April 2, 1990
I spent the last two days seeing if I could dredge up the old feelings. I really needed to know if that part of me was closed off and no longer accessible or merely unused and falling into disrepair. It seems to be the later.
If I try hard enough, I can regress my thoughts to the point that it seems as if nothing at all has happened. The last year vanishes and I am back to square one. And, surprisingly, I find some comfort there. It is a familiar ground and I find in it no fear (or perhaps I should say uneasiness) especially in my dealings with Mary and the kids. I suppose I am projecting inward my certainty that they would be much more comfortable if I stopped right now and returned to those thrilling days of yesteryear. What's scary is that this idea no longer frightens me.
At this juncture, neither lifestyle or mode of thought is significantly more appealing than the other. But let me break that down. My life as Melanie is incomplete. I must hide from Mary, the kids, and the neighbors. I have but a few short hours every morning to present myself in that manner. And comfortable access to the social world eludes me, due to my continuing self-
So at this point, I cannot honestly say that I am wholly drawn to Yin or Yang. Now, question: will that change in the future? There is a lot in that question. A dual lifestyle is impossible to keep secret in a practical sense, but could be embarked upon if disregard for social acceptance is paramount. But at what cost to kids, marriage, career, self-
You know, the inner journey may be over (or maybe not) but the empirical solution races ahead of me at matching speed. The day or reckoning moves one day forward for every day lived, as if the moo were the Sword of Damocles, constantly hanging over my head yet never approachable. I guess I just have to back off. I have to wait. I have to settle in and let things run their course. The answers I seek will come to me of their own good time, and hunting after them merely scatters the little buggers into the bushes where they lay low until the coast is clear. Damn little buggers!
April 24, 1990
Well, it's been over three weeks since I last made an entry. Its not that things have slowed down or evened out (although to some extent that is true) but rather that each day brings a slight alteration in my emotional status and I have been waiting for the Big Picture to emerge. It still hasn't.
Take everything I have been mulling over these last few months, temper it down to a manageable level of stress and mix it all up together. It now can be rationally (more or less) considered, but is still in such a state of flux and disarray that no permanent conclusions can be drawn.
There are days, especially when I am very tired, that I feel particularly masculine. But these are few and far between. And there are days, especially when I like what I see in the mirror, that I feel particularly feminine. These also are the exception. Mostly these days I just feel like me.
It becomes increasingly difficult to determine how much I need this lifestyle as I entrench myself more fully into it day by day. As the pain of my earlier suffering becomes nearly forgotten, the need for this transition becomes more obscure. And since I am so content with living this life, the drive toward surgery is hard to justify.
Last Friday, two film friends of mine began their documentary of my transition. We met at Mark and Juni's who joined me in a discussion of our perspectives on my situation over wine and cheese and in front of the camera. I realize that this much public disclosure is bound to have repercussions for the rest of my life, but I feel the benefits to my career this notoriety will bestow warrant the downside risk. I am most concerned, however, that my responses to questions on my relationship with Mary might hinder our relationship by their candor. Time will tell.
Saturday last, Mary and I went to a home show at the L.A. Convention Center. As we wandered wide-
And Sunday brought shopping for garden tools, yard work, and playing rented video games. Truly, these two days were our best in years. Mary told me that she felt guilty because she was so happy and (with regard to my situation) she shouldn't be. I told her that meant she was content to enjoy what worked for her without regard to anyone else's opinions or expectations. But our mutual fulfillment turned out to be simply lack of communication, as the next day would prove.
Monday, Mary called a bank about the loan we need to take on the house to clear the estate debts. She mentioned that she had told the clerk that the deed would be in both our names, in order that her income could help qualify us. Later, I reminded her that I would only add her name to the deed if she agreed that even if we separate, she will neither kick me out of the house, nor sell her half to anyone but me, to prevent another co-
In discussions of this with my friends, they have unanimously urged me to hold onto ownership completely to insure my protection. But, as usual, foolhardy me has decided to add her name and take my chances. After all, this home is not a bribe for loyalty to come, but a reward for loyalty already provided. In short, she has earned it.
