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And now for the next installment in a serialized presentation of the book:
From Journeys & Transitions by
NOTE: Starting with September, 1990, my schedule became so tight while I was editing the feature film, Social Suicide, that I could no longer take the time to make my diary entries directly onto the computer. The only way not to lose the emotion of the moment was to record my thoughts onto a microcassette recorder. Obviously the results are not as polished, nonetheless, I include them here as they are the only record of this portion of my transition.
December 1, 1990
I remember last December, my grandmother's health was failing and we thought we were going to have to move out of the house. I was just winding up my relationship with Andy. Things looked like they were pretty much close to being on the rocks with Mary. Our Christmas shopping was done in the vein of "This is our last Christmas together, so let's buy some special things for the kids". Overall, everything looked bleak beyond belief. There seemed to be no way out.
This Christmas things have changed so dramatically. As of THIS December 1st, Mary and I are closer than we have ever been. I'm not planning any relationships with anyone else. That one was enough to tell me what I needed to know. Even though that kind of relationship was fulfilling: being protected and cared for - to have someone else take care of the real world needs - I find enough of that now in my day to day life in terms of relationships in business and with friends. The hugs from Mary are just as comforting as the hugs from anyone else - more so by virtue of a history we have together, the love we share together, the bonding that comes through. It could never be duplicated by anyone else because Mary and I have shared so many "firsts".
The financial situation is much better. Within a month, the inheritance escrow should come through and I'll have title to the house. Even though by California law property you inherit does not automatically become community property, I am having Mary's name put on the deed as co-owner. She earned this house as much as I did by her support of me throughout the years.
The feature film project I have been editing is just about complete. So many things on the horizon for the future. There is so much comfort and inner peace with myself. Yes, there are bad days. Yes, there are downers and depressions. But at this point they are no more than anyone else might suffer just from the way things normally go. And so, I face December on a very positive note.
Today is a special day for me. I'll be seeing my Dad who lives in San Diego for the first time in fourteen months. Last time I saw him was when I told him about what I was contemplating doing. This time I am halfway fulfilled on that contemplation. I'll be going as Dave, but so much of how I act and look has changed. I know he wants to be supportive, but I also know he's uneasy with this. So today it will be interesting to see what someone who has been close to me throughout the years but has not seen me in over a year notices in the way of changes that have occurred in me.
My dad and I have always shared a special relationship although he is a very non-emotional person. He concentrates on intellectualism and the world of reason, both in his career as a civilian engineering project manager for the Navy and in his personal life. And yet, I never felt unwanted or uncared for. During my entire childhood, even though he was divorced from my mother when I was one year old, he came every week to visit me until I was twelve. Then he came every two weeks until I was sixteen and then once a month until I was eighteen. Then he told me it was my job to come visit him every other time, which eventually worked out to every six months or so.
The first time I brought Mary down to meet him fifteen years ago was the first time I ever told him I loved him. I was very nervous but had to say it. He told me he loved me as well. That was very special coming from someone as undemonstrative as him.
And so, today I go into unknown territory.
Last night I spent so much time trying to figure out what to wear. Do I wear what makes me most comfortable, or something that would make Mary more comfortable? And what about my means of speaking? At home I use a different voice than I use at the office when I am Melanie. I've found of late that my feminine voice at the office is having an effect on my voice at home. Which one do I use in presenting myself to my dad?
I was worrying about these things as we went to bed, and Mary reached over and held me tight. I slept fitfully, but whenever I awoke I would find her arms around me. I then knew what my decision must be. Because of the way her love reaches out to me, I will dress in a way that is comfortable to her. She deserves this for the love that she gives.
December 2, 1990
Yesterday with my dad was very interesting. I think that even though he did not want to reject me, he rejected the motivations behind was I was doing. There was a definite tension when we arrived. The first thing that happened was a neighbor locked themselves out of their house and needed to use the phone. I ended up hiding in the living room because I knew my dad would not want to introduce me as his son because I have become so feminine, even when dressed as a man.
After the neighbor left, I had a few moments to say something to him and his wife about how I felt. They were not convinced. When I have visited my dad in the past, we always go on some sort of outing. This time we went out to a ship that served as a maritime museum. Whenever the kids saw something of interest, they would call me, "Daddy", from across the ship. I would come, but each time it happened it cut me like a knife. I don't want to stunt their development or alter their opinion of me. If they are calling me Daddy its because they need that. I feel a great sense of responsibility to provide that to them.
By the end of the day when we returned to have dinner at the house, I went into some dissertations about how I felt better and more actively handle career issues, and how I was finally sane. My dad, at that point, began to realize, I think, that as much as he disagreed with them, my motivations were real and not fantasies gone wild.
