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Chapter 8  Flashback Next Chapter / Diary Home / Support Site Home Scroll down in center section to read the rest of this chapter

February 4, 1990

As I look back over my recent entries, it seems they grow farther apart. At first I hypothesized that I was losing interest in this journal, but it truly remains central to my motivations. In fact, I am merely beginning to settle into my new life and grand shifts occur with less frequency.

A genetic male or female would find little of interest to write about their lives if they confined their subject material to personal gender issues. So as I approach a stable lifestyle, the non-gender related events of my life far outnumber the others.

I suppose I could begin to interject material of a general nature, but that is not my purpose here. No, this treatise is commentary of a specific journey, and when read will flow in continuity and the gaps of time will be bridged by the printed word. Therefore, I shall speak when I have something to say. Which is not now.

February 13, 1990

I spent all last week in the office in Dave mode. It was hell. Mike has been throwing himself into saving my business and requested that I come in as Dave until things got back in order. After all the strain of working up to going in as Melanie, after all the fear I had to overcome, suddenly I was forced to backstep to the other side of that seemingly insurmountable obstacle and start all over again.

I made it, but barely. Every person who had seen me as Melanie and now saw me as Dave was like a stake through my heart. The tension wound tighter with each day. But in the end, I survived the week and lasted the weekend without once presenting myself as Melanie.

But now, as I look back, that week was truly useful to my understanding of the depth and subtlety of my feelings. There is no compulsion to present myself as a female in an overt sense. Rather, it is an almost subliminal background against which to play my personality. Dave format grates against my feelings, Melanie format enhances them.

Now that I have been back as Melanie for two days, I have relaxed and once again enjoy the inner peace that was so sorely lacking. But it did take the full two days to regain it. The first day, I was so awkward that everyone I passed, from the parking structure to the office, gave me a weird stare. But today, I encountered more people along that route than ever before, and not one paid the slightest heed. I don't believe that has happened before in the three weeks I had previously enjoyed.

Is it my hair, make-up self-confidence or a combination of many things. I wish I knew, for blending in is a far more satisfying feeling than standing out.

The producer has offered me the opportunity to go to the Soviet Union to work on his movie. Again, it must be as Dave. I have told him I will accept, and yet I do not know if I can live with that decision. If only one week of returning to Dave has driven me to the brink of depression, what would twelve weeks do?

Even at home, I no longer play the role as I used to. I wear the same female jeans, pink sneakers, socks, and underwear I do as Melanie. Only the voice and lack of make-up are different, AND the body English, perhaps the most significant alteration. But even these are drifting farther away from what they were.

And I must be changing visibly. When I went to pick up Mindi at school the other day I was late and she was in the office. A girl sitting on the school steps asked her mom as I passed, "Is that a woman?" The mother said, "Yes." And out with Mary two nights ago to the 7-Eleven: A beggar in front of the store accosted me as I stepped from the car, "Ma'am, can you spare some change?" "Sure," I felt like saying, "I've got plenty of change." When I Answered the phone today, a bill collector asked, "Mrs. Hillman?" So I said, "Yes." and played along with it: had the entire conversation as Mrs. Hillman. And this with my kids in the room, who didn't notice anything different about my voice.

Well, although I feel I've come a long way, I'm really at the start of my transformation. Two, maybe three years from now, I will probably not resemble much of what I am now, and certainly nothing of what I once was. But that is good. For every day as my body changes, my mind is freed. And there will come a time when both are unified and my dream of walking through the High Sierra in blue jeans and tank top, slender, female, the wind tousling my hair, will be a reality, then a memory instead of a fantasy.

February 15, 1990

I had a very frustrating phone call with Dr. Jayne today. To understand the situation, you will need to hear about a few events that occurred in the last few days.

I have always been easily embarrassed by thinking that I might appear out of place. In high school, if I was entering a long, empty corridor and someone came in from the other side walking toward me, I would be so nervous about what to do with my hands, where to look with my eyes (at their face, at the ground, where?) that I would either stop and pretend to be opening a locker that wasn't mine until they passed, drop my books and be picking them up, or snap my fingers like I forgot something and turn back the other way.

