. Very good and very reasonable.

I got to Dr. Schrang's office about 12:30. They were at lunch. I read a magazine. I felt very relaxed and comfortable. I got to see Dr. Schrang about 2:00. His 1:00 appointment was late.

We had a nice chat. He checked the photos he took when I saw him in July and decided that he would do the skin graft after all. I did not have a lot penile skin to work with.

He told me that Dr. Ettner had called and left the message that I was an excellent candidate for surgery. He said that he thought so too.

When I came out of his office Marsha was in the waiting room. She came to the hospital with me and helped me bring in my bags. They were ready for me. The first issue was to go to the laboratory for the HIV test. Then I went to my room. I was in 237-B and over looked the Fox River. It was a nice view.

Marsha went to the store to get a hair brush for me. All I had was a hair pick.

The hospital staff is extremely friendly.

I spent the evening getting prepped for surgery. My big day is rapidly approaching. I am glad that Dr. Schrang is a big believer in sleeping pills.

Day 1, Thursday, February 17, 1994.

The big day has arrived at last.

I was taken down to the surgical holding area around 6:45. My surgery was set for 7:30. I talked to the anesthesiologist and requested an epi dural instead of general anesthesia. He agreed. I was the first person that Dr. Schrang performed SRS with an epi dural.

He set it up and then Priscela was in the OR with me. She would ask if I wanted to take a little nap and if I said yes I would get something to doze off.

I spent about 15 minutes in recovery and was back in my room before 2:00 p.m. I dozed on and off but was alert for the most part. I could not eat much of my dinner but did eat some jello later.

I had a great night's sleep. The site where they took the skin graft is sore, but the new vagina site is not too bad. I have 3 ice packs in the vagina area. One in the middle and one on each inner thigh. He does this to control bleeding and swelling.

  • Day 2, Friday, February 18, 1994

What a great day. My first full day as Denise. I received some beautiful flowers from Melanie. The biggest surprise of all was a visit from Elaine. She flew up from Dallas for a visit.

She left a little after one to grab a bite to eat and to catch a 3:00 p.m. plane back to Chicago and then a flight back to Dallas.

Dr. Schrang said it went well and was not as difficult as he thought it would be. I will be able to get up and get a hot shower on Wednesday. Until that time it is flat on your back in bed. There was no fireworks or trumpets like I thought there might be. There was only a wonderful feeling of contentment and completeness. I am finally the female that I was meant to be. I have just began my journey to the rest of my life.

Day 3, Saturday, February 19, 1994

Quiet day. Marsha came up in the afternoon. We chatted.

Dr. Schrang came in. They have changed the dressing. I was told it looked swollen but no problem. Dr. Schrang gave me the legal papers to get my drivers license and birth certificate changed.

I will quote the letter here:

Date: February 18, 1994

Regarding: Denise Anne Fell

  • To Whom It May Concern:

This is to certify that the above named patient is a 48 year old male to female transsexual who underwent Sex Reassignment Surgery for Male to Female on February 17, 1994. The operation was performed by me at Theda Clark Regional Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin.

This surgery has effectively converted Denise Anne Fell into a woman. Specifically I removed the testicles and penis and created a fully functional vagina, labia and clitoris. She should now be considered a functioning, anatomical female.

I performed the surgery in compliance with the Harry Benjamin Guidelines. It was done on the recommendations of two licensed workers in the gender oriented field and after the recommended one year course of hormone therapy was completed.

Should any questions arise concerning this procedure, please contact me.

It is signed by Dr. Schrang and notarized. His corporate seal is also affixed.

Sure makes me feel good to get this document.

 

  • Day 4, Sunday, February 20, 1994

    A quiet day. Marsha came up and we were joined by Claudia and her friend Susan.

Day 5, Monday, February 21, 1994

Quiet day. I got some rest. I am feeling more pain (sensitivity) around my vagina.

Day 6, Tuesday, February 22, 1994

A quiet day. Dr. Schrang brought dilator and discharge instructions. He said that I should look them over. Basically, they say dilate often and be careful you are now a woman and subject to yeast infections and other infections that women can get.

Day 7, Wednesday, February 23, 1994

Today is the long awaited day. The IV comes out, some of the bandages come off and I can get a proper bath.

The bath felt totally wonderful. I had nothing but sponge baths since last Thursday.

I got my first look at the new vagina. The only view that I had was looking down. It sure looks different. The area is still swollen but o me it is the most beautiful vagina in the world.

Day 8, Thursday, February 24, 1994

I had a nice hot shower this morning. It felt wonderful. I also spent several hours out of bed today. Since tomorrow is discharge day I thought that I needed to get my strength back.

I made several trips around the second floor. I need to get use to sitting up again. I also went to the cafeteria and had an Eskimo Pie (yum, yum).

I learned how to apply the anti bacterial ointment to the surgical stitches in my labia. The sutures are self dissolving. This does help to soothe the area.

Tonight Maureen, a great nurse, brought me a mirror. I got an eagle eyes view of my new vagina. Of course the packing is still in. The packing comes out tomorrow.

Once the swelling goes down I am certain that it will be the most beautiful vagina in the world, at least to me.

It took me 48 years to get the right sex organs. I plan on saving it for someone special. I was a female in my brain. I became a female above the waist with hormones and now thanks to Dr. Schrang I am a complete female.

Day 9, Friday, February 25, 1994

I got up early this morning waiting for Dr. Schrang. It was snowing like there was no tomorrow. The snow started late last night.

Dr. Schrang came in around 10:00 a.m. He had a surgery at 7:30. He was cheerful and I awaited with an unknown anticipation of what was to come next.

