They Fear Queer People Will Take Photos of Women in Restrooms; We Fear Homophobic People Will Fire Bullets at Us in Our Safe Spaces

Governor Pat McCrory and other fear-mongering assholes have pushed their fearful agenda of little girls and women not feeling safe with a transgender person in the restroom for several months now, with the contention that women and little children will have to fear some pervert taking a photographic shot of their private parts.

Well Pat — and all you fear mongering assholes out there — us queer folks in the LGBTQI community have to fear bullets penetrating our bodies at the safest space we consider available for us to be ourselves: gay and queer nightclubs.

Let’s cut all the bullshit once and for all and call things for what they are for once, shall we?  Anyone who says they don’t agree, don’t condone, or don’t see gay marriage or gay people or transgender people as doing the right thing, or sees queers as sinners, or sees them as someone not conforming to what is “naturally correct” or whatever the fuck else is claimed by some entity in the sky, can go fuck themselves.  It is bigotry if you feel like someone is lesser than you or deserves less protections and civil rights because you disagree with them.  And by disagree, I don’t mean disliking someone or their harmful choices; I’m talking about disagreeing with someone being gay or queer or trans as the same as disagreeing with the way someone was born.

For instance, do we disagree with people if they don’t have the same eye color as us, or the same finger lengths or body weight?  Do we disagree with someone’s choices and cast them as sinners and abject and broken and mentally ill because they wear different sized shoes than us or have different hair colors?  Do we disagree with someone based on their skin color?  If so, that is bigoted, racist, and toxic, and believe me when I say queer people have always felt unsafe around bigots, because you assholes judge us for choosing a lifestyle that you see as unfit — despite no one giving you a gavel as judge and juror — when really we are born this way.

This is why our safe haven has always been at gay clubs.

These places are our sanctuaries, our safe spaces where we can be seen, mirrored, and be ourselves without fear of being judged.  These are places away from homophobic and transphobic society.  These are places where even straight people come visit on occasion to have a better time than going to a straight club because wherever there are uninhibited people channeling their energy from their hearts with unbridled joy, embracing their individual queerness, fun is usually the end result.

Instead, we now have to question if going out to our safe spaces to dance and be free is actually safe, all because the perpetual lies are still being touted and spread by people everywhere in all facets of society.  From playgrounds where children play to workplaces in corporate settings, “that’s so gay” and other derogatory terms are still thrown around like candy.  The fact that we couldn’t even get married was a hot topic until last year, and our second class citizenry is still fresh in so many people’s psyches that coming out is still a necessary part of a queer person’s life journey.

We are so terrified of losing the respect and acceptance of loved ones that we often hide our true selves away from family and friends.  We are ashamed of being ourselves because society has made a living and habit out of shaming us out of who we are, to the point where closeted Republicans are caught with gay escorts or in cheating scandals, to the point where someone of Muslim faith had so much shame and self-hatred towards the fact that he was gay that he decided to project all that hostility towards the gay community itself.

Think about that for a minute.  You, as a global culture, are generally so opposed to the LGBTQI community, condemning it as so wrong and shameful that you were able to manifest such large amounts of vitriolic hate within this Orlando shooter that his homophobia drove him mad enough to slaughter the biggest trigger he had towards himself: 50people at a gay club.

It may come as a surprise to you heteronormative straight people, but us LGBTQI people have accumulated pieces of verbal, emotional, and mental hate throughout our lives, from the moment we knew we were different in kindergarten and grade school, from the moment we were bullied for being different, from the moment we saw just how much homophobia is slung around in this pathetic and outdated culture we call a society.

LGBTQI people, prior to coming out of the closet, hold the most amount of homophobia themselves, because that dagger is turned inwards towards our own soul, towards fueling our own self torment.  It isn’t until we have the courage to accept ourselves — through self awareness and hard work, and sadly, often times through enormous amounts of growth accumulated through pain — that we can then address the homophobia source in society, caused by, you guessed it, people like you.

So let’s not sit here and pretend it’s about ISIS or terrorism, because let’s face it: our culture permeates terror towards anyone who is different, and, last I checked, the LGBTQI community is clearly different from the vanilla heteronormative standards you want.

So don’t pretend you want to pray with us or understand what we go through.  Enough with that shit.  Work on yourself first and fix the uneducated so that we can actually embrace each other with compassion and connect through our continuous common humanity without the need of a tragedy like the shooting in Orlando as a reason to bring us together.

Equal Attention Discrimination

donald_sterlingAs soon as TMZ released the alleged tape Donald Sterling’s racist remarks towards his girlfriend V. Stiviano for posting pictures of herself hanging out with Magic Johnson on Instagram, the African American community immediately issued statements requesting Sterling be removed as the Los Angeles Clippers owner. All of this coming at a very bad time during a playoff battle against the Golden State Warriors en route to a possible NBA championship run for the Larry O’Brien trophy that now, very few people want to see the players on the Clippers earn for Sterling to hoist.

First I must say the African American community has always responded quickly to ignorant, divisive, and racist remarks towards these types of social issues. They are incredibly cohesive, organized, and collaborate so well. When Trayvon Martin was shot to Rodney King, and even towards the reactions of OJ Simpson and the jury’s verdict, the African American community always reacts fast and shares their opinions on sensitive social issues regarding other high profile African Americans or affiliates.

But the teamwork and cultural awareness didn’t happen overnight. People paid in blood sweat and tears for centuries as dignity was hard won and fought for before others were able to arrive at equal treatment, to eat at the same table at restaurants and attend the same schools.

Even now there still remains ignorance and hidden discrimination amongst the American population. But at least backlash is immediately imminent when people voice their discriminatory views.

Yet, if this were a transgender situation with the same backstory except the one minor difference of substituting a famous transgender woman in place of Magic Johnson, I assure you the results would have been quite different: muted, ignored, and dismissed.

I could have guaranteed there would have been very little comparative public outcry.

Why is that?

Is it because people erroneously assume w are making a sinful choice when we present our true selves in a gender non-conforming way? Is it because we are fragmented as a community? Is my friend Callan correct in saying our disconnect as a community is because we lack allies? Because we are so busy pinpointing who we aren’t instead of focusing on who we are, finding out actual presentation and identities?

I think it’s a combination of all of these factors, and the fragmentation really hurts us as a community. In addition to having no default group of individual to represent us, we have so many in the community who play crabs in the barrel with one another. Forget the fact that drag queens, transvestites, crossdressers, and transsexuals pick on each other and segregate themselves. Transsexuals are very ticky tack amongst themselves. It’s very common to hear comments as “That’s not her real hair” or “She isn’t fulltime, what does she know” in sneering and condescending attitudes.

