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Chapter 2  Prick of the Needle Next Chapter / Diary Home / Support Site Home

August 1, 1989

I was incredibly nervous as I prepared to venture out as Melanie for the first time in nearly a year. I had made arrangements with my dad to watch the kids for the day, and had taken my old clothes, make-up and wig out of plastic bag storage in the garage. Earlier in the morning, I had used my old supply of "Nair" to get rid of the hair on my legs and arms.

It took a long time to get everything just right, but eventually, I was satisfied that even if I looked awful, it was enough to convince the doctor that I was serious. In truth, I needed to make the breakthrough into the mainstream of actual medical care so strongly, that I would have walked a gauntlet or red-necks in three-inch heels to latch onto a program that would lead where I wanted to go.

I checked my appearance one final time. Hair - ratty, make-up - cakey, skirt - laughably short, high-heeled shoes - preposterous. In summary, I was ready. I sneaked out of the house, slunk into my car, and boldly set off to find my destiny. Driving through the city and down the freeway was exhilarating. I knew that I was a woman to all who saw me, and I anxiously hoped with every fiber of my being that the doctor would see fit to make that dream a reality.

The medical center itself was a modern ten-story facility, not the sleazy back-room affair I had anticipated. I parked across the street and (after some hunting) found the front entrance. I went looking for room 1009, but there were only two levels in this part of the building. I had no idea where to find the office, nor the certainty that I could (with my nervousness) pull off a conversation to get directions.

Just when I was feeling most distressed, a ten-year-old boy showed up out of nowhere, took one look at me and asked if I needed some help. I told him, in a breaking voice, the number of the office I wanted. He said it was in the other building, and asked if I knew how to get there. I replied in bad falsetto that I didn't. He said, "Do you want me to show you?" I gagged out, "Sure..." He said, "Come on..." and bolted down the hall.

I don't know if he was the son of someone who worked there, or perhaps a patient himself. But he darted down the corridors and around corners like he had designed the place. The only question he ever asked was, "Are you going for plastic surgery?" Thanks a lot, kid! Anyway, after two minutes of mind-boggling twists and turns (him run-walking and me trotting gracelessly down the slippery floors in high heels) we arrived at the elevators. "Tenth floor", he said, smiled, and left as mysteriously as he had arrived. "Thank you!", I croaked as he disappeared around a bend.

Fortunately, the elevator was empty, and I was unmolested, embarrassed or ashamed on the way up. The doors opened revealing the tenth floor: the location of my destiny. I stepped into the hall and checked the office listings until I found the prescribed number. Gripping the knob with a sweaty but determined hand, I gave it a turn and stepped inside.

The room was small, but well decorated (by waiting room standards). There was one short, round lady sitting in the corner and the reception desk straight ahead. I walked up, asked for Ann, as I had been instructed to do, and was told to sit down and wait.

No sooner had I lowered myself, as lady-like as possible into a chair, but the plumpish, weathered woman began to speak. In broken English, she told me the story of her life; her days in San Francisco, her stint as a land-lady and run-in with the Housing Authority, the death of her husband and how she coped. All the while, she rarely required a reply (thank God!) content to have a live body as audience that had not been initiated into her life previously.

I nodded with sympathy and understanding, peppered with an occasional "uh huh...", and she seemed not only satisfied, but almost euphoric. Once, the nurse caught my eye and smiled knowingly, in empathy with my ordeal.

Finally, my name was called, and I stood to the window to fill out information and answer questions. Then, out of nowhere, the nurse asked if I wanted to buy the pills today. I was shocked! Suddenly here was another human being, a qualified, legitimate medical professional just GIVING them to me! "Yes!", I stammered, fumbling the required twenty-two dollars out of my purse.

Bill paid, the door opened and I was beckoned inside so meet my future. I flushed from head to toe as I crossed that threshold into the unknown.

I was ushered down the hall to an examining room, where the nurse sat me down, handed me a bottle of 100 2.5 mg estrogen pills, "Take one a day, and don't miss any!", and took my blood pressure. I just kept staring at that bottle, unable to take my eyes from it, transfixed to the reality and weight of the decision I was about to make.

The doctor came in, asked some routine questions and told me to "bend over the table." for a prostrate exam. I hardly noticed the pain.

