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Number 23

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"Where dreams are the stuff reality is made of"

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Explorations

by , Editor

Well, here it is. The next to last issue of The Subversive. After five years of documenting my transition, I stand on the verge of ending that activity. That has been my goal: to put transition completely behind me. I should be glad. Yet sharing my most private feelings with you has become such a part of my life, such a part of me, that I'm afraid to let it go. What a dilemma: on one hand the notoriety as being something of a gender goddess, on the other hand life as a normal woman.

I had lunch with a friend from the gender community last week. In his words I was "every transsexual's dream." He spoke of my success in business, the look, the voice, the fame. Certainly there is attraction to that kind of aura. Yet it also comes with a price. If you are the queen of transition, you'll never be a woman.

Often I have written that one cannot become someone just by being like they are, but only by also not being like they aren't. And this is a classic case. In the last issue, I spoke of the "leap of faith" I needed to make to complete the "story" of my transition. Giving up the "Melanie Icon" is that leap.

To truly become who I have always wanted to be, I must give up the role of gender spokeswoman. I began that process almost nine months ago when I resigned as the head of the America On-line Gender Group and stepped down from my role as hostess of the weekly gender meeting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am thrilled to be the founder of the AOLGG, and I am honored to have been associated with all of my friends in the gender community, both on-line and off. But transition is not a destination, it is a journey, and for the journey to be over one must put it behind.

I have heard so many in the community who have complained that as soon as someone has surgery, they seem to vanish from the face of the earth. That used to bother me too. I though these new women became snobs and didn't want to be seen in the company of transsexuals anymore. I though, "Not me... I'LL never leave! I'LL never dessert my sisters!" But here I am, doing that very thing.

Why? Not because I feel better than those in the community. No, I just feel "different". I go for days on end at work and the subject of gender never comes up. I go to movies and parties, business meetings and conventions and "transition" is never spoken of. In fact, the only time my mind is snapped back into transition anymore is when I'm writing The Subversive.

So, the leap of faith is to "let it go." Just "let it go." I need to move on, I need to be me. I need a life!

Part of this means getting the apartment away from Mary and the kids. And part of it is dropping out of the gender community.

I've tried to leave as many useful insights behind as I could. I've documented my journey, started the AOLGG and created my voice tape. But the time has come to "not be like they aren't" and put it behind me.

God, its so hard. I love you all so much. I feel for your struggles and rejoice in your victories. But I'm not really one of you anymore. If you're reading this, you're still in transition. And so am I until I'm gone.

You have all been so wonderful to me. The support I have received every step of the way, well, I really don't think I could have made it without you. So, all I can offer is that I have just one more step to take: issue number 24, and then its time to ride into the sunset. But each of you goes with me. Any success I have is due to you as much to me. No one can enjoy notoriety without those who appreciate one's work. And my work has been influenced and made real by my interactions with so many of you. So, you go with me, as my heart will be with you.

In the last issue I noted that the last two scenes in a story will determine success or failure and good or bad. In this case, good or bad remains unresolved until issue 24. But the question of success of failure can be determined right now.

The question is: Did I do what I set out to do? First we must determine what the goal that started this journey actually was. Clearly, I've had success in business with the release of the story development software. Certainly I have had success in going through transition while keeping my family together. But that wasn't the goal. The goal that pulled me forward from the very first day of my transition diary was simply to become a woman.

I was a man when I started. I wanted to become a woman. If I am still a man, I have failed. If I am now a woman, I succeeded.

I succeeded.

No bells and whistles, no fireworks, just the honest truth: I am now a woman. I fit into society, I am accepted: all of my achievements in the "real" world have been made as Melanie.

So, yes, I have succeeded in the fullest sense of the word. But the good/bad question remains. That question asks if I have found fulfillment. And you know, I can't answer that yet. I'm right on the edge of knowing how I feel about all this. I'm just on the verge of seeing the big picture when all the myriad feelings generated during transition come together in holistic understanding. There is only one thing standing in my way, one thing remaining to do. And that is to put transition behind me and see how it feels.