As an adult, when crossing the street, I would never know what to do with my hands or arms. I was always afraid I would be laughed at for being skinny or not "male" enough. I would pretend to scratch and itch on my face so I could hold up my wedding ring as proof that someone thought I was worthwhile enough to marry.

I could never bring myself to return defective merchandise. I would always leave that to Mary. I have never really been able to pinpoint the roots of these feelings of insecurity, but I do know that many of them grow from feeling that I didn't make the grade as a male. I never could relate to my male peers as a kid. They talked about different things than I was interested in. They saw the world with what seemed to me like "meanness" or at best callous disregard. All I ever wanted to do was be accepted and do things to help others and bring joy to them.

It may be hard to believe that anyone could be so, what should I say, "naive"... "untarnished"... "pure"... "foolish"? But indeed I was. I never killed an insect until my teens, and to this day find it repugnant. I never had a beer until I was 23 years old. I nave never smoked. I didn't say my first swear word... I mean I NEVER said ANY swear word until I was twelve. What kind of kid lives like that?

Even as an adult, I only went out on two real dates before I met and married Mary. And the most I ever did on those dates was a little petting in the front seat with our clothes completely on. I was ashamed to consider that a girl would think I was forcing myself on her. I just wanted to be emotionally close, to laugh and cry and share together. How could anyone want to violate someone just for sex. I still can't conceive of it.

It wasn't until long after I was married that I allowed myself to look at a pretty girl while driving and not worry that others would see me look. Of course, I was only looking with envy, not lust, but I didn't want anyone, even people I didn't know, to think I was being lecherous.

But all that has left me in the last couple of months. Under the protection of Andy and Mike/Nikki, I felt free to express myself for myself. Their confidence and "devil-may-care" attitude was an umbrella for me, shielding me from the fear of what others thought.

But through this all has lingered the fear that when I have made the transition, I would still be readable as a male for the rest of my life. Now I know that at this point in my development I am ready to face even THAT and to be what I want and need to be, screw the world, full speed ahead. But with my history of self-consciousness, is it any wonder that blending in with society would be more comfortable than spurning it?

So in this vein, I have grimaced at the masculine cut of my face as I stared in the mirror over the past few weeks. It seems that I appeared more feminine when my hair was SHORTER! Perhaps it is just that the edge of it now accentuates the squareness of my jaw. I do not know. But on days when I look in the mirror and I appear to myself (from make-up and clothing) to be truly feminine, I am much more confident and content than those days when I appear to myself as Dave in Drag. Therefor, I hang on every indicator that society feeds back to me as a sign that something is working or not working in my goal to blend in.

Last night I happened to pull my hair back behind my ears and WOW!!!! Suddenly my whole face took on an INCREDIBLY feminine look. I have never looked so good, even at 18! I went into the office like that to do some work and Mike was AMAZED at the difference! Now, I don't know if others will see any change at all. But the confidence and comfort that hairstyle gives me makes me feel so at ease, that I forget gender and just throw myself into my work, my career, my chores, as if I had been born female and nothing was going on here at all.

During the time I spend at home I still just keep my hair brushed into bangs. But even that seems to be changing to a more feminine look, as I have mentioned in the last entry where I am beginning to be read as female even when not making any overt attempt to create that impression.

So today, I had picked up Mindi at school and had to clear a parking ticket at the courthouse. As we walked down the street, I had the eerie feeling that I was being seen as a mother with her daughter. I can't put my finger on it, but there was a subtle shift in the way people made eye contact with me. Perhaps it is just that so many people have stared at me lately that the lack of attention was tangible.