This uncomfortable discussion blossomed into a truly painful near-
This communication progressed through our mutual declaration that our marriage was over and permanently dissolved at the moment the knife grazed my wee-
Finally, the tension lowered (as it always seems to do) when we realized that the advent of that precipitous moment was some six months in the future at the earliest. We agreed to disagree, each earnestly pursuing a change of heart in the half year remaining.
Today, Mary and I are great friends again on the phone. We laugh and kid and when I say, "I love you.", she says, "I love you too!" I must admit here that I suppose if the choice was to have the operation and lose Mary, I would probably decline surgery. After all, life IS good as Melanie, but only with my loved ones near and dear. But my plan is to withhold this information from her unless backed into a corner. This way, she supposes that I would leave rather than accept a non-
P.S. Another quick note: As you have been made well aware, the one major area of self-
After a simple five-
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: At this point in my transition, I became very busy in my career, ultimately working as many as 24 straight 12 hour days without a day off. As a result, entries in my Diary became a more sporadic, hit and miss endeavor.)
Tuesday, June 5th, 1990
So much has happened since my last entry of six weeks ago that I have had no time in which to commit it to paper. But now, an hour (but a single hour!) has opened up and I am compelled to bring you up to date lest I lose continuity altogether.
As I pen these words I am sitting in my editing suite on the seventh floor of the Equitable Building" on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in downtown Hollywood. That's right! I'm actually editing a FEATURE film on Hollywood and Vine! I guess I've finally made it to the Big Time!
And as I drink in the reality of my situation, I stand amazed that life has been so good to me. Scant weeks ago, The Director finally pulled his legal matters together and called to say he was ready for me to start editing his feature. This was incredible! After years of disappointments and frustration, hundreds of carrots dangled in front of me always to be snatched away, after 22 years of longing to work in feature films, the moment had actually arrived!
But how unprepared I was for the speed at which I was to be thrust into my lifestyle as Melanie in the fullest trial by fire! The first order of business was to purchase a video editing system to work on. (Many features today, although shot and released on film, are edited in video). To this end, I put the Director in contact with a video equipment company I had dealt with before.
Almost immediately he set up an appointment for me and his Producer/wife to inspect the gear. Now remember that up to this point I had been avoiding one on one personal contact as Melanie for fear of voice, beard, body language -
But here I was, thrust into the limelight and asked to evaluate the system and discuss it with the sales staff and engineers. Well, I just did it. I tried not to think about it, but concentrate on the task at hand. Now -
In the days that followed, we ventured into a number of companies as we gathered parts and information. I found that even if they looked at me weirdly, that if I made eye contact and cheerfully conducted business, their look would evaporate in moments, and we would be laughing and exchanging tech-
And a good thing too! For as soon as I settled into the office, the Director had me out running errands in downtown Hollywood ALONE!!!! What fear rolled over me that first trip out to buy video tape! But again, NO REACTION! Was I changing? And if so, inside or out? I still do not know.
The system finally arrived and the technician who installed it treated me with protective condescension -
So far, so good. Then the NEWS: "We are having some interns interview for a position as your assistant." Oh, my God! But they came and they went and they didn't bat an eye! What the hell is going on here?!?
To date, I have worked for two weeks now with Julie, an intern from Cal State Northridge. We work in the same room and frequently converse shoulder to shoulder. And she has not yet caught on! This is a college girl, mind you -
Now I am truly flabbergasted! Have I really come that far that there is no farther? I guess so! Two other interns accept me without question as well. And the handsome mid-
These days I walk easily the two blocks down Hollywood Boulevard from the parking space. And I read the starts on the "Walk of Fame" wondering if someday one will read Melanie". Somehow, I think it just might!
P.S. Today is a primary election in California, and, for a lark, I showed up to vote dressed as Melanie with a Dave registration. The red, white, and blue fluttered proudly in the light breeze as I crossed the threshold of the polling place, feeling simultaneously that I was in some small way defiling the sanctity of the Altar of Democracy, even as I exercised the freedoms it secured.