So, I hand off the baton to someone else to carry. I've done my stint. I've said what I can and there are others right behind with much to say. By next issue, the last issue, I'll have a grip on this. We'll get our answer together. And finally, finally after all these years, we'll know how the story ends.

And now for the next installment in a serialized presentation of the book:

Raised By Wolves

Book Three: Across The Great Divide

From Journeys & Transitions by

December 2, 1991

Thirty-eight days until surgery and counting.... Someone at work today told me I had given him a nightmare. He said he dreamed that everyone around him was changing their sex. It wasn't surgical, but some sort of bacteria that worked by infecting the genitals until the phallus turned green and fell off. Then the dream jumped location and he was in a hot tub with a number of other people. He looked down and he saw this little torpedo propelling itself across the sauna. He stared more closely. It was, indeed, a phallus, dangling a bunch of meaty stuff behind it. Someone stood up and it had fallen off of them. Left behind was a gooey mess of rotting flesh where the infection had eaten the organ from its host. However, this person was absolutely thrilled that they had accomplished this. At that point, a mutual friend of our was also in the sauna. He stood up and said, "I've changed my mind...." and walked out.

I simply told my friend that if I ever doubted his creativity before, I never would again.

Also today, I made my train reservations for the trip to Colorado.

December 5, 1991

Thirty-five days (only five weeks!) and counting.... Today was my last visit with my doctor before surgery. He drew the blood sample for the dreaded HIV test. Only if it comes back negative will Dr. Biber (or any other surgeon) perform the surgery. So, should I have picked up the virus from any casual source (though I believe I have been completely safe) I will never be able to have surgery. I'll just have to wait until next week to find out.

As this is my last visit my doctor also gave me advice on a number of topics.

1. I should eat a lot of fresh pineapple after surgery, as it has certain enzymes that promote healing.

2. Some professional opinions about the relative values of different kinds of douches.

3. To expect some tearing around the new vagina due to using the "dilator" until I healed. When I returned to his office after surgery, I would be "cauterized" where needed.

4. Not to worry if few stitches had popped when I checked things out with a mirror.

5. Not to expect to look exactly like a genetic woman right after surgery, as there is both a lot of swelling, and also Biber's technique does all the internal surgery first, then puts additional cosmetic work into a second procedure called a "labiaplasty".

6. I'm told I should have full sexual sensation perhaps around six weeks after surgery. There should be some sexual sensation immediately after, but that will increase as the swelling goes down. He says I may even feel that sensation just by wearing clothes that touch that part of the body. (I wonder what that's going to feel like?)

I really haven't thought much about the sexual experience of making love as a woman. I've thought about penetration and being close to a man, but only in terms of the logistics, not in terms of how it might feel. Arousal? As a female? God, I mean it kinda makes me feel a little bit... embarrassed!

I can talk about the surgical procedure all day with no problem, but when it comes down to the concept of ENJOYING sex as a female - THAT embarrasses me!

I feel myself turning red! You know, I think I could get into the idea of having a guy take control and bring me to fulfillment in spite of myself, almost as a byproduct of his drive to reach fulfillment himself.. I think I might like being on the receiving end of sexual pleasure. So, watch out! Maybe you'll see me on the streets someday!

December 9, 1991

Thirty-one days and counting.... Exactly one month from surgery.

December 11, 1991

Twenty-nine days and counting.... This is my self-proclaimed day of beginning to get ready. I'm making up lists, picking out my wardrobe for the trip and working out personal plans with Mary, so if anything should happen she'll know what to do with the finances and the business and so on.