Indeed, they used to stare only when out as a woman. Then they started to stare when out as a man as well. But today, NO STARES!!! Well, we went into the courthouse and I approached the window. The female clerk smiled at the sight of Mindi by my side and gave me pleasant glance, which I returned. I put my tickets and my license on the counter and explained that I wanted to clear them. I did not use female voice. She jolted at the sound of my voice, looked at the license, then turned into the Ice Princess. I mean, her whole demeanor changed from warm and friendly to "kill you if you breathe"! Now, Dr. Jayne may say this means nothing, and Mike told me "what makes you think you can tell if you've been read?" Well, the hell with that! She read me as female and when she found out I wasn't, She was very nearly rude.

Immediately afterward, we went to the market. Again, I had the uncanny feeling I was being read as female. I was just wearing a windbreaker, T-shirt and jeans, but somehow I must have projected that image. Again, no proof. But some guys pushing carts moved out of my way, and several women pushing carts challenged me for the right of way. Now this has only happened to me before when dressed as a female, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but it never happened to me before when not going out of my way to appear female.

I was standing next to one woman, looking for sea shell noodles, when Mindi called me "Dad". The lady jolted visibly as if hit by a brick, turned and quickly left the isle. At the check out stand I was nervous. If all in line and the checker as well were reading me female, what about when I spoke? But if I spoke female and they were reading me as male, what then? Besides, Mindi was there and Mary doesn't want them to know, so I couldn't do fem voice and on and on...

I got so nervous I could feel myself blush. The female clerk seemed to read me as female at first, but then, as I answered in androgynous mono syllables, started to wonder. I don't know if she was ever really sure, but Mindi softly called me "Daddy" once, and I believe she may have heard. But the box boy hadn't and as I left with my bags said, "Have a nice day, Ma'am!"

Now that may have been the most fulfilling thing anyone has ever said to me! I mean, my face broke into a grin that met in the back of my head.

I floated home, and actually jumped around the room before calling Mike to share this moment and then leaving a message for Dr. Jayne.

Now, I have been unable to pay $60.00 every two weeks to Dr. Jayne due to our overdue bills and my lack of work. So I have had to postpone my sessions until I can get some more funds. But I have tried to be a good client and keep in touch by phone messages so that she would not be rudely abused by my simply vanishing for a couple of months.

There have been days recently, when we had nothing to eat but rice and bread, due to lack of money, and I could not in good conscious lavish $30.00 a week on myself when I can't even afford to buy lunches for my kids. I thought Dr. Jayne would appreciate my sacrifice, appreciate my concern for professional continuity, and be joyous for my recent experience at the store. But just the opposite was true!

She felt I was trying to get free therapy over the phone! I mean, not only had I not even considered it, but I was taken aback that she would think I would employ such a devious technique. I began to think that I had been too open, too truthful in my session. Many people had warned me to give the answers "THEY" wanted to hear, but I opted for total, and I mean TOTAL honesty.

I felt hurt, I felt slandered, I felt my trust had been violated. But beyond that, what hurt the most was that both she and Mike told me that I cared too much about what people think and that was no reason to make decisions.

God Damn! I have NEVER, I MEAN NEVER, made a decision on my transition based on what ANYBODY else thought. I made up my mind a long time ago that I am going to go all the way through with this and be what I have wanted to be from my earliest awareness that boys and girls were different. I am ME inside, not US. I am one human being who knows what she is, but SHE cannot legally or socially be graced with "correctness" until her physical nature is altered.

I love the changes that are occurring in my body. And I look forward with ecstasy to the day in which my physical alteration is complete. But I WILL do this even if I get read as a male in drag for the rest of my life.

That decision made and behind me, the next step is to limit my loses in achieving my goal. I try to keep Mary happy. I try to ease my kids into an awareness of what is happening. And I revel in feedback from society that I am truly blending in.

If I had a scarred face I could thumb my nose at the world and say, "What the hell..." and do as I damn well please. But if I could remove that scar, would I not? Should I not? And if I had been scarred all my life and never known the comfort of anonymity in a crowd, would I not wallow in euphoria for a while if the scar began to fade? Would I not latch on to every indicator that I was not drawing undue attention, that soon my ordeal would be over? Or should I be unaffected and unconcerned that for the first time in my life I could walk among others with confidence and calm, be myself and have people see and relate to ME, not to my scar?