Finally, Ann came back with two syringes, one for vitamins and one, the fateful one, with a mix of estrogen and progesterone in sesame oil for slow release. She asked me to stand and raise my skirt. I complied, my heart racing as I contemplated the path I was beginning, the reality of a lifetime of dreams.

I stared out of the tenth floor window, across the city, bustling with thousands of ant-like people, going about their daily routines, unaware of the change of life that was about to occur 100 feet above them. I stared out toward the ocean, across the universe, across the years, as my entire life collapsed into an abstract desire whose fulfillment would begin with the sharp prick of the needle that hovered behind me.

And then, I felt the tiny pain as the steel shaft slid into the tissue of my derriere, then slowly deposit its cargo of womanhood, rushing into my system, realigning the workings of my entire anatomy, so that its new responses would ultimately transform me into a true and undeniable woman. That brief moment lasted an eternity for me as I savored the upwelling of emotion, knowing that I had the courage to take that first step. And, now that I had, there would be no going back. I was on the road to womanhood, and I would not stop until I reached my destination.

I fixed my clothes, left the office, and felt incredibly feminine as I sashayed down the hall, riding the most pleasurable high I have ever experienced. Down the elevator and back to the car. Onto the freeway and across town. Into the driveway and the house. It all blurred together with the knowledge that the hormones were working already. Carrying their undeniable commands to all parts of my body. Telling my most basic systems, "This is a woman, do your job!"

I didn't come down all day, and I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

(The preceding entry was written the morning after, August 2, 1989)

[Author's note: There are about three weeks missing between the first diary entry and the second. I had no idea at the time, that I would be documenting my transition so fully, and had only written the first entry since I am a writer by trade and by love. Writing for me has always been a natural way to work out my feelings. Nonetheless, several important events transpired before my entries became regular, so I document them here for clarity. The Saturday following my first Doctor's appointment there was a support group meeting hosted by the fellow who had recommended the hormone doctor to me. Mary did not yet know about my recent hormone use, although I had told her of my fantasy of being female a year ago, and had even confessed I had tried hormones briefly. After that, I had grown a mustache to prove to her that I would not follow that direction any further than fantasy. So, I elected not to tell her I was on hormones, but tell her only about the support group meeting and use that as an excuse for having shaved off my mustache.

She did not like my going out dressed as Melanie, and refused to see me dressed as a woman, instead taking the kids to a movie so I could get ready in peace.

It took me three hours to put myself together in those days, and I needed every minute. I was more nervous than I had ever been as the time drew near. Being summer, it was still light when I finally left at 6 pm, sure that the neighbors would find out.

The drive was scary, but exhilarating. I had actually never met another transsexual and had no contact or knowledge of the community so I had no idea what to expect.

The meeting was at a private home in the San Fernando Valley, in the midst of a typical suburban neighborhood. I parked my car and gingerly made my way up the walk. I couldn't tell where to enter from: there were several doors. I knocked on one, but got no response. I began to fear that I had the address or the time wrong and that some angry homeowner would leap out with a shotgun and end the adventure right there.

Finally, I moved around to the alcove and saw a note taped to the door: "Welcome, Come on in". Would there be five people there? Fifty? Would any of them also be "dressed"? (I was wearing the same outlandish outfit I had worn to the doctor's - it was the only one I had). Most important, would they think I was pretty?

I was the second one to arrive. The host, Lee, introduced me to the first guest, a middle-aged man named Bill. I was the only one dressed as a woman. I felt like an absolute fool. Lee urged me to sit anywhere. I selected a spot on the couch across from them. And they returned to their animated conversation. I felt completely out of place.

Three or four other men arrived for the 6:30 pre-meeting class on Gender Identification, and none of them were dressed either. At this point I would have left in a flash, except THAT would have embarrassed me even more.

Finally the class started, and Lee illustrated the differences between anatomical sex (male or female) sexual preference (straight, gay, or bi) and gender identity (masculine or feminine). He explained how none of them were tied together and any combination was possible. I finally began to understand for the first time, just what nature of beast I was.

Toward the end of the 90 minute class, other people started to filter in for the support group portion of the meeting. And some of them were "dressed"!!! FINALLY!!!! I was not alone!

Eventually, about 30 people had arrived: gays, bis, TVs, pre-op and post-op transsexuals. REAL transsexuals! I had never been so close! Everyone was warm and friendly, even the truck drivers in the tutus (not really, but that was the impression a couple of them gave.