Nothing was really resolved, but I think everyone fully stated their position.
When we came home I decided to go to my monthly support group meeting. I was still dressed the same as I was with my dad when I presented myself as Dave - wearing blue jeans, a loose sweater, light foundation make-up and an almost invisible pink lipstick - more like a lip gloss. From the very first time I had always gone to my support group meeting fully made up in Melanie Mode. But this time I thought, "If you can't go to your support group meeting as you really are, where CAN you go?" So I just grabbed my keys and went out the door.
I had a wonderful time, actually. During my time to talk, I "did Dave" for about fifteen seconds, using my male voice. By opening up like that, which I had never really done there, I found that my peers appreciated me more. Even my former psychologist, who I hadn't seen in eight months, came over to give me a hug. A lot of people came over to chat. All in all, it was a wonderful evening.
This morning, I felt rather playful. So I decided to wear the mini skirt I hadn't worn since my early outing days. Larry (the director of the feature) hasn't come into the office yet, but as I make this entry I'm wearing that 18" mini skirt with a braless top. I've put on eyeliner, which I haven't worn in maybe six months and I'm feeling incredibly playful. I'm not doing it to be erotic. I'm just doing it because that's the way I feel today. If I'm to be accepted as a woman, I have to be able to let loose and dress as I feel. Tomorrow maybe I'll be back in blue jeans and a T-shirt. What's nice is, NOW I have the option.
I'm back home, still wearing my mini skirt, and just about to read a story to my kids. But before I do (and they didn't know I was going to do this) I thought it might be interesting to have you kids say something about how you feel about your Daddy and the way your Daddy looks at the moment.
MELANIE: We're going to start off with the oldest, Keith. He's eleven years old, he's into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nintendo games and... what else?
KEITH: Ummmm... snakes!
MELANIE: Snakes! Okay. And how do you feel about what your Daddy is doing?
KEITH: The only thing I care about is his sense of humor. If he loses that, I'll kill myself!
MELANIE: (Laugh) Well, apparently you haven't lost yours! Anything else? I mean, is it causing you any problems or anything? I mean, honest now... we really haven't talked about this.
KEITH: No, not at all. I'm used to saying, "Melanie", when I call and ask for you.
MELANIE: How about your friends?
KEITH: I didn't tell them yet.
MELANIE: How about the ones you've had over when I've looked a little... odd?
KEITH: They didn't say anything.
MELANIE: They didn't say anything?
KEITH: No. I told a few friends about it and they didn't care that much.
MELANIE: Okay, now here's the youngest, Mindi. She's seven years old, and she's into (of all things) carpentry. She's also into artistic things. She enjoys "My Little Pony", also likes the Ninja Turtles and she has some things to say too! Go ahead....
MINDI: I'm also into hamsters and I've got three boyfriends.
MELANIE: Okay. Now, what about what I'm doing. What do you think?
MINDI: Well, I think its kinda odd, 'cause sometimes I bump into your you-know-whats. (laugh) What I say to my friends is, "Guess what! My dad's turning into a woman!" And they say "WHAT?!?" And then they start laughing.
MELANIE: You really told your friends about this?
MINDI: Uh, huh.
MELANIE: I'll be darned. Well, that's interesting. So, do any of them believe you, or do they think you're just pulling their leg?
MINDI: They think I'm just pulling their leg.
MELANIE: Okay, so now were going to read a story. We're all together - I have a kid under each arm. What are we going to read today Mindi?
MELANIE: Okay, bye for now, because I've got to do my FATHERLY duty here and read a story.
December 4, 1990
Yesterday I was back at Universal Studios again, working on the post production for "Social Suicide". I decided that this time I wanted to wear something a little bit sexy, so I put on my favorite brown skirt, a little western blouse with a white fringe, did my hair up and put on a little extra make-up and went to the studio. Its getting pretty incredible. Nobody gave me even a sideways glance as far as reading me.
I went to the dubbing stage (where we record replacement dialog) and a lot of the actors from the film were there and things were already going when I got there. I joined some of them for some coffee. I had a pretty good time.
Larry called on me to do some of the female voice-overs for the film. Although most of it was as part of a group doing "ummms" and "errrrs", but if you look at the "fart scene" and a lady in the audience gags because the stink bomb is working, I did the gagging on that. Those sounds, by the way, were modeled after my grandmother when she had a stroke. Everytime she got phlegm caught in her throat she made this sound. So, my grandmother's "stroke gasping sound" is now memorialized on film.