Out came the packing (more than you would believe possible to put in such a tight area.) In went the dilator. No pain, just a feeling of being filled. When he withdrew there was a suction feeling. He then re-lubricated and said go for it. He showed me how to put it in and told me how to hold the pressure for 30 to 45 minutes six to eight times a day in the beginning. He said I had fair depth (about 5 1/2 inches) and good width. He said that as the swelling goes down I can expect to gain about 1/2" of depth. He also suggested that I purchase a larger diameter dildo to maintain my width.

He wished me well and said to keep in touch.

I cleaned up, put on my make up, tried to get the hair right and got dressed. I needed to get on the road. The snow was not slowing down.

I got checked out of the hospital (pharmacy) and went down and got my rental car. My hands were almost frozen in the snow it was 18 above. I had gloves but just did not put them on.

I left the hospital at 12:26. It got to Milwaukee (the motel) at 3:30. The closer I got to Milwaukee the harder the snow. By the time I arrived there was 10 inches of new snow on the ground and it was still falling.

There were traffic accidents all over the place. The snow was blowing so hard on U.S. 41 that at times there was white out conditions. Thank God I had retained my snow driving ability. It was that ability and Gods grace that helped me to safely get to Milwaukee.

I checked into the motel and ordered my dinner from a delivery place and after supper I started the dilation process. I took my shower and dilated again at 8:00 and try to maintain a 6 times a day schedule. Spent too much money to let my vagina close up.

Day 10, Saturday, February 26, 1994

The phone rang at midnight and I awoke to do my scheduled dilation.

The dilation started as usual and then I began to start playing around. Sort of experimenting and started a slow in and out movement and slowly picked u speed. Not real fast, but a medium type speed. Towards the end of my 30 minutes I got a strange tingling feeling. It was not an organism as I knew them but it was very tingly and wonderful.

When I did my 4:00 a.m. dilation I did not experience the same sensation, but it was not an uncomfortable feeling.

I am looking forward to getting back to Jacksonville and finding a larger circumference dilator.

This has made me wonder, in a very serious way, how it would feel to be made love to by someone you care about. I mean a serious relationship. Maybe one day I will find out. Now I just want to heal and maintain as much depth as possible.

After my 8:00 a.m. dilation I got cleaned up and dressed and went to Grand Avenue Mall. I wanted a Cajun Blackened chicken sandwich before going back home and Dr. Schrang had mentioned douching several times a day with vinegar and water in the discharge instructions. I wanted to get some vinegar and water douche. Since I had no more room for anything I purchased some Summer's Eve instead of a douche bag. I will get one when I get home.

I went to the airport and extended the rental of my car for 2 days. Mostly because of the hassle of getting a taxi on Monday morning.

It is now 1:30. I guess I will get a dilation in as Wendy is due to come by after 4:00 this afternoon.

Wendy could not make it this afternoon. She will be by about noon tomorrow. I went to Ashley's tonight and had supper. The meal was wonderful as always.

After talking with Jen tonight I learned that I most likely had a small organism in my mid-night dilation. She said it sounded like a small organism. She also explained that a female's organism can be from very mild to almost earth shattering. If this is so, then I hope I can do what I did to cause it again. Well tomorrow is another day. I am happy and content.

Day 11, Sunday, February 27, 1994

The mid-night dilation was uneventful. There is still some bleeding. It is not as heavy and the sanitary napkin seems to hold it all. Per Dr. Schrang this is normal and will continue for some time.

The 4:00 a.m. dilation was uneventful. I was really sleeping good and it was difficult to wake up and get going with the dilation.

I awoke at 8:00 a.m. and did my morning dilation. After cleaning up I got dressed and went to Denny's for breakfast The day is cold and crisp. There were a few flakes falling on my return to the motel. It is a beautiful day. Tomorrow I leave for home and my reunion with Misty.

Wendy came by for a little while this afternoon. We had a nice chat and I must say that she has some great hair. I am rather envious in this respect.

Went to Ashley's for dinner. I came back and started packing for my trip home.

Day 12, Monday, February 28, 1994

The day started on the down side. I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and dilated. I got cleaned up, put on make up and got dressed. I finished the little last minute packing and prepared to leave. The rental car was dead. It would not even turn over.

I called the rental car company and they came checked it out, and took me to the airport. They said they would pick it up later. I went and had breakfast at the airport and went to check in for my flight.

The flight to Cleveland was uneventful. I had enough time to get a hot dog in Cleveland and unwind. Since I was in first class I boarded last instead of first. I sat next to some guy that must have weighed 350 pounds.

When the plane landed in Baltimore I was alone in the first class area. This was nice. The plane left and went to Norfolk. Again I was alone in the first class section. I was alone in the first class section on the flight to Jacksonville. Basically, I had a Flight Attendant for me. Not a bad deal. If I even looked like I wanted something they asked. I recommend this type of travel whenever possible.

The day ended as bad as it started. I got to Jacksonville, gathered my luggage and called Thrifty Car Rental. This is where my van was parked. The cost is only $2.25 per day so it is economical and they normally bring my van to me when I call.

I called and they sent a bus to get me. The lady on the phone kept calling me sir. I said, I am not a sir I am a lady. She said, O.K. Sir. She said they would be right up. I waited outside with my luggage on a cart and soon the Thrift Car Rental van arrived. I said I could not get into that. I had just had surgery and I was not going to rip something out. I said they were supposed to pick me up in my van. The stupid guy looked at me and called me Sir.