The one thing that impressed me the most, was that each of these people was friendly, sincere, respectful, and willing to accept everyone for whatever and whoever they were. No ridicule, no recrimination.

The format was a round robin, and at my turn, I had my first experience impressing people with who I was. I was nervous, to be sure, and my voice was a joke. I kept trying to gesture in a feminine manner, but managed only to look stiff and stilted. Still and all, the group accepted me as one of their own and I felt like I had come home.

Afterward, I ended up talking at length with the guest who was there when I arrived, Bill It turned out that was HIS first meeting as well. He was TV, but had never dressed in front of anyone. He was also a writer and asked if I might like to co-author something with him. I agreed, and we exchanged phone numbers.

Later in the week, he called and invited me to lunch at the Rose City Diner in Pasadena, not far from the route of the Tournament of Roses Parade (whose official film I had worked on).

I arrived with excitement, as I had never gone to an eating establishment as a woman before, nor had I as a woman had lunch with a man.

He greeted me outside with a handshake. When we walked to the door, he opened it for me. Hey, this was great! He gave his name to the waitress and it was only a moment before a table opened up.

It never occurred to me that the woman is supposed to go first behind the waitress (you never think about what you don't do) so it wasn't until he indicated I should that I finally realized I was screwing up already!

I then realized that here was my first trip out that wasn't just a quick romp and he had selected the busiest diner in all of Southern California at the peak of lunch hour! And the tables were all open, so I would be in full view with nowhere to hide.

I looked over the menu, and selected the Chicken Salad, as the item least likely to attract attention. He ordered for me, "The young lady will have..." We talked for a while, man and woman out for lunch, and then the order arrived - with fanfare!

Here was the biggest chicken salad I had ever seen! A tostada shell filled about a foot high with every imaginable garnish. The waitress had to strain to carry it! Every eye in the place turned to see who had ordered this monstrosity. So much for anonymity! (To this day, I have not been able to order a chicken salad in a restaurant!)

Well, I made it through the meal, and actually had a good time. After lunch, we walked up and down the streets of Old Towne Pasadena, stopping in shops and talking about his story that we might work on together. We said goodbye with another handshake and went our separate ways.

Meanwhile, the hormones began to take affect. As predicted, on the 10th day after my first shot, my nipples began to swell slightly - actually more of a puffiness - and became tender.

I have never been able to keep a secret from Mary, so once again, I broke down and told her everything. She was upset, but we did not have an argument. In fact, we discussed the issues rather calmly, and even arrived at a tentative agreement that would allow us to stay together. The confrontation I had dreaded never really materialized. In fact, it was something of a let down. I almost yearned for, no, REQUIRED a major event, just to mark or prove my resolve. But it didn't happen, and that left me feeling somewhat unsettled, almost as if nothing had really happened at all.

It was in this state of unfulfilled confusion that I made my next entry.

August 25, 1989

So much has happened, but nothing's occurred. The hurricane I call my life surrounds my quiet eye with a turmoil of events, and yet all of them collectively are a process, not a condition, and nothing tangible has congealed in the gale; perhaps it never will.

It all goes back to my childhood, and with any luck, it would've stayed there. But such is not my lot. The seeds planted in my young mind by environment, were nurtured in the fertility of my genetic stew. The twisting vines that sprang forth have so entwined my psyche as to be indistinguishable from it.

I believe myself to be female, from the inside out. The question poised upon resolution is: have I become female from subconscious efforts on my part to achieve that condition, or have I always been of that kiln and only now am realizing it?

Hopefully, Time will tell, while it heals all wounds.

August 26, 1989

Bill called me again a couple of days after our first "date". I thanked him for a good time and told him how natural it had felt for me. He told me that he had to keep reminding himself that I wasn't actually a woman, and I put on a breathy voice and told him, "Don't remind yourself." He said okay.

Our conversation drifted through many areas including my admission that for the first time in my life, I was attracted to a man. I told him I found his quiet strength, but gentle eyes very sexy. He admitted that ever since the support group meeting, he had been extremely attracted to me. But he was worried, as he was married and totally straight. I told him not to worry, he was just responding to the woman he saw, not to the remaining male underneath.

He had told his wife about our meeting, but not that I was meeting him as Melanie. She responded that it was okay, as long as he didn't bring me home. But as the conversation ended, he asked again if I wanted to write with him and I told him I very much wanted to. He decided that it was best to meet at his home, so we agreed.

