Raised By Wolves
Part Three: Across the Great Divide
The Biber Belt
September 6, 1991
This is a really exciting moment for me. I just got off the phone not thirty seconds ago from speaking with Doctor Biber's office. Doctor Biber is THE sex-change surgeon. He's done almost 4,000 operations. He's a legend in his field, noted as a leader in his field and the creator of the best technique available.
And I spoke with his nurse! I mean, its like calling Mecca! This is really exciting! For the first time its moved from the realm of total fantasy to a realm of almost semi-reality. It won't be complete reality until I am being wheeled down the hall, going in for surgery. THEN, I think I'm going to believe, "This is real".
They have my chart. I am listed with them now. I am in his files. What an incredible thing!
As I'm making this recording, I'm starting to get all teary because... its really going to happen.... I'm really going to be who I should have been to begin with. Its finally time to be me.
September 7, 1994
Today, the information letter arrived from Doctor Biber. He even signed it at the bottom! It spells out all of the logistic and financial requirements to obtain surgery through him. I've met almost all of them, such as being on hormones for at least a year and living full-time in the preferred role for at least a year. I just need to get my final psychological evaluation, a psychiatric evaluation, an HIV test and the money.
I talked to my local doctor yesterday and he filled me in on a few things to expect. For one thing, he suggested I take the train from L.A. to Trinidad, Colorado (Dr. Biber's location) because it is the only form of transportation that goes directly there. Also, for the trip back, he will give me a prescription for a coach car, which gets a lower rate. The coach car is necessary because for the first few days after surgery, you have to dilate every couple of hours until everything heals. A coach car, therefore, is a must.
My doctor also warned me that almost everyone after abdominal surgery with a general anesthetic gets constipated. He warned me to follow all instructions and make sure to work hard to prevent that. To drive home the point, he gave me the gruesome example of one post-op girl who didn't try hard enough and finally, when things did let loose, they did so with such force that the new vagina blew outwards, ruptured and they had to take her back into surgery to salvage what they could. Yeach! I think if he was trying to scare me into following instructions, he's sufficiently done that!
Just one third of a year - just four months - just sixteen weeks until I am physically female.
September 8, 1991
I'm crying today a lot, and I really don't quite exactly know why.
Last night, Andy showed up at my support group meeting. He came over and sat by me for awhile, massaging my neck. This was in front of everybody. Today I have been watching "Sleeping With the Enemy" on television. It is the story of a battered wife who runs away. I have never been mishandled by anyone, but I can empathize with why she stayed so long with him anyway. There is something about being held protectively in the strong arms of a man that touches a woman deep inside. I wonder sometimes where my fulfillment is.
September 17, 1991
Today I called up my lawyer to begin proceedings to get divorced as is required to obtain surgery. We don't want to get divorced, and on top of that, the lawyer told me it would cost $1500. I'm barely scraping together the $10,000 I need for surgery, so $1500 is a lot of additional money.
Now, it didn't say anything in Biber's information packet about a divorce, but everyone I have talked to said it is required. Still, I didn't want to call Biber's office to ask because I was worried that a question like that might cause him to withhold surgery altogether.
But after hearing about the procedure of divorce from my lawyer, I called Trinidad and spoke to Biber's nurse. I told her that we didn't want to get divorced; what exactly are the requirements? She said, "You don't have to get divorced...." I said, "What!?!" She when on to say that all we needed to do was have Mary sign an affidavit saying that she understands the nature of the surgery and does not object.
What fantastic news! I called up Mary and teased her a bit - first telling her all the bad news from the lawyer, then telling her about what Biber's office said. She shouted out, "where do I sign!", enthusiastic about avoiding all that legal idiocy. Then, she said, "Let me ask you one question... are you sure?" I thought for a moment and replied, "Yes, I'm sure." And so we agreed. I called up the lawyer again, explained the situation, and he is drawing up the appropriate papers for $100. It will be ready in two days and I can ship it off to Doctor Biber.
I called back his office and spoke to the nurse again, telling her the situation and that I would bet all the materials they requested into them in the next week so they would set a surgery date. She said, "Well, you know, we could schedule you now, if you like." I said, "You could? Sure!" She asked me when I could like to come and I thought, "Well, uh... well, uh..." I mean, here I am, making a decision about when I want to come in an have them hack off my... Well, I pondered for a moment and then asked her to schedule me for anytime after the holidays, sometime after January 7th so I could see the kids back into school after Christmas vacation before I left. She said, "How about Thursday the ninth?" I replied, "Sounds good to me..." and it was done.
I am now on their charts: Melanie , scheduled for sex reassignment surgery on Thursday, January ninth, 1992. 114 days and counting....
September 20, 1991
(Entry on my microcassette recorder, crying):
I know that when I was Daddy and Keith or Mindi had a problem, they could come to someone who was supposed to be strength. And I was strength for them. I could pet them on the head, and I could hold them tight with a hug, and give them that kind of protection that only a man can give. Yet, even then, inside I was thinking in terms of nurturing and mothering them as I held them. Still, I knew that they were perceiving as their protective father, standing between them and anything that might hurt them: a rock.
I need that rock so much. I need someone in my life to do that for me. And I feel so sad and so worthless sometimes with the kids, that even though I'm a wonderful mother with them, I don't provide them with that kind of protective love that everyone needs so much.
I didn't have a daddy around the house from the time I was one year old until I was seven. And when I finally did have a dad, he wasn't that tower of strength, he was just stern. I never had that protective feeling. I always wondered if he knew what he was doing. And now, I've done the same thing to my kids. I've taken away from them the very thing I needed so much as a child. I can only hope that since they were both past seven when then (weeping uncontrollably) when they lost their daddy... that it won't hurt them deep inside as much as it hurt me not to have one.
(Break down into heavy crying, then):
I've never told my natural father this because I didn't want to hurt him. But now, the same father who wasn't around for me to grow up with, won't even let me in his house anymore....
Its very painful. But I won't let it defeat me. And I won't let it hold me back or hold me down. He did an admiral thing by showing up every weekend until I was twelve years old. He has no idea how much I looked forward to those trips. He has no idea how special it was when he sent me a letter. His letters were usually one or two sentences long: "Hi, son. See you Saturday. Love, Dad." But it was my DADDY who sent those letters! And that made me special because he thought of me. And now, he ignores me.
In the moment when I'm finding myself; when I'm becoming who I always should have been - when I am being more truthful, more honest, and more courageous than I have ever been in my life: the denies me now.
I just hope that I am a good enough mother, and that I am a good enough father.... But I never took my son to a football game.... (uncontrolled crying). I never did so many things with him... because I didn't know how... (sobbing) ... I always wanted to mommy things, and I wasn't allowed. I did the best I could at the time. But now I know so much better what a child needs from a father, what a woman needs from a man, that now I COULD fulfill that role - I could give them exactly what they need, but I'm selfishly going after what I want for myself. And that makes me feel really low. In spite of the courage it takes to do this, the real courage would be NOT to do it, for the sake of my kids and the woman I made a commitment to. I would lose my life for them, but to GIVE my life to them.... well, I can't. I can only see that strength from where I stand here as Melanie. But if I were to go back and be Dave again with the frustrations I would suffer at not being able to act as I felt, it wouldn't be long before it would make life miserable for all of us. That I cannot do.
But as I sit here, my hair long, my fingernails red, my legs smooth, I know that even crying my feelings out is okay... its okay. Now, its okay.
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