Boiled in Oil
by Melanie Anne
Part One: The Promised Land
The "Other" Sex
August 23, 1992
A letter to Lauren:
We are not transsexuals anymore. We are not men. We are women. And the time has come to close the deliberations on that one.
I've often reconsidered: "What would it be like if I had..." and filled in a lot of blanks. "Did I make the right decision?" "Could I have figured out a way to make it as a man?" Finally I figured out that I will simply never know. That is not the way it came down, and it's too late to change history. And after all that has happened, I have truly changed, deep-down, all the way to my heart.
All the lip service about Dave dying didn't have conviction to it. Now it does. I am not Dave. I am not male. And I am not transsexual either. Heck, I can't even remember what it was like to have penis. It feels like I was born this way. I can't conjure up what it was like to have testosterone in my system. I haven't a clue.
No, my life is mine now, not HIS. And all the commitments he made are not necessarily ones I want to service. I remember my mother told me how, when the actress Patricia Neal's husband died, even though she had a stroke, she went back to work and fulfilled all his obligations and paid all the bills he had run up, even though they weren't hers.
Well, I've been trying to do that for the late, great, posthumous Dave. But no more. I've had enough of being the altruistic, self-sacrificing janitor of Dave's left-overs. I'm not out to hurt those who supported him. But if commitments conflict with my desires, I no longer feel responsible for them.
I am Melanie. I will ALWAYS be Melanie for the rest of my life. And I want to make a life for myself that "I" choose. Not one that Dave would have chosen for me.
Yes, I know what you are going through. And yes, we are going to make it. I'm honored to have shared this journey with you, and now I am honored to be your friend as we both embark on the new reality, which is the only important one : no longer comparing the way it is to the way it was; no throw back to comparing the way it is to the way it might be. No, just making the best and happiest life we can with what IS.
August 29, 1992
My marriage did not end in a binary sense, but more like "an end to life, as we know it." So, it is not exactly a death, but more of a transformation. Kinda like me as a human being, I guess - changing but still alive.
Well, I'm going to try and explore the side of life where others do not know my past. I still can't imagine myself hiding my past, but I want to see what it is like in groups of people who get to know me without knowing. So, I'm going to take some more classes and join some clubs.
The bar scene is not really for me. I'd rather be involved in social events. But everywhere I go these days, at least one person in my group (and usually many more) know of my past. I want to go someplace where NO ONE knows, and make some friends.
Now, Mary regularly lies to her friends, old and new, about her "husband". She tells all the truth about everything except that I am a woman now. So, I never meet them, and we never go out with them. But, that is not unusual be cause we never used to, anyway. Still, I suppose that part of the reason I don't want to hide my past is that I feel it diminishes my family as if I were hiding THEM.
Mary is not such a problem in my feelings about that, but the kids are. How could I have a relationship while still living here without either a massive deception or telling the truth. Do I say I'm living with my sister and HER kids? What happens then if I turn out liking the guy or making friends with the woman and they find out later?
I remember the support group I used to go to had many discussion on the subject of "when to tell the prospective lover". No one could decide. It's really a Catch-22. If you tell them right up front, you limit the field and forever have the image of you as a guy in their minds. But if you wait, even just a little, they will always feel you have deceived them. What a cruel hand life has dealt with this decision. There is no right answer.
I suppose that just for friends as opposed to lovers, there is nothing that wrong about hiding it. And yet, for me, I will feel as much unaccepted by hiding my past as I used to feel about hiding my desire to be a woman. I mean, it IS true. I used to be a guy. But I just don't know what to do about that now.
I'm beginning to think that honesty is NOT the best policy. I'm beginning to think that to lie is maybe not a good way, but is the best available of a lot of bad ways. Moving out would make it easier, but I just can't do that.
September 5, 1992
I never used to feel like I was sexy at all as a guy, but NOW, I KNOW I am. Of course, that can't last forever, so I'd better enjoy it while I can! I have also made a decision. I'm going to get involved in some group activities where no one knows my past history. And, I have decided simply to lie about it if it comes up. I've tried the honesty approach, and it has made me a lot of friends. But I really want to see what it is like not just as an accepted TS, but as an accepted woman.