I feel wronged in the greatest sense of the word, and hurt deeply. But I am not going to let THAT stand in my way, not after all I have already risked and gone through just to get where I am. No, I am going to thumb my nose at the naysayers and chart my own course as I have always done, with the force of will and determination that have always compensated for my self-consciousness and feelings of inadequacy.

I like being recognized and treated as a female in our society. For that I owe no one neither explanation nor apology. My only fear being that my enthusiasm and joy at finally being free of the outward image I had wrongly can in, will be misread by others and stand in the way of my journey to final completeness in the physical realm to match the completeness I have already achieved in the mental.

February 18, 1990

So I started thinking. That is, after all the flack I was getting, I figured I ought to re-evaluate. And the strangest thing happened. I realized I wanted to live as a woman for the rest of my life. Doesn't sound different? Well, I didn't say I wanted to BE a woman for the rest of my life, like I have before. I want to LIVE as a woman.

Small different you say? But wait! Nay, 'tis the grandest difference twixt heaven and earth. You see, I've been looking for justification, an EXCUSE to ALLOW me to act as a female, to express myself in the female role.

I realized that I have been pressing so hard toward surgery so that I would then have the RIGHT to act as a female. I did not want to go fulltime. The only reason I did was the growing feeling that I would never be recommended for surgery without meeting that condition. So I grit my teeth, swallowed my pride and jumped in feet first.

But the strangest thing happened on the way to the requirements: I found out I really wanted to LIVE as a woman. Now, up to this point I had considered that once surgery was behind me, I could go out as a female any time I chose with the confidence of knowing that I was justified in doing so. But I thought that I might even spend most of my time presenting myself as a male. This would help my career, my marriage, my respect in the community; in short, I wanted to PLAY the role, not identify with it.

But these last six weeks... Oh, these last six weeks! I have felt so free, so content, so energized to life! Suddenly my interest has re-awakened in my career, my business, my art! Even my relationship with my children and Mary has deepened and become more satisfying. I found myself spending all the time spent in the male role longing to get back to the preferred lifestyle the next day. And the embarrassment, insecurity and self-consciousness of both my male persona and the early days of my fulltime experience has melted away from me so completely that I hold my head high as I express myself as the woman I am.

NOW I realize the value of the fulltime experience. I had always assumed that it was an opportunity to bail out if it proved not to be what was expected. But for me, it showed me what I really wanted from life. Just weeks ago I had told others (and firmly believed) that if for some reason I could not obtain surgery, I would surely become severely depressed and would, without a doubt, end my own life. Now, I find that I enjoy my new lifestyle so completely that I intend to remain in it for the rest of my days. And the madcap frenetic drive to the operating table has calmed to modest proportions.

Yes, I still want the surgery; to make myself as physically complete as I can, to feel right about my body, to free me to enjoy all aspects of a female life. But now, I can wait. Because I AM ALREADY THERE! Post op, my lifestyle will not dramatically alter. And pre-op, there is little I cannot do. I am living as a woman and loving it. Surgery will be the icing on the cake, but the cake is mine now.

In this light, I find that I no longer think of myself as a man at all. The clothes don't matter; it's how I feel, not now I look. The voice is unimportant; it changes not my outlook. I am me wherever and whatever I am. I wear female clothes to clue the world as to how I expect to be treated. I practice voice to blend in with the crowd. I enjoy being appreciated for whatever beauty I may possess. For, after all, fitting in is much more comfortable than standing out. So THAT thought of my last entry remains valid for me.

But within me now is a different perspective. The roles of our society are subtle; no large differences have assaulted me. They are a background against which to play our personalities. My personality grates against the male role; against the female role it flows. I find that much of what I am cannot be expressed in traditional male terms: I feel confined and cut off. But the female role is larger than the range of my feelings and I find it a spacious stage upon which to strut.