All week long, I thought about the upcoming meeting and found myself hoping that I would have my first experience with a guy. If things went as I wanted to, I'd experience my first kiss.

The day before our meeting I found myself doing all kinds of female things to get ready that I had heard about but never done myself. I bought a new skirt: a pleated, frilly thing, just so I would look more desirable and feminine.

The day of the meeting I spent twice as long as usual with my make-up, intentionally wore the pull-over top he had first seen me in, and added a second spray of perfume. In short, I was a female planning to trap my man.

When I arrived, we began to work on the story, but as he is TV and I am TS, the conversation naturally drifted. I re-iterated that I was confused by my new feelings toward the "opposite sex". He admitted that he was worried by how much he was thinking of a relationship with me, when he was a happily married man.

I allowed myself to begin to cry, knowing exactly what effect that would have on him. And he responded as planned. He opened his arms and said, "Come here..." I melted into his embrace and clung to his strong arms while he held me tight and comforted me.

It's hard to describe the feelings that went through my head at that moment. For the first time in my life, my need to be cuddled and protected was being fulfilled. I was not expected to be strong, to hold my emotions in check. I could respond as I felt, weak and helpless, and let him take control. These were the same needs I had gotten married in order to fulfill fourteen years ago, but had never found in my marriage.

Well, I pulled myself together and we returned to the story for the few remaining minutes before we both had to leave. But at the door, as I was fiddling in my purse for my keys, I heard him say again behind me, "Come here..." I turned and found his arms open for me. I eased into them and felt him hold me tight. I held him close, then, in mutual need, we loosened our grips slightly, looked into each other's eyes for a fleeting moment, as if to confirm what we both wanted, then our lips met for mere seconds in a tentative, almost brother/sister kiss.

We again fell into each others arms, then broke away and nervously fumbled our way to the door. We each left for our cars without another word or glance. But all the way home I basked in the afterglow of the completeness I had finally achieved for the first time in my thirty-six years.

Afterward, I went to my weekly doctor appointment, more anxious than ever for another dose of the medication that was making me into the woman I wanted to be; the woman I NEEDED to be...

August 29, 1989

Mary has been much more content today, and her almost-happiness has made my depressive clouds evaporate. It seems she has accepted my offer that I will not appear in her presences as Melanie, will not tell the kids until they find out for themselves, and will remain faithful to her as long as we stay together. In exchange, she will remain through the hormone treatment and even SRS. I can have an outside life as Melanie, as long as it doesn't get back to her.

Now I realize, of course, that this is only a temporary solution. Within the space of several moths to a year, it will be extremely difficult for me to successfully appear as a male. And as soon as the kids crawl up on my chest, they're going to know something is up!

Plus, there's the terrible strain of leading a double life, while trying to develop one of those lives and whither the other. But at least it gives us both time to find ourselves, and most important, it gives Mary the chance to accept the changes and perhaps even allow me to go "full-time" and still keep our relationship. And after all, it works for Clark Kent, doesn't it?

August 30, 1989

It's so hard to know when I've really decided anything. Just as soon as I think my true drives and emotions are coming into view, another life-changing revelation jumps in to screw things up! But today, so many pieces QUIETLY fell into place that I trust this new view, as it came in like a lamb. A very STRONG lamb, to be sure, but not with bells and whistles.

I was at the lumber yard with an old Boy Scout friend, Chuck. While he was having some cutting done, I wandered down the isles of stacked lumber, breathing in the fragrance of freshly cut wood. Pleasant emotional memories began to filter through my mind like sunlight through the sawdust.

I remembered my woodshop days in Junior High; the smooth, solid feel of the finished pieces, the deep glow of the polished varnish, the satisfaction of creating an object of beauty and function from a simple block of wood. And I remembered trips that Mary and I had taken to the lumber store throughout our marriage. I re-enjoyed the thrill of picking out just what I needed for a project: a project that had her totally confused. Not that she couldn't have easily done the job herself, but that it was MY domain, the HUSBAND'S domain, and she chose not to tread there.

Suddenly, I realized that these were aspects of the male life I didn't want to give up. Sometimes I enjoy and want to continue to enjoy being the knowledgeable protector and handyman. This didn't lessen my desire to be the submissive and protected partner, but rather to add that to the other facets of my life as well.