He left. About 30 minutes later I called them back. Then I got this other dimbo. She said they did not do this. I said that every time I parked there they brought me my van. She said they did not. She had worked there for two years and this was not done. I said they do it every time I park there. She said they did not deliver rental vans to the airport. I said it was not a rental van van, it was my van. She said, "Sorry." We will be right up. I gave her the claim check number again.

I waited another 40 minutes are so. I called again. She said that the driver was there. I went and looked. I did not see my van. All of the sudden in comes a Thrifty driver. He had brought a Mercedes up. I said that is not my car. He said the number is 93286. I said my number is 91286. I could not get into that car. I said I have a burgundy Astro van. He said he would be right back.

I waited another 25 minutes are so for him to get back. He brought the right van this time and I dropped him off and paid them. I was totally ticked off. If I had said what I wanted to say it would not have been very lady like. I finally got home about 6:30. The plane had landed at 4:25. Misty was thrilled to see me. She jumped in my lap and must have kissed me for 30 minutes. It was like, "You did come home." "You did not leave me." It was a happy reunion.

I ordered dinner from a delivery place and she got her well done hamburger for supper. I got unpacked and washed lots of clothes. I was ready to take a shower and get on with my dilation when my niece that had stayed here came by. She had just got out of class. She did not leave until about 11:00. I got a nice shower and got into bed to dilate. I slept like a baby.

Closing Note

I am working to getting back on the proper dilation schedule. The two things that were accomplished today were, I got my hair done and I got my new drivers license. It now has an "F" on it. The picture is terrible, but I got rid of the "m".

This was the story of my journey. It started rocky and ended rocky, but I achieved my life long dream. I am a woman, emotionally, physically and legally.

Across the Great Divide

by Melanie Anne

As a final essay dealing with personal journeys, here is an excerpt from my own transition diary, covering my trip to see Doctor Biber in Trinidad, Colorado for sex reassignment surgery.

Monday, January 6th, 1992 - 9:15pm

So, here I am, sitting on the train, shooting into the dark at 90 miles an hour.

Chris and I arrived at the station at 7:30, fully an hour before the train was scheduled to leave. I had not stopped for dinner, so we berthed at the Union Station Cafe. After the brief but satisfying repast, we joined the queue assembled before Gate "E".

I had intentionally worn comfortable and non-suggestive clothing so as to avoid male attentions on the trip up. It didn't seem to be working. Of course the lack of any real competition surely had its effect, as I have discovered that male interest is a sliding scale, based upon what's available.

Finally, the gate opened and Chris, followed by myself, trudged along with the other intrepid travelers and made our way down the endless tunnel leading from the Grand arches of Union Station to the boarding platform.

Our train was waiting: the Southwest Chief - a slick, streamlined, snake harkening back to the woolly days of yesteryear by its antiquated name. I had never been on a train before, so this trip whose destination will thrust me into unexplored territory began with an untried experience as well.

The connotative images of trains famous and renowned layered over the more moderate denotative function of this modern relative. Orient Express, Trans Siberian Railway, Von Ryan's Express: the lore of the great Iron Horse reared up in majestic posturing, sharing with me a taste of the sweet savor of diesel fuel I had always wondered at from afar. Railroad buffs don't cherish their steeds from watching them run, but from riding on their graceful, yet muscular backs.

Suddenly a thought struck me: This train was a "loc" "emotive" for me - a process toward a place that had as much meaning in the journey as the destination. Just as the very nature of this simple Amtrack vehicle was stepped in spill-over from others of its ilk, so too would I soon become an icon of every loving mother and jaded hooker who ever touched on man.

So, in the darkness, here I sit - images of engines driving hard upon my mind. A tiny light in front pin-pricks at the great black beast until it has run its season and retires, spent, in favor of the day.

**************************

Tuesday, January 7th, 1992 - 10:00 am

The night was passed in spurts of sleep; interrupted alternately by turbulence of passage and vivid waking dreams. Often I would be jolted conscious to an eerie perception of shifting shadows and slumbering shapes. Each glimpse melded into my semi-sentient musings, incorporating train stuff in the fabric of my wistful weavings.

The soft pulsing of the engine spoke of gentle sensual thrusts. The rocking of the carriage moved me in its slow embrace. My mind turned to thoughts of actually being a woman, joining with a man. The hesitations of a life being told implicitly that such was wrong, replaced with the urgings of society now to partake in full. Suddenly, the outside world turned topsey turvey - wrong is right and up is down. All the forbidden fruit is offered on the "blue plate special".

My very being was staggered by the sudden decompression. Tentatively at first, I loosened my grip on the "givens" I had never dared to question. The waters were warm and inviting. For just a moment a fingerhold on one world and a toe hold in the other. And then, the leap of faith: I let go.

Suddenly I was plunged beneath the surface, turned 'round in the soft power of a swirling vortex until I lost all sense of the surface. I held my breath until my lungs burst, spewing out the last remains of an old atmosphere and taking in the first gasping gulp of a new.

I knew what it is to be female - to be a woman, both in relationships and interrelationships. My whole perspective shifted, and that definitive change in self-image I had anticipated for so long began to occur.

*************************

Tuesday, January 7, 1992 - 4:25 pm

All day I have hovered between waking and sleeping. At times I am quite alert, racing forward to grab a snack or taking a quick constitutional in the frozen air of Albuquerque - the only major stop of the journey. Other times I drift away, nestled deep in my seat, hypnotized by the passing scenery and endless swaying of the train.

My emotions gently shift and blend as I review my whole life in connotative order, then expand the ripple to include the future. No decisions sought here - its past that time. The point is familiarity with my own feelings so that every thing has been properly labeled and tacked in its place.