My partner, Chris, has a "White Elephant Party" each year instead of a Christmas party. Everyone is supposed to bring the tackiest gift they can think of. This year I am making a gift: The David Memorial Jock-Strap Award. It consists of a plaque from which hangs a varnished jock-strap, suspended from the plaque by two chains. One side of the jock-strap's band I have signed in indelible marker: "David". On the other side, "Melanie". The cup is inscribed, "January 9th, 1992", the date of my surgery. Enclosed with the award is a signed certificate of authenticity.

I'm still sixteen hundred dollars short of the money I need for surgery. I'm having a garage sale this weekend, and I can always sell my mother's wedding rings so I think I'll be able to make it one way or another.

December 12, 1991

Twenty-eight days and counting.... I got a call today from the Burbank Police Protective League asking if my business would care to advertise in their publication. I told the officer I had to decline as I needed every penny toward some major surgery scheduled for next month. He inquired as to the kind of surgery, so I told him. Surprisingly, he began asking a number of truly insightful and sensitive questions. Near the end of the conversation he mused that perhaps we might have occasion to meet in the future sometime. I laughed and said that would be nice. He closed by saying, "Well, enjoy your life as a vivacious, charming, intelligent female." I thought that was really sweet.

December 19, 1991

Twenty-one days and counting.... Exactly three weeks until surgery.

December 20, 1991

I'm really going to do this....

Christmas Day, 1991

Fifteen days until surgery.... It's Wednesday and I leave for Colorado a week from next Monday. I'm beginning to get nervous, not because I'm questioning my decision, but because I'm about to have major surgery. I'll be in a town I've never seen before being cut open by a doctor I've never met before. The last time I had surgery was when I was eighteen and had my wisdom teeth out. My only other surgery was having my tonsils out when I was seven.

Its been a wonderful Christmas. Mary really took some care in picking out presents for me, as did I for her. We didn't spend a lot of money (we don't have a lot of money due to surgery) but everyone gave and received truly thoughtful gifts.

December 28, 1991

Twelve days and counting.... Today my dad is coming to visit me for the first time since he told me he didn't want to see me again. I was so surprised to get his call a few weeks ago, asking what would be a good time to get together. Every Christmas season we have always had a day together to exchange presents. I had thought I would have to spend Christmas without my father, but he is on his way from San Diego and will be here soon.

Evening....

My dad just left and we spent five wonderful hours together. He had presents for Mary, me and the kids, and we gave presents to him. I showed him an old photo album I had found with pictures of him holding me as a baby. Toward the end of his visit, he and I chatted privately for almost twenty minutes. Until this point, he did not know that I had actually scheduled surgery. I explained all the reasons why I was doing this, hoping to convince him to support me. His reaction was unexpected. When I had finished making my case, he told me that although he did not agree with any of the arguments I had made, since he could see how happy and at peace I was, he was sure that surgery was the right thing for me. Since my mother is no longer here to give me that approval, this moment with my father was very special.

December 29, 1991

Eleven days and counting.... Why don't restrooms say "Masculine" and "Feminine" instead?

December 30, 1991

Ten days and counting.... This is the week I'm going through something called "leap of faith". Leap of Faith is when you decide to give up one thing for another and hope you made the right choice. Therefore, I am making an effort to abdicate the role of first class citizen and spent today disowning my male rights. Essentially, I must renounce my place among the society of men, and embrace a place in the society of women. It is quite an experience effectively telling people I have known for fifteen years, "We are no longer peers. Yes, we are still friends, but now on different sides of the wall."

This "giving up" is what I have been working up to for the last three years. I renounce my manhood. I give up my place and accept a new role. I give up my birthright and accept myself as a member of the female race.

Now, having given up my claim to the benefits of manhood, I will turn around as a woman and demand equality with my last breath and my last ounce of strength.

January 3, 1992

This is my last day at work before I leave for surgery.