So, perhaps my journey is ended here. With the knowledge that I not only want to BE female, I want to live AS a female and express myself in the female role. The story, of course, has many chapters left. For I may yet lose Mary, my children, and my career. Or I may retain them all and even deepen their significance. I do not yet know how it will all come down, but of this I am certain: I shall not go back to the role of a male. I shall live in the female role for the rest of my days.

February 20, 1990

My Thirty-seventh birthday. I picked up Mindi from school and went to renew my driver's license, which expired today, last being renewed eight years ago. I pulled the dog-eared document from my wallet and gazed at the young, innocent face that stared up at me, our eyes meeting across a frozen moment in the void of time. I tried to remember what I felt in those days; my hopes, ambitions, dreams. I tried to remember what was the intensity of my need for transition. Did I think of it often? Did I think of it at all? But the smiling face stared back implacid, the expression impervious to my probe.

I worry sometimes that my current path is not the only one that would bring satisfaction, but the only one I have been aware of. Could I find happiness in another profession? With another mate? In another life? Am I doomed to discover, too late, that other avenues ran parallel to mine and could have taken me to greater heights in more conventional style? God, I hope not! It's hard enough to deal with what might have beens, when there are no apparent options. But to have one's cancerous eyes removed only to discover that a simple pill could have cured the disease and saved your sight...

But the trip was not depressing, truly. I had put on more than a hint of lipstick and fluffed my hair to its fullest look, anticipating the potential of a new photo I would have to live with until my I.D. changed. Those in the crowded office some distance from me read me as a mother out with her daughter. Those in mid-range kept checking me out. But the lady in front of me, who had the best view of the incongruities, struck up a conversation for the duration of our entire wait. She seemed not the least put out by me or those who were gawking at me. I began to feel as if I truly could be myself and it didn't even matter if I fit into standard conventions or not.

When I stepped up to the photo counter, I handed the man my form. He read the name, looked up, then said, "Wait a minute! I think something's gotten mixed up here!" I asked, "What?" He looked from me to the name and back again, trying to figure it out, then asked, "What's your name?" I told him, "David". He covered quickly saying, "Oh, it has the same birthday, I thought it was someone else's". Whatever THAT means. But when he asked me to step in front of the camera, he was genuinely friendly and almost jovial. "Big smile, David!", he cheered, obviously deciding that if that was the way I wanted to look, he wanted me to look good!

So I guess at 37, I am finally learning that you can't second-guess society. It's not a nameless, faceless entity, but a continuing flow of individuals who traipse through your life. Some will lift you, some will try to destroy you, but each and every one has his own outlook as much as I have mine.

Perhaps the greatest mistake of my life was hiding what I labelled as my feminine side for fear of rejection that would never have come. I could have freed myself from the frustration and suffering of my inner torment if only I had given others half the chance I wanted them to give me. But, as my mother often said, better late than never.

February 25, 1990

I began editing the trailer for Larry's feature today. This is the first time I have worked professionally in film since going public. Just three months ago, I finished my last editorial project as Dave, and could barely scrape through it from the boredom. For some time I had found myself increasingly disinterested in the media. Somehow, it all seemed trite and insignificant. But now, living life as I choose, the creative process is fulfilling once more, as I don't have to censor my immediate instincts for telltale references to my feminine disposition.

February 28, 1990

I have been editing with Larry for three days now. Originally, he had asked me to be the Director of Photography of the feature, well before I went public. But his investors quaffed at the fact that this was not my primary area of employment in the industry and scuttled my participation in that mode. Therefore, I have taken several opportunities to make comments displaying my filmic prowess, thereby reaffirming my abilities have not gone to my tits, and also rubbing a little good-natured salt in the wound.

Surprisingly, today he asked me to "DP" the additional material needed for pick-ups. This will require several days with a full crew: my first production experience as Melanie - and as the key crew member next to the director. Not bad for a thirty-seven year old transsexual from the Valley!