We just pulled into Las Vegas, New Mexico - a small town on the route, and our last stop before Colorado. Snow has drifted and disappeared from the ground all day as we traversed many altitudes an ranges. Currently, the skies are clear, more clear in fact than any time so far in our journey.

When we arrive in Trinidad three hours hence, it will be dark. There will be no feelings attached to this town until tomorrow morning.

We have begun to move again, slowly picking up speed on the way to my destiny, for truly it is that. And destinies can be good or bad. Only time will tell if all this effort leaves me joyous or regretful. And no time can tell if it is a better decision than others I chose not to make.

We've picked up steam and are slicing ever quicker through the high prairie, even quicker in the waning sun to the seat of my future.

***************************

 

Tuesday, January 7th, 1992 - 6:00 pm

My brain is signaling "601... 601: which is the computer code for "out of processing space". The size of the change about to occur in my life is so big that my mind runs out of room before it can determine all the ramifications. So, it gives up, dumps the program, clears memory and starts over again from a different point of attack. But, before a few minutes have passed, it has to give up on that approach as well. Its been like that all day, and its driving me crazy.

The actual desire to have surgery is not in question here, but rather what it will mean to my life. All my ponderings of the past few years have stopped short at that point. "The crystal ball grows cloudy", the fortune teller says, and draws the curtains on the show.

Its not that I can't see the future - not really. No, its that I cannot accept what I am seeing. l The sense rebel, as the glimpse afforded holds no meaning in all past experience.

Me, leaving Mary and living with a man? Me, truly a woman in mind and body? Me, mind changed so far in composition that my memories fail to identify the speaker as myself?

I am changed. I am a new person. The consciousness that was Dave is as dead as if he'd fallen from a plane. Only his motivation remains, but, godammit, those are changing too! The whole of me is mutating into some unknown alien form. The question no longer is what do I want, but who am I now? But its all too late to change. The only part of this thinking being that remains the same is the resolve to finish what it started.

*************************

Wednesday, January 8th, 1992 - 9:50 am

I just sat down in one of those overstuffed atrocious green vinyl waiting-room chairs that were all the rage in the 50s. Moments ago I concluded my appointment with Marie, Doctor Biber's secretary. As soon as Dr. Biber is available, I'll be called in for my examination. Until then, I have time to write.

4:10 pm

Oops! Dr. Biber called me in so I had to stop there and continue now:

I awoke this morning before the wakeup call and lay beneath the covers emotionally neutral, trying to see how I felt. Before I could sense my mental lean, the phone rang with my 6:30 wake-up. I threw off the covers and literally jumped out of bed in the attempt to stir something up physically since my mind seemed impervious to getting in gear. It worked. Just the simple action of getting the adrenaline running started the mental motor as well.

Before anything else I called Mary as I had not done so the night we arrived. I had misjudged the time difference and woke her at 5:45 am. Nonetheless, she was warm and cheerful. Having already decided to go through with the surgery, I asked Mary if she felt it was the right thing to do, hoping to have good feelings accompany my decision. She told me that I was happier, calmer and more together over the last couple of years, and if she wasn't happy she wouldn't be there. Just like my dad at his last visit, she told me, "Yes, its right for you." What a woman!

I spoke with both the kids who seem completely unaffected by the whole thing.

Next step was to take my shower and get dressed. Odd, but I just realized that I didn't even pay any attention to that space between my legs. I was so forward thinking as to what I needed to do today that I zipped through the shower almost unconsciously. Getting dressed was quick and carefree as I had laid out things last night before bed. I put on my make-up, pleased that I had done electrolysis last weekend, as even two days without shaving had shown no visible stubble.

Chris and I met at 8:00 for breakfast, then walked through the brisk morning air down Main Street to the First National Bank Building, home of Biber's office. The building itself was like most of Trinidad: Wild West frontier architecture dating back to the mid to late 1800s. We entered the ancient elevator on one side and got out on the other at the fourth floor.

I asked the receptionist for "Marie", Doctor Biber's secretary, and was directed 'round the corner to an office on the left. I walked into the open door, introduced myself and was asked to sit in the single straight-back chair in the corner. Chris was directed to the waiting room.

The office, like the building itself, smacks of its 1880s construction, apparent most in its small size and location at the end of a twisting convoluted hall. The furnishings must have been made in the fifties: the overstuffed green vinyl waiting room benches with silver steel tube arms - you know the kind.

Marie asked me to fill out several forms, checked the paperwork I had brought, and gave me some informative leaflets. We shared pleasant conversation amidst the xeroxed sheets and then I returned to the waiting room to await Doctor Biber's call to come into his office. As you have read, I was called in by Doctor Biber almost immediately.

**************************

6:05 pm

Update! I am in my hospital room and the nurse just came in to warn me that she would be back in fifteen minutes to prep me for surgery, and that it was time to put on my gown. So I did that and now I'm writing this while wearing nothing but the delightful white gown with the blue polka dots, and my socks. As I understand it, prep consists of shaving all my pubic hair and painting me orange...

Well, back to my meeting with Biber... Nope! She's back! Time to get prepped... Yeah, team!!!

Gone again to get more supplies...

So, Biber calls me in. His office is about the same size as Marie's, cluttered and small. He sits me down and starts asking questions and taking notes on a lank piece of typing paper in longhand.

She's back!

*************************

7:47 pm

I am now completely hairless from the neck down. I had a pleasant conversation with the nurse while she shaved my genitals. I even received a phone call from a friend during the procedure. And I thought I would be bored! But wait! The entertainment scheduled for this evening wasn't over yet! For the Second Movement: THE ENEMA!!! (Part One: "Let's get to the bottom of this." Part Two: "You look a little flushed.")