Angel, by the way, has met another woman and has already made love to her, so I guess I am off the hook finally. I felt a lot of obligation to stick with her until she had someone to replace me: she is very vulnerable emotionally. If it's any indication, she no longer signs her BBS letters "Love", just "Angel". That's good news. Now I can start with a fresh slate and a lot more experience.
My money situation is improving daily, thanks to Mindi being out of day care. We can actually afford to order pizza delivery once in a while!
September 24, 1992
I had a great day yesterday. First I drove down to the Miracle Mile on Wilshire for my contact lens appointment. The drive was fun, 'cause I hardly ever spend a lot of time on side streets somewhat far from home. Especially alone. So, I was enjoying being a bit footloose.
The appointment was pleasant, the optician was nice. He fitted me for my lenses and then I took a look in the mirror. This was the first time I have ever looked in the mirror and seen myself without glasses since my old role days. So, for me, it was my first glimpse of myself with the final touches of who I had always wanted to be.
I had fixed this image in my mind - my self image - as I started transition, of the woman I wanted to be. And that self image did not include glasses. So, I have felt like the job was not complete. But, with that first glimpse, there I was, the exact image of the woman I set out to be. I was THRILLED. The journey is finally at an end for me.
As I was about to go out the door to the street from his office, butterflies jumped in my stomach. I stopped by the door and realized that to me, this would be my first step into the world for the rest of my life as the woman I had set out to be. I opened the door, reveled in that step, and smiled all the way back to the car.
I have some serious decisions to make about dating. Staying at home, there is a real sense of family developing that I have not enjoyed since before transition. We're all beginning to do things together again. That's why this holiday season is going to mean so much to me. Not since 1988 have we been bonded together as the family as much as we are now. I remember the way it used to be in terms of doing things for each other and sharing surprises and looking forward to coming home at night to be with those you loved. But all that went to hell in a handbasket when I went into transition. I have allowed myself, actually forced myself to forget what it used to be like to be a guy. So, I honestly can no longer remember any of the physicality at all. And all the scenes where I played the masculine role have vanished from my past. But what I still do remember is the love I felt for my family, and the good times we had together, with the gender aspects removed.
But here is the question: As a woman, I really want to have a relationship with a man. I want all the things I know and have experienced in that kind of relationship. But I don't want to give up my family experience either. The problem is: I can't figure out how to work both into my life. If I have a relationship, that means I'm going to have to be gone several evenings a week. Or even if it was one, or one day on the weekend, it still hobbles the family feeling. And also it sets limits on that new relationship that it is not allowed to grow past a certain point. I really don't know what direction to go on this one.
I guess the best thing to do is go to college and meet some guys, and go to various clubs and groups and meet some guys, and rather than try to make a relationship, see if one finds me. Then, I will have something specific to decide, as opposed to trying to make a conceptual decision based on all possible situations in advance of any of them.
I have wanted a facial for sometime, and Chris actually gave me a two hour facial certificate as a Christmas present. But although I no longer have any visible facial hair, there are still a few light colored stragglers that give a little roughness here and there, and I'm still too embarrassed by that to have someone rubbing around on my face. Maybe next Spring.
September 28, 1992
You need guys because they are strong and protective and can be very proactive. And they fix things and keep the infrastructure up. And they improve your environment (because it adds to their investment) but it still makes us feel better to have a nicer abode. But when it comes to companionship.... they are not thinking what we think they are thinking when we think they are thinking like us!!!
On the way into work today I was wondering what it really meant to have a friendship between women. After all, I really don't have any experience in this area. Well, I think I have it figured out. When I had guy friends as a guy, I couldn't understand why I would invite them over for dinner (when I lived at home) and before they would commit to coming over would always ask what was for dinner.
Now it always seemed to me that the important thing was spending some time together, WHY we spent time together was incidental. But to the guys it's MUCH more important WHAT is being done, and "who with" is almost incidental. God, I've spent my life looking for all the wrong things in the wrong places. Doing things to be together and enjoy each other's company is a girl thing, NOT a guy thing. Guys do things together to DO THE @#$%& THINGS!!!!!