Yesterday I called Dr. Biber's office to make sure that they had received the final evaluation they were waiting for, but it still had not arrived. I told his nurse I knew that my therapist had sent it. The nurse said she would check my file. She came back and said, "There's only this one here from Dr. Jayne Thomas." I said, "That's the one!" She said, "No, you also need your psychiatric evaluation." "WHAT psychiatric evaluation?!!" "Didn't you know?" "Know what?!" "You need one evaluation from a psychologist and ANOTHER one from a psychiatrist."

I was devastated. Somehow I missed that requirement. Nobody how was providing my care thought to mention this. So, here it was four days before I'm supposed to leave and I don't have a psychiatric evaluation?

I just burst into tears on the phone. I was sobbing, I was lost. I felt as if the world had ended. Dr. Biber's nurse was so empathetic, yet rules were rules. She did suggest I could call my psychologist. So, I called Dr. Jayne and through the tears told her what had happened.

She heard my tale of woe and then told me that there was one other person who had found themselves in a similar situation. She had sent them to a psychiatrist she knows who had helped them out by doing a "cram" psychiatric session. Not phony, just fast. Rather than spreading it out over a couple of weeks, this doctor did it all in a few intense sessions. However, she did not know if he would be on vacation or on holiday or even if he was still doing that kind of work. She offered to call him and find out.

Grasping at the glimmer of hope, I called Dr. Biber's office and told them that maybe it would be okay. I explained the situation and made sure they did not bump me from the surgery schedule.

Next on my schedule, I went down to my doctors office to pick up my HIV results (negative). By the time I got into work, Dr. Jayne had left a message with the psychiatrist's phone number and that I should call him. So, I spoke with the man, made an appointment, and yesterday afternoon I met with him.

He worked me in between other scheduled cases. I had an initial session with him at 2:00, at his office in Santa Monica, then hung around while he saw another patient, meeting with him for a second session at 4:00. He also wants me to come in today at 10:30 and back again at 4:00.

$500 for the sessions and for him to write a full report. I'll have my session at 4:00 today, he'll write it over the weekend, I'll pick it up on Monday, I leave Monday night. Now, I don't know if you can cut it much closer than that, but I sure don't want to try!

January 5th, 1992

Four days and counting.... I leave tomorrow on the train to Trinidad, Colorado.

Last night, I held a "Coming Off Party" for my friends, and it came off beautifully. I had about ten people, some from the office, some old USC friends. The party was designed as a send up of sexual roles. As per my invitation, many of them of both sexes came in drag. I, myself, wore a costume I has sewn together that was male on one side and female on the other. I wore half a mustache with my hair slicked back and on the other side lipstick and eyeshadow with my hair full. One pants leg, half a skirt and two kinds of shoes.

My old friend Mark kept asking me to stand so he could look at my profile from one side and then the other. He told me he could see me both as Melanie and as Dave, depending upon which side he was looking at. When he looked from the front, he could see both Dave and Melanie juxtaposed. This was the only time anyone (including myself) has ever seen both of my personas simultaneously, and also the last time anyone will. Both of these images are part of me: my past and my future. But for this brief moment, I stand between the two, neither one nor the other.

This was the only X-rated party I've ever attended, much less thrown. All the party favors and prizes came from an adult book-store called "The Pleasure Chest". We took turns reading aloud from a "dirty" book, holding a dildo as a microphone. We had games like "Pin the Phallus on the Jackass".

Chris provided the entree: a bubbling pot of wieners and meatballs. My hostess gift, from the company president, was "The Emperor": the largest dildo I have ever seen. All in all, it was a strange and wonderful evening. And I know I will never throw a party like that again!

Evening...

I guess I'm about as ready for this as anyone can be. So what do you do when the dream that has been the center of your entire life is finally fulfilled? Well, I guess you get more dreams. I look at the clock on the wall. Its 10:30. In twenty-two hours the train will be pulling out of Union Station in Los Angeles, and I'll be on it.

(The Transition Diary series will conclude 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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May you never find occasion to say, "If only....."

The Subversive #23

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