***********************

8:57 pm

Okay, so I've had two phone calls from friends and I'm back to the tale.

So, Doctor Biber takes the notes. I show him some "before" pictures and he chuckles. I'm sent into the next room to strip for the physical exam. Incredibly, its even smaller than Biber's office! But it is a warm room (heated by the ancient radiator in the corner) and I get no goosebumps while standing there naked.

Biber enters and has me lay on the examining table. He pokes, prods, and stretches, then proclaims, "It's not the biggest in the West, but it will do." Anticipated depth four to five inches with another one to one and a half inches from stretching by dilation.

I'm left to dress, then sit again at Biber's desk while he outlines the schedule to come. He smiles, shakes my hand, and I'm off to pick up Chris from the waiting room. Chris and I walk back to the motel, arrange my things, then start on a journey of discovery. We follow Main Street to a side street that leads up the hill past some truly wonderful old buildings at the way to the top of the hill.

What a marvelous view of the city, nestled across the picture postcard valley - the white Rockies etching the horizon. Time is growing shorter, so we retreat from our perch and stroll the city until we find a small cafe and have lunch.

As we pay the cashier, I notice on the newsstand a pulp magazine touting "A baby for James Bond sex change beauty!"

Back at the motel, I call the cab company, knowing full well that by my destination, they know exactly why I am here.

Mount San Rafael Hospital is a tasteful, modern building, designed to blend into its natural setting. Inside I step into the Admissions Office and meet Roberta Marie, the administrator who handles all of Biber's patients. She takes my checks, accepts two credit cards to be protected in the safe, and takes me down to the lab. There, I have blood taken and leave a urine sample. I enjoy an interchange with the lab nurse about the many renditions of butterflies she has gracing the room.

Back to Roberta Marie's where I receive final information and am led to my room. I spend some time unpacking, then relax on the bed, watching TV (39 stations on cable!) and listening to the radio with my headset. Chris relaxes in an uncomfortable chair with the latest Stephen King novel he has been reading since Burbank.

Finally, I pull out my notebook and begin to write, which brings us to where this started.

It is now 9:57 pm. I'll be awakened in seven hours for surgery. The nurse has just left after providing a sleeping pill, which was washed down with water - a small treat to my dry moth since I am not to eat or drink after 8 pm.

Well, this is it. Right or wrong, for better or worse, forever from now on, the die is cast. I feel no fear nor anxiety. In fact, I feel nothing at all. Perhaps to avoid nervousness, my emotions have shut themselves down until after the fact.

What a strange feeling that after all the pain and yearning and drive I should be emotionally neutral on the eve of completion. But from here, it seems like such a small thing. A little tag of flesh that worlds revolve around.

My mind grows fuzzy already from the effects of the pill. I'll close for now. All is said, and soon all will be done.

**********************

Thursday, January 9th, 1992 - 4:44 am

The day I have waited all of my life for has arrived. I awoke at just past four after a solid night's sleep. Mused and pondered for a while with a smile on my face. Then took several minutes to engage in the "Obligatory Last Masturbation". That successfully completed, I decided to continue this log like a good little reporter. So, here I am, on the verge of the greatest change I ever expect to make.

So few things begin as a double dilemma - the first being between body and mind and the second between mind and mind. To resolve the negative potential, one must change both body AND mind. And so I have. I am no longer the person I was. Who I am has shifted and grown as I changed the state of my consciousness, even while maintaining my subconsciousness. What I am has been partially changed by hormones. My physical self is certainly not what it was.

But both of these are temporary, or at least changeable conditions. I could go back to the way I thought and I could go back to the physical self I was. That is about to change in a scant two hours. By the stroke of a knife, my body will be altered permanently. And by this certain knowledge, my subconscious is changed forever as well.

That is the nature of a leap of faith: to close off your options and burn your bridges behind you. To take a step from which there is no return. Throwing yourself into a future where the odds for success are fifty/fifty, and no guarantee seems more likely than another.

I cannot know the nature of the outcome. If I could, there would have been no dilemma in the first place. Just a problem to be resolved step by known step, where each advancement you make puts the next in sight. But dilemmas skip a step and you must leap into the fog on the assumption and hope that if there was something to stand on all the way here, there will be something to land on behind the mist.

So I take my leap this morning. It is 5:03 am. At any moment they will come for me, and I am ready, truly ready to go.

If there is a place to stand on in the mental sense, I'll be truly happy. if there's a place to stand on in the physical sense, I'll be alive. Either way, I am prepared. And either way, to my personal friends and relatives, and especially to my family, thank you all.

 

  • 5:38 am

    A final note:

To my family,

I love you all so very much. No one could ask for a more supportive and loving family than you. This has not just been my struggle, but yours as well. And I am truly aware of how much my choices forced you to deal with. Words cannot express the love and respect I have for you all.

I hope with great eagerness and anticipation to see you soon. But should something untoward happen, be at peace that I lived my life as I wanted to, and entered the operating room more full of joy and completion than I have ever experienced before.

So, I close, fulfilled already. Already enjoying my new life even before surgery. So know that should something happen, I'm already there. I cannot be deprived because I'm already there.

I am happy, I am at peace, I love you all.

**************************

NOTE: The following is taken from my handwritten journal. The letters are slurred and scrawled in such disarray that if I hadn't written the text myself, I'd never have been able to decifer it later.

Its done! I'm back in my room and doing well. I awoke during the end of surgery, so by the time I got to recovery, I was already quite alert.

They checked me out for a while, then sent me back here. I'm still pretty groggy, so I'll take a quick nap for a while.