I approached the inevitable little old lady and handed her my card, saying, "Don't freak, but this is me." She didn't get it. She just looked at the LAST name, found it on her list and said, "Mary?". I said, "No..." and pointed to "David". She said, "What?" I said, "That's my name." She said, "What's your name?" I said, "David". She said, "Huh?"
Her husband, hearing the commotion, stepped forward asking, "What's the problem?" I replied, "I'm in transition. I used to be this" (pointing to the name) "and I'm becoming this..." (pointing to myself). He still didn't get it.
Finally, a girl in her late twenties looked over at the card, my Dave driver's license and me. She said, "Remember me? I used to live across the street." Taken aback, I recovered with, "Oh, yes... How are you doing?" "Fine", she said, and, "My kids miss yours since we moved. Would it be okay if I brought them over to visit?" (This from a lady who up to this instant knew nothing of this side of my life?) "Sure!", said I, amazed at her composure.
Well, she vouched for me and ram-
Mary (on the phone) asked, "Did you vote as your other self?" (She wouldn't say the name.) I told her. She said, "When they asked for my I.D. and I saw that you had voted, I figured that's what happened."
"Amazing," she mused, "that out of three poll attendants, one would be a neighbor! "How do you feel about that?", I ventured, anticipating the day my predilection becomes common knowledge on the block. "I find it hysterical!" She giggled and continued to laugh! This woman astounds me!
Wednesday, June 6, 1990
THOUGHTS ON THE JOB:
2:40 pm -
2:55 pm -
4:05 pm -
4:45 pm -
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: I became so busy on the feature that I resorted briefly to jotting down a short note each day for several days, just to maintain a chronology. I include those here.)
WEDNESDAY: My feature film, that I directed in 1980 was screened nationally on Movie Greats Network on ABC at 3AM!!!
THURSDAY: Julie bubbled into work and greeted me with, "Hey, woman!"
FRIDAY: Mindi was home sick. Mary couldn't come home, so I had to. I stayed dressed in Melanie mode, though I had a jacket on, and she did not seem to notice a difference.
SATURDAY: I told the kids.
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'll fill in a bit of what happened when I told the kids. Mary had agreed we should not tell them until they asked, sparing them as long as possible. This also turned out to be a good plan, as it gave the kids a long time to get used to the subtle changes in me so when we did tell them, it was not so much of a shock. At this time, I was still living at home as Dave and at work as Melanie, which pretty much tore me apart. But Melanie was creeping more and more into my Dave life, both physically and emotionally. Apparently, Keith and Mindi had begun to talk among themselves about the changes in Daddy, for on this day, they came to me together and said they had something to ask me.
I knew instantly to what they were referring, but asked what they wanted to know. They said that they had noticed some different things about me and wondered why. What things? Some of my clothes, my voice, my chest. I told them to wait a moment, told Mary, who was washing dishes that the time had come and asked if she wanted to join me just have me do it. She said she would prefer if I did.
I had already rehearsed what I would say when the moment arrived, so I sat down the kids and said very straight out, that the reason they had seen these changes was that all my life, since I was a child, I had always wanted to be a woman. I did not know if this was really for me, but I needed to find out.
Then I paralleled my story to that of The Little Mermaid, which they had recently seen. I explained how I always lived in one world and wanted to be part of the other world. But just like Ariel, I could not join that other world in my present form. I needed to make physical changes and also learn how to live the way of the other world.
I told them it was not certain I would go all the way through with the change, but did not want to live out my life always wondering what it would have been like. Then I reassured them that I was still Daddy, and would always be their Daddy.
I encouraged them to ask questions if they wanted, now or at any time of me or Mary, and to talk with each other if they felt like it. I told them they could keep it secret from their friends or tell whoever they liked, including teachers.
Finally, I made certain they understood that this was not caused by anything they did, but by something within me. Nothing they did or did not do could have prevented it. I also wanted them to know that I was not doing it TO them, but FOR me, and that my greatest concern was that it should not interfere with their happiness.