And finding a group or individual to represent transgender people is very difficult, if not impossible, due to how fluid the nature of gender really is and the many ways on the continuum in which we can authentically choose to express ourselves.

So what are some steps we can take to increase acceptance and inclusion within our own community? I think it is very important to stand up for other transgender people. But in order for us to do that successfully we must first learn to stand up for ourselves and embrace our own individual differences. If I can’t accept, love, and stand up for myself, then I certainly can’t do it effectively for others in my community.

We must also show inclusion for those who fall on different parts of the gender spectrum; empathy for those who face ostracism from family upon coming out; and patience for those who are at a different stage of transition than we are.

We must embrace our queerness, and reject the binaries and judgments associated with being different and, rather, see ourselves as who we truly are: unique.

We must start forming alliances of allies where, through our cohesion of loving self and other transgender people, we then start being heard.

And then, and only then, will we hold enough clout and attention for respect when discriminated against in a similar situation by the Donald Sterlings out there.

Akai Swim School

akai_logo_smIn 1985, I attended Akai Swim School with my brother. It was that summer when I learned how to swim, learned how to change my breath and keep a sustained stroke, and also the same summer where I now wish, in retrospect, I could take some of my actions back.

The first one being that I made fun of my brother for beating him to the punch in learning how to swim first, despite being 2.5 years younger than him. He quickly followed suit and also learned how to swim.

So naturally, on weekends, we would beg our parents to take us to the pool.

On the last weekend of our summer membership, a kid named “Go” was there. All the kids made fun him, including my brother, and I felt the peer pressure as I joined in with the teasing. All the older boys picked him up and threw him in the pool repeatedly, and bullied him all under the premise of making fun of his name.

Although I secretly thought he was cute, I was almost “relieved” in a sense to see that some other poor little boy was being bullied for once instead of me. But during the rare moments when he was left alone, I approached him and we talked. He seemed very nice, and didn’t comprehend my two-faced behavior.

A sign of betrayal and confusion washed over his face as I would befriend him one minute and retreat back with the crowd of boys in the next, all in order to avoid being ostracized myself.

To this day, I still feel terrible about that, and I wonder if things would have been drastically different if I had already come out to my family and was living as a girl. I envision I would have defended him, and stood by him because I would have had firsthand knowledge of standing up for who I was and being authentic, and the whole social dynamic would have been different.

Perhaps, with the wisdom of transition having begun in my life, I would have more likely chosen to connect with my heart instead of connecting with the judgmental voice which didn’t think I was worthy of being present; the same voice that didn’t think I was worthy of befriending a boy; and instead of connecting with the bullying voice of fitting in, of fear, of harassing the boy, I would have instead embraced what I really wanted to do: make a friend and not care what others thought about my authentic intentions.

But I can’t do anything about it now. And I often wonder what happened to Go.


Fast forward to Summer of of 2014.

I signed up for a month long membership at Akai Swim School to rehab my hip. Very little has changed physically at the facility, but I’m drastically different as I enter the grounds. Not only has 29 years passed, but I’m also undeniably stepping foot at Akai physically presenting as a woman in a bathing suit. I’ve freed the real self inside me for the world to see. I freed Natalie, the same hidden girl and spirit that wanted to free Go from being bullied. The empathy I felt for Go was the same empathy I felt for myself, but I was too scared to help him, just as I was too scared to help free myself from living in the wrong gender.

As I was mulling over the parallels, my head was spinning from the fact that I was standing there at Akai as my true self. While lost in my pondering, the woman from the front desk who had let me in walked by me as I entered the pool.

The water was just as warm as I had remembered it from 30 years ago. But the next thing that happened warmed my heart.

“Nice swimsuit Natalie,” the lady said. “The skirt is adorable! Where did you get your swimsuit?”

“Thanks,” I said. “I got it online. I can give you the website if you want.”

“Sure,” she said.

I wandered deeper into the water, in a daze.

I wish I could have shared that moment with Go.

If Your Uncle Jack was Stuck on a Horse, Would You Help Your Uncle Jack Off?

My uncle visited my mother’s house the other week on his way to LAX. His goal was to bring some vitamins and clothes back to China for my dad, but he didn’t expect to see me there.

uncle jack

Uncle Jack

Although he knew about my transition since 2011 when I had informed the entire family about my fulltime status of living as a woman, he had never seen me in person……and I knew it was going to be very difficult for him, to say the least.

From the moment he walked in, he kept looking down or away, never making eye contact. He briefly waved at me and said hi, and quickly resumed packing and rustling through all his baggage. He was flustered and had “ADD” the whole time, and kept shifting conversation topics towards Taiwan politics or other issues my mom felt passionate about so that she would chime in and help him avoid being stuck talking only to me.

I was a bit disappointed that he never really acknowledged me or listened to what I had to say the entire time he was there. I wanted to pout, and politely and firmly finish what I was saying before I was interrupted in mid-sentence each time, but I let it go. I recalled my newfound receptivity and feminine tactics and social graces, and I further reminded myself that I could learn from the experience and do better next time. The goal, I realized, wasn’t to fix the situation and penetrate further with insistent conversation, but rather, to let him take it all in, the new me, the regendering of me of which he needed time to process.

I was proud of my response, as I could see the recent growth I was owning.

But after he left, my mom said with a smile: “He found you attractive, and didn’t know how to react!”

I agreed with my mom and we both shared a laugh.

My uncle certainly had his way with attractive, tall, well-dressed and sexy Chinese women in the past, and the thought had crossed my mind while he was there that my looks played a big part in his discomfort.

But I didn’t fully believe in it. Part of me resisted acknowledging to myself that I could possibly be in the same category as his ex-girlfriends. After all, they were all cisgender women, ready to settle down and start a family with him, and the only thing that stopped that from happening was my uncle not being ready at the time, still womanizing and playing the field.

So was it possible? Could I have really measured up to those other women? Did I dare compare myself to other attractive cisgender women? Could I transcend all the shit and stigma and shame from being trans, and just see myself for who I was, just another woman who was worthy of being seen as beautiful, inside and out?

It was troubling to me that I had so much difficulty accepting that I was seen as attractive. I just didn’t have what it took that day to fully believe in myself, and my shortchanging of self was very disconcerting.

As a woman, feeling attractive oscillates: some days come easy, some days are just brutal. I have had countless days where I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum: going to work where I felt like a million dollars, and my energy radiated out to compel other coworkers to compliment me, contrasted with the days where I felt hideous and my nervous energy drew negative attention towards me before I even gave myself a chance to breathe and start the day. But what bothered me this time was that I chalked it all to being a transgender woman, and my internalized transphobia got the better of me before I even started my interaction with my uncle.