But the important thing is: I FEEL GREAT!!!

**********************

I've been a woman for about nine hours. Strangely, I don't feel much difference! I guess that shows how successful I had been in thinking of myself as a woman before surgery. The pain is not nearly as bad as I had been told to expect. The injection from surgery completely wore off two hours ago and I still don't need a pain killer. I suppose I should have one to help me sleep, but the overall is that it is only like a bad bruise. I'll fill in more details tomorrow, but today I am very tired and keep drifting in and out.

***************************

Friday, January 10th, 1992 - 11:12 am

My second day as a woman. I guess all I can say is that for the first time in my life I feel normal. No fireworks, no marching bands, just plain normal. I am balanced, the internal conflict is gone. I find that I see myself as a woman now, no longer transsexual or male.

Testosterone is just about out of my system now, and I am completely estrogen based. That DOES feel different.

***************************

4:00 pm

Look at me! I'm just who I want to be! I've spent most of the time drifting in and out. Until now, I had not felt motivated to write. During the day, the pain has gotten significantly milder. Once or twice, however, I reached a little too far and quickly and felt the mule kick me right between the legs. Fortunately, the nurses were all set with painkiller injections: the gift of the gods.

As I lay here, the reality of it all is slowly solidifying in my mind.

**************************

Monday, January 13, 1992 - 7:25 am

Finally my strength is back. This is the first day I have really felt up to snuff since surgery. Saturday and Sunday were pretty much write offs (no pun intended) Even though my pain receded slowly but continuously, I had forgotten that the bowels shut down after surgery for up to four days. The overall effect was for one kind of discomfort to segue into another. This left me getting motivated to become more mobile only to find myself unable to move. Just rolling over on my side to get a pain killer shot was a major exertion requiring an hour of recuperation. I had no idea at the time just how weak I was.

The entire staff here has been amazing. In all my experiences with hospitals during the years preceding my grand parents deaths, I have never encountered such kind and caring people. The lady in charge of the kitchen came by in between meals to see if...

8:45 am

The last entry was interrupted by the most emotionally positive experiences of my life: The "Biber Button" was removed. named for its resemblance to a navel, the Biber Button is a round wad of brown surgical gauze that is positioned two thirds of the way from the navel to the vagina as an anchor to a wire that pulls the abdomen down into a more female curve.

Through the last few days, my tentative gropings were always interrupted by the protrusion of the button, feeling much like a dried penis stub. So the thrill I had of seeing my new form was incomplete. But just moments ago, the nurse informed me that today was "wire day" and bent over me to snip the last link to my male past.

A tiny little snip, then, "take a deep breath," a sudden tug, the sensation of something being pulled out of my insides - over almost before it was felt. I looked down and my physical womanhood finally lay before me. My God! All these years and all this way. The years of dreaming, hoping, hurting, all behind me now. Reality has shifted; the past is the dream. The future is territory unknown.

****************************

 

Sometime in the a.m.

I called in some voice mail to be played at the company meeting later in the day. I said,

"Hi all! You've heard of Postcards From the Edge? Well this is a postcard from OVER the edge. Of course, the question of the hour is: Was the surgery a success? YES!!!! It looks like I was born this way. Biber is a miracle worker. (Only my hairdresser knows for sure!)

"Actually, it was a pretty heavy surgery. It takes a lot out of you (so to speak). However, I'm bouncing back fast and can hardly wait to get back and show everybody my scar.

"Seriously though, I want to thank everyone for their support. When I was looking forward to this it was just one step at a time. But now that I look backward, I realize the magnitude of what I've accomplished and wonder how I did it. In truth, you can't do it by yourself. You need the support of those around you.

"Thank you all for your acceptance and friendship, and I'm looking forward to seeing you all back at work next week."

6:55 pm

My roommate just ordered a pizza. I realize I have not yet even mentioned my roommate. Looking quickly back over my journal here I realize how fragmented it is, due to my post-surgical fatigue, which rears up once again as I write these words. So, tomorrow I shall fill in what gaps I can during my last day in bed before taking my first step as a woman.

************************

Tuesday, January 14, 1992 - 3:07 pm

I just met Cathy, a sister transsexual who is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning. She's younger, prettier, gentler, and sounds better than me, dammit! What a cruel twist of fate! Just kidding, just kidding... sort of!

Actually, she's very sweet and has obviously chosen the right course for her personality. Cathy is here with her sister, who looks very much like her. Dorothy, the anesthesiologist, introduced them to Steph (my roommate) and myself and left us alone to talk to them about our experiences. They just left to organize their things and will be back later with fresh questions.

Now to fill in some gaps.

Picking up just before surgery, immediately after the last pre-surgery entry:

Dorothy came in and started my IV. Another nurse gave me a pre-surgical injection. Chris shot some 8mm video for posterity, and then, in the midst of all the commotion, they came to take me away.

In ordered frenzy, the team liberated my bed, rolled me out of the room and down the corridor. I looked up to see the stereotypical movie angle of the patient's POV of ceiling lights flashing by. I returned my gaze forward and saw the operating room doors loom up. Chris stepped ahead into view (I believe to make sure I didn't want to change my mind at the last moment.)

I knew this was my final chance to bail out: the last opportunity to remain male. I smiled groggily at Chris, raised my hand in the "thumbs up" sign and said, "See you on the other side." The doors swung closed behind me.

The gurney was wheeled along side the operating table, and I was asked to raise myself up and over onto the surgical slab. I was told to roll onto my left side and pull my knees to my chest, my shaved genitals coldly exposed.