Then I gave them each a big hug, and reminded them not to keep their feelings trapped inside, but to share them and keep communication open. They were both smiling and happy at the end of the conversation.
SUNDAY: Keith saw some stocking of mine I had left in the car and asked if they were mind. I said yes. He replied, "Oh, Daddy hose!"
MONDAY : I began leaving the house in the morning openly dressed as Melanie for the first time.
TUESDAY: Rather than working late as usual, until 10:00 pm, the Director decided we should take a break and go to USC for a retrospective screening of Kubrik's Clockwork Orange. I had not been to USC for years, still hurting from my self-
WEDNESDAY: Went on a location scouting trip to Watts and South Central L.A. Felt better because Don, the male intern was along with the Director and me. Got out on Broadway to take pictures, asked Don if he would stick close as I didn't like being out there alone. He cheerfully escorted me.
THURSDAY: Location trip with the Director and Julie to Palm Springs. Wore shorts and Tank top. Got read a lot all day. Why? Julie never noticed.
FRIDAY: Location hunting with the Director at Malibu beach. Not read at all. Spent some time on the sand as a Malibu beach bunny, hair blowing in the wind. Came home in daylight for first time as Melanie in view of several neighbors. Keith said, "You look good! Sexy, today!" Mindi asked if she could feel my breasts. I said okay. She squeezed them then said, "They feel good!"
Sunday, July 8, 1990
At this very moment, I am sitting on the back of one of the equipment trucks on the first day of production. I can't believe I am actually working on a feature film as a woman and getting away with it, stock free! No raised eyebrows, no sideways glances... I keep wondering: are these people blind, or what ?!?
Now, I KNOW they're going to catch on. They HAVE to! It's ridiculous to even imagine they won't. But so far, the conversations are girl to girl, and the men have second-
I am standing now under the bridge. Mattresses lay with surprising neatness and regularity, as if conforming to the master plan of a miniature city. The production cop speaks with the sole occupant at the moment of the village, who busies himself (by his own initiative) with sweeping his pavement floor, cleaning house for the movie crew.
The smell of fresh urine wafts from a nearby wall, but only from THAT wall. Again, crude, but organized by a code no less social and rigid than that mainstream mandate to which most of us adhere.
So we just got to this new location on Broadway, when I looked in the mirror and discovered that my make-
Lunch is "et" and Mel is better! I only had 1 1/2 hours sleep last night because: The director had called me in unexpectedly to do design some final shots. Of course, the work ran over, so I was late in arriving at my support group meeting which just happened to be that night. This was to have been a special evening: my first time there in four months, now more feminine, voice better, hair longer, confidence high -
I arrived at the meeting and as I opened the door, I could see the impressed faces look me over. I was just dressed in office fare: blue jeans and a light demi-
Anyway, the meeting lasted until 3:00 am! And it was all I had hoped for. Suddenly the lost soul novice had become the practiced and successful elder-
I met a lot of new friends, gave advice, hobnobbed with old friends, and reveled in the reality of the transition, on the eve of my rebirth into the real world on day one of production.
Interestingly, I was approached by someone I had seen at the meetings four months ago, who introduced themselves as being involved in a major position on the movie I am editing. Wow! What a coincidence! There are only 25 people in this group, and two members were both involved in a big way in the same production! And even more odd, the meeting is held only one block away from the home of the director of the movie! (Although he doesn't know it.) But, I finally had to leave and managed to grab some quick shut-
I came home and retired happy, confused, fulfilled, and full of anticipation for tomorrow!
Monday, July 9, 1990
Today we shot in Malibu. Most of the material was from the camera car, doing "tow shots" of the Corvette. I had been worried about how the make-
I spent more time working with the Script Continuity Supervisor, Toby, today. She is very friendly and I enjoy our little side conversations about work, the film-
We have to make a company move to Palm Springs tonight, and Toby and I agreed to car pool in her nifty little sports car. First, we both had to stop home for supplies and to freshen up. Unfortunately, my battery was dead, as a sign had told me on the way to Malibu to turn on my headlights on a winding stretch of road, and I forgot to turn them on again. I got some jumper cables from one of the guys and the two female interns helped me get the car started.