It was one of those moments where I didn’t trust in my feminine heart, and paid the price of missing what was right in front of me: the beauty and awesome feeling of being seen as a pretty woman and being appreciated for it. And nothing more.

My initial reaction after he left, was that I wanted to power through the uneasy feelings with my old outdated methods with brute force and avoidance, being more adamant, fighting my way through without even considering surrender and serenity.

How quickly was it that I completely forgot about all the times I’ve turned heads and gotten compliments from all sorts of women in public, and the amazing question of “are you a model from the USA?” asked of me when I was in Shanghai just last December.

It was these types of scenarios that clearly reminded me that I had the power to choose what aspect of each scenario I wanted to focus on, and how I could let the lessons and blessings from my Mother In The Sky increase the size of my vault of wisdom.

It reminded me of the fact that surrendering to the situation was where my true power was; that I couldn’t speed up the regendering process he was going through; that my uncle needed time to examine the new me, and that he had to relinquish the old image he had of me that was associated with all the precious times he shared with me during my childhood; that it was a great moment for me to show him compassion and patience as he regendered me in his head; that he needed the time to see me flow and interact as a woman to provide him new context in which to see me.

And most fun of all amongst all the craziness, was that he was flustered because he found me attractive.

That was definitely worth the price of admission!

Stifled Life

stifledI had the privilege of receiving a call from Garrett last night, and working through a few things on the phone. Specifically, issues regarding my ability to “find my passion” and purpose in life.

I told him about an ESPN story with Penny Hardaway going to a middle school in Memphis to help out his childhood friend who got cancer and could no longer coach the boys basketball team. After Penny took over the coaching duties, his friend still pushed himself physically to the limit to be present courtside, when possible, despite doctors warning him to rest.

The interviewer asked him: “Why do you insist on being courtside, when doctors have ordered you to rest, when it takes so much out of you?” Penny’s friend answered: “Because it also gives so much to me too,” implying that being there was keeping him alive.

I then proceeded to tell Garrett that I needed to “find” my calling, something to devote myself to, something to serve. He told me I had it all backwards. That I didn’t “need” anything. That living my life was all I “needed” to do. To live my life with passion, to make everything in my life important, and the purpose or service would naturally reveal itself.

“You’ve lived stifled and subdued for so long,” he said. “Everything you approached was done with a lack of passion. You never fully committed to anything because you were always waiting for the next best thing, always having one foot already out the door, in case something “better” came along. That’s why you never “found your passion.” That’s why you struggled so much with deciphering if your activities were passions or addictions.”

He then explained how one does not “find their passion.” Rather, people live life with passion and the hobby or thing they enjoy doing naturally reveals itself.

“Start brushing your teeth with passion. Inject passion into everything you do. Live like a terminal cancer patient, with passion for going to the toilet or waiting for a daily afternoon visitor. Fill your life with passion and live it with passion and something naturally will reveal itself in due time.”

Just like Penny’s friend choosing to make the middle school basketball team a priority of importance, I need to value, cherish, and take care of what is already in my life and what comes into it. And to do it with passion.

I need to stop looking for activities and events that illicit blips in the radar for me, because those temporary emotional states where I feel passion are external. It’s time to start bringing passion into a once stifled life, and see what my passion from within brings forth to my future.

I need to light the pilot in my heater in order to heat the house. I need to light up my soul and spread this new enthusiasm and spark towards everything I do in my life, especially what I consider the mundane.

I must say though, it was depressing realizing I chose, by conscious or subconscious reasoning, to live a subdued and stifled life. Many of those causes were because I am transgender, and my transgender history was filled with denied opportunities and dismissal.

But the encouraging news is that now I can choose again.

And this time it’ll be different.

Second Set of Balls

I was talking with TBB a few weeks ago, and we were discussing tome transgender topics that took courage and thick skin to endure.balls_of_steel

“I had to grow a second set of balls,” she said.

I couldn’t stop laughing when she said that.

Although I don’t plan on having GRS in the foreseeable future, I couldn’t help but marvel at the strength and courage us transgender people go through (surgery or no surgery), in order to live our daily lives.

Some of us are clocked visually every day, and need to have enormous resilience and strength to endure the baggage of other people thrown upon us, due to our very presence triggering their own shit that they refuse to deal with and blame us for causing them to feel.

Some of us have families and spouses prior to our transition that come along inevitably for the educational and difficult ride.

Most of us have to face the hassle of legal document changes and coming out to work and old bosses for professional references.

And further yet, some of us are assaulted or killed when we are out shopping for food or on a date.

So yes, despite TBB “losing” her balls due to GRS, she absolutely hit home with the statement: “When I grew my second set of balls…”

Kudos to all the transgender people out there who have the courage and stamina to face the world as their true selves every day.

Yes, it does take balls of steel, sometimes even a second pair are needed.

Not Enough

sad-womenThis society thrives on taking advantage of our feelings of inadequacy. Billion dollar industries are based off of our insecurities, drawing consumerism predicated on our fragments of low self esteem.

Women are constantly subjected to scrutiny from peers and members of the opposite sex. A woman with low self esteem or features that society considers not classically beautiful have a much harder time talking themselves out of a speeding ticket and taking advantage of biased perks.

The feelings of being shunned compound this fictitious belief of feeling we are not good enough, that we are somehow deficient or broken.

I think the closest feeling cisgender women can experience with regards to understanding what almost all MtF transwoman experience when they don’t pass, is when cisgender women don’t feel pretty.

Each time a transgender person is clocked or harassed for not “passing,” the feelings generated are similar to what a cisgender woman feels when rejected by a date or some other social situation for not being “pretty” enough. Often times, a transgender individual who struggles fitting in to the current socially accepted construct of what a woman ought to look like suffers on a monumental scale and far more often than a cisgender woman who is cast out as unattractive.

Somehow, we have distorted our values throughout generations of cultural misgivings and wound up classifying what is considered attractive and what is socially considered as beautiful in very limiting ways.

Despite there being some biological underpinnings being hardwired in our genetic makeup to predispose us to find certain curves and body parts an attractive trait, nevertheless, predispositions are not predeterminations…meaning, our phenotype results from the way we classify our personal preferences as to what is considered pretty, and is very much influenced by our genes and the way they interact with our social environment.

It is clear overweight women were highly sought after in both ancient Greece and China due to body types being an indicator of family wealth and abundance of food. Foot binding in China was considered an attractive custom for women for centuries. Now airbrushed coat-hanger thin type girls on the cover of Victoria Secret catalogs are the standard of western beauty.