I was a little scared to go out into the sunlight to the commissary because I still have a lot of bumpiness from electrolysis and harsh light shows up the shadows. I just didn't want to be given away in the middle of such a wonderful day. So, I just remained on the stage, and Larry's mother shared with me some fruit she had brought.
The male lead came in and gave me a big hug when he saw me. Later in the day the guy who plays the assistant villain came by and leaned down to me with a hug and I gave him a kiss on the cheek. That's what I call a good day.
There was an actor in the film who was there who is also (by coincidence) in the gender support group I go to. He has told me before that he had some sexual interest in me. He sat next to me for most of the day and reached over three or four times to pat me on the knee. He told me he thought I had sexy legs. Now that's half repulsive because he was taking advantage and half enjoyable that he was turned on by me.
Later on, Larry, his wife Victoria, a female friend of theirs, the actor who was interested in me, and myself went to dinner. I had told Larry about this fellow's interest and said I was worried he would corner me after dinner. Larry said he would try to detain him in conversation. So, after the dinner broke up, Larry began to talk to him and I tried to make a quick get-away.
I went to the back of the restaurant, walking to my car as quickly as I could without looking like I was running. I heard his footsteps coming up behind me as I walked. I almost made it when I heard him call my name from behind. I turned around and there he was.
Here I was, alone with him in the alley. He started a conversation, we started to talk and he began to ask me a lot of personal questions. I answered as honestly as I could, without getting into areas I would rather not. Then he asked how I felt about men. I told him that he already knew from the support group that I enjoyed my relationship with Andy, but now I want to concentrate on Mary and the kids. I told him that the only way I would have another relationship would be if I had surgery and Mary couldn't deal with it and I was on my own.
I was trying to let him down easy, telling him that I did find him attractive and he had a lot going for him, but I just couldn't get involved at this time. I said I couldn't allow myself to be tempted by other relationships because I might not be able to hold back if I opened up even a little bit. He took that as a cue, stepped forward, gave me a hug which I read as a goodbye hug, but he turned it into a groping session.
He copped his feel of my breasts and pulled my ass toward him and basically tried to stick his tongue in my mouth. I held my lips as tight as I could, but was afraid to be too aggressive to make him release his grip because of what I feared he might do. Suddenly I began to realize what the fear is that haunts a woman. I was afraid that if I struggled too hard in my attempt to get away that he would become so aggressive that I would be in danger. Perhaps I would even get physically hurt.
I don't hold any belief that he would ever do such things, but that was my fear. I couldn't understand his mentality. When I was going out with girls, I could not bring myself to put my hand on their shoulder without great hesitation and incredible feelings of violating their personal space. I did not want to violate their personal space. And yet here was this individual moving in on mine, touching parts of my body and trying to stick his tongue in my mouth when I was clearly not interested. I couldn't understand this. I just do not understand men. I lived in their world, but I feel like I've been a spy in their midst.
Ultimately, we split apart when someone came into the alley. I went over to my car at that time, finding it an excuse to get over there. I said goodbye and got in. Those people left, and he stood in front of the open door so I couldn't close it. He leaned down, fondled my breasts again, touched me on the lips and tried to put his tongue in my mouth again.
Just then, someone came into the alley walking their dogs, he stood up, I used the opportunity to close the door. I rolled up the window, he turned back to the car and knocked on the window. I opened it just a crack, said "Goodbye" and rolled it back up. I started the car and left.
On the way home, there were some headlights behind me, one of which was a car that was getting very close. I don't know if he was following me or not, but I wasn't going to take any chances. I made a quick turn down an alley, darted in and out of a few places and then went home, so he would not know where I lived. The whole way home I kept spitting into a cup I had in the car, just in case any of those germs got in my mouth. When I got home, I gargled with several glasses of salt water.
When I talked to Mary about it, she laughed. And then she said it probably wasn't all his fault, because even though I was saying no, I was probably sending out all kinds of signals a mile wide saying yes! She is probably right. I could've left several times during the conversation, but I wanted to explain myself so that he wouldn't feel badly about it. Actually, I was probably hoping he would do something anyway, and he did. I just didn't want it to go that far.
I mentioned it to Chris this morning and said I would have to find a way to flirt without encouraging men to put me in that kind of position. And he said, "Can't be done." He understands what males go through. I obviously don't.
I guess I'm in the same boat with the rest of the women of the world, who just can't understand the aggressive animal. Many women want to feel pretty, she wants to feel attractive, but she doesn't want to be glommed on against her will. She wants to be courted, she wants to be romanced. She seeks an emotional bond. He who provides it becomes physically attractive to her because the woman perceives in him protection from the other hungry animals she sees out there. Maybe its unfair to see men in that light, but it is accurate to the way many women think.