In that moment, in a gentle revolution, my male and female persons merged and melded for the first time. I was not longer Dave or Melanie, I was me. ME!!! I didn't have to conform to either role, regardless of the sex I ultimately choose to be. All at once, I didn't care what others thought of my attitudes, gestures, or activities. All I needed was to be true to myself in either role, and the rest of the world could come along or get lost.

This was not an emotion of vindictiveness, but of freedom. I cannot recall a time in my life when I was not secretly terrified to cross a street for fear of what the oncoming pedestrians would think of me. It didn't matter what I thought of myself, but just the image I projected to them; and I was not at all sure of that! I was self-conscious of my walk, my arm movements, my thin wrists. I frequently would pretend to scratch an itch on my face, just to raise my wedding ring where it could be seen: a badge for all to acknowledge that at least someone thought I was male enough to marry, so I must be okay, no matter what YOU think, NYAHH!!!

But that afternoon, I walked down the street outside my office, drifting with the clouds, feeling the light breeze on my face and listening to the rumbling sound of the traffic, like mechanical babbling of a concrete brook. And everyone encountered was not a test to be passed, but a fellow human being of no greater or lesser value than myself. Thirty-three years of affected gesticulation fell away, and I walked without conscious control, swinging my arms without concern in whatever manner felt natural, without censorship.

I cannot recall a time in which I had not constantly been aware of every movement, at least on a subliminal level, to prevent any possibility of disapproval by even casual acquaintances, even STRANGERS, for that matter! But today, I simply let all that go, or perhaps it was taken from me. Today I became myself, not anyone's expectations of me.

This evening, at home, Mary told me she had shared our problem with a friend at work - a gay guy whom she often jokes with. That, to me, was her most significant reaction since this all started. Because, what this really means is that she has finally accepted that what I have been telling her is real: not just a strange imagining. She may never come to terms with it, at at least she is truly acknowledging it. Thank God!

August 31, 1989

Today may have been the most uneventful since this all began. It's strange to contemplate that someday, the changes I have set in motion may seem commonplace. Then years later: the excitement has worn off, the struggle nearly forgotten. The strangeness of my new body has become its normal feel, and the question, even awareness of what sex I am, what gender, never enters my conscious thought.

What then of my life? The wind still blows, the sun still shines. What will I have gained? Perhaps nothing. So what will I have lost? Perhaps everything. Or perhaps the other way around. Ask me again in ten years.

Tonight, Mary told me she had confided in another friend at work. This confirms my view that she is coming to terms with the reality of the situation. She was given a recommendation by both of her confidants to see the same psychologist for counseling. Amazingly, she has taken the advice and intends to meet with a professional.

I worry about her; I worry about myself too, of course, and THAT is mostly what I consider at the intellectual level, but for Mary I worry with my heart. I do not know if I can live a life without her. But I suspect I could not live a life without following my own needs. If the two diverge, I am not sure what I will do.

So, now that she is facing it all and now that she is talking to someone who can help, I know that she will become strong. There is a deep sense of loss in this, as I know that I will no longer be the one she comes to for strength, but will either find it within herself or from someone else. Rather than being her source of conflict, I will, or perhaps have already, become the object of her fears or anguish. I cannot wish her not to find that comfort; I love her too much, but as I write these words, my eyes fill with tears that I am not the one providing it.

Mixed with my own fear and anguish is a strange excitement, an almost giddy elation that at thirty-three years of dreams may ACTUALLY become REALITY. To really awaken in the morning and know that I am truly a woman, not in fantasy, not in costume, but in actuality, fills me with a jittery nervousness of anticipation: a school-girl rush just before her first date.

I intend to let Mary read this entry when I am through, and though I know she will be disheartened, perhaps even disgusted by these admissions, I need her to know. I need her to know that I do not bring this upon us from lack of love or insensitivity, but from a driving force so strong that, left denied, it would have torn us both apart in years to come, or at best doomed me to a private hell of always wondering, yearning to find out and feeling my life had never been more than a series of days.

If I could change this, I would. And the fact that I enjoy it so much makes it all the harder to defend as a need. But the lack of joy is the need, and the need fulfilled becomes the joy. Will I follow this through? Can I live without the half of my life that Mary represents? Will God smile upon me and let me have both? Somehow I doubt He will. There is always a price for inner peace and perhaps perpetual grief is mine.


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