So when did women start not being good enough the way they are? When did big breasts, flawless fuchsia manicures, dangly jewelry and airbrushed looking skin become the standard for femininity and defining feminine beauty?

I was (shamefully) browsing Craigslist late at night in the M4T section. This 35 year old from Chino Hills put up a disturbing listing. In it, he made it very clear as to what made him stand out as a great catch in comparison to his counterparts:


“I am not ashamed to be seen with you in public. When people eventually see us together and recognize you are transgender, I will stand by your side. I’m not afraid to being seen with you in public. In fact (yes, there was more to his diatribe), I love taking my trans girlfriend out to restaurants and movies.


But my girl must have the following (bullet points ensued):

  • She must have manicured nails (both hands and feet)
  • She mus be pre-op TS and not want surgery at all…if there is any doubt at all about SRS it’s best we don’t start a relationship.
  • She must smell like a girl and act like one
  • She must have long hair”


I was just thinking how this would have gone over on a cisgender dating website. Would the men on there go as far to expect the women on the site to bend who they were to fit some fantasy in an outright straightforward manner right from the get-go? Specifically, with how they dress and primp themselves? All with a custom bullet point display, nonetheless?

Would a girl who liked to be casual in sweats and flip flops without perfectly pedicured nails be ruled out? If he were chasing after a cisgender woman, would he hold her to these requirements and standards?

And most importantly, would a guy, who bragged about “not being ashamed to be seen” with his girlfriend in very common venues such as movies and restaurants, come off as a strong, sexy, and considerate man in the relationship department? Would he even have thought about putting that on his profile for a cisgender dating site? Or would he have thought twice?

Far too often, transgender women aren’t seen as equal to cisgender women, often treated as not “good enough.” Often times we even lose our appeal the moment we have GRS. “Why would I date you now when I can date a real woman with a real pussy and not a man made one?” said a guy to a transgender friend of mine after she had her surgery. She had apparently lost all her appeal once she “lost” her penis.

We are marginalized, along with the men who chase after us. Many chasers are ashamed of the mere fact they are attracted to transgender women. And transgender women are often ridiculed as freaks, often wrongfully labeled as men who didn’t try hard enough to simply just be a gay man, as seducers with an evil and ulterior motive, transitioning to make “luring” men into our corner easier, supposedly.

In fact, I’ve often seen comments referring to us as delusional. “I want to be a dolphin, put a blowhole on my neck and give me a bottlenose and fins…..ridiculous right?!? Just because you feel like or want to be a woman doesn’t make you so,” are all very common responses towards transgender articles on news feeds.

An average gentleman on a cisgender dating website wouldn’t make his claim to fame by saying he wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen with his date in public. That wouldn’t get him very far. Although many women receive pictures of dicks and mirror shots of men in the bathroom, seldom do the women bend over backwards to accommodate those men who don’t put any effort or thought into being a gentleman. However, few men hold so much sway over women the way “tranny chasers” do. They seem to get away with very little respect and very little understanding of what they are chasing after. We are offered substandard behavior and often have very slim pickings with quality men out there.

So what should we do? I think we need to find a practice that works for us transgender women. A practice, a mantra, a way of dealing with moments when we are feeling lonely, up late at night feeling depressed; for when we are feeling insecure, less than our typical sense of attractiveness; for when we enter a judgmental headspace that erodes our self-esteem, where we try to categorize ourselves as worthy versus unworthy, as if that binary were all there was to choose from.

Upon working through our practice, we can own our own center, stay more balanced, trust in ourselves, and take power as our true selves were meant to do. In doing so, we won’t be seen as a group in society that is not worthy of equal treatment and respect, a group that will no longer be seen as not enough.

Dagger Mouth, Tofu Heart

dagger_mouthtofu_heartSome people come off as tough guys, but really, for those of us who can read people well, we can tell it’s just tough words. Deep down, they are just a soft, kind hearted individual who is frustrated, triggered by something and merely saying tough words without aggressive intentions.

One of my old band mates was like that. She always had a wisecrack, a sarcastic comment to make, especially in social situations where she had to admit fault, or where there was vulnerability, moments where she would need to share her emotions. She would over drink and insult people while drunk, or totally get close to someone while showing no self dignity.

An articulate sounding sentence would form under the guise of knowledge, but really, she was scared people would see through her insecurity or her erroneously self perceived moments of weakness, when in fact, she was one of the stronger trans women I had known, transitioning despite her personal struggles.

But often times, beneath the sarcasm and perceived wittiness, there was meanness or hurtfulness in the things said to those around us. Friends would get together after band practice and she would lash out, passive aggressively or even in argumentative ways at times.

So many transgender women, when they truly open their hearts and talk and bond heart to heart with other women, have glimpses of what I saw as a soft and warm heart. A heart made of tofu.

Yet all the meanwhile, beyond the heart of tofu, juxtaposed a strong mix of toxic and mean words spewing from a mouth full of daggers and a tongue as sharp as a razor. Especially when these transgender women were triggered by their own sense of insecurity, and self perceived illusions of being broken or sick.

Many transgender women elect to criticize through passive putdowns, play crabs in a barrel, and play small and come from their defensive armor, putting each other down to gain an upper hand on a race that no one is monitoring, to which a scorekeeper is not present. Drama is prevalent in the transgender scenes, and physical fights have broken out between many transgender women at clubs that I have attended.

I think one of the best ways, sadly, to sum up transgender women, is the phrase “Cattiness with Testosterone.” I actually swore that if I ever started a band I’d name it exactly that: Cattiness with Testosterone.

If all the energy used amongst transgender women for bickering were somehow harnessed and transmitted into a power plant, Obama would have his clean energy policy with enough amperage leftover to power Las Vegas with all the bright and shiny lights.

My friend Callan put it best when she said that transgender people essentially put on armor to go through the world, in order to survive the backlash of being marginalized, being misunderstood, having our hearts minimized, dismissed, and shunned.

It’s time to take that armor off if we are to have a chance at reaching other people’s hearts through spreading our authentic message by living as who we truly are, and not acting as we aren’t. Through sharing, compassion, and vulnerability, not judging, aggression, and fear.

As the Chinese say with their proverb, it’s time to let go of the dagger mouths and embrace our tofu hearts.

Shaving the Radish

shaved radishI find it ironic how we, as transgender folks, fight through all the shit, stigma, and strait-jackets of the gender binary, only to be bound by other aspects of binaries found in our culture, often times fueled by our ego as it doesn’t like uncertainty, fear, and shame.

Which is why, for me, transcending my ego is a top priority.  I am onto my ego now, and I’m trying to be more conscious and aware, to be more in the present moment to dissolve my ego.