When I arrived home, the kids were all over me, and Mary had a list a mile long of questions about finances. But I wanted to hurry before Toby picked me up, as I truly think she accepts me as Melanie without question, and I cannot bear to suffer the potential consequences of her meeting my wife!
This has been of concern to me lately: Before, I worried about how my old friends would react to the news about me. Those fears never materialized. But now that I am being accepted as Melanie, I worry that my new friends will feel tricked or betrayed when they ultimately learn about my past. In all honesty, I would never lead someone on just to put him or her in a foolish position. I am just being me, in my new life, and hope that as my new friends discover the old me, they will not turn their backs on the new one.
Toby arrived, and I carried out my sack of clothes goodies for the Palm Springs shoot. The drive was 2 1/2 hours, with one stop-
We arrived at the hotel at 11:30 pm, each going to respective rooms to prepare for tomorrow's production.
Tuesday, July 10, 1990
The 5:30 alarm went off and jolted me directly from REM into Production Mode. I showered, shaved (barf!), and put on my make-
Joined Toby and we drove to the location on North Palm Canyon Drive. Today was scheduled the most important scene from my perspective: I had co-
We were shooting in the window displays of an art gallery doubling as a tux and gown shop for our purposes. The scene involved the male lead playing both his character and his alter ego, as represented by a mannequin in the window that comes to life. To complicate matters, we were using a "double" for over-
Photography proceeded beautifully, but slowly, as the Director has a tendency to over-
In any event, by the end of the day, we had completed almost all of the scene, and were forced to call an end to the day, due to drooping crew and loss of light. That night, the Director was still wired, and he had me over for a script conference about the shooting tomorrow. By the time I finished, the crew had gathered in and around the hotel swimming pool to drink beer -
There were about six or seven guys (mostly "grip" types -
These days, on hormones, two beers make my lips numb. And by three, I start slurring and get tipsy when I walk. Well, I did three to the guys' seven and figured that was enough. So, tank top dangling in my hand, I sashayed off to my room, thoroughly enjoying my first appearance in public in such skimpy attire.
(NOTE: Right after the Palm Springs shoot, my work situation began to deteriorate. The director turned out to be a real perfectionist. Unfortunately, he did not have the funds truly needs to support that approach. So he maneuvered, cajoled and even threatened the people who were working for him in order to get more out of them for the same money. He would not let the production be completed at the level he could afford: he wanted greatness. He was very good at playing on those who do not like conflict. He would wheedle away, getting a bit more from me everyday until I found myself exhausted and near nervous breakdown. I was forbidden to go out to lunch or dinner and had to take my meals at the editing console and work while I ate, usually with him sitting by my side. My days expanded to six per week. My hours expanded to 10 per day. Eventually, I worked one stretch of 24 straight 12 hour days without a day off. At times, I fell asleep at the editing console. He would wake me up and we would continue. Since I was paid flat rate, I made nothing extra for this. And since the project was already longer than I had expected, my money was very low. I was $30,000 in debt on credit cards and expecting bankruptcy at any time. I was adjusting hormone doses and PMS along with sleep deprivation and the tension had completely destroyed my health. Still and all, I had never walked away from something I promised to do, and continued to honor my commitment, even though the terms had been changed, and not by me. On some days I felt wonderful, but they grew fewer and fewer between. This is the reason I wrote less and less frequently -
(Expanded notes from July)
July 23, 1990
Embarrassing day as I had done electrolysis the night before, expecting to be working alone, and equipment problems required working closely with a technician while my face was bright red and swollen. He said nothing.