I don't know, but I'm beginning to think that any woman who has been married for more than a year is completely disillusioned by that time. I'm not sure what it is that has triggered this in me lately. I've had a very confusing life. There has been no one around to tell me how it should be. And everything I WAS told was a lie, because it wasn't right for me. But I grew up with them as one of them, and its taken me this long - almost ten months after surgery before I actually knew with certainty that I never WAS one of them. I always thought it was that way, I always believed it, but now I KNOW it. I suppose it took this long because I was seeing things in women I didn't see in men, and finding those things in myself. But I never stopped to look at guys and ask what it was they had that I might not. Believe me, there's LOTS they have that I haven't got, and I wouldn't want a speck of it!!!
So, I think I have now come to terms with myself: If I have all the feelings and attitudes and instincts of a female (and always have) and DON'T HAVE any of the feelings, attitudes and instances of a male (and never did), I guess I just FEEL female through and through these days, with no part of my soul abstaining. Unfortunately, (but in keeping with female consensus) I have now (in so doing) severed all my potential or imaginary ties with the male species and see them the way women have always seen them: as oppressors, users, and jerks.
October 6, 1992
I don't have relationships - I have intimate friendships.
The man at the corner liqueur store nearly asked me out today. He has wanted to for some time now, but has never worked up the courage. Today he had gotten his courage up and I knew it. But I intentionally did not give the responsive moves that would have tipped the balance and triggered him into action. Why? Because I feel guilty at playing with someone's feelings like that. If we went out, when he learned of my past, would he feel cheated, lied to, made a fool of, used? He seems like such a nice guy I can't bring myself to do that to him. And also I can't bear the thought of the rejection I would feel if he couldn't deal with it. Most of all, I feel guilty because I have a family: a wife and kids. But I know that every day I get a little older; and someday a few wrinkles too many will prevent me from ever having the kind of relationships I want to experience.
In the grand scheme of things, I have been so lucky already, and this seems such an overblown complaint when children are dying all around the world from starvation. Yet, to me, here and now, it is a major concern. What about honesty? What about rejection BECAUSE of honesty? I just don't know. I keep making decisions that force me closer to a moment of reckoning. I am changing my school records and credit information over to Melanie. Why did I wait so long? Why am I doing it now? Because I am no longer satisfied being accepted as a person in spite of my status as a transsexual, and want to be accepted just for me. I don't want my past to get in the way of the present. But how do I do that without dishonesty?
And so, when this cute guy was right on the verge of asking me out, I sidestepped the issue. Does fully becoming a woman mean leaving my wife and kids? How could I feel at ease with the pain that would cause them? I just don't know. But I can see that I am moving ever closer to adopting my new role fully and denying the role of the past. Eventually I will have to make a choice. I suppose the choice I have made already is not to avoid that future decision by sidestepping the issues. Rather, I am creating situations where ultimately I MUST decide. At least then, I will no longer have to grapple with the issue but can put it resolved behind me.
A message I sent over the email system at work regarding my daughter's participation in a sale of Christmas gift wrapping paper as a fund raiser...
Date: Tue, Oct 6, 1992 11:56
Subject: A Christmas Paper
'Twas two months 'fore Christmas,
yet all through the school,
Mindi and Classmates,
sold paper of Yule.
With Bush in the White House,
and Pete on the Throne,
the schools have crumbled,
the students bemoan.
Yet still in their hearts,
an innocent flame,
"Why don't we take action,
and stop slinging blame."
"Ah, goddess of knowledge,
The "Good Ol' Boys" rape her,
We'll come to her aid,
and sell Christmas Paper!"
So, what on my cluttered,
old desk should appear,
but a patchbook of samples,
to bring you good cheer.
Some foil, some paper,
some fancy, some plain,
a response to our leaders
who lack half a brain.
Leaf through, buy a few,
stop those politic elves.