My last feeling was the satisfied certainty that nothing could stop this now. I was really going to be a woman.

Awareness ceased.

*************************

The next sensation I had was a gentle tugging feeling - like when you are sound asleep and someone is trying to waken you without frightening you. My mind was very cloudy as it rose out of the depths, but eventually I recalled who and where I was AND what was going on. As my senses returned, I realized that the tugging was something they were doing between my legs: I had come out of the anesthesia while the surgery was still going on!

My first reaction was to tell them, so I could be put under again. But I have always been somewhat nervous about anesthetic and figured that as long as it didn't hurt I'd rather not take that chance twice. So, I didn't move and didn't talk and let them tug away.

I don't know exactly how long it was that I remained motionless, as my time sense was not very functional at the moment. But it didn't feel very long before the tugging stopped and then gently wheeled me away to the recovery room.

(When I brought this information up to the anesthesiologist, she was convinced at first that I had only imagined it. However, when I described the feelings and mentioned that I had heard people talking - though I did not recall the words - she agreed I must have come out of it early. In fact (she confirmed) at that point, the actual surgery was completed and they were stuffing in yards of surgical gauze called "packing" to keep my vagina open while it healed.)

*****************************

Once in the recovery room, I woke up quickly, which somewhat surprised the surgical assistant who was there to monitor me. He was a really kind young guy - something of the athletic type, blondish, muscular, that I had met on the way into surgery when the team introduced themselves to me. I told him about waking up during the end of the procedure and he merely commented that it was very odd indeed.

Once that was off my mind, a stray thought lodged in my mind. I looked up at him and mused to myself, "You're a man, and I'm not."

********************************

  • I drifted in and out of sleep as they checked on me from time to time, but eventually was awakened for the short gurney journey down the halls back to my room. And this is where my earlier account resumes.

    ****************************

Wednesday, January 15, 1992 - 7:00 AM

It occurs to me that each of us is a pioneer. At the moment of our birth we awaken to find ourselves in territory unknown, without a map. It is our simple purpose to spend our lives looking for a way home, and in the end, we do.

Regarding the above paragraph.... I awoke at seven and opened the window drapes to see the frozen landscape before me. I began thinking about my daughter Mindi, someday at her wedding. I would be wearing a dress... No, I would wear a tux - I'm not proud! I still want to "give her away" as her father.

I thought about Keith - wanting to be his buddy, his dad; not to lose him to another male role model. I want to give him some understanding of life, some wisdom that will help make the journey easier, some hope to help him overcome the bad times.

I thought about Mary and what our future would hold together.

Then I wrote the thoughts above.

************************

  • 7:22 PM

It has been an eventful day. Just after my last entry, they removed my catheter. Drawing the fluid from the balloon that had been inflated in my bladder to hold the catheter in place, the nurse then pulled the tube from my urethra. I was free!!!

After six days flat on my back in bed, I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and put my feet on the floor as a woman. To me, that was when I felt I had made it. I walked about four feet to the chair they had prepared for me and at my breakfast Sitting Up!

The next few hours were spent in short journeys around the room, followed by ever decreasing recuperation periods in bed. But I had a mission: I was charged with the sacred duty of learning how to pee like a woman. Problem is, muscles, nerves and the drainage duct itself have been moved. So the brain actually doesn't know how to do the job: what mental buttons to push. Which means, weak as you are, painful as it is, you sit and you push and you relax and you pray, and nothing happens.

For five hours I made painful trips to the restroom with negative results. Due to the almost unbearable pressure building in my bladder, I was temporarily catheterized to drain me back to zero. This was just a temporary reprieve, however, as if I was not able to go in another five hours, I would be recatheterized for one more day with the model I had endured the past week. No more mobility, not to mention the pain of having the catheter re-inserted, this time WITHOUT anesthetic!

And what if THAT didn't work? What if I had to go back to surgery? What if THAT didn't work?

At 3:30 pm, eight hours after the catheter was removed, I peed.

I was happy.

************************

Friday, January 17th, 1992

After my initial relief on Wednesday the remainder of the day was fraught with fear and pain. I was completely unmotivated to write, so I will catch up on those events now.

On Wednesday afternoon, I found that drinking water as regularly as I had been told led to restroom trips every twenty minutes or so. The first couple of times were increasingly easy, although still difficult and sore. But soon, the burning pain began to increase. And the surging flood of relief became a trickle. Soreness and pressure built up and troubled me throughout a listless night.

Thursday morning, I found myself constipated as well. The old fears of a surgical mistake welled within me. I complained to all who came to check, was given more laxatives, but remained bound. I kept remembering that I was due to have the "packing" that had been stuffed into my vagina removed the next day. It was my desperate hope that its removal would ease the pressure and allow all systems to function again.

Throughout the day and into the night I slept naught, jolted alert every twenty minutes by the burning pressure to relieve myself in excruciating pain. Finally, dawn was upon me, and ultimately, the moment of unpacking.

***************************

Early this morning.

Unpacking was supposed to occur at 7 am. I watched the clock like a convict on death row, waiting for a pardon from the governor. The hands reached seven, then seven-oh-five. I had to wait an extra 30 minutes for them to come in. That may not seem like much, but under the conditions it was awful.

When the nurse arrived, she undid my tampon from the "garter belt" and began to pull the gauze from my new vagina. It was not unlike the standard magician's trick where they pull yards and yards of scarves from their pocket. I felt like I was being unraveled. She kept pulling and pulling and more and more gauze came out - all in one long piece.

I had been warned that the smell of this procedure was perhaps the worst one could experience. Well, it wasn't THAT bad, but it wasn't pleasant.