July 24, 1990
Work has gotten very hard with longer hours and great tension. The director today demands that I do more work that I contracted for at no additional pay since he was out of money. I am already working more house per day and more days per week for a longer term than our verbal agreement called for. Work has become very oppressive at times. The director seems only concerned with completing the job with the best quality at the lowest cost no matter how much the rest of us suffer. The number of hours worked for a flat rate bring my hourly rate down to $2.50 per hour, but I need the credit and it is my ticket to make transition into society. Still, I am so worn down by the effort I can hardly go on. I refuse to do even more for the same money. He threatens me with a lawsuit, saying he would put a freeze on Mary's wages and I wouldn't have enough money to buy food for my kids. Eventually, we compromise.
July 26, 1990
Mary's Birthday. No money to buy her a present because I am paid so little. My assistant, Don, takes a phone call from a friend who asks for "Dave... I mean Melanie" After the call, Don asks if Dave is my husband. I tell him the truth. He goes to the director to verify because he thinks I am putting him on. When he returns, I am in tears, never having told anyone about my past before. He is understanding and puts his arm around me. I laugh through the tears -
July 27, 1990
A distant relative shows up at the house looking for a place to stay and $10 for gas. I have to introduce myself as the new me. He seems okay with it, but I wonder if it is just because he needs ten bucks. Either way, word is now going to be spread to all the relatives in the clan.
Wednesday, August 1, 1990
An anniversary: one year ago today I started hormone therapy in the Hollywood doctor's office. One YEAR! My God! As cliche as it be: "It seems like yesterday." Can it truly be that nearly 3% of my life has now been spent under the influence of female hormones?
I leaf through the previous entries to this journal and pause, amazed that so much has happened in so little time. And, of course, anniversaries offer the irresistible invitation to speculate on the year to come.
From where I stand, the view is much less cloudy than a year before. My life is stable now: emotionally at peace, creatively fulfilled, monetarily improving. My marriage is secure. Perhaps is always was, but NOW I am confident in its strength. My children and I are as close as parents and offspring can become. In short: if I were to die tomorrow, it would be with a sense of satisfaction at having achieved (at least to some degree) everything I ever dreamed of. From here on out, "it's all gravy", or, "the sky's the limit." Which conjures up an image of beef broth rain dripping from mashed potato clouds.
But what about this year past? What about that fateful decision one turn around the sun ago? My entry of that day, the first entry of this journal, is right on target: "I looked out over the universe, waiting for that fateful sting that would propel me into a life I'd only dreamed of."
And now, I lead that life, different than anything I had imagined and more satisfying than I could have conceived.
Many uncertainties await me in the future. That is true for all who have lived. But here and now, one year later, I'm really glad I came.
Saturday, August 4th, 1990
Don, my former assistant on the film, came by my other office where I run my own company to do some editing. Even after having learned of my past, he acts no different. Nothing has changed in his attitude. What a guy!
Sunday, August 5th, 1990
PMS severe on new medication (Estinyl). I tell off my step-
Tuesday, August 7th, 1990
I catch the director screening my calls unless it is an emergency without telling me, so that I will have more time to work. Over the last couple of days I have been playing with the new way to pitch my voice. Late this night at work I try it. It gets stuck there. When I come home I cannot bring it down. Mary gets mad as she does not want me to be Melanie around the house. Finally, after an hour, my voice relaxes back to its normal range. Neat trick, if I can master it.
Thursday, August 23rd, 1990
ALIVE! I'm Alive again! My first real day off in almost three months and the dead veil that clouded my life and smothered my thoughts has lifted like an ugly fog in the morning sun. And the words... my God, the WORDS! They're back! I feel as if I've snuck up behind the muses and goosed them!
I had no idea I had fallen so far. Pushed by the director to one extreme after another, I slowly descended into a sort of freeze-
It is five minutes to eleven pm. And THAT, my dears, is the self-
Can you imagine the simple joy of reading a chapter in a book? Doing a load of laundry? Going to the restroom TWICE IN ONE HOUR? Today, I did ALL THAT and MORE!!! No, I really did!! Mundane to you, perhaps, but rare and glorious moments to me: deeply felt sensual experiences to be carefully preserved and savored again on rainy days in front of the fireplace.
Summer wanes, and fall prowls restlessly outside, but in a small house in California, Spring began today...