If they won't help the schools,
we'll help them ourselves.
We thank you sincerely,
both I and my daughter,
Now come buy some Christmas Gift Wrap,
(Like you oughter!)
October 8, 1992
Yesterday was a big day for me. I have been putting off the changing of personal information such as school records and birth certificates because it all seemed part of the lie that I would make by hiding my past. Yet, I knew that to be able to judge how I would truly feel, I had to make at least some sort of move in that direction and then evaluate its impact on my emotions. So, yesterday I went down to USC and had them officially change my records. As of noon, David no longer went to USC. Melanie did.
As soon as I returned to the car to drive home, I began to feel the effects of that action. I was elated! No guilt, no feelings of dishonesty, just sheer pleasure at (in a sense) having rewritten my past. Why do we only try to change the future? Why do we not try to change the past? The past is changed all the time by learning new things which cast it in a different light. Everything from misunderstandings to optical illusions are contained in this area. Changing the past doesn't alter what happened, but it sure can change everyone's understanding of what happened. In fact, just because something is in the past does not solidify its actuality. Nothing is sure, just because it already happened. But how could this help assuage my guilt at having to lie to protect my new identity?
The conflict (as I saw it then) was one of covering my tracks as much as possible to limit the chance that I would be found out. The biggest threat to that was Mary and the Kids. How could I possibly explain THEM to new friends without giving away my secret. And who wants to spend their whole life in fear of a secret being discovered? I already tried that for 36 years and didn't like it LAST time!!! Still and all, I knew that I felt much better about taking this step and began to look forward to other steps that would further obscure my past.
At home last night, I grappled with the question of Mary and the Kids and could come to no conclusion. But this morning, while documenting these experiences on my micro cassette recorder, the solution struck me. I was assuming that learning a new fact, immediately changed the way one felt about something. But I neglected to consider familiarity. If someone met me as Melanie and after a time learned of my past, would they start thinking of me as a man? Not likely, but they might start thinking of me as a transsexual instead of as a woman. That is what I thought. I was wrong.
Unless someone has a prejudice that just needs a trigger to get started, then the single bit of knowledge that I was born male, will surprise them, but not immediately change the way they feel about me. That is where familiarity comes in. You see, I had been proactively making sure that everyone I worked with or met knew about my past after knowing me for a week or two. This was clearly an attempt on my part to avoid a big loss if I were to be rejected by putting my worst foot forward right at the start. I thought that first impressions were the most important, so I let them meet and respond to me as Melanie, then told. This was a mistake.
There is nothing dishonest about not carrying a sign around proclaiming my previous sex. But what then of the fear of discovery? In the TS world there are two camps: the hidden TSs who live in fear of discovery and the open TSs who are never considered women. Now, which did I want to be? Answer: neither. How can that be possible? Familiarity - not mine, but everyone else's. You see, if I proactively make sure that everyone is told of my past, then show them a picture or a video tape, bring it up in conversation, draw comparisons between the roles, make jokes about it - all of these things continue to familiarize others with my TS nature, and overpower their urge to think of me as a woman based on my appearance and actions. I was absolutely cutting my own throat.
But if I don't tell them, what about the fear of discovery? Well, from time to time I'm sure I WILL be found out. And when I am, I will simply tell them that I never felt like a man, only a woman, so I prefer to concentrate on this life than dwell on the other. If questions are asked, I will answer, but only in the most concise terms, never in a way to open a discussion. Because there will be little familiarity with the TS side and because I can be seen to avoid talking about it, my image as seen by others will be very heavy on the woman side and very weak on the TS side. Will they think me dishonest? Some might, but I imagine not too many. No, I think they will accept that explanation and accept me as a woman who used to be a man, not a Man who changed his sex.
So, covering up my past makes sense, as it consists of actions that need only be done once. If it required CONSTANT upkeep to maintain a facade, that would be different. But one-time only events can be done and forgotten with no upkeep required. Each step in this direction then, will lessen the chance of discovery. But, rather than fear discovery, I will accept its inevitability, and simply determine not to be proactive about my transition once discovered. In this way, even the few discoveries that DO occur will be severely limited in how many result in reclassification of my status to transsexual in their minds.