Men are aggressive - much more aggressive than women, in general. As a result, they jump all over women in many, many ways. I have been fortunate insofar as the people I am working with know where I came from and therefore do not jump on me with the same intensity. However, with those who have not known me, I have experienced a great degree of second class status. I have been talked right over when I had already begun to speak at crew meetings. I have been ignored in a conversation after saying something as if I were completely invisible.
I had heard women talk about this and thought it was exaggerated. It is not. Lately, I have been receiving a lot of comments while working like "Klutz" and "Bozo", being treated pretty much like other women in similar situations. At first, it was rather amusing to be classed with them. But then I began to realize I really was being demoted to second class along with them. That was not quite so amusing at all.
It turns out that those comments continually put one (in their minds) in a second class position. It ostensibly elevates those making the comments to a higher status. In jest, women are made to become more subservient and put the man more in control. It is an unequal world. It is still going on. And women, as aware as they have become, have no conception of the magnitude of what's going on unless they really dig into it, because they have been living with it all their lives.
Being pretty, and being feminine, and kind and nurturing does not have a damn thing to do with being inferior or second class to male aggression. The approach of women is different and is much more successful at providing emotional situations of growth and stability. Without this secure base of operations, everything would be in shambles.
If women built the world, it would be around the rocks and streams and trees, not over them. However, not nearly as much in an aggressive sense would have been accomplished. Men do things because they can. Every ability that is learned or developed must be used.
Therefore, a lot of harm befalls the world in terms of war, and territoriality and oppression. A common catch phrase states, "All wars were started by testosterone." Women have only started wars when they became leaders in a male designed hierarchy and assumed the role of a man.
Without men, progress would have been severely limited. We might have ended up still living in the caves. But without women, mankind would have destroyed itself eons ago, and there would be no present, much less a future. We need each other. But we are both equally necessary parts. Only with each other as equal partners can we succeed in building a future.
Now, back to practicalities. I must learn that if I am to live the life of a woman, I too must assume that mantle of fear that every time I walk out on the street, some man can reach out and grab me and thrust himself upon me because he is driven by urges over which he has no control.
Having had that physical equipment and hormonal makeup, I understand those urges. My saving grace has been that I did not have the mentality for it. Therefore, although the physical functioning existed, the motivation to use it did not.
However, I can see from my experience in the parking lot, that men who have both the mentality and the physical urge are very dangerous.
December 9, 1990
Yesterday I went with my family to Disneyland - the first time in three years. I was really depressed that morning as I got dressed, because I felt I had lost Melanie somewhere. I felt uncomfortable because I was becoming a different person, not just a different persona. I spent the morning trying to throw myself hard into macho mode. And for maybe an hour there I was successful. But there was something missing. I managed to make it through the whole day without ruining it for my family. I didn't have and blow-ups, no emotional problems.
Lot's of people stared at me. I'm not paranoid about this. Everytime I'd get in one of those zig-zag lines waiting for a ride, people would be looking me over. I took a look in a mirror and I looked awful. I wasn't male; I wasn't female. I looked like some weird amalgam of both and uglier than sin. I knew I looked (at the least) peculiar.
Occasionally, I'd get read as female. I know because every once in a while one of the kids would call me Daddy and I would respond with the voice that I use for Dave, and it would cause some heads to turn. But -- I got through the day okay. It seems I have learned to play by my own rules and others can take me or leave me.
As a trial experiment to see how I feel about that, I went into 7-11 this morning, knowing that I'd probably get read because I haven't slipped completely back into Melanie. And sure enough, I was immediately read by the man at the counter. And on my way out I know I was read by the woman coming up to the counter. As I went back to my car, she and he were laughing and staring, I mean, literally. You can imagine the stereotypical paranoid fear as I looked up through my windshield and they were both looking directly at me and laughing their hearts out. I was something to be fully enjoyed as ridiculous and funny. And you know... it didn't bother me at all.
I simply smiled back and started my car. I had no need to rush and get the hell out of there. I took my time and let them laugh all they wanted, because I was right inside. If you're right inside, it doesn't matter how things are on the outside.
(The Transition Diary series will continue in the next edition of The Subversive)
I urge you all to keep a diary of YOUR personal journey, whether it be through transition or not. The attitudes and even the order of events becomes cloudy through time, and I am continually amazed to re-read things that memory would have me believe had happened differently. If nothing else, it is a good way to see long-term patterns in yourself that you cannot see except in retrospect. That objective view alone is worth the inconvenience of keeping a journal.
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