I recently got a text message and phone call from an ex-girlfriend, Amy.  We met in graduate school and dated for over 2 years, and even after we broke up, we still saw each other intimately for a few more years.

Our relationship was incredibly intense, and I can say the duration of our relationship was one of the most painful yet educational segments of my life.

We occasional still keep in touch, but prior to this text I received on Christmas, we hadn’t talked in about 18 months.

We ended up talking on the phone for 30 minutes, and caught up with one another, and I realized there was still a spark there between the two of us.  The only caveat was I hadn’t told her about my gender transition, so for the entire time we were talking, she was still referring to me with my old name and what she thought was the correct gender pronoun.

She suggested we meet up for lunch, and hinted that she still loves me, and that I will always have a special place in her heart.  I told her I still thought of her quite fondly from time to time.

“Great,” she said.  “We should definitely meet up then!”

“You wouldn’t want to meet up with me now….I’ve changed a lot…” I said to her, hoping to dash her spirit.

“Change is good.  What could possibly have changed so much that you can’t even do a simple lunch with me?”

Despite the fact that she had expressed bigotry towards gays and lesbians, I knew with 100% certainty that my hesitancy to tell her I was now living as a woman had nothing to do with her views on GLBT people and everything to do with my shame gremlins.

“What if she never wants to talk to me again?  What if she thinks I’m sick?”  My ego began coughing up countless “what if” scenarios to dissuade me from telling Amy.

My ego went on: Or if I did want to meet up with her, perhaps cutting my hair and de-transitioning would be the only option?


So I just pulled a tranny move: I did nothing.

I was not clear about explaining my current life status with her, and I also stood my ground on justifying the reasons I didn’t need to tell her.  “I’m finally happy, and it’s none of her business anyway.  She doesn’t need to know,” I would say to myself, trying to avoid being vulnerable.

Yet, I still struggled with the fact that I felt stuck.  If I truly believed that she didn’t need to know, or if I was okay with losing touch with her, I would have felt okay and have been able to move on upon arriving at that decision.

The very fact that I still wanted to control what she thought about GLBT people and cared about her potential reaction clearly indicated that I wasn’t willing to cut my losses.  The very root of my behavior where I wasn’t letting go was being implemented by me holding off on making the one step forward that would have forced me to release control of the past.  The choice I had made to not tell Amy, in essence, was the very obstacle blocking me from letting go of our shared past.

I was too afraid to feel vulnerable.

So what made Amy so different than other friends and coworkers that I told about my transgender history?

She is also from a Chinese background.  She knew all of my buttons, and my history, inside and out.  She was much more of a threat than other candidates, given her baseline knowledge of me.

And I finally acknowledged to myself that if I couldn’t be calm about this decision, then moving forward was something I would have to do at some point.

I realized what was exhausting wasn’t the fact that I had work to do, and to do the work; it was anticipation of doing the work and procrastination.  It was beating myself up and trying to pull Houdini after Houdini in getting out of the necessary work, and exhaustion was running on the hamster wheel and not facing the necessary steps to grow.

Often times I would have knowledge or clarity about a certain issue or struggle, but my lack of practice would occasionally lead me to make poor choices, where I would watch my ego bully me into placing what I already knew weren’t binary aspects about myself into binary categories and boxes….or what I called shaving the radish endlessly.

So what can I do in the future to lessen the anxiety and tail chasing from my ego wanting to sort binaries?  Understand that self actualizing and integrating isn’t always comfortable, but that doesn’t mean I have to know the results beforehand and fear the unknown.  To acknowledge that most of my amazing experiences were all completely different than what I had planned or anticipated, and most importantly….to enjoy the journey rather than seek the destination.

And after all this tail chasing, Amy not only reacted in a nonchalant manner to my updated womanly pictures, but she also asked if we could get together for lunch this Saturday so she could see how beautiful I am in person now that I’m living as myself.

Smack my head.

Conventional vs Unconventional Shame

conventional_vs_unconventionalI’ve been presenting as myself now for almost 3 years.  I’ve come so far with my confidence and my ability to be comfortable in my own skin.  I’ve been able to thrive in many aspects of my life as of late, and the work I’ve put in since my gender transition is paying dividends.

Transitioning my gender has been a monumental task, and one that is still a work in progress.  Prior to transition, I always thought it was a pipe dream, and I tried to suffocate who I was, denying my feminine heart and calling due to fear and shame.

I’ve overcome so much of that fear and shame, as transition is obviously a big step and a clear indicator that I’ve taken the steps necessary to embrace myself.

Yet, I still struggle with shame in so many other areas of my life….areas which have nothing even remotely related to gender or my transgender history.  Upon first glance, I would have thought overcoming transition shame would clear the roadblocks in so many other areas of my life where I’ve struggled with shame.

But that simply wasn’t the case.

It’s clear now that my transgender shame, to me, was unconventional shame….and that the shame I felt as a result of my upbringing and life history, was actually my conventional shame.

And my conventional shame is much harder to deal with than my unconventional shame.


Because the source of my conventional shame comes from facets like my Chinese American background, being raised to value the family name, caring what the collective community thinks, and achieving ambitious goals through perfectionism.

My unconventional shame is rooted in my transgender history.

When I break conventional shame, I lose connection with those such as family and my immediate community, as all people do when breaking conventional bonds.

However, when I broke unconventional shame, I got to finally be myself and live as a woman, after waiting for over 3 decades.

It’s ironic how breaking unconventional shame can be so much easier than breaking conventional shame, despite the former being typically laced with enormous stigma.

So what can I do at this junction of my life to help me break conventional shame?  What are tools and techniques that will allow me to love myself in spite of feeling shame in everyday things that I do?

I think the first obvious step would be to take responsibility for the work I have left to do, and acknowledge where I’m at.  I now no longer have the scapegoat of blaming all of my shame and subsequent hurtful behavior and actions on being transgender, on being a victim in an unempathetic world towards gender non-conforming people such as myself.  Although transgender violence is still an unfortunate reality and a topic that still needs massive amounts of attention, it is not an everyday issue for me in terms of functioning in the world.  That, I must say, I am grateful for and thank my Mother in the Sky.

Therefore, I think the natural step would be to pay attention to my shame triggers, and to continue building up shame resilience through diligence, patience, vulnerability, and showing empathy towards myself and those around me.  To pay attention to the blockages that are still in place which hold me back from my bliss.  To be grateful, and to show gratitude whenever possible, and essentially, to strive to live a wholehearted life with authenticity and courage.

As I continue to do the work, I can reflect back on my milestones and continue to reaffirm I am worthy of love, belonging, and happiness.