So, I now begin a new life, saving my transitional experiences for my work in psychology and my support group activities, but not offering any of them in my relationships with friends. Out of a personal moral feeling, I will tell potential lovers the truth BEFORE we make love if it could become a relationship. But one night stand guys are on their own. Well, its kinda neat. After all this time, I can finally let people judge and accept me for the woman I am, and also not fear discovery. This allows me to stay with Mary and the Kids and still make new friends who have no idea of my past. Needless to say, all this work has already been incorporated into the Mental Relativity Model.
October 13, 1992
Yesterday was busy. Well... not so much busy as weird. I was just in something of a rotten mood. Fortunately, Chris already had a job planned for my entire afternoon: building a video cabinet for the Schmooze room. So, I was out of contact with everyone, which was just as well. What a crummy job! First I had to go all over and hunt up tools. Then, I had to get John just to stand the box up, as it was too heavy to lift. Next, I had to sort through all these stupid parts and then work up a sweat trying to screw everything together. I ended up with a huge blister in the middle of my hand. But, at least I put it together right, since all the doors open and close.
This morning was supposed to be a magazine interview about the story software with Chris, Steve, and myself. Steve sent out a booking notice on the interoffice scheduling program yesterday. Today, Chris comes in and says that Steve and he have a meeting from 10 to 12 with someone and he'd be available after that. I didn't know whether I was mistakenly included by Steve in yesterday's notice or that Chris wasn't aware that I was going to be involved. I HATE that kind of thing. Either I'm going to feel like an idiot for telling Chris I was supposed to be included, or I'm going to feel like an idiot if I AM included and Chris finds out I didn't correct him when he brought it up. Anyway, Steve just got a call from the guy and he rescheduled for Friday. Steve went in to Chris and told him and then said he would go tell me, so I guess Chris has figured it out by now that I AM included in this one. Not that I care from a status kind of thing, but I just wish they'd get their act together.
Now, about this reschedule of the interview: I SPENT ONE HOUR GETTING READY FOR THE INTERVIEW TODAY!!!!! Extra care with the make-up, I did my hair three times before I got it right. AND I finally picked out just what I wanted to wear. Everything is perfect TODAY!!!! This same thing happened for our first interview a few months ago. THEY canceled TWICE before finally showing up. Don't these idiots realize how much extra time it takes a woman to get ready for an "event"?!?!?!?! Believe me, there are a LOT of things that I would rather have done with that hour this morning than get ready for an interview that isn't going to happen. If they would just call THE NIGHT BEFORE!!!! Then, I wouldn't have to go through all this. And the worst part of it is, now I have worn this outfit once this week, and I hate to wear the same thing twice in the same week, but this is the one outfit I want to wear for this particular interview. A "No Win" situation if I ever saw one!
Well, enough griping.... FOR NOW!!!!
October 15, 1992
A new, more female concept in handling employees: Rather than taking a male view of how much supervision is necessary based on the ability of one's employees, determine the level of supervision based on whether your employees or yourself most desire the best completion of the task. If your employees desire a successful outcome more than you do, all they need is management, wherein you give them a sense of direction and then turn them loose. But if you desire the outcome more than your employees, then they will require supervision, as they will surely stop short of the level of quality you want.
The only consideration that should temper this evaluation is whether or not the employees are, in fact, capable of achieving the task at hand, regardless of their level of motivation. I wasted five thousand dollars in labor with a business I used to own by leaving my employees on their own because they had more motivation than I. It was also true that they had no experience and really needed my supervision until they had learned enough to be able to apply their motivation effectively to the task.
October 24, 1992
I'm not going to talk for men anymore. Men have plenty of spokesmen. They've had spokesmen throughout the centuries. And although I may have some insight due to my personal experience and my work in Mental Relativity, their logic defies any kind of logic I'm familiar with. Theirs is the logic of men, not the logic of women - it has no meaning for me other than to admit it exists within them, and that they try to impose it on us.
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