FINALLY, the end of the gauze snake left me. For the first time, there was nothing attached, stuck in or connected that wouldn't be there for the rest of my life. And the best part was, all the pressure was gone.

Before I had a chance to consider all this, the nurse showed me how to dilate. In Doctor Biber's program, you are provided with two silicon rubber, lifelike dildos: a small pink one and a larger purple one. You cover it with a condom (to prevent germs), then squeeze a liberal supply of KY jelly onto the top. All this was shown to be by the nurse, and I commented that topped off like that, the dildo looked like a rich dessert!

The nurse observed while I inserted the dildo for the first time to make sure I had it right. No problem. Its strange, but the feeling of having something penis-shaped inside me seemed so natural - almost as if all the programming was always in my brain, just waiting for the body to get it together.

The big surprise was that as the dildo remained inside me, I began to feel aroused. What was this? I made a mental note to explore that sensation later, in more private conditions!

After dilation, I went to the restroom and was overjoyed to find that all systems were "go".

Shortly thereafter, I got a call from an ABC television crew that I had heard from the nurses was doing a story on Doctor Biber. They wanted to film me as I left the hospital and got on the train. Not being one to shy away from the spotlight, I agreed.

Doctor Biber came in to give me his post-op care instructions and a couple of warnings about VD, Aids, and various female infections to which I was now prone. I had my picture taken with him.

For the first time in eight days I was able to take a shower. What a wonderful feeling to have all that slime washed away! I got dressed, did my make-up, visited Cathy who had just had her surgery that morning and said my good-byes to the staff.

The ABC crew arrived and made their introductions. The Sister arrived who drives the post-ops to the station. The crew set up some shots while I loaded the trunk, then followed us out to the station.

It was a cold, cloudy day as I stood alone by the tracks waiting for the train (heavy handed phallic symbol) to carry me back to the real world. At least, that's the way it looked to the cameras, I imagine, with the kinds of shots they were setting up. But, the train was running late, and the crew (gentlemen and ladies all) had other set-ups to document, so they left me there at the station and went their way.

I sat in the old building - just another relic in a town built mostly during Gold Rush days - and made pleasant conversation with a family journeying to the city. Conversations happen easily in Trinidad, as a single girl, traveling alone, is instantly recognized as a product of the town's chief industry. Still, everyone I met during my stay (including this family) were open and friendly and warm.

Finally, the train arrived. We boarded, going to our separate accommodations. As per recommendations from gender pamphlets, I have taken a sleeper car for the trip home, allowing for privacy during dilation, which must be done every two hours for the first month or so after surgery.

I settled into my compartment, feelings very free, very complete, and very female. Just placing my bags, snacks, and cassette player in the various nooks and crannies of the small cubicle made me feel better - decorating my temporary home. I felt so cozy and secure: the struggle was finally over.

Once we got under way, I left my compartment and staggered down the swaying corridor to the restroom. Peeing on an Amtrack is an experience in itself, but doing it while getting the hang of the equipment is another story altogether! Still, I was pleased to find that the pressure was fully gone and the time between trips was increasing. On a rather gross note, perhaps the strangest feeling of all, was going "number one" and "number two" at the same time!

What better segue than that to talking about lunch. Meals were included in my ticket, which was a good thing since this surgery has depleted my financial reserves to the point that Mary and I have maxed out all our credit cards and refinance the house to pay for it AND I have less than $20 left to my name.

I sat down to the table with three other people: two a couple traveling on vacation, and the other a rather nice looking young man who was visiting relatives while on semester break from college. We all had a pleasant conversation. But the best part for me was sensing that the college man found me attractive and knowing it was okay. (A telling phrase, "okay"? Well, yes, not because I thought of men that way before, but because now I can without social disapproval.)

So as not to arouse suspicion, I had not brought to lunch my doughnut - the inflatable circular air pillow that keeps one's underside from touching the seat. Still, the soreness was not that bad, as long as I shifted my weight from one thigh to the other occasionally.

After lunch, it was time for dilation again. I locked the door to my compartment, got everything ready, and had the experience of a lifetime trying to keep everything in position in the tiny box of a room on a moving train! I peeked out the window while we were moving. There I was, "doin' it" in Albuquerque!

Quickly, my strength has returned, the soreness is almost gone, and my thoughts begin to turn forward toward seeing Mary and the kids again, and beyond.

**************************

Sunset

Here I am, once again sitting on a train, slipping down the golden rails at ninety miles an hour. I am on my way home. The sun looms large in the panoramic window of my sleeper compartment. Strange how this trip, bracketed by these two elegant surreal journey's seems to have passed in the twinkling of an eye.

***************************

Saturday, January 18th, 1992

So, here it is: the end of my journey - not just by train, but the entire train of events that describe my life for the last two and a half years.

This diary began on August 1st, 1989, the first day of my transition, and ends today on the last. For there is no more to change; no more patterns of thought, no more biochemical balances, no more physical characteristics. When shortly I step from this train, my journey will truly be complete.

Naturally, my thoughts turn to the future. But those musings are not the "what ifs" of someone wanting to be, but the "why nots" of someone who is. From the first day I recorded my thoughts, my feelings have been public domain. I strove to describe accurately and withhold nothing. But now, the usefulness of the sharing of my experiences is at an end. And ownership of my most intimate self returns to me. I shall not withdraw from sharing what has happened, but from here on will let others understand the meaning of my future life by my actions and through my deeds.

As we pull into the station, I think of Mary, Keith, and Mindi waiting to reunite with me as a family. It is not an end, but a beginning.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. May you find as much peace at the end of yours.

Melanie

January 18th, 1992

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