Isolating My Predominant Shame

Perfectionism for me started at an early age.

Perfectionism for me started at an early age.

I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s lectures on shame, vulnerability, and living wholehearted lives through gratitude, creativity, and play.

Needless to say I’ve done a lot of soul searching and reflecting while going through the lessons, and I realized that my perfectionism is also my “20-ton shield,” as Ms. Brown so eloquently put it.

Perfectionism has been a huge burden to me.  I have allowed it to be a big obstacle to my happiness for far too long.

And it was through examining my indomitable will to be perfect that I saw just how scared I was to be vulnerable, to feel my shame.

In order to avoid my shame gremlins, I had devised an infallible methodology: “be perfect and I’ll never have to deal with the gremlins.”

This exhausting method of living an absolute value life was a disastrous plan….and it unsurprisingly yielded disastrous results.

I had shame lurking everywhere, because the shame I didn’t deal with was then magnified with perfectionistic behavior, and when those perfectionistic goals went unmet, even more shame would fuel the avalanche of destruction.

The shame became so monumental in magnitude that I began confusing my gender issues with everyday shame that was non-GLBT related.  And my ego, being deceptively clever, saw more ammunition in my gender issues, and saw opportunities to use the shame surrounding me being transgender as more fuel to feed my demons.

I think I’ve done a great job with my gender transition.  I’ve come so far, and I know I will continue to improve and gain more confidence as time goes on….

The source of my misery is actually coming from my inability to engage my shame in all other areas of my life outside of gender: from making a turn in my car that results in a traffic jam to dropping tomatoes on the floor when cooking.  I judge those “imperfections” and situations where I run from shame and cause myself misery, and I then beat myself up to be even more perfect next time to avoid the scenario altogether.  The philosophy goes: prevention precludes having to deal with discomfort…right?

No, I disagree….the old method is actually very unproductive and lacking in self-compassion indeed.

The fact that control is an illusion shatters any hope of perfectionism.  We cannot control other people, the world, and outcomes of most situations in our lives.  We can only control our behavior and we can choose how we look at the way we experience life.

Recently, when my shame demons rear their ugly heads and berate me, I am able to identify them and show myself empathy and compassion.  I remind myself of all the things I can be grateful for in that specific scenario.  In situations where I feel shame, I now remember that there is an opportunity to seek gratitude, to embrace the miracles and chances to grow.

And it no longer matters to me if I know whether me being transgender was the reason I was so caught up in perfectionism, or if being perfectionistic caused me to feel ashamed of being transgender….the question of chicken vs. egg can remain unanswered.

What matters is that I am doing well as myself.  I have isolated the major sources of my shame triggers, and that the majority of my misery isn’t dictated by my gender identity history.

I get to choose how I embrace my shame and I have knowledge that being vulnerable empowers me, which is truly something to be grateful for and offers me enormous hope.

Girl Congregation


There are only 4 girls of the Generation X age bracket at our office.  One of the girls, Charlee, sits next to Graeme.

Graeme is a character: full of himself, constantly bragging, and egotistical.  He’s obnoxious at times, but has a good heart and is harmless.  You’ve got to admire how he’s one of the few coworkers that’s not afraid to tell things the way they are…..and he is quite funny when you don’t take what he says so seriously.

I happened to be talking with Charlee the other day, and Arly came by to ask Charlee something that was actually work related.

Since all of us girls work for different contracts or on different subsystems, not one time in my 6 months at this job had we ever been gathered in one location simultaneously.

Graeme, immediately seeing an opportunity to insert himself with a wisecrack, turned his chair around and said: “Wow, all the girls at my desk!  Awesome!”

All of this being expressed while he licked his lips as if he were anticipating a delicious treat.

I immediately felt so happy, and a sense of belonging..

I was seen as one of the girls.  Graeme, my work, and society, have all been seeing me for who I am for over 2 years now.

How could I not feel the bliss of being witnessed and mirrored, especially after delaying my heart for over 30 years?

Yet, coupled with that elation, were my shame demons: they decided to hitch along for the ride, despite not having been invited.

My ego just couldn’t accept that I was included as one of the women at work.  My inner critic, ego, shame demons, had to bring me back down to what was familiar: my cesspool swamp of past misery.

It’s no wonder why so many people who haven’t done their shame work to accept vulnerability as an entryway to empathy and compassion, often find themselves being the recipients of joy being coupled with and inseparable from misery.  The highs are inevitably connected to the lows.  I, unfortunately, fit into this category.  I wasn’t yet living a fully wholehearted life.

So I quickly tried to diffuse my shame, instead of allowing myself to feel vulnerable.

“Not all the girls are here,” I quickly noted.  “Bhavini’s not here,” I quipped by quickly quoting a technicality.

“Okay, not ALL the girls,” Graeme said wryly.  “Most of the girls…does that work for you Natalia?”

“Natalia,” I giggled in repetition.  “I could get used to that nickname…..and yes, that does work for me.”


How could I choose better next time?  Go into the space where I’m vulnerable.  Acknowledge my inner critic, the shame demons, but focus on the affirmations that I know I own and receive daily from the fact that I’m living my life authentically.

“Yes, I am a transwoman.  But I’m still a woman.  So when Graeme said all the girls were at his desk, that ABSOLUTELY referred to and included me as well.  No, I’m not a cisgender woman, but I am a woman….just one with a different history than most, and I have so much evidence and proof that the world affirms my heart and who I am every day.  It’s time I start believing those facts about myself and validating myself with that evidence rather than listening to my shame demons.”  This is what I need to say to myself more often.

Our shame demons like to pull us back into the land of purgatory, where we can often be stuck being miserable.

I was aware of that when I was at Graeme’s desk.  And despite knowing that I have a lot more work to do, I am grateful and proud of how far I’ve come, how much I’ve improved, and how much work I have done so far….

What a journey….a journey that has earned me a seat at the girl’s congregation.

Cesspool Swamp


It’s difficult being a transwoman in a gender normative heterosexist society.  I’ve been living fulltime, as myself, presenting as a woman, my proper gender identity, for a little over 2 years now.  And every day, it’s the same bullshit struggle:  Either trans is everything, or trans is nothing.

At work, several of the girls had no clue I am a transwoman until I told them.  And in a company of 600, every now and then I still get asked by other girl coworkers from building 2 if I want to get pregnant and have kids or not.  The topic of trans in those cases are clearly invisible.

But then I go to gay or transgender clubs, where being trans and queer is everything.  How queer is too queer, how queer is too much?

I recently went on a business trip in Shanghai.  There are millions of dollars invested in these contracts and meetings, and I was the engineer who was in charge of 2 subsystems and important portions of the conference workshop.

To the native Chinese in Shanghai, I was window dressing, sent on my company’s behalf to provide a gender ratio counterpunch: 3 men to that of 1 woman.  Most of the attendees in the past were much older and all men, and I clearly provided fresh insight as an early 30’s woman engineer who is fluent in Chinese Mandarin.

The bosses loved my contribution, professionally and socially at the meetings.

But to achieve those contributions?  I had to pass as a woman, be seen for who I am.

Except, not all of me could be seen.  I knew that the components everyone wanted to see were the stereotypical conformist parts that are traditionally accepted by mainstream society.  I fit the mold, I am a good representation of my company.

But what if I was a less passable, less attractive transwoman?  Would I still have gotten this chance despite being fluent in Mandarin and graduating from one of the best engineering universities in the nation?

I was invisible on this trip to Shanghai, just long enough for me to crave visibility.  Where I could be seen.  Being around 3 other coworkers who happened to be men and engineers was a bit overwhelming.  I needed some girl intimacy, some close conversation and bonding.  I needed someone to talk to and connect with….and being new with this gender identity didn’t help any.

As my good friend noted:

” You have spent a couple of weeks where trans is nothing, where that part of you is invisible.

It makes sense that you need to be able to have somewhere where trans is something, visible and real.

We all need to be seen, even the parts of us that mainstreamers don’t quite get.

But in being yourself, you are starting to deal with the ambiguity and tensions of a woman’s life without the drug of jock play to try and get the world back into nice black and white focus, like you used to.”


I had worked so hard to pass in the last 2 years.  Shopping, finding my image, working on myself to be presentable as a woman, to be seen as a woman.

And now I started my first job ever at an aerospace company as a girl, what happened?  I blended in so well that I felt invisible.  I actually found myself in a taxi at 11pm at night going to a gay club in the foreign city of Shanghai.  Because over there, I knew, trans would be everything.

Most mainstream people fail to understand just how complicated gender is…..they just take their assigned roles and gender identities for granted, and why not?  Most of those assigned genders are correctly done.

Us trans folks?  We face shit, stigma, labels, our whole lives.  We fight alongside mainstream society, sometimes against ourselves, contributing to the 401k and trust funds of shame.  We fill our vaults full of shame, guilt and denial.

We don’t want to be seen as sick, as freaks, as the smelly homeless tranny with vomit and feces on their clothes asking for acceptance.

So we fight ourselves.

At least until we face death square in the eyes, and can no longer run from ourselves anymore.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to transition and live out successful lives still face enormous struggle.  Despite visually and physically fitting in to society, simple triggers can easily peel back the thin crust of stability and unearth the petroleum crude running underneath our feet.

The stench of the cesspool of shame, of accumulated insults and stigma always triggers the ego to remind us of our inadequacies: you’re a fraud.  You’re a freak.  You’re better off living as a guy.  What’s the matter with you?”

I used to fight this swamp, this inner critic.  This hell from my past.  I used to want the benefits of being a woman while simultaneously desiring the good times of my past.  I now realize that is foolish and impossible to achieve.  To get something, to gain in life, we have to pay a price, there are inevitable losses to be incurred while we accrue in other areas.

Women want everything.  And we can.  But just not all at the same time.

I can’t have the advantages and benefits of being a woman without relinquishing those of being a man.

And surrendering that man privilege was hard.

But it was necessary.

For me to be comfortable in my new skin, my true skin, I had to surrender what I knew wasn’t true to my heart and embrace the path God, the universe, or what some call my Mother in the Sky chose for me.

And to overcome my triggers and shame, I had to explore the depths of my hell.  I had to search and become familiar with every corner of the cesspool swamp: the swamp filled with doubt, fear, shame, self-loathing, and stigma.

I had to claw my way through miles of shit before I could come out clean and beautiful on the other side.

I’m still crawling and exploring these days.  I reckon I’ll never be finished.

But now I have the wisdom to put on a scuba suit, I know where the showers are, and I know I don’t need to panic.

I’m learning to love myself, and who I am, and I’m loving what I’m becoming: a woman who is not only pretty on the outside, but the inside as well.

The Monster at Halloween


I attended a Halloween party last year with my friend Monica, who has only been living fulltime as herself for a little over 2 years.  The party was held by friends she had known for over 20 years.  All the attendees knew Monica before she transitioned, and were still coming to terms with her being out and living as a woman.  Although on the surface, everything was supposed to be normal and they were claiming they accepted her, I saw things differently.

For starters, while we were on our way there to the party, Monica complained about how she missed her friends, and that they didn’t really invite her to get-togethers anymore.

When we got to the party, everyone casually said hi to Monica, but immediately turned their attention back towards the people they were originally socializing with and pretty much ignored her.  We were isolated…alone.  We only had each other to talk to…

Monica still insisted that it would just take time for these friends to come around, but somehow I just wasn’t convinced.

The party was in the backyard, in a pretty affluent area near the beach cities, and there were a good 100 people there, all dressed in creative 80s costumes, as that was the theme for the night.

The DJ played a bunch of Madonna songs, of course, and Monica, being a huge Madonna fan, danced and lip synced a bunch of songs in front of her former friends.  I thought she was adorable, charming, and brave to do such a thing.  I was proud of her.

But while I watched her dance, the guests standing next to me, the very same people Monica had pointed out were her “friends,” mocked her.  Some of the things they uttered were unbelievable.

They said derogatory things about her repeatedly, and it was clear they just didn’t understand what it meant to be trans.  There was a lot of discomfort, and adjectives like “weird,” or “freak” were tossed around with malicious intent but carefully dressed with sarcasm.  One woman even said “Can you believe she used to be a guy we wanted to hang out with?”

Just when I didn’t think the backstabbing ridicule towards Monica could get any worse, the universe decided to present another facet of what the group’s true thoughts were towards queerness, towards topics that they just didn’t understand, nor wanted to make the effort in order to understand, for that matter.

By around 10 P.M., the cops showed up to tell the hosts to turn down the music.  Tom, the owner of the house and host of the party, immediately ran out to the street to smooth things over.

A big crowd of people gathered in front of the driveway to see what the cops had to say to Tom.  He spent a few minutes out there persuading the cops everything was okay, and that we were going to turn down the music.  By that point, Monica and I had also joined the crowd to see what the cops had to say.  At least 7 or 8 people in addition to Monica and I were clearly visible on the driveway.

The two police officers insisted on coming over and checking out the party. Everyone who was crowding the driveway quickly stepped to the side as the officers walked the length of the driveway and peered into the crowd, with the beam of their flashlights leading the way.

One of the guests was dressed as Freddy Kruger, and he went up to one of the officers.

“I’m a former Torrance Police Officer,” “Freddy” said.  “We’ll turn down the music, sorry to bring you guys out for something so silly.”

“No big deal, just doing our jobs.  We have to respond to all calls, even if they are minor issues.  Just keep the noise level down,” said one of the officers.

“You guys got quite the party going on,” said the officer’s partner.

“If you guys weren’t working we’d offer you some beers!” said Freddy.

Everyone eased up and laughed, and then the officers were on their way.

Once the police left, Tom came back from the driveway.

By then, Monica had was no longer standing next to me, and she was nowhere to be found.

Tom looked around his shoulders to make sure Monica wasn’t there, and then said to Freddy and a bunch of his friends something that was really demeaning and insulting to Monica and transgender people in general:

“Did you see what the cops did?  They were about to leave, because I convinced them that we’d turn down the music.  But then as soon as they saw Monica, they just had to come inside to the backyard to see what type of party this was.”

“You’re right Tom!  Seeing Monica made them wonder what we were doing back here!!!” said one of the guests.  It’s as if he was almost relieved he wasn’t the only one uncomfortable with Monica’s new self, and that Tom, and possibly others, shared their sentiments.  He didn’t feel so alone.  He no longer had to deal with “Monica the tranny monster,” or “the queer with no fear,” on his own.

“I wonder if the cops thought this was a gay party because they saw her,” said one of the women.

“They probably wanted to see if there was an orgy going on here,” chided Tom and the other men.

Never had it crossed their minds that perhaps the officers were just doing their job, and scanning the backyard because a neighbor made a call.

It had to be the queers!  It must be the queers, gays, faggots, and trannies!

Their discomfort had to be pinned onto something.  Someone was to blame for all the mess.  Why not blame the trannies?

If only the monster had stayed inside, out of sight of the cops.  Then the cops wouldn’t have ventured over to the backyard to take a look.

If only the weirdos had stayed out of sight, the cops wouldn’t have suspected something unusual was going on….they wouldn’t suspect it was a gay party.

Then the floodgates really opened, and the insulting and stereotyping jokes really started pouring out.

I left and moved to another area in the backyard, away from the crowd of people and just sat down by myself.

Monica eventually found me, and saw me texting on my phone, just withdrawn and alone.

When we finally left the party that night, I told her gently that her friends didn’t really respect her.

She didn’t want to hear it, but she knew.

I didn’t want to push it, and we left it at that.

It’s hard being seen as a monster sometimes, as a scapegoat, when we don’t deserve that type of portrayal or treatment.

That’s why it’s so important to love ourselves, and be proud of who we are.  Because until people begin to understand what it really means to be trans, we will often be seen as the monster, the scapegoat, the person who was the reason why the cops came in to break up the party.

And we, as the transgender community, all know that’s not who we are.

Let All The Dick-Swingers Posture. Women Can Live By Different Rules.

Liam Neeson at his best.

Liam Neeson at his best.

Several years ago, South Park came up with an episode that made fun of Pokemon, called “Chinpokomon,” where Japanese people came to the USA and pushed their toys onto elementary school kids.

A series of brainwashing camps were formed with the toys being a foundation to hoard the kids together, with the end-goal being to use America’s own children as trained pilots to bomb Pearl Harbor.  The genocidal program’s platform was carried out to perfection, despite many of the mothers protesting the Japanese toy manufacturer.  How did Chinpokomon subvert the criticism?  Each and every time the men protested to the Japanese toy company, the guy representatives for Chinpokomon would paint a picture of self-pity, claiming how much they felt they were beneath the American men in self worth because of their “small penis” sizes.

This hilarious Asian stereotype tactic was used to perfection, successfully feeding the egos of the American men and the protests would be subdued each time.

It finally took the banding of women, the very mothers of all the victimized children to team up and fight the Japanese to end the nonsense.

How did they do it?

The mothers didn’t fall for the Japanese toymaker’s penis remarks.  It was brutally obvious that they didn’t have penises, which made it easy for them to sidestep the distracting comments the Japanese toymakers were using to hide their evil intents.

The episode was hilarious and worked on many levels in terms of humor.

But in American culture, we do place a lot of emphasis on the value of the penis for men.   Manhood is directly linked to penis size and performance.  In fact, it wasn’t until I put away my penis and manhood at Arly’s birthday party that I started having social scenarios where I was fully accepted as the woman I am and present as.

The men in South Park were so susceptible to their ego being stroked when complimented on their penis size, that they were relegated and reduced to useless docile puppets.

I’ve been on both sides of that fence, where I relentlessly pursued penis enlarging compliments through racing cars, monetary accumulation and prestige, womanizing, and other dick measuring accolades and activities.  And because I was never a guy, the fuel required to uphold a guy facade was like trying to fill an abysmal pit, frequently resulting in exhaustion and injury for my former self.

However, before transitioning and living authentically, the facets and nuances required to  live successfully and functionally as a guy was rehearsed for 30 years, deeply imprinted onto my CPU.  So occasionally some outputs still come out with guy emphasis and undertones, even though I present and live as myself, a woman.

I’m still susceptible to aggressive behavior, dick measuring, and posturing from time to time.

Recently, I went out to lunch with some coworkers to get burgers at Five Guys.  The topic of Tetris somehow came up and I just had to put my imprint on the conversation.  It was a social situation I would have undertaken differently if given a second chance, but in the heat of the moment my old default behavior got the best of me.

Habits are hard to break, and for us later transitioners, who have spent decades presenting as the wrong gender, it can be a tough chore to break these patterns.

Although I’ve taken well to my transition like a duck to water, I’ve had my fair share of challenges.  Each successful and empowering story I have with compliments about my fashionable presentation to helping strangers at Macy’s with shoe purchases are accompanied by opposing occasions where I brag about my Tetris playing abilities to 2 men at work or wanting a convertible Mercedes to show off to people at the clubs with what would be the equivalent of a metal phallus.

And don’t get me wrong, it would be super nice to have the wind flowing through my hair as I drive down the 405.

But I’m working on improving my choices, choosing better.

Through time, readjusting attitudes and behaviors, I’ll get there.

I know what I choose to focus on will determine how I feel about my life, and I’m choosing the positive aspects of my experiences to recollect and reminisce.

And like my good shapeshifting friend said:

“The ability not to have to worry if you will be seen as having a tiny dick by the others around you, because they already know you have a pussy, can be enormously liberating in the process of claiming your own life.

Let all the dick-swingers posture.  Women can live by different rules.”